Category Archives: picture prompt

Sunday Photo Fiction – July 30th 2017- Talking Heads

A response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge for July 30th 2017– two hundred words based on this image–

© A Mixed Bag 2009

Copyright 2017 Douglas Daniel


“It is poorly preserved,” Dr. Angg said.  “The slackness of the jaw, the orange tinge of the skin— you’d think even a hundred years ago the curators could have done better.”

I said nothing.  Angg was the Imperium’s leading expert in xenobiology and off-world artifacts.  We had found the alien head in among old displays in the museum’s archive.  There were many relics of humanity’s early, freebooting days in interstellar space in the vaults.  There were alien weapons, and strange religious artifacts, and more than a few trophies of the vicious wars of that era.  Angg and I had already examined a collection of Te’measkini scalps, gathered by the members of the Fifth Punitive Expedition.  It was gruesome stuff, and offensive to modern sensibilities.  Inclusion of multitudinous species was now Imperial policy, and we had been charged with cleaning out the collection.

“How do you think it died?” I asked Angg.

“Probably a victim of the Rilhalan War,” Angg said.  “The species looks correct.  Huge beings, they were—doubtless the head was taken as a trophy, and the body left to rot.”

“A lot you know, buddy,” the head said, as it sprouted spidery legs and scuttled off.

SUNDAY PHOTO FICTION– The broken bridges

Photo Copyright Al Forbes
Photo Copyright Al Forbes

Flash fiction based on a photo.

Pretty sure this doesn’t work, but I thought I’d give it a shot, anyway.


“The bridges are down,” Sebae whispered, horrified.

I looked. The fog dispersed into a low-lying layer ahead of us. Over it I saw the Salt Island bridge– except it was no longer a bridge. On the eastward side of the River the upper deck had collapsed into the lower. Metal filaments and broken chunks of plasticrete alone remained of the towers that had supported it.

To the west, the bridge was simply gone. Water rushed about pilings and ruined pieces of bridge deck protruding from the water. Far beyond, I saw only a wrecked tracery of metal that had been the Tulland bridge.

“All gone,” Sebae said, still whispering, as if he could not believe it. “The settlements….”

He didn’t have to finish the thought. I leaned for a moment on my paddle. Five thousand years— that’s how long the bridges had stood– built by the Ancients to endure. And the Firebringer had destroyed them in a night, with less thought than a child might have for a toy they did not want.

“What do we do now?” Sebae said, sounding lost.

I breathed deep, put my paddle in the water again. “Row,” I said. “The messages won’t wait.”

Sunday Photo Fiction: March 9th 2014 – The Enchanted Grove

Sunday Photo Fiction— 100 to 200 words inspired by a photo–

Copyright – Al Forbes
Copyright – Al Forbes

(Okay, this is getting out of hand– two poems in one month. It’s probably because I don’t have a day job…. 😉 ).


The pond
a still ocean
the distant traffic noise
the music of the spheres

In this enchanted grove
dragonflies are X-wings
and tadpoles
are submarines

A trout breaks the surface
doubtless, it is
the awful and fearsome
Kraken, writhing in rage

The trees round about
the pool the forest primeval
not yet sullied
by the tread of man

The far shore
is a misty,
mysterious foreign land
barely to be seen

There dwells a lady
sad and proud
whose call for aid
echoes among the sun-lit leaves

To heed the call
a hero must brave
the sea, the Kraken
the enemy submarines

the lady will be patient
as the hero
is not yet ten

Picture Prompt – Elf Wars IV


Whim Notes posted this picture prompt, asking for a description of the action, but I took off with it in a completely different direction. In the process I also dumped the 500 word limit. I have failed, but hopefully the story’s enjoyable.

Warning: this piece has some language, but since it involves the film industry, it’s probably toned down from reality.

“Cut, cut, CUT!” the director yelled. His bullhorn shrieked with feedback on the last word. He grabbed his baseball cap and flung it down on the snow. “Goddamn it, people– first the spearmen charge, then the axe-men, then the fucking snow-tiger. Everybody back to their start positions– we’re going to do this bastard until we get it right!”

The AD came running over, galumphing in his snow-boots. “Boss, it’s noon.”

“So what?”

“Union rules say we gotta give them lunch…”

“Dammit!” the director said. “Goddamn union!” He stood with his hands on his hips. It looked for a moment as if he were going to argue; then his shoulders slumped in resignation. “Fuck– all right. Thirty minutes for lunch.”

“Thirty minutes, people!” the AD yelled.

The actors, talking among themselves, streamed away from the shooting area toward the catering trucks, parked off-camera. Colm fell in step with Padraic. “Thought he’d never call for a break,” Colm said.

Harold!” the director yelled. “Where’s my goddamn coffee?”

“I think he’s had more than enough already,” Padraic said. Colm suppressed a giggle.

As the actors clustered around the trucks, grips moved the tracked cameras back to their original positions. Cameramen, wearing caps with “Elf Wars IV” stitched on them, put their cameras on standby, to keep them from getting too cold. The animal wranglers leashed the snow-tiger and led it back to its holding pen. It snarled, ill-tempered.

“That cat’s going to eat somebody yet,” Colm said.

“Well, this guy said he wanted practical effects rather than CGI,” Padraic said. “If the beast does eat somebody, they’ll probably use the footage.”

Colm and Padraic elbowed their way into the press at the trucks. Both of them ladled minestrone soup into Styrofoam cups and grabbed breadsticks. After days of shooting on this Canadian glacier everyone wanted hot dishes and soup– the yogurt and fruit available went begging.

“I tell you,” another actor told someone, “this guy’s a real auteur. He’s gonna revive the franchise.”

“You mean the guy’s a real asshole,” Padraic muttered, as he and Colm walked away from the crowd, sipping their soup.

Colm laughed. “Can’t complain too much, though– we’re both working.”


They found a rocky outcropping free of ice. They sat down and ate their soup and bread. From here they could look out of over the valley of the Fraser River. Below the glacier evergreen-covered slopes ran down toward the river, a bright thread through the dark woods.

“This is beautiful,” Colm said.

“Yeah,” Padraic said. “You know, our folk used to roam through this whole country, before the Russians came.”

“I’d heard that. I can see why.”

Padraic sipped his soup. “I’m glad to be working, Colm, however much a jerk this director is. I haven’t told you, but– Debbie and I are back together.”

Colm looked at his friend in surprise. “Really? For good?”

“I think so,” Padraic said. “And I really want to make it work. It’s important.” He hesitated. “She’s pregnant.”

“Oh, man,” Colm breathed. “That puts a different spin on things. Have you told your family?”

“Not yet. I’ve been holding off. They’re so traditional.”

“Yeah, mixed marriages and all. But if there’s a grandchild– that’ll have to be a selling point, won’t it?”

“I think so,” Padraic said. “Anyway, I’m planning on telling them once this gig is done.”

“I’ll be praying for you,” Colm said, solemn.

Padraic laughed. “You do that. Jerk. At least I’ll have some money in the bank after this.”

“Yeah, it’s been a windfall for all of us,” Colm said.

Padraic snorted. “No kidding– we’re the biggest practical effect of all.”

“Well, you know what they say.” Colm stood, brushing his long hair away from his pointed ears. “Only elves can really play elves.”