And they said romance was dead… Not a chance!

At the close of the second half of the second month of the year, I give you part 2 (part 1 can be found here) of my pair-up challenge by doubling up Tom Merriman’s challenge with a goldfish’s challenge (click here for the prelude of this story)!

February, from the Très riches heures du Duc de Berry

Limbourg brothers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


“I killed Scarlet because I thought she was going to shoot you!” David slumped against the barn wall and winced as a rusty nail poked a hole in his shoulder. He staggered forward, the nail further ripping his button-down shirt. He cupped his hand over the puncture wound. “And now I’ve got tetanus. And my best shirt is ruined.”

“Shut up, David. Just shut up.” Felicity shook her head, her tawny curls bouncing to and fro. She glanced down at the still body and sniffed. “I should never have gotten mixed up in your shady deals, David. I mean, I thought you were a bad boy, but this is insane.”

“But I did all of this for you. I wanted to impress you. Your profile said, ‘Jaded City Girl Looking for Romance. Likes: High stakes. Dislikes: Playing it safe.’ And, well… ta-da?” he said, spreading his arms wide.

“Is this your idea of a romantic night out?” She turned and stomped her way to the barn door. “Your profile said, ‘Take a chance on a Bad Boy in the making. Likes: Risks and romance. Dislikes: Fussy reading glasses’ – Oh!” Felicity spun around.

Scarlet sat up, tossed her reading glasses to David, and peeled off the fake blood-filled special effects skin. “I’m fine. Not a scratch. My brother here really wanted to impress you. And I think he did.” Scarlet winked at Felicity, stood up, and brushed herself off. “And now that you’ve passed the test, we can all get to work on the real Harrister deal.”

Felicity shrieked with delight, ran to David, and threw her arms around him. “You passed the test too, you bad boy.” She kissed him. “Sorry about your shoulder.” She tenderly pulled the cloth from the wound. “Maybe you should see a doctor.”

“That would ruin our alibi.”

“But don’t you think you could have tetanus?”

David shrugged. “That’s a chance I’ll have to take.” With a flourish, David led Felicity out the barn door.

“And they said romance was dead,” Scarlet said as she picked hay out of her hair.


Tourist Stew- a Microfiction Tale


“So sleepy,” Mickey said, sinking in the pot. “I thought the tea was supposed to perk me up. I drank two cups…”

“Your knees are pressing against my thigh, and now I’m stuck,” Hillary said. “And why are they removing the backdrop? I wanted the jungle hut in the background, to frame the photo… Mickey?”


Thanks to Jezri’s Nightmares for this this microfiction challenge!

Air Guitar Marathon- a Microfiction Tale

Must be at least a hundred of ‘em – all rotten and stinky and thrustin’ their hips, holdin’ their arms out at weird angles. Me, I’m just a musician tryin’ to survive the apocalypse. “Last one air guitaring wins a Stratocaster!” was divine inspiration.

I had no idea zombies loved Stratocasters more than they do brains.





Thanks to Jezri’s Nightmares for this microfiction challenge!

Nell’s Nannies- a Flash Fiction Tale

Be My Baby (part 1 of 2)

“Timothy! Pull your pants up this minute!” Nell says, jumping up and wagging her finger in the air.

“Yes, Miss Nell,” Timmy says, clutching his waistband and pulling up his pants. “I’m sorry, Miss Nell.” His face reddens.

“So is this how you get your jollies? By embarrassing your dates with diapers?”

“Oh no, Miss Nell. I wasn’t trying to embarrass you. I thought you would understand. I thought we had… a connection.” Timmy hugs himself and rocks side-to-side.

Nell furrows her brow and sighs. “You’re serious about this. I can tell. Are you one of those diaper fetishists?”

Timmy sticks out his lip. “Icky. I don’t like icky fetish stuff. That’s for grown-ups.”

“But you are a grown-up. You’re thirty-seven.”

“I’ve had thirty-seven birthdays.” He pulls on the hem of his shirt. “But I still feel like a baby. That’s why I joined I was hoping to find a nice lady to take care of me. A lady to feed me, clothe me… to treat me like the baby I am. Of course I had planned to make it worthwhile for the lady – I’m not a baby all the time. From nine to five I’m an investment banker at North Valley Bank, and I do very well for myself, financially.” He glances at Nell. “I was hoping to share my wealth with the right… nanny.” Timmy clasps his hands to his chest. “When you answered my ad, I thought my dreams had finally come true.” He slowly lowers himself to his seat.

“You’re an investment banker?”

“For the past fourteen years. Before that I was a financial consultant. I got my degree in accounting at Shasta College here in Redding.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Nell smiles.

“I’m trying to show you I’m an open book. Of course, there’s no reason my banking colleagues should know about my specials needs, but with you – I want to show you I have nothing to hide. No ulterior motives. I just want to be babied… that’s all.” Timmy blinks up at Nell.

* * *

“It’s time for baby’s bottle! Who wants some ju-ju? Do you-you?” Nell pours apple juice into a baby bottle and holds it above Timmy’s playpen.

Timmy squeals in delight, clapping his hands.

“Can you say ju-ju, Timmy? Ju-ju? Can you say ju-ju?”

Timmy giggles and reaches for the bottle.

“Say ju-ju, and you can have your bottle.”

Timmy screws up his face and blows spit bubbles.

“Ju-ju, Timmy. Say it.”

“Na-ma mphf. Do-do.”

Nell frowns and shakes her head.

“Ma-mamoo-moo. Do-do.”

“Aw, c’mon!” Nells slams the bottle on the dining room table. “This is getting ridiculous. It started with you asking me to call North Bank telling them you’re sick. You haven’t been to the office in a month. Then you asked me to not only feed you and give you your bottles, but bathe you and dress you. You even convinced me to go out and get an over-sized playpen and crib. And I still don’t know how you talked me into changing your di-dees, but this has got to stop! Now say something intelligible!”

“Na-na.” Timmy drools.

Nells gasps, and covering her mouth with her hand. “Did you say na-na?”


“Oh, Timmy, you called me nana.” She smiles and stoops to hug him. “Yes, I’m your nanny. I’m sorry I was cross.”

Timmy coos.

“That’s a good baby. Don’t you worry about a thing, little- er, big baby. Nana Nell will take care of everything.”

* * *

“How does this sound – Wanted: ladies who are motherly and gentle, yet firm, and strict, if necessary. If you are a discreet lady who enjoys taking care of the big boys, apply at Nell’s Nannies.”

“I dunno, Nell,” Charlene says. “Do you think people will know what ‘big boys’ means? They might think it’s a legitimate nanny agency.”

“But it is a legitimate agency. I mean it will be, once I get my license.”

Tonya rolls her eyes. “An agency to match mother figures with pervs? Ha! I always knew there was something a little freaky about you, Nell. Do you really think there’s a market for this?”

“I already have a waiting list of adult babies who are looking for specially-trained nannies.” Nell smirks. “These men have all been screened and background-checked. And they all make six figures.”

“Sign me up,” Charlene and Tonya say simultaneously.

Nell pours three glasses of Riesling. “Cheers to the big boys.” The ladies clink glasses.

“By the way,” Charlene says, “where is Timmy? I haven’t heard a peep out of him all evening.”

“He’s in a nursing home.” Nell sighs. “He regressed to the point where he couldn’t do anything for himself. Lucky for me, he gave me power of attorney before he lost the ability to speak and write.”

“So you’re in control of all of Timmy’s finances?” Tonya says.

“How else do you think I was able to start Nell’s Nannies?” She winks and downs the rest of her wine.

* * *

Thanks to Ron Earl of Flash Fiction Friday for this flash fiction prompt!

Hokey in the Pokey- a Microfiction Tale

Maricopa County female inmates are padlocked by the ankle for chain gang duty in Phoenix, Arizona October 21, 2003.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy.”

“Don’t be sorry, dad. All I wanted was to be like you.”

“I didn’t have time for you. I wasn’t a good father.”

“Aw, forget it, dad. We get to spend time together now. We can do the hokey in the pokey. We can turn ourselves around. That’s what it’s all about.”

Thanks to Jezri’s Nightmares for this microfiction challenge!

Abode by the Sea- a Microfiction Tale

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

I wasn’t Daddy’s little girl, and Mum resented me. You said no one good would ever care for me. So I found my creep, and we eloped. Guess what? He spoils me. When you all see the big rock he gave me, and our quaint little abode by the sea, you’ll all be sorry.


Thanks to Jezri’s Nightmares for this microfiction challenge!

Suspension- a Microfiction Tale


“Ruby, what did I say about eating paste?”

“Sorry, Ms. Graham.”

“That’s the third time today. You’ve ruined another outside lesson. Now we’ll all have to go inside for more paste. Except you. Do a time out at the swing.”

“But the wolf is hungry!”

“Wolves don’t eat paste. Pretend time is over. Now go!”


Thanks to Jezri’s Nightmares for this microfiction challenge!

Redemption- a Flash Fiction Tale

Joan of Arc Being Interrogated, by Paul Delaroche

“I killed a man.” Geoff stares at the ceiling and bites his lip. “Shot him with his own gun. Son’abitch tried to rob me. I grabbed his gun, shot him through the head. He’s in his grave in the landfill outside of town. No one’s gonna find him.” Geoff shrugs. “But I still gotta pay for what I did.”

“I killed a man, stabbed him.” Roy says, his eyes downcast. “He busted in, all high on dope. So I grabbed my knife. Stabbed him in the leg. He tried to grab me, so I stabbed him in the neck. He’s sunk in the old quarry over yonder.” Roy picks at his nail. “I had to do it, but I know I’m guilty.”

Jehanne rises from her seat, her dress damp with sweat. With a trembling finger, she traces the cross-shaped birthmark on her breast. She winces as her nail bumps the edge of a scab. “Bless you, Geoff. Bless you, Roy. You have confessed your sins, and shall receive redemption.” She grabs the vial hanging from her neck. “By my sacrifice, you are absolved.” She removes a pill from the vial and swallows it. She sits, lays her head on the table, and closes her eyes.

The evening sun slips below the windowsill.

Geoff clears his throat. “Saint Jehanne,” he says. “That has a nice ring to it.”

“Yeah, “Roy says. “Do you think she’s in Heaven yet?”

“I dunno. It’s only been a few minutes. Did you really kill that man?”

“Nah. Did you?”

“Nope.” Geoff lets out a deep breath. “I just said I did to help Jehanne. I figured the way the new Cardinal’s been actin’, she couldn’t be without sin very much longer.”

“Yeah.” Roy nods quickly. “Me too.”

Praise A. Diva- a Flash Fiction Tale

Creative Commoms Hans-Wolfgang Axkermann


“Ah . . hello?

“Welcome to your afterlife.”

“Uh . . afterlife? Am I dead?”

“Not quite. You exist with rudimentary consciousness. That is how you are able to communicate.”

“I can’t see anything. I can’t move either. Am I in a coma?”

“No. Your previous life functions of your previous corporeality crossed the threshold into biological entropy, therefore achieving a death-like state.”

“So I’m dead. That’s what I get for being an animal lover. Um . . did I crash into anybody when I swerved to miss the squirrel?”

“It was a chipmunk, and a rabid one at that. It would’ve been dead the next day anyway, had you not swerved to miss it. And no, you didn’t crash into anybody, you crashed into a tree. Your skull collapsed on impact with the trunk, right after it breached the windshield of your vehicle.”

“Well, that’s a relief, I suppose. At least I didn’t suffer. So this is what it’s like to be dead. No pearly gates, no choir of angels. Pretty dull, if you ask me. Er . . am I in Hell?”


“Yes! Thank God I made it to Heaven! Or the waiting room for Heaven, I assume. So I guess I’m supposed to check in or something? My name is Glen Mead, I’m a traveling musician, a citizen of Australia, and my religion is um . . Quaker Christian. But I suppose you know all that already. You’re one of Heaven’s gatekeepers, right?”


“Oh. So is this purgatory? I’ll be damned. Of all the religions, I thought Catholicism was the least-”

“You are not in purgatory, you are a crystallite entity floating in a crystallite cloud on the cosmic brane.”

“Seriously? Ha! I must be dreaming. This is gonna be the inspiration for a great song when I wake up.”

“You are not asleep. As I said, you now exist as a crystallite with a rudimentary consciousness. If you relax, you may see my form with the residual vision you still have.”

“Wow. That’s you in front of me? You look like a giant virus. No offense.”

“None taken. I am a giant virus – comparatively giant, that is, as you are submicroscopic.”

“Crikey. So how long am I gonna be like this? Will I be born again? Will I be human?”

“You will be integrated into a biological life form in about 9.97 billion years. In about 12 billion, 995 million years, you will be born as a human.”

“Blimey! That’s a helluva long time. Say, how do you know all this? Are you God?”

“Technically, no. But my closest definitional approximation is that of a god-like entity, and one of an infinite number. We are the fathers of all sentient life. The infinite number of bacteria are the mothers of all sentient life.”

“Alrighty then. Pleased to meet you, god-like entity. By the way, what’s your name?”

“You may call me ‘A. Diva.’ “

“What’s the ‘A’ stand for? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Not at all. The ‘A’ stands for “Anything.'”

“Anything Diva”?

“Anything at all.”

“Oh, I get it. That’s a great name. My name’s ‘Glen Mead,’ but I think I already mentioned that. I forget. My thoughts are fuzzy. I feel sleepy all of a sudden . . and now I’m having trouble seeing you. Feel funny. Drifting . . ”

“Your residual vision is running out, along with your residual human consciousness.”

“Is this the end?”

“No. This is the beginning.”

* 2

Thanks to Glen Ricafrente and Flannery Alden of Flash Fiction Friday for this flash fiction challenge!

Just Another Peek!- a Flash Fiction Tale



Just a Peek! (part 1)


In a carport adjacent to a minilab, two identical couples tear into a Tardis with axes and hammers. When the detectors in the Tardis splinter, one of the couples disappears, and the Tardis instantaneously regenerates. The remaining couple stands, admiring the gleam and promise of the invention.

“It’s nearly ten after two,” Angie says, opening the machine door and climbing in. “Gotta go take my peek. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in no time.”

“Just a peek?” Artie says.

“Just a peek!”

A grey undulating mass attached to the lower step of the time machine catches Artie’s eyes. “Uh- wait, Angie. There’s something on your time machine. And it’s moving. You’d better take a look. You don’t want any contaminants from the present accidentally transported to the future.”

Angie steps out of the machine, kneels, and studies the growing mass. “I have no idea what that is, Artie, but I’m glad you spotted it. Looks like it’s starting to dissolve the base of the machine, but it’s leaving the ground intact. Almost like it has a motive- an intelligence. I don’t want to interfere with it. I don’t know where it came from, but it could be dangerous.” Angie rises and steps back. “We’d better stand clear. The dissolving machine parts could collapse and fall.”

Angie grabs Artie’s arm and they jump to the edge of the carport. The mass continues to grow, and the time machine quickly dissolves into nothingness. The mass crystallizes into a clear saucer shape where the Tardis used to be.

“Ah, honey, I don’t know what to say,” Artie says, shaking his head. “That was freaky. Ten years you spent perfecting your time machine, and now this. I’m sorry.” He embraces his wife.

Angie laughs.

“Honey? You okay?” Artie says. “I know you’re an optimist, but laughing at your time machine dissolving is . .  a bit odd.”

“I think I’ve figured it out! Whatever it was that dissolved my machine- it had to have been from the future. I haven’t seen anything like it before, not even at the lab. So the only rational explanation is it’s future goo. That means my time machine worked!” Angie grins and claps her hands.

“But . .  I don’t understand. You didn’t even get a chance to test out the machine.” Artie shakes his head. “How could that grey goo be from the future?”

“Well, it certainly didn’t look like it could’ve been from the present. Remember, the lab is the hub of all the cutting-edge quantum experimentation in the world, and I’m privy to all that information. If the lab doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist- yet.” Angie takes a step toward the clear crystal structure. “Until now, that is.”

“Careful, honey,” Artie calls out. “That thing- whatever it is- could still be dangerous.”

Angie reaches into her pocket and puts out a mini Geiger counter. She kneels beside the crystal and reads the dial. “Well, at least it’s not radioactive,” she calls over her shoulder. She slips her counter back into her pocket and holds her hand over the crystal. “And it’s not hot.” She slowly lowers her hand. “It’s not even warm. It feels like glass.” Angie stands and leans over the crystal. “Hey, check this out, I can see my reflection, and- oh, wait- that’s not my reflection. Come over here, Artie. This is weird.”

Artie inches toward the crystal. “You’re braver than I am. How do you know that thing isn’t gonna change back into a giant glob and decide it’s hungry again?”

“It looks like it’s in a stable crystal form now. Crystals don’t easily change forms, and crystals don’t get hungry.” She grabs Artie’s arm and pulls him next to her. “But crystals are excellent repositories of information- look.”

They stare down at the surface and see an image of two Angies and two Arties hacking into a Tardis with axes and hammers.

“This substance must’ve encoded an image of whatever happened just before it dissolved the time machine.” Angie points at the image. “An event we weren’t privy to, because it took place in a time line other than our own.”

Artie sits on the ground and cradles his head in his hands. “My head is spinning. I don’t doubt your science, hon, but how could the goo- or crystal, or whatever it is- take a picture here, with us, of an event that happened in a time line other than our own?”

“The only rational explanation is it’s a trans-dimensional substance, most likely one which was purposely invented as a safeguard against any unforeseen perils of time travel. I likely invented it, then released it into the environment. Nobody else had access to the technology required to formulate such a substance- not in this universe anyway. I bet this stuff is ubiquitous in the future.” Angie furrows her brow. “But before I invented the safeguard, I must have decided, after a peek at the future, that time travel was too dangerous, and so I traveled back to the past to warn my past self to not travel into the future. I guess I took you along with me so you could help destroy the machine. That’s how we see four of us hacking the machine to pieces.”

“But if we all destroyed the machine, that means you never traveled to the future in the first place, er- right?” Artie frowns.

“Remember my multiverse lecture at the lab last year? I hypothesized that anytime we travel through time- even when we travel through time without a time machine, like we’re doing right now- we are experiencing one of an infinite number of parallel universes. In another set of infinite number of parallel universes, other Angies and Arties are still stuck in a time loop. And in yet another set of infinite number of parallel universes, including his specific universe we see here . . ” Angie spreads her arms, “the goo just happened to pop us out of the time loop I created.”

Artie pats the ground. “So we’re lucky we’re right here in this universe . .  uh, right?” He smiles up at Angie.

“Yep!” She reaches for his hand and helps him to his feet. “Now help me get that crystal into my minilab. If word of this leaks out, the government will swoop in so fast our heads will spin. And who knows what evil they’d use it for.”

Artie walks over to the crystal, kneels, and runs his hand over it. “Good thinking. A technology this advanced is indistinguishable from magic.”


Thanks to Flannery Alden at Flash Fiction Friday for this flash fiction challenge!