The Measure of a Man’s Best Friend

The Greyhound halted. This was where $200 took James. He disembarked, shouldered his prison-issued backpack, and read the station’s name: Kum & Go.

“Here to rob it?”

James swung to see a man by a pickup; opened his mouth, then shut it. The man had no legs. The truck had a dog.

-But not just any dog. “Buttercup!”

The yellow lab hurtled out and licked him, desisting at her master’s call. James had trained her in prison, as a service animal for a wounded soldier.

James looked up, and both men saw each other -clearly- for the first time.

©2022 Chel Owens

Oh my goodness, Charli! Don’t ever make me do that, again! -I mean, This was written in response to Charli’s prompt at Carrot Ranch:

May 16, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about when a newly released prisoner meets the disabled veteran who adopted the puppy the prisoner trained behind bars. The prompt is based on the short story I wrote for Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat. Yes, rewrite my story in your words, 99, no more, no less. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by May 21, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form [on the site]. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #177: Aztec Cookie

Explorer’s Log, Quintilis 1502

Some days we find nothing -nothing to warrant the persistent sun, the steaming jungle, nor the rude accommodations. Each day drags longer as it pulls us further from a return home. The beating hours are enough to drive a man mad.

There’s a capuchin examining me. He knows what I think.

The men bear these stresses better than I, used to hard labour as they are. They say to have hope. Or, they may have said there was no hope; my grasp of the local dialect is still tenuous.

Aha! Dhorman comes as I write, bearing that broad, white grin of his. He holds something as he comes, shouting. What is he shouting?

“Cookie?”

©2022 Chel Owens

—–

Written in response to Crispina Kemp’s Crimson Creative Challenge.

In Which Amelie Believes, and Disappears #99Word Stories

Scritchy scratchy wax on wall, she thought. No matter. It was the shape she needed right.

*Sniff* a hand ‘cross red nose and puffy eyes. *Stomp stomp stomp* she heard those hobnailed boots but they .stopped. off the other way.

She breathed and scritched and scratched, the purple crayon unwilling to give its wax without a fight.

“There,” she said, and loved the circle she’d formed from the bit of crayon abandoned in the hallway.

“I’m Amelie, and I believe.”

Stuttering hand reached to the middle of the circle. Pushed. And disappeared, where *stomp stomp stomp* can’t find her.

©2022 Chel Owens

Photo by Kamaji Ogino on Pexels.com

For Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week:

March 28, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about disappearance. It can be an event, act, or subtle theme. Who or what disappears? Does it fade or explode? Can it be explained or experienced? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by April 2, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form [on the site]. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

This is The End…..

She hadn’t thought The End would be like this. Nope. She, Sarah Biven, had pictured earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, tsunamis. Families would live in trees. People would fight wars.

Degradation of society proved, instead, to not be instantaneous.

It started with peanut butter.

It did! Sarah could not find her favorite, then could not find any. Funny, she thought, that The End meant no peanut butter. Then, it meant no grapes, no bananas, no meats, no paper goods at all. People rushed to install bidets …till the water ran out as well.

If only -she reflected- they’d not run out of peanuts and meat, she’d at least have had those wars. And what would they fight over? Toilet paper. Some things matter more than others …in The End.

©2022 Chel Owens

Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.com

Forty-Niners Folk Song #99Word Stories

I’ll tell ya ’bout the year we seen
A thousand-thousand chasing dreams
They sought for El Dorado’s prize
‘Neath California’s azure skies
Mining-mining
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song
Ned left his wife and their love-nest
Left their new babe to go out West
He ain’t found gold, but don’t you fret
He’s learned to dig and drink and bet
Digging-digging
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song
Jim found some dust away down there
He spent it all on golden hair
Next day, Jim panned and found some more
He went right back to that ol’ h-ore…
(Final chorus, past the word count)
Panning-panning
All day long
Forty-niners
Sing this song

©2022 Chel Owens

Sung ’round mining towns for Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week: January 31, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the ’49ers.” Who or what are they? What is the significance of the number? Do you follow the Gold Rush history or venture into new territory? Go where the prompt leads!

Annabell(s)

Annabell Wilkins toddled everywhere Mommy did; at least, she tried to.

“No, Annie,” Mom stopped her. “No mud.”

“No, Annie. Not the hay bales.”

“No, Annie! Yucky!”

Annabell Goatkins had a similar problem. Wherever she toddled, Mommy Goatkins nudged her back around.

“No, Annie!” Mom bleated, “No pail!”

“No, Annie. Not the cows!”

“No, Annie! Yucky!”

The unfortunate kids wandered the yard in a crazy zig-zag, landing behind the barn with a bump! They sat and stared at each other, big-eyed and curious.

“Annabell!” Both mothers called -but only when they heard, “No, Annie!” did Annabell(s) know to come.

©2021 Chel Owens

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written for Carrot Ranch’s weekly prompt:

December 2, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the littlest Christmas goat. Who does the goat belong to? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 7, 2021. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction — Norah Colvin

My good friend, Norah, shared this sweet short fiction piece:

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads! Charli, of course wrote about writer’s tools and provided a multitude of links […]

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction — Norah Colvin

The Valley of Spirit

They’d warned her about Old Adavndo Valley. Locals, etched in lines of wisdom’s dust, shook their heads slowly. Raised a hand. Or a crooked finger.

“Don’t,” they said, “Disturb the dead.”

She brushed them off. Turned away.

“An’ don’,” they added, “Film nothin’ ’bout yourself…”

But she was Alda Evenfeld, two-times winner of the Fergus Film Festival. No age-worn, brain-worn superstitions stood against book-worn, theatre-worn critics.

Still, fans later reflected, what a tragic coincidence. Late opening night; neighbors, drawn in moonlight, found the shell of Ms. Evenfeld. Exactly as her film’s protagonist lay. With the same scare-worn, dusty face.

Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

©2021 Chel Owens

Written for Carrot Ranch’s prompt this week:

November 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a film festival. It can be a small-town indie fest or the Festival de Cannes or anything in between. Who is in the story? An audience-goer, filmmaker, actress, or something unexpected? Through in some popcorn for fun. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 9, 2021. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Ted and Trudy

Ted and Trudy had been married forever; four years, in fact. Each still said he or she was in love. Still, each found himself or herself dreading the drive home after work.

Their marriage counselor tried. “What you need is to find and speak each other’s love language,” she said.

Ted and Trudy tried.

Physical intimacy didn’t touch on the issue. Spending quality time together made the evening drag on and on. Neither received gifts presently. Words of affirmation didn’t speak to either of them. And we won’t even mention how self-absorbed each became when performing acts of service.

It wasn’t until Ted finally snapped and complained about it all that Trudy felt an unexpected spark.

“Ooooh. Say that again, Ted,” she cooed.

Ted blinked. “Uhhh… the counselor’s charging way too much for something that’s not working?”

“Yes, Ted! Yes! What else isn’t working?”

“Uhh…” he thought for a minute. “That plumber we hired this morning was late, incompetent, and left a mess.”

Trudy sat up and perked up. “What else??”

“No one knows how to drive anymore?” He was starting to get excited as well.

“Yes! Yes!”

“Whenever I go shopping, I can’t ever find a good clerk! How difficult is it to know where the polos are?”

“Ohhh, Ted.” She drew right up to him. “What else?”

“The governor’s an idiot and this country’s being run by imbeciles!”

“YYYYYESSSSS!”

…..

Their counselor was surprised to see them practically bouncing at their next (and last) appointment.

“We did it!” Trudy gushed. “We found our love language!”

“Oh?” the counselor asked, intrigued. “Which is it?”

Ted and Trudy looked at each other, smiled; then, in unison, answered, “Complaining!”

©2021 Chel Owens

Kelly’s Shopping Trip

Kelly was claustrophobic.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

Of course, she didn’t know that. She didn’t even know what claustrophobic meant.

Not-very-blissfully unaware, she simply avoided the subway, most alleyways, rooms without two exits, corners, small grocery stores, compact cars, buses, airplanes, and -for her entire life- the game of Hide and Seek.

It was when Kelly mentioned how even seeing skinny jeans made her hyperventilate that a sales clerk clued her in. “Skinny jeans make everyone short of breath,” he explained, “Especially those wearing them.”

Kelly smiled in relief, purchased a muumuu, and walked the five miles home to her open floor plan house. She felt happy.

©2021 Chel Owens