An Unnatural Glade

Var paused. This opening felt different.

The echo of his soot-crusted boots ceased. His kerchiefed breathing slowed. As charred branches, brittle pine boughs, and scorched roots recovered from his recent passing; he realized he was not alone.

Furthermore, Var could not be the only living thing in this unliving world.

There! Ash-strewn sunlight touched a new, green bud. And, there! A lonely peppered moth took flight. Oh, there! Buzzing annoyance nipped a sunburned ear.

But, there! -Most of all, there! In this unnatural glade amidst a smoldering hell of war’s aftermath, he heard an ancient sound: sweet, whistling birdsong.

©2021 Chel Owens

Photo by Jack Bulmer on Pexels.com

Written for an early morning, and for Carrot Ranch’s prompt:

May 27, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 1, 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.

Would I Not Do Some Great Thing?

New-spring mud gripped his ankles, bringing Naaman’s mind to thoughts of bondage rather than freedom. What sort of healing could he find here, at the lowest bank of the river? What sort of fool did that holy man think him to be?

A gesture distracted his thoughts. His wife’s maid dropped her gaze at his stare. Remaining bowed, she once again lifted a hand toward his feet. Her head tilted.

“Would I not do some great thing?” he hissed to himself. Drawing deep within the soul he’d long forgotten resided in his sickly shell, Naaman willed himself to believe.

© Chel Owens

By Unknown author, Wikipedia

A slight change on a very old tale for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week:

April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 27, 2021. Use the comment section (at Carrot Ranch) 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.

Saguaro ‘N Seek

Pal spat into the wind, instantly regretting he’d done so. “Ware be Kid?” he growled as he wiped his face.

“Ware be you?” the wind answered.

Pal whipped around. He slid off the rocky outcropping he’d carefully climbed and scooted across just a few minutes before. His gun flew after him, landing stock first into a Saguaro and shooting its contents sky-high.

“Hey!” yelped the cactus, falling over.

Pal squinted. “Kid?”

“Nah, yer gramma.”

Pal laughed. “Welp,” he said, standing and walking over to his dusty, cactus-clad friend. “I guess you won this here round o’ hide ‘n seek.”

Photo by Sini on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

I’m sure D. Avery would object to playing games in the desert, but this came about ‘cuz o’ Carrot Ranch‘s prompt:

October 1, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail. It can take place anywhere. Who is your character, where are they going, and why? Bonus points if they meet up with Kid and Pal from D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns and Saddle Up Saloon (they hit the trail so TUFF could take over the saloon). Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by October 6, 2020. Use the comment section [on Carrot Ranch’s 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.

Also, consider moseying over to The Ranch tomorrow, and every Monday this month, to participate in their TUFF challenge. The final submission will be at the end of October. There will be prizes!!

Bring on the Rain

“I am in control!” She screams, gripping fists of invisibility so hard she feels what’s left of fingernails digging against her palms. Forget the past; forget what Steve or Phil or Jack or even James -if that was his name- said. “I am in control!”

Forces more powerful than any touched by man answer, without words. Pushing, tearing, whipping the lake’s edge against her -her, a small, insignificant figure to challenge God’s great breath.

“I am -” she gasps, “in control!” Spray and tears stream down her face;
wipe clean
spray
clear

Till, beckoned by her challenge, the sky-fall comes.

Inspired by Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, high winds:

September 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds. It can be on land, sea or in outer space. Who is facing the wind or protected from it? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 8, 2020. 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.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

What’s in a Name?

Mimi’s mum named her something, “fun, cheery; a bit totty.” To say Mimi’s actual personality fell short of that was a wee understatement. Had she been allowed an opinion, Mimi would’ve chosen a sensible moniker like Mildred.

“Mildred? Whoever’d want to be Mildred unless she thought to run a convent?” Mum would’ve said, had she still been around and not jumped before the pilot gave the all-clear at the Seniors’ Skydiving Surprise.

The Surprise was how little liability the company claimed.

What had gone through Mum’s head before passing, Mimi wondered, apart from that church spire? She’d never know.

ricardo-gomez-angel-qovsjSPm4Hg-unsplash (1)

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Don’t ask where this came from, in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week:

May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 19, 2020. Use the comment section …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.

 

Photo Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Anarchists and Aliens

Despite overwhelming evidence of humanity’s intelligence and observational abilities, Dr. Straussnüd’s research covering the period shortly before the collapse of civilisation appeared to lead to one conclusion: that people failed to utilise said abilities in order to avert subjugation and demise.

For, for what other reason did the records he had unearthed bear markings of carefree ignorance on the part of Earth’s inhabitants?

When a literal invasion of alien species flashed its conscience-altering devices, they had not followed admonitions. Why? Once informed, audio records proved their leaders to have yelled, “Shield your faces!”

Straussnüd frowned. He required further study.

two alien inside car wallpaper

Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

I’m not sure where this came from, but it’s in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt:

April 9, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that declares, shield your face. It can be a knight of old, a doctor, or a senior citizen. What is the circumstance? Who makes the declaration? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 14, 2020. Use the comment section …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.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Earthquake

It isn’t loud, the sound of impending doom. It isn’t quiet, but it isn’t loud.

I’d always assumed the opposite.

Instead of a sudden dislodging of one’s solid footing with a sudden tap-tinkle-tumble of Grandma’s antique urn that had rested too near the mantel’s edge –

I expected a fanfare. I anticipated an alarm. At the least, I thought there’d be a Horseman.

But, no.

As I clutched my children against the shivering wall and listened to the silence that shook my world, I learned: there’s only the rumble of the moment.

It isn’t loud, the sound of impending doom.

Earthquake

Fallen debris is seen at a building at 500 South and 400 West in Salt Lake City after an earthquake on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Written, then considered for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo ©2020 KSL Newsmedia

Throwback Thursday: Zombie Lunchlady

I had intended to continue H.R.R. Gorman‘s story today, but ’twill have to wait till morning. In the meantime, enjoy a three paragraph story I wrote back on October 18, 2017.

3 Paragraph Story: Zombie Lunchlady

Doris stood there, hand on hip, trying to figure out what to say. She’d already used up most of her standby phrases; things like, “Don’t forget, employees must wash their hands,” and “A smile will go a long way.” What worked for all the other ladies had not worked for this newest employee.

“Wash your hands” had led to the new hire carefully removing one hand, rinsing it, reattaching it somewhat sloppily, then attempting to repeat the process with the other one. Encouraging her to smile had sent the entire first grade screaming and running away from the queue.

Today, Doris had come to school ready for whatever came to mind. She’d thought to ask her fellow long-timers what they suggested. Looking hopelessly around the group, however, she realized they would not have any suggestions for the new girl. Rather, she had rubbed off on them already. They stood in a similar posture to hers, listlessly lolling their heads about and groaning. Doris cleared her throat anyway. Alerted, they all began shambling closer.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Fred’s Best Friend

“He’s in t’flowers again.”

“Mmm-hmmm.”

Mae put a hand on a hip and glowered at Fred. The look failed, on account of his facing open-hood engine and not openly-hostile wife.

“Fraey-ed!”

“Mm?”

Fred hunted around for some lost cap or perhaps a lost widget. His wife was a determined sort, bound to hold her position till he acknowledged her.

“Fred!”

He couldn’t keep up the pretend-hunt. “Yes’m?”

“I say-ed that yer old dog’s out in m’flowers agin!” She whined. “I jest planted them daisies!”

Fred found his wrench. “Ah, Mae. I say t’let the old dog have his day!”

Played out in response to the prompt from Carrot Ranch: a dog in the daisies.

February 6, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to the theme “a dog in the daisies.” It can be any dog, real or imagined. Push into the setting and as always, go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 11, 2020. Use the comment section …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.

©2020 Chelsea Owens
Image © Charli Mills

The Hereafter, Aloft

She came every day at 5:00; after making her way from the bus [D’you need a hand, Mrs. Parker?], down the sidewalk, to the bench.

She needed more and more assistance from those sweet young nurses [What if we skipped the park today, Mrs. Parker?] with each passing day.

The birds know her. Chirping – flitting – pecking. She laughs at their avian antics.

[Come with us.]

“What?” Emiline Parker glances around. A sparrow eyes her.

[Come fly.]

“…Why?”

[You’ve cared. It’s the least we could do.]

Considering, she nods. The birds alight; a new friend among them, an old life behind.

tumblr_pmwougFDsl1rcicodo1_540

From this gif, as prompted by Charli at Carrot Ranch.

©2020 Chelsea Owens