Rainbow Cat and Cheeser the Mouse

Cheeser the Mouse followed his nose. He peeked around a tree.

A cat’s claws tapped on a pot filled with cheddar. “Hello there, little mouse.” His voice cooed, attractive. “Come, ingratiate me. Do a dance and call me Rainbow. Perhaps I’ll give you this cheese.”

The smell of the cheddar was irresistible for a field mouse. Cheeser stepped out and danced a jig. “Is that good enough, Rainbow?”

Rainbow, while sitting on the pot of cheese, snatched up Cheeser and ate him. “Good show indeed, Cheeser – and at the other end of this Rainbow, you’ll get your cheddar gold.”

This was written with inspiration from the Carrot Ranch prompt “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cat named Rainbow on an outdoor adventure.” I also wrote, a while back, another story about a different Cheeser the Mouse and a cat named Chaircat Mao. The combination of ideas brought me to write this little ditty.

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The Hermit

“You’re so boring, pops. You only sit there and meditate.” The young man pounded his fist on a simple table, rattling a knife, bread, and cup of butter.

The elder took the knife and buttered a piece. “There are many ways to glory.”

He growled, pulled on his cloak, and left.


The young man returned to the chapel, this time much grayer. His hands were manicured, his wallet full, his clothes fine. He brushed his hand against the rough-hewn table.

He crushed the land’s deed in his hands. He’d sacrificed a quiet glory, but what for he couldn’t tell.

This was written for the Carrot Ranch’s most recent flash fiction challenge, “rethinks the hero.” One of my Sunday school lesson series (back in the before times) was on contemplative life and meditation, and there we talked about the criticism that being entirely contemplative kept one from helping the world or other people. At the same time, contemplation isn’t terribly valued in a pretty cataphatic society. I wanted to play on that here.

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The Rodeo Has Begun!

It’s time to saddle up and get in line, because the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is happening NOW at the Carrot Ranch! Writers will have the opportunity to support Sue Vincent, a stalwart center of our blogging community, as well as compete for a $100 prize!

That’s right – we’re trying to make this the biggest writers’ Rodeo yet and celebrate Sue Vincent’s work and writing in the process. On the Rodeo Classic page, you can find a beautiful photo (from none other than Sue herself) to serve as a prompt. Write a story of 99 words or a poem of 99 syllables – no more, no less – based on the prompt photo on the Rodeo page. Also on the Rodeo page is an entry form where you can put up to two entries for the contest. And don’t worry, entries will be anonymized – everyone’s on an equal playing field at the Carrot Ranch, even if you get some TUFF bulls to ride or horses to break! But don’t lollygag – you only have until February 19th to get on your bull and ride out the chute.

There are many ways to participate in the rodeo. Every Rodeo has multiple events, and the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is no different. In addition to participating in the contest and donating to the cause, we have multiple events you can participate in!

  • The Sue Vincent Reblog Barrel Race – Check out Sue’s website or the website she shares with Stuart France. Find a poem, essay, or photo that speaks to you, and re-blog it. Feel free to include links to the contest and make sure to include a comment on the re-blog!
  • The Great Book Parade – Buy and read one of Sue’s books. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave a review or publish it on your blog!
  • The Comment Riding Contest – The prize for this one is a fuzzy good feeling and the sharing of community. Like and/or comment on Sue’s posts, whether new or old.
  • Snack Stands – Share the contest on other social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or others! You can definitely follow Sue Vincent on Twitter.
  • The Prize Ceremony – Winners will be announced on March 21st, 2021. It could be you, but even if not, come see what Sue’s prompt invoked.

See you on the Carrot Ranch circuit, cowfolk!

Come Ride in the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch!

Sue Vincent is one of those special bloggers that inspires people all over the world. Personally, I have been touched by several of her #midnighthaiku posts. Not only does she write beautiful haiku, she includes her own fabulous photos to match. The haiku “Weep” is one of my favorites. Imbibe that and try not to be moved after the words.

Readers have long been galvanized by her posts about mythology, about ancient ruins and medieval churches, and her daily #midnighthaiku. Even more have participated in and grown as a result of her #writephoto prompts. In addition to posting her prompts, Sue has tirelessly supported other bloggers by sharing others’ responses to her 19,000 and counting followers.

Recently, Sue has been faced with a new and difficult challenge: lung cancer. You can follow her blog to find out more directly from her. The Covid pandemic has served not only to pose a specific threat to a person with a severe respiratory illness, but it has caused loss of human connection through self-imposed quarantine.

Now it’s time for Sue to receive something back from the community she’s been a cornerstone of for a decade. Let’s bring the Rodeo into Sue’s house through her computer, and let’s come together with hearts full of joy. Join us for the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch – a contest, parade, and celebration all in one!
There are many ways to participate. One is to visit the prompt image, “Hidden”, at the Carrot Ranch. The prompt image and entry form will go live on Monday, February 1st, 2021. Enter a flash or a poem by Friday, February 19th, 2021, and you could win either $100 or a copy of one of Sue’s books. The form will allow you to give a small donation for Sue and her family, and a link can be found on the contest page. The winning entries will be announced at the Carrot Ranch on March 22nd, 2021.

If you’re not ready to rodeo, there’s always the “Parade”. Reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites (Daily Echo or France and Vincent) with a comment about why you found it special. Follow her blogs. Read one of her books, then leave reviews where you can. Several people are already gearing up for the parade – so feel free to check out other people’s blogs for suggestions.

Also, go ahead and reblog, tweet, Facebook, or somehow otherwise share the contest! 99 word literary art is a fantastic way to celebrate a blogging hero and very deserving person.

Saddle up, everyone! It’s time for a Carrot Ranch Rodeo like none ever held before. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins on Monday, February 1st, and it’ll be a TUFF prompt to fit within 99 words. 
See you at the Ranch, buckaroos!

The Communion Wafer

The priest, exasperated from his loud and charismatic exhortations, bowed and wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. He picked up the cracker. “Lord Yarenth, bless us with your presence!”

As he broke the wafer, it turned black and fell to pieces.

Out of the bowl and over the priest’s hands spewed thousands of black spiders. Far more than there could have been wafers poured from some dark portal in the bowl.

“Save us! Lord Yarenth, we have sinned!” a woman in the front rows screeched, her voice soon drowned by screaming. The parishioners fought for the exit.

This was written for the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge, “unexpected.” Well, if communion wafers turning to spiders isn’t unexpected, then I don’t think I want to know what is.

For the first time ever, I think, I took a passage from a longer work I’ve written and made it into a flash. This was based on a scene from Manifest Destiny, the first novella in a trilogy of the same name. I’ve finished the novella and gotten through the first draft of parts 2 and 3, but 2 and 3 need such serious reworking that I’m getting through them very slowly. If you want to know more, hit me up in the comments.

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Meet the Muse

“Pah! You’ve never had such adventure. How do you expect to write about space warriors or musketmen if you’ve never been one?” He leans over a bit and lights a pipe, but as he puffs the smoke has no scent. He’s not exactly real. He’s a figment, a muse.

Or so he’s led me to believe. Otherwise this smoke crap’s going to make me sick one day.

I type with nimble fingers despite his prodding. “If you’re such a stone-cold killer, why don’t you tell me how to write this? Get through this battle scene so I can go on with the politics I’m better at?”

“I will! I am your muse, after all. I’m also better at politics than you, so you can rely on me to help with that.” He clears his throat, straightens his bow tie, and puffs on his pipe. “Now, let me point you to some first-person accounts of a similar battle to the one you’re writing. It’ll tell you about how you trap them on a peninsula, burn their houses, and shoot the enemy as they swim across a river. It’s genius strategy, I tell you, genius.”

“Sounds like a massacre, not a battle.”

He points his pipe at me. “A massacre that worked, by the eternal. Did what it was supposed to.” It isn’t long before he returns the pipe to his mouth, puffing once more.

I put down my pen with a clack. “Do you just want me to chat with you instead of getting this done?”

“By no means! I just think you should wait until I get in a passion and write a first draft. Then you can flog my drivel and reminiscing into shape, and then we’ll publish.”

“Yeah. Rely on me to get published.” I snort. “Good plan.”

“It sounds like we are in total agreement then! You shall wait, and I will get out my pen to write something you can fix up. You won’t let me down, will you?”

I sigh. “I’m just going to do this myself. Even if your writing is realistic, there’s no literary quality at all.”

He puffs. “What happy circumstance! It seems we’re in agreement. I’ll get that rough draft done soon, after I finish this pipe. Perhaps after get some more reading done, maybe after Christmas, things like that.”

I type…

This was written as a response to D. Wallace Peach’s Meet the Muse. I’ve never thought much about my muse before, but I guess it’s probably a stodgy old man in a long-tailed tuxedo with a pipe. Then again, I’ve been told I’m really an old man anyway. Image is provided by D. Wallace Peach as well.

God’s Program

God saved their computer program then recompiled it with some new updates. The opening sequence, light and dark, went as planned. Then came oceans, land, plants, and animals. The computer at last compiled the while loop they’d been working on for quite some time. Mankind popped up, but once again the program’s asinine “people simulations” betrayed God.

They’d spent so long on this program and it never worked. Maybe they would patch it later.

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #178, “Asinine“. At first I just thought of computer programming, but then I wrapped it together with a religious context and it worked out this way.

A Green Confession

I was jealous of Heather because she was tall. She was a preacher’s daughter, a good girl.

When her parents started homeschooling her, I wasn’t jealous anymore.

This tiny story was written for the Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt, Heather. I knew a girl named Heather in elementary school, and I guess this counts as an IRL story because it did mostly happen (though this condensed form conveys none of the nuances regarding what homeschool in America is often about and why it can change the game in a bad way).

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Good News on the Radio

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

This post was inspired by the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge for September 10th: radio. I’m fascinated with preppers even though I’m not a very good one myself, and I love Cold War stories. So here you have it – a dastardly combo!

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First Flight – #CarrotRanch

It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.

Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.

Oh, and Ohio can suck it.

This was written for the obvious trap of a prompt from the Carrot Ranch, first flight. I’m from North Carolina, so how could I resist? My damn license plates say “First in Flight”, and the flight was conducted here. Screw you, Dayton, it was here we flew first. Not only that, but Sherman was from Ohio. Ohio is North Carolina’s natural enemy. End of rant.