The Funkmaster

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One man’s vintage,
Another man’s junk –
Wanna buy it, sir?
Pack it in your trunk?
Gimme a Jackson,
And indulge in funk!

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This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #120Vintage. 

Also, SORRY for accidentally publishing this yesterday. I meant to publish this today, August 25th.

Image by Gitti Lohr from Pixabay

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Trip to the New World

ship-sailing

The old world had been good, but not perfect.

What would this new one hold? She’d never been told exactly what this place would be like, and all the souls held in the bow of this ship were similarly confused – if they even spoke the same language.

Which, much to the sailors’ consternation, most of them didn’t.

She couldn’t understand the sailors’ tongues, but she did understand their sticks, whips, and clubs. She understood angry glares, uncaring tones, and raised hackles. She understood the chains around her wrists and ankles.

And she could guess their destination wouldn’t be fun.

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This was written for the August 22 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge, old world.

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Watch for Witches

gnome on swing chair

Red-capped Jeroboam soldered the gear. He wound the mechanism and let it go. The device turned and whirred as he expected, so he put it down to tinker on it further.

“What are you making, gnome?” asked a human customer.

“A device that tells time. Wind it up in the morning, and it will work all day.”

“Sounds like witchcraft.”

The gnome squinted. “You could make one too, if you’d get over that ‘witch’ crap.”

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This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #119Tinker. As an avid D&D player, I immediately thought of tinkering gnomes and couldn’t put that idea down!

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Hijacking Euphoria

teal platform stilettos

Johnny hopped in. “Gun it, Euphoria!”

The hot, 375-horsepower Cadillac roared, but she pressed the brakes at a screeching metal sound.

“Door’s jammed! It got caught on the sidewalk!”

Euphoria screamed. “What the hell you doin’ to my car!?”

“It don’t matter! Gun it, or the cops will catch us!”

She put her long, pink fingernails up to her face. Tears streamed down. “Oh no, my baby!”

The cops caught up, guns at the ready. They saw Euphoria’s tears and manhandled Johnny out. “Hijacking a car and robbing a bank!? You’re going to jail for a long time, bub!”

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This was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction PromptJam. I remembered this scene in one of my favorite movies, Black Dynamite, where the baddies pull up to the curb and precipitate a shootout, but they forget their car is in drive. One of the open doors screeches up against the sidewalk and they struggle to get the door closed when they’re making their getaway. So I just hijacked that idea and turned it into what I wanted!

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Frog Slime

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“This will never do,” Mrs. McGillicutty snapped. She dropped the toad gently back down to into the young man’s pail.

“Why not?”

“It’s a simple mistake, but one witches such as I – and you, if you’re willing to stick with your apprenticeship – must learn well.” The woman, whose wild curls had once been a fine jet-black but were now grayed and thick, pointed at the toad. “See the roughness of the skin? The mottled pattern? It’s a toad. In order for spells requiring frog slime to work, you must have a frog.”

The boy rolled his eyes. “So you want me to go back out and look for another one?”

“Well, if you want to make a potion to breathe underwater, you need a frog’s slime. There’s no way around it.” She pointed back to the toad. “If you find another of these, just let it go. The frogs around here are a muddy green, and they tend to live in the ponds.” She turned to her own work, dissecting flowers and carefully removing their various organs to make an aphrodisiac. “Now get on – shoo! The faster you get the frog, the sooner we make the potion.”

Young Chris pursed his lips, refusing to contradict his boss when he left. He shut the door behind him, then sauntered down the dirt path toward the pond. It was another mile away, over by where he’d already picked mushrooms and violets for the witch.

“Stupid witch,” he mumbled to himself. “Should have joined the army and fought the British like father wanted.” He kicked a rock in the middle of the road and contemplated how it rolled, how it couldn’t control its own direction or destiny. He should have followed the advice of the natural world and not tried to kick against the thorns by taking up this unnatural occupation.

Along the side of the road, however, he spotted a bunch of trillium. They were in flower, and the bunch was big enough that he could take several of them and not disturb their future growth. The witch liked these flowers, so he hoped she’d be pleased even if he didn’t find the frog. He dumped the toad out of the pail then collected some of the flowers and continued on his way.

The sun shone brightly, bleaching his hair as he continued down the path. A little ways further, and his eyes caught sight of a spider’s web. He investigated closer, then noticed the little friend of all witches: the black widow. His heart shuddered at the thoughts of the bug’s bite, but he knew the potency of the spider’s bite was something all witches desired. He took a stick, prodded the creature, and eventually convinced her to bite the end of the oak. Sure, the poison would need to be leached soon in order to be made use of, but the witch would know how to do that.

Soon, the young man came to the pond. As if on command, a frog, definitely a frog and not a toad, swam up from the foulest part of the pond and sat on a log. Green algae stuck to its skin.

Mrs. McGillicutty wanted the frog, but the young man looked at the animal and considered it. He’d taken the venom of a spider and a few shoots of a flower – why capture and torture this poor animal? Why waste that time? He scooped the frog from its perch, wiped away a little of the algae, and scooped the slime into one of the wooden gourds the witch made him take on his journeys. The frog was pleased to re-enter the pond, and the boy put the gourd back into his pail.

By the time he returned to the witch’s house, the sun considered setting, and clouds threatened to rain. He knocked once on the door and entered.

The witch looked up from where she stirred a cauldron. “Any luck?” she asked.

“No,” he answered. “I didn’t get you a frog.” He placed the bucket on the table.

“You can just look again tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “Witchcraft is a woman’s work for a reason: it’s not something a man like me should partake in. I’m not learning anything, certainly not enough to make a living doing something so… foul.”

The witch opened the gourd and examined the slime inside. She shuffled through the flowers and sniffed the stick, discerning what was important about it. “Then why bring me all this?”

“Because I knew you’d like them.”

“And how did you know that?”

He bit his lip.

“You’re learning at quite the right pace. Now sit back – I’ve made us some venison stew, magic-free.”

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This was written for Alexander Eliot’s new photo prompt! The prompt isn’t on any certain schedule, as far as I can tell, but I can promise that the photos have been wonderful so far. No rules, just a story.

The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

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“And this is the core of the poisonous apple which Adam and Eve ate.” The tour guide pointed to a core, browned from oxidation but otherwise in good shape. “This was unearthed 10 years ago in Mesopotamia, and no scientific explanation regarding its preservation has come forth.”

Someone raised a hand. “Why do we want to keep it?”

“Many reasons! The NIH wants to research its antibiotic properties. The DOE wants to examine its timelessness to find clean fuels. And, of course, the DOD wants to weaponize it. One of these efforts has already succeeded – I’ll let you guess which…”

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This was written for the August 8th Carrot Ranch Promptpoison apple. I’m a pretty religious person and a scientist, so I thought this would be a good way to take the story.

Blind Faith – Flash Fiction Challenge

green pine trees covered with fogs under white sky during daytime

The Story So Far… 

Vessix accepted her parents’ plans to sacrifice her to the gods after her father lost the vein of gold in the family’s small mine, since a blind person couldn’t support herself in their society. They left her at the temple where all the ill and infirm waited for the gods to come eat them, and Vessix remained at the altar with an ancient, dying man. Late that night, when the door to the temple unlocked and jangled open, the local god entered and ate the man who lay dying, but spared Vessix on the grounds that blindness wasn’t a death sentence. It took her home, gave her breakfast, clothes, a place to sleep, and a psychic duck as a pet. Now the duck urges her to escape and proclaim the god as false to the people of the town – will Vessix listen to the duck’s heretical words, or will she search for real truth? Stay tuned to find out!

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This was written for Joanne the Geek’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Story So Far, which has to contain a duck!  My story so far is based off a story I started but quit. The reason I quit was because it relied too heavily on Wizards of the Coast (D&D) copyrighted property, and it was destructive enough that I could even get in trouble for it as a fanfic. So I quit because I literally couldn’t share it. Still, this summary doesn’t contain those elements, but it does contain a duck!

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Sister Rosetta

close up photo of black electric guitar

Rosetta’s fingers blazed over the fingerboard, twanged the strings with a fire never before seen. She infused a plain instrument with dripping sexual tension and lightning power. Fans clamored at her feet, and her soprano voice carried through the speakers.

The lights went down at the end of the show, and Rosetta made her way backstage. On her way there, a young boy attempted to accost her in the hall. “How do you play like that?”

“Why sugar,” she said, “I practiced and did it ’cause I loved it.” She pinched his cheek. “What’s your name, honey-child?”

“Elvis Presley.”

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This was written for the August 1st, 2019 Carrot Ranch Challenge, Rock Star. With “Old Town Road” causing major cultural and political waves on multiple music charts, I thought it absolutely necessary to look at another era of whitewashing in American culture.* Sister Rosetta Tharpe was, undeniably, the first major Rock Star. Influencing many future white and black rock singers, it’s astounding to me that she’s been widely forgotten by the nation as a whole.

I made up this story, as it probably didn’t actually happen, but Elvis and Rosetta did surely meet in a vinyl format when he spun the records that inspired him to kick off the “Rock Era.”

*The “Old Town Road” controversy is over whitewashing, but it’s not necessarily an example of purposeful whitewashing. I’d suggest reading the Slate article if you want a better idea of what’s going on.

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I promise

addiction aid bottle capsule

The spoon is hot, sterile, bent to give me the best angle. The needle is sharp – it’s new, straight from the packaging, not something I get every day.

You don’t have to do this.

I shake off that inner critic, that Jiminy Cricket that always chokes me with guilt. It wasn’t my fault I had back pain in 2005 and was overprescribed. It couldn’t help my kids left as soon as they turned 18. I didn’t mean for this to happen.

I promised this was my last hit. I’d take this dose and, just for one day, everything would feel better.

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This was written for the July 25th Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt, “Just for one day.” I took the perspective of an accidental opioid addict and tried to show a small peek of the complexity of this modern crisis.

For more information on the opioid crisis and some of the reasons for its sudden arrival on the scene, I suggest reading this New England Journal of Medicine article. While the journal is peer-reviewed, I think the article is pretty accessible and gives a bunch of good data. As a pharma engineer, this is the stuff that peeves me, because tons of people who work at legitimate companies are ruined by shady practices from the top.

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The Unjust Judge

close up court courthouse hammer

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” the judge said, his tone clipped and fast. He held his breath and bladder tight.

The judge wallowed in his sweaty robes while the representative of the jury stood. With each passing second, the judge considered taking his wife’s advice and getting his prostate checked.

The old juror’s hands shook, verdict in his fingers. “Yes, your honor. We find the defendant guilty of talking in the theater and texting while driving.”

“Life in prison, the court is adjourned.” The judge pounded the gavel and rushed for the bathroom. 

DividerThis was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #115judge. I felt lighthearted this week, what can I say?

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