#MicroMondays — Immunity

E86CE1F4-00DF-44D2-AB16-31E443C79C16“All stayed well for less than twenty-four hours,” recounted Paul, one of the few survivors. “Then the first symptoms started to appear and people were getting sick. By the end of the second day, half the population had been wiped out and the rest were in bad shape. A handful of us seemed to be immune and we managed to survive.”

Written for today’s #MicroMondays prompt. It is taken from the short story “The Bodyguard,” by Lee Child. The challenge is to write a 54 word story, not including the eight-word prompt. The prompt, “All stayed well for less than twenty-four hours,” must be used verbatim.


Sunday Photo Fiction — Mean and Inconsiderate

723932EE-D420-4715-8A6E-0D5A0FA1A04FIt was, perhaps, the meanest act I’d ever committed. Certainly the most inconsiderate. But I was only ten-years-old, so what did I know?

My father loved to build miniature settings. He had constructed an elaborate village around his HO scale train set in our attic. It included a train station, post office, church, store, and a few homes. There were painted roads with small cars and trucks and tiny little people. It was fully landscaped with trees and shrubs, hills, and a creek. A true work of art.

For Christmas one year, he decided to build a little fairy village on our patio for my younger sister. He constructed it from twigs, straw, branches, and stones. He built a tiny church, shed, fire pit, table, and bench. It was exquisite.

He finished it just in time for Christmas and, when Christmas morning arrived, my sister and I eagerly opened our presents. My favorite was a 20-inch tall Godzilla monster doll.

Dad escorted us out to our back patio and unveiled the fairy village. My sister squealed in delight. I, with Godzilla in hand, proceeded to destroy the tiny village by stomping all around, making horrible monster noises, just like the movie.

(202 words)

Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. Image credit: Eric Wiklund.

A Matter of Degrees

20CC9650-770B-453A-83D5-D402A4BF07A7“Dollars and degrees. That’s all you care about, you self-centered bastard,” she said before turning away from him and taking a large sip from her martini glass.

He took a swig of his beer. They were sitting next to one another at the bar of the Tomfoolery, a popular pub in the Foggy Bottom section of D.C. “It’s Wednesday night, Deb. You know I have that urban planning paper due for tomorrow night’s class. I really need to head back to my place to finish it up.”

“You’ll use any excuse to get up and leave me here by myself,” Debbie slurred. “I swear, you don’t give two shits about me. All you care about are dollars and degrees.”

He liked Debbie. She was attractive, reasonably bright, and quite accomplished in the sack. But he was working on his master’s degree at night while holding down a full-time job during the day. He was barely half way through his 50 credit-hour curriculum; completing his master’s program by the end of the following year was his highest priority.

“I think you’re a little drunk, Deb,” he responded, finishing up his beer.

“And I think you’re a selfish prick” she snapped back.

He turned toward her and, affecting his most sincere, genuine manner, said, “I really do care about you, Debbie. I enjoy our time together. A lot, actually. But I have to finish this paper tonight. I’ll probably be up quite late and I have to be at work again by 8:30 in the morning. So even though I’d much rather stay here with you a little while longer and then head over to your place and spend the night, I’ve got to go.”

It was only a little white lie, he told himself.

She moved her bar stool closer to his, snuggled up next to him, and while running her hand up and down his inner thigh, whispered in a low, throaty voice, “I’d rather we head over to my place, too. We can both call in sick for work tomorrow.”

“I can’t,” he said, removing her hand from high up on his thigh. “I’m sorry, Deb, but I just can’t. Not tonight. I need to get this paper done.”

He stood up and retrieved his jacket and backpack from the hook beneath the bar. He leaned over toward Debbie and kissed her on her cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, and headed for the door.

As he was leaving the pub he heard her yell after him. “Dollars and degrees, you fucker! That’s all that’s important to you. Dollars and degrees.”

Today’s one-word prompt is “degree.” It’s a lazy Saturday, so I decided to reach into my archives and repost something I originally posted about three months ago. I hope you don’t mind.

When It Rains In Nevada

rain in Nevada“Dammit,” Jason said, looking off into the distance. “Looks like we’re coming into some weather.”

“No worries, Pop,” Jason’s eternally optimistic son, Jimmy, said. “We can still make it home by tonight.”

“Yeah, we’ll see.” Jason looked at the car’s clock. It was around 1 p.m. If they drove straight through, except to stop for gas, nature breaks, and some fast food sustenance, they could probably get home that night.

They had already been on the road for three long days as they made their way across the country from the college back east that Jimmy, who had just completed his junior year, was attending.

Clouds were thickening and the sky darkeing as they got closer to the mountains. “I don’t like the looks of what’s up ahead,” Jason said. Even Jimmy admitted that it looked somewhat ominous.

The two drove in silence for another 30 minutes before the skies opened up. The rain was so heavy that the windshield wipers of the rental car couldn’t keep up.

Cutting across the highway, the wind was buffeting the car. Between the wind and the rain, Jason was having trouble staying in his lane. The rain was coming down so fast and hard that it was building up on the highway and Jason would occasionally feel the car start to hydroplane.

He decided to get off the highway at the next exit. They hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so it would be a good time to grab some lunch while they waited for the weather to pass. He pulled off the interstate and onto the main road that cut through a small Nevada town.

“Hey look, Pop!” Jimmy yelled out. “There’s a hotel and casino on the right and the sign says they have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for ten bucks.”

Jason pulled the car into the casino’s lot, dropped Jimmy off at the front of the building, and searched for the closest parking place he could find. Despite running as fast as he could from the car, Jason was soaked by the time he reached the lobby.

Once inside the building, and after shaking himself off like a wet dog, Jason looked around for Jimmy. He spotted him sitting in front of one of the many slot machines in the casino.

“I thought you were hungry,” Jason said when he got to where Jimmy was seated.

“I am, Pop. But this is Nevada and we’re in a casino. I’m, you know, feeling lucky.” Jimmy looked up at his dad. “Got any mad money you can spot me, Pop?”

Jason handed Jimmy a twenty-dollar bill. “This should last you about 30 seconds,” Jason scoffed. “I’m going to the men’s room to dry myself off. When I get back, let’s hit the buffet.

Upon leaving the restroom, Jason heard all kinds of bells and sirens going off in the casino. As he approached his son, he saw that a crowd had gathered around him and that it was his slot machine that was making all the noise.

Red and blue lights were flashing atop the slot machine. Jimmy was gathering up a large number of quarters and scooping them into a cardboard bucket that looked like one you might find for carryout at a KFC.

“Pop!” Jimmy exclaimed when he saw his father approach. “I hit the jackpot on my second quarter. I hit the freakin’ jackpot!”

Once the cardboard bucket was filled with quarters, Jimmy got up from his seat at the slot machine to a round of applause from the twenty or so people who had gathered around to see what the commotion was all about.

Father and son walked to the cashier’s station and Jimmy slid the bucket of quarters to the cashier, who dumped them into some sort of coin counting machine. There were 825 quarters in the bucket. “Congratulations,” the cashier said to Jimmy as she counted out $206.25 and handed it to him.

“You’re buying lunch,” Jason told his son.

“No problem, Pop,” Jimmy said with a big, shit-eating grin on his face. “You gotta love it when it rains in Nevada.”

Stopping the Aging Process

90794F96-B9AC-4DF8-8FFD-0F14817E6017“What do you think so far?” Hal asked his son.

“Aren’t you done yet?” Mikey answered.

“Does it look like I’m done?” Hal asked.

“I don’t know, but it’s taking too long.”

“Would you like to help?”

Mikey thought for a moment, weighing whether or not he wanted to help his dad finish the job or go play with his friends. “Okay, I guess,” he finally said.

“Great,” said Hal. “The stain on that bench is dry, so while I finish staining this one, you can apply the varnish on that one.”

“What’s varnish?” Mikey asked.

“It’s a clear finish that you put on wood to protect it from the elements.”

“What’s elements?”

“It’s weather, like rain, or snow,” Hal said. “Varnish helps to keep the wood from aging too quickly.”

Once again, Mikey thought about what what he heard. Then he looked up at his father and said, “maybe we should varnish grandma.”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “varnish.”