Excess Baggage

Photo of a pile of dirty dishes in a small sink with a single tap, used as a micro fiction prompt
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the  platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going. Continue reading

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Rift Valley

sketch of train tracks winding along a coastal scenery to illustrate a story set on a transiberian train tripRead Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Read Part 3: The Droste Effect

Read Part 4: The Order of Things

My last terrestrial memory is that of zooming plains through the dirt-speckled windows of the cabin we shared. Crossing the mass of land, and multiple time zones, it was my unwitting farewell to life on firm, solid ground, although I didn’t know it at the time.

I had gone along with Liam’s suggestion to take the trip, guided by a strong sense that everything I would be doing was destined to unfold, that I only needed to go with the flow, so to speak. We shared our second-class quarters with a soldier on his way home from a posting in Moscow, and a grieving widow heading to Irkutsk to collect the body of her fisherman husband who’d met his end while navigating the cruel seas. In that confined space, I’d learnt a lot about my Russian cabin mates, with crude sentences pieced together from the weathered Lonely Planet, and the outpouring of human emotion born of rowdy card games and shots of vodka. Liam however, remained a mystery. Continue reading

Pre-Iron Age Chef

Photo of a snake skeleton use as a prompt for a three line tale, microfiction story
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

 

Today in the kitchen stadium, the challenger has plated up a char grilled Adaptosaurus on a bed of mashed sweet potato with a side of shredded brussel sprouts stir-fried with the secret ingredient: full-moon-bathed silvered almonds.

If you want to recreate this gastronomic wonder at home, the first step of course is to hunt down your creature, good luck with that—we picked one up at British Museum deli—they’re hard to come by, so if you’re stuck, use chicken and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Carefully debone your protein with a sharpened stone, lather with crushed garlic and coconut oil, and pop it on the grill for an age—paleolithic magic!

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 82

The Used Car Salesman

Photo of a blue volkswagon combi van used as a prompt for a microfiction story

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

She paid in cash, said it was her savings and emptied a beaten up old suitcase on my desk; between you and me, I usually let people feel they’re getting away with a deal, play along with their haggling and knock off five hundred or so and everybody’s happy, but she wasn’t having none of that—couldn’t wait to dump the cash and drive off with the combi, but then said something about not being able to drive a stick and walked off.

Fred rubbed the stubble on his chin—the bristling of the short hairs gave him pleasure—as he waited for the officer to catch up with her note taking— So why the questions? Was she some kind of crim? Hadn’t seen her around these parts till…

The other officer—carrying a sizable black plastic bag—walked up behind Fred, cutting him off mid-sentence You might want to have a lawyer present before you do any more talking. Frederick Ainsley Bartlett, you are under arrest for…

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week Eighty. I really did’t know where this one was going and feel like it was a bit of a cop out (no pun intended) ending, but maybe I’ll continue it. I so often add half baked promises at the bottom of my posts haha. If you have any thoughts on what Frederick is getting arrested for, please do share…

The Final March

Sketch of boots and ant to illustrate a microfiction story

The golden days of summer picnics with sweetly scented jam, crusty bread, cold slices and chilled fruit platters live only in our memories – a clear line in our collective consciousness separating time before and after the incident we refer to as The Final March.

The chemical weaponry disoriented many of us, sending the synchronised beat of our hearts off kilter, heady toxins muting all our sensory navigational cues. Only some made it back to the nest where we now reminisce about the old days and remind our young to give the big house a wide berth as we continue what our ancestors have done for millenia.

We hush and tread softly when within sight of the place of carnage, paying our respects to generations wiped out at the callous hands of the then new owner. Marching in single file, we lift far more than our weight.

“No such thing as a free lunch” he’d huffed, but the cost of that meal was an exorbitant act of insecticide.

 

This story has lived in my phone’s memo app for months. It was time to release it. I may add an illustration at a later date.

First published July 19, 2017. Illustration added August 8, 2017.

Game, Set, Match

Photo of a woman whimsically dancing on wet tennis court- used as prompt for three line tales microfiction
Photo by Sam Burriss

As much as she hated needles, Lynne was game for another dose, high spirited for 9 in the morning because Frank was home doing the vacuuming and once their respective chores were complete, they’d join the Senior Spartans on their monthly lunch outing. With the cold infusion slow dripping like a hipster’s coffee- into the orifice forged by the nurse’s ‘… little sting’- there was nothing to do but look around the room, make small talk with the nurse and other patient, or- as was mainly the case- look down at her gnarled hands, driftwood garnished with the ring Frank had given her 55 years earlier- hands that had changed Noel and Fiona’s nappies, held a glass to toast each child’s wedding, cooked countless shepherd’s pies- now too set in their ways to do as Lynne instructs. No way they’d hold the arm of the hoover much less a tennis racket these days, at least not long enough to raise much dust. Continue reading

Eternity

Photo of a cat walking along a port microfiction prompt sonya's three line tales, flash fiction
Photo by Timothy Meinberg

Slinking with a swagger,

he’d dressed right for every occasion:

dappled patches for climbing trees,

streaks stripping paint from balancing beams,

sunburst polka dots of little girls

who dared come close,

and at home in the hessian tones of the captain’s embrace.

 

Content in all his coats save for the blues of the glistening sea-

he’d failed to shake those drops off when disembarking number nine.

 

Aquatic hues

haunt the patina of his bronzed likeness,

unravelling his immortal coil between the

here

and

there;

he never sleeps- perchance to dream and lose his footing.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 70 and after the initial concept, inspired further by a ferret down an online rabbit hole that made me stumble and trip on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I do not claim to have read Hamlet in its entirety but was pleased with how parts of his soliloquy worked with my idea.