Flash Fiction: Wisps

“Come on, Lettie. It’s getting dark. The Wisps will be out soon.” Emerson looked around the thick forest, her blue eyes wide.

“Stop with the toddler-tales,” Lettie groaned and plucked another jacaranda blossom from a tree. “You’re almost eight. You don’t really believe all that fairy nonsense, do you?” She sniffed the flower and walked deeper into the woods.

Emerson tried to swallow but it ended up a hiccup. She scuttled after her sister. “But Lettie! What if they’re true? What about Nora-Mae?”

Lettie tossed her curled blonde hair over her shoulder with impatience. “Grow up, Em. That story’s been around since Granny was born.”

“But Daddy said it was true. Nora-Mae disappeared long ago when she followed the lights, the ones that bounced along the path.” She curled her fists tight. “This path, Lettie.”

“It was just a story. Momma yelled at Daddy after he told you. I heard her in the kitchen when I was supposed to be practicing piano.”

“But Lettie….”

“It’s not true, Em.” Her voice rose an inch higher.

“Nora-Mae heard voices, too. The fairy voices that called her to come and play. The ones that led her away and got her lost, so she never got found again.”

Lettie huffed. “Fine. We’ll leave. Only to shut you up!”

She stomped back toward their home, her little sister close behind. Along the way they passed Charlotte, one of Lettie’s school-mates.

“Watch out for the Wisps, Char,” Lettie teased. “They might get ya.”

Charlotte laughed. The sun sank another few feet into the ground, trickles of faded light on the path. She only needed a handful of blossoms to complete her bouquet for the supper table. She’d be gone before the forest was dark.

Giggle.

She turned at the sound just beyond the trees to her left. Had Lettie and Emerson come back?

Giggle.

A light twinkled just over the small mound of earth that took the path in another direction. But then it was gone. What could it be?

Charlotte looked back toward her home. It wouldn’t hurt to look, right?

Then she followed the light as it bounced and danced across the ground and into the trees.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Pixabay

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Flash Fiction Friday: Nightly Visitors

The alarm yanked Ruby from her half-dream, not that she had gotten much sleep anyway. She rubbed her eyes and charged like a mad bull up the stairs of the hundred-year-old house to face her new roommate.

“Jenna!” she yelled as she slammed open the door. “What in the world were you doing last night? All night long all I heard were footsteps marching through the living room and someone in that squeaky rocking chair.”

Jenna sat up in bed with a scowl, one eye still closed. “Whatever, Ruby. I was going to ask you the same question.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ruby crossed her arms over her chest.

Inviting Jenna to live in her deceased grandparents house had seemed like a good idea a few weeks ago. Not so much now. Maybe she’d give the place back to her parents and move into an apartment.

Jenna scrubbed her hands over her face. “It means, I could say the same thing about you. For hours last night I heard you downstairs moving around, pushing furniture across the floor.”

Ruby froze, glanced at the picture of her grandparents that hung on the bedroom wall. “No, I didn’t. I never got out of bed once.”

All color drained from Jenna’s face. “Neither did I, Ruby. Neither did I.”

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Photo by paul morris on Unsplash

The Case of the Missing Blogger

The police were stumped. What appeared to be just an average month for Caffeinated Fiction turned out to be an unsolved mystery. *gasp* One day the blog was bopping along perfectly happy, with posts here and there and everywhere, and then bam! Out of the blue the posts just disappeared. Not a clue was left behind with only an occasional blurb over a six week period, which–let’s be honest–really did nothing but raise the hopes of the readers that another blog post just might actually appear. But they didn’t. They were just…gone. Where, you ask? Never fear…Detective Laura L. Zimmerman is on the case and ready to investigate…

Or maybe not.

Clearly there’s no need for investigation since I’m the missing blogger! *peeks from behind a pile of books in the corner with a cringy smile*

Oops. Okay, so in case you missed it, I haven’t been too active on this thing, as of late. And yes, I have been contacted by others to ask where in the world I could’ve gone? Was I abducted by aliens? Lost in the Bermuda Triangle? Joined the Witness Protection Program? Finally put my awesomely amazing ninja skills to the test?

As much as I think that last one would be cool, none of those are the answer to my absence. Actually, I just took a vacation. Back in August. For a week. But as these things happen, that week turned into three. No big deal, I thought. Everyone deserves a vacation. I’ll start blogging again in September. And I did. Once. But as vacations are so very hard to leave, mine was equally just as hard. And before you ask, nope. I have no excuse for being lazy this far into the month. I have a list of things to discuss for my Caffeinated Convo column and can certainly come up with a thing or two to discuss in Caffeinated Speculation. And let’s not even talk about the Friday Flash Fiction–sooo many stories have gone unwritten (yet still bonk around inside my head and not on paper.)

All this to say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve been lazy and absent and confusing. I still want to report what I learned at Realm Makers and I’ve just got stuff to say. I will admit that I’ve made the decision to give myself grace when it comes to the “weekly” columns. Yes, I’d love to get a CC or CS up when I can, but I’ve learned recently that one stressor can sometimes become a block for my writing. I feel too much pressure to get my blog posts done. So from here on out I’m going to write as much as I can, when I can. And hopefully not take another extended vacation for a very long time.

So, there you have it. Apology given and case solved! Having said all that, how have you been? What have I missed over the past 6 weeks? I’d love to hear any news you’d like to share or just hear a shout out from anyone who has ever had a tough time coming off vacation.

Now, go drink some coffee and get on with your day! *imagines fireworks in the sky as she slinks away to write*

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A picture of my cat to make you smile!

Flash Fiction Friday: Awaken

“Jen!”

I gasp, eyes now open as I sit up in bed. The spot beside me is empty. Where is my husband?

Chilly air clings to my skin as I slip from beneath the covers and cross the room into the hallway. The stale scent of tacos I made the night before still lingers and my stomach winces. Why does this all feel so familiar?

The living room is vacant, although sunlight streams through the cracks of the blinds. No husband. I rub my eyes and search upstairs, then the basement. Still nothing.

“Kurt?” I call. No reply.

I try the front door. It’s locked. With a low growl I twist the locks on the door and yank again. It still doesn’t budge. I roll my eyes, triple and quadruple check to make sure the locks are off, tug on the handle. It stays cemented in place.

“It won’t open.”

I spin on my heel with a cry. Kurt stands beside me. I blink, breathe. “Where have you been?”

His expression is flat. “You can’t get out. No matter how hard you try.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That door will never open.”

A hand squeezes around my heart and ice spills down my spine. “Kurt? What are you talking about?”

He steps forward, grabs my arms. “You can never leave, Jen. Don’t you understand?”

“Kurt–”

“Jen!”

I gasp, eyes now open as I sit up in bed. The spot beside me is empty. Where is my husband?

Chilly air clings to my skin as I slip from beneath the covers and cross the room into the hallway. The stale scent of tacos I made the night before still lingers and my stomach winces. Why does this all feel so familiar?

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit LLZ

Flash Fiction Friday: The Accident

Jill wiped the windshield of condensation. A chill buzzed across her skin. How could it be both cold and humid? She shook her head and squinted against the rain that pounded the windows.

Was that a form up ahead? Her car crept to a stop and a thrash of rain assaulted it, the sound of a thousand angry drums beating the roof. Yes. There was a person walking on the side of the road. A young girl, no coat, hair plastered to her head, arms wrapped around her body.

Jill unrolled the window. “Do you need a ride?” she yelled over the cacophony of nature’s music.

The girl bent to look inside, her pale eyes piercing. Her chin shook. She blinked, then gave a curt nod. Water sprayed across the dash as the girl got settled.

Jill bit her lip. “Are you all right?”

The girl shivered and gave another nod. “Thanks. Nasty storm.”

“You’re lucky I came by. I’m on my way home. This road doesn’t get much traffic, especially on a night like this.”

The girl pushed hair from her face. Jill’s stomach twisted. Why did this girl look familiar?

“Why are you out here?” Jill put the car in drive.

“I need to get home.” The girl suddenly looked alarmed. “My boyfriend—I don’t know where he is, he—”

“Wait, you’re boyfriend is missing? What happened?”

“I have no idea. We were on a date but our car hit a tree. I blacked out and when I woke, I was here.” The girl began to cry.

“Okay, just relax.” Jill kept her voice calm. “You’re probably in shock. Do you know where the car is?”

The girl shook her head. “No, I don’t. Jimmy—he could be hurt. Take me home, please!”

Jill held out a hand. “Relax. We’ll find him. First, let’s call the police.” She grabbed her cell. “Why don’t you—”

“You don’t understand. I need to get home!”

“Yes, but don’t you—”

“No.” The girl swallowed. “Take me home. My mom will know what to do.”

Jill dropped the phone in her purse. “Okay. Everything will be all right.” But her belly pulsed with panic. Something wasn’t right.

The girl pointed down streets and Jill turned. Minutes later they pulled down a familiar road.

“This is where I—” Jill said.

“There. That’s my house.” The girl’s finger shook.

Shards of ice stabbed along Jill’s spine as she pulled into the well-known driveway. “What did you say your boyfriend’s name was?” she whispered.

“Jimmy Kovane.”

Breath stalled in Jill’s lungs. That name. She knew that name.

“Thanks for the lift. I’m home now.”

“Wait, what’s your name?” Spots danced before Jill’s eyes.

“Joan Chester.”

The girl jumped out, ran toward the rancher. Jill’s vision clouded with tears, her entire body shuddered. She blinked. The girl was gone.

Jimmy Kovane and Joan Chester died in a car accident ten years ago. Jill knew this.

She knew because Joan was her sister.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

Flash Fiction Friday: Sight

A police radio crackles to life as the paramedic dabs antiseptic on my bloody forehead. Lights from the cruiser outside flash through my living room.

I squeeze my eyes shut. “Tell me again how you knew the man was here?”

The officer is young, his face stoic as he scribbles in his little pad. “Neighbor. Across the street. Saw the attacker, called 9-1-1.”

Pain laces down my neck. My shoulders tense. I see images of a man in black, his knife. That punch.

I shiver. “Who?”

“The little boy.”

Ice fills my blood. I swallow. “That’s impossible,” I whisper. “He’s blind.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

 

Flash Fiction Friday: Midnight Snack

The cat needed food.

Joanie groaned and looked at the clock beside her bed. One thirty-two A.M. Fantastic.

She crawled out of the sheets and took care of business as fast as her tired muscles would allow. With one final pat on Max’s head and a prayer that he wouldn’t wake her again, she climbed into bed, settled into warm arms and a firm chest that welcomed her. She nuzzled in, breathed the spicy scent of cologne, relaxed into the embrace.

Her eyes shot wide and she gasped. She didn’t have a husband!

She lived alone.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo credit, Me. Meet Maximus the Manx!

Flash Fiction: The Quest

Sweat drips down my back. The day is unusually warm for the autumn equinox.

“How much farther?” I say to my father.

There are eighty of us, male, hiking to the temple. I’m the youngest, privileged to be among the men of our tribe. Pride swells inside my chest.

Each year one male is chosen from those aged thirteen. Me. I’m the chosen one. Friends before me were chosen, are still on their Quest to seek the knowledge life. No one knows where they go, what they do.

Now I will find out for myself.

My father glances at me with worried eyes. Does he not think I can’t face the Quest?

We arrive at the temple, a table stained with blood before us. Is there to be a sacrifice today? Father stands beside the table and all fall silent. My pulse races.

“Gods of the harvest, we thank you for a plentiful season and ask for renewal of the soil during the dead months. Bring it to life again, provide for our people as you have always done.” He looks at me. “It is time, Raeliki.” Father motions to the platform.

My heart skips a beat but I do as he says, climb onto the table, lie down.

“Gods of the harvest, guide this young man as he begins his Quest to seek the knowledge of life. Aid him in his needs. Bring him back, within your will.”

He pulls a knife from his belt, his eyes no longer worried but filled with anguish.

“Father?” I say. My gaze darts to the crowd, my hands shake.

He raises the knife.

It all makes sense now, why I’ve never seen my friends return. My Quest for life will be on the other side.

“Father!” I gasp.

The knife comes down.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo credit Unsplash by Frances Gunn

Flash Fiction Friday: Time Travelers

“You’re going back to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.” Harry pushed a few buttons on the control panel before turning to Jim and Ann. “Remember, you’ll have thirty minutes before your cloaking device wears off. Be at the vehicle before then, so you can return to good old 2074.”

“Yes, sir,” Jim said.

“I know this is your first trip, but we take our travels very seriously here at The Wrinkle In Time Agency.” Harry stepped back. “Enjoy your flight!” He closed the door of the time machine and gave two pats.

Jim swallowed as lights blinked and engines whirred. This was one heck of a honeymoon trip!

“Relax, Jim. We’ll be fine,” Ann said. She squeezed his hand. “Besides, how could nobodies like us mess things up?”

In seconds the machine quieted, then halted. The couple unbuckled and stepped into bright sunlight. Sure enough, they were smack dab in the middle of the largest fair Jim had ever seen. Of course, no one around them could see them or their ship, but he didn’t care. Excitement pulsed in his veins as Ann grabbed his arm and yanked him away. Acrobats, clowns and animals performed around them, long lines led to game booths.

“What’s a frank?” Jim said, pointing to a food stand.

“I think those were hot dogs,” Ann said. “Ten cents. Wow. That won’t buy a piece of gum, now!”

They passed a display with a time capsule. “‘To be opened in five thousand years?’” Ann said. “Who’s idea was that?”

Jim shrugged. “Dunno. But I don’t recognize a single thing on display. What’s a slide rule?”

Ann’s timer beeped and she jumped. “Jim, we’ve got to get back! Our thirty minutes are up.”

They ran toward their ship.

“It’s not here!” Jim said, voice strained.

“We’re in the wrong aisle,” Ann groaned. “Come on!”

Again they ran. Down two more rows, up a third. Jim’s heart pounded like wildfire.

“There!” Ann said.

“Ahhh!” A teenaged girl screamed and pointed at them.

“Oh no. Our cloaking devices are wearing off,” Jim said.

More people gathered around, jaws open, eyes wide.

“Let’s go!” Ann said.

The two hopped in the vehicle and took off. A minute later they stepped off the time machine. Jim blinked against a dizzy spell.

Harry met them with a frown. “Well, your trip was memorable.”

He held up a yellowed newspaper, an object Jim had never laid eyes on. They’d been obsolete for decades. Across the top was the date 1939 and a picture of him and Ann, running hand-in-hand. Their bodies were just barely visible against the background. “Ghosts Spotted at World’s Fair.”

“Oh jeez.” Jim’s shoulders slumped.

“Ghosts?” Ann said.

Harry nodded. “Yep. For years people’ve believed in ghosts, but they’re really just time travelers with a fading cloaking device.”

Jim gulped.

Ann patted his hand. “Cheer up, Jim. We’re officially ghosts! How cool?”

Harry smirked. “Looks like you found your fame, after all.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Unsplash by Sebastian Davenport-Handley

Flash Fiction Friday: The Bike (Part 2)

Dan rubbed the hood of his brand new, cherry colored Chevy Corvette Stringray with a clean cloth, then stepped back to admire it. His chest swelled. He’d longed for one of these ever since he could drive. He leaned in to continue cleaning then—

A cough from someone at the end of his driveway.

His face fell as he turned, sparks flying through his mind, seeking the memory of how he knew this man. The guy was tall and thin, with a cigar that just barely dangled from his lips. Dan’s blood pressure dropped. Had it been twenty years already?

“Hello, Danny-boy,” the man said. “Good to see you again. Years have treated you well, I see?” At this, he glanced at the car, his gaze dripping with want.

Dan clenched his fists. “I—I—”

“Breathe, Danny-boy. You’ll give yourself a heart attack.”

The man’s mouth curled into a hungry grin that made Dan’s skin crawl. “Please, don’t take my car. I’ve worked so hard for it…so many years—”

“No worries. I’m not here for the car, Danny-boy.”

Dan’s shoulders slumped in relief, then immediately tensed again. “What do you want, then?”

“Dad?” a small voice came from the garage.

“Tyler, go inside the house. This doesn’t concern you.” Dan nodded his head and hoped the ten year old would obey, for once.

“Oh, but this situation very much concerns Tyler, Danny-boy,” the man crooned.

Dan furrowed his brow. “What do you—”

The most valuable thing you possess, Danny-boy. That wouldn’t be some rusty old car, now would it?” The man choked on his laugh. Continue reading