The Orb from Beyond

One of my favorite weekly photo fiction prompts is Sunday Photo Fiction.

I always enjoy the artwork from Al and his Mixed Bag.

That first day, the Orb floated down to us, gently, cautiously.

It was nearly transparent, but not quite, as though it were using some sort of camouflage to allow for the proper background, but blurred, like it couldn’t get it quite right.

It didn’t matter. What mattered was inside. The beings were similar to us. They stood nearly two meters tall, varied colors of flesh, though most in that first Orb were light colored.

“We come from the next planet,” the shortest one said. “The planet farther from the galaxy’s star.”

There was no need for translation. They spoke our language adequately. They admitted to studying us for some time. They had also let us know they were coming — in peace they told us. We had readied in case they lied, but that was three cycles ago. They hadn’t lied.

I was there the day the Orb landed. That image is frozen in my mind.

I’d dreamt of traveling to other worlds since I was a boy. Now here I was, on board one of their Orbs, heading to their planet.

I couldn’t wait. The name of their world played over and over on the tip of my tongue: “Earth.”

 

Well played

Sunday Photo Fiction time (I’ve been away too long) and another opportunity to turn a picture that’s worth a thousand words into a picture of 200 words or fewer — hopefully.

Where to go with that oh-so-harmless-looking well?

“Back to the well,” Jax said, a wry smile on his face.

It was a running joke. A well with no water, sandwiched in an alley and flanked by a flower bed that never needed watering. No one knew why. The soil was permanently wet and the flowers forever nourished.

“I’m welling up,” I replied.

The running joke had become a game. How many bad puns could you come up with before drawing a blank.

“Well said,” Jax answered.

“Well played,” I replied.

“Well enough?”

“I’ll allow it, though I don’t feel well about it.”

“Well done.” Actual awe in Jax’s voice.

“Well, I am the best.”

“Well, why not feel that way,” he said. “You’ve done well for yourself so far.”

“Ouch, a double helping of wellness,” I mocked.

“That doesn’t count,” he jumped in.

“Well, if you’d have waited I would’ve had another retort,” I smirked. “But you were well ahead of me getting out a response.”

He looked at me, then back at the well. It just sat there, not even echoing our bad jokes because there was no depth to it. Jax had no response.

“Well,” I stood up. “I guess I win.”

A special time

Another weekly venture with Sunday Photo Fiction, a Flash Fiction challenge to conjure up a story of about 200 words centered around the photograph captured by Al.

This week’s edition drives us all batty when we see someone parked over multiple space. How friggin’ hard is it to pull into one spot?!? You’re not a semi! You’re NOT A…Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Better. Now I can focus on this week’s tale.

“Dad!” Junior cried. “You can’t park there.”

Dad looked back as he continued to walk away from the truck toward the indoor swap meet.

“Why not?”

“Because, you’ve parked over two spots, and one of them is for special people.”

“What makes them so special?” he said. “They want to be treated like everyone else, but they want the best parking spots. Well, I’m going to treat them like I do everyone else. No privileges from old Hank Carlson.”

It came out as a sneer.

Junior, who despised being Hank’s offspring, stopped.

“No privileges, right dad?”

“Right son,” a wide-grinning Hank replied.

Junior went back to the truck and took out the pick axe that always sat in the flatbed.

“Then none from me either. This is what I’d do to any car I found parked like this.”

He started on the driver’s side window. The axe sliced through the glass as easily as a knife through a down-cushion. Next was the windshield, the headlights and the passenger’s window. Then the tires.

Then Junior opened his mobile. “Yeah, police?” he said. “Some jackass has parked in a handicap space.”

He hung up, put the axe back and walked away. At 18, it was time he found his own place.

 

Sale of the century

An “Odd” contraption is this week’s centerpiece for Sunday Photo Fiction, a weekly journey that has writers delving into their imaginations to create flash fiction in 200 words or fewer. So let’s see what we come up with.

“I can’t believe it,” Farmer Joe hooped after watching the stranger drive off. “Sam Hell, I thought there was no way in tarnation that contraption would sell!”

His wife watched the pickup truck disappear around the bend.

“Joe,” she said, “now that it’s gone, will you tell me what that was?”

Farmer Joe started laughing with a merriment his wife hadn’t heard in years.

“What’s so funny, honey?” she asked.

“You don’t know what that was?” he asked back.

“No, I don’t.”

“Well, you ain’t the only one,” he smiled. “I’ve never known what it was. It’s been here since we moved in forty-two years ago. I’ve fiddled with it multiple times over the years. Never was able to get it to do nothing. Never moved for me no matter what dials and switches I pushed and pulled. So it’s just been settin’ there.”

“Did he know what it was?” she asked.

“Nope,” Joe answered. “Said he liked the way it looked. Thought it might look nice in a ‘gallery’ I think he called it.”

“Well I’ll be,” his wife smiled, thinking of the man in his fancy clothes. “City folk, they just don’t make no sense.”

A much-needed walk

Sunday Photo Fiction goes in a different direction this week and it’s a big challenge — like wandering through the desert itself…

I set the rake down. Perfect, I thought as a giant sigh of peacefulness left my lungs.

“Jones!”

The cry came from my boss’s office. My heart skipped a beat.

I looked  at the miniature oasis on my desk and at the pebbles leading from one end to the other. I imagined jumping from rock to rock, nearing the end of a treacherous journey across the Gobi.

“JONES!”

The muscles in my shoulders tightened. My breathing shortened.

My hand itched to pick up the rake. I needed to move the pebbles. I had to adjust the plants. I had to sift the sand.

I resisted. It wasn’t time to dive back into that other world. Soon. After I endured whatever idiotic idea my boss had come up with this time.

I wondered what it would be like to stand up and take my meditation outside and never return.

“JONES, NOW! GET IN HERE!”

I think I’ll rebuild my desert under that big oak I saw in the park on my way to work this morning.

“Keep on yelling, Bossman,” I mumbled, collecting my personal items from my desk. “It won’t do you any good.”

The long road forward

An interesting photo here. Much to ponder. Plenty to take in. A beautiful morning. Now, to write about it in this week’s edition of Sunday Photo Fiction.

Sunday Photo Fiction

I stopped at the edge of town. The road veered eastward, giving me no other choice. I set my bag down and turned to look one last time at the village that raised me.

But my time had come. I was ready to become a man. Venture into life. Explore the unknown. Find out what was around that eastward bend.

No one was pushing me out of town. My folks weren’t telling me I had to move out. There was no rush for me to leave. Yet I had to.

I’d vowed not to return until the time was right. I needed to move on. Make some money. Make Mom proud. Show Dad I could do what I set my mind to. Take my lumps and get back again.

I stretched my arms wide. Twisted at the waist. Drew in the deepest of breaths to smell the fresh, spring morn.

I picked up my bag, turned around and walked home.

Tomorrow. That would be best.

Searching for an answer

A challenging Sunday Photo Fiction this week — at least for me. But that just makes it more enjoyable, testing a writer’s skill to see what they can come up with. With that, off we go into a thickening fog that is quickly consuming everything our eyes perceive.

foggy

As the fog swallowed the bridge, the waters calmed. The waves that had been slapping the shoreline were now simply pawing at the sand that warmed Johnny’s toes.

He dug them deeper before he turned to Jules.

“So, what do you think?”

She glanced at him and then looked away, staring somewhere into the fog that now enveloped the Atlantic Coastline as far as the two could see.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I know it’s not much of a response, but it’s the only one I have now.”

Johnny let out a soft sigh — something between frustration and resignation.

He put his arm around her shoulders to pull her close. She shrugged him off.

“I love you, Johnny,” she said. “But it’s not the right time.”

The fog had sifted its way ashore, lapping at Johnny’s toes, Jules’s sandals.

Johnny said nothing. Instead, he watched the fog climb his legs, swirl around his midsection. His eyes followed as it climbed Jules’s bare legs, for she was standing now. Soon, its density had grown so thick, he couldn’t see her.

From somewhere not close, he heard her.

“Bye, Johnny,” her fading voice said. “I won’t forget you.”