Tag Archives: travel

Tiny Robot Archimedes

Tiny Robot Archimedes once built a ship. Well, it was more a schooner.  Well, no, it was actually more of a sailboat. That is, it was a few planks nailed together while Archimedes held up a towel tied to a stick.

But by tiny robot standards, it was a ship.

Archimedes, after all, wasn’t built to build ships. He was built to solve mathematical equations and predict the outcome of certain events. Archimedes had thus far calculated the precise movements of pigeons while mating, the precise outcomes of humans while trying to mate, and the effects of pollen dust on bees’ flight patterns. If it had to do with nature, Archimedes could predict it (and if it had to do with nature, it was 98.4 percent likely to concern procreation).

Oceans, however, eluded tiny Archimedes. He had calculated the behavior of various sized puddles, as well as the movement of streams and lakes. Oceans, however, were just too large for Archimedes to calculate. Logically, the tiny robot would have to build a ship and survey the entirety of the world’s oceans to get the correct calculations.

To the naked eye, a human would think that Archimedes had built his ship poorly. Tiny Robot Archimedes, however, had built his ship well enough so that it would traverse the extent of his vision of the ocean: 2.9 miles. After 2.7 miles, Archimedes began to see errors in his calculations. Having not made the calculations for a return trip, however, he pushed on. Then he capsized.

Tiny Robot Archimedes was unable to make calculations about the water’s movement while he was in the water, though he was fascinated by the mating patterns of the fish, which often turned into fleeing patterns while larger fish enacted their eating patterns temporarily to continue their mating patterns again. The ocean was truly a wondrous place.

Tiny Robot Archimedes, being waterproof (but not buoyant), sat there for a good seventeen hours before he observed the current patterns and the patterns of passing vessels. Many were fishing vessels, no doubt humans exhibiting hunting rituals so that they can continue eating and mating. Tiny Archimedes moved a few more feet to the right, and… snag! He was up in a ship in no time.

This ship was much larger than his own and must have been made from beings who had made more thorough calculations about the ocean than himself. Tiny Robot Archimedes decided to stay with the fishermen. They placed an patch over his eye, limited his own vision, but optimized his cuteness among female humans in the harbor, thus allowing the sailors to mate more effectively. Tiny Robot Archimedes calculated that his presence in a harbor with an eye patch ran numbers similar to a man with a corgi puppy in a brothel. The new numbers fascinated Tiny Archimedes.

The sailors took the robot on as their mascot. Archimedes was able to obtain valuable data about ocean wave patterns, and sailing ship patterns and bullet trajectories. You see, the fishermen only used fishing as a cover. They were actually pirates, and they valued Archimedes for his abilities to predict the most efficient way to loot and to find loopholes in human beings’ living patterns (this usually involved fear and bullets and drowning and fire). Archimedes had become a pirate robot, though he’d never stopped his current primary objective: making calculations to predict the movements of the ocean.

There eventually came a time where the pirates could not take Tiny Robot Archimedes into colder waters, due to it being Winter and their having an unwillingness to die. Archimedes threw himself off of the ship and onto a whale, which was headed for a whaling vessel the pirates had passed earlier. The pirates cried as the robot left. Archimedes added their tears to his calculations.

When the whale was caught, Archimedes hopped off of the dying whale and joined the crew. They were confused at first, but then they saw his eyepatch and laughed and continued their whale research, which involved puncturing the whale with several more holes than before. Archimedes added this to his memory files as well. He had never seen a humpback whale die from harpoon wounds before, so this experience was invaluable to him.

The men brought the tiny robot back with them to their home. The people there were very interested in Tiny Robot Archimedes’s studies and asked him many questions about his data findings. Following this, they built him the mightiest ship on the ocean and duct taped a harpoon to his body. So, adorned with eye patch and harpoon, Tiny Archimedes drifted out on his vessel  to continue his research until the mysteries of the world and the seas were finally calculated with less than a .01 percent margin of error. The whalers waved goodbye and Archimedes added their tears to his data.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXIV

Train Buddies

Cynthia kept pushing the button to adjust the back of her seat. First, it went to far down. Then it was too far up. She couldn’t get comfy no matter what she did.

“Having problems with your seat?” her neighbor yawned. He had a charming British accent–the James Bond kind, not the Oliver Twist one.

“Oh, no! I just have trouble sleeping on trains! Did I wake you up?”

He rubbed his eyes and smiled out of the corner of his mouth. Cynthia bit her lip as he yawned again.

“I apologize,” he said. “I’ve been asleep this whole time. I’m Grant,” he said holding out his hand.

“Cynthia.” She reached for it awkwardly to shake. “So, you have no problem sleeping, I guess?”

“I’ve always found trains fairly calming. The rhythmic tic-tac. The sense that your journey can’t possibly go off course because of bad drivers. There’s a track to take you wherever you’re headed. It’s comforting.”

“I hadn’t thought of that, I guess. I just feel trapped. Kind of like a roller coaster. I never did like roller coasters.”

He laughed. “You sound like you need to take control in life.”

Cynthia realized she didn’t sound very feminine. “I’m sorry!” she blushed.

“It’s nothing to apologize for. It’s your type of personality that runs the world. Me–,” he glanced out the window at the houses and bushes rushing by. “I’m just along for the ride.”

Grant checked his watch. “Since you’re up, Cynthia, how would you like to join me for a drink? My treat.”

“Well, if you insist, I guess I can’t refuse.” She giggled and stretched before getting up. Grant took a moment longer. He had to grab his fedora and slip on his loafers. “After you.”

“I don’t know which way it is.”

“Directly in the back,” he pointed. “I know you don’t like straight paths, but it’s the only way to go, I’m afraid.”

“You just want to look at my, um, bum?”

“Ha! It’s so cute when Americans try to speak English! I’ll lead, then.” He tightened his hat on his head and marched down the aisles, walking slow but barely missing a beat. Cynthia, on the other hand, was stumbling around quite a bit. She hated trains and she could never find her balance in moving vehicles of any kind. This was the real reason she didn’t want to be in the lead.

When they got to the dining car, there were stools to awkwardly perch on or a couple booth seats. They opted for the booth seats and Grant brought the drinks over, a martini for her and a white wine for himself.

“So, what brings you out here, Cynthia from America?”

“I’m visiting my sister. We’re twins, actually, but she’s the braver, outgoing one. As soon as she got a job opportunity out here, she left immediately to Barcelona. And, of course, I promised to visit, but I thought I’d fly into Paris first, since it was on my bucket list.”

“You and I must have different definitions of bravery. It sounds like your sister’s on vacation to me.”

“Yeah, I guess so. But she works hard. Or at least that’s what she tells me on the phone. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.”

“I hope you enjoy your stay in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city.”

“You’ve been?”

“Once, when I was much younger. I still remember the Gaudi architecture, the colors and shapes. The Sagrada Familia was simply breathtaking. Oh, you’ll have to see it!”

“I’ve already planned it. My sister said she’d have an itinerary, but I don’t really trust her with those things… you know, planning.” Cynthia ran her fingers over the rim of the glass, pinching at it. “Whataboutyou?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m still sight-seeing, but it’s for work this time. I work in gardening, you see, so I’m taking a trip to study different botanical gardens.”

“Oh! That sounds like fun!”

“It’s not the worst business trip I’ve taken,” he smiled, pressing the French wine to his lips. “The Jardí Botànic de Barcelona is the first stop, but I have some more trains to catch before I’m done.”

Grant seemed to be so passionate and carefree about his travel plans. Cynthia had been pulling her hair out before this trip, so she envied his calm. “I wish I could do that.”

“What about your sister?”

Cynthia sighed. “She’ll be fine on her own.”

“I’m sorry, I think I chose my words poorly. I meant, why don’t you and her go sight-seeing around Spain? Does she have time off while you’re visiting? She sounds like the kind of person who would be willing to go on another vacation, am I right?”

“A little time, yeah. She would. But I can’t do that.”

“Why not? You’re here! Enjoy it while you’re young!” Grant smiled with the corner of his mouth.

“It’s easy to say that, but I’m not the type of person who just does things on a whim.”

“It’s your choice. This train, it’s only going in one direction, but you chose it. Am I correct in saying this?”

Cynthia looked into her martini, but she nodded reluctantly. He was right, of course, but she didn’t want to think about it. “I’ll give it some thought.”

“That’s a start, now isn’t it?” he raised in glass and winked.

They spoke until the train came close to their destination. Cynthia hugged Grant and they wished each other the best of luck. And, as most travel stories go, they never heard from or saw each other again.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXII

The Twins

The twins walked, skipped, and hopped along the railroad tracks. They brought snacks and sang songs and told stories about space pirates. High fives were exchangeable with the currency of low fives, and sometimes one was just too slow and missed out. Each time they heard a train’s horn blowing off in the distance or its engine chugging along, ever rapidly louder, the twins would find a way to get off the tracks. At first, they just stepped off on either side of the track, but then they started spinning, dancing, and dosey-doing off the tracks. When the train went by, they would meet back on the tracks again and laugh about what kind of faces they made at the passengers or what kind of secret government weapons were being hidden  in the cabooses.  The twins had much more fun spinning and dancing and dosey-doing than they ever had at home with their parents. And they’re not afraid of getting their fit caught or tripping, either, because they don’t drag their feet. They walk like soldiers, always reminding each other to keep forging ahead. The twins will always be there for each other, even when a really long train goes by. Especially when a really long train goes by!

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXI

Road Trip (Revised) and North (New Chapter)

I’ve been changing around the zombie novella a bit. In particular, I’m doing an overhaul of the Jerm/Micah story arc.  Here’s a revised chapter and a new teaser chapter to whet your appetite:

ROAD TRIP

Jerm keeps pushing the CD into the Buick’s deck.

“Micah… hey Micah!”

“What?”

“CD player’s busted!”

“Shouldn’t be. Just got it installed last year. It’s probably the CD.”

“Well, keep better care of ‘em, jackass. I keep telling you that you need one of those books to keep all your CDs in it.”

“Hey, if you want music, then just sing something. Give me a break there, man. I’ve been drivin’ since Oklahoma.”

“Hey. Don’t worry about it, boss. Yer doin’ such a good job innyway.”

“Fuck you, man. Take the wheel. I gotta take a piss.”

“Ahh, bullshit. We should open a lemonade stand, we got so much stored back there.”

“You know we can’t take any chances openin’ the window, Jerm. One bug flies in and we could be zombies, too. So just take the wheel and shut yer trap for a sec.”

“Man, yer paranoid.”

“You gonna take the wheel or do you want to hold my junk for me while I go?”

“Yeah, yeah. I got it.” Jerm sighed, awkwardly switching over to the driver side and almost taking the car off the road.

“Careful, man! Keep it straight while I’m going or this car’s gonna smell even worse than it does.”

“Yeah, okay, Micah. Whatever, man… hope we can get to New Mexico soon.”

“Desert’s the place to be, Jerm. Not enough life around there to be zombie food.”

“Speakin’ of, we got ourselves a hitchhiker.”

“Just drive by.”

“But she’s hot.”

“Dammit, Jerm! Just drive!”

“What are you, gay?”

“At least let me put it back in my pants. Hand me the gun.”

“What? She ain’t a zombie.”

“She still has teeth, don’t she? We don’t know if she’s turning or what. Just hand me the gun.”

Without opening the windows, Jerm signalled for the woman to crawl into the passenger side.

“You guys are life savers. Name’s Jaclyn.”

“Jeremiah. This one’s my brother, Micah.”

“Kinda queer bein’ stuck all the way out here,” Micah said.

“Only one queer is you,” Jerm mumbled.

“My car ran out of gas a few miles back. I’m from Odessa, but I hear North is the way to go right now. I still can’t believe it, the dead walking around and everything. It’s crazy. I mean, I keep thinking it’s all just a bad dream I’ll wake up from… thanks for picking me up, guys. I was worried I wouldn’t see anybody out here.”

“Me an’ Micah are both comin’ outta Little Rock. Damn skeeters are turnin’ people into flesh eaters! Desert’s dry enough so they don’t breed at all, but Micah’s still paranoid. That right, Micah?”

Micah fishes through under the back seats for water bottles with actual water in them. “Yeah… so, Jaclyn. You up here all by your lonesome?”

“Well, I have some family headed up to the Northern states, see if they can get into Canada. I took longer getting out ‘cuz my boyfriend wouldn’t leave. I don’t know. Guess I was bein’ dumb wanting to stay with him in zombie country.”

“Naw. We were the same way. We all heard about it in other places but we thought we could all just shoot ‘em all dead and have a few beers to celebrate. It wasn’t like the movies, though. Even covered in DEET and holed up with boxes of ammo, we knew we weren’t gonna last against a third of Arkansas.”

Jaclyn pulls her sleeve down over her arm. “It’s terrible out there.”

“Here’s some water,” Micah offered.

“Thank you.”

“That rash on your arm… that’s from the heat?”

“Oh, yeah. It’s nothing much.”

“I can take a look at it.”

“No. Don’t worry about it.”

Micah pulled out his gun. Jerm swerved the car over to the side of the road. “Whoa, Micah! Holy shit! Quit playin’ with that thing!”

“I ain’t playin’. That’s a bug bite.”

Jaclyn shook her head. “No. It’s not–”

“Don’t lie to me, bitch. Our daddy had a bite like that before we found him gnawing on one of ma’s arms.”

“It’s just a little bite! I mean, it probably wasn’t even infected. Most bugs are just normal bugs, okay? I mean, if I start gnawing on people, you can shoot me.”

“Yeah, Micah! Maybe it’s not the end of the world. Just hold off for a sec!”

“Can’t take any chances. You and I both saw what happened to Little Rock, how fast it all happened. Jaclyn, please get out the car. You can keep the water. Here’s a few extra bottles, too. It’s not water, but you’ll thank me when you get thirsty enough.”

“You can’t be serious. Please! Just drop me off in the next town.”

“Micah–”

“Shut it, Jerm. Just step out of the car and there won’t be no trouble. You’re better off than when we found ya. Just be thankful for that.”

Jaclyn removed herself from the car, sobbing and cradling bottles of water and urine. When the door slammed, she dropped the bottles and put her hands on the windows. “Please!” she wailed through the glass.

Jerm looked straight ahead, not starting the car.

“What?”

“I ain’t talkin’ to you, man.”

“Just drive, Jerm. No more hitchhikers.”

A bottle of piss hits their back window as Jerm pulls away.

NORTH

“I’m gonna turn this car around.”

“Jerm, we did what we had to.”

“I’m not talkin’ to you.”

“You already said that.”

“I don’t like it, man. I come back home from fightin’ in one desert and now I’m out here in another. What the Hell, man? I’m back home and the killing just don’t stop. I don’t want to keep murderin’ people, Micah.”

“It wasn’t… Jerm. Listen to me. Back in Little Rock… that wasn’t our family out there. They were tortured, man. We had to put them to rest. And that girl was as good as dead, too.”

“Does that make it right?”

“They were already dead. We did what we had to.”

Jerm slams on the breaks.

“But she—Jaclyn—that girl back there? She was a human goddamn being! She was still alive, you jackass! You, me—we’re gonna have to live with that so don’t try to hide what we did with pretty words. It’s an insult to her and everyone else we left behind.”

“We did what we had to.”

“You already said that, Mikey.”

Jeremiah clicks on the only FM station running in the area and starts driving again. He keeps his eyes on the road; Micah stares out the window, looking at the barren landscape and the pink sunlight fading into the horizon. James Taylor is singing about fire and rain.

After about fifty or sixty miles, Jerm clears his throat. Micah looks ahead to see a buzzard with only one wing hobbling across the road. With the high beams on, they can see it only has one wing and its beak seems cracked and hanging slack.

“That thing dead?” Micah asks.

“Looks like it.” He starts to swerve toward the bird.

“Don’t… I don’t want to be scrapin’ bird parts off my car.”

“Whatever, man.” Jerm turns the while a little and they can hear the beak scrape along the side of the car.

Micah gives Jerm a look like he’s chewing on old gum and wants to find somewhere to spit.

“What? Just paint. Don’t worry so much, man. Take a nap for a while. We’ve both been up for a day and a half at least.”

Micah still has trouble sleeping but he’s able to fade away after not too long.

“Wake up!” Jerm swats at Micah. “It’s five in the morning and I think I’m seein’ things, like zombies outta the corner of my eye.”

“What the Hell’re you talkin’ ‘bout.” Micah rubs his eyes and stretches in his seat. It’s pitch black out but it will be morning soon. They awkwardly crawl around the seats to switch places. Micah grunts as he rolls the seat back up to the steering wheel. It sounds like a spine cracking.

“Where are we?”

“We just hit Colorado about thirty minutes or so back.”

“All right, Jerm. I got it.” He starts up the vehicle again and starts back down the highway.

The sun had just started peaking on the horizon. Something shadows were moving on the horizon. “Uh… Jerm?”

“What? I was just starting to drift off.”

“You know how  you said you were seein’ things?”

“Yeah?” Jerm took a second before he bolted upright. “What? Zombies?”

Micah pointed his finger toward the side of the highway. A large group of people were stumbling along the road, though it became increasingly obvious they weren’t people at all. They all had working legs, but some had chunks missing from them in most other places, maybe from the buzzards. The silhouette of a woman and child tripped over and pulled themselves back up to follow the group.

“Where the Hell do they think they’re going?”

“I’d reckon same way we are: North.”

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Filed under Session XXI

Peregrine’s Valley (revision and new ending)

“Mother? What’s over that hill?” Peregrine and her mother were were peeling potatoes. Peregrine was looking out the window at the large hill that the sun always set behind each evening.

“Oh, you don’t want to go over that hill. You don’t know what scary animals could be waiting for you. You could get hurt.”

“Oh. Okay,” Peregrine muttered, but she couldn’t take her eyes off that hill for the rest of the day, even while they were sitting down to eat with Father. What could be on the other side? Maybe a lost treasure, she thought, or a town where there are knights and horses and princesses. They would all ask her who she was and she would say she came from beyond the hill and she would be their guest of honor and dine with the fairy king and queen.

The next morning, Peregrine woke up early and fed the hogs and the chickens. Her mind kept wandering, though, and she kept having the feeling like the big hill was watching her. A fox walked right up to the pens and sniffed at them. At first, Peregrine was terrified. Maybe the fox was going to eat the hens and then Father would be really angry with her. Peregrine sucked all the air in her lungs she possibly could and told that fox to “shoo!” Strangely, the fox didn’t growl or run away like Peregrine expected. Instead, it calmly cocked its head and stared right into Peregrine’s eyes. She swallowed a lump in her throat and stared right back. Adults were always looking over her head, but she really felt like this fox was staring right into her heart. It made her uncomfortable. She wondered if she should go get help. But just as she thought that, the fox got up off his haunches and slowly walked away. Peregrine watched it until it disappeared down the winding path to the big hill.

“Phew!” Peregrine said to herself. “I better tell Father!”

Peregrine ran toward the stables where Father was saddling the horses for his ride out into town.

“Father!” she cried, then slowed down when she saw his face. Father would probably say she was running around like an animal and that she should act like a lady.

“Father, I, um…”

“What is it? Did you feed the animals?”

“Um, yes, but…” Peregrine paused to catch her breath. She wasn’t sure what to say to Father. He was busy saddling the horses and he probably didn’t want to be bothered. He grabbed his gun to take with him in case of animal attacks. What would he do to the fox? Peregrine wondered. Father would most likely shoot the fox, like he did that one stray dog. Peregrine would feel terrible about it. “…I just wanted to say good luck at work today?”

“Girl, why are you wasting time like this? If you fed the animals, go inside and see what your mother needs help with.” He cinched the last strap and climbed onto the Clydesdale. “Go on, now! Get yourself back in the house!”

She walked toward the house like she was told, but she looked back as he rode off. Peregrine always wondered about what Father’s days were like in town. She had been there a few times, but she was mostly supposed to just stay at home with Mother. She was afraid to ask him about his trips. Whatever she said to him would probably make him disappointed in her, anyway, so it was better for Peregrine to just keep her mouth shut.

The sun was high over the big hill. Peregrine wondered where the fox was right now, whether he was going back home or playing with his animal friends. Peregrine looked to the big hill and made a promise to it that she would never tell her parents about the fox. She turned an imaginary key over her lips and tossed it away. A gust of wind shook the trees and made the grass on the hills shimmer like ripples in a pond. In her imagination, the key had been blown away into the trees far away.

The fox came by to visit every day that week. At first, he would just walk around and sniff at things, but then Peregrine began talking to him. The fox would sit and appear to listen as Peregrine talked about her parents and her chores and the games she liked to play. Then, the fox would slowly walk back down the winding path to the big hill.

Peregrine began bringing treats for the fox, like apples and honey cakes. The fox ate them and listened to her, then he left. She would always watch it until it vanished into path up the hill. Peregrine found she desperately wanted to follow her new friend. But that would be silly. She had errands to do and what would her parents say? For a moment, a breeze blew clouds over the big hill. It was almost like the hill was winking at her. Each day, she found herself waiting longer after the fox had left out of view.

Though she never mentioned the fox to her parents like she promised, Peregrine began to ask both Mother and Father about the hill any chance she got. Both of them were worried and told her not to concern herself with it. This only made her more curious.

The next morning, Peregrine hopped out of bed and took her handkerchief from by the washbasin. She grabbed some day-old honey cakes and apples and tied them up like a little lunch sack. When she went out, she fed the animals extra so they wouldn’t be hungry. She didn’t know how long she would be gone.

She had gotten up so fast, it was still before the sun was up. She stood there, thinking a hundred different fears in her head. What if her parents found out? How much trouble would she be in? What if the fox never showed up at all? Would Mother be okay at home without her help around the house? The sun began to rise behind her and let up the big hill in reddish-gold. The fox came down, earlier than usual. His fur coat looked like a golden fire in the dawn light and he squinted at the rising sun.

“H-hello,” Peregrine said. She expected the fox to sit or sniff around, but instead it cocked its head, paused for a moment, then spun around back toward the big hill. “Hey! Wait up, fox!”

Peregrine looked back at her house below and thought about her parents, but she didn’t want to lose the fox today. It was fast when it wanted to be.

The hike up the hill was longer than she thought. “I’ll just go up to the top and come back down. It will be faster on the way down,” she told herself. She kept thinking the fox was going to wander off into the trees, but he kept to the road. Peregrine felt like she was being pulled by an invisible string. When the sun was up high, she stopped to sit on a rock.

“It’s noon,” she told the fox. “My parents are probably worried about me,” Peregrine unwrapped the handkerchief and splitting a honey cake with her friend. “They might be angry with me, too.” She sighed, reaching out for the fox’s coat. He allowed her to pet him, something she found strange now that she started. Maybe he belonged to someone? “I wish you could tell me what’s on the other side. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so curious.”

When Peregrine was rested, she picked herself up and climbed toward the top. The trail became smaller and filled with all sorts of brambles and weeds. At one time, had to crawl through some bushes after the fox and got her arms scratched up. Peregrine tried to dust off her dress, but the dirt was all caked into the front like clay.

With twigs in her hair, Peregrine climbed higher and higher and wondered if she would even be back before dark. It must be a few hours past noon now and who knows how much more she would have to climb. Maybe this hill would go on forever all the way up to Heaven. She looked back down the hill and couldn’t see her home anymore. She figured it was somewhere in the valley, but she wasn’t exactly sure where.

Soon, though, the path finally opened up into an open range of grass and white heather flowers. How pretty. The road leveled out a little more and she could see the top. “Just a little more and I can see what’s over the hill,” she said. “Then I’ll go home.”

The top of the hill was windy and cool. She still felt dirty and scratched but the breeze was refreshing against her skin. Peregrine took an apple from her handkerchief and bit into it. Almost there, she thought. Almost to the top. The sun lit up the grass and the birds that were singing in the morning had come back to their homes and were chattering away in the trees with their families, probably about where they’d flown and what they’d seen that day. Peregrine figured birds must have a lot to talk about since they get to see everything.

The view made Peregrine forget to breathe. From way up here, she could see her house again, but it didn’t even look like a house anymore. It looked like a tiny button sewn into the valley. She wanted to go back home again to her family, but even more, she was curious to see what was on the other side of the hill, and she wasn’t going to turn back now that she was almost there. The fox lay down to rest in the sun among the grass and the white heathers. His ears flickered as Peregrine raced past him.

Peregrine’s breath caught in her throat. The other side was even more beautiful than her side of the valley, more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. There was a great, big river flowing through the valley, and the trees below were all flowering with shades of pink and yellow and purple and red. An apple orchard full of pink apple blossoms stretched out as far as the eye could see. Up above, the wind caught falcons’ wings so that they floated on the warms updrafts rising into the sky.

“Is this your home?” Peregrine turned to ask the fox.

The fox rubbed his nose in his paw.

“I guess that was a silly question to ask,” she laughed at herself. Peregrine broke off a heather stem and smelled it. It smelled fragrant like the apron her mother used to bake. She wanted to share everything she’d seen with her parents, but they would probably be too mad to listen. She looked up at the falcons, listened to the little finches in the trees. Peregrine wished she was a bird and could just fly away somewhere special.

She went over to crouch by the fox, ground with her flower stalk. She felt such excitement before, but seeing the other side of the hill just wasn’t enough now. For some reason, she’d expected more to happen. Now that she was up here, she already had to go back home.

“What do you think I should do now?” she asked the fox. “I really should go home. But my parents will be so mad at me. I don’t even know what Father would do.” But in reality, Peregrine knew exactly what her parents would do. Father would spank her and send her to bed with no supper. Mother would keep a close eye on her but refuse to talk about it. Life would continue in much of the same way, only they would trust her less and keep a close eye on her. One morning, Mother or Father would eventually see the fox coming to visit. Then Father would take his rifle and shoot the fox and skin her only friend for his pelt.

“Maybe we could run away.” She raised the heath stem like a royal scepter. “We could go to the farthest reaches of the world, see far away cities and live off the land. Just you and me.”

The fox’s ears perked up. He licked his snout.

“All the way—” Peregrine’s hand stopped as she pointed out toward the gorgeous valley below. “But this is your home, isn’t it? Don’t you have a family?”

The fox stretched and yawned.

“Yeah, well, I don’t know if I want to go back to mine. All they do is ignore me. And, well, if they ever see you, Father will…” Peregrine’s eyes start tearing up. She wipes the heather against her face. “We can’t see each other after this. If you come back to the pens, I’ll throw rocks at you. Do you understand?” The fox cocked its head. “Do you understand, you dumb animal!” She throws the heather at the fox, who leaps away. “I hate you. I hate you!” Peregrine’s shouts turned to sobbing. She collapsed in the field of heather, turning spots of her soiled dress into mud.

The fox walked up to her and sniffed her face. She opened her eyes and looked back into his honest brown eyes. This was Peregrine’s first and only friend. The one she knew who had never judged her or ignored her or made her feel small. “I…” She sprang up, bolting back down the hill toward her home. She barely noticed the brambles and bushes tearing at her skin and at her clothes. Down and down the hill she ran. And all the way her only thought was, I love you. I love you. I’ll always love you.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXI

Drive to the Date

Cassidy took the side roads to get to her date. She was nervous but she had no idea why. Yeah, she’d never dated someone she’d met on the internet, but was that really the problem? Internet people are just like regular people, only they’re probably way more fat and lazy. Cassidy flips down her vanity mirror and looks herself over one more time while she’s sitting at a red light. What is he going to say about her? He’ll comment on her eyes, probably. They’re almond eyes. Everyone says that. They’re brown and shaped like almonds, so she guesses that’s fair. Still, Cassidy doesn’t like having almond eyes. She wants stunning pools. Deep lakes. Ocean eyes. She wants eyes like knives. Eyes that yell “get back!” or whisper “come hither.” Anything but almond eyes.

Green light and Cassidy flips up the sun visor up. The guy looks decent enough but Cassidy doesn’t think it’s a recent picture. He could be completely blob-o. How would she react, then? Should she flip out and leave? Should she just play it cool, go on the date and just not answer his calls after that? It is a free meal. Omigod, what if he believes in going dutch on the bill! Oh! Oh, that would be just awful for everybody.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Vacation

The exit for Cedar lane is crowded by a line of (you guessed it) cedars, but there’s barely a single car that’s going there during morning rush hour. Whenever I’m driving in the slow lane, I’m tempted just to hit my right blinker and sail off into Cedar Lane. I’d take a little vacation between the cedars, drive through a hilly road to God-knows-where. It would only take a little turn of the wheel.

Oh, but I shouldn’t tempt myself like  that. I have to go to work. I have to go to work. I have to get a paycheck. I need to go to work.

It would be nice to just drive off somewhere, but it’s not even like it’s really far away to just exit in Cedar Lane. Where would I even go? I’d just be stuck in a little lane and I’d have to go back to work anyway. A real vacation should be removed from everything. Screw Cedar Lane. Let’s go for Mountain Pass. The spiky crags of adventure off in the horizon. What’s beyond Mountain Pass? Freedom? Desert wastelands? Babe the Blue Ox? Doesn’t matter. It’d be a vacation. A trip out of my own life and out of my head. The best kind of vacation. No need to stop short at Cedar Lane. I’m going straight past my exit to Mountain Pass.

Oh, but I need that paycheck. I need to go to work. Aw, man. Shit… damn. Fucknugget. Why is this exit always so crowded?

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX