2015 A to Z – Fiction From the Letter H – Helms Old Shed . . .

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! Seven days into this annual adventure to create 26 unique posts relating to the 26 letters of the alphabet and I am a bit fatigued. Yes, it could be the fact I am trying to do this four times with four different blogs. I am weary, but committed to follow through on the quest. By now you have read my spiel about the hows and whys, but for those just joining us this is a three part adventure. My friend Chris, a literary journal fiction editor created the prompts, his daughter Hannah provided the photos and I, on the far right in the picture below am tasked with crafting a short story.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 8 – Helms Old Shed in the Wood

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

“We have to have that for our plan to work!” the first convict declared.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Jim replied. He looked in every direction, desperately trying to get some bearings.

“I thought you said this place was easy to find!” the rough looking and rough talking fellow convict had been the muscle in the break out of the state penitentiary and was sure to repeat his murderous ways if Jim could not produce what he promised.

“I grew up in these woods. I know what I am doing. Just give me a chance to get acclimated to them again.”

“Yeah, meanwhile every gun toting lawman within two hundred miles is closing in.”

“If you are impatient, then shove off!” Jim growled.

Uley Howard was not the kind of guy to be challenged. It was the mistake of two guys in a bar in Galveston that led to Uley’s current forty year sentence for murdering the pair. But Jim Fraley was no wilting daisy. He had six years of infantry experience in Iraq and Afghanistan in his history. Firefights had a way of steeling your nerves and one man with no weapons growling at him was not enough to cause fear.

“Just find the loot!”

Jim shot him a look of disgust as he took another good luck at the woods around him. He began to wonder if Helms old shed in the woods where his loot was buried was still there after ten years.

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2015 A to Z – G – Fiction from the Letter G – Gold, New . . .

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! Seven days into this annual adventure to create 26 unique posts relating to the 26 letters of the alphabet and I am a bit fatigued. Yes, it could be the fact I am trying to do this four times with four different blogs. I am weary, but committed to follow through on the quest. By now you have read my spiel about the hows and whys, but for those just joining us this is a three part adventure. My friend Chris, a literary journal fiction editor created the prompts, his daughter Hannah provided the photos and I, on the far right in the picture below am tasked with crafting a short story.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 7 – Gold, new and yellow like the sun and in the strangest places.

copyright – Hannah Duncan

“This was the headquarters of the mining operation,” the guide told the group.

“You mean with all that gold this was what they built?” A young woman asked.

“The focus was on getting the gold extracted and sold to the merchants on the Eastern side of the country. This building was simply a place for administration and processing, it did not have to be grand,” the guide explained.

“So how much gold came from here?” another group member asked.

“At least two hundred million pounds. Roughly about thirty percent of the volume between 1870 and 192o.”

The floors creaked as the group entered the building and looked at the many displays that lined the room. There was photos of the miners collected together and hard at work. Another photo showed a train that had come to bring a president to the camp in the late 1800s. The group milled around, snapping photos and marveling at the history.

There was also some correspondence framed and displayed on the walls that caught the attention of some of the tour group. Onr particular one was identified as the letter that started the rush of prospectors to the region.

“My dear Karina,

We came to this country in search of a better life and it has been so slow to find us. We have struggled in ways i never expected, but I believed our time was near. I have made it to the far coast of our new country and have come back to this wondrous place. It is here our dreams will come true. You must come at once. You have to see what I see here. Gold, new and yellow in the sun, and in the strangest places. I will impatiently await your arrival.

My Love,

Yuri”

2015 A to Z – F – Fiction from the Letter F – Final Exit for Fred

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! It is Day 6 and we are suffering through some heavy rain for the day. I am glad I have a job that requires me to stay indoors on such a we. t day, soggy As you know, I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 6 – Final exit for Fred

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

Fred thought it would be okay coming to the fun house after everyone had left for the day. He was naturally curious and just wanted to know how things worked. There was a lot to ponder on that composed the guts of the fun house and Grandpa Willis always said to understand what made you curious you had to learn how it worked. Fred crept up the steps to the pier, watching to make sure no one was around. He saw the sign that warned that there should be no one trespassing after 6 P.M., but he wasn’t here for mischief, so he thought it would be okay.

Since it was near the heart of summer plenty of sunlight lit up the place, allowing him to marvel at all there was to see. His fingers traced the gears and levers used to make the fun house “fun” and his mind worked diligently to understand what he saw. He could already see himself either working here to make all this happen or creating his own in another place. Either way Fred felt like his future was settled.

He stopped to listen when he thought he heard someone speak. He twisted his head left and right, willing the sound to come again. He made his breathing quiet as he searched for any proof another was nearby. When he saw the shadow pass the window he stopped breathing altogether for a brief minute. Suddenly his rationalization about being here did not seem so solid. If it was old Officer Nells he wouldn’t care what the reason, he would make an issue of him being here.

Fred kicked off his flip flops and inched his way toward the door he entered. As he approached he could see the shadow moving that way. That exit was out, he thought. Quietly he moved to each possible escape, but either Nells was thinking like him or they were permanently secure, because his options were dwindling fast. Suddenly it came to him. The giant corkscrew slide. He looked at the distance between where he was and the opening for his guaranteed escape. It looked like forty feet, but it seemed more like forty yards. He could hear Officer Nells rattling a chain and lock and knew he had to go now.

Fred dashed across the open space, running as hard as possible for the opening to the slide. He saw the doors part, flooding the room with the direct sunlight from the Western side of the building and giving him the briefest of reprieves as Nells could only make out a form and not his face.

“STOP YOU!!!”

Fred dove into the opening of the slide and rattled down the length of its curling length to land in the soft warm sand below. Not pausing he collected himself so he could take off toward the beach cottage where safety waited. He could hear Officer Nells shouting from the upper deck of the pier, but he was sure the old man could not see enough of him to make trouble.

 

2015 A to Z – E- Fiction from the Letter E – Emma’s Magic . . .

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! It is Day 5 and today a third member of the Duncan family joins the fun. The picture today is a close up of Chris’ younger daughter, Emma. As you know, I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 5 – Emma’s Magic Brown Eyes Changed Everything

copyright – Hannah Duncan

“What do we do?” Anna asked.

“We make a display just like always,” Barry replied. “I have no ideas,” Anna told him. “I gave my best in the last one.” She hesitantly began to remove items from the store window display as she tried to decide how to decorate for the next holiday, which would be Memorial Day and the start of summer.

“I thought you loved this job!” Barry reminded her.

“The job yes, coming up with ideas, not so much.”

Anna and Barry were the preeminent window dressers in Chicago. It was their job to turn foot traffic along Michigan Avenue into sales dollars. For sixteen months the team had been golden, driving sales upward 20%. But the ideas were drying up, and Anna was worried. She dropped the gela pad she used for sketching ideas and grabbed her purse. She needed some air.

All the skyscrapers glimmered in the early spring air. Thousands of tourists were in town for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They were everywhere, taking in the sites of this big city. Anna noticed a family forming a semi-circle as they took in the view. The youngest was a blonde girl, maybe six or seven years old. She had her eyes fixed on something and Anna wanted to know what it was.

“Emma, honey, what do you see?” her mother asked.

Anna wondered the same, pushing forward to hear what the child had to say.

Even from ten feet away Anna heard the words she needed to change her view. Emma’a magic brown eyes changed everything.

 

2015 A to Z – D- Fiction from the Letter D – Deserted Except . . .

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! By day 4 of this 26 part challenge you have the gist of things. Twenty-six letters of the alphabet and the same number of chances to reward our readers with a post tied to the letter.

So what make this such a challenge for me? After all I write A LOT of fiction. I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 4 – Desertion except for the cat

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

I can remember well the day Felix arrived in our lives. It was barely twenty-four hours after I declared there would be no animals in the house. I never could say no to our girls, especially when they used their beautiful eyes and smiled so effectively. Besides, every kid deserves a pet. But I knew Felix and i would have a lot of work ahead of us to develop our relationship. I was a dog lover, and had always had one around but usually the dog disliked cats, so the cat question was decided.

Over the next three or four years Felix and i eventually reached an agreement. I would respect his space and he would ignore me, unless there was no one else to care for him. That was never the case as Felix went everywhere we went that was more than a day trip. He had a small travel box that seemed to make him happy. The kids did not want him to be lonely, so there was never a though of leaving him behind.

But eventually the day would come that the kids began to leave Felix out of their plans. As a father I knew this was going to come true and  expected the change to be more trying than the reality. Felix wasn’t sure how to take the change, but in classic cat fashion acted as though nothing was different. But it was, of course and the proof was when Felix decided lying beside me wasn’t so bad after all.

 

2015 A to Z – C- Fiction from the Letter C – Chicago Took My . . .

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! This is day three of the 2015 A to Z Challenge, in which bloggers all over the world embark on a 26 part quest to deliver a post tied to each letter of the alphabet. Yours truly, in keeping with the fiction theme established here will make a stab at 26 flash fiction stories. Flash Fiction is anything 2000 words or less, so perhaps I should say it will tend to be more like micro fiction. Regardless I will not try to fill out 2000 words. I think 400 or less will keep me within the A to Z guidelines.

So what make this such a challenge for me? After all I write A LOT of fiction. I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 3 – Chicago took my dreams and my last ten bucks

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

Chicago took my dreams and my last ten bucks. I felt like the big city was the place I had always been missing in my life. From the moment the skyscrapers came into view I felt at home. Most of my friends and family told me I was making a huge mistake, but I believed in something more. There was another whole book of chapters in my life and I believed Chicago was where this story was set.

But that was before I met her. Fiona Meyers, a twenty-something Irish beauty, fresh from her first Trans-Atlantic journey cast her spell that first night on the Lake Michigan dinner cruise. I was warned about a Singles Cruise and took great pains to prepare myself, but that flowing auburn hair and those emerald eyes just threw me off my game. From the moment her beautiful face caught my eye I was smitten.

Wooing her was all I could think of and do. She was with me all the time and we had a whirlwind time seeing the city. It felt as though I had won the Lotto, sporting such a beauty with me as I criss-crossed  all the Windy City hot-spots. What I didn’t see was the  plan she had to take me for all I had. I should have seen the signs, I mean everything went so smoothly, too smoothly. She was everything I had ever wanted and dreamed of and I should have felt a little trepidation about that. But I didn’t, because I felt I was due.

So now I stand here waiting for my flight to be called. A one way ticket paid for by mom to bring me back home.  I may not get another chance to do this, but I guess one failed chance is better than none at all.

2015 A to Z – Fiction From the Letter B – Brett Didn’t Know …

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! This is day two of the 2015 A to Z Challenge, in which bloggers all over the world embark on a 26 part quest to deliver a post tied to each letter of the alphabet. Yours truly, in keeping with the fiction theme established here will make a stab at 26 flash fiction stories. Flash Fiction is anything 2000 words or less, so perhaps I should say it will tend to be more like micro fiction. Regardless I will not try to fill out 2000 words. I think 400 or less will keep me within the A to Z guidelines.

So what make this such a challenge for me? After all I write A LOT of fiction. I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

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I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 2 – Brett didn’t know who was more stubborn, the bull, or his inner demons.

Brett didn’t know who was more stubborn, the bull, or his inner demons.   Okay, that wasn’t true, it was definitely his inner demons, but bull was the one costing him money and adding to his workload. New fencing was not cheap and the time to replace it day after day was just not there. He took a sip from the small silver flask his father once carried and thought about the predicament he was in. This bull was going to solve all his problems. At least that was what the man at the livestock sale convinced him.

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

Brett needed some money and bad. The next mortgage payment was already sixty days behind and when he crossed the ninety day threshold the eviction threats would become real. He surveyed the land in every direction within his sight and the thought of losing everything his family held dear for generations made him sick to his stomach. He hadn’t wanted this. Watching his father drop dead working the place was not his idea of passing on the love of the land. His mother tried to help, but she was getting to old to make much of an impact.

His oldest brother was an investment banker in Philadelphia, certainly with no interest in cows or pastures. Little brother Jimmy was a computer whiz headed to Stanford with a full ride. That left him to pull things together on the 400 acres of prime Nebraska farm land. He could hear his father’s last words to him, the words he said twelves hours before he died.

“Brett, it takes a strong man to live this life. I don’t know if you got it in you, I didn’t know for the longest time. There’s no shame if you don’t, just figure it out before it breaks you in two!” Brett’s answer so far had been the liquid that seemed to be less effective every day and getting more expensive to keep. He always heard the saying “there’s no answer in the bottom of the bottle” and now he was beginning to believe it was true.

He knew now that letting Callie Cahill slip out of his life was a major mistake. She was a born and raised  and loved this stuff. She had made an honest effort at educating him about everything it took to succeed here. But he had wandering eyes and hands to match. Callie deserved and wanted so much more, but he was both unable and unwilling to give that to her. So here he stood with more troubles than answers and nothing but a stubborn walking meat department standing between him and ruin.

Then there was the deepest demon, that night in Waco when his bar fight fun turned deadly. So far no one had ever connected him directly, but every time he saw a law enforcement member he drew a hard breath. Surrounded by all this land made him feel insulated. But could that last?

 

 

 

 

2015 A to Z – Fiction From the Letter A – Albert’s Secret is Buried in the Garden

Welcome to the Fiction Playground! Today marks the kickoff of the 2015 A to Z Challenge, in which bloggers all over the world embark on a 26 part quest to deliver a post tied to each letter of the alphabet. Yours truly, in keeping with the fiction theme established here will make a stab at 26 flash fiction stories. Flash Fiction is anything 2000 words or less, so perhaps I should say it will tend to be more like micro fiction. Regardless I will not try to fill out 2000 words. I think 400 or less will keep me within the A to Z guidelines.

So what make this such a challenge for me? After all I write A LOT of fiction. I have enlisted the assistance of two friends to make this more of a fun effort. One, named Chris Duncan is a fiction editor for a literary journal. He has graciously agreed to deliver unique prompts tied to each letter of the alphabet. I will only pull these out the day they are to be posted so i do not have time to think about a potential story.

Keeping in the family theme I also partnered with Chris’ daughter, Hannah, a budding photographer. Hannah has just recently completed a showing of her work at a local gallery and is in the trumpet section of the local high school band with my daughter. I love the unique perspective Hannah has in her photography and asked Chris to coordinate pictures of hers with the prompts he chose for me. Below you can see a picture of the three of us during a recent band trip to Chicago for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am on the right, which of course leaves Chris to the left and Hannah as the rose between the thorns.

205

I invite you to return each day to see Chris’ brilliant prompts, Hannah’s beautiful pictures and my fiction concoctions tied to each unique prompt.

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Day 1 – Albert’s Secret is Buried in the Garden – 

Penelope stood near the gate, watching as the love of her life scratched in the snow. What was he doing? Albert was never this odd, never so secretive. She pulled the hood of her coat tighter as the biting winter wind stung her ears. She was careful to keep herself at enough of an angle that he couldn’t easily glance her way and see her. She also looked behind, toward the large house in the distance to make sure no one had followed them.

She turned her attention back to Albert, who continued to work feverishly at whatever he had in mind. She couldn’t see much since he knelt between her and what he was doing. Why today, in this blasted cold? Her mind traced the events of the last few days in search of something of substance to put this adventure in perspective. Nothing came to her and she wished he would hurry because even the heavy gloves she wore were no match for this day. Her breath caught as she watched him stand. She had to hide so he wouldn’t know she followed. She worked her way around the fence of the garden so she could still see him, but be out of his sight. Albert stood, his back toward her and put his hands together and lifted his head to look up at the sky. Next he turned and with a broad smile and began the journey back the way he had come.

copyright – Hannah Duncan 2015

Penelope’s eyes darted between Albert and the pile of snow he left as she waited impatiently for him to get far enough away to give her an opportunity to duck into the garden. She practically dove into the snow, digging into the pile, eager to know what was so important to Albert. She eventually found a box inside a plastic bag and removed it while turning to see if she was alone.

She pulled the box from the bag and removed the paper from it to reveal some clear tape tightly securing the top. Off came a glove and her fingernails easily separated the thin barrier. next was a much smaller box and within it a velvet case. Penelope could hear the blood from her heart pulsing in her ears as she opened the case. Inside was a beautiful diamond ring, the exact one she told her sister she wanted if Albert ever were to propose.

“I think I am supposed to be the one on a knee,” Albert said from behind.

Penelope squealed in response, first from the surprise of him being there, and then when she thought of what this meant. She turned to face him and felt the blush that was turning her face a deeper pink than the wind.

“You wanted a unique proposal. I knew you had to follow me.”

“So,” Penelope said,”this was your plan?”

“Pretty much. There is just one more thing that will make it complete.”

“Like what?”

“Your answer,” Albert said wrapping his arms around her waist.

“Are you serious? Yes! Of course it is yes!”