July 12 – July 25, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “A Branch”

Theme: A Branch. Any kind at all: tree, creek, service, etc.

Required Elements: Must contain the following stand-alone sentence somewhere in the story: “You would think so, wouldn’t you?”

Word Count: 1,200



  • This is the thread for stories as well as general comments. Say hello and be sure to check the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box for email notifications.
  • To leave feedback/Comments directly relating to a particular story – click “reply” to the story comment.
  • Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback do not post a story.
  • Keep feedback and critiques to a civil and constructive level, please. Please critique stories for construction, style, flow, grammar, punctuation, and so on. The moderator has the right to delete any comments that appear racist, inflammatory or bullying.

Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

***the next writing prompt will be chosen by Ilana Leeds per the Writing Prompt Roster.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.


47 thoughts on “July 12 – July 25, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “A Branch”

  • July 12, 2018 at 11:29 pm
    Permalink

    Ok. What happened to Ken? Whose prompt is this one? Should be interesting, Nu?

    Reply
    • July 13, 2018 at 1:26 am
      Permalink

      Hey Ilana, Ken didn’t vote so his story didn’t qualify. 🙁
      This prompt was chosen by Roy, and it’s a good one!

      Reply
      • July 17, 2018 at 11:38 pm
        Permalink

        That is a stupid rule–disqualifying authors who are unable to vote. What was the original motivation for the rule?

        Reply
        • July 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm
          Permalink

          That has always been a condition of this site Mike, and I did it originally. It was to encourage authors to vote. Otherwise, we found out, people didn’t vote. We would have ten stories and two voters. So, we made the rule. It’s a fair rule, because you have 24 hours to vote, and if you want to give up your story and not vote, that’s your choice. It’s a mild penalty, some are willing to do, but most just suck it up and vote. I don’t think it’s stupid, but you can think so if you like. It’s not going to change.

          Reply
  • July 12, 2018 at 11:32 pm
    Permalink

    Stupid me, I did not read the post properly. I have a prompt already prepared and it is only one four letter word (HAH had you all there, didn’t I?) Starts with L and ends with S. See if you can guess it? If you do, I’ll use your name for the main character in my story. 😀 😛

    Reply
    • July 18, 2018 at 4:11 am
      Permalink

      Once I thought of looking all the four-lettered ‘L’ words up in the dictionary, words like ‘lots’, ‘logs’, ‘legs’ ( I can already visualise lots of situations with legs based on personal experiences). Come to think of it, five-lettered ‘L’ words would have been more interesting and contextually relatable – words like ‘looks’, ‘louts’, ‘loans’, ‘loads’ and ‘loves’. What about the seven-lettered ‘L’ word ‘Lechers’ by the way?
      Anyway, my most considered guess would be either ‘LASS’ or ‘LADS’. Good luck with your prompt. Regards.

      Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 3:15 am
    Permalink

    What a tree-mendous prompt, guys!
    Sorry, I was really just posting to get notifications.

    And to say to Ilana, I’m guessing your four-letter word is ‘Loss’ …

    Reply
    • July 13, 2018 at 9:48 pm
      Permalink

      Aha Andy good guess darling person! I should not say person should I? Do I have to say perpeople? This PC stuff is getting to me.

      Reply
      • July 14, 2018 at 2:36 am
        Permalink

        ‘Person’ is fine, Ilana. I still qualify as such. ‘Boy’ might be historic. ‘Man’, a bit dubious at times … 🙂

        Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 12:52 pm
      Permalink

      Ha Andy, I let out an audible groan in reading your last post. 😃

      Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 8:14 am
    Permalink

    Branch with an apple
    (997 words)

    Mona and Medan were twin brother. Medan was born first, hence he became elder brother. Mona enjoyed love of Medan and guardianship. Medan got respect as a elder brother from Mona. They preferred to walk together for adventure around the community since they learned to walk independently. They visited parks, lakes, rice fields around village. They used to watch sunset in the west. To the east was a small jungle little far away from the community.
    “I want to go there” Mona said with interest and with little hesitation.
    “Where?”
    “There in the jungle, to the east, we have never been”, Mona replied with small voice. “You cannot walk there. Just wait one more year, then you will be strong enough to walk over there”
    Madan asked with curiosity “By the way, why do want to go there?”
    “I would like to climb trees and eat fruits”
    “Do you think that you are a monkey?”
    “You would think so, wouldn’t you?”, Medan put question mark.
    “I can climb better than monkey”, Mona laughed.

    *****************************
    One year passed. Mona had same interest in his mind. He reminded his brother Medan of his promise. “Brother it is already one year. I wanted to go there.”
    “Where?”, Medan asked interestingly.
    “That hill, in the east, I wanted to climb trees. Mona replied as if everything was decided just yesterday.
    “Just wait a few days, I will see a date”
    Mona became cheerful with hope.
    It was green season, branches of trees were covered with green leaves. Medan also became interested to go, and he actually decided to go. One day, in the afternoon, towards the evening, both brothers headed towards the jungle in the small hill to the east. Trees were not same and alike. Some trees have tall branches, some have many broken branches, some trees spread in wide areas, and some looked like small bushes. They observed all types. Mona wanted to climb a tree. There was a tree with branches since bottom of the stem. Medan was afraid but he approved on that tree. Mona climbed up to middle. Medan was comfortable up to that point. He was partly happy with courage of his brother and partly afraid with possible risk. Medan asked to come down and not to up further because stem further was getting smaller.
    “Mona, Mona, come down, come down, you will fall”, Medan cried.
    But, Mona was excited and self-directed, climbed up with confident. By climbing little up Mona stopped and looked around. Then he came down partly by self-interest and partly by the force of the brother.
    Mona wanted to find a tree with fruits. But there were nothings.
    While visiting jungle Mona saw a tree with a branch leaning with a fruit that looked like an apple, just one apple in a branch.
    “Brother” I found”, Mona cried.
    “What?”
    See there, in that tree, on the side, that branch” Mona pointed with joys.
    Mona, do you think we can pick up that fruit?
    “We must try?”
    A monkey was following them. Mona became very happy to see act of Monkey.
    Medan warned, “do not play with the monkey. It can snatch your biscuits”
    “Which biscuits brother? I have already given to the monkey”
    “Oh, that is why the monkey is following you? ”
    Mona and Medan was looking at fruit and thinking how to get it. Medan was actually not interested in fruit but he wanted to make his brother Mona happy. Monkey noticed the fruit. He climbed the tree from other tall tree in the side. Jumped on the branch with the fruit, picked up the fruit and fall down on the ground pulling down the branch. Branch jumped up and Monkey falls down with the fruit in his hand. Mona looked at fruit, there was nothing? He saw the fruit on the hand of Monkey. Mona gestured the monkey to pass the fruit to him. But Monkey did not do that.
    Medan came out with idea that people use in temple to get the sandal back from the Monkey. He passed his shoe to the monkey. The monkey caught the shoe and left the fruit. Mona started to eat fruit. It was very sweet.
    “Do not eat all”, Medan ordered.
    “Why?”
    “We need to give half to Monkey and get the shoe back.”
    Mona threw half of the fruit to Monkey. Monkey caught the fruit and left the shoe. The shoe fell down.
    It was getting darker. They decided to return back home. It was easy to get down. They jumped with long pace. Mona was looking back to the Monkey. He was thinking how the Monkey would do in the night.

    ****************************
    After ten years when they completed bachelors and it was time to specialize. Mona wanted to study information technology focused on animal world.
    Medan asked with interest, “Why are you interested in that subject?”
    “It….. is be……cause I wanted to observe the nature of animal from the home.”
    “Would you like to fit the camera in the branches of trees? You would think so, wouldn’t you?”
    “No, I do not know what I will do. I wanted to learn all possibilities.”
    *******************************
    Five years later, Mona became IT specialist for the animal world. For practicing he fitted cameras on branches of trees covering major routes and habitat of animals and fitted transmitter on few animals and birds. People could see natural movement and act of animal and birds in the jungle while at the home. Mona observed many events happening in the jungle. Mona had still in his mind the same scene where monkey picked up single fruit from the lean and thin branch and passed to him.
    Medan did specialize in Human Science. He was impressed with the psychology of his own brother Mona. His conclusion was: Like a tree became based on the species planted, a child become based on was interest was planted in the childhood. Interest planted in the soft mind spreads.

    Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 1:21 pm
    Permalink

    Down in the upper right hand corner of this page, a banner invites us to: ‘Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.’ (?) So that does nothing? All these years, centuries even, I’ve been filling out that form, and getting no notifications? I’ve sought counseling, hired expert computer wizards (twelve-year-olds), changed my name, my user name, my password, my passport, my hatchback and my humpback. All to no avail. I’ve hired a black hat, a white hat, a hatless hack, held a seance, cleaned the monitor and had my laptop exorcised. And now, only NOW, I realize that that form does nothing. Or else why would both you, Florence, and you, Nightingale, have to post in the thread to receive notifications of your own website?

    This is clearly CLEARLY, a case of Fraudulent False Flag Form Filing. I’m calling ‘The Federal Bureau of Useless Forms.’ (FeBUS.) and unilaterally reporting this inexcusable breach of literary lunacy. (Literally.)

    At the very least, I demand a full, complete and comprehensive explanation which will leave me baffled, confused and unsatisfied for perhaps years to come.

    I don’t know what I have to do to be taken seriously around here. Seriously. (Not really–that would be a disaster.)

    Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 6:24 am
      Permalink

      I’m also demanding whatever it is Ken is demanding.
      The two bosses get notifications – go figure.
      Oh, and Andy, but he’s special.

      Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm
    Permalink

    Ken, have you checked your SPAM folder? I’m not sure what the deal is, maybe Carrie has some idea. 🙂

    Reply
    • July 13, 2018 at 10:17 pm
      Permalink

      Very strange.
      It seems no one is getting email notifications.

      I will put in a support ticket with Jetpack and WordPress.

      Reply
      • July 14, 2018 at 2:39 am
        Permalink

        I get email notifications. Not sure why I’m so special. I just tick the box under the comment box when I make a comment. That sends an email and I have to click a link to verify I want to follow the thread, and bingo that’s it.

        Reply
        • July 14, 2018 at 3:56 am
          Permalink

          I’m getting them too, maybe your name has to start with an A. 😏

          Reply
          • July 14, 2018 at 7:11 am
            Permalink

            I got the email saying someone liked your comment but no emails saying someone actually commented.

            BUT

            there was a wordpress update out there that I just installed so maybe that will fix the notification issues!

          • July 14, 2018 at 9:29 am
            Permalink

            Lettuce see if Cattie’s new up-date is works.

          • July 14, 2018 at 11:44 am
            Permalink

            it occurred to me, are you using your WordPress account to leave comments? If so, logout of WordPress when you leave a comment, enter your name, email address and then click the box for receive email updates.

          • July 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm
            Permalink

            Nope…I do not qualify getting E mail notification all the time… sometimes only though my name starts with A.

        • July 14, 2018 at 11:57 am
          Permalink

          Hey gang,

          The (all kidding aside for a minute) upper right corner sign-up provides notifications of each new contest. One time only for each one. The check boxes Do in fact provide notifications if anyone comments on a comment, or story. I frequently don’t check those boxes because I like to pretend I’m ‘too cool to care.’ (Or maybe it’s because I’m senile and forget until after I’ve posted my comment. After that it’s too late.)

          It’s possible that ‘liking’ the site directs more notifications, but I confess that I don’t do any of these things with enough regularity to be certain whether it’s what I’m doing, or forgetting to do.

          I’m still in a recovery stage after having to clean my main server after some kind of malicious virus. I have quite a few passwords that I never wrote down and got lost in the process of cleaning and restoring my PC and various programs. So, I certainly can’t assign any blame for anything that doesn’t work properly at this point in time.

          But it does seem as though the notification process on WordPress is either quirky or counter-intuitive sometimes.

          Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 12:35 pm
      Permalink

      Alice,
      No I haven’t. Okay, yes I have. Lot’s of interesting stuff in there. Nothing from this site.

      Reply
  • July 14, 2018 at 6:40 am
    Permalink

    Just a Different Branch
    by Robt. Emmett ©2018

    She whirled around and was in my face. “To you whites, we are savages. You think we are…,” and she proceeded to unload on me all the racial slurs, crass remarks, and crude words ever used against the North American aboriginals. I was, according to her, just another one of them. “You know nothing, nothing about us Anishinaabeg.”

    As she again turned to leave, I said, “I’m Anishinaabe, also.”

    She stopped, “Not possible. Wabiska Nini all claim to have Indian blood when you seek advantage over us.

    I lifted my hand inches from her face. “I’m this much Anishinaabe.”

    An incredulous look crossed her face. Her head lowered. Her laugh built.

    “Most claim to have much Indian in your blood. You claim so little. Her thumb and finger almost touched. You must tell me how you came to have soooo much Anishinaabe blood.” She smiled and suggested, “Let us sit on this bench.”

    We did. “You go first,” I suggested.

    “Okay. Very, very long ago, we lived beside Ketchi Kabekong. You call it Niagara Falls. The earth was good. We prospered but soon outgrew the land. We needed to move Ninggabeun, toward the setting sun. We settled at Animikee Wabu, the place called Sault-Sainte-Marie. The earth was good. We prospered, but again, soon outgrew the land. We needed to move westward. The tribe split. Some went along the south shore of, Gitchigumi to Chequamegon near Bayfield Wisconsin. My people went north to this land on Gitchigumi’s northern shore. The earth was good. We prospered. But soon the urge to move farther west came upon the old men. My ancestor said, ‘No, we will not leave, we are Awaazisii.’ Four clans stayed. Our numbers increased. This land is very good, but fragile. The tribe split again. Some traveled to Canada. We stayed. Others, the Zhawan peoples, moved onto Spirit Island in the Saint Louis River estuary; the place where there is food upon the waters, wild rice. It is late. I must go. Return tomorrow an hour before sunset. Then you can tell me about all,” she snickered, “your Anishinaabe blood.”
    ~*~

    The sun came through the trees in small splashes. The place was comfortably cool and intensely green. Flowering bushes mingled the tall ferns along the edges of the glade.

    She materialized near a bush. Her silky black braid ends, bound with a buckskin thong, hung near to her waist. The dresses’ lower fringe revealed the waterproof moccasins unique to the Anishinaabeg. The elbow length sleeves, trimmed with colorful beadwork, add interest to the near white of the buckskin.

    “Come, let’s sit on the log and I will tell you my story.”
    “How much Anishinaabe are you and how?”

    “I’m less than one-quarter of a percent.” She had a wonderful smile. “Have you ever heard of Pierre Radisson?”

    “Oh, yes.” Her voice excited, “Is he your ancestor?”

    “No, my ancestor, Francois, is not famous. He traveled with Radisson and five others in 1659. It was his first trip up-lake, to the Chequamegon trading station. He was about twelve years and was from St Michel-Bellechasse, Canada. He was strong and smart. In a few seasons, he was put in charge of a large freight canoe. They weighed six-hundred pounds, thirty-six feet long, and could carry three tons of goods or furs. They traveled a thousand miles a month. In a few years, he had his own group and three freight canoes. He was frugal with both his time and his money. He didn’t drink, much, didn’t fool with the ladies. He was on his way to being a rich man. He married a Canadian-French woman and they settled in Saint-Michel. When he left to go up-lake the next spring, she was pregnant.

    “He shared a trading post with other fur traders. He was, um-uh, a young man away from his wife, if you understand my meaning. He had a problem with his morality. His solution, rather than bedding a different maiden whenever the urge struck, he chose to marry one. Her daddy was an elder in the tribe. By the time he left to return to Canada, he had a daughter and another child on the way.

    “Returning to Saint-Michel, he discovered he had a son. By the time he headed up-lake two years later, he also had a daughter and another child in the oven, as they say. At the trading post, he learned he also had another daughter. Just before he headed down-lake, he had a son.

    She smiled, “Can’t keep a good man down, and is that what you are telling me?”

    “I guess. A son and two daughters here, in what would become Minnesota, and the same in Saint-Michel. Early the next spring, he headed down-lake.”

    “What a man, two women and six children.

    What more could a man ask for?

    “Luck,” I said.

    “Luck, how so?”

    “When he returned to Saint-Michel, he learned his house and warehouse burned. His wealth had vanished.”

    “That is so bad. What did he do?”

    “The material loss was nothing. His children died in the fire, as did a servant. All he had were the furs he’d brought with him. It would have been enough to restart his business, but the loss of his children was his undoing. He started drinking. He didn’t tend to his trading business or his wife. She moved back to her father’s home. For many years, he was the laughingstock of Saint-Michel.”

    “So if he was a ruined man, what happened to him?”

    “A man, Médart Groseilliers, had taught Francois the fur trade, sent him a message from Pointe du Lac. Médart insisted Francois come. Médart said he had some presents for my ancestor. It was a hundred-mile trip.”

    “What kind of presents?”

    “A pox had ravaged the trading village. His Indian wife, his youngest daughter, and most of the tribe died. However, his half-breed son and a daughter survived.”

    “The curse of the white man killed more of us than their bullets. So what did this drunk, with no money, no house, or wife, and two children to do?”

    “He stopped drinking, explained to his wife, scratched to put a roof over their heads, and re-established his fur trade business; this time in Trois-Rivières. Then he and his son returned to the lake head. “Ever hear of Du Lhut, the explorer?”

    “I have.”

    “They, Francois and his son, Francois, helped Du Lhut establish the trading at Île de la Rivière Saint-Louis. As you say, Spirit Island, in the Saint Louis River estuary. They returned to Trois-Rivières two years later. By then the son, barely out of his teens was a man. The two were partners for the next twenty-seven years.”

    “His wife forgave him his unfaithfulness? Not possible.”

    “It was not an uncommon happening in that day and age. She was glad to have the laughter of children and her man back. I guess she was glad he didn’t bring any diseases home.”

    “You would think so, wouldn’t you?”

    Her thumb and finger almost touched as she raised her hand. “So you are this much Zhawan. She raised her other hand to her forehead, “I’m this much Awaazisii.”

    “We’re of the same tree.”
    – ℜ –
    [1200 words]

    Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 6:44 am
      Permalink

      WARNING:
      DO NOT attempt to use “Google – translate” to get the sound of the strangely spelled Anishinaabe words.
      None, repeat, none of the words will be pronounced anywhere near correctly – NONE!

      Example:
      Chequamegon is pronounced; shuh-WAH-ma-gun. And that’s the easiest one of the bunch!

      If you don’t believe me, ask Carrie. She’s been there and has the T-shirt.

      Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm
      Permalink

      Migwich(?) Robert,
      Interesting story. One minor suggestion: ‘Most claim to have much Indian in ‘their’ blood. This is kind of like a history lesson delivered in the form of dialogue between two people of radically different ancestry. (I suppose that provides the basis for the reveal.) I shall read it again and update my comment if necessary.
      What I really wanted to know is, have you read any books by William Kent Krueger? My mom stumbled upon three of his books and turned me onto him. He’s an excellent writer and has written a continuing series of books about a particular half
      Anishinaabe Indian character (Cork O’Conner) and his family. The stories are mostly centered around Iron Lake, The Northwest Corner, Lake Superior and a fictitious town named Aurora. He seems to write about one of these books a year, I find them tremendously interesting and I know nothing about that area of the world.
      (In fact, I have in my possession right now, ‘Tamarack County’ and ‘Manitou Canyon.’)

      Reply
      • July 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm
        Permalink

        In the story, he is French, mostly, and she is Anishinaabe.
        I have not read any books by William Kent Krueger. Thanks, I need to check him out.
        I grew up in the area and worked in every school in the Indianhead country of Northern Minnesota.
        Aurora Minnesota is real and located on the Mesabi Range of northeastern Minnesota. [Near the center of Saint Louis county] This area produced a large quantity of the nation’s iron and taconite ore. 2016 Population 1650 est.
        There is no Tamarack County in Minnesota.

        Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 8:35 pm
      Permalink

      I could not enter in my first attempt. I tried again today. It went up to last interestingly. I noted the word “Anishinaabe” specially. In the beginning of the dialogue it looked like a different branch of different tree. When explored it was hound to be same tree but just different branch. Very good plot. I liked: “The sun came through the trees in small splashes”

      Reply
  • July 14, 2018 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    Notification post. Somewhere along the line, and I suspect it’s because I originally signed up as Charles Lilburn on this computer I’m not getting notifications. Now it won’t let me sign in with a new email address. I tried changing my profile, even tried deleting Charles Lilburn, but when I sign in as RMYork, WordPress won’t let me. So, If I get notifications this time, I’m going to let it be and just sign in as Charles Lilburn and sign my comments with Roy so everyone knows what’s what. Confusing, perhaps, but we have some pretty savvy people in this group.

    Reply
    • July 14, 2018 at 11:43 am
      Permalink

      Try not using your WordPress account.
      Leave a comment, logout and enter your name and email address.

      Reply
      • July 15, 2018 at 11:08 am
        Permalink

        I’ll try that.

        Reply
      • July 15, 2018 at 11:08 am
        Permalink

        Hey, it worked! Thanks.

        Reply
      • July 18, 2018 at 3:20 am
        Permalink

        … and yet, I’m both using my WordPress account and receiving notifications.
        I may indeed start to believe I’m special … 🙂
        Or maybe the Internet just works differently here in Lincolnshire. Many things do.

        Reply
  • July 16, 2018 at 2:33 pm
    Permalink

    Karmic Connection:
    Louis Armstrong had hardly settled down in his new place of posting in Tripura, a tiny Indian state in the south-eastern part of the country, when Rose was brought in one night in a pathetic condition. She had complained earlier of a severe stomach pain, threw up amber coloured stuff a number of times before being referred to the Army Hospital from the General Hospital.
    Louis spent the next couple of days like a doctor possessed and saved a near-dead patient from the clutches of death, miraculously.

    “Thank you so much, Dr. Armstrong. My Rose and I will always look upon you as our Saviour,” Natasha told Louis, showing a pair of sparkling teeth from across his desk, the day of her daughter’s discharge.
    “You would think so, wouldn’t you?” Louis smiled back at the widow, who had taught him a lot in the last one week or so about what it meant to be a single parent.
    Their friendship, in the meanwhile, turned into a relationship. Louis had felt drawn to this soft-spoken, sacrificing type Natasha from day one, and more so when he came to know about the circumstances in which Natasha was ditched by her boy friend. She was into the fifth month of her pregnancy at that time. The young, handsome doctor married her a few months after their brisk courtship. He had already struck up a rapport with Rose during her stay in the army hospital.
    It was no surprise therefore, when he eventually turned out to be the father that the nine-year-old Rose never had.
    One fine afternoon Louis and Rose were sitting on a sofa engrossed in watching a tensed scene from “Stepmom”, when Rose put her right arm around his broad shoulder and exclaimed gleefully, “I’ll take care of you, Louis, when you grow old. I will cook for you, be your walking stick and love you to distraction…,” Rose paused for a second before mumbling out the word that Louis had been dying to hear all these days, “Dad.”
    “ I love you too.” Louis then used an expression that he had picked up from his father who served The RBA as a lieutenant in India, during World War II.

    ****************************************

    Louis was the Chief Guest on the fifteenth of August at a party, accompanied by Natasha and Rose. Little did he know on that day that it would turn out to be the bleakest one in his life. While he was cutting off the tape, Rose got lost in the crowds. After a thorough search, the matter had to be referred to the state police finally. Unfortunately, Rose couldn’t be found out! She seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth just like that!

    *******************************”********

    Thirty years have passed since then. Dr. Louis has retired from his profession last June. Even Natasha was beginning to be a part of a distant memory. The file containing the mysterious case of the missing Rose, has started collecting dust, when one day he received an unexpected call from a police station of the neighbouring state of West Bengal. They had haunted out a child who somehow responded to the filed details of Rose from an orphanage near Howrah.
    “ Are you out of your mind, Officer? What made you think of this child as the one who went missing nearly thirty years back?” Dr. Louis sounded incredulous on the other side.
    “Sir, it’s a bit complicated. Can you just fly down to our Station tomorrow? We’ll arrange a meeting with the child at the station itself,” replied the OC.

    Louis was dismissive of the idea when the sixty-six year retired doctor remembered Rose and his last conversation with her.
    “Do you know that all these honour, glitter and the people mean very little to me, Rose,” he mumbled to her, sitting side by side on the guest chairs. “You are my only hope, my future, my love..” he concluded.
    “You would think so, Dad, wouldn’t you?” Louis smiled back at the lovely gift from God in his life, and her brightness.

    The face of Rose cropped up in his mind instantaneously, after all these years. An insatiable urge to give it a last try overwhelmed his entire being. He picked up the directory and started looking for the entry, beginning Jet Airways.

    Next afternoon, he presented himself at the Police Station promptly at the appointed time. He was going to spend the night at a nearby hotel and would be back in his native place by ten in the morning. He knew it for certain that there was a dreadful mistake somewhere.

    When the Havildaar brought in the child called Louisha, Louis was in for a greater shock. The child was neither a Rose look-alike nor was she lively! She seemed every inch as different from her as the North Pole is from the South! Disappointed from the start, they showed her the photos of Rose. Louisha looked a complete blank while going through them and kept mostly mum during the interrogation. All their attempts to get her to open up ended in vain. Finally, the doc got up, shot a furtive glance at the probing eyes of the OC before fumbling with his stick hanging by the chair. He then patted the child on her back.
    “ Be a good girl always, my dear. God bless,” he told Louisha before tactfully blurting out, “Other than some letters that her name has in common with ours, everything else is so different.”
    The child continued looking down at his finger nails as the doctor was about to come out of the office door. It was only at the last moment that the the child looked up and used the expression she had picked up ditto, she knew not from whom or where:
    “You would think so, wouldn’t you?”
    Later, Dr. Louis called up the airline office from his hotel and asked them to book an extra ticket for one Louisha Armstrong for the flight back to Tripura the next day.
    (980 words)

    Reply
    • July 16, 2018 at 2:44 pm
      Permalink

      Dear Carrie,
      One of the requirements of the present prompt is the stand-out sentence:
      “You would think so, wouldn’t you?”
      As such I have tried to use it only at the end, though I have used it somewhere in the middle as well for the sake of the story. To honour the prompt, I added the word ‘Dad’ in the middle to make it slightly different.
      I have been quite busy lately. I will go through the other stories once more if I can manage the time, before commenting. If my story fails to meet the requirements, you can treat it as cancelled.
      Love and best wishes.

      Reply
  • July 17, 2018 at 9:46 am
    Permalink

    Dear Carrie,
    Please delete my previous story and replace it with this one. Love and best wishes,
    Sincerely,
    R.N.Bhattacharjee

    Karmic Connection:
    Louis Armstrong had hardly settled down in his new place of posting in Tripura, a tiny Indian state in the south-eastern part of the country, when Rose was brought in one night in a pathetic condition. She had complained earlier of a severe stomach pain, threw up amber coloured stuff a number of times before being referred to the Army Hospital from the General Hospital.
    Louis spent the next couple of days like a doctor possessed and saved a near-dead patient from the clutches of death, miraculously.

    “Thank you so much, Dr. Armstrong. My Rose and I will always look upon you as our Saviour,” Natasha told Louis, showing a pair of sparkling teeth from across his desk, the day of her daughter’s discharge.
    Louis smiled back at the widow who had taught him a lot in the last one week or so about what it meant to be a single parent.Their friendship,in the meanwhile, turned into a relationship. Louis had felt drawn to this soft-spoken, sacrificing type Natasha from day one, and more so when he came to know about the circumstances in which Natasha was ditched by her boy friend. She was into the fifth month of her pregnancy at that time. The young, handsome doctor married her a few months after their brisk courtship. He had already struck up a rapport with Rose during her stay in the army hospital. It was no surprise therefore, when he eventually turned out to be the father that the nine-year-old Rose never had.
    One fine afternoon Louis and Rose were sitting on a sofa engrossed in watching a tensed scene from “Daddy”, when Rose put her right arm around his broad shoulder and exclaimed gleefully, “I’ll take care of you, Louis, when you grow old. I will cook for you, be your walking stick and love you to distraction…,” Rose paused for a second before mumbling out the word that Louis had been dying to hear all these days, “Dad.”
    “So do I, Rose. So much that you wouldn’t believe it…..” The young doctor checked himself from using an expression that he had picked up from his late father who served The RBA as a lieutenant in India, during World War II.

    ****************************************

    Louis was the Chief Guest on the fifteenth of August at the inauguration of the local fair, accompanied by Natasha and Rose. Little did he know on that day that it would turn out to be the bleakest one in his life. While he was cutting off the tape, Rose got lost in the crowds. After a thorough search, the matter had to be referred to the state police finally. Unfortunately, Rose couldn’t be found out! She seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth just like that!

    *******************************”********

    Thirty years have passed since then. Dr. Louis has retired from his profession last June.Even Natasha was beginning to be a part of a distant memory. The file containing the mysterious case of the missing Rose, has started collecting dust, when one day he received an unexpected call from a police station of the neighbouring state of West Bengal. They had haunted out a child who somehow responded to the filed details of Rose from an orphanage near Howrah.
    “ Are you out of your mind, Officer? What made you think of this child as the one who went missing nearly thirty years back?” Dr. Louis sounded offended on the other side.
    “Sir, it’s a bit complicated. Can you just fly down to our Station tomorrow? We’ll arrange a meeting with the child at our place itself,” replied the OC.

    Louis was dismissive of the idea when the sixty-two year retired doctor remembered Rose and his last conversation with her.
    “Do you know that all these honour, glitter and crowds mean very little to me, Rose,” he whispered to her, sitting side by side on the guest chairs. “You are my only hope, my future, my love..” he concluded.
    “I wouldn’t go to that extent, Dad. You wouldn’t believe that. Nor would anyone.” Louis smiled at the lovely gift from God in his life, and her brightness.

    The face of Rose cropped up in his mind instantaneously, after all these years. An insatiable urge to give it one last try overwhelmed his entire being. He picked up the directory and started looking for the entry, beginning Jet Airways.

    Next afternoon, he presented himself, looking tired but trim, at the Police Station promptly at the appointed time. He was going to spend the night at a nearby hotel and would be back in his native place by ten in the morning. He knew it for certain that there was a dreadful mistake somewhere.

    When the Havildar brought in the child called Louisha, Louis was in for a great shock. The child was neither a Rose look-alike nor was she vocal as Rose was. She seemed every inch as different from her as the North Pole is from the South! Disappointed from the start, they showed her the photos of Rose. Louisha looked a complete blank and kept mostly mum during the interrogation. All their attempts to get her to open up ended in vain. Finally, the doc got up, shot a furtive glance at the probing eyes of the OC before fumbling with his stick hanging by the chair. He then patted the child on her back.
    “ Be a good girl always, my dear. God bless,” he told Louisha before tactfully whimpering to the Officer-,in-Charge in an undertone, “Other than some letters that her name has in common with ours, she doesn’t have anything else with us.”
    The child continued looking down at her fingernails as the doctor was about to come out of the office cum cell. It was only then that the the child looked and blurted out something she had picked up she knew not from whom or where:
    “You wouldn’t believe that. Would you?”
    Later, Dr. Louis called up the airline office and asked them to book an extra ticket for his lost granddaughter,Louisha Armstrong for the flight back to Tripura the next day.

    (1027words)

    Reply
  • July 17, 2018 at 10:52 pm
    Permalink

    Dear RNB, thank you for interesting story. Story, in the last para ended with tension. There is not of scope of pondering. Karmic connection remained unexplained or in suspense. Police did not say how the guessed that Luisa was the Rose. Luisa did not say anything (Mum). Finally what Luisa Blurted was not exposed. Main points for ponder for reader is that why Dr Luis said granddaughter for Luisa. Any way this is a kind of story interesting to read.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2018 at 11:29 am
    Permalink

    Curiosity

    Robert and William walked together toward the strange looking tree near the old horse barn. Even from a distance William could tell it wasn’t a common oak or any other species he knew. The leaves were flat and strangely reflective, gleaming silver in the spring sunlight.

    “Is it some kind of sculpture?” William queried his friend.

    “No, it’s one of the Iron Trees from Tau Ignis 4. Have you heard of them?”

    “Hasn’t everyone? Trees that somehow incorporate metallic iron into their cellular structure but remain flexible and able to photosynthesize like any other plant. Aren’t they’re prohibited from export by the indigenous people.”

    “I have my means. For some reason they cultivate these beauties but never let them grow beyond four of their seasons. I was curious to know why.”

    “Inquisitiveness, my friend, was lethal to the domesticated feline.”

    Robert chuckled as William’s more literal description of a cat done it by curiosity. No one knew why the people of that world treated these trees as they did but he couldn’t imagine it could be dangerous.

    “Don’t worry, I test the soil and the air every day to be sure it’s not exuding some kind of poison, that any pollen it generates isn’t spreading. I have an electrostatic barrier to prevent that among other precautions. I just want to know why.”

    “You always want to know why. That’s how you got to where you are but it’s also how you’ve nearly been killed too many times for comfort.”

    “The key word in your sentence is ‘nearly’. I’m still alive and curious about everything. This is no different from any of the other things I’ve done.”

    “Wrong, my friend. This thing is from another world with who knows what differences in how it will change or react.”

    They reached the fence around the alien plant. The bark resembled that of an aspen, tight against the underlying fibers, and unblemished by knots or any other irregularity.

    “How did you get it to grow?”

    “It was germinated there, the sapling brought here. I salted the soil with all the minerals that were in its original location, including a good helping of powdered iron. It has grown this large in only 3 years.”

    “Three years? My god, look at the size of the lowest branch. It could easily support a few hundred pounds.”

    “You would think so, wouldn’t you? I’m getting ready to bring in a team to do a full work up on it. Biologists, botanists, chemists, the whole shebang. I’ve got to understand this thing and why it’s handled so carefully on TI4.”

    “How soon will you start?”

    “Monday. I’ve lined up all the people and gear, I just have to pull the trigger. I’ll give you a call as soon as I have some preliminary results.”

    “Whatever you say,” William said, shrugging. “I probably wouldn’t understand most of it anyway.”

    “Please. I can see you’re just as curious as I am. You’re just not willing to take the leap.”

    With that the pair turned and walked back toward the rambling farmhouse for lunch. .

    It was only a week later when William received an email with a large attachment from his friend. He opened the file and found a sheaf of laboratory results and report narratives about the alien plant growing on Robert’s property. After several hours of slogging through the unfiltered data and the technical jargon of the group Robert had assembled William began to get an idea of what they’d uncovered.

    A short note from Robert was ebullient, talking about the potential for using the tree’s alien biology. There was one phrase that sent a frisson of concern through his mind. Robert had said that there was a structure in the trunk that resembled a primitive brain. He thought that the tree might be capable of some kind of thought.

    That was the last time he heard from Robert. It was several weeks later, after there had been no further emails or calls that William became concerned. It took a few hours to get to the isolated farm and by then it was dark. A full moon hung about forty-five degrees up in the starry sky when he jumped out of the vehicle and ran to the house. The door was not secured and he ran in to find his friend. A fast, thorough search did not find him and Robert tore out of the house and toward the metallic tree glinting in the moonlight. Even from a distance he saw what had happened and his blood ran cold.

    Robert wasn’t dead as he’d feared, but his fate was something worse. The low branch they had both commented on had pierced his chest and he was hanging some eight feet off the ground. The area around where the branched protruded from his chest was slowly turning the same metallic color as the tree’s bark. William barely suppressed a scream when Robert’s eyes sprang wide open.

    “William……hoped…….you’d…..come. I……..know……..why………..they……….kill………..them.”

    “Don’t’ try to talk. I’ll get you out of there.”

    “NO……will…..only……..get…….you………..too. Record………”

    “I can get you out, let me get help!”

    “No….too……..late….already…………part…….of…….it. RECORD!?

    Helplessly William pulled out his phone, pointed it up and where his friend hung impaled by the branch.

    “Iron….trees……….are……symbiotes………….need……………mobile………. sentient………..being……….to…………….communicate…………..control……..natives………….once………..enslaved……………managed………….to…………..break………….free.”

    Horrified, a tearful William could only keep the phone focused on Robert and the struggle to warn against these things.

    “Must………destroy………….this…………one………….be………..sure………..no…………more…………..Magnesium……………in…………….barn.”

    William grasped what his friend meant immediately. The tree had so much iron in it that it would likely survive a normal blaze. Magnesium burned at over five thousand degrees and should do the job. He ran to the barn, quickly found several bags of powdered magnesium. He put it in a wheelbarrow along with two emergency flares and took it all back to the fence barrier. He ripped open the bags one at a time and threw them at the base of the tree, spilling their contents all around it.

    Robert screamed in agony, “HURRY……..IT…………..KNOWS!!”

    William saw the ground around the tree begin to undulate, then one root sprang out near him, as if trying to reach him. He threw the other bag and retreated, lit the flare, threw it at the base of the tree but a flailing branch knocked it away. He only had one left so he ran toward the tree, lighting the flare as he moved, ducking low and avoiding the moving earth. The flammable metal ignited with a flash of searing white light and Robert ran for the fence when he dropped the flare into the metal.

    Robert screamed again, but this was a scream of anger and defiance, the tree reacting to the hellish heat of the burning metal around it. William didn’t dare look back until he was fifty yards away. He could feel the heat even at this distance and saw what was left of his friend almost vaporize while the tree writhed and began to catch fire and melt in the magnesium conflagration. Tears filled his eyes and all he could think was that curiosity had finally caught up with the cat.

    Reply
    • July 18, 2018 at 10:08 pm
      Permalink

      Dear Dean, Thank you for interesting story. It was matter of curio city for a reader and I was also curious. It was easy to understand and it went smoothly. You have tried to combine things of different world and scientific too. I spend little more time to understand matter of iron and magnesium. It is good idea to burn iron which ignite at 1500 degree (F) and magnesium when burn becomes 4000 degree (F)- you said 5000 degree that is also fine for the story. I was thinking what happened to Robert when the tree was burning at 4000 degree (F). You could apply some other mechanism that point. It was very good imagination. I enjoyed.

      Reply
  • July 18, 2018 at 12:37 pm
    Permalink

    Signing up for comments. I tried to vote during the past two contests but was unable to. Thought maybe if I sign up for comments I’ll be able to vote for this one? Good luck to everyone who enters.

    Jen

    Reply
  • July 18, 2018 at 2:50 pm
    Permalink

    May not be able to to participate this time. Going out of town for vacation. Will try to read your stories friends. Have a good time writing.

    Reply
    • July 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm
      Permalink

      Have a great time Anindita, we’ll look for your story next contest.

      Reply

Copy and paste your story in the comment box below.

%d bloggers like this: