Sunday, March 5, 2017

Janet Flash: Captives

by Michael Seese

With Friday morning's RSS feed came word that Janet Reid had, to date, sponsored 98 flash fiction contests. So this being the 99th, she asked us to use these words in a 100-word flash fiction contest.


If you don't get the reference, kids, here's a link. I ran over a few ideas in my head -- "I bought her 99 roses" and something about a person with OCD knocking 99 times. But on Saturday morning I came up with the opening line, and the rest of "Captives" fell into place.

The loop holds 99 keys. One for each cell door. My little personal prison hasn’t yet reached its maximum capacity. But I'm working on it.

I understand their plight. As much as I hate being the agent of their despair, letting them all out would be unwise.

One -- Bonnie, I think -- is not well. She may die. I guess that's sad. But I can always find another.

Each morning, one gets to enjoy a temporary parole. Which should it be today? Oh wait. It’s Monday. I’ll release the smart, chipper guy. The one the people at the office call “Jerry.”

Creepy, huh? But I think it's fun. 

Your thoughts?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Janet Flash: Blue

by Michael Seese

Janet is somewhere "in the desert," no doubt on a secret agent mission. To commemorate being pried out of NYC (her term) she conjured up the following 5 words for us:


My first thought was the line about the blue sky. The rest of "Blue" quickly fell into place. 


The color we painted her room, because pink was for “other girls.”


The color of the toy laser rifle even G.I. Joe couldn't pry from her hands.


The color of the homecoming dress slipped over her football uniform seconds before they announced her name.


The color of a perfect sky, marred only by that damned jet’s contrail.


The color of sorrow, subtly gnawing at the edges of the brave words mailed from some desert hellhole.


The color of the bittersweet triangle of cloth they handed me as Taps drove home the grief.

That's a three-hanky story, if you ask me. As always, I'd love the hear your thoughts.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Janet Flash: Gray Happiness

by Michael Seese

Sometimes Janet throws us a curveball. This week, I stood in the batter's box as a hockey puck came whizzing at me. As you all are well aware, the usual contest requires us to incorporate five keywords in a 100-word story. The same day she posted last week's winner, Janet said, she'd read about a Ray Bradbury short story that seemed to be inspired by a poem.

"And the idea came to me: why not use a poem as a prompt!" 

So our mission this week was to read her "favorite poem of all time," Happiness by Jane Kenyon and craft a story.

    There’s just no accounting for happiness,
    or the way it turns up like a prodigal
    who comes back to the dust at your feet
    having squandered a fortune far away.

    And how can you not forgive?
    You make a feast in honor of what
    was lost, and take from its place the finest
    garment, which you saved for an occasion
    you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
    to know that you were not abandoned,
    that happiness saved its most extreme form
    for you alone.

    No, happiness is the uncle you never
    knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
    onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
    into town, and inquires at every door
    until he finds you asleep midafternoon
    as you so often are during the unmerciful
    hours of your despair.

    It comes to the monk in his cell.
    It comes to the woman sweeping the street
    with a birch broom, to the child
    whose mother has passed out from drink.
    It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
    a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
    and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
    in the night.
    It even comes to the boulder
    in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
    to rain falling on the open sea,
    to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

I focused in the line "the way it turns up like a prodigal," and within a few minutes had 95% of "Gray Happiness" written. 

He frowned as he threw a ladle’s worth of the glop at my tray. It landed with a sound somewhere between a SPLOOOORK and a whimper.

I trudged my ration across the sepia courtyard, finding a spot at a table that had long since surrendered to its fate. Close, but not too close, sat the others. Ashen faces contemplated their own oozy destinies. I couldn’t read their minds. I didn’t have to.

They’ve lied before.

I decided death might be an improvement. A weary hand guided a spoonful of the horrid stuff toward my mouth.

And then there was sunlight.

What would the poem make you think of?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Janet Flash: Cleaning House

by Michael Seese

After a few weekends of photo-prompt flash fiction, Janet is back with one of the classic 100-word contests.

In honor of the publication of Death & the Gravedigger's Angel, the the third book in the Auction Block series by Janet's client Loretta Sue Ross, she asked us to don our thinking caps.

Write a 100-word (max) story using:


And, look! "Death." Right up my alley. So I give you "Cleaning House."

Finally on her own, Amber treated herself to an extra tap on the SNOOZE. The folks at Starbucks poured her a freshly brewed cup of happy. 

Today will be great, she thought.

On the bus ride home, Staci suggested they get together. 

“Sorry. I've got to clean. You know how messy Dad is.”

“Girlfriend, he works you to death.”

“Yeah, since Mom’s been gone…”

Only a few broken dishes to sweep up. A little rubbing alcohol for the wrench. Digging the hole would suck.

Her favorite pajamas, still speckled with his red, she'd box up and hide. Like the memories.

Judging will be tomorrow.

I welcome your feedback.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Janet Flash: Colin In Heaven

by Michael Seese

The author community, though naturally HUGE, still manages to find small pockets of intimacy here and there. So it was with the group of writers to took part in Rebekah Postupak's now-defunct weekly Flash! Friday. And so it is with the folks who haunt contribute to Janet Reid's blog. Even though I've never met any of my literary brethren face to face, I do feel as though I know many of them.

One fellow devotee of Janet The Wonder Agent is Colin Smith, a fine writer and a good cat overall. Check out his work here.  

He recently paid a visit to Janet's office -- aka The Shark's Reef -- the other day. Janet, of course, decided to memorialize the event with a contest. Examine the pictures below, then in 50 words say what happened next. 


Focusing on the second, I wrote "Colin In Paradise."

A chipper BING BING signalled his arrival in Eden.

Like all prophecies, Janet's message had been cryptic.

"I want to discuss a book deal."

Spying the agente provocatrice, Colin's heart raced ahead to greet her.

"Yes, Janet?" he stammered.

"I’ll pay you $20 to shelve these books. Alphabetically, by author." 

What do you think happened?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Janet Flash: Separation Anxiety

by Michael Seese

This morning as I made my rounds of the blogs, I came upon another quick Janet Reid flash fiction contest. In 25 words or less, we had to say what was going on in this picture.

I immediately glommed onto the idea that became "Separation Anxiety."

As Pen and Gossamer awaited the surgery to separate them, one thought crossed their mind.
Mom and Dad have a lot of explaining to do.

What do you see in this pic?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It STILL Never Gets Old

by Michael Seese

Back in October, I posted an entry from the "never give up" files. To make a long story short (if a writer can do that), "TinkerHell," a piece I wrote in 2012, finally found a home. 

Today, I hold in my hands that home.



As I say every time I get one of these in the mail, it never gets old.