WritersWeekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

 

My short story, titled “Water Never Can Keep a Secret”, won an honorable mention in WritersWeekly Spring 2018 Short Story contest (also visit that link to read stories from the top three winners). Very excited! And I also received a one-year subscription to The Write Markets Report, and a free writing-related eBook from BookLocker.com. It was so hard to choose, but I finally settled on It’s All About the Story: How to Create the Story for your Screenplay, as I hope to enter in some screenwriting competitions soon.

Check out their next 24-Hour Short Story contest for Summer: http://24hourshortstorycontest.com/

Good luck, break a leg–whatever your preference!

Black CATastrophy Writing Prompt: Puppy Love

 Gone

 

                                                              Puppy Love

They found the bike propped up against the wall, but Allison was gone.
“Dammit, I knew I should have never got her that bike.”
“Dad, it’s not the city anymore. She’ll be okay.”
“I know, it’s just…”
“Yeah, I miss Mom, too.”
Samuel gave his son a side hug. “I love you, Marius.”
“C’mon, Dad. Let’s find her before she stumbles across a backwoods meth lab.”
“Ha, ha.” He watched his son load the bike into the back of the SUV. Hard to believe he’s already a senior.
“We’ll hit all the stores on Main Street before they close. Then head over to the dog park, then—”
“Then we’ll swing by the trailer, then the community pool, then out to the farmhouses on the outskirts. Can I drive?” Marius asked.
“When you get your own car.”
None of the store owners had seen Allison.
“Next stop, the diner,” Samuel said. His son was too busy texting to answer.
“Hey, Rhonda, seen Allison today?” Samuel asked his boss.
“No, hun, not since you all were here for Sunday brunch. She missing again?” Rhonda inched closer. “You just need a good woman to look after you all.”
He could smell peppermint Schnapps on her breath. “We’re doing okay.”
“C’mon, Dad, it’s going to be dark soon.”
“You all just let me know if you need something.” Rhonda patted Marius on the head.
Samuel hustled Marius out the door.
“Seriously, Dad, a head pat? Please tell me you don’t like her.”
“Why not? She’s a good woman.”
“Now I know you’re full of shit.”
“Watch your mouth, son.”
Their laughter stopped when they got to the trailer and saw Allison on the steps.
“Oh, no, she’s got Mrs. Wilson’s dog.” Samuel said.
“Daddy, look. I have puppy friend.” Allison stood, the dog struggling to get free.
“Dad, what’s all over her dress?” Marius said.
“Hopefully just mud.”
“It’s all in her hair, too.”
“Sweetie, that puppy is Mrs. Wilson’s.”
“No, daddy. Is mine.” Allison held the dog even tighter.
“Allison, we’re going to get hamburgers at Charley’s. Mrs. Wilson is going to watch the puppy while we eat. Okay?”
Allison smiled crookedly. “Okay, Daddy. Then we go get puppy, if I’m good?”
“I promise.” Samuel gently took the dog from her. “Now, go with Marius. He’s going to get you all cleaned up.”
Samuel carried the dog over to Mrs. Wilson’s trailer and knocked. The tin door squeaked open.
“That girl of yours stole my dog again?” Mrs. Wilson flicked her cigarette into a bush.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m very sorry. Allison doesn’t understand when she does something wrong. And she just loves dogs.” Samuel said, as the dog ran inside.
“So you keep sayin’. Next time, I’m gonna call the police.” Mrs. Wilson slammed the door.

********

Later that evening, Samuel made sure the childproof locks were set on the front door. At least she couldn’t wander outside at night.
“But what if there’s a fire,” his wife said to him, in his head.
“I tried my best, Janine,” he whispered, as he poured himself some Scotch. After a couple of sips, he took the glass to the desk in his room. He pulled out a glossy pamphlet from the drawer. “I’m so sorry, Allison.” Salty tears mixed in with the whiskey taste in his mouth.
The next morning, Samuel dropped his son off at school.
“Allison not coming to school today?” Marius asked.
“Nope, we’re taking the day off. After yesterday, I’d better keep an eye on her. Figured we’d go get pancakes. Can you get a ride home after band practice?”
“Sure, Jessica’s mom can drop me off.”
“Pancakes?” Allison said from the back seat. “Chocolate chip?”
“You betcha. All the chocolate chips you want.”
After Allison had her fill of pancakes, Samuel drove her to the state psychiatric hospital that Allison’s doctor had recommended.
“Daddy, where are we?”
Samuel unloaded her suitcase. “Sweetie, you’re going to go on a vacation.”
“Are there puppies inside?” Allison asked.
“Let’s go see, shall we?” He held her hand tightly while he led her up to the white building.

********

He got home well ahead of Marius. There was a dog sitting on the front steps of the trailer porch. At least it’s not Mrs. Wilson’s dog.
“Shoo,” he said, and the dog took off. The trailer was so quiet. He turned on the TV and then took a new bottle of Scotch and a glass from the cabinet. The house was still too quiet. He turned up the TV volume. Some old action movie.
He poured one drink, then another. Then a third. His hands hadn’t stopped shaking, but at least he wasn’t crying anymore. Have to be strong for Marius.
Five o’clock, and the winter darkness started to close in. Someone started yelling in the movie. Then a cacophony of barking dogs erupted from the television. I don’t remember dogs in the movie. How much Scotch did I drink? He shook the bottle. Almost empty.
He squinted at the TV, but the picture was blurry. He turned it off. The yelling stopped but the barking persisted. No, it was more like howling, now. He fumbled with the childproof locks and opened the door. Animals streaked from the small porch into the shadows.
“What the—” He took the flashlight from the shelf by the door and shone it into the darkness. Dogs. Hundreds of dogs. Some even looked like wolves. And they had stopped howling. Instead, they were growling. Growling and snapping as they sprinted forward. Samuel stumbled backwards and fell, dropping the flashlight.
“I’m so sorry, Allison,” he cried as the dogs closed in.

*********

“Hi, Marius.” Allison hugged her brother. “Are we going to go get pancakes?”
“Yes, Allison, pancakes with chocolate chips.”
“Then home?”
“Yes, home. But only after we get you a puppy from the shelter.”
“Puppy.” Allison clapped her hands. “I love puppies.” Her smile was no longer crooked.

 

–Willow Croft

Writing Prompt Link: https://blackcatastrophy.com/2017/12/03/black-catastrophy-writing-prompt-16-gone/.

 

Quantum Singularity Contest!

My lovely holiday newsletter is ready to send out!

Even better, I decided to create a wishes-come-true contest to go with it (A signed copy of my poetry book to eleven lucky winners!). Details will be in my email newsletter, so sign up by using the link to the right on the widgets sidebar  (MailChimp), or go here.

Good luck in the contest!

Happy holidays, and have a lovely winter season to all my follower friends!

Black CATastrophy Writing Prompt #2

A crippling feeling gripped him in the very pit of his stomach. He knew he would never see Beckham again.

“Relax,” Tamara said. “It’s only kindergarten, he’ll be fine. Wait till we have to send him off to college.” His wife took his hand. “C’mon, I’m due in court in an hour. Sure you’ll be okay? I can have Dad come over and take you to lunch.”

“Ha, ha. Don’t worry, I have clothes to wash and floors to sweep. Oh, and don’t forget to get milk on your way home.”

“I won’t—see you at six. Love you,” Tamara let go of his hand.

“Love you.” Tim watched his son dump a pile of blocks on the carpet. He’ll be fine, he told himself as he left the classroom.

At home, he wandered from room to room. He’d lied to Tamara. The laundry was done, the floors were swept, and he’d even finished the dusting while Beckham had watched his Sunday morning cartoons. Why didn’t I play with him more yesterday, instead of having the TV babysit him?

He turned on the TV and looked for a tennis match. There was none. And the TV noise annoyed him more than the sound of his wife’s business-on-weekends phone conferences.

Milk, he decided. He went to take his car keys off the hook by the door, only to realize he was still jingling them in his hand. The noise echoed in the quiet house as he left.

He got milk last, going up each aisle and gathering everything to make Beckham’s favourite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. Tomatoes, grated cheese, pasta, ground beef, spices and herbs thrown on top of a cartful of things he didn’t need. And red wine to toast his wife’s court victory after Beckham was in bed.

On the way home, he switched “Wheels on the Bus” for a top 100 mix of artists he pretended to recognize. Beckham’s fine, and he got on the freeway instead of the back way that would take him past the school.  He merged and then typed a text to his wife: Got the milk.

…………….

Tamara knew she would win—she always did—but she was still energized as she left the courtroom.

“Congratulations, Ms. Sanders. You’ve helped yet another criminal avoid prison time.” The prosecuting attorney shook her hand a little too firmly.

Tamara hid the wince with a smile. “Thank you,” she said, resisting the urge to comment on his lunchtime happy hour. Or, more likely, his liquid breakfast.

She practically skipped to her SUV, unused to getting out of court so early. She took her phone off silent mode. She scrolled through her text messages, all business. I’m not going back to the office, she decided.  But it was the missed call from Beckman’s school that caught her attention. She began dialing the school, but another call came in. Business, she sighed, and took the call.

“Mrs. Sanders?”

“Who is this?”

“Mrs. Sanders, my name is Officer Hudson of the Boston Police Department…”

“What happened to my son?”

“Ma’am, your son was not in the vehicle your husband was driving when the accident occurred.”

He’s fine, my son is fine, she thought.

“My husband has been in an accident?”

“I’m very sorry, ma’am.”

He’s not fine.

The phone shattered against the pavement.

black-catastrophy-writing-prompt-2

https://blackcatastrophy.com/2017/08/13/black-catastrophy-writing-prompt-02/

Friday Wordlings…

 

I lost quite a few things during my last journey, so I’ve been retracing my steps in hopes of collecting them.

Things have just been…things.

Also, I’m afraid I’ve neglected my muse(s) as of late, but I took them on a blissfully simple summer picnic at the beach.*

I’ve been losing everything. It’s all sliding through cracks in the universe. Momentum. Focus. Dates. Stuff somebody just told me the day before. Or five minutes ago. Time goblins at work, maybe. Or I’ve gotten old in the space of a week.

In addition to the goblins that are taking up most of my brain space, I’ve had little wordlings floating around in my head. They seem significant, but that’s the curse of the creative sort. It seems wonderfully magical, or horribly prosaic. Still, I’ll put them away for safekeeping. Just in case the goblins get hungry.

a forest of ferns

endless, seething thunderstorms

ancient worlds with no humans

essence of summer

second chance to be a kid

Jurassic plants

friendly demons

scientific magic

horse guardians

a rainbow’d unkindness of ravens

*Disclaimer: This is complete fiction. I’m nowhere near a beach. Except in dreamworlds. But I’ll send you a map if you bring the picnic. Or surprise me with a new When.†

†also fiction‡

‡But also possibly real in some other dimension.