More Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

*Inexplicably I can’t find the Ambulatory Molusc’s post.  Actually this might not be inexplicable, as since about Wednesday our household has been in a tail spin.  We won’t bore you with details of our grief, but I think we’ve reached a point we can function again.  And while I normally use Sunday for indie work and sometimes even a few hours off, today I need to work, to compensate for the days I missed.  So, I’ll be by  now and then. – SAH*

Sunday Vignettes!

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is unlikely.

127 responses to “More Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. I’m… I’m still waiting for the prompt.

    How unlikely is it going to be?

    (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

  2. “Dr. Chakrabarti, your Probability Manipulator is exceedingly impressive.”
    “Thank you,” he mumbled.
    “Three observations, however.”
    “First: the controls should be outside the effect-radius.”
    “Second: I suggest calibration to an arithmetic, rather than a logarithmic scale.”
    “Finally: How do we best reset the controls with our new tentacles?”

  3. “There’s a unicorn in the garden.”

    “Neighbor does fursuits, perfectly normal.”

    “No, a quadruped, about 16 hands.”

    “Other neighbor has horses and takes Halloween seriously.”

    “Chatted with her. I’m telling you, a for-real unicorn!”

    “What’d she say?”

    “Asked if there was bigger collection of idiots than in D.C.”

    “U.N., likely.”

  4. Daisy wrinkled her nose. “Absolute position and direction? For a surveyor? How likely that, getting such a handy superpower?”
    Cal opened his mouth and shut it again.
    Hope said, swiftly, “How unlikely is it that he would get any superpower at all? You heard his rather nasty story. Most didn’t.”

  5. High command was in total disarray. Intelligence had informed them yesterday that a new weapon had been developed by the enemy capable of target seeking based on the DNA of the target. A meeting had been held to assess this threat. Today they were burying the President: His epitaph?

  6. Meanwhile, at goodreads —

    Nominate a November theme:

    And reading has been on Tales of the Dying Earth.

    “It went up again! Something’s moved it!”
    “Now THAT is unlikely, believe me!” said Don. That rock is HUGE. Reset the sim. Rerun it while we’re gone. Polls close in an hour.”
    “Leave!?” Earl protested. “We might need to warn people!”
    “It’s too close! What difference, at this point, does it make?”
    “Fine! Let’s go! TEOTWAWKI’s here, but YOU still think your vote counts!”

    I call it SMOD 2016
    (my 120 word version is better…. could only chop it to 69)

    • o give us the 120 word version. now that you’ve teased us.

    • 120 word version… It’s not too different, just flows better to me.

      IMPACT: UNLIKELY [42%]
      “It keeps going up! I’m telling you something’s affecting its orbit!” Earl argued.
      “Now THAT is unlikely, believe me!” said Don, waving his hand. “That would take a micro-singularity. That rock is HUGE. Reset the sim to rerun while we’re gone. The polls close in an hour.”
      “We can’t just leave!” Earl protested. “What if it changes to a likely impact? We need to warn people!”
      “It’s already too close. What difference, at this point, does it make?”
      Earl deflated. “OK, Fine! The end of the world could be tonight, but YOU still think your vote counts.”
      Don and Earl walked out of the polls just in time to see the eastern sky begin to boil.

  8. Yeah, I know it’s a little longer than 50 Too bad. Enjoy.

    The moonshine he’d consumed the night before was far from premium quality, which is why Jake Goodall had to pop a couple of amps before heading off to the operating room. It promised to be a long day; on the schedule were a bowel resection followed by a hernia repair, with a couple of gastric bypasses in the afternoon: clearly, a steady hand would be necessary.
    A steady hand, too, would be required for his date with Linda, because the only thing she preferred more than a little cutting was a non-fatal attention-getting suicide attempt. Thinking about that, Jake made a mental note to pack some extra #2 sutures, and to check his hip flask so that he wouldn’t run out of brandy at a critical time, which had so spoiled their last date. But Linda was special: even though he normally refrained from dating outside his species (i.e. the medical profession), Linda’s job as a research scientist at ExxonMobil was worthy of respect, and anyway, Jake liked nothing more than a neurotic PhD when it came to getting an erotic bodyrub with scented oils. Also, the oils soothed the deep scratches on his back: Linda’s proclivity for cutting extended past her own body, and coitus gave her a perfect opportunity to practice that dark art on his back with her razor-sharp fingernails.
    Jake sighed with pleasure at the memory, and shifted in his seat, hoping that the coagulated blood binding his skin to his shirt wouldn’t open and start bleeding. The movement caused him to lose control of the turbocharged Porsche 911 4S momentarily, but fortunately, there were no pedestrians on that particular stretch of sidewalk so this time he’d be spared that particular excuse to be late for surgery. Pedestrians were the bane of his existence, especially those in the parking lot, but every hospital employee knew by now to avoid the area between six and six-thirty in the morning, so vehicular injuries had become relatively scarce in that location. Parking the Porsche in the Hospital Director’s spot (one of the orderlies would move it to its proper place later), Jake sprang from the car and loped into the gray concrete edifice of medical emergency.
    It promised to be a good day, even though he wouldn’t remember a thing about it. Perhaps it was the moonshine, perhaps it was the uppers; either way, Jake’s short-term memory would prove to be hopelessly inadequate. It would also cause him more than a little trouble when being interviewed by the homicide detectives the next morning.

    • Birthday girl

      Well … I don’t do erotica, but I would try this … arrogant SOB surgeon, kinky brainiac paramour, murder mystery … more, please

      • Actually, it’s not at all erotica, B-girl, it’s a sequel to a novel I wrote long ago and never published. Basically, it’s a detective story, but seen mostly from the POV of Jake (wrongfully accused of Linda’s murder, but unable to exculpate himself). There’s no actual sex per se, only the references thereto (e.g. in the excerpt).

        The original novel’s protagonist was Detective Stavro Grbcic of the Chicago PD. Sadly, the earlier novel’s storyline does not hold up anymore, because it was written in a time of no cell phones and no Internet, which makes nonsense of the story to modern eyes. I would have to rewrite the whole thing in a modern idiom and setting, and frankly, I couldn’t be arsed.

        And you don’t do erotica? How tragic; it’s one of my favorite genres to write. Now THOSE have held up well over time…

  9. “The Indian maize manifests Mandaamin, ushering the papier-maché-haired, egg-eyed Polyphemus out the homestead’s door in his cavorting quest for treats…”

  10. “In the unlikely event of complete societal breakdown, break glass.”
    These are the words emblazoned on a small sheet of frosted glass in a dark sub-basement of the National Cathedral. Among those who know of this secret, and have esoteric means of seeing the hidden, it is most commonly believed that there is a big red button behind the glass. But no one knows what it might do. And too many are eager to find out.

    (I’m still writing on my phone, so I’m aiming at the lower end. Closed on the new house Friday morning, but the previous owners STILL haven’t finished moving out. They’re required to finish doing so today, so there’s that. Hopefully, they do so early.)

    • Birthday girl

      More, please

      • There will be another Sunday with another prompt. Perhaps he will build.

        • Heh.
          I might, if I had any idea where to go with it. (shrug) To much time being a GM. Toss off a juicy hook, listen to the players speculate, take their best idea(s), put a twist on them, and let them enjoy “almost” having figured it out.

          Figuring out middles is a major weak point that I’m trying to work on.

    • Still, even among those who stood guard under pane of death, far fewer knew that the paneling next to it hid another glass, with a far more terrifying inscription. Those who could see the eldritch runes (and those even unluckier sods to whom the runes showed clear), knew its dread message:
      “In the unlikely event of complete societal integration, break glass.”

  11. Such an unlikely choice, thought the voter. Neither candidate appears to be Republican. I am accustomed to Republicans who are not Conservative, or even conservative, but never a Republican who is a Democrat. On the other hand, the Democrat appears to be corrupt and incompetent, so their usual offering. Crap.

  12. “With a single thrust of his arm he cast the drink upon the face of Putras. The hall froze, silence hanging as liquid dribbled down his brow and chin. His countenance reddened with the Furies and pretence dissolved; everyone’s suspicions were attested that the fulsome proclamations of Putras were too good to be true…”

  13. Pingback: Short Short Story Challenge – SMOD 2016 – Words from the Wampuscat

  14. “How likely would you have said it was that the Iron Curtain would collapse in only a year or two?”
    “No one expected it”.
    “Our finest work. You should study the book. “
    “That was you?”
    “You should see what we have going on in the US right now. Total surprise.”

    Heisenberg Reality Rifles. Only used once – we think.

    • Were they used by the cats or on the cats?

      If you hit the cats with reality, well, it might not kill them any more than any other weapon will. While you’re worrying about the cats that dodged and learned the secret to being orthogonal or avoidant of reality (keep telling yourself it’s 9 lives, not one very agile cat), perhaps the greater danger yet are the cats with shrapnel, that contain a universe within themselves. Or multitudes.

  16. “Unlikely”? If I could remember details, I could just tell incidents from my actual life. However…

    Trapped between the hydroponic tank and the wall, I wondered if the hull breach I could hear whistling faintly would kill me first, or the flesh-eating algae I could see leaking from the tank. Suddenly, the airlock opened and a skinsuited figure stepped inside.


    “Yep. Hang on.”

    He headed for the breach with a patch kit. Then the airlock opened again.


    Pulling out mining tools, she said, “Let’s get that tank off of you.”

    And the airlock opened again.


    “Yep. Hmm… looks like we ought to fix that tank.”

    And the airlock opened yet again.

    Sandy?” Sandy’s translator said, “Lucky for you, I know the antidote for that algae that has gotten onto your leg.”

    Whew. Glad of that. I knew that for this particular algae, only silicoids (as we sometimes called them) could stop them. As I waited for my friends to save me. I thought about how unlikely it was that one of the silicoids would actually choose “Sandy” as a name that humans could pronounce. Normally, they considered it an insult.

    It’s 177 words, but it’s what came to me.

  17. Lt. General Smyth Price-Jones rubbed his forehead. “To be certain I understand. The commanding officer is a High Church Anglican of Pakistani ancestry, married to an Anglo-Thai woman. The science specialist is an impossible hybrid, non-human, also High Church Anglican, the senior NCO is Salvation Army, and the science officer being courted by a Roman Catholic from a different planet. And Horseguards wants to increase our budget.”

    “Yes, sir. Horseguards avers that yes, they want to give us an additional fifty thousand Pounds this coming year.”

    “I just can’t believe it. Fifty thousand? I can’t believe it.”

  18. I stepped out of the polling place, having just cast my vote for President of the United States.

    It felt good.

  19. It was a hard-fought campaign, but everyone had fun. Everyone agreed that all the candidates were worthy. No recriminations or sour grapes were to be heard, even if someone’s favorite did not win. Representatives of the publishing houses graciously and sincerely congratulated the Sad Puppies on their Hugo awards.

  20. “This is an…unlikely occurrence.”

    “Unlikely? Unlikely is a word that you apply to things like a president promising across-the-board tax increases or a coin landing on its edge. This is an impossibility,” he said as he pointed at the manuscript in front of him, written by Correia and Scalzi.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      That’s not hard. Perform The Guy in Yellow Nomex, tie up Scalzi in the orchestra pit, and there is greater than one in ten thousand chance that McRapey gets possessed by the International Lord of Hatred. Similar to getting actual Kratman collaborations. Then reset time until the right combination.occurs.

      • I’m sure that Ringo enjoyed collaborating with Kratman.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Ringo wrote all of one sentence in the second book. It seems more authorized fanfic or licensed media tie in than collaboration.

          • Ringo has an unusual Muse. It could be that’s how it works for him.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Everything I’ve heard from Kratman or Ringo about it suggest that it was Kratman’s muse, and Ringo’s IP.

              • I believe they worked out the plot together, although that may have been mostly Kratman plotting while Ringo commented.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Reading between the lines from what Tom Kratman has said, Tom worked from the background info that John Ringo gave him.

                  John had little to do with Tom’s plots except perhaps for telling Tom what might conflict with what John had written.

                  Tom Kratman has stated that he can’t co-write books with anybody.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    IIRC, Tom said in the afterword to Watch that John had said Tom couldn’t crucify the Greens.

                    Which is perhaps similar in terms of IP oversight to Larry editing down the sexual content John originally had in Monster Hunter Memoirs.

    • eh, all that requires a different person of the same name. . .

      Last name in this case.

  21. I tried writing a vignette from my WIP, but it was too long. So how about this:

    The writer clicked SEND and sent the e-mail, then rubbed his hands together and eagerly awaited the feedback. For an anthology of politically correct tales set in the universe of HP Lovecraft, he had managed to produce a story where the two leads were a woman and a person of color.

    The editor opened the attachment and read a story about a European woman carried off by Islamic slave traders who joins forces with a castrated enslaved African to stop an evil plan by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred and to escape with the dreaded Necronomicon before that foul tome’s secrets can be put to evil uses.

    The editor nodded his approval and replied: Accepted.

    Very unlikely.

  22. The magus stepped back from the keypad, whistling to himself as– CLUNK– the vault door’s latch disengaged. As he’d expected, he’d gotten the random combination of twelve digits right on the first try. Let others whisper about his impossible luck; he preferred the term “induced quantum wave function collapse” himself.

  23. She opened her door into a dark kitchen. There were no lights on; she hadn’t expected to be stuck covering the first four hours of someone else’s shift. It was annoying, but looked good in the weekly pay check and she hadn’t had any plans.

    The cats weren’t demanding dinner.

    • And we have the winner! (As the Worlds Fluffiest Starving-to-Death-Housecat glares at me, demanding supper).

      • You mean you don’t leave them a bowl of kibble out 24/7? My dog actually has two of these. One in the living room and one in the master bedroom.

        • Also a one gallon tank water dish.

        • We can’t afford to leave out enough kibble to sate our three’s appetites. Two of them will eat themselves into diabetic morbid obesity if we let them.

          • Our solitary is really fond of kibble. He nibbles at it. What he would gobble, and begs for, is people food.

        • No. Miss Athena T. Cat, her Royal Lowness, is on a vet prescribed d-i-e-t. 1/2 cup of no-grain, low-cal kibble divided into two servings/day, and six treats. With a Tablespoon of whole milk in the morning and the occasional tuna can. Free choice water from two bowls, one of which gets ice added from time to time.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Cats not demanding dinner?

      That’s really unlikely, so why aren’t they? 👿

      • I’m not sure whether this should be fantasy, horror, or true crime.

        The last time one of my cats didn’t demand dinner it was because he was hiding inside the box spring having been tripped over by the burgler. We think the burgler felt bad about it because he fed the cat after making himself a ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwich. He also put away some of my groceries, forgot to put the toilet seat down, and then walked out of my destroyed front door with my walkman.

        • Perhaps it will come clear by the next set of vignettes.

        • *blink blink* That is . . . different.

          • Indeed. We know it was male and deduced he tripped over the cat because I found a recording on my answering machine which was on the floor in my bedroom (college, not a lot of furniture) and you could here this guy with bad bronchitis blundering around for the 20 seconds or so that the memo function recorded. The cops figured it was some homeless guy who was hungry. By breaking in he got a meal, a real bathroom, and to be out of the Albany NY winter for a bit. If he’d been caught he’d have been arrested and gotten a meal, a real bathroom and out of the weather and probably some medical attention, win/win whatever happened. As it was the landlord didn’t have anything to patch the door that late in the evening, so I called some SCA friends who came over, patched the door, took me out for a stiff drink, and then one of the more burly sorts slept on my sofa for the night until the landlord could get me a new door in the morning.

            Oh, the guy also turned the heat on on the winterized back porch which I used as storage, probably because that was where the cat initially ran to; I kept the litter box there and he got in and out through the window in the bathroom. We figure burgler was looking for the toilet, and the cat was racing to get away from the guy who had just broken down the door and they sort of met in the middle.

            Once I got over feeling violated, and my cat had reappeared so I wasn’t worried he’d made it out through both my door and the building door and been run over, it was kind of funny.

  24. “Whatsa vinaigrette?” He asked.
    “Well, it is oil and. . .”
    “My joints are self lubricating polymer,” Marvin interrupted.
    “Different type of oil,” the Swedish Chef said.
    Actually, what the Swedish Chef said was, “Bork! Bork! Bork!” while jumping up and down and waving his arms wildly. I had to translate.

  25. BobtheRegisterredFool

    “Mr. Champion, now that you are retiring to join the military, will you share your secrets?” “In a previous life, I died in the upcoming war against the aliens. Found myself ten again. My hobby was speedrunning the game. I reset until I got a good start. Then I played.”

  26. It’s them – no loving yet for low vignette.
    They steal the last word!
    Squint both eyes and turn your head very slowly and it’s maybe just visible.

    They like tricks; forty-nine and everything’s fine,
    then as your eyes slide towards the last word on the right, you’ll find it’s !

  27. Clenching binding ropes in the night, the fiery redhead pushes against the railroad ties.

    Clickety-clack from the track.

    I glance at my watch, then furiously saw with pocket knife. “Five more minutes.”

    Shugga-chugga-woo-woooooo from the dark.

    We stare at the onrushing triangle of lights glinting across the steel-edged cowcatcher.


  28. ““Dammit,” swore Jack through his teeth.
    Courier One mashed the accelerator and closed the distance between them and the fleeing steed.
    Pulling alongside the animal, you could see clumps of foamy sweat clinging to its chestnut coat. The rapid clip-clop of bloody hooves rattled the asphalt like impatient fingers drumming a tabletop. Have you ever seen the whites of a horse’s eyes as it’s racing uphill at 50kph amidst two-tonne vehicles?”

  29. BobtheRegisterredFool

    ‘Japan can continue battle.’ Said Zonder-Hirohito.
    He starts to use ‘self propelled anti tank mine’, but due to the command auras of Breetai, Britai, and Hanse, Counterattack activates.
    ‘I will free you from evil’ declares Ladybug.
    Kinomoto calls Firey.
    Paul Tibbets quietly approaches, releases, and flies Enola Gay away.
    Issei Hyodo says ‘For groping breasts!’
    Richard Seaton thinks ‘Begin stellar teleportation’.
    Hakurei points, and glowing lights shoot forward.
    The attacks hit in combination. Hiroto falls, then rises up, and is finished off by Gai Shishio.
    -Battle Mastery-
    ‘Gemini, let me show you how to really use that revolver’ said Ocelot.

  30. 50 words, I think?

    Ampson looked at Sureluck’s trophies. Sasquatch, unicorn, chimera, so many others. Sureluck rolled a billiard ball. It turned into a gold watch.

    “Eliminate the impossible, and the improbable increases! What am I doing wrong?”

    Ampson grinned. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Surelock.” Then he removed his face.

  31. After years of fruitless listening, the alien signal was gratifyingly unmistakable. And they laughed at the variables in the Drake equation, called it fantasy to assume any probabilities at all! Ha!

    The interstellar transmission began to fade, so he paused to make a practiced adjustment to his tinfoil hat…

  32. The gunshots, the opposition leader collapsing – all broadcast live. Surely there’s no way the government can claim this a natural death?
    “The chances of a bullet spontaneously materializing out of thin air are admittedly minuscule. However, they are not precisely zero.
    “…This committee finds the death an act of God.”

    • I forgot them linebreaks.

      The gunshots, the opposition leader collapsing – all broadcast live. Surely there’s no way the government can claim this a natural death?

      “The chances of a bullet spontaneously materializing out of thin air are admittedly minuscule. However, they are not precisely zero.

      “…This committee finds the death an act of God.”

  33. I had finished cleaning out the flower beds, now ready for mulching for the winter. I was already sore. I started stretching. It was worth it, for it had been a productive morning. And that Cadillac, with the muse driving, once again pulled into view. Could this be good? Unlikely.

  34. “I’m sure you’re all good students. The kind who would never, ever think about sneaking out and going joyriding down the launch tracks. So I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that that’s dangerous, and that it’s a miracle nobody was killed last night. Because nobody from my class was there. Right?”