Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

*Yes I should give you my opinion on last week’s, and will.  Sorry, we had “stomach flu” the reprise, only lighter, but enough that I couldn’t really function.  Also, yeah, no Sunday book promo.  I’m not sure why, but I figure the Oyster hasn’t been commenting either, so life must have got interesting for him suddenly.  I’m sure he’ll be back.  (Or I’ll have to make different arrangements.)-SAH*

Sunday Vignettes! – by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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:


92 thoughts on “Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “I don’t think you understand your position, boy. Where you come from you’ve got safety officers and health officers and folks who watch over you with cameras all day and all night. But once you pass that red striped wall, that stuff stays outside. You’re in the QZ now. The Quarantine Zone. You got nobody watching over you but us.”

    “Are you threatening me?”

    “Just telling you the facts of life. Take it or leave it, boy.”

    “What do you want me to do?”

    “Me? I don’t care what you do. I just saw those clean white pajamas and figured that you were new to our little community. Just got diagnosed, am I right?”

    “Yeah. Stage one. Last week.”

    “Stage one? You could live… oh, five years. Maybe. If you’re smart and you take care of yourself. Or you could get yourself killed by the end of the day, you keep on talking like you have been. Your choice. Like I say, I don’t care.”

    (Inspired by Tom Waits cover of “Somewhere” from West Side Story.)

          1. I might do this one as a short story, so look for it in an upcoming issue of Cirsova. Otherwise it’ll have to wait until after I finish “Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts”.

  2. The ship came to a sudden wrenching halt. A slow crash is still a crash. “Where’d we land?” asked Bob.
    “Somewhere,” replied Alice.
    “An answer as good as Nowhere.”
    “The name of this rock is Somewhere.”
    “Stupid name for the asteroid.”
    “I hate the comedian who named this asteroid cluster.”

    1. Dan: “and First is just around the corner…maybe we can get help there.”
      Bob: “Oh? Who’s on First?…”

  3. Sir! I have determined precisely when we are and what our exact velocity is!

    Excellent, navigator. But that’s only two of our four coordinates; where are we and where are we going?

    Sir, … are you familiar with the theories of Werner Karl Heisenberg?

    Navigator, surely we must be somewhere?

      1. Somewhere under the rainbow,
        Way down low,
        There’s a land that I’ve heard of,
        A land that I long to go.

        Somewhere under the rainbow,
        Skies are blue,
        And the things that you see there
        Are really, really, true.

        Someday I’ll find a magic belt
        And go where witches can not find or bind me.
        Where spells are only things of dreams,
        And wizards are an unknown thing,
        That’s all behind me.

        Somewhere under the rainbow,
        Sparrows fly.
        Birds fly under the rainbow,
        Why, oh why, can’t I?

        If tiny little sparrows fly
        Below the rainbow
        Why, oh why can’t I?

          1. Shrug. That’s it. Orvan just had me thinking the grass is always greener, and what if someone from Oz wound up in Kansas. Done right it means researching Kansas circa 1900. Historical novel level research.

            As to who, the idea of Blix, a flying monkey in the service of the Wicked Witch of the West who’s tired of it all and who is caught on the wing by a certain storm. He’s overjoyed. But there’s no monkeys in Kansas, flying or otherwise, nor magic. Something about a circus and a sideshow. And maybe he’s not the first denizen from Oz in Kansas.

            1. An interesting idea. Or even, what do the flying monkeys do after the witch is melted? Maybe the books mention that, but I haven’t read them since 197X… And X is… uncertain, of course.

              1. IIRC the Witch had a magic hat that allowed her to command the Flying Monkeys three times.

                Dorothy used it at least twice but IIRC the magic hat ended up with one of the Good Witchs. Note, the Monkeys could not leave the Land of Oz so they couldn’t have taken Dorothy to Kansas.

                From what I remember the Flying Monkeys were not Bad People and I believe that they lived peacefully in their own land when not commanded by somebody wearing the magic hat.

                1. That accords with my memories of the books, as well. This also underlies my (nearly) life-long opposition to magic hats which force otherwise good people to perform terrible acts.

                  N.B., wearing your pans on your head does not make them into a magic hat.

              2. Reading the other replies, I’d forgotten the flying monkeys couldn’t leave Oz. A quick check has their king saying they could not leave because they were creatures of Oz. There’s a Baum-ish way around it, revolving around Blix loosing his wings and realizing the story was true: Flying monkeys could not leave Oz, because their wings were due to magic tied to Oz. Once they left, they were just sentient, talking, monkeys.

                That presents two timers: If his wings slowly go away, he must return to Oz before they vanish. But if his wings are gone, what of his sentience? Does that begin to go away as well? Will it go away, or does he observe normal monkeys and conclude that since he lost his wings, he will loose his mind as well? But does he?

            2. Well, it could be torn loose from its moorings and transformed into a poor soul living in a brightly colored but nasty magical world, where people are turned into toads and bears at caprice, dreaming of a more mundane existence.

              Of course, in the modern day, someone would have to demonstrate that this stuff is not, in fact, veiled magic.

              Unfortunately, I have no talent for modern day settings.

              1. I started something last night. Private Blinx, 3rd Wing, on a recon of Munchkin Country. Strange how the name changed. Stranger still how some things just felt right about how he flew. And how he griped. And what he griped about. And what he did when the storm caught him unawares while he had his gripe fest.

    1. Be glad, very, VERY glad, that you are somewhere that elephants don’t fly, either in herds or flocks. Me, I’m so unlucky I’m in their migratory lanes. Good thing my roof is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overbuilt for STURDY.

  4. Somewhere is where you go when nobody has to take you in, Oh, there were still prisons, or the endless tedium of managing electronic microassembly machines via a cyber implant (the largest MADE the cyber implants,) but the coal miners of an earlier century would have recognized the company store attached to a factory that paid in company script. (The Chinese only THOUGHT they had invented the large theoretically-free-but-captive labor pool.)

    But if you failed to develop an addiction to the multitude of inexpensive twenty-second century intoxicants, were too bright, or made too much trouble without quite breaking the law, they sent you… Somewhere. And despite all of the rumors, nobody knew what or where that somewhere was.

    The hatch opened, and Roger Smith joined the line of people stepping onto the surface of Somewhere.

    1. (The Chinese only THOUGHT they had invented the large theoretically-free-but-captive labor pool.)

      I suspect that research would prove that mankind has a habit of creating labor systems, some more transparent about their nature than others. Yesterday while reading a history I came across the term encomienda, which the book likened it to serfdom. For those unfamiliar, the following is from

      As legally defined in 1503, an encomienda (from encomendar, “to entrust”) consisted of a grant by the crown to a conquistador, soldier, official, or others of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area. The receiver of the grant, the encomendero, could exact tribute from the Indians in gold, in kind, or in labour and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. The encomienda did not include a grant of land, but in practice the encomenderos gained control of the Indians’ lands and failed to fulfil their obligations to the Indian population. The crown’s attempts to end the severe abuses of the system with the Laws of Burgos (1512–13) and the New Law of the Indies (1542) failed in the face of colonial opposition and, in fact, a revised form of the repartimiento system was revived after 1550.

      Freedom may now be a celebrated concept, but on the ground it remains more likely to be a theory than a practice.

  5. Somewhere in the vast, uncharted multiverse there exists a reality in which all American jurists feel themselves bound to and informed by, and act under, the Constitution of the United States. In that universe, Judge Richard Posner is *not* a moron.

    Unfortunately, here and now, Judge Posner is a moron.

  6. She moved the ether. A parade of black holes were displayed in 4 dimensional glory. She did not see what she sought. Tesseracts arrayed themselves across ‘time’. No good. Time knots and threads, masses of quantum-entangled particles, even physical space – she probed and found nothing.

    The entire universe, rent, folded, linked, punctured, lay bare before her mind, every nook and cranny of space and time and things beyond space and time.


    “Now, where did that boy get to?”

  7. Jason lurched forward across space-time. I’ve fallen onto the grid. Darkness replaced the lab. He heard surf; the air was damp. Stench assaulted his nostrils. He stumbled, almost retching.

    Boney hands caught him. “Sprechen Sie Deutsches? Parlez-vous français ? ¿Usted habla español?”


    “ Ah. Do you speak English?”


    1. Fun scene and a great way to get the reader to really feel the reality of not knowing where/when you are.

      Minor confusions… Found “I’ve fallen onto the grid” a little confusing as part of the same paragraph “Jason lurched forward” starts in third-person and I was initially confused about who was speaking after “Boney hands caught him.”

      Nice image, though.

  8. “Somewhere in the mountains doesn’t cut it,” said Hope, gently. “He could search, even at top speed, forever and not find it.”
    Daisy looked sour.
    “Especially not at top speed,” said Cal, coming up behind her to glance at the book. “I couldn’t see clearly enough. It’s not that distinctive.”

  9. “It may be in here, somewhere,” said Halley.
    All the fairy ladies laughed, like little tinkling bells, heartless and merry.
    “And so you hunt forever?” said Grainne.
    Halley shrugged. “Don’t have anything else better to do.”
    They all stilled.
    “You can help if you like, and don’t have anything either.”

  10. “So your wandering band of merry misfits is going to find paradise, eh?”

    “Absolutely! It’s not that hard to find, anyway.” He spun the model of the asteroid belt, tracing a path through the debris to the larger clusters with an idle finger. “All we have to do is get together the people we want to be with, and then find the place we want to make our home.”

    “That’s not paradise, that’s hard, dirty, dangerous work!”

    Eric leaned forward, eyes gleaming. “Not your paradise, you mean. And while you sit here in a hell of perfect boredom, we’re going to be free to choose and build our future.”

  11. He looked around. Empty pillars of decrepit concrete buildings towered over him. Wind blew a newspaper past him. He caught it. It wasn’t written in Standard. That meant he wasn’t within 10 timelines of Prime. A howl chilled him. He was lost, without a Portal, somewhere in the Dead Lines.

  12. My body rebelled at the first splash of primer. By the time I’d finished covering the Tree, I had to sit then lay down on the floor. The feeling would pass, the feeling always passed, but it didn’t stop me from worrying.

    The Tree was almost finished this time, needing only a knob to make it the door I knew it was. There was a black corridor on the other side, a passage that lead…somewhere. Somewhere I’d never been but felt disturbingly like being called home.

    My fingers tingled and I knew I’d put off painting too long. Reaching for my tablet, I curled around it on the floor and started dragging my fingertips across it.

  13. Somewhere in the dark of space, a bureaucrat sat in a cubicle, polishing a chair with his butt.
    It wasn’t really a cubicle or a chair, and he didn’t really have a butt, per se. Nonetheless, the parallel was very apt. The being listlessly took a report from his “inbox”, scanned it in the most cursory possible fashion, “stamped” it as processed and stuck it in his “outbox.” Then he forgot about it completely.
    It was an act of deliberate sabotage on his part. His one token of resistance to his situation. The fuckers could make him sit here and scan these lying reports, but they couldn’t make him remember it.

    All of this thinking was carefully hidden within his mental sensorium, of course. If he displayed anything other than the expected slow and deliberate sobriety of his managerial rank, something bad would happen to him. A “promotion”, a “special assignment,” there would be trouble. So he kept his thoughts buried deep, and carelessly reached for the next report.

  14. Somewhere it was five o’clock, not that it mattered to Jens Smorgasboard, a Swede who believed that any time was a good time to drink.
    This meant that half the women he knew fitting the description wasn’t the only reason he didn’t notice the gorgeous blonde walk into the bar.

  15. [50 words exact]
    Somewhere, I had a knife. Either it was in one pocket, or the other one, if I could just reach it… Not that a knife would help cut the chains, but it would make me feel better just to have it in my hands and remember what freedom felt like.

  16. “There has to be someplace that’s safe for us to rest in this swamp,” Wil grumbled.

    “With the vampire gone, I’m afraid the cave it lived in is the only place that beasts refuse to go,” Ibrahim said apologetically.

    “Never mind,” Mar told them. “Somewhere above the water will do for tonight.” He opened his palm and flames crackled between his spread fingers. “I can handle keeping us safe.”

  17. As a lad, our Pastor would tell us thrilling tales of intrepid missionaries smuggling Bibles into Red China at the risk of their freedom, if not their lives. This morning I was reading from a Bible I got at a dollar store – printed in China.

    Somewhere, John Birch is laughing.

  18. The classic Harold Arlen music always brought the house down. The impersonator, scanning the audience, held the final note. The song’s bittersweet ending struck home personally. He was made for the role. He wished that he could once again be free, flying on his own wings somewhere over the rainbow.

  19. “Somewhere, the eldest whispered during the deepest of the dark stillness, when even They sleep, somewhere the stars still glow. Where stars return night after night, where hope shines down.

    “Until we return there, I must be that hope.” Luchs called the faintest of sparks to life in her palm, then dissolved it before the glint on her chains caught Their eyes.

  20. They argued outside the front window, but the rain drove them into the bar. Embarrassed into silence, they dripped. The kid at the bar slammed down his drink and glared. “Not you again. I’ve got somewhere to be.” He flew out the door, saving his arrows for more appreciative targets.

  21. It is dark where I am. It has dark every day since you were taken from me. Is it dark where you are? I hope not, but I fear it is. Don’t you fear, though. I will find you, and when I do we will bask in endless sunshine.

  22. Grumble Grumble. Too many words.

    The sky was blue but strange green & red streaks were also visible in it.

    Jim held his hunting rifle securely when Sara gasped.

    Sara whispered “Jim look to our left”.

    There Jim saw a wolf-like animal, the size of a small bear, eating what looked to be a moose.

    An unknown gruff voice said “we don’t want to startle the great-wolf”.

    Quietly Jim and Sara turned to see an ogre carrying a large rifle.

    Jim said “Sara, we’re somewhere that ogres carry guns not swords”.

    The ogre held out his right hand and said “I’m named Frederick and most folks call my kind BigUglies”.

      1. He’s Fred only to close friends. 😉

        The BigUglies want to be called that as they have reason to want to get along with humans and what they were called earlier was much worse.

        They are Big and they’re Ugly but aren’t Monsters. 😀

  23. The Bolshevik gunman lying in the gutter, coughing up blood. The soldiers had released him once he’d finished telling all he knew, which was little enough, in all truth. When the Bolsheviks and their allies had been shattered and their defeat became clear, the leaders had gone “somewhere.” Alas, the gunman hadn’t been able say where.

    A gunshot nearby indicated he’d never be saying anything else ever again. John Chatsworth vaguely regretted that, but the soldiers fighting beside him had suffered enough at the hands of the Bolsheviks that he wasn’t prepared to protest. Besides, there was still the question of where “somewhere” was.

  24. ‘Damage control, your report?’ ‘All power plants are down, and repairs are uncertain. Auxiliary power should suffice to get us to port.’ ‘Navigation?’ ‘ The sky is the wrong color, telescopes show the same wrong stars, and the water doesn’t match any profile. We are likely on an unknown world.’

  25. My brain is broken today. Every time I make a run at the word, I get the last few lines of “Casey at the Bat” in a continuous loop.

    1. It could be worse, I suppose.
      I could have whatsherface warbling about what’s over the rainbow stuck in my head.

    2. It was somewhere west of Mudville when I spied him across the aisle,
      His arms crossed over his worn suit coat, his face without a smile.
      I slumped down and turned away, to spare me from a bout.
      For I was the pitcher who had thrown the Mighty Casey out.

  26. Somewhere…

    …over the rainbow?

    Dropping a single word into the maw of the supersaturated Huns’ brain, he jumped back, as the neural networks began to disgorge chunks of effervescent, sparkling wordy brew. It was amazing, that a single word could produce so much activity!

    He ran the output rapidly through the processor. Yes, they were definitely out-producing the old monkeys-on-typewriters Shakespearean production factory. At this rate, they would start generating entire anthologies, maybe even a brand-new genre of human wave, thumped out at 50 words a chunk.

    Now if he could just get the editor working!

    Sometime, somewhere…

    1. Someone (not me!) needs to come up with a web-comic about SuperEditor, a mild-mannered soul who was rejected by a Big 5 publishing house for correcting too many of [famous editor’s] repetitions. Stung by the false accusations, he perfected his techniques and now travels the Internet saving indie and Human Wave authors from disaster.

      His tag? Have Red Pencil, Will Travel.

    2. Hey, I’m working on a couple of novels, vignette by vignette. Stubborn little things, didn’t respond to usual techniques

  27. The Wraithtracker bleeped. Tanja took it out, carefully shielding it from curious technophiles. Checking her earphone, she dialled a name with a word: ‘Dave.’
    Her skin prickled with fear. Apparition had begun! Frantically, she rummaged in her handbag for velth powder.
    ‘Tanja! Where are you?’
    ‘On Regent Street, somewhere – ’

  28. “I think I’ve found the error.” Carilos sat back upon his haunches, wiping sweat from his brow; the eerie, shifting, particoloured light of the chamber still gleamed off the top of his tonsured head. “Do you see what the Deacon wrote here, Bishop?” He pointed at one of the runes along the bottom of the wall, its silver-infused ink glittering with the power flowing through it. “In this part of the matrix the target of the scrying is set, usually by specifying either the true name of the subject, or a desired location relative to one’s own in leagues and compass bearing. But it seems young Andric here was trying to be tricky. He knew the Ashkarioth Council was meeting in the Great Hall of Qirtash, and he tried to use the building as the focal point. Did you not, Deacon?”

    Collapsed against the far wall, still too exhausted from the casting to speak, Andric could only nod. The Bishop scowled, shadows dancing in the deep grooves of his face. “Indeed, Frater Carilos. What of it?”

    Carilos sighed. “Forgive me, your Grace, but perhaps you have not heard the latest news — the chaos of the Ashkari succession is not over. The new Shalta’an continues the work of extirpating his predecessor’s memory — and part of that has been a wholesale renaming of virtually every monument in the city of Bel-Tariq. The Great Hall of Qirtash is now the High Hall of Alakhir, down to the very wards upon its doors. And Deacon Andric’s matrix was attempting to scry a place that, for all thaumaturgical intents and purposes, no longer existed. Afraid to fail before your Grace’s eyes, Deacon Pelastro tried to compensate by simply pouring more power into the matrix… and this was the result.” The monk gestured at the ceiling-high rippling curtain of light, now as broad as his outstretched arms. The air around it still smelled of lightning. “This is more than a simple perceptual distortion of space. This is a very rupture between the aethyric plane and the material. Observe.”

    Carilos bent, picked up a fragment of gravel, and tossed it through the shimmering curtain of light. Nothing came out the other side. Andric shivered, too tired to sign himself. The Bishop took a deep breath. “Deacon,” he growled. “This is your work. Where did the stone go?”

    It took all Andric’s remaining energy to reply above a whisper. “I don’t know, your Grace. Somewhere. Anywhere.”

  29. “Where have our children gone. then?”
    “Somewhere I can’t follow, my love. You may be able to do so. Do you know the statue of Martin the Mad in the orangerie?”
    “What of it?”
    “Our daughter came across a ritual in a bloodline-locked book in the library, and talked her brother into performing it with her. What they chanted was not for my ears, and the third time they passed widdershins behind that statue, they didn’t reappear..”

  30. Kay pushed him toward the light. “It’s our only chance!”
    He stumbled as the deckplates vibrated; the inertial dampeners had failed.
    Blinking, he came to, a grotesque burgeoning of organic shape almost touching his face.
    He recoiled in horror, glancing around to see even more.
    “Relax,” Kay commanded, “They’re just flowers.”
    “Where are we?”

  31. The crowded Metro train lurches into Farragut station. Man in a dark jacket reaches up to the handrail.

    Black sidearm in a small-of-back holster. Is he just police or military? Or following me?

    I ease backward as the doors slide open. Have to get off somewhere.

    Four more men outside.

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