Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Long Waited Promo by Free Range Oyster

*I’m afraid the Oyster’s promo being late is the result of my computer.  I had it last Sunday but my email wouldn’t pull.  So, it’s my fault – 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:dependent


Long Waited Promo by Free Range Oyster

J.M. Ney-Grimm

Winter Glory

In the cold, forested North-lands—redolent with the aroma of pine, shrouded in snow, and prowled by ice tigers and trolls—Ivvar seeks only to meet his newborn great-granddaughter.

Someone else has the same plan.

Traversing the wilderness toward the infant’s home camp, Ivvar must face the woman he once cherished and an ancient scourge of the chilly woodlands in a complicated dance of love and death.

Ivvar’s second chance at happiness—and his life—hang in the balance.

Alma Boykin


Shikari Book One

Adventure! Exploration! Martinus the m-dog! Lost cities and conspiracies! Strange creatures! And homework.

Shikhari, the most-distant human colony world, home to the Staré and Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi. While on school holiday, Rigi and her cousin Tomás Prananda discover a ruined city hidden in the forest. Their find strikes a spark that threatens to upend everything humans think they know about Shikhari’s past, and about the native Staré.

Meanwhile, back in school, Rigi’s determination to do well collides with the nastiest bully on the planet, Benin Shang Petrason. His father has the faculty and administrators under his thumb, allowing Benin to run rampant. If that wasn’t enough, Rigi’s big sister has discovered boys. If it weren’t for Martinus, Rigi’s new m-dog, Tomás, and their eccentric Uncle Ebenezer, Rigi wouldn’t know what to do.

But someone believes that Rigi and Tomás’s find is too dangerous to report. And that someone threatens the children, their families, and their uncle. That someone has just met their match.

Mary Catelli

Through A Mirror, Darkly

What lies behind a reflection?

Powers have filled the world with both heroes and villains. Helen, despite her own powers, had acquired the name Sanddollar but stayed out of the fights.

When the enigmatic chess masters create a mirrored world reflecting her own home and the world about it, it’s not so easy to escape. All the more in that the people of that world are a dark reflection of all those she knows.

Karl K. Gallagher

Torchship Captain

Torchship Trilogy, Book 3

Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand—her wits, her ship, her mate.


61 responses to “Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Long Waited Promo by Free Range Oyster

  1. The trial had lasted for days but was finally reaching its climax. All evidence having been presented, it was time to hear from the accused. The child, charged with murdering both parents, pleading for mercy as an orphan, was about to be confronted. “Will the dependent please take the stand?”

  2. “Why won’t the IRS count my giant lobsters as dependents? I feed them, house them, and put them through school. Only the best schools for my crustaceans. College, too; Snappy is planning on Yale.”

    Bill tried to smile through his budding headache. Sometimes being a tax accountant was an adventure.

    • Well, they (lobsters) are crustaceans, yes? And as I recall, crustacean blood is at least sometimes blue, which puts them on a par with Bostonians, yes? And if they (IRS) deny a crustacean, will they get around to properly dealing with Boston and the infestation therein?

  3. Poor Rowr was still dependent on help to get outside and cock his leg, but he was at last strong enough to stand and do that after being carried out. And he was eating like a king, with Mirren and friends bringing him tasty bits from every kill they made.

  4. He carefully unwrapped the bundle that had been carried around too long. Open it revealed the revolver he had been caring around ever since that day. He looked up at Mrs. Guthrie who had a puzzled look.
    “I have been far too dependant on my fears. Time to do something about them.”

  5. Every bit of jewelry had some charm bound. The first three were simply not applicable in this case. And this case called for a very specific thing. A lock was needed. And the fourth necklace had the right thing. “Yes, for this, the only reasonable choice is the D Pendant.”

    • Without 50-word limit editing:

      Every bit of jewelry had some charm bound to it. The first three, while potent, were simply not applicable in this particular case. And this case called for a very specific thing. Sure, General Purpose Magic has a place, but there is a difference between a mere fence and a proper lock on a solid door in a sound wall. GPM was a fence. A lock was called for. And the fourth necklace had the right thing. “Yes, for this, the only reasonable choice is the D Pendant.

      • *wads up picture of carp, kicks it in an Orvan-ward direction, goes back to grading*

      • Mr. Taurus, this court finds you guilty, Guilty, GUILTY, and sentences you to wear the D-Carp pendant until it rots off you.

      • I like the extended piece. While the first, 50-word piece is concise and has the essentials, the extended piece has better flavor. Obviously this is too close to lunch time, so my commentary is reflective of where my stomach wants to go. At least it’s only 1-chamberered!

  6. A knight he had not known before, with brown hair and violet eyes. Foreign blood, he noted, but then, the princess went to marry a foreign prince. If he could not depend on this knight, he had no one else to depend on instead, and no other route.
    “Lead on.”

  7. The eyes closed again, and he lay there, ill, weak, utterly dependent and helpless.
    All the tales the wise women told did not say they could be like this. In every one, a man could leap up from drifting for three days on the sea to wreak carnage at once.

  8. The sun glared down on them. Even with the clear road before them, he could not help remembering that they were dependent on Dr. Dombrey’s map, which showed there were few roads ahead. If it was true. If Dr. Dombrey’s madness had not just grown more subtle. If he had mastered the machines. If the machines had the truth.

  9. Sintra E'Drien

    Harvey was waiting tensely in his cell when the exhilarating news of his exoneration arrived. The other inmates were threatening and jealous, but he couldn’t care. Despite the troubles of his long and undeserved incarceration in this hideous location, all he desired was to hear the welcome order, “De-pen Dent.”

  10. As the audience gave him looks of confusion, Yanchi realized his mistake. Dependent clauses were tricky in any language, but they became doubly hard when speaking extemporaneously in a language that formed them differently. And he’d managed to make a double mistake, simultaneously reverting to the construction of his native Maroan and putting the clause where it appeared to modify the wrong noun.

  11. Slater arched his eyebrows. “Sell your soul? Really, Mr. Fauss.”

    “It’s my understanding -”

    Slater laughed. “Delightfully so. We have most of the souls. To strike a bargain, you must have something to trade.”

    Fauss felt numb. “I’ve nothing else.”

    Slater’s eyes glowed. “That’s dependent on many things, Mr. Fauss.”

  12. She answered the line, ‘Carolinians Advancing Real Independence, Not Government. We help people to develop the skills needed to take care of themselves and others, whatever the circumstances. You can never be free otherwise. Our goal is that we never become dependent upon the government. How can we help you?’

    • analytical-engine-mechanic

      Surely writing to TWO successive prompts ought to be some kind of grounds for some kind of extra credit? Or so I must believe…

  13. analytical-engine-mechanic

    The woman onscreen was grinning.
    Actually grinning, as well as dripping blood from a dozen splashes on her Independencer battle uniform, showing many cuts and gouges and the shiny spots where energy had been deflected by the smart superconductor grid within the weave too.
    But it was nothing like a death’s head rictus or a redliner’s absent baring of teeth. It was instead what her own childhood home on Baccarat Blue would’ve once called a cat’s got the cream smile.
    “But why, Tourmaline? Why did you kill them all?” The Ultimate War Leader of the Third Matriarchy Imperialate dared to use the topmost-secret codename openly because she’d quite obviously just outed herself as a double, in her one-minute-and-change killing spree on the bridge she now ruled.
    “Mostly just… incapacitated real thoroughly, but as usual, because it was necessary.” The showers of sparks from broken old-fashioned power circuits still continued desultorily and internittently behind her. “And you can call me Aurianna, War Leader. Aurianna McCarthy is what my parents did call me, back on Baccarat Blue that’s now going to be gray as Venus for generations to come.” She spat something that was mostly saliva, mixed only sparingly with her blood. “After all the years and decades, I’ve tossed away all the feather-fans, cast off the veils, burned all the identitles and blown all the codenames, I’m done.”
    She looked to her own screen, where the wingships “Darkside” and “Lightside” continued their long and bitter defensive fight to protect their mothership, “Terminator.” Not too much longer, now…
    “But *why*? Our AI was predicting a 72% chance of effective surrender and a 93% chance they’d never fire their main weapon already.” Her genetically- and surgically-perfected face was twisted more than a little out of that studied calm and assurance the High Mats all worked to affect.
    She laughed, Aurianna did. Something close to a belly-laugh despite all the minor cuts and bruises and a mildly-distracting cracked rib. “And so was my intuition and instinct, near enough. They’ve heard too much drip-drip-drip of defeatist propaganda and dupey-political claptrap for far too long from both sides or all of ’em. How the truth always varies, how everything is dependent on who you are and where you stand, how nothing is ever certain.
    “And these Independencers, after all the years of putting together their ‘ultimate weapon’ and all the rest, were about to go all weak-kneed and wobbly at the end, just before the kill.”
    She grinned, again, wide, almost like a cat yawning.
    “i can tell you its max output is about five times bigger and its pseudovelocity twice as fast than the specs you’ve all seen, and I just reset the main oscillator remotely so its coherence will be up to standard too, despite all the clever hacking.”
    The War Leader actually blanched. Suddenly she looked a lot more like young Maria Cadena of the Matriarchy, privileged noblewoman at play with far too many dangerous toys.
    “And now you’re as locked out as the Independencers on the other side of those bulkheads. Here I am, doing just what you trained me to do, infiltrate, invade, and take control. Wihout pity or mercy.”
    It hadn’t been remotely hard to enter the engineering grid and make the change, make it look like the Duty Engineer had hit the reset. All the years, all the roles, all the skills, she’d been a jill-of-all-trades so long adding weapons engineer to combat hacker to do that was natural like breathing.
    “Tourmaline, *Lydia*, you can’t mean to use that on — us. We took you into the Sacred Band, made you one of us, gave you our… love.”
    Aurianna did not look up from her work. “Maria Dubrovskaya Cadena, my parents and kin taught me love, long time back. And that sure ain’t it.” And then she hit Execute, and did.
    “How do you think you can keep your head from spinning fast enough to make you dizzy? How do you keep your feet from slipping on all the multiple layers of crap you and everyone else are laying down? How, Maria? It’s simple.” And she grinned, again.
    “You find some rock-solid, steady ground to stand on. You find beneath all the dependent things and the truths that vary, at least a few things that are independent, and some truths that are as invariant as spacetime. Or you fall over and crack your head and die.”
    Briefly, Aurianna McCarthy of Baccarat Blue spread her arms wide, as if in offered embrace. “And I, War Leader, am still here. I’m still *so* very much alive.”
    And she threw back her head and laughed. “Even if the Independency hangs me for treason and murder when I’m done.”
    The other faced her, bereft of all her words, on the slightly battered and splattered screen of the warship “Terminator.” The masks had all slipped to the floor and broken, now, probably on her at last realizing the huge ongoing losses of smaller craft around her flagship also guaranteed its inablity to generate a full warp envelope and escape. But at least the Imperialate war queen had enough style and dignity not to beg, to whimper, to scream like a fishwife over the link.
    Aurianna found herself impressed by that.
    “And it turns out, War Leader, to get down to the least dependent and most invariant of all, I’ve always and forever just plain *powerfully* hated all the hateful Mean Girls of this world.”
    Her scarred and bruised index finger dipped toward the now-flashing ruby jewel of the auxilliary main firing switch, the immense faster-than-light Abrams cannon finished charging at last.

    • Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!

    • limit of 50 words?

      • *grins* I’m going to stand by Larry Correia’s “If it breaks all the rules and it’s awesome, then do it! because awesome!”

        …although, if the carp-armed brigades note that I am dependent on such a defense due to my inability to write to limit in comment or snippet, then that, too, is true.

        • well — do remember that your work has to hang together. The limit to “awesome” is when it has them scratching their heads later going, “why doesn’t he do that awesome thing now when it’s useful? Just ’cause it would ruin the drama?”

      • analytical-engine-mechanic

        OF COURSE I’m cheating with these extended vignettes, and of course it’s not fair to compare what keeps the rules directly to what breaks them. I even held back my “greedy” one because, hopelessly beyond even a wildly generous extension of the limit (but still shorter than this one).

        However, then I did “publish” (mmrmf!) the short version of “present” — as what amounted to a half-story with a non-ending ending (“Lady or the Tiger” *did* that, beat it or cool it) — and found a request for “the rest of it” here the next day. Which I then supplied per request, and so made it an actual *story* scene, not a mere sketch that (annoyingly) kicks you off the bus right at the climax.
        Hence, my simply continuing in the same vein since.

        It is (as others have noted) MUCH harder (or at least slower) for some of us to write short once we can manage to pry the keyhole open enough to see anything at all. And it’s proven both more difficult to write short and much *easier* to write straight-through to a prompt than I thought at the beginning. I’m willing and happy to spend an hour or two at this; but cutting it down once I’ve seen enough to know what it is might be too much, or take days of waiting on inspiration to see how to do that cut-down workably, or whatever.
        I’d love to be able to write 50-word gems to cue, and I’m massively impressed by those who do, here, but it isn’t really happening for me yet. At least easily or often.
        This exercise has been *immensely* valuable to me, done the way I have done, so it’s most likely I will continue this for some time. The main practical question is, do I post the results here with the properly “observant” vignettes, or not — and try to do the same, additionally, when and as I can.

        “Over to you” (all) now, as they say on the radio…

        • I understand.

        • Quite so. And if anybody’s eyes glaze over after fifty words, that’s their choice.

          • analytical-engine-mechanic

            Yes, to both comments.
            And if I’ve lost somebody by word 51 of 500, chances are I would’ve lost that same reader after 20 or 25 words out of 50, too…

            • Out of curiosity, do you have a particular “if you haven’t hooked me by point X I give up” threshold? I’ve always called mine the “first three pages” test; if a book doesn’t read as interesting within three pages I give up.

              (The tragedy of this is how often it’s obviated by the “Don’t Bloody Write In Flipping First-Person Present Tense” test, these days.)

              • analytical-engine-mechanic

                No, I don’t have a “drop dead” point like that, though I’ve heard of publishers (and slush-pile readers) that do. Instead I seem to have a continuing set of go/no-go gauges that can say “no” at any particular time. For instance, I stopped reading “Ancillary Justice” (or whatever the first book was) much of the way through when we suddenly encountered a society ignoring *all* gender differences, with no “world building” or cultural explanation I could find for this huge blind spot.
                I’ve read books that started quite slow, and ones with some very exotic alien societies and human cultures (“Up The Walls of the World” by James Tiptree one of the farthest-out), that never had a noticeable problem because they did find ways to start and stay interesting.

                I’ve never been much of a fan of first person, but recently I’ve found it much *easier* to use where you have a  strong character with a rich viewpoint and much to say — things like “The last time I saw Abby Gentian, I was shooting her twice through the forehead” (humans vs. vampires / zombies, fought strategically as well as tactically).
                But I’ve never met a story uninteresting in third person that became interesting in first, while there are too many examples of ones interesting in third person but not so much in first (especially with a right/wrong choice of narrator character).
                And 1st person present? That takes Mad Word Hacker Skillz I’m probably never gonna have.

              • For TV (back when I still has signal0 I had a Three Episodes test. If ALL THREE episodes I watched all sucked… to Hell with the show. Sure, one might stink. Two.. might just stink… but three? The whole thing stinks.

        • As a regular breaker of the 50-word limit myself I can only salute those who do it with more verve and style than I do.

        • The real challenge is to do a long passage of that nature with sections that each meet the keyword and word limit requirements. Hmmmm….

  14. Although Marie was still only a child, she loathed relying on Shepard. She sworn that one of these days, depending on whether he got drunk before locking the guns and knives away, she’d get even with him. And then she would have her revenge for all the hurts he’d inflicted.

  15. Many opposed to the private possession of firearms refer to the Second Amendment’s militia clause to aver that arms should only be ‘allowed’ to the members of the National Guard. They forget that an armed citizenry is the militia. And that the verbiage mentioning the militia is the dependent clause.

  16. Thanks for the promo!

  17. “Fishing rights to these waters
    are dependent upon your promise
    to give half your catch
    to the Queen.”

    Hunter sliced the heads off two fresh-caught halibut,
    handed them politely to the Squire,
    and disappeared into the forest.
    His departing words echoed in the silence:
    “The cheeks are the best parts!”

  18. The Torchship series is great fun – it’s classic Baen SF. I have books 1-2 and loved them. If you need to test the waters you can ILL book 1 from King County Library System.

  19. The fat man sighed. “I can’t overlook it again. It’s a family business.”
    “But, Dad, I can stand on my own. I know, every Christmas implies there’s more to come, but–”
    The young man in the ermine-trimmed red suit hung his head.
    “You’re a Subordinate Claus until I say otherwise.”

  20. Sasha paced the chamber, arms folded and head hunched into her shoulders, thunderheads on her brow. “This, really, this is intolerable, is what it is,” she growled, accent thick with outrage. “What right have they to interrogate what we are? To be judging us? Don’t they know how badly they need us?”

    Branwen expelled her own frustration through her teeth in a hiss. “It’s because they need us so badly they have to be sure of us, Sasha,” she said. “It’s never a good idea for an entire interstellar war to hinge on one ship. More, on three people.”

    “On one person,” corrected Tristan, resting his chin gloomily on his hands. He tapped his forehead, then pointed to Branwen. “Telepaths and telekinetics, they’ve got, but there is one known teleport in the entire galaxy, Sasha. Brannie and I, they could replace us and still have the gestalt they need to run the Storm, but if you die? Our civilization dies.”

    Sasha stared at Tristan. Branwen wasn’t the telepath, but she knew what Sasha was going to do seconds before she did it; it was evidence for how far Tristan had sunk into his own despondency that he didn’t. Sasha strode across the waiting room and slapped him. Tristan recoiled. “Ow!”

    Never say that,” Sasha snarled. She dropped to her knees and flung her arms around Tristan’s shoulders, then cast a liquid, furious look at Branwen. “You are neither of you replaceable. Not to me. I am as dependent on you two as they are on us. So do not let them separate us, do you understand? Do not.

    Branwen swallowed. There were times she doubted, even feared the gestalt that telepathy and desperation had made of them, but this wasn’t one of them. Silently, she rose, went to her partners and embraced them in turn.

    • I want that as a book. Right now. Please?

    • analytical-engine-mechanic

      Very interesting, and another good reason to have an Unlimited class as well as About 50 Words and Just 50 Words. (Although that idea to write some longer pieces in 50-word “stanzas” is very intriguing… challenging as it might be in practice.)
      This scene reminds me a little of some of Catherine Asaro’s stuff (Skolian Imperialate etc.), while clearly not being derivative of it. Maybe even the new “Linesman” series, I’d have to see more to tell for sure ((hint)).

  21. Finally alone, the young woman reflected on her childhoods – as her mother’s daughter, then the Abbess’, then nobody’s. The first change was due to the caprice of nature; the second to human evil. That child is gone, she thought. She appears only in my dreams now, almost as a stranger.

    • A remarkably compact and efficient — not to mention heartbreaking — description of a seriously turbulent life. Well done.

      • Thanks! I’m glad you caught that sense of turbulence. That was what I was aiming at, and it looks like I managed it this time.

  22. Professor Badness

    The crawlspace was tiny and hot, the lack of power having cut off life support.
    “How long will this hold?” the ensign asked, motioning at the immense spinning sphere with his chin. Mere inches from their heads, it provided what little power remained.
    Engineer First class O’Reilly responded, “It’s dependent on inertia. Next we lose the gravity plates. Once the movement stops completely, getting it started again is deucedly hard.”

  23. And I just came up with another one, in the Grissom timeline:

    Rand knew something was amiss the moment he saw Tara’s despairing look. “What’s wrong?”

    “Dr. Fithian gave us all an assignment in Intro Mammalian Biology, and I can’t make heads or tails of it.” As soon as she said that, she shot a quick glance at the Shep at the next table, but he made no wisecracks.

    Rand sat down beside Tara. “Let me take a look.”

    It took only a few minutes to look over the data sets and understand the problem. “Dr. Fithian’s a top researcher and an expert on murine physiology, but sometimes she forgets who she’s teaching and assumes everyone has doctoral-level background in statistical analysis.”

    At Tara’s agreement, Rand started explaining independent and dependent variables, and how they worked in analyzing a data set. Yet again he was reminded just how cobbled-together arrangements in Shepardsport had become since all the Expulsees were sent up here to Farside. If there hadn’t been such a rush to expand the training program to accommodate so many new people, they could’ve made sure to arrange courses in a logical order, so that students would have the appropriate foundation courses before taking classes that expected them to apply those skills.

  24. I slammed paperwork on the counter. “All there. Every form. Notarized.”

    The squibbydoo wrapped tentacles around my knees and peered out.

    Bureaubob reviewed each document, hoping for another mistake. He sighed. Stamped the papers.

    I stroked her fangs, “Now officially my dependent, they can’t saucer you to Area 51 again.”