Just let the Vignettes Ring, by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Just let the Vignettes Ring, 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:Noisy

56 thoughts on “Just let the Vignettes Ring, by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. ..hiss..crackle..pop…whistle.. popple…hickle… whackle…pistle…

    We missed it all along. We were looking for signal over or under noise. And then Clancey here, as an April Fool’s joke, programmed in a ‘subverter’ routine… and though it failed as a joke, it’s a great success overall. You see… the noise IS the signal!

  2. Martin and Private Khan had been arguing almost since the hour they had left the fallen city. Walking around abandoned automobiles that had seen the worst of the extremely long winter. They had finally made it to some tree lines and were still gripping at each other when they were interrupted by a voice in the tree line to their right.
    “Damn you boys are sure noisy, I am willing to bet there isn’t any game when miles of here now.”

  3. The Rogue Ultra’s sonic attacks were devastating the town.

    As the two Ultra heroes arrived, Troll remarked to Mind Maid “Boy, is he noisy”.

    1. “Aiiee! Can’t anyone hear that?! It’s terrible!”
      “HVAC engineers must be deaf. I can hear the system ‘screaming’ but I can’t do anything about it.”
      “What IS it?”
      “The refrigeration system. Expanding gas cools… and in this case, whistles.”
      ‘How can anyone stand it?”
      “Like I said, they must be deaf.” (Well, at 16+ KHz, anyway)

      [And yes, I have had that conversation, and yes I could hear it, and yes it was ‘screaming’ and if I’d had a headache… there might have been violence.]

      1. I used to be able to hear floodlight bulbs dying… then i listened to loud music for 30 years.

  4. Whump!

    The drummer paused, reflecting.


    This was boring.


    He longed to play a different …


    … beat, something rocking


    or swinging, something jazzy, or …


    … even Disco would be an improvement!


    Playing drum solo on a galley wasn’t what he’d been …


    … told it would be.


  5. The forest was usually quiet, but not as silent as this. Mirren began to keep his eyes even more open. Something odd was going on, and he couldn’t work out what. Then he heard a sudden scream of agony. Out of the bushes burst a boar, its tusks dripping blood.

  6. Morgan checked the capacitor on his gauss autocannon. Satisfied, he hefted it up with his powered armor’s exoskeletal strength and acquired his target, a red caret bracketing the alien attack ship approaching from the northeast.

    “Might want to stand back,” he broadcast over his external speakers to warn the civilians still hiding in the ruins of their homes. “Things are about to get noisy.”

  7. In a farm field on the western edge of Indiana, I’d expected quiet. Instead, I could here a sound, an unfamiliar sound, coming from the west. It wasn’t the wind, nor a tractor, nor even farm animals. No plane could be seen in the sky. “Do you hear that sound?” I asked.

    “What sound– oh! You get used to it after a while. We’re so close to the border that you’re hearing Illi-noisy.”

        1. My born & raised Hoosier father would come down from Heaven just to kick my rear if I did that. 😀

  8. They had tried frequency hopping, sub-signal, noise-like low-probability-of-intercept signal, and anything else they could think of, but nothing had worked to get a target lock on any of the alien ships – as soon as they lit up a transmitter of any sort, the antenna got slagged by those beam weapons. But for some reason the aliens were leaving the local TV and radio alone. So a team had been working on using the reflections from that continuously noisy RF environment to generate tracking and eventually a target lock, and it finally was working.

    As lead on the research team that cracked the problem, Sally got the honor of launching the first mass salvo. “Here goes,” she said, and touched the flashing button on the pad in her lap.

  9. Grampa called to warn me.
    Hang in there, honey.
    These noisy indicators are driving the market crazy.
    Stay focused on our plan.
    The day-traders might be running up the stock, but they’ll cash out before the end of the day, and the price will drop.
    We should ride this out.

  10. I saw Sam waving at me and shouting something.
    “What?” I shouted back.
    I fired off two more shots at the enemy. Sam leapt from his cover, and dove face-first into my hole.
    “What are you doing?”
    “”They’re flanking us; but it was too noisy for you to hear me.”

  11. No, no, no; ya got it all wrong. What I said was, “Those DRUMS. They’re driving me mad with their incessant noisiness. MAD, do you hear? MAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. (Slap.) Thanks, Mike; I needed that.

  12. Eurydice heard a new sound over the endless cacophony of groans, screams, roaring flames, rending flesh and breaking bone. Faint wisps at first. Where was it coming from? She forded rancid pools and traversed charnel pits.

    There — her golden harpist.

    She cried out in delight.

    Orpheus turned and saw her.

  13. “The problem is that you’ve completely forgotten how to use the word *should*. I recommend you ban it from your vocabulary for greater mental clarity. When you use it correctly, you mean ‘Given what I know, I expect that…’. But what you usually mean when you use the word ‘should’ is ‘I want X.’

    Which should happen? Should the fox catch the rabbit, or should the rabbit be allowed to escape? It’s insanity, or more usually dishonesty, not to complete your thought.”

    1. Whoops. Missed the prompt. Just had these short things banging around in my head for a while.

  14. Mike glanced around the stadium. “It’s noisy online.”

    Phil took their beers from a drone. “Canned roar, like laugh tracks in those old shows.”

    He took his beer. “Hardly anyone’s here.”

    “Broadcasts use virtual fans. Empty seats look bad.”

    Mike frowned.

    “Enjoy today. Next year, it’s all virtual,” Phil said.

  15. “I was raised by humans”, she said with embarrassment. “It tends to leave one inappropriately civilized, with a whole load of dangerous notions. Fortunately, there was also the internet.”

  16. As if that were a spell to summon everyone in the city to the streets, she found herself surrounded by a gabbling and gawking crowd, staring up at the cloud as it stared down with magnificent indifference.
    She wriggled her way down many streets. Enough to know that it looked as if it looked directly at every street.

  17. She had lost track of time when she was ushered out the back door. The rain had ceased to be noisy, but it still whispered as it fell and fell and fell. All the streets gleamed in the stray light. The few who ventured forth were muffled in the gray raincoats, though they gleamed as well.

  18. He looked about again. And saw flowers of light blooming, bright pink and pale blue, delicate purples and bright yellows. His mouth twisted. A royal gardener might love it, but for him, it was only a reminder than they grew in shallow water
    For a moment his thoughts froze, like molten metal poured in spring water. Then he took a few steps forward and shouted, “This way.”
    They made a noisy clamor, crossing, and were plastered with mud. But the place was a ford. And Lady Marcia was even explaining, as they climbed up the bank opposite, that a king had triumphed over his enemies by realizing that since flowers of light grew only in shallow water, he could lead his armies through what looked like a lake they would drown in.

  19. Its home could be thought of as an anti-plant. A plant sought energy and light from an outside source, often in the sky. The reflective petals of this anti-plant drifting in the peaceful interstellar void were designed to block the harsh 5 kelvin glare of the early universe, still too hot and noisy for the precise coherent state within to survive direct exposure.

  20. OK one more:

    Jim jumped nearly a foot off the sofa, spilling his cheese-flavored corn based extruded snack tubules all over the floor. “What the heck was that?!”

    “What was what?”

    “That horrible braying racket! From over there on the table!”

    “Oh, that? It’s just my vignette ringing. Don’t worry about it.”

  21. “Gwendolyn,” said Nigel Slim-Howland, spotting his maid resting on the veranda, “Jenkins said I’d find you here. Are you quite alright?”

    “Yes sir,” said Gwendolyn. “I’m well. It’s just that children’s parties cause overstimulation in my particular model. I’m told the issue will be resolved in the next firmware upgrade.”

  22. The wind sighed gently through the trees of the Wolfwood. A hint of cold carried on that breeze told of frosty mornings, and soon. Volney’s heavy gait was muffled by the pine needs and soupy fog, his usual thump-thump more of a quiet shuffle. Holm was glad of the horse’s heat this morning, as his coffee had just run out and the chill when he awoke reminded him he wasn’t getting any younger. Twenty years was a long time to spend in harness, and the crick in his back and creak in his knees every time he donned his heavy plate made him wonder how the greybeards managed it.

    The mouse-wizard- or was it wizard-mouse? no longer sat between Volney’s ears, but rode in the comfortable warm spot just ahead of the saddle. Holm had the impression it wanted to talk, but the peaceful morning remained, for now. The road he left behind led straight in to Froglevel, but there was a path to the ferry that was quicker. There was also a warm inn stable with fresh oats. The horse needed no prompting, as usual. He had been this way many times.

    Crossing a gurgling stream, Volney stopped. His ears pricked forward, and he uttered soft whicker that told Holm “trouble.” After a moment, he heard it, too. It wasn’t much. A minor scuff. A rustle, quickly smothered. And silence, where a woodpecker knocked just a moment before. Something was ahead. And it did not want to be heard.

    Holm slid down, and loosened his blades. His mail shirt wasn’t meant for sneaking- knights did not do much sneaking. But it was well maintained, oiled and the leather worn in and comfortable. The small sounds he did make were swallowed up by the mist as he crept up the hillside to the left.

    Two scruffy looking men, one red-haired man with a bow, one dark and scarred with an axe, crouched behind a giant oak, peering carefully around it down towards the main road. There a stout figure in a long dark cloak and floppy brimmed hat was leading a mule to town. An ambush, Holm thought- and the quiet morning shattered as a roaring shockwave flattened the trees of the far hillside.

    The bowman cursed, drew and fired swiftly. The axeman wasted no time in turning to flee- strangers that could flatten hillsides were no easy marks! His distraction proved fatal as he met his end impaled on a broadsword. The red haired man snatched a knife from his belt and threw it as he attempted to flee as well. His next two steps lasted the rest of his life.

    Other bandits sprang from the woods, some heading for the figure on the road while others sprinted for wherever they thought was safe. Down on the road were sounds of battle as well. Meaty thunks and the clash of metal-on-metal echoed. Up on the hill, three more headed for the large tree where two of their fellows died. Holm stepped forward to meet them. Even three on one, they fared no better.

    The end came abruptly, as most battles did. One moment he was fighting, stabbing, and slashing his way downhill, and the next there was nothing. His heartbeat slowed. Gasping breaths brought the smell of blood and human waste, all too familiar by this time. A pinch in his side, ignored ’till now, showed a dagger that somehow found its way into his mail. It came out with a trickle of blood. Oops. A twinge in his arm showed the broken shaft of an arrow. Holm sighed. Perhaps it was just as well. Getting old. Getting slow.

    “My thanks for the aid, sir knight.”

    The floppy brim hid gray curls and an impish grin. The woman had to be at least fifty by the wrinkles around her eyes. This fact did not seem to deter her one bit.

    “It was my duty to do so, good lady. That said, I am glad I decided to take the shortcut. I’d have been too late otherwise.”

    “Are we done being noisy now?” The voice came from the hillside, as Volney picked his way down. Most horses tended to go the other way if it was up to them. By now the big gray-back was quite inured to the sounds and smells.

    The older lady glanced up, then back up again with raised eyebrows.

    “Talking horse?”

    Holm shook his head.

    “Talking mouse.”


      1. Maybe. Give it a week. Standard excuses apply, IANAW, etc. etc.

        Was going to be more this time, but migraine struck in the middle of the fight scene, so had to cut it shorter than anticipated.

  23. After so many years as a shuttle driver, Bill Hearne found lunar spaceport operations hard to get used to. Back at Kennedy, the roar of the main engines would carry for miles. Here, you could be sitting in a crawler just beyond blast radius of the pad and hear nothing but the whir of your life support fans.

    That and the chatter on whatever radio circuits you’d tuned into. Pilots might not be a talkative bunch, but ground support crew were always going on about something.

  24. The sound of the transformation matrix when you enter senshi form? You only hear it in your ears, in your bones, as the prana flows through you, the Barrier Jacket forms, your hair changes color, the mask settles on your face and you are now a senshi.

    The sound of prana accumulating? You feel that across your skin, and at the levels I am working at? It feels like the crackle of fire on your skin, the popping and hissing as the fire burns a breath’s distance away from your flesh, whispering through the hairs on your arms and legs.

    The only sound everyone else hears in the room is the clock-like clatter as the Sapient Device reaches full charge and is ready to discharge a prana bolt that can disembowel a M-1A4 Abrams sitting behind another M-1A4.

    And, for some reason, that very quiet sound is suddenly the loudest sound in the room.

  25. For something that had been so apocalyptically fantastic, Ryan thought gloomily, it was amazing how badly he was regretting it now. He could feel the faint tension in Arakyn’s body as well. Yet she wasn’t making any move to draw away or roll out of the bed either.

    “They do allow the atonement sacrament for events like this, yes?” he finally made himself ask, mumbling it into her red hair.

    “They do,” said Arakyn distantly. “But one has to sincerely regret one’s sin. I am … having a very difficult time doing that.”

    “Does it help that I feel rotten enough for both of us? I mean, not about this, but I know what breaking a Saintsworn oath means.” Unable to help himself, he snorted. “By the High One, if ever I thought I’d play the role of corrupting the innocent ….”

    “Didn’t you say you were as innocent as I was, in this respect?” For the first time some amusement entered Arakyn’s voice. “You were certainly as surprised as I was by much of it. Perhaps we have corrupted each other.”

    “I wasn’t a total innocent,” said Ryan defensively. “I knew the mechanics, and the implications.” He paused. “I admit to being surprised at how, well … noisy it all was.”

    “That,” said Arakyn, sounding oddly satisfied, “is because you didn’t grow up on a farm.”

  26. He couldn’t take much more. The lub-lub of his pulse, the whoosh of air through his throat, through his suit, the cre-e-e-e-e-ak of joints with every movement, the ra-a-a-sp of suit on skin.

    They say “In space, none can hear you scream.” They’ve all been deafened by the constant noise.

    1. Very clever! I’ve always liked those moments where that kind of practical real detail intrudes on the spectacle in a way that makes it more awesome for its plausibility, rather than less awesome for its gritty bits.

  27. The hull shuddered against his helmet, his grip slipping.
    Heart pounding, he shifted to press his helmet against Vasquez’s.
    “Anything?” the strain was clear in his tone. Eyes locked on the metal under his hands, her shaken head went unnoticed.
    “The channels are full of noise,” she shouted through another shudder. “Looks like we’ll have to save ourselves.”
    Glancing at the oxy/nitro levels on his HUD, quick calculations passed through his mind. The Bay was a wreck; all the hatches blocked or twisted.
    They had limited time, and the great rent exposing them to the unforgiving darkness of space was the only way out. Flashes from outside spoke of the danger beyond the hull; but staying here was equally suicidal.

  28. He stepped carefully around the shattered, blackened bones. He tiptoed around the bodies, those of the dead and those who had yet to die. Shaking hands reaching toward him, mouths without voices rasped for water. He raised his index finger to his face, mouthed “Shhhhh.” He squatted slowly at the clearing. Ever so carefully, he set down the prize. The bag was slick with blood and numerous entrails. The treasure inside was precious, immaculate. He wiped his hands on his thighs. He gazed up at his silent princess, unscathed and almost glowing in her oversized throne. He took great care to open the bag so as not to desecrate its contents.The plastic crinkled in his slippery fingers. A stunned wail tore through the air. “GREAT,” the princess said, sarcastically. “Took you two damn hours to get diapers and now you woke the baby. Change her yourself.” She pushed herself off of the enormous throne. Her silken slipper landed hard into the bloated midsection of a fallen troll. Lukewarm offal splattered across his face. She thrust the shrieking infant toward him. He clutched the child to him. It writhed and howled as if it were on fire. The love of his life stalked off, muttering how she should have married the Prince of Aijurrbistan with the sloping forehead instead of this noisy bastard.

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