Sunday Vignettes Now With More Despondence 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: helpless

65 thoughts on “Sunday Vignettes Now With More Despondence by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. Reporter: We are interviewing William Stevens, the Ultra called Troll.

    Billy: Please call me Billy not Troll. I’m Troll only on-duty.

    Reporter: Of course Billy. How do you feel about your unusual appearance? You’re a high-level Titan but look like a monster.

    Billy: Before my powers awoke, I was helpless, mentally retarded and ugly. Now, I’m smart, more ugly but not helpless. I enjoy being able to help other people.

      1. I like Billy. The problem is that I haven’t found a story for him. [Embarrassed Grin]

          1. He’s talking it over with his wife, Elizabeth, sometimes called Mind-Maiden. 😉

    1. That works better, IMAO, as “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” “Help less.”

    2. Little Molly Coddle’s teddy bear, threadbare from love and hugs, had lost an eye. She cried, screamed, kicked, stomped, and called for help – but no help came. So with many pricked fingers and loose stitches she taught herself to sew until she’d reattached Mr. Patches’s eye, sealed his stuffing-leaks and repaired the bit where his arm was coming loose at the shoulder.

      In her later years, she attributed her success and happiness to her helplessness.

  2. I want you to teach me. Teach me how to fight.”
    Grant paused and looked down at the young boy who couldn’t have been more than eight years old. There was a set too him, a few scuffs and what looked to be a fading black eye. He sighed in exasperation.
    “I won’t teach you to fight, you look like you have one too many scores to settle.”
    The young boy glared up at him, “Can you at least teach me to be less helpless than?”

  3. A homestead smoldered in the background as the Hunter finished burying another family. The adult settlers had done their best against the raiders, but the smaller graves of the helpless children troubled him. The settlers had taken out two, leaving five more raiders for him to hunt down and destroy.

  4. “High Energy Level Power Lithium Exo-Scale System? Sounds impressive, but just what the hell is it supposed to do?”

    “No idea, but as you can see from the swath of devastation… it utterly fails to live down to its acronym.”

    “Any suggestions?”

    “First thing, we get out of its way.”

  5. “This new software is completely, intuitively, obvious. Anyone can use it, even a child!”
    “No software can be that intuitive. People are too different to all have the same way of doing things. There has to be a reference, somewhere.”
    “There isn’t one. It’s totally help-less!”

  6. Before he tongue acknowledged it the liquid ran down her throat. It was cold like a silver ring left in the snow. The torrent closed the muscles of her throat and they ceased swallowing. As it travelled each muscle froze until she stood, bottle still on her lips, helpless.

  7. Anything, thought Jonnet, to keep from standing here and feeling helpless. They might actually be helpless, but if they could get help, that would work as well.
    “It cursed us at once,” she said. “It must have had reason to fear that without that, we could stop all its plans.”

  8. The immediate relief was enormous, but as she hurried after Ciara, Artemise felt queasy. They had not dared give her the key. It would have betrayed her the instanct she set inside the citadel proper, long before she reached the room.
    But it meant she was helpless, dependent on Ciara to escape.
    She could be trusted, she reminded herself. The Order had never fathomed the power of a cavalier’s oath. She and Ciara had sworn together with a right good will. It had even persuaded the knights to trust them.
    She was still helpless.

  9. We were open and welcoming to you. We trusted you. We trusted you with our most precious things, our children. You abused that trust when you abused our children. Now we will demonstrate to you the other side of our nature. You will now understand the full meaning of helpless.

    This rock is only 200 pounds. You can hold if for as long as you like, but when you drop it the ropes attached will tighten and pull your limbs from your torso like a child with a turkey at Thanksgiving.

  10. I’m tumbling away. Can’t do anything about that. Out of fuel.

    I was the one in isolation, possiby contaminated. But the others died, not me.

    EVA’d to get rid of the artifact we brought alongside.

    Radio won’t reach anybody.

    Six hours of air.

    I am so screwed.

    What to do?

  11. The newly hatched Progressive bashed its head against the incubator walls, demanding the world heed its demands. Frustrated, it resorted to its most effective ploy, caterwauling of tears, fears and complaints.

    Nurse Trump paused his rounds, checked the nappies, shrugged and moved on.

    The Progressive sat crying, hapless, hopeless, helpless.

  12. Cindy pulled the slide all the way back and released it.

    Eustace spoke up then. “Hey John! You sure you want a little kid knowing how to shoot a pistol? She might get hurt.”

    ”Oh? You’d prefer she was helpless when a sex predator tries to bust the door down?”

  13. “And right over there is the old Lunar Receiving Laboratory, where the moonrocks from the Apollo missions were studied in controlled conditions.” Peter Caudell didn’t enjoy shepherding school tours through Johnson Space Center, but after the unexpected extension of his tour of duty at the moonbase, it was going to be a while before got assigned to another flight. And being assigned to public relations beat some of the alternatives.

    He was starting in on how the first three landing crews had been quarantined within it, when a sudden boom swallowed up his words. Startled, he looked up, remembered that a Space Shuttle orbiter had been coming back home today.

    Too loud, too low. And several minutes later than it should’ve gone over.

    Something must’ve gone wrong with their deorbit burn — too soon? too short? The guys in the FLCR would know, but at this point it made little difference. The orbiter was effectively a brick with wings.

    If they could make it to Florida, they might be able to put down at Tampa International Airport. No doubt the calls were going out right now to clear the runways in the hope a landing would be possible. If not–

    “Captain Caudell?” The teacher’s voice cut through his thoughts, reminded him that he had a job to do right now. “Is something wrong?”

    Hardly surprising, that concern, with the nation on edge over the rising tensions in the Middle East. Which made it all the more important that he maintain the mask of unruffled professionalism. “That was the Space Shuttle Independence going overhead on its way to landing at Kennedy Space Center. As I was saying, after the first three Apollo landings, the crews were kept in quarantine inside the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.”

    As he followed his script for the rest of the tour, Peter had to fight down his frustration at being stuck with such a trivial task. He should be helping his friends and colleagues deal with the emergency, not nursemaiding a bunch of pre-teens.

  14. Joe had been a hep-cat back in the ’50s. Now, time had passed him by, and Joe, well, now he was hepless.

  15. “Jan, can you give us some help?” Ric called. “Morelin and Lestor were bringing us supplies, but the cartwheel broke, and now they are chasing apples and chickens all over the road.”

    Sighing, Jan nodded and replied, “Alright. You go and help More, while l help Les.”

    50 words!

    1. Tombstone grave marker (yes, AZ, boot hill):
      Here lies Les Moore;
      Four slugs from a .44;
      No Les,
      No More.
      (I’m pretty certain that was made up. I saw it in the early ’70s.)

  16. This one isn’t so bad then…

    You never want to go to prison on Luna, they say, and they’re right. They have no space for actual prisons, you see, so they just set out a hose line, put you in a space suit with no sleeves, and lead you out to a tap on the hose. You have a whole ten feet to walk around in, any further and the hose will pop off your suit, and it’s all over. The guard can black out your visor remotely too, so you don’t dare move. Most men would rather die than go through this again. I find it relaxing.

  17. “So, we’re locked in. Helpless.”

    “Not quite.”, said Tarr, producing his pistol.

    “That’s a gun! Why do you have a gun?!?” asked Professor Loring, on the edge of hysteria. She sounded as if she were more frightened of the weapon than she was of whatever had half-eaten Stevens.

    “Because, Madam, there are is a practical limit to what can be accomplished with a penknife and boundless enthusiasm.”

  18. Helpless? Not Jane.
    When the earthquake thundered through her bookshop and shattered her windows, Jane sighed. (The replacement cost would be astronomical.)
    When the roof caved in and dumped snow on her, Jane got out the shovel. (She salvaged six thousand books, and sold them for two dollars a pound.)

  19. “Wait. We’re leaking atmo like a sieve, everything but attitude thrusters are offline, the power plant is outputting about 3%, and they sent us food packs?

    “Yeah, but at least they sent us the good menus – not a Jambalaya in the crate. The Federation ship did say they would send us what help they could.”

    “Well, I’d say they couldn’t help less if they tried. Wait – no way – is that a ChiliMac? Hand me that one.”

  20. “Nigel, dear,” sighed Penelope languidly. “Do be a love and fetch me another gin and tonic!”

    “Certainly, Duck,” replied Nigel Slim-Howland. “Jenkins!”

    “You sent Jenkins to his recharging chair, dear,” said Penelope, “and Gwendolyn isn’t programmed for cocktails.” She giggled. “Helpless, silly Nigel! Can you really do nothing for yourself?”

  21. They thought they’d left me helpless, clinging by my fingernails, an anchor chained to one ankle. Blood from the beating dripped into the water. There was a roil and I saw the fin. “Come on, you big bastard,” I muttered. A swish and I was free. Using my tie as a tourniquet, I thought, “Big Louie is in for a hell of a surprise.”

  22. “What’s Herring thinking?”

    “No idea. Thirty seconds remaining, and the Texas Regulators haven’t used their appeals.”

    “The Dictators lead, but have no appeals left.”

    “There’s the snap, the pass – Interception! Look at Carwell go! Regulator touchdown!”

    “With no appeals, the Dictators are helpless to reverse it.”

    “A great lawyerball play.”

  23. Little Molly Coddle’s teddy bear, threadbare from love and hugs, had lost an eye. She cried, screamed, kicked, stomped, and called for help – but no help came. So with many pricked fingers and loose stitches she taught herself to sew until she’d reattached Mr. Patches’s eye, sealed his stuffing-leaks and repaired the bit where his arm was coming loose at the shoulder.

    In her later years, she attributed her success and happiness to her helplessness.

  24. The Atlantean washed ashore, exhausted, bare from head to toe, without even a few strands of seaweed to cover his nakedness. He lay stranded, gasping like a stranded fish, kelpless.

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