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: standing

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

  1. “There I was just standing around minding my own business when it happened.

    “I’m not a Ultra-Hero of any sort. I’m a high level Ultra-Burglar but when some jerk of a Rogue Ultra starts wrecking the neighborhood where I’m vacationing, what’s a guy to do?”

    1. Seems like an exciting and dramatic situation. As a story beginning my knee jerk reaction is to suggest extreme specificity about what happened. I’ll hang around to see *why* or *how* but less likely to hang around for “what.”

      1. He may be a “super” burglar but takes pride in never doing harm to others/property.

        Plus he absolutely hates idiots who threaten to harm innocents.

        He tries (not very hard) to convince himself that helping out against supers who threaten innocents will mean that when the law enforcement supers discover who he is, they’ll not wreck his home when they come to arrest him.

        Oh, he also takes pride in “not leaving any clues” when committing burglary. Also, not being an idiot, he has a “secret lair” where he plans his crimes. IE Searching his home won’t prove what crimes he committed.

        Now, I just have to finish the stories that he’s the Main Character. 😉

        1. Oh, while he is capable in a super-fight, the one time a LE super “caught” him in a burglary, he ran like heck. 😀

          1. He may not be a “hero” but he got involved in the fight against the Rogue super.

            1. LOL, okay dammit.

              What I was trying to get at without actually making suggestions was, “There I was just standing around minding my own business when the dog tied to the stake at the end of the street sprouted tentacles and began growing in size to that of a small horse, snapping the collar and chain around it’s neck and failing to improve it’s mood in the least.”

              Or if the rogue Ultra is more physical and direct, “There I was just standing around minding my own business when the screeching of torn metal and several deafening thumps heralded a cherry red Volkswagen Beetle rolling end to end the length of the street behind me.”

              I’ll freely admit that it’s my own quirk based on my own writing weaknesses because I have to make a really big deal *to myself* of remembering to include what “it” is, that I notice whenever someone says “it” and isn’t specific.

              1. OK!

                Basically, a super-powered lunatic is smashing buildings, throwing cars, etc in order to kill a young Law-Enforcement super.

                My character doesn’t approve so uses his powers to slow down the lunatic while getting the LE super away from populated areas.

  2. There’s no use just standing in the court gawking. You need to know the rules for that world. The law. The crime or tort. What constitutes standing.
    The Amulet of Order is useful in worlds where it works. This forces them to actually obey the rules of their own courts.

  3. “Yer Honor, do mythical creatures even have standing under county law?”

    The J. P. blinked, glanced over at the still-intoxicated garden gnome, and shrugged. “He was arrested for trespassing, drunk-and-disorderly, and assault on a public servant, although the Deputy’s waiving that one because tossing a handful of straw and claiming it was gold? Drunk. So I’d say yes. His official residence is old lady Martin’s front garden, even though she doesn’t want him back.”

    And thus was established the precedent of trying mythical creatures in US courts. Which was all fine and dandy until someone arrested a dragon for arson.

  4. As the admiral entered, the petty officer called the room to attention.
    “Be seated”, said the admiral as he took his position.
    All of the attendees except one sat down The admiral looked at her.
    “You can sit now”, he said.
    “With respect, sir, I can’t. I’m a standing WAVE.”

  5. Larum continued upstream along the quay, leading the pack-horse, and following the word cheese, which, it turned out, was coming from the fourth boat. He stopped, and handed the lead off to young Mal.

    “Stand, Snip” he ordered the horse, and turned to the merchant. A southerner, in a brown long-coat, who had almost concealed the expression on his face: Who names their horse Snip? Larum’s then three year old daughter had named her, but he saw no reason to explain that. Besides, he had a stock reply.

    “Horse was taken.” he deadpanned, while giving the merchant his best mock-innocent look.

    The merchant paused a moment, then placed his left hand in front of his chest, its back facing Larum with the pinky curled to the palm: please wait a moment. He turned, taking a couple steps to his right and looked behind the stern of his boat, than came back, standing in front of Larum again.

    “Well, the river’s still there, even after that one. I’m Tagril. What can I do for you?”

    “I’m Larum. I heard the word cheese, and decided to ask after such.”

  6. Cindy Petersen stood out of view alone the corridor just outside the open doorway to the station’s small auditorium, hearing from within the murmur of a full house waiting for her to tell them about how, in spite of all her screw ups, she somehow still managed to rescue that shuttle full of kids before their air ran out. She shook her head. “Might as well get this over with,” she mumbled to herself. Cindy forced herself to stand up straight as she walked through the doorway. She had just crossed the threshold when she was startled into a pause by a shouted “Attention on Deck!” and the sound of the entire room jumping up from their seats and standing at rigid attention. Chief Watson, the station leading CPO, was standing just beside the door – she realized it had been his bullhorn voice that had shouted the command.
    “Chief, I don’t rate this – I’m just a civilian shuttle jockey. And I was lucky.”
    “Ma’am, we beg to differ. Luck is the product of preparation and skill. And those were our kids you brought back.”

  7. 0600 found Ray and me standing — let’s be honest, skulking — at the back of Gertie’s, waiting for the recruiter to show. There was no turning back — we’d missed the start of our shift. Either we were away from the Outfit or we were dead men walking.

  8. Negotiations with the obsessively literal Dracksitans were not going well.
    “We are standing firm here,” the Confederation delegate said. “If you do not cease hostilities, we will destroy your ships.”
    The Dracksitan shrugged. “You are obviously bluffing, as you remain in your chairs.” He stood and blasted them into dust.

  9. THWAP!

    The riding crop hits my thigh solidly, and I know that it will raise a welt all too very soon.

    Charlotte…is a huge believer in positive and negative reinforcement as a part of any educational goal. And, as she stands there, holding a riding crop, I’m suspecting that the moment the words came out of my mouth, she was going to be sure to fully motivate me towards learning.

    She was waiting in the middle of the study, wearing a long black skirt, a white ruffled blouse, a black brocade corset that perfectly nipped in her waist, and a onyx and silver brooch at her throat. Oh, and thonged around her left wrist was a very decent riding crop. The sort you would use to either flog the natives or ride out to the Hunt. Or ride down the Wild Hunt. She taps one of her patent leather boots (that I later learned was knee high) on the floor and points with the riding crop at a spot in front of her, two paces away. By previous instruction, I came in wearing a skirt and flats, and I walked calmly to the spot she has indicated.

    “Chin up, eyes up,” Charlotte begins in French. “Lower your chin slightly. Right there. We have six weeks to fill what would take about three years of training, and it is the sort of training that you must have to fill the character that you have created.”

    I nod. “Speak, ma chatounette,” Charlotte corrects me, putting the tip of the riding crop under my chin.

    “I understand,” I reply in French, remaining perfectly still.

    “You also know that I will punish you for fault. Not out of anger, but because you must learn. And, you will learn, yes?” Charlotte continues, her voice as calm as a surgeon in the operating room.

    “I understand.”

    “Your lesson begins now,” and the riding crop falls away. “Remain still,” she commands, and I remain still as she walks behind me. I can hear her boots on the floor, but only faintly as I realize that despite wearing knee-high boots and heels, she walks as softly as a cat. The sound comes back, and one hand rests on my shoulder as another tilts my head slightly forward. Then, a weight on top of my head.

    “Yes, there is a book on top of your head,” Charlotte says behind me. “Stretch upwards, as if you were trying to reach the ceiling.” A tap of the riding crop on the back of my legs, just above the knees. “Knees loose and flexible. Feet forward, in a straight line perfectly forward. Arms loose,” and here, she taps the inside of my arms with the crop, “and palms facing towards your legs, fingers loose.”

    I hear her step back, and wait. “Remain standing just like that. For the first part of your training, every time you stop, this is the poise you must assume every time you are standing. Do you understand.”

    “I understand,” I reply, focusing on keeping my back straight, my head in the right posture, my body just loose. After a few minutes, I falter, and try to recover when I can feel the crop strike my ass with two firm strokes. “Posture, ma chatounette,” Charlotte corrects me, and I try not to flinch with the impacts. I catch the book with my hands, find the right posture again, and put the book back on my head. And, I hold the posture again, until my back begins to hurt after a minute and lose it.

    Two more strokes of the crop. “Posture, ma chatounette!”

    I stop, feel the pain of sore muscles, and I am about to complain when I realize that it doesn’t matter. This is what I chose, this is the role that I need to fill, and whatever it takes for me to get there is what I have to do. I let a trickle of magic help the pain of my sore muscles, put the book back on my head, find the posture, and find a spot on the study’s wall to look at as I let my feet find their right position.

    It takes nearly a half hour, but I am able to hold the required posture for five minutes. Once five minutes are up, Charlotte commands, “Set the book down, ma chatounette, and walk over to the table with the tea set to your right.”

    I look around to find the table, and turn to face it, feeling the soreness from the riding crop strokes and the strained muscles from holding my posture. I walk carefully over to the table, where two chairs and a full, formal tea set are sitting, waiting. “What do I do here,” I whisper, worried.

    Charlotte’s lips are just beside my ear, the instant the last word leaves my lips. “You pull out my chair with both hands, ma chatounette, do not let it drag. Once I sit down, you help me to adjust my chair, then you will sit down. I will be sitting to your right.”

    I don’t jump completely out of my skin, but I carefully step over to the right chair and pull it away from the table, lifting slightly. Charlotte sits down, and she scoots forward slightly, a signal for me to move the chair under her as well. Once completed, she makes a motion with her right hand, indicating the other chair. I walk over to the other chair, pull it out without dragging, and sit down as well. I carefully scoot myself into position, wincing internally as the bruises on my thighs and ass rest on the cushionless chair.

    “There is a process and a procedure to properly serving tea. We begin now,” Charlotte says, and the riding crop taps the container of loose tea.

    I hide my groan of frustration, and begin to listen as her instruction begins.

  10. “It’s a beautiful house, Sherrie. But why is it on stilts? You’re on a hill outside of Denver. You’re not going to flood.”
    “Have to be on stilts to take advantage of the Homestanding law,” Sherrie replied.
    “Sher? That’s Homesteading.”
    “You’re kidding? You mean standing isn’t the singular for steading?”

  11. Red and blue lights flashed against the wall of Engineering Hall. Sergei’s throat tightened and his heart pounded against his ribcage. Dark memories bubbled just under the surface.

    Sergei scanned the confusion of cop cars that fairly choked the westbound lanes of Green Street. Those weren’t just University cops. He could see at least two Illinois State Police cars, and a couple of Urbana city ones. Was that a Champaign County sheriff’s deputy squeezed in between them? Every one of them had their light bars running, and uniformed men and women hurried back and forth everywhere.

    Joseph muttered a Georgian swearword, switched to Russian to speak to Sergei. “It’s worse than I thought.”

    “I know.” The words tasted sour on Sergei’s tongue.

    A big man with reflective sunglasses stalked over to them. “Awright, just what are you two up to?”

    It took Sergei a moment to mentally shift gears back to English. “Sir, we are looking for my girlfriend. My brother said she was here when, ekh, when it happened.”

    He swallowed hard as several men carried out a gurney on which lay a covered body. No, too big, and those were a man’s shoes sticking out from under the sheets. The tension eased, but only somewhat — that man might not be the only victim.

    “Please, we fear that she may be hurt.” In spite of his efforts to keep his voice calm and adult, it went high and pleading like a little kid’s. “She is small woman,” he indicated her height, “with long black hair in ponytail.”

    The cop shook his head. “Sorry, son, but there’s not a lot I can tell you.”

    “Why not?”

    “You’re not next-of-kin, so we can’t release information on death or injury.” There was a finality in those words which brooked no argument.

    Sergei swallowed hard, forced out some hollow politenesses. Joseph thumped him on the shoulder, steered him back down the sidewalk.

    (One of these days I’m going to figure out how to get The Steel Breeds True beaten into presentable shape and up. In the meantime I’m working on other things and trying not to get bogged down on them as well).

  12. “Dismissed with prejudice.”

    The sound of the gavel clapped on the gleaming wood of the bench as the judge made his final ruling. The sound echoed through the court, a death knell for the mytho chained to the witness bench before he was led away, clasped in silver plated titanium manacles.

    But within twelve hours it served as the death knell for a quarter million people. Including the judge, his family and anyone he had ever known.

    It wasn’t just nature that was red in tooth and claw.

  13. Standing.
    Standing up, standing tall, standing frim.
    Standing on deck in the faint nautical twilight, helping keep the ship on course.

    Though sometimes, simply standing makes the heart of the matter.
    Standing, bowed but unbroken, through the core of the storm.
    Standing quiet, waiting the inexorable dawn.

    The Justice stood in his pajamas, briefly watching the soft twilight brighten as inevitably as the oncoming dawn. Ready to soon take his place and do his part, standing beside one of his brethren who’d weathered the same storm.
    Standing firm.

  14. “You’re free,” argued Jot. “Nobody can find you here, or tell you what to do!”

    “Can’t you see?” countered Miki. “My master’s an elf of standing! He trusted me with my duties. I can’t disappoint him.”

    “But why?”

    “Because he loved me like a daughter. I should act like one.”

    Fifty words, but what choppy dialogue that was…

    Also, echoing the comments from yesterday, I do hope you’re feeling better, Ms Hoyt!

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