Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike


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: position

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

  1. “We did it! We’ve achieved lightspeed. We’re going c!”

    “Is that confirmed? We though this before at various sub-liminal speeds.”

    “This is it. The real thing. I’d say ‘look at the clock’ but it’s local to us.”

    “OK, so we’re at c, where are we?”

    “Haven’t a clue.”

    “Uh oh.”

    1. “I thought we would be lost forever! HOW did you manage to navigate us home?”

      “It was simple, really…”

      The word “SIMPLE!” was followed by half-screamed unintelligible words.

      “Well, you see, we had just broken one of the fundamental laws of the universe, so there was only one thing to do.”

      “Which was?”

      “Assume the position.”

  2. “How the hell did you get into that position?”
    “Well…it’s a long story.”
    “I bet. Do you need help getting untangled?”
    “Yes, please?”
    “This is going to be interesting.”
    “OK, stay still. I’m going to try to tempt it with some food. Hopefully, it will leave you and go for the food. Then, we can get it back into its holding tank.”

  3. Another snippet from Solist At Large Will post more chapters in the Slush Pile on Baen’s Bar tonight-

    After lunch and a quick shower, I’m back in a dress. This dress is a black, flamingo-style dress that reaches barely an inch and a half above my ankle and has sleeves that reach down to just above my elbow. No accessories, but there are a set of one inch solid toe heels waiting as well, and a set of white silk stockings. I dress completely, buckle on the shoes, and head for the study for my next set of lessons.

    When I walk in, Charlotte is standing in the middle of the room, wearing black slacks, a white dress shirt, and a black button-up vest. Her hair is tied off in a neat bun, her hands holding the riding crop behind her back, and she smiles as I come in. “Welcome, ma chatounette,” she says, as I close the door behind me and come to my place in the room, standing with my posture perfect. “Today, we begin with dance lessons. Namely, we will start with a waltz.”

    She removes the riding crop from her wrist and puts it down on one of the bookshelves, in front of a digital music system for rooms. The work of seconds causes the parlor to be filled with music, and Charlotte comes to me, and stands in front of me, barely a step away. She lifts her left arm up, the elbow just below her shoulder, and her hand reaches forward to take mine, the fingers of my hand between her thumb and forefinger. Her right hand comes below my left armpit and she says, “Left hand on my shoulder, relax your fingers, and step a little closer.” As I do so, she smiles. “I lead, you follow. Follow how my hands guide you, and let the male in the part of the dance lead. I will speak through the steps from your perspective, so step as I tell you to, not how you think you should step, ma chatounette. And remember, always posture.”

    I nod, and I can catch the hint of her perfume, a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla that makes me very curious. Charlotte’s head moves with the music, then as the song changes, she says, “Right foot back a step,” and she moves slightly forward, and I have to keep my position carefully.

    “Step to the left with your left foot,” and her right foot moves out and to the right. I stumble a bit, and Charlotte holds me up slightly with her right arm, and nods. “Calmly, Adelaide, very calmly indeed. Close your right foot to your left,” and I do so as she closes her left foot to her right.

    “Step forward with your left foot,” and my left foot steps where Charlotte’s right foot was previously. “Good! Now, step to the right with your right foot.”

    My right foot steps to the right, and her left foot steps to her left. “Now close your left foot to your right foot,” and my foot moves. “Once again from the top, right foot back a step.”

    We do this for a half hour, then we begin on natural turns and reverse turns. We take even more time working through the steps, and near the end Charlotte doesn’t have to tell me what steps I need to take. We finish with my body feeling sore from nearly eighty minutes of dancing, and we finish on the last steps of the song. She steps over to the music system and turns it off. “Very good work, ma chatounette, I am very pleased with how quickly you’ve picked up how to dance.”

    “I’ve cheated a little bit,” I note. “I read ahead of all your books, and thought we would be getting here at some point.”

    “And, planning ahead is a good thing, when you can,” Charlotte replies.

    “Will we be doing more waltz dancing tomorrow?” I ask, rolling my shoulders a bit to loosen them up.

    “Yes, we will,” Charlotte smiles.

    “I actually did enjoy it,” I comment shyly, a bit hesitant. “Even if I was having to follow you.”

    “Sadly, as the girl, you will have to follow in most dances,” Charlotte replied.

    I had looked at the books on how to dance, and something in my brain had begun to click as I had. Having danced today, I think I knew what it was. If you only knew, I thought.

    “Off to history class,” I grumble, and nod to Charlotte.

    “You would rather dance,” Charlotte tilts her head slightly. “I could feel it near the end-I suspect that your knowledge of physical skills is increasing.”

    “I’m feeling a lot more coordinated,” I agree.

    “That will make your combat training much more interesting,” Charlotte smiles. “Off to your next class, ma chatounette, we will do this again tomorrow.”

  4. “Well well, how did you get into that position?” Ultra Trainer McWilliams asked seeing Ultra Trainee Sheaffer stuck on the wall by his own webbing.

    “Ah, I got into a … discussion with Trainee du Sable about nicknames” Trainee Sheaffer replied. “He then used his winds to blow my webbing back at me”.

    “Ah, yes. Did you call him blow-hart or Wendy?”

    “Well, I might have implied that Windy was a girl’s name”.

      1. $HOUSEMATE had to find and play that tune before I got the joke.

        I’m sure I heard it before, back when, but it was just so much background noise for me at the time.

  5. Selinda’s fingers touched his cheek. Bredon jerked his head away, but the chains were too tight to escape far.
    She cooed, “You ditch-digger’s brat. Did you really think that waving your sword around and killing a dragon would elevate you? That nobles need to treat you with courtesy for presumption?”

        1. The establishment is seldom so kind as to put itself where a surgical strike would eliminate nothing else.

            1. Now, now now — group guilt is not to be presumed. There will be definite exceptions if the work comes together.

      1. There were innocents in the way. He would have done his duty regardless; it’s just what he would have done after that changed.

        Though, in part, his problem is that he spent too long in human lands, where a ditch-digger’s son who kills a dragon is a dragonslayer, not a ditch-digger’s son.

  6. “You can’t expect this fraud to last,” I said desperately. “Sooner or later it will be clear who I am.”
    She laughed. “You aren’t in touch with your parents. Your friends have betrayed you. Your uncle hasn’t seen you for sixteen years. I can’t even imagine how you are going to get out of this position.”

    1. “Do you realize what the scary part is? The truly scary thing? You can’t imagine how I would get out of this. You knew, a long time ago, how I would, but you carveed that part of you out and you made very sure that you left nothing behind. If only for that, I feel sorry for you.
      “I don’t feel sorry about what is going to happen next.”

  7. “That’s not the most convenient position for an emergency station.”

    “It’s not that bad, Haward.” Alexis countered. “It’s only one fold from several local routes. It’s a bit farther for us, but we will make it before all the plants die. It has rather big advantage, too. It’s a stellar intrusion remnant, and the station is on a satellite.” She toggled a key, and highlighted the name “Nova Placidus” on the display. “It’s an old utopian community, according to the files, and has a restocking greenhouse and permanent staff.”

    The astrophysicists believed that intrusion remnants occurred when a giant star went supernova and collapsed into a black hole, and the resulting gravity and energy release breached the barrier between normal space and the foldways. They were mostly helium, with some carbon, and ranged up to half the mass of the Sun. They shone only with their stored energy, but that would last for millions of years, long enough for another batch of romantics to try to make a go of their ideal society.

    “The colony would explain the greenhouses” Matt put in, “and it will be nice to restock instead of breathing canned air. I wonder who would volunteer to staff the thing. It’s a long way from anywhere else.”

    “Well, we’ll find out in 109 hours, because that’s how long it’ll take to get there.”

  8. “Art thou not a chieftain’s son?” asked the wise woman. “Knowest thou not thy position?” She spoke directly, but in the darkened hut, Ninnian could barely see her.

    “Yes, seer, I know my place,” Ninnian answered. “Contradicting my own father is a grave offense, so I came here in secret.”

  9. Bystander to construction worker:

    “Excuse the imposition, but from my position, I believe a transposition of two beams is the problem.”

    “Says who?”

    “That is my supposition.”

    “You are sorely trying my disposition. Here’s a proposition for you. Reposition yourself NOW or incur my opposition.”

    “Meaning what?”

    “Get lost, asshole!”

    50 😉

  10. When I stopped tumbling, I wondered, “Uh, which way is up?”
    Since my inner ear had betrayed me by completely sloshing around on the inside, I decided that I would figure it out by cataloging what positions all my body parts were in.
    “OK, my shoulders are on the ground… so’s my head… my arms feel like they are splayed on the ground, too… my knees are also touching the ground… on opposite sides of my head???”
    Sigh. That’s what I get for insisting on riding a bicycle too big for me, close enough to the retaining wall on the hillside to fall over it.

    1. Some of my friends will recognize this true story. And that is actually the process I used to figure out which way was up, after I landed. Glad I was limber as a rope at the age of six.

  11. Overhead, four long shafts spun so rapidly the markings on their sides had blurred into solid bands of color. Just watching them could be mesmerizing, until one considered the tight tolerances to which they had to be machined, the careful positioning of all the supporting equipment so that vibrations would not result in metal touching metal, damaging or even destroying the equipment.

    Mikachi remembered the pictures the safety officer had shown during orientation, of what happened when one of those shafts got out of alignment and underwent a sudden, catastrophic disassembly. He was just as glad that his duties did not involve handling them, and he resolved to stay as far away from them as he could and still do his job.

    They always said Codylanders were crazy, to run machinery at such speeds and fine tolerances. But there were other kinds of madness, as Gorlath had demonstrated when he seized control of Maroa.

  12. “The laws of physics can be exceedingly simple”, the troll said. “You just assume a configuration space of sufficiently high dimensionality. A continuum infinity is almost always sufficient. The state vector of the universe is a point within this space. It sits at its original location and doesn’t move with time.”

    “Waitaminute”, the student said. “Then how could the state vector possibly relate to experience?”

    “Well, that’s the complicated part. But a coordinate transformation, however complicated, is guaranteed to exist for any so-called dynamic system that maps it to a much more convenient coordinate system where configurations never move from their initial condition. So there you go – everything you ever needed to know about dynamics.”

  13. The real big money in the fiction business is mostly to be made by former Trump Administration officials writing Trumprotica: “tell-alls” that pander to Liberal wet-dreams.

    Make Big Money Writing Fiction
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Recently my friend Charlie Martin wrote a post about how ebooks are a complete game changer for publishing, a fact that traditional publishers are still bent on denying.

    In fact, for the last several years, even as traditional publishers see their business hollowed out and dropping, instead of confronting reality they’ve amused themselves with facile lies, not just about ebooks but also about indie publishing in general.

    Recently a well-known publisher insisted that it’s impossible that the fall in publishing income is due to competition from indies since all the reporting services insist all the bestsellers are still traditional. Obviously, this publisher never considered that most indies don’t have ISBNs and that the reporting services don’t track Amazon, two reasons for the supposed discrepancy.

    In the same way, I don’t know how many articles I’ve read which — while strongly implying that paper books are making a come back, and sometimes even sporting headlines claiming that the heyday of the ebook is behind us — don’t really say anything but something like “the growth rate of ebooks is leveling off.” Or even just that ebooks are growing at a slower pace now. This is objectively inane, because, of course, for any new technology, the insanely fast growth rate will eventually slow down and even level off. Say you’re selling widgets which are very popular, and everyone buys one until every household in the land has a widget. At that point, the growth rate is going to level off to only enough to accommodate new households or new immigrants.

    All of these articles and tendentious reporting, all the soothing syrup poured by the magazines that pertain to publishing, can’t disguise the fact that Charlie mentions in his article:

      1. One small press publisher recently got accused of running a “novel factory.” As far as I can tell he doesn’t. He does have a couple of shared-worlds series that do very well for him.

        I can guess who – or at least someone comparable. There is certainly no way he writes all those books himself – but he never says he does. The co-author, who is probably the 95% author, is not only on the cover, but before his name (these days).

        I’m not sure how a “novel factory” is a bad thing. A publisher that throws out a book a week in a shared world seems to me to be a good thing. Especially if the shared world encompasses millennia and multiple planets.

        1. He actually put the “novel factory” quote on the Chris Kennedy Publishing web page for a few days. I hadn’t heard the story and had to dig around and discover that TNH had apparently snarked about it on Twitter.

    1. If the publishing industry was actually able to use their heads for something other than a way to keep their assholes open, they’d start working on “farm ball” publishing labels. Hire people that are just getting out of school for editors, put them in places where the office rent is cheap (’cause you have to have an office, else they’ll do things like edit stuff wearing comfortable clothing), start looking through Amazon and find people that can actually string plots together and write fast, and start hooking them on that treadmill.

      Sell the books fast, feed people that want something to read. Hell, even sell them in package subscription details-$20 a month for ten books, five of authors you know and five you’ll discover. And, if somebody takes off fast, you can always bring them to New York and give them fortune and fame and really neat contracts.

  14. The senior helmsman of the Terran Confederation Ship Johnston approached the destroyer’s commanding officer. “Sir, may I have a word with you? In private?”
    “Of course, lieutenant.”
    Once the two officers entered the skipper’s tiny office off the bridge, Commander Evans gestured about the compartment.
    “Joe, what’s so important?”
    “Sir, I request that Ensign Byrd be assigned to duties other than navigator.”
    “On what grounds, Lieutenant Buckley?”
    Joe licked his lips. “Sir, she’s from several generations of politicians. When I ask her about our current position, she conducts a poll.
    “Frankly, sir, with navigation like that, I’m afraid she’ll get me killed!”

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