Flash Fiction Challenge: Developing Characters

Picture credit is in the image.

Selected Scenario: A homely old woman with a strange hat and a love for good food is looking for a place to stay.


Old Lady in Black

Margret sat on the bench, quietly sobbing.  “It’s all my fault,” she thought, looking down at the teardrops on her open palms resting on her lap. “These hands raised that boy to be what he is today.”

Another glance at the clock over the ticket window told her more than just the time. It said it was 7:20 in the evening in this dusty train station. It also said that it was now 12 hours since her last meager meal of a simple corn cake and a glass of water kindly given to her by the train conductor. That was before she had been escorted from the passenger car of the  Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Her ticket had said Santa Fe, so that is where she had to get off.

Staring at her hands, she saw nothing of the real world. Her mind was back in Kansas City. That last night when her 40 year old son, Winthrop, had come home from work to find a wonderful flat iron steak dinner on the table and a smile on his mother’s face.

“What the hell is this?” he had yelled. “I’ve told you a hundred times that we can’t afford these expensive meals on my salary. I’ve finally had it with you, mother! First thing in the morning I’m sending you to your sister’s house in Santa Fe. Let her deal with your extravagant nonsense.”

Without eating any of the wonderful dinner, Winthrop had stormed up the stairs to her room and packed her few belongings in an old leather valise. Coming back down the stairs, he had placed the valise by the front door, then turned to her and calmly stated “Don’t bother changing tonight.You can wear that same old black dress and your black hat tomorrow when I take you to train station. I’ll wire Aunt Katherine that you’re coming and when to expect your train to arrive. I just can’t deal with you anymore.”

With that said, he had picked up his dinner plate, stormed into his study, and slammed the door.

Margret had just stood there, stunned. Not one sound of protest would she make. Not one tear would she shed in his presence. This ungrateful man, who used to be her son, was throwing her out of his home. More importantly, he was throwing his own mother out of his life!. Winthrop’s father would be turning in his grave.

Emptiness. That was all she had felt at the time. A woman alone. Her husband had been dead for almost four years. Her inheritance had been taken over by her son, an accountant in the Kansas City stockyards. A man with a full cash box instead of a heart. Sending her to her sister’s house in Santa Fe? What about the will? What about his father’s instructions to use the inheritance to take care of his mother for the rest of her life? Was that all meaningless to him? Shouldn’t she be able to spend her own money to satisfy her one joy in life? Shouldn’t she be able to have at least on fine meal per day? Hell, she was even doing all the work in preparing the meals and cleaning up afterwards.

“Ma’am?” said the railroad clerk who was standing directly in front of her, apparently unseen for the past several minutes.

“Yes?” she got out in barely a whisper.

“Ma’am, you have been sitting on that bench now for hours. Is someone coming to pick you up?”

“My sister is supposed to pick me up, if she ever got the wire from my son in Kansas City.”

“Well, we close the station in 20 minutes. What will you do if your sister doesn’t come?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “My son banished me here without a penny. If Katherine doesn’t pick me up, I guess I’ll sit here until I die. What else can I do?”

“You can’t stay here. You’ll have to move to a bench on the platform outside. I have to lock up the building for the night. Take my hand,” he said as he offered to help her up. “I’ll carry your valise. We can get you on the bench under the awning. Your sister should be able to see you there from street.”

“Thank you,” was all she could say as she took his hand and then shuffled her feet out to the train platform.

“Here you go,” said the clerk as he placed the valise next to the outside bench. “Can I get you anything before I lock up?”

“A glass of water would be appreciated,” she said. Asking for a meal, at this point, was too demeaning. Her empty stomach would have to remain empty.

“I’ll be right back,” said the clerk.

A simple kindness from a stranger. The conductor on the train had been the same way. Perhaps all was not lost. There were still good people in the world. “Patience,” she said to herself. “Just let what happens happen.”

Margret took a small sip from the proffered water glass and put the remainder on the platform next to her valise. It would have to last the night, in case Katherine never made it. There was an outhouse around the corner from the station, if she needed it.

With those simple thoughts, Margret steeled herself for the long chilly desert night. This was a new and different world. Would she find a place to live? Tomorrow would have to find its own way into her life. A fine meal, at this point, was really out of the question, except in her dreams. Let them be filled with fresh vegetables, a fine roast, and a delicious piece of cake. Her stomach rumbled at these thoughts. It was going to be a long night.


I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

D.H. Lawrence



5.0 out of 5 stars

Please hurry with the next NU book!

on September 4, 2016
Fast-paced military science fiction, I was very impressed that this is a first novel for Mr. Waugh. The author has really done his homework, as he has worked with many concepts of science, history, anthropology, space travel and military technology in this book. The story “reads” very well, editing is good, I only found 3 or 4 instances where the wrong word was used or misspelled. I really like the chapter structure and the 3 main story lines that are going on (two alien ones, and one human). I can’t wait to get the next installment of this story–hope it comes soon.
Nu Book 1 – The Esss Advance is available via this link on ==> Amazon.
You may also visit the website www.TheNuTrilogy.com for more details







The Deadly Rose

Photo credit: http://baddogneedsrottenhome.com/page.html?image=5522

This short piece of fiction was created for a Flash Fiction Challenge: The Plot Thickens set up by author Dan Alatorre. You can follow the link to see the interesting way that this particular plot was chosen (I got number 7 of 13).

The Deadly Rose

Karl opened the garden gate, passed inside, and closed it again without a sound. How he could be so stealthy in this state he didn’t know. His insides were boiling like a witch’s brew, cooking him from the inside out. His hands were shaking with anger and frustration, almost dropping the deadly bucket.

Liselle must be asleep inside. The house seemed dark and brooding in the pale glow of the half moon rising in the east, her bedroom window overlooking this elegant rose garden, her pride and her joy. Now it would be her downfall.

Karl set down the bucket and pulled out his mini-flashlight. Cupping one had over the light head, he snapped it on, knowing it could not be seen from the window above. He must locate the perfect bloom, with soft and delicate petals like the cheeks of his former lover.

“Ah,” he sighed softly, as he caressed the outermost lavender and white petals with his bare fingers. “This is the one.”

Looking up to her window, his face transformed from a gentle lover into a skeletal mask, skin pulled tightly over his cheeks and forehead. Now she would pay.

Drawing the rubber gloves from the bucket over his trembling fingers and hands, he made ready his act of jealousy and rage. Karl pulled the rose forward, exposing the small thorns on its stalk. Squeezing the clear liquid paste from the tube onto the brush, he gently painted a fine coat of contact poison over the entire stem. It would dry in minutes and be completely undetectable.

Now he must set the trap, for Liselle must notice this particular bloom and clip it off to be discarded on the compost heap in the back woods. With a small, battery operated hair dryer, Karl  turned up the heat on the petals of this deadly rose. He watched carefully as some of the petals curled under the heat. In several areas, subtle brown spots appeared as if by magic. Perfection was now perfectly marred. It would draw Liselle’s attention like a hummingbird to a feeder.

Karl gently place everything back in the bucket, then peeled off the gloves so that the deadly poisoned outsides disappeared from view, with the glove’s inner  linings now exposed to plain view. Slipping back out the gate was easy. The deed was done. Now he had to wait.


Sunlight fluttered through the curtains and danced on Liselle’s eyelids.

“I’m up. It’s time to play” they said as Liselle stirred, trying to recall the last vestiges of the dream disappearing like morning mist before the bright sun. Remembering last night, she reached over and softly caressed the strong back of Jackson, her latest lover. Her needs had been completely satisfied last night, so perhaps this one would last more than a few weeks. Only time would tell.

Slipping quietly out of the bed, Liselle tiptoed over to the east window to let the beautiful sunny morning warm her lithe and naked figure. A glance down at her rose garden brought a smile to her lips. So many blooms were on display this season. The riotous colors just begged for a visit.

“Come back to bed, my gorgeous Liselle. I want to feel those soft curves once more.”

“Patience, Jackson. I’m just going down to the garden for a minute. I’ll bring back a spray of beautiful roses to place on the stand by the bed. Every sense must be stimulated to the fullest: roses for their beauty and perfume, fresh squeezed orange juice for the taste, the sounds of the birds and the whisper of the breezes coming through the curtains, and best of all, the touch of your hands and the caress of your lips on my skin. I will have slow, sensual overload this morning after our torrid affair of last night.”

“Don’t be long, my love!” said Jackson as he stood and held her robe.

She slipped her arms into the sleeves, and without closing the front, turned and raised her lips for a brief but sensual kiss. “Of course I won’t be long,” she said as she turned again and headed out the door and down the stairs. “I’ll be back in no time.”


Karl heard the door opening from his place of hiding behind the gardening shed. There she was, in all of her goddess like beauty, coming down the porch steps wearing the gossamer robe he had given her only two weeks before. His heart ached for her as she slipped into the garden and picked up the clippers in the pouch by the gate. He knew the routine very well. He had observed it many times from her bedroom window as he awaited her return.

Now came the critical moment as she perused her glorious roses, looking for the best of the best. He heard her in-drawn breathe as she discovered the wilted bloom. She was hooked like a fish on the lure. Nothing could stop her from ridding her garden of that almost dead bloom in the middle of such splendor.


But she hesitated, stepping back a pace, her hand to her mouth.”What could be wrong?” Karl silently asked himself. “Why wasn’t she clipping the damaged rose?”

Suddenly, Liselle dropped the clippers and ran from the garden and back into the house, her gown flowing like the wings of an angel behind her. The door slammed behind her as the house swallowed his prize.

Quickly and quietly, Karl came out of hiding, jumped the fence to the garden and stood before the deadly rose. Then he knew. The rose had warned her not to touch. The rose petals had curled into a death mask with a sinister grin. The meaning was quite clear.

“Touch me at your own peril”.



5.0 out of 5 stars You Won’t Believe This is a NU Author…
on August 13, 2016
Fast-paced military science fiction, one of those you won’t want to put down. You simply will not believe that this a first novel for a NU/new author. Remember Andy Weir and “The Martian”? Well, add in the military technology and battles from the likes of David Weber, along with some of the “Ancient Aliens” theories and stories, and you’ll have a good idea of what this book is about.

Nu Book 1 – The Esss Advance is available via this link on ==> Amazon.

You may also visit the website www.TheNuTrilogy.com for more details.











On Darkest Nights


On darkest nights when moon is gone,

The streetlight shines, your path too long.

The lamps are few and far between,

The shadows loom, they seem so mean.

Don’t look back, just keep the pace,

Don’t run all scared, it’s not a race.

Listen well, discern a sound,

Some creature has to be around,

To snap that branch or scuff that walk,

Put up your hood, don’t make a squawk.

You must get home and safe again,

Stop freaking out, too scared you’ve been.



Alex Will Pay For This

The shelf is hard under my chin. I am growing weary in this godawful place. Never turning, never moving at all, trapped in a death I would not wish on anyone. Alex will pay for this.


As Alex approached the library in his sumptuous home, he felt a tingle in the middle of his back. The cold air from the vents in the ceiling could not dispel the beads of sweat on his forehead and the back of his neck. “What is wrong with me?” he thought as he reached for the door handle. Boris had been dead now for over a year, and the carvings on his skull were guaranteed to keep his spirit trapped inside. “So what is the problem?”


I feel his presence approaching. He will pay. He will pay. Let him look this way. Then he will pay.


Alex stepped inside, his eyes avoiding that hideous skull. Instinct told him not to look, but curiosity and something unavoidable pulled relentlessly at him. Maybe it was his guilt. After all, I was his best friend until I stole his wife.


Fleeing the skull through the eye sockets, Alex overwhelms Boris’ life essence and takes possession. Triumph and retribution reign. I will be with my wife once again.

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Week 5-31 through 6-6-2016

Barbara Taylor supplied the prompt photo this week.



The bench was hard and cold on that crisp March morning, and the snow was still surprisingly white after three days on the ground.

“Should I finally go?”, Erik asked himself for the thousandth time.

“Yes,” he answered, as he started to stand on the thin layer of packed snow.

“Nooo!”, he groaned out loud as his stomach turned over and knotted in pain.

Collapsing back onto the bench, he cradled his head in his hands, waiting for the pain to recede. He keeled over on his side and drew his feet up onto the bench in a fetal position. He just could not face the Freedom Tower from close up. It still hurt too much.

“Run,” he screamed, seeing the clouds of dust and debris overtaking him once more.




Featured image from https://pixabay.com/en/motel-hotel-sleep-pennsylvania-316295/

“I’m not staying there, honey,” said Angie.

“Of course not,” I replied as I drove the truck through the parking lot and around to the back of the building. “I just have to retrieve something I left here 20 years ago, if I can just find it.”

“What were you doing here and why would you leave anything behind this motel?” she asked.

“Just get out of the truck and follow me down to that stream,” I said as I stepped right over the running board and onto the packed gravel surface.

Not looking back, I could tell that Angie was reluctantly following me on the path that wandered down to the stream. The sound of her footsteps changed as she crossed from the gravel lot to the red clay.

“It’s over by that huge old willow tree on the other side of this stream,” I called back to her as I hopped over two foot wide creek bed.

Stepping behind the tree I waited, my heart now pumping in anticipation.

As she came around the tree, I dropped to one knee, box open, smile beaming.

“Marry me, please,” I said, holding up the ring.