#TicckleTuesday “Mechanical Quirk” #flashfiction

“You’ve heard of the Mechanical Turk, right?”

“The thing that played chess and answered all your questions?”

“Right. I’m the Mechanical Quirk. I solve your problems. I ‘fix’ the ‘Dispossessed’.”

“The dis…”

” Ok… God… Screw up… Universal glitch…. Everything built ’11 inches to the North’… Some can ‘feel’ it… Makes ’em ‘different’. I fix.”

“Different? How?”

“Sadder. Madder. Badder. Usually sadder. Creative though. Driven cos NOTHING fits.”

“What if I don’t want to be fixed?”

#FiveSentenceFiction – Flowers “On the saying of something or other…” #flashfiction

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Lillie McFerrin hosts a Five Sentence Fiction competition on her blog. This week’s theme is Flowers.

Here is my entry, which is inspired by the picture this week:


“On the saying of something or other with something that is pretty much already dead but still smells nice for a while at least”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)

“I don’t get it,” he said, rocking back and forth and chewing on his knuckle, “Why is it nice to kill something, then give it to someone?”

He rarely did ‘get it’ but this was knuckle-chewingly bad, so I put down my work things and turned to pay him my full attention.

“Someone spends a lot of time and effort, Oh and water and sun, although the Sun is free I guess, and the plants grow, and then they are killed, yes?” he asked in one hasty breath.

“Well, people like the colours and the smell and the fact that someone took the trouble to bring them a gift,” I explained.

“So, people like the fact that these bright smelly things were killed just for them!” he said sadly, but at least the rocking had stopped for now.

#FlashFridayFic “An Interview with the Wizard of Stratford” #fridayflash #flashfiction

The latest Friday Fiction #41 asked for a 350 word story, based upon the following image:

Image Source

Here is my story, but do check out the original location to read other entries:

“An Interview with the Wizard of Stratford”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
[350 words]

“I know why you are here…” is the first thing Frank says, pulling back the curtain that reveals his work space, but he declines to be photographed for the article. He is a wizened old man, dressed entirely in green; his favourite colour, he confides.

Baum’s farm is dead centre in dust bowl territory, getting hit by tornadoes and dust storms four or five times a year. For other farmers, trying to harvest wheat or raise cattle, these events are devastating. For Frank, the self-styled “Wizard of Stratford”, and his family they are a Godsend.

“So long as the farmhouse survives,” he jokes, “and it don’t end up in Oklahoma! I don’t, by God, want to live in Oklahoma!”

Frank hails from Kansas, another area renowned for tornadoes. His small holding is the sole supplier of industrial grit in the whole of Texas. Others have tried to imitate his success, but don’t have the almost magical Baum gift of harvesting and selling the frequent weather deposits. To be honest, few (if any) really understands who buys his grit, or how he makes money. Frank keeps his customers in the strictest confidence, for obvious reasons. And several attempts at industrial espionage have all failed. Probably due to the Baum Farm being exclusively tended by people of reduced stature: dwarfs, pigmies, midgets and munchkins are all terms used by the ‘normal’ Stratford population..

“These ‘little’ people are fiercely loyal, and ideally suited to harvesting the dust that settles here.” Jim explains, “They drop in all the time to help us send raw material to the Gale Processing Plant in Kansas, were it is environmentally treated before being shipped to its final destination.” Gale’s ecological motto is “Better Beyond the Rainbow”

This link to his Kansas roots in dust farming stretches back to his Great Aunt Dorothy. “A remarkably well travelled adventurer”, Baum fondly describes her. Business must be extremely profitable, judging by the number of exquisite jewelled artefacts on display in the family home.

“Dorothy was always fonder of rubies,” Jim remarks, “but I don’t, by God. Emeralds are my obsession.”

#TicckleTuesday – Maudlin “All washed up at the Magdalene Laundry” #flashfiction

Given that “maudlin” is derived from Mary Magdalene, and the Magdalene Laundries are topical, I thought I’d base my own #TicckleTuesday story on that. Here are some relevant sources:
How did the Magdalene Laundries get away with it (An account of ‘victims’ and ‘survivors’)
BBC Story on the Compensation Scheme (public apology and announcement of variable compensation of £58million
Nuns confirm they wont contribute to compensation scheme (basically, a “we didn’t do anything wrong” argument.)
Apparent Myths about the Magdalene Laundries (take this one with a pinch of salt, but do read it for an attempt at balance!)

Here is my story:
“All washed up at the Magdalene Laundries”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)

Accounts vary. Reports differ. However, somewhere between ten and thirty thousand ‘fallen’ women lived and worked at the Magdalene Laundries. The Catholic Church dismiss the ‘myths’ of abuse and slavery. The Government does what it always does: take token responsibility for actions taken before most of the politicians were born. Land sales are profitable, but uncover unmarked mass graves. Families (if they exist) care for shattered, institutionalised survivors.

#TicckleTuesday – Theme: Maudlin #flashfiction

Today’s theme
for #TicckleTuesday #7 will be ‘Maudlin‘ (courtesy of Jessica West, so do blame her!)

Image Source

Remember, your stories can be up to 60 seconds long. Go to the FaceBook Group (will need membership approved) or http://ticckle.com/ and reply to the video entitled #TicckleTuesday #7 part 1 and part 2 has further instructions.

You can either record 30s for extra credit (about 50-60 words on average) or 60s (which would be two Ticckle videos, so please label them part 1 and part 2 when you respond, and reply to part 1 with part 2 so they are linked. A minute is probably 120 words from my experience.

Alternatively, record a FaceBook video or an audio file (AudioBoo or SoundCloud are both good, as they allow you to share directly with the FB group). If the sound of your own voice horrifies you, please do push your comfort zone if you can, but I’d rather have a text entry that I will record for yoy than no entry at all. And we have all week but extra extra credit for submitting today, Tuesday.

General Chat
Now I’m feeling a bit maudlin. Last week was even busier for me, due to my family having to vacate our house at short notice for three months of building work to fix damage caused by a neighbour refusing to fix his roof. All the arrangements have finally been made, with a lot of help from our insurance company, and we move a week today; next week’s challenge will, hopefully, go ahead, but there is no guarantee we will have Internet, so fingers crossed.

Outstanding stories that need recording will get done tomorrow, and I will re-record a couple on ticckle.com using the TicckleTuesday account. Giving feedback on stories has been, understandably, delayed, but I’ll try to mop that up in a post here on the blog tomorrow. #TicckleTuesday is slowly growing, but still friendly – hence Jess suggesting the theme this week. Something that I as your benevolent dictator am always open to – but following @TicckleTuesday and RTing #TicckleTuesday announcements and Ticckles will help grow the community. Thanks.

#trifextra – tether loft crown “While greater fools look on #flashfiction @trifectawriting

The Friday trifecta writing challenge this week is to write a 33 word story, including: ‘tether’, ‘loft’ and ‘crown’.

Here is my offering:

“While greater fools look on”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
[33 words]

“Aren’t we breaking into the Treasury?” I asked. We’d scaled the wall, thanks to a bribable servant’s rope tether, but headed up. “The crown’s NOT in the loft.”

“We’re not after the crown…”

#VisDare – Implore “Scream quietly, the guards will hear” #flashfiction

Every week #VisDare posts a picture challenge. This week the theme is “Implore” and the photo prompt is:

Photo Source

Here is my story:

“Scream quietly, the guards might hear”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
[150 words]

Some clients wanted their victims to beg me or, more accurately, my employers for mercy. Most would implore me for more time. ‘Implore’ from the Latin ‘implorare’, root ‘plorare’ meaning ‘to cry out’, which seemed appropriate somehow. This was not one of those cases. This was one of the ‘not trying to give a message jobs’ that had to look like an accident. You know, the ones that in movies never work out.

Security had swept the museum. As expected. Then doubled back. I’d been lucky. Only then had this week’s very important man been cleared for his private viewing of the gallery. His examination of me added fifteen minutes to the two hours I’d been stood on the plinth; the body makeup was causing dehydration.

Finally he turned away to walk beneath his death by chandelier. The crash brought Security a minute later. Quicker than expected. Now to wait.

#satsuntails – scraping back skin “I know why the Mona Lisa smiles” #flashfiction

I’m quite keen on the #satsuntails flash fiction compo, which uses a phrase and an image as prompt.

This week the prompt is “scraping back skin” as the prompt, with this enigmatic image:

Original Source

Here’s my entry, but please check it out in its original location (to read other entries) too:

“I know why the Mona Lisa smiles”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
[150 words]

Marie sat gratefully in the Salon Carré, staring at the small half figure perched on a five hundred year old piece of poplar. A portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, commissioned by her husband, Francesco, to celebrate her giving him a second son. They had many children, only losing one in childhood, but the artist never delivered the painting to the family, claiming “It wasn’t right.”

However, the painter never gave up on the portrait, going back in spare moments, while working on more lucrative paintings of battles. One last time he scraped away the daubed skin, a failed likeness of the haunting face, and finally caught the mouth that had evaded him for over a decade; a smile that had weighed on his mind, because his male sentiment refused to unlock its enigma.

Marie stroked her bump, felt it kick, and grinned. She knew now why the Mona Lisa smiled.