Day Zero

Image by Fabien Huck from Pixabay

Hector Cummings stood on the hill top overlooking the metropolis.  He had been a wiz at CalTech and landed himself a lucrative job in Silicon Valley.  But he had become more and more concerned with humanity’s impact on the planet.  He saw a mass extinction event as unavoidable, but just what species would fail to make the cut?

After months of consideration, he made his decision.  Humans, or at least their technology, would have to go.  Two things therefore began to fill his time.  The first was the stocking up of a remote cabin in the mountains, and the second was the writing of an ultimate piece of code.

He then gathered a like-minded group of conspirators around him using the dark web.  Among these were a disgruntled NASA engineer, and a hacker extraordinaire who had previously broken into government systems.  They set today, 29 February 2020 as Day Zero.

An hour ago, Hector had triggered his code.  Now power plants were shutting down, and satellites were falling from the sky.  He now watched from his hilltop as a new age dawned.




Daily Writing Prompt #22



Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Oklahoma Brown was pushing the herd on wards.  Dust clouds rose high into the air despite the lush grass and wild flower cover.  Two thousand head had a way of doing that.  Brown had been with the Ridgemont Company for about a year, and he found the work satisfying.

As the dust cleared, Oklahoma caught a glimpse of a stray calf hanging back from the drive.  He swung his horse about, and went to hurry the little animal along.  There was something about the little orphan that touched his soul, however.   Despite his better judgement, Brown dismounted and bundled the calf into his arms, then placed it in front of his saddle.  He then mounted and rode on to catch the herd.

“Hey there little dogie,” Brown said soothingly to the animal which now rode straddled across his lap.  “You know you and me got a lot in common.  No momma, or place of our own.”

Yes, Oklahoma Brown did have a lot in common with the little calf, and there was something comforting to the cowboy about that.  For the first time since coming West, Oklahoma felt a connection to someone, or at least something.

“Come West?” I hear you say.  Yes, Oklahoma was born Lester Brown in Newark, New Jersey.  He was orphaned at fourteen and made his way to cattle country by way of Cincinnati and then St Louis.  “Oklahoma” – he thought – just made for a better name for a cowpoke than Lester.


Daily Writing Prompt #19: Cattle Drive


Company Discipline

Black Cinema, Suspense, Man, Knight, Old


Artie Capello grew up on the mean streets.  At ten, he was arrested for stealing fruit from the stand in front of the corner store, and subsequently found himself in Borough Children’s  Home.  There he was found to have an uncanny aptitude for math, and he was taken under the wing of one of the tutors, Angelo Giliotti, a distant relation of the Taliferro Family.

Angelo made sure the young math wiz finished high school, and then college, getting a degree in accountancy.  Through it all, Artie never got past he feeling of needing to “make it on his own,” no matter what means were necessary.   For Artie, Artie needed to be number one.  Criminality was not outside the possibilities he would employ.

Angelo’s motives had been far from altruistic as well.  Just as Artie was graduating from university, Dino Taliferro, chief lieutenant to Bernardo “Big Bernie” Taliferro came around on his annual recruiting drive for “the family firm.”   Artie’s skills and ambition seemed a perfect fit, and he was soon working as one of the family’s bookkeepers.  His main job was the launder monies through the family’s many construction firms rather than to disclose the “less savoury” true origins of the funds.

Artie’s ambitions soon got the better of him, however.  Within months he was siphoning off a percentage for himself, always recorded into the ledgers as the purchase of housing shingles.  He reasoned that no one would be the wiser – for such relatively small amounts would be hard to notice, especially among the purchases of building firms.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.  Big Bernie didn’t get to the top by being careless.  He regularly had “legitimate” accountants scrutinise the books, and then report back to him any irregularities.

It was late on a Thursday evening, just as Artie was closing up shop for the day, when “Little Paulie” and Tito “Bouncer” Teppista arrived at the office.  The two had come to “politely question” the errant accountant about the shingles orders.  Before he knew what had happened, Artie found himself being held over the ledge of the building by his ankles.  Big Bernie had ordered that they take care of the fiddler, on the roof.


Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: Fiddler on the Roof



Static Interference



The scroll of the screen continued even after she closed her eyes.  What made it worse was that it wasn’t the IM chat with her friends that was invading her mind’s eye, but adverts from the side of the screen.  Why were these annoying posts, which she generally scrolled past without a second thought, so prevalent in the dark of her room?

Forget about the subliminal messages in the movie theatres of the 1970s trying to sell you Coca Cola, no this was something newer and even more invasive.  Rustext, developed by scientists working for Putin’s security services to sway political outcomes in the West, was now for sale to commercial interests and they were bought by corporations with a fervored gusto.   And why shouldn’t they, seeing that the sales emails sent to marketing departments around the world were laced with Rustext?

Now that’s static, I mean strategic, interference.




First Line Friday: The scroll of the screen continued even after she closed her eyes.  

The Arrival


Image result for sears catalogue 1880 stoves

It was the talk of the entire community.  Sam Welkes was getting a new cook stove all the way from Chicago, Illinois.   For Sam and his wife, Lottie, there was not going to be any more of that hit and miss cooking over open flame at the hearth.  No they were going to have balanced baking, and even winter heat.  Yes Sir, it was going to be the best thirteen dollars Sam ever spent.  Only problem was he had to go to the railroad station in Missoula to get it.  Oh well, what’s another five days by wagon when you have already been waiting since April?




Daily Writing Prompt #16: Prairie Settlement 



The group of teenagers entered the abandoned house in anticipation of a party.  They had all of the essentials: snacks, music, and copious quantities of beer.  It was going to be one outstanding evening.

As they checked out the living room, they found that the single couch wasn’t going to provide enough seating.  David, Don, and Angela, therefore went into the old dining room to see if any chairs could be found.

As they opened the door, Angela said, “Be careful lifting the chairs over the table, avoid the chandelier.”  Almost immediately, Don hit the fixture with a chair back and electricity coursed through his body, and he fell dead at David’s feet.

“How in the world did you know that?” David asked in a terrified whisper.

“I don’t know.  I just did,” she replied.

The panicked pair returned to the living room and informed the others of the tragedy.

“Where’s Barbie and Scott?” Angela said with a fright in her voice.

“They went to find some privacy upstairs,” Janey replied.

“No, I hope they don’t go into the master bedroom,” Angela said.

Suddenly there was a crash directly above them as Scott fell through the ceiling above them hanging himself in the wiring as he fell.  Barbie screamed from above and tried frantically to free him from his entanglement only to fall face first through the hole breaking her neck on the hardwood floor below.

“OMG!” Janey exclaimed.  “Let’s get out of here.”

The front door they had entered by was jammed however, and they needed to find another avenue of escape.

“Let’s try the kitchen,” David said.

“No, that won’t work,” Angela said knowingly.

“Why not?” Janey asked.

“It just won’t” Angela replied.

“I’m going to try anyway,” Janey said, and rushed into the kitchen.

As she reached the centre of the room, the floorboards creaked and the refrigerator toppled crushing her as she passed.

“Can we get out through the garage?” David pleadingly asked Angela.

“How should I know?” she replied.



Daily Writing Prompt #15: Horror subgenre of Psychic Abilities


The Locked Door

fancy knob a0500e18bb560bde251c9cccc0bf9a68

My sister is a spinster.  While at forty that isn’t that unusual these days, with careers and all.  And it isn’t that she’s attractive, or that she doesn’t date.  It’s only that her relationships never seem to last more than a few weeks before she is dumped or the guy  just “does a runner.”

Recently, I have had a few hassles at work, and just needed some time away from the daily grind.  So she offered me the opportunity to spend a few days at her “country place,” while she is working in the city.  It seemed a great opportunity, especially since her “country place” is a large Victorian farmhouse with a nice orchard, and several quaint outbuildings.

I slept uneasily the first night.  There seemed to be a banging somewhere on the property.  The wind I supposed.

But today, as I was passing a stone-built workshop, I could hear the muffled sound of a male voice and banging coming from behind a heavy locked door.  I ran back to the house and brought out the keys.  Inside was a emaciated man, I recognised as her latest “boyfriend,” and a collection of photos gathered by my sister the serial killer.

(200 words)



Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: My Sister, the Serial Killer


Lost and Found

person holding hardbound book

Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Angus had been finding his own business, listening to music on his phone, and sipping a double shot latte at his local cafe.  As he stretched his legs he felt is foot kick something.  It wasn’t the table leg, it was smaller and lighter than that.  Accordingly he stooped down and picked up a battered leather notebook.

It was well bound and had a leather strap with a brass buckle fastening it shut.  He at first was going to turn it in at the counter and think no more of it, but curiosity got the better of him.  He therefore undid the strap and turned to the first page.  On it is a flowing beautifully formed cursive was the name “Anne Darling” and the address “The Old Manor House, Hossham.”  While these were in themselves unusual, the date and dedication did strike his attention.  It clearly read, “For your sixteenth birthday – 28 February 1926.”

It must be someone’s family heirloom, Angus thought.  They will be devastated that they lost it.  There was no other contact information, and the text and diagrams within the book were beyond his understanding.   He therefore decided that the “Good Samaritan” thing to do was to return the book.

Hossham was about a twenty minute drive away, so he decided to head there after work the following day.  The village was picturesque with thatched cottages, and an imposing church tower.  The manor house itself was down an overgrown lane, and the came to stop outside some very rusty looking gates.  He wondered at this point if he had wasted his time.  But having made the journey he got out an tried the gates.  Though there was a squealing as the hinges resisted his efforts, the gates nonetheless opened.

Already on foot, he decided to approach the dark manor with some foreboding.  It was then that the first strains of a sinister sounding classical organ fugue could be heard.  As he stepped foot on the porch, it came to an abrupt stop.

Angus stood dead in his tracks as well.  Then without his knocking, a woman of no more than forty opened the door.

“Welcome,” she said.  “I see you have found my spell book.  So good of you to bring it to me.  Did I leave it at the deli or at the coffee shop?  I am getting so absentminded these day, though I am nearly 110 mind.”


Sunday Writing Prompt “5 by 5”

Choose a Material: Leather/Fur

Choose a Music Genre: Classical

Choose a Sound: Rusty Metal Gate Opening

Choose a Characteristic: Sinister

Choose a Missing Item: Book/Paperwork

The “Debt” Collector

Hendrick was nervous.  His “associate” Anton had been found dead on his own doorstep.  The media was reporting he had died from a single gunshot wound, the result of a robbery gone wrong.

It must have been a robbery, Hen mused, in an attempt to still himself.  His wallet and watch were missing.  Yes, a robbery. But – but, he was an ex-mercenary.  A good one.  No amateur could get a drop on him like that, he thought again becoming agitated.

The there was Vlad, last autumn.  Heroine overdose? Couldn’t have been, the man was a health freak.

It had to be more than a coincidence.

Ever since the news story about Anton, Hen had taken to changing his route each day.  He moved cautiously, and didn’t stay in the same hotel more than a day or two.  It had been that way for two weeks.

On reaching the Sunset Inn, Hen nodded to the desk clerk.

“Has anyone checked in upstairs?” Hen asked.

“No it is really slow, and I have kept everyone in ground floor rooms, just like you paid me to do,” the untidy middle aged woman replied.

Avoiding the lift which bore a sign reading “Out of Order,” Hen went up the back staircase to the third floor.  He had paid for the entire floor, and had the access door padlocked.  He quickly spun the combination and then ducked inside.  He then chained the double doors from the inside.

He then moved down a dark hallway to Room 311.  He had been in 309 the night before, and tomorrow 306, before checking out.

As he entered the room a cold chill ran up his spine.  On the bed was his best business suit, laid out neatly.  “But I left that at my house!” he said out loud.

Before he could take any physical action, the solitary figure a woman in her late thirties stepped from the bathroom brandishing a gun.

“Good evening, Mr Muller,” she said with a surprising brightness of tone.  “If you wouldn’t mind too much, I think you will find a suicide note under the jacket.  It is typed nicely for you on your home computer, and in your distress you have left it on your screen as well.  A signature would be nice, but it isn’t necessary.”

“I – I, Who an the hell are you?”

“Samantha Albert,” she said.  “We’ve never met but you do remember my beloved Daniel who you and your ‘associates’ beat to death.  And why?  Because he supported the ‘wrong’ football team.”

“But we were drunk, we can’t be held responsible for what we did.  Even a court would say so.”

“Spare me the platitudes,” she snarled.  “There was no court.  Was there?  No, three respectable businessmen just walked away from it.  ‘Who would suspect us?’  Well, your friend Vlad got a conscience and came to try to pay me ‘blood money.’  Oh, I took it and used it really well planning my revenge.  But, the signature please – and then put the suit on.  You will look really dashing in it.”



Tale Weaver – #244 – A Solitary Figure

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: Beloved

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: Down a Dark Hall

FOWC with Fandango — Suit

FOWC with Fandango — Chill

Your Daily Word Prompt – Platitude

The Position

imageedit_1_8816103219 (1).jpg

Sally was surprised when she was approached at her final weeks at the culinary academy by a tall, grey countenanced man with a clipped English accent.   He inquired if she had as of yet secured a position for after her upcoming graduation.

She said she had not and the man handed her a business card, and said that his “master,” would very much like to secure her services as a private cook.   This was a bit of a surprise for Sally, as she had seen herself working in a fine restaurant or five star hotel, not a private home.

It seems word had gotten out of the “Grey Man’s” approach and the interview she had booked at the Michelin star restaurant that she had arranged, was abruptly cancelled.  Other fine establishments didn’t even return her calls.

In desperation, and with student loans to consider, she rang the number on the card.  The same chilled, clipped voice answered.  She indicated that she was willing to accept an interview.   The man, without asking her location,  said a car would call for her within the hour, and the line then went dead.

Sally waited on the doorstep of her apartment block and forty minutes later a classic black Rolls Royce pulled up before her.  A sharply dressed chauffeur stepped out and opened a door for her, not a word being uttered.

They drove into the country-side and soon imposing walls, and a iron gate bearing a huge coat-of-arms came into view.  The passed through the gate and after travelling what seemed a mile down a long drive, the mansion came into focus.

On arrival she was met by the grey figure and led to a room next to the kitchens and told that these would be her premises, and that a footman would be sent to collect her things from her flat.

“Isn’t there going to be an interview or something?” she objected not knowing quite what to say.

“No, Master has reviewed the transcripts of you work at the academy, they are quite adequate,” he said matter of factly, then turned and left.

“Quite adequate,” what does that mean, Sally thought with a moment’s stirring of anger, but then she paused and took a breath. She then placed her messenger bag on the bed, and then stepped into the huge kitchen.  As she entered two young women in maid’s uniforms curtsied and said, “Good afternoon, Chef.”

Sally nodded to them speechless, and then took in the long shelves of polished pots and implements.   It truly was an amazing collection.

“Chef,” one of the women said sheepishly.  “Maybe you should go get changed, as it is nearly time to prepare Master’s evening meal.”

“Change?” Sally questioned, and then realised she was had put on a nice skirt-suit thinking she was on the way to an interview.

She returned to the bedroom where she found a folded chef’s uniform, in the correct size, laying on the mattress.  There was also a contract on the pillow which stipulated a rate of pay she could have only dreamed of.

Donning the chequered trousers and smock she went to the kitchen to find a note saying the Master desired lemon chicken and rice for his supper.  She dutifully prepared the dish and was pleased when the serving maid returned the empty tray and said that the Master had enjoyed the meal.

The next morning she prepared an elaborate breakfast for her employer.  Eggs Benedict,  gammon ham, and cloudy apple juice graced the tray.  Lizzy the serving maid returned a few moments later carrying the toast and jar of marmalade.

“Master cannot abide oranges,” Lizzy said apologetically.  She then went and collected a jar of lemon curd from the larder.  “He always has this for breakfast, and he would like lemon sole for luncheon,” she added.

It was then that Sally realised she was in the employ of the mysterious “Lemon Lover.”




Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Demon Lover