I just completed an internet writing challenge, Inktober. Originally Inktober was conceived for artists to draw a drawing every day in October. #InktoberWritersEdition is a spin-off for those of us with ZERO drawing skills and who enjoy wordsmithing.

So I joined #Inktober2019WritersEdition with the added challenge that each day would be a #50WordFiction.

I thought the 50-word limit would make it easier. I was wrong. Painting a scene, telling a short tale, invoking a feeling in just 50 words wasn’t easy. Two of these are cheats, and I did one haiku as penance.

My process was to dictate my first draft into my phone (voice to text) wherever I was… and then edit on my laptop (using MS Word for the word count feature). Finally pasting it into Photoshop to create the image… (because these were initially shared on Instagram.)

Some of these I’m proud of, some are weaker, but all in all, it was a great exercise that got my creative juices flowing. And now I’m inspired to try something a little longer format!

Rather than having to scroll through Facebook or Instagram to find these later, I have compiled them all here.

Which is your favorite?

These are the prompts for #Inktober 2019, adopted for “Writer’s Edition”. I just signed up to do it without looking ahead. In fact, I didn’t look beyond each day’s word. I would just find out what the prompt of the day was and go with it.

“I know you worked hard,” Dad fumed. “But this is the worst corn maze I ever…”

He doesn’t understand.

“People like a challenge. This is just round… a big, dumb ring.”

It’s not a ring. It’s a crop circle.

And I didn’t make it, the lights that took Mom did.

Fifty words a day for 31 days. “How hard can that be?” he thought as he mindlessly clicked “share” and declared his participation to the world.

Day one’s first draft came in at 75 words and took hours to trim to 50.

“Surely this will get easier with practice, he – “

The hunt was on their minds all year, but serious preparations weren’t begun until the final weeks. They studied the target, scouted the hunting ground, and prepared fresh bait.

Expectations were high.

Finally, just after dark on the twenty-fourth, the children put out the plate of cookies.


There are legends in every office. Some heroic, some not.

Once, in a crowded meeting, someone asked “What’s the plural of ‘Free?'”

Without looking up, without thinking, Jerry replied: “Freeze.”

The word hung in the silence for an age… followed by soul-crushing laughter.

That’s when Jerry became a legend.

Jean’s day began in a basement with thirty severed heads.

Maybe answering that Craigslist ad was a mistake.

Above, shoppers were talking and laughing, oblivious to the girl below in the dark, surrounded by body parts.

Still, she needed the money. How hard could it be to build thirty mannequins?

The boy’s mother had dragged him to the store.

Sarah rang up their purchases and said “These are really cool.”

The boy looked up.

“You’ll look great in these,” she said, as she smiled at him.

The heavyset boy smiled back.

Sarah was the angel of the husky jeans department.

“We used to believe them. We became card-carrying, tin-foil-hat-wearing, flat-earth society, you-name-it conspiracy theory believers.”

“But now we know the truth. They enchanted us with lies. They want to distract us from what is real.”

“Who’s ‘they,’ Dad?”

“The lizard people who rule the world, of course.”

Grassley Antiques has been a fixture in town for decades. But Ned Grassley is old and frail now, so I help with the heavy lifting and cleaning.

The weekend customers ignore us, scavanging his shelves of junk for treasure. They never see the real value here – spending time with Ned.

True Story:

Our neighbor once told me she could hear our son playing in our backyard from inside her home office.

I almost apologized, but she beamed:

“He swings on his swing set singing Christmas songs as loud as he can in July! It’s wonderful!”

I cherish that memory.

This isn’t the first time.

His past shows a pattern of crimes that is hard to ignore. And yet, he has a remarkable ability to escape punishment.

This time, however, he is surrounded by evidence and multiple witnesses.

I wave the remains of my shoe and growl: “No! Bad boy!”

“Dear World Leaders,” the letter began.

The next seven paragraphs were the usual “you have to fight climate change” bullcrap that every gradeschooler sends.

These letters usually get tossed.

It was the signature that made the gathering of The United Nations tremble:

“Fix it or else – Snow Miser”

“Surely, you’re joking.” I said, thought I never knew my friend Sherlock Holmes to do so.

He sniffed the air. “Sulfer. And there are no tracks of any kind. Clearly the village was burned from above.”

“But, Holmes… a Dragon?”

“What? Don’t be ridiculous, Watson. An aeroplane. One capable of firebombing the village. Honestly, you must stop reading the Tolkein rubbish.”


Light the book on fire
Ink and pages turn to ash
Ideas, like sparks, soar.

A squirrel watches me from the branch above. Years ago we couldn’t imagine there ever being a tree here again… let alone a squirrel. But nature finds a way. The abandoned pavement is now overgrown. My sample case snaps closed, startling the squirrel. He turns his heads and runs.

One summer, Uncle Ray took my brothers and I “Bigfoot Hunting.” We drove to the woods, pitched tents, searched for giant footprints, and told campfire stories (about Bigfoot).

Other kids just went camping.

Thanks to Uncle Ray, our “What I did last summer…” essays were the stuff of legend.

Spending time one-on-one with Simone felt like a dream. Since arriving this morning, Drew felt he was living a wild new lift. He hung on her every word:

“… and don’t stack jeans more than twelve high or they fall over. See?”

She even made training at The Gap sound sexy.

Each new ornament celebrated something from their year. An Eiffel tower for the trip to Europe, a stork for the birth of their son, a boat for… well, the year they got a boat. This next one was tricky. What do you get for the year she fought breast cancer?

You always feel like a misfit when you are time traveling. Either your clothes aren’t right, or your accent is off, or… well, there’s always something that says you don’t belong.

Still, none of that matters when you’re saving the world.

I draw my six-shooter. “Guten aben, Frau Hitler.”

Nick Brigg is a rotten bastard. He’ll spend his whole shift flirting with the make-up convention ladies, pouring them umbrella drinks like “Singapore Sling” or “Sex on the Beach.”

But after closing, that grinning SOB will go home to his wife. He always does. Because I treat him right.


“Today the world says goodbye to astronaut David Garvey, the first man to tread on the sands of Mars, and now, sadly, the first man to be buried beneath those sands.”

Sherry switched the TV off. It was real. David wasn’t coming back. She smiled. He’d never hit her again either.

I’m watching the boy digging for treasure again.

His search comes up empty every morning, but he is determined. His hand digging deeper and deeper, seeking out his reward.

Maybe I should tell him that they only put toys in cereal boxes, not pasta.

Nah. Let him try.

“What now?”

“Listen, you have to destroy that server with the call records.”

The President hated these late night visits.

“And protect Pence. You’ll need that mama’s boy to pardon you later.”

There were few people Trump hated more than the ghost of Nixon. But he also knew he was right.

People travel to Mesa Verde from around the world. It’s a rare opportunity to visit preserved ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings and come in touch with centuries-old Native American culture.

But @InstaFluencerBabe19 only stayed long enough to take a selfie, then she rushed back in time for happy hour at Applebees.

It was an unexpectedly violent CRASH!

No matter what, the computer sounded calm: “Warning. Time travel may leave you feeling dizzy or nauseous. What you see may not actually be there. Wait ten minutes before opening hatch.”

Sherry waited, hoping the velociraptors outside the window would be gone by then.

Shelly survived, but there’s a tiny crack in the time ship. It’s small, but enough to split open and spread her molecules across millennia if she dared the return trip.

“At least the campfire is warm,” she thought. “And roast velociraptor is pretty tasty.”

But in truth, it needed salt.

The first thing Walt noticed when he stepped out of the airlock is that space isn’t really dark. It’s black, but here, beyond all atmosphere, the stars seem infinite.

The second thing he noticed is how very cold space is.

There was no third thing. Death claimed him in seconds.

“You can replace rotten boards, and paint to your heart’s content. Hell, put ten coats of paint on her and change the name. No matter what, everyone will still think of this place as the theater where President Lincoln was shot. Forever.”

John Ford sighed, knowing his foreman
was right.

I lift him up to ride on my shoulders so he can see over the crowd. As the marching band approaches he starts bouncing.

And kicking.

And pulling my hair.

I am really uncomfortable.

He probably won’t even remember this.

But it’s only a moment, and I will cherish it.

“Godammit!” Dad hurled the remote at the sofa.

“What the hell was McNamara thinking?!” The tv was replaying the error… “Buckner shouldn’t have been out there. He’s injured for chrissake!”

The ’86 World Series was decades ago, but thanks to his fading memory, Dad gets to relive the fury.

“To be more than an apprentice, you must learn to catch, ” my mentor explained.

“The scythe carves the soul from the body, but then you have to catch it before some fool performs CPR, or uses one of those damned defibrillators.”

The Reaper sighed, “This job used to be much easier.”


“Mister, can I axe you a question?”

“Sure, kid.”

“Why you got a bag of rotten tomatoes? Don’t you like ripe ones?”

“These aren’t for eating. These are to throw at the president. They’re impeaching him today.”

“Oh… Can I have one?”

And we waited together for Andrew Jackson’s carriage.


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