Friday, February 06, 2015

Flash fiction contest for SIGNAL by Patrick Lee!

Advance Reader Copies of SIGNAL by Patrick Lee!
Need I say more?

One (or more??) lucky contest winner will receive an ARC of SIGNAL.  These are FRESH off the press, no one else has it yet!  And if you haven't read RUNNER (the first Sam Dryden novel, you could get that too, IF you win!!)

Have I motivated you sufficiently?

Here's the rundown:

Usual contest rules

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The word must appear as that whole word however.

Example: Signal/signals is ok but crane/cranberry is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again) It helps to work out your entry first and then post.

5. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

6. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

Contest opens: Saturday 10/7/15 2/7/15 (holy moly!!) at 10am

Contest closes: Sunday 10/8/15  2/8/15 (what the HELL was in my head??) at 10am

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Rats! Too late! Contest now closed.


Craig said...

We sat and watched the swamp for an hour or so. Summer’s fall to Autumn was a favored time. Then a distant Sandhill Crane gave the signal. The sad smile turned my way caused my blood to pound out a refrain like an epic poem like some remix of Homer pounded on my brain. I wished she could hear it too but her mind had already gone down the trails of the past. The boundaries of time had collapsed and it all mixed together. I held out my hand and led her to the water’s edge one last time.

Nicole Payne said...

A thousand cranes. Some weird paper bird would fix everything? That logic was about as cracked out as my attention in homeroom for the past hour.

My eyes raked over the empty desk next to me, thoughts wandering to the weird girl who collapsed last week. Heart failure.

“Here!” My best friend whispered, waiting for my signal.

Nodding, I managed to catch the object unnoticed, gently placing it in my backpack. Only 999 more to go.

I picked up the colorful paper to follow the instructions, envisioning the adorably weird girl sitting next to me for a very long time.

Kalli said...

Nine times Persephone returned to her husband in the underworld, and still no husband returned to me. Each spring, when the cranes’ arrival heralded the fickle bride’s departure, no herald with news for this constant queen. Ten years a war widow, all for another errant wife.

The hour grows late. The bard has finished his song. My own Paris lies waiting to make a second Helen of me. We mere epilogues to an epic. As if our lust could collapse empires.

At first I mistake the signal fire for rosy-fingered dawn.

Homer will have a new tale to sing tomorrow.

Homie Bear said...

It could've been worse. No one was hurt. Still, after the incident, the interrogation.
"How much do we pay you an hour, Jackie?"
"A lot."
"Yeah. A lot. So what happened?"
"You know what happened. He gave me the wrong signal."
"He said different."
"Yeah, well, I'm a Crane Operator, Class 1. He didn't use any signal I recognize."
"The silo collapsed. That's on you, regardless of the signal. Your dad would never-"
"Don't tell me you rank our fathers with ourselves."
"Homer. Read a book sometime. And don't call me Jackie. My name's Jacqueline."
I walked away, unemployed.

french sojourn said...

Another harsh dawn approached the village of Tenant’s Harbor. Like a Winslow Homer landscape, but painted with whiskey and amphetamines.

As the tide crept in, the seaweed capped rocks and skulking crabs braced for the cold Atlantic. A stray cat yowled feebly in the distance, signaling yet another frosty Maine morning.

Phil hauled lobster traps for eight long hours. It was back breaking work with little reward. Exhausted and finally home, he collapsed in his arm chair. He craned his neck and looked past the nicotine stained drapes. A bruised dusk greeted him.

“Ayuh, red sky at night; sailors delight.”

Britta Boudreau said...

The body, rolled in a strip of AstroTurf, dangled from the crane.
“Hey,” Cal shouted. “To the right.”
I spun the machine clockwise and the body swung around.
Cal signaled me to release the cable.
The body plummeted into the hole.
As we peered in, the side collapsed and dirt tumbled down.
“You sure about this?”
“He shouldn’t have called my homer foul.”
I tossed the face mask and clicker on top.
“Let’s go. We gotta get back to the field for warm-up. First game of the World Series starts in a hour.”

Gabby Gilliam said...

Cedric craned his neck to peer over the edge of the stones behind him. The arrow struck his neck before he could duck beneath the safety of the wall. His body slid slowly to the left, staining the stones crimson before he collapsed into the blood-stained hay.

The horde was upon them. This village may have reached its final hour, but, if the gods were in their favor, a chain of flames would save the lives of others. With a Homeric effort, Cedric raised a shaky hand, igniting the signal fire.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Ida doesn’t hear the boys break in. When she wakes, they’re surrounding her bed. She gasps, her lungs creasing, folding in on themselves like the origami cranes she made for these same boys when they were young.

“Money. Now.” Bodies jitter, eyes flash. Warning signals. Drug hunger.

Ida reaches for the boy nicknamed Homer. He used to spend hours in front of her TV, watching The Simpsons, while his parents tore each other apart down the block. She tries his real name. “Tyler.”

He raises a baseball bat.

Her hope, like paper birds in the hands of little boys, collapses.

S.D.King said...

I was born in this colony. I know the rules. Work all day: clean, make food, tend to
. We only leave in groups, taking a signal from a leader, and let me tell you – nobody wants to see us coming. The homer leads us back with our loot. We sleep in a tiny cell and don’t even question it anymore. The guys do nothing around here but crane their necks to get a glimpse of her, willing to die for a few minutes alone with the Queen .

The human talks about Colony Collapse.
I say, “Bring it on.”

Anonymous said...

Joe fingered the controls on the crane, maneuvering a two ton beam over the foreman’s head, his hands sweating.

“Easy, easy, shit!” Ledbetter yelled at him.

Joe eyeballed the worksite sign;


40,000 Hours Injury Free

“Hey! Moron!” The foreman hollered at him.

Joe signaled at the Homer Simpson sounding dick, picturing him and his wife doing it. How could she? Only one hour left to work. He couldn’t wait. His thumb twitched. The beam wobbled.

“Gotamighty! Watch it!” Wailed Ledbetter.

The beam went vertical. The collapse of Ledbetter’s legs, accordion like.

Real shame, that safety record, thought Joe.

JennyC said...

An hour before her lecture on Homer’s Odyssey, Eva’s books tumbled from her backpack into the gray slush on the street. The signal changed and a Honda closed in, the driver yacking away. While leaping to the sidewalk, Eva caught her boot on a chunk of ice and collapsed.

A burst of pain, then nothing.

The sound of waves crashing brought her back. A white crane stood at the ocean’s edge flapping its wings. The air smelled salty and floral. A sumptuous man in a toga reached down for Eva’s hand. “The goddess Aphrodite?”

Eva smiled. Sure. Why not?

Dena Pawling said...

Homer rubbed his face. Interminable hours of surveillance were maddening, but the lure of a hundred grand anchored him. He quietly stretched, then massaged the cramp in his side. How long would he squat, hidden in the trees, before he got a recognizable photo of her?

He peered again through the binoculars. She remained hidden, but he glimpsed movement. Homer held the binoculars in one hand and with the other, positioned his camera.

She rose. Homer held his breath and depressed the shutter. Gotcha!

He check-marked the final box, “crane,” signaling his win of the bird watcher marathon, and collapsed.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I didn’t want him to die, I just didn’t want him.
For an hour I held Homer, my little one, than left him at the base of the crane, minutes before I knew workmen would arrive. I hid. They gathered around the box, I walked away in tears.
A signal blaring, rivets and bolts popping, metal and men screaming; the impact of the crane’s collapse brought me to my knees.
If the men had not been grouped around the box they would not have lived.
I didn’t want anyone to die, I just didn’t want the puppy.

Anonymous said...

My mother taught me never to stop for hitchhikers, especially at late hours. Not because they can be potential serial killers.

Then again, I’m stubborn.

It’s raining and I can barely see the road. A woman signals for me to stop, and I almost drive past her, but then she collapses. I sigh and swerve to a stop. I toss Homer’s Illiad from the passenger seat to the back.

I dash out and help her into the car, but when I run back and open my door, she’s gone.

A single feather of a crane lies on the passenger seat.

Katharina Gerlach said...

When the buzzard attacked the cloud of homing pigeons, Precious dove into the bushes for cover. I should be grateful she escaped, seeing she was my only female, but I could have cried. This early in the game, and she already lost ground. She'd need hours to find her bearings. No homer recovered from an attack like this and still won. Burying my dream, I collapsed my chair and stored it in my car. I looked back and craned my neck. No buzzard in sight. As if on signal, Precious rose and hurried toward the horizon. What a bird! (99 words)

Megan V said...

So I’m sweating my balls off, waiting for the signal, when this kid storms onto the lot screaming like I’m gonna two-block the crane. Now, I’ve been working equipment since before he was born, but I shut things down and hop out of the cab.
“What’s the emergency?” I ask.
“Your wife called. She wanted you home hours ago.” The little shit sneers. “Apparently, you haven’t fucked her enough.”
Bam! I coldcock him. He collapses. And because he’s out cold, I check his I.D.
“Well what’d’ya know.” I grin. “I always wanted to hit a Homer.”

charlogo said...

The crane collapse was my signal to swoop over the construction site and chat with Homer, the fool who’d cheated on his safety test.
“This is how you wake up dead, Buddy.” I didn’t want to sound rude, but anyone could have seen this coming.
“Did you read the user manual, Homer? Did you even give a thought to hoist rating? That’s what got you wedged between this rubble and the cab. Now you’re bleeding all over the place.”
I pulled out my list. Hmmm. Homer wasn’t wicked, just stupid.
“You qualify for a mulligan,” I announced. “One hour rewind.”

KariV said...

It's my fault; and yet it isn't. How was I supposed to know what could come from being Homeric?

She collapsed right in front of my machine. Little did I know that was the signal. When I ran over, I left the keys in the ignition. Sure that was a bad idea, but I was only thinking of helping her ...

As I bent to check her vitals, I heard the crane move. Next thing I knew, the boom was dropping ... crashing onto the sleek black limo driving down Pennsylvania Avenue. They had timed it down to the hour.

Tom Perkins said...

The seminar on Russian political history was their field of dreams. The eye contact, the teasing touches, the laughs, were signals passed between catcher and pitcher. Hours of Hegelian Dialectic and Muscovite Benevolence were the offense and defense of their folly.

They played the game well - first base, second base, third - lingering at each interval. Then the homerun.

After the exertion, they collapsed onto the hotel bed, exhausted.

His neck craned over her to see the clock.

His libido wrote a new entry in the box score.

His heart beat for winning

His mind was on Marx.

Miri Baker said...

By the end of the hour, Marco had acquired sixteen new papercuts and reopened six more. Ms. Fyfe droned on, equally unaware that his desk had filled with animals--frogs, cranes, dragons--and that her Bigot’s Life Lessons lecture hall was, in fact, just a homeroom.

“What’re those for?”

Of course, the girl behind him would rather pay attention to him today. For once. His newest creation collapsed in shaking fingers. “Witnesses,” he muttered.


“They’re witnesses,” he repeated. He looked to the front, met the eyes through the cracked doorway--two blue, one black and metallic and hollow--and gave the signal.

Anonymous said...

War should be settled with a baseball game like the one we Yankees in a remote Texas Confederate camp now played against our captors. Someone would hit a homer, signaling the end of the game and war. We'd all collapse our tents and go home.

Some of us craned our necks, toward the colonel's tent, anxious for word on our fate. Rumor had it we would be killed here due to dwindling rations for captor and prisoner. He walked out at last and looked into our anxious faces. "Be ready to move within the hour. All of you."

Ed R. said...

“How could you have missed the signal, Homer,” Bob growled?

“You were supposed to shut it down! Fast! What were you thinking? Your crane collapsed on top of a barge? What the hell? How does this even happen? The dock is closed, we can’t unload ships, and we're paying people to stand around!"

“At least no one got hurt. Just lost time."

"Ok, clean out your locker. You’ve got a mandatory drug test within an hour of the incident, so you need to hurry. Then you meet with your union rep to see what’s next."

Tom Segerson said...

After the tragic hour, I gave the signal to the crane operator.

He lifted the shattered wall. I scanned the collapsed building.

“They’re dead,” I said to Homer, the sheriff.


Meathead’s eyes bulge as he shoves me away. “What’re you, some kinda fuckin’ homer?” His radiation-orange skin glows in the streetlight.

“I think you mean, homo, and I object to that sort of language,” I slur, straightening my Burberry sport coat. I’m not, for the record. Like women just fine. But I loathe ignorance.

I signal my buddy. We have an hour to catch the train back to Connecticut. I’ve had so many car-bombs, I’m ready to collapse.

He nods, stepping behind this snarling gnarl of a man.

I raise my arms, wobbling on one leg, ready to kick. Crane-style.

Kelsie Kasandria said...

Sweat beading down my forehead, I stood in line to bat. It was the final game of the season and I wanted to do my very best. Then the hour struck and the game started. The fans cheered as the announcer introduced the game. It was then I remembered, I was the first to bat.

Trying not to collapse, I heard the signal and stumbled onto the field. I watched the pitcher crane his arm, ready to make me miss. I was ready.

I swung, heard the crack, and ran.

But little did I realize.

I got a homerun

Colin Smith said...

This is my entry:

Liz's father stood at the door in paint-stained jeans and wife-beater, smelling of beer and glaring at Micah.

"What hour ya call this?"

"I'm here for Elizabeth, Mr. Jones."

"Be right there," Liz mouthed as she craned her head around her father.

He eyed Micah.

"Ya ain't no homersexshul are ya? My Lizzie ain't goin' with no homersexshul."

Micah nearly collapsed.

"I'm just taking her to school, sir."

Liz apologized the whole way; Micah just smiled. He signaled and parked outside the University.

"Genetics," Liz sighed. "Class full of undergrads."

Micah pecked her cheek.

"Have a good day, Professor Jones."


This is NOT my entry—it’s a gift:

I used to think TLC meant Tender Loving Care.

Then I met Terri Lynn Coop—an epic meeting of Homeric proportions.

We stood fifty feet apart waiting for the signal. Sweat on my hands, a lump in my throat, my heart pounding in my ears.

A bell chimed the hour.

I fired quickly. Emotion, chiastic structure, plot twists. It wasn’t enough. She was too fast.

I collapsed under a relentless volley of wit, clever metaphor, and heartbreaking pathos.

With my waning strength I craned my head to see TLC turn and leave.

"Don’t quit the day job, kid!" she called.

Happy birthday, TLC! :)

LaurenS said...

Homer craned his neck back as the clock tower tolled the hour. Big Ben wasn’t as impressive as he’d thought it would be. Still, he was here. He shuffled back, his camera tilted to get the whole building in. He was still too close. He took a couple more steps away, eyes locked onto Big Ben.
He didn’t notice the flashing signal change from a person to a hand.
Homer only turned when he heard the blare of the horn and saw the blinding light. But it was too late then and he collapsed as the taxi struck him.

Michael Seese said...

She was a singular beauty, what the locals call a "houri." Even the great Homer would have been at a loss for words.

A crowd had gathered. They were cheering. I craned my neck for a better look. I should not have. But I succumbed to a baser facet of human nature.


I couldn’t understand a word of the man’s rabid invective. His stone was the first, and signaled that the orgy of violence could begin. She collapsed in a heap.

I wanted to say something. To stop the madness. But I dared not. For I am equally guilty.

Michael Haskin said...

“Look, there’s the signal,” Bradley whispered as twigs cracked beneath his boots.

Melissa halted. Bradley cut down a paper crane hanging from the tree. He carefully unfolded the wings.

“What’s it say?” Melissa asked. “I’ve been following you for hours. My legs are going to collapse if we don’t head back soon.”

“It’s a crudely written poem,” Bradley observed, dropping down to one knee. “Before I knew you I was just a loner. But when I met you it felt like a homer. The rest of your life may feel like forever. Please marry me and we’ll spend it together.”

Calorie Bombshell said...

Ever since he was whacked on the noggin by Billy Furrows’ historic three-run homer, old man Worthington thought he was Ichabod Crane.

Weighing in at three hundred pounds, he now fancied himself slender, gorging on everything from pickled Twinkies to pumpkin lasagna.

Then in a glucose-induced stupor, he mounted Cannonball, a horse that waged war on anyone harebrained enough to approach her.

According to the Signal County Gazette, the pair was last seen galloping into rush hour.

Police later found Cannonball collapsed from exhaustion on Highway 287.

Worthington’s lifeless body lay sprawled twenty yards away.

His head, however, proved elusive.

Jim Gold said...

The smokeless Mauser's steel bee pinged foliage camouflaging Porkchop, a Rough Rider whose climb up Cuba's Kettle Hill stalled under fire from Spanish sharpshooters. An hour earlier, Porkchop witnessed buddy Bucky O'Neill collapse when the Arizonan's desperate drag on a cigarette sent a fatal, position-betraying smoke signal to the enemy. Porkchop craned his neck to find a target but was struck by a yearning to see his Arcata, California, home, which he'd left a war ago. No Homer he, Porkchop began to write his father about war and wanderings, but Teddy Roosevelt yelled, "Charge!" Porkchop's act of valor awaited.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

She waited for hours, but the signal come until after the moon was down. She craned her neck to watch the approaching figures. What had they done, to warrant a contract? She never asked employers what the point was; it seemed it would be unprofessional. Homer always wanted to ask, and that's why he was only the spotter. The clients never knew even he existed, insurance for both parties. She settled her breathing, and then squeezed the trigger (never pull), rode the soft kick of the rifle against her shoulder, and watched through the scope as the mark collapsed.

Christina Seine said...

A Woman Scorned

Vodka number four:
On my way to the bathroom,
my heel collapses.

These were nice shoes, too.
Bastard - this is all your fault.
I land on my ass.

A sweaty bald guy
in a Homer Simpson shirt
cranes his neck to watch.

I would get up, but
there’s an earthquake happening.
Or not. I can’t tell.

It’s safe to say that
this is not my finest hour.
Eff you anyway.

Karma’s a bitch, though.
Normally, I never drink.
But I’ll drink to that.

The bartender smiles
and signals to the bouncer.
Get her out of here.

Jeff Deitering said...


“Did you read this manuscript?”

“Which one?”

“The one you need a crane to lift.”

“Um, yeah, no. The FedEx guy collapsed after delivering it. Did you?”

“A little. The intro alone took me an hour to get through. It’s an epic snooze.”

“He’s obviously blind to what we typically represent.”

“It arrived in a gift box or I woulda rejected it.”

“Ugh. He says he has a sequel...”

“Quick, send this longwinded hack our hammer flush to signal no more queries to us!”

“Good call.”

Dear Homer, we regret to inform you the Iliad is not for us...

David Claude McCoy said...

The sergeant signaled for the lieutenant and turned back to the mass of twisted steel and glass scattered about the scene.

“Hell of a mess, boss.”

“What caused the collapse?” asked the lieutenant, stepping over a mangled torso outlined in chalk.

“Shape charge, most likely. We’ll have to wait til the crane gets here to sort it out. DOT says an hour.”

“Same guy you think?”

“Yeah, looks like our perp hit a homer with this one.”

In a darkened alley, the cell phone illuminates his sick, twisted face. Send. He cocks his head, waiting for the second explosion.

Gotta H. Owlz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. Catcher signals for fastball. Pitcher rotates shoulder, readying to pitch. Stadium: dead quiet. Ball flies. The echoing crack of bat meeting ball is silenced by an earthquake’s thunder. Sections collapse blocking exits.

A rescue coordinator shouts to his partner, “We need a crane!”

“I know where one is!” a young boy named Homer exclaims and runs off.

Homer returns within the hour lugging a large box. “I don’t know what good it’ll do ya, but here ya go.”

The two men peer inside. Blinking up at them sits a long-legged, long-necked, feathery sandhill crane.

Amy Schaefer said...

“Take this.”
“Shhh, that’s the signal!”

It’s funny how every homeroom is so much sand through the hourglass. After thirty-three years, déjà vu is constant.

I dawdle, working up a good reaction to their prank. I stride in. “Good morning every-aaahhhhhh!”

Silence. The class lies collapsed – some with necks craned, others crumpled on the floor. All still as stones amongst a drift of tiny green bottles.

I wait for the inevitable cry of “April Fool’s!”

It doesn’t come.

EMTs, police, the principal are bawling, shaking me.

My brain jams on a single thought: “Well, that was a new one.”

Andrew Lipkin said...

Homer strangles Bart for half an hour. Frasier Crane bloviates. Local news. National news. American Idol. My ulcer pulses like the gravitational wave burst signal from the core collapse of a proto-neutron star. I should’ve heard from Julio by now. I try an eleventh time.

“Julio’s phone.” *BEEP*

The target is a tough old fart. Maybe he got Julio instead of getting got. I guess nothing’s impossible.

I redial. Someone answers. Silence. Breathing.

“J? J? Who’s there?”

“I ain’t Julio, you tell me.”

“Listen asshole-”

My house’s power cuts off. A flashbang crashes the window, landing at my feet.

Mallory Love said...

They heard the collapse a mile away. The billowing smoke signaled its location. The crowd gathered quickly. People craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the destruction, like a morbid attraction at a seedy carnival. A shellshocked foreman emerged from the site. A singed name tag clung to his disheveled shirt. Homer, it read. He tried to piece together the scattered memories he had of the last hour. Jokes and coffee with Fred, who was probably dead now. The smell of sulfur. The foreign black bag nestled under the machinery. A blinding light. Then darkness. This was no accident.

Edith Lalonde said...

The last of the Fathomer’s tribe, Icarus Crane witnessed the hour of the earth’s new beginning.

Covered in ice, the branches of the tree glittered with nature’s jewels, the narrow sunlight a signal that the thousand years of darkness had come to pass.

She watched as the first drop of water held its breath at the edge of the crystal spike swelling until it could defy gravity’s pull no more.

Leaving behind her human form Icarus spread her wings and soared.

The collapse of mankind was complete and with it the opportunity for a new civilization was born.

kregger said...

"C'me on batter, batter, batter..." chanted the home team.
It was the twelfth-hour, bottom of the ninth and all tied.
The pitcher waved off the sign. He signaled consent with a nod.
High heat bore down on the visitor, hitting lefty.
The bat cracked.
"It's a homer!" screeched the PA system.
The ball fell from the sky and nailed a Whooping crane.
The bird collapsed.
"Game over," said the ump. "Home team wins."
The visiting manager charged home plate. "What?!"
"You got a birdy." The ump raised an eyebrow. "You shot a minus-one, so subtract a run. They win.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Kate paused by Martha’s large window which overlooked the garden.

Talk about mixed signals.

Yesterday, Martha had attended Kate and Fred’s 60th Anniversary party. And Kate, happy to reclaim their decades-old friendship, had stopped by to visit. But today?

She tried again, “What beautiful geraniums.”

“Cranesbill,” Martha corrected, her gaze remaining on her needlepoint.

Disappointed, Kate sighed.

“Look at the hour,” she said, “Fred will wonder where I am.”

After seeing Kate out, Martha collapsed in her chair.

What a homer. Her unrequited feelings of passion for the oblivious Kate persisted. And yesterday, Fred had confessed his love. For Martha.

Maple and Baobab said...

WTF? A crowd sprouted outside Safeway on the last day to trade in three months worth of collecting stamps. Jack Sprat, feathers on his head, all neck, no body, legs like stilts played the idiot working the crowd with the ooh la la—Jessica “hourglass” Rabbit. He uncollapsed the back drop. She homered whirring knives and stuck them like soldiers signalling into formation around the feathered crane. I should have walked away, but instead I gave him my stamp card. We all did. We watched the bag boy wheel boxes of new knives and pile them in their van.

Roslyn Reid said...

As I tried to hit a homer,
Suddenly I lost my boner.
Hours after its collapse
Came signals that her interest lapsed.
I offered cranesbill in a bunch
But she preferred to start on lunch
And I was toast when she began
To eat cold Spam out of the can.

Karen McCoy said...

In Homer, Alaska, two ravens perched atop a mechanical crane and observed the icy intersection.

“I don’t see what we’re waiting for,” one of them said. “They’ve obeyed the traffic signals for hours.”

“Trust me. The green arrow will throw someone off eventually. They see it and just go.”

A Toyota came up the hill and waited at the red light. Two other cars followed.

The arrow turned green. The second car hit the gas and collapsed into the Toyota. Horns blared. Shouting drivers exited their cars, slipped, and fell onto the ice.

“Told you.” Both ravens sniggered.

ejsmith3130 said...

Rodney grinned as the puzzle piece snapped into place. Sweat dripped from his brow. Even inside the signal corps tower the Vietnam heat suffocated the soldier native to Homer, Alaska.
Endless hours, mundane tasks. Clanks and crashes assaulted his ears. Construction of the base.

Rodney secured another piece. A snowy landscape began to appear.

Sirens pierced the air and lights flashed on the signal boards. An explosion shook the tower. Rodney dove under the table for cover as the crane toppled and collapsed the roof. Puzzle pieces and debris swirled around him in a blizzard of chaos.

“Damn this place.”

Nikola Vukoja said...

I was struggling to express the scene’s intensity.
My shoulders collapsed as inspiration evaporated.
“H-u-s-s-b-a-n-n-d,” bellowed my good lady wife. Her wail was my signal, forecasting an end to my hour of solitude.
“What wounds you Dear?” A married man knows to ask.
“It has returned.”
“What has?”
“The crane. The crane.”
“It’s an egret Dear.”
Nuisance is what it is!”
She discharged herself of her basket and proceeded to inspect my lack of progress.
“Hum,” she said. “What do you think to call this non-work?”
“Homer’s Illiad.”
“Perhaps simply Illiad, adding one’s name seems a tad pretentious.”
"Yes Dear."

SiSi said...

Every man in the place craned his head to watch as she strode to the bar. I signaled the bartender, who had a shot of bourbon ready when she reached me.

“Watching you walk towards me feels just like that time in high school when I hit the winning homer.”

“Drinking at this hour? Should I notify somebody about the collapse of modern manners?”

“My manners aren’t in question.”

“You saying mine are?”

“Will you drink with me?”

She slammed back the bourbon and slapped on the handcuffs in one smooth motion.

“Thank you for the drink. You’re under arrest.”

Christina P. said...

I folded the paper crane without thinking. My hands had long since memorized each crease, and now I only thought about their number.

Six-hundred and seven. Six-hundred and eight.

They littered my desk by the end of Mr. D's lecture on Homer. Not Homer Simpson – no, that might have been an interesting way to fill the hour, god forbid. The bell signaled the end of class, and I packed my delicate cranes into their box.

Only three-hundred and eighty-nine to go.

I didn't make it to the door before I collapsed.

LynnRodz said...

The girl I had spoken to for months online was the same girl with the hourglass figure who had walked in, looked at me, and had walked back out.

My spirit collapsed. I signaled the waiter.

I knew what ma would say when I got home. "Doncha' worry, looks ain't everything. Sooner or later girls wanna' nice guy, not some good lookin' yahoo."

How much later, ma? I'm 40 years old. I pushed the chair back.

"Excuse me, are you Homer?" I turned, a pretty young woman was smiling at me.

A crane lifted the weight from around my heart.

Tribaliz said...

I probably had a bit of Homer the traitor in my eyes as I laid collapsed on the desert sands bleeding like a mofo.

Two hours ago I had given the signal to my contact code named "The Crane".

"What took you so long?", I asked Maria as she stood over me, blocking the sunlight momentarily.

Maria shifted and I suddenly remembered Maria had left. Death had come for me.

"Cut", cried the Director. “It's a wrap”. “Could someone please tell Mark it's a wrap?”.

I could see someone behind my dimming eyelids.

"He's been stabbed”, someone screamed.

“For real?”

Sandra said...

My two fingers pointed at the dirt. Bill pulled his arm back, his knee curling up in front of him in his signature wounded-crane pose, and let loose the pitch that was meant to collapse the batter’s record.

The ball curved towards us. I tracked it through the hourglass mesh of my mask.

The air around us was still. The only sound was my slow exhale, and I prayed my signal had been accurate. A strike would end the game, a hit would prolong it, and a homer would end it.

The batter dropped his hips and swung.

Lilac Shoshani said...

"She's here," a policeman cried out. His dog Homer led us there.

I almost collapsed. "Is she still alive?"

"We're checking, sir."

"Take it easy," Sean, my best friend, said. He insisted on coming along. He was in love with her. She loved me.

Sean also insisted that she'd left me and flown to Italy. Until an hour ago.

Cranes flew by, calling.

My beloved was lying under a pile of garbage, barely alive. Until now.

I signaled one of my lieutenants to come over. "Arrest Sean."

Then, I climbed into the ambulance to be with her.

Cipher said...

The crane arm lowered languidly. Detective Inspector Homer Harte grunted, signaling the officer to give over. The pit was long and deep, though the life in it, like the DI’s patience this winter morning, had been short. The girl was small. A crushed fledgling, her face and chest collapsed under the weight of fallen concrete debris. Black hair, blue clutch, vividly pink lips. A backstage Bambi if he’d ever seen one.
“Between two and four. Like the others. Only this one’s got something extra.” The coroner turned the crumbling figure onto her side.
Shit. There were two more.

Just Jan said...

An hour after dawn we signaled the release. Both cage doors were raised, and, after a timid moment, the rehabilitated birds rose in tandem. The crane arched gracefully into the southern sky and out of sight, while the homer flew in concentric circles, searching for its bearings.

As we basked in the beauty of the scene before us, an eagle appeared out of nowhere. Like a heat-seeking missile, it raced straight for our pigeon. The small bird collapsed in the eagle's talons, its lung punctured, and was borne away, leaving us to contemplate, slack-jawed, the mighty circle of life.

Nina said...

The boy’s legs shook so, he nearly collapsed. His sister clung to him in the foyer of the huge temple. He craned his neck to see around the men blocking his view. The last thing he needed was to miss the signal.

“Go.” His sister prodded him forward. He laid his homer of barley on the pile of sacrifices and escaped through the crowd. Impudent snippets of “a child” trailed him to the gates.

“What now?” He hustled out, surprised the hour had grown so late. It would be dark before they reached camp.

“God brings mom and dad home.”

Terri Lynn Coop said...

“Terri’s surprise birthday is a go. She thinks it’s a flash fiction contest. Let’s run over the checklist. Jed, do we have the cupcake?”

“The crane nearly collapsed, but it was delivered an hour ago.”

Colin, how about the glitter cannon?”

“Oh yeah...”

“Hank, did you get the present?”

“Right here. I swiped a Homer Laughlin mug from that diner.”

*door rattle*

“She’s here! Wait for the signal!”




“Who are you people?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Jessie, here to feed the dogs.”

“Where’s Terri?”

“Thrifting in Kansas City. Didn’t you check Facebook?”

*group facepalm*

“Cut the cupcake.”

A Velez said...

I didn’t want to throw a water balloon at Ms. Troy. I just didn’t want to fail Latin.

She hauled me out of homeroom, still drip, drip, dripping on the linoleum, one hand on my arm, the other dragging my cello case. I could feel all eyes on me; raised eyebrows, craned necks.

She dumped me in the principal’s office. I waited for my signal: the release bell.

I collapsed. Seizure? Faint? Who knew—just carted me off to the nurse.

Hours later, a soft click from the forgotten case. Out slips my accomplice. Looks like straight As this semester.

Kate Higgins said...

‘Bright’ Future – a 30 BC ‘text’

Greetings Crathis!
I miss you brother. I am a translator now in Alexandria’s Library! I won’t collapse from overwork now, the food is great. Please move here. I promise Homer’s scrolls fill an entire stack! (I know you love his poetry.)

I can see the grand lighthouse from my window; we would always know when our hours start by the changing lights! Join me here, Pompeii is too far away.
We’ll make history together.
* S.V.B.E.E.V.
Your sister,
P.S. You could become a lighthouse signalman…

*Latin acronym: “If you are sound, I'm sound”

note to readers: Cranessia is NOT a made-up name

EllenM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drunken Fireman said...

Homer Simpson collapsed in a sweaty heap no less than an hour after getting the signal he could run the crane. It was not a surprise to anyone in Springfield. Even with his recent attempts to reduce his consumption of Duff beer and slim down a bit, he was still unable to control the crane. The accident report noted that the error had resulted most likely because of his lack of a fifth digit.

AW Koulentis said...

I glance at the towering Jumbotron: 12th inning. Game should've ended an hour ago. I'm missing Outlander.
Stepping into the batter's box, I imagine myself wearing a kilt and wonder if it gets chilly down there.
The umpire pokes me. "You're wanted." I crane toward the dugout. Coach gives me a sign.
Next month is salary arbitration and this bastard is trying to collapse my value.
I grab my crotch. Coach's lips curl as he signals again. BUNT.
Surrendering, I face the mound. The pitcher contorts into a Picasso and fires. My grip tightens. Contact.
The announcer cries, "Homerun!"

Jo-Anne Teal said...

Though never the poet his father (thirty one times over) was, surfer Homer writes damn fine, free verse. Who needs hexameter when epic subjects live within a pen’s distance of his turquoise beach cottage?

Just look.

A spindly crane stands single bow-legged, a study in yearning. It longs to hop (hobble over) to the concessions, where the shade from a burnt umber picnic table offers midday sun respite.
Nearby, the timer signals thirty seconds crispy fried on Catch of the Day, then sputters, spits, and collapses in exhaustion.

There’s only so much that canola oil (mull it over) can take.

D Writer said...

The look in Ethan's eyes when he collapsed into my arms will stay with me forever. There was immense disgust, like he felt cheated our positions weren't reversed, and then sudden blankness signaling his passing.

An hour ago, he hit the game winning homer. Hidden amongst the adoring fans, I craned my neck to witness Ethan’s carefree showboating.

This had to end.

I cornered him behind the locker rooms where he violated me before. A slice to the throat cut his anticipation short. And in that terrored look before death, I understood the allure of power over another.

Pharosian said...

At midnight, the moon's cold light followed Jawad through empty streets. He pictured her, his dark houri with the full lips and perfumed hair.

He slowed as he got closer to her father's nightclub. Keep moving, don't collapse. Her father called Jawad a skinny crane, mocking his attempts at courtship. Pulsing music guided him like a homer to the club's door.

This, then, would be his signal accomplishment. Jawad pushed through the crowd. I'm such a fraud. The others were true believers, but the result will be the same. He thumbed the the button and shouted, "Allahu Akbar!"

White Gardenia said...

Less than an hour until closing, then another torturous night within these four walls.

The putrid smell of urine overwhelmed me. I craned my neck, trying like hell to get the redhead's attention beyond the glass. If I could just give her some kind of signal—

Without warning, Homer's nasty breath kissed my ear as he mounted me from behind. The others joined in and I collapsed onto the bed of shredded paper.

Two loving hands lifted me from the clamoring marauders.

"I'll take this puppy," the red-headed woman said to the clerk, and she touched her nose to mine.

Steve Forti said...

I almost did it last time. Really. Words nearly came out. The signals were all there. The way she bit her lip, rocked on the sides of her shoes. How she lingered near my locker after homeroom.

I crane my neck to see the clock. The bell rings. There she is, smiling. One more chance.
“H-hi Sally. Do you…” Want to go to prom? Say it! Do you want to go to prom? “…have a pencil? I lost mine.”

Treachour! Damn you mouth!

Sally’s shoulders sagged. “Umm, sure. Here. I guess… see you around?”

I collapse against the locker. “P-prom?”

Steve Wilkins said...

"And that was 'Till I Collapse' by Eminem." I have to shut the radio off. Hour upon hour of nonsense and garbage. It's another night of surveillance at two twenty-nine Homer Road. Why can't crime cooperate just this once? Give me a signal, a clue, anything at all. It's like the radio: utter nonsense. Ah...the Karate Kid is on Netflix. Such a classic. So many great memories of Mr. Miyagi, 'wax on. wax off', the Crane Kick. I decide to watch it.
Shit...what just happened in that house?

Scott G said...

Five years since our eyes met in senior homeroom, and my life changed forever.

“Okay, hon. Slip it in like we practiced. Wait for my signal.”

We lay together in her self-made death bed. Fluffy pillows and fresh linen. Watching the cranes streak over the waves.

“I love you.” She grabbed my hand and smiled.

Tears streaked down my face. We’d said those words a million times in the last hour.

We had plans you know. Travel. Kids. Soccer games.

Until the cancer ravaged her brain.

I slipped the needle in. Her eyelids collapsed.

Then I rolled up my sleeve.

Jed Cullan said...

He was dead. But the second before dragged into hours. The dream made sense now. The blinding light of the sun enveloping him into darkness; the screams of misery in his head; one voice, clear amongst the confusion.

He collapsed to his knees, hands above his head. Pointless. He’d missed my signal. His fault. Not mine. Dreams have power. He should’ve listened.

The yellow crane sank towards him, silhouetted against the explosion behind, a blur of motionless silence.

“RUN! Get out of....” I tried again. But he was already dead. And he really did look like Homer.

Rami McShane said...

I signaled for another Chardonnay. In a nearby booth, three jack-asses plotted a murder – one fat, one bald, one skinny with greasy hair.

Bald-man smacked the table. “We had a deal.”

“Dude, I’m shomer Shabbat,” said Skinny-guy. “Can’t do it at that hour on a Friday.”

“Unbelievable.” Fat-guy collapsed against the booth. “So, you’d kill him, just not during Shabbat?”

Skinny-guy shrugged. “It’d break my bubby’s heart.”

Oy. I hiked up my skirt. Skinny-guy craned his neck, checking out my legs. Gotcha. I walked over, slid into their booth. “I’ll do it.”

Gotta love a guy who loves his bubby.

Linda's List said...

I tapped my cleats, wiggled my feet and waited for the pitch.
It was a sizzling afternoon when Papa and I played home run derby. My eyes stung from dripping sweat and Papa’s skin glowed in the blistering heat.
Papa threw a meatball. I crushed it. I heard the ping from the bat. The ball rose and pierced the sky and bounced off a crane in the parking lot.
Papa gave the fastball signal. Papa emptied the bucket and still no homer. We collapsed. The sun rubbed my face a bit too hard and I fixed my cap. Priceless.

Lyse LaChapelle said...

Nathan surveyed the construction site. Working the crane he wondered if it would be a good day.

His crew was building a new airport. His mind wandered as he lifted the big cement blocks into place.

His brother Anthony fixed planes. That was a cool job. Anthony always said that when Nathan grew up he should fly planes.

The signal came it was lunch hour.

The boss ran across the construction site.

With an explosion the building collapsed and Homer with it.

"Homer!" Nathan yelled a smile on his face.

Constructing the airport can wait, his dog wanted to play.

leah reynolds said...

Homer's Race

It was an odyssey...of sorts.
Homer Crane's mental wanderings took him places. He wasn't just running around in circles, ahead or behind the other guys. Every stride in his mad dash pushed him towards paradise.

The signal was given, but it went unnoticed.
Then the shot rang out.
Homer raised his hands like the eleventh hour on a clock – his arms thrusting upward, but his body was being tugged by a stronger force in the opposite direction, and he collapsed. White smoke hung in the air before catching a breeze and trailing off.
Homer's race was over.

Sherry Howard said...

I crane my neck

For the hour is near,

The signal will come,

A batter appear,

Chicago must win

And not collapse,

Hit a homer and run

You silly old saps.

Jennifer Moorhead said...

Two broken ribs and one collapsed lung later, I am home, wrapped in the barren cocoon of our bed while he sleeps down the hall. Remorseful. Yet, sleeping.
The woman on the phone said I needed a plan.
“It really was an accident.”
“Then why’d you call?”
A train whistle slices the night, signaling the hour. The pain slices too, awakening something primitive and raw
The wood floor creaks under my weight. I crane my neck toward the guest room.
Homer said the journey is the thing.
I slide the gun from its hiding place.
Time for a new journey.

Kristine Poptanich said...

The clock chimed, signaling the hour had come to quiet the keyboard. At a half million words, her Homeric odyssey was finally complete, sweeping ever-upward in grand and timeless themes before it collapsed in tragedy at the feet of her protagonists. The crane out her window quieted her nerves as did daydreams of her future book signing. It would be epic. She'd be epic: the exception to all the rules. Query letter at the ready, she pushed send, and send, and send. Stated preferences be damned. She was going to be a star.

Kurt Fortmeyer said...

The sun had collapsed over the water like a game-winning homer clearing the park. The mud sucked at my boots, slowing me down. My heart hammered out a manic Morse code, signaling my soul that they hadn’t killed me yet. Another few hours of this and I’d be home, one way or the other.
Briars and mosquitoes continued to draw my blood.
A crane whooped in the distance.
I never heard the bullet.
I hope Mama likes the funeral.

Kitty said...

My husband's Harvard nickname was Homerun Holden because he cheated like a Kennedy and drank with Irish enthusiasm. Homerun liked his women slutty. I was his first twinset-with-pearls.

I married Holden confident I would change his ways, and I did. His drinking abated, his philandering ceased... momentarily.

I should've left at the first whiff of her Shalimar. Olivia Crane signaled the collapse of my marriage. Liv, with her hourglass figure and Christian Louboutins. Liv of the law firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt. Holden's ultimate Madonna-whore.

When my dignity was spent, I packed up my pearls and congenital hubris and left.

RoseAnn Foster said...

In the hours when the sun is beating down, we desperately want to escape. The crane casts its long shadow, a black line, boxing us in beside the steel bars.

Cutting corners is a way of life in construction. The boss said this job was like hitting a homer out of the park, but he’s silent now. We all know why. There are not yet walls for the writing, but it’s there anyway. The steel isn’t good enough. It will collapse. Just a matter of time. We keep building, walking among the decks, praying for the signal to quit.

William Coleman said...

Mind-numbing hours of waiting were nearing an end. I craned my neck and watched him run his hand through this thick mane, so in love with himself. His looks and imitation charm lured his victims. A well-dressed demon, preying on the innocent.

I imagined slipping the blade between his ribs and listening to the air escape as his lung collapsed. The signal came, a short burst in my ear. Time for the reckoning. I rose from my hiding place, dagger in hand, and turned toward him, recounting each who had suffered at his hand. This was going to be Homeric.

Ilka De Bisschop said...

Julia Golding. The most renowned hourglass figure on the planet and legs that would humble a crane. Even vomit cannot chase the fashionableness from her hair.
‘Drugs, I bet’, the cleaner whispers. ‘Terrible shame.’
‘You get used to it’, Oscar says. He felt this coming as soon as she walked into his hotel, even though she never took off her shades. Twenty years of servitude have made him alert to the subtlest signals of imminent collapse.
‘How vain, without the merit, is the name.’
‘Say what?’
‘Some Homer.’
Oscar discreetly takes out his smartphone.