Category: Flashback Fridays

Flashback Video: Mad Plans

This story was originally posted May 12, 2017. It was posted again on May 31, 2019. It was one of the first of my many mad scientist stories. Mad scientists are fun to write about. They are logical, and have goals, and are sometimes also a little bit too dramatic, creative, or silly. It’s all very likable.

This video took a couple retakes to get right. I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know what you think!

Flashback Video: Unlucky Thursdays

This story was originally posted December 8, 2016. It was posted again on May 3, 2019. It remains my favorite of the stories I’ve posted here, so I chose it to be the first of my flashback videos.

I had a lot of fun making the video. I hope you enjoy it, too. Please let me know what you think!

Flashback Friday: The Pirates

This story was originally posted on March 23, 2017. I like the idea of pirates who steal odd things like they do in this story. Maybe someday I’ll write a story where pirates take the words right out of your mouth. That could be funny, too.

Brian took off his coat and settled in his seat. It was time for his oldest daughter’s school play. He glanced at the program. There she was, on the back of the program, listed under stage crew.

He felt a little silly coming to watch a play full of teenagers when he wasn’t related to any of the actual performers. However, he felt like he was supporting the theater department by showing up, or something like that.

Halfway through the first act, he wished he’d stayed home. It was dark, and he couldn’t hear half the lines, and he kept falling asleep. Why had he come again?

And then, all the lights came on at once. The audience members looked at each other, blinking. The teenagers on stage froze in place, looking confused. And then four men in pirate costumes ran onstage.

“We are now stealing your show,” the one dressed as a captain said. He tugged on the end of his goatee with an evil chuckle. “You may get it back, but it will never be the same.” He laughed louder. The pirates behind him started to juggle and hula hoop, but they were rather terrible at both.

Brian straightened in his chair. This wasn’t on the program. The pirates looked too old to be teenagers. Were they teachers from the school? He didn’t recognize them.

The pirates were now attempting to jump rope and solve rubix cubes. Perhaps they’d do better to try one thing at a time.   Brian snorted and clapped as a pirate managed to tangle two others in the jump rope.

The laughter and applause grew louder. They quieted as the pirates sang an odd song about grog and bowed. The audience cheered. The lights went out. When they went back on, the pirates were gone.

“Jenny,” Brian said to his daughter as he drove her home that night, “who were the pirates?   They were hilarious. It was the best five minutes of the show.”

“That wasn’t part of the show, Dad,” Jenny said. “No one knows who they are.”

“That’s really weird,” Brian said.

Two weeks later, it was the opening night for the last movie in the trilogy about the dinosaurs that saved the world from alien invasions. All the showings were sold out for three days. It was going to be the movie of the year.

Brian had camped out overnight to get tickets for the first showing. Everyone he knew was jealous. Brian brought a notebook to record his impressions for discussions with his friends when they finally saw it. He pinched his arm when he entered the theater.

Everyone sat down for the previews and waited expectantly. Then the studio logo came onscreen. The audience cheered. Then there was a scratchy sort of noise and the pirates appeared, larger than life.   “We have stolen the show,” the captain said. “To get it back, you must follow the map. Good bye!”   He laughed.

A map of the theater replaced the image of the pirates. Brian copied the map into his notebook. His wife Sally and their children followed him. Most of the audience members were already searching the theater.

Seeing Brian’s map, a group joined them as they followed the trail. They followed the map to a storeroom at the back of the theater. The theater manager had come along with the group, and he let them into the room. The film was in a sealed box of serving containers for movie popcorn.   When he opened the box he nearly cried in relief. “We can watch the show now,” he said. Everyone cheered.

Three days later, it was Sally’s birthday. Brian tried to convince her that the movie was an awesome birthday celebration, but she wanted a nice dinner out and had already made reservations. The restaurant was so fancy they had to dress up.

It had more than one menu and lots of silverware and a piano player in the corner playing classical music. Brian wanted to run away. “We can still go for pizza,” he whispered. His wife rolled her eyes.

They were halfway through eating their cold soup when the piano music came to a halt with a smash of keys. Everyone looked over. Two pirates were busy tying up the piano player. A third was tying his shoes laces together. The captain looked on, tugging at his goatee and chortling. He turned, hands on his hips, and looked at the diners.

“We’ve come to steal your show,” he said.

“You ruined my son’s track meet,” a man yelled.

“You knocked that poor mime into the park fountain,” someone else yelled.

“Did you really need to interrupt the debate competition? Or the spelling bee?” another diner asked.

A man glared, face red. “You were the ones who spoiled my press conference!”

“The audience was still laughing when my daughter won the beauty pageant. I hate you,” a woman said. She slammed her fist on the table. Her soup sloshed dangerously.

“I see that our reputation precedes us,” the captain said. “And so, for our devoted fans…”

“I hate you,” the woman repeated.

“… we have a special treat.” The captain continued. “A sword dance, with musical accompaniment.”

One of the pirates played chopsticks. The captain clapped along, and the other two pirates waved their swords around and stomped back and forth. A security guard approached them. The lights went off. When they turned back on the pirates were gone.

“I hate them,” the woman repeated.

“This was great,” Brian whispered. “I’m glad we came. Even if the soup was cold.”

Sally rolled her eyes. “At least someone is happy.”

The security guards untied the piano player. Several people were gathering their things and leaving. In the end, Brian and his wife stayed and got a discount on their meal and a free dessert.

Brian had a long meeting scheduled at work on Monday. He knew it was going to drag on and on, and no one would say anything new.   He wondered if the pirates took requests.

Flashback Friday: Monster Sweets

This story was originally posted on March 24, 2017. I think that relying on logic and what we expect to see can mean that we miss things.

Eglantine wandered into the poorly lit store that she’d never noticed before. It was squeezed between a coffee shop filled with scruffy people and a grocery store that had closed nearly a decade ago.   She would normally never even look twice at anything along this street, but her car had a flat tire and her phone died, so she needed to find a way to call a tow truck.

There was no one at the counter. Eglantine looked around and couldn’t find a bell to ring either. “Hello? Is anybody there?” she said. She looked around. It certainly was a strange store. I was so dimly lit that it was difficult to see what was on the shelves from here.

“Can I help you?” a low, crackly voice asked. Eglantine nearly jumped in surprise. She hadn’t heard anyone come in.

She turned and faced the young man standing behind the counter. He was tall and thin and pale with dark hair and a bit of an overbite.   He seemed harmless. Eglantine smiled. “Do you have a phone I could use? My battery died and my car has a flat tire.”

“Just a moment.” The young man reached under the counter and picked up an old-fashioned phone that he set down at her elbow.

“Is that a rotary dial? I haven’t seen one of those since I was a little girl.” She smiled and carefully dialed the number. She arranged to meet the tow truck driver in front of the grocery store in twenty minutes.

Task done, Eglantine looked around the store again. “What do you sell here?”

“Sweets for monsters,” the young man said. He looked completely serious. Eglantine looked at his black clothing and pale appearance. The store must cater to teenagers who liked dressing up as vampires and such.

Eglantine had always had a bit of a sweet tooth. She didn’t mind playing along with the theme, as long as the candy tasted good. “What would you recommend?”

“What kind of monster are you?” the young man asked.

Well, that was hardly helpful. “Does it matter?”

The young man looked confused. “Of course it does.” He waved towards a dark shelf that looked like most of the others. “Just look at the lollipops. Vampires like blood pops, werewolves like meat pops, and zombies like brain pops.”

Those were terrible flavor names. And they didn’t really hint at what the flavors really tasted like. Kids and their strange obsessions. “What’s your bestseller?” Eglantine asked.

The young man pointed to a box on the counter filled with bland looking packaged bars of some type. “This far from Halloween we sell a lot of spectral energy bars.”

Ugh.   Protein bars. “Do they taste good?”

The young man blinked. “They don’t taste like anything.”

Eglantine laughed. “I believe it.” She checked her watch. The tow truck driver would be here in a few minutes. If she was going to buy herself a treat, she’d need to decide on something soon. “So, what do you think I would like?”

“If you like jam, we have a new shipment in,” the young man said.

“Sure,” she said.   “I’ll get a baguette on the way home and have toast and jam and hot cocoa.” She smiled. She could already see herself curled in her favorite chair watching the weather channel and enjoying her treat. “Pick out two. Surprise me,” she said.

“All right.” The young man walked around the counter to a nearby shelf and picked up two little jars. He put them into a little plain paper bag with handles and set it on the counter. He rang up the purchase on an old-fashioned register. “How will you be paying?”

“Cash.” She handed him a bill that would comfortably cover the cost. “Keep the change,” she said. “Thanks for the help.”

She hurried over to her car. Just as she arrived, the tow truck pulled up. In all the hassle of dealing with the tow truck and the repair shop, she forgot all about the jam until she was driving home that evening. “Oh, I need to stop at the bakery.” She was able to just make the turn in time.

Before going into the bakery, she decided to peek at the jars the young man had picked out.   Lizard Scale Jelly and Banana Peel and Parsley Jam? What did they really taste like? They sounded terrible. Well, if they tasted bad, at least the jars were cute. She could put them on her desk and use them to hold paperclips and stamps. Really, teenagers these days were so strange.

Flashback Friday: The Thank You War

This story was originally posted on October 12, 2017. I have been told that you aren’t supposed to return someone’s container empty. Instead, you should send a treat to thank them for the treat they sent you. It’s a funny idea, if you look at it the right way.

Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith were leaving the grocery store at the same time one day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Everything seemed wonderful. The two neighbors smiled widely at each other. “It’s so good to see you,” Mrs. Jones said.

“It’s been such a long time since we last talked,” Mrs. Smith said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. I just harvested the last of my pears,” Mrs. Jones said. “How have you been?”

“Oh, I do love pears,” Mrs. Smith said. “I’ve been fine. I started singing in the community choir. You should come.”

“I don’t sing, but let me know when your next performance is, and I’ll come cheer you on,” Mrs. Jones said.

And then, the handle of her grocery bag broke, and a cabbage, three carrots, and a can of beans fell out and started to roll away.   Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones chased after the escaping groceries.

The carrots hadn’t gone far. Mrs. Jones scooped them up and put them in another bag.   She crouched to fish the cabbage out from under a car. When she straightened up and put the cabbage securely away, Mrs. Smith was returning with the can of beans.

“They almost went into the storm drain,” Mrs. Smith said. “I caught them just in time.”

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Don’t mention it,” Mrs. Smith said.

“I’d better get my groceries home before something else happens,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Of course. I’ll see you later,” Mrs. Smith said.

And the ladies went home and put their groceries away.   That evening, Mrs. Jones brought Mrs. Smith a pear cobbler. “It’s to thank you for helping me with my groceries,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Smith said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Jones said.

A few days later, Mrs. Smith returned Mrs. Jones’s pan.   She put some cookies inside the pan.   “I made you some cookies to thank you for the cobbler,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Smith said.

A few days later, Mrs. Jones stopped by to visit Mrs. Smith. She brought a bag of peppermints. “Thank you for the cookies,” she said. “They were delightful.”

“Thank you for the peppermints,” Mrs. Smith said.   “They’re my favorite kind.”

A few days later, Mrs. Smith visited Mrs. Jones.   “No more sweets, please,” Mrs. Jones said. “I’ve eaten far too much sugar this week.”

Mrs. Smith laughed. “Me, too. I don’t have any sweets. Just a flyer for my choir concert. I hope you can come.”

Mrs. Jones smiled. “I’d love to! Thank you.”

“I’m so glad,” Mrs. Smith said. She handed Mrs. Jones the flyer. “Oh, and a thank you card,” she said. She handed Mrs. Jones a card. “For the peppermints. Well, I’ll see you later.” She left, feeling certain she had won.

Three days later, Mrs. Smith was retrieving her mail from the mailbox. She sorted through the bills and advertisements. “Oh, look, this one’s from Mrs. Jones.” She opened it. It was a lovely handmade card. “Thank you for the thank you card,” it said.

Flashback Friday: Super Strong

This story was originally posted on October 28, 2017. I think problems seem smaller when I can find a way to help someone.

“I can be anything I want to be, right?” Alex asked one night at dinner.

“Of course you can,” Dad said. He paused. “But you probably shouldn’t choose to be a veterinarian. Or a doctor. That might not go well.”

Alex frowned. He clutched his fork a little too tight. It broke in half and the metal pieces landed on his plate and cracked it. Alex burst into tears.

“It’s all right, honey,” Mom said. “There are still lots of things you can do.”

“Like what?” Alex asked. He sniffled and blew his nose on his thick canvas napkin. It tore down the center.

Mom handed him a new fork. “Well, um, you could be a newscaster,” she said. “Or a writer.”

“That’s right,” Dad said. “They have those programs now where you can dictate everything and you don’t have to type or hold a pencil.”

Alex frowned. “I just want to be like all the normal kids. You know, do the craft projects for the holidays. Play sports after school.   Write down my own answers on assignments.”

Dad sighed. “Life isn’t fair sometimes, huh?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah.”

“You’re not the only kid at school who can’t do all the normal things though, right?” Mom asked.

“One kid has to keep his eyes closed all the time, because he has laser eyes. And this one girl can’t talk at all because her voice shatters glass,” Alex said.

Mom smoothed Alex’s hair. “You see? It’s not just you.”

“It’s still not fair.” Alex picked up his new fork and speared some lettuce. The tines curled under.

“Maybe you can find a way to use your talents to help other people,” Dad said.

“Like what?” Alex asked. He ate the lettuce and bent the fork’s tines back into place.

“Well, you could read to that boy with the laser eyes,” Dad said.

Alex frowned. “But I’m not supposed to touch the books. The pages keep ripping when I turn them.” He speared another bite of lettuce and the tines curled under again.

“But he can pick up the books, right?” Mom asked.

Alex nodded. “There’s nothing wrong with his hands.”

“Then maybe you can help each other,” Mom said.   “I’ll bet there are a lot of stories you both want to hear.”

“You’ll find more work-arounds for your problems if you can work with other people,” Dad said.

“It would be nice to help people,” Alex said. “Do you really think I can?” He straightened the fork’s tines again.

“You’re the strongest person I know,” Dad said.   “I’ll bet there are lots of ways you can help people. All you need to do is look around and notice.”

“But what if I see a problem, and I can’t help?” Alex asked.

“Then you could try to find someone who can help,” Dad said.

“Okay,” Alex said.

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Mom asked.

“A space pirate,” Alex said. “Do you think I can?”

“Maybe,” Dad said. “If you find the right crew.”

“You might need to invent a good spaceship first,” Mom said.

“I could do that,” Alex said. “At least I think I can.”

“Well, then you know where to start,” Dad said.   “Now who’s ready for lasagna?”

“Me!” Alex said. “Can I help?”

“Sure,” Dad said. “You can help me check to make sure it’s done. What do you think? Does it look good?”

“I think it looks great,” Alex said.

“Then it’s ready. Thanks for your help,” Dad said. Alex grinned.

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