Monday Flash Fics; February 20, 2017; “Wild Horses.”



Wild Horses

By Jeff Baker


Their love was forbidden.

Zavid and Zannic were both pledged to serve their own Masters, but they were able to be together when their Masters met to race their horses. Zavid and Zannic were able to grab a few moments together in the stables or in the paddock. And the horses, who know more than men think they do, took pity on them. For they knew that Zannic’s Master was planning to move out of the country, and that Zannic and Zavid would never see each other again.

And the Harras called upon the Horse Lords who transformed the two lovers into horses.

Zannic and Zavid galloped from the Master’s paddock, free for the first time in their lives.

And they say, when the three moons are high and bright in the summer sky, the two lovers can be seen galloping together in the moonlight. And in the dark of winter when a noise is heard in the paddock or stable and men check for wild beasts they always count the horses. They may find two extra; Zavid and Zannic, bringing their warmth to their fellows in the night.




Author’s note: a “harras,”is a gathering or group of horses.

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Monday Flash Fics for February 13, 2017; “Cold War.”


Cold War

By Jeff Baker


The two men sat on the park bench in the snowy dusk.

“Snow everywhere, just like in Russia,” said Illianovich.

“Snow like in New Jersey,” Meader said, idly brushing snow off the edge of the bench. It wasn’t snowing at the moment, but it was still cold.

“I don’t remember the snow fifty years ago,” Illianovich said.

“We had other things on our mind,” Meader said with a smile. “But the first time we had a meeting here was in September that year.”

“That building across the street wasn’t built yet,” Illianovich said pointing. “And there was a stone building by the pond at the end of the park, remember?”

“I remember. I thought it looked like a mausoleum,” Meader said.

“Appropriate,” Illianovich mused. “Considering what we were a part of.”

“I know,” Meader said. “If we’d each played our intended parts it would have been death on a grand scale.”

“But I was a new father,” Illianovich said.

“So was I,” Meader said. “And we sat right here, shared a bottle of vodka…”

“I remember the vodka!” Illianovich said. “And we wondered what our governments were fighting about.”

“Politics.” Meader said, flicking snow off the bench with a finger.

“Politicians.” Illianovich said.

“We were just cogs. Cogs in a machine,” Meader said.

“Small, unnoticed, pivotal cogs,” Illianovich said, raising a gloved finger. “We were Gabriel blowing his trumpet. Yes, I knew who Gabriel was back then!”

Meader had looked at the other man in surprise.

“But we met, knew who the other was.” Meader said. “We talked.”

“And talked,” Illianovich said.

“And talked,” Meader said. “And your government never knew?”

“That I was colluding with the enemy? And that we were telling our governments what they needed to hear? No.” Illianovich said.

“To avoid Armageddon,” Meader said.

The two men sat in silence in the growing dark.

“When did you come to America? To stay, I mean?” Meader asked.

“1971,” Illianovich said. “I asked for asylum.”

“Mmmmmmm…” Meader said.

“Enough of this chit chat,” Illianovich said. “Did you bring the vodka?”

Meader laughed. “My doctor told me it wasn’t good for me, so I don’t drink anymore.”

“Pity. It would have kept us warm,” Illianovich said. “Well, I’m going home. My wife is with our great-grandchild.”

“Wonderful!” Meader said standing up.

They shook hands and the two old men walked out of the park as light snow began to fall.




Author’s Note: I know of at least two incidents, one during the Cuban Missile Crisis and one in 1983 where Russians in charge of launching missiles and effectively beginning a nuclear war refused to do so. There were probably a few other incidents we don’t know about. This story is for them. —-J.S.B.


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Monday Flash Fics for February 6, 2017; “A Line in the Sand.”


A Line in the Sand

By Jeff Baker

“Okay,” Chad said, scrawling with his finger in the sand as they sat on the beach. “The coffee table’s here.”

“That doesn’t look like a coffee table,” Gary said.

“It’s rectangular, it’s in the living room, it’s a coffee table.” Chad said. “Now, we go in through here…”

“Where?” Gary said.

“The back door. Don’t grin like that. I’ve got the key. They never got around to changing the lock on that one.” Chad said.

“Then what?” Gary asked.

“We check the fridge, see if there’s room,” Chad said, drawing a small square next to where he’d drawn the line to represent the back door.

“Ooooo! I love what you’ve done with the place!” Gary said, leaning over Chad for a better look.

“Shut up, you!” Chad said playfully hanging his hat on Gary’s face. The two of them laughed and Chad stretched out his leg and ploughed through his diagram in the sand.

“Awww, look!” Chad said. “I should have brought my tablet!”

“Okay, we’re giving your folks a surprise party, you don’t have to plan it like it’s the Normandy invasion,” Gary said.

“Yes, I do.” Chad said. “Planning is the whole…”

Gary shut him up with a kiss.

“You plan too much!” Gary said when they pulled apart. “It’s what I get for marrying an Army Ranger.”

“Yeah,” Chad said, kissing him again. “Think my folks will be surprised with this anniversary party tomorrow?”

“Considering their real anniversary isn’t for four more months, I’d say yes.”



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Monday Flash Fics: “The Case of the Velvet Clause.”


                               The Case of the Velvet Clause

                                                By Jeff Baker


            “Hey! Watch your hand! That’s my crotch you’re squishing!”

            “Oh, sorry!”

            It was an occupational hazard at the law firm of Musselman and Pearce. Their office was so cramped they couldn’t reach for a book without bumping into each other. Leaning over to grab a book from the shelves that lined the room was how they wound up in that clinch.

            “Got it!” Pearce said, bracing himself against Musselman’s shoulder and pushing himself back into his chair.

            “You know,” Musselman said, “we’re just a roll of toilet paper and a metal bar away from being a large restroom stall in here.”

            “What about the toilet?” Pearce asked grinning.

            “You mean like the one we’ll be going down if we don’t start getting some clients?” Musselman asked grinning back.

            “Or even A Client,” Pearce said with a sigh.

            In the three months since they had struck out on their own after leaving Brown, Foster and Kleiner most of their walk-in traffic had been traffic tickets and their only Facebook follower was Pearce’s Mother.

            The office door suddenly opened and banged against the metal wastebasket.

            “Is this the law firm?” said the young woman who stood in the doorway.

            “Uh, yeah,  Musselman and Pearce. I’m Musselman, he’s Pearce. Come in and sit down,” he said as they stood up.

            “I’ll stand,” she said. “I’m Marjorie Arbothnott. I need someone to invalidate my great-uncle’s will.”

            “What about the will?” Pearce said.

            “Uncle Jasper left me all his money but he added a clause saying I had to get married by the time I’m twenty-six. I’m twenty-five right now and I’m not rushing into anything.”

            “Any idea why he made his will out like that?” Musselman asked.

            “He wanted me to be wrapped in velvet,” Arbothnott said. “All safe and alone.”

            “About how much would you inherit?” Pearce asked.

            “A hundred and fifty-five,” she said.

            Pearce whistled. “A hundred fifty-five million dollars!”

            “No, just a hundred fifty-five dollars,” she said. “And if I don’t get married in a couple of months the money goes to the United Chicken Liberation Fund.”

            Musselman and Pearce looked at each other for a moment.

            “My advice is to let the chickens have the money,” Pearce said, standing back up. “Hey, could you step out into the hall?”

            “Are you hitting on me?” Arbothnott said with a smile.

            “No, I’ve got to stretch my leg,” he said. “We’ve got to get a bigger office.”



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Monday Flash Fics: “No Room at the Inn”


                                    No Room at the Inn

                                        By Jeff Baker


            The weather was bitter cold, the stars were a glorious spread of winter colors and the lights on the idling trucks were orange. The two men stood in the early-morning dark there in the warehouse.

            “I found this the other morning when I started up the trucks,” Dayton said.

            “Where?” Greg asked.

            “In truck 307,” Dayton said. “Propped against the passenger side door.”

            Dayton was holding a pillow. Not huge, medium-sized. Not fluffy, more like a Styrofoam cushion. Something that could be bought at a thrift store. Cheap.

            “Find anything else?” Greg asked.

            “Just the usual,” Dayton said. “Papers, pens, candy wrappers, half-full bags of chips, undelivered catalogs.” He shook his head. “These drivers really need to start cleaning out the cabs of their trucks more.”

            “So, you think someone’s living in there?” Greg asked. “Using the cab of the truck as an apartment?”

            “What I think is somebody is climbing over the fence and getting into one of the trucks after you and the loading crew leave for the night. When did you get out of here last night, anyway?” Dayton asked.

            Greg thought for a moment. “About ten-thirty,” he said. “I think. Set the alarm and left.”

            “Okay, sometime between eleven and five in the morning,” Dayton said.

            “What makes you think one of the drivers didn’t leave it in there?” Greg asked.

            “All the crap people leave in the trucks I wouldn’t be surprised,” Dayton said. “Listen, you get here same time I do, right?”

            “Usually before you do,” Greg said.

            “Try getting here a little earlier the next few mornings,” Dayton said. “See if we can catch this guy. If it’s a guy.”

            “I’ll do that,” Greg said. “Let me have that pillow, okay? I’ll take care of it.”

            They started walking back into the warehouse.

            “Look at those stars!” I love it when it’s cold like this,” Dayton said.

            Greg said nothing. He was making a mental note to set the alarm on his cellphone for a half-hour earlier as he felt for his toothbrush and razor in his pocket. He was; at least, glad to get his pillow back.




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Snow Day—Monday Flash Fics


                                          Shadows and Snow

                                                By Jeff Baker


            Steve ran in and slammed the door shut behind him before we could yell at him to stop letting in the cold. The blizzard had hit right before noon and the College had already cancelled classes. Steve must have walked from the school cafeteria where he worked the lunch shift, back to our frat house. He looked like he’d been body surfing in Antarctica.

            “I’m f-f-f-freezing,” Steve said. “And my shadow’s after me.”

            Johnny B. sat on the couch by the unlit fireplace (we had a furnace); Kevin looked up from the trig textbook he was studying. We all stared.

            “Well, if you don’t believe me, look!” Steve said, pointing at the front window.

            I Study Nada, as we called ourselves, was in an old brick building that had been a girl’s dorm in the 1950’s. Two stories, bathrooms on each floor, storm windows and our charter were up-to-date.  The closest to a wild party any of us had held involved a movie night where we lost one of the library’s DVD’s. As stereotypical fraternities go, we were pretty placid. Until that afternoon when we crowded around the front window and saw a dark figure walking down the tree-lined street in the blowing snow.

            “See! That’s it!” Steve said.

            “That’s not a shadow, that’s somebody,” Johnny B. said.

            “Anybody would look like a shadow out there,” Kevin said, making a spooky “oooooooo” noise.

            “Guys,” I said my throat dry. “Look.”

            On the floor, in the light from the lamp over the table, I could clearly see our shadows. Mine, Kevin’s and Johnny B.’s. But not Steve’s. I moved the lamp. Nope. No shadow.

            “See?” Steve said.

            “Woah!” Kevin said.

            “Just like Dracula,” Johnny B. said.

            “Or Peter Pan,” I added.

            “How did that thing get loose?” Johnny B. asked.

            “I dunno,” Steve said. “I was walking through the back hallway, under all those lights, and all of a sudden my shadow started bouncing around the wall and waving its arms at me. I grabbed my hoodie and ran. Hey, could you guys turn up the heat or something?”

            I was staring out the window again; the shadow or whatever it was had been obscured in a blast of swirling snow.

            “I think it’s gone,” I said.

            “I’m going to my room and curl up under some blankets,” Steve said. “I’m still cold.”

            About a half hour later I went upstairs to get something from my room and I noticed Steve’s door (which was across the hall from mine) was open. I peeked in, his desk light was on and he was asleep in bed, blankets pulled around him. And standing at the end of the bed was his shadow.

            It spoke, in a deep, shadowy voice, like when you try to talk underwater.

            “We are not whole apart,” it said. “I am lost without you. And you are always warmer with your shadow.”

            It was gone in an instant, but the shadow of Steve in his bed suddenly stretched across the floor. In his sleep, Steve smiled and rolled over.

            I shut the door quietly and went back downstairs.



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A Summing Up Of Sorts

For the last twenty years or so I’ve written down what I did on New Year’s Eve and a reflection on the ending year, maybe to keep a record or spur myself ahead. I always thought of publishing them and may some day. But here’s my rumination on December 31, 2016 and before.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Words of gloom, pessimism and deception with an end result that confirmed a lot about what H.L. Menken said about the American people. Personally, it was a better year for me; my productivity rate on the writing increased, I actually published two regular-length short-stories, wrote a lot more and began writing one flash fiction story a week for the “Monday Flash Fics” Facebook page. Ray Bradbury encouraged writers to write one short-story a week and that’s what I’ve been doing. I also started a monthly column on Queer Sci Fi (Thanks, J. Scott!) and am planning to start the year by writing a novel. We went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in August where I got to meet and thank some of the authors who influenced my decision to become a writer in the first place.

Best of all, Darryl and I were married on November 14, 2016, in what I call a “shotgun wedding” down at the courthouse to stave off any changes in the laws about who can marry whom.

And on New Year’s Eve, both of us planned on staying up, but I knew better. I hit the sack sometime after 10:30 p.m. and the end of the Carson rerun on MeTV. Darryl sacked-out with me about fifteen minutes later, but I was out like a light. We’d heard an occasional firework popping but they woke me up around 11:40. I thought about getting up, but instead, I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Happy New Year! The future lies ahead.

——-Jeff Baker, January 1, 2017, 10:37p.m.

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