“On the Amalfi Desert.” January 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge by Jeff Baker. (1/16/23)

In the Amalfi Desert With Dead Folks

by Jeff Baker

AUTHOR’S NOTE; The draws for the January 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were; a Ghost Story, in a desert including a roll of film. I put on my Grimm’s Ghost Stories horror comic book hat and came up with this: —-jeff

Willie pulled his hat down to shield his head from the desert sun. He reached down and felt the pocket of his cargo pants. Still zipped up and he could feel the roll of developed film clunking around in the plastic tube.

He should have exposed the damn thing, but no! It had accidentally been developed.

He glanced ahead. Nothing but sand and blazing blue sky. Water in his thermos. He had to keep walking. There was an end to the desert, he knew. Someone would find the jeep that had broken down miles back. They would find him. That was good, right?

No! He had the damn film right in his pocket! The pictures which proved he was a murderer! He had to keep walking!

If he rescued himself, and destroyed the film, nobody would be able to tie him to Franco. Without the pictures, Franco’s death would be ruled a suicide. Nobody would know of their illicit partnership or the scams they pulled. And he would be able to withdraw the money from the account wherever he was. But he couldn’t find an ATM in the middle of the desert.

For what felt like the hundredth time he realized he should just toss the film into the desert; nobody would find it. It would be distorted, warped by the heat.

For what felt like the hundredth time he pulled the plastic tube out of his pocket and pulled the roll of film out of it. For what felt like the hundredth time he tossed the film and the tube towards the desert sand.

And for what seemed like the hundredth time the film zipped through the air back to the tube which hopped by itself back into Willie’s pocket.

“HahahahaaaaaHaaaaaaaa!” Came the sepulchral voice.

Willie looked up. He knew what would be there.

Drifting like a small cloud, sometimes blurry sometimes clear, Franco’s face was there above him. It laughed and taunted Willie.

“No, Willie boy! No, old partner,” it said. “You won’t get rid of the film that easily. The pictures are too good. And they’ll find the pictures on you when they catch up to you or to…your remains! Haaahahahaaaaaa!”

The ghost bounced ahead of him in the air, like a bouncing ball in an old cartoon over song lyrics.

“Are you headed the right way? Is this it? Or this? Or this? Hahaaaaa! How much water do you have left? Enough to wander to the edge of this desert? How big is this desert anyway? What’s it like to die in a desert anyway? HaaaaHaaaaaahaHaHaaaaa!”

Willie trudged on, the laughter filling his ears, the film jostling in his pocket, the heat rising up around him in waves.

His feet getting heavier, Heavier. With. Every. Step.

—end—

(Apologies to Joe R. Lansdale for the title!—-jeff)

Posted in Fiction, Ghost Story, Horror, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

“In The Caves,” Part Two of my Serial Story is posted on RoM/Mantic Reads. Jeff Baker, Friday January 13th, 2023.

Got a nice Friday the Thirteenth surprise this evening! “In the Caves,” part two of my serial story that began with “Toward the Marogas Hills” has posted on RoM/Mantic Reads! Here it is and I promise the story isn’t finished! https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/2023/01/13/jeff-baker-in-the-caves/comment-page-1/#comment-307

Special thanks to Fiona Glass for posting my stories and starting and maintaining the zine!

Posted in Action/Adventure, Fantasy, LGBT, Promo, RoM/Mantic Reads, Romance | Leave a comment

The Natives are Friendly for Rainbow Snippets. Friday the Thirteenth of January, 2023 from Jeff Baker.

Every week we post six lines from a work of ours, a work-in-progress or published or a recommendation of someone else’s work with at least one LGBT character. Posted at Rainbow Snippets here: [LINK] https://www.facebook.com/groups/963484217054974

In this snippet from my story “At Least the Natives are Friendly,” https://authorjeffbaker.com/2022/12/09/at-least-the-natives-are-friendly-cool-down-with-friday-flash-fics-for-december-9th-2022-from-jeff-baker/ we meet Zack who is working as a warehouse manager on an icy alien world but finds some warmth for himself. We open with Zack doing something we are all familiar with; scraping his car window on an icy morning.

Zack had shipped out on a star freighter when he was sixteen and had worked his way across the solar systems as far away as he could get from his abusive family. He hadn’t minded being on his own and when the opportunity to run the warehouse on Blumenstuck had come up he’d jumped on it. When he’d been told it was winter most of the year there, he’d shrugged.

What the hey! Just like Wisconsin. Scraping the car window every morning was a pain, but the job wasn’t bad and it paid well and the Earth people shared the world with the Olarni, the furry humanoids liked the cold and had arrived on the planet two hundred years earlier, seeking a colder world.

I’ll break a few rules with this snippet and get to the nice, warm ending:

Zack grinned. That was the real fringe benefit, one that made him stick with the job and the cold mornings.

He came home every evening to a sweet, warm, furry pan-sexual Olarni man who would make any world Zack was on feel like home.

Emidos had been raised on Blumenstuck and he loved it as he loved Zack.

And they both laughed at the name the icy world had been given by the Earth colonists who had seen it hanging in space like a flower. “ Blumenstuck” meant “flower piece.”

“Really cold for a flower,” they would laugh.

An addenda here: I largely improvised this story in one sitting and the line about Zack fleeing his abusive family just popped up. Not like my life at all (thank God!) but I’ve known people to whom it was a reality. It makes the warm ending of the story all the sweeter! See you in a week! —–jeff

Posted in Fiction, LGBT, Rainbow Snippets, Science Fiction | 12 Comments

“The Snowflower,” by Jeff Baker. Friday Flash Fics for Friday the Thirteenth of January, Twenty Twenty-Three.

The Snowflower

by Jeff Baker

Many years ago, in the Kingdom of Ice was a small village at the base of an icy hill. The villagers were not troubled by the ground being frozen all year because it had always been that way and they preferred it. Vegetables and fruits were grown in one of the caves under the hill where it was warm and wet. There were a host of edible mushrooms which provided protein on days when the hunters did not have much luck catching game. Water was no problem either as they were able to melt the ice for all the water they needed.

One day, however, on the edge of town there was something few people in the village had ever seen: a bright yellow flower poking out of a mound of ice. The younger villagers were puzzled as they had not traveled far and had not seen a flower before. So, they awakened the Ice Elder who was the wisest of them all and soon the Elder was there at the edge of town, wearing his warm robe over his fur pajamas and thick, warm boots on his feet.

The Elder surveyed the ice and the flower growing out of it.

“It’s a flower all right,” the Elder said, wiggling the stem to make sure someone had not just stuck it there as a prank. “A rose to be exact. I haven’t seen one of these in years.”

“How did it get there?” Akminar, one of the young men asked,

“Grew there, it seems,” said the Elder.

“Did somebody plant it?” Zomiach asked. He was the other young man. His father was trying to get him interested in dating Akminar, because of a rumor that Akminar’s family was secretly rich. They weren’t.

“I think the stem goes all the way down to the ground,” the Elder said. The ice pile was half as tall as the Elder who was just slightly taller than the two young men who had not quite reached the Age of Ascension. The Elder rubbed his chin. “We would have to uproot the flower or shovel the pile away to see exactly whether the flower is growing from the ground and if it is just the first of several. But I have a book in my library which tells of the ways of flowers.”

“My Grandfather says that flowers are inedible and therefore impractical,” Zomiach said, trying to look knowledgeable.

“The Mushrooms and fronds in the caves look more appetizing,” Akminar said.

“There are edible flowers but this isn’t one of them,” the Elder said. “Still…”

The Elder turned to Zomiach and Akminar. “Run to the village and bring everyone you can,” he said. “Practicality is all well and good, but genuine beauty like this rose growing in an unexpected place can make even the coldest of us feel warm”

—end—

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Friday Flash Fictions, LGBT, Short-Stories | 1 Comment

Out In The Desert With a Roll of Film and Ghosts. Flash Fiction Draw Challenge for January 2023.

First, here’s the prompts for the January 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. Then my usual long-winded explanation:

A Ghost Story

Set in a Desert

Involving a Roll of Film

Now, on to the details.

Hi! I’m Mike Mayak, I also write as Jeff Baker and I’m the current moderator for the monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, which was started by ‘Nathan Burgoine a few years ago and carried on by Cait Gordon and Jeffrey Ricker. It’s a monthly writing challenge mainly for stress-free fun that anyone can play.

Here’s how it works: the first Monday of every month I draw three cards; a heart, a diamond and a club. These correspond to a list naming a genre, a setting and an object that must appear in the story. Participants write up a flash fiction story, 1,000 words or less, post it to their website and link it here in the comments. I’ll post the results (and hopefully have one of my own written!) the week of January 16th, 2023.

As I’m no good making videos I did the drawing offstage and the results were the Three of Hearts (a Ghost Story) the Ace of Clubs (a Roll of Film) and the Four of Diamonds (a Desert.)

So, get to writing and I’ll post the results next week!

Thanks for playing!

Posted in 'Nathan Burgoine, Cait Gordon, Jeffrey Ricker, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge | 2 Comments

Merry-Go-Round Mystery for the First Rainbow Snippet of the Year! Jeff Baker, January 7, 2023.

Photo by PRAPHAPHAN WONGSAWAN on Pexels.com

Rainbow Snippets Round and Round She Goes

From Jeff Baker

January 7th, 2023

Every week we post six lines from a work of ours, a work-in-progress or published or a recommendation of someone else’s work with at least one LGBT character. Posted at Rainbow Snippets here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963484217054974

This one’s from a story of mine “Round and Round She Goes” written for prompts on the Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. Story and all the details here: https://authorjeffbaker.com/2022/12/10/mystery-on-a-merry-go-round-flash-fiction-draw-challenge-story-for-december-2022-from-jeff-baker-december-10-2022/

In it, I set my happily-married husband and husband private eyes Josh and Adam on another case, this one involving a surfboard.

Josh hung on to the end of the surfboard with one hand and clung to the carved horse he was sitting on with the other as the merry-go-round at the middle of the carnival spun around and around. He was ready to puke. And he really, really hated carousel music.

“I think we lost them,” Adam said hanging on to the other end of the surfboard. They hoped the body of the big carved horse hid the board from anybody watching.

“We’re just lucky they didn’t get a good look at us, or any look at us.” Adam said.

Here’s another snippet:

“Yeah,” Josh said queasily. “All they know is we’ve got the surfboard.”

Adam grinned at Josh as the merry-go-round slowed down. “For better or worse, remember?”

“Including spinning horses!” Josh said managing a smile.

Okay, that’s it for this first week of 2023! See you next week! —-jeff

Posted in Fiction, Josh and Adam, LGBT, Mystery, Rainbow Snippets, Short-Stories | 4 Comments

Flash Fiction Draw Challenge Set For January 9th, 2023.

Photo by Israel Garcia on Pexels.com

Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy December (and a busy 2022) so I’m going to do the first draw for the 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge next week, January 9th, 2023. We could all use a little breather!

So, I’ll see you in a week!

Until then, here’s the draw sheet I’m going to use.

Again, Happy New Year! See you next week! ———–mike

Flash Draw Sheet for 2023 (“*” indicates prompt has been used.)

Clubs

A A Roll of Film

2 A Stack of Pizza Pans

3 A Golden Sword

4 A Model T Ford

5 A Rusted Musket

6 An Empty Box

7. A Vintage TV Set

8 A Cup of Tea

9 A Broken Walkman

10 A Bicycle Built for Two

J An Umbrella

Q An Antique Cola Bottle

K A Plastic Elephant

Diamonds

A A Football Stadium

2 A Grove of Olives

3 An Empty Nightclub

4 A Desert

5 A Radio Station

6 A Railway Car

7 A Cave

8 A Prison Work Farm

9 A Swim Meet

10 An Assembly Line

J A Parking Lot

Q The Sun

K The Interstate

Hearts

A An Aesop’s Fable

2 Science Fiction

3 A Ghost Story

4 A Romance

5 A Fantasy

6 Lovecraftan Horror

7. A Hardboiled Detective Story

8 Historical Fiction

9 A Superhero Story

10 A Comedy

J A Shakespearean Story

Q A Cyberpunk Story

K A Just So Story

Posted in Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge | Leave a comment

“Rodriguez.” Fiction for New Year’s Eve by Jeff Baker.

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Rodriguez

by Jeff Baker

(A New Year’s Story)

“Pssst! Hey, Rodriguez. Rodriguez!”

The voice was Shawn from the bottom bunk. He’d been occupying the cell longer so he got dibs. Besides, he was bigger than Rodriguez even though both of them worked-out a lot.

Shawn reached up and banged the bottom of the steel bunk Rodriguez slept on.

“Hey, Rodriguez!”

“Yeah, wha?” Rodriguez said, still half-asleep. He and Shawn trusted each other as much as anybody in the prison could. Still, Rodolpho Rodriguez slept with one eye open.

“Listen.” Shawn said.

Rodriguez propped himself up on his elbows. No riot. No yelling. As quiet as this place got. Then he heard the faint pop-pop-popping. Guns.

No, the sound was wrong. Fireworks. Outside the walls.

“Happy New Year, man!” Shawn said.

“Yeah, right.” Rodriguez said, laying back down and pulling the thin blanket over him again. “Some new year,” he mumbled.

At least six more years to do. They’d piled the years on a twenty-something Latino kid already carrying a big jacket. He’d be in his mid-thirties when he got out.

Six more years.

But he knew kids who hadn’t made it to thirty. And he could start over on the outside, prison record or no. He was keeping his nose clean and with his reputation as a fighter not a lot of people messed with him.

What was that image of the New Year? An old man leaving and a baby showing up? New opportunities. He could take a few classes, learn more about computer stuff. And there was always the old saying about where there’s life there’s hope.

“Hey!” Rodriguez said. Shawn opened his eyes. Rodriguez was leaning his head over the top bunk and grinning broadly. “Happy New Year.”

The two men stretched back on the steel bunks. Things would get better. And worse. But for now, there was the refreshing darkness of sleep and the promise of a new year.

—end—

Author’s Note: No Friday Flash Fiction this week (the new picture goes up January 6th, 2023!) so I posted this different sort of story for New Year’s Eve.

My Husband Darryl and myself wish all the readers (and writers) out there the happiest of new years for 2023!

———-jeff

Posted in Fiction, New Year, prison, Short-Stories | Leave a comment

Happy New Year! A Ranbow Snippet to End 2022 with, from Jeff Baker. December 31, 2022.

December 31, 2022

Every week we post six lines from a work of ours, a work-in-progress or published or a recommendation of someone else’s work with at least one LGBT character. Posted at Rainbow Snippets here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963484217054974

I’ve posted about my series guy Billy Gonzalez here before, and I may be cheating as this story dates back to before I’d outed him as bisexual, but in this story, “At The Stroke of Midnight” https://authorjeffbaker.com/2016/12/31/spooky-new-years-eve-everybody/ he has other things on his mind.

I have always considered New Year’s Eve to be spookier than Halloween. What if there’s more to the change of dates than just getting a new calendar? Here we find Billy babysitting his two young nephews on December thirty-first as they talk about a legend involving the passing of the old year:

“We wanna see Old Man New Year,” his older nephew Alex said.

“Who?” Tyler asked.

“The old man isn’t the new year, at least not anymore,” Billy said with a laugh. “The little baby is the New Year.”

“What little baby?” Tyler asked.

“Not mine,” Billy said with a grin.

Here’s a little more after twenty-something Billy sends his nephews off to bed and dozes in the living room only to be awakened by a sound and an intruder wielding a scythe…

Billy realized what he was seeing; someone dressed up as Old Man New Year. He could just make out a banner wrapped around the figure with the year written on it, the last number trailing into a smudge. Billy could barely make out a large, dark hourglass hanging from the figure’s belt.

But how had he gotten in here? Then the figure stepped into the light. Its arms were almost skeletal and its face was frozen in an open-mouthed expression, skin withered making the head look like one of those dolls with the head carved out of an apple.

And on that eerie note, with the tower clock in the distance chiming midnight we close out this post in Rainbow Snippets. Happy New Year to you and may your 2023 be free of any scares and may your happiness last for more than a snippet! —-jeff

Posted in Billy Gonzalez, LGBT, New Year, Rainbow Snippets | 4 Comments

Progress Report for 2022 from Jeff Baker. (December 29, 2022.)

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Progress Report: 2022 End-Of-The-Year Summing Up

by Jeff Baker

It’s been a while since I posted one of these progress reports; my non-writing life has been busy this year. For those readers who don’t know my Mom, Barbara Baker, died on December 10th of this year after spending most of the year in hospice care. I went over almost every day to be with her at her retirement home where they took very good care of her. I consider it very fortunate that she was largely not in any pain or very much discomfort and was able to play bingo with friends or watch TV and snooze (while I sat and wrote!)

But it did take up some extra time and I did slack off on writing any new full-length stories this year. The bulk of my 2022 production has been flash fiction. Doing that, and the love of my husband Darryl, really kept me going and the amazing thing is this year somehow did not feel as awful as it probably should have. But my Mom kept her faculties and she and my late Dad were both proud of my being a published writer, one of the reasons I’m grateful for my persistence.

The big writing news was the opening of “RoM/Mantic Reads,” a M/M romance e-zine started by Fiona Glass. Fiona liked my weekly flash fiction stories and invited me to be a regular contributor, so I happily joined in. I’m in good company with writers like Kaje Harper, Jay Mountney and Fiona (among others.)

I’ll brag on all of us buy posting a link here! https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/

So here’s my truncated writing legacy for 2022…

I published three stories in RoM/Mantic Reads.

I published three non-fiction articles in RoM/Mantic Reads.

I published one poem in RoM/Mantic Reads.

I have one story in submission to RMM that is part of a serial I’m writing (the first part was posted on the site earlier.) I also have several stories in progress or finished ready to send off to RMM.

Besides the RoM/Mantic Reads work:

I posted 12 monthly columns for Queer Sci Fi.

One story. “Nereus,” was posted on the new “Orion’s Beau Quarterly” early in 2022.

I wrote at least 64 flash fiction stories, mostly posted for the weekly Friday Flash Fics and the monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, both of which I moderate. (I gotta be out of my mind moderating two fiction sites! But it’s fun and rewarding!)

Under the name “Mike Mayak,” I submitted four stories, got three rejected with one still out there.

As “Jeff Baker,” I submitted 11 stories and received 10 rejections. Not all of these were the same stories, some were for stories I submitted in 2021 (or earlier!)

I have several stories out there in slushpiles; the editors acknowledged their turnaround time would take a while, so I may still be waiting next December for the results.

Most of my writing in 2022 was in the flash fiction form as I did not really make time to write something longer, partly due to looking in on my Mom. But I have still kept up to my personal dictum of always having something out in submission and I have several stories out in the ether (not counting stuff I haven’t ever heard back on for almost a decade!) including at least two more stories for “RoM/Mantic Reads.”

I have a full-length mystery a friend of mine beta read for me early in the year that I need to revise. I’m also working on a flash fiction sci-fi story that’s due early in January. (Really early in January; I have to work on it tonight!)

I don’t intend to quit doing this anytime soon.

All the best to the writers and readers out there for the New Year!

That’s about it for now!

—-jeff baker, December 29, 2022.

Posted in LGBT, Progress Reports, Writing | Leave a comment