#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 44

Three prompts living under one challenge roof?

Welcome to #MenageMonday!

Week 44

*NOTE* – PLEASE READ THE RULES – If you miss a prompt, your entry will be disqualified. 

Rules Recap

  • This is a Flash Fiction challenge. Your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 200 words.
  • Incorporate each of the three prompts into your story. The phrase prompt (and anything else in quotations) MUST be used exactly as given.
  • Post your story into the comments of this post.
  • Include your word count (or be excluded from judging).
  • Please include your Twitter handle or email.
  • The contest opens at 7 A.M. and closes at 10 P.M. Eastern Time.
  • Generally speaking, the winners will be revealed Tuesday evening, huzzah!

So what do you get for all your time and effort, you ask? Badges, of course. (What, you thought this was a funded operation?) #MenageMonday awards THREE (squeeee!) badges each week:

  • There is the undisputed CHAMP. Rather self explanatory.
  • There is the JUDGE’S PET, for best use of the Judge’s prompt.
  • Last but not least, the JUDGE gets a badge, because Judges need love, too.


Our Judge for Week 44:

If you only become a futurist after the future starts, does it still count?

R.J. Davnall | @eatthepen

R. J. Davnall has been telling stories all his life, and thus probably shouldn’t be trusted to write his own bio. Besides writing, he’s currently trying to prove that the physical world is an illusion (in order to earn his PhD thesis). Penny Lane is in his ears and eyes, and frequently on his brain, which is the price he pays for living on one of the most famous streets in the world. He plays piano and Minecraft, and occasionally remembers to eat and sleep.

The latest episode of R.J.’s Second Realm series just came out. Check out Mind Over Matter and the rest of the series for FREE (yes, FREE, why haven’t you gotten yours yet??) on Smashwords!

Challenge Time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

The Photo:

click for full-sized greatness

The Phrase: “do/does/did [ ] ever wonder” (include a pronoun of choice, and this can appear anywhere in the story)

 The Judge’s Prompt: the story must include a birth – literal or figurative


And we’re off. The clock is ticking. Good writing and good luck!

19 thoughts on “#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 44

  1. A Meeting

    The pram bounced and rattled over the rough path and I was worried Nathan would wake up but he was sound – oh. Probably because he’d been yelling his head off all night. That’s why I’d taken him out, to give Sally a rest – it had been a difficult birth. Anyhow that’s what Grannies are for at these times, isn’t it?

    I had a bunch of flowers balanced over the pram cover and we made our way to the place that was so familiar to me.

    I never knew my dad; the soldier. He died before I was born. Did he ever wonder about me, just a bump in my mum’s tummy? Did he think about that as he was dying, wondering if I was a boy or a girl?

    I crouched down by the grave and arranged the flowers, like I always do, then sat back on my heels and said,

    “Hello, Dad, s’me again. Brought your new great grandson to see you. I won’t pick him up cos he’s sleeping now but I expect you can see him alright. You can, can’t you?” There were tears in my eyes. He’d never seen me. “They called him after you, Dad, that’s nice isn’t it? Little Nathan. Are you pleased, Dad? I hope you are.”

    I got up stiffly then turned and walked back down the path, whispering “That was your great-granddad, Nathan. Wonderful man. Just like you’re going to be.”

    Word count 243

  2. Death and Life

    A cemetery at the height of a spring day. Did you ever wonder what it’s like to be there at that time? If no one else is around, it’s quiet; the only sounds are the breeze whispering through the willows, some birdsong and maybe the buzz of a few insects. But today…another sound comes faintly through the air. I pause in my perusal of the old gravestones, listening. Again I hear it, and follow the sound to where I find the source. A tiny baby, obviously very recently born, tucked into a Moses basket on top of a fairly new grave is crying its lungs out. I look around, but there is no one in sight.

    Shocked that someone would leave a new life alone amongst all this death, I lean over to pick up the infant, to comfort it. As soon as my hands slide beneath its small body, the crying stops and I see its dark eyes open, red fire glowing deep within. It smiles at me, wickedly, and I feel cold hands grasp me from behind, pulling me down to the ground, teeth tearing. Dying, I see the inscription on the stone. Vita Mors Renatum.

    198 words {without title}


    Do they ever wonder what it all means? Does ANYONE stop to think why certain things happen to certain people? I never paid the cycle any mind. Until now.

    “Caitlin, you’re being ridiculous. Everyone is waiting to see your son!”

    “I’ll be quick.”

    “But even your husband thinks-“

    “There, right down the road!”

    My mother sighs while parking along the curb. I’m taking my son from his seat while trying to ignore her protests.

    “For God sake’s, Caitlin, don’t take the baby!”

    “Two minutes!”

    I hurry along the cement path, following the directions given to me by Luke Tyler. Moments later I arrive to a shaded area, thanks to a tall tree, and its thick branches.

    Cradling my son to my chest, I knell to the grass. I look to the sky as my eyelids fall. I pray for Lily’s father. For the old man who died the morning my son was born. For the only tragedy during my stay at the hospital.

    I open my eyes to reach my fingertips to the tombstone. “I never knew you, Lily, but can you do me a favor?” My gaze falls to my sleeping son. “Thank your dad for me.”

    Word Count – 198 (excluding title)


  4. When I think on last summer and this very spot
    Do I ever wonder if it can be believed?
    For lying on my back underneath this tree
    my baby was first conceived.

    I recall looking up seeing olives
    Thinking Samuel, and anointing oil.
    Stems shot out quivers of arrows
    by which Jonathan would Philistines foil

    I saw the pomegranate
    under which Saul would hide
    And the branch hung too low
    for Absalom’s ride

    One limb was David’s staff,
    another Adino’s spear
    From mighty oak
    a tender root Uriah did appear.

    And the genesis of the idea
    for my script did here begin
    Though I esteemed myself unworthy
    of a scriptwriter’s pen.

    I’ve been tethered to the internet
    for guidance and direction
    Lord knows where I’d be without
    a Twitter connection

    Through the gestation of
    this story of the ages
    My baby’s over-nourished
    and at 150 pages

    But, I’m not there just yet
    There is the rewrite diet.

    I’m confident by delivery,
    my girl will be lean
    and really quite the diva
    for the silver screen

    So, that’s why I’m under this tree again
    Looking up, thanking God, for “MIGHTY MEN”

    The Story of Uriah the Hittite and David his King.

    200 Words

  5. I looked around the graveyard. It was overgrown with weeds and yet here I was waiting for the moment of my rebirth and redemption. I was sure it would never come. Each year the weeds became longer and the visits to other graves mostly from historians. I hoped and prayed some distant kin of mine would find my grave and forgive my past transgression of taking my life in despair. Did any of them ever wonder where they came from and think of me?

    A woman approached the graveyard heavily pregnant and stopped right at my grave. I watched my spirit surprised. She began to speak.

    “I was in the archives looking up your history Great-Grandfather, when I met the great grandson of the man you saved in the Second World War. If you hadn’t saved Bert Desrosiers, I would never have met Albert. We will soon have a son named George, after you. Thank-you Great-Grandfather.”

    An angel appeared to me at that moment and said “Enough self-penitence George go be born, be the child that comes soon. Be happy and know God loves you.”

    In an instance I felt my spirit enter the baby. I would live again.

    200 words


    Ray Morris

    “Did you ever wonder why they put fences up around graveyards?” Mark asks, frost billowing around his moon-bathed face.

    “To keep away vandals?” I say, quietly. We are crouched behind a large willow tree, its vines hanging down like fingers about to plunge into the earth.

    “Nah, people keep dying to get in.” I turn to look at him while he chuckles softly, grinning at his imagined cleverness. I shake my head and turn back to the dark landscape. Rows of headstones spread out on all sides of us.

    A tall obsidian obelisk marker in the center row draws my eye, as it had all night.

    “Mark,” I say as calmly as possible, for behind me he keeps repeating ‘vandals’, and chuckling. “If we fuck this up, we’re out of the academy.” That settles him down, for now.
    As I’d suspected, the needle begins to glow, and a keening sound splits the air. Bright, purple and red light bleeds into the night as the Phoenix Witch pushes up the ground above her grave. I hear Mark drag his foot-long blade from its sheath on his leg. With an unsteady breath, I do the same.

    “Shizar’s light guide us,” I whisper.

    200 words

  7. “A cemetery with willow trees? How fitting. You know Dad hated those things. That’s why he cut that one down.”

    “This was all Mom could afford. I mean, did Dad ever wonder what would happen when it was all over?”

    The two girls stared at the grave of their father. He had been such a loving man once. He treated their mother like gold, and they were both “daddy’s girls” from the time they were born. But then he got into an awful feud with the neighbor.

    Apparently the property line wasn’t surveyed correctly, and their father knew of it when he bought the land and built a portion of his house on the neighbor’s side regardless. The neighbor complained, Dad laughed at him, and then the neighbor sued. The judge ruled in favor of the neighbor, and it cost their father everything to rebuild portions of his house. He vowed he’d get revenge, although it was all his fault from the beginning.

    “He would sit there and just stare over at the neighbor and his family, seething.”

    “I know, sis. The heart-attack killed him, but his anger was to blame. Now look where he is—resting among willow trees.”

    200 words

  8. “You didn’t!” She was flitting around the branches like a caffeinated hummingbird, her wings, hands, and lips flapping with equal parts irritation and indignation.

    “Of course I did. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I mean, not *my* lifetime, obviously…” I may have capered. I’m not proud of that; my capering is third-rate at best.

    “You are *such* an asshole.”

    “Like he wasn’t?”

    “That’s not the point! It’s disrespectful!”

    “We’ve got all afternoon; you give me two times Jack was respectful of me or mine.” I leaned back against the tree and luxuriated in the feel of bark between my wings. I imagined I could feel and hear the tree growing as the sun hit its leaves and its roots found purchase in the rich fecundity of freshly-turned earth.

    Throwing a handful of dirt on a grave was an easy tradition to twist; tucking a meat-seeking seed in with it was a trivial sleight of hand. True, it wasn’t a beanstalk growing out of his grave, but don’t you ever wonder why it looks like somebody got buried with an acorn in their pocket?

    I assure you, it’s not because they’re happy to see me.


  9. “Momma, I’m scared.” Isadora fell to her knees on the crunchy leaves, then laid down on her side with her hand stretched across the ground in front of her. “I don’t know how to do this alone.”

    She listened for a moment to the wind blowing the willow leaves. They hung low enough one brushed her shoulder. She liked to think it was her mother’s comforting hand once again.

    “Did you ever wonder what life would be like without me? It never occurred to me to imagine life without you. I guess I took you for granted. Not only the cooking and cleaning and such, but also the little things: a smile on a hard day, that crinkle in your eye when I was being silly, your strong hands that could do anything, the way you would turn up the music and dance with abandon to celebrate anything, a shoulder to cry on.”

    She sniffed and wiped her eyes. “‘Don’t let life get you down’ you always said, but it’s hard, Momma.” She sighed, “I’m gonna get up and take it ‘one step at a time,’ and I promise to remember everything you taught me. I’m gonna make you proud.”

    200 words

  10. Overdue.

    The grave stood silently, next to the willow tree. The names and dates were worn and tired; rough winds and cold winters had seen to that.

    “This is your grandpa,” Michaela said, and placed her hand on her belly. She was nine months pregnant, three days overdue.

    “You would’ve loved him, child. He saved the town, once. A flash flood threatened to destroy it forever,” she explained, and crouched down to wipe some sand off the top of the headstone.

    Her fingers trailed the outline of his name, and she remembered those early years, sitting on his knee as he told the story.

    “The town was ruined, but he convinced them to stay. It was the re-birth of the town, and it was better for it,” she whispered, and smiled warmly at the fond memory.

    A twig broke behind her, and she glanced over her shoulder.

    “Do you ever wonder, what would have happened if they’d all left?” Carson asked.
    She shook her head. “It was meant to happen, what ifs have no place in my mind.”

    “Oh,” she whispered, with a guttural groan, and watched as water flowed down her thighs.

    Word count: 193 including Title.

  11. The hushed graveyard seemed odd in the broad daylight. There should have been birds chirping, the sound of sprinklers or lawnmowers or children at the park.

    Instead, all was still. But then the oddness of the graveyard matched the oddness of the scene unfolding within it.

    Surrounding what looked like an electronic casket (tubes sprouting like weeds, lights flashing, wires tangled like vines) stood a scientist, her assistant and a nervous man who paced.

    “Must it be here?” the man demanded for the umpteenth time, gesturing around him. This was his wife being raised from the dead. No, her rebirth. It shouldn’t be in a place of death.

    “State regulates that all reanimated bodies must be released from their designated resting area/place,” rattled off the assistant.

    The man looked at the assistant like an insect, but spoke to the scientist, venturing on a gut feeling: “does he ever wonder why he doesn’t have a girlfriend?”

    The scientist didn’t reply, smiling. She dialed a few numbers into the casket. It hissed and slid open.

    The man’s wife sat up as if awoken from a nightmare. The man could relate. He felt as if he had finally woken up from his.


  12. “My brothers, bear witness the rebirth of the Ancient Order of Hraxlyss. Far too long we have let the faithless guide us into oblivion…”

    The old man stood on the platform clad in his ragged red robe, gesturing wildly as his voice boomed over the small group of men.

    “Dude,” Jake whispered, stifling a yawn. “That sorority is throwing a party and we’re sitting in a graveyard with a bunch of old men.”

    Matt elbowed him. “It’s all about networking. You have to join groups if you want a good job after graduation.”

    Jake yawned again. “Most of these geezers will be dead when we graduate. You don’t even know what these people do.”

    “…My brothers, we must restore the world to the old ways…”

    “Do you ever wonder why I don’t like hanging out with you?” Jake asked. “It’s because you bring me to weird stuff like this.”

    “…Who better to return us to the old ways than those who know them best?”

    “Come on, you can’t leave yet,” Matt pleaded.

    As hands shot through the dirt and rotting corpses rose from graves, Matt’s mouth hung open and Jake’s eyes went wide.

    “Dude, I’m definitely leaving now,” Jake said.

    @hlpauff – 200 words

  13. The hands wrapping around his midsection, pulling him backward, startled him for many reasons, none more so than because he was dead. He distinctly remembered the crash, and the sirens, and the thoughts you think once you’ve breathed your last but your brain isn’t done whirring. When he’d been alive, being dragged through complete darkness would have been terrifying, but he found himself merely bemused, curious about his sudden change of circumstances.

    He burst forth into a large cavern, his body thumping against a pile of soft earth. Hands brushed his face clean, and where the fingers touched him, his nerve endings flared, not into life, but something entirely new. Without even opening his eyes, he saw that the being who’d taken him was tall, and framed by thick, heavy wings.

    The first words he heard in this new life were muffled, and he shook his head to indicate his lack of comprehension. The angel put its hands to its mouth, and pulled, and suddenly the voice was perfectly clear. “Did you ever wonder, my son, why I was taken from you so early?” The angel shrugged her mask and oxygen tanks from her shoulders and embraced him fiercely.


    200 words

  14. It took 100 bloody years. Tens of millions died. The conservative Christians won the religious wars in the United States. Then, they rewrote history.

    They banned the teaching of evolution, archeology, history, biology, astronomy, physics, and anything else that dared to question their beliefs. Everything was modified to say that Earth was only 6000 years old. That the universe was made by God, in 6 days (He rested on the 7th). In the name of God, they hunted down homosexuals, autistics, mentally ill, handicapped, and others deemed evil by the church.

    Their religious insanity gave us the perfect weapon to use against them. We genetically modified a strain of bacteria we’d engineering to consume human brain cells. We then injected it into the ground in cemeteries.

    Quickly, our plan came to life. Our bacteria rapidly consumed the brain cells of the dead and buried. Then it spread, consuming the brain cells of living humans. Just as we’d planned. When they were all dead, we activated our fail-safe. And all the bacteria died.

    None of the Christians survived. It was glorious!

    Sometimes, I wonder though, did they ever wonder why their God abandoned them?

    196 Words

  15. “Do you ever wonder if we’ll succeed?” Larry asked.

    Ben gave a wink. “I KNOW we will,” he answered.

    Ben stepped on top of a gravestone. In front of him, the living dead waited for their instructions.

    Benjamin cleared his throat. “Good evening,” he started, “My name is Benjamin and I’m your horde captain.”

    He took a dramatic pause.

    Ben then continued: “My number one rule is: Don’t be greedy. Always remember this: Share a brain, a friend you will gain. Are you all OK with that rule?”

    His fellow zombies all uttered their agreement. Some tried to say “yes” but ended up with their jaws dropping to the ground.

    “OK, I like this horde. I feel this horde will be awesome!” Benjamin said with a smile. “For those who cannot run, just shuffle as fast as you can. This is not a race but we want to cover as much ground as possible. We have a deadline.”

    “The most important thing is to have fun. Enjoy what you’re doing. Let’s all have a memorable apocalypse!”

    Ben stepped off his makeshift pedestal. He turned to Larry and asked: “Ready to do this?”

    Larry gave a huge grin. “Brrrraaaaiiins!” He answered.

    200 words

  16. Letting Go:

    Needing to think, I went to my favorite place- the cemetery.
    It’s quiet.
    The walls between us had been stripped away, and our latest conversation was raw, and filled full of emotions I forgot had existed.
    Since meeting him, I now looked at life with intense clarity- as if I had been re-born.
    He opened my eyes to the possibilities, instead of the constraints I had placed upon myself and the actions I was taking.
    I was terrified to fall in love with such a person, but I could feel our relationship becoming stronger the more we learned about each other.

    I knew I would have to make the decision of accepting the pain and pretending it’s not there, or risk it all, and let myself be swallowed by the happiness I would have for as long as it could last.
    Did he ever wonder what it would be like for us?
    I looked around at the old stones telling their stories.
    These people’s lives had past.
    Mine hadn’t yet.
    What was I waiting for?
    Amongst the quiet support of imagined sprits, I picked up the phone and made one of the most important calls of my life.

    Words: 200

  17. He loved his job. Loved cutting the delicate grassy strips around the headstones; loved watering the flowers; even loved brushing away caked-on dirt to keep the engravings legible. He felt utterly fulfilled, for surely no lover ever treated his beloved with greater attention or tenderness than he.

    People were an unwelcome intrusion. He sensed the dead shifting unhappily in their beds until they went away, the trespassers with their discomfiting heartbeats and nasty, prickly heat.

    -Shhh, shhhh, he would murmur when cool quiet returned. -It’s just us now.

    One morning—just past dawn, at first rounds—he noted with particular displeasure an early visitor, an old lady kneeling graveside, caressing its stone and trembling. He suppressed irritation and approached her.

    Her wrinkled face was taut with suffering. “Do you ever wonder what it’s like?”

    He shrugged. “Death? Sometimes.” -Shhh, don’t cry. She’ll leave soon. “This your husband?”


    “Ah. Child. I’m sorry.”

    “No.” She clenched frail hands into fists. “It’s mine.” A paroxysm of pain crossed her face.


    “Yes. But I am denied!” She wept now between anguished spasms. “Always denied.”

    Not spasms.


    His annoyance turned to horror as she began to push.

    –Shhh, murmured an earthen voice.

    200 words

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