Our First Themed Co-op Writers’ Showcase


Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, web-surfing I.Q.-augmented transgenic pets and government-controlled robotic mites photographing this computer screen, it gives me great pleasure to usher in . . . [trumpet fanfare & rumble of kettledrums] . . . our first Co-op Writers’ Showcase!

The theme for June 2017 was: 100 Words (Maximum) Related to Numbers. A warm round of applause for all the fast-typin’, hard-thinkin’, talented scritch-scribblers who participated in this inaugural exercise. In no particular order, then:


Writer: Perry Palin

Title: Ten Words

Ten words. The note was ten awful words on a half sheet of lined paper torn from a notebook, crumpled, then smoothed and folded between the pages of a college text.

A spring wind had turned over the leaves on the trees, and then a warm rain rinsed the city dust into the street. Birds carried little things to make their nests. I remember your dark eyes, the hair on your arms, I remember the scent of you. The envelope had melted in the rain, but the message was there.

I won’t be there Tuesday. I can’t do this anymore.”


Writer: Kris Bowes

Chapter excerpt from Beneath Ember Skies

She wandered down the hallway to room eight. Eight, she thought, how sacred and profane. Change one letter for a fight.

The room was immaculate, save the young man inside the exothermal chamber.

Eight: the only other perfect cube that’s a positive Fibonacci prime.

He looked so much smaller inside the chamber.

In the old faiths, eight meant a new beginning, resurrection from death and ascension into eternal life.

She saw a flash of her three-year-old Ray.

Circumcision committed the Holy Spirit to the newborn on the eighth day – maybe it was the other way around. Who knew anymore?


Writer: Mimi Speike

Title: At Ten

Trailing a U-Haul, we were off to Florida, to a sleepy haven. Only two girls my age nearby. Jeanne, a snot with starter boobs. And lavishly upholstered Mary Hippe, pronounced Hip-pee/called Hip-po.

Florida! Cockroaches big as dates. Retirees, fiddler crabs, swarming the sands at the foot of our street. Creepy critters everywhere.1

On a budget! Oil stove shut down come bedtime. (Winters were cold.) AC was for rich folks. Oh-those-months-on-end-of-sweltering days-and-sleepless-nights-Christ-Almighty-how-did-we-endure-it?

In that steambath I wore, not sensible shifts, voluminous skirts buoyed by stiff-starched-net crinolines. (Think JonBenétRamsey)

Why? To fit in.

(Gave that up wayback.)



Writer: Atthys Gage

Title: Three Brutal Curses

He stood, hands dangling. The big guy took his backpack.

“Pleasure doin’ business with you, puto.”

They turned and walked. They hadn’t even frisked him.

His dad always told him: count to ten before you do something stupid. On ten, the little snubnose was in his hand. It barked three brutal curses.

One man dropped. The other scrambled away into the darkness.

Night shivered in silence. He approached the crumpled man. “I’d like a refund, please.”

He took the loco’s handgun. He took the backpack. And he walked.

Ten steps away, and nausea doubled him up like a gut punch.


Writer: Carl E. Reed


Einsatzgruppe C assembled on the parade ground at high noon in Central Ukraine. Their collective punishment: decimation for failing to capture an assigned quota of Jews.

Sieben, acht, neun . . .” the major counted off, pacing the second row of paramilitary police standing at ramrod attention.

Sprawled on the ground in the first row: two corpses in spreading pools of blood.

Zehn!” The major halted, raised his pistol to the head of Sgt. Schmidt.

Schmidt locked eyes with his commanding officer. “Still human,” he said. Yesterday he’d discovered two boys hiding in a crawlspace; moved on without sounding the alarm. “You lose.”



15 thoughts on “Our First Themed Co-op Writers’ Showcase

  1. Hmmm . . . Problems with the size of the fonts here. I converted everyone’s entry to size 12, Times New Roman Font, dbl-spaced. Yet when I see the results on the main page here . . . !!! There is no font size adjustment under “edit” in WordPress. Apparently, WordPress shrinks the font type when dropped into its system. (I tell you truly: I did NOT intend for my entry–posted last, you’ll notice–to show up with a larger font type than everyone else. Eeeesh! It’s size 12, Times New Roman, dbl-spaced–like all the other entries.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GD Deckard says:

    I like the way you showcased five writers in one post, Carl! All great examples, although I have to salute Perry Palin’s bit as especially clever and imaginative.
    🙂 Hope you do this again.

    Isn’t this called Flash Fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. atthysgage says:

    These are fun. Kris’s excerpt makes Beneath Ember Skies look intriguing. It’s funny how much writer personality comes through in some of these clips. If names hadn’t been provided, I would’ve identified Carl and Mimi without hesitation.

    Let’s stick to the 100 word count for next month. The password: draw.

    Make of it what you will. Everyone reading is welcome to enter. If you aren’t on our email list yet, just comment below and we’ll hook you up.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    Yes, everyone did a fine job. I like them all. But, especially . . . (are we supposed to say?)

    I’ll wait for an answer on that.

    Draw is an intriguing prompt because nothing comes immediately to mind for me. Ten is burned into my psyche as the year my life changed forever. It was the year I realized I didn’t, and wasn’t likely to, fit in.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mimi: Praise away; whomever you want to!

      Re: the word “draw”: I know what you mean; I’m . . . ahem . . . drawing a blank myself on that theme. Heh! That’s half the fun, I wager: seeing what people come up with.

      Liked by 1 person

    • High praise indeed, Mimi! What can one say but thank you?

      If I had to vote on a winner it would indeed be Perry’s haiku-like distillation of jilted lover angst. 2nd place would go to Atthys’ snarling Mickey Spillane-like purple prose. However, I also enjoyed your quirky evocation of a certain time and place, and Kris’ intriguing excerpt from the novel Beneath Ember Skys.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Perry Palin says:

    I like them all, and can’t find a favorite.

    The 100 word limit is good exercise for telling a story economically. We don’t always think about this in the first, second, or third draft of a longer piece, but it can improve our writing even, and maybe especially, in those longer pieces.

    These are good stories well written. As readers we each come to a story with our own history. I was drawn to Mimi’s because the year I turned ten we had a family tragedy from which we never recovered, I realized how poor we were, and I knew too that I would never fit in with the popular kids.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. As always with these challenges it’s fascinating to see the different directions people take. I’m not going to even try to pick a best because all you guys did a great job. I’m calling it a draw.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. mimispeike says:

    I’m wrestling with draw. I see a direction, but what I want to do cannot be done in a hundred words, except as a set-up. How much time do we have? I’ll keep on it.

    I’m also trying to conjure a blog post for tomorrow, no luck so far. Ah! GD has come to our rescue once again. GD, you’re the best.

    I suddenly know what my post will be for Monday. This coming weekend is the annual Newtown Library book sale. I’ll write on it Sunday night. I recommend those sales, every state has them.

    Liked by 2 people

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