Hurricane Horror – Flash Fiction Friday

Written in response to this week’s prompt from terribleminds:  The country’s in EBOLA PANIC, going so far as to elect an Ebola Czar. (Did you know that vending machines kill 13 people a year? I look forward to our new Vending Machine Czar to address this grave concern.) Disease of course freaks people out. And next Friday? Halloween. The time of horror! Which means it’s time for you to freak people out with disease. Write 1000 words of flash fiction. It should be horror. It should feature disease as an axis of that horror.



Grace understood why her mother was nervous about her work, especially these days with Ebola jumping its African borders and showing up in various parts of the world, including America. When Grace got the job at the Galveston National Institutes of Health Bio Lab, she knew her family might consider it dangerous, but she thrived on the danger and the coolness factor of where she worked.


This hurricane that popped up in the gulf at the last minute is just adding more fuel to her mother’s worry fire. The building is fortified and withstood the last major hurricane just fine, but still it is eerie to know that if something happened Ebola, Anthrax, Smallpox and other highly infectious diseases and bio-terrorism agents are housed here.  With the storm bearing down on the island, most residents were worried about evacuating, not what would be left behind in the lab they typically don’t think too much about most days.


She gathered up a few things in her large bag and rolling carry-on, since she would be staying as part of the emergency ops team as the communication team lead. Her main job was to get info out to employees after the storm. Throwing her phone charger and a couple prescriptions and several packs of cigarettes, as well as an extra lighter in her purse. A quick stop at the store for a few personal favs for snacking and she’d be back to the bio lab facility for the duration of what was to come.

The traffic was already crazy with people doing their best to get off the island and make it inland to hole up during the storm. She was glad she wasn’t going over the causeway. Though it took twice as long to get back to the lab as it should’ve, she pulled in, parked on an upper level in the garage and grabbed her bags for the walk in. The storm maybe coming, but the weather is absolutely beautiful – as it typically is before a hurricane rolls through. She can see that the wind is kicking up though.

She got settled into her office and took a nap. She would be up tonight and the media message released pre-storm had been handled. All employees had provided contact numbers and they knew how to contact work. Surprised at how tired she was, she slept for about five hours. When she woke, she went to the ladies room to freshen up and checked her computer for any messages, before making the rounds to see how things were going.

As the eye of the storm was approaching, she decided to sneak away for a cigarette. To smoke, she had to leave the administrative area where her office was and go down underground where the labs are located. She shouldn’t be smoking inside, but she knew a safe place. After smoking about half of her cigarette, she heard it – it was eerie, made her ears hurt, gave her chills up her spine. Though she had never experienced one herself, she knew this had to be the sound of a tornado and it must be bearing down right on top of the building.

As they sound became deafening, she found a spot to take cover, and just as she got settled, the earth shook violently around her and air seemed to be sucked away, causing her to gasp just a little as she took a breath. The sound was so loud, she closed her eyes and prayed to God to keep her safe. It seemed to go on forever, but then as quickly as it came, it was gone and the air around her seemed to stabilize, making breathing easier.

As she came out from under the spot she had hidden in, she saw the sky – the building was gone, including the ceiling and walls of the lab. She could see one of the technicians was on the ground and she could also see that the freezer section of the building was blown apart, vials shattered under the weight of the beams that had fallen onto them. She could see the water was rising in the street, thanks to the almost full moon – the only light there was in the blackness.


Several of the labs were in pieces, and two were just gone. As this storm formed in the gulf and strengthened quickly, the nominal phase down period wasn’t available, and there were experiments going on in the labs – making that material even more at risk for a containment breach. As she approached, it looked like a lot of material was now just gone – but where? Is it one piece, is it in particulates? Is it airborne, in the water, in the dirt? Where in the hell have all these samples of deadly pathogens disapeered to? How rampant and far have have they been dispersed? Being in close proximity of a major shipping port, as well as an international airport, would make it easy for these pathogens to escape this area easily. Especially true since this island is a tourist area.

Now that the eye of the storm was passing the island, she knew she needed to do her best to get the news out to her superiors. The documented containment process was of little use in this scenario. She wasn’t even sure what was left of the facility as a whole. She had to get out of the underground area and get to the building where the communications area was located.

As she got her wits about her and decided to move, she realized she was bleeding – little spots on several areas  on her arms, hands, neck and face where little shards of glass had hit her during the tornadic explosion. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse, she thought – then she remembered where those shards of glass probably came from. She knew there was a high probability that she had been exposed – to something or multiple things.

Now her mind began to race, almost in a panic, as she realized exactly the position she was in and how ALL the rules, processes, procedures, and protocols were useless now, literally out the window.




Jocko the Gypsy – Free Write Friday

In response to today’s Free Write Friday prompt:  Late summer. You’re wandering, lost in the woods. You come across a gypsy wagon, and you call out…”hello?”



Rachelle wasn’t sure what time it was, as she felt like she had been wandering for hours. She knew that wasn’t true though, just by looking at the sun and its placement in the sky. Growing up in these woods, she thought she knew them like the back of her hand, but obviously she was wrong. Luckily, the temperatures were nice today with a gentle breeze – almost cool. It was almost September, so it would be cooling down soon.

Spotting a trail she hadn’t noticed before, off to the left she headed. The trail led her around a little bend, up a hill and then down into a little hollow, not too far from the creek. As Rachelle approached the clearing, she noticed something – what is that? As she got closer, she noticed the bright colors and smelled food, an exotic, but aromatic smell that made her think of goulash. The brightly colored wagon looked old, maybe 1920s or 1930s or thereabouts. Looking around, she hollered, “Hellooo . . . anybody here? HELLOOOOO!!!”

Walking closer to the wagon, she was startled when a man walked around from the other side. She wasn’t really sure where he came from. He looked taller than her, lean build, tanned, longish dark brown wavy hair. He was wearing faded blue jeans, and a black silky looking shirt, with ruffly sleeves, half buttoned. He was barefoot. As the distance between them shortened, he replied, “May I help you, darlin’?’

Though she was nervous, finding a strange man with what was apparently his home stashed in the back acreage of her grandparent’s sizable piece of land, she didn’t feel threatened at all. As she got closer she saw the most beautiful and soulful pair of hazel green eyes she had ever seen. Those eyes made her feel considerably more at ease than she normally would have been with a strange man out in the woods. “I think the question is, may I help you,” she stated, sounding friendlier than she had intended with this trespasser. “This is my family’s land. Are they aware that you are camping here?”


“Well, I must admit darlin’, I doubt that they are, as I wasn’t aware that I was camped on someone’s land. I thought I was back off in the National Park.”

“Well,” she said, “the National Park is back about 5 miles east of here.”

“Damn, excuse my French darlin’, I must be off course a bit.”

“You here alone,” she asked.

“Yes, I am. Just passin’  through. Is that ok?  I wasn’t planning to stay too long, just a few days then I will be on my way. I’m cooking some lunch. You want to join me?” he offered.

“What’s your name?” She felt like she had a right to know who was sleeping on her property.

“Jocko,” he said as he reached out his hand to her. She reached out to shake his hand and he took her hand to his lips and kissed it. Damn – she was always a sucker for a guy who knew how to make a woman feel special by kissing her hand. His lips were soft.

“Not really hungry, but thanks anyway,” she said. “If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living – how do you get by?”

“I do a lot of things, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Sometimes I read fortunes.”

This intrigued Rachelle, “Really?”

“Yes – you want I read yours? “

Common sense told her this was a bad idea and she needed to put some distance between her and this stranger. But those eyes kept drawing her in, and no warning bells were going off inside of her.

“Sure – why not.” It was a beautiful day after all and she was really in no hurry.

“Come on over and sit down, so I can do my seeing.” He led her to a little wooden table set up behind the wagon. I’ll be right back – let me get my stuff.”

She sat down, wondering if this is where he comes back and mutilates her, hiding her in the woods, or hell possibly eating her for dinner.

He returned with his bag of tricks and asked, “What’s your pleasure? You prefer tarot cards, the crystal ball, palm reading, what?”

“Well, since you are camping here for free, why not give me the works.”

He laughed, “Sure, my lady. You didn’t tell me your name.”

“Rachelle,” she replied.

Jocko took her hand and held it palm up. He stroked all the lines on her palm, the whole time staring into her blue eyes. “Rachelle, this is your life line and from what I can see, you have a very long life ahead.” This she already knew – she had her palm read before and had read it herself once or twice using a book with all the diagrams. “This is your love line. From what I can see, you have had a few dalliances. Aaah and a past love that you thought would be forever, but it was not to be.” Okay this was true and not something she expected him to say. “It ended badly and broke your heart. I get the impression the end was quite final.” He stopped for a moment. “Did your lover die?”

This caught Rachelle off guard and she pulled her hand away quickly, almost like it was on fire. Though this was a small town and everyone talked, her fiancée had died when she lived in Australia with him and very few people around here knew that fact. “I’m sorry – are you okay,” he asked.

“Yes, I am fine. Please continue, though I am not sure how much stock I put into this,” she stated, though her voice cracked just a little when she extended her hand back to him.

“You will find love again. In a place and time that you least expect it and it will be the love of your life – the one you will grow old with. Don’t discount what I say, as this love is not what you would anticipate nor expect.” Now her hand was growing warm in his and she was feeling uncomfortable in several different ways.

“And the rest of my future,” she asked a bit impatiently.

“You are already successful in your career – that will continue,” he added. She pulled her hand away and started to get up.

“Whatever . . .,” she laughed.

“Wait, let me read your cards, or better yet, let’s peer into the crystal ball together,” he offered.

“Nope, it’s getting late. I need to be on my way,” she said. She felt flushed and her heart was beating quickly. “Thanks for the read. It’s probably best you don’t stick around too long. And I’d be careful going into town – they aren’t real keen on strangers around here – especially those that look like you.”

“Maybe you could visit again before I leave and let me do a crystal ball reading for you? I am good at what I do, just as you are. Maybe tomorrow?”

“We’ll see, Jocko, we’ll see.”

He took her hand again to his lips, kissing it tenderly. “I enjoyed the company, Rachelle. I appreciate the campsite, too. I hope to visit with you again.”

As she started to walk off, she turned around  and said, “Thanks for the reading – might’ve been a little too real for me, but thanks just the same. Don’t forget what I said about going to town.” Walking back down the trail, she knew exactly where she was and was annoyed that she had thought herself lost earlier. What the hell is going on? Where the hell did this handsome gypsy come from? Could he really read her story, her feelings, her future?

That night she was restless and sleep did not come easily. Finally around 2:00 a.m. she decided, yes she would visit Jocko again tomorrow and let him read her future in the crystal ball. She had had her palm and her tarot cards read on many occasions (for fun), but had never peered into the crystal. She was excited, intrigued and exhausted. Sleep finally came, but so did some strange dreams – dreams she would never consider entertaining.

The next morning, she slept in a little later than normal, as she had been awake most of the night thinking and dreaming about this gypsy and what he had said. Once she was up and had taken care of a couple of household chores, she decided it was time to head back out to the woods.

All during her walk to where Jocko’s wagon was parked, she thought of what he had said, what she had felt, fantasies she had dreamed the night before. The closer she got to the trail cut-off the more excited she was. She was ready to see what Jocko the gypsy saw in her future through the crystal ball. She was ready to see Jocko the gypsy again. He was handsome, calm, seemed self-assured and she couldn’t mistake how comfortable she was with him. This level of comfort had only happened once before, but she tried not to put too much stock in that.

As she started to head downhill into the hollow, she noticed it smelled different now. Reaching the hollow, she saw he and his crazy from another time wagon was gone. She looked around and he had left no trace that he had ever been there. Had he been here, or had she dreamed all of this?







Written for the word prompt: 

As she walked into the church, she could tell the storm was coming. It was cold and had already started to rain. How appropriate for the occasion.

During the service, it rained hard, with thunder and lightning all around. She couldn’t remember the last time it had stormed like this. Though it can be a little unsettling, it’s also so calming, too. She felt like she was in a fog, a nightmare of the worse kind – so unsettled.

Nothing she heard sounded right, whatever it was they were saying. She felt cold and numb. She was sniffling and shivering, was she getting sick? She had already lost her voice the day before. Finally the service was over, and the storm had passed, and the crowd headed out to the parking lot.

The smell of the air, its freshness & earthiness, the petrichor cleared her mind, and a small smile tried to creep in. Then she saw them bring out the tiny casket. The attempted smile disappeared, and in an effort to not focus on the coffin, she thought petrichor is such a depressing little world to describe something so cleansing and refreshing, as the tears began to roll down her cheeks.


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