MISSISSIPPI MYSTERY

A Prompt Response for Flasher Friday

This is my response to a prompt from Our Write Side to their Friday Flasher prompt. A short story in no more than 500 Words using four elements

  • Place: on a boat
  • Character: a US Senator
  • Object: a 60% off coupon
  • Smell: roasted peanuts

 

American Queen Steamboat

American Queen Steamboat

Image courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company, New Orleans

MISSISSIPPI MYSTERY

by John Yeo

 Let me introduce you to Captain Hiram Henburger, a tolerant well liked man, Master of SS Maybelline, a steamboat that carries wealthy passengers on luxurious cruises up and down the Mississippi River.

Captain Henburger has a wealth of experience of cruising the Mississippi River,  there is nothing he doesn’t know about these impressive boats that are authentic models of craft that have sailed this historic river for years.

Today was day one of a 23-day cruise from Minneapolis (Red Wing) to New Orleans, the Master of the vessel was on the bridge as one of his senior officers welcomed each and every passenger aboard. A young couple boarded the vessel, waved off by several family members.

 

“Welcome aboard Sir, I seem to recognise you from your pictures in the news. Of course, you are Senator Planter; I’m pleased to meet you. The Captain sends his apologies, he has an urgent matter to deal with and asks if you would care to join him in the wardroom in an hour.”

“Of course, my wife Betsy here is dying to meet the Captain, aren’t you darling. Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”

Betsy nodded, smiling as the young officer replied, “I’m Staff Captain Stephen Danvers, Sir. Just follow the crew member here and he will show you to your cabin.”

 

Exactly an hour later the Captain and Senator Planter with Mrs. Planter were enjoying afternoon refreshments in the wardroom as the steamboat sailed along through the impressive scenery on either side of the Mississippi River.

  Surprisingly the Senator revealed he was the fortunate recipient of a 60% off coupon, that had arrived through the post to one of his family. The Captain smiled affably and said, “There are some reasonable cabins in the economy section, I expect you managed to get an upgrade, though.”

“No! The ship is full with no upgrades available.”

“Oh dear,” said the Captain; “We will see you enjoy your voyage, Senator.”

Mrs. Planter was concerned that her dietary information had been received by the catering department. “Under no circumstances must I ever eat nuts, as I have a strong nut allergy that could be dangerous.”

The Captain assured her that he would make the Restaurant and the Catering department aware of this at once. “I will personally inform the Maitre D, and the Head Chef,” he assured her. “Have a wonderful voyage!”

 

The next morning at dawn the ship’s alarm bells were sounded as the ship was boarded by uniformed police. Mrs. Planter had been found dead in her cabin and the Senator was helping police with their enquiries. The cabin steward who found her body had noticed a strong smell of roasted peanuts. The Senator had been stopped from jumping overboard in an intoxicated condition. The ship’s medical officer suspects Mrs. Planter has suffered an anaphylactic shock due to an extreme reaction to roasted peanuts.

There will be a postmortem.

(485 WORDS)

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved 

Friday Flasher

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Friday Flasher: On A Boat

THOUGHT TRAIN

A prompt response for ~Inspiration Monday: Thought Train

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Three Sisters

Image © Copyright John and Margaret

TRAIN OF THOUGHT

Insomnia.

Catacombs of Norwich.

Maria, Mona, and Mary. Three sisters.

People of the night.

Security guards.

The Mall.

Bloody trail of clues.

Dead body in a doorway.

Midnight Insomnia.

Norwich Chalk Mine Tunnels.

Maria, Mona, and Mary. Three sisters bathed in blood.

THOUGHT TRAIN

by John Yeo

 The night hours dragged by as I tossed and turned, desperately trying to get to sleep. I pictured myself seeking inscriptions on the headstones located on ancient tombs in the catacombs of Norwich.

I wake my wife. “What’s the time?  Look it’s 3am.” She angrily answers her own question. “Please go to sleep, darling, or at least let me sleep.”

“Sorry I say, I’m trying, but these three sisters are haunting me, Maria, Mona, and Mary. I see them growing up together, I see them getting married, having children and each becoming a Matriarchal head of their families. A proud dynasty that is interwoven with love and tragedy combined.”

 “OK then, I’ll make us a cup of Camomile tea, while you tell me what’s keeping you awake.”  My wife says resignedly heading for the kettle.

  “Well there is one child from each of the three families, three boys who go astray, they become involved with the people of the night, criminals, addicts, gamblers, and drunken revellers. I see a fight, a death with security guards from a nearby shopping mall following a bloody trail and discovering a dead body in a shop doorway attached to the rear of the mall.”

My wife interjects. “Why is that keeping you and me awake at this ungodly hour of the morning? Drink your tea, before it gets cold!”

“I haven’t finished yet darling! These three boys were not the killers, yet they run and take refuge in the Norwich Chalk Mine Tunnels. There is a notorious coven in operation here operated by a magical sect, headed by three mysterious sisters, Maria, Mona, and Mary, bathed in the blood of the afterbirth of their three wayward sons.”

 

Norwich Chalk Mine tunnels

‘Norwich Chalk Mine Tunnels’ ~ Image from the net

 

“Welcome, we have been expecting you, the train of thought has come full circle and rebirth awaits at the next station along the line.”

My wife is fast asleep as I begin to put my train of thought on paper. A thought train or a dream?

Copyright © Written by john Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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ROUGH DIAMOND

A Prompt Response for Flasher Friday

This is my response to a prompt from Our Write Side to their Friday Flasher prompt. A short story in no more than 500 Words using four elements

  • Place: Paris, France
  • Character: a coal miner
  • Object: red and blue markers
  • Smell: baby powder

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http://ourwriteside.com/category/prompts/friday-fiction/

 

Swans

Image ©  John and Margaret ~ All rights reserved

 

 

ROUGH DIAMOND

by John Yeo

    After their parents had died in an automobile accident, the family home was sold, leaving Jean-Pierre and his brother, Francois, homeless.

Both coal miners, they had worked together since leaving school. They shared digs together; Jean-Pierre the elder of the two brothers was in love with Marie, the landlady’s daughter. They planned to get married when they had saved enough money.

The brothers worked in the same pit in Noeux, Northern France. One busy shift, the Foreman, a nasty piece of garbage, who answered to the name of Schotter, had been particularly rough on both brothers, sending them to work the coal face in the most dangerous area of the mine. Jean-Pierre suspected he was also in love with Marie, and bitterly seeking revenge for her spurning him, and his advances.

 That memorable day when Jean-Pierre struck the rugged coal face, an unusual round stone came tumbling down between his feet.

“What do you make of this Francois?”  Jean-Paul asked his brother. Francois gasped when he saw the stone.

  

 At that precise moment, there was a low rumble that became a slide and the roof collapsed trapping both brothers. Almost buried alive Jean-Pierre was dragged out with two broken legs, no one noticed the egg-shaped stone he clutched tightly in his hand. Francois died, buried alive in the tunnel.

There was an internal investigation, a manager questioned everyone and made copious notes and drawings on a whiteboard using red and blue markers. The conclusion was that Schotter had been negligent by ordering the brothers to work in an unsafe area. He was arrested and jailed for manslaughter.

It took a while to work out what he had found in the depths of the coal mine. Jean-Pierre always carried the rough stone in a pouch.

He made a slow recovery from his injuries, but he was forced to walk with a limp, and forget about his life as a miner. Marie stood by him when they decided to get married and move to Paris. Marie-Celeste was born, and their rented apartment was soon filled with, the gurgles of a newborn baby together with wondrous smells, of  baby powder everywhere.

 

 “Marie, we are soon going to move to a new house here in Paris. I have a very valuable item that I have been working on, a lucky relic from my days as a miner.”

 After a famous pink diamond was sold on the open market in Paris, for millions. It was a mystery buyer who purchased the diamond from a mystery seller, both sides of the transaction were handled by agents.

 Jean Pierre and Marie lived in comfort, financially sound for the rest of their lives.

 It was Marie’s idea to visit the old mine, the scene of Francois sad death.

When they came to the site, Jean-Pierre the miner stopped, stunned. Two French Swans were swimming on a lake where the overgrown mine shaft was. Swimming over coals that contained the last remains of his brother.

 

(496 WORDS)

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

Friday Flasher

Friday Flasher: Paris, France

UNDERWATER SKY

A prompt response for ~Inspiration Monday: Underwater Sky

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Underwater sky

Image ©  John and Margaret

 

The tide comes in~As a watery dawn appears in the sky~A brick was lobbed in the water~Another fishy asteroid appears

UNDERWATER SKY

by John Yeo

    Pikey peeped out from his hideaway in a hole in the riverbank. A hungry Pikey who hadn’t eaten for three days: always on the lookout for an easy meal. When a fly landed on the water above he pounced and missed, dazzled by the magnification of the sun shining on the water from the sky above the river. Hunger pangs were boring holes into the walls of his stomach, it had been three days since he had eaten; a small fish that was already injured and easy prey.

   A shadow fell from the watery sky above the river and he darted back into his burrow, a large rock sailed by the entrance and landed with a squelch in the mud at the bottom of the river. Probably another asteroid collision, they seemed to occur with increasing frequency at this time of day. Two laughing young schoolboys walking by the river growing stones in the water were blissfully unaware they were making waves in aquatic science.

   Suddenly there was a splash as something entered the water from the underwater sky, Pikey stiffened his dorsal fin, as a fat frog began to swim close to the riverbank. He waited patiently for this edible gift from above to get close enough to allow him to strike. To his dismay, a large white seagull snatched the frog from the water and flew off into the cloudy sky above the river. Pikey entered the reed beds hunting for food as large oval raindrops began to splatter the surface of the river from the now dark watery sky. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds when a fat looking fly settled on the water above once, twice, then again. Pikey was more interested in a school of tiddlers swimming nonchalantly by, he snapped his jaws on three fish at once swallowing them whole.

    The fat fly, outlined in the sky above, now clearly visible, drew his attention, he waited for it to settle once again on the surface and he pounced. Pikey bit hard as he felt a sharp object in the corner of his mouth, he twisted and pulled to dislodge this alien object. Meanwhile, he could feel a tug as his whole body was drawn towards the sky above the river. Pikey fought hard, swimming from side to side, desperately trying to get free from the line that was slowly but surely pulling him up towards the underwater sky at the surface of the river. After a massive superfish tug and a headlong dive, there was a snap and with a feeling of joyous relief Pikey swam and swam as far away from that stretch of the river as possible.

   Two years later Professor Pikey was addressing a school of student Pikelings with a stern warning to avoid flies that drop in from the underwater sky.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

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FAMILY VISIT

A Prompt Response for Flasher Friday

http://ourwriteside.com/category/prompts/friday-fiction/

Gypsy tent

Image from the net

FAMILY VISIT

By John Yeo

 

 It was cloudy and windy as the day dawned over Westchester Towers high school. 400 students, children of wealthy, landowners, industrialists, and commoners alike were in various stages of greeting a brand new day.

The manicured school lawn this morning was blighted by the sight of a large camping tent that had appeared from nowhere overnight.

This caused a ripple of concern among the staff and a delegation was soon formed and sent to investigate.

 The Headmaster, flanked by his deputy and the PE teacher together with the school janitor approached the tent.

“Headmaster, shouldn’t we call the police?” asked Tim Sampson, his deputy.

“Not yet, we don’t want to alarm the students, and we could be accused of wasting police time if there is a reasonable explanation.” replied the headmaster.

Then with a well-rehearsed, well-honed air of authority, he puffed out his chest and called out.

 “Hello, whoever is in there, come out at once!”

There was a silent pause before a strangely familiar voice shouted back,

“Keep away! There is danger here.”

The Headmaster, said “It’s Tom Newton the Science teacher. Whatever does he mean? Stand back, I think he’s gone crazy.”

 At that moment, James Jones and his best school pal, Fauntleroy Smythe were sitting on a small stone bridge, tossing stones and twigs into a fast-flowing brook. They had a good view of the mysterious tent and the events that followed.

 “Gypsies have moved in, if you ask me, they are everywhere these days. My Dad said they are a pain and should be forced to settle down and pay taxes like everyone else.” Said Fauntleroy.

 James smiled and nodded at this remark.  “Yes, they’re everywhere!  My Great-grandad was a Romany, a traveller who settled down and made a fortune as a scrap metal dealer.”

 “Oh! Sorry James, I never knew that; good for him.”

James just grinned and said, “It’s OK Fauntleroy!”

Then he pushed him off the bridge into the stream and watched as a shocked, muddy, sorry-looking individual clambered out of the water and staggered off towards the mysterious tent.

Ignoring the shouts of keep away; from the assembled delegation, Fauntleroy entered.

 Suddenly there was a loud bang followed by a terrifying scream. The Science teacher, staggered out carrying the student,

 “Call an ambulance!”  ordered the headmaster. “ What’s going on Newton?”

“Well Headmaster, I noticed some suspicious looking characters building this tent on the lawn last night. “I approached them, but I was overpowered and held prisoner.

“What was that loud bang?” asked the headmaster, “How did this lad get hurt?”

“I’m not sure Headmaster, I think a car backfired on the road beyond those trees as they fled, this lad screamed and fainted with shock.”

Then with a siren screeching, an ambulance arrived. Two paramedics confirmed that Fauntleroy had fainted with shock and would be fine with some rest.

 Meanwhile, James was in conversation with his Great Uncle Louis, who had arrived to visit him, bringing news of the family.

 

(497 WORDS)

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

This is my response to a prompt from Our Write Side to their Friday Flasher prompt. A short story in no more than 500 Words using four elements

  • Place: inside a camping tent
  • Character: a high school teacher
  • Object: an ambulance
  • Weather: windy
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Friday Flasher: Inside A Tent

PRACTICING SPACECRAFT

WHISTLE CODE

A prompt response for ~Inspiration Monday: Whistle Code

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Images © Copyright ~ John And Margaret

WHISTLE CODE

by  John Yeo

     Pinto was a farmer, he grew fruit and vegetables in a fertile valley on the island of Vesta. Hidden among a group of larger islands in the Caribbean Sea, not many visitors arrived to break the monotony of the hard, day-to-day fight for survival. Steep rocky mountains engulfed the island, sheltering fertile valleys, where a hardy people who had lived and survived on the rocky, isolated, island, for centuries, scraped a living by exporting their produce to the mainland.

    Communication between neighbouring valleys was almost impossible before the dawn of the electronic age; to drive on the steep, rough and ready roads, from one valley to another could take a whole day.

     A whistling language developed over the years, from one valley to another, sharp, long and short, drawn-out whistles, would warn the people of danger or impending changes in the erratic winter weather conditions.

     The council of the island decreed that all the island’s children must be taught to communicate by whistling to keep this valuable ancient form of communication going.

    Pinto’s eldest son Paulo, resented this but reluctantly did as he was told and absorbed the skills.

     Mr. Zen, the whistling schoolteacher would drum the calls of alarm into the children….

   “Two long whistles and one short for an urgent request for help. One continuous long drawn out whistle for a helicopter rescue. Three short sharp whistles for a threatening stranger.”

  One memorable day, Paulo was working hard in the rock-strewn fields, when he vaguely heard an unusual whistle message from the neighbouring valley. It took a while for the realization that someone was in trouble to sink in, and he was quickly on the radio to the authorities who dispatched two helicopters immediately.

   “It looks like someone is lying prone at the bottom of that ravine there!”  shouted the pilot to the two paramedics. “The police helicopter is landing on a flat space a mile away, leaving that flat area clear for us!” The helicopter landed to find a young girl in a state of shock, frantically whistling the well-taught distress call.

    “Don’t move, just tell us what happened?” enquired one of the medics.

     “I came here with my boyfriend, but he tried to rape me: When I resisted he pushed me off the rock above and I landed here. My leg hurts, and I think I have twisted my neck.” the distraught young girl blurted out.

     “Lie still now, the police will catch up with him. I will have to take you to the hospital on the mainland, we will just lift you gently on to the stretcher and we will be off.”

   The police were informed of the situation by radio, and the other helicopter arrested a suspect, who was later charged with assault.

    Paulo was soon commended for his swift response to the distress whistle.

   He related the whole thing to Pinto, his Dad, and they both agreed that the whistle code was a very valuable language to pass on, and keep alive.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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