Managing The Monarch: A Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge

Read Chuck Wendig’s blog. He’s fun and informative.

This is one of his flash fiction challenges, due today.

I got Gothic and Creature Feature.

Here she be.




The Monarch used to be a nice place. Mark Twain stayed here, back in the day. Now it’s a flop house. The hand-carved wooden bannisters have been whittled by decades of graffiti and the floor-to-ceiling murals in the lobby are covered in layer after layer of whitewash, ectoplasm, and jizz. The grand ballroom hosts only Anonymous meetings, infectious liaisons, and the occasional heroin overdose while the elevator is a literal death-trap and the stairwells smell of piss.

I have a job here, at The Monarch, through no fault of my own. I paid my rent, on time, every month. One morning, sixteen weeks ago, a cold draft slipped an envelope under my door. Within the envelope was a key, a business card, and a letter. The letter advised me that I was now the manager of the Monarch. My first responsibility was to clean up the former manager’s apartment and move into it. The key was to her apartment. The number on the card put me through to a lawyer’s assistant who advised me that I was contractually bound to accept the job if I wanted to continue living there.

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Enhanced Dictation

I’ve upgraded my Mac’s OS to the new El Capitan. Probably the last time they’ll let me update before my laptop is declared legally extinct. One of the perks of the new OS is the Enhanced Dictation feature. After hours of download time, I can now speak and the computer will spell it out for me. I’m not doing that right now because I have a cold. When you have a cold, the dictation gets a little wonky. Here is a little sample of roughing out an idea through dictation with a stuffed nose. I refrained from correcting things:


Bliss filter stomach drop when she saw her landlord standing in the shade of the porch, one hand lifted to knock on the glass pane. Diggity stop it stop scratching and licking. Tanner never drop by unannounced and the expression on his face did nothing to soothe her anxiety. Is down move down
Quote quotation” good morning Tanner, in quotation” delete that. Said bless, trying to hide the tremor in her hand by clutching the edge of the door.” Is everything okay.”?.
“no,” he said simply delete that without preamble.” I’m here to serve you an emergency eviction notice. Usually, this is something I would have the sheriff do but, we go way back, You and die, that I felt this was something I did doing person.” He lifted the clipboard and turned it around so she could see the paper tap to the face.” You need to be out at the house by the end of the day. I’m sorry, bliss. Capitalize bliss capitalize bliss fuck you LOL her to capitalized that no problem


Suffice to say, the dictation feature will be reserved for when I need to go hands-free, such as when I’m folding laundry at work or too drunk to navigate the keyboard.

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Cold Readings and Local Legends


I trained a new girl in town on the job for one day last week. She hasn’t come back but while she was there, we had some great conversations. She’s young (25) and charming and has a knack for making other people talk. As a storyteller, I talked. And talked. I told her about the local legends, the massacre on the beach, the town curse, and some plot points from my (fictional) Apparition Cove series. I told her which parts were fictional. I also told her that I imagine the ghosts moving en masse in the cold fog that wanders the streets of our outpost.

Now, the locals are talking about this new girl in town. She’s psychic, they are telling me. She knew things about this town that someone camping on the beach wouldn’t know. She knows all about the curse, the ghosts, the massacre. She gleaned it from sleeping on the black sand, she told them. She said the ghosts travel in the cold fog  and have communicated these stories to her.

She is gorgeous. And charming. And clever.

When I described her to a friend of mine (before the gossip tree relayed the above information), I said, “I couldn’t tell if she’s awesome or just blowing smoke up my ass, like a cold reader.”

A little of both, I suspect.


*update: a month or so has gone by. She left town last week. The Cove does have a way of shaking people loose.

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Still plugging along

I’m still plugging along. Writing but in a bit of a funk. Family and financial issues currently taking up a lot of room in my brain, crowding out more creative endeavors. Our landlord has put the house up for sale (again) and as our little Cove is becoming popular with outsiders, houses are being snatched up. Rentals are near impossible to come by but, with local ears to the ground, we should be able to find something.


EDITED FOR CLARIFICATION: bitch moan bitch moan whine poor me but otherwise everything is good.

Summer is coming.

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The Scapegoat Suicides (6): Reed, Croft, and the Narc Nock

Reed planned to skip out quick while her partner wrapped up the scene. He was better with the nitty-gritty stuff and more well equipped to handle humanity in general. She swung her leg over the saddle and settled onto the beast but before she started the engine, Croft stepped up and touched the brim of his hat in greeting. She frowned. He was blocking her exit.

“Detective Reed,” he said. “I’ve got the, er, suspect cuffed in the back of my squad car. Do I have your authorization to release her now?”

Reed looked up and caught her reflection in his mirrored sunglasses. Snakes wreathed her head and shadows swarmed. “Take off your fucking glasses when you talk to me, officer.”

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The Scapegoat Suicides (5): Reed and Smith and Death by Misfortune

His partner was a head case and he was okay with that. He’d worked with far more dangerous souls in ‘Nam and, while Reed was heavily armed, her detective status kept her relatively free and clear of active violence. An old pro at the aftermath, her eyes seemed to take in the carnage like the lens of a camera, her brain processing the images in a dark room, allowing only the details necessary to come to light. Scenes that would double-over the hardest cops barely registered on her face.

So, he knew that the body in the bathroom would not freak her out. In fact, his hope was to get the door shut between themselves and the general public before she started laughing. As he followed her beeline across the showroom floor, he considered renegotiating his contract. He’d only been on the job three months but wrangling Reed was turning out to be a bit more taxing than anticipated. He could could feel his desire to continue flagging. However, the alternative would be pricey. Chief Bright had made sure he understood.

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The Scapegoat Suicides (4): Hope and Reason

When Hope awoke from restless slumber and found her naked lover hanging by the neck at the end of a rope looped over the limb of one of the younger redwood trees that sheltered their makeshift tent, she sprang into action. Climbing the tree, she crawled out on the limb and sawed through the hemp with her skinning knife until the weight of his body snapped the remaining fibers. He dropped bonelessly to the soft carpet of needles. She swung down and crouched by his side. Wincing at the angle of his neck, she gently straightened his crackling vertebrae and laid him out in a more comfortable position.

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