Kreative Kue 178

Kreative Kue 177 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

My thanks to John W Howell, author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, and who blogs at Fiction Favorites, who sent:

Headquarters by John W. Howell © 2018

“Okay, guys listen up. We have good intel that the enemy has begun moving supplies and personnel into our sector. Yes, what is it, Ames?”

“What kind of intel?”

“Our spotters have confirmed. Okay?”

“Yeah, okay. It’s just those damn spotters have misled us before.”

“That was only because of that corn that was dropped on the highway. May I continue?”

“You’re the boss.”

“So we need to make sure our troops know to enact Plan Red on my command. You all know about Plan Red, right?”


“Yes, sir.”

“Right so commander.”

“Great then. By the way Ames.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why are continuing to scratch your ear.”

“I’m not sure sir. It sure itches.”

“Let me have a look at that.”

“My God man you have been infected by the invaders.”

“What does that mean sir.”

“It means the enemy is now upon you. We need to hit you with Plan Red immediately or who knows what will happen.”

“Aren’t there side effects to Plan Red?”

“Oh, a few minor ones.”

“Like what?”

“Palm hair is handled. Tooth growth if ingested. Withered extremities if inhaled.”

“What about if sprayed?”

“No side effects.”

“Why not spray me then.”

“That is probably the safest way.”

“Do it.”

“We can’t.”

“What why not?”

“None of us have been trained.”

“Who is trained then.”

“Only the spotters as far as I know.”

“Tell them to get here quick.”

“Now that’s a problem.”

“Why is that a problem.”

“They are on a corn break right now.”

“Tell them the break is over.”

“Can’t do that.”

“Why not.”

“They are union.”

“So that means?”

“You might want to join the union, fast.”

My effort was:

That’s a bit random!

“Have you seen what they’ve put on the roster for tomorrow, guys?”

“Day off, according to my copy, Steve.”

“Have you still got yesterday’s, John? The office revised it and sent out a new one.”



“And how am I supposed to know that?”

“John. Chain of command. The office sends it to me, then I come out and tell the rest of you about it.”

“So cut the cackle and tell us about it then!”

“Hang on, guys. I think I’m getting something.”

“Henri, how can you be getting something? You don’t have an earpiece.”

“No, it’s not that.”

“What are you getting?”

“Earache from your constant bickering. Just tell us what’s on the roster; then we can get on with preparing for it, okay?”

“Okay. You asked for it. According to the latest sheet—”

“Which may change before the end of the day…”

“But probably won’t.”

“Fair comment. Go on.”

“According to this sheet, there’s a group of kids coming from a school—”

“What school?”

“Honestly, does it matter, John?”

“Well, is it a junior school or a senior school? Girls, boys or mixed? What level?”

“Again, does it matter? Our job is to do what it says on the sheet, and that’s it.”

“To be professional, Steve, we should change what we do to suit the abilities and expectations of the audience; to give them the best and most educationally helpful experience.”

“Trust you, Scotty. You stay quiet for days, then chirp in with something like that. Fair enough, I’ll tell you. It’s a mixed group of fourteen- to sixteen-year-olds from the top stream of a private school. They’re doing an extended tour of the area, covering the entire school holidays. They’re seeing all the archaeological digs, museums, zoos and theatres; everything educational and cultural. We’re honoured to be on that list.”

“How is it an honour?”

“Because what we do isn’t usually only included in such high-level stuff.”

“So we’re low-level. Is that what you’re saying?”

“No, no, no. Look, we’re all a bit tetchy because of the pressures of what we have to do all day, every day; and only getting home once every six months doesn’t help. Who’s turn is it to scan the horizon with the telescope, this week?”

“I think it’s mine, Steve.”

“Okay, Henri. Yup, you’re on the roster. It’s about that time now.”

“Remind me what we’re looking for?”

“Anything out of the ordinary, the handbook says.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“I wish I could. Scotty – you ready with the log?”


“I should hope so. It is your job, after all.”

“Just do it, Henri, and tell me what you see.”

“Ok. Scanning.”

“Meanwhile, boss, what’s on the roster?”

“Wait till Henri’s ready.”

“I’m ready, there’s nothing.”

“How unusual.”

“No need for sarcasm, Scotty. Besides, does anyone know what we have to do if we find something noteworthy?”

“I guess it will depend on what it is, but first, there’s bound to be an extended debate to consider whether what has been found is sufficiently outside the norm to be worthy of entry in the log.”

“What’s the manual say?”

“The operative paragraph says we’re to log it and take appropriate action.”

“What’s it mean by that?”

“You know as well as I do. Must we have this same conversation every week? We all know how it’s going to end.”

“Maybe John won’t get drunk this week.”

“And maybe we’ll see something unusual on the scan. Look. I’ve done the sweep of the horizon and surprise, surprise, there’s nothing. Now, please tell us what we’re rostered to do for these kids tomorrow.”

“You sure you want to know?”

“We have to, Steve, otherwise how will we be able to do it, if we don’t know what it is?”

“Okay. We have to give an illustrated talk on the life-cycle of Magicicada septendecim.”

“Magic who what?”

Magicicada septendecim – the Periodical cicada. They thought it would be a suitable topic to celebrate our seventeenth year of operations here.”

“By tomorrow?”

“By tomorrow.”

“Steve, we don’t know anything about them. Wouldn’t we be better talking to the kids about what we do here?”

“Don’t be daft. What we do is beyond top secret.”

“And yet they trust it to us. Okay. Who knows anything about these things?”

“The office included the Wikipedia link.”

“Is the satellite connection working?”

“Hope so. Come on – to work. John, dig out the wiki page; Henri, scour the net for TV programmes about them; Scotty… Treat his as unusual and dream up a suitable log entry.”

“Sorry to be a downer, boss.”

“What is it, Scotty?”

“If we’re supposed to be top secret, how will the kids find us?”

“Not our problem, Scotty. Not our problem.”

On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here – pingbacks don’t often work.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.


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