Flash Fiction Friday: #WritePhoto

The #WritePhoto challenge is a weekly bloghop challenge where KL Caley posts a photo on Thursday and you have until Tuesday to write and post a story. I got started on this one and can't seem to let go! Visit the challenge page to join in or to see what others do with the prompt. 

For those who haven't read the others, you can find the story in pieces: Parts I to III, Part IV, Part V, Part VIPart VII, Part VIII,  and Part IX.  Or you can go with the simple summary: James Campbell and his rag-tag defenders of a ruined castle have defeated and driven off the aliens who have conquered most of the Earth. Now they have moved on in search of others equally unwilling to serve the alien masters, which involves getting the whole crew up and over the mountains to the sea, without the use of machines or technology--and making contact with the fellow rebels.

Photo by K L Caley

Part X: Contact

“How many have we lost?”


Mercifully Rory MacDonald refrained from making jokes. “Everyone is present and accounted for, Chief. We’re short three sheep. One fell in a hole and broke a leg. Angus butchered it out on the spot.” The young red-head made a face. “Yuck.”


“We can’t afford to let meat go to waste, however unpleasant the reality of butchering,” James Campbell pointed out. Not that his right-hand man didn’t know that. “What of the other two?”


Rory MacDonald shrugged. “No telling. They might yet stravel into camp.”


It had been a hard few days, climbing over the mountains with thirty-two people from age eight up to… whatever Aunt Gertrude MacDonald was. And two dozen sheep, not to mention a couple of goats and a milk cow.


The crew was encamped now above a coastal village that had been there for centuries, and appeared peaceful enough.


James Campbell almost laughed. His clan. His army.


His band of refugees, but they fought when they needed to, and fought well. And with luck, this village below them was where they would find others like them, to start building a resistance to the aliens they called Bugs.


The aliens who controlled most of the planet, as far as they knew.


And what if Gertrude’s beta was wrong and the Bugs ran this place, too? They couldn’t just all waltz down there. He had to go and scout.


“I’ll be coming with you, boy.”


Only one person addressed him that way. James turned to look at Gertrude MacDonald. The old lady—he had no idea how old; though young Rory called her Aunt, she was more likely a great-aunt or a distant cousin several times removed. It didn’t matter. She’d come over the mountain as nimbly as any of them. Witches didn’t age, a part of his mind whispered.


“It could be dangerous.” He tossed it out there and the words sat between them.


“I know my way around. And I know Ian MacKinnon, who won’t be giving any allegiance to alien Bugs. Besides, there’s a lovely tea shop down there, and my tongue is simply hanging out for a proper cuppa; none of the weeds you folks have been boiling up and  calling tea.”


What was the point of arguing?


Just before dark the pair of them, escorted by the large Angus and equally endowed Archie, headed down the hill toward the town. Martha and Callam Campbell had wanted to join the party, but James would not let them. They were the parents of the two little girls who led the cow over the mountain--the only children in the group who actually had both parents. He wanted to keep it that way.


The village was quiet. It wasn’t late, but no cars moved about the streets.


“Of course not, ninny,” Gertrude pointed out when he commented. “No gas. And no tech, remember? I tell you, this whole village is hiding from the Bugs.”


They left Archie and Angus behind a hedge just outside the town and walked down the main street, turned into a narrower street, then a close. A red sign directed them to the tea garden halfway down.


“Are we going to drink tea instead of doing what we came for?” James scowled as his companion. “Shouldn’t we go hunt up your Ian MacKinnon?”


“We’re going to do it all in one go, right here. My message was to meet the leaders here at sunset.” She glanced at what could be seen of the sky. “We’re right on time.”


He didn’t even ask how she got the message. Not by radio; they’d been strict about using any tech that could be traced by the Bugs, and she’d been the strictest.


Aunt Gertrude Campbell was a witch. She had her own ways and means. He followed her into the shop.


From the smell of things, Gertrude was going to be disappointed about the tea. They weren’t getting shipments from China or Africa any more than they were getting petrol. They’d  all better get used to herbal tea.


The next thing James realized was that the room held a dozen men and women, and they were just putting down a lot of things that might have been weapons.


“We’re here,” Gertrude told the oldest woman present.


“About time.”


Once the women had exchanged greetings, if that was what they were, a lanky man with a bit of grey in his hair stood up. “Ian MacKinnon.”


“James Campbell.” They shook hands and stood looking at each other until the old woman spoke up.


“It’s your reinforcements, Ian my boy. Both of you stop sniffing at each other like a pair of dogs and start laying plans.”


“Yes, ma’am,” they chorused, and in the rueful shared grin, a powerful alliance was born.




If you enjoy my stories here, please consider pre-ordering my coming release, 


 A Coastal Corpse

A corpse among the dahlias is no way to start your day.

Retired science teacher Seffi Wardwell has moved to coastal Maine looking for peace, fresh air, and an accepting community. So far, she’s enjoying the sea air.


When a corpse turns up in Seffi’s flower garden, she can’t help asking questions about the victim and his death. Police officer Miah Cox doesn’t want her assistance, but Seffi’s curiosity is what made her a scientist.


The more she learns about the dead man’s background, the more she wants to know. Estranged from his wealthy family, and a village pariah for something that happened years before, the dead man had plenty of enemies. At least one wanted to make him disappear forever, and they’re all eager to see this case wrapped up and forget about him.


The way Seffi sees it, somebody has to care about him, and as a fellow outsider, she’s it. But all of her poking around is stirring up trouble in the village. It’s up to Seffi and Miah to figure out whodunit before they strike again, and before the locals decide the handiest scapegoat is Seffi herself.



©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
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  1. I really like this story - and this is a good twist.
    I'm having trouble navigating your site to catch up because I can't go straight to the previous post - only to these so-called popular posts I've already read. Any chance of a sidebar with latest posts (about four or so?)

    1. Thanks--glad you're enjoying it, though I think I ought to wrap it up soon! As for older posts, the sidebar has an "archive" tab that shows previous posts--click on August and it will show all August posts. I do realize that stuff is hard to see in mobile mode, but I think that's just the way it is--no simultaneous sidebars in mobile.


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