Friday Flash: WEP, #WritePhoto

I haven't done a lot of flash fiction lately, but with the WEP closing down I came back from my non-participation (I wasn't getting the inspiration from the songs and movies, as well as moving away from so much flash fiction on the blog). I also thought I'd look in on the WritePhoto prompt at KL Caley's New2Writing, and that put me in mind of my on-going story about the Scots vs. Aliens. I'd kind of finished that, but decided a little wrapping up wouldn't hurt. It's not much of a story, but here it is.

The WEP prompt is "Over to You," which is offered as freedom to write what we want, so I did, but am linking back for the farewell.

The WritePhoto Challenge is issued each Thursday with posts to be up and shared by the following Tuesday. The prompt is, of course a photo:
Photo credit KL Caley

My story isn't particulalry related to the photo, even if it did start my mind going back to that castle where the Campbells began the rebellion. Here's a link to the previous entry, which has links to all the others if you want to see where this comes from. 

 I got a little carried away; this is about 1130 words.


The letter came on a bright December day, a rarity. James Campbell took it to the ramparts of his castle to read it in private before the tourists arrived.


Tourists. It wasn’t so long ago that the thought of humans traveling freely about their own world felt at best like a dim memory of a time long-gone and never to return. Now the government was back in control, more or less—not with the same leaders, but the same government, nonetheless. And the National Trust once again owned the castle where James Campbell had led his small part of the rebellion.


The Bugs were gone. Ultimately they had been defeated by their own technology, but also by the willingness of a lot of humans to give up their technology. No one in the years before the invasion would have believed that possible, so it just went to show. Maybe humans were worth saving after all.


That thought seemed to ring a bell in James’ mind as he climbed the uneven, winding stair to the top of the tower. Oh, right. That was what God was supposed to have decided after the flood, right? Like the flood, even if it was a myth, the invasion of the alien Bugs had substantially reduced the human population of Earth. Maybe even back to something closer to its actual carrying capacity. That had to be good.


It wouldn’t stay that way, of course, human nature being what it was. James shook off gloomy thoughts as he reached the watch platform and opened the letter. It had taken several weeks to come across the Atlantic, he noted by the postmark—hand stamped in a remote Canadian village.


“Dear Uncle James,” the letter began.


We are well, and still in the far north. The Canadian government, and even the one south of the border, wanted us to come live in their cities after Rory’s device took care of the Bugs, but we hear the cities are a mess. Without any of the technology that so nearly destroyed our world it’s hard to manage that many people, even if the numbers are lower. I do feel badly for those who were killed or carted off as slaves, but not so much for the politicians who are gone one way or another.


We are all well. Archie has married a local girl. She shares his love of making things with his hands, which is a good thing! The landscape here reminds me of our Highlands back home, only it is so much flatter! The only road out is a very long and rough one, so I don’t know if we shall ever leave.


I hope your rebuilding over there is going well. We do get news from the outside world now and again, and I think we might be slacking, not to go out and help. But Rory likes it here, and so do I. We shall see what our child thinks as she grows older. I think she’ll be a girl, though we won’t know for another two months. Rory says we are not to name her Gertrude.





James folded the letter and tucked it into an inner pocket, smiling. So he was to be a great-uncle, was he? Or something like that, his relationship to Claire being a bit fuzzy. His smile faded. It was a pity he’d never meet the child, growing up in the wilds of Canada.


He looked over the ramparts at the broad meadow surrounding the castle. A lone figure was making its way from the village across to the castle, a cape flowing behind her and wellies making deep prints in the mud.


Prints that Rory’s aunt Gertrude would expect him, James Campbell, one-time clan chieftain, to smooth out.


“James!” she bellowed from the entrance to the castle. “James Campbell! I know you’re up there! Now come down and tell me how you are going to fix the boat landing before the load of visitors on their way up the lake arrive!”


The aliens from outer space might have gone, James reflected as he descended the stairs with care, delaying the encounter below. But he still had a ruthless overlord in the form of Gertrude MacDonald, still the National Trust’s local castle-keeper.


And the best of his young crew had taken the ship to Canada, where Rory’s plan had freed the world, and at the same time gone a long way toward addressing the problem of global warming. Not that everyone liked going back to doing things by hand and getting about on their own two feet. That left him short-handed here.


He pulled out his work gloves and gave a shout as he came out at the landing, nestled in a deep niche that almost qualified as a grotto, so deeply was it tucked under the walls by the water-gate. Angus emerged from the niche where he’d just put up a small Christmas tree as a sort of welcome to whoever might come—probably not an old guy in a flying sleigh, but with Angus you could never be sure. Between them they wrestled a few more stones into place and laid the temporary plank landing over them, anchoring it well. If the tourists didn’t like that, they could use the landing at the village and walk the mile to the castle.


He looked up at the partially reconstructed ramparts, at all the restoration work they’d done while under siege in the place and reached a decision.


“Gertrude,” he told the old woman, who to her credit was not only supervising but helping with the heavy, wet work, “I’m going to reclaim this place. Buy it back from the National Trust if I have to. This is my home and here I stay.”


“You may have company,” she said, jutting a pointed chin toward the water where a boat was rapidly approaching under sail.


James squinted at the vessel, trying to estimate how many had made it so far off the beaten path. Probably up from Edinburgh by boat, since overland travel was so much harder these days.


Something made him look harder, and he reached out a hand for the birding glasses that Gertrude was handing him. Bringing the lenses into focus, he sucked in a breath. It was!


That was the good ship Defense of the Castle, built by his own people over a year ago and sailed off to Canada. And there, against the rail—it couldn’t be, but it was.


Rory and Claire, holding hands and waving at him.


He handed the glasses back to Gertrude. “Quick, Angus! We have to make this wharf solid--my grand-niece is aboard there!” He touched the letter he’d just read. Whatever had changed their minds about staying, he couldn’t regret it.


He hoped.



©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.
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  1. HI, I have to admit that you shocked me with your first paragraph. I did not know that the WEP was closing down. Wow! An interesting take on the prompt. I didn't go back to read the story related to your telling, but I am happy that it gave you inspiration. All the best and I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a great crossover into 2024. Shalom shalom

    1. I know! I hadn't known anything of it until someone else commented!

  2. Did I miss a step in your strory somewhere along the line. I don't remember the aliens being defeated. Although it could be your decided to just make it backstory here. Good work anyway.

    1. No, you didn't miss anything. I just kind of jumped to the epilogue :)

  3. Sorry our choices of prompts brough you no inspiration. Thanks for the farewell. Keep writing!

    1. No fault of you or your prompts--flash fiction just kind of wasn't my thing this year.

  4. Hello Rebecca. I greatly enjoyed the plot of this story although I couldn't go back to read the previous one. Thank you for writing for the WEP this month.

  5. What a neat story. It made me think. Maybe you're right, and the only way out for Earth and its people is to give up technology. But gosh, I so don't want to. The internet is too convenient to simply kill it. And hot water. And electricity. Could we find a middle ground, maybe? A castle is good, sure, but a laptop is definitely better.
    Olga Godim from

    1. I hope there's a middle ground. I, too, like my tech. Most of my friends exist in the ether, after all!

  6. Technology certainly causes me problems, but it saved my life with that massive heart attack. Every plus has a minus. Some pluses are not worth it though. Hate to meet you when WEP is just ending.

    1. Roland, feel free to keep dropping by! I don't do so many flash fiction pieces anymore, but I do some great photo posts ;)

  7. This was great! I loved the voice and the characters are real - so glad they've reunited!

  8. Family is so important. Good story.

  9. Hi Rebecca - great to see Canada and Scotland reuniting with the little one in tow ... definitely a longer story to be told here ... or extended ... you always write so well - with happy thoughts for the coming fortnight and then all the best for 2024 - cheers Hilary

  10. Hi Rebecca. Great that you thought to post for our final prompt. People are just so pressed these days that our numbers have fallen to such a low there was no point. We all need more time in our lives. Flash Fiction will always be a great love of mine, however, and I'm so pleased that many have sharpened their writing through WEP. All the best for the future.

    Thanks for writing for WEP over the years.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  11. Woohoo! A wonderful ending indeed :D


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