Come Winter

9 Mar

100 word fiction inspired by the photo prompt below. Comment on Madison Woods’ comment page (This is her rodeo.) and leave a link to your story. As usual it was a tough prompt. Gave me a nose bleed.

Lots of chores to do today. I hear mice in the ceiling.


Used to be more people hereabouts.

Sixteen years ago corn rick mice carrying the Hanta Plague changed all that. Folks called it The Bleed. Killed mom the week I was born, then two of my sisters and three quarters of everyone else before they stopped it.

There’s a family up north has a girl I aim to marry. They mostly scavenge like the rest of us. Whatever we can find.

Our niche is books. Shuck the covers, roll ‘em up with tie wire and soak ‘em in tallow. They burn warm and cast a good light.

Come winter they’re bestsellers.

58 Responses to “Come Winter”

  1. Jeannie March 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Oh! I love how you did this Doug–twisted and plied oh so nicely! “bestsellers…” –you are so good! Nicely done!!

    Here is mine: It is a prose poem rather than a story:

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      Dear Jeannie,

      Thanks, Jeannie, I appreciate you reading this.

      Loved, loved your poem.



  2. susielindau March 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    I love the double entendre in the last line! You really had a great dialect in this one. Excellent!

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Dear Susie,

      Shades of the novel, Vandenberg (set in your neck of the woods). Thanks for reading.



  3. elmowrites March 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Post-apocalypse via a few little mice, eh Doug? The last line brings a sort of dark humour to the piece and I thought you maintained the voice at such a level that it was realistic without being cumbersome.
    It’s kind of strange to think a new born baby would survive the plague that takes his mother, but stranger things have happened, so why not?

    I’m over here:

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      Stranger things, indeed. You never know what events your life will hinge upon, or how you will arrive at that turning point. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  4. Sandra March 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Nice voice, and a lovely sardonic last line. Enjoyed this.

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thanks for stopping in. I really enjoyed The Thief of Time.



  5. EmmaMc March 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Have you read The Road, this reminded me of that. A brilliantly written apocalyptic tale and that last line is cracking.

    Good work!

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Emma,

      Cormac McCarthy? Love him. Going to get myself reincarnated a couple of times and write like him. Thanks for appreciating the last line. Took some twisting to work it in without making sound contrived. Worked out, though.



  6. ron pruitt March 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    I’ve heard of bats in the belfry? Are mice in the attic similar? Why is it nobody has a postive view of our future on this planet? We all seem to have a collective view that we are headed for something dark and harsh. I liked the voice of the narrator. Very folksy, even though he had his troubles. I hope he connects with the girl from the north country. I have some books I’d like to contribute for burning. Mostly Harry Potter. I’ve always wanted to have a book burning party. Hope your nose stops bleeding!
    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Dear Ron,

      Maybe it’s just Delbert up there. We’ll see. Thanks for stopping in and reading.



      P.S. Lots of logs for the fire. I’ll join you in adding to the pyre.

  7. Janet March 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Doug, the last line was brilliant! i also find the simple language sets the mood for a world where people are just focused on the necessities of life. Great story.

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy March 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      Thanks for stopping in to read. I appreciate the comment and your eye for detail.



  8. Carlos March 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    I’m laughing – best sellers! Very funny, and getting down to the absolute basic in life. My dad would’ve agreed with this; he thought fiction writing should be against the law because it wasn’t productive. Music too, except when it was used in barns to make cows give more milk. Something missing there, I think. Music and writing became the two most important things in my life.

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      Dear Carlos,

      Thanks for visiting. I’m glad you found music and that it informs your writing. Your father’s lack is your boon.



  9. Judee March 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    This is really really good stuff. A tme of desolation, when books become firewood, sad, tragic, and well written. Loved the last line.

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Dear Judee,

      Who knows? When things get a little better and that kid marries and has some children of his own, he may turn to writing books instead of burning them. Hope springs eternal.

      Thanks for visiting.



  10. niiko47 March 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Perhaps an apocalyptic event will help our species get back to basics and appreciate the simple things again, which is what I’ll take away from your story this week. A great read, thanks for sharing it!

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      You are welcome, Sir.

      I think our species could do with some severe culling. Problem is, no one volunteers…

      Oh, well.

      Thanks for stopping in.



  11. teschoenborn March 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Hmm, a whole new take on book burning and best cellars/sellers, and all in 100 words?!

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.



  12. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I have a few hundred mice in the barn. I’d love to rid myself of the lot of them – they’re eating all the turkey food. Maybe I need a cat – but will it, in turn, eat the poults? *sigh*

    As for your story, the voice was by far my favorite aspect. I love the end of days concept of burning the books for light and fuel. We’ll find a way to make do, won’t we? You got me again with “corn rick mice” – I learn something new from you each week.

    ~Grasshopper (Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Dear Susan,

      I’d sacrifice a few poults to keep the mice population down to a dull roar.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading. Thanks much for the note about the voice. I worked at it for many a rewrite. Neat thing was, the more words I took out, the more natural it sounded. I’ll be remembering that for future works. Happy to add ricks to your vocabulary just as you added weird sounds to my life underwater. (I hate active sonar!)



      • Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 13, 2012 at 2:13 am #

        Dear Doug,

        Technically, I spent 15 years in passive only (IUSS)…I only pinged for the last five. Notably, I had to write a paper for an environmental science class regarding active SONAR. It’s not hard for me to see both side…not at all.


    • Madison Woods March 12, 2012 at 2:58 am #

      My cats have never eaten a poult or a chick and I’ve always had cats and all my adult life had chicks every year. I’ve yet to understand how they seem to know the difference because they do enjoy the baby birds when they fall from the nest sometimes.

      • Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 13, 2012 at 2:15 am #

        Thanks, Madison. I need to get rid of the mice…they have a adoption agency here that only offers “barn cats”…they are too feral to be pets.


  13. Siobhan Muir March 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Bestsellers! LOL nicely done, Doug. And yet, so sad. I couldn’t finished Fahrenheit 451 because it frightened me so much that anyone would burn books so we couldn’t read. Necessity is the mother of invention, tho. Well done.

    Here’s mine – a little different:


    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Dear Siobhan,

      Thanks, my dear. Somewhere out there is a family trying to save all the books. I just visited their semi-stupid cousins this week. Thanks for visiting.



  14. The Lime March 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Oh my goodness, Doug, you did some real wordplay with this one!

    I think you slip into the voice well, too — given that it’s not one I’ve read from you before. The story itself manages to be sincere even with the “cuteness” of the ending. That’s not to say, of course, that flashes with cute endings can’t be successful or compelling; I just don’t always think they are and therefore you managed to break the pattern 🙂

    I’m a little worried that I’ve slipped off the deep end when it comes to flash fiction, but eh — what’s the harm in occasional prose poetry, right?

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      Dear Lime,

      You are very sweet to me in the comment department and I appreciate it. I used to know that ‘voice’ so it was easy to fall into. The cute ending took a while to find its successful wording. i definitely didn’t want cute, even though I was shooting for the double meaning for the readers to grasp. My narrator doesn’t get it for sure. He’s just getting by while the world patches itself up again. Thanks for telling me I managed to break the pattern for you.

      I don’t think you’ve slipped off the deep end at all re flash fiction. It’s a marvelous exercise and hones your already sharp blade, my dear.



  15. kbnelson March 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh, Doug. That was just perfection. I love the voice of the narrator – you have his accent just right! And the nod to “bestsellers” was just the thing to make me smile. Wonderful work!

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Dear Karen,

      Glad I made you smile. Nothing better for a writer to hear and coming from you only adds to my secret satisfaction.

      (Second Thoughts was equally wonderful, Karen.)



  16. unspywriter March 10, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Love the dystopian stuff! Great last line. –Maggie

  17. TheOthers1 March 10, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    I laughed out loud when I read the last line which was probably inappropriate. The first thought I had was, “cheeky.”, but the whole story was sobering. Funny, but not really at all.

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      I’m gratified that you laughed and glad there was the ‘funny but not really at all’ element in your thoughts as you read Come Winter. Means I hit my mark somewhere close to the bull.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.



  18. Laura Dunlap (@auralind) March 10, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Well, that wasn’t exactly light reading, but amusing just the same and a good break from all the grandiosity I displayed in Word Jewels last week! Bestsellers indeed!
    Linda Laura

    • dmmacilroy March 10, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Dear Laura,

      Thank you for stopping in and reading and commenting. I was shooting for a little of both in this weeks 100 words. Came close. Spooky thoughts tempered by lunatic human actions.



  19. Caerlynn Nash March 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I really liked the voice you used; it gave a very interesting feel to the story. Nice!

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:58 am #

      Dear Caerlynn,

      Thanks for stopping in. I’m glad the ‘voice’ appealed to you. Tried to make it real; tempered by hardship yet hopeful for the future.



  20. Joanna K Neilson March 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Burning the books, even to survive, is a very powerful statement. Let’s hope it never comes to that. I can think of a few books I’d rather not see again, but setting light to them is still hard to bear. This brilliantly set up a world reeling from the plague, and as always made me think and question what state the world seems to be in.

    I get the feeling kindles won’t have lasted, either!

    Aloha and thanks for your comment on my Lovecraftian effort over at:

    I’m catching up on all of the entries today and it seems fairest to go through all the links on Madison’s page, but I’ll soon be replying to all the comments on my entry too. This Friday event is really popular!

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:54 am #

      Dear Joanna,

      I’m sorry I took so long to respond to your detailed and very nice comments. I’m finding it hard to keep up with all of the reading and commenting required by the FridayFictioneers submissions and yet I am totally addicted. Can’t wait to read about your ‘dog’ tomorrow.



  21. Erinleary March 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Love the double entendre at the end. Very authentic voice to it as well. Thanks for sharing!

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:52 am #

      Dear Erin,

      Thanks for liking the ‘voice’ of the narrator. And for reading and commenting. Life’s blood to me and I appreciate it.



  22. V. L. Gregory-Pohlenz March 11, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    Doug, I enjoyed your story–I love how you infuse humor in your work. This one had the flavor of “The Secret of N.I.H.M.” Delightful.. I appreciated your comments on my site, too.

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:50 am #

      Thank you V.L.,

      I aprreciate you stopping in to read.



  23. Jake Kale March 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    As others have said, the narrator here is a pleasure to read, even if the story he tells is quite grim. He’s so distinct and well realized. Excellent job.

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:49 am #

      Dear Jake,

      Thanks for your comment re the narrator. Maybe I’ll keep him around.



  24. Madison Woods March 12, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    You really did turn a good one this week Doug. Those tough prompts must be good for you! Very much enjoyed that story. Just echo Jeannie’s comment from me and that ought to do it 😉

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:48 am #

      Thanks Madison,

      Now I have to write a story for your dog photo. (I love you/I hate you:)



  25. Russell March 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I guess we’ll have to start a virtual fire if we want to burn eBooks. Great voice in this one, Doug. I really enjoyed it.

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:47 am #

      Thank you, Russell!

      People in the future better know how to build batteries or they’re going to be using their kindles for shingles.



  26. John Baldwin March 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Based on the lead-in, I was ready to read the rest of the chapter. There’s a story here; needing to be told. You are on it.

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:45 am #

      Dear John,

      Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment (a nice one, to boot!). I aprreciate your support.



  27. Shannon Pruitt from 'Mynewfavoriteday' March 15, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    I love reading your writing Doug. How you come up with your stories based on the images fascinates me. Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

    • dmmacilroy March 15, 2012 at 5:44 am #

      Dear Shannon,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and for leaving such a nice comment. I am inspired by the knowledge that my stories are going to be read by discerning readers like you. It is so nice to know you are browsing in my library, Shannon. Enjoy!



  28. elmowrites March 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Hi Doug! I think Lime already did it, I’ve nominated you for the versatilve blogger award in my post here:

    Feel free to use or ignore as you see fit.

    All the best,

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