#SwiftFicFriday, #SwiftFicFriday - Responses, Musings

#SwiftFicFriday W137 – Vote!

Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!

Joe’s Double Header Royal Bash

I hadn’t heard from Joe in a while. We were once both regulars at the Blue Barrel Tavern. Covid pretty much busted that enterprise but there was a core group of us who had formed a sort of occasional Covid Zooming Drinking fraternity.

That tailed off a year earlier.

Joe’s phone call was a pleasant change from Zoom gloom.

“Hey, Bud, how’s it hanging?” Joe asked, always a bubbling back-slapping kind of guy.

“Barely,” I said. “What’s cooking?”

“The Blue Barrel’s thinking of reopening – new name and all. The King’s Ransom. I suggested to Marlie, the new manager, that the old gang ought to throw a party – sort of celebration of getting past Covid and a bit of a wake for the Queen. Whaddayasay?”

I started scratching my head. Nervous condition when I’m feeling stressed. Talk about being of two minds. I was approaching at least three. Truth is, Covid’s still a thing for me, still a threat even though I knew I was getting a bit obsessive about it. And after over two years of Covid house arrest, I’d formed other time-wasting habits more sedentary than sharing a brew with the fellas.

Mostly though, I was one of those anti-monarchists. Don’t get me wrong, I admired Queen Liz, but we weren’t close at all, and this ten days/ ten months/ ten years of mourning cycle was a bit of a stretch.
“Can’t barely hear you breathing, Bud. Thought you’d jump at a chance of a party…”

Finally, I caved. “Sure, whatever, Joe. When you thinking?”

“Monday. Day of the funeral. Got it pretty much all planned out. You and the fellas just need to show up. Marlie will take care of the rest. “

That was that.

I’d go.

Take my chances.

Toast King Chuck.

300 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)

Daisuke focused on his breathing. He had been at the provincial sky dock every dawn this week.

“Is he coming today?”

Daisuke’s little brother, Kohi, tugged at his hakama.


Daisuke focused on his breathing. A warrior must always be master of his emotions. Even as the sky junk sailed into view, he tried to keep his heartbeat constant. After over two months of absence, the young warrior’s master should return any day.

Being allowed to train under a master of Yamato Hideyoshi’s caliber was an honor far beyond what a halfling peasant had any right to. Gratitude was Daisuke’s mantra.

But still, it was hard not to anticipate what Master Yamato might bring back this time. It was impossible to get a proper weapon this far from the heart of the empire. After five years, Daisuke had finally saved up enough for his master to trade for a sword. Daisuke’s first sword.

Local porters tied the junk to the single dock and began unloading it. This far out, ships tended to sail with minimal crew and almost no passengers. The sight of this ship’s sole passenger inspired Daisuke to straighten importantly. Kohi did the same next to him.

“Welcome back, Master Yamato.”

The halfling brothers bowed deeply to the stone-faced elvish sword master, who grunted acknowledgment. Placing his wrapped bag on a low wall, Master Yamato withdrew a wrapped bundle over two feet in length to present to Daisuke with both hands.

“You may now call yourself a swordsman.”

Daisuke forgot to breathe. Accepting with hands he hoped weren’t trembling, he repeated his deep bow.

“Thank you so much, Master!”

Master Yamato grunted again and patted his travel bag.

“You may also tell your parents I will be coming by with a jar of my favorite sake.”

298 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)

“What’re you doing on Rain Day,” Sophie asked. She slid another parasol into its packaging sleeve and heat-sealed it at both ends. “Only we’re going to go to a party at Ike’s. He’s got shots and cocktails of all types. He’s got a new one he calls GHB: it takes you right out of your head. He’s promised a couple to everyone who stays another day after the end of the floats’ parade. Bed and board as well; the whole of his house is empty since his folks flew to Havana for the celebrations.”

Carly shook her head. “Elliott reckons that Ike’s dodgy. He’d never agree.”

She scooped a pile of parasols into the carton between them, giving it a shake to level its contents. She threw the one on the top back onto Sophie’s workstation and sealed the box. She put it beside her on the stack on the pallet and began to unfold the next carton, assembling it from flat, ready for the next batch of two hundred, give or take a couple.

“What are you going to do then?” Sophie stopped work, opening the parasol she’d been going to sleeve, raising it over her head as though she was going to use it for shelter. The parasols were symbolic, not meant to stop the rain. Celebrants used them, knowing they were going to get wet, the dye from the crepe paper beginning to run almost immediately. There would be photos across all the social media within seconds of the first cloudburst, people with luminous pastel colours running down their faces. The rain would stop at first light and then be dry for another year.

It was one of the most popular events in Jack City.

“I don’t know,” said Carly. “Elliott said he might have to work.”

300 words by Mark A. Morris


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