ID: gray and brown buildings on each side of an alleyway

Troping the Light Fantastic (Flash Fiction)

Author’s note: This is my flash fiction for September’s entry of the 2020 Flash Fiction Challenge. Each month of 2020, on the first Monday, I’ll draw cards to determine the genre, setting, and an object that has to appear in the short story. Participants will have until the following Monday to link their stories to the blog post I put out each month. Then I’ll do a follow-up post and share the stories that have come in (before the deadline). It’s only for fun and non-competitive.

September’s draw results: (genre) YA, (setting) a warehouse, and (object) a lone shoe or boot.

Hope you enjoy my entry: Troping the Light Fantastic

Tierney and Trevor, the twins with Intelligence of Immeasurable Value, found themselves unable to resist exploring the abandoned warehouse on Old Moffat Rd., which perhaps defied their intelligence quotient, but curiosity had gotten the better of them. Ginger heads almost touched while blue eyes ravenously examined the blueprint Tierney had concocted from her brother’s research.

“This is gonna be epic,” she said, then checked to see if her flashlight still worked. It did. So far, so good.

Trevor held onto the blueprint, upon which a bright red path had been traced. “Okay, so according to my calculations, the phony entrance is here, and—”


The brother’s shoulder slumped as he looked ahead, unimpressed by this inevitable disturbance.

“Burner, why are you?”

Blaine Burner must have been the jockiest jock who’d ever donned a jockstrap. Star quarterback, a shoo-in for prom king, and Daddy’s Special Guy Who Totally Deserved That Porsche, he’d never missed an opportunity to flex his biceps and torment “losers.” He stood with his tanned arms folded across his red and blue team jersey. A raven-black cowlick fell over his right eye.

“Heading for the bonfire in my honour, what else?”

“Ah, so they’re sacrificing virgins this year,” said Tierney, tapping her flashlight like a security baton.

Burner grimaced. It had gotten around that he’d chickened out with Felicity at the A-lister’s house party, and he’d taken great pains to make sure he had annihilated her truth with a whopping pack of lies, fueled of course, by his great big fragile masculinity.

“No, they can’t be, because you’re not at the stake, Ugly.”

“Oh no, Burner thinks I’m ugly. Let me go die now. Or not. Because I don’t care.”

The quarterback scowled.

“Okay, we’re wasting time. Let’s go, sis.” Trevor grabbed Tierney’s arm and pulled her forward.

“Ow, dude!” she cried.

“Sorry,” he let go. “I didn’t mean to yank you.”

“Yeah, do that again, and I’ll wallop you.”

Trevor sighed.

“Wait!” said Burner.

Tierney turned the flashlight on him.

“AH!” He crossed his hands over his eyes. “Could you not?”

She turned it off again. “What is it?”

He squinted, then blinked. “Where are you guys going?”

“Nowhere,” said Trevor. “Come on, Tiern.”

“Why the map?” asked Burner.

“Go away.”

The twins ignored further questions and examined what seemed to be a window boarded up with brick.

“Yup, this is it,” confirmed Tierney.

“What’s what?” asked a sing-songy voice.

Trevor looked away from the building as Stacey Amesley, Fashionista Extraordinaire, clicked down the sidewalk in couture stilettoes, dressed like a model fresh off a fashion shoot. Her cherry-red manicure brushed blond wavy hair from her eyes. Overhead lighting from the warehouse shone upon her like a spotlight. Trevor dropped his map and swooned.

Tierney clucked her tongue and picked up the blueprint, then smacked her brother’s arm. “Wake up, genius!”

He was still transfixed on Stacey, who smiled brightly, then she turned her nose up at Burner.

“Hi, baby,” the quarterback waved sheepishly.

“Eat a bag of dicks,” said Stacey.

“Aw, come on, babe. You’re not still mad? I promise, that was innocent flirting!”

Tierney smirked as she felt the mortar for a way into the secret passage. “I’m gonna go with Stacey’s recommendation, Burner. No need to even know any further details about what you did.”

“Hi, Stacey,” said Trevor, shyly. “You look really pretty.”

She walked over to him and took his arm, lifting her chin at Burner. “Thanks. Shall we head over to the bonfire? Or would you prefer somewhere else?”

Trevor’s eyes went painfully wide. “Um, uh, I-I-uh…”

“Seriously?” cried Tierney. “I’m totally doing this alone?” She slammed the window-wall with her flashlight and everything began to give way.

“Whoa,” said Burner.

Stacey let go of Trevor’s arm. “What’s happening?”

“Yes, WHOO!” said Tierney. “Well, you boneheads can go to the bonfire; I’m gonna explore!” She pushed a few more bricks out of the way and climbed inside.

And despite Stacey’s allure, Trevor’s curiosity was piqued once more. “I’m coming with!”

Burner shrugged his shoulders at Stacey and followed Trevor. Stacey huffed, walked a few steps, then turned around and hiked her black faux-leather skirt slightly so she could manoeuvre through the entrance.

“Hey!” she shouted. “It’s really dark in here!”

“Yeah, I kinda broke my flashlight when I wacked the wall,” shouted Tierney.

“Shouldn’t we find the light switch?” she said, feeling her way around as her eyes adjusted.

“We’re four white kids in an abandoned warehouse. If we turned on the lights, that would be far too logical!”

The teens paused for a moment to let Stacey join them, then wandered the dark vast room, crowded with crates, machines, and assorted junk.

“So, what are we looking for?” asked Burner.

“A ghost,” said Trevor.

“A what?” asked Stacey.

“A ghost. Someone in the factory severed their head on the assembly line, and they were totally pissed about dying. We’re here to see if this place is really haunted.”

Burner made a face. “How can you lose your head that way? Don’t they have failsafe crap?”

“Exactly,” said Tierney. “Had to be foul play.”

“It had to be,” echoed Trevor, “but rumour says the eldest son was the perp of the decapitation. Jealous of his adopted brother, who was better at running things. So, bio brother killed him off to make sure Daddy didn’t make baby brother the heir instead.”

Tierney put down her backpack and began setting up some special cameras. “And we’re gonna capture everything on film when the ghost appears.”

But, before she could finish, every warehouse illuminated with light, making the teens cry out. Whirring machines caused a cacophony, and when they could open their eyes again, the gang noticed a hovering headless figure in tattered clothing, arms badly decomposed.

“Um, or maybe we won’t,” said Tierney.

At that, and the paranormal screeches that followed, all four adolescents re-abandoned the building, leaving behind a lone shoe, a ludicrously expensive stiletto.

Troping the Light Fantastic © 2020 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

Black and white headshot of Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work) in an attempt to take over the world.

2020 Flash Fiction Challenge: February Results

Card Draw Results: 6 of spaces (Gothic Romance), King of hearts (Mausoleum), and 7 of diamonds (Goggles)

The results are in, and the authors didn’t disappoint!

Last week, I drew these cards: 6 of spades, King of hearts, and the 7 of diamonds. That meant the genre was gothic romance, the setting was a mausoleum, and the object that must appear in the story was goggles.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe I picked the cards for gothic romance in a mausoleum. That was perfect. I wasn’t sure at first where goggles would come in, but we all met the challenge dead on!

Thanks to everyone who wrote for this! And welcome to Iara, who joined us for the first time this month!

The next draw is on March 2, 2020!

Hope you can join us!


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

ID: Pink fabric with black text. Text reads: When There's a Ghost of a Chance, A flash haunting by Cait Gordon

When There’s a Ghost of a Chance

August and flash fiction #8 is here! Whew! Yup, I’m still on board for ‘Nathan Burgoine’s 2018 Flash Fiction Challenge. This month we had to write a ghost story that takes place in a tobacco shop that featured an earring as our object.

Now, I don’t write paranormal. So, I imagined ghosts in my own way. Here’s what came out!


“Happy Samhain, Eileen!”

“You too, Caitríona!”

“Doesn’t it rub you wrong when the locals call it Sam Hane?”

Eileen smirked. “Sounds like the fella who played with my top half, back in the day.”

Cat laughed hauntingly. A dog barked. “Ah, Sammy Hamish from Scotland. Oh, was he a dish! My top half envies yours just thinking about him.”

“I miss Ireland. Serves us right for following the cailín who seanced us onto that ship.”

“Yeah, I didn’t realize we’d be stuck and eventually make port in Canada. The Easterners were nice enough, though.”

“How did we end up in Ottawa?”

“Come on, Eileen. You remember full well you loved tormenting that Tory politician on the train from Halifax.”

“Making that tosser shit his bunk was the most fun I’d had in decades.”

Cat sighed. “Well, this place isn’t so bad. Especially today, when we can truly experience things.”

Two cigars levitated from the wooden case, stopping in mid air. A long match struck the mahogany counter and lit up, then floated to the tips of each stogie. A few seconds later, wispy smoke rings danced about before fading into nothing. After a few more puffs, two figures materialized, dressed in flowing nightgowns with ruffled sleeves. Eileen wore periwinkle blue and Cat a powder pink. Both women looked to be early 20s at most. Of course, they were almost a hundred years older than that. Still, they liked to keep current. It made them feel young.

Eileen inhaled deeply, expelling more rings. “You know the best thing about smoking when you’re dead?”

“No cancer?”

“Exactly! Hey, when we’re done here, let’s raid the bakery.”

“Shouldn’t we change? We look like unmade beds.”

“Now, Cat, I’m not worrying about being ‘on fleek.’ You promised me we’d be all about the indulging in what’s bad for us.”

“Fine, but next samhain—”

“Shoes, I remember.”

The shop door opened. In walked a woman in her late teens, followed by a man not much older. Instead of looking about the displays of I Like Big Butts’ finest wares, the couple bent down to examine the nooks and crannies along the floor.

Cat and Eileen put out the cigars in a glass dish, then disappeared.

Fred Tierney, a public-service retiree who owned the place, darted into the main shop from his residence, slightly out of breath. His dog Marty stared into nothingness, barking like mad.

The couple nearly jumped out of their skin at the sound of the golden retriever.

“Marty!” shouted Fred. “No one’s in that corner! Heel!”

The dog sat quietly but shot a dirty look at the objects who had intruded his human’s space.

“I hate that bleeding animal,” said Cat.

“Shh!” said Eileen.

Fred stepped around the counter to aid his customers. “May I help you?”

The woman stood up after scrutinizing a floorboard. “Uh, hi. We were in last week to buy a pipe for my father?”

“Ah, yes,” said Fred, adjusting his glasses. The lines around his eyes deepened when he smiled. “Very fine craftsmanship.”

“Yeah, well, the morning I bought it, I’d sort of borrowed my grandmother’s earrings. Maybe without asking.”


“And lost one. I was stupid to have worn them in the first place. Granny always said the clasps were wonky. I thought I was being careful by regularly checking my ears.”

“Well, now, I’m sure your grandmother will understand.”

“They’re genuine rubies.”

“Oh my.”

The woman sighed. Her boyfriend put his arm around her.

“They’re one of a kind,” he added.

“I’ll say,” whispered Cat. “Beautifully cut danglers with crushed diamonds speckled along the white gold. Just breathtaking.”

“What?!” whispered Eileen. “How do you know this?”

“It’ll go perfectly with the shoes I get next year. Maybe if we follow her home, I can grab the other one for a set!”

“You can’t just steal her earring, Cat!”

“Hey, she took it without asking. Serves her right for losing it in the first place!”

Marty started again.

“NO BARK!” cried Fred.

“Now, you see here, Missy,” cried Eileen. “Show me this earring.”

“Ah, fine.” She huffed while drifting towards the cigarette wrappers. Behind a carton lay her treasure. Cat held up the glimmering piece.

On the shop floor, the boyfriend blinked twice. “Um, Cherie, I don’t do drugs.”

His girlfriend turned to him. “What?”

“I don’t do drugs so I can’t be hallucinating, right?”

“Tommy, what the heck—”

He pointed to the hovering earring. Cherie gasped, but before she could say anything, the earring jerked to the left. Then to the right. And to the left again.

Marty barked his furry head off.

Fred took off his glasses, then wiped them on his shirttail.

The earring continued to dart back and forth.

“It’s mine!” cried Cat.

“No, it’s not! It’s her granny’s!”

“She won’t appreciate it like I will. I’ll treasure it for an eternity!”

“You’ll only be able to wear it once a year!”

“So, once a year for an eternity!”

“Give it!”


“Cat!” Eileen lunged, grabbing an arm. Cat howled like a banshee, the noise traversing the spirit realm into that of the living.

Fred jumped. Cherie screamed. Tommy blinked some more.

The earring flew onto the floor, landing at Cherie’s feet. Trembling, she crouched to pick it up. Then grabbed Tommy and fled.

Marty snorted smugly, wagging his fluffy tail while trotting into the den.

The shopkeep searched for hanging wire and hooks, but found none. Pranksters? He scratched his beard and decided he’d be closed for Halloween. One trick was enough. He’d settle for some treats while he relaxed with Marty by the fire.

When the store was empty, the ghosts materialized.

“I don’t like you,” said Cat.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Eileen.

A growl resonated from Cat’s throat. Another woof followed.

Eileen shrugged her shoulders and put a hand on her friend’s arm.

“What?” muttered Cat.


Cat’s eyes perked.

“You’re forgiven.”

They exited through the locked door, then drifted towards the Rideau Mall.

When There’s a Ghost of a Chance © 2018 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s on a quest to save half the person he loves. Cait has recently submitted the prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a military space opera about legendary warriors Xaxall Knightly and Vivoxx Tirowen. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.


Making a Living: More Potent than a Toxic Beetle

Making a Living, by Caroline Fréchette

How am I supposed to resist reading a book that begins with, “When Nathan came to, the dead girl was crying. He was relatively sure she wasn’t supposed to do that.”?

Let me explain the title of this review. Last Thursday while I was taking a walk and about to take a sip of juice, a small beetle flew into my mouth. (Tasted terrible and I got puffy. The little begger is fine. I spit him out.) After a doc confirmed I was only suffering from an inflammatory response to the beetle’s coating, I went home. So, here I was exhausted, swollen, and lying in bed. I picked up Making a Living. Not even suffering from beetle toxin could make me put this book down. I even managed to stay awake through Benadryl!

Omigosh, what a great read this was. I gobbled it up like a burrito.

The first page made me feel like I’d just walked into a room wanting to say, “Oh, um, I think I’m interrupting something.” Because we’re put right into the middle of an uh-oh situation. We meet Nathan, the mistrusting soul who is completely unaware that anything good has ever existed in the world, and Annie, the undead ghoul scientist who still has a brilliantly functioning brain. They live in the time decades after a meteorite hit, which killed many people and turned them into zombies—mostly brain-dead zombies. But Annie is different. She not only has a brain, but a heart. Even though she drains some lifeforce out of Nathan so her body can remain intact, she does so remorsefully. Her goal is not to kill the living, but to make herself alive again.

And Nathan? Dude got some crazy powers. He can talk to electronics. Electricity also revives him, when it would normally kill us. This guy actually can stick his fingers in the sockets. I love how his computer is sentient, and his friend. Oliver also gets ticked off when Nathan forgets to plug him in. Quite a rational pet peeve, really.

The story is about how Nathan and Annie work together towards her goal. But stuff happens. Yeah, stuff. That’s what I have to write so I don’t give anything away.

All I want to say is read it! READ IT! REEEEEEEEEAD IT! The characters and world-building just sucked me right in. So many times I said, “Okay, one more chapter and then I’m going to sleep.” Nope. Usually ended up being three more chapters. Or four. Or five.

Making a Living has a perfect pace, without any lulls. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed it.

Word of warning, though. You might get food cravings. I know I did.

Burritos for all!


CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network,  a blog featuring writers with disabilities and/or chronic illness. She also likes cupcakes.