Friday Five Writing Prompt

Prompt challenge: embryo, future, fist, rider, spine

Begin recording. 

My mother says that my mind wanders and that is true. More true than she might think. I haven’t spoken with my mother in some years-other than the obligatory Mother’s Day card we have little contact. But this audio report isn’t about my mother.

Static. Pause. Begin recording. 

I developed this skill about seven years ago when I volunteered for the study. I am not certain how or why I heard of it; perhaps a friend sent me the link on Facebook. In any event, I needed the money. A few hundred dollars for two hours of work over a four week period was a small fortune to me then. It is now, as the effects of the study have seriously hindered my ability to hold a job. 

“What’s this study called again,” I vaguely remember asking as I signed my name before reading the details of the contract besides the amount. Foolish, in retrospect. 

“Project Panoptes.”

“It’s an eye test?”

“Sort of,” said the woman in a lab coat as she directed me to sit in a chair in front of a small machine. I’ve had eye tests many times. This seemed no different at first; then it became repetitive. And there were so many images. And so many lights. And, believe it or not, an aroma…as if something was burning.

 Static. Pause.  Begin Recording.

A person can pass me by; look me straight in the eye; and suddenly I am off…my own mind clasping on to theirs, riding through their minds eye.

I know when it is about to happen. My body will go cold, as if cold water is poured down my spine, and I clinch my fists, and my whole body constricts…off I go.

Most of the time, I travel into the past. I didn’t notice at first, but now I have learned the markers; mainly tech or cars; occasionally clothing. Every now and then, I share a mind long enough to confirm a date. The furthest past was in 1993 written on an invitation; though most are within the last twenty years or so.

Usually, it lasts a few hours or a day. One older woman met my eye and I spent time at the wedding of her daughter; the aforementioned journey to 1993.  Another time, another woman sat next to me on the bus. Our eyes met-I spent over a day as she was wandering around New York, homeless, scared. Her fear and despair searching for a place to sleep; to be safe; to last the night. On the bus, next to me, nothing indicated that she had ever struggled. But we never really know as much about people as we think we do. 

As you can guess, this makes life complicated. I haven’t met anyone else in my predicament. Holding a job is hard when you never know how your mind will drift away. For now, I restock shelves on night shift. If I drift away, who will notice? 

There was only one journey that may have been the future. A student from the local university (judging by the sweatshirt) made eye contact with me and I was off for two disturbing hours.  All around me were blue walls with flat screens images, videos, faces flashing across them lighting fast. Like watching Tiktok videos only sped up 100X. All the people around me-I guess they were people-wore cybernetic suits. I wore one or rather the mind I shared wore one- and we went to work in a lab with several human embryos suspended in chambers, moving, breathing, turning around. I never knew the work I (or we) were doing but she cried quietly while drinking herself into oblivion. It was only a brief glance in the reflective service of the lab table that let me know she was the same woman I met at the university at the beginning of the experiments. 

copyright Echo Ishii 

Friday Five Writing Prompt

Continuing from last week’s story here.

Harry wasn’t the least bit taken aback about Dean’s suggestions about UFO’s. He’d seen stranger things. He was living stranger things. One day, he might even be able to tell his secret. 

Dean was clearly excited as rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. The noise of celebrations from outside were muted in this stuffy little office of Facility Q9. 

“According to residents of the a town just north of here, here have been legends of mysterious lights going back decades,” Dean seemed excited about the prospect. Harry felt like Dean was a study in contradictions. One minute, a gruff curmudgeon; the next gleeful as a school boy. 

“Why don’t we go out there?” Dean suggested.

“Now?” Harry asked. 

“It’s the perfect chance. Everyone is wrapped up in the rocket tests. No one is going to notice the absence of  two scientists they don’t pay much attention to anyways. We’ll say it’s a weather balloon research if anyone asks, “ Dean said, clearly warming up to the prospects. 

“We have to file a report. Register a car,” Harry said.

“Forget all that. We’ll leave now. Drive out. File reports later.

Harry grinned. He knew Dean didn’t enjoy his time at the Facility. The other scientists largely avoided him. He could be intense at times. And he took things deadly seriously.  Harry knew from this point on, he and Dean would soon be driving out across the plains, far away from the facility on a hunt for the UFO. He knew this because he was traveling through time. More accurately, skipping through time. Back and forth. The farthest he’d gone back was to see Dean working on his family’s ranch. The furthest ahead-he didn’t want to think about what he’d seen. The important issue was to remain steady and do what he need to do to save both of their lives. 

An adventure. Both men gathered their things and headed down the hall, boots clanking against the floors. They guard on duty barely glanced at their identity cards and waved them out.  

“Walk casual so it doesn’t look like we’re up to anything,” Dean said.

“You think I don’t know how to do a little convert mission? I’ll surprise you,” Harry said. If only you knew. 

They raced across the main base, as the sounds of the other partiers disappeared behind them. Harry waited anxiously while Dean picked the lock. The steel chain dropped down and the headed towards the garage. 

“Take one of the older ones. They might not care as much,” Harry said. 

“I got the perfect model right here,” Dean said, tapping the hood of a battered Ford. 

“Must be car the first one Ford ever made,” Harry said. It looked it. It was battered, the fender was rusty, and he could swear it looked like there were bullet holes in the driver’s side door. 

“Get in,” Dean told him, “pray they don’t issue a warrant for our arrest.” 

copyright Echo Ishii, 2023

Friday Five Writing Prompt

Decided to give a go with the writing challenge at Long and Short reviews once more.

privacy, horn, rocket, track, party

Dean Driscoll covered his ears at the sound of the racket outside. He’d close the door, but then if would get stifling hot in here. Loud music, horns honking, people laughing. It was a party out there- which he wasn’t at and hadn’t been invited too. Just as well. He was a serious scientist-unlike all the other who were out there getting drunk and acting silly. Sure, they had a successful rocket launch but one day’s success was not enough. He and all the rest worked out here at Facility Q9-a top secret community of scientists off the grid in Northern California.

Dean tapped his pencil against the paper, trying to work out calculations in his head. He’d sketched out the strange triangular object he’d observed and was desperate to figure out how it could possible have moved so fast.  It might be important. I could be the Reds. He glanced at the newspaper laying on the opposite chair. Soviets suspected to be ready for a launch.  He shuddered.

All the fighting that had gone on in the war and here the were, 1955, and dangerously close to losing freedom all over again. 

And all any of his colleagues could do was throw a party over one minor success.

“You aren’t going to the party Dr. Driscoll?” A voice, a voice he knew, broke through his thoughts. He stood up straight, startled, knocking his pens to the floor. Harry Vickers always had that effect on him. 

“I wasn’t invited,” Dean replied.

“Neither was I,” Harry said with a shy smile, “Always the odd men out aren’t we?”

“I suppose,” Dean responded his cheeks flushed. He thought Harry was handsome, brilliant, and brave. So did the others-which is why he was here at Facility Q9. But even a place this top secret and off the grid had certain codes. A Black scientist like Harry didn’t mix too freely with the rest of the colleagues. Except Dean. 

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Harry said. “More calculations?”

“Yes,” Dean answered, focusing back on the science, which was better than focusing on Harry’s stunning good looks and soft brown eyes. 

“If you want your privacy…” Harry’s voice trailed off.

“No. Come on in. After all, you were the one doing the flying.”

Harry was one of the best pilots at Facility Q9. Rumor was he’d flown a few experimental craft for the official military, before being recruited by the Facility. Dean had be a passenger on that fateful day when the small plane had come across the triangular object streaming across the sky. They’d tracked it as far and as fast a possible, but it had gotten lost over the ocean.

Harry took off his jacket, and set down a bottle of soda. Dean gestured for him to come closer and take a look at the sketch.

“The math doesn’t add up. Is shouldn’t have been able to move quite like that. And definitely not that fast.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it?”

Dean took a deep breath. He’s never said it out loud to any of his other colleagues but maybe he’d take a chance with Harry.

“Do you think it could be extraterrestrial?”

Harry gave him a long, slow look. Dean gulped. His hands shook. Now, he’d be seen as a nut case. This facility collected all kinds of strange objects with supposed mythical origins. They chased down rumors of abilities ranging from teleportation to telepathy. And the recent wave of sightings had led a few scientists to wink wink nudge nudge certain ideas about intelligences outside of this planet.

“I don’t discount anything anymore. Not after what I’ve seen,” Harry replied.


Favorite Quote from a Book

This is not a news day that leaves me feel hopeful, but these quotes do.

“ The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” Moving Pictures/ Terry Pratchett

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”  Margery Williams/ The Velveteen Rabbit 

What do you do when you’re not feeling well

I’m a dedicated coffee drinker, but I do appreciate a good cup of tea when I’m not feeling well. If I’m sick, it goes down easier than strong coffee. If I’m mentally overwhelmed or depressed, the aroma of tea calms me down. Earl Grey smells nice. So do all the mint tea varieties. Green tea is usually served in Japan. Where I live is famous for green tea. One of the best seasons is when the tea is harvested and all the shops have fresh tea leaves for sale. The whole street smells like a fresh, hot cup of tea and is it lovely. Since the pandemic, many coffee houses and tea shops weren’t able to give out free samples, but I hope it comes back soon. 

I also love the tea houses. Most of the famous gardens and museums have a tea house. Sometimes, when my husband and I have a day off (and my daughter’s at school) we go to a local temple and have green tea with traditional sweets. It’s really relaxing. 

Your Favorite Podcast and Why

Hi out there! I’m back to blogging. I took a long time off to join a short story writing group and work on a novel. I feel more relaxed now and writer’s block is not so bad. I also spent more time exercising and working on side projects like my Instagram (99echozone). I take photos too, and one was featured in a magazine! (n0t this one, obviously, I just thought I’d share.)

I listen to a lot of podcasts, mainly if they relate to SF stuff. Mission Log: A Roddenberry Podcast and Treks in Sci-Fi are two that I am currently catching up on episodes. But my other interests are True Crime and mysteries. 

My current favorite podcast in Black Girl Gone. ( It’s a true crime podcast that focuses mainly on the cases of missing Black women and girls that have gone largely unreported. The host, Amara Cofer, covers each case with compassion and sensitivity. Quite a few of the cases remain unsolved murders or missing persons. Once in a while, she gives an update on cases that have been covered in previous episodes. The podcasts highlights these cold cases with the hopes that someone might hear it and be able to provide information that can help give the victim’s families closure.

Another favorite is Unsolved Murders ( This is a rather unique podcast because it takes famous cases and presents them in audio drama format. The voice actors are great at their jobs. They often cover older cases from the early 20th century, so the narrator provides details about the time period and about criminal investigations at the time. 

What I Thought of Santa as a Kid 

Hi there! It’s been a long time.

I didn’t believe in Santa as a kid. In my home, Christmas was focused on the religious aspect. I clearly remember our church nativity plays. I did receive gifts for Christmas, and I remember going to one of those Santa photos in the mall. My favorite part of Christmas was going to get a real tree with my Dad. I loved the whole trip-picking a tree; the pine smell; fitting the tree it into the car. LOL  One year I got one of those tacky dancing Santas for my Mom as a joke. My mother does full scale Martha Stewart Level decorating. I have a child and two cats, so it’s strictly dollar store ornaments around these parts. But we have cookies! Lots of cookies. 

Books to include in a time capsule and why

Telling a book lover to choose is a nearby impossible task. I’d just make the whole time capsule and underground bunker library which will hopefully last long past human descendants are a recognizable species. 

All Tomorrow’s: this is a very strange yet wonderful SF piece about possible human futures. It’s for hardcore SF fans to read through and an acquired taste, but I think it should be around. 

The Lord of the Rings: Arguably the entire fantasy genre started because of this. 

1984/ Animal Farm: I’d pick one because it’s the same message really.

Parable Series/ Octavia Butler: because it’s eerily accurate predictions about many of the strains and social ills of her fictional future California are actually true. 

Interesting Times/ Terry Pratchett: any of his discworld series but this is my favorite. 

To be Taught if Fortunate/ Becky Chambers: I bought it this year and have already read it twice.

Nightfall/Isaac Asimov: because it’s the first SF novel I read and made me love the genre.

Dune/Frank Herbert: it’s not always the easiest read but it has influenced a lot of modern space opera.

Friday Five September 10

reign, grateful, soup, ghost, immune

continuing the Christmas story

Dexter Cole worked hard at his job as a personal chef. He pressed his hands down to tightly seal the container on one of his signature vegan soups. He hoped his client was eating as she should. Her immune system needed the boost that you got from salads made from fresh ingredients. He was grateful for his job. She gave him free reign of the kitchen and the menu as long as he agreed to come to her exclusively on Tuesdays and Fridays to prepare the week’s meals. She had exacting standards but was an excellent employer. 

When he first gotten the referral he almost hadn’t believed it. The Angela Redmond. He was too young, but his father had been a fan of hers and everyone knew her Christmas hit. It was practically a standard when the holiday season rolled around. Apparently she’d played a the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past in one of millions of reimagined versions of A Christmas Carol. The movie itself hadn’t been anything memorable, but the song was. 

No, he hadn’t asked for an autograph because that was a quick way to get fired. The good personal chef positions went to people who kept their mouths shut and did not invade the clients privacy. 

Angela had asked him to prepare extra for the Christmas holidays. Not the main Christmas dinner which was a catered affair at some ballroom in the city, but a smaller dinner party on Christmas Eve so he had gone all out. Her daughter Charlotte was inviting a few friends of hers; a few notable members from one of the diva’s charity clubs; a mega church pastor and his wife. It was about a dozen people and the budget was more than generous. 

copyright Echo Ishii 2021

What I do to recharge

Nature is always my first choice to recharge. I have several spots I like to visit. Usually walks, but lately I’ve gotten more interesting in cycling. Currently, I just have a regular street bicycle, but I am saving up to get a hybrid road bicycle ( and helmet!) to travel further. Once things open up and I get fully vaccinated (yes, I believe in getting vaccinated) I plan to cycle with a friend of mine who lives in another prefecture.  Taking a bicycle ride with my daughter also helps to recharge. It’s a good mother-daughter activity and gives us some positive bonding time. The upheaval of the last year has been hard on her emotionally, so quality time is good. 

I like baking cookies to recharge-but I am trying not to run to food every time I stress out. It gets to be a bad habit. 

Reading is relaxing, and a particularly good book helps me recharge. I just finished The Thursday Murder Club, which was hilarious! A good comedy movie also helps me recharge. (Galaxy Quest, Dodgeball).