Friday Fictioneers… OFF

mary ellen

OFF… by guest author Mary Ellen Courtney

“Lady raised them,” said the Detective. “Then electrocuted them for their pelts.”

“Madonna still wears chinchilla,” said the Coroner. “They spared one lucky guy.”

A lone chinchilla sat in a cage with two rotting, wire-trailing buddies.

The lady on the garage floor was as dead as the rodents; a skinning knife stuck in her chest, a PETA calling card between her fingers.

“I’ll take the survivor home,” said the Coroner. “The kids want a pet.”

“Name it Lucky?” asked the Detective. “Madonna?”


The detective looked over the chinchilla operation, and handed her a cage.

“Grab some food,” he said.



Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields chose one of my photos, the electric panel on my kiln, to be the prompt at Friday Fictioneers today.  The photo caught a friend’s attention and she said she’d like to write a story sometime, but didn’t blog.  Since I can’t rely entirely on my granddaughter Ula to write my blog for me (while I take time off on a project) I invited Mary Ellen to write a story for TedBook.  She did, and added a few photos of her own.  It took me a while to understand her story, but after some thinking I got it.  See if you get it.

Mary Ellen Courtney lives in Friday Harbor, Washington and writes novels.  She is currently working on the third book of a trilogy.  Wild Nights was the first, followed up by Spring Moon and both have won numerous awards.  She would be too modest to brag, but you all know me and I’m not… I have listed them below.

wild nights novel
Winner 2013 Indie Excellence Award ~ Silver Medal 2013 Global eBook Award ~ 2013 Finalist ForeWord Reviews
2014 Silver Medal Readers’ Favorite ~2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion

spring moon

2014 Finalist International Book Awards ~ 2014 Finalist USA Best Book Awards ~ 2015 B.R.A.G. Medallion

35 responses

  1. My great uncle used to do this :*( Broke my mom’s heart when she found out as a little girl. We are both animal lovers. I can’t imagine!

    1. It’s hard to contemplate, Megan.

  2. Chinchilla is a rodent? Seems like they should have a special designation. Nice short.

    1. Thank you! I know, rodents. So are squirrels and chipmunks.

  3. Madonna should know better.

  4. “If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man.” Saying by Chief Seattle

  5. As I told Ted after I wrote it, I had an office mate who, despite being a member of a very strict religion (perhaps because of it), raised chinchillas for extra money. She also trolled for/’slept’ with a different man every night. One murdered her; it was never solved. I collapsed her story here, and saved one little guy in the process.

    1. Dear Mary Ellen (via Ted),

      I love your story. Quite unusual. I kept wondering if the coroner or the detective cared about the woman lying on the floor. The note from PETA is a nice touch.

      I hope you’ll borrow Ted’s blog again soon.



      1. Thanks! I went with the jaded, hard-bitten cliche. Scene mop-up. I hope to.
        Mary Ellen

  6. Sad. Glad for the chinchillas but murder is not really the way to go. good flash though

  7. Thank you, Irene. No, murder isn’t the way to go, but it was efficient at this word count.

  8. It baffles me how people can be, so heartless.
    txs for sharing

  9. Dear Ted,

    You’re a gifted writer with a slightly warped imagination. Dangerous and often lucrative traits, I’m afraid. Well done.



    1. Thanks, Doug. I try on all fronts. Mary Ellen

  10. Off – such an apt name for the sole survivor. It’s wonderful how you packed so much story into those 100-words.

  11. Thank you, Sarah Ann. Flash fiction is a fun form. Four F’s in one sentence! I’ve considered trying to write a novel that way, but don’t think I have the mental energy for such discipline.

  12. I agree with the commentor that said “Off – such an apt name for the sole survivor.” He’s the little guy that turned it off. Hate the part about electrocuting them even if they are a rodent.

  13. They’re cute rodents!

  14. I have to say that keeping animals for furs and not even use it for warmth (the fur inside) but as show off.. I think that furs are more or less gone (bare the Madonnas) .. so not so much money to be made any longer

  15. Yes. Furs are out of favor in most places.

  16. This line is great, “The lady on the garage floor was as dead as the rodents; a skinning knife stuck in her chest, a PETA calling card between her fingers.” Nice and crisp. Dead as rodent, say no more! Great write.

  17. How wonderful that Ted has allowed you to share your writing with us.
    Thanks for joining in. Good write.

    1. Thanks, Dawn. It was fun.

      1. I hope you will join us gain sometime.

  18. Thanks! I don’t plan to start a blog any time soon. But I’ve had a website in the works for over a year. Writing and promotion keep getting in the way.

  19. An apt name for this chinchilla, and for the story. I love the drama of the dead body description, and the snappy dialogue. Most enjoyable.

    1. Thank you, Margaret! 100 words forces the snap. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  20. Good story, Mary Ellen. I don’t know how anyone can kill them, let alone skin them. My daughter had both a pet hamster and a pet lab rat. My dad used to hunt rabbits, but at least the killing was humane and he did it for food for us. Toward the end of his life, he changed and couldn’t do it anymore. He said there weren’t enough left in our area. Well done. I could picture it. I also want to thank you, Ted, for the photo prompt that led to so many good stories. 🙂 — Suzanne

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. About half of what goes on in the world mystifies me.

    2. You are welcome, Suzanne… Rochelle has a keen eye, and picks out some of my favorite shots for prompts. I have a photoblog, where she does her plundering…

  21. I love the way you have written this. Although it’s a chilling tale of both murder and appalling cruelty to animals, it works really well as a piece of flash. Your description of the woman lying on the garage floor ‘as dead as the rodents’ is excellent and the idea of a lone survivor is a nice, somewhat comforting touch. Well done!

  22. He he he he! Love this one Ted. Just recently twigged that these posts are not showing up in my reader, so catching up! X

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