Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black


short stories and poetry

A Holiday Drabble

This week, Charli Mills at issued a new challenge. “Not my monkeys. Not my circus.” The 99 word story I wrote is my interpretation. What do you think?

They’re All Our Monkeys

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

The weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break are educational blackouts in the elementary years. Even children who otherwise excel become as erratic as kernels in a hot pot. 

We teachers try to siphon some of the palpable excitement into thematic units and a holiday open house.

My students bring a visual representation of their family’s holiday celebrations. Inclusive. Concise. 

The new teacher grew ambitious. Her students created borax crystal snowflakes. Which led to paper cutout flakes. Which led to safety scissor fencing. 

Sometimes, I wish I could just say, “Not my monkeys,” but we teachers have each other’s backs.

Squeaky 99 Word Challenger


A tale told in 99 words

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Nothing terrifies like an unexpected sound on a creepy night. Alone on a couch, housesitting one autumn evening, a bowl of buttered popcorn resting upon a lap wrapped in a Sherpa-soft blanket, a classic horror film flickering on a television so ancient it requires an antenna.

Ears prick.A squeak of an overhead floorboard in an otherwise abandoned house. A groan emitted by the long-disused hinge of a door leading to a decaying basement Poe would admire. The sigh of the wind sneaking into a home believed secure, one betraying its sole inhabitant by seemingly allowing admittance to specters. 

The Wheels are Turning

Charli Mills at strolled through nostalgia in this week’s essay. Then she challenged us to write a 99 word story about a wheel. The season inspired my interpretation below. Please let me know where I can read yours, too.

Steady on the Wheel

A story told in 99 words

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

The weather cools, we celebrate another successful harvest, and we experience the seasonal wheel turn. Some call this a metaphor, but we dwellers of Vex Hollow know. As the earth wheels through the cosmos, and we with it, hapless holders-on at the mercy of the whims of nature, we recognize our tentative and fleeting existence. 

Call us superstitious, but we acknowledge old ways. There’s a spirit within each simple seed. We give thanks for the gifts, because we’re beholden to fickle fate and are but one poor harvest from starvation. 

So give thanks for staying steady on the wheel. 99 word challenge-24 October, 2022

Roll the Bones

A story told in 99 words for Carrot Ranch

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Dice rattled between Marlon’s cupped palms, potential prepared to burst onto green felted game board. A lucky roll! He punched the air with enthusiasm.

Surrounding players demanded, “Double down.”.

A more prudent man might have passed, taken his winnings and called it a night. Marlon, however, wasn’t known for his wisdom. “Sure!” He bared his shiny teeth with confidence, even if losing might cost him every Hollywood-worthy one.

He blew on the bones, single pips up, and tossed. He leapt, overjoyed.

“No way! Lemme see those dice,” The casino owner growled.

Unfazed, Marlon collected his winnings and whistled away.

Book Review: The House by Christina Lauren

The beginning of The House by Christina Lauren (which is the pen name for an award-winning best friend writing team) focuses on developing a devoted relationship between the teenage leads. Perspectives switch between them, him and her. He lives in an unusual and possessive house. Or a possessed dwelling. Or something along those lines. The female protagonist protects and defends her love interest which makes a light-hearted and unusual Young Adult paranormal adventure.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Charli Mills devoted this week’s essay and 99 word prompt to an absolute necessity – clean water. She shared the vision of a group of concerned people called Water Walkers. Please take the time to read her insightful essay here:

In answer to her prompt, I’ve written two 99 word works. The first is a fantasy that I believe could be brought to reality. The second is a sad reality.


A story told in 99 words

By Kerry E.B. Black

Born into a winter when the three rivers froze solid, the pretty little Aquarius charmed all who dove into her ice storm eyes. As she grew, so did her charms, from honey-wheat hair and reedy figure to tinkling voice and buoyant cheer. To have her as part of any team meant success. From trouble shooting to efficient enacting of a plan, she waded through issues to bail out even the worst situation. 

Lovely Aquarius, with water lilies and marigolds threaded through her beachy waves, donned a new mantle, ‘clean water’ her battle cry. Her leadership swelled awareness and resources.


Weight of Water

A true story told in 99 words

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

She walked over a mile each way to collect water, the liquid of life. Two handmade buckets slung from a yoke weighed on her neck and shoulders, but she bore the burden proudly. She knew the value of her cargo. With drought a looming adversary for all of Africa, she felt herself lucky. 

The source of the water shortage mattered less than the fact of it. Who cared about government mismanagement, climate change, little money for infrastructure and support, or corruption when dying of thirst? 

Worse, she heard by 2050, more than 5 billion people may face water scarcity.


I hope you enjoyed my wishful words – or at the least found something in them to ponder.

I live in a city surrounded by water. Three rivers are fed by smaller tributaries and streams. Creeks overflow during periods of heavy rain, and flooding is often an issue hereabouts. However, I can’t imagine drinking the water flowing into the mighty Mississippi without treatment. How blessed are we to have access to such a necessity? How weighty to consider the many people around the world facing water scarcity.

In our beautiful world, over a million people die every year because they don’t have access to clean water. We all need to listen to our waterbearers, because we need to correct this problem. I know many intelligent people. I believe if you focus some of your impressive intellects on the issue of the lack of clean water, the problem would be corrected within a short time – maybe before another million people die.

Book Review: The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino tells of an enchanting rest home nestled near a scenic lake. All of the residents are famous people involved in publishing. The action begins when Alfonse Carducci comes to live out his last days in an appointed room reserved for him since the place’s opening. He finds an adoring muse in a reserved orderly, and with a little help from his lifelong friends, he creates a new literary work – and awakens forgiveness and a new zeal for life in many.

At turns whimsical and introspective, this story-within0story has much to say about love, guilt, and the cost of indulgence. There’s an overall feeling of kindness in this heartfelt tale.

Hero Work – a 99 word Carrot Ranch inspired story

Hero Work

A story told in 99 words

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

She didn’t think. When her daughter stumbled into danger, she acted. 

Cocooned in a maternal embrace, the girl escaped injury. Firefighters and ambulance drivers commented with incredulity. 

The church ladies proclaimed, “It’s a miracle!”

The mother handed her daughter into their care. She paled, forced a smile that wavered into a wince. “I’ll see you in a bit.” 

Flashing lights and an urgent siren rushed her to the hospital. Xrays revealed the extent of the damage. Repositioned, crushed bone. Doctors inserted metal, casted. OT’s designed rehabiliitating exercises. 

The mother considered the injuries and pain worth her daughter’s precious life.

A new 99 Word Story

Charli at Carrot Ranch issued a new 99 word story challenge. Muddy tires! Below is my take on the prompt. Why not try your hand at it, too? Follow the link above, and let me know so I can cheer your successful completion of the challenge.

Driving Lesson

A story told in 99 words 

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Mia chewed her lip, shoulders tight enough to snug her ears. Heart pounding, gaze darting everywhere. Good speed. Not too close to the white. Not too near the double yellow with its onrushing traffic.

“You’ve got this.” Her mother depressed an imaginary brake on the passenger’s side. Her white knuckles belied a different story than her calm voice. “Stay in your lane.” Tone shift. “Back on the road!”

“You’re making me nervous!” 

The car veered further.

“Pull over.” 

While her mother checked for damage, Mia fought tears. 

Her mother pulled Mia into a hug. “Just muddy tires. Try again.”

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