Flash Frenzy: Round 1

Posted: January 4, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , , ,

Greetings, friends! Welcome to the very first Flash Frenzy weekend flash challenge. I’ve been participating in weekly flash fiction challenges for the past few months, and after seeing all the great stories and making lots of new friends, I decided I’d like to sponsor my own.

For our first week, stories will be judged by the multitalented mind of TheShakes72. In addition to judging the stories, David has also graciously contributed this week’s photo prompt.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. See the world clock if you have questions. The Angry Hourglass keeps time in Salt Lake City. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here.

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

So what are you waiting for? Stop reading and start writing! Here is your Round 1 prompt.

Photo courtesy @TheShakes72

Photo courtesy @TheShakes72

  1. “Zap”
    246 words

    When they said our liberator would be born of the Earth, I didn’t think they were speaking literally. She just crawled out of the dirt one day, smoothed her pink dress, fixed her bow, and asked for a drink of water. I was there. My mouth was so dry I had to drink three glasses of wine before I could get her a full drip pan.

    We crowned her the next day. She asked for a tiara studded with moonstones, but the best we could find was a piece of bowed, unpolished iron. Luckily, she took it out on our masters and not us. My only complaint was that it was my favorite village. I would have to steal my wine somewhere else.

    Our vanguard hit the mother lode yesterday. They ransacked the west side of our masters’ capital. So much wine…We were strong now, bolstered by the various other slave camps in the country. Together, we were at worst an equal force to the Ryman Monarchy.

    I toss my empty bottle aside and heft my axe against my shoulder, ready to swing. They send out their dogs, but they don’t last long. Five seconds? Three? Our liberator’s lightning is too cool for me to worry about its duration. I smile. We aren’t losing this battle.

    Our liberator urges her chariot forward, zapping Ryman soldiers as she heads to the palace to find our captor. I hope he’s taking a bath when she finds him. Zap.

  2. Tinman says:

    The Rally Of The Dolls
    306 words

    The makers of traditional dolls and board games had had to do something.

    Computer games such as Assassins Creed and World of Warcraft were killing off their business as efficiently as the characters in those games were killing off their virtual enemies. The age of innocence had been replaced by the age of sin-nonsense, and the toy-makers had realised that they would have to change their attitude in order to survive.

    First had come Pole-Dancing Barbie, though she had not been a success. This was because she couldn’t actually wrap her legs around the pole (a separately sold accessory, $14.95), and so was basically just a doll that fell on the floor.

    Jurassic Park Barney, who sang “I crush you, you fear me” as he stamped on small cars (separately sold accessories, $22.99) had been more successful. Grand Theft Action Man had also done well, especially since his hands fitted perfectly onto a steering wheel, just about the first thing they had ever really been able to do.

    Klingon Buzz Lightyear’s right arm fired a small rocket that could sting a cat at twenty feet. In Godfather Monopoly the car would perform drive-by shootings as it sped past your line of hotels. In Cluedo the murder was done by Stripper Sally, in the jacuzzi, with a chainsaw.

    Their latest offering, released as a movie-tie-in, was Tiny Tears Carrie.

    She lay buried in a little overgrown grave, which could be made to look still more abandoned and untended by the addition of toy beer-cans and wine-bottles ($27.50). When a button was pressed Carrie would suddenly sit up through the fake soil and say “Mama, I’ve been invited to the prom”.

    Tiny Tears Carrie wasn’t one of those dolls that wet itself. It was usually the kids to whom it was given as a present who did that.

  3. Dolly
    322 words

    Well at least it was out of the wind. I could talk to Dolly and drink without interruptions. At home Ma worried about how many cans I consumed in a day, she talked about units per week. Since she’d subscribed to Fitness Weekly she’d become a health fanatic. She worried that I had no friends; she meant I had no girlfriends. I had a girl once, her name was Julie, she was small and what’s that word they use for doll like, petite? Yeah, that’s what was written in her BHS T-Shirt. I remember reading it when she’d discarded it that one time. I remember thinking all my Christmases had come at once. I don’t see her anymore. We argued, we must have, because we don’t talk anymore.

    I found this spot when I was out walking one day. Just round the corner really. It’s in the old man’s garden next door. He’s always in behind closed curtains, think his name is Tom. Don’t think he’s ever had kids so not sure how Dolly got here. She’s sweet and doesn’t argue or interrupt. She looks at me with those big all knowing eyes of hers, never judging.

    I tell her its hard being a young lad round here. No jobs, nothing to do, no future. The less you do the less you want to do. You don’t have to be a genius to work that one out. My granddad used to tell me your school days are the best times of your life. I used to think I hope not, I hated school. I did have a job once. It was ace. Then the place closed down. I tell Dolly in between cans that it will change, I will change. The economy will change. I’ll get a job and a girlfriend.

    “Don’t worry Dolly” I tell her”, it’s not going to happen overnight. You’ll still be my friend for a bit longer”

  4. Jacki Donnellan says:

    Just a Baby

    “My mum says that alcohol shrinks your brain,” I say, shaking my head as Julie offers me a beer can.

    “Yeah, well,” says Julie, shrugging and snapping back the ring pull, “your mum says a lot of things.”

    She took a big gulp of beer, and then turned to look at me.

    “Say, Rachel,” she said with a foam-lined sneer, “bet I’ve got a moustache, now, like you!”

    I flushed hot even though the evening air was cold.

    “Can we go inside, now?” I murmured, looking down at the mud at my feet.

    Julie shook her head in between deep swigs. “No way!” she said. “It’s boring inside.”

    I looked around. I didn’t see what was so interesting out here, round the back of her dad’s shed. And I didn’t really understand why she’d asked me over anyway. Surely she had other friends; she was always telling me how popular she was at school.

    Julie splayed her fingers to drop her empty beer can, and then picked up another. “I sposhe you think your mum ‘zclever, like you,” she said, sounding a little odd.

    Actually, I didn’t think my mum was clever. She was always calling Julie a “nice girl,” for a start, saying she was just “cute as pie!” And I didn’t really see how drinking something could make parts of you shrink.

    But strangely, as Julie drank, she did seem to be getting smaller.

    She was leaning against the wall now. Maybe that was it. She looked at me blankly, then sneered. “You’re alwaysh using long woy. Woz. Words,” she said, accusingly, and then belched.

    I watched her as she continued to take sip after sip of beer. She was managing to keep her face in a straight line but her body had begun to sway and shrink down the wall.

    “You look pathetic,” I said, bravely.

    “At leashum not jussa baby,” she slurred, opening another can.

    She drank it. There was nothing of her now, just a tiny, cute-as-pie, glass-eyed pile at the foot of a grimy wall, next to a heap of empty cans.

    “Quite a juxtaposition,” I thought, and I turned and headed for home.

    360 words

  5. Gordon says:

    “Like, like, produces like, okay?”
    360 words

    It’s called ‘sympathetic magic,’ and if you can’t understand that, then you’re stupider than Charlene. I read a lot of articles, so I probably know more than you, but you can totally Wikipedia it on your phone. Look for, like, the part on ‘similarity and contagion.’

    I’m not like other girls at school, just so you know. The women in my family have what my mum calls The Gift. She’s the one that told me about this.

    What? This. This ritual.

    Are you serious?

    Okay, see, the doll represents a baby. Why? Because I want a baby, of course. I’ll be a great mum. And it’s in the garden, surrounded by seeds and plants, which are growing, because I want a baby to grow, you know, inside me. Then I just concentrate on it every day. You know, really focus on it, make it become reality.

    Who? Probably Colin. Or maybe Chris. Whichever.

    Of course this works. Jesus, you sound just like Charlene. I know it works because this is how my mum had me. I told you, we have The Gift.

    You know, this is why I don’t talk to Charlene anymore. She and I came back here after Chelsea’s party. I knew mum would be out, so we could hit the liquor cabinet, maybe have a smoke out here in the garden. And maybe I was feeling too open, you know, because I told Charlene what I just told you. I explained the whole process.

    But she didn’t get it.

    “Don’t you worry,” Charlene said. You know how she talks, right, with that vocal fry? Yeah, vocal fry. Look it up. Anyway, she said “Don’t you worry that with those beer cans and cigarette butts in the garden that it’ll have some kind of, like, effect?”

    And then she said, and this is the part, she said “I mean, you know, if it was real?”

    ‘If it’s real?’ What an idiot.

    She doesn’t understand at all. I mean, of course it’s real. This is magic, this is real life. Things don’t just happen on accident, you have to mean for them to happen before they do, you know?

  6. […] Originally posted at The Angry Hour Glass, Round 1. […]

  7. Not of This World
    357 words

    Detective Santos couldn’t believe her eyes when she arrived on the scene. The old Asher house, on 78th and Exchange was nothing but ruin and ash. It was hard to believe that she was there a few days ago.

    The owner was Julia Asher. She tried to drown her baby in the bathtub. Once she thought the deed was done, she jumped off the roof. Miraculously, Julia and the baby weren’t seriously injured. The detective hoped that was still the case.

    “What happened here?” Santos asked one of the officers.
    “Looks like Miss Asher escaped from the hospital and took the baby with her. She set the place on fire.”
    “Where are they? Did the fire department get here on time?”
    The officer sighed. “No. No unfortunately. We found a body in a closet. The coroner has to confirm it, but we think it’s Miss Asher.”
    “Oh, God. And the baby?” Santos asked.
    “That’s the thing. Follow me.”

    Puzzled, Detective Santos followed her colleague to the back of the house. There they found a doll dressed just like Julia Asher was the day she tried to drown the baby. Its bottom half was buried in the ground. Flowers grew on top of it. Next to the doll were empty cans of lighter fluid. There was a note attached to the doll. It read: the baby is not of this world.

    Once the shock subsided, the officer spoke. “We found the little girl out here with the doll. She was unharmed, just a little dirty.”
    “How could that be? The temperature must have been extreme, even from here. No burns?”
    “No burns.” The officer repeated.
    “Could she have placed the baby here before she set the fire?” Santos asked.
    “Witnesses say they saw her and the baby go inside. They never saw her take the baby outside before the fire started.”

    Detective Santos stood in a stunned silence. There had to be a rational explanation for this. Julie Asher must have saved her child. There was no way the baby girl could have done it. Or perhaps Miss Asher was right. The baby was not from this world.

  8. Rebekah Postupak says:

    I apologize that previous commitments prevent me from joining in myself this week–but congratulations on your sparkly new contest, and best wishes for a huge and fulfilling success!! Warmest regards from Rebekah & the crew at Flash! Friday.

  9. My Soda Keep
    (358 words)

    Maisie didn’t mind being left on her own again; it meant that she could have another funeral.
    She climbed down the porch steps, doll clutched under one arm, a wilting violet in one chubby hand. She navigated the final step carefully, turning to face the back door, lowering her short legs and stretching her bare toes till they met the dirt, then made her way across the tiny graveyard with equal care. The security lights glimmered on the broken bottles, making them easy to avoid, but the needles were harder to spot and Momma was too busy with one of her men to help if she caught her foot.

    There were tiny graves everywhere. Several goldfish and gerbils had been buried here, with the promise of a better place waiting. Mrs Klassner called it Heaven. Momma said it was just sleep, long and cold, but still better. Maisie wasn’t sure about Heaven, but she liked sleep, so when there were no more pets, she sent on her broken toys. They were nothing special anyway, just other people’s trash, so she didn’t cry anymore if Barbie’s leg broke or Loop Skywalker lost his head. She just reached for her little spade and laid them down.

    Now she stood under the stunted tree, by the fresh turned earth, and prayed.

    “Now I lemmy down aseep, I praya lot my soda keep. If I shut-eye before awake, I praya lot my soda take. Amen”

    Opening her eyes, she looked at the doll and the pathetic violet, trying to decide. The doll was a nice one, with all its arms and legs, and she would like to keep it and play with it for all the days, but she knew that it was wrong; Momma always said she had to share with Little Bobby. She had already taken good care of him when he stuck his toe, and he wouldn’t really want the flower. She tossed it aside and carefully sat the doll on the burial mound.

    “Seep now Bobby. Love you.”

    Then she skipped back to sit on the porch steps, waiting to show Momma what a good job she’d done.


  10. ladyhazmat says:

    And that’ll do it for Round 1! Thanks for everyone who participated. Results should be posted Tuesday evening with the the winning story featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie.

  11. David Shakes says:

    Okay, as promised a full rundown on each stunning entry from my own perspective. Judging is such sweet sorrow as someone almost said once! They were all really good which made life tough – I hope you’re pleased with yourselves!

    In chronological order only:

    1) ‘Zap’ by @patrickjstahl- Patrick Stahl – You marry your fantasy sensibilities with the ‘absurdity’ of the image really well. An unlikely ‘liberator’ indeed. I think a few references may have passed me by slightly but I really enjoyed it. I’d like to read something with a broader canvas from you Patrick and since checking your bio know you are someone to watch – you’ve got time well on your side my young, talented friend.
    2)’The Rally of the Dolls’ by @TinmanDoesBadly- Tinman – This stands out. I loved the dark humour and social commentary and the King / Carrie reference was a strong pull for someone of my sensibilities!
    I laughed out loud at the failed ‘update attempts with Jurassic Barney’s song still in my head! Punchline was a kicker too.
    3) ‘Dolly’ by @stellakateT -Stella Turner – Another cracker from you Stella! Capturing the bleak, hopeless nature of the scene and turning it into something quite disturbing. I was left with the distinct impression that this was a character not to be returned to in several years time! There was a very English flavour here and I’d love to know how that played out elsewhere. Needless to say I wrestled with where with should place.
    4) ‘Just a Baby’ by Jacki Donnellan – What a brilliant use of the prompt! You picked up on the juxtaposition and made it your punchline which I loved – I also loved the transformation – deftly handled and quietly terrifying to me. The twisted morality tale in here really spoke to me, with some lovely phrases used along the way.
    5) ‘Like, like, produces like, okay?’ by Gordon b White – ah, you clever man! I knew a little about Sympathetic Magic but did as the character suggested and ‘totally’ refreshed my memory on Wikipedia! The glottal rattle (Vocal Fry) of Charlene is still ringing in my ears! I liked the originality and unsympathetic characters (valley girls are they called? or is that just a Frank Zappa song?!) Quite chilling in its own way this tale! Like, totes chilling!
    6)’Not of this World’ by @triffic_tinika – Lossforwords360 – Quite the conundrum and one that kept me thinking. The photo prompt itself has an ‘other-worldly’ feel ( I hope) and the your tale sits well alongside it. Quite an original take too. I liked the economy in the dialogue too. Overall the story felt like the intro to a long running show – cue title sequence!
    7) ‘My Soda Rest’ by @Karl_A_Russell – the reasoning behind this eventual win is on the winner page but the images are still resonating with me as I reread all the entries yet again. Well done Karl.

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