Flash Frenzy: Round 2

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
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Greetings, friends. Welcome back!

I am pleased to announce that this week’s flash challenge will be judged by the one and only Rebekah Postupak, fellow dragon-lover and Flashionista extraordinaire! Just in case you’re unaware, Rebekah also hosts a weekly flash challenge at Flash! Friday. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t done so already.

This week’s photo prompt is brought to you by Ashwin Rao, but before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. 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 HumpDay Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

Photo by Ashwin Rao

Photo by Ashwin Rao

  1. drmagoo says:

    Rachel reached up to turn on the ceiling fan and froze. Up, up, down. The first two switches controlled the lights in the living room, but they should have been off. Someone else had to be in the apartment. She listened as closely as she could, hoping to pick up the sound of movement, or breathing – something to tell her what was going on – but despite her carefully trained hearing, there was nothing. The seconds ticked by on the grandfather clock her parents had left her, but outside of the whirring of the gears and her own breathing, the apartment was silent.

    Convincing herself that there had to be another explanation – perhaps the landlord had left the lights on – Rachel flipped off the lights and headed for the kitchen. On the way, she ran her fingers over the heavy wood of the clock. She’d never seen its face, but she loved it anyway. There was something about the permanence of this device that had been in her family for generations that grounded her to a world where she was alone. Her fingers moved smoothly over the wood, feeling the minute imperfections which said this was something made by hand, and froze again when they touched something wet and sticky.

    She yanked her hand away from the clock, clapping it over her mouth to stifle a scream. The feel of the wetness on her skin made her cringe, but she’d trained for this, and she let her training take over. The apartment was still nearly silent, but standing here closer to the kitchen, she could smell something she’d never smelled before.

    She’d heard it described a thousand times, however.

    “They’ll come for you, Rachel, just like they came for your mom, and just like they’ll come for me. I could say I was sorry, but it’s just the way it is.” Her dad repeated this lesson every night for years, until he was proven right, at least in part, describing the ones who would come and what they would do.

    And now it was her turn. But she wasn’t going to follow her parents. Rachel had something different in mind.

    359 words

  2. Security Conscience

    He stood in the chill silence staring at the switch plate on the wall. Two of the three innocuous-looking toggles had already been shifted to the on position with only the third remaining inactive. His hand clenched tightly to his radio, he wanted nothing more than to hear something…anything from his security staff before he would be forced into act.

    His gaze flickered to the digital readout mounted opposite the plate, showing less than three minutes remained. Those bid fair to be the longest and most agonizing minutes of his life.

    To pass the time he contemplated the absurdity of whoever had deemed this arrangement an acceptable self-destruct mechanism. In all fairness, it was located in the building’s sub-basement behind a locked solid-steel door that only he and the Center Supervisor had access to. Nevertheless, given the seriousness and the implications of the center’s activities, he would have expected something more…sinister. His expectations might have been grounded in his lifelong career in the security field or, more likely, be based on his guilty pleasure of reading dime store adventure novels.

    Down to two minutes on the counter, he had yet to receive the all clear and he felt that to be rather unfortunate. This was to be his final, cake-walk assignment with Vigilant Securities Inc. before he turned in his badge and spent the remainder of his days fishing and drinking beer in Cabo. That he was, instead, very likely to end his days in the withering fury of a thermite implosion seemed far less attractive.

    It wasn’t as if he didn’t understand the client’s wishes their data remain absolutely secure. He did. What bothered him was he couldn’t pinpoint when human interaction had become so repugnant that all commerce now took place electronically, via centers just such as this. Computer networks and databases could be securely locked down but physical theft of customer lists, buying trends and product offerings could still be stolen by determined competitors. It appeared increasingly likely he would die today to prevent that violation from happening.

    Startled from his reverie by the insistent beeping of the digital clock, he sighed and flipped the final switch.

    360 words @klingorengi

  3. Surprise!
    353 words

    The pounding of footsteps up the stairs jolted Alison out of her sleep. She gasped and turned down the volume on the TV. Once her heartbeat slowed, Alison remained silent and still. She hoped it was her imagination, but the shuffling upstairs persisted. Someone or something was in the house.

    As quietly as she could, Alison got off the sofa and tiptoed to the front entryway. The first thing she noticed was the light switches. The first one controlled the outside lights. She never left those on unless she expected company. The second controlled the lights to the kitchen area. Although Alison cooked dinner, she recalled turning it off before planting herself in front of the television. The third controlled the lights to the living room. It was off. The intruder must have noticed her sleeping and didn’t want to disturb her.

    Alison opened the closet by the front door as quietly as possible. She grabbed the baseball bat she kept for protection and checked the dining room and kitchen. No one was there and everything was in its proper place. She peered out the windows. As far as she could tell, no one was outside. Once she saw the bottom half of her house was secure, she turned off the lights.

    Suddenly there was a loud slam upstairs. Alison clamped her hands over her mouth to keep herself from screaming. She hid by the side of the stairs, ready to defend herself when the intruder came down stairs.

    Whoever it was took a long time coming down. They seemed to stop every couple of steps. What made it stranger was the intruder was humming.

    Finally, the intruder was on the bottom step and Alison swung the bat at the man’s head. He yelped and dodged her attack. Although the man tried to explain himself, Alison kept swinging until she hit him. Once he was down on the ground and writhing in pain, Alison turned on the lights. She couldn’t believe who it was!

    It was her boyfriend! She forgot she gave him a spare key. She also forgot it was their anniversary.

  4. “This switch does nothing,” Nicole yelled. “You flip it and nothing happens.”
    Ben joined her in the foyer. Nicole toggled the light switch up and down. “See?” she whined. “Nothing.”
    Ben put on his hand on her shoulder. “Look, babe. It’s an old house.”
    “Every switch should have a purpose, Ben,” she said, glaring at the offending light switch. “Maybe it’s connected to something not in the main house.”
    “I’ll check,” Ben said. “Flip the switch when I call your phone.”
    Nicole smiled. “You’re so sweet.”
    Ben sighed and walked outside, across the gravel into the garage. Two lights; one on the ceiling, one by the workbench. He unlocked his phone and called Nicole. “Flip it,” he said.
    Click, click.
    “Check the security light out back, Ben.”
    Ben trudged into the backyard. Three giant floodlights were wired together to the top of a concrete-set pole. “All right,” he told Nicole. “Hit it.”
    Click, click.
    “Zilch,” Ben said.
    “Crap!” Nicole muttered.
    “Hey, babe, is this old shed out back on our property?”
    Nicole shrugged. “We bought a shed?”
    “I’m checking it out.”
    It was beyond tumble-down. Dust sheened the small window. The rusted doorknob hung loosely. Ben walked in. Weird sharp implements hung from the walls.
    “Hit the switch, Nicole.”
    Immediately, the round blade started, the vibration rattling the shed. It traveled ominously towards Ben, swinging from a steel rod attached to a ceiling track. He dropped the phone and cowered against the wall. Metal rattled. He turned and saw chains and cuffs, nailed to the wall. No moving targets here.
    Ben crawled, grabbing his phone as he rolled out the door. Climbing to his feet, he ran through the backyard, flung open the kitchen door and entered, skidding on the vinyl flooring.
    Nicole entered, wide-eyed. “What are you doing?”
    Clearly labeled moving boxes still stood stacked against the wall. Ben found the right one, tore it open and pulled out a roll of electrical tape.
    “What’s going on?” Nicole demanded. Ben pushed past her and walked to the switch plate. He flipped the switch off and taped it down forever.

    352 words

  5. Tinman says:

    Sight, Unseen
    304 words

    Kilroy was nosey, in every meaning of that phrase.

    Not only was he inquisitive, he also had a very long nose.

    If Rudolf thought he got it bad from the other reindeers, he should have tried being Kilroy. The other elves used to laugh and call him names like Pinocchio, or Jumbo or, worst of all, Depardieu.

    Elves? Yes, Kilroy was an elf, just eight inches tall, and the wall that he so famously peers over in drawings is in fact the side of a shoe-box.

    Now, there is a limit to what you can see over the side of a shoe-box, and eventually Kilroy decided to leave home. With the other elves singing him off (rather cruelly with “Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus”) he set off to literally see the world.

    One of the first places he reached was a shopping mall. From a vantage point inside a vending machine (he picked the Dr Pepper chute, figuring “what’s the worst that could happen”) he happily watched the throngs using the nearby escalator. He soon noticed something about the three switches beside it. He realised that while the middle switch was for just going up, and the one even further for going down, the nearest one led nowhere, just for show.

    It was as if a light-bulb turned on above his head. No-one was ever going to flick that switch.

    He slipped out of the chute (luckily just as a purchased Dr Pepper can was about to answer his rhetorical question) and in through a crack in the wall. He removed the switch from behind and, like a Scooby Doo villain looking out through a painting, poked his nose through the opening. He had found his window on the world.

    Kilroy was here, and he was happy.

  6. One, Two, Three.

    (302 words)


    I’d kept my eyes on those switches, two up, one down for years. Even joked about it, what would happen if the last one was flicked up? No-one seemed to know or want to tell me. So I left well alone. I remember the first day my son had wheeled me into this room. The large window looked out onto a garden. I’d be able to see the seasons changing with the roses and crocuses blooming. I had a few of my treasured ornaments with me. The fat, laughing Buddha that brought good luck and harmony to a home sat on the shelf, I’d forgotten to rub his stomach this morning.

    “I’m sorry Mum”

    I’d patted his arm.

    “Don’t worry son, I’ll be fine here I’ve got enough to pay the bills”.

    Living with him and Shelley wasn’t an option; they had their lives to live and to be fair Shelley was always whining about the cost of this and that. She really was an unpleasant girl. Some times I imagined Shelley was in my room, I could see her shadow behind the bed, looking into my bag. I could feel her bony fingers searching under the mattress, her breath on my cheek, the smell of her expensive perfume. She never came to see me in person.

    When I rang the alarm bell today, no one answered. I tried hard not to feel anxious when I kept ringing and ringing. I even tried shouting. No one replied. Someone in the shadows behind me, it didn’t look like Shelley but it seemed familiar, safe. The shadow moved stealthily along the wall. A long thin finger was heading for that set of switches. I felt my breath catch, my heart miss a beat.

    “I’m sorry Mum” the switch flicked up. The light went out.

  7. Bernie Blows A Fuse

    Moving house is hard, but the bloke upstairs did himself no favours. You try to blend in when it’s shared flats, but this dick had his movers blocking hallways, dragging boxes upstairs and scraping around right above my head. Course, he didn’t know I work nights, but he never even asked.

    I tried being nice, let him settle in, but he works from home, so it was 24/7. Every morning as I’m getting my head down, he kicked off this unbelievable racket, a wheeze and a hum, non-stop, with awful TV blaring out over the top. God knows what it was. Bev spoke to him, said his mum was sick or something and that I should be more understanding. I hadn’t slept right for weeks, so my reply was less diplomatic. Exit Bev…

    The noises went on, with extra clanging when he got big deliveries every Friday. I was done in. Bev’s new fella came to collect her stuff in his 4×4 dickmobile and I was watching him leave when I saw the bloke heading out. I thought of leaning out and gobbing on his head, but then I realised he’d left his flaming machines running! He didn’t even have the common decency to give me a minute’s peace while he went out. Well, screw him.

    I wanted to kick his door in and pull the plugs, but then I had a better idea and found the main circuit breakers under the stairs, three big white switches marked Ground, First and Top. I flipped his switch and it went perfectly quiet.

    I laid on my bed to enjoy the silence. He’d never suspect anything, and hopefully his work would be ruined. That would teach him…

    Then I slept till the police came. I heard him then, ranting and raving, but I’d been so deep I hadn’t stirred. Clean conscience you see, no matter what anyone says. I don’t deny doing it, but manslaughter? Come on, I didn’t even know his mother lived there, let alone that she was on a respirator. It’s not like he told anyone, is it?

    I suppose some people just can’t think about anyone but themselves.

    360 words

  8. ladyhazmat says:

    And that’ll do it for Round 2. Thanks to all who participated. Stay tuned for winners!

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