Flash Frenzy: Round 4

Posted: January 25, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome back, friends.

This week your flash contributions shall be judged by none other than your time-pressed hostess herself, LadyHazmat. I’ve had this photo for a number of years and have always wanted to write a story about it. Alas! The story of this smiling statue consistently eludes me, and so I leave it to you, good friends, to tell me his tale.

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 Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

Photo Courtesy Ashwin Rao

Photo by Ashwin Rao

  1. My Dead Friend (322 words)

    “You’re dead” I tell my friend “I went to your funeral last week”.
    “Yeah I know, not keen on that dress you wore, made you look fat”

    She looks remarkably healthy. No sign of rigor mortis or things decomposing. She sits at the kitchen table, tapping her fingers on the Formica top. She always hated the fifties look of my kitchen, reminds her of her dead grandmother.

    “How is your Grandma?”

    She raises her eyebrows. I feel a bit tongue tied, embarrassed even. Wonder if I need to see a Doctor? She leans back and says “No I don’t think so”. I hadn’t realised I’d said that out loud. Perhaps she can read my thoughts.

    “No I can’t read your thoughts”
    “Want a cup of tea”?
    “I’d rather have a glass of red”

    I look at the clock, one of those spiky wooden ones, that is really seventies not fifties. “You are so bourgeois”. I’m not sure whether that’s a compliment or not. I fetch two glasses and a bottle of good red.

    “You’re dying”?
    “Thought you said I didn’t need to see a Doctor”.
    “Your spirit is dying”

    She pours herself a second glass. I wonder how long she’s staying. Have I’ve got enough wine? Will I have to go out and buy more? I remember how cruel she becomes when she’s drunk.

    I look at the clock, the hands haven’t moved. I remember that cherub in the graveyard pointing. I think about the copious blood I cleaned up in this kitchen and how I cried. You’d put a bit of weight on crossed my mind when I dragged that old valise out in the street and got Bob to help me lift it into the trunk. Think he’s a bit simple minded.

    “He’d be a good boyfriend for you then” she smirks

    I start to cry again. Wonder how long it will be before someone points a finger at me?

  2. “My Guardian”

    The memories drifted through my dwindling mind, bringing a smile of fondness into my thoughts, but… I was just too weak to actually smile.

    I can remember sitting at her feet, my head pressed against the warm stone as I cried. Tags was the best dog you could ask for, and I can almost feel his warmth on my lap. Losing him was hard, but I’ll never forget the ease that passed over me sitting at her feet. I felt the comfort as it pulsed from the base of the statue and into my tear-glistened cheek.

    After that, she would find me at her feet every time my life came crashing down on me. So, naturally, she saw me the most in my teens.

    I’m right there now. I can see her round, chubby cheeks. I can feel the security of her company. I can smell the subtle scent of the newly blooming garden where she rested.

    It would seem a bit silly to an onlooker that a banal, half-dressed statue could comfort a person, but there was something about her. She was more than a statue, she understood me. She… helped me.

    Her idem company would be therapeutic right now.

    Suddenly, the air around me seemed thicker; it cradled me and seemed to coax me from my bed, despite my fading strength.

    I listened. I let it support me, and it helped me up.
    The smell of my long-passed mother’s garden was tonic. I let it lead me, like it had so many times before.

    I stood before her, still unsure of how my muscles were supporting me. Her pleasantness was overwhelming and just seemed to melt the pain away, as a familiar warmth emanated from her, pouring into me.

    I felt it. It didn’t hurt like I’d expected it to, but it was here. And as the only shard of life left in me crumbled, her eyes began to glow. They grew brighter until they consumed me, and I felt my consciousness slip from my body. She whispered to me as she took me away, the same warmth filling me with a vigor I hadn’t known for months.

    Words: 360

  3. Vater, Vergib Mir
    352 words

    The rusted iron gate of the forgotten garden creaked open as the old man passed. He took a few steps back and looked wistfully beyond it. He hadn’t entered the garden since his beloved wife disappeared two years ago.

    Despite the waning sunlight, the old man pushed past the gate and began to wander the grounds. Nature reclaimed the garden long ago, but the essence of his wife’s work was still there. The statues and fountains she placed around the garden stood tall and the flowers she planted stood out among the weeds.

    “Murderer.” voices whispered.
    The old man ignored the accusations and pressed on.
    “Murderer.” The voices said louder.
    It was just his imagination.
    “MURDERER!” they screamed.

    The old man dropped his cane and ran back towards the gate. Snakes hissed from trees as rats nipped at his feet and legs. The angels that once brought tranquility to the garden stared menacingly at him. The voices grew louder and stronger, as if they were behind him.

    The old man tripped on his cane and bumped his head on a statue. He propped himself up on his hands and knees and looked up at the moss covered cherub. Her chubby little fingers pointed to a sundial. His time was up.

    “Nein. Nein. I don’t want to die.” The old man pleaded in a thick, German accent.
    “Neither did we.” A voice said as countless men, women and children appeared from behind the bushes and trees.
    Their skin was gray and they were covered in rags. Most of them had numbers tattooed on their skin. The old man grasped his chest as they closed in on him.

    “Vater, verib mir. I don’t want to die this way.” He screamed as he cowered near the cherub.
    “God isn’t here today, Fritz.” A familiar voice cooed. To his horror, it was his beloved wife. She joined the countless ranks of ghouls who wanted him to suffer as much as they had.

    He closed his eyes and offered up a silent prayer as the ghouls closed in on him. There was no hope for him there.

  4. paddywords says:

    Bombing 345 words

    “Oh the angels and the devils too”, she whispered as the blood poured in torrents from her; all over her body, endless streams. I tried to put pressure on the wounds, no good with medical things, that was how they did it in the films I suppose. “They creep around inside of you” The lady’s voice, unknown to me a few short minutes before grew frail and weak now as the death passed through her. Dragged her toward one of the emergency exits, but it wouldn’t open. Something on the other side held it shut, and the heat inside rose steadily. “They steal your heart and soul and fly” .

    Why couldn’t the bleeding just stop, why was it so hard to get it to stop. They said in the films to put pressure on the wound, why did they lie? They always lie, about the important things. They make everything look easy, and it’s not easy, none of it is; they don’t prepare you for the fear and shock and the hero is always brave and perfect and gets everything under control. “And hold you when it’s time to die”. I wrapped my shirt around her waist but it was no good, she bled out. I wasn’t the hero, the heroes that night were clad in luminous jackets and held big red fire extinguishers in their hands. When the firemen arrived I was finally able to let go of her.

    On the stretcher I stared at the stars, I wondered if life was worth all this violence and terror. I couldn’t shake the thought of men exploding from my mind, why they decided to turn themselves into fireballs for that brief moment and destroy so much innocence. I wanted to be a star but never in such a literal sense as these murderous fire-men, men who become fire instead of quenching it. that change the world in planes or trains or city buses. Dreamt about getting away from everyone, about the sea and about a world where we aren’t killed by our own kind.

  5. drmagoo says:

    Even in the courtyard, the smell of saline drips and hand sterilizer was omnipresent, but at least the rush of processed air was replaced by a gentle breeze. I’d been coming here entirely too often, but somehow had never found my way out into the garden. Every time I’d walked by, someone was sitting on one of the wooden benches, looking through the flowers or bushes or sculptures, seeing whatever in their troubles brought them outside, and hoping there was a doctor with a miracle in the hallways somewhere. But today the garden was empty, and it was my turn to see what messages awaited me.

    I settled down onto one of the benches, feeling the slight give of the wooden slats, and closed my eyes. It had been too long since I’d been able to sleep well enough to get any rest, and even that short trip into the darkness made my head spin. My blood was more caffeine than hemoglobin at this point, or at least it felt that way, but I didn’t know how to stop moving.

    I wiped the tears that always seemed to form at the corners of my eyes when I closed them for any length of time and tried to regain my focus. It was almost time for rounds, and I needed to hear what the doctors were going to say today, as if it was going to be any different than yesterday. As my eyes were clearing, I looked again at the little cherub across from me. Her copper had gone green, the patina helping her blend into the bushes around her, but it hadn’t hidden her smile. It wasn’t a broad grin – that would have been inappropriate in a place like this – but it was something. I smiled back, hoping to share in whatever reservoir of happiness she tapped into.

    The door creaked, and another hopeless wanderer was heading into the courtyard looking for salvation. I didn’t meet his gaze, nor would have seen me if I had. I left my spot, heading back up to the ninth floor and hoped he’d see the cherub’s smile in his own time.

    359 words

  6. Heart Of Stone

    All you can do is watch.

    You can’t fight. You can’t struggle. You can’t even shout. You try biting the dirty yellow fingers clamped across your mouth, but all that gets you is another smack. Then they pull you up, hold you tighter and turn you towards her again.

    Making you watch.

    The dress she wore for you is torn and dirty. There’s blood in her hair. Her eyes are glazed, unfocussed. She whimpers like a dying animal, a cry forced out between their rough hands, drowned out by their hyena laughs.

    You strain your neck, try to turn away, but you’re held immobile, frozen like the statues in the overgrown gardens. You want to close your eyes, but the fingers prising them open may as well be granite.

    Your mind retreats. You ask why you, why now? What if you’d caught a cab? Gone around the park? Run when you saw them? Where would you be now?

    They swap, and another man holds you. You smell her on the fingers which gag you. She no longer struggles, barely moves, and you slump in his arms, defeated.

    When they leave, there are no threats. No warnings. They drop you where you lie and stumble away, laughing their hyena laughs, blending into the shadows and the statues which gaze down at you with cold, impassive eyes.

    You crawl towards each other, finally freed of all restraint, but still silent, still scared.

    You help her to dress. You hold her close. You say the right words, make the right noises. But as she clings to you, as she moans and sobs, you smell them on her skin and feel a shudder of revulsion. She looks up at you then, and she knows that this is only the beginning. You feel something harden inside you, something cold as stone spreading through your breast. You see the confusion, the pain in her eyes, and you wish that you could spare her this betrayal, this extra hurt, but you can’t.

    There are no words you can say to make it go away.

    No way to roll back the hours.

    All you can do is watch.

    360 words.

  7. Image Ronin says:

    The Gardener (354 words)

    Max breathed in deep as he left the manor and walked down the gravel stone towards the ornamental garden, pruning shears in hand. This time of year was perfection in his opinion, the garden bearing proof of spring’s transformative powers, creating life within a once wintery wasteland. Colour and energy erupted everywhere, testament to his Mother’s management of the gardening staff.

    His lungs filled with fragrant air as he wandered down past ornamental bushes and the apple tree planted in his sister’s memory. Blossom and pollen combining into a heady mix that filled his senses. He felt safe in the garden, the voices that plagued him throughout his adolescence silenced. His mother had been delighted when he had confessed how the garden made him feel, offering him any part of it to claim as his own. The shears flicked out, pruning a rebellious bay tree. He crushed the leaf within his fingers, sniffing at the scent.

    A bird called out, a cuckoo, mocking parental victims. He had chosen the rose garden, his favourite place, rich luscious petals bordering on four sides, surrounded by a white fence that thick green ivy clambered over. In each corner ancient cupids rested upon pedestals, the illusion of their youth betrayed by the rich green moss that clung to their skin. In the centre stood a fountain, taller than him, launching thick jets of white water into the sky, yet today he was pleased to see the spray was absent; the gardeners had set everything up for him.

    She had blond hair that was pleasing, her lips he couldn’t tell, the gag over her mouth hid such features. The obvious panic in her blue eyes though caused excitement to rise up within him. He meandered, trying to appear nonchalant, stroking the shears over a cupid’s face. The movement making his victim even more agitated, thrashing against the ropes that bound her arms behind the fountain.

    He snipped a red flower, breathing deep the fragrance, dropping the rose into the water around her feet.

    “Oh sister, I miss you so much’, he whispered in her ear.

    Max began to prune.


  8. ladyhazmat says:

    Thanks all for coming out to play this weekend. Check in later this week for winners.

  9. […] by LadyHazmat at The Angry Hourglass. The photo of a moss covered Cupid led to an unexpected tale, The Gardener, which I am shocked and delighted in equal measure to find had come […]

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