Flash Frenzy: Round 5

Posted: February 1, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome to Round 5!

Please join me in welcoming back David Shakes as our photo-prompt provider and judge. 🙂

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 by @TheShakes72

Photo by @TheShakes72

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Comments
  1. Image Ronin says:

    In the Shadows (360 words)

    Balancing, feet resting on the ropes of the climbing frame, Walter adjusted the composition within the lens of his camera. The light of the day was weakening, darkness eroding the shadow beneath him. He was hopeful about this shoot, optimistic that later in the darkroom he might develop something worth entering into the local camera club competition. Maybe even good enough to beat Bob Kerr.

    The click and whine of shutter and film stopped the world; he’d entitle it In the Shadow that sounded artistic.

    The blare of the horn interrupted Walter’s creative musings. He glared over at his wife sat in the car, a silhouette of peroxide hair and cigarette smoke. ’Five minutes, okay!” Walter called out, she barely acknowledging. Yes the darkroom would be a good idea, some peace and quiet. Nothing but him, the prints and a vodka or two.

    Walter leaned in again, framing his shadow to the left, tweaking the camera’s settings. The car horn blared twice in succession. Christ! This was her bloody idea; he hadn’t even asked her to accompany him. Yet here she was, Miss bloody Perfect, who barely shifted her arse off the sofa.

    Well sod it she can bloody well wait.

    He depressed the button, another click and whirr. The light was nearly gone, yet there was probably enough for one more shot. Suddenly the ropes bounced violently, nearly throwing Walter down onto the floor. He reached out a hand, steadying himself, before turning to confront his impatient wife. She was really going to get it this time.

    Yet it wasn’t her. Walter’s anger became ice in his veins as he found himself face to face with the largest spider he had ever seen, bigger than a dog. Eight unblinking eyes reflecting back his panicked face. He dropped the camera to the floor, barely hearing the click and whine. The spider sat motionless above him.

    Another blast breaking the stillness between them. Walter looked over, his wife lighting up, the tip glowing crimson in the dusk. He felt the climbing frame shifting under him, the spider was moving closer, legs flexing. Walter screamed, falling onto the ropes.

    The spider pounced.

    @imageronin

  2. […] a sucker for flash competitions and the prompt this week from the fine people at The Angry Hourglass got the creative neurons firing in some very odd directions. For a while I was left pondering what […]

  3. Tinman says:

    People In Glass Houses
    353 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    Ethan Hunt lay across the skylight of Grand Central Station. In a moment he would cut a hole in the glass, lower a winch and dangle from it like a puppet after attempting Riverdance. He knew that passing commuters would pay him no heed. This was New York, after all.

    He would then complete his mission, scanning the display boards to find the train times to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

    He could have looked them up online, but what’s impossible about that.

    As he reached into his pocket for his glass-cutter, his phone rang. He fished it from his other pocket.

    “Hello?”

    “Hello, Ethan,” said the familiar voice. “The picture on your phone is of Marcus Longmore, senior research scientist on a project so secret that I can’t tell you what it is.”

    “Er, this isn’t a good – “

    “The photo now on your screen is of his cat, Fluffy. Terrorists have kidnapped Fluffy and demanded that Longmore reveal all details of the Burger-Flavoured Ice-cream Project – ah, crap – or they will test the theory about a cat’s nine lives in a most empirical way.”

    “Listen, I’m lying on the roof of – “

    “The terrorists have cleverly hidden Fluffy in a Cats’ Home in Queens. Your mission, Ethan, should you decide to accept it, is to gain access to the Home, identify Fluffy from among two hundred other cats, who all look pretty much the same, and extract him.”

    “The glass is beginning to creak here –“

    “Furthermore, to prevent the risk of kittens featuring in future extortion attempts, since Longmore is bats about cats, we have decided that Fluffy should be neutered. As we can’t let any vet know of his existence, you will have to carry out this operation.”

    “Oh, for f- “

    “As usual, should you or any of your IM Force be caught, killed or badly scratched by an understandably angry cat, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Ethan.”

    The call ended. Ethan peered through the fragile glass at the concourse over a hundred feet below, and groaned.

    The phone was going to self-destruct in five seconds.

  4. @stellakateT

    Money well spent
    360 words

    I twitched the net curtains open to get a better view. The body lay on my new spiral patio, illuminated by the moonlight. It was a man, his legs splayed open, an arm tucked under his head. Looking like an illustration on the cover of a Mickey Spillane crime thriller. Was he drunk, asleep or just plain dead? I felt the bile rising in my throat, anger that blood could be seeping on to the concrete slabs ruining the look of my newly landscaped garden. Good money wasted.

    His silhouette looked big. Did I know any big men? What the hell was he doing in my garden? He would have got a better reception from the widow next door. She always had men coming and going. She had a habit of winking at me like we were members of the same club, except I didn’t flaunt my body, talk in a little girly voice or smile continually like a demented monkey.

    It was too dark to go and investigate and too late to ring the police. If my patio was a crime scene it could wait till the morning. I made coffee, watched the late night news and changed into my pyjamas, the ones my son had sent me; he never forgot birthdays and Christmas. Before I went to sleep I checked out the window. It was quite comforting to see he hadn’t moved, like a giant garden gnome.

    The door bell ringing ended my tryst with George Clooney waking me up with disappointment. Pulling the covers over my head I refused to get up, trying to persuade George to return to my dreams. Who ever was at the door wouldn’t give up either.

    The police officer tried to restrain me; I was punching and kicking, in the end they had to sedate me. The man lying on my patio, he’d fallen over a mound of earth, knocked himself unconscious. If he’d been found earlier he may have lived. Hypothermia is a killer, the young policeman kept saying. When he told me the name on the victim’s driving licence, grief took over. He had the same name as my son.

  5. The Stranger
    346 words
    @triffic_tinika

    Cameroon did not know how he came to be in this strange place, but he liked to think of it as fate. For months, he took refuge among the cardboard boxes and delighted in the dark comforts it provided. Most of all, he enjoyed the company of the boy who occupied the space with him.

    The boy had a heart of gold. He would sneak Cameroon raw chicken, steaks, and other scraps of meat he could find. Although Cameroon never revealed himself to the boy, they would often talk or play games for hours.

    Despite the boy’s kindness, he was weak and scrawny. A man much bigger would force him into the dark space with him for days at a time, often without food and water. The boy was no match for his oppressor. Cameroon knew that if he did not intervene the boy would die.

    “You have kept me safe boy. You have been more than kind. I would like to return your kindness. Lure the man here in two days time.” Cameroon instructed.

    Just as he instructed, the boy dashed downstairs with his oppressor on his heels. Cameroon emerged from the shadows and sprang on the evil man. Before he could resist, Cameroon plunged his fangs in him and parlayed him instantly. He wrapped his victim in silk and carried him to the large web he constructed behind the cardboard boxes. He hung him like the figure of another man hanging on the walls.

    Cameroon climbed down and approached the boy. To Cameroon’s surprise, the boy didn’t run away. He watched the scene unfold with emptiness in his eyes.

    “Are you going to eat him?” The boy asked.
    “It would be wasteful if I spared him.” Cameroon replied.
    “Will there be anything left?”
    “Just skin and bone.”

    The boy was silent for a moment. The stony expression on his face turned into a smile. “When you’re finished come upstairs. This house is ours now.”

    With that, the boy skipped up the stairs leaving the spider alone to enjoy his meal. Nothing ever tasted better.

  6. Jacki Donnellan says:

    On the Web

    @Donnellanjacki
    356 words

    We met on a thread, on the web.

    We were told at school that it’s dangerous, meeting someone that way. That people may not be what they say they are. That whatever you do, you should never agree to meet up in real life. But I know what I’m doing.

    The door to the café opens, and lets in a slice of air and sound from the street. I look up hopefully, but it’s just a couple of girls. They walk in and sit behind me. I look back down at my phone again.

    Waiting for a message.

    He’s late.

    We connected really quickly, him and me. Words, that’s what we are online. Or on the web, as he would say; that’s why I’ve guessed he’s probably older than he looks in his photo. I’m not stupid. But I don’t care. I’ve fallen for his words. They weave a world that I could just stay wrapped up in, forever.

    I sip my coffee, grimacing, a bit. I don’t really like coffee. But I didn’t want him to find me drinking hot chocolate, or Coke, and looking like some silly little girl. I want to fit the image of me that I hope he’s got in his head.

    The door to the café opens again. My heart skips a beat, but it’s just a woman. She orders at the counter and then leaves, clasping a to-go coffee. I can see a wedding ring on her finger, and- I’m even ready for that. I know he might even be married. He hasn’t said so, of course. But then again, I haven’t said that I’m only fourteen.

    I can’t bear the waiting any longer. I send him a message.

    “Waiting. Longing. Where R U? xx”

    I sit and concentrate hard on my phone, as if I can will his reply to appear. A rowdy burst of laughter breaks my focus and I turn round, annoyed.

    The two girls behind me giggle.

    “Sorry. Just seen something funny,” one of them explains.

    “Yeah, you know,” says the other, waving her phone at me with a suddenly poisonous grin. “On the web.”

  7. My Tiny Patch Of Sky

    I used to try and get out in the open whenever I could. I loved to lie in fields or on beaches, gazing up at the vast blue canopy that rests between me and the universe. Now all I have is a tiny patch of sky above the exercise yard, and that’s glassed over, trapped in a web of steel. That’s what makes the waiting so difficult.

    I don’t regret what I did. He had it coming. And I accept what I’ve got coming to me too, when they get the scaffold finished and sign off on the final paperwork. I do sometimes lie in the middle of the yard and look up at my tiny patch of sky though, and I wonder, if I’d known then that they could take away the sky, would I have done it? Or would I have just worked harder at not getting caught?

    Not that it matters anyway, I’m here now, but I have a lot of time for idle wondering. If there were any others in here with me, I could get their thoughts, but there’s just me and the guards, and they barely even speak to me. I get a bit lonely at times, but it does mean that I get to go into the yard whenever I want and just lie there, staring up at the sky.

    There was a photographer up there this morning, creeping along the steel strands, sighting over the outer yard, towards the scaffold. I hated him for invading my tiny bit of sky, but it was a good sign really; they must be nearly ready. One day soon, they will dot all the tees and cross all the eyes and then I’ll take my final walk in the open air. If I’m lucky, it will be raining, wetting my face and hiding my tears. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m crying for him, or for me. If I cry, it will be with relief at finding the sky again.

    Then, when my walk is finished, I will go up into the sky, out into the universe, and they will never cage me again.

    Karl A Russell
    360 words

  8. Kristen says:

    “Importance”
    Kristen Falso-Capaldi
    @kristenafc
    356 words

    It was his photo that made her disappear. She was the beauty who sat next to him in sophomore English, the one with chestnut hair and little dresses in swirls of color. She had a nice smile and friends and two feet on the ground. She was opaque.

    He was thin, pale. Transparent. He felt himself slipping away.

    He loved her then.

    He began to follow her. And always with the yearbook camera slung across his back.
    He knew every place she went, every conversation she had.

    Then. The photo. He snapped it unnoticed from a doorway, then sent it spiraling into the world through a web of wireless routers and fiber optic cables.

    What he’d done made him important to certain people. He grew opaque. He was still the shadow following them with a camera, but now they talked to him, waved, shoved beers into his hands. He had to stop loving her; someone had to be the sacrifice.

    And she began to fade.

    Now they were seniors. Her hair was bleached colorless and her lips painted dark red. She wore black. She floated through the halls unnoticed.

    Not by him. In a secret file on his hard drive, he saved the hundreds of photos he’d taken of her over the years. In some, she slept in class, in others she smoked weed by the bleachers. In a few, she was a speck hundreds of feet down a crowded hallway.

    Every day, he’d look at them in order, beginning with the first ignominious one, then he’d watch her age and change, drain of color and fade.

    Each time he finished looking at them, he’d whisper the same two words.

    First: “Sorry.”

    Then: “Thanks.”

    He snapped the last one at graduation. She was standing by the parking lot, arguing with her mother.

    Then, he got up and delivered a speech to his peers about importance.

    That night, he placed the final photo in the secret file, then he looked through them one last time.

    “Sorry,” he said. Then: “Thanks.”
    He sat in silence for a few seconds, then dragged the file into the trash.

  9. ladyhazmat says:

    Fabulous stories this week, friends. So glad I don’t have to choose a favorite! Stay tuned for winners hand-picked by David Shakes later this week. Cheers!

  10. David Shakes says:

    Image Ronin – In the Shadows

    Great story! Walter made me cringe – as photographer and subject of the photo his train of thought and title making was almost too close to the truth for comfort! Cool climbing frame though!
    My wife wasn’t sat in the car (she was cringing with the kids over by the swings) and no giant spider ate me either.
    Well paced, the surreal and mundane colliding in an unwritten but inevitable end! I wonder if his wife finished her cigarette before getting out of the car?

    Tinman – People in Glass Houses

    Timan’s stories are always slightly absurd but more than mere playful ideas. They are well structured and funny as hell. Completely left field and unique amongst the bunch. His ‘Carrie’ toy in the inaugural competition blew me away and this ‘Mission Impossible’ had me laughing out loud. A really good use of the prompt and another brilliant punch line.

    Stella Turner – Money Well Spent

    I don’t know if Stella will like the comparison or not but the curtain twitching protagonist had me thinking of Alan Bennett characters. Not the most reliable of narrators, the story unfolds through her lace curtained perspective. Inside she’s watching the news and sipping hot drinks whilst outside her patio may or may not be damaged by the inconsiderate prone figure.

    Her lack of fear or concern is so chilling – in some ways like the photographer in the eventual winning story. Her casual disdain for her neighbour and the nonchalant way she waits for the morning – ‘…too dark to investigate and too late to phone the police.’ was really scary and a great juxtaposition with the average suburban setting. There are psychos next door folks!

    @triffic_tinika (LossforWords360)

    There was a really strong feeling here of a modern myth, a traditional tale in a present day context,
    Like with many of the stories this week there’s a moral ambiguity here, but most of us will be in no doubt that the man (the oppressor!) got what was coming.
    The conversation at the end and that breaking smile made me falter for the briefest of moments – ‘Come upstairs when you’ve finished – this house is ours now…’
    Fantastic! And if nothing else, Cameroon is just the BEST name!

    So there we go folks. I really did love them all and am honoured that people would bother to write anything based on one of my photos.

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