Flash Frenzy: Round 6

Posted: February 8, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
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Welcome to Round 6!

Our judge this week is Flash Frenzy Round 4 winner, Image Ronin.

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 Ashwin Rao

Photo by Ashwin Rao

  1. @stellakateT

    Feathers and Beads (349 words)

    My eyes were sore and gritty from working well into the night. Just to satisfy the customer from hell. She wanted this then that, the colours chosen were gaudy. Not wanting to put my name to this abomination I’d tried to steer her to something that would compliment not jar but she was having none of it. I’d never had problems like this before.

    I suggested she might think about a bird mask. Her eyes lit up, I could see she was thinking of a graceful bird I was thinking more of a buzzard or a vulture, a long, sharp beak like her own nose. She told me she’d be dancing on stilts and wanted a gold cloak that would look like the powerful wings of an eagle. I stifled a smile; I’d need divine intervention to turn her ideas into reality.

    I’d been working with feathers and bits of silk for weeks, Beautiful creations that would have the crowds gasping with admiration at the tiny pieces of bejewelled fabric stretched over athletic bodies. I loved the gossamer silk as fine as spiders’ webs. I wove miles of tiny stitches and attached hundreds of sequins and beads. Since the year dot I’d been making carnival costumes like my mum before me, had twenty ready, wrapped in top quality tissue and boxed for collection.

    Hearing the marching bands in the distance; I’d soon be seeing all my hard work on display. I was impatient to see Millie that was her name; I called her the Bird Woman of Alcatraz. I’d taken extra care with her costume, asked a young woman, in the next town, with no sewing skills to stitch it together. Gave her extra money to forget she’d ever done it.

    It wasn’t long before Birdy was dancing in front of me. She was quite agile on those high stilts, graceful, in a fat chicken sort of way. I’d carefully painted some South American poison I’d got off the internet around the bird mask. I wouldn’t be seen dead in it but she soon would be. Viva La Carnival!

  2. Pride

    Beatriz slept fitfully, folded into the cramped crawlspace beneath the stands. Local bands practised throughout the night, endless drumming reverberating through her dreams, becoming the sounds of marching feet and crushing blows. She wept in her sleep.

    Eventually she stopped trying and sat smoking her last cigarettes, watching the judging platform appear through the grey dawn. It was hung with banners and flags, enforced gaiety failing to hide the bulletproof glass, but still, it made her happy. She was here.

    On the way to the city she had seen her true face slowly emerge through the stranger’s skin. She had taken her name from the faded Carnaval magazine the stranger had kept hidden beneath his bed, then lost herself in the squalor and noise, always running from the policia. She had spent her last dollar on forged papers, and now she was inside. Soon these stands would be filled and the president would take to the platform to welcome the procession and to crown the queen, A Rainha Da Carnaval.

    The day crawled by and she daydreamed, listening to the TV crews, wondering if Mami and Papi would recognise her on screen, or if they would even care; They had made it clear what they thought of her.

    Finally, the square became a miniature city, a million people crowded above her, the drummers somehow louder even than this swarming mass. Beatriz peeped out at the floats and the dancers on the big screens, counting down the moments while the bass thudded in her chest. When the first band arrived, she swept from her hiding place, cast off her street rags and shook loose her feathers and danced.

    The crowd roared and spat as the cameras zoomed in, but it meant nothing to her.

    It didn’t matter who she had been or how much her kind were feared and hated.

    It didn’t matter when the snipers confirmed her as a mutante and raised their rifles.

    Beatriz was A Rainha Da Carnaval and she was beautiful.

    As the president screamed the order and the snipers fired a samba volley she unfurled her perfect wings, showed her colours to the world, and flew.

    360 words
    Karl A Russell

  3. David Shakes says:


    (360 words – @theshakles72)

    Most of the crowd have turned their attention to those following behind me.
    I suspect the guy with the camera snaps everything that comes past and isn’t paying me as much attention as it appears.
    His photos will come to matter more than he knows.
    The kid though – the one in the red top? He’s different.
    He senses something.
    There’s a puzzled look on his face – his head rests on his hand as the cogs turn.
    Does he see the grim determination on my face or is it the strange bulk beneath my brightly feathered costume?
    He stands and begins to follow alongside me.
    Camera guy shouts to him. I guess he must be this kid’s father.
    The kid ignores him – he’s staring intently beneath my unfurled wings.
    I catch his shocked expression in a sideways glance.
    Yes – he knows.
    I’ve got to move quickly now. I can already see a small crowd gathered around the pointing child and there are cops all along the route.
    There’s about 50 yards till I reach the building that’s the headquarters of Phoenix Co.
    They are the kind sponsors of today’s happy parade.
    Moreover, they are the global conglomerate responsible for hardships and third party atrocities the world over.
    And none of it is ever mentioned. None of it is even covered on CNN. The links are never made.
    But after today?
    I have no doubt that Phoenix will rise from its ashes – but the world will see, and some will question.
    Their answers will come from my friends – through the internet and across the alternative media.
    Some will vilify me, others will call me a hero.
    I briefly wonder what the kid in the red top will think? How his life will be shaped by what he sees today? What I have made him a part of? Will he understand?
    My thumbs find the switches concealed in the struts of my wings and there’s an explosion of colour and noise the likes of which this parade has never seen before.
    My soul soars above it all and far below the kid in the red top smiles.

    David Shakes.

  4. David Shakes says:

    I should point out that Phoenix International was a ‘made up’ name and in no way linked to any real company of with the same title! Perhaps admin could change the word ‘International’ for me to ‘Co.’
    There are too many ‘real’ Phoenix companies on the net – should have checked sooner – D’oh!

  5. “Bet”
    Word Count: 355


    Joseph kept telling himself that as soon as he got home from the parade. He threw his keys on the coffee table, and let gravity dicate his fall to the couch. His eyelids started to flutter. He tried to forget what happened. But the mob boss’ face kept coming back to him…

    “We told you we wanted the money by today, dickwad.”

    “Please!” He had pleaded with him hours earlier. “I don’t have the money, but there’s gotta be some other way I can pay you back!”

    The mob boss smiled. “Turn around.”

    Joseph whimpered. “Oh please no, don’t shoot me!”

    “What? No! Turn around, I wanna see your figure, mainly your ass.”


    “Turn around or let my bullets do it for you.”

    Joseph complied, and basically gave him a tiny show.

    “Perfect! I got a way for you to pay me back…”

    It turned out that Joseph had the same body structure as the boss’ wife. It also turned out that his wife volunteered to play a phoenix on stilts at today’s town parade, in another attempt to keep up an wholesome family image. The only problem was that she got drunk at a bachelorette party the night before, and was incapacitated. But, as the boss said, “The show must go on.”

    Joseph’s eyelids were getting heavily, and the random thought of “If I have the same body type as his wife, what does that say about him?” came up, but his brain digressed.

    Before he knew it, he was dressed up by his goons, lifted up on these huge stilts, and was told to walk. Well, they opened the warehouse door for him and then told him to walk. The parade was 7 blocks away, and he was already late! It was a nightmare. He had never walked on stilts before!

    Joseph was just about to pass out and rest, when his last semi-conscious thought promed him to wake up and scream. It was the boss saying “One more thing, do you do birthday parties? Ha ha ha ha…why am I asking? You do, from now on.”

  6. From the Ashes
    358 words

    When Karla stepped off the teacups she scanned the fairgrounds for her father, but he was nowhere to be found. She called to him, but it was too noisy. Karla left the area to search for him. She kept calling for him, but he never answered.

    Karla froze in the middle of the crowd. Faceless strangers rushed past her. They pushed and bumped her without a second thought. Someone ran into her so hard she fell to the ground. The toddler erupted into tears.

    A teenage boy with disheveled black hair and tattoos approached her. He leaned down and lifted her chin.

    “What’s wrong, pumpkin?” he asked.
    “I can’t find my daaaaaddyyy.” Karla wailed.
    “Where did you see him last?”
    “The teacups.”
    “Well c’mon. My name is David. I’ll help you find him.”
    David helped her up and hoisted her on his shoulders. “Okay pumpkin, if you see him tap my head and we’ll get him. If we don’t find him soon I’ll take you to a police officer. Got it?”
    “Got it.”

    The pair walked up and down the fairgrounds, but Karla didn’t see her father anywhere. She called out to him, but he still didn’t answer. As they searched, Karla noticed the parade she and her father were supposed to watch. She asked David if they could watch it. Although David insisted they continue searching for her father, he walked over to the street so she could get a better look.

    Karla enjoyed the colorful and familiar characters walking down the street, but the thing that caught her eye the most was a large, colorful bird. It had long black legs with fiery orange and gold feathers that glistened in the sunlight.

    “You like the bird huh?”
    Karla nodded.
    “It’s a phoenix. An ancient bird reborn by fire. Once its old form burns, it rises from the ashes brand new.” David explained.

    Karla looked on in wonder. She couldn’t wait to tell her father about the beautiful bird. She made a wish that her mommy could turn into a phoenix so she could be reborn and take her to the fair. She would never lose her.

  7. Kristen says:

    “That Guy”
    Kristen Falso-Capaldi
    349 words

    Once upon a time, Sweet Johnny was ‘life’ to me. He was the clown at every party, the big spender at every bar, that guy who had one drink and suddenly he was seven feet tall and hilarious, a swirl of colorful stories and jokes.

    But none of us knew it was just a costume he wore.

    That was before we understood the necessity for costumes.

    Imagine my surprise when I realized he was just ordinary when he was sober. Just a 5 foot 9 inch tall guy in a gray hoodie and jeans who couldn’t meet your eyes.

    I ran into him once at a gas station in the middle of the day. We had an awkward conversation and I fled.

    I’m ashamed of that now.

    But who among us knew Sweet Johnny sober?

    In all my memories, he’s a planet spinning in orange and red to the pulse of the speakers behind him. The rest of us were merely spectators, cheering him on.

    One of my favorite Sweet Johnny stories was about the time he talked us into a road trip at three a.m. to watch a bunch of little league kids from our town play for a regional title. It was a seven hour trip in a tiny convertible. We slept on the grass and missed the game.

    Sure, we laugh about that now, but who remembers the ride home? Right. That’s what I mean.

    If we knew he was so sad. If we knew he was so lost.

    No. I’m not going to lie. Sweet Johnny was everyone’s friend. But let’s face it; he was no one’s friend.

    Maybe that was where we failed him.

    That’s where we failed him.

    I lost touch with him. All of us did, our lives evolved from those bars with the filthy bathrooms and the sweat and those house parties with strobe lights and old Smith’s records.

    We’ve all become something else. We’re all wearing costumes now.

    So let’s raise our glass and get it said: “Rest in Peace, Sweet Johnny. That’s for being ‘that guy’ for us.”

  8. drmagoo says:

    They didn’t even try to blend in, the new ones. We just had to accept them as if they had as much right to our land, our air, our water, as we did, as if they hadn’t evolved on some hunk o’ rock so far from here as to have no meaning. Now me, I was a ‘live and let live’ kinda gal. Everyone was from somewhere, right? My neighbors were from Jersey, and I’d never once made a Sopranos joke.

    Even though they totally were mobbed up all the way to their hick goombah eyebrows. But I never said it.

    And I was fine with the new ones – hell, they spoke English better than those Wicked Smaht brahs from Bahston. At least until they started elbowing in on my business. See, they were tall – taller than most trees, and some houses, and they thought they had a monopoly on being tall. And they had these little spindly legs, made outta something like titanium or latinum or something – but they were strong, and they grew back if ya cut ‘em off.

    Now, stilt making might not seem like much of a thing to you, you with your flying cars and your Wi-Fidelity radiophones, but it’s been my family business from before my great great grandpa was knee-high to a crutch. The sign above the door has read “Waxman & So’s, Purveyors of Stilts Fine and Sturdy” since before the South broke away for the first time. And even though I’m not one of the “So’s” of the Waxman family, I am a proud daughter of the family tradition, and I’d always hoped to pass the reins down to another Waxman one of these days.

    But the new ones totally undercut the market, and nothing on Earth was as strong and cheap as their legs. So, yeah, Everything Must Go is my motto these days.


    What’ll ya give me for a fine pair of hand-carved, mahogany stilts? Twelve feet long if they’re an inch, and polished to within an inch of perfection.

    That’s it? Cheap bastard.

    Now wait, I didn’t say no, did I.

    354 words

  9. ladyhazmat says:

    And that’s a wrap for Round 6! Thanks everybody for spending a few minutes with me this weekend. Stay tuned for winners hand-picked by Image Ronin.

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