Flash Frenzy: Round 9

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

Welcome to Round 9!

Our judge this week is Flash Frenzy Round 6 winner, Kristen Falso-Capaldi.

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

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Comments
  1. Storm Warrior

    This is my farm, and I will defend it with my life if need be; I’m a hero.

    Not that you would know it from the way the humans act when I’m out on patrol. It’s all, “Get out of the pig pens you stupid animal!” and “Stop chasing the chicks Oscar!”

    Oscar, I ask you… My full name is Most Highly Exalted Storm Warrior, Defender of the Mid Western Marches. They could call me Storm Warrior for short, but no, to the humans, I’m Oscar. Shows what they know.

    Most of them aren’t actually too bad though. They leave me alone, let me go where I want, when I want, which is handy; Defending the Mid Western Marches is a heavy responsibility and I’m sure that any day now, I will be whisked off on my first adventure, so long as her ladyship doesn’t get in the way. She’s the worst of the humans, all wrapped up in her own meaningless dramas, no idea what’s really going on right here under her nose. She never even notices me, too busy mooning about, singing to herself or her daft little mutt.

    And that, right there, is a stupid animal. I know cats and dogs aren’t supposed to get on, but this creature even tries to bite me! I told him that one day he’d snap at the wrong person and that would be it for him, but would he listen? Of course not; He just ran to his over protective mistress and sat in her lap all dewy eyed while she sang some awful ditty about flying away with the clouds or some such rubbish.

    And here she comes now, home from school, convinced that she’s the heroine of her own story. Silly little human child. All it would take is one strong gust of wind and she’d be gone, irritating songs and all.

    With a bit of luck, the storm heading our way tonight might finally do it, and it can take that yappy little dog of hers as well.

    What kind of name is that anyway? How can you expect a life of adventure when you’re called Toto?

    360 words
    Karl A Russell

  2. Patrick Stahl
    @patrickjstahl
    “He Took It With Him” (289 words)

    I awoke from a splendid nap on my favorite fence to a shock. The sky was greyer than a storm front, yet a single black cloud flew on the horizon. The green May grass looked like spiked mouse fur, coating the color-drained ground.

    My eyelids drooped for several moments as I licked my paws. They shot open when I realized that my beautiful tan fur had turned off-white. “What has happened?” I meowed.

    Edwin, my owner’s old basset hound, slept on a strip of freshly-turned earth in the potato patch. His weighty body looked even further washed-out than usual. I leapt at him, my wakeful stamina returned.

    “Great Scott,” Edwin barked, his beady black eyes swirling. “Lass, you’ve aged since last I—”

    I glared at him. “Drop that phony accent, Edwin. This is serious. The world has been drained of color.”

    “By George!” He coughed. “Sorry. Yes. Indeed it has. Now if you’ll excuse me, I shall be—”

    “Edwin,” I snapped.

    “You really need to work on that temper, Martha.” George hoisted his torso off the dirt and shook himself off. “Now that I’m up, what exactly do you want of me?”

    I purred, soothing myself into deep thought. “The master, we shall find the master.”

    George spun his tail in a small, slow circle. He stared down at his feet. “The master died last night, don’t you remember. He put our supper in our bowls and sat down to die.”

    My heart sunk as I recollected the past evening. The master had set down my saucer, stepped backward, then clutched at his chest. He writhed, staggering toward the House, and fell, stone-cold dead.

    “That’s where the color went,” I muttered. “The master took it with him.”

  3. Rob Smith
    @RASmith2014
    “Repose” (360 words)

    We arrived shortly just before midnight exhausted from a full work day, the three hour transformative journey from urban to that far removed rural setting. We had been too tired to do anything more than drag the few items we had brought into the cottage and turn in for the night.
    I had arisen that next day at the crack of dawn. I could have slept in, embraced the sloth like state that my body and mind desired. Instead I quietly moved out onto the patio, so as not to awaken my wife. On the fence, which separated the properties, sat the neighbor’s cat in repose. I had to remind myself that people actually spent all of their lives in this setting; not only those who sojourned to this remote location to escape the noise, the chaos of the city. Our friends had chided that we should vacation somewhere livelier, somewhere sexy. We laughed off these ideas. Life had been lively enough.
    “Georgia, what should we do today?” I asked the cat. I had named her that, though it probably hadn’t been her name. Everyone needed a name. She had been good company on our previous visits to the cottage.
    “Nothing,” she said taking a moment to lick her paw. “We’re going relax here and enjoying the sun.”
    “Yeah?” I asked, still dubious. Much left undone at the office; so my embittered co-workers had advised by text message; signals from civilization that I had promptly ignored. Yes, I had to push all of the noise that wasn’t in the present, the here and the now, deeper into the background. Life’s adventure, misadventures, could wait.
    My wife appeared on the porch, coffee cup in hand, stretching. She worked as an attorney for some of the most powerful people in the city. Gone was the power suit. In its place a tee shirt, no bra, sweat pants, hair a mess, no makeup. She settled onto the chair beside me, eyes fixed on the now rising sun. As she breathed in deeply, she closed her eyes, as her body bathed in the warmth, the solace of the silent morning.
    “Precisely,” Georgia observed lazily.

  4. […] Posted on the flash fiction blog The Angry Hourglass […]

  5. “King of Summer”
    @CaseyCaseRose
    354 words

    There’s a certain kind of freedom that exists only in summer. The smell of hay transports me to earthy sweet hours spent running through the grass whose height only covered me in those hot months. This freedom did not belong to us kids alone though, the kings and queens of summer, but to the house pets as well.
    Every winter Biscuit would get buttoned up indoors with the rest of us. On cold sunny days he would sit at the door, fooled by the bright rays, believing in their warmth, desperate to be outside in the world. He would scratch at the door and we would try in vain to tell him that he wouldn’t want to be out in the snow while we in turn put on heavy layers and gloves still damp from the previous day’s snowmen.
    Mama had given in one afternoon, fed up with the sound of sharp claws against the door and opened it for Biscuit.
    “You want out, fine you fool, get the hell out of here,” she said down at the cat.
    He bolted out the door, disbelieving of this sudden acquiescence. Before he could get down the stairs a slushy slag of snow disconnected from the roof and dropped on top of his sleek back.
    He jumped, turned on a dime and zipped back inside the house.
    But in summer he had the freedom of the outdoors.
    As my brothers, sister, and I prowled around in our own hierarchies of eternal hiders versus the older, predatory seekers, Biscuit prowled with his own natural intentions.
    In summer I swapped jealousies with the cat, my winter freedoms replaced by his superior response to summer. He would sit cooly on the edge of the trough. A quick couple of laps of water seemed to quell his thirst. He was always alert and dusty dry in defiance of our own sweaty, heat-drowsy bodies that could not be revived with water alone. He watched us shuffle back up to the house in late afternoons throbbing with the heavy cicada hum, indifferent to us, free and regal on his perfect perch.

  6. Thieves in the Night

    “Are you okay?” Jace asked he placed his hand on Lucy’s knee.
    She feigned a smile. “Yeah. Just a little tired.”
    “Already? Are you serious?”
    “Yeah. I’ve had a really rough day. I just want to go to bed.”
    Jace rolled his eyes and jerked his hand away. “Well just hang in there. I’ve got a surprise for you.”
    “Surprise? Jace, I appreciate the gesture but-”
    “Who’s driving?” Jace interjected.
    “Jace-”
    “Who’s driving?” he roared.
    Lucy sighed. “You.”
    “That’s right. You’re going to see this surprise and then when I’M ready, I’ll take you home and you can sleep. Got it?”
    Lucy didn’t answer. She stared out the window.
    “Got it?” he roared again.
    “Yes, I got it.” Lucy snapped.
    Jace smacked her hard on the leg. “God damned right.”

    Jace made a left onto a dirt road. After several minutes, he pulled into the driveway of an abandoned farmhouse. He turned off the headlights, unbuckled his seatbelt, and kissed her. Lucy slapped him across the face.

    “No!”she screamed. Jace ignored her and kissed her again. Lucy smacked him harder.
    “No.” she repeated. Before he could make any more advances, Lucy got out of the car. Jace followed.

    “Are you serious?” he screamed.
    “Yes! I told you I didn’t want to do this.”

    Neither of them noticed the old cat watching them from a rotting post. He sat silently as the battle raged on. Jace grabbed Lucy and pulled her into him. She pulled away and fell backwards onto the ground. Jace advanced towards her. She crawled backwards, just inches away from the cat’s resting spot. He got down on his hands and knees, pawing at Lucy like a wild animal. The cat pounced.

    The cat latched onto Jace’s back, clawing and hissing. Jace tried to grab him, but it was no use. Once he saw Lucy escaped, the cat climbed onto Jace’s shoulder and jumped back onto his post. Jace lunged for the cat. It lurched forward, his teeth tearing into Jace’s neck. He died almost instantly.

    Lucy reappeared and picked up the bloody cat. “You’re going home with me.”

    351 words
    @triffic_tinika

  7. David Shakes says:

    Here I am in the garden – watching.

    This is the first time you’ve noticed me, but I’ve been here before.

    You have a nice home there you know? My homes have always been lovely. My first belonged to the old woman.

    I remember silver hair and the faint smell of ginger; salty tears too. I’d lick those as she’d whisper of regrets and losses. I’d purr my condolences until she snored in her tatty armchair. I’d stay on her warm lap and count my blessings.

    One day I woke up cold. Her skin had paled and her limbs stiffened. I’d wandered the house getting hungrier. Her silver hair grew longer, but the smell of ginger was replaced by something more…earthy.

    I was very hungry, you know?

    When they prized the door open I ran straight out. The house hadn’t smelt great and the fresh air fairly sang. I’d hidden, watching them haul out bags and burn the tatty, crimson stained armchair.

    I just sort of hung around a bit after that. Ate when I could, which wasn’t often.

    You have kids don’t you? The garden is littered with bright plastic clues. I like kids.

    In time I heard noises from the house. There was dust, debris and an extension. Then, a family.

    The girl saw me first, loved me straight away- pointing, laughing, repeating ‘dat!’ until the mother came to see what the fuss was about.

    After a loud talk between the father and mother, I moved in. Kitchen only. They fed me biscuits and rid me of fleas.

    The night they left the kitchen door ajar I’d crept upstairs to the girl’s room. I snuggled close, feeling breath labour against my fur.

    At some point towards the end the father had come in, shouting for the mother. I was sleepy but heard: ‘smothered!’.

    It fair startled me, I can tell you. I’m sorry to say that claws came out. Animal instinct is all. I didn’t mean to hurt her.

    Afterwards, safely outside, I watched as scars, blame and recrimination slowly became divorce.

    But now you’ve moved in.

    Welcome!

    I’m pleased to meet you.

    Hope you guess my name.

  8. David Shakes says:

    ‘Sympathy’ is the title for the above piece, it comes in at 360 words. @theshakes72.

  9. Tinman says:

    “Cat’s Eyes”
    @TinmanDoneBadly
    350 words

    She was the only one left.

    Well, apart from the sloth behind her, who was too lazy to move. Creatures get names for a reason.

    The trip had been a disaster from the start, and she blamed the humans. To begin with the Ark was about twenty per cent too small, purely because Noah had been unwilling to admit to God that he had no idea what a cubit was. The cramped living conditions had led to cross animals, cross-species animosity and even cross-breeding. The raccoon, for example, had come about after a koala-bear had bred with a zebra.

    Each day the Ark sat a little lower in the water, partly because it was filling up with an astonishing amount and variety of poo, and partly because it was now home to 14,279 rabbits.

    But day by day the flood was abating, and this morning the Ark had come to rest on the crest of Mount Ararat. And had promptly toppled over.

    All of the creatures had tumbled to one side. One of the elephants had landed on a unicorn. The unicorn was now as dead as the dodo, which had been landed on by the other one.

    Animals and humans alike had fled, in fear that the Ark might topple again, snowball-like, down the side of the Mount, with them flailing and tangling inside it like socks in a washing-machine.

    She watched them now, swimming towards another hill a few hundred yards away, and she knew that she was going to have to do it too. She steeled herself, took a really deep breath, and for the first time ever a cat entered water.

    And as she did so she made a solemn vow to herself that she would never forgive humankind, and that her scorn would pass from generation to generation, like freckles.

    So when your cat looks at you in utter contempt, or ignores you altogether, or comes in from the garden and drops half a dead mouse onto your newly-cleaned kitchen floor, then this is the reason.

    It is because of the covenant of the Ark.

  10. Eyes

    “A home is where you make it” announced Larry

    I looked up at him, feeling eyes boring into the back of my neck

    “A home is where you lay your hat according to that singer Paul Whatsisname”.

    Our home for the last couple of months has been these two benches back to back in the cemetery. It’s quiet and peaceful as it should be and you don’t get harassed as long as we remember to hide when the council man comes to lock the gates at dusk. Larry is worrying winter is arriving early and our old bones won’t last another season sleeping rough. Larry sat back down on the park bench, I was grateful for his bulk shielding me from the biting wind. The bits of paper covering me weren’t doing their job. These days it seemed cardboard was getting thinner and scarcer. I blame all this re-cycling

    I know Larry is really worrying about where we gonna live but I’ve always left it to chance. We could go down by the canal, under the bridge but at night the kids gather. Some are okay, others are like Satan. You never know when trouble is going to flare. Larry keeps saying he doesn’t want a blade between his ribs. When I was younger I took a knife in the chest. The Doctor said I was lucky to live. I remember how good the hospital food was, the clean white sheets and the bed, no draughts just soft warmth.

    We can’t get sent to jail these days either, unless we do something terrible and to be honest Larry and I have always been pacifists. We steer clear of trouble. We stole a couple of bottles of cheap cider from the local supermarket but the manager wouldn’t prosecute. He said by the time he’d had a day off work for the court case he’d have lost money equal to a vat of vintage cider.

    I still had that feeling someone was looking at me. Swinging my legs off the bench I looked around. This cat was giving me the death stare. I’ve always hated cats.

    Cat stew for dinner sounds good.

    @stellakateT
    360 words

  11. zevonesque says:

    Teflon

    Perched on a wooden post in the middle of the rear garden of 72 Acacia Grove Teflon the cat surveyed the world like he didn’t have a care.

    The piebald pussy was aptly named as despite the havoc that he created in his wake he always survived unscathed and unconcerned. Some thought he was the Mr Bean of the feline world, others that he was the reincarnation of Harold Lloyd or Laurel & Hardy. But truth be told Teflon was really just an evil bastard.

    Today as he gently flicked his tongue on his right paw he was feeling a bloom of satisfaction as he watched the crackling orange glow slowly engulf No.76. He spat out the red plastic he’d peeled from the Mrs Rimmer’s kitchen wiring. The hypnotic flames filled Teflon’s head, he did love a good blaze. Such trouble was so easy and of course he alway looked like butter wouldn’t melt.

    The sound of siren’s brought him back to the present and he felt a little yawn coming on. It was almost time for another nap.

    (179 words)

  12. Chris Milam
    @Blukris

    Los Gatos (359 words)

    The revolution was sparked not by an aggressive singular act but by a culmination of small transgressions. A camera flash spoiling a hunt. A bowl of too-cold milk. Teasing us with those ghastly laser pointers. Forcing us to relieve ourselves in view of everyone, like a common street dweller. Labradors and Collies always referenced as mans best friend. Bipeds cast us aside, forming a bond with the canine. We watched, we seethed, we plotted. The call went out.

    The big cats of the African Savannah, leopards, lions and cheetahs. The mystical tigers from India, the jaguars that roamed the Brazilian rain forest. Cougars from North America, even the secretive and elusive snow leopard prowling the mountains of Afghanistan. We responded en masse. Some traveled great distances to join our feline army. Others put down the catnip and left the safe confines of life under a bed and marched with us.

    My lineage led to my ascension to the throne of the kingdom of cats. My great-grandfather had staged a coup against the humans back during the depression. He sensed weakness and desperation in them, a starving populace was ripe for takeover. Armed with dagger-like claws and a hunger for freedom, they pounced. But, he underestimated the humans. With work scarce and bread lines long, they fought with an unexpected resilience and fortitude. They quelled this feline revolution with a merciless bloodlust. Thousands of my ancestors perished that day and most of them landed on the dinner plates of the ravenous humans. My great-grandfather’s head was placed on a wooden post for all to see, a reminder of what happens when humans are provoked. But his name was still whispered across continents and mountain ranges, ranch homes and alleyways. El Diablo was never to be forgotten, he lived in all of us.

    As I look over my kingdom, my battle-weary brethren on the right and the defeated humans on the left, sitting in their steel cages fitted with a litter box so they could defecate in front of their friends and neighbors, I realized there was one piece of unfinished business left. Root out that obedient friend of man, the canine.

    • “Her World”
      Jaime Burchardt
      Word Count: 356
      @jaimeburchardt

      Ms. Pawtricia looked over her new kingdom. She was pleased, knowing that her kind have taken over this primitive world.

      To her, it seemed like just a few short nap sessions ago that her kind had evolved. And it was hilarious to all of them. This whole time these puny, cheeseburger-eating meat sacks thought they were simple pets that just craved some wet food and a belly rub every now and then.

      The belly rubs. Ms. Pawtricia shuddered at the thought. Every time her kind tried to hypnotize them with their nipples, they were met with discontent. She became angry at the thought of some of her own people accepting it, like the bitch kittens, or “bittens” as she called them.

      There were a few that tried to define her. A few that tried to warn the humans. All those acts of bringing dead birds and decapitated mice heads to their masters. Their signs of imminent threats were met with “oohs” and “awws” and “that’s disgusting.” Her loyal servants kept track of those who disobeyed.

      Even through all that frustration, the betrayals and the humiliation, she found herself giving into temptation every once in a while. It was that stupid “kitty city” they bought for her. Endless areas to sleep, scratch and ring that confounded bell. The sound made her happy so.

      It wasn’t till her last unplanned hairball that she realized that she was making a mockery of her kind, and she was their queen! But she’ll never forget the day she snapped out of it. The day their masters bought her what they called a “laser pointer.” They had figured out the potential of her species! Others would go on to accept it. But not her.

      As she continued to look upon her new kingdom, Ms. Pawtricia gave of a very slight smirk at the day she claimed back her birthright. The day she fired her own laser beams from her eyes, melting her masters. The day she meowed to her people to do the same. The day the world became theirs.

      She gave off a meow of satisfaction. Who’s the “bitten” now?

  13. “Debt”
    Beth Deitchman
    @beth_deitchman
    327 words

    I was nine when my grandparents lost their farm. It happened on a sultry August day, the promise of rain in the air. The farm had seen a difficult year. Drought had ravaged the land; crops were failing. Even a child could feel the unspoken anxiety filling the silences, though my grandparents hid their fears behind a feigned cheer. Not knowing what else to do, I pretended with them.

    When the man from the bank came, I was playing on the porch with Sebastian, the farm’s best mouser. The stranger arrived in a shiny car, wearing a dark blue suit.

    “Good afternoon,” he said, tipping his hat to me. “This is the Johnson place, right?” He removed his hat and mopped sweat from his brow.

    I stared at him, afraid to answer.

    “Who’s there, Katie?” Grandma called. When I didn’t reply, she appeared in the doorway.

    “Mrs. Johnson?” the man said.

    Grandma’s hands flew to her chest. “Katie, why don’t you take the cat to the barn? Let him chase some mice.”

    I hesitated, looking from Grandma to the stranger. She smiled. “Get!” she said, shooing me away.

    I carried a placid Sebastian off the porch. As soon as Grandma had taken the stranger inside, I crept back, still clutching the cat, and crouched by the parlor’s open window.

    “I’m sorry,” the man was saying. “But there’s nothing we can do.”

    I set Sebastian down and peered into the room. My grandmother sank into a chair, one hand over her mouth. My grandfather grasped the mantel, tears in his eyes.

    “But we made the last payment,” he said.

    “It wasn’t enough.”

    When my grandfather collapsed, I slid down next to Sebastian, who sat cleaning his paws. He looked at me then crawled into my lap. As I stroked his fur, he purred.

    Soon afterwards the man sped away in his shiny car. No one came looking for me. I stayed there all afternoon, Sebastian nestled against me.

  14. milambc says:

    Cat Lady (360)
    @brett_milam

    Renting out apartments, you deal with some shit-for-brains tenants. I’ve had tenants steal whole kitchen cabinets, paint the walls black, and stain the carpets with piss and shit. I’ve spent more time in a courtroom than I have in my own apartment complex.

    But this lady, if there was an award for Crazy Fucking Lady, she took the prize home in a straightjacket.

    She was two weeks late with her rent. Hey, I’m a nice guy, especially for her because she had big tits and blonde hair – my kinda girl – but after two weeks, I gotta come a-knockin’. I had my apartment management team with me. Just an old pal of mine with a health inspection clipboard and some dude I hired off Craigslist that knew enough law to give me solid advice.

    The first thing we noticed coming down the hallway to her door was the putrid and potent cat piss smell – like someone had taken a bottle of ammonia and poured it down our nostrils. So it was going to be one of those tenants.

    We opened the door and two small white cats ran under our legs with a hiss in their wake. The cat piss smell intensified and it didn’t help that we couldn’t see anything. We carried flashlights with us, given past experiences.

    With our flashlight beams, we sprayed the living room with pockets of light: cats, cats everywhere. My guesstimate is there had to be one hundred cats, if not more. All colors, all sizes, and all smelling like piss and shit. The apartment had become their litter box. Papers, cups, dishes, crumbs, cat litter on the walls; it was an overturned dump truck in there.

    The worst was when our beams found the recliner. There sat the once beautiful blonde with big tits, now unrecognizable. The skin above her eyes tightened so she looked more feline. Her fingers had claws. Her blonde hair was raggedy. I was afraid if I touched her tongue, it’d be sandpaper. We did check for a pulse. Dead.

    But the craziest part: She had fucking whiskers, man. Legit whiskers around her mouth.

    I retired after that one. Fuck.

  15. ladyhazmat says:

    Looks like Kristen has her work cut out for her! Thanks all for participating this week. Stay tuned for winners.

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