Flash Frenzy: Round 13

Posted: March 29, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome to Round 13!

Thirteen is my lucky number, so this week your judge is moi, LadyHazmat! I know you’re excited, 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 Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your lucky prompt.

Photo by Ashwin Rao

Photo by Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. David Shakes says:

    We Make Our Own Luck

    The sushi bar was empty. They’d probably only need whisper, but she chose to be loud.
    “What’s that bloody ridiculous cat for?”
    “oh, the Maneki-neko…”he began, but she cut in again.
    “What’s it waving at?”
    “Well, it’s not, it’s actually beckoning…”
    “You mean calling? Say ‘calling’. You’re so pompous sometimes Tim!”
    Tim stared across the table at his wife. Had she ever loved him? Had he loved her?
    She was stunning. Nobody at the company understood what she saw in him. They’d assumed he was as shallow as the other programmers who sat agog whenever she’d sashay across the office floor.
    She’d been PA to his old boss. There were rumours of an aborted affair. Tim couldn’t see it. The boss was a walking cliché: coffee, cholesterol and collars that wouldn’t button around his bullish neck. When he’d had a heart attack she’d turned to Tim for comfort. That’s what he’d thought at the time.
    That’s my problem, Tim thought -not cynical enough. It was a key feature of his annual appraisal:
    “Timmy boy,” the CEO said, “you’ve got to be ruthless once in a while or you’ll never get on.”

    Not long after they’d married, Tim leapfrogged his boss to an executive position. Head-hunted. His wife said she’d brought him luck. Executive bathroom graffiti suggested she’d made her own luck whilst on her back for the CEO.
    Tim had recently found evidence supporting these insinuations.
    “So what’s it calling Timmy?” She asked. The name irritated him.
    “Good fortune.”
    “But I’m your good luck charm!”
    She exaggeratedly fluttered her eyelashes. He wanted to punch her.
    “Not for us,” he said calmly, “for the owners.”
    “Huh!” She spat sushi rice from between her teeth and snorted. “Look at this dump! We’re the only ones here. If good fortune’s coming it better come quick!”
    She laughed haughtily. The waiter and chef joined in. Why not? He’d paid them each 200k for them to shut the place and ‘prepare’ a special dish for his wife.
    “Never mind,” he said, holding loaded chopsticks forward. “try this Fugu.”
    She took a bite. Grinned.
    “I think I’ll bring the CEO here tomorrow.” said Tim, smiling.

    360 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

  2. “Lucky in Love?”
    355 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

    “Order anything you like. Seriously, anything,” Eric said.
    He smiled over his menu, his eyes serious, trying to impart to her that she was expected to order well, never worrying about the cost.
    Lily smiled back at him, acquiescing, but feeling a queasy sort of shyness when she thought of spending money they couldn’t spare.
    The waitress came over to take their orders. Soups to start then Teriyaki Chicken for Eric and Chicken Katsu for Lily.
    Lily felt grateful that a side of vegetables came with their entrees. She saw the large heavy plates at the other tables, piles of food steaming away under happy, laughing faces.

    The waitress left and Lily smoothed down her dress in her lap. She felt self-conscious about it. When Eric had declared that he would be taking her out for a nice dinner on her birthday she had been determined to find something nice to wear. At each of the goodwill stores she had visited the nicer clothes available were still outdated or strangely, too formal for a simple dinner out.
    Lily had finally found a modern, floral print dress that made her smile. It was a little too big and the season a little too cold for the fabric but she thought the dress was pretty. Now that she was wearing it, she found that “pretty” didn’t feel like enough. Her bare arms were cold and the extra fabric made her feel like she was pretending to be someone else. A mother, or a teacher. Someone who knew how to be a real adult.

    “Do you like this place?” Eric asked.
    “I do,” She said, “I like that there’s a lucky cat here.”
    She pointed to the ceramic cat, paw in the air, ready to bestow luck upon the patrons. Upon Lily and Eric, who never had quite enough of anything.
    “We make our own luck, Baby.” Eric said.
    He raised his water glass and she didn’t have the heart to tell him that toasting with water was bad luck.
    She raised her glass in return.
    “To twenty being the luckiest year yet. Happy Birthday, Lily-love.”

  3. The maneki-neko

    Bringing good luck all the time was fraught with difficulties. People asked for either small gifts or miracles beyond my reach. I could hear their wishes, Let me win the lottery, let her say yes tonight, let me get that promotion, everyone seemed to want something these days but tonight one wish swirled around in my head, louder than the rest.

    “Let me die”

    I covertly looked around the resturant, it was full at this time of night. Young people out in groups, couples celebrating and the oldies enjoying the reknowned menu. It had a michelin star or the equivalent in Japanese cousine. I’d sat here for years infront of the plastic squigey bottles. Only moving when the cleaner decided to wipe underneath me. Sometimes a moist cloth would carefully remove the dust and debris from my nooks and crannies. The cleaner would rub my belly and I wanted to yell I’m not a laughing buddha, that’s why she never seemed to get any good luck in her life. Two jobs, four children to feed and a missing husband.

    “Let me die”

    I couldn’t decide whether it was a male or female voice. It sounded desperate. This one I had to help. So I hatched a plan. It was so simple, like the people who eat here, like the people who cook for the people that eat here. Closing my eyes I imagined the oven filling up with gas, the chef opening the door, the waiter lighting the birthday candles on the cake for the girl in the corner celebrating her twenty first birthday. It was magical, the explosion was deafening. Everyone eating tonight would get the same wish.I felt myself disintergrate into a thousand smithereens. At that moment I recognised the voice. I’d had enough of superstitious twaddle. I was a ceramic cat with one paw upright. Open a fortune cookie if you want to win the lottery or know the future.

    323 words
    @stellakateT

  4. Reversal of Fortune

    “What the hell is that supposed to be?” I asked Akira as she set the ceramic cat on the front counter.
    “It’s a maneki-neko. It’s supposed to bring its owner good fortune. With the luck you’ve been having lately, I thought this may come in handy.” She replied.
    I rolled my eyes. The only luck that seemed to follow me was bad luck.
    Akira placed her hand my shoulder. “If you don’t want it I can always take it back. I just thought it couldn’t hurt.”
    I gave the ceramic cat another glance. It was kind of cute. I smiled at Akira. “It can stay.”

    Just as I suspected, having the cat in the restaurant didn’t make a difference in my life. My husband still wanted a divorce. The house was still in foreclosure. The restaurant still hemorrhaged money. Every day things seemed to get worse. I started to wonder if the cat was beckoning for misfortune.

    As I pondered this theory, two masked men with guns barged in. One held a gun to my head as the other pried open the cash register. Although his face was hidden, there was no hiding his disappointment. As an act of vengeance, they beat me within an inch of my life and trashed the restaurant.

    After a few weeks, I returned to clean up the mess the robbers made. It was worse than I remembered. They even smashed the poor little maneki-neko. As I picked up its broken shards, I noticed shiny gold coins beside it. They must have been hidden inside.

    Once I got the place cleaned up, I took the coins to an appraiser. When he told me how much they were worth, I almost fainted. It was more than enough to get my house out of foreclosure and remodel the restaurant.

    Maybe that maneki-neko was lucky after all.

    309 words
    @triffic_tinika

  5. Dinner Date

    First dates sucked. Cal knew that. Had been prepared even, resolutely; to endure awkward, polite talk over dinner and drinks. The Japanese place was great for that – busy enough that they wouldn’t warrant too much attention from the wait staff; not so busy other customers would notice if he crashed and burned in conversation. He’d managed to make sure they weren’t seated in the window either, where any passer-by might gauge his potential ineptitude from the sense of suffering or plea on a woman’s face as she wished for a swift exit. His exit. It had happened before. Unfortunately.

    Hazel eyes flashed at him from across the burnished table, framed by brunette corkscrew curls. “She’s waving at you, you know?”

    “Sorry? Who?” He’d taken care to pay attention to her, solely. Cardinal rule. Aside from the fact that she was attractive enough to warrant it.

    “The lucky cat.”

    Cal couldn’t tell if she was teasing. Hard to read, this one. “You mean the maneki-neko?” It hit him he was seeking to show off, display his knowledge; make an impression on the dark, dancing gaze facing him.

    “That’s the one. You’ve made a friend. Perhaps I should be jealous.” The tone was light, all banter.

    “She’s beckoning, actually.” The words left his mouth before he had thought. He shut his lips hastily, before anything more ridiculous escaped.

    “Much better, then.” Her eyebrows were raised slightly, lessening the smart accompanying the smallest hint of sarcasm, fingers toying with strands of her long hair. “Up on high too.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Her paws. You know what that means, of course?” Now he knew she had been playing him, for what it was worth.

    “Of course,” he responded, in kind. Surely it must get better from here on in?

    “Let’s just order, shall we?” A minimal reprieve.

    “Sure.”

    “You need to relax. You take yourself too seriously. She doesn’t – look at that smile. Not a care in the world.” Back to the cat, then. A small pause. “Wine with the food?” The look was measured this time, waiting for a line back.

    “Why not?” Why not indeed. Perhaps his luck was in, after all.

    360 words
    @FallIntoFiction

  6. Image Ronin says:

    Cause and Effect

    The trouble with time travel is that to many folk are fixated on the big issues. The classics, you got your killing Hitler paradox, what snuffed the dinosaurs, that whole could I live Groundhog Day style shit.

    Important stuff, the kinda stuff that makes history. What we in the business refer to simply as:

    Unimportant.

    Now I know, you’re already thinking. What the hell is this jackass talking about? How’s killing Hitler unimportant?

    Okay you got me there; I mean all that shit is dealt with by the Department for Time and Narrative Manipulation. Guy called Pete, good hair, total professional. In other words he never investigates anything, sets his email reply permanently to ‘out-of-office’, works on his golf handicap.

    One of a kind Pete, real legend.

    Anyway us guys in the Department of Minute Temporal Anomalies we get to shovel our way through the real 24/7 saving temporal reality shit. Proper crossing T’s and dotting I’s shit.

    Take today, I’m in this dank little noodle bar attempting to swap their cracked lucky cat standing on the counter for an identical one in my bag.

    Why?

    Well today the owner will decide that cracked cat is no longer conducive to an eatery lacking ambition. He in turn will send a minion out to buy a new grease free lucky cat.

    Minion will cross the road, sadly en-route he’ll hug a bus. The number 57. Anyway minion dies, sad yet inconsequential in the scope of things, but what is important is that on this particular bus is a kid.

    This is some real butterfly flapping wings shit trust me.

    Now kid grows up and releases a song about the day he sees some guy die. Total throat lumper. Now some scientist chap gets all obsessive about the track. For some reason the song drives him to design a virus in his lab.

    Releases it.

    Kills everyone.

    Some people are just natural dickheads.

    So four things, Cat, Bus, Song, Virus.

    We simply identify the easiest domino, rewrite history.

    Anyway, time to skim a cat, if you get my drift.

    Then some noodles I reckon, saving reality makes a man mighty hungry.

    359 words

    @imageronin

  7. Tinman says:

    “In Your Face”
    341 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    The shrine is in a diner in the tiny town of Bedd Springs, Idaho.

    This is because there are not many disciples of the Cult of Tash, the Goddess of Moustaches. No woman, for instance, has ever prayed to Tash to bless them with facial carpeting.

    The Goddess is depicted as a cat, because they have whiskers, the animal equivalent of a moustache. Legend has it that she grew her middle whisker until it doubled as an eyebrow, and this is why she has a following among men who would never dream of training the hair on their head into a depiction of, say, Sydney Opera House, but who regard a moustache the length of a cello bow as the height of hirsute art.

    Among her acolytes have been Groucho Marx, Salvador Dali and Dick Dastardly.

    At her feet are her children – on her left foot, in her sleeping bag, is Katnap, the Goddess of Snoozing In Front Of The TV. On her right foot are the twins, Puss and Boots, Gods of Pus, Boots, and Ill-fitting Footwear.

    When it comes to selling souvenirs nothing is sacred, not even something sacred, so supplicants can buy small bottles decanted from the products arranged around Tash. The bottle behind her to her right is moustache dye, for dark-haired men who embarrassingly find that their moustache has grown ginger.

    The bottle to her right is vinegar and has been left there by mistake, it was supposed to have been on one of the diner tables.

    The almost-empty bottle nearest us contains earwax, because a true believer will buy anything.

    Most of the pilgrims who visit the shrine are adolescents anxious to prove their graduation into manhood by growing a hedge upon their face. As we watch here one is approaching, bearing the traditional bowl of cat food. Since Tash does not approve of food made from cats, this is a mistake.

    That’s why all teenagers’ first attempts at a moustache make them look as if their face has been attacked by a dandelion clock.

  8. Frank’s Lucky Day
    by Beth Deitchman
    @beth_deitchman
    350 words

    Frank couldn’t believe his luck. Finally, he’d made a sale—the old Thompson place. No one could sell that dump. He smiled and cracked open his fortune cookie. “You are destined for greatness,” it said. He laughed. Damn straight! He could now afford the condo he’d just bought and the ring he’d given his fiancée. On his way to pay, he stopped by the counter for a mint. The porcelain cat waved at him. “Creepy fucker,” Frank said.

    The kid behind the counter shook his head. “Don’t fuck with the cat, man. He will mess you up.”

    Frank laughed. “Not today. I’m golden.”

    He threw a twenty on the counter, said, “Keep the change,” and headed out into the California sunshine. Whistling a jaunty tune, Frank strolled home. A fire truck followed by an ambulance screamed past, heading down Magnolia.

    “Well, someone’s having a bad day!”

    As he turned onto Clark he saw people standing around. He kept walking. From halfway down the block he saw flames dancing from his windows. Black smoke rolled over the crowd.

    “Frank!”

    He whipped around; Shana stood at the edge of the mob.

    “Shana!” Frank rushed over and hugged her. Shana stiffened in his arms. “What’s wrong?” he asked, pulling back.

    “I found this.” She handed him a slip of paper.

    “I don’t understand.”

    “It was in your jean jacket. Who the fuck is Mona? No, you know what? I don’t care.” She pulled the ring off her finger and flung it at him. Frank tried to catch it, but it flew right into the gutter grate.

    “Shana!” he shouted to her back. “Shana!”

    As he started after her, his cell phone rang. Mr. Daniels. Frank stopped. “Hello?”

    “What the hell were you thinking, Pierce?” Mr. Daniels shouted.

    “What do you mean?” Frank said.

    “You sold the Thompson place for a hundred thousand less than asking? Are you an idiot, son?”

    “I—”

    “Don’t bother coming back.”

    The line went dead. Frank blinked. He headed back toward his building and tripped. The sidewalk came up to meet him. Frank just couldn’t believe his luck.

  9. All You Can Eat

    Alan forked another lump of greasily glistening flesh and waved it triumphantly at Carrie.

    “No chopsticks either. Slows you down,see?”

    He shovelled the meat into his mouth, grinning with orange stained teeth. Carrie shuddered and looked away.

    The restaurant was almost empty; Marie from Accounts had cornered the new Tech boy in a booth near the fibreglass terracotta warriors, the traditional company induction. The MD was slumped over his table, spreading a drift of fried seaweed in a widening arc with his soft snores. Behind the bar, a lone waiter sat texting furiously, probably explaining why he was still at work when most partygoers had left hours before. Carrie offered him an apologetic shrug, but he looked away as his phone beeped insistently. Even the lucky cat had stopped waving. Time to go.

    “Shall I settle up?”

    Alan frowned, gnawing a rib, lips smeared bright red like a drunken drag queen. He used the bone to gesture at the slowly congealing dishes before him.

    “I’m not done. I told you, Caz, it’s not worth coming to a buffet unless you make the most of it. Why not get some chips, keep me company?”

    Carrie shook her head.

    “Look, I think they’re ready to close up, and some of us have to work tomorrow.”

    Alan grinned, pointing an accusatory crab claw at her.

    “Is that what’s bothering you? Having to celebrate me getting your promotion? I told you, you’ve got to maximise your opportunities.”

    Fighting the urge to tell him where to stick his battered pork balls, Carrie stood and walked away quickly. He was her manager now after all.

    Still, she could have one small victory. Paying the bill, she offered the waiter an extra $20 to close up early and throw them out. He gave her a complimentary mint, then scuttled off to kill the music.

    Turning back, she saw Alan on his knees beside their table, cheeks puffed out and eyes swimming, waving frantically, beckoning to her. He screamed around the bone lodged in his throat, but all that came out was a whistling croak.

    Turning away, she sucked the mint and set the cat’s arm swinging again.

    360 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  10. milambc says:

    Knickknack (348)
    @brett_milam

    The story wasn’t supposed to end that way. It started the right way. I woke up. Pulled on my three-day-old jeans with the hole in the kneecap. Chomped on the good half of a banana. Forewent brushing my teeth; there was no point. And arrived at the corner of Lithium and Crater just in time for the drop-off.

    Nothing was said. Packages exchanged. He or she gave me a brown paper bag. I gave them a brown envelope. They drove away and I walked away, bag in hand.

    Leave it at the counter, they said. Then walk away. Easy. I didn’t even have to stay and incur the aftermath. That’s what I did. Walked up to the counter, pulled the cat out of the bag, and left it on the counter.

    She ruined it. I started to turn away.

    “Hey, can I get ya a cup o’ coffee?” she said, in a slight Irish accent.

    Nothing to it. She just held out a pot of steaming, freshly brewed coffee and welcoming smile on her face. I was just some guy. And she was just some small-time waitress in a small-time town in a big-time world.

    I could drink a cup and then get out. That’s it. One cup. Okay.

    “Yeah, sure, I’ll take a cup. No sugar or cream. Black.”

    She poured it into a cup, gently set it down in front of me and I took it around the handle and sipped, gently, so as not to burn my lips.

    Well-brewed, as good as any cup of coffee I’d had. Been to a lot of diners, but damn fine brew that was.

    “Anything to eat? Donny makes a killer ham and egg sandwich. Been doin’ it for about 15 years now, I suspect” she said.

    I forgot about the cat. I forgot about the time. I got up, abruptly spilling my cup on the counter and sprinted from the diner, with a look back at the waitress. She waved her hand, shocked, to get my attention.

    I noticed she didn’t have a wedding ring on. Damn.

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