Flash Frenzy Round 22

Posted: May 31, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

Welcome to Round 22!

This week I’ll be stepping in and acting as your esteemed 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 courtesy of Ashwin Rao

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

  1. Sal Page says:

    The Great Mr. Fantastico

    He was on TV once in the seventies. The Two Ronnies. I was his assistant. Pink bikini, scratchy sequins and a massive feather bursting from my head.

    ‘Believing is half the battle’ he told me, deadly serious. We were in bed at the time. Somehow the Great Mr. Fantastico had talked me into it. I found a letter from his mum, nagging him about returning to take over the family butcher’s shop and addressed to Brian Grubb.

    The Great Mr. Fantastico insisted on doing the finale unrehearsed. His version of that lying-on-a-bed-of-nails thing. With wine glasses. I understand it’s about weight distribution but he went on about getting into the ‘correct cosmic mind-state.’ I suggested sticking the glasses down with blu-tack. He dismissed this with one of his looks.

    Audience in place and bright lights shining, we stepped onto the stage. Ronnie B had just been playing a teacher who couldn’t pronounce his R’s. The audience lapped it up. Over the other side they were dragging out Ronnie C’s chair. I sensed we were just respite from laughing.

    We got through the first part smoothly enough. Plate spinning. Knife throwing. Card tricks. Me getting sawn in half. When The Great Mr. Fantastico lay down on the glasses they began to shift alarmingly. He didn’t seem notice as they scattered beneath him. There was a loud crunch and then lots of blood mixed with the glass pieces. The audience were stunned. A lady in the front giggled, people looked at each other nervously and a groan came from the glass bed.

    They cut out our finale. If you ever see it on some obscure channel you’ll notice the act ends with a lame card trick. All I’m doing is holding my arms in the air, palms out and smiling at The Great Mr. Fantastico.

    I brought it up again the other day. He tried to convince me the whole thing was intentional, even the five hours the nurses took picking the glass out apparently. I can’t help laughing as I rub Bio Oil into his back and listen to his plans for The Great Mr. Fantastico going back on the road.

    360 words


  2. David Shakes says:

    “One For The Road”
    360 words
    David Shakes

    I drain my short, ashamed that, even now, there’s pleasure in the burn. Another is placed before me as my next companion slides in opposite.
    She doesn’t speak, simply nods at the drink.
    “I always loved you…” I begin but she shakes her head and points at my glass.
    I raise it to my lips and study my daughter’s translucent skin and blackened veins. Livid puncture marks on her arms spell out a too familiar story.
    In the mirror next to our booth a brighter life is reflected.
    In that world she’s beautiful. Vivacious. In the mirror I see the woman she could have been, had I been home… had I been sober.
    I’ve had many visitors this infernal evening, each bearing drinks and unspoken stories. Each reflected in the mirror as a version of themselves bettered, a version without me in their lives.
    The greatest torment? When I gaze into that mirror it’s just my own reflection. This was all I was ever meant to be. I realise that a life spent wasted is a waste of many lives, not just your own.
    The seat opposite me is once again vacant. I tip my glass, still savouring the amber liquid within. I’m hopeless.
    A young man squeezes in opposite.
    “One for the road?”
    He slides a double measure over. My favourite. The one I had when I last saw him, which must have been tonight but feels like an age away.
    It is right and proper that these are the only words spoken in this place. My last words. I’d said them before necking my drink and getting into my car.
    Before I ran this guy down.
    Before I killed us both.
    The mirror reflects not just the young man, handsome and whole, but a young family- smiling and expectant.
    “One for the road,” he urges again. There’s no malice in his wrecked features; no blame in his whispered words.
    “One for the road then,” I repeat and raise my glass in a toast.
    The young man does his best to smile.
    I want this drink to last.
    I think we both know where that next road will lead.

  3. Tinman says:

    Change Of Venue
    354 words

    Joe’s Speakeasy was packed, as it always was.

    The men had loud voices and louder tie-pins. The woman had cigarettes in long holders and dresses that shimmered, like a waterfall on a windy day, when they walked.

    Then Brad Spencer had arrived, given the Doorman the password (“I’ve got money to spend”) and been admitted.

    “It’s over!” he shouted.

    “What is?” asked Sherwood Stewart, sitting at the bar.

    “Prohibition,” said Brad. “They’ve just repealed it.” He turned back to the door.

    “Where are you going?” asked Joe.

    “O’Malley’s,” said Brad, “the Irish Bar on the corner.”

    “How can there be a bar on the corner already?” asked Sherwood.

    Brad shrugged. “You can throw up an Irish Bar in a couple of hours,” he said. “You buy a couple of cardboard shamrocks, give your bar-staff T-shirts saying ‘Kiss Me, I’m Irish’ and pay a guy a few bucks to sit in the corner and sing ‘Danny Boy’ with one hand over his ear.”

    “Sounds good to me,” said Sherwood.

    “You can’t seriously be thinking of going,” said Joe desperately. “You’ve all been drinking here for years. It’s where everybody knows your name.”

    “That’s not always a good thing,” said Algernona Black, whose parents had wanted a boy.

    “Look,” said Brad, “O’Malley will sell whiskey that isn’t made of turpentine and tabasco (Joe had the grace to blush) and gin that doesn’t give you hallucinations. Plus he’ll sell Guinness.”

    “What’s Guinness?” asked a man in a fedora (just because everybody knows your name, it doesn’t mean they can always remember it).

    “It’s a black drink with a white head,” said Sherwood. “It’s practically Irishness in liquid form. It looks like a nun in a glass, and drinking it can make you fart the tune to ‘Toora-Loora-Loora’, though not always intentionally.”

    “I’ll get some in,” said Joe, already planning a recipe that involved sump-oil and wedding-cake icing. “Look, you don’t really want to go to an Irish Bar. There’ll be brawls and bare-knuckle boxing.”

    “Whereas here,” said Algernona, “we have police raids and drive-by machine-gunnings.”

    And with that they were gone. Algernona hadn’t even finished her drink.

  4. Voima Oy says:

    The Lady Grey
    351 words

    In this world of arrivals and departures, there is a street of old shops. Past the used bookstore is a travel agency, the storefront decorated with faded posters, art deco visions of ships and trains. Romantic destinations, Paris, Corsica, Rome.

    Why do you hesitate? This has to be the place. The clipping in your hand confirms the correct address. The proprietor puts you at ease. He can only be described as a distinguished older gentleman. You inquire about the dream voyages. You mention the old honeymoon ship, the Lady Anne.

    He suggests instead her sister ship, the Lady Grey. A retro cruise, and still a few places open. Yes, the same amenities.

    You have your ticket. The Lady Grey leaves that afternoon. There are a number of young honeymoon couples, of course, but many older people, too. Some, like you, are traveling alone.

    Here is your key. Down the corridor, your footsteps sink into plush carpet the color of moss. The stateroom is luxurious, period -perfect. You like the retro effect. You feel the crisp linen sheets, admire the mosaic tiles in the shower. Sunlight streams through the portholes.

    On the upper deck, the honeymooners look out at the sea, clinging to each other. There is no horizon line, just an endless blue vista of sea and sky.

    The first evening, everyone gathers in the dining room, dressed in formal outfits– the men in black tuxedos, the women in fancy dresses. It’s a scene from a more graceful, more elegant time. The room is filled with animated conversation, the clink of silver on fine china, rows of crystal glassware.

    Surprisingly, you find the conversation easy, flowing like the sparkling wine in the glasses. What is this delightful vintage? The women are enchanting. The men are witty and artistic. They find you clever, too. Your jokes have never been so amusing.

    The night sky is a sea of stars. In the moonlight, the old faces become softer, young again. The Lady Grey floats on a timeless now. Never departing, never arriving. Only the black waves around the ship, the white moon, moving.

  5. Sampling Spirits

    “Young,” Matt states decisively, passing the unmarked bottle to his left.

    Sam sniffs. “Too imprecise a classification, I’d say.”

    “Right though, aren’t I?”

    “Sweet yet spicy,” Sam counters, setting his glass down. “Do we have another?”

    “Try this one. Dex brought it with.” A suit clad male lounging lazily at the far side of the table raises a mostly empty glass as they glance across.

    “Do we know where he got it?”

    “Do you care?”

    “I guess not. Hope he was careful though. If word of The Distillery gets out…”

    “Then what?”

    “Nothing, I guess…” Matt places a large black glass into Sam’s left hand and a smaller version into his right.

    Sam raises an eyebrow. “Guess Dex doesn’t want his source traced. Pretty precautionary.”

    “We’re in it together. Besides, you said it. Where’s the evidence once we’ve drunk it all?”

    Sam’s eyes flash once, locking in, then away. “Swirl,” he says, though the colour of the glass prevents it.

    “Sniff,” Matt responds.

    “Sip.” Sam raises the liquid to his lips, sampling.

    “Savour,” Matt says.

    “Complex,” Sam concludes. “A beauty, I’d say. Make sure she doesn’t go to waste.” He passes the larger glass to the other man. “You’ll appreciate this one – or, rather, you’d better. Dex is becoming a connoisseur in the sensory perception selection process, sly dog. Love to know where he found this one. Might even ask him if I have the bottle.” Sam’s mouth quirks slightly at the quip.

    “Any more for any more?” Sam asks, when Matt does not respond in kind. The debris and detritus of their evening is in front of them; numerous empty glasses and bottles they have drunk their way through already, mere dregs at the bottom, scarcely enough to fill a quarter of a glass.

    “Just this, I think.” Matt gestures to a wide bottomed flask.

    “Vintage?” Sam queries, as Matt swigs a sip, before grimacing.

    “Vinegar,” he says, wincing.

    They look towards Jem to their far left, accusing. “Perfectly captured,” he responds, saluting them with his own glass. “Pretty sour when we were together. Had to get rid of her somehow. Feel free to stick her down the sink.”

    (360 words)


  6. Party Like You Mean It

    Mara was dying. A disease with a long name, shortened to a abbreviation of letters that said nothing about the way she was going to die.
    The active word of “do” became deactivated, doctors telling her there was nothing to be done, she would die within a weeks, no treatment worth diminishing her remaining time.
    Mara decided to reclaim “do”. She turned to her husband and expressed her desire to get some serious living done while the living was good.
    Mara was going to throw a party.

    Mara invited her dear friends and family over to the home that she and her husband had created. She was proud of what they had made together, and of the people she had acquired in her life so far, such as it was.
    Lanterns and lights were strung throughout the house and yard. The kitchen island became a makeshift bar, well stocked for high-class drinks and college crafts alike. There were delicate petit fours and spiderman cupcakes, each equally happiness inducing to Mara. There were cheeses from every corner of the globe and a jar of some kind of pickled fruit that Mara had always wondered if she would be brave enough to try.

    As each guest arrived you could see the pain on their face, the sadness and discomfort in the face of death, but soon Mara’s desire to celebrate her life prevailed.
    There were tears and laughter for the many stories about Mara. Great quantities of alcohol consumed, dancing became the best idea in the world and they pushed back the furniture and literally rolled up the rug. Mara danced with still strong legs and spun around with all those who loved her.

    No one wanted to leave. Dancing gave way to settling into couches and on the floor and in the quietest hours of the morning they each spoke of fears and endings.
    Dawn illuminated the house and life outside crept in. Hugs were cherished and guests departed.
    Rows of empty glasses stood on the counter.
    Remnants of fun and life that were now empty vessels.
    She turned her back on them and collapsed into bed with her husband.

    360 words

  7. The Send Off

    I had a couple of drinks last night, to say goodbye.

    It started quietly, just a quick one with the boys from the Sunday League, but by the time we hit The Grapes, I was a mess. They’d put bunting round the bar and everything, filled the jukebox with quids and cued up all the old favourites. Ted even gave me a glass with my name engraved on it, like I’m ever going to come back and use it.

    Then some of the girls from work turned up too, ‘Chelle as well. She smiled and wished me luck like nothing ever happened when they sent us to set up the Leyland Office. I was half hoping for some last ditch begging, but she was good with it. Just as well really; I would have said yes. Every time.

    It was tough, seeing them all there like that, knowing that it was the last time. That’s probably why it got so out of control. Mikey kept telling jokes about when we were growing up, how Mam was always expecting him to look after me and how nothing’s changed, so I bought him a triple to shut him up. I say bought, but I don’t think I put my hand in my pocket once all night, and we must have drank the place dry before we went into town.

    That’s where it gets blurry. Noisy. I remember the strip club and scoring speed from the Asian kid and Mikey offering me sloppy seconds on the bird in the alley, but I’m not sure if I managed anything, or whose blood was on my shirt. I just remember thinking, “This is it. Make it count.”

    But it doesn’t count. Not really.

    Home then, one last time. I think I was sick in the dish drainer again, and there was half a kebab next to the PC when I got up. I’d have it for breakfast but I’m not sure it’s mine. I’ll ask Mikey when he finally drags himself out of the pit.

    Have to be soon though; Someone’s got to get me to the church on time and he’s the Best Man.

    360 words

  8. Goodbye and Goodnight

    “Lacy! Lacy! Hurry up with the wine!” Madame Beaufort shouted from the grand hall.

    The young maid grabbed a bottle from the table and rushed into the room to pour it for her mistress and her friends. All of them wore fancy suits and dresses with jewels and precious metals draped around their bodies. Despite their wealth and education, they lacked tact and decorum. None of them, not even her mistress, had the decency to say thank you or treat her like a human being.

    This ill treatment was nothing new to Lacy. She worked for Madame Beaufort ever since she was a child. She was used to the abuse and disgust her mistress and her friends subjected her to. Little did they know, Lacy felt the same contempt for them too.

    Still, Lacy couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as they guzzled glass after glass of expensive wines and liquors. The more they drank, they more they forgot about their aristocracy. The women cursed and clung to any man in sight. The men returned their affections even though their wives were present. Some of the wives didn’t care. They seemed excited by the sight and joined their husbands. The other wives were upset. Some of them cursed their husbands, but most ran from the hall in tears. For such high-class people, they reduced themselves to animals.

    After making sure every glass in the grand hall was filled, Lacy retired to her chambers.

    Once the laughter and chatter faded, Lacy walked back upstairs to find bodies scattered on the floor. Broken glasses littered the floor. Lacy walked over them as she searched for her mistress. Madame Beaufort was slumped in a chair.

    “What have you done girl?” Madame Beaufort whispered.
    “Nothing you didn’t deserve.” Lacy replied.
    “So you wouldn’t get my baby.”

    Lacy ripped the jewels off her dying mistress’s body and walked upstairs to Madame’s Beaufort chamber. A baby whimpered from its ivory crib. She picked up the child and a few extra jewels before leaving the manor. No harm would come to her or her baby again.

    351 words

  9. […] had planned on entering this story in the Angry Hourglass contest but I didn’t finish it until after the submission deadline had passed so I’m […]

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