Flash Frenzy Round 24

Posted: June 14, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Round 24!

This week you’ll be working to impress Judge Jacki Donnellan.

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 Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. Tears of Fears

    I know it’s irrational but I’ve always had a phobia of unoccupied chairs. One on its own I can cope with even a set of six around the dining table only gives me a slight shudder. Put bottoms on seats I’m fine. When I got married to Danny five years ago it was easy everyone was already seated and we were the first out of the church after the ceremony. At the reception I hung back until everyone was seated saying I wanted us to make a grand entrance and we did with everyone clapping as we sashayed in.

    I wasn’t prepared when the big oak door swung open and I was exposed to rows and rows of the horrors that bring me out in a cold sweat.

    “You ok Sadie?”

    The floor was coming up to meet me, the black and white tiles swirling in front of my eyes. I was forgetting how to breathe, blood draining out of my extremities. I was going to die in this old school hall.


    Strong arms circling me, I was gently lowered on to one of my fears

    “I’d forgotten you phobia Sadie, sorry”

    Mr Payne looked down at me. He was older than I remembered, still as handsome as ever, a real silver fox. I’d always had a crush on him when I was at school.

    “How about it Sadie, shall we have another go at it?”

    It would mean giving up most of my principles. What would Danny think of my treachery? Did I want to repeat the past?

    I’d missed Mr Payne when we split up. He gone his way, I’d stayed in status quo. When he’d got in touch with me, I had to think long and hard about the repercussions.

    Danny would just have to realise that principles don’t always pay the bills.
    I’d decided to accept Mr Payne’s offer and be the headmaster’s secretary at this fee paying school. We made a great team at the local comprehensive.

    Just needed now to overcome my phobia, with double the salary I might try hypnosis or that cognitive behavioural therapy. It was good to breathe again.

    359 words

  2. Voima Oy says:

    Midsummer at the Midland
    358 words

    I’ll never forget that summer at the Midland Hotel. My girlfriend Amy told me about the waiter jobs. She was working as a waitress there. I remember those wicker dining chairs, the mosaic tiles on the floor. Not fancy, but a kind of grace.

    We were all college students, taking summer classes. I had a Shakespeare seminar. It was like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, working there–a romantic comedy of musical chairs. Amy left me for Jason, when Pam left him for Paul. Rose and Lily, I had my pick. All the girls were crazy for Sam, but Sam had a crush on me.

    We lived in summer splendor. Classes, working, drinking, hot nights on the front porches.

    They also booked special events at the Midland. Every weekend there was a banquet or wedding reception. We all wanted to work those catering jobs. We never went hungry with all the extra food, and the tips were always generous.

    I remember one midsummer wedding. The bride must have been all of 19, very young and very pregnant. She had on some kind of puffy dress, like a fairy princess or a Velasquez. Her mom was gorgeous, maybe 40. She had amazing cheekbones.

    The new husband seemed just as bewildered as the bride. He had started drinking early. There seemed to be alot of older relatives. Clearly this was a wedding for the grown-ups.

    Anyway, it was a big deal for such a last-minute affair. We set up the ginger ale fountain. There was a special delivery of an ice sculpture of a swan, which had begun melting in the heat.

    The dad, a clumsy oaf, danced with the bride, while the new husband flirted with the bridesmaids.

    Then it was time for speeches. No one could find the best man.

    I was taking some dishes back to the kitchen when I heard noises in the storeroom where we kept the extra chairs. Out came the best man, and the mother of the bride.

    Like I said, she was lovely. Lively eyes, and amazing cheekbones. Like Titania, the queen of the fairies.

    “Don’t tell anyone,” she whispered. And I never did, until now.

  3. The Custodian

    He starts with the front row, his back to the stage, placing the chairs with mathematical precision and practised ease. He could just line the legs up with the tiles on the floor and it wouldn’t be too far out, and in many years gone by he favoured that approach, especially once he got seven or eight rows back, where the C-list students would have been sitting, but not this year.

    This year has to be done right, for all of them.

    He places the first seven chairs on the left, paces out the width of the central aisle, then places seven on the right. These were reserved for the High, Honour and Holy Rollers, who would have stuck around to chat with the Principal and hear how special their kids were, like there’s any other kind.

    He moves on, laying in row after row; The sports stars here, science geeks there, over there the ground down working class parents who were there just to see that one of their brood finished school, at long last. Coming to the back rows, he feels it threatening to overwhelm him, and he grips the chairs tighter, wincing as they scrape and screech on the floor.

    Here’s a seat for the weird kid.

    And a seat for the boy who got thrown in the showers on the first day of every term.

    The kids who hid behind their hair.

    Their music.

    Their stories.

    Here’s a seat for the kid no-one even knew existed, until it was far too late.

    The last chairs settled, he turns at last to face the stage, where the Valedictorian would have stood to give the farewell address. To his misted eyes, the white chalk circled bullet holes look like nothing more than a constellation, a scattering of stars spread around the black hole of the pipe bomb blast, a heavenly host set to watch over the graduates.

    He gives a nod to the flag, more out of habit than respect, then turns and leaves for the last time, locking the door behind him with trembling fingers.

    And in the empty hall, the Class of ’14 take their seats.

    360 words
    Karl A Russell

  4. C Connolly says:

    Only Words

    They stand together, all three, though it is Ally who must speak now; her turn at last. She has the piece of paper in her hand, the carefully prepared words inscribed upon it – the paragraph seeming short now the time has come. It shakes slightly as she draws breath to begin and blinks quickly to clear the blur causing the script to swim momentarily behind salt water. Ally sees row on row of spaces before her, though she looks beyond them, refusing to look into the eyes of any individual who may or may not fill them. They are empty of those who know her, who she knows, of anyone at all. Ally speaks both to the empty room, for herself, and simultaneously to the world at large, into the silence before her. She pitches her voice to carry without the aid of the microphone; beyond the pulpit, out and away into the aisles.

    “Each family is as strong as its members. Today I want to pay tribute to the strength of someone who taught me to aim for what I wanted, who encouraged me in pursuing further education, having studied part time in conjunction with her job; who helped me become the person I am today. A mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Someone with courage and conviction in the face of illness, who organised birthday celebrations for others despite continuing treatment; a woman it would take more than my words and the time today to convey fully. Each of you know who she was to you personally and what that means and I want to take the time to say publicly that we owe you our thanks for your support. As a family we make this promise now; though we may be minus one member, she lives on in our hearts and we intend to carry her with us through our actions, day on day.”

    It is done, as is Ally. As the curtains close behind her and the first chords of “Three Times A Lady” begin, Ally looks up. There are no empty seats to be seen between the bodies filling the pews. They are fully occupied.

    (360 words)


  5. Order

    Ephram hid on the stairs, peering through the balusters’ polished wood. He took delicate breaths, afraid Miss Franklin would hear and then drag him forward to await the Headmaster’s annoyance. Miss Franklin nudged the last chair into place and stood back, counting. When she left, her heels made precise clicks across the tiles, regular as the rows of chairs.

    Silence settled over the Common Room, and Ephram slid from his hiding place. He limped to the back row, grateful no one was there to see him. He took his chair and waited, feet dangling, back straight. Perfectly still.

    The hall clock struck, and the ceiling boomed with boys’ feet. Ephram kept his small face passive, his brown eyes fixed forward as the boys clomped down the stairs, a wave of noise preceding them.

    “Oy! Gimpy!” Laughter met Anderson’s insult. “Why aren’t you standing?”

    Ephram closed his eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Opened his eyes and stood. His left leg quivered.

    “Look, lads,” Anderson taunted. “He can barely stand. Poor ol’ Gimpy!”

    Ephram fought the tears. If he let even one fall, Anderson would pounce, and no one would stop him. So Ephram stood, shaking, his skin paler with each heartbeat. But something shifted. A small kernel of anger, growing in his belly for weeks, bloomed.

    “What are you afraid of?” Ephram said.

    The big blonde boy’s eyes widened. “What did you say, Gimp?”

    “What are you afraid of, Anderson?”

    Anderson stepped forward, pink, meaty fist raised. “I’m not afraid of anything, Gimpy. How about you?”

    Ephram met Anderson’s cruel stare and smiled. Someone whistled, low and long. Ephram laughed. He tried to control himself, but great peals erupted from him. Anderson’s fist met Ephram’s stomach, sending him sprawling. Two chairs clattered to the floor. No one moved or spoke or breathed. As one the boys closed their eyes, waiting for the rhythmic clicking. When it came, they were almost relieved.

    “Pick them up,” Miss Franklin spat.

    Ephram scrambled to his feet. Two older boys righted the chairs.

    “Sit down.”

    They obeyed.

    “The Headmaster shall hear about this.”

    Ephram glanced at Anderson; sweat trickled down the blonde boy’s cheek. Ephram smiled.

    358 words

    • silvershrew says:

      Beth, I swear, your mind never stops! I wish I had 5% of your gift for writing. Again, please finish the story. You have the makings of quite a few novels in these excerpts of the stories living in your mind. So finish them already! Thanks for making my day yet again.

  6. No Time Like Showtime

    The house lights dimmed as the stage lights flickered on and the audience hushed. Allie waited in the wings, her heart beating out of her chest. This was her time. Her moment. She had to make it count.

    She took a deep breath and floated to the center of the stage. She grabbed the mic and nodded to the stagehands. The curtain lifted and the spotlight fell on her. The audience stared at her pensively waiting for her to entertain them. She closed her eyes, took another deep breath, and sang.

    At first, she sang softly and sweetly. The audience scotched in their seats as they strained to hear her. Then her voice grew stronger and louder, booming through the room the room like thunder. The audience sat still with wide eyes as if under a spell.

    Allie felt like a goddess standing in front of all those people. She couldn’t believe that just one note from her could cause such a reaction. The audience looked up at her with adoration as she belted out song after song. At Allie’s command, the audience would scream, cheer, and clap. It was the most amazing feeling in the world.

    When Allie was finished her set, the crowd cheered for her. They threw roses at the stage. Allie bowed and blew kisses at the audience. They liked her. They really liked her.

    “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be cleaning the stage, not dirtying it up.” Allie’s boss scolded.

    Allie sighed as she snapped back into her bitter reality. Instead of thousands of cheering fans in the audience, there was only trash and empty seats. Maybe someday things would be different. She grabbed her mop and continued to clean the stage.

    289 words

  7. zevonesque says:

    by A J Walker

    Life weighed heavy on Iain’s shoulders crushing him as he pushed and pulled the chairs into position, creating his zone of perfection. He could feel the stony stares of long dead rich and of saintly creations staring down on him as his daily bent back struggled to deliver the straight rows and columns he always delivered. He loved creating this order, the one thing he could could control in life.

    The priest looked at Iain as he started placing the chairs in the final row.

    ‘You never fail me Iain,’ the priest said

    The legs screeched on the ancient ceramic floor. Iain loved these tiny black and white tiles, which had been placed with craft and diligence eons before – a two dimensional view of what man could do if he put his mind to it. Still Iain had his job and he proudly positioned each chair, as he did every day, with military precision, each in their perfect spot. He was as much as perfectionist as the ancient builders who had constructed this church. Maybe more so, considering that each day his work was to torn down again.

    Iain didn’t look up, ignoring the priest, just continuing to place each chair with studied precision. Tension rose as he neared the end of the line. His job coming to an end after he finished the row, after perfection was reached: Order. Afterwards there’d be something he couldn’t control.

    The priest walked out and Iain suddenly sank to his knees beside the final chair and cried.

    His life had been this church. He was a proud linchpin in the community, known for his reliability.

    His head was exploding.

    Iain leant forward and twisted one of the chairs skew, then stepped back studying his handiwork. Ordered chaos. Suddenly he kicked back randomly at chairs behind him then picked up one in front of him. He hurled it across the lines of seats, loving the splintering sound of wood on wood.

    Control: calm.

    Iain looked up at the sound of the door and saw the priest walk in with a boy he didn’t recognise.

    He breathed deeply. Be perfect, think not of one man.

    360 words

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