Flash Frenzy Round 26

Posted: June 28, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Round 26!

This weekend multiple Flash Frenzy winner and Flash Master, Karl A Russell returns to 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 via Aswhin Rao

Photo via Aswhin Rao

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Comments
  1. david shakes says:

    ‘The Roar of The Fall.’
    by David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    360 words

    Her tears roll in miniature, sobs lost against the roar of the falls. Beneath their thunder lie the

    bodies of a thousand soldiers; corpses wrapped in the rotting heraldry of her fading house.

    The war had taken its toll on all sides. Across The Lands great houses had clashed on foot and

    horseback, but when farmers become fighters the horses fast become food.

    In her forgotten house the stables had remained well stocked, walled gardens carefully tended. The

    progress of The Uprisen nothing more than a tale, a conundrum to be puzzled out by firelight, a

    flagon in hand.

    As the youngest girl of the house she was a shadow. Her father schooled his sons for greatness to

    be regained. Her mother schooled her elder daughters to catch the eyes of better men, that their

    houses may be merged. She was left to her own devices.

    Her friendships with The Underlings went ignored. Even they forgot she was high born, so

    ubiquitous her presence in their lives. In the stables they talked and she listened.

    She heard the tale of Newman Moses and The First Rebellion. She heard the fervour in the voices

    of those that told it.

    Several seasons later and her house became inextricably woven into the tapestry of the tale.

    Its numbers swelled with the ranks of the dispossessed who flocked to the fringes as rebellion became

    war.

    The stable hands now eyed her more closely, though with lust not suspicion. She liked their

    attentions, they stirred within her feelings only her sisters had been schooled in.

    She lay with Tristan and then James. Each let slip details of how soon her house would be

    overthrown in The Uprising, but it was Marcus who told her. Marcus who’d she’d pursued for an

    age and finally bedded. Marcus who’d let slip that Moses was hidden in The Falls.

    Marcus who knew that blood was thicker than water.

    She’d led her father’s army here, banners flying high.

    Moses had been waiting and her house was lost beneath these falls, its blood washed away.

    She dismounts, ready to join them. Screams into the raging torrent.

    Her steed looks on indifferently.

  2. Voima Oy says:

    Morning Fog
    @voimaoy
    359 words

    She liked to run in the park before work in the morning, the rush of the expressway like a river in the distance. It cleared the fog, prepared her for the day.

    For a moment she didn’t think about her job, the thankless demands of tech support. Still, there was Greg, in Archives. He was so appreciative, trying to be friendly. Maybe she should wear that purple shirt, today. Yes, he had complimented her on it, before.

    She didn’t even notice when she ran through the mist, like a thick curtain, parting. It felt kind of cool and tingly, moist and refreshing. It really cleared her head.

    She paused to catch her breath, and found herself on a slippery roadway. On one side was an enormous rushing waterfall. Had she taken a wrong turn somewhere? There was only the mist around the falls, the wall of water. A brown horse was standing nearby.

    Her wristband chirped. “Lian! Lian, can you hear me? Where are you?” A familiar voice.

    “Greg? Is that you?”

    A pause. “Lian, it’s Iver. Are you all right? ”

    She shook her head, feeling dizzy. “Iver? Yes. Yes. I think so. Yes. Iver! It’s good to hear your voice.”

    Another pause. “Lian, what happened? We kept calling. Are you sure you’re all right?”

    His voice was bringing it all back to her, now. The other place, receding like a dream. “Iver, I found a break in the perimeter. I must have slipped in. I’m going to initiate repairs.”

    “Wait! We’ll be right there. Promise me.” Another pause. “You were gone a long time.”

    “How long?”

    Another familiar voice. “Lian, it’s Shostra. You were gone for half an hour! We were so worried!”

    “It’s okay.” She almost laughed. “I’m back now.” Yes, she was back, back to her life with Iver and Shostra. Their life along the waterfalls. They watched the perimeter between the worlds.

    Her horse, Thunder, was waiting. They would repair the breach, and she would continue her patrol. She straightened her purple shirt, the one Iver was so fond of. How real that other life had seemed. He really did sound like Greg, from Archives.

  3. Sal Page says:

    Sir Prance-a-lot

    Down there, That’s where I’m going to stand it. To remember Michael, pulling at the moss and laughing at nothing. Watching the rushing water and picking up stones while I played with my plastic people and animals surrounded by the sound of the wind in the trees.

    I was only gone a few minutes. I went back to get Sir Prance-a-lot and Flash, as I’d christened this plastic man and horse. Forever stuck in a rising trot, he was a riding instructor not a knight. He liked being unplugged from Flash for bandy-legged dancing with the others.

    I’d started watching the soaps with grandma so the plastic people had fights, affairs and parties. They had long lost children turning up and frequently pushed each other downstairs. There was a milkmaid with a missing arm, a gardener with no legs and a donkey whose ears had been bitten off before I was born. At least two of the riders were headless but it didn’t stop them coming first in the gymkhana or getting arrested on their birthday.

    I remember running inside, grabbing him from the windowsill and heading back down the garden, aware I was supposed to be watching baby-Michael. Funny how this one figure turned up still in the cottage after all these years. I know exactly where he’s going to live from now on. I walk down the path, trying to calm my breathing. It was done with long ago and a girl of five shouldn’t be left in charge of a not yet two year old, even if their mother’s too sad to get up.

    It looks exactly the same here. Baby-Michael would be thirty now. He’d be taller than me and have a job. Maybe he’d be married, or have travelled the world or be doing something creative, like writing novels, painting or sculpting. I push the horse’s legs firmly into the ground.

    When I got back everything was still, even the wind in the trees and the stream seemed quieter. He was clutching the family of geese all attached to the same pool of grass and lying on the moss with his face in the stream.

    @SalnPage

    360 words

  4. zevonesque says:

    Saviour on a Horse
    by A J Walker

    Pain on the molecular level, agony was too small a word to describe this, my blood seemed like lava pulsing through my veins. Sweat was fizzling away from my clammy body in geysers of steam. Yet, this was as nothing to my head.

    Through moments of lucidity I could hear voices. They talked of death and fear. Of fever and hopelessness. I knew one was Sarah. My lady.

    But these were instances, less than moments. Something was scuttling around inside my skull all carnivorous teeth and ragged claws tearing at my brain. It was gouging, tearing bloody bits of brain as simple fragments of meat, it was eating my memories. I felt shuddering vibrations amplified through my head as drills etched words into my skull. Bone thinning opening fractures chipping my life away away from me.

    I smelt cookies and coffee. The people around me were continuing life as I lay dying.

    Back spasmed and pain ripped through my whole body. What evil disease and pestilence was afflicting me?

    I untensed and I heard Sarah in the distance. I am coming my love; to save you. Hold on.

    I felt water on my forehead dripping down the side of my temples, glorious cool water. My eyes were closed but I could see rainbows and hear a waterfall.

    And there was Sarah on a horse. A horse. What was she doing on a horse?

    Fractured; my head was broken beyond repair.

    Sit up my love. Sarah was beside me. Sit up my love. Sip this water.

    What use would water be? I was beyond help. Dying.

    ‘Just sip it Daniel.’

    ‘But I’m dying.’

    ‘There you go. Now take this pill, see if you can swallow it. There you go.’

    I coughed up, spluttering fluids and enzymes into a dark room. The waterfall had disappeared.

    Where’s your horse?

    ‘What?’

    ‘I said… oh, it doesn’t matter?’

    ‘You stay there and I’ll come back in later when you’re ready for something to eat. There’s some water on the side there, when you can face moving again.’

    ‘I am dying. Leave me alone.’

    ‘You’re not dying. And you’re never drinking tequila again. Ever. Got it?’

  5. Tinman says:

    It’s Off To Work She Goes
    288 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    She was leaving town now. Her work was done.

    Once she had been a simple schoolteacher, and engaged to be married. Then he’d died.

    There had been an ambush in which he and his comrades had been killed. She had wept, pined, and drunk whisky by the bottle, because this was the Wild West, after all.

    Then months later she’d heard of the mystery avenger, the man with the white hat, the mask, and the ridiculous silver bullets, as if he was up against werewolves.

    She’d known straight away that it was him. He’d always been a show-off.

    He hadn’t written, he hadn’t telegraphed, he hadn’t even got his friend to send smoke signals. He didn’t care.

    So she had set out across Texas, always one town ahead of him, fighting crime in her own way just to annoy him. She wore a mask, simply because she was now single and it made her look hot.

    Here in the town of Little Falls (the waterfalls are massive, as you can see, but this is Texas, remember) she had fought drunkenness with stern lectures. She had fought gambling with statistics about the odds against winning. She had fought bar-brawls by fighting everybody in the bar-brawls, because she was still a very angry woman.

    Now she was on the bridge outside the town. She made sure she was in silhouette, because that was important. She knew that HE would have reared his horse at this stage, but she had tried that once and had ended up wearing her skirt over her face. She nudged her horse and slowly trotted away.

    The townspeople watched her go.

    “Who was that masked woman?” asked one of them.

    “That was Joan Ranger,” someone replied.

  6. milambc says:

    Death Rattle (360)
    @brett_milam

    Kidd was going to die today. Or at least he figured as much. The air was stained with the smell of rotting flesh, shit and inevitability.

    You could only march into war so many times until the war marched into you.

    Back on the farm with his mother, there hadn’t been fire coating the landscape and heaps of corpses. Instead, there was running through the tall grass with the smell of dew grazing his nostrils and no worry of whirring bullets.

    Bullets scared Miller. He didn’t understand the mechanics behind how a tiny piece of lead could do the damage it had done. Friends of his had fallen with a death rattle Kidd heard in his sleep. Like they were choking up their lives.

    And Miller wasn’t any help.

    “Faster, Kidd, faster goddammit. I ain’t trying to stay back here with my cock in my hand and no action. We gotta get to the front lines, that’s where it’s at,” Miller said.

    He’d watched as Miller fired his gun with precision, cutting down men whose faces he couldn’t see. They were too grimy, too bloody, too already-dead. Then when they made it to the villages, Miller preferred to go ahead of Kidd, shooting them up close. Lead in the brain.

    Which then allowed him to take his pick of women. Tear-stained-cheek women, some with big bellies, others with no development.

    “Help me with them, Kidd,” Miller said. Kidd did what he was told. He followed orders.

    Society gives us a role to play and his was to avoid Miller’s whip on his back again.

    When they had them rounded up, they’d take Miller’s trophies back to the waterfall encampment.

    Even though the pristine water looked slurp-worthy, Kidd declined. No appetite. Thankfully the rushing water crowded out the noises Miller made with his trophies. Or rather, that they made because of him.

    After he was done, he returned to Kidd with a brush.

    “You done good today, Kidd,” Miller said, as he began brushing Kidd’s blood-stained, brown coat.

    A bullet had grazed his hide in battle. Death only teased.

  7. C Connolly says:

    A Fairy Tale Existence

    “It’s gotten beyond a joke!” Gerda exclaimed.

    “More importantly, how do we stop it?” Kai asked.

    They were gathered in Tale’s town hall to debate the question which had preyed on their minds as things reached crisis point. That is, those who were still left to save their livelihood.

    “It’s not as though no one knows the score!” Beauty added.

    “All right for you,” Goldie said. “You’re not signed up for indentured servitude. All you do is sleep. Raw deal, that!”

    “It’s not like I picked, is it?” Beauty responded. “Besides, aren’t we missing the real point? The Prince is already trekking in search of Psyche, which flies in the face of pretty much everything, including genre. Cinders doesn’t care – says she’s sick of re-enacting their first date, anyway; that it got stale on repeat. Plus, there are only so many times you can fake excitement about an old shoe – even a Choo. Her words – not mine.”

    “Snow’s happy,” Lina said.

    “Happy with Happy,” Red observed. “Hadn’t heard that? Recent thing, unsurprisingly.”

    “Fair play,” Kai said, eyebrow raised. “Though maybe not in the current climate,” he added, in response to glares from several directions.

    “You know there are gaps in the stories already?” Beauty said. “They’re going to notice, even if they do know them by heart and don’t have to get the books out each time. Stands to reason. We’re going to be found out.”

    “Don’t make this a group thing! I didn’t agree to a character strike!” Wolf interjected, teeth flashing. “Some of us know our place!”

    “Which is fine when our place is eat not be eaten,” Red responded. “Grandma’s obviously not here pre regeneration to have her say.”

    “We’re heading for revolution,” Lina said, glumly. “Had to happen sometime, given current role distribution.”

    “If Tale Town and fairy tales full stop are going to carry on existing we have to sort this,” Beauty said. “Think, people!” The characters tried to, before they faded from black on the page, to grey, then white on white, confronted by their overwhelming rigidity. Perhaps they should have been more like the Prince, after all, if they were to save themselves.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  8. Bart says:

    The Demolition of The Ugly

    ‘Have you seen “Blazing Saddles”?’, the horse asked Mary.

    They were riding in The Valley With The Ginormous Waterfall. It resembled Niagara Falls,
    only bigger. Mary and her horse, Nobody, did this every Sunday evening. It was a great way to end the week, usually full of gun duels, bar fights and unjust lynchings. The scintillating water had a calming effect on Mary. And Nobody liked it as well. Just watching that liquid curtain, letting that roar penetrate their souls, cleared their mind and made them forget, or at least accept, the little things that had gone wrong during the week, small details that otherwise might linger and start to fester till they would explode in a ravaging display of gratuitous violence. Sometimes, though, this was exactly what happened. Usually in their favourite saloon The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Mary always said The Ugly would suffice as a name, referring to the bartender Wyatt who lost his eye during the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. A bullet ricocheted off the church bell and hit Wyatt who was hiding behind the horse troughs. He always told a different story, of course, and the more he drank his own moonshine, the more the story differed, but everyone knew the truth. Mary, and especially Nobody, because he could be an annoyingly mean horse, would subtly make fun of Wyatt until that damn whiskey drove them too far and the shit hit the fan. Literally. But that was Mary’s fault. Never serve a horse chili con carne in horse proportions.

    “No, I don’t think so,” Mary answered.

    “You should,” Nobody said. “It’s a western parody by Mel Brooks, one of the greatest comedy geniuses of all time.”

    Mary smiled at the word “geniuses”, because Nobody lisped.

    “Maybe we should stay home next Sunday and watch it. After what happened yesterday at The Ugly, I don’t know, I think we went too far. Maybe we should laugh away our tensions instead of coming here.”

    Mary pictured the empty space where the saloon used to be. She did feel sorry about it.

    “Yeah, let’s do that.”

  9. Bart says:

    360 words
    @bartvangoethem

  10. “Fallen But Not Forgotten”
    359 words
    @patrickjstahl

    Marquise Silvia wiped sweat and water droplets from her brow. She urged her charger to gallop. He clopped along the top of a precipice, a grassy perch between the Great Falls and Artur’s Lake.
    The sun beat down on Silvia from its noon peak. Her chain shirt threatened to burn the flesh beneath her underclothes. The Marquise pulled off her gauntlets and tossed them in a saddlebag, but her palms were already red and raw.
    We can’t keep this up much longer, she thought. The Season of Fainting is not the time for war.
    “Sil, take hold of yourself,” shouted the Marquess, about fifty paces behind her. “You are running your horse straight into his grave.”
    “Glen-Strider has not failed me before.” Silvia patted Glen between the two plates shielding her neck. “And someone has to rouse the bastion.”
    “Please, Sil. I can see her stumbling from here. The Rheistwyths are falling behind. You need not speed across this hill.”
    Silvia twisted enough to see a rider rent from his saddle by the ax of a blue-faced Rheistwythan warlock. “You lie to me, my husband. Do you place my safety above that of the March?”
    “I do, Sil. Of course I do.”
    Silvia released the pressure in her knees. Glen slowed. A bit too fast. His right foreleg came out from under him and he careened toward the Falls. The Marquise stretched her arm out to brace their fall. She felt a stab of pain run up her shoulder as the bone crunched audibly.
    For once Sergio has the better of me, she thought, moaning.
    Glen continued to roll. He plummeted down to the foot of the Falls.
    The chains of Silvia’s shirt anchored her to a rock alongside the hill.
    “Sil, I’m almost there.” Sergio leapt down from his saddle to descend toward Silvia. “Are you hurt?”
    Silvia smiled at her husband. “My arm is broken, but I breathe yet.”
    Sergio bent down to kiss her. “Men,” he bellowed, his head craned toward the precipice. “Defend the Marquess. We make our stand here, between the Falls and the Lake, as it was of old.”
    “I love you too.”

  11. Ink of the Soul / C.R. Jennings says:

    “The Waters of the Oasis”
    C.R. Jennings
    360 Words (Not counting my apology 😉 )

    Every movement was more painful than the previous. Galloping was too much, but he couldn’t stop; he was almost there, and he wouldn’t slow down now.

    The Oasis was bigger than the stories made it seem; he’d thought it to be easier—run in, jar the precious liquid, and get out. He wasn’t expecting a battle, or to have to search a dense forest.

    The waterfall roaring in his ears made it hard for him to think clearly. He was beginning to lose hope.

    He searched through the trunks of the dozens of surrounding trees.

    ‘Under the tree, I will be. If you dare, stir the waters, and I’ll be there,’ he remembered the riddle. But there were hundreds of trees. They all looked the same… how was he supposed to know which tree.

    He was dizzy now, the thin air making it harder to breathe. He lay over onto the horse’s rough, matted mane. He knew he wouldn’t make it, but he’d try until his last breath.

    The tree straight ahead was sick looking. Its boughs bare, and its trunk appeared weak and brittle.

    Jet, the horse with the appropriate name, walked straight up to the ancient-looking tree, stopping deliberately, stamping its hoof at its base.

    “Jet,” he sputtered out, “we have to keep going. It’ll to be too late.”

    The horse’s protest was loud, demanding, as he stamped his hoof harder this time.

    “Jet,” he coughed out, losing the strength to hold on.

    Jet danced, stamping and huffing, knocking him to the ground with a yelp. He lifted his cheek from a small puddle. The water was warm and began to bubble. He tried to move out of it, but Jet nudged him back into it.

    Could it be? he wondered. Could this sick tree harbor the healing water?

    He mustered his strength, pulling the jar from his satchel. He slid the filleda jar into the bag around Jet’s neck and slapped him, sending him off. He watched him gallop away—the fastest horse in the land. Jet would make it back to her in time. He’d die, he knew, but all he wanted was to save her.

  12. The Crystal Stones

    Maeve crept across the keep, shadows clinging to her. The crescent moon hung low, its silver light reflected in her violet eyes. She slipped into the stable and hurried to the last stall. Inside a midnight colored horse stirred. “Shhh,” Maeve said and lifted the latch. “Come, Luath.” He followed her to the castle wall where Maeve ran her hands over the rough stone. “There,” she said, relieved.

    Mounted, Maeve whispered an ancient word. The gate swung open. “We have to fly,” she murmured. “Before they discover I’ve taken them.” Luath obeyed, his hooves sounding a desperate rhythm. Maeve clung to him with all her strength, terrified and exhilarated. Luath’s ears pricked. Hoof beats. A chill pierced Maeve’s limbs.

    Luath pounded down the road. The first arrow whistled past, followed by another. Maeve chanced a backward glance. Three stallions coursed behind them, the King’s best bowmen astride their wide white backs.

    “Damn! Braston. The bastard knows.” Maeve reached into the leather pouch at her waist, grasped a smooth, cold crystal, and hurled it. A horse screamed and crashed to the ground. Maeve smiled as the Fae stone returned to her outstretched hand.

    Ahead, the forest loomed, dark and tangled. Behind them the Bow Riders gained ground. Maeve leaned forward. “Just a little farther, I promise.” Luath responded with an impossible burst of speed. They thundered down the old path. Maeve could feel the Bow Rider on her left. She dug her left knee into Luath. The black horse swerved, found another track. The Bow Rider followed. Maeve flattened herself, avoiding the branch. With a crack and a scream, the Bow Rider fell.

    Maeve could smell the river. Luath careened around the next bend, and there it was, white and rushing. She tossed the warm crystal into the water, and the river parted. Luath raced to the other bank. Maeve summoned the crystal; the waters crashed together. On the other bank, the Bow Rider cursed.

    Luath slowed to a canter, to a trot, stopping at the fall’s edge. A fine mist cooled them as they caught their breath. Then Maeve nudged Luath forward, through the heavy water toward home.

    358 words
    @beth_deitchman

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