Flash Frenzy Round 28

Posted: July 19, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

Welcome to Round 28!

This weekend, friend of the Angry Hourglass, Jaime Burchard, is returning 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 David Shakes

photo via David Shakes

  1. Davis Shakes says:

    360 words
    David Shakes

    Devil’s Humps and Devil’s Jumps. Knaps, Howes and Hoos. Britain was littered with barrows – burial chambers covered in stones and earth.
    Barrow burial stopped in the 7th Century, the spread of Christianity forcing belief away from the land and into the ether.
    Have you ever stood at cairn? Felt the charged air and the frisson that comes from touching the history of a place? It was all the rage in the 19th Century. The educated and wealthy would raid the tombs of their forbears for fun and profit – creating the science of archaeology whilst doing untold damage to the sites themselves.

    There will be no excavation here. At least not in time.
    I am no king, no great warrior.
    There are no kings or warriors left.
    Is anyone left?
    The wolf that blew our houses down fell from the sky.
    If the asteroid had a name I doubt anyone remembers. I paid it no attention. But it flattened everything – a billion barrows created in an instant.
    The rubble above me was the house of my employer.
    They’d purchased the property because of the nuclear shelter. My job was to interior design it. The perfect panic room now a tastefully furnished tomb – only it was the servant of the castle saved, whilst the master summered on the coast.
    The water has gone and the air is growing stale- the dust so thick it clogs the filters, but the lights burn brightly.
    I pass my time reading – that’s how I know about the tumuli.
    I pass my time writing, so that future archaeologists may puzzle over my noble status and why one such as I should be saved, albeit temporarily.
    I pass my time looking at the photos of my kids in my wallet.
    I pass my time wondering about the best way to end it.

    A dolmen usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone, although there are more complex variants.
    Despite their prominence at barrow sites, the dolmen themselves often predate the chambers. Nevertheless, they have become known as portal tombs.

    I think I see my portal opening.


  2. milambc says:

    Holy Shit (360 words)

    Sitting in an old school converted into a church in a pew crammed between my mother, smelling like onions and some strange man that keeps picking at his head, I am suffocating. I excuse myself and apologize for bumping into people’s holy legs and holy books and holy sermons and exit through the back doors.

    Nobody is in the halls. I grab three cookies from the dessert table for after the service. Chocolate chip. Stale as fuck. I discard them in the bathroom trash can.

    In the stall, sitting on the holy porcelain, I remove the flask I affectionately refer to as Holy Shit from my ankle where I keep it secured with tape. Hidden behind my long dress, nobody is the wiser. Opening it, I take a reassuring swig. Reassuring me that my sanity is still hanging in there. The vodka is hard going down my throat, but it was the most real thing in this brick-and-bullshit building.

    You’ll have to excuse my bitterness. Mom has been dragging me to these services five times a week and twice on Sunday. This is the second time on Sunday. Which means I fell back on Holy Shit. Sometimes I wish this place would just collapse like a ton of, well, you know.

    Footsteps. Someone else is in here. Whoever they are enter the stall next to mine. Odd choice with six to choose from. I pull my feet off the ground and hug my knees. I stop breathing.

    Then the familiar metal clink of someone unscrewing a lid. A sigh. A gulp. Another sigh. Another gulp. I can’t help myself and laugh.


    “Hello,” the person next to me says with a sense of foreboding.

    “Hello,” I say, trying to suppress my laughter, somewhat.

    “What’s in yours?” she says. Another swig.

    “Vodka. 100-proof. You?” I say.

    “Damn, girl, the sermon ain’t that bad. Captain Morgan here, only 70-proof.”

    “Here’s to us and the heavenly father and blah blah,” I say.

    We drink and laugh at the absurdity.

  3. Sal Page says:

    Getting the House Back

    Josie and the kids had lived in the caravan, in a damp field by a constantly dripping hedge, for months. Crammed in together while Jack rattled around the house.
    It wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t himself since the accident. His sense of humour had disappeared. The mood swings alone were enough to make her leave but then he’d punched her and she got scared one of the kids would be next. Sam kept asking why they never saw Dad and Olivia missed playing in the garden. How could you explain brain damage to them? Josie didn’t understand herself.
    There was no money. The business was Jack’s reputation, long since gone in a saga of forgotten appointments and uncharacteristic rudeness. He just had a couple of vehicles in the rented yard. The JCB and the van with his name on. Josie remembered his proud grin and jokes about being a millionaire one day.
    She had to get the house back. It’d be winter soon. The hedge would probably freeze solid. Josie had seen a solicitor who’d said he was ‘on the case’. Would Jack have received the initial letter yet?
    Home to the caravan. With Tyler in his buggy and the other two running ahead, Josie tried to think positive. There were pizzas and chocolate in the bag hanging off the buggy. The weekend weather looked promising. Josie had high hopes that the hedge would finally stop dripping. Sam and Olivia stopped at the gate, looking back at her in confusion.
    They stared at the mountain of bricks. An even bigger shock than the policewoman at the door or when the doctor said Jack might never be himself again. Sam started running towards the no-longer-visible caravan. Josie grabbed Olivia’s arm. Tyler’s crying was drowned out by a rumbling behind them.
    She turned to see the dump truck, another load of bricks in its metal bucket. As she yanked Olivia and the buggy out the way, Josie caught a glimpse of Jack’s face, pale and set in anger. She called to Sam to keep out of the way as they watched the bricks tumbling out. Where had her funny, gentle husband gone?


    360 words

  4. Image Ronin says:

    The Artist

    I’ve always delighted in making puzzles. It used to drive my father insane, the table covered for days, barely any room to put his cup down. The thing about puzzles, aside from demanding patience is a desire to see the finished product. Yet, as my father would point out “the bloody pictures on the sodding lid!”

    He never understood that it was not about knowing it was about the piecing together.

    I turn another brick over. Red dust and paint flakes smear my fingers. My father’s demise had left just my uncle and me. He lived on his own, an academic, amateur artist, seasoned traveller. Never married, no desire nor interest he once told me.

    Another brick. A painted face staring back, a date:

    January 1986.

    I lie it down beside its colleagues. We used to joke about the bricks, how they lay there in the garden, a squat mound that seemed to grow over time. My father would often offer to get a skip, get rid of them. My uncle would bristle politely they were his art project, a harmless past time.

    He’d been gone for two weeks now, trekking in Nepal. Seeing as I was between places I snapped up his offer to house sit. Nothing stressful, just take care of the plants, feed the fish.

    It was three days ago that I found the journal in his desk, the corners of the puzzle. Not quite a diary, yet each page containing only three details:


    I thought nothing of it until the neighbour’s rabbit escaped into the garden today. In the ensuing chase I displaced some of the monument’s residents. Picking one up I noticed that each was painted:

    A face
    A date

    No location. However a google search and the truth of my uncle’s artistry was quickly revealed.

    There are 173 bricks currently lying on the kitchen floor.

    Soon to be joined by number 174.

    Last week a backpacker fell to his death from a cliff in Nepal. The coroner’s report inferred suicide.

    My uncle’s flight gets in at ten.

    I just need to put the pieces back.

    Before he gets home.


    358 words

  5. nembow says:

    Title: You Didn’t Say Anything

    Standing at the kitchen window, she takes another sip of coffee and stares at the Lego bricks scattered across the patio. Sharp-cornered blocks of every size have turned the paving slabs into a multi-coloured minefield. She can still hear the smash-crash they made after Dylan hurled his latest creation out of the door.

    ‘What did you do that for?’ she’d shouted, startled from her thoughts by the sound.

    ‘You weren’t looking!’ he’d shouted back, eyes bright with tears, anger mottling his cheeks.

    She’d sighed. ‘Mummy was busy. I asked you to wait a minute.’

    ‘No you didn’t. You didn’t say anything. You just kept looking at the computer.’ With a fling of his arm, he’d knocked the pieces of paper she’d been holding out of her hand and onto the floor. ‘You’re ALWAYS on the computer.’

    ‘Dylan! Go to your room!’

    She turns away from the window and looks at the laptop on the table. Dylan smiles back at her. Dylan at the beach. Dylan at the park. Dylan at the zoo. Dylan’s first tooth. Dylan’s first step. Dylan’s first day at pre-school. The photos drift across the screen.

    Turning back to the kitchen window, she takes a last sip of coffee, and after sweeping up the bills from the floor, she sits back down at the laptop and reopens Excel.

    (221 words)


  6. The Birthday Present

    358 words

    “It’s only a pile of bricks” my dad used to say with a huge grin on his face.
    He always called houses that. My mum tutted, her false teeth clicking together, making the noise that embarrassed her so much. She’d never had much luck in her life, marrying dad so young, having pyorrhoea in her gums and losing all her teeth at twenty-six didn’t help and the biggest hindrance of all was having six children in seven years. Mum would tell me I arrived early but I knew about things and Granny telling me I was a big bonny baby didn’t seem right when our cousin Lucy had Spencer early, he looked like a skinned rabbit, no meat on him.

    Mum just wanted to live in a proper house with an indoor lavatory not the lean-to at the bottom of the garden that stank when the weather got hot, we prayed for cool breezes and the fall of rain. When the storage tank got full, dad would laugh and say it was a shame there wasn’t money to be made with all we produced. Mum would tut saying we had to pay for it to be emptied so someone was making money out of it.

    Walking across McGiven’s field one day I came across a few bricks and that’s what gave me the idea. For mum’s birthday I’d give her a pile of bricks, so I began to collect them a few at a time so no one would notice they were missing. I hid them well behind the lean-to. Nobody spent much time down there, only the time that was necessary. I was mighty pleased how the pile was getting bigger and bigger, soon be enough for a whole house.

    On the day on Mum’s birthday I could hardly wait to show her and dad their new house. Dad nearly died of laughter; he held his chest so tight I thought he was going to expire when he stood. Mum hugged me tight and said it was the best birthday present ever. We now have a brick built lavatory, Mum stood over Dad whilst he built it.

  7. C Connolly says:

    Building Bridges

    The bricks are heavy in Chris’s hands as he hefts them, feeling their weight, sweat at his brow courtesy of the heat overhead. The air shimmers nearby. The blocks leave a residue of dust on his fingers as he transfers them to and fro, one hand to the other, before moving them from the tidy pile across to the water’s edge. There is little talk between the villagers as they work each into place, adding cement between each layer to dry in the sun. Chris feels no need to break the lengthy silences himself. Maddy is gone – nothing else for it but to make his task count.

    It will be a lengthy process to create their passage to the stream’s other side but their confidence holds, safe in their common goal. Concentrating on it saves on wandering thoughts and what has passed before the Now. They have promised it will remain unspoken; that future generations will not know of Before, only of After, once they have reached Beyond. They know they will not fail now, though attempts have been made previously, many times. Belief renders the foundations impervious. They know this; every one. Such are the True Ways.

    “We thank you. All,” Kai says, formally, as he passes, hand on Chris’s shoulder for a moment. Their eyes do not meet. Chris concentrates on the beginnings of the arch, plain to see, until Kai passes on. There is nothing to say or be done. There is only his work. His all now, in the after, following on from the before.

    Chris wipes his forehead with his sleeve. The temperature is oppressive; unremitting. The need for water, whether cool or no is overwhelming. Once admitted, he can think of nothing else, his feet taking him towards its source before he knows it. He kneels by the reeds gracing the banks, scooping handfuls from beyond, swallowing, then throwing several more across his face before his attention is caught by the beginnings of the bridge’s brickwork. Though they were without blemish when set into place, he swears he sees scratches streaked on several now. Marks, five on five; small; fingernails. Two sets. Well remembered.

    (360 words)


  8. In The Aftermath

    “Excelsior Insurance, you’re through to Marty. Is it Mr Silverstein?”

    “That’s right.”

    “And you’re claiming for metahuman damages?”

    “Yeah, The Behemoth – ”

    “Next Gen or Classic?”


    “Red or green?”

    “Oh. The green guy.”

    “Classic. That’s good.”


    “Yeah; The kid’s been possessed by Bacchus and we can’t touch him; You can’t insure against acts of Gods, even really drunk ones. So what was the damage?”

    “He dropped my house on the Mole King.”


    “Picked it up, ‘Behemoth smaaash!’, then planted it on his head.”

    “Did it do much damage?”

    “To the Mole King?”

    “To the house…”

    “Oh. Yeah, totalled. Went from three storeys to a pile of rubble in a flash.”

    “He was there too? Just kidding… It’s pretty simple. We handle around sixty of these a month, and the big guys always pay out in full and on time.”

    “That’s so great. I’ve been living in my car. D’you think I should check into a motel?”

    “You could check into a hotel, Mr Silverstein. I just have to ask one last question, okay?”


    “Okay, let me read it out; Have you now, or have you ever been, a member of a supervillain organisation, science criminal fraternity or metahuman dynasty?”



    “Well, I don’t think it counts, but my old man was kind of a bad guy, back in the day.”

    “How bad?”

    “You remember that one guy who wanted to magnetise everyone’s retainers?”

    “I thought his name was Shapiro?”

    “Mom remarried while he was inside. He was never a big part of my life, so I didn’t declare it. Does it matter?”

    “It could. You wouldn’t expect burglary insurance to pay out if you left your doors open all night would you?”

    “You’re saying I invited this?”

    “No, but your pop’s prior relationship with the metahuman community could count against you.”

    “But he’s dead!”


    “Yeah. Oesophageal cancer in ’07.”

    “Well, that could be okay.”


    “Yeah. Soon as we dig him up, check he’s not a clone or a cyborg or whatever, you’re golden. We’ll have you in that motel in no time.”

    “I thought you said hotel?”

    “Don’t push it, Mr Shapiro.”

    360 words


  9. Voima Oy says:

    Down to Earth
    357 words

    Once again, he was falling, back into the weight of the world. It was still a difficult adjustment, no matter how many times he had made the transition. Still, it was good to feel the solid ground, again.

    It was good to be home. His sister Elaine looked older,though and the nephews had grown so much since he had been away. Had it been that long? Maybe so.

    It was a small town, and everybody knew him. He waved a greeting to the neighbors passing on their way to work. “Hey how’s it goin, Captain?” No one asked how long he would be back.

    The house was filled with unfinished projects. The toolshed needed painting. Bricks lay piled in the backyard for a garden that still had to be cleared. The broken ladder had become a trellis for morning glories.

    On the station, he had planted zucchini and sunflowers in a nutrient medium. It was an experiment to see how they would do in Zero G. They bloomed, at first, but the radiation got them eventually. Thanks to his discovery, they had special shielding, now.

    He had forgotten how good Elaine’s coffee was. Now, he was feeling more awake. He surveyed the garden, uncertain where to start.

    One thing at a time, he told himself. First dig the garden, then the bricks. One brick at a time. It felt good to feel the sun on his back.

    It was growing warmer in the sun. He didn’t need the long-sleeved shirt over the T-shirt, now. He wiped the sweat from his forehead. The digging had worn him out. He wasn’t used to that kind of exertion.

    “Hey, Captain, need some help?”

    “Sam! It’s so good to see you.”

    “How you doing, you old space cadet?”

    He laughed. “Old is right.”

    “Yeah,” Sam said. “Me too. So, how are you doing?”

    “Oh, I’m all right, considering.”

    Sam did not pursue it. What was there to say? He was home for good.

    That afternoon, they built the raised garden bed, brick by brick. It was good to feel the earth between his fingers. He had never felt so grounded.

  10. Voima Oy says:

    I didn’t realize I missed the deadline. My sincere apologies!

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