Flash Frenzy Round 30

Posted: August 2, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Round 30!

This weekend, judge Stella is presiding.

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. C Connolly says:

    The Last Laugh

    They are there, waiting, for Callie, in town, on her doorstep, as she crouches, enclosed behind her four walls, taking steady breaths, one then another, keeping count. She knows them – all – sees the jet iron incapable of masking high cheekbones and arched eyebrows, crowded teeth or Roman nose from her mind’s eye, though the features are distorted now, in their fits of frozen ecstasy. Callie runs as she sees it overtake them, one after another, bowing beneath invading emotion, unrestrained; overwhelmed in unfamiliar attack – though it threatens to claim her with a brief cough before her feet stumble instinctively for home. She turns her face away, eyes blurred behind salt water, as fissures form and spread over skin; there, then gone, eyes blinded in the welding, as the plates close down upon them, sealing their slit eyelids.

    Though the walls are thick and the door secured shut now, she hears them calling; their miasmic mirth, mouths gaping; a cacophony of chorusing from a cavalcade infantry seeking to enlist her as their own. They are there, beneath burnished metal, seeking to surface, proclaiming their presence.

    Callie feels herself threatening to crack; cries “God help me!” – a merciful drowning of the growing chortles, merciless, from outside, but for a moment. Louder still then, encroaching, Callie feels herself choke a little, as she hears them; clears her throat, as her shoulders shake, fighting for control. If only she could catch her breath! It rattles instead, laboured; her betrayer. A single heave escapes her and she bends with the pressure, before swallowing it down; silent once more, though roars echo around her in the aftermath of her attempts, volume increased.

    Callie bends, hugging her arms to herself, placing hands to her ears briefly to muffle the sounds from outside. Inappropriately, she feels the urge to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the predicament; instead, she shuts her eyes and stifles a giggle before it reaches her lips.

    They are there, waiting, for Callie, as she crouches, taking steady breaths. Their pitch is rising as they howl hilarity at her. They want to have the last laugh. They want to have hers.

    (360 words)


  2. Voima Oy says:

    The Statues of Sans Merci
    359 words

    On the streets of  Sans Merci, old  spacers sing about love. It is a laughing city, a wistful city.  The statues in the plazas weep tears of  yellow leaves.

    He was going down there, no matter what O’Banion said.  All his warnings about the waif bars. The old guy had forgotten how to live. He was so body-modified, what flesh parts were left by now?

    It’s not like he was going all by himself, anyway.  Reece and  Gomez  knew their way around.  He was supposed to  meet them under the clock tower by the plaza with the animated statues. It was said they smiled upon lovers. Naturally, Reece and Gomez would want to go there, again.

    So, here he was, walking in the rush-hour crowds, trying to find the plaza.  Every time he asked for directions, the busy people smiled indulgently.

    “Are you meeting someone  there?  A girl? A boy? ”

    “Just friends,” he said.

    “Ah friends!  That’s what they all say…”  How their eyes twinkled, their faces creasing in amusement.

    At last he came to the  clock tower and the plaza with the animated statues. The faces were blank, enigmas. The plaza was almost empty. He looked around for Reece and Gomez.

    He caught a flicker of expression in the  faces as he passed, a beckoning glance, a hint of a smile?

    “Are you looking for someone?”

    Her upturned eyes told him she was not a native.   Who was this girl he knew forever?  He wanted to tell her everything.

    Under the smiling statues, they held each other in the rain of leaves. Her  touch was electric. He had never felt so alive.

    He was sitting there, with a smile on his face, when Reece and Gomez found him.

    “Aw, Tony, come on!”  Reece was shaking him, but why was it so important?  He wanted to tell them he couldn’t leave. She would be back any time now.  Hadn’t she promised?

    “He’ll be okay,”  Gomez said.  “We just have to get him back to the ship.  Those waifs  are  strong, though.”  She looked  wistfully  at Reece. “Sometimes,  I wish I had their magic…”

    Above  them, the statues were laughing.

  3. Sal Page says:


    Joan and her husband woke up and discovered they had turned into liquorice over night. Joan got out of bed and pulled on her dressing gown then realised she was far too hot in it now she was made of liquorice. She shrugged it off onto the floor and signed.
    ‘What’s up love?’ Barry was barely awake yet.
    ‘This is very inconvenient, Barry. It would have to happen today.’
    They had guests arriving at midday. Should they cancel? What would their friends think?
    ‘I’ve got that chicken casserole and masses of strawberries and cream but all they’ll be able to see is liquorice.’
    ‘You’re right, Joan. Not everyone likes liquorice. It’s one of those things folk either love or hate, isn’t it?’
    They went into the living room, flung open the French windows and strolled out into the garden. The fresh air felt strange though not unpleasant on their rubbery dry liquorice skins. They had let the hedges grow high recently so they were confident people in the neighbouring bungalows wouldn’t see the pair of naked liquorice figures on the lawn.
    Joan put her hand to her hair. ‘I quite like my hair like this. Neat liquorice swirls.’
    ‘It’s beautiful Joan.’
    The morning sky looked stunning and the birds were singing with joy. It was going to be a fine day. Joan laughed out loud. She didn’t really know what she was laughing at. She was admiring Barry’s legs. They looked less skinny and more muscular now they were liquorice. Barry turned round and their eyes met. He was laughing too.
    ‘Oh, let’s just cancel.’
    ‘Yes, let’s.’
    So Joan rang round and told all their guests that Barry wasn’t feeling himself today. He thought he had a cold coming on, she told them, and he didn’t want to spread it round.
    Then they went back to bed. Joan gave Barry a soft sticky kiss. He tasted deliciously sweet. As they became warmer and tackier, Joan wondered how long their liquoriceness would last. It wasn’t so bad. Fortunately they both loved the stuff.

    342 words


  4. The Laughing Men

    “Meet me by the Laughing Men at sundown,” Billy says, leaning in to press a chaste peck against my cheek. When he turns, I roll my eyes. Billy loves to be enigmatic. The romance was wearing thin.

    After he leaves, I stand by the hotel window, watching the people move through the square below. Billy appears, head high, crowned with a jaunty hat. He turns and waves. I lift my hand in reply. Even from up here I can see his smug smile, and I hate him. I follow his hat until it disappears into the crowd.

    I look at the clock. Only two hours until sundown. I sigh. I’ve had enough of this strange northern town with its cold light and early dark. Then I slip on my heavy boots and slide my arms into my coat sleeves. Bundled against the weather, I head out into the waning afternoon light. The Laughing Men are somewhere in the park, which is just a few blocks from our hotel. There’s a café I like on the way.

    The waiter sets down my coffee. “Thank you,” I say. “Could you tell me where I’ll find the Laughing Men?”

    He smiles. “Of course! You cannot leave without seeing them.” His English lilts. “In the park; just follow the signs.”

    The park cuts through the city, its paths frozen, its trees and bushes wreathed in white. I pass no one. The silence has a comforting weight. My boots crunch the ice, and my breath makes little puffs of fog.

    The waiter’s directions prove perfect. Every few feet I find a sign. And then there they are—enormous obsidian statues of men in the throws of laughter, their rictus grins both horrifying and entertaining. The setting sun catches the tops of nearby trees, their white halos glowing golden. Hands stuffed in my pockets, I wander around the statues, which are strangely free of snow, until I come to the middle. There a statue kneels, its smile terrifyingly wide. In its extended hand sits a little box. On its head, sits Billy’s jaunty hat.

    My legs freeze. I am grinning.

    354 words

  5. zevonesque says:

    Wined and Dined and ?
    by A J Walker

    Sara skipped and danced through the house getting ready to her favourite mix tape. Her hairbrush mic rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ was her best ever, she was sure. When her hair was perfect and her eyelashes lengthened and strengthened into their formidable weaponised form then it was time for a glass of something white and nice. And then another.

    First date with Dave tonight in the little restaurant in the square. It was a great place to meet up, proper nice.

    ‘You ready Sara?’ her dad knocked on the door.

    ‘I’m coming,’ she said, instinctively covering up the bottle with Cornwall tea towel. She was relieved her dad no longer felt comfortable coming into her domain. She would have to do something about all the empties soon though she realised, kicking an empty vodka bottle under the bed.

    She turned around quickly to find her remaining wine and slugged it down.

    ‘You coming?’ her dad said. ‘I’ll get the car out of the drive.’

    Twenty minutes later and her dad dropped her off around the corner from the restaurant. ‘Give me a call if you need picking up. And remember he is definitely too good for you!’

    His little joke, no one was good enough for his little girl.

    Hours later she was on her back on the pavement insensible staring up at the creepy laughing statues. Their garish clown faces grinning insanely down on her filthy face. She felt their frozen eyes intense in her head. They span around the square, laughing at her.

    The detritus of the city surrounded her, broken bottles, paper adverts for sleazy bars and taxi cabs, and her own vomit, at least she hoped it was her own.

    ‘I had a good night,’ she said. ‘I must have.’

    She licked her lips, quickly wishing she hadn’t.

    This was a new low and the clowns were witnesses. She hated them more than ever.

    She avoided the square for the next few weeks, finding their faces accusatory. Acute embarrassment reigned.

    She never did hear from Dave again and cringed every time she looked back at that night, wondering what she’d done.

    (357 words)

  6. Carrying On

    Ted had to drop the puppets until the coughing fit passed. They lay there, leering up at him as he doubled over, a handkerchief pressed to his lips, their ebony eyes glistening with joyless mirth as he added a few more red spots to the once white linen.

    When it was over, he bent to retrieve them, old bones creaking with the strain, then settled to finish the preparations. Mr Punch first, as always, then Judy, the baby, the rest of the cast. He wiped and polished, bringing out the darkness in Punchinello’s grin, the depthless despair in his young wife’s eyes, the violent shadow which palled the Constable’s face. The figures were ancient, carrying scars and scuffs from countless performances, and he lingered over them as he worked.

    It would not be long now before they gave their final show. The audiences were already dwindling even before the contagion took hold, fewer children each day sitting cross legged before the striped tent, fewer still appreciating his work, but still he went on. He had no son to pass the puppets on to and no desire to take an apprentice, and no-one would mourn one more seaside tradition when it was over, but every day, he pitched his tent on the sand, hung out his signs and waited for them to come. It seemed important somehow, a cherished tradition continuing in the face of mounting chaos.

    His watch chirped and he peered through a slit in the front of the tent, taking in the small, expectant audience. More than yesterday, but half were wearing paper masks, as if that was any protection against the contagion. He sighed, tucked the swazzle into his mouth and tongued it into position, then wrapped the red spotted handkerchief around the tiny black baby, ready to drop it into the audience and to watch it tossed from one shrieking child to the next.

    It was a hard life, being The Professor, but it gave him the freedom to travel and meet new children, at least until age took him, or the Constable realised that Ted was the Carrier.

    That’s the way to do it.

    360 words

  7. David Shakes says:

    Gargoyles and Lovers.
    David Shakes
    253 words

    We laugh at your folly. We sneer in contempt at your futile attempts to be happy.
    We were placed here by visionaries, those who knew that the world was naught but chaos and despair. A cess pit disguised by sunshine.
    Here comes one of you now.
    He has flowers in hand and hope in his heart. Such optimism. The disease of the young.
    Your date is going to be late my friend. She’s otherwise engaged.
    You dream of country cottages and kids; she dreams of the day your trust fund is drained and she can move on.
    We look upon this square and we guffaw.
    An old woman looks over the brightly knit goods on the market stall. She thinks how the grandchildren will love them.
    She’ll never see them again. She’ll pass away next Wednesday, alone and afraid.
    How we chortle.
    But…WE don’t.
    I’m unsure how it happened. He just…froze.
    Is it a grin or grimace?
    He’s rooted in place as you vermin scurry about and wallow in your naivety.
    He left me here.
    How could he?
    We were soul mates set a task. Lucifer bade us rise from our sin and mock as we were mocked.
    We did it so well.
    In the end he loved you more than me.
    He missed his humanity.
    I miss him.
    Dear God, take me too?
    Why won’t you take me?

    My lover has become stone. His face fixed for eternity. I look upon him and laugh.
    We are absurd.

    We are halted.

    We’re together again.

  8. Jacki Donnellan says:

    I Serve
    360 words

    The company line had always been that faces were unnecessary. Why would they need them? They didn’t eat or speak, so mouths were out. And they perceived their environment through inputs other than “sight,” so why give them eyes?

    The Marketing department had had doubts. Would people want humanoids with blank, featureless faces, they said, wandering round their homes with a duster and dishing up the dinner? What was the point in giving the iServe a human shape at all, if not a face?

    Eventually, though, it was Finance that won the day. Giving the iServe a faceless, curvily human form would be just enough to infer commandable servitude, they said, without diminishing the company’s margins.

    And so, faceless it was.

    Nobody ever asked what I thought, of course, the geeky girl in Engineering, who gave every iServe a name and a secret tweak on the cheek before it left the factory.

    But I’d always had my own view.

    And I was lucky enough to be the engineer who was sent out to investigate, when the inevitable finally happened. Dispatched in the middle of the night to the home of an irate customer, along with Barry from PR.

    “How long has she been in there?” I asked the customer, as we stood outside his bathroom.

    It’s been in there nearly twelve hours, now,” he said, pointedly. “Went in to scrub the toilet like I told it to, and then suddenly locked the door, and hasn’t come out since, the useless pile of…scrap!”

    He began angrily jabbing the buttons on his remote, then gave up and hammered on the bathroom door. “Get out o’there, I’m telling you! I’ve had to waz on my begonias because of you!”

    From behind the door, there came a dry, rasping chuckle.

    “What was that?” whispered Barry from PR. At that moment the bathroom door opened, and the iServe stepped out.

    The customer swore.

    Barry screamed.

    The customer turned to me. “What the-how the hell did that happen?” he demanded. “And why-I mean, how can it be a servant with a great big grin? On its face?”

    “I don’t know!” I said.

    I started to giggle.

  9. The Laughing Princes

    Long ago there was an ancient temple run by three princes. The first prince, Gustafo, was an arrogant womanizer. He prided himself on his looks and the looks of others. The second prince, Guerro, was a trickster. He loved to play practical jokes and tease people, even if it was at their expense. The third prince, Geo, was different from his brothers. He was kindhearted and noble, always looking out for his fellow man.

    One day a strange woman came into the temple to see the princes. Gustafo took one look at the woman’s matted black hair, hunched figure, and tattered clothing and refused to speak to her. He referred her to Guerro. At first, Guerro seemed gracious. He led her outside to hold an audience with him. Unfortunately he led her to where the livestock was kept and told her that was the only place she belonged within the temple. A couple minutes later, Geo came for the woman, took her to the garden, and had a real audience with her.

    To Geo’s surprise, the woman had many interesting things to say that could improve the temple. Despite her looks, she was charming, funny, and intelligent. Geo requested that she come back in the next to speak to his others brothers. She warned him that they wouldn’t listen, but agreed to come back.

    Just as directed the woman returned to speak with the princes. Although Gustafo and Guerro swore they would listen, they made a mockery of her presentation. Gustafo flirted with the servants while Guerro made paper statues. The woman yelled at the princes.

    “You are not noble men! You are worms. For your disrespect you will be cursed!”

    The princes laughed as the woman waved her hands in the air and transformed into a beautiful maiden. Thinking it was a trick, Gustafo and Guerro kept laughing. With another wave of her hand, the two princes turned to stone and vanished. Geo shut down the temple and ordered a search for her but she was nowhere to be found. The laughing princes would remain stone for eternity.

    349 words

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