Flash Frenzy Round 36

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

Welcome to Round 36. I’ll be out of town with patchy internet service this weekend, so Image Ronin has been handed the reins and will be in charge (acting as 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 Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. davidshakes says:

    Middle Man
    360 words
    David Shakes

    I thought he looked like a fatter Ben Kingsley in Gandhi.
    He looked me in the eye.
    “A passing resemblance.” he said.
    “So it works?” I stuttered, stating the patently obvious.
    “I should think that was patently obvious.”
    “You only took one drop, how long… ”
    ” Will it last?” he finished. “Long enough for you to get me the money you hid beneath the car’s passenger seat in case this was all one big joke.”
    I grinned. He was in my head. Soon I’d possess the same ability. It would cost mother’s life savings but I figured my new ability, if used carefully, would more than replenish them.
    I skipped to the car.
    Back inside he seemed different. Less benign. He eyed the cash greedily.
    “What number am I thinking of?” I asked him.
    “The effect has worn off I’m afraid.”
    His smile never faltered but his eyes had hardened.
    Doubtfully, I handed him the money. In return, he passed the tincture bottle.
    As I turned to leave he grabbed my hand. He looked weary all of a sudden.
    “It won’t make you rich.” he whispered, almost apologetically.
    There was a deep cough from somewhere further back in the apothecary. He looked over his shoulder, body tense.
    “You’d better go.”
    I walked out. He called after me.
    “Three hundred and seventy-two point eight.”
    That had been the exact number I’d been thinking of.

    There are no words to adequately describe the agony that flows from the unfettered minds of people. Every dark thought, every doubt, every perverted impulse fires through your own synapses. Nerve ends sing with the pain.

    Now imagine being in a crowd.

    I was a gibbering wreck when I got back to the antiquated shop.
    I rattled the locked door before noticing a hastily taped parchment behind the glass.
    I don’t think it was from Ghandi, who was slumped dead behind the counter.
    It was from the management.
    It was penned in blood. Two words inside a crude pentagram:
    ‘No refunds.’

    I looked at Ghandi’s corpse. He’d tried to warn me.
    I looked back at the parchment.
    The words had changed:
    ‘Shopkeeper wanted.’

    The door opened.

  2. A Degree of Chemistry
    271 words

    How many times have I explained to Mr Stokes that Chemistry is a science? He just thinks you mix a bit of this with a bit of that and hey presto you get a miracle cure. I’ve been working for him since I left Oxford with the first class degree and top of my class award. I had all these wonderful ideas finding a cure for cancer and all the ghastly illnesses that plagued mankind. I would win the Noble Prize and be given a professorial chair. Forty years later I’m still in this room surrounded by bottles of chemicals, test tubes and old apparatus. I begged for the latest equipment dreamt of spectroscope feed outs but Mr Stokes just laughed and said the Alchemists of old didn’t need all this new fangled machinery. Did he want me to produce gold? No something even more elusive.

    Each morning Mr Stokes looks me up and down. Asks me how I’m getting on. Watches as I walk around the laboratory. He generally always looks disappointed. Sometimes he clasps his hands with glee if I seem a bit more agile. He never asks me about my family, so I don’t show him the photos I have in my wallet. My three strong sons are all degree educated and captains of industry and their mother is absolutely stunning. I love them all beyond reason.

    For the last thirty years I’ve been giving my family a small dose of the potion I’d discovered whilst working in Mr Stokes pokey lab. It didn’t work on me but then would I want to live for ever working here.

  3. @avalina_kreska
    360 words

    Eliza Etheridge

    ‘Hazine added a drop. Just one more drop. The drop glistened, poised on the end of the pipette. It fell. He managed to turn around before the 100 mile an hour sneeze arrived. He was feeling off, like he was coming down with something.

    Millions of people around the world had a bottle made from this batch. The batch he’d made when he had sniffle.

    Strange how just one small drop can change the world.

    Countless bedrooms smeared with blood. Women lay in raptures, ripped open like tomatoes. This Viagra. This Spanish Fly. Just one drop. From Wonderful Saviour to Evil Sorcerer with just one drop. Men plunged deeper than was humanly possible, yet the women craved the depth, deeper, into the stomach, lungs, heart.

    The Earth panicked. Men, waking from the spell with bloodied, dripping penises, wailing for their flaccid dead women. Children covered their ears, because of their eyes. Animals retreated into holes, ashamed and afraid. The ashen faces of TV Presenters, Officials, Questions. Questions. Questions.’

    ‘I think that’s enough of your Friday fiction for one day Eliza.’ Mrs Shoebridge said, visibly shaken, wishing she’d stopped Eliza earlier but she was mesmerised. Traumatized teenagers sat, mouths open.

    She tried the end the class breezily.
    ‘Next week we’ll have something, well, a little lighter.’ The pupils silently filed out.

    Eliza grinned. Her heart burned in her chest. At last – a reaction.

    She, Eliza Etheridge, made them feel something. Made them notice. Made them feel how she felt every night when the nightmares came, when he came to her room. When she asked him to stop. She would drift to a story, it was a story, make a story, make it stop.

    …In a laboratory in London, a qualified man would make a terrible mistake because of the flu. One drop too many. The suspended drop. Tick Tock. It drops. The damage is done. Cannot be undone. Children nurse children. All for the sake of a prolonged orgasm. A shaking world. Hideous Tremors. Spoiled beds. Mothers mass graves…

    Eliza knew that one day she would be the new Stephen King.
    One day she’d make a man quake in his boots.

  4. joshbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    359 words

    “Number One”

    My brow beaded with sweat and I regretted drinking half the daily recommended amount of water as I sat waiting for Dr. Al-Kimiya’s office hours. My leg shook and I tried to hold on.

    He said he was working on a solution when I entered.

    I had wanted to talk to him about my grade, but he just sat there, pouring his water from one beaker to the next.

    I was okay when I sat down, but he just kept pouring.

    I asked him what he was doing and he grumbled, “I told you, I’m working on a solution.”

    A solution for what I asked.

    “The solution” was his answer.

    Now it should be said that Dr. Al-Kimiya, while one hell of a chemistry professor, could be quite strange. Watching the water swash, my leg began to shake.

    He began to talk. I figured he’d explain “the solution,” but instead dove into one of his ramblings.
    “If the moon,” he said, “then the blackness will kill the king. Maybe I need to slay the king.” He grumbled something like discontent, then smiled that thin kind of smile you smile when you realize something. “Of course, if the devouring should proceed it might just kill the dragon.”

    “That would be ideal,” I tried to joke.

    “Are you kidding me!?”

    “Sorry Dr. Al-Kimiya.”

    He set his two beakers down. He inclined his head and looked at me past his thick rims. I was probably a blur to him, but there was something very clear in his eyes. At that time I was holding on for dear life, trying my best to breathe long and slow.

    “Who are you!?” He did not hide his accusation.

    “It’s me, Doctor, Albert.”

    That’s when his eyes went bat-shit crazy. “Albertus Magnus? Albertus the Great?”

    “No sir, Albert from Chemistry 101.”

    “You are the king! You are what I need! You are the solution!” He stood and took from his desk a small scalpel. “You! You are the king I need to slay!” He leapt toward me across his desk.

    I ran, ran out the door and, at long long last, I finally got to pee.

  5. Dr. Rosenstein

    When he smells oranges he is once again seven years old, visiting his grandmother in Florida, small and safe on a wooden kitchen chair while Nana slices oranges plucked from her yard.
    When he smells cold ocean he remembers summer evenings spent on the beach on Cape Cod, his family’s laughter stolen by the wind. Warm ocean scent makes him think of the first girl he kissed.
    We he smells smoke there is still a prickle that creeps up the nape of his neck and he feels like he has to contain the fire, like he did when the kitchen in his first home was ablaze.
    When he smells books he feels at peace. When he smells vanilla he recoils in post-nostalgia revulsion, reminded of a bitter ex-girlfriend who liked the scent to saturate her every pore.
    When he smells benzaldehyde he is transported to his lab.
    When he smells roses he thinks of his wife.
    When he smells fresh bread he thinks of his wife.
    When he smells the cinnamon in coffee he thinks of his wife.
    When he smells lillies, funeral and cloying, he, unfortunately, thinks of his wife.

    He has made a living exploiting the limbic system, working chemical magic to tease and please the amygdala. A chemist turned pseudo-perfumist, creating scents tailored to whatever emotion a brand is trying to conjure. Scent marketing sounded absurd but even he was swayed by the subtle scent used in every Apple package, and the tea based scents piped in through the vents of luxury hotels.

    But that is at work.
    At home he strives for something else, something more. The way to encapsulate all the scents he associates with his wife. He knows her body is gone, a soul perhaps lost to the universe. He does not wish to play Dr. Frankenstein. But he does want her back. Oh, how he wants back.
    He will find the way to turn the myriad of complicated associations in one pure beautiful essence.
    That is how he will bring her back.

    342 Words

  6. voimaoy says:

    Time’s Fool
    360 words

    He had a kind face, an open face. A face you could talk to.

    “So, talk to me,” he said. “What brings you here, this fine autumn day?”

    He had the face of a buddha, a face that had seen many things come and go.

    “Well, it’s hard to explain,” Brian sneezed. “I have this allergy…”

    “Mr. Morris, you didn’t come here for itchy eyes, did you?”

    “Well, it’s just, this is an apothecary. And this street, the old shops…it was recommended…”

    “And not always open, here. Go on…”

    Oh why not just blurt it out? “Time,” he said. “I need more time.”

    “Eternal life? There are side effects. Have you considered?”

    “Not that. Just with work, and all. More time with the family…”

    “Ah, I think I understand. An unusual request. We don’t get that one on Proxima Centauri, which is where I’m from by the way. Well, I remember one guy. A poet. Are you a poet? I think you are. It’s the eyes. Yes, I may have something to help you….”

    One drop at a time, and he could move between moments. The crowds on the street like statues.

    He would become a model of productivity. Five hours of work in the blink of an eye. But still, that persistent itch, and the unsettling feeling that he was not alone in this accelerated dimension. There were others, blurs of motion, even more accelerated, not native to this realm.

    “Don’t let them see, you,” the alien with the face of a buddha had warned him. “I cannot be responsible for the consequences.”

    There they were, three figures in the mist. Three women in black, with wild hair. They were arguing over frogs and beetles, crows and Nubian goats. Would there be mosquitos, and fruit and nut bars? Who was keeping the list?

    They saw him. Three pairs of eyes surprised, creased with amusement, old beyond time.

    “Oooh, isn’t he a pretty one?”

    “Reminds me of that boy, Will, wasn’t he? Oh, he was a poet…and who are you?”

    “Oh, don’t run away! We need your spreadsheets. Help us remake this world. We can make you happy! And famous…”

  7. Mark A. King says:

    The FlashDogs by Mark A. King


    356 words


    The Thaumaturge had long since given up the ways of chemical compounds, oxides and foul smelling dubious liquids contained in ancient vials.

    If the rings of a tree were to count his age, they would surely stretch from great citadel to citadel.

    He remembers when times were hard. Not the hard of today; when you don’t have enough credit to buy the latest downloadable content for your PS4. No, there were times of war, times of hardship, famine and pestilence. Times when you would be thankful for blood caking the earth, as it would supply nutrients to the seeds sowed in the parched fields.

    Things are easy now. There is even time for play.

    He no longer exists in physical form. He is in the ports, the sockets, the microprocessors and the racks of terabytes in the cloud.

    He has created new life forms.

    He has named them FlashDogs.

    He watched them play, awkwardly, in the bytes and bits; harboured in the architecture of the foreign languages of Java and HTML. He scattered them across the globe, and connected them with electrons and invisible waves of indeterminable frequencies.

    They call from the continents. They join from the remote islands, the stars and the stripes, the lands of banished convicts, the city of the Liver Bird and even, even the arse of England.

    They found sanctuary in the virtual dragon caves, sought protection from luminous creatures and scampered from the wrath of angry timepieces.

    Their nationality is irrelevant. He is a master craftsman. He’s given them the ability to inspire each other and grow stronger. They will use their magical powers to mould new life that will live as surely as anything organic. They will make tears of laughter in the realms of reality. They will terrorise grown adults. They will conjure new worlds that exist in other times, in the deepest oceans and beyond the universe itself.

    He smiles when he thinks about them. For they say that the pen is mightier than the sword. Imagine what is possible with QWERTY keyboards and global communication at the speed of light, with just the touch of a button.

  8. Jacki Donnellan says:

    A Stronger Preparation

    He saw her coming.

    She was crossing the road, heading straight for the shop.

    He grinned and grabbed a bottle from the shelf, quickly filling it with water from the tap. By the time she came through the shop door he was positioned behind the counter, decanting the water into a phial with slow, reverent precision.

    “H-hello, again,” she said, smiling shyly.

    “Good morning!” he said, placing the phial carefully and obviously onto the counter. “And how did you get on with my last preparation?”

    Her face lit up. “Oh,” she breathed, “it was amazing!” Just like you said! I mean, I pegged out all my washing in five minutes flat yesterday afternoon. And last night, I was the only one in my yoga class to do the Half Lord of the Fishes for ten minutes straight…”

    He switched his expression expertly from attentive to impressed and delighted.

    “…and everyone said that it was all in my head, that it was just a question of mind over matter, but of course I knew that your performance enhancer had really worked.”

    “Of course you did!” he said, holding her gaze reassuringly. “So…” He looked down at the phial that he had placed on the counter. “Are you ready to go one step further?”

    “You mean…” she whispered.

    He nodded, picking up the phial and holding it towards her. “Appearance enhancement.”

    She was already nodding furiously, her mousey curls bobbing and her stubby hand reaching for the phial.

    “However, it is…”- he closed his hand quickly around the phial- “…a little more expensive than the performance enhancer. Four hundred, this time. A stronger preparation, you understand…”

    Without hesitating, she reached straight into her pocket and slapped a wad of notes onto the counter. And then, before he could stop her, she grabbed the phial, drained its contents, and rushed to stare at her reflection in a glass-fronted cupboard.

    “Oh, wow!” she gasped, her eyes wide. She turned to him. “I’m…I’m…”

    Her face suddenly fell. He held his breath.

    “I’m Detective Inspector Kate Harris, Mr Wood,” she continued, “and I’m arresting you on suspicion of fraud. You do not have to say anything…”

    360 words

  9. streetej says:

    The Chemical Taint
    359 words

    Arnold spent the afternoon prepping samples, wondering if his students would learn anything from the water analysis lab. Most of them thought chemical was a curse word.

    “Chemicals taint our food,” the student activists often ranted. “Chemicals pollute our streams!”

    Once Arnold had attempted to explain that chemicals were everywhere, that pure water and human flesh were composed of chemicals. He’d suggested that they name specific pollutants and their sources. They hadn’t listened.

    Arnold sympathized with environmental causes, but he had no tolerance for unsubstantiated fear-mongering. Though evidence of pollution was hard to come by. Big industry kept their sullying activities quiet.

    Arnold arranged his vials for the following day’s lab, noticing that he had forgotten to sample Logan Creek behind the school. He took a beaker and trudged across campus to fill it with murky water.

    His wife would scold him for working too late, but he ran some tests on the creek water anyway. He liked to know what to expect.

    The pH and conductivity numbers were off, but with his rudimentary tools, Arnold couldn’t interpret the abnormal results. Just for fun he left a voicemail for his buddy Dan Markam at AlliedChem.

    “Arnold Torrance here, Dan. Having the kids run basic pH and conductivity tests on water from Logan Creek. Funny results. If you get a chance, collect a sample and run a workup. Tell me what you find.”


    The water lab had gone well. Some students had even understood that the low pH readings signified the possibility of heavy metal pollutants due to solubility.

    Arnold drove home satisfied. He didn’t really expect to hear from Dan. High school chemistry was small potatoes for an AlliedChem researcher.

    A man in a black suit descended from Arnold’s porch as he pulled into the driveway.

    “Arnold Torrance?”

    “That’s me.”

    “I’m from AlliedChem.”

    “Dan sent you? Why?”

    The man shook his head. “Doctor Markam no longer works for AlliedChem. Come with me, Mr. Torrance. My car’s parked right over here. We heard you had some questions about Logan Creek.”

    “My wife will worry—”

    “But we have an offer you can’t refuse. Step into the car, Mr. Torrance.”

  10. Mark A. King says:

    This really has the feel of something much bigger, almost cinematic. There are so many things that haven’t been said and so many potential angles to think about. Nicely done.

  11. Mark A. King says:

    Date Night Face Off by Mark A. King
    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    283 words

    Date nights are always the same.

    He sits. He mixes. He has incredible talent – just not enough.

    She looks over at him and knows she has won the last three hundred years of husband vs wife date night games. The hardest part is letting him come close, without making it obvious. She often considered letting him win, but he won’t believe it unless it is earned, unless he senses he has exhausted everything and she had no answer to his brilliance.

    “You ready, darling?” She whispers and smiles, “World leader face off?”

    “Of course. You ready to finally get beaten?” He replies, knowing he has long since lost any element of belief in his words.

    He works furiously at the compounds and elements.

    Then adds the forces.

    A dash of boyish charm. Charisma. A sense of compassion. A psychotic grin. A penchant for self-destruction. He winks.

    “Behold…I give you…Tony Blair.”

    “Ohhhh. That’s a good one.”

    She works herself. It is more methodical, more refined and measured. It is always this way.

    A sprinkling of megalomania. A large dose of bewilderment. A sense of legacy unfulfilled. She twerks to mix it all together.

    “I give you…George W. Bush.”

    He shakes his head. He looks dejected. Then he realises she is winner of round one and needs to let her go again.

    She has a look of mischief; she is holding something back.

    Cheeky grin. Determination. Social responsibility. World stage charm. Deceit. Overactive hormones. The whiff of tobacco and bodily fluids.

    “Hazaar …Bill Clinton.”

    He puts the equipment away. He realises he is defeated.

    “Well done, my love.” He smiles.

    “Maybe next week?” She offers, but knows, with absolute certainty, it will never happen.

  12. Carlos Orozco says:

    Love Potions

    “Is this Maria’s Potion Shop?” Robert stuttered. He shifted uneasily from foot to foot and placed his hands in his jean pockets to sooth his fidgeting fingers.

    “Yes, I am her husband—Dr. Marquez. How can I help you?” The Dr. was a balding man with a salt and pepper mustache and glasses that stood perched on a large nose and even larger ears. They jiggled when he turned to look at Robert.

    “Well I was looking for Maria—”

    “Why? What can she do for you that I can’t? ” Dr. Marquez said with a voice full of accusation.

    “No, no, nothing, doctor. Err—I’ll get right to my request. I’m looking for a love potion. My wife and I have been married for five years and I feel her spark going out. She’s been distant, and I’m afraid she’s involved in extramarital activities.”

    The doctor’s ears perked up and jiggled. “Well, why don’t you leave her?”

    “I love her. I only have eyes for her. I just want her to feel the same.”

    Robert had Dr. Marquez’s full attention. The doctor grinned wide and replied, “we are very similar, friend.” Robert grinned back elated.

    “Well I have just the potion for you.” Dr. Marquez’s hands flew to and from the shelves pulling vials and jars and flasks of this and that. “Rose hearts boiled in red wine to increase love, poppy milk to numb the painful moments, purified water to purify the marriage…” The doctor continued in this fashion until he opened a small, brown vial. “And this, this is so she’ll only have eyes for you.” He shook small, white grains into the concoction and swirled the bottle until the grains disappeared. He capped the bottle and gave it to Robert.

    “How much do I owe you, doctor?” Robert’s voice burst forth with excitement.

    “I like you. It’s on the house. Good luck friend.”

    “Thank you doctor.” Robert said and he left the potion shop.

    When the door shut, Dr. Marquez selected a jar from the shelf. In the formaldehyde solution bobbed two white spheres. “The cyanide always helps with straying eyes. Isn’t that right Maria?

    359 words

  13. liked this one Carlos…… great ending. 🙂

  14. mitraarchita says:

    The Homeopath Doctor

    He worked with utmost precision – the homeopath doctor down the road.

    Peering through his black spectacles, he would mix you a concoction from the thousand of bottles in his little pharmacy. He didn’t use any measuring cup. Nothing except his own slightly faulty eyes, his brain and his two hands, deftly adding a drop of this, a trickle of that, a pinch of this and a sniff of that — like an alchemist at work.

    He had been there since before my birth. He lived in a small apartment above his pharmacy, and was available at all times of the day and the night. It was customary for all of us living in that lane to visit him for any minor to major ailment that happened to inflict us.His fees were nominal and he treated the poor for free. He would, listen to us patiently as we recounted our myriad symptoms, and a few minutes later would be handing us a bottle over the counter, with a tiny white label, that dictated through a clear neat handwriting instructions on how and when to take the medicine. And we would all be cured. Our coughs and colds, fevers and tummy aches, back pains and diarrhea all disappearing like magic.

    Mr. Sharma was an unfortunate case. He was ninety years old. It wasn’t surprising that he died. It was just unfortunate that he died a day after he partook the liquid the homeopath doctor had prepared to relive his joint pains. It brought in a lot of media attention, and a lawsuit.

    For a few months his pharmacy closed down. When it opened, people were still doubtful. There were rumours, and gradually business died down. People now went to the new medical doctor down the street, with his framed medical college degrees, benign smiles and untarnished prescriptions.

    He did not seem to care. Every time I passed by I would still see him there in the pharmacy, shuffling around, peering shortsightedly at the dusty bottles, and preparing medicines that no one trusted.

    We only found him because of the smell. In the end, his own medicines also turned on him.

    358 words

  15. zevonesque says:

    Black and White
    by A J Walker

    The coffee was bubbling away in the corner its strong aroma filling Stephen’s lungs and lifted his heart. His weakness. His experienced steady hands decanted the clear liquid from the large crystal bottle drop by life threatening drop into the vial.

    The black coffee plopped and fizzed as a splatter landed on the hot plate.

    Stephen sat back into the leather seat enjoying the leather squeak, his job almost done. He pushed the stopper in place which slipped in with satisfying ease.

    He cut out the foam judging the dimensions perfectly by eye then pushed the vial in. Now all the pieces were in place he just needed to connect the wires.

    He looked into the thick blackness of the coffee. It had a solidity to it and swore he could see visions of the future in it.

    He placed the large bottle carefully back on the shelf brushing the ancient label with his thumb. Diamond clear, colourless and odourless its clarity defied its lethal potential and, in his hands, its lethal purpose.

    The coffee tasted good.

    Finally he nimbly inserted the wires into place turning the case from a container into a mechanism.

    The squawk from the front of the shop told him someone had entered. The clock said twelve.

    “Right on time Mr Jones,” Stephen said as he walked into the sun filled shop.

    The woman looked at him, “I’ve never been called that before.”

    ‘Sorry my lady,” he said, “I was expected someone else.”


    He turned to close the door behind him, aware of the aluminium case on the table.

    Stephen watched the lady carefully nervous of the timing. She stopped by the cage and looked at the mynah bird.

    “It’s a beautiful bird you have here,” she said. “Always seems a shame to see birds in a cage to me.”

    Stephen looked at her, “It knows of nothing else.”

    “I’m sure if it could talk it could tell many a story.”

    “He says some words, but he isn’t a story teller.”

    “Anyway enough talk Stephen,” said the lady, “I suppose I must be Mrs Jones and I believe you have a package for me.

    (360 words)

  16. C Connolly says:

    The Dispensary

    Everyone ends up at The Dispensary eventually. Some go beforehand to visit. To feel better. Temporarily. Feeling worse afterwards. Hollow. Bereft. One visit leading to another and another. The regular clockwork crowd crawling in. Callum relies on them and they never let him down. Whether they will or no, they can’t avoid their final visit here.

    “Y’got it for me?” Jordan asks.

    “As promised. Pretty decent, all things considered. Had compliments from the punters. Kept her back special for you. Had a feeling you’d be in today.”

    “Pass her over then.” Jordan reaches a hand to the dispenser, taking the slim vial from his grasp, pressing it to his lips. He swallows it down, throat working once as it passes into his system. The dispenser sees his eyes glaze immediately, hand curving on the counter, as it takes hold of him. He breathes – in – out, expelling in a slow sigh.

    “Sweet,” Jordan says.

    “Rich, from what I’ve heard,” Callum responds. “With body.” He raises on eyebrow.

    “Nice little number,” Jordan agrees. “Not what I’m looking for though.” “Guessing you knew already.”

    “Might’ve had an inkling. She’s special order though. Still waiting for her to come in.”

    “Any idea on timings?”

    “Hard to say. You know how it is.”

    “Request’s been through some time now,” Jordan reminds Callum.

    “Got folks on it, for what it’s worth. She’ll come in.”

    “Better do.” The words are sharp.

    “Everyone ends up here eventually,” Callum says. “Just a matter of time. Plus there’s a pretty decent palate to work your way through in the meantime. Plenty of choice. Daily deliveries.”

    “Just not the one.” Insistent.

    “She’ll turn up.” A pause. “Try another in the meantime. On the house.” The dark glass is already in front of Jordan, liquid obscured behind the opaque surface. His eyes light as he sniffs, savouring the scent, before gesturing at the colour of the receptacle.

    “Really?” Jordan asks. “I’d have your sources if I wanted. Sod ’em. Told her I’d find her, one way or another. She can’t hide forever. Everyone ends up here eventually. You said it yourself. Just a matter of time, that’s all. Then I’ll have her.”

    (360 words)


  17. pamjplumb says:

    One Drop

    129 words

    One drop.

    The heat made him sweat. Droplets oozed down his forehead, but he couldn’t swipe them away. He had to keep steady. Mistakes could not be made. Lives depended on it.

    Today was the last day of the status quo. And the first of the revolution. Promised by many, but started by so few, his role was small but vital. Chief pharmacist to the Colonel, Fazir had held his position of trust for twenty years. Today he was going to betray that trust.

    He’d developed the poison over the last ten years. Experimenting on small animals at first, then building up to man-sized mammals. The biggest test had been on his own horse. Old and weary, she had almost welcomed the warm embrace of death. He’d done his job well, she had simply slipped into timeless sleep.

    And this was what made it easier for him. So many years in the Colonel’s presence and you couldn’t help but grow to like him, love him, even. Over the years he’d helped him and his family recover from fevers, chills, migraines. The children loved him.
    If he let himself, he realised he loved them.

    But for the future of the country, the future of his own family, he continued to pour the poison. One bottle for each; the Colonel, his wife and their twin girls.

    Only then could the revolution truly begin.

  18. drmagoo says:

    Missus Ryan wouldn’t be able to complain that he was late today – nor ever again, Dock thought, as he poured the poison into her medicine.

    Or so he wished. Dock hated that old biddy, but he wasn’t a killer. He put the cork back into the laudanum and set it next to the mercurochrome, turning its label so that it pointed precisely one-quarter turn to the right. Even though Missus Ryan was in a chair, and hadn’t been down to the cellar since back before her Thomas had been lost in the war, she still had ways of knowing if things weren’t done just so. He’d once put a jar of preserves with the tomatoes, and if he closed his eyes, he could still hear her excoriations ringing off the plaster.

    Things had been different in the house before the war. Mister Ryan was demanding, but generous, with a reputation for fairness that’d drawn many a young man to the gates of the carriage house hoping for work. Dock had gotten double-lucky the day he’d shown up – one of the butlers had retired earlier that week, and Missus Ryan was off visiting her sister. She’d tried to get him fired as soon as she’d gotten home, but Mister Ryan got what he wanted, and so Dock stayed. But Missus Ryan stared daggers at him every time he walked into the room, and he could count the number of times she’d spoken to him with a civil tongue on one hand.

    How Dock had avoided getting fired the day the telegram came about Mister Ryan – and every day thereafter – was a mystery. He’d always figured that Mister Ryan still held some sway even after he’d passed, but he sure wasn’t about to ask.

    Lost in thought, Dock opened the door to Missus Ryan’s parlor without knocking. As soon as the door had swung inward, he flinched, knowing that he’d violated one of the cardinal rules of the house. And then he froze, unsure of what he was seeing.

    “Well, do close the door,” Mister Ryan said in Missus Ryan’s voice. “And sit down. I see we need to have a conversation.”

    360 words

  19. Amy Wood says:

    357 words

    All You Can Wish For And a A Whole Lot More

    The clear liquid slipping noiselessly from one crystal vial to another seemed painfully innocuous. Aaron frowned.

    “Five thousand? No way.”

    The man shrugged. “You want it, you gotta pay. This stuff ain’t cheap, buddy.”

    The Brooklyn accent was strong enough to curdle milk and made all the more bizarre by the fact they were in Hackney.

    “It’ll work, right?” Aaron asked, his fingers flirting with the worn leather of his wallet. “It’ll make her like me? I want her to like me. And I want her to stay with me after we…er…you know.”

    “You want her to stay, you’re gonna need Infatuation as well.” Shrewd brown eyes bored into Aaron’s. “Like alone ain’t enough to stop her doin’ a walk of shame from your apartment. She’s gonna need a little incentive to stay.”

    “I’ve got a house, not a flat,” Aaron muttered, rubbing his head. “This is like buying date rape drugs.” The wallet was too heavy in his pocket. “I can’t.”

    He was at the door when the shopkeeper said, “Discount?”

    Aaron turned. He wanted that innocent little bottle, so, so much. Sarah was everything he’d ever desired. But she didn’t even know he was alive and it wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair and he should be allowed to do something about it.

    “That’s it,” the man grinned, crooking a finger at him, reeling him back toward the counter like a particularly helpless fish on a hook. “’Cause I like you, I’ll give you the Like and the Infatuation for three thousand.”

    “What about Love?” Aaron whispered.

    “All in good time, buddy,” the shopkeeper said.

    “Okay,” Aaron’s voice cracked. “Thank you.”

    “Don’t thank me yet,” the man chuckled.


    A month later Aaron returned to the shop.

    “I need an antidote. She’s driving me crazy. She won’t go home. She’s stalking me.”

    The shopkeeper grinned. “You wanted it, you got it, buddy. No refunds, no returns, no antidotes. Be careful what you wish for.”

    “You are a sick, twisted bastard,” Aaron spat as the man pushed him out of the door.

    “Baby, I missed you!” Sarah shrieked, hugging him tightly.

    Life really was hideously unfair.

  20. The Cure

    Melvin waited in the small, dark lobby. A woman sat across from him, buried in a magazine. He stared at the clock. Ten minutes past his appointment time. After a surreptitious glance at the woman, Melvin brought the index and middle fingers of his left hand to the inside of his right wrist. He watched the clock’s second hand as he counted. Ninety-six. Melvin pursed his lips and started counting again.

    “Melvin Jones?” A small man beckoned him forward. Melvin ignored the woman’s gaze as he crossed the waiting room. The apothecary stood aside for Melvin to pass and then directed him to sit opposite a cluttered desk. Melvin obeyed. The apothecary took his seat and studied Melvin with soft brown eyes. Melvin blinked.

    “Doctor Collins suggested I come see you,” Melvin said.

    The apothecary nodded and pulled out a folder stuffed with papers. “Doctor Collins is very open-minded for a physician.” He turned his attention to Melvin’s medical file, scanning the pages in silence.

    “Scarlet fever,” he muttered, looking up.

    Melvin blushed. “It turned out to be a bad sunburn.”

    The apothecary nodded and returned to the records.

    “Deep vein thrombosis?”

    Melvin shifted in his seat and looked at the floor. “Sore calf muscle.”


    “So, can you help me?” Melvin asked.

    The apothecary smiled, revealing a gap in the front of his yellowed teeth. “I can.”

    He pulled three bottles from the shelf behind his desk. Humming, he poured small measures from each bottle into a large beaker. He stirred the beaker’s contents and held the clear mixture up to the light. “Yes,” he murmured. Then he poured a small portion into a vial, which he handed to Melvin. “Drink it all in one go.”

    Melvin stared at the liquid. “Are you sure this will work?”

    “Doctor Collins has been sending patients to me for several years. He says they never come back.”

    Melvin closed his eyes and drained the vial. His eyes flew open, and he grasped his throat, the vial shattering on the floor.

    “Is it supposed to burn going down?” he croaked.

    “Only for a moment,” the apothecary replied.

    354 words

  21. streetej says:

    Poor Melvin! Just for being a hypochondriac?

  22. Scent of a Woman

    You can tell a lot about a woman by the way she smells. A woman’s scent can reveal if she’s bold or conservative, high maintenance or lowkey. Does she take care of herself or does her hygiene and appearance take a backseat to other things?

    Occasionally a man will find a woman with a scent so intoxicating he has to follow that woman. He has to know her name, who she is, and what she does. Many men never get to experience that type of love and seduction. However, Akanksha was lucky to have found that woman when he was in his mid twenties.

    Sure, she ignored his declarations of love. Sure, she married another man. But Akanksha never gave up on her. He never gave up on her scent. Akanksha was determined to make it his. He wanted that sweet scent to fill his home every day.

    Thirty years later when she was divorced and alone again, he made his move. He swept her off her feet in the middle of the night and took her to his home. Sure, she called it kidnapping. Sure, she fought him when he submerged her in a tank of dimethyl ether. But Akanksha knew she would understand eventually. He was doing this because he loved her. He was doing this because he loved her scent. A scent like hers should be preserved and shared with the world.

    Akanksha worked tirelessly to capture her scent. He spent hour after hour mixing her natural oils with others until it was just right. He was overjoyed when he found the correct combination. Akanksha tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t wake up. He checked her pulse and sighed. She was gone. Although it was unfortunate she died during the process, her death wouldn’t be in vain. Her spirit and her scent would live on forever.

    310 words

  23. Bart says:


    He descended the wooden stairs of the basement, each sqeak injecting terror in his temporary guest.

    This time it was Jenny Archer, housewife, divorced, no kids. He met her in the supermarket and they got talking. Now she was lying here, strapped on a hospital bed, a metal, spiderlike contraption on both eyes, forcing the lids open. A tiny tube came out of each tear duct, into a chemist bottle. It was almost full.

    “Good,” he said softly. “And we still have our session to do. Just let me put on my apron first.”

    Her whole body spasmed violently, another useless attempt to break free.

    “Why are you doing this?” she screamed, confused, frustrated, tired.

    They all ask that question.

    For the first time he felt he wanted to answer. He liked Jenny.

    “Basically, there are three types of tears. Basal tears keep your eyes wet and nourished. Reflex tears are the result of irritation. And then there are the psychic tears. Crying. The crying you do so
    well, dear Jenny. The crying that happens when you experience strong emotional stress. It’s a release. It’s freedom.”

    He paused for dramatic effect, just long enough, as if he had rehearsed his answer a million times. Or at least 37 times.

    “I can’t cry, “ he whispered. “Three years ago my wife was accidentally killed in a drive by shooting. I haven’t been able to shed a single tear for her. As if I don’t care. As if I don’t love her. As if she was a dead goldfish you flush down the toilet and have forgotten about before you close the lid.”

    Jenny’s wet eyeballs glistened.

    “So I started collecting emotional tears. They contain more leucine enkephalin than basal or reflex tears. That is a hormone and a natural painkiller. When this bottle is full, I drink it, in one go. But don’t worry, I won’t forget about you. I keep little souvenirs in 5cl miniature bottles. I always say I
    have the best bar in town.”

    She didn’t seem to appreciate his sense of humour.

    “Okay then,“ he said. “Let’s begin.”

    360 words

  24. […] Prompt: https://theangryhourglass.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/flash-frenzy-round-36/ […]

  25. The Final Solution

    Arjun poured carefully, filling the vial to the top before sealing it. He took a handwritten label, struggled to remove the backing, then pressed it to the cold glass, thumbing it smooth.

    Sample One. Bottle One Hundred.

    Assuming a perfect launch, full ionization and the widest possible dispersal, the rain should cover the whole Eastern Seaboard. Prevailing winds would reach the Mid West within three days, then the West Coast by the weekend. By the following weekend, it should have reached Europe, all being well.

    He sighed, sat back and pinched at the bridge of his nose, fighting an incipient migraine.

    All being well…

    All being well, by tomorrow morning there would be bodies everywhere. Eyes weeping blood, skin cracked and blistered, choked on swollen tongues or ripped open by bursting organs bristling with cancerous growths. He would have a body count to rival the greatest genocides in history, but the war would be over.

    But at what cost? The estimates had them at a third of the global population, and within a month he would have killed them all, excepting any smart enough to recognise the coming storm and find a less painful way out.

    He buzzed for the guards to take the bottles to the launch site, then took the sample flask over to the sink, meaning to wash it out, but really just to turn his back. He did not look when they came for the crate of tiny clinking bottles but he could not ignore what he had done. Failing an attack on the rockets, the outcome was inevitable; Arjun had planned and executed the murder of three billion people.

    And they were people. He had spent time with them, seen the terror in their eyes and watched them come apart on his operating table. They were flesh and blood too.

    He raised the flask, eyed the mouthful of clear liquid it still held, then drank it in one swift gulp. He closed his eyes as he swallowed, waiting to see what effect it would have, but of course, it did nothing. Mass murderer or not, he was still human, holy water could not harm him.

    360 Words

  26. Becky in a Bottle

    Henry stirred the simmering aluminum pot with a practised stroke, his arm moving with precision to the beat of Paper Planes by M.I.A. that was bouncing off the kitchen walls. He squeezed in a few drops of essential oils: lavender, jasmine, and lemongrass. The aroma wafting through his nasal cavity was a bit too sweet, he diced a portion of liver and tossed it in along with the petal of the narcissus flower and a sliver of dried tendon. After straining the mixture through a cheesecloth he let it sit and cool for a spell to let the ingredients get acquainted.

    Henry checked the customer’s order to make sure everything was correct and poured the liquid into a crystal bottle, using calligraphy to inscribe the label with an Elizabethan flourish. He headed downstairs and placed the glass vial in an ornate black-laquered cabinet. Inside were other atomizers waiting to be picked up with names including: Candice, Timothy, Harriet, and Francis. A few of these belonged to Henry. He fingered each one with a delicate touch, hesitating over Catalina, a former Pomeranian that had chewed up one too many pillows. He smiled at the memory and grabbed the one labelled Becky. He stripped off his clothes, sat in his leather recliner and caressed the bottle, rolling it across his palm, then depressed the bulb, spraying the aromatic concoction into his lonely gash of a mouth. The liquid slid down bis teeth and began to gyrate on his tongue, tasting of picnics in the park, cotton candy, betrayal, and tanned skin. He detected a hint of sassafras and blackened lung as well when he spritzed a heavy dose of Becky on his dead organ and felt movement for the first time in months.

    Eventually, he moved his nude body into the middle of room and stood with his arms outstretched like Christ on the cross. He sprayed the air above him in a long sweeping arc, the essence of yesterday condensed into a mist of perfume that rained down on his well-coiffed head.

    Henry felt young again. Resurrected. His bottle of Becky, those cherished four ounces of liquid rapture preserved in glass.

    Chris Milam @Blukris
    359 words

  27. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The Gift Box

    On our first anniversary he gave me a spinning wheel that worked straw into gold. Useful, I thought, like blenders or crockpots, if not terribly romantic. Over time his enthusiasm for the gift only increased, despite the furrows the wheel’s gold threads sliced into my hands.

    “Look at what we get out of it!” he’d say, eyes shining. “Isn’t it worth a little discomfort?”

    On our second anniversary he gave me ruby slippers that could take their wearer and a companion anywhere in the world. Perhaps now we would enjoy the beach honeymoon he’d long promised? My hope glimmered. But we visited Monte Carlo instead, though the slippers rubbed my heels to the bone.

    “Look at what we get out of it!” he’d say, eyes fixed on the dealer. “Isn’t this great fun worth a bit of pinching?”

    On our third anniversary he gave me an apple tree whose languid branches produced sweet poisoned fruit. He dismissed my protests with a laugh, even as his despised colleagues fell and my lungs turned to ash as I gardened.

    “Look at what we get out of it!” he’d say, eyes admiring his fresh-inked CEO business card. “Isn’t my success worth some unpleasantness?”

    On our fourth anniversary he gave me a tiny creature, her delicate form perfection, along with a doll-sized diamond bottle for her cup and a hollowed-out black pearl for her bowl. Eyes oddly bright, he insisted on caring for her himself, though it was me she watched through her long lashes as she drank.

    “Look at what we get out of it!” he’d say. “Haven’t you always begged for company?”

    Eleven months later she has grown enough to use a baby’s silver cup.

    “Aren’t you proud of her!” he says as she sips, queenlike, her eyes on me. “It’s hard, changing so fast.”

    Our fifth anniversary lurks.

    He is working feverishly in his shop; I am forbidden entrance. Something like triumph pulses in her face when she thinks I am not looking.

    I have been working too. It’s a box, ornate, strong.

    If I am smart, if I am quick, they will both just fit.

    Or my name’s not Pandora.

    360 words

  28. […] The Angry Hourglass – Flash Frenzy Round 36 […]

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