Flash Frenzy Round 38

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 38! The esteemed Rebekah Postupak will be judging this week.

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

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Comments
  1. Cathy Lennon says:

    A Desert Tale

    Claude was getting tired of Sharif the Stallion. At the oasis he was so busy tossing his mane and admiring his reflection that he’d barely taken a sip of water. Despite his pawing and pirouetting he was clearly not cut out for the desert. Ghazal, the mare, was an absolute beauty and deserved far better, in Claude’s opinion.

    ‘Fancy a date?’ he asked, drawing rubbery lips back to give her the benefit of his toothy smile. Ghazal pranced in alarm. Claude fluttered his long eyelashes – his best feature – towards the fruit hanging from the palm tree. ‘I would pick them for you, but they are too high.’

    ‘Ohhh,’ murmured Ghazal. ‘No, I’m fine thanks.’ Her gaze followed Sharif as he cantered backwards and forwards, showing off his rippling musculature. Claude squirmed with irritation and jealousy. If he could only get Ghazal to see him in his element, then surely she would appreciate a more reliable and stoical nature.

    ‘I’m off up the highest dune,’ he said loudly. ‘To watch the moon rise.’ Sharif pricked up his ears and looked over at Ghazal who blushed and looked away. ‘We camels,’ Claude continued, ‘are the true romantic souls of the desert.’

    Sharif snorted and arched his neck. ‘We Arabian stallions are the true romantic souls of the desert. Ask any Sheik.’

    ‘Prove it!’ Claude replied, setting off at a clip. To his great satisfaction he heard the patter of hoof-beats behind him.

    The climb was arduous but Claude relished the baking heat on his hump and made it to the top first. He posed, proudly. When Sharif and Ghazal at last appeared, their heads sagged and their legs trembled.

    ‘I don’t feel so good,’ Ghazal croaked.

    Sharif nuzzled her face. ‘It’s okay babe,’ he whispered. ‘I’m here for you.’

    Claude took one look at her expression and knew he’d lost. Moodily, he stared down into the valley below and spotted a caravan plodded gracefully along. He realized that he wasn’t ready for settling down anyway.

    ‘Don’t take the hump,’ Sharif said. ‘We’ll always be glad you brought us together.’

    It wasn’t a lot of comfort. But Claude clutched at the straw…

    @clenpen
    359 words

  2. Forsooth, A Terrible Day

    “Oh, Reginald, we find ourselves mired in the most serious of situations, do we not?”
    “Indubitably, Edmund. I have proven to be a scullion, a scapegrace, and all for want of a few pleasurable moments of olfactory bliss.”
    “You are too hard on yourself. Too easily you impale yourself upon a sword of honor. So you were distracted by a few posies on the cliff’s edge. How were you to know to what extent the man would err in the shifting of his weight.”
    “But, Edmund, have I not failed to carry out the task laid upon me? Have I not failed to ascend to the level of greatness of my brethren and follow in the path of historical tradition?”
    Behind them Archibald sighed.
    “Stop being so dramatic, Reginald, you are quite literally an ass. So sorry you managed to drop your rider over a cliff but let’s trot along back down to the bottom of the mountain shall we?”

    160 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  3. Camel Facts
    @stellakturner
    356 words

    If he thinks I’m going down that sand dune again he’s got another thing coming. Send down those horses they are bird brained, they’ll do anything even end up in a tin of dog meat. That Rashid thinks he’s the boss but stays far way in case I spit on him. My gobs of phlegm make the strongest stomachs heave. I can also give a nasty bite, fantastic bacteria live between my teeth; easily give a man, woman or child sepsis. It’s a good job I’m an herbivore else I’d be eating Rashid for breakfast, lunch and tea, he’s a big man! Haven’t eaten for a few weeks but I had a good fill of water the other day.

    That horse over there looks a bit distressed whose idea was it to bring it up here. My lovely thick coat insulates me from the intense heat. Its blood must be boiling. My big feet are ideal for this sandy terrain. Rashid makes his son follow me about waiting to collect my faeces; they make ideal fuel for fires. There’s even a brand of cigarettes named after me. I really am perfect.

    That old camel needs to learn some obedience. He spits and bites at every opportunity. Backs up and tries to piss all over me with that foul thick syrupy urine. I’m thinking of selling him to Mustapha the butcher but he’s probably too stringy to be of value. Too old to be a racing camel! Wonder if the British Imperial Camel Corps would buy him? Rashid smiles even they would suspect it was a ploy. He lights a cigarette, laughs at the picture on the packet, it looks like the old beast.

    He and the camel have been together for thirty years, his father used to task him like he tasks his son, shit collector. We’ll have more good years in us unless this war to end all wars finishes me with a bullet in my heart from the guns of the Senussi or the British. Neither would care to spare my life. Allah willing I’ll walk this desert a little longer with my animals.

  4. Gavin Parish says:

    Explorers’ Digest
    @Gavin Parish
    360 words

    They had journeyed to the edges of the Earth and beyond. Casualties along the way comprised three camels, four chickens, a guide, and two packhorses. All had been eaten when the food stores were depleted, with the guide complaining the most which was ironic really given that he had left such a sour taste in the mouth.

    Now there were just the two of them, Hartley and Marsh. Old friends on many an adventure, though they eyed each other somewhat nervously now. Neither would turn their back on the other, but of course they remained ever so polite, being careful to ignore the elephant in the room. What they would have given for a tasty bit of elephant right now…

    “I say, old chap,” said Hartley to his chum as he dabbed a dirt-stained handkerchief across his fevered brow. “I do rather wonder if we might have come just a little too far this time.”

    “Nonsense, my dear fellow,” asserted Marsh, whose idea the whole wheeze had been in the first place. He had always been the more intrepid of the two, with Hartley more content simply to follow. “We are fearless explorers. Some day we shall return to regale the world with our exploits. Although certain details, ahem, we may choose to omit for those of a more faint-hearted disposition.”

    “But surely the question now,” Hartley persisted, “is do we press on or turn back whence we came? We have no map, no guide, no beasts to carry us, or provisions to speak of. And the sun burns so brightly all the time, I fear I may be experiencing hallucinations.”

    “Hallucinations, you say?” Marsh edged a little further away, found his friend looked slightly less like a prime loin steak from this distance. “Do go on.”

    “Well the thing is,” Hartley wore a guilty expression. “And please don’t be cross, but I was certain I ate you two days ago.”

    Marsh frowned, then reluctantly conceded, “To be fair, I thought I ate you three days ago. And a week before that.”

    “What kind of hell is this place?” Hartley demanded, answering his own question in the process.

  5. The Special Bond Between A Boy And His Camel

    “That’s a funny looking horse,” I said to my father on my birthday.

    “That’s not a horse. That’s a camel. Much better. You’ll see.”

    My father was right.

    I named her Veronica, and we became the very best of friends. At first the other boys laughed. They would gallop off into the desert on their magnificent stallions, leaving me choking on their dust. But when their horses were blown and returning home for water, Veronica would sashay past, head held high, her stamina barely troubled by the journey.

    I admit some of her habits can take a little getting used to, and there have been one or two accidents about the house. Her breath (which has been unfairly compared to lamb tahricht left in the sun too long) is a little complex for some tastes, but when she flutters those long lashes at me I can’t possibly be angry with her.

    There’s nothing I like more than a long ride in the desert with Veronica. When the sun is at its cruel apex, I can take refuge in her shadow. If I’m thirsty I can take a drink from her teat. Sometimes her hairs tickle my nose and make me giggle, spilling her precious milk on the sand. On cold nights, if the clothes I have made from Veronica’s hair (as soft as silk and not at all itchy) are not warm enough, I can snuggle up close and share her body heat.

    Yes, my father was right. Camels really are magnificent animals. I just wish I could convince my wife.

    261 words
    @MicroBookends

  6. pamjplumb says:

    @pamjplumb
    205 words

    In Memoriam

    ‘Penn was a good man.’ Colin the Camel led the grieving party, despite not being a natural leader. He ground his teeth and swallowed hard. ‘I hadn’t known Penn for very long, so it is hard to say much about his family, whatever family he had. I imagine he at least had a partner if not a wife and children…’

    ‘I think he had a son.’ said Paul the Palomino, shaking his mane. ‘He talked about a boy called Frankie. He was going to bring him here on his return trip.’

    ‘Yeah, that’s what he said. Frankie.’ Garth pawed at the sand to get their attention. His black hair soaked up the heat, making him uncomfortable. He envied Paul his white coat. Colin never complained about the heat.

    ‘Well,’ continued Colin, a string of saliva dangled from his bottom lip. ‘The saddest part is not that he died, for we all have our lives ended at some time, but that he died suddenly.’

    The three of them bowed their heads as they remembered the sharp scrape of hooves on rock, the strangled scream of Penn as he sailed through the air, followed by the dull thump of his body in the bottom of the ravine.

  7. voimaoy says:

    City of the Butterflies
    @voimaoy #flashdog
    360 words

    Someday, I will return to the City of Butterflies. You can find it on the old maps along the winding Silk Road, a stop along the trade route from Kabul to Byzantium. It is an oasis of roses and palm trees, jasmine scented evening air. I met a girl there.

    Her name was Amali and she worked in a little cafe, where the coffee was black and sweet as a desert night. She was slender as the first new moon.

    Many years have passed since then, when I first rode with my Uncle, trading silks from Samarkand for spices and silver beads. We had lapis beads from Afghanistan, jade dragon beads from China. I could tell you countless stories–more stories than stars in the sky. There were holy men, merchants and mercenaries, poets and musicians, even a trainer of spotted cats. Bandits waited on the hillsides for the passing caravans.

    It was all new and exciting to me. My Uncle, who had spent his life on the road, told me about the City of Butterflies–where it was said every 100 years, the butterflies swirled around the city, a cloud of yellow in a cloudless blue sky. Time was different there, he said. A day there is a year for us. He didn’t want to stop there, but the bandits and the approaching storm decided for us.

    It was her eyebrows that drew me, like black moths. She smiled as she brought us coffee. In the morning, I gave her some beads to remember me. I promised to be back for the butterflies.

    When my Uncle found out, he put me in charge of the camels. He said that was punishment enough. For awhile, I stayed with the girl who trained the spotted cats, until she left me for a musician. When my Uncle died, I inherited the business. I could tell you many stories.

    Someday, I will return to the City of Butterflies. There will be a girl there, wearing a necklace of silver beads and lapis from Afghanistan with a jade dragon bead from China. She will look like the granddaughter of a girl I loved once. Will she remember me?

  8. streetej says:

    Sold Like Salt
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    357 words

    The faceless men arrived bearing millet and dates to trade for our salt. Their camels spit at our horses. The men went veiled in indigo cloth, as proud and touchy as their beasts.

    Papa warned me to stay home with the other women, lest one of the faceless men see me and steal my soul.

    My sister, Yachilla, dared me to spy on the salt negotiations. Curiosity had always been my failing. I crept along the escarpment to watch the men bargain. Beside ample-fleshed men like Papa, the desert travelers seemed thin and dry. Thin like a bowstring, dry like salt. Taut and dangerous.

    A camel lifted its head and hissed at me. A faceless man peered over the bank. His veil revealed only piercing eyes and a strip of skin the color of acacia bark.

    I froze, trapped in the faceless man’s gaze, trembling like a savanna gerbil. He made a gesture of his magic, and my soul slid right out from my eyes and drowned in his.

    “Ngela!” Papa crashed down the bank, flushed with fury and ready to strike.

    The veiled man stayed Papa’s blow and said in our tongue, “Hold, good man. Who is this girl?”

    Papa glared. “One of my daughters. A bad girl.”

    The veiled man’s eyes glittered. “She may solve our impasse over the salt price. I wish to buy a wife.” He drew Papa aside for more bartering.

    Papa returned. “What shame you have given me, loosing your soul to that desert trickster!”

    Our men stared with burning gazes, branding me. Loose girl. Sold like salt.

    Dust billowed around my ankles. The man who had caught my soul moved like sand over dunes. He offered his palms up as though he might return what he had taken. “I am Dassin.”

    “I am Ngela.”

    “Come to my tent, salt wife. You will be pleased by its size.”

    Tears sliced the dust on my cheek. “You stole my soul. I want it back.”

    Dassin placed his fist in my palm, opening it to press our hands together. “Someday, Ngela, I hope you won’t mind letting me keep it. Come.”

  9. joshbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    356 Words
    @JBertetta

    “DROMEDARY AND A HALF”

    Standing bridled before the dawn, my night-courser, my boat, firm as the smooth boulder of the old smith’s bellows, carries me across the desert sea between her hardened humps and, my shoulders sunken, I, atop her saddle solid as the stone worn by the stream, am carried by she whose lineage is known to all. Born of the desert she ranges through the shadows and sharpens her ears to the softest sound, her eyes black and bulging and suspicious of ill-luck; she, the reason I, borne through this, my desolation, remain still alive.

    Winds pestilent and blistering contend in the raising sand and I, journey-worn, am torn to remnants. I am what I retain after giving–the object of scorn. They say generosity is a blight on riches and I can only now trust my hunger to an arrow. This is my place of refuge, my place to withdraw. Nothing save scalding hatred do I fear. My armor of patience pierced with spears I shudder through the night like a locust and recoil from the sun like the snake they say I am. I, drunk on sleeplessness, am the land scarred by rain, the rain my tears scouring, scourging, gouging to expose me as the man I am: sunken.

    Standing free before the dawn, my first-premonition, my beloved, walks unhurried like the gliding of a cloud, the desert before me stretching further than the eye can see and I, my eyes bright, rise with the sight of my Mayya near. Mayya of the noblest blood, whose anklets ring like a suppliant cassia rustling in the breeze, whose buttocks are rain-dampened dunes, teases the sun like a flower in full blossom. Mayya my desire! Mayya my love! no longer will our distance be the stone against which the mountain goat buts its horns! Her ear pendant I see exposed upon the ridge of her neck, her eyes the gazelle’s skimming across southern gusts finds mine and we smile, guiding our love across the endless land time forgot.

    Then, like the wind and the dust the whisper of her memory bruises my heart as I watch her disappear.

  10. necwrites says:

    Perfect Fit
    by Nancy Chenier
    @rowdy_phantom
    160 words

    Filippa pranced directly to the sleek sporty silver number, while Cameron plodded along the lot with more care.

    “It’s perfect!” she whinnied.

    “What, that?” he nuzzed.

    She stamped, her sharp heel raising sparks on the asphalt. “What’s wrong with it?”

    “It’s not very practical.” He dipped his head under her glare. “What kind of mileage—?”

    “Mileage, schmilage!” she snorted. “Look at it!” She stroked the glinting coat. She shook out her hair as if she could already feel the sirocco streaming through her tresses.

    Not having much in the way of tresses, he scratched his pate and sighed. The region probably got ten top-down days out of the year max. His gaze lolled along the rows.

    “Here’s a good one,” he declared, clumping up to a sturdier vehicle the color of a sand dune. Instead of glinting, sunlight sort of sagged off it.

    “What a dopey-looking beast,” she nickered.

    “It’s roomy.” He peered at her through shockingly thick lashes—a look that used to make her melt. “We might appreciate the extra space… someday.”

    “Oh, here we go.” Not even a tiny trace of thaw in her tone.

    “Things change,” he persisted. “Desires change.”

    “He thinks I’m going to hit forty like a wall and suddenly need to breed,” she explained to the broad windshield.

    He shrugged. “Hormones are powerful motivators.”

    “You should know.”

    His lips peeled back from tobacco stained teeth. She sidled back to the silver.

    “Reliability,” he harrumphed.

    “Romance,” she lilted.

    He wagged his head. “Leave the romance for your regencies.”

    She flicked a dismissive hand. “What did I ever see in you?”

    But Filippa knew exactly what: his tortoise indefatigability, his quiet optimism, the way he dissolved the drama that some days threatened to drown her.

    “Why do I put up with you?” he moaned.

    But Cameron knew exactly why: her indomitable stride, her lightning zest for life, the way she fearlessly charged at a challenge and encouraged him to do likewise when it mattered.

    He thumped the hood of the argent sportster.

    She ran a hand along the roof rack of the oatmeal wagon.

    “Okay,” they said simultaneously, “this one will do just fine.”

  11. Holly Geely says:

    THE RIGHT THING

    331 Words
    @hollygeely

    Jackie had something in her pocket that might get her in trouble.

    She stopped in front of one of the cages to collect herself. If she started running they might chase her, but her heart was pounding and she could feel the panic rising.

    Jackie glanced up at the sandy hill. The camel’s lips parted and it looked directly at her. The expression was one of smug superiority.

    Oh God, she thought. The camel knows.

    Jackie turned and fled. She begged her feet to slow down, but they refused. She could feel a million pairs of eyes watching her and knew the zoo people would give chase sooner or later.

    Her run came to an abrupt halt when she collided with a man and his daughter.

    “Watch where you’re going!” the man growled. He helped his crying daughter up off the ground.

    What have I become? Jackie wondered with horror. She hurried to the next exhibit and gazed forlornly at the pony. The pony wasn’t smug at all; there was only sadness in the old brown eyes. Tears streamed down Jackie’s cheeks.

    “I’m sorry, pony,” she whispered.

    “What’s that?” asked the person next to her.

    “Nothing. Sorry.”

    Jackie knew what she had to do. She now knew she wasn’t cut out for an exciting life of crime. Her conscience would simply not allow it. Her moral standards were too great.

    She found her teacher and the rest of the class back at the camel exhibit.

    “I found this in by the penguins,” Jackie said, and she handed Mr. Edwards the twenty dollar bill. It felt good to get rid of the evil blood money. She stood and waited for Mr. Edwards to praise her for doing the right thing.

    Mr. Edwards pocketed the twenty and yelled at her for running off.

    Jackie learned an important lesson about the human condition that day.

    “Adults are jerks,” Jackie told the camel. The camel spat a giant wad of agreement onto the rocks below.

  12. APOCOLYPSE

    Brian S Creek
    352 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDogs

    Famine twiddled her rotting fingers.

    “What are you going to say to him?” asked Pestilence.

    “I honestly don’t know,” she replied. “What can you say? I mean, this has never happened before.”

    “YOU’RE GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE,” bellowed War.

    Famine looked over at the brute sat at the far end of the table, slouched back in a chair that could barely support his bulk. He held his flagon of ale as a salute to her before downing the lot. He belched, the echo of which engulfed the Horseman’s temple.

    “As always War,” said Famine, “you’re a big help.”

    “NOT MY PROBLEM. DEATH ISN’T GOING TO BE MAD WITH ME.”

    “He might not even notice,” said Pestilence. “

    “Really?” said Famine. “How long have we worked for Death? He hates change, says it ruins the theatrical ambience that humans expect. Remember that time I said we should trade up for motorcycles? That was a big old no.”

    “He likes rules,” said Pestilence.

    “And punishment,” said Famine.

    War laughed.

    “Like when War nearly missed D-Day because he was drunk,” said Pestilence.

    War stopped laughing. “HE TOOK MY SWORD AWAY.”

    “I know,” said Famine. “And you didn’t like that, did you?”

    War just shook his head.

    Famine leant back in her chair and sighed. “I guess I’ll just have to accept my fate and make do without my horse.”

    From outside came a rumbling sound that gradually built up until it peaked with a crack of thunder. Famine, Pestilence and War all stood up from the table as Death walked into the temple, a thin carpet of smoke preceding his footsteps.

    “Sit,” he said, his gravelly voice reaching every nook and cranny of the ancient stone walls.
    Famine sat back down as Death passed behind her. She raised her decaying left hand. “Sir, about the camel.”

    Death stopped and slowly turned his head towards her. “Disappointed.”

    Famine didn’t bother to argue. It was difficult when the other person only spoke in single words and continually grinned.

    Death continued to the head of the table while famine prepared to say goodbye to her Judgement Scales.

  13. Curses! Just spotted that I spelt LENT wrong in the sixth paragraph from the end.

    Do’h!

  14. Image Ronin says:

    Limelight Dreams

    Children bustled past Albert, scarlet balloons bobbing excitedly in their wake. Albert however was focused once more on his battered pocket watch. He had only an hour or he could bid farewell to the city of angels.

    Albert was having one of those days, weeks in fact, existences if truth were told. Yet this morning things had taken an upturn when the phone of Albert’s Menagerie of Marvelous Creatures rang for the first time in months. Albert listened earnestly to the impatient voice reeling off a list of requirements for the film Aladdin and his Lamp. Typically Albert managed to drop his pen, abandoning the phone as he scrabbled under his desk. By the time he returned the line was dead. Yet Albert cared little, he had a list he could fulfill! Today was the day he got his break in a city filled with broken people.

    That afternoon Albert ushered his asthmatic camel, the limping stallion and the incontinent donkey onto the set. Thankful that (a) no one had noticed the limp and (b) that, Albert aside, the rest of the gathered crew were bite and spittle free. Albert coerced his herd onto a nearby sand dune and under the light of a thousand candles waited. Finally the director Mr Capellani, short and clouded in a permanent cigar fug, wandered onto the set. He eyed Albert’s stock with a stern gaze causing the donkey to empty its bowels noisily onto the dune.

    ‘Where is my centrepiece?’ Capellani screeched in a voice laden with pepperoni.

    ‘Centrepiece?’ Albert replied.

    Mr Capellani, then Mr Capellani’s assistant, his assistant’s assistant and then several producers all explained, with bursting veins and flailing hands that they were lacking the one thing they needed. And if Albert wanted to work in this town again he’d get it.

    Today.

    Albert scaled the zoo fence, wavering at the top before vaulting into the enclosure, lasso in one hand, a raw steak in the other. All he needed was to be confident, animals respected confidence.

    Christ the lion was bigger close up.

    The screams of the children drowned out Albert’s as red balloons floated into a clear blue sky.

    @imageronin

    360 words

  15. Mark A. King says:

    Corporate Policies
    @Making_Fiction #EmbarrassedFlashDog
    321 (very awful) words

    “Why’s he having a rest? Doesn’t he know October is our busiest time of year?”

    “Yeah, stupid camel, I mean just look at him. I reckon he’s had a little too much…”

    “Always the same every year. I’m not sure why we’re surprised.”

    “Yeah, stupid camel, I mean why’s he everyone’s favourite? Why does the boss always protect him?”

    “Well, there is the fact that he’s…”

    “Yeah, stupid cam…oh, sorry, I wasn’t really listening…You know you can’t say that, right? It’s not politically correct. We have diversity and equality policies these days. Besides, the boss loves him.”

    “Okay, he’s…he’s…unique.”

    “Haha…yeah, he’s certainly that.”

    “Hey, where’s the boss anyway?”

    “That’s him, over there. Taking a comfort break with the other five. You can’t miss him, he’s like a beacon in a sea of beige.”

    “Good. We can talk now. You know I’m fed up of this game. I’m hundreds of years old now and I wanna break. Retire, maybe someplace warm, like here. Just relax. I never liked the cold. No more autumn panics. And I’m struggling to beat the clock each year. Know what I mean? It’s not right or dignified that we have to practice so early, at our age.”

    “The cold never bothered me anyway. But yeah. I getcha. We don’t get the respect we deserve. They don’t even think we’re horses. I mean how disrespectful is that? And they think that camel is one of us, but he’s…oh…so…special.”

    “I blame Clement C. Moore. I mean what was that all about?”

    “Yeah, well, I’ve had enough…Hey Rudolph! Oi Rudolph! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you buddy…Why you looking so happy? You been storing the mulled wine in your hump again?”

    “Blitzen, you can’t say that. You know the policies. We ALL know how he got his red nose. Oh dear… here comes Santa and he doesn’t look happy. Thanks buddy, now we’re looking a visit from HR and going on that diversity course…again!”

  16. davidshakes says:

    Magi
    360 words
    @TheShakes72
    #flashdog
    David Shakes
    They’d followed a celestial body across alien lands. They weren’t Kings or rulers of any principality; they were scholars of different backgrounds – drawn to startlingly similar conclusions and the path of a star.
    There were four, though you’ll only ever hear of three.
    Two from distant lands whose horses were tired but dependable, even in this harsh, unforgiving landscape. Two more from this region, with camels able to navigate the rough terrain with ease.
    They’d camped together on a rocky outcrop as morning broke and the strange satellite’s
    glow become indeterminate in the brilliant sunshine.
    They were so engrossed in breaking bread they failed to realise an angel of the Lord was amongst them. To be fair, it was a *very* bright morning and heavenly special effects worked better at night on unsuspecting virgins and hapless shepherds.
    Gabriel (for it was he) wisely decided to dispense with theatrics. He wandered over to where they sat and plopped himself down.
    “Gentlemen. We’ve a problem.”
    Balthasar was sharpening his knife and looked up, surprisingly unperturbed by the newcomer.
    “What would that be, angel?”
    “It’s all about numbers,” Gabe began, “God says we’re doing threes.”
    “But there are four of us?” quizzed Melchior, who had always been good with numbers.
    “Quite.” said Gabe, aiming for enigmatic but only managing condescending.
    “I know where this is going and I’ll not be volunteering,” said Caspar, barely looking up from the chart he’d been studying.
    Gathaspa, who’d ridden his horse alongside Caspar through India (and alone before that), was just indignant:
    “I’ve not come this far to simply step aside now!”
    The others muttered similar affirmations.
    Gabe hadn’t expected resistance. He picked up a rock, tossing it idly from hand to hand, lost in thought.
    After a time he smiled, finally achieving enigmatic.
    Without speaking he rose and walked to Balthazar, taking his knife. He moved on to Caspar and took the chart from him, then returned to his seat.
    He placed the rock he’d been toying with on the ground next to the chart and the knife.
    Three objects; three ways to win.
    “Gentlemen, I’ve invented a game you’re really going to like.. .”

  17. Jacki Donnellan says:

    Over the Hill

    Camilla chewed her toffee, and smoothed the blanket draped over her knees. Chewing wasn’t easy without teeth, but toffees were the one pleasure that Camilla had made sure to bring with her. Her lips rippled loosely as she admired the view.

    The sound of slow, clopping heels began to rise from below. And then a woman appeared, struggling to pull a suitcase.

    “Honestly,” said the woman, tossing a mane of grey hair. “You’d think they’d make the path easier near the top. It’s covered with rocks.”

    Camilla looked at her, still chewing. “Evening,” she said. “And you are…?”

    “Bess,” said the woman, her hand meeting Camilla’s in a handshake.

    “Used to be black, I suppose?” said Camilla. “Your hair?”

    Bess nodded her head. Then she threw it back with a snort-laugh. “But I really couldn’t be doing with hair dye, up here!”

    Camilla’s lips drew back into a smile. She felt the same away about tweezers for her chin.

    “How long have you been up here?” asked Bess.

    “A while,” said Camilla. “It gets a bit lonely, at times, but you get used to it. I mean, you can’t beat the view.”

    “Well,” said Bess, “I’m going to just take it easy now I’m here. I’ve shouldered many a burden, in my time. I’ve worked hard.” She opened up her case. “I expect you have, too.”

    “Oh, yes,” Camilla replied. “Carried my entire family.” Her eyes widened as Bess pulled a bottle of sherry from her case. “Is that what you’ve brought up here with you?”

    “I swear,” said Bess, “that a glass every night is just how I managed to get here!” She poured out two glasses. “Care to join me?”

    Camilla held out a cloven arthritic hand and spat her mint. “Well, I can’t hold my drink like I used to! But why not?”

    The pair sat sipping at the top of the hill, each gazing down wistfully at everywhere they’d been.

    And Camilla didn’t mention, as the day drew to an end, that it would be time for her to keep going, soon. Over the hill.

    For now, there was still sherry and a sunset to enjoy.

    360 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  18. Sal Page says:

    Dessertland

    One larger-than-life-sized black and white cardboard camel. Free to a good home. A possible souvenir for folk of a certain age who remember Desertland before it burnt down in ’81.

    Sturdy enough to stand up with the wooden prop attached – very heavy winds the exception. Comes with two adjoined horses. One light, one dark. Dark one has missing ear – granddaughter’s hamster escaped in garage.

    All three saddled and riderless. I always think Betty the camel looks like she’s laughing. In reality – some of you may remember her – Betty alternated angry and miserable. She died in ’72, not long after the photos were taken. I got them blown up and mounted onto heavy duty cardboard. The horses died in ’76. Think it was the heat.

    Also see my seller page on ebay for the thirty-four, six-foot plastic palm trees. Fancy recreating The Oasis Café in your own garden? Comes with all Auntie Clare’s original recipes, including Nomad Date Pastries, Desert Ratatouille and Cactus Milkshake. I’ll also throw in the ‘Oasis’ part of the café sign. The ‘Café’ part didn’t survive the fire, I’m afraid.

    Don’t ask me about lizards and scorpions. All long gone. And please note only a few of the rubber cacti survived the fire. All are now spoken for (do have one with no spikes but it looks like a saggy green blob and smells mouldy though free to anyone who thinks it might be useful). The biggest remaining cactus will be appearing at Paradise Amusements from next summer, steam cleaner permitting.

    Don’t miss these last opportunities to own a part of Lancashire’s finest – in its day – theme park. If you have your own transport, the camel and horse are yours. We cannot deliver. Please be aware Betty’s over ten feet tall and won’t fold.

    We’re hoping to make room and extra funds for the new project. Look out for us in the old Apollo Theatre on the front between Frank’s Fifty-pee Shop and MG’s Mobility.

    Dessertland. Twelve different steamed puddings, various cheesecakes, parfaits, syllabubs and possets and a serve-yourself ice cream castle with a guaranteed sixty flavours and buckets of tea.

    @SalnPage

    360 words

  19. zevonesque says:

    The Laughing Camel
    by A J Walker

    The four men sat in their plush tent happy in their secluded shady heaven, enjoying the faint breeze on their cracked dry faces. The tent was the temporary home of the two camel men, a father and son, and today they had guests, two travelers who had come to the oasis on their horses. It had been a long time since they had had guests and it was a welcome diversion. The night would be one for story telling, for eating and for drinking.

    “It’s top stuff this,” said the man to his son. “Thank you and well done my son. I’ve never had fermented camel milk quite like it.”

    “I’m not doing it again,” said the young man honestly.

    “Well, I wouldn’t know where to start,” said his father. “How do you milk a camel?”

    “I think the answer is, carefully,” said the young man nursing a bruised shin.

    The two horsemen looked at each other, then at their drinks.

    The older of the horsemen looked between their hosts. “How long have you been out here? Did you milk the camels yourselves? Is that not women’s work?”

    The young man shrugged. “Usually, but we have been out here many moons now far from anyone. I long to be home if truth be told,” he said with a telling look at his father.

    The horseman shuffled on the floor agitating for his answer. “But where are the camels?”

    “Outside of course, by your horses,” said the young man.

    The horseman scratched his head, “I only saw the two camels.”

    “Ah! You want to buy one, or to swap for your horses?” said the father.

    “No, thank you, but we are heading out of the desert, I miss trees and running waters and so do the horses.” said the horseman. “But the reason I ask about the camels is that they are both of the… shall we say… male persuasion.”

    Outside the tent the fat flappy lips of the camel spluttered its trademark laugh as four drinking vessels flew out of the tent in unison.

    (344 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDog

  20. Tony O says:

    Truly, Mr Walker, you are the master of the flash fiction twist.

  21. C Connolly says:

    Trials and Tribulations

    Lara was concentrating – hard – on being other than deformed, as they shifted her shape, pulling her into lumpy, bumpy, humped…no! She slumped, hands hitting the hardwood floor, as she managed to break the community concentration focused upon her for split seconds, before it honed in again. They had been telling her she was deformed for so many years, it was difficult not to believe them, especially now. Try! She told herself. Lara didn’t particularly want hooves and a tail again. It threw her balance off for days afterwards. Plus, she’d been sick to the stomach previously after eating the grass they’d fed to her – deliberately. The time before that it had been leathery lips and prickly thorns. That time, they’d been forced to heal the wounds for fear of leaving her voiceless, as well as – as they told her – muted.

    They were already switching though, forcing her to see with their eyes, bringing her into the next section of the trial. Now she was on her knees, hands captured within sands, the granules burying themselves beneath her nails as her fingers curled towards her palms. She knew where this would lead. She still had the nightmare sometimes. They knew that too.

    Searching, Lara could see it in the distance, forming. The dusts were airborne, suspended; a veritable wall pre creep. They would bury her beneath them. Time and again they already had and she had come back to herself, still heaving, pushing the silica – real, not imagined – past her lips to expel it. She could feel remnants embedded in her throat already; found herself coughing them up, though they were not there – not yet, not this time. Her breath was hitching; drawing her eyes from intended their focus. Concentrate! She thought. The winds would not defeat her. Today must be the day. If not, she would play fetch to them ever after.

    Lara stood, watching the winds descend, holding her breath, as she mouthed the necessary invocation. Waiting, she dared not expel it, as she waited to see if the clouds would break, devils dancing then disintegrating – or whether they would swallow her wholly amidst them.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  22. The Proposal

    We met on the edge of the desert. Issa with his camels, heading north, and, me with my horses, heading south. The dark and cold folded around us, and so we agreed on a pact. We’d take turns to sleep and guard against the nomads who’d cut your throat or steal your supplies as you slept.

    I lit a fire and kept my blade close. Issa placed his weapons aside and unloaded his pack. He shared his food and asked me questions, most of which I met with a grunt. Issa suggested we swap – camels for horses. He said I’d need camels for my journey if I intended to cross the desert. And the horses would serve him better now. But I didn’t answer the proposal, not even a grunt to acknowledge he spoke.

    Issa took first watch and I fought sleep’s inward pull. I studied him, sitting cross-legged and fidgeting, his profile animated by the flames. I took next watch and Issa, incapable of silence, snored loud and long. I feigned sleep on Issa’s subsequent watches. But he remained true as if to prove me wrong. I slipped into sleep in the early hours. When I woke, Issa was smothering the fire with earth and dust.

    “Are you sure you don’t want to exchange? You are more in need of my camels than I am your horses.” His eyes glittered in the early morning sun.

    I shook my head and watched Issa wind his way north. I waited until I was sure he’d be deep along the tracks I knew so well. But when I gathered my pack, it felt light. I ripped it open. My water was gone. I shielded my eyes and searched and in slow realisation, I turned a circle, scanned the horizon, but there was nothing but heat, hazing and blurring.

  23. The Hubris of Man

    The humans were so foolish. They had only been on the planet for a blink of an eye and managed to destroy it in half that time. Mother Earth tried to warn them. She begged them to stop. But their hubris, greed, and ignorance got in the way. If only they stopped to listen to the Earth’s pleas.

    It started with the wars. Religious wars, class wars, drug wars, race wars, cold wars. It didn’t matter to them. Man needed to assert his dominance over other men. In order to finance these wars, man had to strip the Earth of its resources. He took her oil, coal, diamonds and gold to run their war machines.

    All the while, man destroyed farmland and forests to build glorious monuments to themselves. They poisoned the water, the ground, and the air. They built biological weapons and large filthy cities. There was no room for nature. Only concrete and steel.

    It was only a matter of time before there was nothing left. The water was no longer safe to drink and the food rotted. Man ran out of fuel to run his war machines. He was forced to load his possessions onto horses, camels, and donkeys and roam the earth in search of resources. Many realized the error of their ways. However, by then it was too late.

    The animals tried to lead man to water, food and fresh air, but man ignored them. Animals knew nothing of survival! They were stupid! Man was the superior being and knew what was best. Once again, their hubris and ignorance led to man’s downfall.

    Now there aren’t any humans. Just their bones, rags and ruins. Their ghosts can be seen walking through the barren lands. If you ask me, it was several millennia overdue.

    298 words
    @triffic_tinika

  24. Amy Wood says:

    The Last Camels in Scotland

    Perth, Scotland. 2049.

    “Doctor Cavendish, could you take a look at this?”

    Anna, Cavendish’s earnest assistant, hovered at his side like an over-excited mosquito. Cavendish nodded and followed her to another section of the dig site.

    She flung herself into the trench they’d spent the last week digging and fluffed at a protruding bone with her soft-bristled brush. “I don’t understand, Doctor. These bones aren’t like any Jurassic remains I’ve ever seen.”

    “They’re not Jurassic.” Cavendish lowered himself sedately into the trench and peered at the bones which dotted the earthen walls. He hummed as he recognised the familiar shapes of mammal remains. “They’re camel bones.”

    “You know we’re in Scotland, right, Doc?” Anna frowned. “Camels aren’t native here.”

    “But eccentric Scottish aristocracy is,” Cavendish replied. “Years ago, there was a stately home near here. The family had five sons. Their father was slightly – different – and liked to pretend he was out in the desert searching for treasure. He had camels imported and let them roam around his estate.”

    Anna snorted. “Rich people, they never change. Never do anything for anyone else’s benefit.”

    Cavendish pursed his lips. “Those five sons went off to the Great War. Three got the Military Cross, one got a Distinguished Service Order and the other got the Victoria Cross. Not one came back alive.”

    “Oh.” Anna fluffed at the bones again. “That’s really sad.”

    “Their father had every camel on his land slaughtered.” Cavendish went on. “Suppose they reminded him of happier times with his boys.”

    “I guess.” Anna looked up at the darkening sky. “Sometimes I forget that people are as interesting as dinosaur remains.”

    “As interesting,” Cavendish agreed, taking her brush and gently cleaning a vertebrae. “And more tragic. Sometimes the human stories are more riveting than the dinosaur ones. However much we discover about the far past, the recent past will always throw up the most interesting dramas. Pays to remember that when you spend as much time with dinosaur bones as we do.”

    “Got it,” Anna declared.

    Cavendish smiled and went on cleaning camel bones. She’d never really get it but that was okay. He got it just fine.

    @jujitsuelf
    360 words

  25. Carlos says:

    Over the Edge

    I hear the low guttural cries of the beast. The ground trembles from the animals thrashing, and the stench of suffering saturates the air. I want to stop the slaughter, but I don’t.

    I pushed Pablo Perez into the canyon. I was jealous. My family owned the only horses in the village, and I was treated like a king because of it. Everyone would line up to pet the horses, and the girls would argue about whose turn it was for to ride with me. But things changed when Pablo’s family inherited the camels.

    Pablo had an uncle who bought the camels from a circus. He died and willed the camels to Don Perez, Pablo’s father. They were disgusting creatures whose hair was uneven and caked with mud and dried dung. They were always spitting mucus or saliva, and their smell was unbearable.

    But even with all of their negative qualities they were still preferred over my horses. The others flocked to Pablo, and he would let them ride the stupid sand beasts. At first I thought they were just an odd attraction that would soon be forgotten, but they never were. Even the girls that used to swoon over me refused to return my letters. That was the last straw.

    I invited Pablo for a ride. I convinced him to look over the edge. And then my palms connected with his shoulder blades. He let out a whimper as he flew off the edge.

    I raced my horse back to the fields where Don Perez was working. “Pablo fell off—La Mirada. The camel—went crazy,” I said between breaths. “He fell—off the camel. Before I could—get to him—the animal kicked him over—the edge.”

    Don Perez was distraught. I lent him my horse and I went inside. When he came back, he looked calm and composed, with Pedro’s camel trailing on the rope. He tied the animal to a post then disappeared inside his house. He soon reappeared with a machete and began the punishment, my punishment. I will forever be tormented by the terrible demonic screams, a reminder of what I did.

    358 Words
    @goldzco21
    #flashdogs

  26. Bart says:

    Sex And The Camel

    ‘Oh my god! I can’t believe this is happening. I cannot…

    Amy, stripping right in front of me!

    And Jessica!

    They are starting to kiss sensually.

    Wait. I’m sure that in a few minutes I’ll wake up, right after the point of no return – why is that, by the way? Why is it always just too late?

    They are crawling towards me on the king size bed.

    I will wake up anytime now.

    They are unbuttoning my jeans.

    I will wake up.

    They are…

    I’m not waking up.

    Think unsexy thoughts! Think unsexy thoughts! Think unsexy thoughts!

    Mrs Bellamy from 5th grade… Grandmother… Cousin Zelda…

    Yeah, cousin Zelda… I wonder when and if she will ever get laid.

    Allright! Got everything under control again.

    They want me to do what?

    I’ll put my hand there, use my other hand to… wait, need to move my foot now… cramp, cramp, cramp!

    Why do porn movies make it look so easy?

    I’m not even sure they are enjoying it. They are enjoying themselves, that I can see. Maybe I should just sit back and rel…

    Hello! I didn’t know men had a G-spot.

    Okay, so they’re digging me.

    I wonder if I could stop for a second and take a selfie.

    My cellphone is in my jeans, on the floor. If I stretch my arm a bit I could…

    I need to do what now?

    It’s like I just can’t let go. I can’t stop thinking and disappear in the moment. I’m always observing. Outer body experiences where I’m drifting above the scene, commenting, making witty remarks, wondering why and how and if. Disconnected. That’s a bit of a shame right now.

    They want me both to…

    I don’t know.

    Maybe this was a mistake.

    They shouldn’t have asked and I shouldn’t have said yes.

    But what normal young guy would say…

    I feel like a camel instead of a stallion.

    Shit.

    Did I say that out loud?’

    327 words
    @bartvangoethem
    #FlashDog

  27. […] my entry to Flash Frenzy Round 38. I was completely at a loss when I saw the prompt. When in doubt write something […]

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