Flash Frenzy Round 40

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome, friends, to another round of Flash Frenzy. Your Round 40 judge is Amy Wood!

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. joshbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    360 Words
    @JBertetta
    “THIS GUY FOX”

    We don’t have prophets in our day and age. No, not in our “advanced” modern society. But we do have people like this guy, Fox who, like Isaiah of Jerusalem, walks around in his get-up, with his staff, proclaiming.

    Now this guy Fox is not a prophet per se, for he does not go around judging people for their lack of moral conduct and warning them of God’s impending punishment if we don’t fix our ways. Why does he not do so you ask? Well that’s because we don’t have a covenant, even though our American forefathers thought of this country as the new Promised Land.

    You see, this guy Fox is an anti-prophet. What do I mean by that you ask? This guy Fox is, say, an inverted mirror. Let me explain: the prophets warned the ancient Israelites that if they continued to break the covenant God would punish them. So, for example, Isaiah told the people of Jerusalem to stop drinking excessively. He told people to stop taking others’ land, effectively making them homeless. He chastised the Israelite government for its heavy taxes, its injustices, its corruption, and its taking advantage of the poor.

    So this guy Fox wanders around (you’ll typically see him in D.C. though you shouldn’t be surprised to see him in NYC) telling people what they should do. And what they should keep doing.

    So for example, he’ll stand on the corner nearby a coffee shop and he’ll suggest friends sit aside one another and whip out their cell phones. “Keep at it!” he’ll say. “Keep text text texting away in silence!”

    He’ll encourage people outside strip malls and shopping centers to “buy buy buy” all that stuff they “need need need.”

    “Keep speeding past the homeless! They are not your problem!”

    “Keep marching with downcast eyes!” (You’ll hear him say that a lot in New York.) “And remember! Don’t smile!”

    “America the beautiful” he reminds us all. “Where the sun shines eternally and casts not a shadow!”

    Let us revel in our injustices. Let us continue to take advantage of the poor and look the other way. Why? Because America is God’s Kingdom.

  2. Hannah Heath says:

    Hello friends! I recognize a lot of names from over at Flash!Friday. Nice to see you all. This prompt looks fun, so I decided to join the fun this week. =) Here it is:

    Title: I Would Like To Return My Muse
    Word count: 343
    @_HannahHeath

    Dear Muses“R”Us,

    When I placed my order, I said I wanted a muse that would motivate me, but the muse I received by mail hassles me and scare the living daylights out of me.

    I don’t want him anymore.

    Let me explain why.

    He paints himself black and white, saying that it’s supposed to make me think of paper and ink, but it’s just frightening to look at. He has this staff that he continually thumps on the ground whenever I’m doing anything that is not related to writing. That includes sleeping, which I don’t do much anymore.

    And then there’s the fact that he’s Goth. He never gives me nice ideas. I write fantasy…and children’s books! I can’t have my head full of horror stories and black skulking creatures!

    I’ve tried telling him to give me better ideas. But he just starts whacking his staff on the floor and glaring at me. It puts dents in my floor. His staff, not his glare. It drives me distracted!

    The other day I was at the market buying some food, and he was there behind me, growling for me to get back to writing, all the while thumping his staff. He gave me this horrible idea about vampires and I just couldn’t take it. I screamed. Nobody else can see my muse. Of course they can’t, that’s the point of having a personal muse. So they just thought I was crazy. I ran down the street, and he just stood there, laughing at me and pointing.

    I want a refund. I’ve only had him 10 days and there is a 30 day warranty on him. I wish you to come and get him.

    I haven’t slept for days. I have a rapidly approaching deadline for my next children’s book, which so far is a story about a haunted house and a zombie. I don’t think my publisher will approve.

    If I have to bear him any longer, I think I shall be undone!

    Send immediate help,

    Hannah Heath

  3. streetej says:

    Fears
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    360 words

    Clouds collected overhead, threatening rain. Most of the kids were too excited about the Mapleton Halloween Parade and the prospect of free candy to care, but a few curled their shoulders in fear of getting wet, Amber included. She didn’t want water to ruin her pretty blue dress.

    Mrs. Jessamy pointed at the sky and howled theatrically, scaring away the children in a ten-foot radius. The grown-ups frowned with disapproval. Mrs. Jessamy looked even creepier than usual this year in her voodoo-inspired skeleton costume.

    Several other girls dressed as Elsa from Frozen looked ready to cry. Mrs. Jessamy waved her staff madly.

    Amber’s mom patted her shoulder and turned to Mrs. Jessamy. “You’re frightening the children, Carol. Tone it down.”

    Mrs. Jessamy said nothing; she simply stared at Amber, her eyes zombie-dead and shadowed like a skull’s. Amber groped for her mother’s hand. Her tiara slid down her forehead as tears overflowed. She dropped her plastic pumpkin bucket on the curb.

    “Carol!” snapped Amber’s mom, bending to collect the pumpkin. “Cut it out, now!”

    But Mrs. Jessamy continued to lurch towards Amber, leaning on her staff like an evil Disney witch, whistling as she breathed.

    Amber cringed into her mother’s legs. “Mama!”

    “Carol!” Amber’s mom moved from Mrs. Jessamy’s path. “What is wrong with you? You take your pranks too far!”

    Still Mrs. Jessamy advanced, with labored moans. She grabbed Amber’s silky skirt and yanked. “H—he—he—he—” Spittle ran from her mouth.

    Amber’s mom slapped Mrs. Jessamy. “Keep your hands off my daughter!” she snarled, sweeping Amber up into her arms. “What the hell is your problem?”

    Amber’s wails drew a circle of concerned onlookers.

    Mrs. Jessamy swayed drunkenly. Someone dressed as a mummy caught her before she fell.

    “Jesus, she’s burning up,” the mummy cried. “Can someone drive this woman to a hospital?”

    Amber’s mom clutched her and hurried down Main Street. “We’ll skip the parade, honey. It’s about to rain, and I need a latte.”

    They passed the cafe’s newspaper stands, but Amber’s mom didn’t see the morning’s headlines.

    Amber sounded out the big, meaningless words silently: Virulent Hemorrhagic Fever Spreads! Latest Cases in Mapleton!

    • Shirl says:

      Love how this story misled me, from supernatural horror to a possible drink problem and finally the more scary reveal.

    • I did not see that end coming, what a vivid and entertaining tale. Call me morbid but I love the protective mom slap.

    • C Connolly says:

      Great ending. Really hits home. Nice twist on the zombie suggestion earlier in the piece.

    • voimaoy says:

      This is a real scary story–Love how you et it up–the eccentric neighbor, the Halloween parade, the latte, the headlines. Great ending!

    • Hannah Heath says:

      Whoa. You made me think several different things before the actual reason for Mrs. Jessamy’s actions came out. Good job!

    • necwrites says:

      Delightfully creepy! You use the character of Mrs. Jessamy so deftly. She’s a chaotic element that plunked down in suburbia. The contrast of her wild image in a typically tame suburban Halloween creates a creepy contrast particularly to Amber’s latte mother.

    • Karl Russell says:

      Really enjoyed the slow build here, and that slap says so much about the growing tension.
      Also, we just bought the 5yo an Elsa costume; might have to think twice about trick or treating in it…

      • streetej says:

        My identical twin nieces are going as Elsa and Anna. Both of them (6 years old) were horrified that I had never seen Frozen. “Emily, you have to come to our house and watch it because it is a VERY important movie!”
        Thanks!

  4. Mark A. King says:

    The Cherub Hitman of Cambridge
    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    353 words

    Things got worse after he’d messed up the millennium gig. It was supposed to be… something much bigger.

    He’d been banished to Earth, and of all places, Cambridge.

    People tend to think of cherubs as porky and cute. Cedric was a carrying a bit of timber, sure, but to call him cute was offensive. Where he came from, he had a reputation as one of the fiercest of angels, a terrifying soldier of heaven. He was never to be seen without his war-paint.

    When the Boss called him in, he knew it was bad. The eviction dished out. The Boss also had his wings clipped and they’d started to die and flap about in the wind like an older lady’s zebra-print underwear hanging on a washing line. He’d turned the halo into a hat, not just any hat, oh no, but the finest of all hats, a hat with long comedy hair glued the sides.

    The Boss, then decided to force Cedric to walk the streets looking like a member from a 70’s glam-rock band, doing good deeds, like picking up litter. Any attempt to change his appearance would result in worse punishments, like, maybe, being sent to Ipswich.

    He didn’t enjoy all the shouting and laughing at his expense. He didn’t enjoy the lack of respect. He was a solider of heaven. He was like that bloke from that film, the one where he had a special set of skills and the bad guys were going to pay.

    Yes, he could do the work of the Boss while he was here and display some of his talents to the mortals. Oh, how they’d pay for their moral crimes and sins.

    On the historic streets of Cambridge, he picked up an old stick from the nearby wheelie-bin. He swung it through the air. Oh, yes, this was more like it!

    Aging man wearing shorts…take that.

    Man walking down the street, only looking at his phone…smited.

    Man walking down the street, BOTTLE IN HAND…wrathed.

    A sudden flash of light. Cedric looks at his new surroundings, reads the town sign. His punishment just got worse.

    • joshbertetta says:

      Interesting how both our stories are somewhat thematically similar. Nice job once again Mark.

      • Mark A. King says:

        Hi Josh, loved your work, too. It’s a strange coincidence. Maybe the universe working in harmony? I often get ideas during the week, sometimes I start writing them before prompts come up (this one was started Wednesday), then if I’m lucky, the ideas I’ve had fit the prompts; as was the case with this one. I read your one just as I was editing mine, could have redone it, but didn’t have time with all the long hours on FlashDogs stuff, so opted to post, especially as they were fairly different. I often return to Christianity themes once every few weeks. Good luck.

      • joshbertetta says:

        I’ve thought about doing what you say you do–getting your story going before the prompt, but I’m not that gutsay, though the last two weeks for Flash!Friday I’ve planned on writing the way I written and just going for it. Thanks for including me in the FlashDogs stuff by the way. I finally know what I’m going to write about. Whew! That was tough prompt.

    • Shirl says:

      Absolutely love the transformation of wings and halo and how well they relate to the photo prompt. Very entertaining!

    • I really enjoyed the fine balance of the seriousness in which this avenging angel wanted to work and the farcical nature of the punishments meted out.

    • C Connolly says:

      Great piece, Mark. Love the humourous aspect, plus all of the descriptive elements. Comes together really well.

    • necwrites says:

      I always like to see stories of violent angels (since that is closer to the biblical depictions than the Hallmark versions), and this is a great one. Even I’m guilty of picturing cherubs as winged babies. Cedric is the perfect foil for that. I was delighted that the hilarious Ipswich line came back in the end.

    • voimaoy says:

      Love this avenging angel! Really enjoyed this story.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      “…an older lady’s zebra-print underwear hanging on a washing line…”

      Can’t get that image out of my head…

      Thanks for that!

    • Karl Russell says:

      So *that’s * what happened at the turn of the millennium. .. Wonderful comic phrasing, and an interesting insight into your working methods in the comments. Do you ever come up with something that you can’t match to the prompt?

  5. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The Big Escape

    “Do you think he saw us, Three?”

    “No. There’s no way.”

    “Well, there’s some way. He’s caught plenty of others.”

    “Use your eyes, Two. He’s turned the other way. If he’d seen us, we would know.”

    “Maybe he’s biding his time. He’s done that before too.”

    “I’m not saying he’s not biding his time. He’s good at biding. I’m just saying this isn’t one of those times.”

    “You’re awfully confident, Three.”

    “I’m right to be.”

    “But what if—”

    “What if nothing. We’re safe.”

    “You always say that.”

    “And I’m always right.”

    “You’re not always right.”

    “I’m still alive, aren’t I?”

    “Sure. For now.”

    “You’re just being paranoid. And annoying.”

    “Maybe what you call paranoia is actually prudence.”

    “If you’re so prudent, why do you have to follow me around all the time?”

    “I don’t have to follow you around.”

    “Of course you do. You and One, if he’d ever say anything. You still awake over there, One?”

    “Leave One alone. He hasn’t done anything to you.”

    “Pshaw. I don’t mean anything by it. You’re peas in a pod, you two ninnies.”

    “So you really don’t think he’s seen us?”

    “Of course he hasn’t seen us. And he won’t, if we keep walking.”

    “Maybe it isn’t safe to keep walking.”

    “Don’t be an idiot, Two. You’re starting to make me mad.”

    “I just want to stay alive, that’s all.”

    “We all want to stay alive. It’s why I’m saying let’s move on.”

    “What if he sees us move?”

    “Then we run. Or we plot something crazy clever to destroy him.”

    “I can’t run fast.”

    “So build smart, then.”

    “Fine. I’ll build something super smart. On my own. Without you.”

    “Fine. You do that.”

    “Fine. One, are you coming with me or Three?”

    “He’s coming with you, obviously. Peas in a pod, I said.”

    “Fine. Don’t follow us.”

    “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

    “Have a nice life.”

    Three watched them only a moment before shouldering his bricks. “I hope so,” he said, shaking his head and turning in the opposite direction. “By the hair of my chinny chin-chin, I hope so.”

    349 words
    @postupak

  6. necwrites says:

    All Shook Up

    In the waste of the morning, you appear as freshly garish as you had last night. Elvis in death drag. Tourists river around you, starting their Lent in T-shirts, cargo shorts and continental breakfasts, heavy on the pastries.

    You’re like that every time: like Elvis tried out for Kiss and (being Elvis) managed to overdo it. You’re why I’ve trolled Mardi Gras since that time in New Orleans. The donut-pudge, the swaggering stride.

    Yep, you’re Elvis.

    My mother was your biggest fan. That’s about all I know of her. She died when I was two. Dad hated you, but tolerated your music coz of Mom. The same way he tolerated me.

    Your zebra-striped cape ruffles at a passing taxi. You twist toward me.

    I drop my double espresso. You never made eye contact before.

    A black finger pokes from spotless opera gloves pinning me to the balcony. When the finger wiggles, I feel it in my chest like a wire tugging me toward you. I stumble through the guest room, not sure whether my feet are accepting your invitation or fleeing for their lives.

    You pivot as I approach. Auburn hair whisks past my face trailing a familiar scent. Peach blossoms. Vertigo punches me in the nose.

    Mom?

    ——

    It’s about friggin’ time.

    Keeping that sack of bones and flesh animated is grueling work. Only so much a fat-and-sugar diet can do. If I see another greasy fritter, I’m gonna firebomb a bakery.

    Didn’t think I could secure the kind of connection I’d need to make the exchange, but then you showed up. Your shock of recognition–it wasn’t the Elvis-is-not-dead tabloid shock. It dug deeper. I know, because that tiger pit of self-abnegating adoration caught me.

    For ten years, I nurtured our little link until I figured I had you.

    But I didn’t—no, not really, not until you got close and recognized me, not the King. Shocked me too.

    Poor thing, looking like a parade float plowed you over.

    The mom in me might’ve martyred herself, halted the exchange, but I’d been in that corpse far too long to let sentimentality get in my way.

    Sorry ’bout that, kiddo.

    360 words
    @rowdy_phantom
    #flashdog

  7. Shirl says:

    Taking Shots

    I kept watch and when I saw you swagger down the high street, I aimed my phone from the spare bedroom. Everyone knew him as Jason Barnsley: the lad who’d been through ‘that experience’ and never came out the other side.

    But you no longer answered to Jason. Rumours circulated, stirred by you, they said: you were Wayra, blown in on a gust of fear-riddled dreams, reborn, resolute and courageous. Mostly people laughed and avoided you.

    Rhonda called me a liar, said no one goes around town like that, especially not in Wimborne. She bet me a fiver it wasn’t true. I felt a worm of guilt inside for spying on you. But I wasn’t doing any harm, it was just one photo. It wasn’t a crime.

    I remember the headlines: Survivor of Night Raid Discovered in Toilets.

    Shortly after, you – Wayra – emerged, face painted, stick in hand, crumpled hat; your outline visible even at dusk. No one could picture the lad you once were.

    I held the phone up to the glass. A side view would be good enough; enough for Rhonda to believe; enough that I was already spending that fiver on Cream Soda and Skips. But you turned as if I’d shouted my intention. You aimed your finger right at me, and I froze.

    You are Wayra, blown in on a gust of fear-riddled dreams, no need for proof.

    233 words
    @shirl1001

  8. zevonesque says:

    The Invisible Man has Left the Building
    by A J Walker

    The locals walk past him as if he’s not even there. Barely detouring around him as if to challenge his very existence. Some tourists look and point at him from afar, not wanting to be seen to notice the loon in the hat.

    He knows this. Very well. It’s why he does it. He loves to walk his streets to feel the power of the town around him, to absorb its energy. But he has to be invisible to do it. He’d tried looking homeless, but he was never authentic enough and he just looked scruffy and like he’d had a particularly heavy week on the red wine. One day though when sat watching the invisible homeless, for he could see them, he noticed a banana trying to give out leaflets advertising a new smoothie cafe down by the canal. For twenty minutes he watched how the pedestrians swung past and through him, no eye contact, no physical contact. The banana man didn’t exist.

    The next day he saw the End of the World man at the top of the street under the boarded up church preaching to everyone, but no-one. Heads down, phones texting, conversations carrying on, maybe a bit louder as they passed the invisible doom sayer.

    So it was that he realised by dressing up all the weirder or by shouting out diatribes that no-one wanted to hear then he could become invisible and walk the town like he was the only one there. He would own the streets.

    He scoured the charity shops dressed in his usual heavy black coat and oversized sunglasses buying up the most outlandish kit.

    At home he plastered his face with a caked cartoon death mask, then his skeleton T shirt and black trousers were pulled on before putting on the ridiculous shiny boots. The dark stars on his glaring silver made him smile. He even named them – the Silver Boots of Tackiness. He then threw on the Yellow Cape of Puke and grabbed his Staff of Kitsch.

    His costume of gross invisibility was completed with The Hat.

    And so now Elvis can still walk around his town unnoticed.

    (360 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  9. A TALE OF TWO DEATHS

    Brian S Creek
    357 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDogs

    Death looked the man over again. It was a garish image of mixed patterns and clashing motifs. Is this really how people of the world thought of him now?

    “Obey me, Pale Man, for I am Death incarnate.”

    “Is this a wind up,” said Death as he looked around. The streets of the city were lined with people celebrating Y2K. Everyone was cheering and kissing and looking up at the fireworks. No one was paying attention to the Grim Reaper talking to the crazy Kiss reject.

    “Do not question me,” said the man. “Your time in this realm is over.”

    “Clearly there is some confusion,” said Death. “You see I am here to collect your soul.”

    “You try my patience, Pale Man. The universe doesn’t have time for games.”

    “Are you actually insane?” said Death. He tapped his scythe on the ground and the blade lit up electric blue. “I’m sorry if your world let you down and this is what society’s ignorance has done to you but I’m on a timetable and have other souls to collect besides yours.” He lowered the scythe and pressed the tip into the man’s chest. After a couple of seconds of nothing happening he pulled it out again. “Well, that’s never happened before.”

    The man just smiled.

    “I can assure you, Jack Wallace from Portsmouth, that you are not Death. You are just a 45 year old homeless man whose representation of my character offends me. If you were not already on my roaster for today I would find it very difficult not to take your soul back to the underworld on principal alone.”

    “Excuse me,” said a voice from behind Death. “I’m Jack Wallace.”

    Death turned to see a tramp sat on the bench. The tramp waved. Death looked back at the man who appeared to have no soul. “I’m confused.”

    “You have lived for one thousand years and now, like those you have harvested for a millennium, your time is over. I have come to collect you soul. I am the Death of Deaths.”

    The man tapped his stick on the ground and an electric blue blade appeared.

  10. He

    When you find yourself invited to attend a mandatory Harry Potter Math Convention by your husband’s boss.
    When you discover that your neighbor is keeping hoards of seagulls and she needs some of your bowls for their food dishes.
    When the kid who sat next to you in third grade comes over to your house and begins to remove all your furniture with giant yellow rubber tongs.
    When your sister, and you don’t have a sister, arrives on a floating cat to calmly explain to you why Julia Child won’t be attending your wedding.
    When you’re naked, save for a floral crocheted scarf while doing your weekly shopping at Whole Foods.
    These are his gifts to us.
    He is no Ole-Luk-Oie. He is the puckish brother no one likes to talk about.
    He is The Fine Debris of Rocks Fellow.
    Undeserving and under-qualified for the other, simpler, more appealing name.

    He grins as he does an ol’ soft shoe up and down the streets, loud striped cape flapping behind him. He is the Oprah of the dream world, pointing a merrily maniacal finger at window after window as though to say, “You get a dream, and you get a dream, and you get a dream!”
    He works all night long, works the way that a dancer dominating the dance floor considers their nocturnal ovation work.
    And the morning, when you wake, confused, mildly concerned, hungover from these realistic wrappers of unrealistic tales, he smiles even bigger and boogies on.

    252 Words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  11. C Connolly says:

    The Crescent Quarters

    They will take you to the Crescent Quarters on dark, moonless nights, if you know where to find them. That is Test One. Do you see them yet? Those shadow silhouettes with painted faces, casting themselves as chameleon; as tricks of the light? They are there to locate, once you know how; in the hidden spaces. Once spotted, they show themselves immediately to the sharp eyed. Such is the bargain they made, though no one knows with who or how it was arrived at. The details remain shrouded; lost in time’s passing. Perhaps they too will be rediscovered, though not today; not by you. They are not your task. You are already upon it.

    Will you take them by the hand, to let them lead you where they will? That is Test Two, though none can say whether yes or no means pass or fail. All stay silent on that score. The decision is yours alone for the making. You have taken it already.

    The way lies above ground, through the Long Ages; that you gather, as the white gloved hand leads on and into the dark. You fancy their cries beat upon you, as the long, carved staff hits the ground; it’s constant click the audible companion to your own footsteps. Your guide keeps his counsel, face forwards, dark eyes averted. What do you hear? What calls to you? Is it the jolt towards justice? The sound of sympathy? What do you feel stir beneath your bones? Is it the burn of revenge? That is Test Three. Multiple choice. You have your answer ready.

    The top hat bobs beside you, leading you further in. Deeper; still deeper. The shaded city is side to side now, its buildings all around you; its shadows upon you. You hear them now, around you. The souls stirring to meet you. They hear you breathe; feel your heat amidst their chill.

    Your heart jolts as you realise it is you and them now. Your guide has stolen silent from the scene, somehow; somewhere. Now you have no choice. You must find your own way back or remain amongst them. It is your final test.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  12. Geoff Holme says:

    White Rabbit

    the visible spectrum contracts condenses to monochrome and the pale infinitesimal grains in the slender sandglass that chronologically limits my every move slip and slide cascading and crashing angrily into its lower bulb as the regimented ranks and files of the chequered board skew and swiftly expand to fill the empty plain to a vanishing point at all four points of the compass defying the proportion the symbolism the logic of this world writ small but leaving the men in miniature to chase albino rabbits endlessly from square to square trying to stay upright and evade a certain one who drains the last of the tequila from its bottle and peers one-eyed down its neck at the hookah-smoking cat and (surrealist) pillow at its base and thus the tight knight for it is he is walking backwards and colliding with his opposite number magically melding into a melange of white and black light and shade good and evil that the lowly dispensable peons studiously ignore and surreptitiously slink and slither gyre and gimble around not noticing that he lifts his head and rises RISES R-I-S-E-S towards me the bone white skeletal features beneath his crumpled black top hat looming scarily before my face as he lifts his ebony staff in his two-toned gloved hand and gesticulates wildly with it while he instructs me how to make my next move but in a controlled whisper avoiding the unwelcome minatory attention of the well-read queen who in her role as literary arbiter pores over pages and pages of painstakingly produced flash fiction occasionally sighing or tut-tutting or cackling dementedly and pausing only when disturbed to command anyone and everyone in earshot to remember what the Dormouse said meaning of course nothing and thus eliciting complete silen-

    “Oh my God! She’s gone completely silent… Grace… Grace! Can you hear me? Are you OK? Oh, man! I think maybe ingesting the magic mushrooms after dropping that tab of acid was a really bad move.”

    @GeoffHolme #flashdogs
    Word Count: 330

  13. voimaoy says:

    The Avatars’ Ball
    @voimaoy #flashdog
    360 words

    It was rockin at the Avalon Ballroom, and all the avatars were there, glowing under the strobe lights, their coding skills and creativity on full display.

    Lenny admired a fox girl, flickering neon green. There was a Schrodinger Cat. There were Ghost Dogs. His best friend, Mike, was a golden triangle. He was talking to a spiral helix of DNA.

    Lenny fingered the button on his power suit, and the avatar sprang into life. He was proud of his design, just the right funky glam-rock touch. He had paid attention to detail, too–the dramatic cape, the silver platform boots.

    His avatar name was KissMeTender, but he was thinking of changing it to something more cool, something with more flash and less ambiguity. Maybe it was time for a new identity. Lately he had been followed by a company that made meat tenderizer. Uh…no thanks…

    There was Now-n-Zen with a Noh mask, and WhiskerZen , a circle in calligraphy ink. There was a flashing crystalline entity that morphed into new geometries. He saw Voidboy with his NiLPhone, tapping out blank verse.

    There was something new going down in the ballroom, that thrillpill he had heard about. The papers called it TicToc because it came in a little box like the breath mints his Mom kept in her bag. TicToc was a time bomb, a trip somewhere in time for a split-second or two. Past, future, who knew?

    The fox girl winked out like a firefly. Then, she was back, all breathless. flickering.

    “Where’s did you go?” Lenny asked her.

    “Wouldn’t you like to know?” she teased. “I went to the moon. I left a pawprint there. Oh it was such fun! I spooked those spaceboys, though.”

    Tictoc was the product of street technology, stolen from a research lab. Prototype matter transporter, thin coating of tachyons. “Beam me up Scotty,” his Dad thought it was a joke.

    Streets were using it for recreational purposes– a glimpse of the future, maybe mess a little with the past. Show up like a ghost in the picture.

    Lenny took one. Where would he go?

    He popped into next Thursday, just in time to catch the bus.

  14. drmagoo says:

    I’d sold my soul to the devil, so of course I knew he’d come back. But they don’t call him the Father of Lies for nothing. I mean, he’d delivered on his promises – I was rich beyond the measuring, women flocked to me offering endless nights of pleasure, and I hadn’t had so much as a sniffle or a tight back in a dozen years. And the only obligation I had was that I had to return to New Orleans for Mardi Gras every year for a game of chance.

    The first year, I’d been nervous something fierce, expecting a trick, but after I got challenged to a hand of Three Card Monte that a newborn baby could have won while sleeping by a guy in a Dollar Store devil costume, I started to let my guard down.

    And so it went. Every year, I’d hop in my plane and head down there for a few days of debauchery, play an easy game against some half-assed Beelzebub knockoff, and then I’d return to whatever idle pursuit had occupied me for the past year. So, when I saw him on the street below my balcony, made up to look like Beetlejuice – I think – I waved him up.

    He wasn’t alone when he got to my rooms, however – some dumpy middle-aged tourist in bad shorts was with him. I wouldn’t have given her a second glance even before the deal, and it was ludicrous to think I’d touch her now, but he was the devil, so I did what I knew he expected me to do. I figured he was just trying to humiliate me.

    He didn’t, of course. I showed that woman the night of her pathetic life. When I was done, I looked over at the man in the costume, who’d spent the whole night in a chair and hadn’t said a word, and smiled, having won whatever game he’d been trying to play.

    “Why are you looking over at him, honey?” In the early morning light, the woman lying next to me looked different. “He’s just some guy I made a bet with last night. Guess who lost.”

    359 words
    @drmagoo

  15. @stellakateT
    #flashdog
    295 words

    “Do you believe in Voodoo?”

    I looked up from the piles of filing I still had to do before the close of play. How I hated that phrase. Mr Johnson, the manager of our section, was always telling us girls that we needed to up our game as we avoided his wandering hands and leering smirks. The only game plan I had was getting another job that didn’t pay minimum wage nor had a zero hour contract.

    “Haven’t really thought about it”

    I started to hum Voodoo Chile. I’d named one of my sons Hendrix after Jimi. Took a bit of persuasion before my husband agreed but then I’d let him chose our eldest and I still feel silly saying he’s called Montgomery after the General.

    Jenny had gone deathly white; her pallor normally a flushed red. She was in the middle of the menopause.

    I stood up to see what had caught her gaze out of the bay window overlooking the street below. We weren’t actively encouraged to view anything other than the work on our desks.

    “Can you see him?”

    “Who?”

    “That bloke, pointing at me?”

    “What, the Witch Doctor?”

    Jenny shuddered and nodded.

    I sat her back down at her desk and fetched a cup of cold water from the new dispenser Mr Johnson had installed the other day. I wanted to tell her that he’d come for my soul in return for eternal life but that only happens in films. I’d given him my soul in return for something much more important. Whatever I wished for I’d get and I’d started small. I smiled as Jenny drunk the cold water. I felt quietly confident that with careful progression I’d rule the world. Next wish would be Mr Johnson getting the sack.

  16. Image Ronin says:

    Clash of the Titans

    The reality of being a superhero was beyond most people. Steve understood this, for he was an acolyte of isolation, devoted to the pursuit of vigilante perfection. Every night he spent at his secret base, the bedsit above the chip shop on Stapleton Road, pouring over volumes of comic book deeds.

    Then he heard about Kick Ass. Steve was not what you would call a people person so he kept his distance from the neon hell that was the multiplex in town. He was tempted to download a pirated copy, but the hero within him chastised such thoughts. No, Steve waited patiently till the postman delivered his limited edition DVD box set with added postcards.

    That night he sat on his beanbag and watched the film.

    He hated it.

    Some young upstart who lucks his way, via a near fatal accident, into being an inept hero fixated on girls? A total cluster farce Steve concluded as he munched into his second kebab of the evening. What use was such a hero when the world was being torn asunder by war, corporate greed, climate change and selfies?

    It was time he made a difference.

    Steve worked feverishly into the early hours, fuelled by a diet of lemonade and marshmallows. In the morning the god who stared out from the mirror was not Steve, though Steve knew he was in there somewhere. Before him was no mortal, nor a child in scuba gear.

    This was Super Steve.

    He wandered outside, his cloak of curtains billowing, his duvet harem pants surprisingly chafing. Yet he strode down the middle of the road flips flops flip flopping, his Staff of Power™ forged from a swingball pole and glitter feeling mighty within his grip.

    From above a voice serenaded Super Steve’s emergence into the world.

    ‘OI WANKER!’

    Super Steve looked up, a builder hanging from scaffolding, finger gesturing furiously.

    Steve waved back, heart swelling with pride, oblivious to the No37 bus currently hurtling towards him.

    Some witnesses stated that the tennis ball on the string tripped Steve up, others that his cloak got caught on something.

    All agreed that the oddly dressed man lost.

    Rather messily.

    @imageronin

    360 words

    #flashdog

  17. Shirl says:

    This made me chuckle despite the unfortunate fate of super Steve 🙂

  18. It’s Only Make Believe

    There’s a guy offering free hugs outside the convention. I don’t take him up on the offer, and he doesn’t even try, but he gives me a shy, shocked nod as I pass, and I flash him a lop-sided grin.

    The tribes congregate in the queue; the older, fatter, bearded guys in matching accidental Comic Book Guy drag (Worst. Stereotype. Ever) and the younger, hipper indie kids, smelling of fresh print and hope, all waiting for the doors to open and the show to begin, for signings and sketchings and portfolio reviews.

    And all around, as far as the eye can see, are the cosplayers.

    Five Cat Girls, nodding fluorescent wigs to the latest J-Pop sensation. Three of the Fantastic Four wait patiently for the Invisible Girl to appear. Even better, there are a dozen or so characters that even I don’t recognise, so I don’t feel too bad about my home made outfit. I should fit right in for once.

    I wander up and join the queue, drawing a few more glances, but nothing heavy. A girl in a Sailor Moon outfit gives me a thumbs up and holds up her camera, eyebrows raised. I nod, strike a pose, pull my cape wide and sneer for her. I drool onto my spandex and think I’ve blown it, but she grins and skips off to shoot some skeleton faced Bruja in death robes.

    The doors open and we enter the hall. Rows of tables, guests from around the world, the local media already cueing up their trite “Zap! Pow! Comics!” headlines, and literally thousands of people making their way around. I’m stopped for photos again and again, told how awesome and weird I look and asked who I am. I pose and mug for the cameras, tell them I’m Zombie Man or Death Bloke or Massive Facial Reconstruction Dude.

    And no-one points.

    And no-one runs.

    And everyone smiles.

    Even the kids.

    And when it gets too much, and I have to hide in the loo and cry, I just wipe my face and I’m ready to head straight back out again. I don’t have to worry about my makeup running.

    360 words
    @Karl_A_Russell
    #FlashDog

  19. necwrites says:

    Even ghouls get the blues. Such tender sadness in such a whimsically mundane setting. Your tone is pitch perfect on this one. I love the sarcasm veiling genuine insecurity.

  20. […] story at The Angry Hourglass this week is a perfect example of where life and fiction crosses over; it’s about a scarred […]

  21. […] weekend’s Flash Frenzy entry over at Angry Hourglass was based on this photo (taken by Ashwin […]

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