Flash Frenzy Round 46

Posted: November 29, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Hello, friends. Welcome to Round 46. For those of us in the US, we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to let you all know how thankful I am for all of you and the effort you put forth every weekend. Without you, this would be just another sad empty blog.

David Shakes has been providing photo prompts as well as stepping in to judge at the Angry Hourglass since its inception. This weekend, he’s back with another great photo and once again offering his services 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 David Shakes

photo courtesy David Shakes

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Comments
  1. voimaoy says:

    The Field
    @voimaoy
    357 words

    It all started  after the big storm. Grandpa said there was something odd about the lightning, before we headed downstairs. Come to think of it, the flashes were kind of regular, like signals or something, but it was the tornado we were worried about at the time.

    The house shook, and we huddled around the weather radio. Dad got the dogs inside, but the cats were nowhere around. That was strange, but it was only the beginning of the weird things around here.

    We didn’t know what we would find the next morning, when we climbed out of the storm cellar, and looked out at a clear blue sky. The barn was damaged, and the big oak had lost some branches, but it was not the kind of devastation we had feared. Grandpa had stories about tornadoes carrying off cows and tractors, hammering bits of straw into walls.  What we found was a charred circle in the field, like something had burned a design there.

    The wave of heat was so intense, we couldn’t get too close.  I saw the crows circling, cawing their alarm cries, and suddenly fly off.  No bird would fly across the field.

    My older brother Adam  was the first to venture out there and see for himself. Jake, our dog, was right beside him. They walked across the field like it was the most natural thing in the world, which it had been until yesterday. Now, the field was shimmering, and the grass was waving even though there was no wind. The air grew cold. It had been so hot only moments before. Adam kept walking, right up to the circle and looked around.

    Then, he vanished, just like that. Like going through a door into another room. Jake howled, and followed him. We called and called, but both boy and dog were gone. Where did they go?  We don’t know.

    I know it’s a portal to somewhere. Dad and Grandpa don’t think so; the sheriff doesn’t have a clue. Maybe Adam will come back, I’m waiting.  Wherever he is, I  hope Jake is with him.  At least, they won’t be alone.

  2. Avalina Kreska
    @avalina_kreska
    #flashdog

    The Leader

    The hardest thing to do was slipping the coloured rags over the heads without getting grabbed. Jenny chose her racer because it only had one arm, its tongue wiggled as it groaned and snapped its teeth. She leapt back before it lunged forward, ran behind it and slipped the red rag around its neck before it had time to turn around.

    ‘Yoy! That’s me! she said, kicking back the zombie in the dress.

    The others had more difficulty, theirs all had two arms. Manny was so tempted to draw his knife – to end this craziness now. He danced around with his blue rag, testing its speed, dexterity, luckily there were only four, any more and it would be too much for them. He kicked it to the ground, its flailing hands unable reach him, Manny managed to slip it over its head before jumping back.

    ‘Dude, I’m done too! Manny shouted, arms in the air, running wide rings around his target.

    The other two youngsters teamed up, two on one.

    ‘That’s cheating!’ Jenny shouted.

    ‘Where does it say that in the rules!’ Simon said, provocatively coming up to her face, Jenny stood up only slighter taller. She kept up her fierce bravado, Simon backed down. Kyle made a Satan sign at Jenny. She made one back.

    ‘OK guys, lets get them to the start line,’ Jenny said authoritatively. kicking hers from behind, sending it flying towards the line in the dirt. The others copied her. Before the zombies had chance to react the four youngsters raced to the bar gate, and climbed over.

    The zombies were neck and neck, then red got slightly ahead. The kids screamed at the top of their lungs. This was good therapy, good thinking on Jenny’s part.

    Jenny realised how surreal live had become. Here she was, with three lads she didn’t know, at risk not just from the zombies but from them – should they decide she wasn’t the leader any more, that she was just a weak, stupid girl. She dreaded her period, dreaded that she might have to kill them, but worst of all, she dreaded being alone, because alone you’re already dead.

    (360 bloodied words)

  3. necwrites says:

    Corralled
    160 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    Grandfather and Mama mouthed the words that coaxed the thorny bushes into an impenetrable fortress of vegetation. The sun’s rays, moon-shorn by a partial eclipse, failed to warm the lea. Gooseflesh crawled over Max’s skin.

    Max knew that the brambles weren’t what held the Thing back. It was the spells. The brambles were supposed to keep outsiders from going in, from poking around and awakening something best left sleeping.

    He let his gaze slide to his sister. Megan’s eyes were bright, her lips moved over the incantation. When she noticed Max watching, she slammed her lips shut. Her warning stare stabbed into his gut.
    A warning that reminded him of the late winter day in the attic, a place he hadn’t dared enter since. He shuddered.

    Grandfather tried to buck him up with a smile that never managed to reach the sad wrinkles around his eyes. His smile had been like that ever since the Thing got Grandmother. Max’s memories of Grandmother consisted of wide warm lap and a hug just a little too tight.

    Mama gathered him close. “Someday, I’ll teach you two the words to keep it contained,” she told him, her breezy tone belied by the concern creasing her brow. Megan’s glare found its way through Mama’s embrace and stitched his throat shut. His mother’s arms might as well have been coils of razor vine.

    What the adults didn’t understand was that impenetrable brambles become invitations for summer-bored children, whose traded dares intensified as the days wear long. Megan never refused a dare.

    With the truth sewn shut in his throat, he couldn’t warn them that it was probably too late. He’d needed that knowledge last winter.

    The nest of baby squirrels his sister had secreted into the attic, their little mewlings and blind fumblings. The tiny heads squished between her thumb and forefinger. The way her eyes rolled back and her voice shifted between her own and two others. One that had a growling laugh too much like Dad’s. One that had a coo too much like Grandma’s.

    No amount of adult assurances could erase the fear that Grandfather and Mama were now outnumbered.

  4. Tradition

    His time had begun winding down, every day growing weaker, feeling his years.
    The family waited and tried to proceed with life as usual.
    He sat in his daughter’s kitchen hunched and frail while his children and grandchildren prepped cookies and strung cranberries for decorations.
    And then it began.

    His back grew straighter and stronger. His became clear and bright, the deep water blue that had won him his wife. He looked around the kitchen at his family and said, “It’s time.”
    His daughter and son-in-law nodded sad smiles at him as they hurried their two children into their boots and coats, then dressed themselves as well for the cold outdoors.
    As his daughter led him out the back door, arm hooked through his, he noticed a shimmery blue glow had begun to emanate from him.
    His daughter kissed his cheek and let him go and he walked further into the yard.
    He turned and stood silent for a moment looking at his beautiful audience.

    He raised his palms up and out and showers of fireworks began to pour from his hands. The popped and hissed and sang with great force.
    “I loved going sledding with you, Grandpa,” his granddaughter yelled and the shower of sparks grew brighter, taking on a white and silver hue that glided along in sled-runner contrails.
    “I loved when you read to me, Grandpa” cried her brother and giant fairy-tale flowers of red and gold burst and blossomed from his hands.
    “I loved having the honor of joining your family,” his son-in-law called out and ribbons of red light snaked and twirled and knotted together within the showers of the other lights.
    “I loved chasing the moon with you, Dad. I love you,” his daughter yelled, laughing and crying, and the fireworks burst forth in fountains of colors, transforming the winter night into rainbow-bright daylight and the family cried and cheered.
    A final triumphant finale before saying goodbye. Such was the way of their people.
    Even magicians have to die.

    342 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  5. Stella says:

    @stellakateT
    287 words

    The Making of Me

    If we looked long enough we’d see. I never knew what Granddad meant and never asked. I was the youngest, my brother and sister never had much patience with me. Annie would flick my ear till it turned a vivid red and Jason would either give me a Chinese burn on my wrist or dead leg me if no one was watching. I gave up complaining to my Granny who thought we were all her precious darlings and none of us capable of hurtful behaviour. I even asked Mum to let me stay with her when the school holidays started but she said the grandparents loved seeing me. She really wanted to have some quality time with her friend Dan. I might have been the youngest but I wasn’t the stupidest that was definitely Annie!

    This photo reminds me of the time when I did see something. It sits on my bureau where I write my stories. My wife Connie says she can’t believe what horror lurks in my imagination. I’m such a gentle soul. Several of my books have been turned into films; you’ve probably been scared witless watching them. Money pours effortlessly into my bank account from the DVD’s and merchandising. I remember that day when the Thing appeared out of the foliage Granddad, Annie and Jason seemed locked in time. I was watching it happen. They found us hours later. I was speechless for a few years until Mrs Baker the therapist got me to talk. Granddad had a fatal heart attack and Annie and Jason were missing, never found. Now that was a mystery. Mum and Granny never really recovered. I always say a little thank you to the Thing on every anniversary.

    • necwrites says:

      Hey, we’ve both got “Things”! I love that your gentle-souled horror writer gives thanks to the creature in the foliage, despite the little (crucial) details like not having spoken for a few years!

      • Stella says:

        maybe the Thing and the boy who was speechless for several years could be the same entity?… need to ask the writer 🙂

    • Carlos says:

      “flick my ear till it turned a vivid red” ouch. I felt this when I read that line. Great story. Interesting question your story poses: How would you feel if a ‘Thing’ took part of your family, but made you rich?

    • I really liked the play between the kids – kids can be so cruel.
      So clever, the Thing causing everyone so much shock yet it became ‘The Making of Me’ – Brilliant story Stella.

    • Love all the details of sibling cruelty and the way that seems to color how he can still give thanks even though siblings were never found. The idea of giving thanks for something so terrifying is both a realistic revelation and unnerving.

  6. milambc says:

    Field of Demons (360 words)
    @brett_milam

    The animal, grandpa said, needed to be put down. I think he said it was “stock braving bad,” whatever that meant. Grandpa spoke with that smelly stuff in his mouth, which made it hard to understand what he said. Ceili said it was bacco. I just knew that it left black, gooey stains on the dirt porch we had, when he’d be hocking and spitting from his rocking chair.

    I was playing in the field making wheat angels with its long, wavy hair. Jeremy was trying to ride his bike through it, but his wheels couldn’t move. He had his “Stan the Man” Stan Musial baseball card on the rear wheel to give it that, “Vroooom.” .

    Then the animal came. I was lying down on my back, arms spread wide when I saw the hulking mass of the animal’s shadow come over my field of vision, like those arrow-planes we saw in the sky. Blood dripped from its shaggy mane of hair. A droplet fell on to my forehead and then another.

    I screamed because I didn’t like blood. Mamma said if I ever saw blood to tell someone. But I had no thought to telling no one, just letting my scream monster out.

    Jeremy fell off of his bike and screamed, too. Jeremy was into creatures and sci-fi, even had a collection book of pictures, but he never saw something like that.

    Our two screams seemed like a raging fire of horror that spiraled to the heavens. Before long, grandpa came around the yard with his shotgun. He always kept it propped next to his rocking chair.

    It was the same shotgun he said he used to put lead into the Germans during WWI. Jeremy liked those stories more than me.

    Grandpa spat, then fired. The blast propelled the animal back and he fell like a dead demon in the wheat.

    I got my first good look at him.

    He looked like he could have been grandpa, but with more hair since grandpa’s was gone. And he had the blackest skin I’d seen, like the coal we used to build fires.

    Scary animal or not, I still cried, then.

  7. C Connolly says:

    Statues

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    (329 words)

    You see them from a distance, at first, up in front, backs towards you. Four figures, all lined up – one straight row of colourful coats bright against the backdrop of the hedgerows, with welly clad feet. They do not move; they do not turn, though your footsteps have announced you already, twig cracks sharp beneath your weight. No reaction, still.

    You move forwards slowly, drawing nearer to their ramrod rigid bodies. The wind is whistling in your ears now – a sudden pick up from the silence which preceded it. A slight shiver and you move on once more.

    Slightly closer now, you gauge that their attention is captured by a break in the trees beyond them – at least as far as you can see from squinting. The breeze has died again, as quickly as it came. Wildlife observation, perhaps? Seems so, from the silence which prevails now.

    You creep forwards; cautious now; not wanting to disturb their watch for as long as it may last. The kids are inordinately quiet. Well trained, it seems – at least whilst otherwise distracted.

    Closer again, yet still several feet away, you wonder whether to chance your luck and speak. You clear your throat – a polite semi-introduction – to little or no effect.

    As you near, your pace slows – a slight hesitation, as you gaze beyond, into the bushes. Their fascination escapes you, though the glance is perfunctory only before your eyes return to rest on the four forms directly in front of you.

    You reach a hand towards the shoulder nearest – see it stretch into mid-air before its descent. Now it touches, gloved, and it is done.

    En masse, they turn. You see them now, clearly, where before you did not whilst their faces were from you. Too late now to unsee, though your sight is strangely blurred, as you rub fingers across your eyelids. Their tips feel sticky. You see merely red, as the rest fades away. Beyond that there is only the black.

  8. zevonesque says:

    Walking on a Grey Sunday
    A.J. Walker

    “Whoever named Sunday was being optimistic. It always seems to be the greyest day of the week.” Jenni said.

    Her little brother Ryan looked up at the sky. “At least it’s stopped raining.”

    Charlie was off the leash and seemed to be playing a game of his own involving running through each and every puddle.

    “Kids, you’ll be washing the dog when we get back.” Said their mum.

    “We know!” Ryan and Jenni shouted in unison.

    Charlie kept disappearing into the long grass by the roadside and was left to his own devices as the family walked on. Jenni looked back at their mum and dad holding hands behind them as usual.

    “Will we always do these walks do you think?” She said.

    “Of course we will.” Ryan said. “Why wouldn’t we?”

    “Even when we don’t have Charlie?”

    Ryan stopped in his tracks. “Why wouldn’t we have Charlie? We’ll have him forever.”

    Charlie ran up on cue and jumped at Ryan, smothering six shades of mud all over his jeans.

    “See, I think he agrees!”

    Charlie calmed down and then decided to walk with children for a while.

    As they approached the end of Long Lane there was a roar which tore through the afternoon – everyone stopped walking at its sound. The second roar a minute later proved the first and their dad came running along to the children.

    Charlie started suddenly and ran though an open gate into a field before disappearing into the thick undergrowth.

    Ryan stood on the gate trying to see into the bushes and Jenni jumped on to.

    “Charlie, Charlie!”

    Ryan was almost crying.

    There were noises in the undergrowth, but they couldn’t tell what was going on.

    “Dad, dad! Go and get Charlie!” Jenni pleaded.

    But he was not for moving. He’d heard the lion, and however incongruous it was in the Wiltshire countryside, he knew what it was.

    The family were stood by the gate when suddenly the rangers from the safari park walked out through the field with their guns pointed skyward dragging a young lioness behind them.

    Charlie was racing alongside them panting, his tail swishing madly. He’d enjoying the hunt.

    (360 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  9. Rebekah Postupak says:

    Picture Perfect

    “Picture time!” Our mother’s merry voice floated up the stairs, and we all groaned. It was always picture time. Every change of season. Every colorful sunset, every radiant sunrise. Every time a perfect yellow sun rested in a perfect blue summer sky.

    We groaned, but Lily still reached for her hairbrush and Christopher raced for the bathroom to do quick battle with his cowlick. My own thinning hair, normally hidden under a wig, would have to make an appearance too.

    Ready at last, we glued on smiles and tromped downstairs. She stood waiting at the bottom, camera slung over a shoulder, and her eyes keen and bright.

    “Your hair is beautiful, Lily,” said our mother, brushing a finger across my sister’s cheek.

    “Thank you, Mother,” Lily said, her smile widening.

    “Christopher, I see you’ve wrangled that cowlick into place today. Well done!”

    Chris’ shoulders straightened. “Thank you, ma’am.”

    Now our mother’s eyes traveled to me. I drew a breath and waited, but after a long moment she only shook her head, sighed, and motioned us to the door.

    “It’s an outside shot today, kids,” she said, “down by the gate. The trees are in full leaf and couldn’t be more fabulous. Come on!”

    We followed her down the lane to where the grass stretched high and wild.

    “Twirl, children!” cried our mother, flinging her arms out. “Feel the magic stirring in your blood!”

    Lily, Christopher, and I raised our arms and obediently began to spin. But my legs were frailer than theirs, and after a single rotation I fell.

    Trembling, I looked up at Mother. The others’ faces had smoothed again with youth. In a while they would climb the fence and turn away, so the camera would witness the backs of their heads and nothing more. It would not see Mother’s wrinkles transfer to our cheeks, or her hair blush golden as ours bristled grey.

    I pulled up my hood, my face a question, and she nodded slowly.

    My hood would prevent the camera from capturing my ninety-year-old, age-spotted skin that no longer bloomed with magic.

    The photo would only show childlike shapes, as ever.

    It would be perfect.

    360 words of who the heck knows what
    @postupak

    • Carlos says:

      Sinister. I’m so glad you submitted this. It’s a delicious morsel of a story. “quick battle with his cowlick” <<absolutely love this line. It seems like I battle with my sons cowlick everyday, so this made me laugh.

    • Such a great idea for a story! Not what I was expecting at all, loved, ‘My hood would prevent the camera from capturing my ninety-year-old, age-spotted skin that no longer bloomed with magic.’ and the line after it, ‘The photo would only show childlike shapes, as ever.’

      A stroke of genius a feel and a wonderful madness and sorrow that will always capture my heart.

    • So deeply disturbing and fantastically vivid. I feel so bad that the one child seems so much more aware of what’s going on.

  10. Carlos says:

    Timeshares

    Harvey grabbed the suitcase packed with vacation brochures from the back of the van and made his way to the small house. It was a charming little neighborhood where all the houses mirrored each other. These neighborhoods were easy to dupe, and Harvey was giddy at the thought of the effortless payday. If he sold two timeshares to every house on the block he would make more money than he had the last two months combined.

    He rapped on the oak door and straightened his tie. The lock chain rattled as the door opened a few centimeters, and a woman’s voice came through the crack. “Yes, how may I help you?”

    “I’m with Northwestern Travel Group ma’am. I’m here to see if you’d like a once in a lifetime travel opportunity?”

    “That sounds fantastic. Mr. Kelly and I have been wanting to travel more. We think it’d be good for the kids. Please come in.” The door narrowed and the gold lock chain swung limp before Harvey was let in. “Have a seat in the family room. I have coffee brewing. Would you like a cup?” Mrs. Kelly disappeared into the kitchen before Harvey could make eye contact. That eye contact was crucial in making the sale, but he hadn’t even caught a glimpse of Mrs. Kelly’s face.

    “Yes,” Harvey responded. He looked around the room for information he could use to his advantage. His eyes stopped at a picture of the family at the beach. They were facing away from the camera so he couldn’t tell if they were enjoying themselves, but he made a mental note to show Mrs. Kelly the Caribbean timeshares.

    He turned his gaze to the portrait above the mantel. In it, the family was looking at an empty pen. All the foliage in the picture was frosted with winter ice crystals, but again the family was facing away from the camera. Harvey could not say why, but the portrait unsettled him.

    Mrs. Kelly entered the family room saying, “That’s the farm where we perform the sacrifices,”

    Harvey looked at her with disbelief, but instead of a woman’s face he saw a featureless, blank smudge.

    @goldzco21
    360 words
    #flashdog

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