Flash Frenzy Round 48

Posted: December 13, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday, Friends. 🙂 This is it—the last round of Flash Frenzy 2014. You guys have made this year so amazing. I have to admit, when I first decided to host The Angry Hourglass, I was afraid folks wouldn’t be interested. There were already so many high-quality flash fiction challenges, I wasn’t sure there was going to be room for another. So thank you, thank you, thank you, flash dogs. Without you and your continued efforts there would be no Angry Hourglass.

Also, if you haven’t already, head over to theflashdogs.com, follow the link to the first ever Flash Dogs charity anthology, and download a copy. The anthology is composed of 110 stories (flash, of course) by 34 authors, many among The Angry Hourglass’s finest. It’s for charity, and you’re guaranteed to find something inside that inspires you.

Moving forward to the main event. Many thanks to Jaime Burchardt who will preside over this final round of flash.

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.

In the spirit of airports and holiday travel, here is your prompt.

Round 48

courtesy Ashwin Rao

 

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Comments
  1. @avalina_kreska
    358 words

    The Patriot

    Clive booked his flight wearing nothing but his U.S.A underpants, he loved the idea that the smooth talking operator would treat him like any normal person. And he is normal. So very normal. Clive packed his suitcase with great care, it was important to travel light, only the essentials must be taken. In two hours he would board the plane to his destiny.

    Standing in the queue, he said goodbye to America, Land of the Free.
    ‘Did you pack the luggage yourself?’ The attendant asked. Clive smiled, thinking about his luggage.
    ‘Yes,’ he replied.
    ‘Has anyone asked you to take on any luggage for them?’ Clive replied, ‘No.’
    The attendant at the check-in seemed to take a long time checking his papers and passport.
    ‘Why are you travelling to Syria Sir?’ The attendant inquired, staring at his sweatshirt, she made an upwards motion with her head, as if summoning someone. Clive was about to answer when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
    ‘Come with me Sir please.’ Clive turned his head, it was airport security. He led Clive to a side-room. There was another official present.
    ‘Sit down Sir, we just need to confirm something,’ he said, unzipping Clive’s luggage. They pulled out a single pillow. On it was written, ‘I owe 150,000 dollars, my wife is sleeping around and I hate my f###ing crappy life.’
    The security guys turned to each other.
    ‘Looks like we’ve got another one. Sir, you’re the third this week. Any American travelling to Syria is questioned – it’s the Suicide Watch.’
    ‘What gave me away?’ Clive asked, kicking himself.
    ‘The one way ticket and the target on your chest. Sir, do you really think the Syrians would fall for that? Now I suggest you go home Sir, go and do it in a quiet, ugly way, so your wife will find you in pieces and feel guilty for the rest of her life. That’s the true American spirit.’

    Clive shook both their hands and left the airport. He noticed he had spring in his step.
    ‘I think I’ll just wear my underpants,’ he thought, ‘Patriotic to the end.’

  2. voimaoy says:

    Gate 43
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    There is only the airport, the endless intersecting corridors, signs overhead flashing times for arrivals and departures, interspersed with ads, rice wine and cherry blossoms, a geisha in a flowered spring kimono. Delicate fingers hold the tiny sake cup. Pink lips sip, smile yes in any language.

    All these lives passing with wheeled carts on the moving walkway. His shoulder bag is heavy. How long has he been here, walking from terminal to terminal, gate to gate?

    There is no time here. The arrivals arrive, the departures depart. He is looking for Gate 43.

    “There is no such gate here,” the girl at the Information Desk says. “You have to go to Terminal G.”

    She points the way with a manicured fingernail. “Safe travels. I like your sweater.”

    “Thank you,” Why is he wearing this sweater? He doesn’t remember putting it on. “It was a gift from my aunt. She would be expecting me to wear it, you see.”

    “Of course.” The girl is done with him, now. There are others in line behind him, whining and pleading for directions. ” I’m sorry,” she says. “There is no such gate, here.”

    He heads in the direction her finger indicated, branching corridors of the alphabet, letters beyond Z.

    “Now boarding for Alpha Centauri.”

    Where is Terminal G? She must have been mistaken. Perhaps he turned the wrong way? There is an Information Booth up ahead, a crowd of travelers and travel bags. He waits his turn in line.

    “Now boarding for M-43.”

    The passenger ahead of him rushes off, tentacles clutching an overnight bag, two youngsters, a carry-on, a laptop, and a ticket, fluttering in the rain-scented air.

    “Yes, how can I help you?” this girl could be the twin of the girl he spoke to before.

    “I’m looking for Gate 43. Terminal G?”

    “Terminal G is back that way.” She points with a manicured fingernail. “Safe travels. I like your sweater.”

    “Thanks, it was a gift from my aunt.”

    “That way,” she says. “Next please.”

    He heads back the way he had come, the alphabet moving backward—Z, Y, X, . Signs flashing overhead, arrivals and departures, ads for rice wine, cups in delicate fingers.

  3. A Moment Out Of Time

    Mal is waiting for movement from Terminal Four at his eyeline, as he stands diagonal to where it should be. His vision blurs and spots in its stead. A touch at his shoulder and he has his arms around her, swinging her ‘round and ‘round. “Rach!” he says. She stumbles a little on her kitten heels, as he sets her none too steadily on the floor. “Decent journey?” he asks.

    “Oh, you know,” Rach answers. “Took a little while.”

    “Felt like forever,” Mal says.

    “Don’t forget to set your watch,” she reminds him. “Must make sure we don’t miss the gate closure.”

    “How long?” Mal queries, simply.

    “Not long enough,” Rach says.

    “As ever,” he answers.

    Her eyes twinkle as she takes in the American flag blazoned across his chest. “Really?” she says.

    Mal shrugs. “Figured I’d go All States, whilst you go several better.”

    Rach looks up at him sharply, before shrugging. “Fair enough, I guess.”

    “More than,” Mal answers.

    Rach’s lips part quickly, before she breathes out and closes them again. A small frown creases her brow. “Let’s not waste time,” she says. “Show me,” she demands. “Quickly. We’ve got to fit it all in.” She glances towards her wrist, checking.

    Mal digs deep into his trouser pocket. “Laura’s two,” he says, pointing. “They’ll be teenagers before you know it. Cara’s got one of her own now, you know?”

    Rach nods her head, smiling, though her eyes hold unshed tears. “Would say it didn’t take long but..” Her voice tails off, as her mouth trembles slightly. She swallows, before pasting a bright smile across her lips. “And you?”

    “You know me,” Mal says.

    “Still?” Rach asks.

    “You know me,” Mal repeats.

    “You know I can’t ask…” Rach begins, biting her lip.

    Mal nods. “It’s up to me,” he says. “Always was.”

    “You look tired,” Rach says, simply.

    “Would that be the wrinkles or the grey hair, Mrs Youth?” Mal smiles.

    “They’re working on a release date,” Rach responds instead, looking into his eyes.

    “They said that last time,” Mal says, gently. “The time before that.”

    A beep and Rach says helplessly, “Got to go. ‘Til the next alignment.”

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog
    #FlashDogsAnthology

    (360 words)

  4. A Change In Itinerary

    Harold was always a nervous flyer. Even before the world grew accustomed to being checked for bomb residue and relieved of their nefarious mini pocket knives.
    He had pills that would ease him into sleep before they took off, and he would awake when they landed and it would feel as though the whole flight had never happened.
    Harold settled into sleep, oblivious.

    The sound of the engines thrown into reverse woke Harold with a gasp.
    Harold deplanes with his fellow passengers, eager to get through customs and back home to his armchair. He enjoys his vacations, but it always makes him eager to return the simplicities of his solitary life.

    He waits in the line for customs, wishing that everyone’s trip through could be as smooth as his. He never has anything to declare, his American passport like a golden ticket, his American flag sweater a signal to the agent of his national pride.

    It is Harold’s turn and he walks to the counter. He smiles at the agent and passes over his passport.
    “What is this? Some kind of joke? This isn’t the place for jokes, sir,” says the agent, frowning at him and pushing his passport across the counter.
    “I, I’m sorry?” Harold stutters and looks at his passport.
    “United States of America? It sounds fancier than Neverland to be certain, but equally invalid. Do you have a real passport, sir?”
    Harold blinks. He cannot process this. He wants his armchair.
    “But, that’s my country, I mean, your country too, this country,” Harold says.
    “Sir, this is the Collective Subsidiaries of Englaterra. Do you have a proper passport,” the agent asks growing angry and concerned about Harold.
    “No, America is real, this is its flag,” he says pointing down at his sweater.
    The agent glances down at the flag and sighs.
    “I couldn’t knit a stripy flag on a sweater, sir, so congrats on that, but it’s made up all the same.”
    The agent gestures for an armed guard to come over and escort Harold away.
    Harold goes willingly, he’s wired that way, but he begins to wonder what happened on the plane while he was asleep.

    360 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  5. Sal Page says:

    The Man in the Green Jumper

    To whom it may concern,

    When I arrived in your country I was followed by one of your agents. He was wearing a green jumper (sweater). I was wearing a blue one with your flag on, made for me by my mother. You can identify me from the photographs. I’m sure you can tell, from my aforementioned attire, I’m a big fan of your country. It wasn’t being worn for any other reason, like trying to throw you off the scent for example. The purpose of this letter is to make it absolutely clear that I represent no danger to you and your people. I love your country and my purpose for visiting was solely for pleasure.

    The main reason for my visit is because I’m a huge fan of the films (movies) of Woody Allen. Since 1979, when I first saw Annie Hall. While in New York, I visited places I’ve seen in his films over the years. I still get emotional remembering. Of course you know all the locations. Several times I saw the man in the green jumper. Once, out of the corner of my eye, I witnessed him take a picture of me.

    Aside from this, I’m interested in your cuisine, which up until my visit I only knew from the food network channel. It’s a good job I only had two week’s holiday. I could make a real pig of myself if I stayed any longer. Pulled pork, mac and cheese and those amazing burgers packed with all kinds of delicious things. I’m drooling just thinking of the biscuits and the brisket. My mother makes a mean beef cobbler but you guys are in a different league. I had a bowl of cheese-smothered chips (fries) with confit duck topping and gravy that even I, who usually hates the expression, declared was ‘to die for’.

    I’ve sent a copy of this to Mr. Allen, suggesting my trip might make a good story for one of his films (movies), while acknowledging the unlikelihood of his ever running out of ideas.

    I hope this clears the matter up.

    Your humble servant,
    Mr. Keith Bunbury-Hunter of Upper Dunnington, England.

    @SalnPage

    360 words

  6. NATIONAL PRIDE

    Brian S Creek
    349 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    I’m a man of action, a man of duty. Waiting is for patient men and I’m not one of them. I do everything in my power to get the job done. Of course there will always be things out of my control. Today it’s flights delayed by weather.

    I consider a fix from the Starbucks opposite when I see him. He follows the tide of civvies’ as they flow out from the arrivals area. He blends in well; simple haircut, cheap glasses and a coat that screams ‘practical’. He looks like a banker on holiday.

    I tuck my newspaper under my arm and head over to greet him.

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag,” I say.

    “Liberty and Justice for all,” he replies.

    Agency talk becomes habit when you’ve been in the business as long as we have. With the formalities out of the way we hug. I take his bags and direct him to the airports nearest exit. “Nice jumper Dad,” I say. “Is that in case you forget who you work for?”

    He looks down at the stars and stripes that adorn his chest. “Nothing wrong with a little national pride.”

    I smile.

    We near the doors when he stops. “Mind if we pop to the bathroom before the drive?”

    “Of course not.” I look around and spot the universal silhouette for the men’s room off to our left. He hurries over. As I follow him in I can see he’s checking the blind spots. I want to say its habit but there’s something off about his movement.

    “Everything okay, Dad?”

    He turns back to me and I can see the panic on his face. “Someone is after me, son. I’m a marked man.”

    “What have you done?”

    “Nothing.”

    I pull my pistol and aim it at his head. “Now that’s a lie.”

    The wind is knocked out of him as he realises his situation.

    “Not you. Not my own son.”

    “You sold out your country, dad. What did you think would happen?”

    “Not my own son!”

    BANG!

    I’m a man of action, a man of duty.

  7. Amy Wood says:

    Wrong Place, Wrong Time

    “Him.”

    The man Neil pointed at wore a bright Stars and Stripes jumper.

    Henri rolled his eyes. Nationalistic pride; how many innocents had died because of it? But Neil was right, the guy fitted the bill. Taking a calming breath, Henri strode out from the airport cafe and threw an arm around the American’s shoulders.

    “Gerry! It’s great to see you again, man.”

    The stranger jumped. “Sorry, I think you have the wrong . . .”

    Henri leaned close and murmured into the man’s ear. “No, I haven’t. You’re exactly who I want. For now you’re Gerry and you’re going to follow me.”

    ‘Gerry’s’ pupils dilated as Henri’s knife pressed against his side. “Please — whatever you want — I have money, anything.”

    Henri snorted and tugged him out of the terminal. “Stop begging, it’s weak.”

    Neil joined them outside, all smiles and Irish charm. “Good to meet you, Gerry.”

    “Please,” the man said, his voice wavering. “I don’t know what this is about. Who are you? Please, don’t hurt me.”

    “Nah,” Neil shook his head. “It’d make no sense to kill you. Not when you’ve got such an important job to do.”

    “What?” Gerry looked from Neil to Henri. “What are you talking about?”

    Neil pulled the gun from his pocket and slapped it into Gerry’s palm.

    Henri smiled. “You’re going to kill a man for us, Gerry.”

    Gerry’s eyes bugged out. He tried to push the weapon back into Neil’s hand, then whimpered when Neil backed away. “You’ve got the wrong guy, please, I’ll pay anything, just let me go.”

    “Can’t,” Henri said. “If we let you go, we’ll have to kill your family. You don’t want that, right?”

    “You don’t know my family,” Gerry cried, bravado mastering fear. “You’re bluffing.”

    Henri nodded. “Possibly. But are you willing to take the chance that I’m not?”

    Gerry’s shoulders sagged.

    “Good choice,” Henri said.

    Neil whistled for a cab and waited as Henri bundled Gerry inside. “Relax, mate.”

    “One man, one bullet,” Henri cooed. “Very simple. You’ll be untraceable, I promise. You won’t be caught.” Okay, it was a lie. Who cared?

    Neil nodded. Gerry whimpered.

    Henri smiled. Another president would soon be history.

    359 words
    @jujitsuelf
    #flashdogs

  8. Stella says:

    @stellakateT
    285 words

    Hippy Hogwash

    How was I to know that Venice has banned suitcases with wheels? For God’s sake! Told it is to protect the cobbled stones and to silence the click clacking sound. The girl on the booking-in desk said it might be better to travel light. Do I look like some old feeble man? I puff out my chest and stand tall. Whose idea was it to fly to Venice? Olive, my secretary, thought it would be good for me. Get away from all the corporate squabbles until it died a death and was safe for me to return as CEO. She’d bought me this jumper said it would help me to relax. Take the man out of the suit and free him from responsibilities. Hippy hogwash!!!

    Can’t help thinking how he’s getting on. That jumper was a great find in the charity shop. Wonder if he’s wearing it? Love to know if he’s getting any looks or comments. He’s the worse boss I’ve ever worked for. While he’s gone I’ll drop hints to nice Mr Carmichael that they may need to investigate practises, some irregularities I spotted whilst I was inputting data.

    Olive was right; it’s restful here in Venice. Drinking coffee, people watching, taking taxis up and down the canals. When I get back I’m making changes, going to be much nicer to Olive, change her job title and give her a raise.

    When the plane landed back at Dallas, they boarded the plane and arrested me! I told them they had it all wrong. Ask Olive I said. She’d booked this vacation. They were talking about company fraud, missing millions. Ask Olive I kept saying she checks the accounts. She’ll tell you the truth.

  9. milambc says:

    Eternity (360 words)
    @brett_milam

    Tom thought he got a faint whiff of the dead body’s Eternity by Calvin Klein, a musky cologne, in his rolling suitcase and that maybe someone else would also smell it and connect the dots, but maybe it was still on his nostrils or in his head. After all, he had killed the body a mere 33 minutes and 42 seconds…43 seconds ago.

    To be sure, he had to check.

    He rolled into the men’s bathroom and locked the door behind him. After he checked under each stall — empty — he unzipped his suitcase. The body was in pieces. A body had to go in pieces to get into a suitcase unless he happened to kill one of the few contortionists in the world or a little person and Tom didn’t want to hurt little people.

    35 minutes and 29 seconds…30 seconds ago.

    Tom picked up the head, the hardest piece to contort into the suitcase, as it was one of those oddly shaped ones you could pick out from a crowd. One green eye was open and the other shut. Weird. Tom opened one, shut the other, opened that one, shut the other, shut both, opened both and then twirled a particularly long eyelash in his fingers.

    He closed both eyes. He was afraid someone would make eye contact with the dead head, maybe the head would wink, a clue to the peril it was in. After all, being inside a suitcase was stuffy, hot, suffocating. Tom had never stuck and zippered his head into a suitcase before, but he could just imagine. And dark. It would be dark.

    38 minutes and 12 seconds…13 seconds ago.

    “You’re running out of time, Tom,” the American flag on his shirt whispered.

    The flag then seemed to burn his chest. He gripped the handle on the suitcase like he was free-falling into space and left the bathroom.

    Eternity was still under his nostrils, taunting. All it took was one person to smell it and connect the dots. Then the American flag would really punish him, burn him worse than ever.

    40 minutes and 8 seconds…9 seconds ago.

  10. Word Count: 360
    E.S.Johnston @AverageAdvocate or http://www.LesNomsDePlume.com

    The Machinists’ Assessment
    ——————-

    With a breathe of their own, the bright symbols beckoned me to solve their riddle. Four depictions, one with four pictures within. Then, the four letters. Lastly, four numbers, although missing the actual number four. My mind spun with varying combination pairs and algorithms, neurons firing.

    I caught myself rubbing my hands, relishing the puzzle–yet how had I come alive dismantling such a vile thing?

    The expensive suits stood waiting, gauging. The tall bony man picked his teeth with a curling fingernail, eyebrows raised, while the other’s eyes lustily raked me. As the balding letch smirked, Mr. Skeletal snapped his companion’s head back so quickly that none else but Grandfather and I would catch it.

    But Grandfather was obviously distracted.

    I added the detail to my internal clockwork: The tall man must share our rare DNA (but the letch–not so much). It explained why they had sought us out. Or just me–Grandfather’s chronograph had been unwinding, even if he wasn’t suspended from a hook in the air.

    The sucker-punched man rose from crimson-splattered tiles I’d been trying to ignore. I focused inward. The green dials and gauges in my mind spun; I moved the squares like lightning strikes until they fell together so perfectly I wondered why I didn’t solve this riddle instantaneously.

    In a blink I dangled from the domed ceiling, my long hair brushing grandfather’s face. I heard him inhale shakily as I typed in the code. I knew my coconut shampoo reminded him of charmed days, when he raised me with Mimi on that secluded beach.

    Nostalgic, I felt a heart pin click. No–not now. I couldn’t allow myself to feel, time was too inconvenient to coddle grief.

    The device registered the puzzle’s solution, shackles popping. I gently lifted grandfather off the hook protruding through his soft belly, slowly managing him down the crystalline walls.

    Although I saw the test-administrators’ bloodied message scrawled on the glass, I didn’t mention it. In a nutshell: I’d passed; they’d kidnap me later. For now I relished grandfather’s broken-edged gears tearing at my skin as he reluctantly wound-down. I cradled him close and he breathed me in until he rested peacefully.

  11. […] Written for the The Angry Hourglass–Flash Frenzy Round 48 […]

  12. […] Written for the The Angry Hourglass–Flash Frenzy Round 48 […]

  13. […] Based on the image found here – Angry Hourglass […]

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