Flash Frenzy Round 56

Posted: February 21, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

And we’re back! This weekend, Mark A. King is trying his hand as judge of the Angry Hourglass.

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. mrmacrum says:

    Bed Bugger – 360 words

    Graham waited patiently for someone to notice him. Sticking a toothpick in his mouth, he looked around. The Green Shingle was packed as usual. Decent food and cheap fuel never fails. A disheveled waitress finally detoured in his direction. Disinterested small talk ensued.

    “How was it?” She swept a rebellious lock of hair out of her eyes and took his twenty.

    “Excellent as usual darlin. Best six egg omelet in the lower 48.”

    She made change. “So, where you headed driver?”

    “Movin some executive to Toronto.”

    “Bed bugger huh?”

    “That a problem?”

    She shoved the cash drawer shut. “Only if you plan on parking here overnight. If you are, use the back lot.”

    Graham winked. “ Thanks Hon ………. “Hey, I’m in the Jackson Van Lines rig with the double sleeper if you feel like visiting later.”

    The waitress grinned, “Driver, get out of here. I’m married and old enough to be your grandmother.”

    The lack of post lights in the back lot suited Graham just fine. He found a spot away from the other trucks and backed in.

    As he pulled his parking brakes on, a van drove up and stopped. Graham wasn’t suspicious, but he was cautious. He rolled his window up half way.

    A woman wearing a halter top and cut off jeans two sizes too small hopped out of the van and approached Graham’s rig.

    “Say driver, looking for some company tonight?”

    “No, not tonight. Just wanna sleep.”

    “Well, how ‘bout some go fast pills then?”

    “No. Go away.”

    Graham did not notice her reaching behind her back. His eyes were on the figures approaching in his rear-view.

    “Driver. Let me see your hands. … You’re under arrest.”

    The gun she held told him it was over. He turned towards the sleeper. She shot him in the left lung.

    The woman officer who shot him lifted his oxygen mask. He gasped, “How?”

    She leaned in close. “Caught up with you at the New Stanton tollgate, followed you here, and found Rebecca and your pistol while you were stuffing your pie hole. …. Hope you fry, you bastard.” She let the mask snap back to his face.

  2. @blurosemd
    Word Count: 186

    Elysium?

    Days marked by the rush of customers, do you see life reflected in the shuffle of voices and hands as an exchange of paper is made for
    a “flavor explosion in every bite” of made-to-order steak and freshly cut organic greens and house dressing?

    Rhythmic clatter of green porcelain and metallic screech of fork tines count out the morning, afternoon and evening dance
    As an endless assembly line of roast chicken, country gravy and biscuits and garden fresh dinner vegetables
    Change from their individually wrapped plastic “cook-in” bags and out of the freeze mass produced boxes to
    Oil spattered destinies, its predecessor still warm in its plated afterlife

    Can you imagine the procession?
    Do you ever wonder if each ingredient knew of its destiny? A carrot nirvana or a French fry Zion?
    A future realized procession in an automated life
    Stored haphazardly in individualized boxes secured with industrial packing tape
    In restless silence, boxes of medium-to-large cups next to soda saccharin sit until light once again floods upon them
    Granting each access to the mysterious fluorescent light from a great beyond

  3. CLOSING TIME

    Brian S Creek
    358 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    “Another day, another dollar,” says Frank.

    “Same again tomorrow,” I say as I wipe down the counter.

    He chuckles. “And so it goes.”

    “I’ll rinse the ash trays and call it a night if that’s okay?”

    “Of course, dear. And thanks again for helping out. Don’t know what I’d do without you.” He heads back out to the kitchen.

    I wander out among the red and white chequered sea of tables and start collecting up ash trays. I think about which microwavable treat I’ll enjoy alone tonight when there’s a ding-a-ling from the bell announcing a visitor. Why does someone always drift in around closing?

    “Sorry, kitchen’s closed,” I call out, “All I have is coffee and day old Danish.” I wonder if this is the man I dream about, the millionaire who’ll whisk me away from this hard life and treat me like a princess. I grab the last ashtray and turn only to find a scruffy looking drifter standing at the far end of the counter. He’s holding a gun.

    “What do you want?” My chattering teeth match time with the clinking ashtrays in my hands.

    “I’ll take one of those Danishes and all the money in your register.”

    I nod vigorously, I’m not gonna argue down the barrel of a gun. Franks insured. I’m not. I dump the ashtrays and move back behind the counter. The drifter slides along so he’s right in front of me.

    “Empty it,” he says.

    I open the register and grab the notes, placing the day’s takings on the counter. That’s when Frank comes though the kitchen door.

    “Did I hear another customer?”

    The sound of the gunshot pummels my chest. I scream as Frank wheels back through the now blood stained door.

    The gunman grabs all the money and fills his jacket pockets. He raises the gun to my head as I say a prayer.

    “My mother was called Maria,” he says, pointing to my name badge. “Your lucky day.” He turns and flees.

    I look down at the badge that saved my life, Maria’s badge, the one I borrowed this morning because I’d lost mine.

    My lucky day.

    • Carlos says:

      Nice twist-ending. I also liked this description ” My chattering teeth match time with the clinking ashtrays in my hands.” I could hear this perfectly.

    • F. E. Clark says:

      I so love stories of random chance that turn out well for at least some of the characters, gives one hope somehow 🙂

    • Foy says:

      Love the foreshadowing in “And thanks again for helping out. Don’t know what I’d do without you.” Had to read it through again to catch it. Agree with F.E., it’s nice to read a happy ending. 🙂

  4. Beautiful Jukebox Emaline

    She worked every shift that her body would allow. Each swath of the day brought different faces, some Emaline knew well, and others that had the potential to become part of her orbit.
    When she brought Aaron his peanut butter and banana sandwich, sliding it onto the counter in front of him she would sing, “I’m going to Graceland, for reasons I can not explain…” and the hulk of a man who crossed the country in his truck at night would have a twinkle in his eye. His beard would shift into an invisible smile.
    When the three sisters with matching curls and coils of white hair came in on weekend mornings for their eggs Emaline would sashay over, serenading them, “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…” The women would sway a little, one reaching out to pat Emaline’s hand and swear that Rosemary herself had come back from the grave.
    To the broken hearted she crooned “Blueberry Hill” and “Paper Roses”. She wove spells over those who sat alone with “In My Life” and “Que Sera Sera”.
    And when another waitress, Carrie, received a call about her husband’s death, Emaline slumped down onto the dirty kitchen floor with her, cradled her in her arms, and sang, “Blackbird”.
    “Your voice is like an angel Emaline,” her customers would say. “You should go on one of those shows, show the world your talent,” one suggested. “You oughta be making records and changing people’s lives,” another waitress said.
    But Emaline had tried to walk that road before and the comments she received were not like those she got at the diner.
    “What a pretty name wasted on such an ugly girl.”
    “Why God gave someone like you such a talent, I’ll never know.”
    “Isn’t there something you can do about your teeth, dear heart?”
    Crooked teeth and a heavily drooping eye negated her talent to the rest of the world.
    She needed to stay where she was appreciated and beloved just as she was.
    Where she could sing the contents of her heart and soothe the rough edges of the world.

    351 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  5. Foy says:

    Foy
    @db_foy
    WC: 359

    The Difference Between Envy and Jealousy

    Mei grips the Raspberry Red tighter, wavering over the paper before she presses. Circling, circling…too straight. The princess’ raspberry hair shoots out of black borders into pre-sketched sky.
    A grumble like Maio makes when cornered, builds in her throat, “Grrrrrr.”
    Her hand, at last big enough to clear the bowls, spreads over the page, scrunches, and tears away the ruined picture.
    “Chi fan le.” Daddy says, sweeping her artwork and crayons aside and sliding street noodles under her nose.
    “Time to eat.” Mei mimics, and twists her fingers around the chopsticks. She searches until she finds a hidden water chestnut.
    “Blech!”
    Her forefinger chases out the offender.
    Ting, ting.
    Two American girls enter Daddy’s place. The blonde one chews her orange gum open-mouthed and speaks so everyone can hear her. The other keeps her hands in her pockets. Mei slurps her noodles then pinches the fold around her eyes, wondering if she looks like they look. Her black irises follow their blue ones to the table by the window.

    ~

    “I think she’s screwing a coworker.”
    “Thalia?”
    “Yep,” Jim’s words are bitter like the lime he’s wringing dry. “My straight-laced Thalia.”
    They’re tucked in a back booth but his words still sound too loud. Beck’s stomach curls as tight as the prawn he’s picking at.
    “Why?” He flicks his fingers at the waitress. She scuttles his way, head bowed.
    “She’s been acting weird. Like I’ll go to kiss her and she gets stiff.”
    “Whiskey, please.” Beck extends his glass, the sweet tea now amber-colored in dissolving ice cubes.
    “I think it’s that Morris prick. She used to talk about him non-stop.”
    Beck clears his throat and separates the prawn from its tail. He doesn’t eat it.
    “Wow, Thalia… I wouldn’t have thought she was capable.”
    “Me neither.”

    ~

    “I don’t get it,” Megan complains, snapping orange bubbles. “He was texting me every day 2 weeks ago and now, zilch.”
    Karissa studies Megs lips, soft and cutest when she pouts. She drags her eyes back to the menu.
    “What’re you getting?” She hates when Megan fixates on Brett.
    “Just water. I bet that slut Amber got her paws on him.”

  6. F. E. Clark says:

    355 words
    @feclarkart
    #Flashdog

    Table Seventeen

    The first time I really clocked it was – oh – after a year of lunches at The Cherry-Pie Diner. I was dining solo, as per my usual and had forgotten my newspaper and my notebook. Sometimes it is best in these types of establishment not to look too closely at the other clientele or the venue. But this was the day of the bad snowstorm of ’98, and the place was marginally less frantic.

    ‘Table Se-ven-TEEN’ – the cook boagled, slamming a covered plate on the counter, crashed back into his lair.

    Nothing odd there you might say, only – well I counted – 8 booths, 8 tables. Sixteen, right?

    Just then my own order of coffee and pie arrived – lunch of champions, actually my breakfast, yeah – so what? Next I look up the plate on the counter has gone.

    Next day, same thing, only then the diner is back to heaving capacity, health and safety be damned. Again I miss it.

    Next day – same thing.

    I began to get there early for lunch, position myself in the best booth to observe the comings and goings. I even asked the waitress one time.

    ‘What’s with this table seventeen?’ blank stare, doesn’t meet my eyes, wanders off – standard practice for extra requests at The Cherry-Pie Diner.

    This continues, until one day I’m running late, and I mean running – oh yeah, I was hooked, never missed a lunch sitting, but that day – well the day got away from me and I was running along the street towards the diner, when I see the waitress emerge from a side door I had never noticed.

    Well, yeah – I follow, course I do. Rounding the corner I see her push the plate through the lowered window of a black limo. But, before I can get close enough to see, the limo has taken off and the waitress is returning to the diner.

    So – yeah – course I stake out the corner, hoping to see more, get a plate number I can run. Little did I know that even as I watched, they were watching me.

    This, my friend, is how I met Mr White.

  7. zevonesque says:

    Ripples
    A.J. Walker

    Grey winter was gripping San Francisco but Sue was sweating as usual in the steamy wok kitchen. She was built for the tropics undoubtedly and if it wasn’t for family she’d migrate down the coast to Baja each year – she’d heard even vagrants did that.

    Today the cold drizzle seemed to be driving in a constant trade for their warmth as much as their noodles. It was a none stop day, little time to think, which was how she liked it.

    The bell rang again and she raced over to the counter. The fine noodle soup was still sloshing from side to side after Joe had filled the bowl. As she turned around with it in her hands a silver fish head rose up to the surface like it was gasping for breath. The cold eyes seemed to pierce through a San Francisco fog.

    She stopped, staring at the eyes, the images had broken her dream; more than a dream.

    There was the warmth of the wind like a cleansing shower and she was in a fine white dress which billowed in the soft breeze as she walked through the lush tropical garden. She stroked her hands through the green foliage as she strolled around the pond. The white sun fought its way through the canopy dappling the forest floor.

    Sue stood on the shallow arched bridge and leant over to look into the pristine water. Her face was younger but it was unmistakably Sue. The dress was beautiful but far too much for her; San Francisco Sue didn’t do dresses.

    She heard a splash and saw the tiny ripples rolling out towards the bridge. There was another plop beneath her and she saw the fish break the surface. It looked like aluminium glinting in the sun and its eyes cut right through her.

    Raised voices came through the trees and then she saw two young men dressed in finery.

    “Princess, it is time to come back to the palace.”

    Her heart fell. She turned back to the pond and saw the fish bob back under the water.

    The noodles enveloped the fish and Sue was back in her present.

    (360 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  8. mariemck1 says:

    Cigarette Breaks

    (144 words)
    Existing for intervals of grey toxic indifference, I inhale you on cigarette breaks, get you deep in my lungs. You give me a nod but no opening to talk, this  smoke laced silence I absorb .

    Inside, you pitter patter plates and engage in smile talk. There’s a guy thinks he’s made headway. Thinks he’s in with a shot. I watch his arm brush against your nyloned thigh which makes you search for more of your uniform’s flimsy material.  His eyes follow you all the way back to the kitchen.

    ‘Bolognaise.Table 2,’ you call.

    I take out the matchbox where I’ve stored the red stained stubs you grind down with your heel. At nights, I place them between my own lips to taste you when I am alone. But today I pick out one I’ve bitten on hard, then burst it and sprinkle it into the pot.

     

  9. voimaoy says:

    They’re Back
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    She was serving pies and pouring coffee when the phone rang. It hadn’t rung for months, and Naomi was so startled she almost dropped the coffee pot. “Hello?”

    “Is Fred there?” a voice said. “It’s Maury.”

    Naomi looked at Fred, drinking coffee at the counter. “Do you know anyone named Maury?”

    Fred looked as surprised as Naomi. He took the phone as if it were a snake about to bite him. “Hello?”

    “Fred!” the voice on the other end said. “It’s me, Maury!”

    “Maury! Where have you been?”

    “What are you talking about, man. I’m here.”

    And that’s how it started. As mysteriously as they had disappeared during the epidemic of Masango, people began reappearing, randomly, with no memory of where they had been. It was like they had awakened from a coma or a disorienting dream, and were just coming back to reality.

    Needless to say, this presented a problem for those who had remained in this world. There was plenty to do in their new lives, and they weren’t going back to the old ways.

    The small town that Naomi and BobbyZen had stopped for gas on one October evening, along with their fellow bus companions, Fred the driver, Mrs. Whittington the retired librarian, and the antique dealers Alec and Quinn, was their home now. Mrs. Whittington lived in the library. Alec and Quinn were renovating the old hotel. Fred drove the bus around town and repaired the abandoned cars. Naomi and BobbyZen ran the diner. Everyone was happy.

    To make matters worse, the ones who had returned kept insisting that nothing had changed. They wanted their jobs and homes back. They couldn’t understand why it seemed so crowded and noisy with everyone on top of each other. They remembered the days before Masango.

    “Mom! Dad” Naomi’s parents were standing in the diner, blinking and confused. The last time Naomi had seen them was at the kitchen table in their old apartment, misty and holding each other’s hands. They seemed real and solid again.

    “Is this your place?” Naomi’s dad said.

    “It looks nice,” Naomi’s mom said, making herself at home. “Could I have a cup of coffee?”

  10. C Connolly says:

    The City Of Innocent Deaths

    Remember is scrawled onto the palm of your right hand – uneven beneath flaking carmine crusts – the skin pale beneath the stains. You try to, obedient to the instruction – and think you do. You recall dimly in the dark the cauldron oil, the Pool of Blood, drowning deep; its copper taste as you floundered, fingers grasping for purchase, before finally you swam. The moment they made you climb the Mountain of Knives amongst the labyrinthine levels of the Courts, blades cutting quick to the bone. There is no pain now. You cannot die once resurrection calls you. Cold-eyed; frostbitten to the core, you rise again. Again, once more. Brought back; you are – a Frozen Thing.

    Five flavours. The words etched across your left hand – revealed when you open your fist. Now you remember the bowl, filled to the brim with liquid, spilling as it got nearer. You drank when bid to by Lady Dream, mouth opening to grasp the sharp rim. You had no choice. Not really. There was no regret. You wanted well rid of the – fall – fist – splintered bones driven deep into your body. Your possible – probable – life – lives. You know – knew – what they held. You think you do.

    No.

    Water’s oblivion. The murky bitterness of pond and herb lingers at your lips as you run your tongue across them. Something hides beneath. Somewhere, someone lurks.

    Yes.

    You lift your right sleeve as far as your elbow, frowning. The intricate lines on your skin form a maze of marks, right, left; twists and turns leading upwards. Your brow furrows more deeply before the lines fade.

    The left sleeve. Your fingers close around it, as the right slides back into place. You pull it up, course fabric beneath calloused fingertips. One word. A name. Your choice. You know the why now. You can trace its raised scars. You do, circling the ridges. You had worried they would heal before you knew. Before you were – again.

    Two arms. One choice. Your choice. You know well now where the blade came from which mapped your course. Confusion no longer lingers.

    Remember. You do. You know where you must go; what to do.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    * This one stems from a Chinese legend about the Lady of Forgetfulness – couldn’t resist writing about that!

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