Flash Frenzy Round 60

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

HAPPY SPRING, FLASH DOGS! I’ve got a delightfully strange photo for you this weekend, and I expect you to create an array of equally delightful and strange stories for judge Sal Page.

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


  1. davidshakes says:

    360 words.
    David Shakes.

    “There it was, this huge, red backside!”

    Seems I’d stumbled into this pub at just the right time. I’m a sucker for a shaggy dog story. Places like this fed my muse. I also felt I was reconnecting with my roots, however pompous that sounds.

    This place had the look and sticky carpetted feel of a local’s bar, but the girl serving smiled amiably enough and asked me what I’d like.

    Taking my pint, I positioned myself facing the bar where the teller of this tale was sat. I’d assumed this was a humorous story, but the tremble in the woman’s hand as she lifted her drink said otherwise.

    “So, you couldn’t see the front end at all?” asked her drinking companion. She turned to him. Her eyes were red and frightened.

    “I’m telling you, that car was stuck clean in the ground. It was like it had been dropped in wet cement that had set around it.”

    “But you could see inside though?”

    That question came from the barmaid. It seemed our speaker had garnered the attentions of the other afternoon drinkers too. Our storyteller sensed this and twisted around on her barstool to address the dusty, sunlit room.

    “That’s just it. It was in the ground. I don’t just mean down some hole. It was in it.”

    “What do you mean exactly?” I asked, something about the shock this woman was in compelling to know more.

    I can’t explain the sensation I felt when her eyes met mine and she spoke. I only know I never want to feel it again.

    “It’s like this mister. When we prised the back door open, the ground just ran through the car. There was no hole around the car. The back of one of the seats was poking up through the earth. The ceiling light was still on, casting a glow on the concrete it was partly buried in.”

    She stopped and drank again. Her eyes looked up and left, accessing visual memory. She was telling me the truth.

    “And the worst part mister? Behind the headrest of the seat we could see hair. There were people in that car. People.”

  2. stephellis2013 says:

    Returned to Ash

    354 words

    She crawls through labyrinthine tunnels, her distended belly scraping the floor as hunger drives her on. The world has shifted, woken her from centuries-long hibernation, summoning her to the sky-cloaked surface.

    The smell of her old adversaries grows stronger as she nears the mantle, pulling her forward, fanning the flames of her desire. Soon she will erupt into lives long unaware of her presence, make herself known once more as she spews her fire to leave only scorched earth and desolation behind.

    Her red snout breaks through soil and her senses are immediately assailed by the sheer concentrated perfume of what she seeks. This is a land of plenty and it is all hers. Nothing can stop her.

    Her pitch-night eye surveys the nest with silent anticipation, the ground beneath her rumbling with like-minded yearning. In the years that have passed as she has lain dormant, these small gods have replenished their numbers with uncontrolled madness and stepped outside the natural order to build a false empire that could not last.

    This was not how it should be. When had they closed their minds?

    Once the poets had sung her glory but their voices had ceased and their words vanished on the wind. Science had dismissed her from rational thought, she did not, could not have existed. They had ignored the signs, the gentle hints from her many-daughtered realm and now the cracks were appearing, fissures through which her children would creep and weave their pattern as she now wove hers.

    She pushes harder now, glimmering spark birthing liquid fire, feeling her way through harsh cityscapes that offer no protection as they are swallowed by her tongue to fill the voids beneath. A mother’s first duty is, and always has been, to feed her brood. She can feel her daughters gathering, their presence an ever-rising pressure that only pushes her on in a rampant feeding frenzy.

    At last she breaks free, stalks the land, displaying her terrible beauty, consuming all that crawl before her. Man cannot deny her now … but it is too late. Returned to ash, he is back where he belongs.

  3. Geoff Holme says:

    Fly Day the Thirteenth (Back To The Drawing Board)

    ‘Aw, come on, Jason! You’ve already had – what? – ten… no, twelve attempts at this. I’m running the Crystal Lake used car lot here, not AN AIR SHOW*!’

    ‘I understand that, Marty. But you know that I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of flying cars. Those sci-fi paperbacks we read as kids all said we’d have ’em by now.’

    ‘But we don’t. Accept it: ain’t gonna happen. Your most successful attempt took you just 35 yards before you crashed into a manure truck.’

    ‘It’s getting closer every time though. You know what I really need.’

    ‘I told you, man. Second-hand DeLoreans are rarer than rocking horse shit!’

    ‘Yeah, I hear you. I really appreciate what you’ve done to help me, Marty, but these junkers you take as trade-ins just don’t cut the mustard.’

    ‘There’s a whole Evel Knievel-type theme park built on the back lot – a ski jump big enough to take a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. If you can create what you’re looking for, it would blast you into orbit, man!’

    ‘Thanks for your patience, dude. I see now what I need: boosters.’


    The red Toyota – doors welded shut, booster rockets bolted on – left the exit ramp, sailing towards the showroom roof. A cacophony of noise, then the ground shaking as Marty ran. He found the automobile standing upright, half buried in the newly dug flower bed. He smashed the rear side window.

    ‘Jason! You OK, man?’ he yelled, struggling to climb inside.

    ‘Uh… Yeah, I’m good, dude.’

    ‘What happened?’

    Everything was fine until I hit 88 mph, then… the engine died. The car clipped the roof and then flipped vertical. I tried to override the boosters firing but… too late.’

    ‘This heap of shit! The airbag didn’t even deploy. Dammit, Jason! How many times can you do this before you get yourself killed?’

    ‘Nah! I’m indestructible.’ Jason removed the fiberglass protector from his face and gingerly felt his features for damage. ‘All the same, Marty, I’m sure glad you persuaded me to wear your hockey mask.’

    ‘No problem. Careful climbing out, man. Your shoelace is undone.’


    Word Count: 356

  4. stevenstucko says:

    Best. Advert. Ever. (354 words)

    They had successfully jumped a Toyota Camry over the Sphinx. They raced a Buick Regal 85 mph over a straight stretch of the Great Wall of China. Now they were preparing for their greatest ad campaign ever.

    Watch Us Now was a start up company that Willis and Tommy had envisioned while still attending Hampshire College. It began with their love of filming staged events with old cars. They filmed a demolition derby with drivers dressed as zombies and submitted it as a school project. They set up two ramps behind the science building and jumped a burning jeep over a creek. They dorm-room-dreamed of somehow making a living with their wild videos.

    After the two friends graduated, they headed to the Big Apple to see if they could break into the advertising game. They launched Watch Us Now but had to pay the bills by filming commercials of kids eating cereal or women coloring their hair. On weekends they continued their wacky stunts and posted the videos on You Tube. They were a hit. E-mails started pouring in. Their first big ad campaign had a family switch from one car to another while driving home from a soccer game. Stunt doubles made the leap at 35 mph. Next they launched a sports car into the back of a moving SUV to show how much room the thing had. It worked! They had arrived.

    Willis and Tommy now faced their biggest challenge. They were to send a Hyundai Sonata off the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The car was to free fall for 1161 feet of the 2717 feet and then a parachute would be deployed. It would appear to land safely and a young couple would casually drive away. As it turned out, the chute malfunctioned and the car reached terminal speed before spiking through the pavement below. The Hyundai people loved the ad and kept the actual footage because the only thing broken on the car were the headlights and the windshield. Motor Trend magazine named the car number one for crash protection that year. High fives all around.

  5. zevonesque says:

    The Last Car in Salford
    A.J. Walker

    It was a reckoning, but it came not as anticipated. Somehow the world turned – not on man, but on car. The ground began to reclaim its metals, sucking back the iron, aluminium and chromium into the rocks, as a child sucks a sweet.

    “It’s the End of Days!” shouted the world’s media and religious leaders, at a hysterical populous. And it was; for a while.

    Henry’s car had been eaten in the first weeks of The Reclamation.

    “Never liked it anyway. Cost a fortune to keep on the road.” Henry said.

    “Didn’t waste too much time trying to get your tax and insurance back though did you? That broke the internet. The insurance companies were never going to last the week.” said Michelle.

    “But how do I get down the Asda?” said Henry.

    “Flag down a taxi, mate.” said Michelle, laughing so much she got hiccups.

    They walked down the empty roads towards the river.

    “I’m enjoying the silence.” said Michelle. “And no, I don’t mean you.” She gently pushed him.

    Henry spread his arms to the world – in a ‘all this could be yours’ gesture. “Yes, it’s a blessing. No doubt about it. Shame about the pubs though.”

    “Trust you. No milk or bread and you’re worried about where the hops are.”

    Henry raised both eyebrows. “And…?”

    Michelle changed tack. “You know it’s 28 days since the first ones went? Apt, aint it?” She pointed down the empty streets.

    Henry shrugged.

    “You’ve not seen ’28 Days Later’?”

    Henry shook his head. “Not that I remember. I’ve never been into rom-coms.”

    Michelle laughed.

    “Look there. There’s half a car. I haven’t seen one for days; thought they’d all gone now.” Michelle said, pointing at the poignant reminder of a different time.

    “Must be the last car in Salford that. Can’t have been here that long either – it’s still got its tyres!”

    The couple laughed then absently held each others hands.

    “I’m not sure how the world will do without cars. But I’m looking forward to seeing it.” Henry said.

    “It will be a better place. At the very least there won’t be a ‘Fast and Furious 32’.” Michelle said.

    (360 words)


    • stephellis2013 says:

      Love the idea of the earth reclaiming what we took and the humour in your lines.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Nice take, A.J. I lived in Salford for a while, but in the nice bit, near Prestwich, so not much experience of tyres going missing – mind you, this is 28 Years Later…

      “At the very least there won’t be a ‘Fast and Furious 32’” Ha! I was watching the TV advert for F&F7 last night thinking ‘How long can they drag this out for?’

      [ Here’s the pedantic bit: ‘populous’ is an adjective – full of people; the homophone ’populace’ is what you need. 😉 ]

      • zevonesque says:

        Cheers, think that must have been an autocorrect in Pages as I know the difference. Could ask it to be changed, like everyone else this week. But won’t.

    • Foy S. Iver says:

      Brilliant write! And this took you only 30 minutes?! Much impressed. 🙂

    • F. E. Clark says:

      I love that these two characters are at least mostly positive about the world without cars. Also the biblical references – The Reclamation etc., mixed in with the movie titles 🙂

    • Great take on the prompt. Had me chuckling.

      It’s something I’ve pondered before now. No doubt the world would struggle to deal at first but, imagine how big the world would feel again if we had to walk and ride everywhere. Imagine how fit we’d all be.

      I wouldn’t miss road rage (like today when some idiot drove towards me on my side of a dual carriageway!!!).

      However, I would miss Formula 1. 😦

  6. Stella T says:

    360 words

    The Sisterhood

    She’d joined the Sisters of Saint Benedict for ultimate protection, meeting every second Tuesday in the month come rain or shine. The location was always kept secret divulged only by completing certain clues in the crossword in the local newspaper. Mad Maxine, her code name, was the cruciverbalist. They all had names, she hated hers but as she only ever listened like a mouse her friend Black Widow thought Mighty Mouse was apt. The Widow wasn’t really a friend just someone she’d latched on to. They both liked cheese scones, strong black coffee and feared for the future.

    She’d been terrified all her life; Reverend Simpson’s scary tales of the Book of Revelation at Sunday school heightened her anxiety. She suffered incredible nightmares, always in glorious techno colour, smelling the horses as she was being chased by the Four Horseman bringing the Last Judgement. Pictures of a horse even made her panic, her heart pounding ready to take flight, sick and dizzy with apprehension, sweat pouring profusely staining her clothes, marking her out as a loser.

    She couldn’t work; life was full of dread, if it wasn’t for the benefit system she would by her own hand, met the Grim Reaper years earlier. She was only forty nine but looked years older. The sisters always drummed into her to look for signs and take action. “Nay be afraid Mouse” Black Agnes always said, taking her name from a Scottish heroine no one had heard of.

    It was red, it was full of horse power, it wasn’t there yesterday, it was a sign. She paced up and down. How did it get there? Who buried it? Had it been catapulted down from heaven? Had it been pushed up from Hades? She felt in her pocket, the sisters had entrusted her with the Ricin, The Chemist had known someone who got it from the internet. Not the local pharmacist! This was one of the sisters.

    Inhaled by all it would be a merciful release. She didn’t see the local Art College students with their urban instillation posters. It was part of a national project to demonstrate the power of the motor car.

  7. voimaoy says:

    One Day the Muse Spoke to Him
    351 words

    One day the Muse spoke to him, in the brisk spring air—“Make me a monument, Marvin. Make me a mirror.”

    Marvin Graves was not a sculptor or a poet, and the Muse had never spoken to him before. He was an amateur gardener when he wasn’t fixing cars for a living. He was out in the back yard, cutting back last year’s ornamental grasses and admiring the emerging crocuses when the Muse spoke to him, loud and clear.

    The Muse had taken the form of piece of garden statuary, a figure of a young woman holding a platter. It had been a gift from Marvin to his wife, Joyce, who had loved the birds, and the garden. The warm sun on his back was like she was there, still, planting flowers beside him.

    The Muse did not speak in Joyce’s voice, which would have been gentle and chiding. This voice spoke in calm command, like the paramedics and the police after the accident, the snow falling, the red car in the ditch, the other driver stunned and confused. Marvin at the scene, “You’re the husband?” He had gotten there as soon as he could. It was too late to say drive careful, too late to do anything except say goodbye.

    Like the car-crash songs of their youth, Marvin’s girl was up in Heaven now. This was not teenage romance, just the stark reality of over 40 years of marriage and two gown kids who didn’t understand why Mom wanted to be scattered in the compost pile, to make food for the roses. They didn’t understand, either, why Dad kept the red car. Marvin wasn’t sure himself. Maybe it could be fixed, he said. Maybe he should get rid of it, they said.

    Well, that was January, what a long, cold winter it had been. Now, it was spring again, and the car, or what was left of it, was a reminder every time he opened the garage door. The snow shovel had been put away. The ground was soft, now, and easy to dig.

    “Do this for me, Marvin,” the Muse said.

  8. voimaoy says:

    Oops–typo! It should be “two grown kids”

  9. Foy S. Iver says:

    Foy S. Iver
    WC: 359

    A Eulogy for Chuck

    When I learned how they found him, veins pumping more alcohol than blood, a dull needle by his arm, I blamed myself. I hadn’t sold him the fifths or got him hooked on heroin but I’d distanced myself.

    My best friend growing up, he had only one flaw: a destructive streak strong as whiskey. The scraps he got us into didn’t bothered us because “Destructive Chuck” was king. What teenage boy wouldn’t kill for the memory of snagging a six pack, stealing his friend’s dad’s BMW, and racing it through endless cornfields?

    He was more than his antics though. Chuck didn’t read the labels others slapped on you. He never teased Bub that his mom was Cedarville’s whore, he didn’t care that Tommy was “secretly” gay, he saw Phil’s nerdiness as a plus, and he let it go when I wussed out of a hijinks. If it weren’t for him, our boy-gang wouldn’t have accepted Jessi, cheer-leader reject and ace look out.

    His coup de maître still breathes in memoriam. It was Fall of our Sophomore year. We found Tommy, red-faced by the athletic fields. He’d finally chased up the courage to tell his crush how he felt. The kid flipped, told teacher Tommy’d made a pass, and landed him at Hell’s Gate. Principle Collins, a.k.a Ba’al, tore him a new one, promising to expel him for anymore “homosexual shit.”

    Chuck had a plan. Ba’al drove a Ferrari Red, first-generation Camaro and loved that thing more than his wife. After darkness, we broke into his garage, popped it in neutral, and pushed it to Phil’s dad’s shop. Using reciprocating saws, we cut that beauty in half. It took hours but we got it back and propped in his driveway, butt up, before 4:30am. Muscle-sore and tired, we were heroes. Collins never found the culprits.

    After High School, the gang dissolved, moving into adulthood while Chuck spiraled into self-destruction. I kept in touch with everyone but him. Cedarville mayor was my aim and god knows the public eye gets red and irritated over a wild hair like Chuck. He’d been there for us. What if I’d been there for him?


    Brian S Creek
    328 words

    He rolls off of me, off the bed, and walks over to my bedroom window.

    My friend Charlotte said it hurt her the first time. She had me so worried but that didn’t hurt at all.

    That. Was. Amazing.

    He was gentle and caring. I’m pretty sure I had my first orgasm too. I’m still tingling. God, I want to do it again.

    “What’s that?”

    I reluctantly take my eyes of his perfect butt. “What’s what?”


    I grab the covers as a makeshift dress and join him at the window. He’s pointing to the back half of a car that sits beside the garage like some kind of abstract ornament.

    “That’s my dad’s car,” I say. “I mean it was. I mean, it’s what’s left.”

    “Where’s the rest?”

    “No one knows.”

    He turns and looks at me then with real thought in his eyes, like he’s solved a complicated equation but he’s worried that he’s wrong.

    “The Golden Gate Bridge?” he finally offers.

    I forget that my dad wasn’t the only one who disappeared that day. I nod.

    “I lost my brother,” he says. “Crazy, right?”

    My heart skips. Like the bond we’d just shared then and there on the bed wasn’t enough, we now have something else, something beyond reason. It wasn’t just our bodies that had merged; our history was linked too.

    His arms envelope me and I feel safer than I ever have done before.

    “Maybe if they did end up somewhere else and they’re still alive, maybe they’ve met. Maybe they’re taking care of each other.”

    “Stranger things,” he mumbles.

    I feel his arms relax and he lets go.

    “I’d better go,” he says.

    “Okay.” I try to hide the disappointment. I was still hoping for round two. I sit on the bed and watch him get dressed. He doesn’t look happy anymore. There’s something weighing him down.

    “I’ll see you,” he says. A peck on the cheek and he’s out the door.

  11. mariemck1 says:

    (145 words)

    The Line was drawn round the world, the people divided.
    Beautiful. Ruthless.
    Solution. Dissolution.
    Liberation. Condemnation.
    United. Divided.
    It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.It was a matter of what side of the line you were on.

    Top Dwellers assumed they had been rewarded, although unsure what for. God’s cull gave them entitlement. They expected to grow fat on the sacrifice of the Underdwellers; fertile on their slaughter.
    So they gorged on the fruits of their kind. They reaped from stolen harvests.

    They shed too few tears for the departed. They displayed too little gratitude for the suffering: one half dancing on the other half’s graves.

    But the dead hear.

    The populations interred under foot are railing at the revelry.
    Stirred. They claw at the soil in which they are sealed.
    Enraged. They are rising from their graves ready to claim their share.


  12. mariemck1 says:

    (140 words)
    I’m an angel. You won’t know me cos I don’t brag. I’m not like the Angel of Death, all black leather and drama.
    No, I’m more your Average Joe, looking out for the ordinary folks. Let’s say you’re about to fill the car with petrol rather than Diesel, I might intervene. Your front door keys are locked inside the house , I might see to it that a window’s left open. Low maintenance stuff. The Big Guns think I’m an underachiever. They’re probably right. But I do get job satisfaction.
    I’ve been listening to a kid  who’s thinking of doing a ‘job’. This job involves a bank- say no more. I’m keeping him home for now – took care of his wheels.
    So, there you have it: I’m an angel who’s not always angelic. As I said already, you  won’t have heard of me, I’m the  Angel of Tight Corners.

  13. F. E. Clark says:

    F. E. Clark
    360 words

    My Seven Year Old Self

    When I was seven, two men came banging on the door of our house with fists that would not be ignored. Ma sent me to my room, but I heard as they drove our shiny red car away. I ran out to find her weeping on the doorstep. Had enough sense to drag her in, away from the goose necking neighbours.

    Things seemed to get worst after that, as if the loss of our vehicle heralded the end, when the end must have been coming for a while already. But, I was a child then, the car went, the phone line went dead, ma lost her job across town; the car had been the start of it, so it seemed to me.

    My seven year old self decided to save us. I’d get the car back, and we’d be just fine.

    Ma almost caught me, I’d just finished stamping the earth down in front of our empty garage. Told her I’d seen a spider, though I wouldn’t kill a spider for the world. Hurt more than the car going that she believed me, but Ma must have been almost gone even then.

    A new moon, a summoning spell, the air of spring, adventure tales from telly, fairy tales from books; I planted my wishes following every instruction I had ever heard of. Though I had no words for it, I wove strong magic, with the open heart of one who does not know that some things should be impossible.

    The exhaust pipe came first, then the shiny red bumper – cracking up through the dirt drive.

    ‘Come look Ma’ I cried, but she was in her own world by then.

    Summer approached, the back wheels birthed from the earth and soon could be spun free.

    My excitement grew with the car, Ma was bedridden by then, but I was certain my spell would fix us.

    It wasn’t until the full rear doors had sprouted, fused shut and immovable, that I began to realise. My childish wish had been granted in full, right down to the unformed engine and non-steering wheel.

    A life size matchbox toy, when we’d needed a working car.

    • Really enjoyed this! Love the images of the growing car- “back wheels birthed from the earth”, “rear doors had sprouted”. Great (sad) ending, too!

    • mtdecker says:

      No Partking
      329 words
      MT Decker

      “What is it Bodie?” Eva asked hearing her Rottie let out a low growl as he stared out the window of her studio. She wiped the clay off her hands as she came over to look out the window and let out a low growl of her own when she saw what had set him off.

      “I’ve told that man a hundred times not to block my driveway,” she grumbled as she pulled off her smock and tossed it onto one of the benches before heading outside to confront the man. She forced herself to count to ten before opening the door, and the calm she’d gained lasted until she saw the smug smile on his face.

      Before she could say anything he pointed to the sign. “I’m not blocking your driveway,” he said. “Just like the sign says.”

      “Cliff, you’re blocking half of it,” she answered pointing to the back end of his vehicle which jutted into her driveway.

      “Half of it is still unblocked,” he said with a smirk. “So its not blocked. Besides, what are you going to do? Get someone to tow half a car?”

      He gave her a satisfied grin, then headed down the street, flipping her off as he did so.

      Eva watched the man and fumed for a moment, before studying his car for a moment, an odd grin on her face.

      “Bodie,” she called as she reached for a leather apron. “Looks like momma’s going to need the blowtorch.”

      Eva had just finished cleaning up after her latest sculpture when she heard an agonized scream near the bay doors of her studio’s garage. She smiled as she joined Cliff in her front yard.

      “Like it?” She asked innocently. “The junkyard delivered some scrap for me to work on and this piece just called to me.”

      She studied the back end of Cliff’s car as it sat half buried in front of her studio. “Isn’t it beautiful? I call it ‘no parking’.”

    • Foy S. Iver says:

      This is beautiful, F.E. How our childish minds can work “wonders”.

    • voimaoy says:

      Powerful writing and fabulous images. Great story!

    • stephellis2013 says:

      What dreams children weave – so sad.

  14. The Curators

    Overnight, a town slumbered oblivious, waking to missing spaces, where – once – things had existed. With the dawn, the – possible – blare of a car horn sounded its submerged protest at the loss of two wheels – excised efficiently, leaving a boot and back window balanced atop the pavement’s surface. They thought it comical, at first, until news spread as they walked the streets, murmuring en masse– pointing out the void where half a day before the bank had stood, paper notes strewn now, mulch trodden underfoot across the tarmac, after a sudden downpour. Then, they heard – or thought they did – one through the other, such being the way of things. Already, it was impossible to say where it had begun or from whence it came.

    Whispers tickled ears through intermediaries – of Hannah, minus one nostril – mercifully, retaining the other. None knew how she would have coped otherwise. Bed-bound. Joseph – whose arms finished now at the wrist either side. No blood; no suggestion as to the whereabouts of the recalcitrant appendages. Just – gone. Sedated, alongside previously hysterical parents. Parents of parents in charge, temporarily, so they said. Then the others – Sophie, Cara, Al and John – for whom there was presently no explanation. Searches were underway, they said. Thought who they were, no-one was sure. The authorities were lacking in visibility too – so they said, though the town’s outskirts were – now – prominently barrier protected.

    Notices were prominent on pillars by evening, with residents gathering about them to read the typescript in silence:

    Experiment C – Test Subjects

    You will be aware by this time that we have taken samples from your community and that these have been retained by us as useful during our ongoing experiments into loss following general observations of your society. Phase One is now complete. Your cooperation within our research is appreciated. Continued testing will be conducted amidst what is hoped will be minimal disruption. During Phase Two you may seek your missing components. Know that they may be found in the space between shadow and memory if you are quick to look, before recollection is inevitably impaired. We await your efforts.


    The Curators

    (360 words)


  15. Someone Else’s Garden

    There’s a blue car growing from the concrete in the drive, and a dorsal fin just surfaced in the lawn.

    “Some people are just weird,” Brad is saying, sneering at the cobalt hatchback eruption in the ground. He has his back to the lawn.

    “It’s someone else’s garden,” I mumble. “This is trespass.”

    The dorsal fin begins to slide across the lawn, the grass rippling in its wake.

    “Trespass?” Brad snorts. “So? You scared?”

    My gaze flits towards the lawn. Brad’s eyes follow. There’s no fin. A pointed grey rock juts sleekly from the turf.

    Brad yawns. “Anyway,” he says, “let’s go get my fags. You better have enough money, this time, Smegbreath.”


    Brad wants to trespass again today.

    “Windows were blacked out,” he says, heading for the car. “I wanna see inside. Wonder if the door opens?”

    I stare at the lawn. There’s no circling dorsal fin, and no pointed rock. But there’s something odd about how the green ground seems to move in the breeze.

    “Did you hear me, Pratt-head?” Brad is saying.

    What breeze?

    “If you’re not scared then you trespass your arse up this drive and you try the car door, Pratt-head.”

    He stands with his arms folded, watching me walk up the drive. I’m watching the lawn. He is not. I count one undulation of a sea serpent’s back for every two steps of my Converse.

    One gentle tug and the blue door opens without protest. Brad yanks me aside and peers down inside the car.

    “Wow!” he exclaims. “You won’t believe-“

    One hard shove is all it takes. He falls into the car, and I slam the door shut.

    Splash, I hear, I think. Somewhere. I gaze at the row of grass humps on the lawn.

    A hand bursts up through the grass. It grasps and grasp the air, and slowly sinks.

    I stroll back down the drive. I’m going to spend my money on chocolate today.


    I was never scared, so I trespass one last time. Someone else’s garden. There are five white pebble fingertips on the lawn. A red car is growing from the concrete in the drive.

    358 words

  16. treadingwords says:

    The Space Between
    348 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call

    People go there to find out who they are. You’ll see them, sweating under a noonday sun, bees the size of dinner plates droning through the thicket around them. You’ll see them shadowy and cast into stark relief by a full moon as they squeeze through the cleft in the chain link fence. They’ll come and stand in rain that falls upside down, or in spine-chilling fog that rolls and undulates into unknowable shapes, or in snow that drifts and whirls and never seems to settle.

    They come to that place, where the air tingles along your skin like electricity. Where you can hear whispers threading between pylons. Where lights flash and wink like vibrant eyes staring and disappear as soon as you look at them. Where you can smell your grandmother’s perfume in a whiff, here and then gone.

    People come and they listen. They touch the swollen concrete. They eat the wild mint. Through morning sunbeams they watch swallows flit, vanish and then reappear.

    That place was nothing special before. Before the war. No one cared to stop for overgrown shrubs, for a canted parking structure, for a couple of rusted out cars and a crumbling shelter for transients.

    But things are different now. People are different. They pilgrimage there, seeking an answer for their powers. They rise with questions, abilities, as if the quiet of the world now has peeled back a new layer of humanity.

    And that place, the reply. The solution to the new mathematical proofs in which they find themselves variable.

    You’ve come too. You’ve awoken from premonitions, moved an object without touching it, performed an act of healing. You’ve seen things, heard things. The questions burn like an undressed wound. But nothing can tell you why. Nothing you knew before. Nothing in the ruin of the world we used to understand.

    So you’ve come here. To find that place. And I can lead you.

    The way is dangerous. The payment is high. But in the end, that place is the only balm you will find to salve your wounds.

    Follow me.

  17. “Porta-ball”
    352 Words

    “Un. Believable.”

    “Oh come on man, now’s not the time to be shitty.”

    “There’s no point. There’s just no point in talking to you.”

    “What?! You said to throw the porta-ball on—”

    “ON THREE. On the count of three, you throw the ball. NOT ONE!”

    “Maybe I would have heard you better if you weren’t screaming like a mad man!”

    “I screamed because you threw it too early!”

    “Potato, porta-ball. Point is, I threw it! You can’t bitch at me for not being helpful this time.”

    “I can’t—I can’t—-WHAT?? We’re stuck between dimensions!”

    “Well maybe if someone had driven with a sense of urgency, we could have made the jump.”

    “You son of a—”

    “No, really! Hear me out. If a person is speeding away from their wife, who just also happens to be a cop, said person should have the fortitude to drive like they’re in Vanishing Point and not like they’re a second-rate Transporter!”

    “I—wait, did you just call me Jason Statham? You know that’s not exactly an insult, right? Guy’s old, but still.”

    “Depends on who you ask. Like your cop wife. Wife cop. Whatever.”

    “Good god.”

    “Why you even married her is beyond me. Why she married a master “heister” is beyond me.”

    “I told you I don’t like it when you call me that!”

    “Who cares now?”

    “Shut up. Look, we’re fine. I don’t think she got a good look at the car, and even if she did and even IF she found us, she can’t get in.”

    “Does she have your spare key?”

    “No she….shit. She had to borrow the car to take the kid to the zoo yesterday. Shit.”

    “Yeah, and you yell at me like I’m the dumb one.”

    “Sorry. Sorry. I…just can’t believe we’re gonna get caught. Like this.”

    “I can’t believe the car the cops catch me in has a baby seat. The guys in the grid can’t know this.”


    “I’m sorry about the porta-ball.”

    “Yeah. Alright.”

    “So..what now?”

    “Got your iPod handy?”

    “Yeah, always.”

    “Still have some Spice Girls loaded?”

    “What do you think?”

    “Ok. Blast it.”

  18. Clive Tern says:

    Free Sleep for Dogman

    360 words

    Dogman Horrovich sniffed the scene, tail twitching against her suit. There was oil, grease, worn metal, and a dozen other odors associated with old cars. She stood and looked at the owner, illicit sleep dealer, Gorgeous Ferrer.
    “There’s nothing,” Dogman said.
    “Apart from its position!”
    “Yeh, you need a particle physicist for that. I don’t how it’s been done.”
    “I asked you to deal with it, not sniff round it and shrug your shoulders.” The badger leaned forward and jabbed a paw towards Dogman. “Do I need to bring up how much sleep you are in for?”
    Dogman shook her head and panted. “Course not. But I’m good for it.”
    “Good or not, find out who did this.”
    Gorgeous slammed the door to his sett, leaving Dogman alone. She turned to the car again. Sun glinted from the rear bumper, which was level with Dogman’s face. The car was buried halfway into the concrete pad which was Gorgeous’ rear yard.
    It hadn’t been placed into a hole, but fused with the concrete and earth below. The pitted grey-ness of the surface was visible through the windows of the car.
    Dogman trotted away trying to figure out how it had happened. The physics troubled her. How could the buried part of the car, and the ground, be sharing the same space? Beyond that, who did it? Dogman assumed it was a warning, or threat, of some sort. But Gorgeous hadn’t seemed concerned.
    The air began hissing. It built to a crackle and buzz which made Dogman’s hackles press against her blouse. She sniffed, seeking the direction of the disturbance. Above Gorgeous’ house there was a roiling mass of turbulent energy. A dark mass coalesced, resolving into a container ship which fell on the gangster’s home, flattening it.
    Scampering for cover, Dogman reaching a corner as the dust and debris cloud swirled down the street. As reverberations died away the crack and boom of an explosion took over. More dust and debris blew past.
    Dogman slunk away to her kennel. No need to find out now. Probably safer not to. She just hoped the explosion had wiped out Gorgeous’ sleep records.


  19. One Day Geeks Will Rule The World, But Not Today.

    This time travelling isn’t going as fast as I thought it would, Larry said.

    You can say that again, Max said.

    Larry and Max were sitting in their heavily modified car, with the front of it slowly, very slowly sinking into a wormhole. Ever since they saw Back To The Future, they were obsessed with time travelling. When the guys from their class were playing football or going out on a Saturday night, they were in each other’s room reading up on the subject. They fantasized about one day rocketing through the space-time continuum in their own revved up car. Until one day they actually decided to build one.

    It’s like quicksand, Larry said. How’s that possible?

    I don’t know, Max said.

    The quicksand absorbed the front bumper. The car was tipping over in slow-motion, like a tanker going down in the ocean. Luckily Larry and David were wearing their seatbelt. You never know how fast this time travelling is going to go, Larry had said.

    The front wheels disappeared in the brown blubber, inch per inch.

    I don’t even know if this is a real wormhole, Max said.

    Hey, we went through the calculations a million times, Larry said.

    They studied mathematics, quantum physics and cosmology as much as they could. But they weren’t professors. They weren’t even old enough to go to university. But they had the drive, that typical youthful enthusiasm. Sometimes that’s worth more than all the intellect in the world.

    The car was now sticking up to its windshield in the mud.

    Why don’t we get out of the car when we still can? Max said.

    What’s wrong? Larry said. Chicken?

    Max smiled.

    But in the meantime the thick slush sucked in the car even deeper. Larry and Max looked outside their window and saw nothing anymore. Somehow the earth didn’t crush the car. This gave them all the hope they needed to continue their mission.

    Suddenly they felt the car coming to a halt. The mud around the car solidified, turning it into a bizarre monument of geekiness.

    When are your parents coming home? Max said.

    Around six, Larry said.

    356 words

  20. L&F

    It shouldn’t shock you that a place like this exists.
    You have a version of sorts for all the common items of your world that one might have occasion to lose, however inexplicable that loss might seem to those who find the items split from ownership.
    Keys, sunglasses, umbrellas, books, gloves, a singular shoe, sweaters, earrings, stuffed animals, false teeth.
    They are all common, useful, important items manufactured for your use and yet through moments of forgetfulness, expediency of the day, a jostle here or there, they end up in the Lost and Found Bin.
    Train stations have some of the largest collections.
    Even on a smaller scale the most boring of people at least joke about the realm in which all the lost socks end up.

    Fairies, witches, wizards, exceptional animals of magical descent are all just as capable of losing things as you are. But how complex it becomes when the items, the spells, become untethered from the magic-makers.
    There needed to be a lost and found bin in proportion to the kind of things that might be lost in a world like ours.
    It’s a bit magnetic here.
    I’ve had an idea or two that had been relegated to the back burners and as though sensing their potential status of being lost, our little site here whipped them away.
    Magic compact mirrors, emerald slippers, dancing candlesticks, talking trees. They arrive here and evoke the same kind of sadness you feel for the objects you see left behind.
    I ask the same questions about the singing ring that you ask about the one-eyed bear sitting on the train platform.
    There is a tug at the heart at seeing what must be an abrupt end to a story or a story you can only make up about someone else.

    It’s the red car that is the hardest to look at.
    It was once a mouse. Even fairy godmothers need practice and some aren’t the tidiest or most kind.
    You can see his ears and his whiskers just below that magnetic bit keeping the car in place.
    It’s not always easy working here.

    355 words

    • stephellis2013 says:

      A mouse – oh poor thing. (Your L&F brought Terry Pratchett’s L-space to mind with its other-worldliness).

    • voimaoy says:

      Beautiful and haunting–“I ask the same questions about the singing ring that you ask about the one-eyed bear sitting on the train platform.” Amazing writing!

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