Flash Frenzy Round 66

Posted: June 20, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

Aaaaaaaaaand WE’RE BACK!

After much toil—and what I hope will be revealed in the upcoming weeks to have been a successful, if somewhat painful, engagement with my board exams—I have more or less recovered from my trip to Tampa. What better way to celebrate than with a brand new round of Flash Frenzy AND the upcoming (tomorrow!) release of the second volume of the Flash Dogs Anthology?!

To aid in The Angry Hourglass’s triumphant return, Clive Turn has volunteered to act 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 Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. Sal Page says:


    I spent ages chipping them off. Part of the C first. I had to hurry. It was a surprise for Megan when she returned from her holiday. She begged her mum to take me too. The snooty cow refused to even consider it.
    I used a wire brush from our shed. Got covered in flaky bits of ancient paint, like I had record breaking all over body dandruff. Gary came with me to hold the ladder and torch. Laughing his head off, he kept saying ‘I’ve always held a torch for you, mate.’ Guess it was funny the first time. By the twentieth I was ready to slide down the ladder and wire brush his head off.
    We always met up by the old abattoir. Me, Gary, Barry, Megan and Sarah. It stank round there, as if the walls were still splattered with all those animals. It’s a great place to go in the day; to chat, smoke and mess about. It’s where I first kissed Megan. Spooky at night though. I scared myself imagining the thousands of slaughtered animals. Ghostly cows, pigs and sheep, trailing entrails and spilling blood.
    I painted on the extra letters the night before Megan came down to meet us. The fine hairs on her arms were bleached white with the sun, her long brown hair streaked with blond. She started talking about Cornwall. She was extra sexy tanned. I wanted to tell her this and kiss her but she wouldn’t stop talking. Standing with her back to the wall, she lit a fag and told me all about surfing.
    She’d turn round soon, see it and be speechless. But she was prattling on about the café where they were served fish and chips every day by Sam. Sam, it turned out, was a boy. It wasn’t just a holiday romance, she said. She was sorry, she said, but she loved Sam. Now I didn’t want her to turn round. She threw her fag down, ground it into the rubble and left.
    I felt so stupid. All that time and effort turning ‘Coventry Meats’ into ‘I Love You Megan’ and she’d gone and dumped me.

    360 Words

  2. djpaterson says:

    Love Me

    John turned the corner and froze. It’d been ten years since he’d walked along Linden Boulevard, and today should have been no different. He had no business being on this side of town. He lowered his bags to the floor, not taking his eyes from the two words neatly stencilled on the brickwork ahead. He tried to think how he’d gotten there. Did he make a wrong turn when he left the store? He honestly had no idea, but it didn’t matter how. Or why. Just that he was.

    The white lettering was starting to fade, and was peeling in places. Time destroys everything. He looked at the plants trailing from the terrace and smiled. Not everything. A solitary flower pot had been replaced by a jungle. Or maybe not even replaced. Maybe added to. It could still be there, in the midst of the vines and the Cordylines.

    A bead of sweat dripped into his eye, and John rubbed the salty sting away. Must be eighty degrees. He’d never forget that summer. Every day seemed to have kids dancing in open fire hydrants. And him spending the hottest Saturday perched on the ricketiest ladder imaginable, painting a crazy message on the side of his first house. Though not his house, you understand. But the landlord never said anything.

    What kind of fool would think such a thing would work on a beautiful girl like Annabelle? But it did. And he neither knew, nor cared, why. He had asked her to love him, and she did. With all her heart. She’d promised him it would be forever. And it was. For Anabelle. Whose forever turned out to be painfully short. Less than a year.

    He hadn’t cried then. Not at her bedside. Not at her graveside. Not because he didn’t have love. He had too much. And it had died with his beloved wife. But he cried now, soft, silent tears. Tears that spoke to him. Tears with a message. Love me.

    332 words

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    Lost in Transmission

    353 words


    My life had been stone-walled … literally; random messages, excerpts of private thoughts – all taken out of context – were projected onto stone pathways and brick monstrosities. Morning, noon and night, my mind released its contents to the outside world and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Privacy had become foreign to me and now I had to hide from the world to avoid bruising encounters.

    It had all started with the new Think Aloud cell phones; a technological breakthrough which rendered the physical effort of text and speech unnecessary. The chip in the cell was powerful enough to detect and translate the electrical impulses in the brain, it could literally read your mind and transmit the message from source in an almost telepathy. And then the phone itself became obsolete, replaced by a chip under the skin.

    Of course we went wild for it. I queued overnight to be amongst the first to get the latest version and as they embedded the chip, I felt no concern, only excitement at the possibilities open to me.

    And for a while all was wonderful. I could send messages to the other side of the world and not just words, but pictures, videos, songs, all by just thinking it.

    But I drew the short straw. I got the faulty model.

    Initially, it wasn’t too bad, just a missing word or two. Then it happened. Happy recollections of the previous night were suddenly projected onto a nearby apartment block. All in glorious X-rated detail. My girlfriend was mortified and fled the city until our notoriety died down. When she returned she dumped me rather than suffer such embarrassment again.

    The Support desk was useless, ‘Please press Reset’ and ‘Have a nice day’.

    Nor could I remove it. The chip had fused with skin, had become part of me; a side-effect warned about on insertion as I signed the disclaimer.

    Soon however, it wasn’t just me. Chip after chip failed and communications went into meltdown. All meaning had been lost. Now we all hide from each other, not speaking, not trusting, not listening.

    • Sal Page says:

      Real scary stuff, Steph!

    • stevenstucko says:

      I often wonder what the next big app will be. This Orwellian nightmare really gets under my skin. If it comes to this Steph, I’ll remember that at least you tried to warn us. I’m glad you were on the lookout for the return of our beloved Angry Hourglass. Always good to read your stuff.

      • stephellis2013 says:

        AH filled a gap between FLash Friday & the next Microbookends/3 LineThursdayft

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Message got sent before I could finish it, ignore random letters ! The real story I want to write is one with everyone isolated by their headphones, oblivious to everything/everyone and listening to a subliminal feed that completely takes over their consciousness so they are utterly detached from reality; mind control creeping in and no one would ever know _ although I think we’re almost there already!

    • voimaoy says:

      Great story, Steph—this vision is scary enough, but I want to read the subliminal feed story, too 🙂

      • stephellis2013 says:

        I started it as a short story some time ago and then stopped but it’s one of those idea that just lurks at the back of your mind, ramping up the pressure until you finally set it free; perhaps now’s the time 😃

    • Just read this tale on HumpDay Quickie. Wow this is an amazing story! Would make a good novel.

  4. stevenstucko says:

    THE NEED TO KNOW (359 words)

    I know what existential angst is because I took a philosophy class in college. Well, I guess I kind of know what it is because I only got a “C+.” I know it has to do with not knowing what the hell is going on and being pretty upset about it.

    I guess I just don’t know what I don’t know. I know there’s something to know. Otherwise, what’s the point. A lot of time people who seem to know what it’s all about fall from grace and crash and burn. I hate that. It scares me because, who else am I supposed to learn from? I’m not talking about Tiger Woods or Robin Williams. I’m talking about, well, parents and teachers and older brothers and junior league hockey coaches.

    I’ve given up on political leaders or religious leaders. I mean they seem to lie and mess up and screw with your head more than anyone. If I think about that too much I’ll get a headache. But, damn, they’re the leaders we voted for to help us live a good life. Right?

    Well, we didn’t vote for the religious leaders. I know that. I used to think God did. But if God chose all the religious leaders why would so many wars and killings and hate come from their teachings?

    Maybe God just stands back and doesn’t choose anything. Maybe it’s all left up to us. Maybe it’s kind of like this big experiment where people are given existence and a planet and then told to: “Go for it.”

    I don’t like the feel of that. I really don’t. Can’t something help us learn how to live?

    Maybe God should….I’ve kind of given up on people. Not forever. But for a while I think.

    I think I should learn to pray. I’m serious. I have so many questions and concerns. I just don’t know where to start.

    I’ll start with a request. It really is important. I need him to do this one thing. Love me.

  5. joshbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    358 Words

    “He did what!?”

    “Wrote ‘Love Me’ in big bold white letters,” answered Victoria.

    “Well I never,” said the stately old neighbor. “Glad I won’t ever have to see it…” She watched the shades close over Victoria’s normally big, bright, and open eyes. “I’m sorry dear…I didn’t mean…”

    “It’s okay, Elizabetha, it’s okay.” Victoria sagged, and creaked. “It’s just I know he means well and, well I, we’ve lived across from each other almost as long as you and I have and I don’t know—”

    “You love him don’t you?”

    “I do, I really think I do.”


    “He’s just…”

    “You are young deary, so so young. I still remember when you were built like it was yesterday. So bright, so full of hope, so giving and open.”

    “That’s the thing Elizabetha. I think he can be too. He used to be, remember?”

    “I remember when you described him to me, yes. Every day you’d tell me about every little thing about him.”

    “And now he’s closed himself off from me, asking…telling me to love him. It’s as if he hides behind that false exterior and I don’t know if he feels being a man means being just so…so…”

    “Aloof?” Elizabetha, who smoked like a chimney, lit another in the cold cold night.

    “No, that’s not it…Spartan. I don’t even know if that’s the right word, but it’s as if he isolates himself, hardens himself because he doesn’t want to appear weak.”

    “Vulnerability, deary. He’s scared of being vulnerable.”

    “You’re probably right.”

    Elizabetha cackled and coughed. “Of course I’m right deary!”

    “Oh, Elizabetha, I wish you could see him, just once.”

    “From what you’ve told me my dear, I’ll never need to. But deary, remember, he has to let you inside. And he has to want to let you inside.”

    Victoria sighed.

    “What’s the matter deary?”

    “I don’t know, I think maybe I’ve lost my chance. He’s built up such a wall that I don’t think he even
    knows how to get out—how to remove even a single brick.” Her eyes began to fog.

    “He wants you to love him because he thinks love is wrecking ball.”

  6. stephellis2013 says:

    Wonderful use of architectural imagery to describe your characters and Victoria’s relationship.

  7. voimaoy says:

    Lost and Found
    360 words

    There is a place for lost things. Haven’t you wondered where the odd socks go, vanished in the portal of the dryer in the laundromat?

    Yes, there is a portal, and you have found it. Walk down this street, maybe it’s by the harbor, a street of old warehouses that once were going to be refined loft spaces with a view of the lake and a feel of the breeze.

    It’s a storage unit, now. Yes, there are people living here. You can almost see them, like ghosts or shadows. They live among the lost things, the things once loved. You can live here, too. You don’t need a lease or a security code, here.

    Watch your step. The bricks are loose, the eyeless windows broken, shards of glass winking in the dark.

    Here is what you are looking for. Here among the boxes are all the things you loved and lost. Here is the stuffed bear, his fur worn thin, one button eye dangling by a thread. And the wind-up robot, with the missing key. The box of baseball cards. Your father’s fountain pen. Here’s your mother’s earring.

    Here’s the coffee mug from college, the one that fueled more than one all-nighter. How long ago was that? You remember, you were going to keep it forever.

    Here’s the black dress, the one you were wearing that night when you met him. The zipper broke, and you were going to fix it. Here’s the jeans you couldn’t fit into anymore.

    And here’s the gold ring you thought you had dropped in the garage, looking for the pruning shears, among the summer chairs. Your hands were growing so thin after he left…

    Here’s the address book, filled with all the names you haven’t written for years.

    Here’s the summer days, the winter evenings, the cold wind of November when you held each other waiting for a bus.

    Here’s the rocket, the part for your spaceship, your dream of the red dust of Mars.

    They are all here, these lost things. Look for the street. There’s a sign on the building. If you’ve come this far, don’t worry. You can’t miss it.

  8. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    WC: 358

    Ancient Root

    What roots can grow when my heart muscle slowly fades, cataracts dim my eyes, and my skin pruned beyond wrinkles? When sixty years of marriage felt like a thousand, or only one, depending on the day. When my love presents itself in an aged package like moldy cheese. What does someone do with me who soured with time like old cream? And who’s to tell me I should be content with what I already had?

    In my world, I’m lucky if I can get anybody to look at me these days. I suppose I shouldn’t blame the girls, ninety-six ain’t pretty; I’m still rammy, but by God, I ain’t pretty. My pate’s beyond bald, covered in those damned liver spots, big suckers too and scarred from the shrapnel that almost killed me, and the fistfight I had with Nicky back in ʼ41 after we landed in France during World War II, over a dame, of course. I’m happy to tell you, I won that fight too. Ended up marrying her, I did. Joséphine. My beloved Jo-Jo. She hated when I called her that, but after sixty years of marriage, she got used to it. And Nicky? We stayed friends right up until the day he died in ʼ79. The big C got’im. It was our running joke, that he almost had my Jo-Jo. “Fat chance,” she used to tell’im. She always gave us a laugh for our money. God I miss her!

    There’s slim pickins here in the Nursing Home that’s as dilapidated as I am. Most don’t know their own name, let alone, remember mine, but there’s this one old Gal that turned my head. I don’t blame her being cautious and all; my cream soured ages ago. Crotchety, she calls me. Well, ain’t that sumthin’? Can’t help if I’m old and bitter. Yeah, I had a good life, damnit, but I want more. I’m not dead yet. I want someone to love me; I want Jo-Jo to love me . . . I mean, Sheila. Damn my memory. I guess I ‘am’ an ancient codger! Been calling Sheila, Jo-Jo ever since I met’er. No wonder she won’t love me.

  9. Attention Building
    356 Words

    With his rifle strapped behind him, and his hands filled with buckets of water, Kurt made the journey of bringing water to his camp. He made the journey every day for the past seven months.

    His walking route consisted of making a big circle, to the waterfall located nearby, and then to the camp. Every day, he walked through the eerie sound of nothingness. Even for a small city, it still felt huge to him due its abandonment. The earth was already starting the process of taking back the land, which always made him grin a little. That grin would disappear though, whenever he passed by the Attention Building.

    That’s what he called a particular building that had the words “Love Me” neatly written on side. Perhaps too neatly. Whenever he walked by it, it put him in a grumpy mood. The thoughts of cynicism would take over. He would think, “How could someone have the gall to write that with all that’s happened in the world?” He never thought of the writing as more than a pathetic cry for attention.

    And so he made his journey, as he always had, with the water in hand and the chip on his shoulder. He approached the writing, mumbled under his breath, and then, he stopped.

    He saw movement.

    Kurt slowly put down the buckets, and brought his rifle to his shoulder. He looked around for what it could have been, and then it caught his peripheral again. It was above the writing, up in the window. The curtain moved.

    His eyes and barrel were trained on the window now. After a few moments passed, a hand emerged and gently moved the curtain to the side, but just a little bit. The top half of a head peaked out. All Kurt saw was a hand, hair, a forehead, and eyes. Shy eyes.

    For a while, nothing happened. Kurt and the stranger stared at each other. The stranger made the first move. He, she, whoever they were, waved their hand. They waved hello.

    Kurt put his rifle down, and waved back. He kept waving, and contemplated his next move.

  10. Stella T says:

    288 words

    The Initiation

    Chantelle felt the spider dance across her face. Wanting to scream she bit into her bottom lip, she didn’t want it scurrying around her mouth.

    Please God don’t let it disappear up my nose!

    She couldn’t close her eyes she had to see everything, report back or the challenge would be lost. Kelly said it was an initiation and few were given this chance. Why did it matter? Her mother always said she followed the herd. This time is was important she wanted to join the coven. Kelly said only the strongest, bravest, most intelligent were allowed admission. Chantelle felt at this moment she had none of those attributes but she needed a love potion and Kelly had promised she’d get one if she stood like a statue for two hours and watched carefully out of the grimy warehouse window.

    She’d loved Javed for two years and he’d shown no interest in her at all. She’d helped him with his science thesis, didn’t mind when he’d taken all the credit for her original research. He was going to Oxbridge she was going on the tills at Tesco, not one of her family had ever gone to university and she wasn’t going to be the first said her mother.

    Chantelle watched Kelly climb up the building, working hard to paint the letters high on the old brickwork. ‘Love Me’. She never joined the coven, she’d failed the initiation. The spider deciding to go up her nose put paid to that. She told Kelly she’d seen nothing. Chantelle wasn’t sure if the plan was for Javed to see the letters or it was a message from Kelly herself. As she never spoke to either ever again she never found out.


    Brian S Creek
    337 words

    Not every relationship can work out.

    My last boyfriend, Marcus Faulkner, was a good guy, he really was; dependable, thoughtful, trustworthy, all good qualities in a partner. But sometimes all that good stuff is never enough. We didn’t have that spark, that magic, that urge to rip each other’s clothes off and just get down to it.

    You know what I mean?

    I guess you could blame the movies. Hollywood paints an unreal picture of the men we think we want. Me? I’d sell my soul to be Mrs Downey Jr or Mrs Farrell even though I know the risks. They’re bad boys. Rebels. And it’ll always end in tears.

    But not Marcus. He was safe. He’s the kind of man you take home to your parents. At least that’s what I thought.

    You see a man has two sides to him. The one you see; the smiley, happy, loving man who takes you out for dinners, late night movies, and buys you nice things.

    And then there’s the man hidden underneath, the one that’s buried deep, deep down inside. The one that doesn’t come out to play unless the conditions are just right.

    Last night I saw the darker version of Marcus and I can tell you now, I did not like it one bit.

    Turns out that Marcus has psychological issues relating to his childhood. He’s emotionally dependent and struggles if his own feelings aren’t reciprocated.

    Or in layman’s terms; he said I love you, and when I said I wasn’t sure I felt the same, he put a
    kitchen knife through my throat and ended my life.

    It gets worse.

    He took my body across town to a random alley, painted it white, head to toe, and used the remaining white paint to declare ‘LOVE ME’ on the wall beside me. And then he left me there like some kind of abstract art exhibit.

    What kind of person does that? Honestly?

    A serial killer, according to the news. And I was victim number seven.

  12. The Whispering Walls

    The buzz emanating from beneath the surface grows louder as you approach, hesitant. The planes of the wall are ivory smooth and cool to your fingertip’s touch as you run them down and along its vertical length; though they quiver slightly as the warmth of your skin makes contact briefly, before moving out of reach of the calcified bone once more. You reach again, keeping them in place for longer this time.

    Bren came last week to take her turn; now you for yours. You saw her – after – white as the walls themselves, though she spoke but little of what she had learned. Calla, though, shone once she had listened. Mal, too.

    It is the Way. The Way of the Walls. It is your way. There is no other, save for the sacrosanct symbiosis of sounds, twinned one with the other. There is no truth save for the Telling.
    You cast an eye skyward – towards the shining edges of the surface, reaching higher now than they have stood since any can remember. The length multiplies, year upon year, they say – though none has sought to measure their towering reach within your lifetime. You take their word that the sayings hold true.

    Today – your Telling – the only one you will – or can – ever know will sound. You speak – words solely for the Walls themselves – a question phrased. You listen carefully for what the walls will whisper back in return. Slowly the sounds begin to form into succinct syllables. You lean closer, pressing an ear fully to the surface. You close your eyes to concentrate on your connection. Your answer awaits.


    (269 words)

  13. Love Me

    Hey, you bloody queer, what are you doing up there? Johnny said.

    On the top step of the ladder Gavin froze, his hand clenched around the brush. He peered down. Johnny and his gang in a half circle.

    We thought you were up to something when you weren’t in The White Elephant with your arse licking friends, Johnny said. Didn’t think we were coming to look for you, did you? Thought you had the night for yourself, did you?

    Gavin didn’t bother to reply.

    Johnny and his gang started shaking the ladder. Gavin quickly put the brush in the bucket of paint and descended with it.

    So what’s all that, queer? Johnny said as he looked up. It was dark in the alley, and even though Gavin had painted bold, white letters on the wall, they were difficult to read.

    Love me? Johnny said. Did you really paint ‘Love me’? What’s the matter? I thought you had enough faggot friends who don’t care who they’re doing it with.

    Love men, Gavin said under his breath.

    What? Johnny said and he punched Gavin in the shoulder.

    Love men, Gavin said, louder now.

    Johnny turned to his gang, index finger in his mouth, pretending to puke. They burst out laughing. Then he looked at Gavin again.

    Oh, you rebel, you! I thought you queer-pants didn’t have any guts, big softies that you are. But apparently I’m wrong. ‘Love men’. That’s quite a statement, Gavin boy. Too bad you won’t be able to finish it.

    What… what are you going to do? Gavin said.

    Well, it seems you’re screaming for some love tonight, so that’s exactly what we’ll be giving you. Bend him over, lads. Pants down. Thank you very much.

    Gavin knew it wasn’t any use, but he screamed anyway.

    Johnny took the brush out of the bucket, got rid of the excess paint on Gavin’s bare flesh, then gripped the bottom of the handle firmly.

    324 words

  14. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The Offering

    The Visitors accepted each round of our offerings wordlessly, their eyes saucer-sized black holes in the green galaxies of their faces. Our leaders scurried before them, bowing, scraping, half terrified, half irritated at not knowing for sure what was wanted.

    “They probably think we’re giving them dirt,” my husband muttered as we watched the first gleaming chests of jewels arrive. The sole linguist on the Welcoming Committee, he’d been against the Gifting Protocols from the day the Visitors had arrived. “Why doesn’t someone just ask them??”

    Animals followed: pairs of elephants, giraffes, polar bears, golden retrievers. Charlie disapproved of these too (“How do they know if we’re offering companionship or lunch?!”) and bit his lip in frustration as the Visitors’ robots silently hauled each creature aboard their city-sized spacecraft.

    Then music: children’s choirs from Africa, European waltz ensembles, South American pan pipers, voices and orchestras and dancers shaking the earth with powerful medleys.

    Charlie said, “The Visitors look confused; they probably think we’re reciting the menu. Of course, they’d know for sure if we’d just ASK.”

    One gift left.

    The savannah fell silent.

    “It’s not too late to change the protocols,” Charlie said. He did not look at me.

    “These gifts were chosen for a reason,” I said, “because we don’t know what they want. They are supposed to represent humanity.”

    “The Committee chose in haste.” His voice sounded ragged. Defiant.

    “The Visitors waited a year in orbit.”

    A single trumpet sounded, its note sweet and long. It was time.

    “Say goodbye to me, Charlie.”

    “I can’t.” He looked at his feet, the spacecraft, the Visitors, everywhere else. “I won’t.”

    “Please don’t make me leave like this.”

    “The Committee had nine billion people to choose from!”

    “They wanted a mother! I was chosen—I have to go! Say goodbye!”

    “I. will. not.” His voice was a volcano, his suffering roiling magma–

    —and the Visitors’ faces changed. Green, flicker red, flicker blue; their eyes were comets, meteors, supernovas.

    WE ACCEPT YOUR GIFT, said the Visitors and seized Charlie in their arms.

    In horror I watched them bear him away, his tears falling to the ground like diamonds.

    358 words

    • Rebekah Postupak says:

      And on a personal note: CONGRATULATIONS on surviving your boards. Wishing you the greatest of success–will be watching Twitter for your triumphant announcement!!! Glad to have FF back. Well done all round. 🙂

  15. brian says:

    His work was done. Painted in large white letters, across the exterior of an abandoned brick building, was the phrase Love You.

    Across the way and five stories up, was his eighty three year old mother. She was bed ridden, but she could still find the energy a couple of times of day to peek out the window to check the weather.

    Where did she think she was going that she needed to check the weather?

    Now there was something worth her getting up on an elbow, cranking her neck and peering out the window.

    He sat on the curb, ocassionally squinting at the dark rectangle that was her window.

    But he waited in vain. She died somewhere between the L and the U.

    He had painted on mountain standard time, she had lived–and died–on eastern standard time.

  16. […] little piece was written for The Angry Hourglass Round 66 based on the photo prompt […]

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