Flash Frenzy Round 70

Posted: July 18, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

And we’re back! I’m a bit late with this particular photo prompt (Shark Week was last week), but I felt compelled to wait for Judge Shakes since it’s his photo.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

photo courtesy David Shakes

photo courtesy David Shakes

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Comments
  1. A Son’s Letter from Ft. Breach (1962)
    @BradyTheWriter
    331 words

    My Dear Mother,

    Once more I resume my pen to write you a few lines, it was with pleasure that I learned that you had had such a pleasant time at the salt water.

    I write not to tell you of an act of bravery performed by myself but of an act of defiance. It is best you hear of it from your loving son than from Gen. McLean’s emissaries. The young man delivering this note was finely paid so feel no need to further reimburse him. If he requests more, he reveals himself to be the duplicitous sneak I suspected him to be. Alas, in my situation, I could find no other willing party to transit this letter.

    To explain the charges against me. . . More hard fighting had been going on across the Virginia shores, there we escape again and again while others fall. Receiving a light head injury from a fall after a row with some yellow livered sympathizers I was placed on powder room duty. Was alone with our entire heavy artillery while my brothers-in-arms marched South.

    I had taken to the comfort of a large bottle of whiskey in my solitude at the fort. Always a curious sort, you know this from my childhood travails, I set to discover what would and would not fit into our largest cannon “Northern Glory.” Many things did not fit, but one unusual item did. The masthead remaining from a sunken merchant vessel. A trophy of sorts from an afternoon of shelling the ships on the ocean.

    The large wooden shark fit finely into Northern Glory. It is to my great dissatisfaction and current state of court martial that I found out the cannon was primed with powder. My lit cigarette provided the ash that provided the unwelcome flame and the wooden beast breached the fort wall quite easily.

    I ask for nothing else than to remember me kindly to all inquiring family and friends, from your son,

    James

    • Whoops kind of an important mistake in the title. Here’s the corrected version. Feel free to delete the other.

      A Son’s Letter from Ft. Breach (1862)
      @BradyTheWriter
      331 words

      My Dear Mother,

      Once more I resume my pen to write you a few lines, it was with pleasure that I learned that you had had such a pleasant time at the salt water.

      I write not to tell you of an act of bravery performed by myself but of an act of defiance. It is best you hear of it from your loving son than from Gen. McLean’s emissaries. The young man delivering this note was finely paid so feel no need to further reimburse him. If he requests more, he reveals himself to be the duplicitous sneak I suspected him to be. Alas, in my situation, I could find no other willing party to transit this letter.

      To explain the charges against me. . . More hard fighting had been going on across the Virginia shores, there we escape again and again while others fall. Receiving a light head injury from a fall after a row with some yellow livered sympathizers I was placed on powder room duty. Was alone with our entire heavy artillery while my brothers-in-arms marched South.

      I had taken to the comfort of a large bottle of whiskey in my solitude at the fort. Always a curious sort, you know this from my childhood travails, I set to discover what would and would not fit into our largest cannon “Northern Glory.” Many things did not fit, but one unusual item did. The masthead remaining from a sunken merchant vessel. A trophy of sorts from an afternoon of shelling the ships on the ocean.

      The large wooden shark fit finely into Northern Glory. It is to my great dissatisfaction and current state of court martial that I found out the cannon was primed with powder. My lit cigarette provided the ash that provided the unwelcome flame and the wooden beast breached the fort wall quite easily.

      I ask for nothing else than to remember me kindly to all inquiring family and friends, from your son,

      James

    • voimaoy says:

      I could see this, so funny. Love your story!

  2. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    358 Words

    In the Mind of Someone Living

    Jacob paddled his skiff round the edge of the ruined building, into the wide estuary that had once been the High Street. Ripples spread from the bow and lapped against the crumbling walls standing like broken teeth against the blank sky. Midges clouded around his face but he ignored them and kept the determined rhythm of the paddle in the water as he headed to the library.

    They called him Crazy Old Jacob behind his back, he knew that, for salvaging books from the library. But they were young and barely remembered the time before. They would need books, science and engineering, poetry and novels once the waters receded and they could repair the fragments of their civilisation.

    Under the surface of broken sunlight, something large and shadowy glided among the abandoned cars now rusting away. He pushed he skiff across the estuary towards the portico of the old library and threw a rope around one of the pillars carved from solid granite that would outlast these floods. The water lapped over the top step and trickled through the doors crumbling and rotten from the dampness as he stood up.

    The shadow he’d seen earlier turned back towards the skiff, a black shark fin cutting through the water as it rose to the surface.

    Jacob leapt onto the steps as the shark collided with the boat. For a moment its head rose out of the water, the dark grey of its skin, the tiny deep set eyes and the malevolent grin with rows of tiny knife-sharp teeth. The skiff flipped and its wooden hull splintered against the steps, the shards drifting out on the water.

    He retreated into the darkness of the doorway and crouched until his knees and thighs ached with cramp. The shark circled through the water until the shadows lengthened across the water. Then it turned and swam away down the estuary, past the salt stained buildings and the cars crusted with limpets and kelp. Jacob righted the skiff and scooped out the water with his hands. It would get him home. But now these ruins belonged to the sharks and the ancient sea.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Shows the importance of the printed book in a destroyed society. Definitely not crazy in my opinion. Nice story.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Some nice phrases in this one, A.V. – “the determined rhythm of the paddle”, “the surface of broken sunlight”. The title had me stumped until Google came to the rescue: I was never aware that Damien Hirst’s shark, swimming in formaldehyde, had a title!

      Let’s all keep collecting those books, just in case…

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    For What We Are About To Receive

    359 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDogs

    The street had fallen silent. Maggie peeped out behind the curtain but could see nothing; the faint light from their room glimmering out onto the pavement. Her mother pulled her back, hiding the outside from view once more.

    “Do you want to be seen?” she hissed.

    “But Jackie’s still out there,” said Maggie.

    “Don’t you worry about him. He’ll be holed up safe somewhere. He knows what to do when curfew sounds.”

    “He might get caught.”

    “He might,” she acknowledged. “But he knew the risks. Sometimes you have to swim with the sharks to break through a brick wall.”

    “Do you think people will ever accept us?” asked Maggie.

    Her mother sighed. “I don’t know, dear. History is littered with misunderstandings, and difference and diversity is not always celebrated. There will always be that barrier between us.”

    “I hope the priest listened,” said Maggie.

    “Jackie said he’d bring him round for dinner if he could,” said her mother. “You’d better lay the table.”

    Maggie obeyed her mother even though she doubted Jackie would be back any time soon. Hiding in the shadows was no problem, avoiding the Night Watch though was a different matter. Their weapons, fashioned from the knowledge of centuries, were lethal. But the family needed to be fed and the church had said they would help, would provide.

    Her mother had long regarded the clergy as sharks, predators who circled the dead and dying in order to claim their souls – and the souls of Maggie’s family were prized above others, would appeal to the priest’s vanity.

    Maggie heard a soft tap beneath her feet. Quickly she pulled back the carpet and opened up the trap door. Jackie’s head appeared, followed by another, older visage.

    “He could do nothing for us,” said Jackie as he pulled himself up. “But I brought him home anyway.”

    They looked at the priest, a comforting sight for those who hungered. The church had kept its word, had indeed provided. Dinner was served.

    “One moment,” said their mother. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

    “Oh yes,” said Maggie, her fangs grinning wickedly in the lamplight. “For what we are about to receive…

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Oh, Steph! That was so menacingly dark… with a lovely, chuckle to lighten the ending!

      I’m not sure that “Sometimes you have to swim with the sharks to break through a brick wall” is a phrase I’ll be dropping into conversation, but it was a story well worth reading!

  4. mariemck1 says:

    Bait
    (356 words)
    @elaine173marie

    Children, or the entities that fill child- shaped bodies, congregate on the street. I still can’t bring myself to hurt them. I use the old fashioned way, flinging stones at windows that still contain enough glass to make a noise when they smash.
    Their speed still surprises me.
    I make for the building. Even before I reach it, the door is flung open. I propel myself the last few feet, for the distraction of broken glass is short-lived.

    A quick operation:
    Bolt
    Cabinet
    Chair
    To secure the door behind me.

    Another:
    Backpack
    Boots
    Handcuffs
    To secure me.

    I look at their businesslike faces. Faces that populated banks, schools, department stores, only a few months ago. But business is different.

    I need to break their silence:
    ‘I am alone. The neighbour I was travelling with, made it as far as the dock-.’
    ‘Save the story. It’s best if we don’t know you-‘
    ‘Sorry. Just grateful to see your signal.’
    ‘Don’t be.’

    The two biggest push me in front of them up the narrow staircase.
    ‘What’s happening? I’ll leave. Won’t come back.’
    ‘You won’t be leaving.’

    Silent. They begin stacking loose bricks from the wall. A small cavity starts to appear, the stench of stale air wafts in.

    ‘Should be enough,’ one shouts down.
    The logic of their plan unfolds before me, but my mind can’t comprehend how they’d bring themselves to do it.

    I talk fast:
    ‘I was a paramedic. That’s a big asset. I can treat your injured.’

    They make a point of not listening. I am dragged now across the floor, still handcuffed, my head and shoulders are bundled through the tight gap in the wall. I struggle to free myself, get back inside, but I have no purchase in bare feet.
    Hordes of hungry snapping jaws have already appeared about six foot below.

    I reckon I have maybe 5 minutes before they’ll trample a pile of themselves high enough so that a few can reach me.

    That means the bank clerk and the shop assistant and the school teacher, and whoever else they once were, have given themselves about a 7 minute start.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Is it sharks thatevoke this primaeval terror in people?

      ‘…trample a pile of themselves high enough’ – scary image; I’m glad I went to bed before reading everyone else’s entries!

      Horrible work, Marie! 🙂

      • mariemck1 says:

        Thanks for reading, Geoff. Very kind. I do like a zombie story, so every now and then I let myself have a go at one. It’s quite liberating!

  5. voimaoy says:

    Red Weather
    @voimaoy
    320 words

    The seaside town of Rockford is known for its beaches, its fishing and its weather. It is true, odd things have been known to wash up on the sands, a surrealist collage of doll heads and piano keys, dog food cans and cat toys. Fishermen in these parts still talk about the three-eyed fish that Old Mr. Barney (rest his soul) pulled up from the deep after a long afternoon of tug-of-war. The thing was too horrible to eat.

    As for the weather, it can be quite unpredictable. Frequent squalls send the little boats seeking safe harbor. Sailors will tell you they have been blown to islands in the mist with singing mermaids and palm trees when the clouds glow red in the sky.

    Red weather, we call it. Anything can happen. Once there was a rain of brown tabbies and black-and-white-spotted dogs.

    Last week, there was a shower of tiny poison tree frogs—imagine all the colors of the rainbow chirping down the cobbled streets, clinging to the tiger lilies, climbing up the birdbaths.

    Reverend Martin assures us this is not a sign of the Apocalypse, no more than the rain of clams last summer, or the bright pennies of the summer before. “Are they not the gifts of Heaven?” He raises his eyes to the sky.

    Professor Lynch (retired, Mathematics) maintains that these supposedly inexplicable phenomena are caused by wind shear, a sudden updraft, a reversal of gravity that occurs quite frequently in this town, which happens to be located at the node points of a space-time matrix.

    In other words, the magic pin that holds the whole thing together.

    How then to explain the mysterious shapes spotted in the water, the tigers howling at the edge of town? What strange wind is blowing this weather? Red clouds reveal a blood red moon. Why are you looking at me like that? Why are sharks coming out of the walls?

    • Geoff Holme says:

      “But the outlook for the rest of the week shows some improvement, with precipitation probability approaching zero percent…”. Remind me to check Chicago Weather Watch before visiting: I thought it was known as just the Windy City!

      Another nightmarish scenario, this one tending toward the psychedelic. Keep taking the tablets, Voima! 😉

      [ I did wonder what “tiny poison” is, but I guess they keep it in… wait for it… Rockford phials! ba dum… TISH! 😉 ]

      • voimaoy says:

        Oh Goeff, thanks for reading! I should have said poisonous tree frogs…but I love the connection to the X-Files, too….Yes, and take the red pills 🙂

  6. ANNABELL ROUGE AND HER FLYING BOYS

    Brian S Creek
    344 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    I could tell by the look in his eye, and the way he was holding back on his drink, that Darak thought something might finally happen between us. And I’d have probably let him have his way with me too, if the towns damned alarm hadn’t gone off.

    As the patrons of the Wanted Arrow explored the avenue of panic, I looked around for the rest of my crew. Lester and Cockface were moving towards the exit. Patch was ignorant to the commotion, and still had his head buried in some whore’s lap.

    “Who’d you reckon it be?” said Darak.

    A shell crashed through the far wall, and rested in a nest of broken wood that was once the bar. The shell’s head was iron, and carved with the grimace of a vicious shark.

    There was Darek’s answer.

    “Looks like Captain Selechii got ‘imself a new ship,” I said.

    We sprinted for the exit, grabbing Patch and the others on the way. Across the street were our Buzzards, our flying machines, our mechanical angels of destruction. I climbed aboard mine and started the engine. A cacophony of pistons around me announced my crews eagerness to depart. Pulling my flying googles down, I throttled up, and rose into the air. With a battle cry that did me proud, the rest of my squadron followed.

    “Looks like he’s got a lotta guns,” shouted Darak over the coms.

    He was right. I spotted Selechii’s ship, west across the bay, broadsiding the town from afar. It was a beautiful ship, I’ll give him that. Looked bigger than the last too. It was something built to fight, that much was plain to see.

    “Orders?” said Darak.

    I thought about the money we’d been paid to defend this town. It had seemed like an easy job when I’d spat in my palm and shaken on it. But that was when Selechii was supposedly doing time at the bottom of the big blue.

    “Orders?”

    Damn it. I raised my left hand and signalled east. Best to live and fight another day.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Steampunk meets spaghetti western… I like it, Brian! (The most convincing reason for a shark’s head to be coming through a brick wall so far.)

      [ NOTE TO SELF: Perhaps if you hadn’t worried about tiny things like apostrophes – “town’s damned alarm”, “my crew’s eagerness” – and checking for spelling miskates – “Captain SelAchii”, “flying goGgles” – you might have had been able to whack your entry in on time… 😥 ]

      • Thanks Geoff. I didn’t plan the Steampunk feel at the start but things kept falling from memories; Pirates of the Caribbean. Battle Chasers, Super Mario, Far Cry 4. One big mixing pot of geek influences.

        (errors often occur when wife/proof reader isn’t available)

  7. Foy S. Iver says:

    @fs_iver
    WC: 174

    A STORY

    “What story is this you ask? You mean how was it born.

    How is any story born? In solitude or the company of friends? Is it an art learned through credit hours and coffee-blood? Or are you born with all your stories inside your flesh, growing in the womb like a silver tongue tucked between uncut teeth?
    Can any of us tell the shape of a story, what dictates its totality?
    Must it have a beginning? An end? A tortuous middle? Is it a moment, over as it begins, or a history, tangled in its own length? Must it gleam like my marble eyes, be sharp as my razored teeth, or tease the imagination as my body does now? What is a story?! Who can know…
    Does that answer your question?”

    The window washer stared, suds sopping down his right sleeve. He opened his mouth, pencilled mustache twitching in confusion.

    “Emm, what story is this?”

    The shark blinked.

    “Oh…third floor.”

  8. Destination Wedding

    Amy had been sold on the idea thanks to a single picture. A grinning couple standing beneath a framework of flowers, while the sunset behind their officiant bathed everyone in a warm glow.

    That was the picture that would hang on their wall.

    First, her wedding dress failed to arrive at the island. The hotel concierge assured her there was a nearby dress store with a selection of elegant gowns.
    The store, she discovered, catered to teenage girls. She found a single creampuff dress that came in a size large enough to fit post-adolescent curves and cried into the crinoline.

    Then on the morning of the wedding she was told that there had been a drug bust at her venue. She let all the arrest details wash over her as the tide of them took her lovely sunset image away.

    They found a venue with an opening for that day.
    Sharkettes Good Time Grill.
    Garret cupped her face with his hands and said, “We’re still getting married. That’s what matters. Besides, what else could go wrong now?”

    The floral delivery was a no-show.

    Amy threw back her head, fighting back tears, then snapped her head forward again and marched over to a planter of lush island flowers outside the hotel entrance. She ripped the flowers out by the handful, clutching some for herself and extending another handful to Whitney who took them in silent wide-eyed horror.

    At Sharkettes Amy readied herself to walk down the aisle.
    As she took her father’s arm she saw the shark.

    It was monstrous, smiling viciously over her guests and her husband to be.

    Her husband to be.

    Once she saw Garret smiling and waiting for, everything else fell away.
    She forgot the dress she was missing, the flowers that were still shedding bits of dirt. She forgot the sunset she wanted and the shark she received instead, and walked toward to the man she was ready to spend the rest of her life with.

    The picture of their first kiss as husband and wife, presided over by the great plaster shark, hangs with great pride above the mantlepiece.

    357 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  9. Our Ancient

    They say he sleeps, down below us, as we sail – the thunder of the waves a cover for his slumbering snores. Uninvaded, his ancient form breathes, whilst the waves shift over his shadowed sides. Sunlight cannot find him where he rests, as far as we can tell. We cannot see his size beneath the murk when we look. Lucky we are that we pass without incident. We say so each time, though we whisper it only. It would not do to shout. We know it, though we cannot help but eye the deep when we ride the tide, despite ourselves. We are lucky, whilst peace holds. Our souls are saved, still.

    Crook and crank, beneath he twists as he turns mid-dream, they say, giant arms wavering. Still, he stirs but seldom, having lain for an age atop a mossy mattress cushioned with slithering sea worms, which play with his exposed suckers. Secret he remains until he fetches up through the fathoms. Wary, we watch for whirlpools as a sign he has been sighted. The ring waves with their whorls have a reach of many miles to suck us in and under. So done, we are one with the Ancient’s locker, if it happens. No help for us then where we dive into drowning.

    He swallows men and ships whole – all else within reach when he rises – though rarely – rearing head and nostrils. So do ships sail through the space between his jaws – the slight sound their only clue, heard seldom, save for by the world wary. Then the jaws lock tight, catching hold. They swim forever then; calcified remnants, once all else is gone before. We find them, unrecognisable, once in a while, when we fish where he has swum before us. Those days we turn against the tide and row – swift and silent, our catch scarce where his is bounteous.

    They say some sail straight past mid-belch when first they come across him. We hope that holds as fact. Never have we heard from the mouths of those who slipped his net – simply second or third-hand conjecture. Still, we take our chances. We, too, must fish to live.

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    (360 words)

  10. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    @PattyannMc
    WC: 358

    Last sight

    “Timmy! Hold on baby!” I shrieked; the bus careening into the side of my car, Timmy, my four-year old son on that side in the backseat, strapped into his car seat. Terror swept me into its arms. I felt death knocking at my door, a black feather fluttering in my heart.

    We landed upside down after bouncing off a brick wall on the sidewalk and rolling. My head whirling, buzzing, thoughts of Timmy ran through my mind . . .

    . . . Daddy giving him a book about sharks . . .

    . . . Timmy’s proud round face reciting the names of the sharks he loved . . .

    . . . Tubby time, Timmy’s toy sharks floating atop Mr. Bubbles. His shiny, cherry face beaming, brilliant azure eyes smiling brightly, racing his sharks from one end of the tub to the other, giggling as they attacked each other . . .

    . . . Sleeping with his shark stuffy curled tightly against his rhythmic chest, his face burrowed in the sharks’ neck . . .

    . . . At the Aquarium, his eyes wondrously round and sparkling, watching the sharks dance in the water . . .

    I saw crimson fluids plinking on the ceiling, dripping off his head. Timmy’s lifeless body dangled, held in place by straps. I heard my voice calling his name a thousand miles away. I heard sirens screaming in another time and place as my world spun, Timmy’s bloodied face, silent and still was the last thing I saw as my vision faded to black ink.

    I gasped awake a week later, the accident, my first thought.

    “Where’s Timmy? Is he okay? Please tell me what happened to my son!” Panicked.

    “He survived, but he suffered a brain hemorrhage and we had to operate. He sustained some brain damage and I’m so sorry. I wish I had better news.”

    “Where is he, can I see him?” Panic lacing my voice again.

    In a wheelchair, they steered me to his room. Daddy was there too. As I went through the door, I heard splashing, Timmy was getting a bath and he was laughing.

    His eyes brightened when he saw me. “Mommy! They gave me sharks to play with,” he giggled, as he raced them around the tub!

    My bandaged baby boy is – beautiful!

  11. Nephew

    359 words
    by Alicia VanNoy call
    @callthewriter
    #FlashDogs

    The thing in the pool is not my friend.
    It has no friends, man or beast.
    What has passed between us is best left forgotten.

    The villagers know:
    Never swim, never fish
    in that pool that turns black under the dangle of willows.
    When the sun dips, and the shadows grow long,
    the children are gathered and counted
    around hearthfires where people laugh and sing and forget
    that there are things we’d like
    to forget
    and not meet in our dreams.

    The day little Jax Wilde, my nephew, went missing
    the village elders summoned me.

    Because I am the fiercest warrior.

    I stood that night at the edge of the pool,
    my toes among mosses,
    the shaft of my spear clutched tight in my fist,
    sweat on my brow in the cricket-warm night,
    and called
    to the thing in the pool.

    It rose in a Stygian mist,
    ropes of ichor and the smell of something
    old old
    and stood before me across the water black as oil.

    What man calls me? It said.
    No man, said I.

    One moment of a silence like dread.
    It said,
    What woman then?

    My resolve nearly fled, but I steeled and spoke.
    I have come to take back the child
    who strayed into your waters by mistake.

    No mistake, said the thing. He came,
    much as you have,
    to find me.

    I said, Then why did he not return?

    It said,
    He found me.

    I thought to raise my spear, but said instead,
    I will have him now.

    You may have him, said the thing.
    But he is not as he was.
    Take him now, and he will carry
    me
    inside of him always.
    It were better he be lost for all time.

    Who will know? I asked.

    None, but me and thee, said the thing.

    So be it, I said,
    And the child was buoyed,
    to the edge of the pool
    where I lifted him from the clinging waters.

    And carried him home
    against my jerkin,
    wet and sobbing.

    I am our village’s fiercest warrior.

    At night I dream of the thing in the pool.
    I dream it has turned into Jax.

  12. mtdecker says:

    Madagascar Flash and the Stainless Steel Shark

    @mishmhem
    359 words
    #FlashDogs

    They blew into Toledo like they owned the joint. Phil Saunders, the Madagascar Flash was a lightweight contender and his companion Mark Cortez was the heavyweight pretender to the throne.

    Although they would be there less than 20 hours, they knew they were going to leave their mark.

    The could feel it in the air as their limo pulled up in front of the hotel and they read their names on the marque. They were golden, and they both knew it.

    “Stick with me, kid,” Cortez growled. “We’re going straight to the top.”

    Phil smiled, taking it all in. His days of cleaning spit buckets were at an end and he knew it. From here on out it was nothing but back seats and caviar.

    The screams as they entered the ring were deafening, and the flashbulbs left them half blind, but they were so high on the dream nothing could stop them, not even the 7 foot brick wall that was Marvin Anderson,

    When they hit the ring, the adrenalin and testosterone levels were through the roof.

    Saunders’ fight was over almost before it began with his opponent falling getting into the ring, too high to feel a thing and uncoordinated enough that he tripped on the ropes. He was out before he hit the floor.

    It was a TKO… by the ropes, but it still counted as a win for the Madagascar Flash.

    The it was Cortez’ turn. This was the fight they’d all come to see: The Stainless Steel Shark vs The 7 Foot Wall.

    As they faced off the differences between the men were never so obvious: a seven foot tall bundle of muscle and brawn vs a man who’s seven feet measured around his chest and and arms.

    While Saunders had relied on speed, these men relied on raw power. When Cortez hit Anderson it was a freight train hitting a brick wall and Cortez realized his mistake a moment too late: to survive a shark has to keep moving.

    As he fell, Anderson looked at Saunders and smiled. “Stick with me kid,” he said with a nod. “We’re going straight to the top.”

  13. Movie Night

    The square began to fill around suppertime, people lighting barbecues, filling the air with the greasy smell of roasting rats, kids hurling rocks at the condemned, seniors jostling for the best spots by the wall or the gallows, settling into arguments that ran all the way back to the days before.

    Jenna set up her chair, then went to see if there was any word.

    Pat was on duty, lounging in a deck chair, nursing his crossbow.

    “Not watching the movie? ”

    “Heard anything from Del?”

    “No, but I’ll holler when he comes.”

    Jenna peered into the growing darkness beyond the gates.

    “Why’d he even go out?”

    “Said he wanted to hit the gas station. Had an idea for your birthday.”

    Jenna sighed. Bad enough to get himself caught, but if it was because of her…

    “That’s three miles west, yeah?”

    “Forget it. The gate only opens one way, this time of night.”

    “Dammit Pat…”

    “Look, he’s smart. He runs into trouble, he’ll hit the dugouts and lay low till morning, but I don’t think he will; he ain’t gonna miss your 18th birthday.”

    Jenna wasn’t so sure, but there was no point arguing. She wandered back and settled down to watch the old movie yet again. It was the only one left, and it played every Friday since the TV gave out, a comforting illusion of life before, played out as flickering light on the side of the old library.

    Jenna gave into it, jumped when Del kissed her neck.

    “Happy birthday baby.”

    She hugged him.

    “You scared me, dick.”

    “I’m sorry, but I got you something real special.”

    “Special enough to kill yourself over?”

    “How about something no-one else has ever seen?”

    “For real?”

    “I had to find somewhere that sold candy, see?”

    “You got me mouldy candy for my birthday?”

    “Just the wrappers.”

    He took out a pair of strange spectacles and slipped them over Jenna’s eyes. They were made of cardboard, the lenses two different coloured candy wrappers.

    “You’ve been out in the sun too long Del…”

    He grinned, turned her head towards the movie and heard her gasp.

    “And that’s why it’s called Jaws 3D…”

    360 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

    • Geoff Holme says:

      I love this post-apocalyptic take on the photo prompt, Karl. The details of life after it happened are introduced subtly. And the candy wrappers used to make 3D glasses? Priceless! Great work.
      (But buying a birthday present at the last minute? From a gas station?? For a woman??? Never a good idea… 😀 )

    • voimaoy says:

      So that’s where you’ve been…:) Love this story!

  14. Rebekah Postupak says:

    Weakness

    It wasn’t that he kept offing people—everybody has their hangups, and who am I to judge?—it’s that he really stunk at hiding the bodies. People were always turning up here and there, one guy in the yard, some lady in the treehouse, couple guys under the forsythia.

    But it’s when I found my husband’s Aunt Evelyn in the mudroom that I finally blew my top.

    “YOU CANNOT KEEP LEAVING BODIES AROUND!” This is in all caps because I was shouting at the time.

    He had the grace to look somewhat abashed. “Extra work for you, is it?”

    “Obviously! And you know we gave away the Cadillac, right? I just drive a Toyota now. You have no idea just how much effort this is.”

    He stuffed a couple fivers in my hand. “Maybe this will help?”

    “Ten dollars? TEN? That won’t even cover gas.”

    “I haven’t sold a story in six months. Ten dollars is a fortune.”

    “Times are hard for all of us. But you don’t see ME leaving my aunt in YOUR mudroom.”

    Now he laughed, his fake laugh, like every time he told his creditors about nearly winning the Pushcart. It was the sort of laugh that made me, a virtual pacifist, feel violent. “I live in a studio. There’s no mudroom for leaving or finding.”

    “You realize this is all going to catch up with you.” He thought I was joking. “I can’t keep cleaning up after you.”

    “You know how grateful I am.”

    “Gratitude doesn’t get blood out of carpet.”

    “I’m dedicating half of my next book to you.”

    “No way. You think I want them to count me an accessory?”

    “Well, what do you want from me then? It’s not like your hands are any cleaner than mine.”

    Faces floated across my mind, dear friends, so talented, so kind, so generous.

    So tasty, when lightly carmelized in dragonfire.

    He held out a hand, smiling that cocky smile that gotten him off Death Row twice, and I cursed him silently even as I yielded. “Shakes?”

    341 words
    @postupak

  15. Geoff Holme says:

    The Look of the Irish

    In 1970’s UK, Irish jokes were everywhere: nasty pieces of so-called humour, based on the premise that everyone who hailed from the Emerald Isle didn’t have two brain cells to rub together. I might have found them funny myself, if my old Dad hadn’t been born in Connemara.

    I remember taking a taxi to Paddington. The cabbie spent the journey telling one Irish joke after another, even though he was the only one laughing.

    At the station, I leaned into the open window and smiled. “Here’s one. How do you make an Irish girl pregnant?”

    The cabbie, grinned, expecting a punchline in the same vein, and said, “Dunno.”

    I raised my eyebrows and said, “And you’ve just spent twenty minutes telling me how stupid Irish people are!” I winked and strolled off to the ticket office.

    But its true of all nationalities, some people will inevitably be two coupons short of a pop-up toaster. My old man was a case in point.

    I ran a building company: renovations for private homeowners. The flow of work wasn’t steady, so I employed staff on a casual basis. When Dad was unemployed and strapped for cash, I felt obliged to give him a few day’s work.

    On the occasion mentioned above when I had to leave London for the day, I left Dad installing a new window in the upstairs rear of a terraced house. I told him that he would have to knock out the bricks first. But, just to make sure we were both singing from the same hymn sheet, I told him that he’d have to get my tool repaired.

    “Don’t you worry now, son,” he said. “Sure, I’ll have all this done by the time you get back.”

    #

    On my return, I was stunned to see a shark’s head sticking out of the wall!

    “What the hell’s going on!”

    “I tried to do what you said, son, so I did. But when I got to the aquarium, they’d no hammerheads left, so I had to make do with this…”

    My jaw dropped.

    “Ha, ha, ha!” he roared. “Your face! Sure I’m only messin’ wid yer, lad! It’s plastic!”

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Couny: 359

  16. Geoff Holme says:

    Fashionably late, eh, Rebekah? But at least I’m not toadying up to the judge!

  17. Geoff Holme says:

    The Pros and Cons of a Three-Second Attention Span
    …Gotta-get… some food! Yeah, I haven’t eaten since… well, I can’t remember when but… Hey! there’s a food flake… Mm… Mmm-mm! This is the best grub I’ve ever tasted!
    Feel like getting some exercise now, see what’s new in the… Woah! A PIRATE’S CHEST, filled with treasure! All sparkly and…
    Wow! Over there… a CASTLE! Gotta check that out… O-o-oh… it’s not quite so big close up… Still, there’s lots of walls to swim in and out of…
    Look! A friendly waving mermaid… Hello! O-o-oh, she’s just plastic… What’s round this corner?…
    Oh my… It’s a-a SH-SHARK!… breaking through the castle wall!… evil, beady eyes!… sharp, pointy teeth!
    Gotta-get-away! Gotta-get-away! Gotta-get… some food!

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Count: 113

    • Geoff Holme says:

      My attempt at Latest Entry To A Flash Fiction Contest – new record: 36h 57m! Hah! Beat that, Postupak!

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