Flash Frenzy Round 80

Posted: September 26, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome back, Flash Dogs! It’s time for Round 80, and returning to judge this weekend is AV Laidlaw.

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. Madeeha says:

    Title: The stage of life

    In all my life, I had never forgotten him. For me, he was my priority.
    I never said ‘No’ to his call. Though, my wife had some reservations but she preferred to remain silent. For, she knew that I loved him.
    Time passed quickly and the day came when he achieved all his desires in life. A life of luxury was waiting for him but I was in trouble.
    I needed him to help me out but he simply closed his eyes.I was heartbroken but on that day, I came to understand the real meaning of ‘life’.

    It’s painful to recall his name but the man on the stage of life is my own brother.

    (word count: 116)

  2. voimaoy says:

    315 words

    In the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows there is the word “Sonder.” It means “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

    The other evening, I was running some errands, admiring the light through the falling leaves. Quite unintentionally, I came up with a new word–“Ahimsamsara.” This is a combination of two Sanskrit words–Ahimsa, which means compassion–and Samsara, which refers to the recurring cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth. What could it mean, I wondered, as I stood in line to buy cat food. The girls ahead of me were discussing new nail polish colors.

    I could feel the season changing in the breeze off the lake. I headed for the subway.

    On the platform, there was a crowd of people waiting for the train. Countless sorrows etched their faces as they walked past the boy with the guitar playing Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain. He looked like a young Durer. Another face, glimpsed in passing–an etching by Rembrandt. Renoir saw that red-haired girl. Faces of saints glowed in the holy light of their screens. There was a buddha with an iPhone.

    There are faces looking for someone to keep them warm for the winter. Girls in wool tights and hand-knit sweaters carry the wind in their hair.

    It gets dark so early, these days. I could see the full moon rising over the expressway, following me all the way home.

    Ahimsamsara– unlimited compassion, infinite lives and stories…the whispered language of leaves…

  3. “Sleight of Hand”

    The woman in the second row screamed and broke the tension in the room. The small audience in the theater got louder watching the man in the glass tank struggle against the chains wrapping his wrists and ankles. “Flash” Terry had told the audience he would be out of his bindings and open the padlock from the inside of the tank in under two minutes. The stopwatch clutched in Byson’s hand revealed that the magician on stage had been submerged for three minutes so far.

    Byron yawned. Terry could easily hold his breath for four minutes. That was what Byron ‘The Gentleman Mystic” did in his own version of this act. The very one Terry had stolen and was attempting to recreate on stage. The audience burst into applause as the man in the tank loosed his arms and started pulling at his feet. He’d surely be freed soon.

    Terry had no love for the craft of illusion, only a passion for the stage. The audiences Byron once thought appreciative of his decades training his hands, reflexes and mental dexterity quickly dwindled, preferring Terry’s penchant for theatrics, crass humor and lesser versions of other illusionist’s acts.

    Four minutes in and Terry’s feet were free. Inside the tank, he was twisting the key he’d concealed in his gums into the lock. Now able-bodied men were being asked to come on stage to attempt to smash the tank open. Byron doubted that would help. Terry had copied Byron’s design for the chamber down to the last detail. The clear box was impenetrable. The key would be Terry’s only salvation. Unfortunately, the key in the tank was worthless. The one Terry needed was now in Byron’s hand and the old magician had decided this would be the thief’s final performance.

    297 words

  4. Kite Children

    We come here once a year to witness their approach. Our only chance. Parting clouds glow golden as the kites appear beneath the brow of the hill. Jumping up, I hold my breath against the horror of a no-show. Bill holds me back. I can feel him trembling.
    An explosive burst of light and colour. Everything’s bathed in pink. There they are! Screams and called out of names. A man begins to sob.
    Our boys are among the first. Kyle appears strong; a leader, close to being a man. His blond hair’s long. He looks horribly at home up there. Alvin has a cut on his knee. I should’ve dabbed on antiseptic, kissed it better and fetched him biscuits. Face set in concentration, his eyes shine bluer than ever.
    Bill takes a swift succession of photos. A woman gasps nearby. Her twin granddaughters should be here. She didn’t see them last year. I hold up the toy kitten, scanning the gathering kites looking for … there she is!
    Sky. What made me call her that? My baby. Still only six years old. Three have passed since she was home, five for the boys. We should never have brought her with us. We’re unable to address the subject of blame.
    A brilliant rainbow arches across the hill; a semicircle framing the hundreds of kites. How do they live? What do they eat? They can’t possibly exist on clouds, rain drops and breathes of wind. And where do they sleep? I’d give anything to tuck them in again. Safe.
    Sky’s giggling with her brothers. I’m overjoyed she’s happy and so glad they have each other. Within a matter of minutes I watch my children disappear over the horizon, laughing as they go. They never acknowledge us.
    Even if we could catch them, pin them down and bring them home, it wouldn’t work. Surgery to remove a child from living kite-skin hasn’t yet been successful. None have survived more than a day. They just fade away.
    At least they’re alive and we’ve seen them. Others aren’t so lucky. We have to hope for progress. And we have to hope they want to return.

    360 Words

  5. Richard Edenfield says:

    Jukebox Time Machine


    I was on the downward spiral of my writing career. I’d published a single novel with a large publishing house that did well. Expectations were high, and then my wife died and I hit rock bottom. I started a second book but was always side tracked by demons and drink. I needed some sort of miracle.

    I started going to an old bar that was in Soho in NYC, near where I live.

    I nursed a drink. It nursed me. I was both hospital and patient. The bourbon took away the edges. The sharp regret. The slow moving knife that snaked through my body carving everything into a morose image of self loathing.

    There was a beautiful old Wurlitzer that decorated a corner of the bar with rainbow lights and bubbles. I stood up and walked over. I peered into its crystal ball.

    F9, I pushed after dropping coins. A flash of light as 45 fell and I was immediately transported to Iowa, 1959, listening to Buddy Holly play “Not Fade Away;” his last concert. The angle of his angelic white Stratocaster bent a reflection across my eyes. When the song was over…

    I was back at the bar.

    It was a jukebox time machine. When I played a song from a particular era I was sent back to that period to a live concert, but only for as long as the song played.

    “All You Need is Love.”
    Audience member for live television event. 1967.

    “Rock and Roll all Night.”
    Kiss. 1975. Beacon Theater, NYC.

    “I Ran.”
    A Flock of Seagulls starting out in England in the 80’s.

    D7 – G12 – J8… it was like musical battleship and I sailed everywhere for about 3 minutes of glorious musical rapture.

    Then the old jukebox broke. It was replaced with a flat screen television.

    Now, I just drink and watch old movies and go nowhere.

    But I finished my second novel with the help of lighters flicking in my mind and the scattering of applause that spilled from my fingertips creating a standing ovation on the healed page of my heart.

    I titled it, Jukebox Time Machine.


    (360 words)

  6. @firdausp
    (292 words)
    Love and beyond

    Light danced on their faces, to a tune of its own. They stared, open mouthed, in awe. The ground vibrated with the loud music, like a minor earthquake weaving its way underfoot. Darkness cringed in dismay as it got eaten by the blinding bright lights.
    She reached out and took his hand. He didn’t seem to notice, or maybe he did but hid it well. She smiled knowingly, entwining her fingers with his.
    She was glad they had come for the concert. The band was exceptional, though a little too loud for her taste.
    Just the other day she was wondering what had gone wrong. He didn’t touch her anymore. They didn’t even kiss goodbye in the mornings when he left for work. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and he wouldn’t be in bed. She’d see him standing in the balcony looking at the sky. He’d be up before her and gone before she came down for breakfast. Loneliness had become her constant companion.
    Once the redhead next door had brought him an apple pie. She’d seen him smiling and thanking her profusely. A pang of jealousy had sliced her heart.
    The next day she had found two tickets to the concert on their bedside table.
    So here they were together after so long. She looked down at her hand holding his. It was empty. He was leaning towards a person seated on his other side. To her horror she noticed it was the redhead from next door.
    What was SHE doing here?
    He was showing the redhead their wedding photo in his wallet.
    “She was beautiful,” she heard the girl say.
    His thumb caressed her face in the photo.
    “Yes she was,” he said sadly.

  7. Richard Edenfield says:

    Some Like it Hot
    and the Flickering Heart Camera
    of Love Expectations


    Witnessing her spectral glow of ambient lust light.

    The audience glued to the screen as if it were spiritual flypaper.

    The soft buzz of the August evening, surrounded.

    A humor in her hips and laughter hanging out around the eyes as if they were a favorite watering hole. The soft red irony of her lips.

    94 degrees at 9pm. After a long day at the grueling demoralizing job he came here for release. Wanted to see freedom spread out on a white sheet moaning each line with a Shakespearian grace. Black and white spell cast on moonlit surface of eyes with varying degrees of savory eclipse.

    The warm feeling of camaraderie. The close embrace of others. They gave movie showings every other Sunday in the park. He saw her about 6 people over to his right and three down. A crossword puzzle of desire formed in his heart. Words were hard to find.

    He knew she came here. Liked to see her laugh. Fell in love with her every nuance. Picked her apart like a sunrise under a microscope. He was blinded by her beauty.

    She fluttered across the screen in a separate full form of detached 3D love prisms; she mesmerized, hypnotized, and bewitched everyone. Experiencing her was like having a backstage pass to paradise.

    The shared laughter. Lawn chairs. The soft green grass with a fringe of bitter coolness. Pleasant chime of wine glasses. She glanced in his direction. His face was lit with a moment of solitude. She liked the honesty of his features. There was a kindness. A certain modest strength. A decency. A restful calm. She held her glance to the point that it became a stare. But he was caught up with his idea of her on the big screen. And no one could live up to that.

    So she looked away,
    removed the sheet,
    and tiptoed to the door
    careful to let it close
    with nothing but a shutters –


    (328 words)
    Grxhauntedengine04 @gmail.com

  8. stephellis2013 says:


    244 words


    Late afternoon sunlight filtered lazily through the windows, their gentle rays casting a spotlight on Sol. He shifted nervously under its unwanted attention. Yet he was only one of many. Those around him were too concerned with saving their own souls to notice his presence.

    He smiled as he recalled memories of his childhood, safe and loved. The Sundays he had spent here sat between the pillars of his mother and father. He had belonged then, had been accepted. But things happen, people change. The sun had set on his youth far too soon.

    “You’re the man of the house now, Billy,” they had all said. “You’ve got to look after your mum.”

    It didn’t matter that he was the child and she the adult. They had burdened him with the responsibility. And so their roles had been reversed.

    People had cared, at first. They had called round, dropped off meals, did shopping. Then they found another cause. Billy soon learned that compassion had a shelf-life and his had just expired.

    Throughout his teens and into adulthood he had carried his burden; each day waking to a look that grew more and more vacant until finally she had separated herself from the world around them. Now though he could carry her no longer.

    He reached out for her hand and squeezed it gently. There was no response. She had left him long ago.

    The service drew to a close. Billy slipped out unnoticed, unburdened.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      You tell these bitter-sweet tales so well, Steph. Wish I could knock out something like this week after week… (Get real, Geoff! Just one week would be great. 🙂 )

      [ In the first para you mention ‘Sol’. Is this the original name for the MC which then became ‘Billy’? ]

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Thank you. But to be honest I really struggle to pull a story together, my notebook had a few ‘first’ paragraphs before it began to take shape. I think everyone else makes it look easy and every week I think I won’t be able to come up with something.

        (Btw thank you for pointing out the Sol mistake, I changed his name to Billy and thought I’d cleaned it all up but I blame getting the washing in and my teenage daughter stressing about profiteroles (practising before food tech), not to mention Dr Who on catchup, these things happen!!!)

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Oops. Please could you change Sol to Billy in that first line (thanks Geoff). If not, anyone who reads this – it’s Billy 😦

  9. Yes, ‘You’re the man of the house now’ is a harsh thing to say to a boy. A girl wouldn’t get this. Such pressure. I really like ‘the pillars of his mother and father’.

  10. Mark A. King says:

    A Dot in the Night Sky


    226 words



    We stare at the dots of light.

    It is true, first there was separation of heavens and the earth, or the dimensions as they are now known to us.

    Then light and dark.

    O, how far we have travelled. From that tiny rock. From the wars. The waste. The inequality of humanity.

    Away from the origins of our species.

    We slept under ceaseless skies of nebula clouds. We travelled the impossible darkness, the emptiness of nothing, the vastness of forever—to see such a thing is to see the face of God herself.

    Sometimes we would come across the glittering swirls of a billion dreams, and they called to us. Go home, go home, they sang in soundless lullabies.

    The machines saved us. Or those that were willing to learn, to start again, to leave a home that had a fate we could not avoid.

    We weaved between the gossamer layers of the universe. Traversing the unyielding rules that bound light.

    And from this distant shore, we, the descendants of you, face the night and watch the light a billion years old. And you are still there, in the skies. Perhaps you are watching the blood red moon this very night? And although the earth has long since gone, your light still sparkles as a tiny dot in our night sky.

  11. Stella T says:

    217 words

    The Quest for the Truth

    He promised his wife, his children, Sister Mary Daphne who danced to his songs that he wouldn’t return. He promised himself that last year would be the very last time. He travelled on the cross country train listening to the rhythm of the wheels on the track, music spurring him on. He’d walked the three miles from the station disbelieving where his feet were heading. He tried to change direction, he tried to stop at the artisan coffee shop and eat a bagel that was unique to the locality. Had fish eggs in it or some weird speciality, probably one of his better decisions to give that a miss.

    Sitting in the middle of the field crammed amongst the devotees, he looked around. Everyone seemed so much younger than him. His quest had begun on August 16th 1977. He remembered the sombre moment it was announced on the BBC news. He couldn’t believe it, he wouldn’t believe it. It was a hoax.

    The first one started to sing. It wasn’t him. He’d sat through so many renderings over the years that he would instantly know the real one. Sister Mary Daphne tried to persuade him that his quest was ungodly, Elvis was dead. He knew that one day amongst all these impersonators the King would walk again.

    • Stella T says:

      apologies to Geoff Holme his excellent FridayFlashFic masterpiece this week inspired me….Elvis rules 😉

      • Geoff Holme says:

        Wow! This is a first for me – receiving praise in a reply to someone else’s work in a completely different contest! Thank you, Stella, but there’s no need to apologise. I don’t have a monopoly on The King, more’s the pity…
        It’s a great story, and details like the fish egg bagel make me wonder if this Elvis impersonator fest is an actual event that you frequent. If so, can you tell us more?

    • Like it! 😉 Yes, he’s out there somewhere. Keep looking … (and ‘no’ to the fish egg bagel)


    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    354 words

    * * *

    Finding them wasn’t the hard part.

    There’s only so many places you can hide the majority of a town’s population. And these guys weren’t exactly ‘hiding’.

    Next to Paxton County mall was the old Jefferson drive-in. Abandoned for years, it was more commonly used as a nice space for first time drivers to try out their dad’s car. On this night, however, it was hosting almost everyone from my hometown.

    “What now?” whispered Pete.

    “No idea,” I replied. What else could I be but honest?

    “I think I can see my parents,” said Pete. “Look.”

    I followed the aim of his chubby finger and, sure enough, Mr and Mrs Parsons were mingled in with the large crowd, close to the back. Their faces had the same look on them as everyone else; a little happiness, a lot of understanding. Pete said it was content. I said it was a scary mask.

    And they were all staring. Straight ahead, at the old weathered cinema screen that had somehow defied nature, continuing to stand proud, as if it would one day be needed again.

    I grabbed Pete’s hand, planning scurry down the embankment, to get closer. I was hoping my parents were somewhere near Pete’s. But, as we got to our knees, the screen lit up, bright white, brighter than the moon watching us from the cloudless sky above.

    I paused, and felt Pete’s fingers grip mine tight. “What’s happening?” he whispered.

    I had no answer, but it didn’t matter.


    This wasn’t spoken out loud. It was being printed on the screen, burnt on as if with a laser. Then, after a few seconds, the sentence faded, leaving the screen untouched, until more words appeared.


    “Word?” said Pete. “What word?”

    The words faded and were replaced once more, this time with something that turned my stomach.


    And with that the whole crowd turned.

    “Run,” I said to Pete.



  13. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    WC: 358

    The Sentinels

    On the beaches of Normandy, there stand thousands upon thousands of wooden sentinels far out in the oceans’ water. Each pier holds high a human skull titled to the sky, bleached white by the sun and salt water. White foamy waves crash against the base of the lichen-encrusted structures licking the wet, slimy wood leaving foamy residue to dry in the salted air.

    No one knows who erected the piers, but it’s supposed their purpose, to honor each of the fallen soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy on that terrible day, June 6, 1944 during Operation Overlord when the Allied Invasion occurred during World War II. The French dare not tread on the beach after nightfall, and those few who have, live to tell their tale with troubled, barren eyes. One such is Marie; a young girl the tender age of sixteen, living in a mental institution haunted by imagination, or so she is told, perpetually drugged. This is her story . . .

    “I was very angry with my boyfriend that night. We were walking on the beach at sunset and got into terrible argument. As I ran from him, I heard him call my name over howling winds that came from nowhere! I could barely make out what he was shouting, as I sprinted down the sand, but I heard fear in his voice over the oceans roaring. I kept running, hoping he followed. I turned to see, expecting him to be there, but all I saw was an opaque wall of white and the winds whipping the sand, cutting my flesh open. My boyfriend was no longer there.

    Noises on the ocean caught my attention. Terrible odors assaulted my nose – of shit, of blood, and death. Moans and groans, and men screaming in agony reached my ears. That’s when I saw them! Thousands and thousands, and thousands of men dressed in Soldiers’ uniforms all standing at attention, bloodied, many missing arms, legs, some had no face – Marie’s voice raised an octave, panicking – some no head, no stomach, entrails dangling in the water, eyeballs hanging, lungs exposed, blood – so much blood. Ghosts . . .

    Her screams lasted an eternity . . .

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