Flash Frenzy Round 81

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday, and welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 81! Your judge this weekend is Steph Ellis. I, however, am issuing a special challenge. Today is my fifth wedding anniversary, and I can’t guarantee you’ll get bonus points from judge Steph, but stories featuring either an anniversary theme or the number five this weekend will get gold stars from me.

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. The Last Anniversary

    ‘You took me on a speleology weekend?’

    7 words
    (sorry, not a lot of time this weekend)

  2. A V Laidlaw says:

    358 Words / No gold stars for me.

    The Cave

    Herodotus wrote that Arisgoras of Mykonos decided his fellow citizens had become too venal to understand his philosophy, and sealed away all his writing in a flooded sea cave where they would not trouble the Greeks again. Many considered this one of the more fanciful tales from Histories – Russell believed Arisgoras never existed at all – until Philip Kourvetaris announced he had discovered the flooded cave on the coast of Delos.

    I sent Philip half a dozen emails until he agreed to an interview. “It’s the modern world,” I said. “If you want people to back your research, you have to give them something back. Nobody does anything for the sake of knowledge anymore.”

    Having grown up during the Regime of the Colonels, he was a naturally reticent man, peering from behind a pair of round glasses, a thick grey moustache hiding his lips. He talked in hesitant English about himself, the arrest of his father for political subversion and subsequent suicide of his mother, and freely about Plato and the ruins of Delos. He left the impression he was more comfortable in the past than the present.

    “This will be published somewhere respectable?” He asked.

    I assured him the interview would appear in one of the better Sunday papers, and he shook my hand limply, promising a second meeting after he had recovered the writing from the cave.

    A few months later, I waited for him in the lobby of the Royal Olympic. I watched a woman feed a rat-whiskered lapdog raw steak as she ignored the page waiting for his tip, and an American rock star balance on his Cuban heels perfectly between the desire for anonymity and the necessity to be recognised. I thought Arisgoras might have had a point, after all. But after three hours of tar-thick coffee and phone checking, Philip did not show. These things happen in journalism, I thought, and congratulated myself for the stoicism.

    His apology came after a week, hand written and with no return address. “I have found the cave, and in the cave I have found the truth. The sunlit world outside is simply an illusion.”

    • necwrites says:

      Loved it! What an unassuming impact character, and the morphing of Plato’s cave into a literal cave (you had me scrambling to wiki Arisgoras). I would say you’ve been on fire, but that flame has been steadily burning for a while now. Another flame of a tale to add to the conflagration.

  3. Foy S. Iver says:

    WC: 130


    Do you remember when I was your moon?

    You were a tide, happy to be pulled and pushed so long as I lay across your surface in pale, photonic form.

    Our dance was enviable, a finite infinity, each step carrying us closer toward perfection.

    You were joy. I was fullness.

    How quickly sours that which is sweet.

    Now, in our quinary year, I watch as your heart wanders, as another compels you to enter her gravity.

    She is beautiful, radiant, a sun of flesh, and hair, and bone.

    I am eclipsed.

    But not helpless. We three are bound by time’s river, and a little sparrow has told me how your sun guards her flames near water.

    The blue kelp is lovely from below.

    Shall I take her for a swim?

  4. CR Smith says:

    You Can’t Hide Forever
    WC 316

    It wasn’t obvious at first, I was too busy looking down through the clear water, pondering on what strange things feet were. It was only when the shadow fell across me that I began to suspect something was wrong. That, coupled with the facial expression shared by my protectors as they squinted up into the sky, set my heartbeat racing. The sound of the approaching helicopter gradually increased until the water started to ripple around us. One minute we were relaxing in the warm seawater, the next rushing for cover.

    The ancient caves were set into rocks all along the coastline. Over time the water levels had risen, leaving them constantly flooded, regardless of the tides, enabling us to swim straight inside. The sunlight followed us as far as the entrance, from where it bounced off the water’s surface, throwing flashes of light inside, making patterns that highlighted the mineral deposits on the walls. The water inside quickly lost its warmth, causing me to shiver from a mixture of cold and fear.

    ‘They’ve found me again, haven’t they?’ I said, hearing my own voice reverberate around the cave.
    ‘Don’t worry we’ll protect you,’ they said, pushing me towards the back wall.
    ‘It’s the anniversary, that’s why they’re here,’ I told them.
    ‘They just want a photo of you, it’ll be worth a fortune to them if they succeed,’

    Five years had passed, to the day, since my discovery. Nobody believed it. They thought I was a hoax and hounded me on a daily basis, until I was forced to go into hiding. I had hoped that with the passage of time they would forget all about me, but you can’t go back to being undiscovered. My only choices were to hide away forever or face my pursuers. I took a deep breath and flipped my tail, finally prepared to show them what a mermaid really looks like.

  5. Team Building

    ‘But surely the best team building exercise is any normal working day?’
    Karen treated me to her best scornful look and booked us all a place. Wild weekend in Wales. Outdoor pursuits. Feel the fear and all that.
    Now we’re up to our necks and mind-numbingly cold in a horrible dark tunnel.

    Karen has this way about her. Even important clients roll over and do as they’re told. One look and we all do her bidding, however stupid the idea. She shows us up with sarcastic remarks, plays us off against each other or forces us to redo work just for the hell of it. We’re pathetic, going along with her. I’m the most pathetic. I’ve been doing what Karen says since we started infant school together. Cara’s only been with us six months and Will’s been married twenty-five years. He’s happy doing what he’s told at home and work. Easier than thinking for yourself, he says.
    Karen’s a bully I suppose. I hate her but hate myself more for putting up with this for so long.

    We’re about to get onto dry land. Light at the end of the tunnel. Cara and Will go ahead, cheering and whooping. I’m following. Karen yells my name.
    ‘My foot’s stuck.’
    I stick my head under the freezing water. She’s right. Her foot’s wedged under a sharp rock. I call the others back and they both laugh.
    ‘No way am I going back in there for her.’
    ‘We’ll see you in the bar, mate.’
    I insist they inform the trip’s organisers but they wave me away, heading down the hill.
    I wade back in. Karen’s shivering. She suddenly seems small and weak. I put my arms around her and rub her back. I’m holding her up. Without me she’ll sink beneath the surface.
    ‘So …’
    Her teeth are chattering. What’s she trying to say?
    ‘So much for t … team building.’
    Then it hits me. I don’t hate Karen. I love her. I have all these years. It’s Karen and I who are the team. Always have been. And I’ll stay for as long as it takes.

    354 words

  6. Richard Edenfield says:

    Evolution of Angels


    It is said that the very first angels on earth, before the appearance of man, started by floating in the ocean in inner tubes. Before they could fly they first had to swim. Like a bike with training wheels they floated hanging onto inflatable animal shaped devices in angelic jelly fish fashion with sparkly things hanging from their eyes.

    Wings came later.

    First there were flippers.

    They would swim around and head toward the light like Salmon spawning by going up a steep flight of illuminated water stairs. It was difficult at first. There was nothing pretty about it. But like everything else, angels experienced their own form of evolution. God, of course, gave them inflatable devices out of generosity and kindness but also because angels were terrible swimmers and it was very unbecoming to see an angel doggie paddle.

    At first they just floated around as if the crystal blue sea was a substitute for a blanket of sky. But after a while they managed to replace floating devices with white cap wings.

    Today was the anniversary of their ascent into the skies some several billion years ago. They would gather in a secret place, a place no one would suspect angels would go; this time the grotto at the Playboy mansion. They met at different places over the years. Places that were special. Places they could go to dispel evil with their angelic powers. Places with palm trees and good landscaping.

    They meet every year for this special occasion. On May 21st, which by coincidence, was when Lindbergh landed in the city of lights. Paris. The Spirit of Saint Louis. The way the airstrip of the soul could download the future with a 3-point landing, like bowling with a crystal ball. And the perfectly aligned wing of a diving board helped.

    Now, they were ready to go back to the glow that gathered escape at one end of the pool. They happily floated in some sort of nonchalant nostalgia. A nostalgia for childhood. A memory of times when things were simpler, a time when they were nothing more than angel fish.


    (353 words)

  7. The Cave Where The Monster Lives

    “They swam last night. The water babies,” Lila said, voice muffled, head bowed, bare toe teasing the floor, her other leg curled beneath her.

    “In your dreams?” Dr Cayson asked, looking at the dark haired woman, before adding a note to his pad. “You saw them this time?”

    Lila nodded. “They dove away; underwater.”

    “Were you nearer?” A pause. “Close enough to see their faces? Do you remember? Think carefully, now.”

    Lila shook her head, drawing her arms around her knees, level with her chest on the chair. “They were turned – away. Too quick. Backlit by the entrance.”

    “To the cave?”

    Lila nodded, frowning, before tucking her chin in, eyes cast floor-ward.

    “That’s progress, Lila,” Dr Cayson said. “You remember we talked about delving deeper into the cave in our last session? That that might take us some time, with the tide flowing against us? That the currents ran deeply?”

    Lila nodded, brow furrowing, lines deepening.

    “I want us to explore the cave together, Lila. When you’re ready. Do you recall we discussed the cave as an analogy – before?”

    “There’s a monster there, Doctor,” Lila said. “In the dark. That’s why the children go away,” she mumbled, teasing her hair with her fingers. “I know.” Her eyes darted from side to side about the room.

    “Is there?” Dr Cayson said. “It lives in the dark, does it?” His pen scratched at the paper’s surface, adding notes. “Has it always been there, Lila? Do you recall? Think carefully, now.” After a pause, he added, “You said the babies leave – but you stay? Are you with the monster, Lila? In your dreams?”

    “In the dark..” Lila murmured.

    “Yes,” Dr Cayson agreed. “Do you see yourself there? When the children are gone?”

    “I…” Lila began. She looked up, eyes wide, meeting the clinician’s. “I…always wake up, Doctor. Before the monster gets me. Before anything happens.” Breathing quickly, she said, “I never see it. Not ever!”

    “Not that you remember,” Dr Cayson corrected.

    “But everyone’s okay, so it’s all right, isn’t it, Doctor? In the dream?”

    “We’ll explore that another time, Lila,” Dr Cayson said gently. “That’s deep enough for now, I think.”


    (360 words)

  8. @stellakateT
    303 words

    Swim or Sink

    Thank God when that horrible pompous man asked me what I feared most. I hadn’t answered a nest of spiders, by now I’d have died of shock with one arachnid let alone a family enveloping me in their webs. I feel myself involuntarily shuddering.

    I said my second fear, drowning and now I’m here bobbing around with the other fearful ones. I’m wearing arm bands so someone has a sense of humour. The others haven’t aids but maybe they can swim, they look like they are standing in their own depth and one guy looks like he’s sitting on a shelf. Maybe I could engineer myself so I’m sitting beside him. Find out exactly what’s happening here. The sun looks bright through that archway but I remember what my Girl Guide leader used to say “be prepared for all eventualities” Jaws could be out there waiting for its lunch.

    “Wake up Jenny” Sophie nudges me.
    I must have dozed off.

    We’re sitting in the conference room, it hot and sweaty. The pompous managing director is eyeballing me. I lower my eyes. Looking around I see the guy in my dream He’s busy scribbling something in the pad we’ve all been given.

    Sophie nudges me again. “Jenny you need to write what you fear most”

    I nod, I write being Managing Director.

    I look down at my tailored suit, the shoes to die for and the understated expensive jewelry I’m wearing. I look into the audience of faces. Sophie is sitting next to our pompous boss. He’s wearing a cheap suit and a pained expression on his face. First tasks, to give him his marching orders, no big golden handshake or index linked pension and Sophie a huge promotion. Quite like this facing your fears session but I’m not proposing to make it mandatory.

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Very clever take on the photo prompt, Stella, and well constructed. Now, if you can just overcome your fear of full stops… 😀

  9. Richard Edenfield says:

    The Vermont Cave Rebellion
    and the Revolution of Hope


    Vermont nailing the sky line with rough and tumble illumination, elderly rainbows, that assemble a panorama of Lite-Brite foliage expression.

    There is a way through town that starts on a small green mountain that angles through a valley till it meets the towns edge and we float along as people watch us become obscured with rock.

    We’re a miniature, amateur, Greenpeace movement protesting the removal of a small cave like structure in our town. It’s hundreds of years old, but apparently it’s in the way of some sort of sewage drainage pipe. We are going to keep floating here until they change their minds. We have been here for three days now without food. A large crowd has gathered around the tunnel.

    Today, is the 239th anniversary of our small towns birth. Exactly as old as our country. A parade can be heard above us. The sound of drum thumps echo in the stony confines like a giant heart beating a thin stream of flowing spring water that runs through a magical vein. We are just normal people. We all live in town. We’re not radicals. We double knot our shoelaces and read bestsellers.

    After 5 days of not eating, we hear the voices of our parents pleading for us to return to normalcy and some hot cider. The drum beat is gone. And the nights are cold as hell. Outwardly, we seem very normal. But in our hopes and dreams we are different waiting for a stage and a spotlight. It’s easy to hide in the wings and experience other peoples flight. But now it was our turn to fly.

    We were wet, sick and starving. We shivered all day. Suddenly, there’s a voice. It’s the mayor of our small town that happens to be my father. That was why the police weren’t called, my father didn’t want that kind of intervention. And that’s why I was here. To assure special attention.

    “We’ve decided to make other plans for the drainage pipe! Please come out Wendy!”

    The bullhorn shut off.

    We started to make our way toward the light,

    toward the tug of a revolution won

    against all odds.


    (360 words)

  10. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    WC: 357

    Into the Cave’s Mouth

    Jonah and the whale? That story wasn’t nuthin compared to my experience! I can’t eat or sleep, bad nightmares constantly replaying in my head. I’m afraid to close my eyes, afraid even to shower! Who woulda thunk an innocent vacation would do such harm?

    Joanna and me, we took our family to the Dead Sea. We heard the salt water and black mud was beneficial for aging bodies, and Joanna and me have more than our share of aches. Being almost seventy, I guess that’s to be expected.

    We took a nice boat on the sea. The kids and grandkids wanted to swim, so we dropped anchor in the middle of nowhere and headed off, our life vests secured, the grandkids with floaties on too, for added safety. No need to worry about sharks an’ such since nuthin lives in the waters there.

    The further we swam from the boat, the foggier the sea got. Out of nowhere, an Island appeared from the mist. Tired, we all got out for a bit. Rested, we went back into the water. Somethin’ hit my thigh a good ways from land. Then Joanna started to scream. Next I know she went under. A spout of blood gurgled up from beneath the water. We all panicked and started swimming as fast as we could towards the shoreline. It felt like somethin’ was chasing us, though we couldn’t see it. We never did find the beach again, instead, a hole in the side of a mountain appeared through the fog and we swam like the dickens for it. Turns out, it was a cave filled with water, but plenty of breathing space. Thought we were safe in there; we were wrong.

    Something followed us in and dragged us under water one by one; the cave was a pool of blood. My family never resurfaced, but something did, a fairy tale. It was a mermaid with fangs like I ain’t never seen! That monster seduced me against the rocks and I lost consciousness.

    I awoke on the boat, bitten and chewed up, my family gone, my mind – gone, and no one believes me.

  11. Geoff Holme says:

    Word Count: 335


    It felt like we had been stuck here all our lives, floating around in this dark, confined space. Then suddenly, the water subsided. There was a light, small but blindingly bright. We instinctively made our way towards it, all five of us. There was only room for one of us to escape at a time – and I was furthest from the light…


    George had landed in a sand trap. He was addressing the ball and had just begun his back swing when… Alan’s iPhone 5 rang.

    “Dammit, Alan! Didn’t you turn that thing off when we started the round?”

    “Sorry, mate. I always leave it on in case Deidre needs to reach me in an emergency. I better answer it. Hello?”

    George sighed heavily. Already five shots down with only five holes left to play, he really didn’t need this interruption to his concentration.

    Alan’s jaw dropped. “George! We need to go. It’s Suzanne. She’s been rushed to St Alphage’s.”

    “What? No, no, that can’t be right. She isn’t due until the fifth.”

    “Well, that’s all out of the window now, mate. Deidre says she’s gone into labour!”


    By the time George had found a parking spot for his Cinquecento, and made his way to the maternity ward, the drama was all over.

    “Congratulations, Mr Pum,” said the midwife, “You’re the proud father of healthy quintuplets!”

    “Wha-what?! Five! We were expecting only four!”

    “Well, that’s IVF for you. The little boy must be a real gentleman because he let all his sisters go first before making his appearance.”

    “A boy?”

    “That’s right, darling.” A feeble voice from the bed.

    “Sweetheart, how are you?”

    “Knackered… but glad it’s all over.”

    “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you, Suzanne.”

    “That’s OK. You’re here now.”

    “I can’t get my head round this! One minute I’m on a par five and the next, I’m the Pa OF five!”

    “And you have the son you always wanted. What do you want to call him?”

    “That’s easy… Quentin.”


    [ I know this is too late but I thought I would submit it anyway. Happy anniversary, Rebecca! ]

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Drat! Always get names muddled up! “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you, Deidre.” should obviously be “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you, Suzanne.”

      • Geoff Holme says:

        And George and Alan seem to get very agitated after the phone call, stuttering “isn’t isn’t” and “the the” respectively.

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