Flash Frenzy Round 90

Posted: January 16, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome back. It’s time for Round 90, and Sal Page is acting judge this weekend.

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.

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Photo Courtesy Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. Richard Edenfield says:

    Holy Water & the Church of Greasy Hamburgers
    _______________________________________________

    No one remembers clean water, like no one remembers the good girls. We drove out in our VW Bug, me and my brothers crushed in the back like the contents of my mother’s purse. She reached in and pulled out a stick of Juicy Fruit, a flat grayish piece like the diving board that was more or less stapled to a distant dock. She chewed. The sound of the first splashing. Our eyes licking the window with summertime anticipation.

    My dad got out first as if he was the first man on the moon. “One small step for man, one giant leap for a suburban Philadelphia family that cannot agree on anything.” My mother emerged like a movie star. She would not touch the water. Her body barely touched the air. She only ate other people’s fries. My brothers and I exploded from the car. Our shorts ran toward the lake. An American flag was clinging onto a pole feigning interest.

    The water felt like a good pair of worn jeans, instantaneously friendly and knowable. My mother displayed her ornate towel with her designer sunglasses pointed toward a secure oblivion. My father liked to memorize all the prices at the food stand and then ask us if we wanted the cheapest thing. This was the one place that we could ignore each other completely, and oddly enough, that was when we felt most like a family.

    Eventually, we got out of the water with that hungry feeling lurching. We ate greasy hamburgers with stagnant algae laced liquid dripping skin. I ended up playing ping-pong with one of my brothers as the rest of my family headed to the car. My mother had a glamorous tan. My father had saved about 50 bucks by not bringing us to the movies. I hit the ball one more time then ran to the backseat. My brother, who was a big baby, just stood there with the paddle in his hand as if the table were a canoe and he was going to float home. Then he ran to the car.

    The silence on the way home has never been equaled by any prayer.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    (360 words)
    Grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Terrific use of language, favourite phrases: your descriptions of the mother and the American flag feigning interest.

  2. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    355 words

    Fishin’ in the Rivers of Time

    It was hot, not the burnished summer afternoons remembered from childhood, but a sullen heat that smothered all the life from all four of us. Roger suffered worse from the heat, wearing his suit and tie. He fanned the map in front of his beetroot face.

    We stood on the wooden jetty, the planks worm-eaten, and stared at the still waters stretching away from us. A dragonfly drifted past and disappeared into the black labyrinth of trees surrounding the lake.

    “Map says so.” Malcolm was a computer programmer these days and wore a scabby t-shirt a size too small that revealed his hairy paunch.

    “But where do we change?” Tabitha had been the girl at school all the boys fancied, but the years had left crows-feet around her eyes and a sour smile. I shouldn’t talk; balding, divorced, a son in counselling sessions. As the car jostled on the road here, my hand had brushed against hers. She’d snatched her hand away and had given me a sidelong glare.

    “There’s a hut,” I said. It smelt of mildew inside, and I kept my bare feet off the floor as I changed into my swimming trunks then waited for each of the others outside, self-conscious of my paleness. I hadn’t swum for ages.

    Finally the four of us stood on the jetty and peered down into the dark water. “Go on, Sam,” Malcolm said. “You first.”

    I dipped my toe into the water. A warmth spread through my toes and my legs, dissolving the old ache in my knees. “Jump,” Roger said. “Jump.”

    I sucked in a deep breath and dived in with a splash that soaked the others.

    The others followed me, Malcolm whooping, Roger making a cannonball so the waves sloshed over us. We swam and shouted. Tabitha stomped in the shallows and kicked up sheets of water over us. Almost drunk of childishness, Roger yanked off Malcolm’s short and Malcolm chased him stark naked across the jetty to get them back. Tabitha couldn’t stop laughing. As evening fell, I sat with her and our fingers knotted together.

    It didn’t last. It never does.

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    Cliché for Lemmings

    360 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Ever heard the phrase ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’? Well that’s me. Dip your toe in the water, they said, no need to dive straight in. Encouraging statements, a gentle nudge, until they added the caveat ‘but you don’t want to miss the boat do you’? So I followed, lemming that I was and I invested what little I had.

    Now the sharks were circling. The company was on the verge of collapse unless I helped them turn things around.

    I had what they wanted in this corporate game of snakes and ladders; they had what I needed and the bills were piling up. I wasn’t a fool though, I had done my research before investing, studied the lab’s latest findings; it was all win-win as far as I could tell.

    Until one of the trial patients died. A glitch they said, underlying health conditions.

    The company desperately needed to prove their cure worked otherwise they’d go bust – and me with it – but no further suitable subjects had come forward. Then somehow they’d got hold of my medical file, discovered my personal interest in the outcome of their experiments, although I only suffered a mild form of the disorder. They were literally out for my blood.

    A cure would turn everything round for me and for them, they said. Win-win again.

    My boss thrust the disclaimer under my nose. I signed. When would I ever learn.

    “We won’t forget this,” he said. “It’ll be a step up the ladder for you. You’re just the sort of company man we need.”

    I’ve just taken my first course of medication. It had no effect so they’ve upped the dosage.

    “How d’you feel?” asked the doctor.

    “Like I’ve died and gone to heaven,” I said. And I meant it, the high was incredible, perhaps they could work that into their marketing campaign.

    But now I feel strange. There’s a high-pitched beep coming from somewhere. I can see nurses and doctors rushing to my side. I’ve a real birds-eye view from up here. I feel I could go anywhere. Ahead I can see a bright light. Perhaps I should go there.

  4. Green and Gold

    Gillian whoops vast sounds of no true meaning other than the sounds that have to burst out when you’re having fun.
    She jumps up, a flash of sun on her wet hair and disappears in splooshing sound.
    Elliot stands on the uneven wood dock, swaying slightly from all the activity, his white blonde hair dark with wet as he grins out at the water. At the day. At nothing and everything.
    Gillian climbs back up on the dock easily, her small monkey climbs stretching and gripping, then dripping water in secret inkblot messages on the remaining dry boards.
    “I bet there’s treasure in the bottom of this lake,” Jacob says, sitting on the edge of the dock, his legs too short to reach the water.
    “You think?” Gillian asks.
    “Not likely,” Elliot says down to his brother. “It’s not like there’s ships or nothin coming through lakes.”
    “I still think there’s treasure. Maybe not pirate stuff, but I know Aunt Mercy lost a bracelet while she was out boating once. Other people must have lost stuff too,” Jacob says, swinging his feet and gesturing at the dark green waters made muddy by legs that churned the water all afternoon.
    Gillian peers down into the water as well. Elliot is silent.
    “Well, why the hell not?” Elliot says, grinning.
    He turns to look up at me, sitting on the porch and calls out, “Mary, you coming to take a look with us?”
    I shake my head no, and look down, smiling into my lap. I don’t jump into lakes these days.
    Jacob stands and looks at Gillian and Elliot, all silently agreeing to jump into the water together.
    They begin jostling and laughing getting ready to make the synchronized leap.
    I live in their laughter.
    Even if it’s only echoes, it feels like it was only yesterday.
    Never mind that Elliot is gone and Jacob is hunched over a cane, or that Gillian can’t always remember who I am.
    I keep us all gold, and muddy lake green, in mental movie reels where I can be forever young.

    @caseyrosefrank
    347 words

  5. CR Smith says:

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Friday night was practice night. The excitable rabble, always turned up at the community centre
    straight after school. They would hurry to get changed and line-up in the corridor, awaiting his instruction. Everyone agreed that, although slightly unorthodox in his methods, Mr Hughes was an excellent teacher, demanding one-hundred-percent commitment from everyone. One pupil – Johnny Finn – managed to get himself sent home several times for not taking the whole thing seriously.

    Lessons always began with running on the spot, followed by a series of star-jumps. Mr Hughes said it was to get the blood pumping. He spent plenty of time explaining the technical intricacies of the breast-stroke, the butterfly and the crawl — to mention but a few — and each week highlighted one stroke in particular. Keeping a close eye on his pupil’s movements from the sidelines, any limb he thought wasn’t performing properly would receive a tap from his long-reaching cane.

    The pupils gave it their all and when totally worn out by their exertions, Mr Hughes would allow them a short respite, reminding them of his mantra, ‘practice makes perfect.’ Then he’d test them on the length of time they could hold their breathe by sticking their heads in a bucket of water. His lessons briefly touched on diving, but for safety’s sake he could only let his pupils practice jumping onto mats.

    These lessons went on for months, until one day Mr Hughes decided they were ready and instructed them to meet him early the next morning at the riverbank. All those weeks spent sliding around on their bellies across the community centre’s floor started to make sense. His pupils looked down into the water lapping at the old wooden jetty and, one by one, dived in, hoping that practice really had made perfect.

    WC 301 @carolrosalind

  6. zevonesque says:

    The Lake
    A.J. Walker

    Sweat beads on my forehead forming a constant train dripping onto the sand below me. I expect it to fizz with the heat. But it does not.

    I can now hear the bastards approaching. Horrible children, high pitch excited. The man should know better. He is old enough. Ignorant bastard. It’s his fault. But the children are not blameless. They need not follow.

    This is my lake; He speaks to me through it. It is sacred and forbidden to all but the most devout. He has not shown to me any other worthy person. He is testing me, before giving me any more truths.

    Could I have not been more clear? The signs say ‘Private Road’. They say ‘Do Not Enter’, ‘Trespassers Beware’. The track is barred by a locked gate.

    They have been warned. I cannot have done more.

    They near the lake. I can see three children and a man walking down the lane; as if they own the place. No shame.

    They are all in grubby shorts. Topless. As if they are heading to the public baths. A debauched place. They are going to swim in the sacred lake. This cannot be. This lake cannot be tainted.

    My head spins. It is not dehydration. I have drunk of the lake and the sun is behind these trees. It is these despoilers that distract me to this punch drunk headache.

    They are laughing. In this place of god. They have reached the place of worship. My jetty. Where I kneel and talk to god. I shiver.

    The blond girl, not more than eight, is giggling as she makes to tickle an older boy, maybe ten, as they step onto the blessed beams.

    It is time. God is with me. He leaves my hands unwavering.

    I let loose the blessed trigger. The bullets, touched with the words of god, are steered unerringly into these cretins. The lake splashes first with bullets then with blood. Their blood will be cleansed by the power of the lake.

    My signs were clear: God’s messages were clear. The lake is safe again.

    Four more bodies to drag to the growing grave of ignorance.

    —-
    WC: 360
    @zevonesque

  7. Nothing and Always

    My feet mock me, the sound as the steps hit the wooden slats following slowly in my stead. A hesitation, before we press on, together. The waves slap, lazy, against the boardwalk; the heat from the sun against my cheeks. The run begins behind me – a thundering, rattling through and beyond, as I twist my torso, though I know without looking what I will see. What I always see. Sara runs past my frozen form, unheeding.

    “Kerry! Come on!” my sister calls, bright bikini clad, blue eyes dancing, mouth stretched wide with a smile.

    “Wait for me!” a girl answers. Strange to hear my voice – as others do – in this moment. Repetition fails to breed familiarity. Every time. I shiver as the dark haired female form in its pastel one piece moves forward – through the place where I stand, unmoving. They are older, taller, than I am, though I have never been able to decide how much so – despite numerous visits to this spot.

    Sara has never come, of course. Unthinkable – as well as being strictly forbidden, in the circumstances. I shiver again. The warmth of the rays overhead has no effect. The cold has set in, spreading through my limbs, inside out.

    “So slow!” Sara mocks. My vision is hazy – the end of the pier a blur, as I squint to see.

    “Wait!” I call, an edge creeping into my voice.

    “Wait!” my sylph second self, still present, mouths. Neither hears me. They are not here. Not yet – though they will be.

    My shoulder shifts, quivering, as the splash sounds, loud and shocking, before the sudden silence. I have seen already, of course. Multiple times. It hasn’t helped, though I had hoped it would. That there would be a clue in the looking, simply by searching. There isn’t, of course. However hard I scrutinise. However many times. Every time.

    I turn away from the water, where it happens. I will not watch it, now, with our habitual, time marked Perpetuals. Not this time. Tears swim in my eyes, spilling over. Suddenly, my cheeks are drenched with them, drowning.

    Nothing helps. Can. I see it. Over and over.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (360 words)

  8. Voima Oy says:

    Splash
    130 words
    @voimaoy

    The lake used to be a summer paradise, idyllic and blue, reflecting the clouds. The air rang with the laughter of children. Bright splash of sunlight on water. If they wanted to do an ad for endless summer, this was the perfect picture.

    Motorboats came. It became dangerous to swim, here, but it was getting too weed-choked from the spillage from the power plant anyway. Fish with three eyes swam through the mutant water plants. Kids brave or foolish enough to go for a swim developed strange rashes and mysterious eye infections.

    It wasn’t aliens, at least that’s what I tell folks. Only I saw the silver rain one summer afternoon,
    drops that fell from a cloudless sky. I saw them fall without a splash. I saw the green shoots rising.

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