Flash Frenzy Round 91

Posted: January 23, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
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Welcome back. It’s time for Flash Frenzy Round 91. Judging your stories this week is none other than Flash Dog Extraordinaire, David Shakes.

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.

Round 91

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. A V Laidlaw says:

    360 Words

    You, Canute, Be Serious!

    Right-o court, the sun’s out, we’re at the beach, let’s have some fun. I might be King but I’m not ordering you to have fun. Kind of defeats the idea of a day off, doesn’t it? And please stop all the bowing and scraping. You! What are you doing? I don’t care if eastern potentates demand the kow-tow. Sticking your face in the sand is bloody unhygienic. People walk dogs on this beach.

    That’s better.

    So, Sir Mortlake, what are you going to do? Build a sand castle? Have an ice cream?

    But why do you want to invade France?

    “Because it’s full of French people” is not a legitimate casus belli. You don’t even like cheese. Anyway, we don’t have any ships to carry the soldiers.

    No I can’t just command the waves to roll back so we can march across… Because it’s nature. It would be like commanding the sun to rise in the morning… No I don’t. You only see me on the battlements at dawn because I’m telling the blasted heralds to stop practising and shove their trumpets into a very intimate place.

    I know I’m King. You think this gold crown doesn’t weigh anything? But it’s nothing special. I only got the job because great-granddaddy cut off a guy’s head after some battle. And historians say he only won because the enemy had dysentery… What’s this? An execution writ for “traitorous historian scum”? You can’t execute people for telling the truth. Well, Daddy did. But he did have anger issues.

    Yes, Archbishop, I’m sure that you’re sure I can turn back the waves… Okay, okay. I’ll give it a go if you lot promise to shut up about it.

    “Waves, turn back!”

    And they keep rolling up the beach.

    “Your anointed King commands the waves to turn back.”

    Yep, still coming towards us…

    Getting closer…

    Archbishop, your robes are getting wet. And Chancellor, I don’t think salt water is good for your new calfskin shoes. Better retreat before your armour rusts, Sir Mortlake.

    At last, that’s got rid of them. Now I can read my book in peace, and maybe later, I’ll have a swim.

  2. CR Smith says:

    Alien Culture

    Greetings one and all, we have entered Earth’s atmosphere and are currently hovering above ‘The Coastline’. Now, don’t all rush to one side like that, we have a difficult enough job keeping this pod stable as it is, sit down and wait for the floor screen to open up.

    There you are, now every one can see — right, where was I…

    As explained during the first part of this course, ‘The Coast’ was a place ‘Humans’ congregated at certain times of the year. So far we have discovered that their year was much longer than our own, being divided into weeks and days.

    Now, at least two of those days constituted something they called a ‘Weekend’. There’s still some debate as to whether or not this ‘Weekend’ started on a ‘Friday’ or a ‘Saturday,’ but then the data is still undergoing scrutiny — even after all this time.

    One theory suggests longer periods may have been spent ‘At-the-Seaside’ and the word ‘Holiday’ has been deciphered from some remaining fragments.

    Luckily for us the mist has cleared and, If you look down now, you will see an example of a ‘Human’. We will try and get a bit closer.

    Some spent their ‘Weekend’ sitting on ‘The Beach’ often entertaining themselves with a ‘Good Book’. A replica ‘Human’ has been placed on the surface especially for tours such as these as it is very difficult for our species to visualise this activity.

    Okay, we are now above the ‘Pier’. An unstable structure that they used for entertainment, although records do show this tailed off towards the end of their twentieth-century as they had a habit of catching fire.

    There are indications that these ‘Piers’ were used to provide nourishment in the form of’ ‘Chips’ and ‘Doughnuts’ and, partly due to the cooking methods employed, were often the cause of said fires. We have some replicated examples for you to examine later.

    I realise all of these substances sound very alien to us today, but we must keep in mind this was a fairly primitive species. After all, if they’d had any sense they would have taken heed of the warnings.

    WC 360 @carolrosalind

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    What’s in a Name?

    358 words


    Canute gazed out to sea. Like his namesake, he knew it was impossible to control the tides. At least it should be. But lately ‘things’ had been happening and on more than one occasion, he’d found the tide would literally turn in his presence. He refused to consider it might simply be coincidence. Refused to believe it might be a trick of the Gods, their revenge for being forgotten.

    He hadn’t told anyone yet, apart from Aphrodite. When his friend Moses had proclaimed he could part the seas there had been general hilarity over his subsequent failure at Maddison Lido – videos available on YouTube. And as for Icarus …

    “Do you want to be famous?” asked Aphrodite, as the drive-through guy refused to fall in love with her and she was forced to pay the bill, plus tip.

    “No,” he said. “I just want to prove I can do it, only it doesn’t seem to work when anyone’s around.”

    “Performance anxiety,” snickered Aphrodite and batted her eyelashes at him.

    Canute wondered if she had something in her eye.

    “Why do you think our parents ever gave us these stupid names?” Aphrodite asked him, thinking of all the men who’d escaped her clutches. “I mean, it’s never worked in our favour.”

    “A fad, I suppose. Like the time people thought if they named their kids Keanu or after a vegetable or a point on the compass, a bit of stardust by association would rub off on their offspring. Didn’t matter if they lived in Shoreditch or the Gorbals.”

    “But it didn’t work.”

    “No. Yet people are ever hopeful, willing to believe they have it in them to be something special, provided they’ve got the right name. Unfortunately for us, our parents turned to legend and mythology.”

    “So,” said Aphrodite, “are we going to film you turning back the tide tonight, or what?”

    Again, he ignored her twitching eyes, the suggestive ‘or what’, thought only of the sea.

    And somewhere the Gods were laughing. Humans could be so gullible.

    “What next?” asked Hera.

    “Molecules,” said Zeus innocently.

    And already Hermes was whispering in Hollywood ears, “Arsole, Cadaverite, Dickite …

  4. Voima Oy says:

    The Man Who Collected Islands
    300 words

    Jeremy Pym heard the mermaids calling. Sirens and selkies, too. Their voices were disguised as shrieking seabirds, but he knew them for what they were. They were the natives of this island. He was the only human there.

    Jeremy Pym collected islands. As he sat on the beach of his latest acquisition, he thought of his other islands. One was a tropical paradise near the Maldives. There was another one off the coast of Spain that some people thought was Atlantis, with its skeletons of towers and birds the size of whales.

    No man is an island, according to that old poem, but Jeremy laughed to think about it that way. He was an island, entire to himself. What need did he have for continents and the masses? Well, they had their uses. Jeremy had made his fortune in pharmaceuticals. He was also an outcast among men, but his money bought freedom and privacy.

    Still, these cries from the sea disturbed him. He could almost see them out there, the sirens and the mermaids, their hair tangled like seaweed. “Jeremy, Jeremy,” their voices on the breeze. And behind his eyes, one of them came to him. She looked like that painting of Venus on the shell. Her hair was flowing, waves of gold. Her eyes were blue as the sea.

    “Welcome to my world,” she said. “I live in a palace under the waves. My husband is a dragon, and very jealous. But I don’t mind, do you?”

    “I’m not one for commitments,” he said. “That’s fine with me.”

    They rolled together on the beach. Her kisses were like salt and the sea.

    Later, Jeremy found himself alone, waves washing over him, seaweed in his mouth. A marine iguana was sunning on a nearby rock, spitting seawater. “Hello, lover,” she said.

  5. Waiting for the End of the World

    Why am I laughing?

    People look at me strangely for laughing when I tell them my beautiful boy disappeared not long after this picture was taken. I laughed when they returned the book but not my boy, carefully handing it over as if it were something important, sacred even. It had his name in, they said.
    Once they left, I flicked through the book. Across the top of page fifty-six he’d written ‘Tell Mum’.
    ‘Tell Mum what?’ people always ask, nervous about joining in.

    Of course it isn’t funny but I still laugh. Not a nice normal laugh but still laughter.

    I knew it from the day he was born, you see. I kept saying he would be taken from me. Everyone said it was natural to be anxious about my baby, to get strange ideas even, but I had to try not to worry. I knew though. And I was right, wasn’t I?

    Once he reached four he knew too. He would talk about missing me when he had to leave, saying he didn’t know when it would happen but he was ready. We both accepted it and just carried on living. He grew up and started travelling with friends. We still occasionally talked about when he would go, still thinking it could be any time. I always felt like I was waiting for the end of the world.

    They presumed he went swimming and was swept out to sea but that’s only because the book was washed up further along the coast. They never did find his body. No other clues. There’s nothing on page fifty-six that rings a bell, that has anything to do with anything. Just some men riding motorcycles across America. A ‘lunch of hamburgers and malteds’. Over the years I’ve scoured every crinkly salt-ridden page.

    I still laugh when I see that tatty sea-battered book in my kitchen drawer, when I gaze at the photo and tell people what happened. I have a job now. I’m married. My world didn’t end after all.
    I just wish I knew what he’d wanted to tell me.

    350 words

  6. avalinakreska says:

    360 nibbles

    Title: Tyro

    ‘Getting back into the water’ was the best thing to do according to his ‘self-help’ book although Steve wasn’t convinced that going out of his depth would change anything; it wouldn’t help him secure another job or get his wife back – especially after his last bout of drinking and pissing on her potpourri. The last time Steve had set foot into water that went above his head was at school, he was a poor swimmer and flailed around in the deep end until his schoolteacher had to dive in and rescue him. Nothing prepared him for the years of mocking from his friends and the embarrassed looks from the girls, even though they secretly liked him it was the end of being taken seriously as a teenager. Life never really improved for Steve, he became a mouse of a man, wondering what his wife ever saw in him, she, thinking the same walked out on him and hooked up with a stronger, successful business man.
    Steve left the book on the beach along with his timidity and walked out into the sea, the water, a pleasant temperature, covered his ankles, then his knees, he gasped when his groin was immersed, the water now being the true temperature for September. It was still calm though and Steve felt relatively happy but as it reached his shoulders he felt the same panic return. He stopped, remembering the words from the book:
    ‘Take it slow, stopping doesn’t mean failing, it’s just one of many landing stages’
    He moved the water with his arms; something nudged him, lightly at first, as if testing what he was. Steve wheeled around but could see nothing, then feeling a deep ache in his thigh, he disappeared into the blood stained brine.

    A couple walking along the beach picked up Steve’s book and noted his clothes beside it.
    ‘Bite Back! Turning against the sharks of life’ – it’s one of those awful self-help books!’
    She flicked through, laughing, reading to her partner:
    ‘Says here – you need to imagine you’re a beastly, white shark, a powerful hunter, tireless and without mercy, devouring those who stand in your way…’

  7. Bait and Switch

    The poison had been much sweeter than Gene had anticipated. The mayor had promised that the pint would at least be fifty percent high octane vodka, but the solution has been so treackly, that he had a hard time believing there was any alcohol in the mix at all.

    He tried to concentrate on the receding tide in front of him, specifically the remaining post from the pier his father had told him about. The fishing platform had been knocked down well before he was born, back when people were still brave enough to harvest food from the sea. The single post phased into three posts and he knew that there indeed had been alcohol in his drink. His vision continues to dissolve the beach sunset in front of him.

    On the beach though, his book was useless. Gene wanted to read this volume of poems as he waited for the poison to seep through his body, but he couldn’t find the focus he needed to even make sure he was holding the paperback right side up.

    Of all the people no doubt watching him from a safe distance, he sincerely hoped the Mayor had the best view. It had been his scheme after all, and the man needed to ultimately be the one accountable if this didn’t work. The pool of applicants for this year’s harvest had been smaller than ever. Parents turned a blind eye to their teen’s promiscuity if in ensured they wouldn’t be in consideration when it came to the yearly harvest. Gene, was more in love with the ruins of the library than any girl he’d met on the island, so when the yearly cull identified the sacrificial virgins, he was one of the few to step forward.

    They’d tried using a non-virgin in the past, and lost the fishing pier and scores of the population in the monster’s retribution. Despite a lifetime in the ocean, the abomination could smell the difference between the two. The tide had receded to the post and Gene’s destiny emerged from the ocean. He clutched his book and hoped the poison would be enough to kill the thing.

    359 words


    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    351 words

    * * *

    Dear God, I was losing my mind.

    It wasn’t right. It couldn’t be. There was no way it was possible.

    When I’d started the book a few days ago, I thought it was just a weird coincidence, but it soon became clear that the words were my life.

    James sat on the beach and opened the book to chapter seven.

    What if the future was already spelt out between its covers, if my path was trapped in print? So far, I’d only followed it as I was doing things, line by line I was yet to look ahead and see my destiny.

    A woman approaches.

    Wait. What? I turned and, sure enough, there was a beautiful woman stood a few feet behind me.

    I checked the page again. It did indeed state that she was a beautiful woman. Must have missed that.

    “Sorry,” she says. “I didn’t realise you were reading.”

    “Sorry,” she says. “I didn’t realise you were reading.”

    I closed the book. “That’s okay. I’m having trouble getting into it, to be honest,” I lied.

    She smiled. “I only came over to see if you had any matches. Or a lighter.” She points behind her.

    “My friends are trying to start a barbeque.”

    That smile again. A beautiful smile. She reminds me of . . .

    I grab the lighter from my bag and hand it over.

    “Thank you,” she says as our fingers brush. She turns to head back to her friends when she pauses. “If you’re not busy, you could join me. I mean us. You could join us.”

    I look at the sun setting behind the horizon. No plans for the evening and I’m hungry. Maybe this could be the start of something. Like in the movies.

    Then I feel the pages between my fingers. The book. My book. I could skip to the end; see if it’s worth me getting up.

    She smiles once more. What is it about her?

    “My name’s Philippa, by the way.”

    Why spoil it. I grab my bag, and follow Philippa over towards her friends.

    The book stays half buried in the sand.

  9. stevenstucko says:

    JUST IN TIME (360 words)
    Oct. 27
    Jacob, my son, I am dying [crossed out]. I am very sick and near the end. I’ve asked Mother to give you this – and my other journals, as well as an unfinished manuscript. The cancer has ravaged my throat and I can not speak with you on the phone. Mother says you will be arriving here at the end of the week. The nurses tell me to rest now.
    Oct. 28
    I am tired, Jacob. I have no energy to write. Please read my manuscript. It is in my desk. How I wish I could finish it. I have so many things I need to express. The story should not stop before it is all said [crossed out]. The protagonist never learned how to be a father. His own father was hard. Hard and cold. Mother just walked in the room. She speaks with the doctor. See you soon my boy.
    Nov. 1
    Jacob, my boy. I love you son. I wish I had told you that more often – or at all…I did tell you that sometimes, didn’t I? Well, I’m telling you now. You are a different boy, Jacob. No – I’m sorry, you are a man now. Special, sensitive [crossed out]. I know your friend Scott is your -whatever people call it. I’m sorry I was never very nice to him. He seems fine [crossed out]. He appears to be a good man. I’m sorry about our fight. I shouldn’t have said those things. Please forgive me for those cruel words. Come soon.
    Nov. 2
    My dear boy. I am weak [crossed out]. Let me tell you how the manuscript should end. The protagonist comes to the realization that it is his son, not his father, who is teaching him how to be a man. Maybe he was jealous of the boy’s [ crossed out]. As I used to say to my students, write what you know about. I wrote about you in all my journals Jacob- ever since you were born. Little league, graduations and your civil ceremony. I marveled at your life – so proud…love you son…

  10. Mark A. King says:

    The Beach


    353 words

    You are on the beach, watching the waves.

    You think of the waves of hatred. Intolerance. Belittlement. The onslaught you suffer every day. You pick yourself up, yet the waves keep coming. They’re getting more frequent and intense.

    In the crash of the surf, the tumbling of the pebbles, the subtle fizz of foam—you find solitude. The waves do not judge.

    The Bible rests gently in your hands. It is something you cannot read in the coffee shops of London, the libraries of Birmingham, the desk at work.

    Everyone has an opinion. None of it good.

    Religion has killed the world.

    Religious people are stupid, to be scorned and pitied.

    You are no better than a child believing fairy tales.

    You say nothing. It goes against every fibre of your being.

    Yet social media spits its bile at you.

    It is accepted.

    It is how it works.

    You are educated. Yet there are things that the politicians and scientists cannot explain.

    This beach is all you have.


    You are on the beach, watching the waves.

    The beach is not made from sand. It is a beach of flies on ragged, rotting skin, whitewashed bones, ruins.

    In your hands you tightly hold the Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. A book all Sunni Muslims should respect. Yet, it will not save you from the terrorist Daesh, or worse, what passes for the government of Syria these days.

    You speak Kurdish, yet you cannot talk it. You have a name, but cannot use it.

    This was never about religion. It is about who you are. Where you came from. Things you cannot change.

    The real beach is far away and the waters littered with death.

    This beach is all you have.


    You are on the beach, watching the waves.

    The beach is black tyres, shiny paint-work, corporate sponsorship and twenty-plus cars worth more money than a small country.

    You don’t hold your books—they are at home—they won’t pay the tuition fees.

    You hold the grid number aloft.

    You wear less clothing than you display exposed skin.

    This beach is all you have.

    For now.

  11. Thomas Diehl says:

    Day Five (252 words)

    The year had begun lackluster. The next day he was pregnant, which also managed to clear weird off the list. Jovian on the third was hard to pin down but worse, it made Simon miss the fourth day, when he had to talk his way back out of an insane asylum. That would have ruined his project had day two not counted for two adjectives. So far, living every day according to a random word generator selecting an adjective from the dictionary had been a worthwhile experience.
    Today he was gullible. A nice word, there was a ring to it and so he committed to it quickly.
    He went to a bookstore and selected the book with the boldest claim. “How to breathe underwater” it said and it was a thin one, too. So he sat down low on the beach and began to read, convinced he would have mastered breathing underwater by the time the flood submerged him.
    The book was practical, it mentioned how unfeasible it was to grow gills in the little time he had, so it clearly knew what it was talking about. So many exercises, many of the strange beyond imagination, yet he did them all and felt successful each time.
    It became hard to read when the tide washed over the pages, but it was still possible and even made the exercises a little easier. When the water reached his nostrils, he inhaled with confidence. Simon hoped the remaining adjectives would work underwater.
    Best book ever.

  12. zevonesque says:

    Beach Adventures
    A.J. Walker

    On the beach I lie on the sand and look up to sky remembering what it was like to come here as a child. This beach was an adventure playground for me and my sister, it went on forever. My parents would sit and read in the sun – or under the clouds – every so often looking out for us ‘make sure you don’t stray too far’.

    We ran to the sea. We always did that first. Challenged the waves to run over our feet in a wet game we eventually enjoyed losing. Then we’d walk along the water line looking for finds. Shells, polished stones, pieces of wood, random flotsam and jetsam. One year, the hot one of ‘76, we collected dinner plate sized jellyfish which covered the beach like random pop art. We piled them up into bizarre towers which inevitably fell down like melting Towers of Babel.

    The beach was always an adventure to us; the children. Mum and dad just read and ate their perfect little jam sandwiches and Granny Smith’s and drank tea from a gargantuan tartan flask (which needed a seat of its own in the car). Tea on the beach. How very civilised, how very English.

    They didn’t see our magical macabre towers that year. They missed them engrossed in Agatha Christies or Wilbur Smiths. They were reading adventures while we living them just metres away – if they’d just look up.

    That was then. Now it is me on the beach with a book. This place no longer a place for adventure just a setting like my living room. I have no children to enjoy vicarious japes with. My sandwiches are tuna from the garage and I’ve an orange and mango smoothie (the crisps didn’t make it out past the garage forecourt).

    As I look out to sea I notice the silhouettes of two children picking along the water’s edge, they keep walking back to some indiscernible collection point. I visualise wonderful towers rising to the sky, such feats of childhood engineering.

    I consider walking down to see what they are doing, before returning to my book; I need to know who’d done it.

    WC 360

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