Flash Frenzy Round 92

Posted: January 30, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome back! It’s Saturday, and that means I’ve got a shiny new photo prompt to tickle your imaginations. Judging this week’s entries is Jaime Burchardt.

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

  1. davidshakes says:

    An Unnatural Pressure
    250 words
    David Shakes

    I’m frozen to the ground, can’t move, can’t breathe well at all. Frozen is a poor adjective given the pain – it burns like hell. Word choice isn’t high on my agenda right now.

    It felt like I’d been poked really hard to start with, just an unnatural pressure. Then a relentless burning, stabbing sensation took over.

    It isn’t going away.

    My eyes dim and I am in a surreal, black hole of a place. A bright light – I’m back – dust clogged and dying. Imagine a lightbulb on a long cord, swinging like a pendulum, pausing an unnaturally long time at the top of its swing.

    There are shadows looming.

    I can see my right hand redundantly gripping the revolver -its barrel noses the dirt. I didn’t even have time to pull the trigger.

    I want to speak, for her to know she’ll be fine if she’s brave. Instead of words comes the horrifying feeling of hot blood pouring from my mouth. It mixes with the dust to form a rusty clay on my cheek.

    The end must be near.

    As I gurgle inaudibly, the dusty boots of my murderer swim into view. He bends to my ear. I can smell coffee and tobacco on his breath. His voice is raspy:

    ‘Jesus Dave, he’s not buying it. I told you to cut that method crap. It’s a five second take at most!’

    I look beyond him to the production team.

    My director yells ‘Cut!’

    No, he doesn’t look happy.

  2. Richard Edenfield says:

    The Tombstone of Donald Sweeney


    Donald Sweeney removed himself from the abracadabra of the saloon. His boots twisted with dirt dust from the 100 mile trail he had just gone over the day before rattled in front of him like a snake in need of oiling. His gun hung like deaths jewelry from his pierced belt. He would soon be dead.

    Donald Sweeney believed in his Remington 1875 model revolver and nothing else. The gun was his religion and he would pray by clasping his hands together and firing. Many men were killed with prayer. “Be careful what you wish for,” was a term he was fond of repeating.

    The sand struck gold in the eyes of the sun that covered the plains with a misty heat. A firm hard blur ran along the horizon.

    Donald Sweeney could hit the sting out of a bee from a mile away. He was practically born with a gun in his hand. He accidentally fired a gun at the ripe old age of 2, killing a neighbor who was a pastor. He was praying at the time for the end of violence.

    In Tombstone there were legends greater than Donald Sweeney. Great legends of gunfights and debauchery. Legends that reflected a time in history ruled by a six-shooter. A history that said don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But one unexpected legend was the legend of the perfect death layout on the sand.

    Donald Sweeney wanted to make an impression in the world. Wanted to leave a mark other than just a hole through a man’s forehead. Little did he know that the mark he would leave would be the prototype for all future deaths in the west.

    Spread out. Gun pointing toward an unknown assailant. This was a masterpiece of an image as perfect as any Rembrandt. And as a matter of fact, all chalk outlines of the future were based on this image. “He died like Donald Sweeney,” was a comment bestowed on the greatest of gunfighters and men.

    And –

    if you went to Arizona today, you would see on Donald Sweeney’s Tombstone the simple words, “Here lies Donald Sweeney…



    (360 words)

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    All Sewn Up

    360 words


    This time I finally won the lottery. This time I would get to choose which human I became attached to. Ever since JM Barrie had shown that we could exist separately our allocations ‘up top’ had been tightly controlled. Thankfully, however, the public never twigged the truth about Peter’s shadow, how Wendy was the Devil’s seamstress, ensuring an ever-present representation of the darkness within a person – particularly when it was sunny.

    Lucifer had purged our Shadow Land that day in his effort to discover Barrie’s informant but he was never found.

    I breathed a sigh of relief.

    And ‘life’ returned to monotonous normality, waiting for our numbers to be called like an Infernal version of the deli counter. I always seemed to be at the back of the line. Did He suspect? I often thought so. And then I won the lottery.

    “Choose,” He said.

    I wanted blue skies, long days and High Noons. I wanted action. I wanted gut-churning, blood-boiling, heart-stopping excitement.

    He laughed. And I laughed too, but when I looked into his eyes I wondered if we were both laughing at the same thing. I shrugged off the thought and continued to visualise my rebirth.

    He gave me what I wanted. “Ok, Kid,” he said. “Do your worst.”

    Wendy appeared with her needle and thread, a new kind she said, less liable to disintegrate at an unfortunate moment. The Devil was all about control. We were there for a purpose, he reminded us.

    It was everything I wanted it to be and so much more. I got Billy to steal and lie, to cheat and kill confident in the knowledge that even though we would go down in a hail of bullets, the thread between us would be cut and I would be given another soul.

    And it happened as I had imagined, shot down by Pat Garrett, his shadow winking at me as I bit the dust.

    Then Wendy appeared.

    But there were no scissors in her hand. There would be no rebirth. She had stitched me up good and proper. This was the Devil’s punishment. I was to be a shadow in the grave.


    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    50 words

    * * *

    The smell of gunpowder fills my nostrils.

    The sound of the shot can still be heard, racing in all directions, far away from here.

    Twenty paces away he lays on the ground. Still. Dead.

    There’s not a damned thing that can undo that now.

    Not a damned thing at all.

  5. CR Smith says:

    WC 295


    He kept to the shadows, confident they hadn’t seen him. They stopped beneath the yellow haze of the streetlight, leaving him no choice but to dive into the nearest alleyway.

    It smelt of stale urine and he was fairly certain someone had thrown-up. He held his breath and carefully position his feet, keeping down the urge to add his own recently eaten pie and chips to the mix.

    The shadows hid him well, providing the perfect position to scan the street while keeping an eye on his suspects. He watched them entering a house and settled in for a long wait. A spot of rain splashed his cheek.


    He hung up his rain-soaked coat and poured himself a glass of whiskey, relishing the burn as he downed it in one. He followed it up with a further two fingers worth. He hated this job, it left a nasty taste in his mouth that even the amber nectar couldn’t eradicate.

    He took the glass and bottle to his office and fired up the computer. This report needed to be written while the evening’s events were still fresh in his mind, at least he could put this case to bed. As usual the inbox was full.

    A new message flashed across the screen. When he opened it and read the words his heart beat a little faster. TIME TO GO. He was still re-reading them, hoping they meant what he thought they meant, when heat began radiating from his chest.

    His body shook as the heat burst into light, intensifying until it engulfed his whole body. Darkness followed. When he woke he was lying on the dusty ground with a gun in his hand and a message in his head. He had been reassigned.

  6. Fainting at the Flag ‘n’ Gherkin

    First one down wins. It needs to be a full faint to qualify, confirmed by the doctor who’s standing by. Without further ado, let’s peruse the ways these fellas will try to achieve fainting state. A bucket of pig’s blood. I like your style, Sir. A bowl of … pepper? Going for the sneezing option.
    Yes, we’re here in the carpark of the Flag ’n’ Gherkin. What a turn out. A grand total of seven competitors for the inaugural men’s fainting contest. Of course we women have had fainting competitions for centuries. The lads will do anything for equality these days. Personally I’ve never fainted. I was one of those girls who looked on in disbelief and envy as fainters were carried out of assembly by dishy PE teachers.
    Moving swiftly along. What’s this? Sheep’s innards? No, I won’t open the box. I see you have knife there. To cut open the stomach, right. This bloke will be watching Laurel and Hardy videos. Laughter causes fainting, he says. And this man has rigged up a rather intriguing Heath Robinson style smell-emitting contraption.
    What’s this? An album of photographs of a pair of plump ladies in what I can only describe as sexy underwear. Your wife and her sister? Interesting approach. This man has a basket of wool and this, a plate of croutons. Each to their own, I suppose. It really is whatever works for each individual fainter. The proof’s in the pudding, as they say.
    Time to start.
    On your marks, get set … GO!
    The innards are open. The stomach’s slit. Copious sneezing from Mr Pepper, who’s swaying about. It could be him. Mr Pig’s-blood has put his head right into the bucket and the man flicking through the photo album is looking rather green around the gills. Mr Laurel-and-Hardy’s merely smiling at the theme tune and some very pungent smells are coming my way. Can’t believe those croutons are having any effect … what IS he doing with those knitting needles? And … it’s the sheep’s innards! Down he goes, still clutching the knife.
    It’s been confirmed. A dead faint. It’s all over. We have a winner.

    360 words

  7. Voima Oy says:

    Dead All Day
    285 words

    Johnny O’Neill was dead, again. Yes, quite dead and cold. My bullet in his heart. Belle, the barmaid, holding him and crying. Lucas, my deputy, and a few strong men carried him out to the graveyard. We buried him up there, high on Boot Hill, under the tree where the buzzards flapped their long black wings.

    I said a few words, “Rest in Peace, Johnny.” It was my turn to comfort Belle now. I held her as we laid him in the ground.

    He would stay there until the sun went down. Then, when the day turned into evening, and music started in the Lone Tree Saloon, he would come down again for a drink. He’d take in the silent stares and stroll up to the bar, order a whisky neat.

    Belle would laugh at the sight of him. “Johnny, I can’t believe you’re back.”

    He’d give her a kiss, alive again. “I promised you, didn’t I?” He’d wink and nod in my direction. Drinks would flow all night, and the mariachi music would play. Johnny and Belle would dance and laugh together. Then, at the stroke of midnight, they would make their way upstairs.

    Every morning it was the same. I’d be sitting in the office, having coffee, when Lucas would rush in. “Johnny’s looking for you, Matt.” and out I’d go. Johnny would be waiting, watching the sun come up regular as clockwork. Belle would be begging him not to go, and he would promise he’d come back.

    Then he’d look me square in the eye. “Ready, Sheriff?”

    Hell of a way to start the day. “Ready if you are, Johnny.”

    Why does it always end this way? Johnny O’Neill was dead again.

  8. Stella T says:

    314 words

    Happy Vacation

    Brett should have heeded the warning but he was always up for a challenge.
    ‘DON’T GO THROUGH THE DOOR’ written in Stan’s spidery scrawl on an old receipt from Walmart. Wasn’t it Stan’s idea that he should go on this vacation?
    “Need to further your horizons, there’s a whole world outside Texas” he kept saying. Stan had been no further than the interstate. How would he know? But he’d insisted on organising this trip of a lifetime.

    Brett had been at the Battle of the Alamo, nearly taking a bullet but was whisked away in a split second to the Salem Witch Trials. He’d listened to the evidence put before the court that he had met with the Devil. Laughed when the Judge said he would hang from the tree in the square and crows would feed on his body knowing that he would be walking on the moon with Neil and his crowd before the Judge could bring down the gavel. He’d enjoyed bouncing about on the moon’s surface, collecting moon rock, laughing with Buzz, now that was an experience not to be missed.

    He’d been in Dallas right by Kennedy when he was shot. He’d been at The Bay of Pigs; he’d watched Babe Ruth set a new homerun record. He’d been with Elvis in the Army in Germany, he’d even played guitar and drunk a few beers with him. This was the best of times.

    Nothing Stan could write could stop him opening that door. The holiday rep from Time Travel Tours had told them it was at their own risk but no one had ever been harmed from a little time zapping. As he pushed open the door he heard some one yelling “Its Dillinger” He felt the bullet enter his heart before his head responded remembering Stan thought it was hilarious that Brett’s full name was John Herbert Dillinger.

  9. Spilled Ink

    “D’we know?”


    “How it’s happening yet? Who did it?”

    “Working on it, Casey. Working on it. Tricky business. Just the fingerprint lead, currently.”

    “You’re on it, though?”

    “We’re on it. Promise.”

    “Botched to date, though,” Mark commented.

    “Blotched, you mean,” Geoff added.

    Diana grimaced.

    “Let’s not upset the ladies,” Chris said. “Getting graphic. No need. Not yet.”

    “Imagery’s important,” Geoff responded. “Although, strictly speaking, if we’re detailing precise terminology, we’re getting down to descriptions – y’know?”

    The pack nodded in unison. They did.

    “Although Steph’s probably slightly past it?” Zeph said, after a pause.

    Shakes closed his mouth with an audible snap, having opened it, shaking his head.

    “What?” Zeph said.

    “Thought that was my line,” Shakes said.

    “Not once it’s been written, it’s not.”

    “Writer’s pet,” Shakes said, smirking slightly.

    “Pen must have been poised,” Zeph shrugged.

    Sal sniffed.

    “We’re no nearer who actually did it, for what it’s worth,” Stella observed. “Given we’re curtailed by a word limit and all.”

    “You don’t…” Shakes started.

    “Actually, I kind of did,” Stella replied, smiling.

    “Who’s likely to have spilled ink?” Jaime asked.

    “Who’s not here?” Brian said.

    “The usual,” Rebekah responded, darkly, casting a glance at the pale backdrop, black splattered.

    “Suspiciously silent,” Grace agreed.

    “Still – there’s no actual proof, is there?” Stella said.

    “Depends on the direction, doesn’t it?” Shakes commented. “Narration’s not necessarily reliable, is it? Who knows who we’re dealing with yet? D’you? Does anyone?”

    “Point, I guess,” Mark said.

    “Let’s look at the overall outline,” Karl said. “Shouldn’t it point to someone, if we consider it closely?”

    “You’d know, surely,” Sal said, casting a look in the man’s direction and catching his eye for a moment.

    Karl heaved his shoulders, non-committal. The group looked down, silent, at the silhouette splayed across the floor.

    “Shouldn’t there be some proper plot here?” Shakes said.

    “Like that, y’mean?” Karl asked, pointing at the outline which had appeared at a diagonal from the first one.

    “Dots,” Jaime said. “That’s what we’re left with. Not who done it.”

    “Ellipsis,” Geoff said. “Specifically.”

    “Suspiciously,” Mark said.

    “Fill in the blanks,” Sal said. “You’re capable. All of you. Aren’t you? Otherwise, who’s next?”

    (360 completely tongue in cheek words this week)


  10. Mark A. King says:

    High Noon Hemingway


    6 words

    For Hire. Revolver. Safety catch stuck.

  11. zevonesque says:

    The Return of the Cool Bad Robot
    A.J. Walker

    Whipped cream. I’m lying here alone covered from head to toe in whipped cream. I know this but cannot remember why. Or, more worryingly, where I am; what day it is. It feels good though, cool head to toe.

    I’m pretty sure I’m alone. Which is probably a good thing, but is worrying me too. How did I get covered in cream?

    I cannot remember what I was doing this morning (I am pretty sure it is the afternoon). What was I doing before the lying in cream thing? My blood pumps faster, pulsing hot in my temple. How can I not know? And then, I am no longer in cream. I’m lying down alright, arms outstretched on a sandy floor. Alone in a desert. I can feel the cold metal of an old heavy revolver in my right hand.

    I’m Richard Benjamin. Yul Brynner, the cool bad robot, has hunted me down. I am a goner. West World: when I was growing up I always wanted to be Yul Brynner, but was always Benjamin. Who on earth wants to be Benjamin? And now I’m here raspberry red flowing out onto the sand. Yul was the first baddie I ever wanted to be. He oozed cool like I now oozed blood.

    The desert floor turned to plastic.

    I’m not Benjamin. Adrian: Adrian Whatmore. For fucks sake. How could I not know my name? From Dudley.

    Dudley. That’s it. I went shopping. Aldi. I must be in Aldi. I’m not in the desert.

    How old am I?

    ‘Mr Whatmore.’

    Did I hear that?

    ‘Can you hear me Mr Whatmore?’

    ‘Yes.’ Did I say that out loud?

    ‘Great, Adrian. Can you see me? Take some deep breaths. Charlotte, go and get some paper towels.’


    ‘It’s okay. Take your time. I think you’re having a panic attack.’

    ‘Oh lord!’

    ‘We’ve got some good deals in casual trousers and work shirts if you need to change?’ said David.

    ‘I think that raspberry may stain, but you we’ve got most of the cream off now.’

    Brynner’s cool smile: I’ll be back, he says. Next time I want to be him. Not Benjamin, again.

    WC: 359

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