Flash Frenzy Round 94

Posted: February 13, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome back. It’s Valentine’s Weekend at The Angry Hourglass, and this week’s judge is AJ Walker.

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. Love Potion at the Stilton and Maggot

    Kelly was leaving on the three-fifteen. She didn’t want to. She’d enjoyed working at the Stilton & Maggot. Left a case behind too. She’d miss her tortoise, Mawkish. He was happy in that case when she was in the bar.
    It’d all kicked off when Kelly spent a week’s wages on a love potion from that gypsy woman in the market.
    For Bob.
    ‘Put it in any drink. Five minutes and he’ll fall in love with you. Forever.’
    Forever. Was that what she wanted?
    Bob was funny. Even his bad jokes were good. It was the delivery. His grin, twinkly eyes and the way he did the voices. And there was that time when he’d shouted out a jokey quiz answer and she’d simultaneously whispered exactly the same to Maggie.
    Yeah, Bob was all right.
    Only, these woman were calling for G&Ts and Frankie was asking how many boxes of Ready Salted were left. Kelly got muddled. Old Ken – ninety with only a single tooth in his head, apparently – got the potion-spiked pint meant for Bob.
    Ken downed his beer in minutes, held up the glass and winked slowly. Kelly could feel his eyes on her as she worked. His gurning grimaces proved the one-toothed rumour beyond doubt. He slapped her on the bottom, saying his caravan was just up the road past the abattoir.
    Horrified, she’d legged it.
    Minutes till departure. There was Bob, running with her case. Ah! Fate. Kismet. The universe speaking. Whatever. Mawkish and Bob.
    The train was moving. Bob looked unsure what to do. He tried to throw the case but it fell and was crushed. The train came to a halt.
    ‘Mawkish!’
    Kelly laughed at Bob’s puzzled face.
    He grinned nervously. ‘Old Ken keeled over dead in the toilets. There’s lock-in in his honour. Come on, I could murder a pint.’
    She told him what was in the case.
    ‘I’m so sorry.’
    ‘It was an accident. He was very old.’ She smiled, pulling something from her pocket. ‘At least I still have Cheesy.’
    Together they plunged into the busy bar. Kelly hoped Bob didn’t mind her having a weasel in her pocket.

    @SalnPage
    360 words
    #FlashDog

  2. Cheesy and Mawkish? Great idea, Sal, to include a review inside your own entry. 😉
    I wondered why the odd name for the pub, until I discovered that “mawkish” has an obsolete meaning of “maggoty”.
    [ Still working on entry containing “pathetic” and “risible”… ]

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    Heartless

    329 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    The train had left the station in more ways than one. Andrew could only watch helplessly as its sleek carriages rushed Ellie into the Repopulation Zone leaving him behind. Those lands, finally declared free from contamination, required settlement. He ignored the curious looks directed at the small pink case clutched tightly to his chest. It was all he had left of her.

    “Take my heart,” she had said before they had interred her in the suspension capsule. “Keep it close. There will be time enough to return it during the recovery process. Promise me.”

    And he had promised. Had kept her heart in a small cryo-jar in the pink case together with the letters he had written to her during the years she had been absent from him. The lead surgeon at Frozen Futures, he had had more than ample opportunity to return the vital organ but something had continually stayed his hand, prevented him from acting. Perhaps it was the other women who had claimed his attention during his enforced bachelorhood, perhaps it was the fear of how she would react to an older version of him whilst she had remained as young and beautiful as ever, perhaps it was not wanting to give up his now comfortable way of life despite their youthful vows to be pioneers in a new world. He had let Ellie take the risks. And that was how he knew what it was that had stopped him, held him back; he was a coward and he could never let her see the man he had become.

    A voice roused him from his reverie.

    “Sir, the next Revival Train will leave in an hour. We have extra capacity if you wish to follow on.”

    Andrew shook his head. It was too late. Already they would be trying to resuscitate her, bring her back to life, and they would fail because of him. He had lost her but her heart would always be his.

  4. davidshakes says:

    A right plum, on his own in the train station, with the lunchbox.
    (or – They leave you clues though, don’t they though?)
    360 words – 2 rude (sorry Mum).
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    Doubt set in before the train had rounded the corner. He saw her hand still waving, could make out her unfaltering smile but something didn’t connect.
    Back in the station’s grey interior he tried to shake off the idea that this trip was no more than an elaborate ploy to escape him.
    Questions:
    Had she loosened her grip a little too quickly as the train pulled away?
    Were her eyes smiling as she’d flashed those prefect teeth?
    Did dentists really have conventions so far from where they worked?
    Was it really mandatory for dental hygienists to accompany them?
    His heart sank further when he saw he still held the pink lunchbox she’d been so keen for him to retrieve from the car instead of spending a final half hour together.
    ‘Here, take this money, treat yourself in the dining car.’ he’d said.
    ‘No, I made everything special.’ she’d insisted.
    Flopping onto a bench, he bent forward – lunchbox on lap.
    He felt light headed. His throat was sore. Tears began to well in his eyes.
    This wasn’t right.
    He opened the lunchbox and there was all the evidence he needed.
    There were two of everything inside: two cupcakes with the pink frosting he loved; two pots of delicately sliced summer fruits (she loved dipping strawberry pieces into that frosting); two rounds of sandwiches – crusts removed and sliced into fingers.
    ‘Jonathan will be travelling ahead.’
    Bullshit – and now he knew it. He hadn’t even asked about her employer when she’d shoehorned him into the conversation.
    She’d made sandwiches that way ever since he’d treated her to afternoon tea at a swanky hotel.
    From that day on she’d known – ham only.
    He was so allergic to mustard he couldn’t even play cluedo with breaking out in hives he’d joked.
    And yet now, as he stared at the picnic for two, its yellow tinge was plain to see. It stained the perfect white bread at its edges – threatened to seep between its pores to the surface.
    Later, he’d come to think of it as a metaphor for how she’d pissed all over their relationship.
    Right now, he needed antihistamines.

  5. Haha! Very good! ‘Prefect teeth’ … intentional? Or one for Geoff to point out? 😉

  6. Voima Oy says:

    Love Train
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    “Come with me my love,” the Muse said, “and we shall leave this limited life of drudgery and pain. We will travel the open sky. We will dance together in the rain. Oh come with me!”

    Harold briefly considered the untethered life, but as an accountant, he weighed the pros and cons, the double entry bookkeeping of the heart. It would not do. He had to go to work. It was Monday.

    “Please.” The Muse was a tiny brunette, and not used to rejection. She was a young Muse though, and did not understand her power to make men weep and worship her. She was flirty and teasing. She thought Harold was cute and clean-cut, not like the shaggy boy poets who followed her with their mournful eyes when she walked into a room.

    The older Muses were wiser in their ways. You must understand, they said. This is a journey of a lifetime, you and the chosen ones. They will watch the shadows of your face, the curves of your closed eyelids.

    I lightly go, she wanted to say. I am not in it for the life of me. You have known so many, Plato and Homer and Keats and Yeats. I don’t care for yellow flowers. But I do want the pilgrim soul.

    Harold stood on the platform, among the crowd of commuters in the sea of black coats,waiting for the train. The voices in his head were troubling, like the twittering of strange birds. He decided to get more coffee. There was time before the train.

    “Wait!” the girl said. She was not just a voice now, but a flesh and blood person, her face framed in a black hooded coat. “You dropped this.” She handed Harold his wallet.

    “Oh, hey, thanks.” He found himself blushing, falling into the dark pools of her eyes. He saw fig trees and mountains and ocean waves. There was a yellow sand beach, and white gulls along the shore. She was wearing a flowered bikini and a matching scarf fluttering in the tropical breeze.

    “I’m Yuki,” she said. “My name means snow.” She laughed as the wind blew snow in their faces.

  7. A Conscious Coupling

    “She’s so still,” Mike said, looking at the body, pale limbs fully suspended, lips deep blue amidst the marble face surrounded by dark hair.

    “Sleepers always are, straight before a coupling,” Caretaker said. “Still suspended pending further payment. His grey eyes twinkled. “You can touch her, if you like. She won’t mind. Won’t even know.”

    Mike cast the caretaker a quick glance.

    “We’ve done a full wipe already. Properly uncoupled from the last session. No residual memory.”

    “She’s gone out before?” Mike asked.

    “How many times, you’re wanting to know, now?” Caretaker replied. “’Course, you – they – always do.” He sighed. “This one’s clean. Soulmate status only. Simply didn’t suit the last one. Wasn’t his type.” The caretaker paused. “Get to know her. Match or not. Don’t deal in shenanigans in this section. That may or may not be down the hall. Simply couldn’t say.” Caretaker gave the other man a surreptitious wink.

    “But I can take her out?”

    “Sure thing. Once she’s signed off and yours. After that’s your business. Your responsibility then. Depends if you’re bothered about talking to her first. Male mileage generally differs.” Caretaker shrugged his broad shoulders. “Contract still stands.”

    Mike swallowed.

    “We charge by the hour, so might want to make your mind up,” the man added.

    “Will you wake her?” Mike asked.

    “Sleeping beauty?” Caretaker asked. He laughed a little, not unkindly. “Proper gent, aren’t you – wanting a first date to reminisce over later on down the line? Takes them a little while to adjust, like, once they’re woken. Might want to bear that in mind. Makes it a little more interesting sometimes, shall we say?”

    Mike looked directly at the caretaker for a moment without speaking. “Okay,” he said simply, then nodded. He reached out a hand and took the cold flesh of the girl into his own. He shivered slightly, fingers still pressed around her smaller ones. “Will she warm quickly?”

    “Once she’s properly out of hibernation.”

    “Okay. Get her to talk to me, then.”

    Caretaker nodded, beginning to move around the room.

    “Hello,” Mike said, as the girl’s eyelids began to flutter. Her mouth opened, gasping, lips parting wide to howl.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  8. Fae Fielding says:

    Train of Thought.
    345 words
    @fae_fielding

    The tutor handed back her final assessment.
    “Read my example of a happy ever after, again. Then maybe I could meet you after the course to give you some pointers. You show promise.”
    “No thanks.”
    She remembered the corny example.

    ‘John jumped across the gap, onto the last carriage. The bomb was set to go off soon. He leant forward to unhitch the carriage from the rest of the train, as he did so he looked straight into her eyes.
    “Goodbye, darling. Remember I loved you.”
    Her heart lurched as he separated the carriage. It was in that moment she realised If she couldn’t be with him, she didn’t want to be with anyone else either.
    She jumped across the gap to join him.’

    Bleugh! Her heroine wasn’t that stupid, if the hero was daft enough to get himself blown up, then he could do it on his own, she’d find someone else.
    She packed away her laptop, tossed her Romance Writers course booklet into the bin on the way out of the room, heard the tutor call her name, but carried on walking.

    “Wait!”
    She turned, glimpsed the pink briefcase, and quickened her step. How very ‘Barbara Cartland’, she would stick to writing crime and thriller novels. Romance was definitely not for her.

    The tram was at the platform.
    She was aware of her tutor still following as she boarded the last carriage.
    Then as the tram began to pull away, he shouted to her.
    “Don’t go! Give me your hand to help me on, I need to see you again. We need to talk.”
    Something cruel inside her made her reach out, despite having no intention of helping him up.
    He threw his briefcase at her feet and stretched, almost grasping her hand.
    “I’ve loved you from the moment you joined my class. If I can’t be with you, I don’t want you to be with anyone else either.”
    She withdrew her hand, as planned.
    Then as she looked at the briefcase, the realisation of his words and intention slowly dawned on her.

  9. Mark A. King says:

    Angel of the North(ern Line)

    @making_fiction

    312 words

    Barry the Spank Engine, wasn’t happy about the multitudes of copycat Fifty Shades books.

    He used to be a train with dignity, with respect.

    The trains passing through station 10 5/6 at King’s Kross took on the personas of the fictional characters from the first commuter to read a book in one of their carriages.

    It was Valentine’s day and he’d had better days.

    Why did the woman in the white dress do it? Must have been one of those freebies on Kindle.

    Or…

    Maybe her Valentine’s dream was meeting someone weirdo passenger on the tube? The sort of bloke who has strange tastes—like the guy who walked in after her—with his torso-hugging business jacket above and his tourniquet jeans, and his pretentious look-at-me swing of his crimson kids-lunchbox designer man-bag.

    But he wasn’t the only weirdo. She had plenty of choice, if that was her thing; this was the London Underground after all.

    Barry, wondered why she couldn’t have picked something else to read.

    Why couldn’t he be the Specsavers wizard? He’d use his spells and magic wand to temp the Angel of the Northern Line, now she was an engine to behold—they’d softly kiss buffers across the tracks. Maybe they could play a game of QuickDitch.

    He’d even have been content at being the quasi-religious bloke in khaki robes, he’d swing across the platform, wielding his laser cutlass, giving her a wink of a wonky wiper blade on window, maybe even a bit o’ screen wash – the ladies love a guy who can cry, right?

    But no, Barry was a trillionaire wannabe—with a playroom that didn’t consist of an Xbox or PS4.

    But here she was… an angel, a Virgin (Pendolino), travelling to Lime Street. She zoomed past him in a blur. Not even a honk of the horn—she wasn’t that type of engine.

    Maybe next year.

  10. goldzco21 says:

    Photoshoot

    “Hurry up,” she said agitated. “OMG. Are you seriously drinking a beer right now?”

    He knew it was a rhetorical question, as the can was perched atop his bare thigh, but he answered in the affirmative anyway.

    “You knew we had a photoshoot. Are you trying to screw it up?” she whined.

    He thought about the question and opened his mouth to answer, but before he could respond, his phone vibrated. He peeled it off the sofa cushion and looked at the notification.

    “V-day photoshoot with John in 30 mins. He’s STILL in his underwear drinking beer. Feeling—Frustrated. *hopeless face emoji*”

    John was surprised at how fast she had posted the status, but the speed she possessed was nothing in comparison to how quickly her friends offered up their own criticisms.

    “Not cool John.”

    “You should be thanking your lucky stars that you married someone as great as Joyce.”

    “I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it cutie *winky face emoji* Message me.”

    “What a pig?”

    The onslaught was typical. Joyce posted everything online. The only reason she wanted the photos was so she could post them and receive the hundreds of likes—most of them from men she didn’t know—she enjoyed chasing.

    But the criticisms and the unreciprocated (he hoped) flirtations didn’t bother him as much as the pictures. Joyce staring at him on an old wooden bridge, with such an intense look of passion that he almost believed it. Or the picture of them lying in a meadow, giddy with love. She only ever looked that happy when she was on her phone.

    But the worst was the train photo: His hand reaching for her and on Joyce’s face a smirk, malevolence in her cold, blue eyes. She was acting out a not-so-secret fantasy where she was finally escaping from him with a clear conscience because her pathetic man couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t stretch far enough, and didn’t try hard enough, to reach her.

    “Well? Are you going to get ready?” she asked.

    John stretched his arm toward her. She looked at him disgusted. He moved her aside. “You’re blocking the T.V.”

    @goldzco21
    #flashdog
    360 words

  11. @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Count: 360

    The Tracks of My Tears

    “Shit!”

    The traffic lights were red—again! That was every junction since I’d joined the main road.

    “Come on, come on!” Patience was never my strong suit, but I thought I was entitled to be aggravated that day.

    “Please, God,” I prayed, “just once let something go smoothly!”

    I was already ten minutes behind schedule to catch the 12:24 train to Liverpool—home of ‘The Poisoned Pen’, a publishing house that specialised in whodunnits. They’d shown interest in the synopsis of my new novel; I’d decided to take it to them in person, give ‘em the hard sell.

    “Lights on green! At last!”

    But 300 yards down the road I ran into roadworks… “Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!” I checked my watch, tapped the steering wheel impatiently. Eventually, I got passed, gunned the engine, and raced to the station.

    There was a queue at the ticket office as my train pulled in on the opposite platform. Snatching my ticket, I ran to the underpass and through the tunnel. I took the steps up to the platform two at a time, but before I reached the top, I heard the station platform guard blow his whistle. Its dying notes sounded like a dirge for my lamentable attempt to resurrect my writing career.

    A dark-haired girl leaned out of the door window in the last carriage, I sprinted along the platform, hoping she’d open it to let me jump on board. But, inevitably, I tripped. Trying to keep a grip on my red briefcase, my hand shot into the air as I fell; I must have looked like some grim-faced, badly-tailored Chancellor of the Exchequer from the Thatcher era.

    I sprawled among the chewing gum and pigeon droppings as the briefcase disappeared under the train. I watched my gravy train leave the station; the leaves on the line were from the manuscript of my magnum opus. My forehead slumped to the concrete, and I sobbed.

    “You alright?”

    Turning my head, I saw the concerned, caring face of a stunning blonde leaning over me. All the tension drained from my body.

    “Yes. Yes, I’m fine,” I said.

    And that, kids, is how I met your mother.

  12. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    268 words
    #Flashdog

    A Plate of Pasta

    The restaurant was buzzing with loved up couples. The noise was pretty intense. It had taken her seven whole months to get here. He looked old enough to be her father but wasn’t that the whole point of a honey trap. He started to say “I” and she finished his sentence by putting a bullet clean between his dull grey eyes, it was so easy, he fell conveniently face down in a plate of pasta. Everyone carried on with their lives, helped by a silencer, Luigi dropping a tray of expensive crystal glasses on the other side of the room and a distracting cheer going up in acknowledgement of his clumsiness.

    Placing the gun back in her designer handbag she glided to the exit door, Luigi close by her side, too close. He was running on euphoria. He couldn’t believe how she could con an experienced field officer like Baker. This sweet little pixie was a witch with no heart.

    “Why did you choose tonight of all nights”

    She wasn’t going to answer but he deserved a crumb or two.

    “I hate Valentine’s Day. He was going to say I love you, marry me or I arrest you and either one was going to delay me catching the train out of here”

    Luigi felt a surge of happiness; theirs was going to be a long and productive relationship like Bonnie and Clyde, Posh and Becks, Gin and Tonic.

    She felt his excitement another hindrance; luckily she had more bullets, one with his name etched on. She hated clingy men. That’s why she was so good at her job.

  13. Stella T says:

    whoops forgot a ? after Why did you choose tonight of all nights….. 🙂

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