Flash Frenzy Round 95

Posted: February 20, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Good morning and welcome back, Flash Dogs. It’s round 95 here at the Angry Hour glass, and CR Smith is this week’s judge.

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. stephellis2013 says:

    King Rat

    357 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Vermin. Flying vermin. Riddled with disease, flocking to my side as if they sensed I was one of their own … birds of a feather and all that. Perhaps I am, although I have no wings, spend my time scurrying in the shadows, my hood covering my face.

    I throw them a few crumbs but it is not enough to feed their hunger so they continue to circle, sensing blood, stabbing with their sharp little beaks. I take the pain for a short while, searching for the victim inside, for an empathy that, as always, is missing. You can’t say I didn’t try.

    One of the birds is now regarding me with a look that I recognise, the one of utter stupidity that marks them out as truly – forgive the pun – bird-brained. I stroke its head, run my hand down its silky plumage, feel its heart beat beneath a fragile ribcage. That is another of my pet hates. I cannot forgive others their vulnerability, it enrages me, forces me into action. My hand closes round its scrawny little neck and I squeeze. Its companions don’t notice as I drop the carcass, instead they jostle to take its place, to share the same fate. I do not disappoint.

    Eventually I tire of the daylight, of the monotony of death. I prefer a challenge, the thrill of the dark, the secrets that it hides. I search for them, those self-righteous sinners, squeeze them too, although I allow their carcasses to walk … until they have served my purpose. Then I release them, allow them to choose life or shade. Am I not compassionate in granting them this freedom? After all, it is not for me to take a soul, I merely point them in the right direction.

    Do you recognise me yet? The man that stalks you in the dark, the woman who betrays your whispers, the ever present shadow. My enemies know who I am, declare I am a rat, that I belong in the sewer with the filth and corruption, the lies and deceit.

    But they are wrong.

    I am not a rat.

    I am King Rat.

  2. Stephen Lodge says:

    The Case Of The Violin (or The Violin Case)
    by Stephen Lodge.

    350 words

    @steveweave71

    “Come, come, old man, my dear friend” I said warmly “you are confusing “The Case Of The One Legged Cyclist” with “The Adventure Of Firk Hall.”

    I sat puffing at my pipe while my friend, the great detective, laid down his magnifying glass, his newspaper and his violin, his coffee, took off what was left of his smoking jacket, popped on his greatcoat and that hideous hat, smiling in that way that so irritated me and yet, so irritated me.

    “Quickly, old friend, the game is afoot. Let us traverse the fogbound streets of this London, or we’ll miss the kick-off.”

    “But..but..surely there’s no chance of the match between Clapton Orient and Accrington Stanley being played today” I blustered.

    “Nonsense.” The great detective snorted. “The game is definitely on. A bloke said. Down the pub.”

    “What’s that you say, old chap?” I watched him eagerly. “A bloke said? Down the pub? Then it must be true. But first, let me drop these 500 bags off to the boy in the square. Without this birdfeed, I fear the poor boy will himself be eaten by the pigeons.”
    “I’ll say it again, old thing, you are too good to those birds. I only give the boy feed for them when I need one to send a message for me. One day, perhaps in the next century there will be better and more hygienic ways to send messages than to tie a bit of paper to a pigeons’ leg. Now come, you old buffoon, or we’ll be late for the football.”

    The story may well have ended there, were it not for the fact that it went on a bit longer.

    It seems the bloke down the pub was wrong. The match had been postponed long before Stanley and his teammates had left Accrington. That was the final straw for me and when we got back to the warmth and comfort of our rooms, I told the astute detective in no uncertain terms that I had had enough.

    “I’ve had enough.” I said.

    “Those sound like no uncertain terms.” replied the great detective.

  3. Pigeon-like

    The day after the birds fell, Dad disappeared into his shed. All the birds had fallen from the sky, crashing through tree branches or washing up on the shoreline. Nests of babies tumbled to the ground. Parrots toppled off perches.
    Next morning, in the half-light of the eerily quiet garden, we passed Dad the things he asked for. Books, laptop, soldering iron, mature cheddar and crackers, wooden spoons, wire and double-sided tape in three colours.
    Later, a lorry came round to shovel up the limp bodies, hundreds in our street alone. We watched television footage of the fires, listened to experts talk and heard of whole battery farms full of chickens being declared unfit for consumption.
    We got used to our new life; Dad in the shed and us indoors keeping everything going and getting him what he needed. Bottle tops, paperclips, fruit and nut chocolate, coat-hangers, milk and tiny springs. Strange smells wafted from the shed. I once heard him swear but he was whistling again an hour later.
    After eight months he asked us to buy a 3D printer. Mum sold her diamond ring and Dad’s motorbike and arranged more shifts at work. I took over the cooking and cleaning at home. We lugged bags of grey plastic chips to the shed door. Pots of iridescent paints, brushes, bananas and black shiny beads.
    The day came. A year after the birds fell. Me and Mum in the garden, Mum holding a cake covered with flamingo-pink icing. The skylight sprang open. Thirty pigeons flew up and out. They flapped and we clapped and cheered. We watched them fly as far as the allotments and over the by-pass.
    Soon they returned, gathering around as I knelt to feed them tiny green plastic beads. I laughed as they nudged each other, all fluttering wings and shining eyes. Each one, despite being extremely pigeon-like, reminded me of Dad.
    Screwing his eyes up against the light, Dad stepped from the shed. His bushy beard had pieces of cracker in. He looked exhausted but very pleased with himself.
    ‘They’re brilliant, Dad. Can you do a Peacock next?’
    Dad grinned and handed me an egg.

    @SalnPage
    360 words
    #FlashDog

  4. Voima Oy says:

    Wings
    @voimaoy
    356 words

    When the Zika virus changed, Evie was one of the first mutations. She was born with flippers for legs; she could swim in the pool like a seal. Great Aunt Dora said Evie was gifted. When the girl developed functioning gills, her parents despaired. “We can live by the sea,” Great Aunt Dora told them.

    Evie also had something growing inside her head. “It looks like an eye,” the doctors said. “Whatever it is, it appears to be benign.”

    “Maybe she will have visions,” Great Aunt Dora said.

    Evie had visions of the sea; she could see the rising waters, and the cities floating above the waves. She drew pictures of tropical storms, coloring in the eyes of hurricanes.

    Evie had visions of the air; she dreamed of wings beating. She dreamed of murmurations, coastlines. She dreamed of wings aflame.

    “Wings!” Evie said. She pointed to the yellow canary in its cage by the window. “Wings!” she said to the tortoiseshell cat sleeping in the sun.

    Great Aunt Dora took Evie to the park every afternoon to feed the pigeons. Evie smiled at their soft cooing as she tossed them crumbs of bread.

    One mild March day, the sky was so sharp and blue you could almost see through it. Bundled in their winter coats, Evie and Great Aunt Dora watched the pigeons dancing. “The boys are bigger,” Great Aunt Dora explained. “See, their necks are all puffed out. Look at me, they say. The girls are pretending to ignore them. How beautiful they are in the sun, their feathers flashing!”

    Let us show you our world, the pigeons said. We will show you the air. We will show you the tops of the buildings that look like rising cliffs to us. Come fly away, they said.

    That evening, Evie had a headache. Usually, she enjoyed the cold bath before bedtime, lying submerged, breathing in and out. But tonight, she was tired and cranky. “It hurts,” she said.

    “Where does it hurt, honey?” Great Aunt Dora wrapped her in a fluffy towel.

    “Back here.”

    Back there, swellings on Evie’s shoulder blades, the buds of tiny wings.

  5. Lovely! Swimming AND flying. This Zika virus sounds all right …

  6. davidshakes says:

    I Hate Acrostics, Not Pigeons
    David Shakes
    28 words
    @theshakes72

    Parasitic pooping machines,
    Imbeciles still feed them,
    Guano splatters statues,
    Eradicate these pests,
    Once they’re gone, we’ll start on the squirrels,
    None of this is remotely serious,
    Shakes.

  7. Giving them wings.
    307 words
    @fae_fielding

    The boy waited.

    His own banishment did not worry him. His concern lay with the outcome of his argument with the Elders of the district.

    He dared to challenge the wisdom behind the district cleansing, caging of the slow witted, stubborn, impaired and unloveable. They were labelled dirty vermin.

    “They have other qualities. Give them time to discover their inner beauty and knowledge. Let them free.”

    “Who are you to question the decisions of the Elders and the district tradition?”

    He broke into their cage at night, left the door open for them to walk free.

    The Elders drove him away. Sent him to the city of a hundred tongues, amongst the homeless and the nameless.

    The Vermin, determined to find the boy so he could tell them more about their qualities, homed in on his light. 
It was not an easy quest. Some stayed behind, nervous about what lay ahead. The rest followed the path of his flight. They negotiated labyrinths of temptations, pain and gluttony. They braved storms, abuse, rejection and predators.
    
Some fell away, weakened by the journey, others found death waiting for them. It was a difficult search, even for the strong amongst them, but still they ploughed on.

    
Close to the fetid vagrants with sleeping bags, but far removed from the suited and brief-cased, the boy sat on the steps of the square. He heard calls and raised his head.
    His lips parted into a wide smile, his obvious delight showed clearly on his face.
    
One by one they appeared. 

    All of the remaining Vermin found enlightenment, as he predicted they would.

    Each had learnt their qualities and value to society along the way.
    They delivered, to the boy, their gifts of love, unity, truth, understanding, determination, loyalty, faithfulness and above all experience and wisdom.
    Their self discovery gave them wings. 
 


  8. @KreskaFiction
    349 words
    #flashdog

    Title: Soul Food

    Their scratchy claws made Helio feel sick; not because of his fear of catching a disease, it was more the case of remembering them dead. He dropped the remainder of the sticky, scarlet berries, the pigeons busied themselves eating. Their cooing and jabbing made Helio feel warm inside; he enjoyed being among them. Some were wobbling, walking into each other, many fell sideways as if suddenly shot dead. Helio picked one up, it flopped around in his hand. It wasn’t dead; only asleep, drunk on Uncle’s alcoholic berries. One by one they went down. No fuss, no cries – just a painless sleep. He hated chopping them at the neck; the small, unremarkable spurt of blood – then it was all over, made Helio sad.

    They had a full sack that day – 280 – the largest catch yet. The next day, more pigeons would carry on the family tradition of shitting on statues and hassling tourists; Helio wondered where they came from. Uncle said that all the souls of alcoholics come back as pigeons, that’s why they were so easily fooled by the smell of alcohol; or as his uncle put it: ‘it’s a like the wheel of fate that turns and you can’t get off’. Helio asked if the souls of pigeons come back as humans but his uncle never replied.

    At dinner, the family all ‘popped’ legs together; you pull on the claw and it makes the tiniest popping sound as the bone is removed from its gristle joint. Everyone; even granny, accentuated the sound by putting fingers in their cheeks and pulling. Helio stared at the charred feet, remembering them clambering over him only two hours before. Uncle was on his sixth glass of whiskey; his veiny, red cheeks and stubby, rosy nose reminded Helio of the 1960’s bawdy seaside postcard collection his aunt kept in her top drawer. She brought them out every Christmas and passed them around for a giggle. Helio didn’t laugh when Uncle removed his false leg; rubbing furiously on the stump while downing his seventh glass of whiskey; but he imagined the ‘pop’.

  9. davidshakes says:

    This Is The Way The World Ends – Not With A Bang But A Flutter.
    David Shakes
    9 words
    @theshakes72

    Too late, humanity realised the pigeon apocalypse had begun.

  10. A.J. Walker says:

    Priceless Moments
    A.J. Walker

    When she four Lizbeth stopped smiling. She stopped talking: to everyone. Her parents cried. All the time. Helpless to know what was wrong. Their beautiful angel lost in front of them.

    Everyone noticed it. The weird kid. It was the poor parents they felt sorry for. Lizbeth was beyond help.

    It was said she could drain the colour and light out a room faster than a party political broadcast.

    At school she ignored the other kids. She played by herself. She wrote her homework and otherwise progressed like a normal kid. But she never spoke and would never write about her feelings. The teachers would let her sit alone and get on with her lessons without interaction. Happy in the knowledge they’d tried everything and that although she was obviously quite otherworldly she at least caused no trouble.

    At breaks she would stand at the fence looking out across the fields and she’d draw. Everyone marvelled at her drawings. She only drew birds. But they were the most detailed alive birds you’d ever see. In the blur of an eye she would capture a moment in time with a single sketch.

    The art teacher, who’d studied for twenty seven years, was incredulous at Lizbeth’s ability.
    ‘If she never utters another word, but can create such beauty then Lizbeth will be the brightest star this school has ever produced,’ he said.

    And as she grew older her parents learnt to live with her ways. She never missed a day at school. Went to her room on time. Ate all her greens (even broccoli). Did all her homework. And never argued.

    She just never spoke. Never smiled.

    Except.

    Except when they fed the birds. Every day she’d take the crumbs to the town square. She’d walk into the mob of pigeons and be engulfed. Sometimes she was hard to see there were so many. But when you could see her face, her hair flying in the wind of their wing beats, her face lit up the world.

    See, she could be happy: she was happy. At least for those moments. And her parents loved this.

    One day their angel would speak again.

    —-
    WC:360
    @zevonesque
    #FlashDogs

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