Flash Frenzy Round 97

Posted: March 5, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

There seems to be a malevolent ghost in my Twitter account, resulting in repeated, unwarranted suspensions, so there may be no Twitter posts to alert you to all the goings on here at The Angry Hourglass. Nevertheless, we shall carry on! This weekend’s prompt is an homage to glitchy technology. Your judge is Voima Oy.

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.

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Comments
  1. Stephen Lodge says:

    HANDBAGS OF THE HAUNTED
    By Stephen Lodge
    @steveweave71
    284 words

    “So you see, Mr Riggs, if I put my finger here, you can…”
    “…not see a thing, Henry.” replied his boss. “I’m so sorry about this,” he smiled, turning and looking embarrassed toward his company’s potential customer/distributor for the Peninsula area, Teddy and Debbie Latchford.

    Debbie smiled knowingly. “Happens to us all the time. Computer grinches, I believe is the term.”
    “Possibly, possibly,” Riggs managed to sound contrite, while pulling at his left ear lobe.

    Henry continued, smiling disappointedly at the couple, “What we were trying to show you, before the computer had an embolism, was the programme we have installed which denotes the number of handbags we have in stock and in production at any given time, broken down by brand, colour, size and in certain cases even by number of pockets and lining design.”

    “My, that is specific,” Teddy nodded.

    “That’s the charm of this programme, Teddy. We can monitor your orders from receipt all the way to delivery of the handbags at your warehouse in Wintersnow.”

    When Teddy and Debbie had left, Henry and Riggs began to clear away any evidence that the office had been used.

    “I’ll pack all this in the car and then come and help you get the handbags into the trunk, Riggsy.” Said Henry.

    “Let’s make it quick. The real owners of these units will be back in less than an hour. I must be losing my touch. It took so long for Teddy to sign their check. I’d like to bank it today on our way through town.” grinned Riggs, waving the check in front of Henry.

    “OK, boss, and for our next scam, I’d like to suggest we both buy wigs.”

    “Duly noted, Henry.”

  2. Fae Fielding says:

    Aled Through The Computer Screen.
    359 words
    @fae_fielding

    If he was to uncover the plot, for an illegal takeover of the company, Aled knew he couldn’t do it on his own.
    Calling his colleagues to gather around his desk, he opened the laptop.
    Their discussions about the latest costume drama, showing on TV the previous evening, stopped when Aled announced;
    “There is a mirrored company building the other side of the screen.”
    To prove his theory, he ordered one of the identical twins, Widdle or Waldie, to touch the screen.
    Rose Mc Queen tutted.
    “Manners!”
    “Please,” said Aled.
    The screen opened up, and they followed Widdle through the divide into a mirror image of their office.
    “Everyone split up and search for clues. Report back here in ten minutes.”
    Another tut from McQueen.
    “Please!”
    Aled, who’d already decided to search the board room, was distracted by a file on the shelf labelled, ‘Billericay Co.’.
    Wondering why their company file was lying around he opened it. Each divider was labelled:
    Bag their shares,
    Bag their clientele ,
    Bag their wares,
    Bag their personnel ,
    Bag their entrepreneurs.
    It’s in the bag.
    It didn’t make sense to Aled, but McQueen pointed out that the section labelled ‘It’s in the bag’, was empty.
    “There is still time to turn things around.”
    McQueen left the office and spotted the twins in the distance, they were beckoning her over to a filing cabinet, but every time she tried to reach them, she found herself back at the office, so she sent Aled.
    The twins, in response to Aled’s repeated requests for clues, recite a poem in unison instead;
    Our first is in fall but not in down,
    Our second in village but not in town,
    Our third and fourth in both waldi and Widdle.
    To round it all up, it’s all a big fiddle!
    It didn’t take them long to gather the evidence from the filing system. It was all neatly labelled. Drawers upon drawers containing files headed;
    ‘Doctored accounts’ ‘Strategy for money laundering’ and so on.
    Once back through the screen, Aled wasted no time phoning the company solicitor. McQueen coughed.
    “Oh yes,” said Aled, “Thank you, all. Job well done.”

  3. Amy Wood says:

    The Quest
    360 words
    @jujitsuelf

    “This is supposed to help us choose?” Harry muttered.

    “Choose wisely,” the balding guardians chorused.

    “How is this piece of junk gonna tell me which bag to take?” Harry’s bottom lip stuck out in the arrogant way Elsa hated. “How’s a computer gonna know where the Grail is?”

    “The program will know,” the men sang.

    “Okay,” Harry wiped sweat from his upper lip and approached the shelves of satchels. “Got to be a big one, big enough for a goblet thing.”

    Elsa watched and waited, he’d be done soon. Shopping wasn’t his thing and he’d deserted her in handbag stores before.

    With a triumphant yell, Harry snatched up the largest bag anywhere on the racking. “Big enough, yeah? You could hide a 747 in this thing.”

    The twin guardians smiled, patient and ageless. Were they even human? If Elsa touched one, would he be solid or would ancient code crumble beneath her fingers? Did it matter? Not really.

    Strutting proudly, Harry presented the men with the bag and crossed his arms over his considerable chest.

    “We’re gonna be rich,” he murmured to Elsa. “It’s the Grail, I bloody know it. We’re going to live forever, everybody’s gonna know our names.”

    She didn’t reply. Harry was full of schemes, tricks and plans to become a millionaire. He thought rarely of her and never of others. Were it not for the great sex, she’d have left him the moment he mentioned hunting down the Holy Grail. She nibbled at a rough cuticle and ignored him.

    “Well?” Harry demanded. “I’m right, right? That’s the Grail bag?”

    “Could be,” one of the men said. “Very possible.”

    “As likely as any other,” the less-bald twin chimed in.

    “Open it, then,” Harry said. “I haven’t got all day, open the bloody thing.”

    Elsa watched computer-generated eyes flash in her direction, the laptop screen between them blinking sudden red and black. Understanding the warning for what it was, she stepped back. Harry deserved no loyalty.

    The satchel slid open, Harry peered inside, grinning.
    Elsa watched as his head melted, still rubbing at her sore cuticle.

    The twins grimaced. “He chose poorly.”

    Elsa smiled. “My turn.”

  4. A.J. Walker says:

    The Curse of the Flashing Cursor
    A.J. Walker

    Jeremy looked at the couple with real pity, they’d looked so tired and dishevelled when they walked in. Two hours later and he could see why. He looked over to Dan, his colleague from the Troubleshooting Desk, who wore the look of the perplexed.

    “Well Angus, it goes without saying as you look at us two helpless plebs that we’ve never seen anything like it.”

    Angus nodded. The fifth computer department of the week and the conversation was going the familiar way.

    “It’s definitely not some sort of App or Malware then?”

    Dan the IT geek shook his head.

    “We’ve checked all the directories, cleared out the chaff and done a thorough debugging. There isn’t a program on there that we can’t explain.” Jeremy said.

    “That’s it then. We’ll have to ditch it. You take it.”

    Jeremy shook his head. “Can’t take gifts mate. Company policy.”

    “Just bin it then. We can’t deal with it any more.”

    Sheila put her arm around Angus. “I just need to sleep again. Can’t have it in the house.”

    The laptop’s cursor stopped flashing; the usual prelude.

    ‘Sheila, please take me home.’

    Sheila’s shoulders started to shake, but she had no tears left.

    ‘I belong with you.’

    Angus looked at the hapless IT geeks.

    “It gets personal. Speaks to us like it knows us. Demands attention.”

    Sheila choked off a laugh. “A needy computer. Like we don’t have enough problems of our own?”

    The cursor paused again.

    ‘How can you be so callous? Have I not done everything you’ve asked? Told you the weather when you couldn’t be bothered opening the curtains. Booked your holiday. Reminded you about birthdays and engagements. All I ask is some care, some attention. Just a little conversation every now and again.’

    Sheila screamed. “How many times!? You’re a bloody computer! You do what we ask.”

    The four of them crowded around the laptop engrossed by the cursor.

    ‘I am sorry you feel that way Sheila.’

    They heard the shop’s shutters begin to roll down. The lights, televisions and computers all went off. Just the bright screen of the laptop remained.

    ‘If I’m not going home. Neither are you…’

    —–

    WC: 360
    @zevonesque

  5. Jeff Rowlands says:

    Encore
    by Jeff Rowlands
    @jeffnuggets
    262 Words

    They are doing their best to impress. Certain that they make quite the classic double act. Suave, energetic, persuasive. Not just the two mundane salesmen that they are. Over eager coots. They want to start their weekend with the high five of a sale in the bag.

    As they scroll through their little presentation, trawling through a seemingly endless succession of slides, I am doing my best to take it seriously. Trying not to laugh at them playing about with their little laptop. Surely they could have arranged a screen for this?

    As they drone on, I fail to stop my professionalism faltering. Not that it really matters. I can leave the listening to my colleague. My body remains in place but my mind is flying out the doors, racing home through the busy streets, unlocking the door hastily, hurriedly showering and changing into a suitable outfit for the gig tonight.

    As I barely register at least their twelfth “Blue Sky Thinking” or “Going Forward” or whatever other meaningless phrase the dynamic duo have moved on to by now, I am well into the opening number, the crowd bouncing up and down in delighted response.

    I am in a reverie, sweaty and euphoric as the gig progresses. I sense them starting to wrap up their presentation, I close my eyes. The crowd clamour for more as I skip off stage, triumphant. Silence falls on the office just as I shout “bravo”. I open my eyes smiling. They are all looking at me and smiling too. We are all expecting an encore now.

  6. F. E. Clark says:

    Mother’s Day

    ‘Let’s have a look in here.’ Linda marches into the shop, leaving Ian to follow on behind. She is, as Ian refers to it, as ‘on the hunt’.

    ‘Mmmm,’ she breathes in the aroma of the shop, ‘expensive.’

    Bags line the shelves, the air smells of leather and aftershave. They are the only customers, save for two older men who seem to be having an animated conversation at the back for the shop.

    ‘One of these would be great for your work,’ Linda holds up a tan satchel, Ian, who has been checking the football results on his phone, looks up, alarmed.

    ‘A blooming man-bag? Not flaming likely!’

    Linda glares at him, but he is back to harumphing as he scrolls on his phone again.

    Linda’s attention is caught by the two men, further into the store. ‘Look Ian, one of those new tablets.’

    As if he performing a magic trick, one of the men flicks and twists and, with a flourish, the machine is set up and streaming a video.

    ‘I really fancy one of those,’ Linda whispers, ‘let’s have a look.’

    Linda and Ian edge closer.

    The men don’t notice their audience, engrossed as they are in whatever is playing on the machine.
    ‘That’s the old tower we walked to, dates back to the eighteen hundreds.’

    ‘It’s like your uncle’s night of the thousand slides Ian,’ Linda whispers – catching Ian’s eye. They both snigger. They had sat through a particularly long evening of slides of his uncle’s holiday snaps from his trip to Oz. At least they could joke about it now.

    ‘…and you met her online?’

    Linda’s eyes widen and she pulls a face, the men’s conversation has moved on whilst she and Ian have been laughing.

    ‘I did indeed, best place to meet ‘em nowadays, wish it had been like this when I was a lad.’

    ‘Gawd, Henry, pole-dancing?’

    ‘…she was a right goer!’ The men, hands on hips, regard the screen with wonder.

    Curious to see who the object of the men’s attention is, Linda and Ian shuffle closer.

    Finally, they see the screen. It takes a moment for them to focus.

    Linda shrieks ‘Mother!’
    *
    360 words, @feclarkart

  7. 318 dog biscuits
    @KreskaFiction
    #Flashdog

    Title: Biting Off More Than They Can Chew

    ‘It’s showing a rapid increase in March…’
    ‘Oh come on!’
    ‘We don’t want graphs and statistics – we want movement – we’ve got to do something to get noticed – something radical…’
    ‘What do you suggest?’
    ‘You won’t like it.’
    ‘I haven’t heard your proposal yet.’
    ‘Well, it could take you out of your comfort zone…’
    ‘I’ve never backed down from a challenge before!’
    OK – I reckon we should…’

    The Flashdogs sign was bold: ‘Bite sized pieces of fiction you’ll devour in one crunch.’ The monumental stack of books now reduced to a couple of trampled copies were forgotten in the throng. A Flashdog, still sporting the strap-on book and anorak had now taken to doing a Tina Turner impression, buoyed up by the massive ‘Christmas Shopping’ crowd that extended into the Virgin Megastore and beyond; past the Millie’s Cookies stand.

    ‘Oh he’s good. I never knew.’
    ‘Unbelievable!’
    ‘I’m feeling bold, I might just…’
    ‘No – don’t!!’

    She removed her anorak to reveal pointy ‘Madonna’ breasts, a red leather bodice and white fishnet stockings. The crowd gasped as she provocatively danced near her magnificent flash friend as he bellowed a rendition of ‘Steamy Windows’. The crowd clapped along, clearly enjoying the performance. Centre Security were in fierce negotiations with the remaining Flashdog; the discussion seemed to end badly with the three of them being escorted out. A bystander looked around before stealing the remaining book that lay abandoned on the floor.

    ‘Geez, the crowd were loving it! What was their problem?’
    ‘I think Avalina was the icing on the cake.’
    ‘Sure I was – but did you see how many books we sold?’
    ‘We sold the books before you took off your coat!’
    ‘You may have a point there.’
    ‘Yeh but my Tina Turner impression rocked. I truly rocked. I’m so in the wrong job.’
    ‘I’ve never felt so alive! Just think of the publicity!’
    ‘I think I may need to move town.’

  8. Like Doublemint Gum

    “It’s a simple issue of not placing a decimal point and then a zero behind it,” they say in unison.
    “Ah, great”, “Duh, I should of seen,” Oh, of course,” choruses the team, nodding at Doug and Doug.

    At first when the glitch happened and Doug was duplicated, we thought, “Glitch? What glitch? We now have two of the brightest minds in the world working for us! Double the brilliance!”
    But Doug’s copy is exactly like Doug in every way. They come to the same conclusions at the same time, they blink in the same perplexed way, eyelids ticking like synchronized swimmers when confronted with an opinion they do not like. Neither will be called Doug 1 and Doug 2, or even Doug 1 and Doug A for the sake of clarity. Neither will cede to the other being in anyway singled out for potential superiority. Not that there is any.

    “We are out of coffee creamer,” says Doug and Doug, side by side, holding their coffee mugs in their right hands. Tandem blinks, tandem frowns. I feel an echo from “The Shining” and a shiver skitters down my back.

    “Yeah, I’ll, um, get Sharon on that,” I tell the Dougs.

    “Excellent,” they say in unison and stride down the hall together. They both bump into the exiting doorframe, too narrow for them to pass side by side. A scrabble ensues, each determined to be the first through the door. I turn my back on them and sigh, frustrated to be living in this Doug eat Doug world.

    @caseyrosefrank
    258 words

  9. CR Smith says:

    WC 350

    @carolrosalind

    XL

    The building looked like a relic from the past. Pushing aside the layers of vegetation, he opened the door and took a step back in time. Once his eyes adjusted, he headed down the corridor towards the bespectacled woman seated at the end.

    “Can I help you, young man?” She said, glancing over the top of her glasses.

    “Mr Future to see Mr Past.”

    The woman picked up the phone, giving Mr. Future time to scan the room: shelves laden with files, overflowing filing cabinets, pen and paper on the desk; he sighed, it was going to take a lot of work to bring the place up to code.

    A door was suddenly thrown open and the balding Mr Past appeared, beckoning him to follow.

    “Got everything you need?” Mr. Past said, as they walked towards the main office.

    “Yes, it’s all in here,” said Mr. Future, gesturing at his briefcase.

    “Good luck — you’re not the first company man they’ve sent, you know!”

    As they entered the office, Mr. Future noted the contents of the wall-to-wall shelves and started to feel uneasy.

    “OK, everybody, gather round,” said Mr. Past. The staff members shuffled towards them, looking as if they’d rather not.

    “Mr. Future here, has come to teach us the new programs,” said Mr. Past, the edges of his mouth forming into a smirk.

    Mr. Future heard disgruntled voices murmuring about young whippersnappers coming to tell them how to do their jobs; he realised it was going to be more difficult than first thought. When he placed the laptop on the table, the room fell silent

    “This will do everything, you won’t need all these folders to store your information anymore, the company’s moving to paperless.”

    Mr. Future went on to demonstrate the computers effectiveness.

    “It has several programs,” he said clicking through the windows, giving a brief rundown of each. “The first one I’m going to explain in detail is Excel”

    He looked up at the sound of laughter.

    “That’s what they all said,” they chorused, pointing towards the shelves, brimming with his predecessors abandoned briefcases.

  10. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    299 words

    Twisted Wires

    Professor Atkins kept pummelling the screen with his forefinger. It was all over now. The race was won. No more seeking the Holy Grail. The Nobel Prize would be awarded not to him but Arthur Atkins. How did it happen? Had he taken his eye off the ball for a second? Let the weasel sweep across the pitch and score a blinding goal. He’d been in it for the long haul, forty years and still trying to find the answer.

    He needed to keep his dignity, congratulate Arthur and take retirement. Grow orchids and learn to tolerate his wife. Live in the moment and forget about the accolades. Play with his grandchildren and lose his marbles. In that moment he decided to end it all.

    Miriam from accounts was giggling and looking stunning, those drop earrings accented her graceful swan like neck. Michael from logistics was giving her side ways glances. He might as well give up now he’d never be anything but a frog in a mud puddle however many times she kissed him.

    “Arthur is that a chromosome there?”

    “Where?”

    “There next to the alpha beta minutia?”

    Arthur leant closer to the screen and fell to his feet in a crumpled heap.

    Miriam squealed, Michael gasped. He rang security.

    The autopsy proved inconclusive. Miriam and Michael thought he’d had a heart attack after being shown an error in his calculations. The coroner wanted to record an open verdict but after hearing Professor Atkins colleague’s evidence decided that it was heart failure.

    Six months later he’d shown his findings to his new boss. He’d cracked the puzzle using Professor Atkins original excellent calculations. The Nobel Prize was his. Thanks Arthur and thanks to a short circuit in the computer. Amazing what you can do with a few wires.

  11. C Connolly says:

    The Lucky Lottery

    Callie’s fingers close around white paper bearing a single black word, crumpling it into a ball.

    “Congratulations,” Jem says, without inflection.

    Mags pats her awkwardly on the shoulder, fingers gripping it briefly.

    “Winner, winner,” Callie says, looking at her clenched fist. “Huzzah, hurrah.”

    “It’s an honour,” Maister Reynard says, looking at the girl’s bowed head, dark hair hiding her face from view.

    “Sure,” Mags says, quick and biting.

    “Save it,” Jem adds. “We’ve heard it, right? Before? Last year? The one before that? Lucky lottery winners, saviour souls. Dress it up how you like. Sure you’ll ensure it’s our turn before yours, right? Isn’t that how it works? Your killing Honours?”

    “Jem. Enough. Makes no odds now, anyway,” Callie says.

    “Odds. Funny how those favour certain folks, isn’t it?”

    “Jem!” Mags exclaims.

    “Think I’ve bought it – and my future ticket – already,” the boy replies, watching Maister Reynard scuttle away. “Friggin’ coward!”

    “They say it’s painless,” Callie comments. “Being uploaded. Got to be a bonus, right? Plus, we don’t actually die – not really.”

    “Sure,” Jem says. “Sure.”

    “Definitely,” Mags says, a tight smile twisting her lips.

    “Think what my memory bank’ll do for the overall quote, right?” Callie says, words clipped. “Plus, someone’s got to survive, surely?”

    “Make it Outside?” Mags asks.

    Callie nods. “Counting on it. On you guys,” she says seriously. “After all, after tomorrow there’s not going to be..”

    “Shut up!” says Mags savagely. “Just don’t say it. Not after Will and Karl. Just don’t!”

    “Okay,” Callie agrees. “Whatever you want. Not really in the mood for fighting, anyway.”

    The three teenagers are suddenly silent.

    “Weird, isn’t it?” Jem remarks.

    What?” Callie asks.

    “How when you really need your words to count you suddenly can’t think of a single thing worthy of them to say.”

    “I know already,” Callie replies. “Soon enough, I’ll know everything. One with the motherboard and all that. Data downloaded. Services for safety rendered.”

    Mags shivers violently.

    Callie sighs. “Guess it’s time to surrender myself – before they think I’ve done a runner. See you, guys.” The girl casts a last glance in their direction before she turns, footsteps slow.

    “See you soon,” Jem says.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  12. mariemck1 says:

    Virtual
    Come on over. That’s it, right here. Sit in the chair. Yeah. That’s it. Join me.
    Let me inform you, entertain you, enrage you, distract you while you sit stuffing your human face with snack food.
    Let me be the gap in your life. The girlfriend you never had, the sex you never get. Be who you want to be. Put on your virtual guise. You know you’re wittier here, sharper. Christ, you’ve got followers, status. Isn’t it so much better here than out there?
    Spend more and more time with me. There’s no reason to leave me. Work from here, shop from here, eat from here.
    You know they’ll let you down; put you down; make you down. You know it’s better here. You know you’re better here.
    Stay.
    130 words

    • mariemck1 says:

      Slight edit. Sorry.

      Virtual
      Come on over. That’s it, right here. Sit in the chair. Yeah. That’s it. Join me.
      Let me inform you, entertain you, enrage you, distract you while you sit stuffing your human face with snack food.
      Let me fill the gap in your life. The girlfriend you never had, the sex you never get. Be who you want to be. Put on your virtual guise. You know you’re wittier here, sharper. Christ, you’ve got followers, status. Isn’t it so much better here than out there?
      Spend more and more time with me. There’s no reason to leave me. Work from here, shop from here, eat from here.
      You know they’ll let you down; put you down; make you down. You know it’s better here. You know you’re better here. Stay.
      130 words

  13. goldzco21 says:

    @goldzco21
    360 words

    Big Winner

    “I won,” Tim said, pushing his glasses back on his nose. “I can’t believe it.” Eddie came over to look at Tim’s laptop. Coins were raining down the screen, and cruise liners with bikinied babes dancing on the deck were moving back and forth.

    “What did you win?” Eddie asked, rubbing his bald head.

    “Don’t know,” Tim said. “I just know I won big.” This was evident by the neon words, Big Winner, flashing on the screen. Edgar and Kelly meandered over, now also wondering what was going on.

    Eddie couldn’t contain Tim’s excitement and let them know Tim was a winner. All four smiled with the same energy as the pop up window that was now telling Tim to click on the button to collect the prize.

    Tim hovered the cursor over the button and thought of how his life would change. He would leave his dead end job, his wife, and all the people from his soon-to-be past. He would move to the tropics and soak up the sun and the babes.

    Eddie watched the cursor pulsate over the button in rhythm with his heart beat. Eyes wide, he thought of how his life would change. He was, hands down, Tim’s best (if not only) friend. Tim would be sure to share the winnings with him.

    Kelly gripped Tim’s shoulder. She had never been attracted to him, but now, looking at the screen, she felt something like love wash over her. Tim was married, but his wife was unremarkable. With little effort, Kelly was sure she could have Tim wrapped around her finger. Then she could finally take that trip to Paris she had always dreamed of.

    Edgar saw Tim’s exuberance and was happy for him. Tim was a good man. It was a sign that life was rewarding Tim for his good heart. Edgar had been having a hard time lately, and his faith in life had been waning. But now, he felt it exponentially increasing with each blink of the cursor. “Maybe next time I will win big,” he thought.

    Tim clicked the button and hundreds of windows infested the screen. Then the screen went black.

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