Flash Frenzy Round 99

Posted: March 19, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Hello again, writers. Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 99. With spring just around the corner, you may be thinking about hiking and biking, but after this week’s prompt and stories, you may wish to reconsider…  This week’s judge is Catherine Connolly.

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 Sean Igo

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Comments
  1. stephellis2013 says:

    Run Rabbit
    360 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    “There, Rabbit” said Lauren, excitedly. “The next clue … and none of the others are anywhere near us.”

    Claire smiled at the use of her old nickname, it meant she had definitely been forgiven. She followed her friend towards the bizarre sight of a twisted bike frame hanging from a tree. Initially reluctant to take part in the scavenger hunt, she had to admit she was having more fun than she thought she would. Lauren seemed to have put their recent falling-out behind her; gave Claire and Matthew her blessing, told them not to feel guilty about their betrayal. Life was too short.

    “Where next?” asked Claire, she could see no other clue.

    “There,” said Lauren, pointing to a gap in the bushes, a track leading into the wood.

    “Are you sure?”

    Lauren smiled, supremely confident as always. “Of course, my little Rabbit.” Then she plunged into the undergrowth.

    Claire glanced back, noticed how heavy grey clouds had appeared from nowhere, swallowing up the daylight, plunging them into an early gloom. She shuddered and hurried after her friend. But Lauren had vanished.

    Worried, Claire ran, calling out Lauren’s name, but there was no answer save the distressed cry of the birds she disturbed. By the time she stopped to recover her breath, the remaining light had disappeared … and so had all signs of the track. She could have panicked but remembered she still had her phone and there was a signal. She dialled Matthew’s number, only to hear his ringtone echoing back from somewhere nearby. He must’ve changed his mind about the scavenger hunt, had somehow got ahead of them. But why didn’t he answer?

    She walked slowly towards the sound, using the feeble torch on her phone to light her way, found herself in a clearing.

    Saw Matthew and Lauren embracing, his eyes looking straight at her over Lauren’s shoulder, looking right through her. And then he was falling … falling, his eyes staring at her all the while.

    Lauren turned, the knife bloody in her hand. “I told you life was too short,” she said. “Run, my little Rabbit.”

    And Claire turned and ran into the darkness.

  2. mariemck1 says:

    It called to them in silvery shimmers: shafts of pulsing light creeping over garden fences, whispering through chinks in curtains, signalling under gaps in doorways.
    Children left warm beds, gifting only their small, cold shapes in rumpled blankets to those they left behind. They vanished from their playhouses, parents finding only the brightly coloured ghosts of the last game of tea party. They slipped from cycle paths, leaving faint tracks in forbidden trails. They disappeared from playgrounds that tried to warn us with their silence.  
    Whether beckoned by the crescent of the moon or invited by the heat of the sun; they took their places. Standing in the vastness; they looked up. Their skinny limbs shivered as they searched out the seam of Space just above. And when they found it, they held hands and closed their eyes, before tumbling towards the sky.
    144 words
    @elaine173marie

  3. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    293 Words

    When You Go to Tulgey Wood, Beware.

    When you go to Tulgey Wood, beware. Go by foot.

    The spirits of the forest are ancient, older than the oldest human bones, melted from the ice sheets that once covered the land, and have little love for all the inventions of humanity. Cars break down and are towed away to a garage where the mechanic shakes his head as he totals the bill. Bicycles are found twisted in the trees, branches grown around them so they cannot be removed and must be left to rust in the winter rains.

    When you go to Tulgey Wood, beware. Leave your mobile phone at home.

    They will not do you any good. There is no signal in the labyrinth of shadows at the heart of the forest. There are no words in the silence, only the mocking laugh of the woodpecker and the scratch of the thrush in the undergrowth. There is no language or logic in the thorny brambles and fleshy growths of toadstools.

    When you go to Tulgey Wood, beware. Do not wear a thing.

    Strip yourself down to your animal skin. To the ancient spirits of the forest, all our modesties, all our philosophies and civilisations are nothing more than a dressing up game played by children. So stand naked among the trees too old to care and feel the warmth of the leaf litter decay beneath your soles.

    When you go to Tulgey Wood, beware. Do not let thoughts entrap you in their snare.
    But if you are so very, very quiet, and if you stand so very, very still although every animal instinct tells you to run, you will catch a glimpse of something moving in the trees, a glimmer from eyes of flame.

    And you will meet your Jabberwock.

  4. Fae Fielding says:

    Breaking The Cycle.

    @fae_fielding
    359 words

    
 “It has come to our attention that a movement has been formed amongst rebels, to square the circles and break the cycles. This is not acceptable.” 


    The Chief paused. His steel blue eyes, glazed with an ice cold stare. He used the pause to scan the crowd for evidence of insurgents.


    “We, the enforcers, declare that on this day, we have altered the ‘ist’ list. Now along with hedonist, sexist, plagiarist, activist, antagonist, (and so on and so forth) we have added cyclist.”


    Some of the crowd turned to look at their neighbour, others looked down, careful not to link eyes with anyone. There was an unease hanging in the air. 


    The passing of this new law meant they had to be careful not to be seen to associate with yet another ‘ist’.

    The Chief was nervous. It had taken the ancestors hundreds of years to convince the people that the seasons followed a cycle. That despite there being four corners of the earth, North, South, East, and West, four seasons, and four elements, Earth, Air, Water, Fire, all these four points formed a circle, and the sacred circle was infinite. Walking amongst them were men teaching the people the circle was squared.


    The enforcers had information concerning the activities of the Pi Brotherhood, Anaxagorus, Antiphon, Hippocrates to name but a few. 


    As he spoke to the crowd, he was approached by a guard who whispered in his ear. He allowed himself a smile, before addressing the sea of faces once more.


    “I have just received news of the arrest of Anaxagorus. He shall be dealt with severely.”


    Why can’t they just follow, if they don’t understand. It was perfectly simple. Everything has a cycle. The cycle of the wheel for instance, once we use the four main elements and overlay the earth based elements with the realm of the spirit, we have the circle. The Earth, the Square of Element, is finite… Boundless, endless, all encompassing, ever turning.

    How can it turn if it has straight sides. Fools.


    He raised his arms.


    “Let us celebrate the cycle that is the Wheel of Life. All form a circle.”
 
 


  5. Voima Oy says:

    Alleys in Bloom
    165 words
    @voimaoy

    Along the muddy spring lanes, the power lines form a grid overhead. Hanging from the lines, the intertwined laces of track shoes. What could they mean? Area Detectives have mapped the locations of each new sighting. Are the shoes a talisman, a symbol of increasing gang activity? Do they mark a barrier between one world and another? There are many conflicting theories. Now, the maple trees, which used to be humble breeding grounds for nests of plastic bags, are also sprouting new surprises. Messenger bikes grow like strange fruit high above the ground. A slight wind is enough to dislodge the bikes from their arboreal dreams. They seem solid and real enough, as they clatter along the ground. They are like wild things, resisting those who would seek to tame or capture them. And, in the oak trees, other things are growing. The tangled wires of radios and cracked screens of TVs proliferate among the blue mirrors in the alleys, silently reflecting the empty sky.

  6. Refreshment Break
    257 words
    @jeffnuggets

    It was him. She was sure, the curve of big shoulders, the way he surveyed everything slowly and his languid demeanour. The years fell away, feelings she had thought long gone straining to be free.

    The comfortable life she had built here was great. The wacky art dotted around the place such as dismantled bicycles, things that did not look quite right. She got the customers that she wanted in her little place. Never going to get wealthy selling drinks and snacks but it was hers and she was in charge of her own destiny.

    Now she could think of nothing other than him. All these miles here from her old life. He had battered and shattered that. Supposed to protect his family but he had nearly broken all of them. It was only when he had broken her older brother beyond repair that her and her mother left to rebuild. Start over without threat. They did eventually.

    Was this a kind of test? Fate giving her a chance at revenge? She resisted. No one else here so she had to take his order. Refused eye contact, brought it back out silently. No sign of recognition from him. As she saw him swallow food mindlessly, greedily, without appreciation, she knew she had to act. Grabbed a heavy owl figurine decoration from a nearby table, brought it down quickly on his head. He looked round startled, an indignant cry strangled somewhere in his throat. Silent after the second blow.

    She tried dragging him, berating his bulk, his heaviness. This was going to be hard work. It was as she was pulling his arms that she realised. No tattoos, they could have gone she supposed but he was never the sort for regrets. No scars either. They show I have lived. That was what he used to say before he hated them all or at least before he showed the true him.

    He was definitely not the bare armed innocent stranger slumped silent and bleeding onto the table in front of her now. She sat at the table put her head in her hands and awaited her certain fate.

  7. @firdausp
    (360 words)

    ‘Recurrence’

    The old bike trail was covered with thick undergrowth. It had been a good idea when we started on foot, but now I had an uneasy feeling about the place. The forest was unusually quiet, the air felt too thick. I followed Al as quickly as I could, not allowing much distance between us.

    We came to a clearing between the trees. I dropped my backpack and slumped against a tree, exhausted. Al dropped down beside me.

    “That’s funny,” he pointed to a tree where a bike was tangled high in its branches.

    “How did it get there?” I asked nervously.

    “Probably some weirdo trying to scare off hikers,” he shrugged.

    A sudden gust of wind blew hair into my eyes. Then we heard the most agonising groan as the earth slowly tipped, throwing us against the trees.

    Arms flailing I tried to grab at anything as the forest turned upside down.

    I held on to a branch, my legs dangled towards the sky. I screamed as I watched our backpacks disappear into the dark blue below.

    Al was calling out to me. He was shaking me.

    “Wake up! It’s just a nightmare.”

    Opening my eyes I found him looking at me with concern. We were in our tent. I trembled with relief.He held me as I sobbed until we fell asleep.

    We set out down the old bike trail early. I was nervous. My uneasiness increased as we reached a clearing in the forest.

    “That’s weird,” Al said as he pointed to a tree where a bike was tangled in its branches.

    I started to scream even as I heard the agonising groan.

    “Hush, it’s just a nightmare,” Al’s voice was soothing, as he cradled me in his arms.
    Opening my eyes I saw to my relief that we were still in our tent.

    “We need to get out of here, NOW!” I insisted.

    “It’s still too early,” he protested.

    I broke free from him and started packing frantically.

    We trudged down the old bike trail as the sun was just rising.

    I felt the panic as we reached a clearing in the forest.

    “Look,” Al pointed at…

    • mariemck1 says:

      Everyone is being so clever with their use of cycle! Really loved how you quickened the pace and therefore tension. Fan!

  8. Richard Edenfield says:

    Bermuda Triangle Squared

    ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆

    There were millions of bicycles. Some with colorful streamers attached to their handlebars. Others, world-class racing bikes. Or bikes stolen at some mall.

    It was a dark dense forest. And the trees held the bike frames like elaborate lighters about to lignite some very large cigars.

    In the town nearby there were no bicycles. No cars. Not even a bus. The birds walked. It was a town ahead of its time because it had no clocks. And if there were clocks, they were very slow. The people in this place drank lots of coffee just so they could come full circle going through the motions of time without actually having to experience it. They were very wound up. But they never aged.

    The small hamlet was filled with witches doing so many spells that they frequently received electricity bills for excessive energy transference. And indeed, the forest next to the town was a portal of some sort where bikes from all over the world ended up. No one was sure why. Some wheels hung like earnings on formal maples decked out in bright red excursions. There was a strange feeling to the enchanted place.

    Then one day, millions of people descended on the village. They had been brought there,
    magically, by some strange force, to find their bicycles. Their first bike. The one by the Christmas tree. The tricycles. And like Field of Dreams, they just appeared and wandered the woods looking for their lost childhood.

    I was one of those people.

    I found my green Diamondback high up in a tree. My mother bought it for me when I was 14. Somewhere along the road I had lost my innocence. I lost the wonder and joy of the wind in my hair. The petite freedom ringing in my ears with gear changes and sliding tire pebbles. I lost the moment. But I was here, now, to retrieve what was taken from me. I climbed over the warning sign and took down its metal carcass.

    And with many others I carried my youth home on a sturdy grave of handlebar sparkly, gear skipping, brake failing, under inflated, banana seat —– hope.

    ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆

    (360 words)
    Grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

  9. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    181 words
    Double Trouble

    We cycled everywhere, that’s why I have these over developed calves. Sonia, my sister, always laughs when she sees them. They look like Popeye’s biceps but in the wrong place. I’ve taken so many photos on our travels together that I could paper the whole flat with them. This one was my favourite and my last. I’d persuaded you to cycle this route for the last time. We’d left the bikes at the end of the lane hoping their new owners would have as much fun as we had.

    Remember those torturous hills in Wales and how you laughed when I fell into the gorse in Scotland. You loved your Schwinn I loved my Falcon. I will never cycle again; my calves will deflate eventually like a slow puncture. The coroner said no one was to blame but I knew you were flying too close to the wind. We just ignored the warning and thought we were invincible. No one knows what I saw that day and how guilty I feel that I left you to save myself. Best friends forever.

  10. A.J. Walker says:

    The Tree in the Dust
    A.J. Walker

    I can still see Michelle’s face when she realised I’d let go of her bike. That she was riding by herself, the stabilisers a quickly fading memory. One iconic moment. Unfortunately there would now be no more.

    The only people I see on bikes in this neighbourhood now are low level drug dealers, pedalling their death past my house as if it is okay. Michelle would be alive if it was not for them. A life taken before it had hardly begun. They offered me apologies! Even money. These scrotes. Not accepted.

    Bang. Bang.

    Wrong place, wrong time. Did you kill her? There’s blood on your hands. I could see it. Now there’s blood everywhere. Your blood.

    Bang.

    You are fertiliser now for this tree. This tree that struggles to grow in this town of dust and death.

    I struggle to hook the bike up in the tree. Eventually it hangs there. A strange fruit. It’s a line in the sand. I’m not sure anyone will notice.

    One day this tree will be covered with bikes and it will be nourished by the dead. I promise you Michelle. The stabilisers are off.

    —-
    WC:192
    @zevonesque

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