Flash Frenzy Round 101

Posted: April 2, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , ,

Welcome back, writers. I really like this week’s photo prompt and can’t wait to see what kinds of plot bunnies it inspires. This weekend’s judge is AV Laidlaw.

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:

    The Chase

    358 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    There was only one mask left. The Hobby, the Chimney Sweep, the Green Man, all the good ones had been snapped up.

    “Come on, Powder Puff,” cried Greg, whooping as he ran off into the woods.

    “See you later, Bugs,” shouted Tom.

    Morons, muttered Adrian, slipping on the mask, and it’s not a bloody rabbit, it’s a hare.

    “Hop along now,” said the vicar with a grin. “My flock is waiting.”

    “No! You can’t wear that.” A hand pulled Adrian back. Mrs Jennings. “It’s evil, Old Father Leonard promised to burn it.”

    “It’s fine, Mrs Jennings,” said the vicar. “The little imps won’t mind, they just love the chase. Off you go, Adrian.”

    Adrian started to jog towards the woods, leaving Mrs Jennings and her warnings behind him. He allowed the sunlight dappling emerald leaves to distract him, let his mind wander. And then he saw the imps. Children, surely?

    He began to run. No, not children. These creatures snapped at his heels, forced him on. He caught a glimpse of the Green Man between the trees. Greg. Adrian sprinted towards him, found himself in a clearing with a fire burning and a spit standing ready. The imps surrounded him, smiling expectantly, needle-like teeth glinting in the firelight. The Green Man picked up an axe.

    ***

    “And you say you last saw him …” prompted the Inspector.

    “Running off into the woods a couple of hours ago,” said Greg.

    “Told you he shouldn’t have worn that mask,” sniffled Mrs Jennings as she was led away.

    “Oh, just nonsense, Inspector,” said Father Michael. “Deluded … poor soul.”

    The Inspector turned his attention to a returning constable. “Found anything yet?”

    “Nah, just the remains of a camp fire, oh … and this old thing.” He held out a bag. Inside was the mask of the March Hare.

    ***

    “Here you go, Guv,” the constable handed him a bag with a grin. “For the kids. The Super said it’d be good PR.”

    The Inspector eyed the tatty mask with distaste. “Suppose so.”

    He slipped it on. Saw small dark creatures with needlepoint teeth; smelt flesh roasting, heard a man screaming …

  2. LearaVoice says:

    The Ritual
    WC346
    @learavoice

    The Shaman told her the ritual would rid her of the dark spirits clinging to her aura. So, she drank the bitter liquid, put on the headdress and repeated the incantation. He took her hand and ran a sharp blade across her palm then squeezed her clenched fist causing blood to drip into the fire. The flames surged. Heat and smoke engulfed them.

    The smoke cleared and she regained her bearings. She realized she was standing ten feet away looking at her body sprawled beside the Shaman’s fire.

    “If you outrun the spirits by dawn, you will be free.” He spoke loudly then laughed an eerie sound that filled her mind.

    His voice mingled with the shrieking specters to which she’d grown accustomed. She pressed her hands hard against her ears. It never helped, as the screams seemed to come from within. The Shaman’s words rang in her head and she felt the overwhelming need to run though she didn’t know to where.

    She ran.

    Darkness surrounded her along with all manner of foreboding sounds. She contemplated giving up. Her legs burned and her feet were heavy, but she pushed on. She wandered the woods all night.

    She reached a stream. Leaves and twigs decorated her hair. She had mud on her knees, scratches on her arms and dried blood on her face. A combination of various animal bones and two large white feathers set atop for ears made up the ghoulish rabbit headdress she still wore.

    Staring up at the jagged splinters of sunlight cutting through the clouds, she realized the Shaman’s camp was near. She was exhausted, yet hopeful. Her weary legs gave out and she fell to the ground as she approached the remnants of the fire. She closed her eyes.

    She awoke and noticed there was no hint of warmth in the fire pit as if not used in quite some time, or any sign of the Shaman. She briefly considered the whole thing was a dream until she saw the rabbit headdress made of animal bones staring at her with empty sockets.

  3. LearaVoice says:

    Last sentence should say “staring UP at her.” Word count correction 348. Thank you!

  4. davidshakes says:

    Mad March Hares
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    360 words

    Damp earth clogged her nostrils, coated her tongue. She was soaked to the skin, trembling fingers unable to remove wet nightclothes. This was the second night she’d awoken in the woods, trudged back across sodden fields to the cottage. The second night she’d trembled by the dying embers of the fire, afraid her sanity was fading like the glow of those charcoaled logs.
    On the third day, she rose again.
    The smell of bacon and freshly toasted bread enticed her from her room, leaving Warren to snooze. Warren’s mother was humming a familiar tune as she cooked.
    ‘You’re awake my dear,’ she said, never turning from the ancient AGA. ‘Don’t worry, Warren won’t know you’ve been a-wandering again! I cleaned everything right up.’
    She studied her new boyfriend’s mother. Both she and Warren were in their twenties, yet his mother looked not a day over thirty – impressive.
    ‘ I put your treasures in the utility room, ‘ Warren’s mother continued.
    She went to the small room backing on to the kitchen. On the cheap worktop lay an animal skull and two large feathers.
    Had she carried these back last night? She wasn’t sure. The feathers were pristine – as white as newly driven snow. She had been filthy, caked in mud – the dirt beneath her fingernails still testament to whatever endeavour she’d undertaken during her fugue.
    ‘These aren’t… ‘she began, but somehow she knew, they were.
    *
    The smell of pine resin and coppery blood is intense. She runs through the woods in heavy boots. She wears the skull and feathers on her head, arranged to look like a grim representation of a rabbit or maybe a hare. She laughs breathlessly – ‘That’s me, a mad March hare,’ she thinks.
    Behind her, in the cottage, Warren’s and his mother’s bodies lie in pools of their own congealed blood. Any trace of their transformation under the full moon last night long gone.
    They’d lured her here, she’d realised. A shy wallflower, perfect for the hunt. Was it proximity to lycanthropes that had awakened her own self-awareness?
    ‘The real monsters are men,’ she thinks as she runs, ‘or sometimes girls.’

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Nice twist. I imagined the boyfriend’s mother and the girl as being in collusion at first – until the horror of the last paragraphs.

      (On a work-related note, I would probably qualify your last line and say teen girls are the real monsters!)

  5. Voima Oy says:

    Petrichor
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    The pond was a mirror of the sky. It was also a portal to this world. Here, the mutants, the cat-men and the fox girls could move freely, without fear. Ever since the change had come to the Old Earth, this was the new home of the changed ones.

    Violet was not one of the changed ones. Her sister, Rose, had become a white bird, and flown away with a group of black crows. They disappeared into a puddle in the park, dissolving in the water, ripples disturbing the surface, until all was calm and smooth.

    Violet had tried to follow, but it was just a puddle again. Her jeans were soaking wet, and the joggers and mothers with baby strollers were giving her strange looks. No one knew what caused the changes, but unconventional behavior was one of the first signs. Yes, it could be contagious.

    “No,” Violet thought, as they surrounded her. One of the women picked up a rock. One of the men reached for her. “No!” Violet leaped into the water, and the unyielding surface opened, a portal, a doorway. She vanished.

    And found herself by the pond and the trees. There was a road, and she followed it deeper into the forest. There, she came upon a forest cat, sitting by the side of the road.

    The forest cat held out a red glass heart–“Is this what you are looking for?”

    “No,” Violet said. “I am sorry. I’m looking for my sister.”

    Green eyes regarded her with concern. “I too am sorry, for your loss.”

    “It happens, Violet said. It could not be helped.”

    “I am sure you will find her, if you go that way,” the cat said. “Take this with you. Here is the skull of a fox, perfect condition. Look, about to leap!”

    “What would I do with this? Oh. I see.” Violet looked out with the eyes of a fox. “Thank you.”

    “Good luck.”

    The cat remained at his station, welcoming anyone who happened to pass. Violet continued along the road. The ground was soft, and she breathed in the smell of wet earth. Petrichor, the smell of new life.

  6. C Connolly says:

    White Rabbit, White Rabbit, Black Rabbit

    The sun was but yet high on the month’s first day as Finn cut his palm in the dell, heat beating across his heavy clad shoulders, casting blood between his fingers, dripping onto the scrawled sigils beneath. “All will be well,” he said. “For my luck is my own – and I will make it. True. Today.”

    After a moment he added, “White Rabbit, White Rabbit.” Save for the brief interjections of the woodland around him, there was silence. “White Rabbit,” he concluded. “Three times the charm.”

    “He hears you,” a voice spoke. “Though I appear. We must strike our own bargain, you and I – though you name my brother before me.” The figure was slim, the ears dark and long. They twitched thrice over, as Finn squinted to see the speaker’s face.

    “You must know me and name me to see me,” it told him. “Only then will we become acquainted.” Finn screwed his eyes at the silhouette. “There is no helping it. You must accept the terms or nay,” it said. “Thus is the balance to our bargaining.”

    “All will be well,” Finn said, aloud.

    “That may be, if you will it,” his companion agreed. “Shall we know one another now, you and I?”
    The dark figure waited, silent.

    “Black Rabbit,” Finn said, finally. “Black Rabbit.” Looking at the shadow opposite him for a moment, he nodded. “Black Rabbit,” he concluded, voice sharp. It’s nose twitched, as Finn looked straight into the gaping sockets of the skull surrounding them.

    “My brother bids you well,” Black Rabbit said. “When we, too, are well met.”

    “How so?” Finn asked. “We talk only of one, the First, amongst the village.”

    “Luck may not linger where trade is not true,” Black Rabbit said. “Favour must falter, where ere I follow. Only then is all agreed. Both, then, may feed.”

    “Then all will be well?” Finn asked.

    “You must close the curse, whilst naming it,” Black Rabbit clarified. “To complete the transfer, else, lacking, luck will reflect threefold upon you, with immediate effect.”

    Finn was quiet for a moment, as he contemplated the hollow sockets, then he closed his eyes, thinking the name.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (360 words)

  7. Seagull

    The day the birds fell, I was clearing tables out front. One minute, I was stacking cups and saucers onto a tray, the next – slam – I was a bird.
    I was sick of standing in puddles anyway. That’s what it’s felt like this past year. Don’t mind me, I’ll just stand in this puddle while you all get on with your fabulous lives. I hated my minimum wage job and living in a shared house, miles from my friends. When I first arrived I watched the gulls coasting on the wind, screaming at the waves below.
    And I’ve been a seagull myself for a week now.
    I love it.
    No, really. Consider the facts.
    They help themselves to food whenever they want. All free. I’d seen them carry off whole pieces of battered haddock from an unsuspecting visitor while one of their mates swooped into the shock and chaos to snatch the chips. And now I do it. Half a chicken pie, several scampi and as many chips as I can grab.
    We shit on folk from up here and fly off laughing. My obnoxious boss, the noisy students on the floor below, that pompous git in the shop who wouldn’t give me more tick. They’ll all get it as soon as I catch up with them. Splat. Take that!
    And – best of all – we can scream into the wind on stormy days, without a care for what others think. The times I wanted to do that to fussy old ladies in the café, the housing benefit people and especially at the bastard who put the glass in my face that night.
    My long term plan – now I can’t be recognised – is head home, find him and make his life hell. And that goes for his mates who harassed me outside the court for weeks. I’m going to be a seagull stalker. Ha!
    I may be the only bird now, though I doubt it. Bound to be others. Not seen any yet but I have high hopes.
    For the first time in ages I get an exciting shiver of anticipation for the future.
    Gotta fly.

    @SalnPage
    360 words
    #FlashDog

  8. WE’RE DIFFERENT NOW, YOU AND I

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    351 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    * * *

    I look down at her hand and know it’s already too late. The hand that used to hold mine tight, that used to cradle my face as we lay together. Her once beautiful, porcelain fingers now coated in soft, dirty white fur.

    “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “You’ll never know how much.”

    I look into her eyes, those beautiful eyes. Eyes that have ventured deep into my soul. Eyes that have exposed to me her happiness, her sadness, and her courage. But instead of those shimmering, bright blue eyes I’m so used to, all I see now are eyes melting into brown and red.

    “Don’t be,” I reply. “I would rather suffer the pain of letting you go, than to never have known you at all.”

    I stroke her face, wipe away her tears. The tips of my fingers caress her gently; trying to let her know everything will be okay, even though know it won’t be. Where once was a cheek as soft as silk, now bares only cold, hard bone.

    “Go, now,” she sobs. “I don’t want this to be your last memory of me.”

    “I can’t leave, not yet.”

    “Go!” she roars, and for the first time since that night we met on the pier, I am afraid of her. Her teeth are different; sharp like tiny daggers. Her eyes that once held so much passion are now filled with hunger.

    “Go!”

    Before me is no longer the woman who stole my heart six years ago. She is gone, perhaps forever. And while I’m not sure if I can carry on without her, I know that she wouldn’t want my end to come this way. I turn and start heading back through the woods, towards my car, towards civilisation, towards sadness.

    Before I leave the clearing I risk one last look over my shoulder. She is crossing the brook, heading into the opposite direction. For a moment she too pauses and glances my way.

    Goodbye, my love.

    Then the creature sheds the jacket I bought her last Christmas, roars, and disappears amongst the trees, never to be seen again.

  9. mariemck1 says:

    If Two Go Down to the Woods Today

    I’m cold.
    Stop yapping.
    I wanna go home.
    But I wanna go into the woods.
    I’m still cold.
    You’ve fur all over.
    Still cold.
    10 minutes? Then we can go home.
    Right! Starts now… 9 minutes 57 seconds.
    Oh do shut up. Let’s play hide and seek.
    Don’t like it.
    Hoppity hop? YOU LIKE THAT!
    Don’t!
    DO!
    DON’T!
    I hate to say it, but I think you need reminding!
    Do not.
    Do
    Do not.
    Oh really?
    Yeah, you ain’t never done reminding me.
    That’s not true.
    Is true, too.
    Take that back!
    You take it back!
    THAT. IS. IT. Now, it’s plain you’ve forgotten you’re just an imaginary friend!

    110 words @elaine173marie.

  10. Richard Edenfield says:

    Walking on Water
    – a user’s manual
    _________________

    The resurrection was a reflection of a perfect light onto the chrome of God’s Daytona Coupe Cobra. The water like soul downshifted with trees that grew upside down to cover their tracks. The steering wheel sky moved above a haunted map. You couldn’t get lost if you went both directions at once. A leaf crossed its own path closing in on the past becoming one with the moments butterfly stroke.

    Walking on water was easy once you got the basics down. First, the water is like an egg and it will not break if you hold it in your mind, properly. Second, the elimination of fear creates unending possibility.

    “Walking on Water… A user’s manual? Did you get this on eBay?”

    “No. I found it in a restroom in San Francisco.”

    “What is all this in the beginning?

    “I don’t know. Some sort of poetic nonsense to get you in the mood.”

    “In the mood to walk on water?”

    “I guess.”

    “What is the mask for?”

    “Easter. The resurrection. You know.”

    “It looks like an angry Easter. I’m not Jesus!”

    To walk on water one must be the water. Water cannot drown. And it cannot sink. When you are one with yourself there are many things you can do as well as many things you cannot. The water will think you are also water and therefore not let you do anything that water would not do. It helps to fly to approach a bird.

    “This does not make sense to me!”

    “Walking on water is not for the meek of heart.”

    “I thought the meek would inherit the earth.”

    “Yes, but there is an inheritance tax. We all pay for what we get.”

    “You’re starting to sound like the book!”

    “I will show you it can be done.”

    Walking on water can only be done by artists because they are the only ones that know what water is thinking. The heart is all ways walking on water.

    Now, step onto the liquid, and your reflection will keep you from falling.

    “My reflection?”

    The reader.

    ____________

    (344 words)
    Grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

  11. zevonesque says:

    Blessed Spring
    A.J. Walker

    As most days when Elizabeth could manage to she went for a walk around the farms and up to the woods. The rain of the morning had cleared and it was turning into a lovely spring day. It almost lightened her mood. But each day her heart was eaten a little bit more by time’s cruelty. She felt herself diminishing like a candle at the wicks end.

    Daniel wouldn’t be back until late. He was working up at the Owen’s, who needed help after their son had fallen ill. Daniel was such a kind man. She would grow old with him of course, he loved her completely and she loved him. But the emptiness was eating away at her. Their house had room for more. No house had ever sounded so empty. And this is why she walked. She couldn’t stand that accusing house.

    Of course Daniel said it would be okay. That they would comfort each other for ever. That their love for each other was enough. But it wasn’t. Not for Elizabeth.

    She sat on a fallen tree playing with the smeared mud on her old boots, using a stick to push it off and flicking it into the morning’s puddle. She saw her sad reflection ripple and disappear. She heard something move in the undergrowth the other side of the water. She could see the long grass twitch and she noticed there were no birds singing. Time stopped as she watched, entranced, waiting to see what would appear. She’d heard of boar being seen in the woods and even wolves on occasion, but she wasn’t sure about that. She thought it may be a bird that couldn’t fly. It was spring after all, there were birds laying eggs, maybe some were hatching; first tentative steps then off the branch into the unknown. Oh to be a mother!

    Then she saw it. A hare, tall and proud. It looked right at her into her eyes and she felt a warmth and a calm.

    That night she lay with her love and knew everything would be alright. It was fixed.

    At Christmas, their first child, Freya was born.

    ____

    WC: 359
    @zevonesque

  12. […] Written for The Angry Hourglass: Flash Frenzy Round 101 Photo Prompt. WC 348 Photo by Ashwin […]

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