Flash Frenzy Round 102

Posted: April 9, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Hello again, writers! Your intrepid hostess is on a mission to find a new home this upcoming week, and your photo prompt is a prediction of just what it may look like. Our judge this weekend is CR Smith.

*Edit – new photo posted at 11:00 am. Somehow the original photo didn’t get tagged as previously used. Thanks to those who brought it to my attention.*

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

 

*Original photo for those who already posted stories*

round 87

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. Mark A. King says:

    Formaldehyde

    @making_fiction

    76 words

    He works the night shift.

    He’s always worked the night shift.

    The nursing home is a carapace of thoughts and cobwebbed memories; the rocking-chairs and statuesque invisible once-young.

    In 1901 a doctor measured the weight of the dying and the weight after death. He concluded the soul weighed 21 grams.

    The nurse has read such things.

    He takes 21 grams of skin. No more. No less.

    A scalpel and weighing scales his tools.

    Formaldehyde his friend.

  2. Stephen Lodge says:

    Ongar-Bonga Cheese
    by Stephen Lodge
    292 words
    @steveweave71

    The manufacture of Ongar-Bonga Cheese goes on in these difficult times. April has just ridden into town and the company (the home of lorry loads of interesting cheeses) have just launched an exciting new product. A finely perfected, immature cheese, blending cow and goat’s milk (vigorously stirred, obviously). These cows and goats are all bred or found loitering on the Essex and London borders close to the M25 Motorway.

    Some say the tinny aftertaste of the cheese owes much to this environment.The label claims eating sufficient Ongar-Bonga Cheese may cause amazingly high levels of arousal and will, no doubt, prove popular with customers.

    General Manager, Seth Lightfoot has moved back into Threadbare Hall looking to find proof of the innocence of the Factory Manager, Doris Karloff in the avian flu scare of 2025. “I have to go back,” he wailed. “She is everything to me and this company.”

    No doubt Seth’s first job will be to remove the skeletal remains of that avian flu outbreak from the front lawn Of Threadbare Hall. The authorities have confirmed that this is not the aftermath of an afternoon of jazz and garage sale that went horribly wrong about a century ago.

    The local council has closed the village hall after the unpleasantness between members of the Friendless Losers Outreach Programme (FLOP) which led to acting-Factory Manager Ted Eagle’s concussion, memory loss and subsequent assertion that he won the hand in marriage of the village postwoman, Andrea Goodbody, at a quiz night in The Haunted Poacher in the neighbouring village of Lower Backache. This has made things awkward between Ted and lifelong friend, Dennis Topping, who is Andrea’s fiance.

    Always eat Ongar-Bonga Cheese sensibly. Remember, the hugging of cheese in public is positively encouraged.

  3. Rob Knipe says:

    Reblogged this on The (W)rites of Rob Knipe and commented:
    Bit of Flash Fiction fun for the weekend?

  4. Mark A. King says:

    Knifecloud

    @making_fiction

    82 words

    In the virtual skies, the clouds bleed with data.

    The pilot sits behind her screen.

    In the opal skies of a faraway place, the drone glides silently, a speckle in the ether.

    She sits in an office chair, her fingers are her weapons; warmed with a cup of organic coffee from a place she’ll never visit.

    Intelligence gathered.

    Verified.

    The live feed transmits monochrome blocks to her screen.

    Concrete buildings—munitions stores, sleeper cells.

    Concrete buildings—schools? Hospitals?

    Instructions sent.

    Results pending.

  5. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    310 Words

    The Dream of Icarus

    Put your palm flat against the metal. Feel how smooth it is. Keep your hand pressed down although, after a day under the sun, the metal burns your skin. Never let it go.

    “What is it?” The children ask. They stand skinny and barefoot in their homespun clothes, eyes squinting in the sunlight reflecting off the fuselage. They swat away the midges attracted to the sweat on their skin.

    “An aeroplane.”

    “What does it do?”

    “It used to fly.”

    Their mouths twitch with barely hidden laughter. This is their favourite game, listening to the crazy tales of the old man, the man who remembers the time before the Drought.

    “Why doesn’t it have feathers? Do its wings flap? Where did it fly to?” The questions come tumbling out into the dusty air.

    “The aeroplane carried a hundred passengers, two hundred maybe.”

    The children whisper among themselves. They cannot imagine two hundred people all together. “Why?”

    “To see different things. To escape.”

    “There isn’t anything except the village.”

    “Other countries, like the village but bigger. People were different there. They had different customs, spoke different languages. They might say bonjour instead of hello. Or konnichiwa, or namaste.”

    When they hear this babble of words, the children laugh aloud with cheeks puffed out and faces blushed. They bend double and spit on the dry ground. But I remember the time before the Drought, when the aeroplanes flew on ribbons of cloud, the sunlight burnishing their wings. When the same age as these children, I watched them and wondered where they were going and imagined all the possibilities in the world.

    One child doesn’t laugh, the little one called Joshua. He scowls and balls his hands into fists held down by his sides. “You’re a liar. It couldn’t fly. It’s too big.”
    Then he runs along the dirt track, back to the village.

  6. Rob Knipe says:

    @RobKnipe
    358 Words

    Terror on the Tarmac

    The sun gleamed off the aircraft’s metallic underside. He could feel it radiating heat. His distorted reflection stared back, facial features recognisable, but askew. For a moment, his mirror-image appeared to smile, though he did not. He slowly reached out.
    He hoped the thin veil that separates this world from the one so often reflected would hold out.
    His hand inched closer to the fuselage.
    Despite the heat, the metal surface was cold, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. The fingers of his image intertwined with his own and held him fast. He was being gently pulled.
    ‘Johnson…’
    The voice faded almost as soon as it began, whispered through an unseen mouth, from an unknown being.
    His likeness’s expression remained passive as black tendrils grew from the edge of its face, spreading out until it was surrounded by an oval of thrashing tentacles. The blackness spread, covering its countenance until it ruptured toward him into row after row of pointed teeth, oscillating in a way that made him nauseous. Things moved beneath the gums that held the teeth, pressing out with stick thin appendages before moving off once more. A breeze grew from behind him until it was roaring past, trying to force him into the reflected horror before him, while his hand, now tangled with night black coils –
    A hammering caught his attention.
    Through the window of the terminal, his wife and son were waving him off, as they did every flight.
    He waved.
    If only they knew.
    The hull of the plane had returned to how it should be. No monstrosities returned his gaze, no black tendrils ensnared him, and his reflection held the same concerned expression he did. Grasping the hot, plastic handle of his carry-on bag, he walked to the mobile stairs.

    Captain Thornton sighed and rested her arm across the controls.
    ‘Problem, captain?’ David, the In-Flight Service Manager was leaning in the cockpit doorway.
    ‘It’s First Officer Johnson,’ said Thornton, adjusting her headset and starting the pre-flight checks, ‘he’s just been on the tarmac stroking the underbelly again.’
    ‘I swear he’s a narcissist. He stares into every mirror.’

  7. mariemck1 says:

    Operation Prodigy

    Military jets escorted the unidentified aircraft to a secure airstrip, the world’s media salivating at a 30km radius.
    The child’s voice continued communication:
    ‘We are a gift.’
    ‘We will not negotiate. Declare yourself.’
    ‘We mean no harm. We have been sent.’
    ‘This game has gone on long enough. Make your identity clear, or you give us no option but to progress with military action.’
    ‘Very well.’ The tinny voice persisted, ‘Passenger 1 is Marina, age 11. She has more medical knowledge than all your medical minds put together. Passenger 2 is Creswell, age 9. He is proving to be a talented environmentalist. He will help the ailing planet. Jemima,age 8 is a physicists, Lark, 7, a mathematician, Celia 7 a microbiologist -‘
    ‘Enough. If there are children on your aircraft, you must release them, now. Unharmed.’
    ‘That is indeed our mission. I am Jupe, age 15 mediator and philosopher. We are coming. We come in peace.’
    The aircraft’s doors swing open.
    ‘Hold fire!’
    The small figures emerged one by one.

    ‘Children secured, Sir. Aircraft searched. No other passengers on board. They are indeed alone. I repeat, no other passengers. No hostile activity,’ said The Soldier.
    ‘We come in peace,’ said the oldest again.
    ‘But how? From where?’
    ‘The Triangle.’

    239 words @elaine173marie

  8. stephellis2013 says:

    A Cautionary Tale

    322 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    He couldn’t resist.

    Don’t touch.

    The warning repeated to him on a daily basis had become an itch he needed to scratch.

    Don’t touch.

    His hand was already reaching out to stroke the metallic monster slumbering peacefully on the tarmac. They said the plane had absorbed some sort of radiation that could suck out a man’s soul in minutes but Anthony didn’t believe that. It was just some story to make the earth-bound bird seem more exciting to the punters; otherwise how could they let anyone near it?

    Don’t touch.

    He walked around it, like he had done a million times before, noting the sealed doors, the blackened windows. On its last flight it had slipped off the radar only to turn up hundreds of miles off-course in the middle of the desert. There had been no signs of damage … there had been no passengers or pilot either. The company sent another crew out to check it over and fly it back. They too disappeared. Anyone who stepped inside vanished. And so the company somehow manhandled the aircraft back to their hangars where it was marked out of bounds and left to rust.

    But it didn’t rust. It sat there, silent, shiny, unknowable. Until a company man thought it might make a good tourist attraction … once it had been sealed up.

    Don’t touch.

    All rubbish of course. You could make up any story you wanted and people would believe it, pay to believe it.

    Don’t touch.

    He reached out a little bit further, felt the cold metal beneath his skin, saw himself reflected in the panel, fading, disappearing. Gone.

    Don’t touch.

    Darkness. He looked around, found he was strapped into a seat amongst never-ending rows of passengers, all eyes focussed on the LCD panel at the top of the aisle. A message flashing red. Over and over again … THIS IS YOUR FINAL APPROACH.

    And a voice whispered, you were warned.

  9. Voima Oy says:

    Come Fly With Me
    320 words
    @voimaoy

    Ice in tall glasses, the passengers settle in for the flight. There is plenty of leg room. Those with window views marvel at the light of the sun on the clouds, the patterns of fields below, Lake Michigan like a mirror.

    The stewardesses wear tiny kitten heels, tight skirt suits. Their smiles never waver, and they are all the same height and weight. Maybe there is a factory on another planet where these blondes, redheads and brunettes come from, they all look so perfect.

    The flight crew also look the part. The pilot has a square jaw and the easygoing air of grace under pressure. The co-pilot is more boyish, cracking jokes over the intercom, putting the passengers at ease.

    It is almost like a movie, the passengers tell each other. This airline is bringing back the romance of flying again.

    Indeed, when Tempus Fujit Airlines started service less than a year ago, few would have predicted its astonishing success. Who were they? Where did they come from? Everything about the company was mysterious, but maybe that added to the appeal. There were amenities that even premium passengers of major airlines did not have.

    But the romance is not just for honeymoon couples, although there are a few on this flight. Not all of the passengers are young, either, or traditional brides and grooms.

    “Come fly with me” plays over the intercom.

    In the lounge, people sit at rounded tables, foursomes playing bridge. The sharp snap of cards being shuffled. The carpet is the color of old moss.

    “Attention passengers,” the pleasant voice of the brunette comes on over the intercom. “Tempus Fujit Flight 65 to New York will be arriving in 15 minutes. Please be advised there will be an Andy Warhol opening tonight at the Factory. Check your watches for the correct time. It is August 15, 1965. Enjoy your visit.”

    The plane flies on into the past.

  10. Reality Shifting

    Rob called me from the canteen. I could tell he was upset. It’d happened again. That feeling of not being able to recognise himself, his reflection in the shiny side of one the planes he was cleaning.
    ‘Like the world tipping on its axis. Reality shifting.’
    ‘Breathe Rob. It’s okay. You’re at work. You love your job. Four years ago you couldn’t leave the house and now look at you.’
    ‘Just … sometimes it gives me a shock.’
    ‘You’ll adjust.’
    He’ll stop in front of the mirror to marvel at his arms, chest or his chin. Yes, one chin after all those years of having several. And only last week he saw a guy dressed the same as him on another of the bikes at the gym then realised it was him.
    Four years ago he was nearly three times the man he is now. Thirty-seven stone. I didn’t know him back then. He’s now a weight he hasn’t been since he was at school.
    ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’
    ‘You’re here, Rob. And you did it.’
    Apart from a paper round at fourteen where he spent all his wages on chocolate, this is his first job. In the interview, he explained why he’d not been working and we decided to give him a chance. That was eighteen months ago. He lost his last seven stone. Cleaning aeroplanes is a good work out.
    He tells me about his Mum.
    ‘I wish she could’ve seen this but I’m not sure I’d have done it when she was around. She’d have laughed at my running, my sessions at the gym. She’d have had a field day if she saw the weights in my bedroom.’
    She carried on cooking for his Dad and five siblings, long after they’d all left. She’d bring him massive portions on a tray. He loved her toad-in-the-hole. Sticky toffee pudding, lemon meringue, death by chocolate. She kept him safe in their back room till the day she died. He doesn’t blame her. No point now she’s gone. I know he still misses her.
    She probably wouldn’t recognise him these days either.
    He’ll get used to this. Reality shifting.

    @SalnPage
    360 words
    #FlashDog

  11. Little Birds by Jeff Rowlands
    273 words
    @jeffnuggets

    He is happy not to travel now. His job is enough. The romance of the destinations served by the planes that pass through his hands keeps him contented.

    Today, the beaches and sights of Rio have caught his imagination, yesterday, it was the warren like streets of Lisbon’s old town and tomorrow it could be the glinting skyscrapers of Manhattan or perhaps the bustle of a North African Souk. Seeing the passengers dressed for their destination is one of the things he loves about his job loading planes with luggage. Gives him a happy hint of the places they are headed to. He sees excited gaggles of people carted across the tarmac in the airport buses to the freshly prepared plane and he imagines different lives, different stories. Every day is a new tale beginning for him.

    He identifies with the little birds that populate the airport, they could fly anywhere they want but they are happy with the pickings they get there, no need for them to move on to greener or more exotic climes They need no more than they have got.

    He loves this city he lives in, the one that has been his home for a long time. Could not imagine being anywhere else. There was a time when he wanted to travel but that was before he had everything he needs here. Wife, family, job, a kind of tentative happiness.

    He has developed a habit of trying to touch the planes he has helped to load before they take off. That way a part of him travels around the world every day. For him that is enough travelling.

  12. mariemck1 says:

    Could my first entry be ignored, pleas,e and this one used instead? Thank you.

    Operation Prodigy
    Military jets escorted the unidentified aircraft to a secure airstrip, the world’s media salivating at a 30km radius.
    The child’s voice continued communication:
    ‘We are a gift.’
    ‘We will not negotiate. Declare yourself.’
    ‘We mean no harm. We have been sent.’
    ‘This game has gone on long enough. Make your identity clear, or you give us no option but to progress with military action.’
    ‘Very well.’ The tinny voice persisted, ‘Passenger 1 is Marina, age 11. She has more medical knowledge than all your medical minds put together. Passenger 2 is Creswell, age 9. He is proving to be a talented environmentalist. He will help the ailing planet. Jemima, age 8, is a physicists, Lark, 7, a mathematician, Celia 7, a microbiologist -‘
    ‘Enough. If there are children on your aircraft, you must release them, now. Unharmed.’
    ‘That is indeed our mission. I am Jupe, age 15, mediator and philosopher. We are coming. We come in peace.’
    The aircraft’s doors swung open.
    ‘Hold fire!’
    The small figures emerged one by one.

    ‘Children secured, Sir. Aircraft searched. No other passengers on board. They are indeed alone. I repeat, no other passengers. No hostile activity,’ said The Soldier.
    ‘We come in peace,’ said the oldest again.
    ‘But how? From where?’
    ‘The Triangle.’

    239 words @elaine173marie

  13. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    #FlashDog
    219 words

    The Talisman

    Dan always touched the plane for good luck, just part of his routine. His wife said he had obsessive compulsive disorder but that was unfair to the people that genuinely suffered with the condition. He had his little rituals but they weren’t compulsive.

    Today he decided not to touch the AirColumbus that was flying to Toronto. He’d direct it out onto the beginning of the runway and wish it good luck instead. He liked using the paddles to converse with the Captain. He could see it was Tilly Warden, first woman to fly senior pilot out of this airport. He remembered how lots of the old boys resented it. Said women should stay at the hearth. He thought about his own daughter Biddy and hoped one day she’d be a trail blazer or at least not get pregnant too young and waste all her talent. He loved his girl more than life.

    The names of the two hundred and fifty three passengers and seven crew members were read out at the inquest. Accidental death, bird strike in one of the engines was the official verdict. The old boys said never fly with a woman pilot it was bad luck but Dan knew different. Luck had nothing to do with it; he just forgot to say the two magic words.

  14. The Others

    Palm to palm, they offer one another a slightly shady wave as the sun shines overhead, heat beating onto the tarmac below. Sol waves, Los mirrors, beckoning backwards; the surface directly before Sol polished to perfection, displaying the elongated body reaching towards him, gesturing.

    There are others, of course. Sol has never been sure how many. Nor precisely how many he has met to date, save for Los – who seems to visit frequently, as far as he can tell. He simply knows that their numbers appear to be expanding, although they seemingly inhabit the elongated planes of windows and other suitable surfaces one at a time, as opposed to crowding themselves into crammed, singular compartments.

    They never speak.

    They are gathering. Waiting.

    They follow, flitting slim from building to building, one with the broad bodies from whom they have originated, hard at their heels, cinched by a shadowed strip. Sol sees them, darting, when he isn’t looking, though they cannot not shake themselves loose, try as they might.

    He knows what they want. They are waiting for it. For him.

    It isn’t that he isn’t tempted. It seems so simple from where he is standing, what with fewer dimensions to consider and all. It is more the practicalities of going about it that he isn’t certain concerning, given they can’t exactly communicate their wants and needs.

    Sol thinks he might be able to work it out anyway, if he waits long enough. Impatient, however, he pulls at the outstretched fingers. Strangely, that is all it takes.

    The first, Los, is free to explore, Sol’s gesture having secured it. You may perhaps recognise him if you see him in passing, though likely only if you watch from an angle, without turning your head too far towards him. He lacks a certain solidity, even released – though he takes a touch from a shadow, palm to palm each morning, to aid in boosting a building towards blackness.

    Los has to squint to see the shadow amidst the polish at this point. To some, the shade no longer exists – faded forgotten – its original planes and dimensions now flattened into a singular, thin sliver.

    @FallIntoFiction

    360 words

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