Flash Frenzy Round 106

Posted: May 7, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Hello again and welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 106. Please join me in welcoming Rob Knipe to his first weekend as 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. mariemck1 says:

    Pocket Demon
    I carried him around in my breast pocket. He fitted snugly there. When he snarled he showed his razor white teeth that he’d use to gnaw miniscule holes through the material of my shirts. His little hot spots of breath often warmed my chest and his little pointy bones rubbed against my skin. At night, I’d put cream on the angry, red mark he’d made on me.
    I took him everywhere with me: cinema, football, coffee shops.
    Sometimes I’d let him out. I’d let him rifle through my wife’s handbag, my boss’s desk, my neighbour’s garbage. He came back with some intersting tales.
    But when he first told me about the relationship, I didn’t want to believe him. I threatened to crush his skeletal head between thumb and finger.
    But what good would that do?
    It was my boss with his sharp threads, smooth lines and arrogant smile whose face I really wanted to pummel.
    I acted too rashly; issued my ultimatum; convinced myself it would work; this could only be infatuation.
    But that was a mistake.
    Next day, my strange companion, who’d come to mean more to me than my own kids, packed up his tiny bones and settled nicely in my boss’s silk lined jacket. And now, all that’s left for me is a pang where a red mark used to be.

    210 words
    @elaine173marie

  2. Richard Edenfield says:

    The Eiffle Tower in my French Roast
    at Starbucks with Thoreau
    **************************************

    The town had roads circling black asphalt sun with a frame of trees blowing a masterpiece of feathers & leaves that danced above pristine shops and homes and the air that needed to be oiled to eliminate the creaking of birds that opened doors to a bright blue heaven unhinged.

    This was Concord, Massachusetts.

    I came here as a pilgrimage to see the place my hero wrote and lived.

    I went to a coffee shop and sat with a large coffee. I read ‘Cape Cod.’

    His eyes were a sort of blue/grey like a sky clearing after a storm. He moved in a whirlpool of silence. There was sunshine that hid in his stride. He sat at a table next to me.

    “I don’t like small acts of cowardice disguising themselves as courage.”

    He spoke to a napkin that he turned over in his weather beaten hand.

    I looked into my cup and I could see an entire universe spinning in its milky way. I could see the Eiffel Tower in my french roast.

    “We are imitating nature without understanding it. If you put the cart before the horse it means you end up going backwards.”

    I put my book down.

    “It’s my book!”

    He seemed to be reading my mind or my dream.

    “I am writing.” I said knowing that lucid writing was strange and dangerous.

    “I know.” He countered as the grey of his eyes took over.

    It started to rain.

    “What do you think of global warming?”

    His gaze was straight. His beard was stiff and strong.

    “Things don’t change, we change. If the world is getting warmer… it is because we are becoming colder. Nature self regulates.”

    He touched the smooth surface of the table.

    It made sense, what he said. It wasn’t just scientific but a broader response to what created the problem to begin with.

    He spoke as he stood to leave. “There is death in your coffee.” Blue returned to his eyes and his pupils retreated from the sun allowing all the sounds of spring to explode with his exit.
    .
    I ordered another coffee that was deathless.

    I stirred a story.

    ***********************************

    (360 words)
    grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

  3. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    355 words.

    Fortunes

    I see death in coffee cups

    A middle-aged woman sits beside the café window, tapping away on her laptop, wearing a jacket worth more than I earn in a week. She checks her iPhone and pushes back her chair in a hurry. Damian tells me to clear her table, and to smile a little. “They come here for a coffee,” he says. “Not an Ibsen play.” He’s an English graduate working here until he finishes his novel. I don’t have the heart to tell him.

    I force my lips into a smile, although my uniform itches and my feet ache after three hours standing, and clear the table. The woman left her cappuccino half finished. In the milk foam a skull stares up at me.

    The Sight comes from my grandmother, a woman of silk scarves and silver jewellery that jangled every time she moved her hands. My mother rarely let me visit her. Embarrassed, I think. But my grandmother made us drink tea with an insipid amount of milk and afterwards turned the cups widdershins – that was the word she used – and squinted at the clumps of soggy leaves to read my fortune. She grabbed my hand and her pale blue eyes peered into mine. “You have it strong,” she said. “You are special.” She told me about the women in our family who foretold the death of princes and lived in caves by waterfalls. I can’t blame them. If I could, I’d live far away from people.

    I don’t hear the car accident outside. The customers and other baristas crowd against the window. The blue lights of the police cars and ambulances flash against their faces. They will arrest the driver, but who can blame him when all this is inevitable? They will demand speed cameras and pedestrian crossings. But there is nothing to be done.

    I carry the dirty cups on a tray to the counter and fill up the dishwasher. Another few hours of this and I will have paid my rent for the week. Another day and I’ll have enough for the supermarket. What else can you do?

  4. We Demand Frothy Coffee

    I, Mr Hurly-Burly, have been put forward as spokesman for this on tyre establishment. I have complied a statement of requirements regarding the food and beverages here. We are all in agreement.
    We, the undersigned, demand the following;
    No more gritty soups or grey stringy stews.
    No cuscus or Keen whah. Knew-fangled nonsense. What’s so very wrong with mash or chips? Made with normal potatoes not those sweet ones.
    The only beetroot should be from a jar of pickle and never pure raid, unless you want to supply new cardigans for all every time you serve it.
    We want our bacon cooked correctly. The fat should be brown and crispy, not white and flappy.
    Also, nun of us like smoothys. Again, knew-fangled nonsense. Miss Jittery keeps using the phrase ‘like a cup of cold sick’. This, as you can imagine, does not help them go down.
    No more cuppachinos, flat whites or lah-tays. (We believe they’re all the same thing anyway and Mrs Hullabalo insists flat whites are sandels) We want a good old fashioned frothy coffee or proper tea made in a pot and served in proper cups and saucers.
    We want the top of our frothy coffees just plane white froth. We don’t want fancy leaves, faeces or hurts. I hear the new chef used to be a barrister. Bit of comedown for him but there’s no need to take it out on us. And no to Christmas holly leaves, Easter chicks and defiantly no skulls and skellingtons for Halloween either. Gave Mrs Hoo-hah a right shock, waking from her knap to haunted coffee.
    The coffee’s usually cold by the time the trolley gets to the turd floor and Miss Flibbertigibbet (to whom I’m dicktayting this) and I are at the very end of the corridor. (Just tell him to stop faffing a boat. Miss F)
    Thanking you in anticipation of your cooperation in these madders,
    Cuthbert Hurly-Burly.

    P.S. Miss Hullabaloo and Mrs Fuddy-Duddy have asked me to add the following:
    ‘We DEEMAND frothy coffee.’
    ‘More Eccles Cakes, Swede and Fond Aunt Fancies please.’
    (Not, I assume together)

    @SalnPage
    350 very silly words (with intentional Miss Spellings)
    #FlashDog

  5. steve lodge says:

    About Last Night 360 words
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71

    Email to Caitlin
    Subject: Dinner Party

    Dearest Caitlin,

    Many thanks to you and Ethan for the lovely dinner party last night. It was great to see you both and Frank and Faith and, of course, Sid, the blind date you lined me up with.

    Well, you know me. I was a bit nervous, so while I was getting ready I poured a largish drink as a livener to steady my nerves. On an empty stomach, big mistake.

    Sid and I arranged to meet first at that new coffee shop, Skullsucks, which is like a new adventure in zombie voodoo and the skull logo on the top of my latte made me jump when Sid passed me my cup and I spilt some coffee in the lap of the guy at the next table. Sid went to get a towel and I was dabbing the guys lap with some tissues from my handbag, apologising profusely and then realised there was an embarrassing bulge in his trousers that wasn’t there before. Luckily the guy ran off before Sid got back.

    Apologies for my behaviour during your dinner party. Sid was very funny and I’d had too much to drink. When he told me his first job was on a poultry farm taking blind turkeys out for a shit, I laughed so much. I’m really sorry about the red wine coming out of my nose onto your new, white rug. I think soda water will get that stain out. Not cola like I tried.

    The lovely Indian meal you cooked was perhaps a little spicy for me and I soiled myself in the taxi on the way home.

    In the cold light of dawn, waking in my garden, I realised I’m missing a shoe. Possibly Sid has it as I think, after being thrown out of the taxi, he carried my shoes when I insisted on walking barefoot down the middle of Church Road doing an impression of Jagger and Bowie “Dancing In The Street.”

    I also appear to have lost my mobile phone. Sid’s number is in it and I’m sure he’ll want me to call him today.

    Please help.

    Love

    Ellie

  6. davidshakes says:

    The Harbinger
    360 words
    @theshakes72
    David Shakes
    #Flashdog

    It started in the pub – don’t most things?
    A grim looking chap with skeletal features blew in off the street, an icy blast of November air announcing his arrival. It was hard not to stare at his gaunt features as he approached the bar. The winds must have cut through the thin material of his dark coat and frozen his marrow. His teeth chattered as he stammered his order.
    ‘Guy looks like Death,’ my girlfriend whispered and we both laughed conspiratorially.
    People came and went from the bar, most giving the guy a wide berth. He must have been on his third or fourth drink when he stood to remove his coat. You could count his ribs through the faded Stones t-shirt he wore.
    ‘Looks like Death warmed up,’ I joked too loudly. Most folk at the bar raised a chuckle but quickly fell silent when they saw his glare.
    The thin man seemed to glide around the bar to where I stood. He thrust his parchment-skinned face in mine, I could smell his carrion breath even before he parted his blue lips to speak:
    ‘Think I’m funny?’ he rasped.
    ‘No offense,’ I managed to stammer, surprised by my timidity.
    ‘A little taken,’ he replied and then placed a bony finger on my forehead. I’d pulled away immediately, but not before a wave of nausea washed over me. It didn’t really pass until he’d retrieved his coat and gone back out into the cold evening.
    ‘It’s just an idiom,’ I’d muttered, shaking my head.
    ‘You’re just an idiot,’ my girlfriend had replied and ordered two more pints of Guinness.
    As I looked, the shamrock flourish on the head of one of the pints morphed and became a grinning skull that winked at me. It was the pint closest to my girlfriend. She’d picked it up and drunk from it without passing comment. I can still see that thin line of froth across the top of her lips like a milky mustache – so cute.
    Three days later she was dead.
    You wonder why I am telling you all this?
    Take a closer look at your coffee and try not to panic.

  7. stephellis2013 says:

    The Haunted Man
    339 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    He was the haunted man. In dreams and nightmare, soft dusk and dawn, his ghosts would crawl out and reclaim him. They thirsted to taste life, watching the world from behind his eyes, whispering monstrous things that made him tremble and shake. People hurried by, embarrassed and ashamed for him and for themselves; all thoughts of charity forgotten as they felt the touch of his cold shadow.

    And he was glad. It meant they were safe.

    At night it was easier, the streets were empty and he could take his ghosts and drown them in the dark; alcohol subdued most but not all of his demons. There were some that needed to be exorcised even in the early hours. And that night he could feel the pressure building.

    The clock struck one. His was a solitary vigil in these parts, others who slept on the streets had learned to keep their distance. They knew him, knew his ghosts.

    An outline, someone, a woman looking down at him, coffee in her hand. An offering. He looked up at her. Hoped she saw his eyes and would leave quickly. But no. She knew of somewhere he could stay, somewhere warm, off the streets. He was to follow her.

    He knew a shortcut. She smiled. Told him to the lead the way. They walked in companionable silence. She talking all the time, him sipping his coffee, allowing himself to revel in its warmth. He knew the cold would come creeping back soon enough.

    His ghosts listened to her chatter. They had heard it all before. So many saints trying to help a poor sinner. Blind souls becoming dead souls. Did they never learn?

    Why didn’t they look into his eyes, see the monster within?

    He could make her look. He always gave them that chance. The path narrowed, was deserted and remote. She stopped and hesitated. He smiled as he turned her towards him. She looked into his eyes and she saw them, saw all his ghosts. But it was too late.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Oops – can’t have them walking in companionable silence and then she talking all the time! Should be ‘They walked companionably; she talking all the time, him sipping his coffee …”

  8. JuliaHandel says:

    Take This Cup From Me
    By JuliaHandel
    Word count 262

    Michael listened to the crowd growling obscenities. He nodded to his escort and stepped out of the canteen.

    Bodyguards were selected for their hulking physiques. Michael, like most of the entourage, had been chosen for his pretty face. The Candidate surrounded himself with fresh young bodies.

    Michael carried the tray in both hands. Lids covered the cups; napkins shrouded the tray. It was the simplest code: sinister, dexter.

    The crowd muttered and clapped. Fists pumped above pale faces. In front, wheelchairs crammed against the stage. Arthritic hands clawed toward the Candidate, grabbing at salvation. Young men on the aisles watched the guards. Looks were exchanged, signals received. Faces in the crowd smiled in anticipation.

    Michael thought of his future: a return to the peaceful world of food, drink, and pleasant company. The Candidate had plucked Michael from the ruins of their last enterprise, ‘Le Dernier Cru.’ One more failed restaurant had meant nothing to the Candidate. The comfortable brasserie had been the ambition of a lifetime to Michael.

    Left, right, the party marched through the audience. Left cup—a swirl of cream marked the surface. ‘What’s yours is mine,’ the soul of the politician. Right cup—simple coffee cooled. ‘Might makes right,’ the hope of the crowd.

    Behind him, Michael heard doors closing. An old woman shrieked at her companion. Guards moved toward her.

    Michael mounted the stage and looked down. Young toughs blocked the exits; guards gripped clubs. The weary public waited.

    Michael lifted the napkin, removed the lids, and swirled the cups. He handed the left cup to the Candidate.

  9. Excitable by Jeff Rowlands

    360 words

    @jeffnuggets

    They first appeared when he left school, jubilant to be free of the petty rules and timetables. A gaggle of tiny figures skipping around his feet, ankle high. They laughed and looked up at him with delight, their bodies euphorically flashing the whole spectrum of colours.

    He went to college to study his beloved art, they stayed with him, celebrating joyously when he lost his innocence to a posh girl from the music department in a place that no modest student could reasonably expect to have. He smiled watching them running up and down her piano, giving an impromptu free form concert, issuing little squeals of delight.

    They partied with him, took pleasure in his successes. When he painted, sketched or drew they would rest, recharging themselves by sleeping peacefully a few feet away from him.

    They gave themselves a name “The Excitables”, even penned their own song, singing their hearts out, giving their lungs a work out. He remembered them with fondness, jubilantly partying at Glastonbury into the early hours, dancing on a Thai beach to the backdrop of a glorious sunset. No one else could see them but so what?

    They stayed around while he scraped a living as an artist, leaving him alone when he took piecemeal work to fund his true passion but they enjoyed his social life with him. Making any success of his artwork got harder and harder. He threw in the towel. Took a proper day job, they watched him closely, sentry like, when they saw him donning a suit. Bafflingly unlike his usual attire. Some wandered off shaking their heads, a few followed him, curious more than happy.

    All but one vanished when he entered the bank for the first time. They were still together when his boss bought him a coffee, his boss steered the discussion towards spreadsheets, projects, goals. The final excitable climbed into his cup, slowly dissolving into nothing more than a skeleton, a tiny scream audible, barely more than the hiss of a coffee machine. The last evidence that they had ever existed nothing more than a tear shaped indent in the foam on top of his coffee.

  10. Mark A. King says:

    Loyalty Scheme

    @making_fiction

    345 words

     

    Today I give her the Halloween special. It’s a hundred outside—middla May—sidewalks hot enough to fry eggs. Skulls in coffees aint due for five months yet.

    During the holidays, I gave her the tropical iced mango and pomegranate infusion. She held it through those fancy therma-gloves. I didn’t like that; it ruined the sense of touch.

    It’s a game I play with her.

    Her name is Amber. I know this because she told me.

    I know this because I write her name with a flourish on her cup t’ go. I take my time, always put a hidden heart at the end, I make it look like its sposed to be there— a period. So small she wouldn’t notice. Nobody would notice. But I know it’s there.

    I savor the moments she runs her elegant fingers over the letters. Hold my breath when her glittered nail varnish picks at the heart. Sometimes she catches me. Does she enjoy it when I watch her?

    Sometimes she stands there and sips infronta me. It’s only for a seconda two, but I’ve learnt to make it last longer by payin’ close  attention. I watch the steam moisten on her porcelain skin. Watch her slurp, gently—daintily. She rests the cup on those lips—lips that carry her honeyed voice—lips so full, that I imagine how they would taste to kiss. I watch her tip the cup and I imagine how the hot liquid it skims those artic-white veneers.

    We’re sposed to know ‘bout our customers.

    It helps brand loyalty, they say.

    There’s nothing I don’t know ‘bout Amber.

    I know she volunteers at the place where old folk go to die.

    I know she likes to eat by herself and the glow of the TV screen makes her look like an angel in the dark abyss of her lonely room.

    I know her ex treated her bad.

    A man like me would know how treat Amber.

    I’d treat her like she’s special.

    I always give her my special. Just for her.

    It’s a game we play.

  11. zevonesque says:

    The Half Life of Caffeine
    A.J. Walker

    Coffee spoke to Jez more than Susan ever did – and she’d never stopped. They’d met in a coffee shop, in fact Jez realised it was this coffee shop as he fell uncomfortably back into the cavernous shit brown sofa – wondering how he’d ever get out. But at least he had time on his hands.

    He looked at his watch. Susan would be at the house now. Separating her stuff from his. She was fast and efficient and he was relaxed about it. She’d go at it like a laser at a tumour. He’d get back and it’d be like she’d never been there. Six years. Tick tock.

    He shook his head. A cul-de-sac. He’d taken her down a cul-de-sac she’d said. She’d wanted a freeway. He’d laughed at her. Your life’s a Hollywood film, is it? He’d said. You mean a motorway. He’d said. She said he’d proved her point.

    He looked at his coffee. He could see a skull in the froth; Jez could read coffee. This one was easy. Skull = death. Death of the relationship. Six years. He’d thought it was love. She’d not. Evidently.

    The skull grimaced. Five hours they’d agreed on. The first thing they’d agreed on for months. The half life of caffeine. So here he was. They’d met here and it was ending here. Sort of.

    “Hi, is it okay if I sit here?”

    Jez looked up. Shrugged.

    “No probs. Park your bum.” he said, wincing at his choice of words.

    She smiled and gingerly put down a gigantic coffee and a hardback book. He couldn’t make out the title. But thought with the book and the coffee she was in for the long haul.

    Soon three empty coffee cups sat in front of him. And the lovely Deborah was still parked, bum and all, across from him. He looked at his watch again – five hours. Five hours in a coffee shop.

    The froth on the last coffee had been a pair of sunglasses. Just like Deborah’s. It was clear. A new chapter was beginning, much quicker than anticipated.

    Although he wondered whether he was just on a caffeine high.

    —–
    WC:360
    @zevonesque

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