Flash Frenzy Round 110

Posted: June 4, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday and welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 110. This week’s judge is Steph Ellis.

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. Shadow Walker says:

    She shouldn’t have set foot in the shadows.

    She shouldn’t have strolled across the courtyard empty-handed, her snappy white uniform glowing in the blazing sun, past the market stalls, past the holy statues, past the dull, faceless tourists and their vigilant cameras, into the shadows.

    She shouldn’t have disembarked the navy cruiser with its rust-marked metal doors opening, closing on the labyrinthine hallways leading down, down, down into the deep, where the pale-eyed chef and his knives worked slicing up a hundred cold soles for two hundred watchful souls, to stretch her legs in the courtyard on the other side of which waited the shadows.

    She shouldn’t have boarded the ship six months ago, abandoning her husband and her lover, who were not the same person, leaving behind her day job and her critical task, which were not the same thing, and forsaking her friends and her associates, who may or may not have been able to protect her, before she crossed the sea to the port with the courtyard and its shadows.

    She shouldn’t have been deceived by the gleam in his smile or the shimmering in his voice that promised her things she knew were beyond a human’s reach, or grasped the pen obligating herself to a contract she had no intention of fulfilling, realizing too late what the contract was and fleeing on the next ship out, destined for a sunny port on the other side of the sea, not knowing, though she should have guessed, there beyond the port lay a courtyard with its eternally patient, hungrily waiting shadows.

    And she shouldn’t have—

    No, my friends, your protestations are pitiable but pointless—

    Look here, her signature in her own hand, written freely—

    Even in the sunny courtyard, she could have turned around—

    But she shouldn’t have, no, she shouldn’t have set foot in the shadows.

    (309 words)

  2. Iona Winter says:

    Passages

    A kiss on my shoulder woke me this morning.
    It reminded me that you are always nearby.
    And that the dead are ever-present—those ones, who paved the way with blood and bones, will walk alongside me in this foreign port.

    Strange logic the navy have. As soon as I get rid of my sea legs I’ll need to regain them. Our connection with land is so brief it becomes dreamlike when we are amidst the oceans’ swell. There are days when I cannot remember what the earth smells like, and I long for it.

    My attire today places me as an anomaly.
    Perhaps I am seen as a woman associated with warfare and greed. Or a bit of a laugh, like you said, “Who takes women in the services seriously anyhow?”

    For a moment I feel shame, but there are other contrasts to being military and a woman—my skin is dark. I stand out, and right now I’d give anything to be dressed like a tourist. But as I cross the stone square, my eyes remain focussed on a trajectory.
    I have a letter to post.

    The sun is so fierce I’m unable to take in the cold statues of religious iconography. It is no loss. After all that I have seen; the only truths I know are life and death.

    I turn the corner and the noise of pigeons assaults me as they launch off the footpath. The birds at sea are often distant; they make me conscious of my dislocation from land.

    By a tree hemmed in with bricks, I pause to remove a stone from my shoe.
    My fingers caress its skin, and when I look up there is no gap between its leaves and the sky.

    The dead fall into step with me again as I move towards building-cast shadows. Hands slip into my pockets and bodies glide themselves along my back.

    I see the post box.
    Then drop the letter inside—effortless, like your kiss.

    (Word Count: 333)
    https://twitter.com/waitahaiona1

  3. Voima Oy says:

    City of Women
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    Somewhere, there is an island that rose from the ocean fully-formed, like Venus on the shell. On this island, there is a city of women, called Parthen. Some say it was originally settled by mermaids, seeking freedom from the sea. Others say they came from the stars. There are no men, no murders. Female children from the nearby towns are left at the gates of the city in woven reed baskets provided for that purpose. Here, they find homes, like stray kittens.

    Although there are no men in Parthen, there are sailors and carpenters and firefighters. There are doctors and musicians, teachers, scientists and mathematicians. There are poets in Parthen, too. It is sometimes called the city of poetry, because everyone is a poet, there. Every bake shop and cafe has readings. Every office has poetry contests.

    In the main plaza downtown there is a statue of Sappho. She was an ancient poet, and sometimes called the Tenth Muse. She is one of the Muses of Parthen, but there are also statues of Demeter and Isis and Kuan Yin. There are many followers of Kali, and the Sisters of Medusa, who never cut their hair.

    The women of Parthen are known for their hair. It is long and wild, black as the wings of the blackbirds that perch on the marble and granite statues. The hair is twisted and braided, coiled on their heads. Braids wind through the wide boulevards, tangling in the side streets, twining around the lamp posts.

    In the summer evenings, when the women of Parthen gather on their balconies combing out their hair, the breeze is filled with the smells of rain and gardenias, oceans and cinnamon, smoke from autumn fires.

    The scent wafts over the gates of the city, where men gather from far and wide, drawn by the irresistible perfume. The gates open for one night on the summer solstice, a night of feasting and dancing, wine and love. At dawn, bodies lie sprawled in the plazas. All morning, the sky is dark with blackbirds. By noon, the sun shines again on the bright white streets.

    In Parthen, there are no men, no murders.

  4. Lightning Does Strike Twice

    Shocked back into existence and amazed it had happened again, Cecily took a deep breath and, stiff jointed, slipped down from the shelf.

    She remembered last time. Instinct had told her to go to the window where, the night’s storm over, sunshine blazed through. She pushed the glass panel and felt that same enticing breeze of outsideness, which filled her heart with nostalgia and longing and oh-so-many other feelings. Within seconds, Cecily was over the sill and down the ivy-covered wall. There was a lot more ivy. Easier climbing. She walked down the same road, arms and legs returning to their loose-limbed life.

    There were more cracks in the tiles at her feet. Everywhere seemed settled, worn and lived in. The statue-people appeared the same. Cecily felt sure they’d been there for all time. She wondered if they ever got struck but hurried past. She didn’t have long. She wanted to see him again. The boy.

    There were new and different smells in the air but still the same warm sun on her face. She walked past a young man and woman. He had a tiny box for his picture memories. The girl talked excitedly into hers.

    Cecily knew where she was going. Three more streets, then the turn off for the tree-filled square. She recalled his blond hair, green eyes and sweet shy smile, how he couldn’t look straight at her and the silly names he called her. She swung her arms, wishing she wasn’t forced to carry this silly purse. It was attached to her palm, just like the shoes on her feet. She longed too, to remove the cap from her head and shake her hair loose but it was impossible. Most of all she yearned to be human; a real woman and not a doll who would soon be back on the shelf.

    He will recognise her. From her cap to her shoes, her sailor suit and tie, she hasn’t changed. But he won’t be a boy anymore. She’s worked this out from what she’s seen on the journey. She’s realised how much time has passed. Her steps and her breaths quicken.

    He’ll be a man.

    @SalnPage
    360 words
    #FlashDog

  5. Port of Call

    She wanted to enjoy her last chance for the fresh air in ten months, but Gena’s lungs refused to fill. She’d been short of breath for the last half hour as she hurriedly tried to find Derricks in the crowd of white Navy uniforms. She had to find him and come up with some kind of plan before they both embarked for the Arctic Circle on the USS John Warner. “Shit.” Her watch told her she only had eight more minute to board the nuclear submarine.

    Derricks wouldn’t want to be seen with her, but this was an emergency. Even if Gena did find him, he wouldn’t care even though this was as much his fault as hers.

    A smoldering stench caught her nose and she turned to see a clutch of men enjoying one final cigar before shipping out. She stepped toward them and they all stopped and saluted. She remembered to do the same then dismissed them, “At ease. Have you seen Petty Officer Derricks?”

    “Lieutenant, he’s probably on board stashing that hoard of Danish snuff he picked up here,” P.O. Greer snorted from behind the wed stub of a cigar clenched in his teeth.

    “Or giving whatever port lizard one last go round,” P.O. Yancy added. The men all laughed.

    “Better hope Medical restocked the clap cream,” she added turning back toward the sub., maybe she could still find Derricks on the platform.

    “Lieutenant, you know we got toothbrushes on board. Right?,” Yancy said, pointing to plastic device in her hand.

    Gena snapped the plastic in half and threw it into the sea. She’d been clenching the pregnancy test since she’d taken it, wanting to show it to Derricks. Wanting to figure out what action to take since it’s been three months since their moment of indiscretion at the bottom of the ocean.

    The two minute klaxon rang and all the remaining crew approached the boarding ramp. She’d have to figure this out later, with or without Derricks. Gena’s lungs found the will to fully take in one last measure of air before she boarded the submarine.

    350 words
    @BradyTheWriter

  6. zevonesque says:

    Matters of the Heart
    A.J. Walker

    Hiding between the seven hills, slinking between piazzas; always a different cafe. But I knew this day would come.

    I’d met her in a cafe too. Back in London. She said she was from Basildon. She joked she was the Whore of Basildon. And I’d laughed and enjoyed the frequent indiscreet sex she gave to me. Until I discovered she wasn’t joking.

    Everyone knows the devil has all the best tunes, but he also has the prettiest emissaries: Angelica. The arrogance of the name. Leggy, voluptuous with an unnerving steady face, strong yet pretty. It somehow never gave anything away. Her eyes seemed infinite. Recalling them now they were unnatural and freak me out.

    She saw through my soul.

    I think it was day one when she told me she’d take my heart – though time plays tricks. She repeated it often. Until I remember her embellishing this affirmation. I remember lying in bed with her after some perfunctory sex. She’d stood up and turned cold to me. “I’m going to take your heart, Johnny. I’m going to pull it out between your ribs and squeeze it until all the blood has dripped through my fingers. Then I’m going to grind it into the soil beneath my heels, Johnny. You know it.”

    I seem to recall we carried on for a while; I think it was the sex. She certainly had some sort of hold on me. I’m not sure when exactly but I eventually saw the ugly truth. Saw what she was. The real Whore of Basildon. Ancient and vile. Once I saw that I could never see what originally drew me to her.

    Then I ran for my life.

    I’d done better than I’d expected. Six whole months. Now she’s here. I can see people turning their heads to see her as she walks through the little piazza. She probably looks stunning to them, but I can see her truly. The dishevelled imp is wearing some sort of naval uniform; white and pure, the very opposite of her. Angelica in white. She comes straight up to me. I know running would be useless.

    ‘I’ve come for your heart.’


    WC 359
    @zevonesque

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