Posted: October 29, 2016 in Bonus Post
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We are back a week early with a special relaunch edition of The Angry Hourglass. This weekend, you have your choice of four photo prompts. Write a story about the photo you like best, or combine elements of two or more for an extra challenge. Your judge this weekend is Jaime Burchardt.

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 and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here are your prompts.

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  1. stephellis2013 says:


    313 words


    Faces followed him. Wherever Paul went there were faces. Heavy-browed and staring, they fixed him with their empty eyes, staking their claim. Even with his back turned they were there, stalking, watching, sending out invisible threads, tendrils burrowing into his brain, keeping him attached to this unbidden following.

    Paul longed to break free but every day his ghosts reeled him in tighter, restricting, suffocating, overpowering. And when he got home he found he was still bound to them, his hand scratching their features into paper and wood, carving them into chrome and steel. Eyes haunting him. There. Always there. Even his own body betrayed him. Hands, arms, legs, torso, all were soon covered with impressions of his tormentors. They had claimed his flesh for their canvas, guiding his hands to fill in the rolls of fat around his stomach so that obese grotesques stared up at him as he shaded in muscle with gaunt and sinister invaders. His audience crawled across his skin, their presence unbearable.

    But still he could not stop.

    When his flesh was covered Paul transferred his drawings to his clothing, on shirts, on trousers, even on material where you could not see the mark of his pen. But he knew they were there. And they were arguing now, mouths opening, bickering for more room. Petty jealousies erupting over every corner of his body. Demanding more. Wanting more. Insisting he start again. They needed a new canvas. All he had to do was dig deeper. A knife gleamed on the kitchen table.

    The voices grew louder.

    There is more of you, they whispered, inside. All you have to do is peel away the layers. We need more, we want more.’

    The whisper grew in volume, became a chant, a roar, a rolling tide of noise.

    His hand twitched in response, obeying the voices, lifting the blade to his skin …

  2. Mark A. King says:

    The Pound Shop Angel

    260 words



    Hope can be found in the pound shop.

    She works the frenzied weekend shift.

    Halloween is her favourite time of year. She doesn’t need to work. She does it for self-fulfilment.

    A nod to the cocky teenagers who think they’re all gangsta.

    A, “Can I help you, sir?” to the greasy old men.

    A wink for the mobility scooter lard-arse ladies.

    A, “Would you like a three-for-one deal, mate?” to the jacked-up, smoked-up, energy-drink OD’ers.

    In this desolate place of glittered highly-flammable kids Halloween costumes, the only hope is Hope.

    She watches through the smeared windows. The skirmish streets of bubble-gum, gob, and WTF’s are her target.

    She won’t engage directly with the enemy. No. It’s wise to pick your battles.

    Can’t beat the government, right?

    The powers that be are only too happy to leave this town to fester on unemployment and feed off the grateful scraps thrown to them by the welfare state.

    The kids love the free sweets she gives out.

    No trick here.

    Only treat.

    LSD, to be precise.

    It takes time and patience to unwrap the lollipop wrappers.

    Skill to inject the liquid form into the centre of the sugary globe, where the stick hides the tell-tale pin-prick hole.

    Later, she will drive the estates and watch for the hallucinations.

    Such joy.

    Hope will listen for the screams of children that reverb off the grimy concrete alleys.

    Hope will watch the silhouettes of parents that stop, just for a moment, to put their phones down and cradle their kids.

    Hope is in the pound shop.

  3. What Tonight Was About

    Laura wanted to be an angel. Not a vampire, zombie, or blood-splattered nurse like those girls.
    Her first time out. Getting back to normal and pretending she wasn’t scared were what tonight was about. She’d go alone, meeting her friends in their favourite bar. Dad said call if she needed him.
    A mild October evening. Nan’s nighty, which Nan said ‘suited her down to the ground’. The wings. Beautiful white feathers ordered online. Laura’s hair was down, something she hadn’t done for a year. She wore it scraped back for the court case. She considered chopping it off. Why did she have such an urge to punish herself? She had to resist daily.
    They’d followed her for three streets. Teenagers, a few years younger than Laura. Laughing, grabbing at her hair, threatening to set fire to it. They called her names she later had to repeat.
    Now she heard that dreaded sound, the clack-clack-clack of multiple heels on cobbles. A surge of panic came from nowhere, rushing at her heart. Fired by adrenaline, she climbed onto a wall and grabbed a window ledge beyond.
    They’d tied her to a drainpipe in someone’s basement garden. Ropes tight at wrists and ankles, lighter flames around her face, a running commentary on her reactions. They took her money, phone and skeleton costume and left her shivering in her underwear. A group of men walked past, laughing at her as she cried. After about an hour, someone untied her and called the police.
    Panting with the effort, Laura climbed higher, finding gutters and tiles as hand- & foot- holds. She stood, resting in front of some wooden shutters. Looking out across the city she wondered what those girls would think if she just … just …
    Laura took a deep breath, recalling staring them out in court. She used to feel safe in town, she told the judge. They took that away.
    Dad’s shocked white face. ‘Stay still. We’ll get you down, Laura.’
    Nan in her dressing gown, handbag over her arm. ‘Don’t let those dreadful girls win, love.’
    Yes. Nan was right. What was she doing? This wasn’t what tonight was about.

    360 words

  4. avalinakreska says:

    330 bloodied words

    Title: Samhainophobia

    I can’t handle the laughter, the stupid witch hats, the glee; so I lock the doors and switch TV on. Then I can’t hear their knocking – knocking – I have nothing for them, they don’t remember, I sent out a letter:
    PLEASE, do not visit this house; it’s broken.

    It was stupid. Crass. They rang the bell anyway. Probably because I told them not to. Who listens to someone who once joined their loyal ranks, who spent weeks decorating windows with knitted cobwebs, scooped out pumpkins innards and bought those milk chocolate fangs? I can hear them banging on the house, mocking me, squirting, fake blood on the front door; but they’re only children; this is all just fun to them.

    When I found you that night, I got goosebumps as big as ping-pong balls seeing that hand-written note – TRICK OR TREAT. And I’d just bought that expensive Frankenstein outfit from Johnsons for £150. That was the first time I ever took Halloween seriously. Did you know, costumes were originally worn at Halloween because it was believed the line between the living and the dead was blurred? You sat there, you and that compliant razor, cowards at the bottom of the bloody bath, you wearing that terrible, cheap Dracula mask I bought two years ago. You wrote on the mirror; ‘All Hallowed and Hollow’. That Bowie album was playing; Hunky Dory

    ‘Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief, knowledge comes with death’s release…’

    Strange how music can hit me dead centre, worse than any photo can. I can’t listen to that anymore – you know that? Awful to think you felt so terribly alone that you couldn’t find a way to reach me. At Halloween, we’re supposed to put on masks so the spirits won’t recognise us – just a Hollow, Hallowed theory; I’m trying to make a joke of course, but I suppose I should applaud you for such an amazing ‘trick’ – you know – you made the local papers.

  5. Voima Oy says:

    The Door in the Hills
    360 words

    The hills have many stories. There’s the one about the man who went walking with his dog. It was an afternoon much like today, late in the year, not long after the green of the trees has ripened to red.

    They say, when the hills turn brown and gray, there is an opening, like a door between the worlds.

    What doorway? Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you.

    That’s better. Where was I …Yes, in the fading light, he must have lost his way. He could smell the dry leaves. There was a rustling, a movement. His dog, Oliver was his name, a spotted hound, took off after whatever it was.

    The barking lured him onward, higher and higher along one of the narrow paths into the hills. He came to a place, an open field surrounded by old trees. And there, in one of the trees, was the biggest, baddest bobcat he had ever seen.

    I’m thirsty. Can you get me another drink?

    Thank you kindly. As I said, Oliver was barking at the foot of that tree like there was no tomorrow. “You better let me go,” the bobcat said. “You have no business here.”

    Silently, cats came out of forest. Cats of all colors and sizes surrounded him, their eyes shining in the gathering darkness.

    “Too late!” the bobcat said. “Now you will have to come with us.”

    He saw the field was filled with doors. A red door, a green door, a blue door with peeling paint. Slowly, the doors opened, and he could see there was nothing but swirling mist beyond them. One by one, without hesitation, the cats went through the doors.

    Oliver chased after them, and before he could stop to think, the man followed him. He found himself on another path that led out of the hills to lighted houses and a town he had never seen before.

    He couldn’t find his way home again, although he tries every year. He waits for the trees to lose their leaves, and the sky to go gray as a blanket. He sits here and tells stories. He waits for the doorway to open.

  6. zevonesque says:

    Time Flies
    A.J. Walker

    Alice had waited so long for this day. Keeping the time with an ancient heavy hourglass. The sand ran out once more and the shop bell rang and the man walked in.

    She looked up from behind the cash register and furrowed her eyebrows when she saw him saunter in. He seemed so familiar – really like he was family – but she couldn’t place him.

    “Hello, Alice,” said the old man. “It’s time.”

    Alice looked at the hourglass realising she hadn’t turned it over, but when she reached out to it the man gently took her wrist stopping her. She should have been angry but wasn’t.

    “You won’t need that any more,” he said. His voice was quiet and soft yet utterly authoritative, she knew she’d do anything he asked of her.

    Alice looked at him wordless. Time seemed to have stopped. The man smiled and a warmth filled her soul. She didn’t know what was going on, but didn’t care.

    “You don’t remember me, do you?” said the man. “But you have been waiting for this day since you saw me when you were seven.”

    Alice closed her eyes tight. Trying to remember being that young. She could remember where she lived then. Her parents. Her puppy. That horrible maroon car. The blue room she lived in (her parents had expected a boy, then didn’t get around to redecorating). The garden and the tree-house. That was it; the tree-house. She’d been in it, standing at the lip of the doorway, feeling the wind blow through her hair, looking at the distant cold ground then up into the indigo evening sky; she’d seen him then. She knew he had been there, yet she knew too the rickety tree-house would barely hold two people and he didn’t look like he’d climb a knotted rope. But he had been there and he’d said something…

    “Don’t jump. It’s not your time – and you don’t have wings. One day you will, but today is not that day.” And his voice had been soft, but she had listened.

    And so Alice didn’t jump.

    But today, today Alice had wings – and she would fly.


  7. @stellakateT
    263 words

    Three or Four

    She swayed gently in the breeze. It was always like this he thought, the initial shock then the reaction then the realisation that you weren’t actually bothered at all. He looked around. The cabin had once been beautiful. He wondered why it was derelict, left to rot like his heart. The view from the window was breathtaking, took in the entire eastern end of the valley. Squint your eyes tightly you could just make out the suburbs of Paradise.

    She had a certain ethereal beauty. Her shoulder tattooed, a pair of red shoes showing beneath the tiny little back vest. She was known as Dorothy but he knew her name to be Tracey Dobson. Soon she’d be on the news, fifteen minutes of fame, her family crying and wringing their hands saying what a good girl she was and how she’d have a fabulous future if he hadn’t got to her first.

    She laughed as she applied her Halloween make up, one false eye hanging on to her cheek. Now that was difficult. Taping down her own eyelid hampered her vision and she had to re-apply the blood dripping down her cheek. This location was amazing. Perfect trick or treat.

    He lowered her carefully down from the decaying beam, laid her on the floor, taking more photos soon to be displayed on the internet. This was the best ever, maybe his last one. She held her breath till he looked away then jumped up.

    “God, Trace, I nearly died of shock”

    She laughed. Wondering when the police would come looking for her killer.

  8. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The Costume
    360 words

    I’m dressing for Halloween, getting my shimmer on.

    “Looking good,” says Shen, but my roommate’s not actually looking at me. Amir’s coming over in an hour. They’re going as Barack and Michelle and will be handing out “Please Vote!” stickers. Cute.

    My eyes are larger now, emerald, with gold specks and sultry long lashes. Shen will be gone by the time I’m done. She won’t see that they also glow in the dark. She never sees me anyway.

    Not really.

    “You coming to the party?” Shen asks.

    “What party?” It’s a joke; I know what party she means, the big one that requires tickets and nepotism, neither of which I have. Maybe she’ll invite me.

    When hell freezes over, I’m thinking.

    Shen laughs, twirling in her one-shoulder inauguration white. “You’re so weird,” she says.

    I’m working on my hood now, pulling and stretching black skin tight over my head. The pain almost feels good, liberating in a way that the other 364 days of loneliness can’t match. Soon my landfill-colored mop of hair, my acne-bombarded skin have vanished. Shen’s mirror tells me I look sleeker. Exotic.


    The slamming door is my only clue she’s gone; Amir must have texted from downstairs. Shen’s a thoughtful person, normally, volunteering at shelters, donating blood and the like; but she doesn’t know what to do with me. I don’t blame her.

    I don’t know what to do with myself, either.

    Darkness floods the city: at last I am ready. In the street are a peanut butter-and-jelly pair, a clown and a Freddie, a whoever-the-latest-Disney-princess-is, all chattering away, cramming their mouths and hearts in comforting sugared bliss.

    They don’t see me balancing on the balcony.

    They don’t see me stretching out my wings, plunging into the air, soaring over their ordinary, oblivious heads.

    They don’t hear me, now a mile, five miles, fifty miles up, roaring my freedom among the stars, dancing with Casseopeia, dodging Orion, wrestling serpents with Ophiuchus.

    And they won’t see me tomorrow, either, when Halloween is over and I wrench my cursed, outcast human costume back on.

    But oh, for one brief moment–

    one beautiful, perfect moment–

    I shimmer.

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