Flash Frenzy Round 114

Posted: November 5, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome back! This weekend marks the official Flash Frenzy relaunch! Your judge this weekend is Marie McKay.

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. Helena Gordon says:

    Weapon (353 words)

    By Helena Gordon

    Meet me here at dawn. Choose your weapon carefully and I’ll choose mine. Good luck, Your Sworn Enemy.

    That was all the note said. You get that right? I had no context. No previous duels to speak of (if you don’t count that time in eighth grade that Jason Mayfield tried to punch me, I ducked and he broke his hand against the locker and I felt bad for him and walked him to the nurse).

    So, you understand if I was unprepared for this type of thing. The note plopped into my lap during the Homecoming rally on the football field. As I looked over faces, leaning forward and scanning each bleacher, no-one claimed ownership. No menacing eyes, no pointed fingers, no-one pulled their thumb across their neck. Nothing.

    I was up all night, my stomach rolling, verps rising. Was it Chester Moran, the guy who put vodka in his water bottle and never missed an opportunity to call little Danny a chinko? That asshat carried a knife in his boot. Everyone knew that.

    I was trapped. My friends would tell me to suck it up buttercup. My parents would call the principal and I would never live that down. And if I skipped out, the kid would get me eventually.

    What should I choose? Ultimately, I knew it was better to be safe. Better to have than to have not. I snuck into their bedroom, whisper quiet and slid open the closet door. The walk to school is only a couple of blocks, but long enough for me to think about how heavy it felt in my backpack.

    I was terrified, sweating, shaking by the time I got there. The sun was still down. Shadowy figures emerged from the center of the field. Barely visible, one broke from the pack and turned in my direction. It beelined for me, hands in the air and I couldn’t make out the weapon, but it was big and I panicked and…

    Now I’m in a lot of trouble and the girl who invited me is dead.

    Never bring a gun to a pillow fight.

  2. stephellis2013 says:

    Pillow Talk

    360 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    The path divided both sides. It had been the cause of dispute between the two families for centuries and blood had been shed on more than one occasion. These days though the families had agreed that no one would walk the path – except on one day of the year. On that day anyone could walk the track, provided they sign a disclaimer. On that day both sides went to war but, as befits a civilised society, lethal weapons had been banned. This year the pillow was the weapon of choice.

    “Pillows! That’s an insult to me honour,” said Lord HardCase. “Old SoftintheHead just wants to make a fool out of me.”

    “Pillows! Are you sure dear?” asked Lord SoftintheHead of his wife.

    “Trust me,” she’d said.

    The two wives surveyed the scene from the Vicarage garden. “Excellent idea of yours,” said Lady HardCase, downing her sherry. “Hopefully they’ll see how ridiculous the whole thing is and stop this feudal nonsense.”

    The two men stepped towards each other. But it was SoftintheHead who moved first. He lifted his pillow above his head, and, with a sharp downward swing sent HardCase tumbling to the floor. Then he knelt on the man’s chest, preventing him from getting up again.

    Lady SoftintheHead clapped her hands delightedly. “Ooh, Henry. Finish him orff, dear.”

    Lady HardCase yawned. “Ridiculous,” she slurred, slumping into a doze.

    Lord SoftintheHead continued to hold his pillow over his opponent’s face until the man’s struggle for breath had ceased. Then he walked over to his wife. “Snoring well, isn’t she, dear?” he said, looking at Lady HardCase.

    “We’ll soon put an end to that,” she said, and placed the pillow over Lady HardCase’s sharp features. “About time this little problem was put to bed,” said Lady SoftintheHead when the snoring stopped.

    Her husband gazed on admiringly. He’d always been dismissive of soft furnishings, regarding them as mere female frivolity. Now he knew there was more to them than that. And she’d just bought some silk-tasseled curtain tiebacks. The little minx. His heart raced at the thought of what she would do with those. It was time for a bit of pillow talk.

  3. Richard Edenfield says:

    Chimes in the Rain
    ___________________

    Chimes in the rain sound like angels walking on glass. Outside my window are November footsteps. Moisture turning to snow. A candle dances in my window behind a red curtain. I want to sleep.

    My writing waits. Like millions of births silent behind smiles. It flirts with my thoughts. But I just lay here on my bed under a down quilt and on my soft pillow. I can’t move. Coffee from the morning sits in a cup full of unfulfilled promise. The white has disappeared in the darkness. Has melted countless patterns into its grave. How many people with beautiful designs are just gone? My old typewriter watches me with endless eyes.

    I had a dream. A terrible dream. A dream of a writing prompt of a bunch of girls having a pillow fight and that I couldn’t write anything about it. I saw the girls laughing. Hitting each other. I could not write anything. Dreaming about pillow fights made me sleepy. In my dream I wanted to sleep. I wanted to sleep on a billion pillows. I wanted to be attacked by endless girls with fluffy intentions. I wanted to be murdered with unconsciousness.

    I woke, suddenly. The candle was almost out. My typewriter had closed its eyes. I got up and sat at my desk. I felt like I had been through a war. Destroyed with extreme comfort. I heard crunching outside my window. A delicate dance of prayer. A twirling and spinning. A song whistling between my floorboards. It was as if I lived in my heart. And then there was knocking on my bedroom door. Someone’s wish had gotten lost and ended up sitting next to me. I started to write.

    The candle was blown out.
    ___________________________

    (290 words)

  4. And Finally …

    … a little village here in Lancashire is reviving an age-old tradition. Believe it or not, these ladies have filled pillow cases and cushion covers with local cheese and will hit each other with them tomorrow. Why? You may well ask.

    Marge Kellet, leader of the Tipley and District Weight Loss Group decided to use this ritual as a celebration of so many of ‘her girls’, as she calls them, reaching their target weights at the same time. Marge said ‘ Twenty-seven girls have lost between one and seven stone within two years. This sort of achievement needs marking in a very special way. My husband found the obscure reference to Cheese-Pillow fighting and suggested it would be a fun activity. There’s no place for cheese on my diet so we’ve found another use for it.’

    Stanley Kellet told us ‘A tiny hand-written piece in Tipley’s parish records alludes to the tradition being practiced as far back as 1682. It’s believed to be connected to new life and fertility.’

    Mrs. Kellet continued ‘Cheese-pillow fighting’s great exercise. Each pillow contains a stone of cheese, the average amount of weight you can lose in a month if you stick to my diet correctly. You’ll not get this sort of local activity in the classes of national slimming club chains. They’re just doing Pilates and Zumba. Same old, same old. And something called Spin-Kettle, which sounds dangerous to me.’

    *

    Remember yesterday’s ‘And finally …’ here on Lancashire Tonight? The Cheese-Pillow fighting? Well, here’s an update to the story.

    Three ladies ended up in hospital today with cheese-related concussion and broken ribs. One member of the group who wanted to remain anonymous told us from her hospital bed ‘See her in the bed opposite? I got her. She lost more weight than me every week. Now look at her.’

    *

    Good evening. Welcome to Lancashire Tonight. Remember a couple of months back, our ‘And finally …’ piece about the Cheese-Pillow fighting weight loss group? Well, leader Marge Kellet has contacted us with a remarkable update. Twenty-two of the twenty-seven ladies involved are now expecting babies. We’ll be bringing you more on that later.

    @SalnPage
    #FlashDog
    360 words

  5. Angelique Pacheco says:

    The Art of Pillow War
    By Angelique Pacheco

    Word Count: 266

    The drill sergeant stood on a platform, regal in stature overlooking his new “army” of soldiers. Unbelievable. When he had been approached by the President asking that women be trained to head up the army, he had been met by a flurry of protests. People just didn’t want to see their women and girls come home from war in body bags. It was unnatural. But it was necessary, since men all over the world had downed their weapons, and matters still needed to be decided. The UN had convened and a solution had been found. The weapon of choice? Pillows. Typical females.
    All morning he had stood here training them and advising them on the proper use of their “weapons”. They were not bad, some of them, and with any luck, someone would think to put a shoe in a pillow case and do some real damage. He could hope.
    The rules of engagement were as follows: You have the right to use only a pillow to defend yourself, you may not collectively gang up on one another – this is not cool, you may not seize the pillows of others to accomplish your mission – they too have a right to defend themselves, no pillows with lace edging will be allowed. Always be prepared to defend yourself and treat other pillow fighters with dignity and respect.
    Tears ran down his face. Make no mistake; these were the tears of someone trying his damnedest not to laugh. Pillows or no pillows he’d be screwed, and not in a good way. He sighed. This was going to be “fun”.

  6. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva 1206
    Feathers Inc.
    355 words

    ‘Feed your worries to the feathers,’ my mother used to say when she put us down to sleep at night.

    They might look fluffy and soft but I learned that they are capable little fluffs, willing to absorb the greatest of fears – those that roam your head in the night, the ones that wake you from sleep, terrifying, terrorising. My mother’s instructions were to let the feathers take them, suffocate them, envelope them into their cloud.

    I wondered what would happen when the worries overflowed the case. I asked my mother. ‘Take your pillow outside and thump it against something, hard,’ she said. The pillow will burst and the feathers will fly. The birds will swoop and collect them for their nests. They will be walls of comfort for younglings instead of daggers of fear inside your head.

    What a clever mother I had. I believed her. For years, I blasted my worry feathers into the garden wall and enjoyed many a solid night’s sleep because of it. We went through a lot of pillows.

    When the community suggested a huge pillow fight as a fundraising event for Feathers Inc., the project committed to maintaining the bird sanctuary occupying three square miles of local woodland area, I was all for it. I encouraged my children to take part. They thought I was crazy.

    ‘This is another of your wacky feather initiatives, Mum.’ They didn’t believe their grandmother’s story of losing their worries to feathers. Instead, they lay with headphones on, drowning out fears with rap and rock and eventually falling asleep. I preferred my mother’s solution.

    So, imagine my surprise when I rocked up to the park to watch the pillow fight. There, in the middle of the mayhem were my three gorgeous teenager girls whacking their friends with pillows.

    ‘Hey, why the change of heart, girls? Maybe you’re beginning to believe your old Mum after all.’

    ‘Don’t be silly, Mum. All the hot guys from Broad Street said they would fight to the last feather here tonight. Who could possibly resist that?’

    The three girls shrieked as they disappeared into a cloud of fluff.

    • Helena Gordon says:

      There are so many great turns of phrase here. “Fight to the last feather”, “when the worries overflowed the case”, “feather initiatives”. And I like that you wove in the family tradition too. Well done.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Teens will be teens! Lovely story about a ‘worry’ pillow, particularly liked the idea of taking it outside and bashing it against a wall so that fears fly away and become a safe nest for young birds. Beautiful way to recycle.

    • Lovely, Alva. Yeah, I’m positive no one can achieve ‘drowning out fears with rap …’ 🙂

    • Angelique Pacheco says:

      I love how you brought the old-timeless and the young-frivolous together to create a lovely story that makes want to go out a buy a feather pillow. Love it large!

  7. Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    360 words

    As Above, So Below.

    Sir Roger Double-Barrel of the Foreign Office, sipped a favourable whisky on the vast terrace at the back of Crumble House, looking out onto absolute mayhem. He was here for the weekend at the invitation of Lord Crumbleholme, who felt sorry for his friend, whose wife had recently galloped off into the sunset with a polo player.

    Sir Roger tried to sound jovial. “Please explain what’s going on in the grounds. I’m an absolute duffer when it comes to the country. No idea what’s going on. For instance, see in the distance, by the woods? Who’s that character?”

    Lord Crumbleholme squinted in the noonday sun. “That’s Spooky. He’s the poacher.”

    Lady Nog Crumbleholme appeared on the terrace briefly to welcome Sir Roger, who’d heard that, after the demise of his first wife, Muriel, Lord Crumbleholme went on holiday to Thailand and brought Nog back with him. As she left the terrace, he mumbled “Lovely girl, eh, Roger?”
    “Most striking,” replied his guest. “But an unfeasibly large Adams Apple, it seems. And Nog, that’s an unusual name.”

    His Lordship laughed. “Her real name has 42 letters and is unpronounceable. Now, Roger, these village fairs. A lot of the activities are traditional, going back hundreds of years. Now here on the main drive there’s a variation of the sack race, where everyone grabs a sack and just hits each other with it.”
    “What’s in the sacks, your Lordship?”
    “Soil.”
    “Soil?”
    “Flour.”
    “Flour?”
    “No, I mean feathers. And everyone wins. Buffet lunch, mug of cider then more games, darts on horseback and one where all the children dress up as demons and wizards and jump into the swimming pool. I call it Shalloween, haha.”

    On another part of the terrace, Trenchcoat, the butler is giving last minute instructions to his niece.
    “Hold this sack, Evie, and join the others on the main drive and amble, don’t run, through the middle of them and give this back to Uncle Nobby up by the main gate. Do not hit anyone with the sack.”
    “What’s in it, Uncle?”
    “Just some silverware and stuff his Lordship wants me to get valued. Off you go. Join the others.”

  8. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The heads felt squishier this time around–though each year, I’m told, it always seems so.

    “Swing hard!” shouted our Team Captain. “I want to hear contact!”

    But squishier heads meant fewer skull-cracks and more melon-thunks, which in turn meant more frowns and scowls on our Team Captain’s face.

    Contact!” he shrieked. “Make some noise!”

    Everyone dutifully put more oomph into their swings (use your legs, not your back! Swing with the whooooooole arm, not just wrists!), and round and round zoomed the heads, whoooosh!, thunk! plunk. A messy business, in truth, but then (as Grandpa used to say) so is life. What it had been like before the Rule Makers allowed us to wield the heads in these stain-resistant, hypoallergenic pillow cases, few of us could, or wanted to, imagine.

    Thirteen seconds in, Mrs. Jefferson and her opponent (Mrs. Dubois—the pairing of whom is a story in and of itself) were disqualified on account of roughhousing. Our spectators, numbering even more this year than last, exploded in such a roar of mixed approval and amusement that the Referee very nearly called time-out.

    At twenty-two seconds, Miss Kader was ejected for name-calling; a mere eight seconds later Miss Sousa, Mrs. Larsen, and Ms. Li suffered penalties for tripping, holding, and dropping, respectively. The loss of Miss Sousa hit our team particularly hard, as more than one bookmaker had set hopes on her eventual triumph. But so it goes; in this sort of game, a spirit of flexibility and good humor is indispensable. Mandatory, Grandpa might have said.

    By the time the clock struck one minute, our Team Captain’s voice had gone hoarse, and he’d given up correcting players’ form altogether, though that didn’t stop him waving his arms frantically and pantomiming prescribed plays.

    At eighty-four seconds (a record!) the game was called.

    We all stopped, panting, clinging to our headcases, waiting for the final score. I’d played well this year; was it well enough? A lot was riding on this. Breathe. Either way, Grandpa would be proud.

    I looked down sadly at my limp case. At least, I think he would have been.

    @postupak
    354 words for November 8

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Wonderfully dark (like the best chocolate), at least you spared us the heads oozing out of the pillowcases – although they’ll probably be in that condition next time round. Good luck with the election and remember to breathe.

  9. Mark A. King says:

    Angels of the Somme

    @making_fiction

    181 words

     

    ———————————————————–

     

    Today, in the hushed winds of the Somme, the poppies sway.

    A million dabs of black on crimson petal dance in the fields of solitude.

    So green… the grass fertilised with the iron-rich blood of the young.

    Beneath the gunmetal skies, the birdsong is a concerto, where once there was the urgent sound of chambers being primed and readied.

    The sound of pain, loss and realisation now just a whisper in history.

    Today, the pigeons tend squabs. Their ungainly plumage, discarded, their new-born fluff a rain of feathers in the floating breeze.

    The gentle feathers glide like they have fallen from angel wings. Feather pillows that come to rest on the lush grass beds.

    Beds were once wooden slats in mud-cake crevices. Corridors were urine-soaked rat-infested trenches.

    Pillows were helmets, hardly fit for purpose.

    Today, the air is fresh and not tainted with the stench of seared flesh, decay or stale air inhaled through asbestos-filter gas-masks.

    And in the two-minute silence there should be hope, when so many sacrificed so much.

    But on our battleground Brexit streets, trains and busses, intolerance is rife.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Enjoyed this, the contrast between the beauty and tranquility of the land compared to what it had once been gives it a breath-taking poignancy. (I will add though that I am a Brexiteer and am not what such a person is frequently made out to be. I think there will always be people who take advantage of a situation and use it as a cloak or excuse to allow them to indulge their own bigotry and hatred.)

      • Mark A. King says:

        Thanks Steph. The most intolerance I’ve seen has actually been from the remain folk (of which I was (only marginally) one). It’s been shameful. Never seen anything like it. I’ve spent many an hour defending the leave voters from nastiness. There is intolerance on both sides and it’s been horrible to watch. Sensible professional people stooping to calling all leave voters racists and bigots. There are a few of those too, of course (I witnessed one yesterday). It’s like it’s emboldened the intolerance hiding in people. That was kind of the point of the story. We have freedom and democracy thanks to the sacrifice made by others. We need to respect others and equally respect the outcome. Very, very sad.

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Well said.

  10. So-Called Fight Against “Pillow Plague” Continues

    Catherine Connolly

    The mysterious rise of a variant strain of sleeping syndrome amongst children continues, prompting increasing concerns.

    Doctors in North West England were the first to encounter the illness, which has since hit children nationwide, seemingly randomly, with no established cause, leaving experts flummoxed in their fight against the newly branded “plague of the pillow”, also known as “Sandman syndrome”.

    Affected children – “perennial sleeping beauties”- sleep continuously and require intravenous feeding. Whilst Klein-Levin Syndrome (KLS), a rare neurological disorder characterised by recurring periods of excessive sleep known to affect primarily adolescents, is an established condition, the cases of “pillow plague” are affecting children across age groups, with hypersomnolence documented for the longest periods within medical history – six months to date in the first known affected patient. Worryingly, their numbers are no longer isolated. What was once a little known condition is increasing.

    “The patients’ state is distinct from that of KLS,” a Department of Health official confirmed. “KLS episodes are cyclical. Those suffering wake, on average, to eat or go to the toilet. Symptoms are known to persist for, at most, approximately thirty one days. This new strain of sleeping – Sandman – syndrome leaves the child completely incapable of caring for themselves. They will not wake. We remain to establish the reasons. We are maintaining the affected under close review whilst further investigations are conducted. We would remind the populace that the Health Protection Agency consider the overall risk to the general public low – although those whose child experiences sudden confusion, lethargy or disorientation should seek immediate medical attention as a precaution.”

    For some, these reassurances hold little weight. “We watched her go under,” a woman who wished to remain anonymous, told us. “Fall asleep before our eyes. Then there was nothing for it. They took her in an ambulance. Her friend took ill the following week,” she added.
    Experts insist there is no reason to consider Sandman syndrome infectious, despite a sudden rise in unexplained cases. Their fight for a cause – and cure – for the “pillow plague” continues.

    The cause of Klein-Levin Syndrome in its original form remains, as yet, unknown.

    360 words

  11. @stellakateT
    299 words

    Bring out your Dead

    You could hear the students calling out all over the city.

    I clutched the pillow tightly to my chest. How long before someone came for me.
    I would never let it go. This could be the last pillow in existence. It was fine goose feathers encased in 400 threads Egyptian cotton. How I hated Rag Week.

    Last year it was sixties clothes, my wardrobe was vandalised and I was left with one pair of flares that a girl with a BBC accent said was totally seventies and a pair of socks that my Dad wore in the trenches. Said they were his secret weapon against trench foot!

    Thought about moving away but why should I? Thought about going on holiday during Rag Week but what would I come home to. My home would be pillaged. Had to pay a man to re-hinge the wardrobe doors and repair the drawer fronts. My Granny would be turning in her grave if she knew the damage done to her bedroom suite.

    My God she was vicious. Yelling “Let go” at the top of her lungs.
    I stepped to one side, she lost her balance. You learn to perfect your balance at Pilates. This was my second term at the community centre. I could do the plank for twenty seconds.

    She fell to the ground with my pillow straddled over her face. I landed awkwardly
    across her torso, knocked the wind out of my sails. Her accomplice with the flame red hair pushed me off and grabbed the pillow. Her friend, the mousy one, breathed her last breath on my clean kitchen floor.

    Rang the university and they came and collected the body. The man said the total at present stood at 11 city residents, 2 visitors and 1 student. A quiet year!

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