Flash Frenzy Round 118

Posted: December 3, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome back, friends. December is here, and judge Brady Koch is ready to read some flash. As an added bonus, this week’s FLASH MASTER will win a physical copy of Koch’s new book, Guns, Gods & Robots.

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 is your prompt.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

 

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Comments
  1. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word count: 360

    The Life App

    Gone are the days when people interacted with one another. We walk down streets, like zombies, looking neither right nor left, absorbed in our latest phone app. We take photos of our food, but don’t taste any of it. We photograph our pets, calling them children, because the reality of our infertility is just too hard to bear. We don’t do Christmas anymore, we do Xmas shopping. Families are broken and parties are stressful because you can’t invite one person if you invite another. We give out participation trophies to everyone so that feelings aren’t hurt, ignoring the achievements of those who have worked hard for them. We ignore wolf whistles on the street because we’ve been taught that it’s sexual harassment. We’ve stopped asking for things and begun to demand them, citing human rights, and just in case we’re wrong, we bash those who believe differently than we do. It’s the modern way, after all.

    As I’m taking a photo of my tuna sandwich, a rusty squeak gets my attention. An old man is standing nearby, pulling a newspaper out of a vending machine. He must be at least eighty years old, wearing a suit, like he’s going somewhere important. His white hair is combed smartly and his shoes are shined bright. He tucks his newspaper under his arm and pauses to rub a dog’s head as it wanders past, eliciting a grateful smile from the owner. He leans against the vending machine and stares at a wispy, barren tree that someone has decorated with lights. It’s pretty I’ll admit. He takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights one up, the flame burning the crisp tobacco, curling up the leaves into a line of smoke. Holy crap! In this day and age you are not allowed to smoke anywhere. I look around me to see any reactions and I realize that no one is looking. The old man looks at me and winks. He drags deeply and looks up at the sky. I look up too. And even though the sky is grey, the world is not. I put my phone away. It’s time to start living again.

  2. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    355 words

    The Dog Did It

    Someone left the Christmas lights on the skinny tree next to the newspaper stand on the High Street. Nobody seems to notice that it’s the only tree with lights, that it’s March and lights on trees are not exactly seasonal in March. If they’re left there, some council worker will probably be told off for forgetting them. He or she might even lose their job. That would be a bit over the top – to lose your job over a few silly strings of forgotten lights. The person probably has a family and really needs their wages. I hope they don’t lose their job.

    Or maybe no-one will notice and next Christmas will come when the Council bods will think they’ve already done that tree, and who’s going to tell them otherwise?

    I walk past this tree every day on my way to work. It bugs me that someone could be that inefficient. I want to call the council to tell them that I pay my taxes for the town to be looked after and lit well at night but I don’t need my money lighting up a skinny good-for-nothing tree with Christmas lights in March. I’ve a good mind to snip the cable, but thoughts of being arrested for flagrant vandalism come to mind and I don’t need that trouble.

    If I were arrested, I would be fired and then I’d probably meet that same inefficient Council worker in the line at the Job Centre, both of us having ended up jobless over lights left on a tree. Not worth that.

    As I walked past the tree tonight on my way home from work, a dog was doing its business against the bark. Dunno if it was the acid from the pee or a coincidence but the lights suddenly went out, just right then as I walked by. I looked at the dog. He didn’t seem to care. Sensible dog, I thought. What’s to care about. Lights shouldn’t be there anyway.

    Wait a forgotten minute! Some god-damned stray dog has just extinguished my tree lights with his pee. It’s a disgrace. I’m calling the Council.

  3. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Lol! Naughty dog 😉😊 love it

  4. stephellis2013 says:

    Knowing

    345 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Erik stared at the box; wondered at the padlock securing the contents from thieving hands. There were letters above it but he could not make out the word. Reading had faded from living memory as the digital world became pixelated and live-streamed; information was available at the swipe of a finger. He glanced at the Teller on his wrist. Half-an-hour until his consultation. Soon he would no longer need that contraption, the latest model as it was, it still got in the way. He wanted something more efficient and the implant would be just the thing, downloading information to his brain at the merest thought, the merest impulse. He would know everything.

    But still he stared at the box. It was an enigma he could not solve and he didn’t like that feeling.

    A truck pulled up as he stood there and two men got out, clamped the box to a hoist and lifted it onto the back of the vehicle.

    “Hey,” said Erik. “Where are you taking this thing?”

    “To the scrapyard,” said one. “With all the others.”

    “Others?”

    “Yeah, country’s littered with the bloody things. They’re an eyesore the government says. We’re to clear them all.”

    “What were they for though?”

    “Newspapers, news. Way before you time, lad. All those different papers, different ideas, different opinions.”

    “Must’ve been confusing,” said Erik.

    “Yeah, it was. That’s why the government stepped in. Closed them all down. Streamlined opinion. Made it uniform, consistent.”

    “More efficient,” said Erik.

    “Yeah,” said the driver as he clambered back into the truck, “more efficient.”

    Erik watched them drive off. All those different opinions. It must have been so disconcerting. How would you know what to believe? Thankfully the government had their best interests at heart. Told them what they needed to know. It was much simpler that way. And soon he would have the implant and he would know everything … wouldn’t he?

    But as he set off for his consultation, he felt unsettled. And for some reason he could not shake the image of the padlock from his mind.

  5. crsmith2016 says:

    WC 348 @carolrosalind

    To Grant A Wish

    For the last couple of years I’ve watched the lights going up, envying the attention given to the street; never expecting to be included. To be honest, It’s a miracle I’m even here. The multiple feet pounding the pavement somehow missed me, even the weed spray had little effect. I grew slowly, from seed to sapling, becoming part of the street furniture, ignored by all who passed — until last week.

    Last week someone wrapped lights around my branches and suddenly I’m a part of it all — a part of the celebrations. People have started to notice me, smiling as they pass. They’ve even started taking photographs of each other beneath my growing limbs. I’ve become a landmark in a busy city, a beacon of white shining out across a sombre street.

    As dusk falls a woman approaches. She’s not very old. Tear tracks mark her face. She puts down her bag and leans against me. Before too long its dark, but the street’s still buzzing with people. They send enquiring glances in her direction as she sits, bathed in my gentle glow. She pulls a photograph from her pocket. Tears roll down her cheeks, each one splashing onto my roots.

    Then suddenly everything changes. There’s a shout from the other side of the street. She swings her head around, eyes widening in amazement. A man’s dodging the crawling traffic, the sound of car horns filling the air.

    “I’m sorry!” he shouts. “I didn’t mean it. Don’t leave me.”

    She stands as he reaches her and they embrace.

    “I’m sorry, too,” she sobs. “H… h…how did you know where I was?”

    “I’ve been searching all day, I almost gave up, then I saw you, here, beneath this tree.”

    He picks up her bag and tries to lead her away. She turns, smiling now, and gently touches me.

    “Thank you!” she whispers, glancing up at my glowing branches.

    A few weeks later the lights come down. I become invisible again, but I can live with that. I’ll be bigger next year, ready and waiting to grant somebody else’s wish.

  6. TanGental says:

    In memoriam
    @geofflepard
    358 words
    George mouthed his lover’s name as he fixed the last lightbulb in place. He noted the display didn’t draw much attention, only the odd glance and one or two smiles. He was sure they knew why he had put lights on this bare tree, why the city authority had left it alone. Dan would have said they’d ‘twigged’ and broken down in giggles. How he missed that giggle.
    Sighing he turned to the barred and padlocked door and its graffitied sign, still just about recognisable as ‘Pink Flamingo’.
    ‘Best dance scene ever, eh Dan?’ George’s breath left a steamy film on the dirty cracked window as he peered inside. No one wanted this place, not after what Gillan Housego had done. George strained as he always did to remember any of it; the shots, the screams, the inevitable smell of blood but nothing survived the bullet’s kindness in removing the horror as it took his consciousness. He knew, from the reports, that Dan died early on. He read with disbelief, in the months after he emerged from the coma, of 140 other deaths. The young and not so young, men and woman, all seeking a safe place just to be themselves despite so many disapproving of their lifestyles.
    He should have been number 142 but he had lived. It took him months to go back and wonder why. He sat in the tree’s shade and let the voices emerge. He learnt each name, each one part of his village. They would not be forgotten.
    That’s when the idea of the lights came to him, one light for the light that had gone out.
    ‘Hi. George, is it?’
    The woman’s hair was a vibrant candy-floss stripe.
    ‘Mel? I recognise you from your photo. You’re the first.’
    She touched her hair. ‘I’ve not dyed it since, you know. Which one…?’
    He tapped a bulb. ‘Phyllis.’
    ‘You know them all?’
    ‘Sure.’ Two men joined them, studying the branches. ‘I’m expecting over 100 today.’
    One of the men said, ‘Such a lovely gesture.’
    ‘Memorial. I’m keeping it going.’ George dabbed away a tear. ‘These particular fairy lights ain’t never going out.’

  7. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    324 Words

    News of the World

    I stop by the newspaper vending machine on North Street, its black paint flaking off to reveal patches of rust, and peer through the glass at the yellowed newspaper that has lain there some ten years. The headline is about some minor political scandal blown up to inch high letters. Not a war or a terrorist atrocity or an ecological disaster, but a minor politician skimming off a few thousand from some government contract. I look at it every day on my way to work and wonder why we decided that this was the moment when we had enough.

    Ten years ago, and I remember it perfectly – my finger poised above the tablet, about to touch the icon for my newsfeed, then the sudden feeling that I did not want to know. I did not want to read about a child orphaned by a roadside bomb in some forsaken part of the world. I did not want to see the flies crawling across the corpse of the last elephant shot by ivory poachers. And I did not want to hear the fake repentance of a politician caught with his red hands in the till.

    I walked across to the balcony of my apartment and calmly dropped the tablet into the street below. It smashed, glass and black plastic scattered over the concrete. Around me other people were doing the same. The road was full of broken laptops and smartphones. One man straddled a television set and smashed the screen with a baseball bat. A woman tipped lighter fluid over a radio and set fire to it so the case bubbled and melted as a thick column of black smoke rose above the tower blocks.

    Now we are free from all the knowledge of evil in the world, and all the good. I walk on past the vending machine and the trees decorated with lights that glow in the morning gloom like small luminescent fruit.

  8. Nicola Tapson says:

    @ InquisiHedgehog
    Word Count: 295

    My Poinsettia Love

    The snow gently flitted down from the heavens. Covering the earth in whiteness. I reached for my red snow boots and red coat. I loved to listen to the crunch of snow under my feet. I was ready for an adventure. My first stop would be the flower shop to buy a poinsettia. The flowers always reminded me of my first Christmas with Harold. He had bought me one to brighten up my drab flat. When I picked up the flower there was a note. “No, need to pay” said the cashier. I was confused. I read the note.

    “My dear love,

    Merry Christmas. I love you.

    Your Love, Harry

    P.S. My death was not a fluke ”

    A tear started to travel down my cheek. He had remembered but how did he get the note here. He was 20 feet under. I looked bewilderedly at the shop assistant. ‘He came in few months ago he asked to pay for 10 years of poinsettias. So that the day he died you would still get them.” Said the assistant. I burst into tears. He had known. “Why didn’t tell me?” I shrieked. The assistant”s eyes jumped to saucers. He had all those late night meetings I thought he was working. What was he doing Then one day he just passed away. I never knew how it happened. I just got the call on that night that he would no longer keep me warm or take care of my fears. He had passed. The cops had never found the cause. They said he died of unknown causes. But I wasn’t convinced. After multiple dead ends. I had given up but they had ripped of the patchwork bandaid to expose the pain again. Had I ever known him?

  9. Jeff Rowlands
    @jeffnuggets
    353 words

    Untimely.

    He creeps out from the sanctuary of his luxury apartment block. Takes the short walk to the high street. Head down, conversation is something to be avoided. No time for that. Got to get on with business. Papers are useful though because they can help him see what the current fashions are. Find out what can earn money for him.

    He picks the paper out of the dispenser, turns to head back to his apartment when his asthma starts playing up. A nearby bench offers him temporary respite. Just read a little and rest, recover his breath and then back to work. He starts to skim the paper. Freezes when he gets to the obituaries. His own face grinning back at him, his graduation photo from all those years ago under the headline “Eccentric Reclusive Business Man Found Dead on Busy City Street”.

    His heart is pumping and blood is pulsing through his temples so he must be alive. The heavy pedestrian traffic passes him, nobody glances at him. Hipsters carry kitsch presents past, smirking about their wit and thinking of their first craft beer or artisan cider of the day. Middle aged couples carry bags of Christmas shopping, their sullen expressions and lack of conversation not giving any hint of the time of year.

    He breathes in sharply, swallowing down air hungrily. Has he become invisible? Has he really gone from this life? He reaches out at a passing girl, touches her arm a little more firmly than is polite, she shrieks in shock at the unwanted physical contact. Phew, must be all right, just a mistake. Nothing unusual about that with the press. A bitter chuckle hisses out of his mouth.

    A tapping on his shoulder. Turns to find a figure dressed all in black. The begging question will come. Refusal comes easy, you can’t be soft in business. The figure raises a hand seemingly in apology and in an unfamiliar accent says “sorry I’m late.” The figure suddenly swings his arms like he is playing golf, the metal hits him hard in the face, he crumples and everything goes dark.

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