Flash Frenzy Round 120

Posted: December 17, 2016 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
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Hello again. Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 120! This is our last writing prompt for 2016, and Catherine Connolly is this weekend’s 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 and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

round 120

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. steve lodge says:

    Steve Lodge
    319 words

    Yet Another Era

    Leafing back through tired history books, you’ll naturally come across the period called the Hippogryphon era, which preceded our own Rhinopoodle era.

    I bring this to your attention simply because of the troubles we are currently experiencing around our coasts from the dreaded Maunkex sea creatures, which have increased their terror of late by actually coming on to land and destroying populated villages and crops and even bicycles.

    Towards the end of the Hippogryphon Age, the search began for the lair of these creatures – a Maunkexpedition, if you will. The man behind the search was Lord George Magpie Fling, Lord of Maunk, Member of Parliament for Horse Ridings, Sparrowditch and Hawkmeadow. He speculated that these sea creatures had to be the result of a wicked experiment that had gone horribly wrong.

    Now, remember, that this was an age of preposterous moustaches, so Lord George, understandably, nominated a grizzled old mariner by the name of Mandalay Mike, to oversee the search. Mandalay took with him two adventurers, both called John Coleslaw.

    Their search initially focussed on the laboratory and those hideous open-walled offices of C-Watcher Ent, on the ragged, jutting Serpents Point, where locals told of weird lights flashing through the night and strange, fluorescent pink water being seen in the estuary and from their taps and in their urine. These buildings were a blight on the landscape and, also, quite hard to get into even for inspectors from the Ministry.

    Our heroes were clever explorers and yet, when questions were asked of Lord George in the House, he had to confess that he was still waiting to hear from the intrepid trio, who had left London on the night train 15 days earlier. “They are good men. They will get news to me as soon as they can.”

    Opponents in the House scoffed. “So you’ve heard nothing of their search?”

    Lord George shook his head. “Not even a postcard.”

  2. ewansmithxxx says:

    Ewan Smith
    360 words

    Peace On Earth

    “Whoo,” puffed Theresa, gathering her breath. It had been a long climb up the stairs.
    She looked down over the railing of the mall. Eight floors of Christmas mayhem; swirling crowds, carols through the speakers, fake snow, children everywhere. But she was about to bring peace to the chaos.
    She clasped her hands together for a moment, closed her eyes, and murmured a few words. Then taking a plastic bottle from her pocket, she unscrewed the top, dipped in a clean watercolour brush and flicked some drops of the water into the vast space of the mall. She took a few steps to the side and repeated the process. Then again. And again.
    “Excuse me, miss. Can I ask what you’re doing?”
    Theresa turned. It was a security guard. She smiled. “I’m blessing the mall.”
    He looked at her suspiciously. “What?”
    “I’ve prayed for everyone in the mall and now I’m scattering holy water.”
    He took a sharp intake of breath. “Now hang on a moment, miss. This is a secular space…”
    There was a burst of laughter from behind them. “This place – secular!?” said a young man. “Look around you, mate. Every shop in the mall is full of Christmas goods.”
    “I’m sorry,” insisted the security guard. “We can’t have holy water being scattered…”
    “It’s not holy water,” interrupted a tall man, “it’s completely ordinary water.”
    “If it’s been blessed by a priest then it’s holy water,” retorted a small woman laden down with bags.
    A crowd was forming. “Think of our Muslim friends,” someone called.
    “I’m Muslim and I like Christmas,” responded someone else.
    “Well water is not being scattered into the air in this mall,” stated the security guard.
    “That’s ridiculous! Every time we breathe, we scatter water into the air.”
    The noise was rising. Everyone was talking at once. Then someone tripped and fell, pushing two others. Tempers snapped, punches were thrown. Within seconds, an affray had started and the security guard was desperately calling for back-up.
    Meanwhile, eight floors below, Theresa was making her way out of the mall. She checked her list. Next she would be bringing some Christmas peace to the leisure centre.

  3. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word Count: 354

    Views in Ashes

    It’s the 3rd of December 2012 and winter is here. So are all the shoppers consuming for Christmas. Elevators ride up and down carrying the moneyed and the broke equally far down the same path. I may sound a little “humbug”, but I am beginning to hate Chicago in the winter. It brings all the tourists and the holidaymakers to the 900 North Michigan Mall. I long for the peace and quiet of civilized society that I am accustomed to.

    I must admit, I like the decorations this year. There are trees on every floor. Boughs of green holly are wrapped around support columns and railings and give the normally snub-nosed, plasticky mall a natural feel. Music drifts in from the street; a lone saxophonist is crooning a carol, elevating the spirits of people walking by. Everywhere I look I see young lovers walking hand in hand, their expectations of an engagement proposal high. Just one mile away, you can go outdoor skating at Millennium park or watch children as they lie on the ground looking up at “the Bean”.

    For the last fifty years I have been a hotel doorman. I worked at the Palmer House Hilton from 1945 to 1989 when I was poached by the Four Seasons Hotel. I used to see the greats come and go but time has distorted the view of my world.

    I choose to see hotels as I did sixty years ago: in black and white. I see people dressed up to go see the “talkies”. I see men at the public, drinking brandy and smoking cigars in a blue haze as they discuss the merits of the Cubs versus the White Sox teams. I do not choose to see scantily clad, young pop stars, crawling in drunk at three in the morning after a night of cocktails and cocaine. Times have soured my outlook on things.

    Yet every now and then, at Christmas, I see a little love shine through. I see respect and tolerance for others that only comes at Christmas time and I feel joyful. Maybe Chicago in winter isn’t all that bad.

  4. stephellis2013 says:

    Christmas Shopping

    321 words


    Slowly the lights went out on the upper floor. The inhabitants had had their allotted time. Now it was the turn of those below to come to life – even if it was just for a little while.

    A monitor blinked in the Manager’s office.

    c:\run sleepmode Level 5:6

    c:\run wraptime Level 4

    c:\run wakeup Level 1:3

    The ventilation systems on Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the shopping mall, whirred into action, pumping out oxygen mixed with antisleep. Slowly bodies began to move, picking up where they had left off, rustling through clothes rails, dabbing perfume testers on wrists. Focussed, absorbed, they moved in time to the music of the tills, ignoring those around them, occasionally glancing down at cell phone or watch.

    Level 4 meanwhile slowly reduced its levels of antisleep, a gentle transition from wakefulness into the semi-coma of full sleepmode. Those in Levels 5 and 6 had already shutdown.

    c:\run checkdate “Christmas”

    c:\run dec-halls all floors

    Across the mall, tinsel and snowflakes appeared. Automatons placed Christmas trees in a pleasing position. Hark the Herald Angels Sing filtered out of speakers. The scent of cinnamon and pine needles infused the air. The effect was startling on those already shopping. Their pace doubled, they jostled and pushed for items that weren’t even on their list but which the store announced was this year’s ‘must have’. It wasn’t important that the gift would never find its way under a tree and would merely be taken by a Shopborg who would replace it on its original shelf ready to be bought again in the next cycle—they had been told and so they obeyed.

    The same events of conditioning and control were being repeated in shopping malls across the city. Many were now empty of humans, as were the surrounding houses and streets. But where people still existed, they continued to shop as if their lives depended on it. Nothing else mattered.

    • Angelique Pacheco says:

      Brilliant as always Steph! 🙂

      • stephellis2013 says:

        Thank you for such a kind comment, I have to work at it to meet everyone else’s high standard. 🙂

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      Hmm, being paid to go shopping. I want to be a Shopborg when I grow up. I wonder if they’re on minimum wage…

    • Geoff Holme says:

      Finally, I get it. I thought, during the run-up to the US Election, that Trump was saying “We’re gonna build a WALL”, but it was actually “We’re gonna build a MALL”.

      [ It’s 02:30 here in the UK – I don’t think I need antisleep… ]

  5. zevonesque says:

    Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)
    A.J. Walker

    ‘Build it and they will come.’
    ‘I’ve heard that.’
    ‘Received wisdom.’
    ‘Maybe an old wive’s tale.’
    ‘A wise old wife.’
    ‘Or not, I mean come on!’
    The silence rang through the store like a truth told in Parliament.
    ‘So, has there been anyone in today?’
    ‘Lots. Looks beautiful doesn’t it?’
    ‘Very Christmassy. I assume that’s what you mean.’
    ‘Good work from Ethel. I’m minded to give her a Christmas bonus.’
    ‘Erm… nice idea.’
    ‘What’s with the “erm”? I mean it is Christmas and she’s done a fab job.’
    ‘Stop it with the “erms”!’
    ‘Okay, um…’
    ‘Now come on, an “um” is the same as an “erm’.’
    ‘Is it?’
    ‘Yes, everyone knows that.’
    ‘Well look, yes, she’s done a fab job, the store looks amazing.’
    ‘Capital, who says that?’
    ‘I just did. Stop digressing; the ums?’
    ‘Okay, my point is the store is busy with people; packed in fact.’
    ‘Well all these people work here, don’t they?’
    ‘Yes. Yes indeed.’
    ‘Spit it out man, what you getting at?’
    ‘It was the same yesterday. The day before. The week before and the month before.’
    ‘Let’s cut to the chase. We haven’t had a customer here since June. And she was only her ‘cos she was lost.’
    ‘I remember, Brenda. Said she loved it. Filled in a form.’
    ‘Yep, I know. It’s on the top of the pile of customer questionnaires. And the bottom.’
    ‘Not everyone fills them in.’
    ‘There hasn’t been anyone else.’
    ‘It’s been slower than I’d want.’
    ‘Slower! It’s dead!’
    ‘Dead. Look, I have two pieces of advice my friend.’
    ‘Go on.’
    ‘Make sure your fire insurance is up to date – I know a man with a can.’
    ‘Oh come on!’
    ‘You can’t go on like this, it’s not healthy. As “mad as Sanderson Filibuster” is a saying now.’
    ‘A fire. That’s like giving up.’
    ‘It IS giving up. But with a money back guarantee. It’s the only option.’
    ‘I’m not saying yes, but what was the second bit of advice?’
    ‘You must take out a Contract on the wise old wife who told you “they would come”. Bloody liar.’
    ‘Ho ho fucking ho!’

    WC: 360

  6. Geoff Holme says:

    175 words


    “Erm… H-hello? Excuse me…”
    “Yes? Can I help you?”
    “I-I hope so. I’m trying to find the Human Resources department.”
    “You’re new here aren’t you?”
    “Yes. How did you know?”
    “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the wild-eyed stare… possibly the gaping mouth… perhaps the drained complexion. Didn’t they give you directions at reception?”
    “Sure. I’m usually very good at finding my way around but, whatever I do I seem to end up in the same place…”
    “I bet you find looking over the railings at other floors disconcerting. Am I right?”
    “Yes… Yes, I do.”
    “Look, why don’t I take you to HR myself?”
    “Would you? That would be such a great help.”
    “No problem. I was like you when I started here, but someone took the trouble of showing me around. So, I’m happy to do the same for you.”
    “Thanks. I’m very grateful.”
    “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Pretty soon you’ll be able to find your way around as well as anyone else here. Welcome to M. C. Escher Inc.”

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