Flash Frenzy Round 122

Posted: January 14, 2017 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome back, writers. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s winners post, it’s been Snowpocalypse 2017 in my neck of the woods, so I’ve got a personal snowy photo for this weekend’s prompt. Stories will be judged by the fabulous 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 and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

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Comments
  1. Stephen John Lodge says:

    I Am A Practising Eccentric
    by Steve Lodge
    293 words

    @steveweave71

    I am just back from a trip to Eastern Europe, where I was able to locate and purchase a delightful piece of artwork I had been seeking for some time. It was “The Brown Vessel With Undated Handles” by Cliff Hanger. I have hung it in the garden and I now sit in a deckchair, admiring the piece, dressed only in a Hawaiian/batik shirt, shorts and flip flops and the snow is barely covering my ankles. I am sipping a vegetable lasagne with coffee ballaga.

    Melting snow runs down the trees like an impending waterfall, washing the proud, beautiful winterfruits. The geeghe, combarabaroshtyle, wibble, flanbiosa, flen, flundermokers and the red limp all grow in this quiet idyll. The gentle shrubbery pipwillet shrieks its crazy song as I dictate a letter of thanks to my old mercenary friend, Jobby Dobbs. He and his brother, Squalid, helped me a lot in Eastern Europe with the negotiations on the price of the artwork, since my knowledge of the particular local language (Grinning) was, at best, poor. We had met up in Grinningstein and taken the train through the tunnel to the other side of the Zingler Pass, near the mountain town of Problematje, close to the ancient border with Belzon.

    By the time I had finished dictating the letter, it was dark and snow was falling again. It was time for my facial. I like tame squirrels to nibble the dead skin off my face, usually while I listen to jazz. Of course, it was about now that I remembered that I don’t have a secretary so I wasn’t so much dictating the letter as just saying it out loud. I don’t suppose Jobby will care much. I seem to remember reading wasn’t his strong suit.

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      Love the names. I am definitely going to have a character called Squalid in my next No. 1 International Best-Seller!

      (Strangely enough, I have a red limp wibble but the doctor said that I shouldn’t worry and it was perfectly normal at my age…)

  2. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw
    360 Words

    The Fox and Two Sisters

    Now in those days, Fox loved Winter. He loved her for her skin as pale as snow and her eyes as blue as ice. He kissed her lips as red as berries. At night he lay his head against her breast and listened to her heartbeat as soft as the footfalls of the deer in the forest. And yet he found a coldness in her heart that even he could not warm.

    So Fox padded through snowdrifts and skittered across frozen lakes until he found the hut where Summer lived.

    “Oh Summer,” Fox said. “Why do you hide away in your hut?”

    “Because you love my sister.”

    “But you are more beautiful. Your skin is the colour of sweet honey and your hair the colour of cornfields. Your fragrance is like the scent of flowers and your laugh like a flowing stream.”

    “I will not be fooled, Fox.”

    “Let me give you a token to prove my love.”

    Fox found a piece of golden amber deep in the forest which he fashioned into a disk. He gave it Summer who hung it around her neck. She felt so pleased with her medallion that she came out of her hut and walked through the forest. The snow melted and the trees blossomed. Birds sang from the branches and silver salmon leapt from the rivers. She took Fox to her bed.

    But after a few months Fox found the heat of her relentless passion left him parched and lifeless. So one night he stole the medallion and threw it into the southern sea. Without the token of his love, Summer retreated back into her hut deep in the forest and would not come out.

    Fox trotted up the stony pathways through the northern mountains and he found Winter hiding in her cave. There they made love for months until the coldness of her heart chilled his bones. Then he fished the amber medallion from the sea and gave it back to Summer, who forgave him because Fox was blessed with a silver tongue by the Creator.

    This continues to this day. And that is why the fox always has a crafty smile.

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      Love the characterisation of Winter and Summer. (Fish that amber medallion out, Fox, I’ve had enough of the cold!)

  3. ewansmithxxx says:

    @ewanandsmith
    359 words

    Two Extraordinary Women And A Modest (But Handsome In A Rugged Way) Young Man

    It had seemed like such a good idea.
    America’s beloved First Lady Of Letters, Lady Hazmat, had decided that it was time that she rewarded the coterie of remarkable young writers she had gathered around herself for their dedication to their art. A series of brilliantly written invitations raced across the globe and presently the flash-fiction world’s brightest and best were winging their way to the luxurious Hazmat Towers Ranch for a weekend of Fun In The Sun.
    “I am so looking forward to this,” wrote the handsome young tyro, Ewan Smith, on his blog. “What could be better than a weekend in the company of the extraordinarily gorgeous Lady Hazmat? And we’re so lucky that the brilliant Steph Ellis is going to be present too. It saddens me that the other regulars on The Angry Hourglass all gossip about Steph behind her back, saying terrible things about her writing and sneering at her judging ability. But I think she’s a remarkable talent and I feel honoured to be breathing the same air as her.” He considered adding that she was someone of irresistible personal magnetism and breathtaking sensuality but decided not to lest people think he was indulging in flattery even though it was completely and utterly true.
    “Welcome to Hazmatville!” cried Lady H as the passengers disembarked. “I’m afraid the weather has taken a bit of a turn.” Indeed it had; there was snow everywhere. “But never mind…snowball fights, snowmen – we’ll have such fun!”
    “But it’s cold,” complained an award-winning flash-fiction writer (not Ewan Smith).
    “We were promised Fun In The Sun!” whined another (still not Ewan Smith).
    “I hate snow,” grumbled a third (see above).
    The whingeing grew to a crescendo. “Bl**dy writers,” groaned Lady Hazmat. “Ewan Smith is the only decent one among them. If only The Angry Hourglass could give him an award of some sort.” She frowned. “I wonder where he is anyway?”
    As it happens, he was chatting with Steph Ellis. “I’ve been left all this money by an old aunt,” he was saying. “I’ve no idea what to do with it. Could you make use of…I don’t know…a grand…or two…or three…”

    • Ha! Gotta admire your cheek, Ewan. I might be one of those moaners, possibly the one stating the obvious about it being cold. I will now gossip about Steph by saying I reckon she’s well capable of finding something to spend money on without resorting to giving it away. 😉

      • ewansmithxxx says:

        lol! Did I mention that I’ve always considered Steph to be someone of extraordinary charisma and brilliance (especially when it comes to judging!)?

  4. Richard Edenfield says:

    Reading an Avalanche
    ______________________

    On the soft white page there are tracks that speak a language of discovery and bloodshed. Your eyes follow me like a hunter across descriptions of streams, the poetry of a mountain—the trail of a wounded heart. I am an injured animal. Ice cracks like bone as I cross a waterway that carries a faint pulse underneath. I am breathing heavily. The mist from my breathing carves a rifles discharge around my head. I don’t dare look back. I know you are on my heals. I can only write so quickly. But I cannot lose you. If I place a metaphor in your way it will only alert you to my location. I start to run. I fall and get back up with ice forming around my knees. Coldness numbs the back of my throat. Extremities start to become unknown to themselves. My legs are heavy. The heart plays catch with itself as I hear a gunshot break apart the silence of a descending evening.

    Through the heavy snow I continue. A flat white ahead is all I see. Desert of ice. A cool desolation. If I write badly maybe that will stop you. Or you will just continue till the end. Till all the blood drains from my body across the pale stark blanket. I can hear your breathing. Like a steady prayer knocking against my chest. The first moonlight gets lost on the ground like a lover in a collage of memory.

    I see a town up ahead buried from the bright storm. Rooftops peek like nests through a pile of sunlight. The glare from the image blinds me… and hopefully you as well. I make it to the small area. I walk boldly down Main Street knowing that you won’t follow me here. My home is close. Inside will be a fire and safety and comfort. I make my way to my door that slowly opens as I approach. And you are standing there with a book. I can feel the pressure from your hand. My fever warms your touch. You invite me in as a gunshot starts an avalanche on the page.
    _____________________________________________________________________

    (360 words)

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      That’s so clever, the way you introduce the process of writing into the story. It makes what is happening so immediate.

  5. zevonesque says:

    A Blanket of No
    A.J. Walker

    Jennifer looked out the parlour window at the morning vista with a grimace. She normally liked the snow, as long as she knew it was coming and the power stayed on. But the night had brought heavy falls that she hadn’t expected. She blamed herself – and that new President Elect – she’d not been able to face turning on the TV or radio for weeks in case she’d heard him. And now her inability to section off her mind to deal with him meant she’d missed the forecast.

    ‘That bastard!’ she shouted. She contemplated writing something in the steam on the window too, but thought better of it.

    Her mobile phone said nothing new. No news from Des. He was supposedly on his way up to the farm if he was sticking to their plans. But it wasn’t safe on the roads. She wasn’t even sure he’d driven with snow chains before, or even if he had them.

    Her watch said 10:05 which meant she was due another coffee. The mobile said 10:05 too and was still silent in terms of calls or texts from Des. Was he okay; was he still coming? She wanted to hold him, it had been too long. This weather though; he shouldn’t be coming. Discretion the better part of valour. Next week in one piece would be better than a car fallen down a ravine or wrapped around a tree. She looked again at her watch.

    She could call him again. Though an 18th missed call on his phone would be subject to diminishing returns of importance. Technology sometimes was not that useful. Perhaps if he had a tracker on his phone or car, that’d be good. She could put her mind at ease seeing a flashing dot moving ever closer to Home Farm showing Des would be in her arms imminently. But no. She’d just have to wait. Impatiently.

    The leaden sky felt heavy with snow. It was going to get worse. She hoped he was nearby or he’d have a snowball’s chance soon.

    She loved snow. But right now she loved Des more and would happily never see the stuff again.

    ______
    WC:360
    @zevonesque

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      That Donald Trump – is there no end to his iniquities!?!

      Love the idea of a tracker so that you could always see on a map – like that one in Harry Potter – where someone you love is.

      Hmm, though on second thoughts, it might lead to problems…

  6. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    357 words

    Neighbourhood Watch

    Banks of scarlet azaleas and cerise rhododendrons mark the driveway to the double garage of No. 7 Maple Way. Mr. Powers nurtured the shrubs from cuttings and is proud of the privacy his colourful hedges provide for his double-fronted detached residence.

    Next door at No. 5, single garage Mrs. Johnson thinks her hybrid fuschia and cotoneaster are far superior to her neighbour’s efforts in terms of display and colour. She covets her secret source of quality fertilizer which she refuses to share with No. 7 in case his display should surpass hers in terms of admirability as people pass.

    No. 3’s triple garage, vintage car owner, Mr. Bailey doesn’t like flowers but has a lawn fit for a Queen. Mrs. Johnson watches him vacuuming the leaves, almost reverently, each Saturday morning. She secretly covets his gleaming edge-cutters – a thing of shining beauty, glimmering in the summer sun as he creates the perfect right angle to his precious carpet where it meets the driveway leading to the polished doors containing his venerable collection.

    No. 1’s granny-flat instead of a garage Mrs. Jameson is a container gardener, with terracotta pots full of brightly coloured bedding plants spilling over onto lustrous grey pebbles and glorious hanging baskets adorning the fascia board. Young widow Mrs. J and her elderly mother tend the baskets and pots in a prayer-like fashion.

    Maple House sits at the end of the road. The house doesn’t have a number because it used to be the only house in the area before the wealthy owners died leaving it to a good-for-nothing son who wasted his inheritance. The estate ended up being sold to a hungry developer who converted the sweeping driveway to a wide two-lane road, split the estate into lots and sold them off to the Powers, Johnsons, Baileys, Jamesons and their like.

    A street of competition befitting the Jones family who’ve recently taken possession of Maple House. A sweeping renovation has commenced. The neighbours will spend the next year striving to keep up.

    Winter arrives. A heavy snowfall blankets the estate in anonymity. The Neighbourhood Watch man patrols.

    Every house now looks the same.

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      lol! I was wondering what the story was leading up to – I could feel a punchline coming. That’s great. : – )

  7. Six Inch Marzipan Man

    What’s all this about, Pete? Police business? Rightio. Will do.
    Yeah, I made the Smollet’s cake. A massive one. Whole place smelt of chocolate for a week.
    Caroline’s Cakes’ most ambitious project yet. All hands on deck. Smollet’s farm, outbuildings and their tenant’s houses depicted in chocolate cake and decorated as a snow scene. Cherry jam and whipped cream filling. A white Christmas she said, even though we don’t often get them. It took three of us a day to ice the thing.
    Yeah, Mrs Smollet came to order it. How did she seem? Well, since you mention it, she was sort of nervous and agitated, like she had a lot more on her mind than cake for a Boxing Day party. First thing she asked was could we put an extra ingredient into one of the cake sections. When I said I could get hold of any ingredient or flavouring she wanted but I’d need to know what, she snapped at me to forget it.
    She’d done a drawing. The lone figure at the centre was her husband. Polly made a six inch marzipan man wrapped in a checked fleece jacket and hat with ear-flaps as per the photograph provided.
    I can remember exactly what she said, yeah.
    ‘My husband. King of all he surveys. Often walks around at night. Stays out till all hours.’
    How? Like she’d like to kill him …
    Mrs Smollet insisted on that really hard frosting. Royal icing, you know. And we had to make a special board. More like a kitchen table, it was. Then she wanted to know how much the whole thing would weigh.
    You may as well tell me what this is about now, Pete.

    Oh …
    Oh, my God.
    I knew there was something.
    Had he really? Bastard. Explains the staying out late. And her one of their tenants, as well. Mrs Smollet asked me to the party, you know, but I was too busy. Maybe I should’ve gone.
    Imagine. One of my cakes used as a murder weapon. Do you reckon that’s good for business? Do you think there might be a picture of it in the paper?

    @SalnPage
    #FlashDog
    360 words

  8. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word Count: 359

    Snowed under

    As he trudged along the pathway of unending snow, he wondered to himself just how it was possible that humanity become so uncaring in the time he had been gone. When he had set off on his adventure his parents had thrown a huge party, inviting all their friends, neighbors and colleagues. They were “proud” of him for following his dreams to summit Cat’s Eye Ridge. It was the tallest peak in the reserve that surrounded their town.

    It had been summer when he left; the sky was blue that morning. He had hiked steadily for three days and had reached the summit on the fourth day. The weather had been on his side all the way. The view from the top was nothing short of breathtaking and involuntary tears rolled down his face at the sheer beauty beneath him. As he was preparing to descend, a nasty wind began to build. Gusts became so strong they appeared to shake the mountain. At this rate he would be blown off into eternity. He made a split second decision to take a different route down.

    This would present problems as most of his gear was down at base camp. He checked his pack. He had a jacket, a machete and some flint. It would have to do until he got back. He began his descent. Four days later, he realized he was lost. A month later he was no nearer to finding home. He spent his days foraging for food and finding good areas to rest at night. Winter came. He had a lot of time to think about his life and the choices he had made. Somehow, many of the things he had deemed so important no longer were. He was going to try and restore many of the relationships he had carelessly taken for granted in the past. Being lost in the wilderness made one long for companionship.

    Six months after he had set out, he found a familiar path ran all the way home leaving boot prints in the snow. A realtor’s sign swayed in the breeze. They had left. Just like that. He carried on walking.

  9. ewansmithxxx says:

    Ooooh, that’s so sad. Snif…snif. I’ll bet the realtor’s sign was creaking as it swayed…

    • Angelique Pacheco says:

      Creaky… Ooh! I like that. 😉 In this part of South Africa, we don’t get snow, so I kind of had to wing it… 🙂

  10. Voima Oy says:

    Snow Country
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    The portal opened onto a world of winter. Behind me, guards were running down the hallway of the Institute. “Stop! Stop! You haven’t been prepared!” I watched the portal close on their astonished faces. I was now in the past, in the middle of an ice age.

    I made my way down the hill, the snow so deep and silent. I came to a village. I saw men carrying wood, fishing on an ice-covered lake. An old woman was selling dried herbs in the square.

    ‘Welcome stranger,” she smiled, showing missing teeth. “Have you come for the Festival?”

    “Maybe I have,” I said. “Is there some place I could stay?”

    She pointed to large wooden building. “There’s plenty of rooms at the inn.”

    The soup was good, and the girl who brought it was friendly. “Very few people come this way,” she said. “Are you here for the Festival?”

    “Tell me more about this Festival,” I said. “Let me buy you a drink.”

    She laughed. “I’m not sure that’s allowed.”

    The night was cold, but the fire was warm, and we didn’t do much talking.

    The next morning, the sun was blinding in the white room. The girl was gone. I heard voices below.

    “Well, hello, stranger.” It was the old woman from the day before. “Are you ready for the Festival?”

    “Please, let him have some breakfast first,” said the girl. She poured me herb tea. Her hand was trembling.

    The room was filled with large men, hunters and fishermen, all finishing their meals. “Hurry up, will you! said one with a bushy brown beard. “We haven’t got all day.”

    I bit into a slice of dark bread, spread with honey. “So, what is this Festival?”

    The old woman looked at the girl.”You didn’t tell him?” Now she came close to me, so close I could see the hairs on her chin. “This is the snow country. Our ways are different from yours. But Gilda has chosen you.”

    “I don’t understand.” The herb tea was cold and bitter.

    “You are the Festival!” shouted a young man with a red beard.

    “I’m sorry,” the girl whispered. She took his hand.

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      “You are the Festival!”

      Ooh that is brilliant, Voima. It sets our imaginations to work in coming up with all kinds of hideous possibilities. Shudder…

  11. mariemck1 says:

    The Visitor

    Like a cloud drifting in, his grey, pockmarked shape takes form against the white. His shady presence rolls across the town.
    The town folds- doors whisper to a close, shutters fasten, lips seal.
    He is everywhere. Sunless.
    His hands agitate the metal veils on house fronts, rattling the occupants inside whose souls blemish as they wish him on their neighbours so as to save themselves. His foul words leak through the seams into their children’s lives so even bad dreams are a place to shelter. They crouch and say prayers under the weight of him as his feet thud, thud, thud on their roofs.

    But he’s just toying today. Passing through.

    When it’s safe to look outside, children press chilblained hands against glass, sensing the grey nothingness the bogeyman left behind.

    120 words @elaine173marie

  12. @stellakateT

    The Snow Wand
    (258 words)

    We trudged back from school, the sleet painfully hitting our faces full on. I was glad to swing open the front door and feel the warmth of the hall radiator. Taking off our coats, gloves, scarves and Wellingtons I made a cup of tea whilst finding a suitable snack for a ravenous five year old. Len showed me the thing he’d made at school.

    “Nana, guess what it is?”
    I thought hard “Is it a grappling hook for Batman?”
    His deep belly laugh filled my heart.
    “No Nana it’s a snow wand and I used it this morning”
    I laughed and said “It’s working well”

    Ten days later with several serious weather alerts still being broadcast I was desperately searching for that wand. The country had come to a standstill. Shops were empty of stocks. Hospitals couldn’t accept anymore patients, armed police stood at the entrance of each A&E department. Not that anyone could leave their homes. I was marooned with Len whilst his parents were stranded in their workplaces. I hoped they were safe; the phone systems had died several days ago. The fridge was empty, two eggs left and a bit of cereal. For desperate measures I was considering cooking the pet guinea pig but how would I steal myself to do it.

    “Len, where did you put it?”
    “What Nana?”
    “The Snow Wand”

    We found it down the side of the sofa.

    “Len please ask the snow to stop”
    “It’s not a real Snow Wand Nana” he smiled wanly.

    The snow stopped and life resumed.

  13. Wouldn’t That Be Something

    “Mel!” Tallie called, shaking the water from her boots, where it pooled on the wooden floorboards, warning note in her voice.

    “Yeah,” her sister replied, tone flat.

    “So. You hear the one about the mystery guy, alone in the snow covered street, no heartbeat, no not his footprints near him? How about that? Think you can solve it? Proper locked room mystery, promise…”

    There was silence from behind the closed painted door where Mel stood, back pressed to the unforgiving wall.

    “Wanna build a snowman?” Tallie asked.

    “Shut the…!” The words sounded, audible despite the thick barrier between the two.

    “Guess you’re right,” Tallie continued. “Not so much with the funny. Besides, he’d make a better Iceman at this point, anyway…”

    “Look,” Mel said. “I messed up. Now we’re buried beneath it. All of it. Literally. Figuratively. Whichever whatever. Worst Weather Witch Ever. I get it. That’s what you’re actually saying, isn’t it? Cold hearted wench creates frozen one? Several, maybe, by the end of things?”

    “He pretty much seems like he was a tool,” Tallie replied. “For what it’s worth. Which isn’t much, life being somewhat sacrosanct and all. Thou shalt not kill – although that’s the Bible – and us and the Bible, really..”

    “Tallie,” Mel said.

    “Mel,” Tallie replied. “I get it, okay? It happened. But how do we work with it? This being a somewhat slight community?”

    “You make it sound easy,” her sister commented, the door remaining shut between the two. “It’s not, you know? Easy? Not if you’re doing it right.”

    “What?”

    “Life,” Mel said simply.

    “Weren’t we occupying opposing territory?” her younger sister asked.

    “He hurt me,” Mel said. “You can’t fix it. Not just like that.”

    “Not when we’re at the eye of the storm, you mean?” Tallie fixed the door with a dark eyed stare.

    “It’s not that simple, even.” Mel sighed. “He didn’t mean it. I didn’t intentionally inflict. It’s just not easy, getting things right. We tried.”

    “So – solve it. Get it right the next time,” Tallie suggested.

    “Wouldn’t that be the challenge?” Mel asked. “How about you teach life how the future feels. Wouldn’t that be something?”

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    (360 words)

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