Flash Frenzy Round 127

Posted: February 18, 2017 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Happy Saturday, writers! Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 127. This weekend we have another new judge, Ewan Smith.

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 Aswhin Rao

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  1. Blue Light

    We arrived at the barn before dusk. It was creepy, dilapidated and seemingly abandoned, with a pitched roof like a shark’s dorsal on riding the hilltop wave on the horizon.

    It was cold. We were cold, despite walking a hundred miles since leaving home. Vehicles were a thing of the past, a recent memory like horse-drawn carts and carriages. No-one knew much about that fluorescent blue light in the sky, the one the world witnessed a mere 46 hours ago. All we knew, all anyone knew, is that it destroyed all things electrical, and disrupted all known wave frequencies to end remote communication.

    At first I saw it as a blessing, as did Carmel. Our smart-phone zombie nation was at a brink of a revolution. People had to go out, socialise, and speak to one another to find out what the hell was going on. It wasn’t long before panic ensued and enslaved us all. The hysteria was one thing, unjustified in my opinion. The disappearances however, they left a ghastly chill down my spine.

    There were no bodies, no blood, absolutely no clue as to where people had been taken, but Carmel could feel it. Every time we passed through an idea where humanity once lived and thrived, she could feel the souls of the missing people, like ghosts wandering on a fixed track, an ectoplasmic footprint of those that once lived. Perhaps we never lived at all. Perhaps our existence was just on loan, and that the ominous debt-collecting blue fluorescent light had come to repossess all life on Earth. All human life at least.

    As night fell, Carmel and I lay on our backs staring through the gaping hole in the roof of the barn. The blue light had faded, and we could see more stars than I’d ever seen in my life.

    We lay hand-in-hand. It didn’t take long until we were praying. At first praying that it was all a dream, but by the time morning came, we were praying for the fluorescent light to return.

    Praying for the blue light to take us too.

    (Word count: 350)

    @JamboStewart42

  2. We arrived at the barn before dusk. It was creepy, dilapidated and seemingly abandoned, with a pitched roof like a shark’s dorsal riding the hilltop wave on the horizon.

    It was cold. We were cold, despite walking a hundred miles since leaving home. Vehicles were a thing of the past, a recent memory like horse-drawn carts and carriages.

    No-one knew much about that fluorescent blue light in the sky, the one the world witnessed a mere 46 hours ago. All we knew, all anyone knew, is that it destroyed all things electrical, and disrupted all known wave frequencies to end remote communication.

    At first I saw it as a blessing, as did Carmel. Our smart-phone zombie nation was at a brink of a revolution. People had to go out, socialise, and speak to one another to find out what the hell was going on. It wasn’t long before panic ensued and enslaved us all. The hysteria was one thing, unjustified in my opinion. The disappearances however, they left a ghastly chill down my spine.

    There were no bodies, no blood, absolutely no clue as to where people had been taken, but Carmel could feel it. Every time we passed through an idea where humanity once lived and thrived, she could feel the souls of the missing people, like ghosts wandering on a fixed track, an ectoplasmic footprint of those that once lived. Perhaps we never lived at all. Perhaps our existence was just on loan, and that the ominous debt-collecting blue fluorescent light had come to repossess all life on Earth, all human life at least.

    As night fell, Carmel and I lay on our backs staring through the gaping hole in the roof of the barn. The blue light had faded, and we could see more stars than I’d ever seen in my life.

    We lay hand-in-hand. It didn’t take long until we were praying. At first praying that it was all a dream, but by the time morning came, we were praying for the fluorescent light to return.

    Praying for the blue light to take us too.

    @JamboStewart42

    (Word count: 349)

  3. Ghost Town Radio (Barnstorm)
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    357 words.

    “Great stuff there. That was our three-in-a-row slot for the morning, listeners. First was The Silent Band, with Denis ‘Mule’ Edgar, trumpet, his brother Slut on sax, Aiden Goodwillie on drums and Rancid Weekes on piano with a number entitled ‘Silence Of The Harmonica.’ Then The Single Finger Tribe with ‘Chase The Pace’ and lastly for this hour it was Newly Hughes And The Loos with their big hit ‘One Man’s Plate.’ I’m Don Makemee and now it’s Weather Watch and I’m told it’s the Pitts. Our one and only, Judy Pitts. What have you got for the good people of the Peninsula region this hour, Judy?”

    “It’s raining, Don,” replied Judy.

    “These weather reports just get more and more technical. Now, listeners, got some news about our old friend, Limey Bennett. He’s reading some poems from his new anthology ‘Lime’s Disease’ tonight at a Poetry Slam at Carsons. Also there tonight will be Wolfgang Laemmle, the German film Director. And there’s an open mic spot too.”

    “Anyway, if it sounds windy here it’s because I’m now standing outside the radio station with the delicious Judy Pitts. We’ve worked together here for six years, Judy. Don’t you just love the place?”

    “Don,” she said. “It’s falling down. It has no redeeming features at all. It’s cold, damp, in the middle of nowhere, no road for 20 miles. In fact, listeners, as we speak, another piece of timber has fallen from the roof. It should be condemned. Don, I’m serious.”

    “No, listeners, I’m the one who’s serious. Judy, darling, we’ve been together through thick and thin here at Ghost Town Radio. Now, as I look around, I see the first bunches of spring steens on the trees, with almond colouration and pink pigment. Nature is open to possibilities, are you, my love? I have planning permission to pull this place down and build a proper radio shack and living quarters. Oh, Judy, my love, it’s so exciting. Take this ride, this new adventure with me. I bought this for you, darling. I hope it fits your finger.”

    “It’s a doughnut, Don.”

    “It has a hole in the middle.”

  4. Frank Key says:

    The Morning Begins with a Hammer
    by Frank Key
    357 words
    @Frankdaad

    “Thank you for calling Paradise Real Estate Holdings. How may I direct your call?” A smiley voice charmed my ear to the extent I almost forgot my purpose.

    “Uh. I’m looking at this picture of a dilapidated barn out on the prairie…” The charm vanished when she interrupted.

    “Connecting you to Eve Adams Moses. Please hold.”

    One can listen to a medley of Eagles’ tunes only so many times before giving up and calling another realtor. Fortunately, that threshold wasn’t reached when the female voice responded during the second replay of Desperado.

    “Hi, Charles. Eve here.”

    “How…?”

    “Love your choice for a long term residence here in Heaven.”

    “Yes, but…”

    “Kind of a fixer upper but it states here that you’re resourceful and good with your hands.”

    “Where are you getting…?”

    “Happy to know you didn’t fall for the streets paved with gold bit. Are you available for an immediate visit to the property?”

    “Lady. Hold on a second…”

    “Of course you are. Look to your left. See that angel holding open the carriage door while pointing inside? Hop in and go for a ride. Meet you there in a jiff.”

    Even with advance warning from my entry counselor, I was somewhat taken aback by the speedy efficiency with which personal information is handled on this side of Eternity – better than London but still lagging a bit behind San Francisco.

    We arrived before the thought was finished. Eve greeted me with a vigorous sailor’s handshake and a farmer’s friendly “howdy-do”.

    As I exited the gilded single passenger coach, an irresistible wave of euphoria swept over (not unlike the zephyrs of a primeval prairie) my reincarnated mind.

    “Wow. I love this place.” Stop now, don’t overdo it, but I couldn’t resist. “I’ll take it. A thousand times over. This is truly Earth on Heaven for me.”

    “And you thought you’d spend eternity in some awful crowded place with multitudes gathered ’round thrones singing blah blah blah.”

    She was right. This property and me, a match made in…well, you know where I mean. Me and barn. Two fixer uppers who now have the time.

    Forever.

    ~~~

  5. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word count: 360

    Tornadoes and Toilets

    Anyone who has lived in South Africa for about five minutes will tell you that our weather is mild. Only some parts get snow, we don’t get monsoons, cyclones or tornadoes. We don’t get earthquakes either. We have warm, balmy summers and mild winters. Some days you can even wear short sleeves. Yes, yes. I know. You can get your hate on. If it makes you feel any better, we more than make up for it with the high crime rate.

    You can just imagine our surprise when we had a tornado last year. Not a large, American-sized one, but a tornado none the less. It was rather epic. I didn’t see it personally, but Facebook plastered my wall with video clips of it. One guy working in a factory close by ran outside to film it. A torrent of angry posts relating to his stupidity followed. But I mean, come on! A tornado! We don’t even have procedures in place to deal with stuff like that.

    One mall was split in two from its force. I think that’s around the time sensible people started running for cover. Looters even got some early Christmas shopping done. Barns on nearby farms lost their thatch roofs rendering the cows inside rather dumbstruck.

    My favorite story is of old Mrs. Veldhoen, an octogenarian, who lived alone in her single-story tin roofed house. Mrs. Veldhoen refused to go and stay in an assisted living facility. She always insisted she was quite capable to look after herself. On the day of the tornado, she found herself indisposed on her “throne”. Not having heard the news on the radio, she was blissfully unaware of her predicament when her roof suddenly blew off. She sat frozen on the loo, not sure what to do next. She needn’t have worried. The news helicopter that had followed the progress of the tornado shot footage of her house with her in it, showing all her glory. I hear she has settled in well at the Happy Homes Retirement Center.

    There’s supposed to be a cyclone coming this weekend. My eyes and ears are peeled. Plus, I really need to pee.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Poor woman (i empathise, I always worry about fire and lock-down drills at work!). Always good to find the humour in a disaster though.

  6. crsmith2016 says:

    The Day After

    @carolrosalind

    W/C 355

    Treading gingerly through the rubble my bare feet find things my delicate brain cannot identify. Reaching for the back of my head, I try rubbing away the throbbing. Every step forward requires my full attention and each one hurts like hell. Confused, I briefly wonder what happened to my shoes.

    Something brushes my face. I jump, gesticulating wildly. My heart feels ready to explode and competes with my thumping head. I almost pass out. Regaining a semblance of control, I force my eyes back open, noting the strange light above me.

    Continuing onwards I hear a noise. Stopping abruptly I’m afraid to even breathe — it sounded like a moan! I manage to turn around to speak but the words stick in my dry, foul-tasting mouth, refusing to leave as I peer through the tiny slits my eyelids permit.

    My brain’s still stuck on standby, unable to recall what happened last night, only just managing a rolling screen. Shaking my head I try rebooting — a painful waste of time. If not for my raging thirst I could easily curl up and sleep.

    The forward terrain is treacherous and there’s an accompanying crunch as I stumble onwards. Too late I realise it’s broken glass and hastily reposition my feet. My mouth freezes in a silent ouch while I dance around trying to regain my balance, landing on one sharp thing after another.

    Music blasts out, forcing me to the ground clutching my ears. It’s as if the remote control has been pointed straight at me. My brain jump-starts, cutting through the white noise allowing an alien face to emerge before me. Straw hangs from its head. The breathing’s heavy and I’m mesmerised by the movement of what looks like an onion ring dangling from its nose.

    Dragging my gaze away to scan my surroundings, I see food trodden into the floor, furniture upended, abandoned cans and bottles scattered across every surface. To top it all the building looks set to collapse.

    An avalanche of cans slides across the floor. I look across at Steve, we grin. The barn was an excellent venue for a party.

  7. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    357 words

    Starting Over

    ‘Oh, Jill, it’s ruined! Completely derelict. How could they have let this happen? I’m heartbroken.’

    Jill wraps her arms around me as we stand with the car doors wide open at the side of the meadow having driven along the dirt track to the old farmhouse where I had spent my childhood.

    I had built up this wonderful image for her, vividly describing how, despite its size, the house had kept six of us comfortable and happy. How Dad had undertaken all the repairs himself when he inherited the house from Grandad. How he had turned Grandad’s workroom into a twin-bed room for Georgia and me. How Mum had sewn all the curtains and bed-covers from scraps of fabric left behind in Grandma’s wooden chest. How the boys’ wooden carvings had decorated the walls of the living room.

    I had even told her of the creepy attic which Dad had cleverly transformed into a mezzanine level to give him and Mum some privacy from our peering eyes and enquiring minds. From the old oak tree, which had been split and felled by lightning in 1966, with the help of old Jimmy across the field, Dad had constructed a simple staircase into which he allowed us carve our initials. Mine and Georgia’s were under the second step. Arthur and William had insisted on the underside of the top step even though no-one could see the etchings there and it took Dad all his strength to hold the boys up while they carved.

    ‘It was magical, Jill. And now look at it.’ I stifle a sob.

    ‘Look! Louise.’ Jill points to the side of the precarious structure. A cluster of bluebells peek their delicate petals above the coarse overgrown grass.

    ‘Listen,’ she whispers. A faint whimpering sound emanates from the building. A scrawny marmalade kitten emerges from behind the rotten timbers.

    ‘Life! Inside and out, Louise. We can do this. We can make it a home again. Trust me.’

    Jill looks so sure.

    I gently pick up the terrified kitten. Jill starts the engine and we head back to the town’s small hotel where our renovation plans will begin.

  8. davejamesashton says:

    Wombling Free
    @davejamesashton
    185 words

    Rambling’s as fine a pastime as you could hope for, just like your Gran always said to me when I was a little ‘un.

    True, all yer mates might be wrapped up in the duvet watching Saturday morning cartoons, then having a kick around, but what’s that compared to tramping through majestic countryside like we’re graced with? Slogging through brooks so cold that even your Gran would swear, that was well worth it, let me tell you.

    And when we’d finally found the destination ye dinnae know you were looking for… like as not some run-down barn in the middle of a muddy, god-forsaken field… the first sips of the too-hot, too-sweet tea from the dented thermos you’d been lugging for what felt like hours, ahh, it was magic lad. Just magic.

    Ach, I can’t lie to you Ewan, it’s not. It utter and complete bollocks, but if I have to put up with it, so do you. Get in the car with a smile for her and there could be a tenner in it for you, otherwise it’ll be the back of me hand, lad.

  9. stephellis2013 says:

    I Have a House

    229 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    I have a house. It sleeps with one eye open. Watchful in the wilderness, it keeps me safe. I lived there in an isolated childhood, hidden from view, never seen by anyone except the house and its guests. Its jewellery of locks and bolts kept me safe from prying eyes.

    Visiting hours admitted strangers with masked faces and the house became a theatre with me as the star of the show. Sometimes I would give a private performance – just myself and one other. The floorboards both my stage and my casting couch.

    I remember the wood, cold against bare skin, unyielding, unforgiving in the darkness of this nightmare womb. It was a long labour, contractions of pain lasting hours until I was delivered into silence and a mother’s hands. She would look at me with unfeeling eyes. Food and clothing meant I had passed the test; their absence, failure and another type of reward.

    But I was outgrowing my role, becoming an aging star and my performances were fewer and fewer. The laws of supply and demand had struck. I had nothing more to give and everything had been taken.

    Eventually, the house wrapped me up in its arms when no one else would, buried me in the cradle of its foundations, became my forever home.

    I have a house. It sleeps with one eye open. We haunt each other

  10. davidshakes says:

    There was no major precursor to the storm that tore us apart, I guess sometimes it just happens that way – the phrase ‘out of the blue’ exemplified in the most devastating way.
    Routine (I thought) had been the backbone of our marriage so I knew straight away that something was wrong when the mail was still in the box when I got home.
    You were glued to the weather channel in the lounge- mesmerised by swirling cloud formations and repetitive readings of the forecast.
    Your shoulders were moving and, with your back to me, it took me a few moments to realise you were crying. Absurdly, I assumed the weather was the problem until I came in fully and saw what you were holding.
    Words. Just words, but their implication…
    The letter hasn’t come in the mail or else the box would be empty- this had been hand delivered. I knew by which hand – I’d held it just yesterday when I told her it was over.
    You’d always been such a gentle man (a gentleman) and nothing had ever been too much trouble for you. You didn’t mind being a house husband and seemed immune from the jibes your limited circle of friends sometimes made on beer nights.
    My work stress was always taken out on you and you never once bit back. Not once. Was it the cliche of the office romance? The boss and her secretary a Netflix twist on an oft told tale, or the fact I’d cheated with a woman?
    Whatever it was, you had snapped. I will always need to remind myself of that- you snapped first.
    At the height of the storm, when your voice boomed like thunder and dark rage clouded everything I felt truly frightened. It was like you’d stored it all up and had nowhere left to hold it.
    I don’t know where the knife came from and I don’t know why I used it. The hot, red rain brought me to my senses.
    They’ll find you in that broken barn next to i55 but they won’t find me. I’m going to drive until the petrol runs out. Into the blue.

  11. inksian says:

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    357 words

    When Rot Sets In

    It was rare to find such constructs. After the outbreak of 2031, the army had developed one tactic: burn everything. This wooden barn would have eagerly offered itself up to fire. Erikson tugged his survey pack higher and signalled they begin. Time was short; if they’d found this place, so would the army.

    The transmitter in his helmet crackled, then a voice slipped past. ‘Maybe this time…’

    ‘Just keep calm and be thorough.’

    ‘Sir, we’re getting general chatter only. The military are running silent or busy elsewhere.’

    ‘Roger that, Jenkins. Keep an ear out; we don’t want any fire here yet…friendly or otherwise.’

    After the purge of 2032, the military and the scientific community split. The army burnt; the scientists wanted to study: nature held the key to her own destruction. To the general population, fire won every time. Red sky at night, in the morning…all through the night became a comforting mantra.

    He couldn’t blame them. He still had nightmares over his first encounter with a human infestation. He’d followed rats—a possible vector of transmission—down into a culvert. At first, he’d had a vague impression of filthy filling bursting out from stuffed toys…then he’d seen the shrivelled edges of split skin. He wonders, in dark times, if they felt it burrowing through them or if fungal toxins had been merciful.

    Once in the human population, its spread had been…phenomenal. People walking around with dormant spores in their lungs, coughing up little harbingers of death. Fire came too late for some and just came for others. But it seemed to have succeeded. There had been no outbreaks for years…just the slow encroachment of leeching fibres, draining life.

    Erikson was the last to enter the barn and almost wept. There she was at last: an answer to his prayers…something to study! A terrible mother! A massive sporocarp, mycelium lacing out, delicate like candy floss, but deadlier than webs, and in that crimson bloated womb, devastating offspring waited. Immortal and yet so vulnerable.

    ‘Document, sample, then burn it,’ he ordered.

    And a million young rejoiced, ready for the fire to warm them and the thermals to waft them up.

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