Flash Frenzy Round 128

Posted: February 25, 2017 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday, and welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 128. Our judge this week 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 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. Three Mile Stretch
    by Steve Lodge
    359 words
    @steveweave71

    I never saw anyone as scared as that kid in Quiver’s General Store and I only asked him if the road from Quiver to Loomis was good, as the map wasn’t clear.

    “Don’t frighten the boy, miss.” His pa admonished me. “He ain’t never been to Loomis. Only way from here is through Redpath across the Three Mile Stretch. And that area is haunted. Ghost of Old Man Redpath. Died on the Lake. Scary dude when he was alive, can only imagine what he’s like as a ghost. Your business in Loomis gotta be plenty important to drive that old highway.”

    Now I never scoff at these stories, but I don’t like them. Always some truth in them way back. Like them old cartoons. “I’d have got away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those darn kids.”

    Apparently all the Redpath family were at the big house by the Lake this particular day and there’s some dispute between them and the Old Man. He went off fishing and drowned right there. Now it is fear that follows the course of the lake.

    The ghost of Old Man Redpath was seen for the first time later that night, blaming all the relatives for his sudden demise.

    There’s a stray dog on the highway. When this old hound starts barking, and there’s thunder up in the mountains and lightning in the skies, shadows touch the lakeshore and when they fall across the shuttered windows of the house, the dead man’s ghost is coming round.

    Well, yeah, I mean, great story, but what’s at that old lake the family don’t want no one else to see or find? If I was braver, I’d check out the whole area, but I’ll call my buddy, Mandalay Mike. Real explorer, investigator type of guy. He hangs out with two other adventurers, both called John Coleslaw. Last I heard, they were on a mission for the British Government, trying to find the lair of those dreadful sea monsters, the Maunkex. This sounds right up their street. The whole thing smells worse than a chemical toilet. I’ll tell them to bring swimwear and a camera.

  2. Frank Key says:

    The Hipsters and Mister Takada
    by Frank Key
    360 words
    @Frankdaad

    As the awesome threesome shed their shirts on the boulder strewn shore of Lake Gitche Gumee, tourist Aoki Takada approached stealthily from behind to capture on film his vision of authentic Americana.

    Born in the city but raised in the country near Mount Fuji, the otherwise dignified Mister Takada developed an early artistic appreciation of things fresh and watery. Scarce passed a day since his tenth birthday (when the gift from his father was a pawned Asahi Pentax SLR 35mm camera) that he did not venture in search of spontaneous scenes where living creatures interacted with his beloved waters.

    The youthful past-time became a teenage hobby that progressed into an adult profession and now, in his globe-trotting retirement years, an intense obsession. Wherever his travels took him, he took on the role of ‘interested observer’, however intrusive into the lives of others that role may lead.

    Larry, Maureen, and Curly were not oblivious to the presence of the inquisitive tourist. He first came into their collective consciousness when they noticed him on the lakeside village sidewalk taking pictures of them through the window pane as they sat in a coffee shop sipping on hot beverages while nipping the crispy edges off fresh baked pastry. As they exited to continue their Sunday leisurely time in one of their favored spots beside the lake, the photographer’s continuing presence behind them was not unnoticed as he urged the village’s sole Uber driver, Adam, to follow them (at a discreet distance, of course).

    Adam answered the ring on his mobile.

    “Hey, Larry, I bet I know why you’re calling. No worries. Besides, we can share the cash if you three keep venturing further away from town.”

    And so they did. All the way around the approximate twenty-three mile shoreline of the lake, a stop, look, and go trip that took up most of the day. Not once did Mister Takada complain as he filled the camera’s SIM card. When informed of the growing costs, simply retorted, “I’ll pay.”

    Back home in Japan, Mister Takada displayed his photographs in a local gallery. All sold. The four hipster friends discreetly bought all.

    ~~~

  3. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    360 words

    Five Friends At The Lake

    1991

    We were all six-years-old. Five best friends whose families made their exodus from the city each year to spend the long hot summer at the lake houses. An enclave of wooden cabins constructed in a semi-circle facing a clearing from which a path led to the lake edge.

    Small as we were, we knew the rules and our boundaries. The older kids gathered down the way, up to their usual trickery of throwing each other into the lake, swinging on the old rope from the towering oak and snatching kisses behind the fallen logs. We were content to play in the sandpit Mr. Carter had built when his Cory turned five.

    The sandpit was far from the edge of the lake but we could see our brothers and sisters sitting on the breakwater rocks. Between the rocks and the land was a small deep pool. The guys used to dare each other to jump to the rocks without hitting the water.

    We built castles, barns, roads and cabins within the logged walls of the sandpit, decorating them with stones, twigs, ribbons and buttons.

    Binny brought the ribbons and buttons. Cory didn’t like Binny being in the group because she was a girl but Binny is my twin so I stood up for her. The sandpit was our play kingdom and Binny was the Queen.

    The day Cory disappeared, our carefree childhood lakeside summers ended. The Carters sold their lake house. We spent the following summers elsewhere.

    2011

    ‘It feels really weird being back here again, guys.’ Sam shifted his weight on the rock beside Binny, his sneakers propped next to him. Daniel sat the other side of Binny.

    ‘I know. It’s twenty years. It feels like yesterday,’ Binny whispered.

    ‘Take a picture, Dave. Take it for Cory.’

    We hadn’t seen him leave the sandpit. We hadn’t seen him trying to jump from land to rocks. We hadn’t seen or heard him drown.

    I hunkered down behind my friends and took a picture of them looking out across the lake. I made sure to catch the reflection of the deep pool against the rocks. The pool where we lost Cory.

  4. davidshakes says:

    Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken
    350 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    Do you remember the nameless three from the lake? The girl and the two boys – one had ridiculous tan marks where his vest had been. Remember?
    They must be on a missing persons report somewhere- but it never made the news here. I guess they hadn’t left a plan of where they were going.
    Do you remember the sounds as they slipped beneath the water? The girl first and then the two boys – just a small splash and then ripples expanding into nothingness. Remember?
    You cleaned your knives and developed your photos in secret. They’re stashed in a shoebox wedged beneath the floorboards. Dust covered memories; blood soaked reminders.
    Do you remember the first time you took a life? There’s no photo of that – it wasn’t as planned. They said it was an accident, a child’s game gone wrong. You know it wasn’t. Remember?
    When Anna-Marie cut her hand in craft class. You were first there to help- tasting the coppery blood whilst others fussed with bandages. You took her to the woods a few months later and she never came back.
    Do you remember the hunt for her? How they questioned every classmate and how you pushed all your feelings down into the pit of your churning stomach? They weren’t even suspicious of you were they and those feelings never came back – just like Anna-Marie. Remember?
    Of course you remember. You see it all now. You thought you’d acted alone but I was always with you – watching, guiding, teaching. You can see that now.
    Your actions have caused ripples like those on the lake – they continue to expand ever outwards tainting many lives and strengthening my cause. I’ve much to thank you for.
    It’s time to come with me now my friend. Do be afraid. Your service buys you no favours with me. I’ve some people waiting for you.
    There’s the nameless three from the lake. Though the fish took their eyes a long time ago they’re eager to see you. Anna-Marie is there too. They’re all there waiting – waiting to help you remember – eternally.

  5. “At the Bank of Gallow’s River”
    by Patrick Stahl
    @patrickjstahl
    360 words

    He lined us up on a rim of stones at the bank of Gallow’s River. I ground my teeth until a seething pang told me one had shattered, and I let the blood dribble down my chin. Once I had considered having a cyanide vessel implanted in my mouth, but I’d ultimately decided against it. I would let them have the satisfaction of shooting me—or stringing me up, if they were feeling vintage.

    Molly, to my left, muttered a creative rendition of an ancient prayer. I didn’t need to be religious to know when there were words she was adding.

    Donnell stared out at his reflection, his blood-shot eyes dry like oil on canvas. He blamed himself, probably. It was his mistake, after all.

    I should’ve laughed. After ten years living on the far side of the river, I would die here, beside my homeland, at the hands of the mob the world couldn’t kill. And who had truly tried, in the last hundred years? One mile on either bank was all the land they needed, and they let the boats go through, for a nominal fee.

    Few could say that they had made the crossing and lived. I’d been young, and I’d been stupid, but I’d been strong too. Thousands migrated each year from the north across the mountains or from the south across the sea. But the voyage was expensive, and other mobs sprang up constantly to make the journey hell. Of course, none of them could ever maintain a legacy like those who lived along Gallow’s River.

    It didn’t take long for the mob to extricate the seven pounds of illicit materials we were attempting to smuggle across the river. Neither Molly nor Donnell had made the crossing before as I had, but they were young, and they were stupid, as I had been ten years before.

    The mobster told us to hold still, and I took a deep breath. There was a click.

    “Perfect.” He showed us the tiny screen of his camera. “So this is what fear looks like,” he said, and he gazed out over the river, his head tilted to one side.

  6. Voima Oy says:

    Summer Afternoon
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    “Welcome to Iowa!” Riley thumbed the door to the Sky Deck, the virtual reality suite on the Floating World station. His three friends gawked like tourists. “So, how do you like it?”

    “It’s so real,” Sato bent down to examine a blade of grass. “Like a summer afternoon.”

    “Just like I remember,” Riley was grinning like a schoolboy. “Summer of 83. I just graduated from the Academy. What do you think, Julia?”

    The young woman shaded her eyes from the artificial sun. “Is it always so green? Mars is not like this.”

    “Neither is Tokyo,” Sato said. “I didn’t think you were a country boy.”

    “Iowa isn’t like this really,” Eric, the fourth friend, pointed out. “A place like this would be protected by razor wire, guards. Only rich could live like this.”

    “Don’t be so political, Riley said. “I made this for us, to enjoy, together.”

    “You are a sentimental fool,” Eric was watching the light on the water. “What makes you think Earth 2 is anything like this?”

    “It will be, just like Mars will be, some day.”

    Julia laughed. “We wont’t live to see it.”

    “We will.” Riley insisted. “Can’t you just accept it. Suspend your disbelief. People used to do that all the time.”

    “People are different, now,” Sato fingered a smooth round stone. “I applaud your attention to detail. If I throw this, will it make a splash? Will frogs jump into the sound of water?”

    Julia slapped her forearm. “Something bit me! What is that irritating whining sound?”

    “Mosquitos,” Riley said. He smiled at Sato. “Yes, attention to detail.”

    “Well, I don’t like them, whatever they are,” Julia said. “I want to go to Tokyo. Or Paris.”

    “Please, guys,” Riley said, “Just be quiet. Sit here. For me. I want to remember us like this.”

    “All right, take your picture,” Eric said. “I’ll even smile for you.”

    Now, alone on the ship, Riley thumbs the photograph. It is a long way to Earth 2 and his wake-sleep monitor tells him it’s been 20 years. Almost halfway there. Soon, he will sleep again. Life becomes a dream of life, a summer afternoon with friends, just the way he remembers.

  7. ewansmithxxx says:

    @ewanandsmith
    360 words

    Macbeth In The Park

    “Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with the concept of a modern-day Macbeth. I’m just confused by some of the director’s ideas.”
    “It is a tale told by an idiot.”
    “Eh?”
    “Never mind him. When he’s memorising words, he only ever uses quotes from the piece he’s learning in his day-to-day life.”
    “That must make things a bit tricky.”
    “I dare do all that may become a man.”
    “Right…so the play is being performed here in the park?”
    “Yup. The director reckons that an outside setting will offer all kinds of opportunities.”
    “Such as?”
    “Well…”
    “Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him.”
    “There! Imagine it – an army disguised as trees appearing out of the trees? I’d pay good money to see that.”
    “Hmm. And we three are playing the witches?”
    “Yup.”
    “Even this doozy here?”
    “A poor player.”
    “Your words.”
    “Well Shakespeare’s actually…”
    “Screw your courage to the sticking place.”
    “Wo-wo-wo! What did you just say?”
    “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent.”
    “You keep your intent to yourself, bub.”
    “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”
    “And in court on a sexual harassment charge is not a place you want to be.”
    “I bear a charmed life.”
    “And I have the number of a very effective lawyer.”
    “Look – we’re getting distracted here. As I understand it, the lake is going to be our witches’ cauldron.”
    “The lake?”
    “Yup.”
    “And we get in there to do our speeches.”
    “You’re kidding! I’m not getting in that lake.”
    “…as ‘t were a careless trifle.”
    “Trifle, my butt. That lake is full of blue algae. Haven’t you seen the notices? You can get the worst diarrhoea from it.”
    “Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
    “That’s really not funny. Anyway, the water stinks. Smell that.”
    “Christ! All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”
    “Why can’t we just do the play straight? That guy behind us – I suppose he’s Macbeth is he and his camera’s…I dunno…like a symbol of his mono-thingy view of the future…”
    “Nah, he’s just some creepy guy in the park.”
    “Unsex me here!”

  8. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word count: 332

    Memories of generations

    Today I took a photo of my son and my grandchildren. It is the last photo I will take. As I sit here at the lake watching my grandchildren, I remember what it felt like to be that age. To be strong and virile. To have the whole world before you and be arrogant in your declarations of making a difference in the world. Not that I don’t think it can be done, but I laugh when I hear the conversations around me. It has more to do with testosterone than good will. I remember having boundless energy which I wasted doing everything and nothing. I remember falling in and out of love countless times. I believed that love would always find a way. For the most part it did.

    I watch my son taking photos of his children and I wonder if he too remembers the good old days. The times when we would go fishing together or build things for his mother on weekends. I wonder if he regrets all the hours spent at work when he could have spent them at home with his family. I used to think about those things when I was his age. Will he also get a fright when he realizes that he is now middle aged, and begin a fervent exercise routine in the hopes of turning back time?

    I have lived. Life did come with its turbulence to be sure, but it helped me see the good times. I don’t have regrets because I believe that those times where I should have felt shame for things I did and didn’t do, I learned valuable lessons. For that I am grateful. I made all the mistakes that my son is currently making and my grandchildren will make in the future. It is their path to take, after all. That’s just how life is supposed to be. I get to sit here, bask in the sunlight and just be. And that’s okay with me.

  9. zevonesque says:

    Should Have Used the Flash
    A.J. Walker

    Audrey woke before the alarm and checked the weather App: “Sunny 82F”. That was it. She text Ben and Dave. “Seen the forecast. Another Flash Friday guys?”

    Ben’s text came through straight away. “Ha! Great minds!!”

    Dave’s text came through ten minutes later. “Sorry guys. Was in the shower. Defo! Been an awful week in work. Petra being a right dick. Tell you later.”

    The plans for the 6th Flash Friday Unofficial Holiday went into full swing.

    Ben called HR. ‘Hi Sue, it’s Ben.’

    Sue knew what was coming. ‘Got a bit of a cough there, Ben. You up to coming in?’

    ‘Ha, funny you should say that. I’ve definitely caught something.’ He spluttered. ‘Think I picked it up at the baths last week. Been fighting it off all week. Seems I’ve finally succumbed.’

    ‘’Oh dear. You keep warm and get better. I’ll tell Mr Gellion you won’t be in today.’

    ‘Oh, okay. Thanks.’ Cough.

    Audrey and Dave took alternative routes to their managers. Then the day was theirs.

    First a late breakfast. Then a wander around the new exhibit at The National, before a burger and a few pints at O’Malley’s.

    ‘Fancy a film?’ Dave said.

    Audrey shook her head. ‘Too nice to be indoors. Let’s go to the park, get an ice cream.’

    Ben nodded. ‘I haven’t had one for ages.’

    ‘You had one the last Friday we ditched.’

    ‘Like I said. Ages.’

    ‘It was two weeks ago!’ said Dave.

    ‘Ages.’

    The three mates strolled under the lowering sun heading automatically to their three rocks on the eastern edge of the lake.

    ‘These days off are made all the nicer by us being all the naughtier,’ Audrey said.

    ‘Work’s a million miles away.’

    ‘Bloody hell, Dave. Don’t mention the “W” word!’ Ben said.

    Tim from accounts crouched behind them, composing the picture carefully. Petra would kill for this evidence.

    Later that evening he showed her the photos. Her shoulders sagged.

    ‘Bloody numpty. Silhouettes! Could be anybody.’

    ‘I’m sorry. I must have knocked the camera onto the wrong setting. It was into the sun.’

    ‘Numpty!’

    ‘I’ll get them the next sunny Friday. Promise.’

    ‘You’d better read the manual first.’

    —–
    WC: 360
    @zevonesque

  10. The 60-Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall
    _______________________________________

    The moment was caught and placed in a tiny zoo where is was kept and fed with just the proper amount of darkness and light while it hung behind the door next to her very pretty scarf. The moment didn’t make any sounds. It wasn’t even a memory, yet. It had not been born. It waited patiently to be released. A fetus ready to bloom into the delectable fragrance of an image flower.

    Because she was deaf her silence had the mark of lightning. It was deeper and more profound than just your run-of-the-mill silence. She could have sold her silence to monks so they could have perfect meditation. Bottled it for people with depression. But instead she became a photographer who specialized in taking photographs of other photographers. A way to bear her expression. Feel the subtle noise of intrusion.

    She would roam the city and find others taking pictures. The act of catching someone taking a photo lent a gravity to a scene that could normally be lacking. Like stealing from a thief. There was a wonderful justice to it. Something sweetly criminal. A beautiful infraction.

    She would sometimes go to the country. It was harder to find someone taking a picture there. But she was patient. Finding locations ripe for preservation with people hovering about. She felt like some sort of passive aggressive assassin. Waiting. In bushes. By water. Locked and loaded.

    She grabbed the camera by the scarf and took it to her basement where there was a darkroom. She went through the process and hung it on a line. The image was clear. Her home had dozens of framed photos of other photographers taking pictures, but this one was special. It was her baby. Once trapped inside with its water but now breathing. Still on its umbilical cord waiting to join the others on the garden wall decorated with breathing flora. A photo of a family she never knew. Brothers and a sister she had never really met. A father that was never there. The red light was beating with a 60-watt pulse that kept her hope alive. She heard crying coming from upstairs.

    359

  11. stephellis2013 says:

    Snap Harry

    359 words

    @el_Stevie

    Folks call me Snap Harry. I’ve been taking photos for years now, since time immemorial in fact; framing the subject, capturing their essence but only when I’m called mind you, when someone needs to be taken out of the picture. And today I have a feeling I will be in demand.

    ***

    Deb, Todd and me. That was the way it had always been. The three of us. But lately it had become Deb and Todd … and me. I had turned into the third wheel as we paddled in silence on the edge of Maiden’s Lake. Three little ducks bobbing through adolescence, swimming to the shore of adulthood, almost there – but not quite.

    “I wish we could capture this moment forever,” said Deb, fixing her gaze on Todd, ignoring me.

    He grinned and reached for his phone. It was dead. Deb reached for hers and then mine. The result was the same.

    “I really wanted a picture,” she said crestfallen. “One we can look back on and show our kids.” Again another adoring gaze at Todd.

    Jealousy burned inside. I wanted Todd out of the picture, NOW. Snap Harry’s booth caught my eye.

    “He could do it,” I said, pointing to his kiosk. “I’ll go and get him.”

    “No need,” said a voice from behind.

    We all jumped at his sudden appearance. Had he read my mind? I felt as if he had done so last time we met. No, he was probably just walking round the lake touting for business. Coincidence was all.

    He sat us on the rocks, muttering unintelligibly as he posed us. Click, click, click. No waiting. The pictures came out immediately. He handed the first one over. It showed just Deb and me, as it should be, as I wanted it to be; the other he slipped into his jacket. Deb and I walked off hand-in-hand. She had completely forgotten about Todd and her smiles were just for me.

    As the lake quietened and the day-trippers went home, a photo was taken from a pocket and stuck in an album. The picture was of a young man, captured on a perfect summer’s day.

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