Flash Frenzy Round 130

Posted: March 11, 2017 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Happy Saturday! Welcome to Flash Frenzy round 130. Our judge this weekend is 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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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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  1. Golden Daffodils
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    329 words

    I was living in Silvertown, London and often got free dinners at an establishment co-run by the disgraced Pelican, Baron Lugermeister.

    I’d been doing some business in Belzon near the border with Pelicano, when he was being exiled from Pelicano on a charge of grave-robbing. It was all bogus. He claimed the deceased had been buried wearing a watch the Baron had loaned him, and the Baron was just recovering it. An old mercenary friend, Jobby Dobbs and his brother, Squalid, soldiers of fortune in the Third Rifles Starmy, helped me get the Baron to London and this live-in job.

    He was a host of Golden Daffodils, this being the establishment I mentioned earlier. I ordered coiled slab and chatted with some performers, who were putting on greasepaint for their late show.

    Paulo, the chef said the coiled slab had finished, but he could probably put together some slab with coiling, which sounded a bit similar so I said, fine, Paulo, go away and return with my food urgently as I am hungrier than I should be.

    The Baron handed me a letter.

    “A letter,” I noted sarcastically. “Hand written, no hint of fragrance. Signature indistinct, could be Torn Shoulder. Why should I give a hoot?”

    “Read it, buffoon, or I will eat your slab and urinate on your coiling.” So I pretended to read with interest, while wondering where Paulo had got to with my food.

    Tom Shoulder, Pelicano Embassy in London, had written telling the Baron he can return to Pelicano any time as the “victim” had confessed. Also, Mr Shoulder and his business partner, Henry Stackpole Greenspoon (the new owners) write to inform the Baron that, effective immediately, he is no longer employed as a host of Golden Daffodils.

    “It’s a trap.” I said. “The victim was already dead. My friend, you must not go back.”

    “I agree,” said the Baron. “But come with me anyway. It’ll be fun.”

    “Fine,” I growled. “Let me call Jobby.”

  2. davidshakes says:

    War Games

    174 words
    @TheShakes72
    David Shakes

    Grease paint. War paint. The thousand yard stare. I’ve seen things, man. Look in my eyes -am I lying?

    The spoils of war. War spoils. There’s no more beauty for me. See that baby? Stifle its cries – they might get a fix on our position.

    They’ve found us- didn’t you hear that coded transmission? They’re ordering a clean up on isle twelve. That’s us man, it’s a seek and destroy.

    Split up. Rendezvous at the deli section. If I’m holding a wedge of cheddar, it’s safe. German salami? It’s over – save yourself.

    No, not frozen veg- that’s where they’ll be waiting you idiot? They’ll throw you in the hole until you’ve eaten all your cauliflower!

    Too late. They have you. I’m going to circle back via crisps and snacks – no chance of a patrol there…

    Damn.

    No Dad, it’s from the sample section.

    Yes Dad, I’ll wash it off before we get to the car.

    Sorry Dad. (Maybe next time you’ll leave us in the car to play on our tablets like we asked!)

  3. davidshakes says:

    Aisle 12 that should say

  4. Marked

    We can’t possibly miss them, her soot-streaked cheeks, as Jess shuffles into the kitchen the morning after the night before, though she is silent, chin tilted towards the floor, wispy brown hair partially covering one mark. No-one else will either; which is the problem.

    “Such a stupid girl!” Mum scolds, eyes turning away from Jess’s face after a sharp glance. She knows how and by whom she was Marked without asking. “You couldn’t be careful? Didn’t we teach you better?”

    Jess rolls her eyes. “It wasn’t like that. He told me. First. Our decision. He’s not That Guy.” She pauses. “It’s not his fault.”

    “Isn’t it?” Mum asks. “He did it regardless, didn’t he?”

    Jess shrugs. “We were careful. And it doesn’t always happen. Not the first time.”

    “Except it did,” Mum counters. “And you won’t get anyone to take them. Not when they’re right there, in the open. No chance to pass them on either,” Mum points disparagingly at the black stains across Jess’s pale cheeks. One thick black line across each. “And you don’t have long.” She raises two fingers on her right hand, holding them out towards my sister.

    “Then I’ll have to live with it, won’t I?” Jess snaps, before the words falter and fail on their own bravery. “Besides, I won’t do it that way. My choice.” Her eyes search for Mum’s, though Mum won’t meet their aqua appeal halfway.

    “Or we will,” Mum says. Only I can see her eyes swim as they turn away. “Such a silly girl.”

    “Plenty of kids at school are Marked!” Jess retorts. “Whether it’s out there – visible – or not. Some got bumped, too, you know. No choice at all. One touch and – done. If it was going to happen anyway, I’d rather have it this way.” Her voice tails off.

    Mum huffs and stalks through the open doorway without answering.

    I reach out towards Jess before I’ve even thought about it. “She’ll come round,” I say.

    Jess moves further away from me swiftly. “No chance, Ambs,” she says. “She needs you. Someone’s got to try and stay Safe. I just had to live. Before. You know?”

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      I like the certainty / uncertainty of this. I think I know what it’s about; on the other hand, I think it might be about something else altogether. And Jess’s bravery is a very attractive quality.

    • KM Zafari says:

      This really hints at a bigger world. I’d be curious to see what else is part of it.

  5. @firdausp
    (248 words)

    Eyes

    If there was ever a cocktail of emotions, it was in his ever staring eyes. Anger, surprise and terror stirred into an unusual glare. Or maybe I was the only one who saw it.

    Sometimes though, when the light from the window slanted at the right angle and hit the bottle, I saw a little mirth in their black depths.

    When I told my sister about it, she looked at me, her eyes squinting in that all familiar way, as if I was stupid.

    “Your fetish with eyes is going to be the death of you, my dear,” she mumbled while lighting a cigarette between her lips.

    The first time I met him, I loved his eyes. Dark and mysterious, with thick eyelashes. A little war paint on his cheeks and he could pass off as an exotic dancer. The rest of him was as dowdy and plain as a dull day after an exciting weekend. He wore his nondescript clothes like he’d slept in them.

    We needed a receptionist, urgently, for a couple of weeks; just to answer calls and take down messages. The nature of our business leaned towards the not so straight and narrow, but a slippery path, straight to the slammer, if we were found out. I thought, what could possibly go wrong with him behind the receptionist’s desk for two weeks.

    One day, I found him in my office, rummaging through my drawers. That’s when I decided, he needed to go.

    I watched him, a little sad, as he went slowly to the bottom of the river, the pull of the large rock dragging him in.

    My sister looked at the bloody bottle in my hand, with the eyeballs I’d scooped out. Shaking her head she lit a cigarette with trembling hands. She was getting old, but her eyes still held that sparkle, I observed with delight. Hazel with a dash of green, a colour I had yet to add to my collection.

    “You need to put them in formaldehyde,” she said, walking back to our car.

    As if I didn’t know.

  6. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word count: 360

    A sword in the hand

    When I saw the sword, a shimmer danced down the blade. “Teachers open the doors but you must enter by yourself,” Grandfather said, beckoning me in with his gnarly hand. He was very old but his eyes told a different story. They shone with youthfulness. He placed the sword in my hand. Had this Dao ever been used? Grandfather nodded. It felt heavy and burdened with many a tale.

    “A long time ago, I was the son of Cheng Xue a great warrior. We lived in a village called Banpo in X’ian. My father was the leader of his village. I was just ten years old when a plague unknown to anyone struck my father down and he died. The people wailed and mourned for many moons before my mother was approached to see about my training.”

    “I was sent to Hung Jin, my father’s commander and the best fighter that ever lived. He began to teach me the ways of the warrior. I practiced day and night, sometimes under Hung’s instruction and sometimes on my own. I grew fond of Hung. His gentleness came from his abruptness and we understood one another.”

    “When I was sixteen and the lotus began to bloom, Hung came to me and said, “We need to leave. They attacked the village of your father”, he said. “They were looking for you.”

    “I am not going,” I said. “I will stay and fight. “

    “I packed my things into a bag and marked my face in the way of the warrior. I walked down into my village. Rain poured down in silver sheets and mist descended like a shroud. I could hear the blood rushing in my veins and my breath was short and sharp. My mind was still. Small mounds of freshly turned soil were the only evidence that people had once resided here. The smell of smoke hung in the air as if trying to claw its way into the atmosphere. Hung must have buried the bodies of my people. One mound was separate from the rest. My mother’s grave. I sat there quietly and waited. This is where my attackers found me.”

  7. ewansmithxxx says:

    @ewanandsmith
    360 words

    The Confusing Nature Of Student Life

    “Shall we have some wine?” suggested Rory.
    “Great!” retorted Ailsa. She felt her Mum glance at her in surprise. Ailsa hadn’t drunk alcohol when she’d lived at home.
    “A bottle of house white please.”
    To Ailsa’s relief, things were going reasonably well. She’d only been at university two months. Now here was Mum visiting for the first time and already she had a boyfriend to introduce. It was really quite exciting. A tinge of pink coloured her cheeks as she thought of just how exciting it was at times.
    “Ailsa, could you show me the Ladies?”
    “It’s just past the bar.”
    “Show me please,” her Mum said firmly.
    “Rory will think you’re wanting to talk about him, Mum,” she hissed as they entered the toilets.
    “I am wanting to talk about him. Why is your boyfriend wearing black make-up under his eyes?”
    Ailsa sighed. That was one of the confusing things about student life. People dressed so strangely. They wore pyjamas to lectures, did extraordinary things to their hair and had piercings in the most unlikely places. “I’m not sure,” she muttered.
    “He’s your boyfriend. It sounds as if you hardly know him.”
    Ailsa flushed as she thought of just how well she knew him. “We’d better get back.”
    In fact, the meal went well. Rory was easy-going and Ailsa could feel her Mum warming to him.
    They said their goodbyes outside. Ailsa and her Mum took a taxi to the hotel and arranged to meet again for breakfast. As Ailsa left, her phone started ringing. It was Rory. “You could have told me about the eye-black! I put it on for lacrosse this afternoon and completely forgot about it. What must your Mum think?”
    “I’m sure she didn’t mind. And I…I quite liked it.”
    “Really?” grinned Rory. “I’ll keep wearing it then. Are you coming round?”
    “On my way.”
    When Rory answered the door, Ailsa shrieked. “What’s the matter? I said I’d still be wearing the eye-black.”
    “You didn’t say that was all you would be wearing!”
    Ailsa hurriedly closed the door and did her girl-guide best to cover Rory’s nakedness. Student life really was very confusing at times.

    • Loved your sweet story. Meeting your daughter’s boyfriend or introducing your boyfriend to your mother-not exciting. Haha it’s the worst. Lol. You did get it absolutely right. 🙂

      • ewansmithxxx says:

        Thanks, Firdaus. I struggled a bit to come up with an idea for this one but then (in the way it sometimes does) the story just popped into my head out of nowhere.

    • Nicola Tapson says:

      I loved the story. I could really visualise the whole scene. And I got a fright just as Alisa did at the end 🙂

    • Angelique Pacheco says:

      Hahaha! This was great. You made the reader feel like they were there. 😁

  8. Garden Party

    He’s supposed to be dead but he’s staring at me. It’s dark and everyone else is inside. I’d better finish him off. I pick up the half-brick again, steel myself and smash his head in.
    Crack.
    Crunch.
    Shudder.
    He goes to grab my shoulders like before. His hands were everywhere. I kept saying no. I told him to get off me. I scratched his face and punched him. No way was he doing to me what he did to my sister.
    His grip soon diminishes, his hands are still at last. He falls backwards onto the grass. He’s no longer staring. His eyes have rolled back and blood’s gushing from the wound. I want to watch the rivulets of blood running down his neck and onto the grass. So I remember. So I’m sure.
    His kilt is still up around his waist, the sporran skewiff. No idea where the orange wig and tartan cap are. And I thought he couldn’t look more absurd than he did when he arrived with his cans of beer an hour previously. Walking in all cocky like he owned the place. I hate him so much.
    Hated him.
    I pull my robes back round me. They’re torn and covered in mud and grass stains. My crown has rolled off into a flower bed. The bead necklace is broken, silver beads scattered across the grass. My sister bought me that. I retrieve the crown and jam it back onto my head. He messed my hair up. It took ages.
    I’m still a queen.
    As I walk away I glance back at his bulk, a dark shape on the grass. One last look back. At the body. Cos that’s what he is now. I go inside to find my bag and phone.
    Maybe this was a mistake. How am I going to look after my sister and her son now? She went through hell last year. She got depressed. She went crazy. She nearly died. Came out of it though. And my nephew’s a lovely boy despite being his son.
    That’s the last fancy dress party I go to.
    I don’t suppose they have them in prison.

    @SalnPage
    #FlashDog
    360 words

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      Hmm, no – I think they have different sorts of parties there. Now that’s the sort of first sentence that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. Super story, Sal. (Sal, it was a compliment…put down the brick, Sal…Sal, think what you’re doing…Sal…Saaaaaaallllll………………………………………)

    • stellakatet says:

      Great story Sal. I was on the edge of my seat reading it. Great pace. Loved the line ‘I’m still a queen’ She certainly is!

    • KM Zafari says:

      “And my nephew’s a lovely boy despite being his son.” Love it. But I think she has a good self-defense claim!

  9. Nicola Tapson says:

    Captured

    His eyes darted around the room. Everything looked normal. He would get his winter supplies and then head back. His home was in the jungle. Many people had thought it impenetrable but he had a neatly mapped out path which lead him straight to his home. He knew how the trip switch worked and disarmed it. Did they never think to put in new technology, pondered Ralph. As he packed his bag full of perishables. He grabbed a fresh apple out of the basket and sauntered out the backdoor. He was ready for winter. As he opened the door. A light flashed in his eyes. He dropped the bag and galloped toward the jungle but he landed flat on his face. Damn, trip wire. The body behind the light landed on top of him. Ralph was almost crushed. He flailed but the officer tightened his arms in a iron grip. His hermit life was over.

    He sat in the cage. Wary, the bright light burnt his eyes, but he wasn’t allowed to close them. They had to examine him. He had dark rings below his eyes. They pelted him with questions. He was done. This is why he had gone into the forest. Humans asked too many questions.

    Word count: 208
    @InquisiHedgehog

  10. Frank Key says:

    Those Eyes
    by Frank Key
    360 words
    @Frankdaad

    “Those eyes do not tell a story; they hide a story waiting to be told. I don’t know what story resides inside the brain connected to those eyeballs. I can pretend, maybe even make a vaguely intelligent guess, but truth is, well, as writers, essayists, editors, and publishers, you know those truths much better than I. Thank you for your time and attention.”

    Lackluster applause emerged from the attendees at the annual university sports writers’ banquet. More was expected from the renowned philosopher and atheist apologist than a summation of “I don’t know”.

    Marcus Aiken, the freshman athlete whose supposedly inspiring picture had been projected on the 120 inch screen on the wall, applauded louder than the majority of his peers. “Damn straight, you don’t know what dark secrets hide behind these because if you did…”

    The sentence remained unfinished as his girlfriend punched him in the arm. “Marc, Shush. What did you say?”

    “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was speaking out loud. I said, ‘Praise the Lord, for this man’s honesty’.”

    “Hmm. Okay. If you say so but those words didn’t quite match the sounds coming from your lips.”

    He shrugged. “Whatever. I’m going to join the guys for beers. You going back to Delta house?”

    “Sure. I guess. If you’re hanging with them instead of me. Just…”

    He glared down at her petite face: “Just, what? Don’t get arrested like last time? Don’t call your daddy for bail and hush money” but, instead, he said aloud, “Fine. Whatever.”

    Obviously irked at this outcome, she spun on her heels and hurriedly left the room. The anger visible in the young lady’s eyes told more of a story than she probably wished, one that eluded the eyes of her famous boyfriend.

    ‘If only he wasn’t so good looking, I’d ditch his ass. But he’s my ticket to fame and I’d be a fool to sell it.’

    An unexpected feeling of regret welled up inside Marcus Aiken. He started for his fleeing girlfriend then paused.

    ‘If only she wasn’t so good looking, I’d ditch her ass. But she’s my ticket to fame and I’d be a fool to sell it.’

    End

  11. The Poet Brigade and the Elixir of Truth
    _______________________________________

    Ms. Joan Smiley Williams ran a small house for boys. This rural testament to American compassion and business sense was funded by the state of Alabama. She used the small state subsidy to make regular meals, buy clothes for her boys, and general upkeep. The home was grand, an original Victorian held over from an age of show but of little tell. It’s bone white paint and golden trim gave a perfume of opulence to a once thriving town.

    Ms. Williams was an aspiring poet and painter and she gave classes for the boys and locals every Sunday at 12 noon sharp. People listened as she gave a history lesson on the great poets and when she brought out reproductions of Caravaggio for everyone to see religion in the light of simple people carved by a rebel artist. The church bells rang down the street as she pointed to a prostitute that was a model for a dead Mary. Everyone gasped at the image that draped itself unsteadily on their unbroken vision.

    When Ms. Williams found out that newly elected Trump was going to end the NEA—she was infuriated. There was going to be a protest of poets at the Trump Tower in NYC and that would be her opportunity. She would put war paint on her boys and arm them with copies of Keats and Elizabeth Bishop. An army of light she thought as her blackened finger traced the cheek of an innocent youth.

    Her troops were ready. Some carrying Shakespeare, others photos of lost parents. They loaded on a bus and started their journey to a far away place. A place where verse would make a stand. As the bus made its way out of town she could see them staring out of the small windows with their faces painted with a perfect beauty of an undefeatable image transcribed on lines of road that eyes followed to an unmistakable conclusion. The sun loaded the sky with a dream of feathered bullets bleached with an unfettered pride. And Mary sat next to them with a painted brush and the elixir of truth opening fire on a glorious day.

    360

  12. stellakatet says:

    @stellakateT
    165 words

    Camouflage

    Grimy dirt smeared on his face nearly sent me into spasms of uncontrollable laughter. I knew I was on the verge of hysteria. It had happened before. The eyes stopped me. Ice-blue cold. Was he preparing for a Mud-Run, getting dirty before the event? I wanted to speak but my mouth was as dry as a pot of congealed rice. I took a step back hoping he would see it as a million mile gap. Too wide to traverse.

    He caught my hand in his. Tight like a vice. I winced. He held it tighter. I realised in that moment that the danger was not in him but me. Last week I’d have followed him to the ends of the world today he would know the real me. It had been so simple. Told him my secret fantasy and he’d applied the mud with gusto. The police would see the knife in his chest, me in shock and come to a conclusion. It was easy.

  13. KM Zafari says:

    Homecoming
    360 words
    @thebatinthehat

    The eyes staring at me from the photo mirror my own; aside from a smear of black paint, they are identical to mine. “I didn’t know Dad played football.”

    “Toss it,” my sister says, after a cursory glance. She is the less sentimental of us two. “His pension barely covers what Medicare won’t, let alone a storage facility to house all his junk.”

    “This isn’t junk,” I say. “These are memories.” I turn back to the box of photos, trying to pretend we aren’t deciding the importance of a man’s entire existence.

    But here it is, a life in pictures. Star athlete. Prom king. High school graduate.

    This is a man I never knew.

    “He won’t even remember any of it, Jace.” Denise softens. “I don’t mean to sound cold, but pictures are meant to remind us of of things. And he’s just too far gone.”

    I pick up another photo and slink to the floor.

    Soldier.

    These were the eyes that I remembered. The ones from after the war, whose stare was cold, unfeeling – a wall between who he’d been and who he’d been forced to become in the depths of a jungle far from home.

    This whole time, I’d thought it was me. That I just wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I understand – he saw in me a future he’d lost long ago.

    I pick up the box of photos and carry them out to my car, then sit behind the wheel and stare at the carefree eyes of the star athlete, the eyes that had not yet seen. And he is no longer my drunk, angry father, but a man.

    I peel out of the driveway. Denise runs after me, but I don’t hear her shouting, don’t care.

    “Hi, Pop.”

    He’d changed a lot in twenty years. Feeble, frail. His hands shake as he reaches up and cradles my face. “My boy,” he says. “My boy.” Tears fill his wrinkled, innocent eyes.

    “Look what I found,” I say, showing him the picture of the man I want to know. “You never told me you played football.”

    I’ll take the remaining pictures home. Some things are better left forgotten.

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