Flash Frenzy Round 131

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

Happy Saturday! Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 131. Our judge this week is Sal Page.

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. Strange Band
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    353 words

    The farmers’ wife has been milking again, Cold hands, cold hands. I said the farmers’ wife she’s been milking again, Cold hands, cold hands.
    Cold hands, cold hands, cold hands, cold hands.
    Well, the farmers’ wife may be coming around,
    But she can only stay,
    For a couple of days.
    Cold hands, cold hands, cold hands, cold hands.

    (Repeat forever or until fight breaks out, sometimes even repeat while fight is ongoing).

    (Written for percussion and chaos by The Strange Band).

    We were called Strange Band. We gigged around Silvertown, Limehouse, Whitechapel, mainly. Once we did the wedding of a mate out in Walthamstow somewhere. Originally the above nonsense was written to introduce a bit of chaos into our set but it became our most popular. Once, the management of some club asked us to keep playing as the drink sales were getting very healthy but we’d actually run out of songs that we knew how to play so we managed to drag Cold Hands out for nearly half an hour.

    Cold Hands fitted any eventuality, even one where our vocalist, Henry Cody, had to leave the gig before the end to get to the airport. Percussion and chaos seamlessly took over as Henry headed off for his “once-in-a-lifetime” holiday in Lost Vegas, meeting his Dad for the first time since his Dad had moved out of the family home 15 years ago. His Dad worked out there and had sent the ticket for Henry to go and see him.

    “Never again,” muttered Henry when he got home, dreadlocked and jetlagged. We actually thought “once-in-a-lifetime” meant “never again” but, anyway, clearly the family reunion wasn’t up to much.

    Our favourite gigs were always at the local community centre which also had a 5-a-side football pitch, where we used to play every Wednesday. It may have been a rat hole, but it was our rat hole. We knew by name everyone who came there to watch The Strange Band. We were gutted when it was gutted and completely renovated into the Statellite Club, a well-upmarket jazz club. More about that place in others stories.

  2. zevonesque says:

    We Believed
    A.J. Walker

    Clive was dangerous. He knew it; thrived on it.

    ‘Believe. And we can do anything.’ His mantra.

    ‘We believe. We believe!’

    His hand raised mid speech. ‘Anything folks. We can and we will succeed.’

    Electricity buzzed through the packed hall, the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. I looked at the faces around me, all blushed by adrenaline and shouting.

    ‘We believe.’

    And I did. Clive gave us this. His was a blessed infection which we flocked to receive. Putty in his hands; the master salesman.

    Hours afterwards I’d stood a full foot taller, I swear. My chest pumped out, my posture perfect and confident. His was a magic and I’d been under his spell.

    In Lord’s Cafe I sat with Kate and Emma. They looked at me as if I was something new.

    ‘What did he say? Emma asked.

    ‘Who was there? How did you get in? The queues were too frightening to even contemplate,’ said Kate.

    I smiled knowingly. ‘I was with mum. You know she’s with a cane now? We were bumped to the front. If she hadn’t had it we wouldn’t have got in. She couldn’t have stood much longer. Nor I.’

    Kate nodded. ‘Nice!’

    ‘He was incredible. You know like he is on TV? Well, he’s like that but more. So much more. Look at my arms, the hairs are still standing up and it was hours ago.’

    ‘It’s like you really have been blessed,’ Emma cooed.

    ‘Dad says he a fraud. Selling hope to the masses. Says the last thing we need is hope, we’re better off without it,’ said Kate.

    ‘He’s always cheerful your dad,’ said Emma. ‘But you have been blessed haven’t you, Sarah?’

    ‘I thought so. I really did.’ I heard the tiredness in my own voice.

    ‘Oh no. But you don’t now?’

    ‘I’m not sure. I’m really not. “I believe” I shouted. With everyone. But what? What is it we’re supposed to believe in? I’m just not sure… it was like a great gig. But now I’m just left cold.”

    The three women sat back. Depressed and tired.

    Kate looked to the waitress. ‘Cake. Bring us cake!

    —-
    WC 360
    @zevonesque

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Selling false hope is something I hate, I feel so sorry for those women – although if it had been me I would be reaching for the wine bottle rather than cake 🙂

    • Wonderful! ‘A blessed infection…’ great idea. I didn’t see this as false hope, but more a hope that has no focus…a huge reaction instead of a refined power source. Perhaps more wasted than false! Think this is more sad because of it…can feel the desperation of trying to hold something that hot and powerful in your hands and seeing it run through your fingers.

  3. stephellis2013 says:

    Penance

    358 words
    @el_Stevie

    A hand can signify so much: a loving touch, a safe anchor, a friend. His hand was none of these. His hand was a map of pain raised against the world.

    The Selector scanned the fleshy palm scarred with broken lines, a future going off at a tangent, a break claimed by death. How far along that road was he already? It didn’t really matter, they needed a sacrificial lamb, someone to carry their message, their plea for help. Would anybody listen? Was there anybody out there? It was unlikely but they had to try. This was a one-way journey into the unknown.

    And still he kept his hand in the air whilst all around him others were lowered. Soon his was the only one left; an unfurled flag ready to be planted on alien shores.

    He was chosen as he knew he would be. Showed no emotion as they told him how long his rations would last, oxygen, water. Remained impassive as he was given a small capsule. Its contents would ensure a quick death.

    They suited him up. Took him to the launch pad. The remaining survivors waved and cheered him. There was no family, no loved ones. She wasn’t there. Not any more.

    Then he was in the small craft. It had been prepared for the mission some time ago, merely waited on a pilot. Now the countdown could begin.

    Ten

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “No one. There is no one.”

    Iron hand.

    Nine

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “No one, I said.”

    Steel hand.

    Eight

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “I told you, please … don’t …”

    Leaden hand.

    Seven

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “No …”

    Hand grabbing.

    Six

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “You’re hurting me.”

    Hand grasping.

    Five

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. “Please … no …”

    Hand gripping

    Four

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. Sobbing.

    Hand pressing.

    Three

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. Groaning.

    Hand squeezing.

    Two

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. Choking.

    Hand smothering.

    One

    Him. “Who is he?”
    Her. Silence.

    He pressed the ignition and the capsule blasted out into the endless night. His penance had begun.

  4. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    337 words

    Alexander Thompson Jr.

    ‘My name is Alexander Thompson.

    Six months ago, my only son, Alexander Jr., five years old, was killed by a drunk driver.

    I stand before this DADD group today knowing that while I will never hear my son’s voice again, while I will never feel his small hand in mind as we head to the ball game, while his mother will never recover her smile, while our marriage dies slowly now, I am determined to make a difference.

    His Mama, Grammy and Gramps, Nonna and Nonno are, like me – broken, shattered to tiny pieces of heart-breaking sorrow about which I can do nothing. Our family has been torn apart by a singular selfish act of recklessness.

    I cannot bring Alex back but I can try to make sure my boy’s voice is heard. I know his death is not going to be the last. I will be damned if I don’t at least try to make Alex’s short beautiful life and his horrible death matter.

    My friends, if you saw my boy, mutilated, lying in the road, his legs and arms horribly twisted beneath him, you would never ever drink and drive again. The image would haunt you forever.

    Last year, Alex ‘graduated’ from kindergarten, ready for big school. The paper mortar board he wore proudly over his wide smile and bright eyes as he marched down the community school aisle was preparation for his high-school graduation in ten years’ time. Ten years that were stolen from him, as his life was. Stolen from us, from the world. He was a bright boy. He was going places.

    This DADD group is small now – just fifty or so of us here tonight. Thank you for coming. I will ensure the growth of our campaign and the spread of our message, until the day I die.

    My name is Alexander Thompson. I am a father. I will always be a father. This crusade is for you, Alex. I love you, my little man. I will always love you.’

  5. Frank Key says:

    The Stranger’s Voice
    by Frank Key
    359 words
    @Frankdaad

    “I was a stranger and you took me in when some advised you to reject my request to enlist. Your history of internal harmony belied a tendency towards aggressive action against injustice and tyranny. My voice – gravely, coarse, tobacco abused – found sympathetic ears when first I stood to express my opinion on our many divisive community issues.”

    “I was a stranger and you gave me a name.
    I was a stranger and you gave me a home.
    I was a stranger and you filled my belly.
    I was a stranger and you let make you laugh.
    I was a stranger and you hid me from authorities.
    I was a stranger and you made me known and call me friend.
    I was a stranger and you helped me be proud of the color of my skin.
    I was a stranger and now I beg of you not to force me to become a stranger again.”

    The chairwoman’s attempt to grab the mic was brusquely repulsed. “Jerry, hand me the microphone, please, others want to speak.”

    His grip on the device tightened, “But I’m not finished.”

    “That may be true, but we’re done listening. Hand me the mic.”

    Tears welled up in the lonely man’s eyes; many life lessons yet to be learned. He placed the mic in her right hand. Grateful the awkward exchange ended peacefully, with her left hand, she reached up and gave him a gentle touch on the cheek.

    Then as one the sparse crowd gathered in the community center gym rose from their seats and began to sing:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR JERRY,
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.

    A sudden realization struck him like a ton of bricks dropped from a tall city crane, as much as he liked listening to the sound of his own voice, the unified sound from others, he liked even more.

    The clamor from the doorway was impossible to ignore. A squad of ICE agents assumed control. The leader glanced over at his confidential informer. But before she could point, a male voice was heard. His hand raised, Jerry spoke, “It’s me you’re looking for.”

    ~~~

  6. ewansmithxxx says:

    @ewanandsmith
    360 words

    Bernard’s Brilliant Ideas

    Florence clapped her hands and a hush fell over the packed staffroom. “Twenty minutes ago, we received the call. An inspection team will be here first thing tomorrow morning to inspect Tratton Primary School.” Florence raised a hand to silence the excited buzz. “We’ve been preparing for this day for months. I think we’re ready. But are there any last-minute suggestions?”
    A hand was tentatively raised. “Bernard?”
    “It’s just an idea…”
    Florence smiled. “This school is built on the good ideas of its staff.”
    “The inspection team must be staying locally. If we could find out their hotel then maybe someone could turn up there tonight and…well, if we could get some photos of the lead inspector in a compromising position…”
    A profound silence fell over the room. “Who are you thinking of, Bernard?” a trainee sniggered after a moment.
    “Perhaps Miss Unwin might…”
    “What!?! I’m not ****ing a school inspector!”
    “You’ve done worse, Deirdrie.”
    “That true…”
    “Enough!” said Florence, anger sharpening her voice. “An interesting suggestion, Bernard, but not one that’s going to happen.”
    “I did have another idea.”
    Florence stifled her irritation. “Yes?”
    “”If we got a Time-Turner then, at the end of the inspection, we could go back in time and correct any mistakes that…”
    “A Time-Turner?”
    “You mean like in Harry Potter?”
    “They sell them at the Harry Potter Experience. Admittedly they’re expensive but…”
    “Bernard!” Florence’s voice had become chillingly cold. “No one is visiting the inspectors’ hotel and we are not buying a Time-Turner. Now unless there’s anything else?”
    “Well you know in Mission Impossible how people disguise themselves with other people’s faces? How about if, every time an inspector goes into a class, it’s filled with members of staff disguised as children then…”
    But Florence had already left the room.

    The next morning, Florence and the entire management team strode into the staff room together. “Your attention,” called Florence furiously. “Just one question. Was anyone here involved in last night’s kidnap and disappearance of the entire inspection team?”
    A deep silence enveloped the room. Then one hand raised itself tentatively. “That would be me,” said Bernard uncertainly. “Was it not a good idea?”

  7. Mark A. King says:

    The First

    @making_fiction

    298 words

    Danny Kingston, veteran football player.

    Danny Kingston, captain and leader.

    They talk of the pitch as war, Danny would no doubt have been the first over the trench wall in the quagmire razor-strewn fields of old.

    It was his last year. He was, as the saying went, hanging up his boots. He thought about his boots, most expensive money could buy, proudly donated to him by his beaming corporate sponsors.

    When he started as a kid, he remembered cleaning the boots of the pros.

    He remembered the racial abuse from the stands. Not always, mostly on away trips, when the opposition fans thought that chants, gestures and taunts would throw him off his game. It never did, he used it like Popeye used spinach. He became immense, a beast of the pitch. It was the best way to silence them.

    At the Professional Football Association gala dinner, they were handing out the awards.

    In his right hand, he clutched the equivalent of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    They were talking about homophobia.

    He remembered those chants too. Never aimed at him, but at the managers and the players that didn’t fit the mould.

    He never stood up and defended them. He knew most were not gay, but they took the abuse with grace and resigned acceptance that to challenge the baying hoards was futile.

    They said it would be a few years before anyone came out, whatever the hell that meant. It implied it was something different or shameful.

    Death threats, even in 2017. They said that 92% would be supportive. He was thankful for the change in attitudes. But that still left the other 8%. Their foaming rabid intolerance visible in their ripped season tickets.

    He grabbed the microphone.

    He threw his award to the floor.

    The crowd went silent.

    He raised his hand and stood.

  8. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word count: 178

    Glory song

    He sings for freedom. He sings for hope. He sings to stay warm at night. The rhythmic stamping of feet rises to a crescendo and only the earth beneath his feet hears. He sings when he is joyful. He sings when he mourns the passing of a loved one. Music cries a rain of tears into the earth. He sings to tell the stories of his people. He uses singing to teach. He is the tribe’s imbongi, the one who sings to the chief. David used to sing to Saul. Music is the basic form of speaking. It has emotion and power. He sings for his human rights, but the government turns a deaf ear. Still he sings. It lifts his spirit and wraps him in love. Music frees his soul and his body. His hips begin to sway and his arms extend outwards, inviting the world in. Music captivates the children like the pied piper once did. Melodies charm young nubile women romancing them with lyrics. He sings to heal his heart and mind. Always, he sings.

  9. Voima Oy says:

    One Day the Muse Spoke to Him
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    One day the muse spoke to him. It was a Friday morning, and Jaron Baker was driving the #157 bus past the Criminal Courts building when he saw her standing at the bus stop.

    The muse was an old lady in a tweed overcoat. She was wearing a blue hat with a bluebird perched on the brim.

    “Thank you,” she said when Jaron opened the door. She handed him her bus pass.

    “Have a seat, ma’am,” he said. The bus was not crowded, because most of the passengers had gotten off at the courthouse. There were some kids joking in the back. She took a seat right in the front, across from him.

    “Are you going downtown,” she said.

    “Yes, Ma’am, all the way down Broadway.”

    He stopped at the high school, and the kids got off. Now the bus was empty.

    “Jaron,” she said. “Is this what you want to do with the rest of your life?”

    “What are you talking about? he said. In a way, she reminded him of his grandmother. He shrugged. “Why not?”

    “Listen, Jaron,” the lady said, “What about your poetry. The stories you used to tell. Have you forgotten?”

    He slowed down at Cumberland, by the train station. At this hour it was crowded with commuters, but today there was no one waiting.

    “Nothing’s wrong,” the lady said. “I’m just working a little magic. Here, this is for you.” She handed Jaron a flyer–‘Friday Night! Open Mic at the Aragon Ballroom–Calling all Comics, Poets, and Storytellers–We want you!’ “Yes, you, Jaron Baker, ” she said. “You with your poems about pigeons and skinny kids. You with your stop and go stories. I want to see you there, tonight. Promise me.”

    She seemed so much larger and imposing. Didn’t his grandmother have a hat like that? This lady was starting to scare him.

    “Okay, okay, whatever you say.”

    “Good. I’ll get off, here, thank you.” She waved and vanished in the crowd waiting at the Cumberland station.

    “So, that’s why I’m here,tonight,” he said, looking out at all the faces in the Aragon Ballroom. And there she was, in a front row seat, applauding.

  10. TanGental says:

    Things Can Only Get Better
    37 words @geofflepard
    George found eye contact difficult. He’d read somewhere that you could only really make eye contact with five people a day before you frazzled your brain so he was sparing with his gaze. Some people thought him odd, others shy and a few just guilty.
    The biggest problem though was Reggie. George loved Reggie. Not that he could ever tell him. After all Reggie was The Man. Reggie held rooms of people in the palm of his hand. He commanded attention. Once, George had been caught out staring, when Reggie spun round and grabbed his gaze. It was like a lock had formed before Reggie let him go.
    No one knew of George’s infatuation, beyond his sister Pelly. She teased him but took him to shows where George hid in the shadows and soaked up every smooth gesture, every silky vowel as Reggie bestowed heaven on his audience. He ached for the next time while dreading its arrival. At the end, when Reggie held up a hand like a blessing, it was another small death.
    ‘I got tickets!’ Pelly squealed. ‘For your birthday too. A treat.’
    George grimaced. ‘A treat?’
    ‘Front row centre.’
    George’s heart felt like it would give out. ‘No no no. No I just can’t..’
    Pelly squeezed his hand. ‘Silly. Back right.’
    George sunk in his seat as the people around him stamped, demanding more. It had been perfect. All his favourites, with Reggie in that wonderful suit.
    ‘And now,’ intoned Reggie, ‘I must go.’
    George closed his eyes. This time he would surely die.
    ‘But first…’
    This wasn’t right. George opened his eyes, blinking into a spotlight. What was happening?
    ‘… there’s a special person I want you to meet’
    The light dimmed; George’s gaze was fully on Reggie – and Reggie’s on George.
    ‘George.’ Reggie’s stare pulled George onto the stage. His head spun; the crowd sung happy birthday. Unknowingly he met their stares – friendly, loving, empathetic faces. He even let Reggie drape an arm around his shoulders.
    Reggie eased him towards the steps and Pelly. ‘Nothing could be better,’ George whispered.
    Reggie grinned. ‘Come to my dressing room.’
    Maybe, thought George, it could.

  11. Sian Brighal
    355 Words

    Can’t Hear Ourselves Think

    This photograph is dangerous. No doubt when I’m gone and my children go through my estate, they’ll wonder why I dared to possess such a…seditious image. After the Standardising Reformation, no one speaks of…divisions or differences. The Last War of 2063 changed more than the planet’s features. We’re rendered just as formless, our distinctiveness obliterated, our differences bombed out, but we’re taught that it was a necessity: an evolution in our perception. History began one hundred and seventy-four years, five months and four days ago. Before that is best forgotten…forbidden.

    It was handed down to me from my grandmother, who said it had been given to her, but for what purpose, I’ll never know. I think those eyes—so like a crucible for refined anger—must have spoken out across the centuries; that raised, adamant and powerful arm a demand for attention, securing it as one image amongst thousands that was worthy of saving from the cleansing repentant fires.

    There’s a handwritten note on the reverse: Did you hope we’d lose our voice?

    Eighteen months in a detention centre at the age of twelve for the crime of searching GlobalNet for ‘black person’ disabused me quite effectively of the hope of ever being able to answer the question, but my head is still my own, and I sometimes dare to ponder. I do not like the direction of my thoughts: what do they mean by ‘voice’? And did we lose it?

    Was it sacrificed or stolen?

    I can’t answer this last question, but I have written it on the back, just under the faded message from those dark ages. Mine is a degradation compared to theirs, but it’s been a long time since I was a child, drawing pictures in sand with a stick, and I’m out of practice. It’s all I can do…all I dare to do. I like to think I’ve seeded a whisper that will bloom into something…something that will snatch our breath and render us speechless for the right reasons.

    My screen chirps at me: another notification added to the thirty-two already pending. I can’t help but grin ruefully: we’re louder than ever.

  12. […] This was written for the Flash Frenzy prompt 131 here […]

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