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

Please accept my apologies for the missing winner’s post this week. Some unexpected events popped up and one of the casualties has been the Angry Hourglass. I plan to do a double winner’s post as well as double up on the HumpDay Quickie next week, but in the meantime, since I neglected to rescue one of last week’s entries from the spam goblins in time to be judged, here’s a bonus story to tide you over until this weekend.


A Personal Challenge

by Stella Turner

It’s the hug that finished it. Arms around me like bands of steel, hot breath searing my neck. The heaviness of his head forcing mine downwards as the ground rose up to suffocate me. I could only see the chains of domesticity dangling in front of me. I was terrified. My arms limp, fingers caressing the daisies hidden in the grass like ancient overturned gravestones.

The city skyline calling to me, “Run! Run! Before it’s too late”

Whispering in my ear he said the word I’d been dreading. I tried to breathe gulping air into my constricted lungs. I couldn’t push away. Hadn’t I been working for this all my life? Twenty five years! The counsellor had told me how to deal with my underlying anxiety. It was easy just concentrate on breathing.

“You okay Ruby?”

I gasped for air and shook my head. He reached into my bag and passed me the blue inhaler. I wasn’t ready. The strong steroids soothed my lungs air passing down into the bronchioles. I felt stronger but not fit for a battle to end a war.

“I thought you might like to flat share with me”

I shuddered. I’d never shared anything in my life not even my parents and I wasn’t going to start now.

Happy Saturday, writers! Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 129. This weekend Ewan Smith returns to judge your stories.

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.

round 129

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

David Shakes

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.

Happy Tuesday! Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented on stories this past weekend. Thanks also to Marie McKay for volunteering her time and judging. You’ll find her comments and to picks below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for allowing me to judge this week. I always feel unworthy of the task especially when the stories are all so fantastic. We had mystery, tragedy, humour, murder and the supernatural:

Three Mile Stretch

The narrator finds the story of ‘Old Man Redpath’ eerie but treats it with a good dose of scepticism. The real story lies in what the old man’s family are trying to hide in creating the ghost story in the first place. Intriguing, I really want to know what truth is buried beneath this ‘stench’ of lies.
I love the line: ‘Now it is fear that follows the course of the lake.’

The Hipsters and Mister Takada

This story outlines beautifully the details of how Mister Takada’s interest in photography has developed:
‘The youthful past-time became a teenage hobby that progressed into an adult profession…’
Mister Takada seems to have fallen prey to a scam. We’re not sure if ‘the hipsters’ are moved by conscience or by Mister Takada’s brilliance, but things are squared by the end

Five Friends At The Lake

This is a tragic tale that tapped into one of my worst fears. The reader is introduced to what seems like an idyllic setting. But as the first part ends, we are made aware of a tragic event, this event dominates the second part.
I like how this writer works with structure. This sentence makes ‘the deep pool’ a character in itself:
‘I made sure to catch the reflection of the deep pool against the rocks.’

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

This is a sinister story. The repetition of questions gives this story pace. The reader is not made fully aware of who the voice in the story belongs to, at first, but it is slowly revealed. I love how this one unfolds and the details that help provide great characterisation:
‘When Anna-Marie cut her hand in craft class. You were first there to help- tasting the coppery blood whilst others fussed with bandages.’
In the end, there is no reward for Satan’s work.

“At the Bank of Gallow’s River”

The ending of this story has stayed with me. We don’t know if the mobster is sparing the lives of the characters, or if he is just toying with them before they are executed, but the line:
‘”So this is what fear looks like,” he said, and he gazed out over the river, his head tilted to one side.’
is incredibly menacing.

Summer Afternoon

This is a beautiful piece of science fiction. We are given snippets of information about Earth, and we can perhaps assume that something has gone wrong there:
‘“A place like this would be protected by razor wire, guards.”’
On their journey to Earth 2, Riley, the main character simulates Iowa. The photograph that is taken of the characters is of their simulated experience, making this line very poignant:
‘Life becomes a dream of life, a summer afternoon with friends, just the way he remembers.’

Macbeth In The Park

The dialogue in this story is blended with Shakespeare’s text to great humorous effect. I love the idea of the river being the cauldron. But my favourite part of its being the cauldron is the dialogue:
‘”You can get the worst diarrhoea from it.”
“Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”’

Memories of generations

This story is reflective and beautiful. This is the last photograph the narrator will take as he/she appears to be nearing the end of their life. Looking on at his/her grandchildren, the narrator says of youth:
‘I remember having boundless energy which I wasted doing everything and nothing.’
And life brings us full circle:
‘I made all the mistakes that my son is currently making and my grandchildren will make in the future.’

Should Have Used the Flash

The title gives us some idea of what the conclusion is going to be, but it is the events leading up to that conclusion that are very entertaining. The three characters are truanting from work; yet, I can’t help but like them: the writer’s characterisation and depiction of their relationship make it hard not to. Therefore, when the photograph doesn’t turn out, it is rather a happy ending.

The 60-Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall

This story is brimming with stunning imagery:
‘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…’
The extended metaphor of the embryonic nature of a photograph as it’s processed is used fabulously throughout the piece.
Also, the idea the main character is making a ‘noise’ by snatching a photograph off an unsuspecting photographer is wonderful.

Snap Harry

This story uses a clever play on words to create a terrifying plot. The narrator’s longing for a relationship with the girl in the story is made very clear, and once he employs the skills of Snap Harry, the results are horrific. The fate that befalls the narrator’s love rival will haunt me for a while! The final line is perfect:
‘The picture was of a young man, captured on a perfect summer’s day.’

Honourable Mention: Five Friends at the Lake by Alva Holland

Second runner up: Summer Afternoon by  Voima Oy

First runner up: The 60 Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall by Richard Edenfield

And our Round 128 FLASH MASTER is

FLASH MASTER

David Shakes

with

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

Congratulations, Shakes! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! And with that, February is a wrap. Tune in next weekend when Ewan Smith is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.

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

Ghost Town Radio (Barnstorm)
by Steve Lodge

“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.”