Posts Tagged ‘Firdaus Parvez’

Happy Tuesday, writers, and Happy  Valentine’s Day. I wish I’d thought ahead and posted a more timely photo prompt. Despite this glaring oversite, you persisted! 😉  Many thanks to everyone who wrote stories last weekend, and thanks to Firdaus Parvez for judging. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

This was my first time as a judge here and I cannot tell you what a pleasure and privilege it was, not to mention how difficult. It’s amazing how a picture prompt can be interpreted in so many ways. I loved all the stories and the poem at the end. Truly amazing.

The minute I laid eyes on the picture, I thought, what on earth is this man up to; it can’t be pole vaulting, he has a beam in his hands! The kilts gave away the fact that it had something to do with Scotland. Unfortunately, my knowledge about the nation stretched between kilts, bagpipes, the novel ‘Kidnapped’ by R L Stevenson and the 2008 Hollywood flick ‘Made of Honor’ (which I’m assuming had all the stereotypes and was highly exaggerated). So when the stories popped up I took a crash course on google about caber tossing. I’m an enlightened soul and I had so much fun.

The fun stopped when I had to choose the winner. There is very little between the ones I’ve chosen and the ones left out. It broke my heart. I wish I could give everyone a prize.

Honourable mention:

A Tipper, A Tosser by Frank Key

I love dialogues. This felt real and I could completely see it. The atmosphere, the night before the games, so palpable and exciting. The nervousness of the MC came through. The last lines tied the story to the picture perfectly. Well done!

Second Runner up:

Reverberations by Geoff Lepard

I laughed when I read this, then I felt like a sadist because people were dying. This is such a unique take on the prompt. A propulsion that could fly us to Mars in a week! Wow! No wonder the judge and the spectators vaporised. (I had this crazy thought then – with all the ‘gas’tronomical recipes we have back home, I’m surprised we don’t see Indians floating around in space. Just a thought.

First runner up:

Running Through The Fog by Steve Lodge

Okay, to be honest I did think the names to be true but they did sound ridiculous. Then I realised what a fabulous name faker the writer is. I loved the story. I loved the funny games (I’m convinced they’re real except leopard waxing er… maybe). The whole plot was ridiculously convincing. I had a good laugh. 2075 will be an amusing year when they dig up the time capsule. Very entertaining.

And our Round 126 Flash Master is

FLASH MASTER

Ewan Smith

with

The Fierce Traditions Of Scotland

When I read this I felt myself leaning against the wheels of a horsebox listening to the conversation between Kristie and Homish. I could almost hear the tinny voice of the announcer in the distance. What the writer managed to do was that instead of telling me what was happening, I was shown the whole scene. I think I could hear the song ‘Flower of Scotland’ too (which I promptly went and listened to on YouTube. Lovely accent). The last line held such a strong message. However trivial the rest of the traditions may sound, the traditions of the fierce women were true. Scotland does have a history of some very strong women. I’m a little embarrassed I had to google Jenny Geddes, Flora McDonald and the Edinburgh Seven. I have no excuse for my ignorance. This has been an eye opener. Thank you for that and well done.

Congratulations, Ewan! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Be sure to stop by next weekend as Ewan Smith steps up from the podium to try his hand at judging. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Saturday, writers! Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 126. We have a first time judge this weekend, and it’s up to you to dazzle Firdaus Parvez so she’ll come back to judge again in the future.

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 126

Photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Happy Tuesday! In my post-call stupor I barely remembered I owed you all a winners post, so forgive my tardiness. Thanks to everyone who wrote stories this past weekend, and thanks much to Mark King for judging. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Thanks for all the fantastic stories this week. Like all judges, I await the image prompt hoping it’s going to be something different or interesting and I couldn’t wait to see what you did with this prompt. As always, your creativity and vision are something to behold.

Choosing is hard. It’s always a paper-thin decision. Another day might have generated a different set of podium finishers. Know that I enjoyed every one of the stories immensely.

The art form of flash fiction is very much alive and well.

Drums On The Broken River

Cheeky, fun and entertaining. I had a smile all the way through reading it. The banter from the wonderfully described Native American warriors was humorous and very well observed. I loved how the images were woven into the story.

Untitled / The Princess and the Dragon

Dragons? How I’ve missed them. Haven’t we all? This brought back so many fond memories of Flash! Friday and the incredible gift it gave to all of us. Thankfully, we have the Angry Hourglass to enjoy such creativity and storytelling as displayed in this fine tale. A lesson in etiquette and manners, but also a cleverly disguised ending. Poor dragon, then again, it was going to eat an entire herd of cows, so I guess I can’t feel too sorry for him.

Scents of Time

If anyone says that flash fiction can’t create worlds, characters, backstories and sensory imagery so rich you can taste, smell and touch them—point them right at this story. Very well done.

Fire Fighting

Creepy and unsettling. I had images of Backdraft running through my mind as I read it. The writing was tense and very precise with how it made the fire a living creature, stalking, and claiming its victim. I could imagine this being a film or the next must-see mini-series. Loved the double-meaning title.

The Judgement

Another wonderfully masked and cleverly disguised story. I thoroughly enjoyed the language and sense of dread and foreboding all the way through. As for the ending, it’s a feeling many of us know so well. Having said that, from the quality of the story, I very much doubt if the author gets many rejections.

Staying

This felt very personal and the passion of teaching (despite all the reasons not to do it) came through in waves of powerful emotion. This is how it must feel to be a teacher, a nurse, a police officer facing a world that seems to make the experience as unrewarding as possible – yet, there is always that hope of making a difference. Expertly crafted.

Cleansing Ritual

Brooding, intense and corrosive. I liked it very much.

Temple Tears


Wonderful world-building skills. It was almost like have a teleportation machine formed by 360 mighty fine words. I enjoyed not only the scenes, but the depth to the character/s and the journey they were on. I tip my hat to the author of this tale.

Lost in a Tenement Window

Such a great title. It immediately drew images before I had even read a word of the story. A wise technique for using those uncounted words to reach out to the reader and grab them. I loved this, “Uncurtained tenement windows hovered above, diamond adorned old lady fingers lingered below. The scent of recently lit lavender incense wafted through the air all around her. The clamor of a forgotten name inner city, echoed off the plaster walls and into the spiraling chambers of her panicky cochlea.”

Scratch-N-Sniff Story

Talking of titles… this one is a beauty. I do enjoy experimenting with form, and I loved the breathless opening and the linked sentences, the block of words almost adding physical weight to the story. The narrator unnerved me in a way that had me checking the windows looking for him (or her).

Temple Contemplation

I feel like I know Kev, with his memory cards full of pictures he’ll never do anything with. Kev is the tourist that goes unnoticed in almost every part of the world. The writing draws great comparisons between Kev’s temple experience and through the art of showing we learn about his own life and his views on the world. Here’s to you, Kev. Very nicely done.

Moving On

Excellent story. From the revelation of the medium through to the spine-tingling (yes, it really did give me the jitters) ending. This had tinges of some of the best short horror stories. Well done.

Titanium and Supplication

Imagination and creativity in abundance. The choice of a sci-fi genre was unexpected but highly enjoyable. Some great names and I think the author should get a patent on Popping Penguins, it sounds like the next big app.

A Girl Named Euphoria

Euphoria, what a great idea and character. I think there is a whole range of possibilities in this character and the stories she could tell from those that come to see her. I’d happily read many, many more tales like this one.

Honourable Mention: For Untitled / The Princess and The Dragon by Rebekah Postupak. I loved the story, but it also reminded me of so many wonderful times and stories from the gone (but not forgotten) land of dragons.

Second RU: Scents of Time by Firdaus Parvez. For the brilliance of transporting me to a different world.

First RU: Cleansing Ritual David Shakes. Brutal, urgent and perfect for the modern world we’ve found ourselves in this last year.

And our Round 125 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

 Steph Ellis

with Staying

Because it had heart, voice, realism and despite everything, hope.

Congratulatins, Steph! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! I hope to see you all next weekend when Firdaus Parvez takes her first shot at judging. Have a great week!

Chhotu: little one

by Firdaus Parves

I balanced a cloth bag full of ‘kulhars’ (handleless terracotta cups) on one shoulder, and the large kettle of tea in my other hand. It was hot, not just the kettle, but the weather. Not even dawn yet, and the breeze was warm against my sweating face. I could hear the morning call for prayer from the nearby mosque. The train was running late, it should have been here by now.
The platform was deserted except for a few porters standing and smoking and the stationmaster reading charts beside the retiring room. It was a small station, few trains stopped here.
I was worried the tea might get cold. My mother had brewed it to perfection. She had put a generous amount of ginger while boiling it. It was sweet and strong, the ginger flavour had woken my sleepy mind and I was in high spirits.
The train finally arrived, rushing past me in a blur then slowing down to a clanging halt. I ignored the air-conditioned bogeys, those passengers were used to the weak tea in styrofoam cups from the pantry car. I was headed for the general class. That’s where the real people were, they would enjoy a cup of strong ginger tea.
The train stopped for exactly seven minutes, the time I had to sell the tea. I walked alongside the train tapping on windows, crying out, “Chai…chai!”
“Hey Chhotu, two cups.”
“Chhotu here.”
“Chhotu!”
Almost ten, I was short for my age, so I was used to this name, it meant ‘little one’.
I catered to everyone’s call. Hurriedly pouring tea, and pocketing the money. A few men had climbed out of the train. One gestured to me, I poured out a cup for him. He searched for money in his pocket. I was losing precious time. I told him I would be back in a minute. When I got back, the train was already moving and the man had disappeared. Oh well, I thought, it was just one cup. Then I saw on the bench, where he had been standing, an empty kulhar with a ten rupee note under it.
The sun was rising.

Happy Tuesday, friends. I hope the day finds you well. Thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend (after seeing AJ’s comments, I’m really glad I didn’t post the photo prompt I was originally contemplating!). Thanks also to AJ for volunteering his time to read and comment on the entries. You’ll find his comments and top picks below. 

Last time I judged there were just seven entries, this time thirteen and they were all tremendous (I can still use that word, right?). 

I did tweet prior to the prompt ‘bonus points for not making the stories about Trump’ as I was having a weekend trying not to think about him – not even my country and I feel I needed a break. And only one of you did, so thank you for that. And I didn’t mark the offending piece down; in fact it made me laugh, which I’m always a sucker for.

Each story included a train or two, which would have seemed coincidental but for the prompt photo and of course someone had to throw in a bit of Warren Zevon – let’s face it that is always a wise choice for any given day. Aah wooo! 

Needless to say all the stories were strong and I was quite torn, especially between the top two, but I have done it. These are the facts, not alternative ones, real ones. 

So, without further ado my favourite lines and my picks of the week…

Fave Lines:

1. Shokolokobangoshe

Hatch was on a 2 year contract, teaching Ceramic Engineering and Flirting at the Iffy Ilumasha University.

2. The White Room

Those first nights, whenever a train passed, I thought it was an earthquake.

3. Runaway Train.

She will be back once she finds all her missing pieces.

4. The Mission

He fell again, tumbling head-over-heels through bushes, against trees, and then crashed out onto open track to see the huge, shrieking train racing towards him.

5. Condemned

He felt the guard’s cold breath as he whispered in his ear. “Waiting, see. Waiting for the son.”

6.A Community Welcome

It’s not ideal but it’s not war-torn.

7. Tremendous

How dare they make him look like that? He’s the most important man in the world now.

8. A Winding Up Of Sorts

Their invention outlasts their hearts – wound tight, at first, then loosening, with time.

9. Chhotu: little one

That’s where the real people were, they would enjoy a cup of strong ginger tea.

10. Askance

I’d set our daughter free. But in that moment I wondered what else I had unleashed.

11. The Man in Blue

For the night comes for him.

12. It’s All in the Leap

Today, Sam marries his sweetheart: that was me, but he says it’s always been her.

13. Werewolves of London

What the hell had been let loose on the 9.15 am from Coventry?

HMs 

– The Mission by Ewan Smith

There wasn’t that much humour in this batch of stories. Which is fine. No, no, it really is. Anyway, this one had a nice punch line so thank you for giving me at least a little humour. Starting off like a scene from The Hunger Games to end with the less than exciting Trainspotting (i.e. nothing to do with the new film from Danny Boyle).

– Tremendous by Sal Page

Well hell I said no Trump please and what happened? This tremendously fun story about someone who seems a bit Trump like (can’t put my finger on why I think it could be). The train heading closer and going round the bend. Indeed. Safety information can be found under the seat in front of you and in between the carriages. Good luck.

(Okay, this was humourous too I think. Or was it alternative fact or Double Speak? I don’t know who to check with these days, we can’t trust anyone. So perhaps it wasn’t humour at all. In fact it probably wasn’t about Trump either now I come to think about it.) 

Runner Up – The Man in Blue by Mark A. King

I’ve been to Auschwitz and this story even on the first read took me straight back there. Thankfully merely as a visitor, but it’s not a place you can forget. It can be hard to write about such serious subjects especially with so few words to play with. So many people love trains, as can be seen in all the other stories; the journeys, the excitement; the possibilities about where you could be going to. Then there’s this place. Miles of train tracks, ash and detritus. 

The simple title gave no clue about the story and then the memory of trains and the people it brought to him for this evil man was one he enjoyed; while I could but shudder. It didn’t sound like the protagonist was that haunted by his past, but it was good to find out in the end he was – at night, at least. Evocative and brilliantly done. 

And our Round 123 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Firdaus Parves

with

Chhotu: Little One

Loved this vignette, could really see ‘the little one’ waiting at an Indian train station. Hoping that the train would come shortly (a lottery with many a timetable) so that the tea would still be saleable and desperate to get the tea to as many customers as possible, maximising the possibility of profits, however small, in the short time available. 

At the the end the fear that one customer had got away without paying for the tea was nicely played, and the uplifting end made me feel all nice and warm – like I’d just had a taste of some of that ginger tea. In short, I felt like I was on the platform watching the scene unfold. I felt hot and dusty and had to put the kettle on. Well done.

Congratulations, Firdaus! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie. Recruiting for February judges shall commence shortly. Anyone interested in judging (even if you haven’t been a Flash Master) is welcome to contact me, and we’ll arrange a date. Next weekend, A.V. Laidlaw will be presiding judge. Hope to see you all there. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Thanks to Sal Page for judging this week’s entries. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Comment: Five well-written stories, using this interesting photo prompt as inspiration. A missing story, which is the one I would have written if I wasn’t the judge. I wonder what that would have been? Quite amazing how we bring something new into existence week after week. But each one of these has something that could’ve made it a winner. In the end I decided to just pick a winner plus one runner-up, which was a tough decision and could easily have had a different outcome. Have I got it ‘right’? Who knows?

Sunflowers by Voima Oy
A vividly drawn portrait of the art loving Mr Serrano, who even dresses to honour his favourite author and artist. He seems a rather sad character, who has no one around him who really shares his interests.
Fave line: ‘He imagined himself in a painting by Van Gogh, staring out at the star-filled sky.’

She Never Got to Wear Purple by Steph Ellis
Our man here is Francis, attempting to bridge the generation gap with poetry. Sad irony that his wife never got to wear purple when she was old, as her favourite poem advocated.
Fave line: ‘He knew the young regarded the elderly as an alien race.’

The Mover by Marie McKay
Looking back on his life and his gift, he is accepting and philosophical. Short but sweet, leaving much to the imagination, especially at the end.
‘Some days he still used it for his own amusement- a party trick for the man who never attended parties.’

Dad by Firdaus Parvez
Well-drawn characters of an elderly father and his adult son. Of course they can’t replace something that was a gift from a loved one but they still have each other and can laugh at the turns life takes.
‘We searched for a similar coffee mug and when we found one which looked quite like the old one, dad didn’t seem too happy.’

Don’t be a Mug by Avalina Kreska
The mugs in the picture are this man’s family reincarnated. Of course! Enjoyed the end when Tommy buys up all the mugs and tiles the bathroom with them and I’m left wondering if they will carry on talking to him.
‘ … the whole family agreed in a cacophony of spoons hitting ceramics.’

Runner Up
Don’t be a Mug – Avalina Kreska
For being the most unusual take on the prompt and making me laugh.

And our Round 112 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Marie McKay

with

The Mover

For being understated and leaving so much unsaid. ‘He’d been different and he’d enjoyed it’ takes on a whole new meaning when we realise this man’s gift involved making children fly through the air or sticking them to a wall.

Congratulations, Marie! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, David Shakes steps back into the judge’s seat for Round 113. Hope to see you all then.

Hello again, and Happy Tuesday. Thanks to everybody who wrote stories for last week’s prompt and to AJ Walker for reading the stories and choosing his favorites. You’ll find AJ’s comments below. 

Thanks again for making the job easy for me. Er, well maybe not. Loved the prompt photo myself. It seemed to open up so many possibilities. Yet, the similarity in some of the stories was striking (even down to ham sandwiches turning up in more than one story – what’s that about?!). The photo seemed to provide a definite chance for reminiscing it seemed. Though as well as ham sandwiches many of the stories seemed to be quite sad. I’m going to need cheering up after this. Great writing as usual of course, but there must be a winner. And today’s winner is…. (drum roll)… 

 ….Leicester City. 

 No. Not really. Well, yes, really. But no, not in Angry Hourglass it ain’t. Though I’ve judged blind and if the winner turns out to be Jamie Vardy… well, he just bloody well deserves it okay. And he can put this up there with his Champion’s medal.

 Anyway, today’s other winner’s are… (real drum roll)…. 

HMs 

 – After School by Daisy Warwick: A nice picture, built up largely through simple dialogue, of brothers being best mates trying to get by in awful circumstances. You feel for them.

 – Otters by AV Laidlaw: Similar style of story to After School. The bible nut ‘full of pious vinegar’  told the story of the boy’s home in the simplest way. The change in the place through time – otters now a possibility where once the land and water could not support them seems familiar to us (we even have them in the Mersey now – and not always just floating on their backs). 

 – Je Suis by David Shakes: Stayed with Shake’s at the weekend, who turns a bit French after a pint of Under Current. He may be ‘a little bit French’ but he is mostly English when it comes to breakfast. So, really it’s a gratuitous HM for the black pudding! 

 2nd RU – Wilted Flowers by Firdaus Parvez

 Yet another difficult childhood picture (I hope all you writers this week can access some suitable help or special little pick-me-ups) nicely paced. Being put up in the attic whilst their mother did things she didn’t want them to see, wth people other than their gravely ill father, was a simple idea (sad yet an adventure for the kids). And the whole piece was sad and told straight without the storyteller becoming judgemental. ’Beautiful, like a booked pressed flower’ was a lovely line to end on.

 1st RU – Cast a Spell by Stephen Lodge

 This deserves a place for being up beat and fun. The photo seemed to inspire mostly introspection along the line of; life’s all a bit crap really. So a bit of Mary Poppin’s was surprisingly welcome. The dialogue between the two children was fab and the spoonful of something in this cast a spell on me. I almost smiled. Several times.

And our Round 105 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Sal Page 

 with

 What They Expect of a Monster

 Je suis un winner! Loved this story of a monster being created. The inevitability of it was sad and all too predictable – children being the cruel beasts they are/we were. The story was the most satisfying read for me with nice development and story arc (whatever am I talking about now?), which was well done in such a short piece. It had just the right amount of drippy blood gore and, yet surprisingly, no ham sandwiches.

 Congratulations, Sal! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, Rob Knipe joins the Flash Frenzy Judge’s team. Hope to see you all there.