Posts Tagged ‘Karl A Russell’

Tuesday? Already? Long weekends are lovely, but they definitely make it tough to get back on track. For those of you who celebrated Labor Day, I hope you enjoyed your extra day. I spent mine traveling to visit my Swister and my nephew, Dib, who was kind enough to provide this week’s photo prompt. Karl had the duty of sifting thru the gold to find the shiniest nuggets, and you’ll find them below.

Children’s drawings can be an enlightening window into a strange, half remembered world. They reveal fears, hopes, dreams and misunderstandings and can give the viewer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the artist’s world.

They can also reveal what scary little buggers kids can be.

Flash fiction can often work the same way, little slices of deeper insight that reveals as much about the author as the world and the characters they create.

And you can be scary little buggers too…

With such a wonderful prompt, we had a wide range of interpretations and I found something to love in all of them. But there can only be so many winners each week, so here goes with mine:

HM: The Special One by A.J. Walker

The creepiest of this week’s kids, acting with a self-assured malevolence to remove a rival, with a killer last line that reveals the true depth of his depravity and makes you fear for his future.

HM: Inside Out by F.E Clark

My own daughter is obsessed with the inside of things, and an early morning walk down the high street can take much longer than expected as she pauses to peer into every shuttered shop front and darkly inviting letter box. Co-opting the title of the Pixar movie for a far more sinister tale, F.E. takes this harmless activity and twists it into something altogether more worrying.

Second Runner Up: Tummy Full Of Monsters By Brian S. Creek

With a title like that and an entirely believable innocence, I expected a scare at the end, but instead got a reassuringly homely tale about the amazing efficacy of “pink medicine.” I’ve never heard of Calpol being used to combat the monsters under the bed, but I may get myself a bottle, just in case…

First Runner Up: Moon Acid in Frolicking Bourbon Cemetery Singing I Want To Be Sedated With Tyrone Power by Richard Edenfield

Swerving the kids altogether and kicking off with an intriguingly unwieldy title, Richard gives us a twisted tale of debauchery that recalls Fear & Loathing and Less Than Zero. Probably the most original take on the prompt this week, the format suggests a world both before and after the snapshot presented here and one which I would love to see more of.

And your Flash Master for the week is…

FLASH MASTER
Steph Ellis

with Georgie

We finish as we started, with a very scary child. Told from the viewpoint of a ghost left behind when his resting place is relocated, Georgie gives us a likeable, sympathetic protagonist and seems to be pitting him against a far more malevolent spirit. Steph expertly misdirects us, leading us to expect a confrontation with The Man before revealing that the real monster is the much more mundane Mr Wilson, and suggesting a coalition of spectral forces that will take his well-deserved torment to terrifying new levels.

Congratulations, Steph! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!  Thanks again to everyone who submitted this weekend, and thanks to Karl for judging. Next weekend, The Angry Hourglass gets some love from Rebekah Postupak of Flash! Friday fame as she descends from her dragony throne to walk among mortals and judge our flash fiction offerings. See you on Saturday!

We have another very special photo prompt this week, courtesy of my awesome nephew, Dib. A few years ago, they did self portraits in school, and he wanted me to have his to hang in my writing office. Not wanting to hoard the creativity this bit of original art inspires, I’ve decided to share it with you all. Karl A Russell will have the honor of judging this week’s entries.

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, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

Artwork provided by Dib

Artwork provided by Dib: “Kindergarten Self-portrait”

Asteroid X-237

by Karl A. Russell

Myers sat on the doorstep of Heaven, removed his helmet and lit a cigarette. He’d been trying to ration them for the trip, but it didn’t seem important now.

Behind him, in the house, Pastor Janes broke off his sobbing for long enough to throw up again, then carried on.

Only Buckley seemed to be taking the discovery in his stride, standing by the landing module and watching the horizon, waiting for the main ship to dawn and reconnect the radio signal.

Myers watched him thoughtfully as he smoked. He drew his service revolver and aimed it.

“You’re not going to stop me,” Buckley said, without turning round.

Myers shrugged.

“I can’t let you send that message.”

“This is what we came for. The biggest discovery of all time. You want to stop me?”

Myers looked at his revolver, then slid it into its holster.

“I’d probably miss anyway; I was never that good on the range. So what are you going to tell them?”

“That we found Him, He’s dead, and everything else was a lie.”

“You really believe that?”

“Come on Myers, you saw it as well as I did. Janes certainly seems to believe it, but I think we’re in a new place now. A place beyond belief. We have facts instead.”

Myers stood and joined Buckley by the lander, watching the moons drift lazily by.

“What about the Russians though? We tell everyone and everything changes. The Russians will get to the moon first, we’ll pull out of Vietnam, the whole thing will fall apart.”

“So we stop fighting, start working together, maybe accept that we’re not all that different after all. Is that really such a terrible thought?”

“It’s easier for you; you were an atheist to begin with.”

Buckley grinned.

“That should make it harder. At least you were right.”

He pointed to a bright spot on the horizon.

“There’s the ship. Ready?”

Myers nodded.

Buckley reached for the radio.

Then Pastor Janes shot them both in the head.

He took the radio in his blood slick hands and dashed it to the rocks, then went to sit at his Lord’s right hand.

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means… WINNERS! Thanks to Foy Iver for judging this past weekend; you’ll find her comments below:

Thank you, thank you to Rebecca for allowing me to perch in the judging chair! Not an easy task balancing on leather back while reading stories fit to bowl me over. The prompt seemed to suggest carnivals and circus life but all of you brought your own originality to it. I noted what I appreciated about each of them but, in the end, emotion and imagination won the top spots. Well done, all!

Beyond Belief

A nice ode to Alice after Wonderland. My favorite line? “People like me lose their childhoods, put them down somewhere and can’t find them again.”

Rivulets

Begins with blood and ends with atonement just like the ultimate pardoning. Love the title; reminds me of the old hymns.

Turn Left Past Prairie Bend

Great layers in this one! The pace, too, is well timed. Slow and dust-covered until those final lines when intrigue disturbs the expected.

Welcome to FunTown

GAH! Clowns are what demons look like. This one left me rocking in a corner scrubbing at the image of that Picassozoide (doesn’t that sound so much freakier than “Picassoesque”?) face. Well done?

ABOVE AND BEYOND

The “Odd Thomas” aura of this one brought a happy warmth to my belly. Such true descriptions of the believing. We differ in our sacraments and worship styles but we share faith and that should be enough. I hope that one day it is and the bickering can die at the root.

A Place Beyond Belief

So applicable on many levels but especially to us writers. Sometimes we’ve just got to give the mirror “that old fuck-you smile” and keep putting pen to paper.

In Our Town

The final line of this one is the clincher (“we’ve moved beyond belief”) taking that popular word choice and giving it a whole new meaning. I enjoyed the matter-of-fact voice and the Gaimanesque use of repetition.

Certainly

The prompt seems to have revived a bit of Lewis Carroll’s ghost! Another one that’s deliciously whimsical. It feels like dream-reading as you walk through the words, nibbling at poetic phrases like, “each butterfly whispering a single sentence of the story” and letting yourself be swaddled in the idea that this is how “the world could be.”

El Norte

Strong poetic images in the first paragraph! This writer captured well the idea of looking to El Norte, an unfortunately reality for many.

Special Mention “The Butterfly Effect” by A.J. Walker for pulling me out of a gray-office day

Poetry, poetry! A magnifying glass turned on “ponderous bees” and butterflies “designed by innocence,” this beautiful bit of flash sucked me right out my office window and into a meadow fit for all the “blue sky thinking.”

The ending is so uplifting, pointing out that we, too, are part of life’s gossamer dance.

Special Mention to “Stunning Garden” by Sal Page for pulling off chilling AND human

This plays out like cinema, slow and eerie, as each new horror is peeled back to reveal a fresh wound. Those final paragraphs had me screaming at Chaplin to watch his back.

But it isn’t all fried flesh and mystery. There’s a breath-takingly human moment between the chills when we learn about David’s dying relationship with his mother.

P.S. fantastic chameleon title!

Second Runner-Up “Risky Business” by Sonya 

I adore the cheekiness of this one!

Strong voices, natural dialogue, measured peeks at a foreign future and a catastrophic past, this is distilled flash.

Writers who can create whole realities on a threadbare word count continually amaze me. But then it’s not threadbare because the tapestry is whole, a gorgeous weave in 100 powerful words.

First Runner-Up “Escape” by Marie McKay

So much beauty in this!

Through the unitalicized text, looks and emotions unfurl, painted like a vibrant brush stroke across the mind.

Quickly, we learn to fear what the voices flee, and hope in the haven they’ve found.

It’s masterful writing that can bring this much depth of emotion in so few words.

And our Round 73 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Karl A. Russell

with “Asteroid X-237”

Force me to feel or force me to think. “Asteroid X-237” does the later deftly. There’s so much meat to be stripped away from bone in this one. With only three characters, a single setting, and a decision as vast and weighty as the universe this writer creates a novel-worthy flash fiction.

It leaves me wondering what I would do in any of their places – give in to despair, find resolve in knowing a grim truth, or continue in rabid denial? Fantastic world-building, character creation, and thought-provoking prose.

Congratulations, Karl! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, Voima Oy returns to the judge’s seat. We both hope you’ll join us for more Flash Frenzy.

 

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday filled with joy and love. Week after week the flashdogs give their all to create stories for The Angry Hourglass, and now it’s time for me to give back. Below is a list of the winning stories from the past 22 rounds of Flash Frenzy. You have until Dec 30th to vote for your favorite (get your friends to vote, too!).

You can vote once every 12 hours, and the three authors with the most votes will win Amazon gift cards. So, return and enjoy your favorite stories again, and stay tuned for the winners. 😀

 

Greetings, friends. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that those of you in the US are planning a lovely holiday with your family this week. I’d like to send a big hug to my flash fiction family here at the Angry Hourglass, with special thanks to Image Ronin for judging Round 45. His comments are as follows:

The prompt of a flower had me fearing an onslaught of Mills & Boon inspired saccharine drivel. Thankfully you fine people didn’t lead me down the path of fluttering bosoms and bashful glances, but to realms of serial killers, jewel thieves and troubled narrators.

So thank you.

The tales themselves were as varied as the flowers that featured, and in truth I was left with the inevitable dilemma of picking three. Any of the works this week were worthy of the win, so thank you, but in the end I reached a decision.

A Family Disease

The mournful regret and knowing resentment of the narrator permeates every word. The internalization of pain and anguish lay bare in a narration that offers little in the way of answers, much like life itself, but only the picking away at a scab that won’t heal. Moving in its simplicity and voice.

Smash Mouth

I read this tale, the image of the flower never far from my mind. The innocence of his sister, counterpointed with the wrath of a parental voice, felt pure Hitchcock. When the hip is removed my skin crawled at the skill and dedication of our protagonist. The horror that was expertly allowed to blossom, excuse the pun, creating a visceral reaction as all horror should. Excellent work.

A Shower of Petals

The shift from Disney to an unsettling horror at The Fear is wonderfully played out through the innocence and joyfulness contrasted by our narrators nagging concerns. Sharing a hint of Voimaoy’s tale at the overwhelming power of the blossom to erode self, the resignation that nature will finally find a way to rid herself of humanity, a theme I always find intriguing, is wonderfully set up. Now off to dance in the blossom that coats our lawn at the moment.

January’s Air

“Innocence is a beautiful gift no one gets to keep.” I stopped at the sentence, watching my own offspring dancing in and out of sprinklers in the sunshine. I read it again, and again.

Sorry if that moment sounds like this was all the tale meant, far from it, but what happened moment was word formed into emotion, memory, feeling, desire and every other fibre that makes us individuals. The imagery that follows complimented perfectly the set up of that sentence. The horror that then finally erupts wrenching you away from the innocence of ‘pigtails and muddy feet.”

Until I went back and read that sentence once more.

Alba

Voimaoy for a while now has been hinting at this other world, her stories interconnecting, intersecting, echoing each other to a point that I find myself yearning for her to write the novel it so easily could become. The flower as epicentre (evoking for me Day of the Triffids), a catalyst of alternate existences, much like the poppy, was wonderfully captured. I was taken to a place of absolute release and loss, a terrifying existence that had me wanting more.

Untitled

The set up, of Fran the recluse hints at a backstory, which we then let slip as we venture into a moment of escape from Fran. I truly felt so sorry for her at the moment of the theft. Was this someone set up by her past partner seeking further assets to claim? Or a con artist, swift of finger and thought? Those questions I pondered long after I had finished reading.

Anyway to the finalists  – congrats to all but here we go.

2nd Runner Up: Voimaoy – Alba

1st Runner Up: Karl A Russell – A Shower of Petals

And your week 45 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Grace Black

with “January’s Air”

Congratulations, Grace!  Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

This weekend, David Shakes returns as prompt master and judge. Hope to see you all there.

Knights Of The Road

by Karl A. Russell

“Pick up The Ball?”

Joey sighed. Ten minutes till his shift ended, but he was up next, and he couldn’t dodge it forever. He leant into the cab and thumbed the radio.

“Cab 54, Carmelita. What have you got?”

“Heyyy Joey. Finally caught another?”

He imagined ruby red lips pursed into a smile, wondered if the rest of her was as warm and honeyed as her voice, but was kind of glad he’d never find out.

“Hit me.”

He listened intently as he pulled away from the stand, got the name, the address and the reason. By the time it was done, his mood was lower than the night’s tips.

“I’m there.”

“Thank you Joey. Good luck.”

The line went dead, then the regular dispatcher cut in. Joey killed the radio and pulled over.

The dead drop was a garbage can on a mid rent block. Joey retrieved the package, checked the contents, then dialled the number they gave.

“Hello?”

Gruff, sleepy and still drunk. That made it easier.

“Mr. Pace?”

“Yeah, whosis?”

“I’m from OK Cabs sir. One of our drivers picked you up tonight, found your credit card on the backseat.”

“Aw Christ…”

“No worries sir, I pass your block on my way home and I’m right outside.”

“Yeah? I’ll be right down.”

Joey waited at the door, centering himself. When Pace appeared, he held a credit card and looked pissed. It was easy to imagine him doing what Carmelita had described.

“Checked my wallet, dipshit. I don’t know what scam-“

Joey caught him around the neck, jabbed in the ampoule with well-practised precision, then stepped clear as Pace fell into a dead drop of his own.

Joey looked up at the security camera, safe in the knowledge that only Carmelita saw him now.

“Job done. Red Ball down. I’m off the clock.”

He saluted, imagined ruby red lips set in grim determination, then drove home. He wanted a beer, but that was never a good idea after catching The Ball. Instead he made do with watching Sal and the kids sleeping, safe in the knowledge that there was one less monster out there for them to meet.

Winners! Winners! And comments galore! It was a bit of a wait, but well worth it, in my opinion. Many, many thanks to Nancy Chenier for volunteering her services as judge this past weekend. Without further delay, here are Judge Nancy’s comments:

Thank you for the opportunity! It was fun and hard (insert whine here)..

Death and taxies! Dead bodies abounded in this group of stories, though manifesting in a delightful variety of ways (morbidly delightful).  So much incredible writing, it was nearly impossible to choose my favorites. Well, I’m already behind in getting these done and the squidlet is about to awaken, so let’s just jump right in.

Fare Game—the line about shadowing the “molten surface” of the coffee lassoed me as I suspected there was more than rich imagery going on here, that something else was lurking under that molten surface. I was not at all disappointed. The voice was very American-Psycho in its dispassionate flippant relaying of brutal details and its narcissism. You touch upon the twisted psychology here. I loved the dynamics of power and how waiting affects the perception of power. He has to control the charade in the relationship, yet allows it from cab drivers (he accepts the subversion of his power on a racial level but not at all on a gender level). The close is pitch-perfect, dialing up a mistress so he can “win” in a way he couldn’t—not even through killing her—with the wife. 

It Was Me—The pacing of this one is superb, layering the mystery to the punch of a climax (an image that won’t leave me). I laughed out loud at the “cliche” of the Phantom Hitchhiker—something that would only br cliche to the other cabbies but not to us poor readers. However, Addi didn’t disappoint with his winner of a tale, complete with props. I really enjoyed the conflicting possibilities here. With the hole in the face, it leaves us uncertain as to whether Addi was telling the truth (and thus somewhat justified in destroying one’s self, in a “If you see Buddha on the side of the road, kill him” kind of way), or if it was a delusion superimposed on a unfortunately-dressed stranger (and Addi is a pure he-was-always-so-quiet psychopath). I hoped it was the first (because I’m a hopeless sucker for spec-fic), but love that it could just as well be the latter.

The Story Eater—I adore the title of this one. By the fourth paragraph I was ravenous to hear some of those bits Tom’s been consuming. The idea of weaving the stories “into his web of knowledge of the world” reminds me of a set up for Clive Barker’s Great and Secret Show, where the protagonist starts to recognize a vast pattern playing out in all the details (only Barker used a postal clerk). A very intriguing idea. Love the contrast with the other taxi drivers and their “sad camaraderie”: slices of life are so much more vivid and we can fill in with out imaginations to animate them—whereas, with the familiar, we don’t have that luxury. 

Teaching the ABCs—This one was a difficult read on several levels. I liked how the red flags for the second speaker go up right away: being drunk with a kid, yelling at the mother, calling her “woman” and it just gets worse from there. The presence of the mother provides the reader with fleeting hope that there is sanity in the household, but that gets yanked away with her retreat and all we can do is witness the horror (not the dead-body kind, probably worse) of a child embracing racism in order to get approval from daddy. And to deepen the horror, I couldn’t be sure if they were seeing beggars at all rather than just the scene of the picture prompt—in other words, the man’s racism doesn’t allow him to see gainfully employed people of color.

Opportunity—The line “And lose this pathetic job that I hate so much” locked me into sympathy with the characters, leaving me appropriately frustrated with the injustice they have to endure. I like the way this one leaves us poised at a crossroads (an opportunity), leaving us to wonder what we might do in Aydin’s place. The description of the jumper (?) was restrained yet shocking, keeping the focus where it needs to be: on Aydin and his choice.

Night’s Shift—Night shift gets the supernatural cases. I like how he’s only a number (and for the most part, she pretty much only a letter). Nice use of action peppering the dialogue, helping shift the tension from two strangers talking to something more sinister.  At first, I wasn’t certain that the perp was demonic—I wondered if it might be poison that he used to make her lungs burn, but then the allusions (the tunnel, the bargain, “anomaly” as a signal word, and the sense that “swallowing one’s words” isn’t just figurative) bring the supernatural element home. 

Psychology—The description in the second paragraph is great: it not only give me a clear picture of what a dump this place is, it also reveals exactly why his job sucks as well as so much of Eileen’s character (without having to say “cheapskate” even once). Her attitude toward the speaker plants her firmly in the reader’s antipathy, so when the reveal hits, it’s very satisfying. I love the way her pronouncement of “we’re dead” comes back around at the end.

Taxi—After reading about all the dead in the last few entries, I thought for sure this one would be going in a similar direction: someone preoccupied with getting attention might do something drastic to get it. (I found it an interesting reflection on my thinking that I would consider murder less drastic.) I like how the turn is never mentioned, yet there is a strong build up to it with the anxiety. I love how the transition is revealed instead in the behavior of the taxi driver, affable vs. professional, the different topics that the cabbie would feel comfortable using with a man vs. a woman. 

Ravi’s Ride—Loved the first paragraph, from the tone of the first line, to the contrast of past lives with the current conditions. With great economy, you give us a compelling peek of the worlds from which the cabbies have come. Ravi’s understanding of his privilege, here, generates sympathy, as does the way he doesn’t see the job as “below him”—it makes the gaining of his own story (one that promises to include a celebrity) believable. I like too that although the actress may have been giving him an empty promise, by kissing him, he still has his story.

Knights of the Road—The pacing of this one is magnificent, introducing new layers of the mystery little by little with the finesse of a tight game of 7-card-stud. I got hooked with the intrigue generated by the line “couldn’t dodge it forever”. The mystery deepens with not ever seeing Carmelita (don’t cabbies get to meet the dispatchers?). His mood darkening and needing “the reason” for the pickup. I loved the play on words over the two uses of “dead drop”. The loneliness inherent in the closing paragraph reverberated for me.

The Fare—This one had me laughing out loud—”just cause they got lights and a red cross” was hysterical. One of the Horseman driving a cab? Brilliant! War has quite the mouth on him. His earnest assessment of himself (people person) clashing with his behaviour was delightful as was the fact that he feels the need to explain his metaphorical axe. The thought of old deities working the taxies has me wishing to take a trip to the other parts of town. I could easily see this as a collection of stories, each one a ride with a different demoted driver.

Extra—This one has all the fairy tale fun of a Rebekah piece (confirmed!). I particularly enjoyed this what with my own run as an extra (ahem, background actor). A stroke of comic genius to feature the background characters in the fairy tales. I loved the nod to method acting (the plant), the two that are there at least partially for the artistic expression set up against the one who wants his paycheck. The dramatic irony you set up provides sublime humor: we know why Snow White has to live. On top of that, you slip some real zingers in there (pumpkin tasting of shoe leather—doh!).

The Comely Cannibal—The hard-boiled Chandler-esque figurative language seduced me, irresistible lines like: “chilled custard”, “the kind of face that required alimony payments”, “deserted boat in a typhoon”. That last one all the more delicious because she went away alone (“deserted”) despite her professed meal—the MC didn’t take the bait (yet). I loved the confusion over “blow job”—by the end we’re not sure if the cabbie misheard or she was really taunting him. The voice had me hooked despite the fact that we have two rather unsympathetic characters—well-played.

So, here we go with the hard part…

Honorable Mention: Chris Milam “The Comely Cannibal” for rekindling the fires of my love of Chandler’s metaphors. 

2nd Runner-Up: Brett Milam “Fare Game” for the dense writing, where nearly every sentence is doing at least double-duty, tackling a mind that rationalizes horrific actions. 

1st Runner-Up: Rebekah Postupak “Extra” for the fresh fun of it as well as the way you use fantasy to hold up a delightful mirror to mundane reality. 

And your Round 44 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER 

Karl A. Russell

with “The Knights of the Road”

For the poker-game-like tension, the idea of vigilante valorous cab drivers working secretly to rid the streets of “monsters”, and the engaging character. In the end, this one pulled out in front. 

Congratulations, Karl! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thanks once again to Nancy for acting as judge last weekend. This upcoming weekend, Image Ronin will resume his role as judge. Hope to see you all there.

Cheers!

Child Of Stone

by Karl A. Russell

They came with the dawn, storming the campsite, tearing canvas and crushing bone. Molly was up before I could stop her, jabbing at her phone. I tried to drag her back, but she was torn away. As an afterthought, the raider swung his sword, rending the flimsy material and exposing me to the full horror of their assault.

The dead lay everywhere. The living were shellshocked and weeping. The raiders circled the camp, herding us into the shadow of the stones. I stumbled along, looking for Molly, spotting her with the other children, bound and caged. I called out, but a raider stepped between us, snarling into my face. I saw the crimson birthmark spreading its tentacles across his cheek, and it broke me, seeing that familiar stain on his ancient skin. I realized then that they all bore the mark, and I wondered if Molly had seen it too.

On the hillside, the great sleeping stones began to writhe and moan, raising their hooded heads to the sky.

“Tharanak gof’nn ya stell’bsna. K’yarnak ygrah’n! Ygrah’n!”

I caught Molly’s eye, and I knew that she understood.

“Bring forth the children. Bring forth my lost one. My lava.”

“Gnaiih!”

I had fought this moment for so long, told lie after lie about her mother, but when Molly asked for a camping holiday for her thirteenth birthday and chose this very spot, I knew that it was coming. But that word, from her, still hit like a blow.

Father.

The Old Ones turned to her, bade the raiders release her, and she ran to them. I rose but was floored by another brute. He raised his sword and I prayed that it would be quick, but Molly appeared between us, hands out. He stepped back, handed her his sword and waited. She slew him in silence, and in silence he died.

The stones began to cry once more, too fast for my understanding, but Molly laughed and ran to rejoin them. Only once, standing against the rising sun, did she look back.

She raised a hand, hail and farewell, then turned and lead her people down the hillside and on into legend.

Good afternoon, flashdogs. Thanks to everyone who indulged me in my special weekend challenge. I enjoyed reading your stories; they were a welcome break from a busy and stressful couple of days. I don’t have a whole lot to say other than, as usual, the quality and variety of tales crafted from a single prompt is both impressive and inspiring. I’ve been struggling with my own writing projects recently, and seeing what you all are able to do week after week in mere hours inspires me to strive harder. You guys rock.

Now, on to our winners.

Everything I read from this week was well conceived, but two stories among them stood out to me. For that reason I’ve chosen a only single runner up in addition to our Flash Master.

Runner Up: Nancy Chenier with Gentlefolk. Folks, there was nothing gentle about this story. It is filled with loss and grief and no small measure of guilt. It wrenches your love from your very arms and leaves you wishing your heart was as stony as the Gentlefolk themselves. There is so much to this story left untold, but the devastation it conveys is complete. I can’t help but wonder what our flute-playing narrator intends to do when the water finally recedes.

 

And our Round 42 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Karl A. Russell 

with

Child Of Stone

Nancy wrote a beautifully chilling tale, but Karl just happened to hit upon a current weak-spot of mine. Of course, the language and lovely final image, despite the early-on horror, are reason enough to elevate Karl and his story to Flash Master status, but the fact that I’m currently writing a handful of Lovecraftian tales endeared this story to me on another level. Much like Molly and the sleeping stones, I felt a special kind of kinship with this tale as I was reading it. It is one thing to read and appreciate a story as a reader, but it is something else to feel like you’re sharing part of that world as a writer as well. For that, I thank you, Karl.

Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie. I have fallen behind on my judge recruiting, so watch your Twitter DM inboxes (especially October’s Flash Masters) for an invitation to judge this month. Have a wonderful week, and I hope to see you all again on Saturday.

Cheers!