Posts Tagged ‘Mark King’

Happy Saturday, writers. Welcome to Round 125. Our judge this weekend is Mark A. King.

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 125

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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. 

Hello again, and happy Tuesday! It’s election day here in the states and all I want to say about that is please, if you haven’t already, go and vote. It might be the single most important thing you do.

Tangentially related: There is an Angry Hourglass holiday poll to gauge interest for Flash Frenzy over the upcoming holiday weekends. Pop over and let me know how your holiday plans stack up.

Now to this week’s business. Thanks to all the writers who stopped by, and to everyone who left comments. A huge thanks also to Marie McKay for volunteering your time to judge. You’ll find her comments below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for the opportunity of judging this week’s competition. The prompt was dealt with in so many different ways, and everyone was so incredibly inventive, I feel unworthy of picking the winners.

I’ve said a quick word about each. Here goes:

Weapon

This flash fiction piece has an impressive amount of depth. The characterisation is fantastic throughout.

Pillow Talk

The character names, here, are very clever. A witty piece of dark writing.

Chimes in the Rain

Beautiful imagery right from the outset.

And Finally…

A highly original story that cracked me up with lines like, ‘cheese-related concussion.’ Brilliant!

The Art of Pillow War

I love the title and concept of this story. Arming women with pillows might well solve many of the world’s problems. The drill sergeant is a great piece of characterisation, too.

Feathers Inc

What a lovely premise to this story. I love the use of different generations to tell this one’s story.

As Above, So Below

Another story with great names. This one had a nice twist.

Untitled

A surreal feel to this with its squishy heads and ‘skull-cracks.’ Mayhem abounds in a manic arena. The ending is particularly poignant with the protagonist contemplating whether a win in these circumstances really is a win.

Angels of the Somme

Elegant imagery reminding the reader of what was fought for in the bloody fields of the Somme.

So-Called Fight Against “Pillow Plague” Continues

Another highly original tale. The tone and of this one and its detail make ‘Sandman Syndrome’ a very convincing modern take on ‘Sleeping Beauty.’

Bring Out Your Dead

This story involves a particularly vicious Student Rag Week. Pilates saves the day. A very entertaining mixture of light and dark.

2nd Runner Up: Angels of The Somme by Mark A. King

The imagery was breathtaking in this piece.

1st Runner Up: Pillow Talk by Steph Ellis

This one was quirky and rather twisted which I loved.

And your Round 144  FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Helena Gordon 

with Weapon

I think the writing here is excellent. It deals with teenage angst in such an insightful way. Brief, yet, telling references about peers and parents give this story depth. The ending is shocking; but, in the short time the story takes to read, the writer still makes me feel sympathy for the protagonist despite the appalling situation. A great piece of flash fiction! Well done!

Congratulations, Helena! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie! Thanks again to Marie for all your comments. Next weekend, Voima Oy steps back into our judge’s role. Hope to see you all there.

Hello again, writers.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’m heartbroken over the events that transpired this past weekend and that the photo I chose for Round 111 is more poignant now than when I posted it. I hope everyone reading this is safe, and that your families and loved ones are well.

There are a few separate Go Fund Me campaigns to assist the victims and their families. If you feel so inclined, links to donate are as follows:

Pulse Victims Fund page for Equality Florida

GLBT Community Center of Central Florida

Thank you to the writers who submitted stories this weekend and to Mark King who read and judged them. His comments are below:

I can’t help but ponder the image in light of the shocking events over the weekend. There is joy, happiness and pride (as is befitting of the event), but there is also sadness on the face of the central character in the photo.

It’s hard to say much more other than my thoughts are with those affected by the incident in Florida.

In terms of stories, we might have been low in numbers, but it was very high in quality.

Am I Pink Enough? – Wonderful build up and delivery. I really enjoyed the internal tension (after everything else, the bird poop line was great). Strong character work and a fantastic outcome.

Plain Clothes – I have to say, this was so well written that it made me want to rip my current project up and start again. I loved the snappy precise sentences and dialogue. A wonderful example of flash fiction.

Medusa – Brilliant take on the story. Knock-out opening two sentences that had me hooked.

HONY #3895701 – I love a very short story. Thanks for this one. A life told in less than 30 words. Well done.

Untitled – Highly enjoyable story. Loved the creativity and humour. It’s got a bit of everything. Keep up the good work.

On to the decision. Given the numbers, it would seem unfair to award anything other than a winner this week (otherwise I’d be giving everyone a HM).

Our Round 111 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Steph Ellis

with

Medusa

Close call, but I have opted for Medusa. I smiled just seeing the title, knowing the writer had taken the image and done something rather unexpected (but delightful) with it. I loved the mythology, but it’s also supremely well crafted. Congratulations.

Congratulations, Steph. Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie. Next weekend, Sal Page will be acting judge. Be safe, friends. Keep loving each other. And we’ll see you all next weekend.

 

Welcome back, friends. To celebrate PRIDE, which took place in SLC last week, I chose one of Ash’s photos from a previous Seattle parade. Our judge this weekend is Mark A. King.

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.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Welcome back, weekend writers. Thanks to everybody who wrote stories for Round 108 and to Mark King for reading them and choosing his favorites. You’ll find his comments below.

Trees hold a special place for many of us and, as I’m starting to realise, they act as a major source of inspiration for my own writing. Inadvertently, I found that three of my FlashDogs Solstice stories were based forests/woodlands.

Recently (as morbid as it sounds), I’ve been looking at woodland burial sites (nothing sinister, I promise). I like the thought of returning to nature and to be part of these landscapes of stunning beauty and rebirth. Many of the stories captured the mystery, fear, magic and spirituality of these places.

An arboretum – fantastic – a chance to dabble with nature, science and perhaps myth. You worked wonders with such a simple prompt. I doff my cap to you all. I enjoyed all the stories and choosing was a difficult task – thank you.

Favourite lines and podium places below:

Would For The Trees “Beneath this dusting of pine needles rests layer upon layer of nutrient rich earth – the forest feeds itself through biodynamics or God’s divine plan.”

Obscured By Blood “He saw on the dash his loyalty card from Gulch Coffee Shop over in Noon City. The card was soaked in blood. “

Firebug “The masking tape on each was clearly noted with the date he’d set each fire. Some fizzled out after he’d fled the scene, but most got the job done.”

Part Transcript of Interview with Miss D. Tremores “They found remains of more than forty people tangled in the roots of trees at the arboretum.”

The Return “Her ancient bones warmed to the kiss of the Samhain fire, heat rising from the cleft of the yew trunk to ease her rebirth.”

Caught “I look down at my feet, remembering a tango in those shoes. I watch my body turn transparent and start to melt away”

Keep it in the Family “The leaves whispered to me, told me what I had to do. They provided me with the instrument of death; I whittled it to a point.”

The Sound of Darkness “Yet, one day, Earth, beleaguered by our apathy, will surely lose her patience and tremble at her core.”

The Colour of the Fox is Gold “…the credit cards heavy with debt, the photograph of John before he lost his charm to the after-work scotch – and drop it against the roots of an oak tree gnarled with age”

The Fox Bride “There are congratulations from the guests, and the party begins. The frogs have brought their lutes and drums. The squirrels have brought mulberry pies.”

Butterfly Graffiti – almost too hard to pick just one. Breath-taking words everywhere. “The sun started speaking french as it came through french windows. An accent of morning gathered in the applause of your softly fluttering eyes. Wings awkwardly floating past glass. Butterfly graffiti.”

Picnic “He tensed more as they neared, she thought his shoulders might snap like an elastic band pulled too rigid.”

The Place That Talks “I pat the smooth cool timber of the birch beside me feeling its breath. Sensing its memory. The collective memory of this sacred space.”

Honourable Mention – The Place That Talks –  AJ Walker: I loved this piece. The vivid world-building, rich character work and the overall sense of the ‘spirituality’ of the location were rather special. Top work.

2nd RU – The Fox Bride – Voima Oy: There is a beautiful, stripped-back, economic beauty to the piece. I adore the fact that it is carefully constructed, Disney-like, on the surface layer, and so much more beneath.

1st RU – The Colour of the Fox is Gold – AV Laidlaw: To choose between this and the winner was a very tough choice. There were so many beautiful lines in this story that to tell them all would be to tell the story again. The poetry of the words and the hints of ancient myths and legends – I loved it all. Stunning.

and our Round 108 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

David Shakes

with Would For The Trees

I opted for this because I wrote a story about a woodland that allowed the children that never lived to come to life for just one day. This felt like it could have been a prequel in many ways. That story was special to me and this one powerfully resonated with me because of that. Apart from my own connection as a reader – there was so much to love here; the well-crafted bond between the couple, the tangible loss of their hope, the attempts to lessen the grief of their planned future, the inevitable death of a soulmate, the dichotomy of nature/loss vs religion/God. A Hollywood tearjerker in 359 words. A worthy winner. Many congratulations.

Congratulations, Shakes! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie!

Next weekend, Round 108 Flash Master, Shakes, takes a break to spend a few days in the judge’s seat. See you all there.

Greetings, writers. Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 108. Your judge this weekend is Mark King.

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.

11220857_686497238143783_2444780618593310603_n

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Happy Monday! Thanks to all who wrote stories this past weekend and to Marie for judging. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for allowing me to judge. The stories this week were all fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them. I won’t go on too long here, as I’ve said a little bit about each:

Swinnish

The premise for this piece is brilliant:
‘“You are very welcome to the first Wimbledon Open Tennis Singles Final post global warming.”‘
It is a witty piece,
‘”new design for a new sport eh, sport?”’
with a sinister edge.
I love what this writer saw in the photograph.

Last Commute

The imagery in this story makes it gripping:
‘Behind us, through the haze, the remains of our city still burn, the high-rise buildings its smashed teeth – biting at the sky lest more bombs fall from it.’
The world building continues
‘Our own teeth will fall from our bleeding gums in time.’
In a post apocalyptic world, there are survivors, all with their own stories that this writer conveyed in the not telling:
‘that’s her story and perhaps you’ll read it elsewhere.’ A lovely little device!
The ending may be one of despair or perhaps it’s about taking control. Excellent.

The Scream.

The title and first line drew me in completely:
‘She sits on the ship, hands on molten face.’
The pace builds with the imagery and repetition:
‘She screams in the waiting rooms of the unwanted diagnosis.
She screams in the monotonous offices of loathing, bullying and oppression.’
Who is this embodiment of our anguish?
‘Edvard Munch once saw her… She is the Scream.’

A Pirate’s Pirate

A pirate raid has left our young hero without his family
‘All I could do for them in this moment was to survive.’
To avenge their deaths, he boards the ship of a pirate whose name reveals all (another excellent device for flash fiction): Captain Robin Hook.
‘a pirate who pirated pirates, and gave back to the destitute victims of their invasions.’
A tense adventure.

Cruise 

A little romance in this one, or there might be, if things weren’t going wrong:
‘Tourists looked dolefully at clouds that were almost incessantly dumping their loads on lakeside cafes and bars. The walkways were slippery…’
However, the mood does change and the descriptions are magical:

‘Somewhere in the depths of the boat, a band struck up, horns blazing, guitar chiming through the night air.’
But, even so, it seems that it might not have been the weather causing the problems, after all.

Lighthouse Road

Beautiful use of language throughout this piece:
‘A flick of a cigar. The sea air rushing with waves hitting laughter. Cars underneath making a sturdy brushing sound.’
Excellent descriptions of family life, ‘My mother swearing with 300 dollar perfume and a thrift store dress. My father wearing a 2 dollar cologne with a 500 dollar suit. We were lopsided but ready to go out,’ give way to a beautiful story of falling in love.

Meandering

We feel the heat in the phrase ‘a memory of a breeze…’ when a criminal takes a short break from his ‘voluntary exile’ and is the subject of a covert police operation.
The contrast between the police sergeant’s idea of luxury and the criminal’s is very revealing allowing excellent plot and character development. The structure of this piece is also expertly handled.
And I can’t not quote this line:
‘He’d choose objectionable books with lurid covers as a guarantee of being left alone. This time; Piers Morgan.’

Summer’s Children

This is a beautiful tale depicting, for our narrator, how spring transforms into summer:
‘Spring lasted into the big commuter parking lot, summer started once sandaled feet hit the docks on the island.’
The joy of summer resonates throughout:
‘they built wobbly sandcastles and dug moats doomed to fail.’
The wonderful twist; however, reveals that this trip might actually be about the recapturing of summer for ‘Summer’s Children.’

It was a tough decision but here goes.

Honourable Mentions for their beautiful poetic prose: ‘Summer’s Children’ by Casey Rose Frank and ‘The Scream’ by Mark A. King

Runner up for its world building:  ‘Last Commute’ by David Shakes

And our Round 103 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

AJ. Walker
with ‘Meandering’

The winner for its tight construction.

Congratulations, AJ! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! Thanks again, Marie, for your comments.

Keep your eyes on your inboxes as I’ll be sending out a call to April Flash Masters (and perhaps a runner up or two) to fill the March judging roster. Meanwhile, I hope to see you all  back next weekend with judge Voima Oy.

Greetings, writers. This week’s prompt was a toughie, but the flash dogs could not be dissuaded from telling its story. Many thanks to those who submitted and to F.E. Clark for judging. You’ll find her comments below.

What a fabulously intriguing photo prompt – I can honestly say that I am not sure what I would have written about had I been taking part this week. 

13 of you awesome writers wrote – and here’s the thing – that makes you ALL WINNERS right there.  STOP with the eye-rolling and shoulder shrugging, right now! The following is just my take as a reader/writer myself.

Thanks, as always, to Rebecca – who makes this a place for us to come and play.  F. E. Clark.

In the order they came:

Swan Song

‘The three girls, all sophomores on Spring Break from Syracuse University, zig-zagged up the beach.’   How easily we are corrupted, and in what should be such pleasant carefree circumstances.  Addiction passed down, fighting it and failing.  The paragraph describing the 3 songs really shows the altered state fuzziness and depth of memory of the main character.  (Also – well done for submitting first!).

Summer Dying Fast

‘…closing out the sounds of summer beneath a blanket of metal.’  A spec. fiction other world, created in such a short piece.  Brilliant last line – perhaps a longer piece is brewing too?

Some Other Time

‘It’s the blind eye an all that. That’s why our planet died.’  This character’s voice made me smile a little, and listen – a lot.  ‘Back to the Future’ still being re-run in 3054 – Gawd help us.

#LoveWins

‘…all he held aloft was a cheap plastic tulip.’  Here’s to Libby-Liberty.  70 words – from what I’ve seen this is rather rare – not using most of the word allocation.  Tight with imagery that echoed after I read it.

All Summer Long

“What happens when the summer ends?”  From that fabulous end of college summer, to picking up and running – temptation and good sense prevailing.  Go Janice!

Friends Like This

‘Fallout would be like an atomic bomb going off.’  Friends like this indeed – crossed agendas corrupted by desire, makes me want to shout and warn the characters.

Last Chance

‘Of course by friends I mean she knew my name, and was never nasty to me in case she ever needed help again.’ I like the self-depreciating humour of this character, and I do hope he did walk over – maybe the beginning of a longer tale? 

Chris and Mike vs The Thing Beneath the Sand

‘…party goers scattered like pigeons being chased by a toddler.’  Although there was shooting and killing in this piece, it made me smile.  What I find most interesting though, is that we never hear what ‘The Thing’ looks like, or is……and it works so well as a story.  Hope to hear more from Chris and Mike.

A Time For Choosing

You fetch up onshore, drenched, coughing the vestiges of the river’s bitterness from your oesophagus onto the jagged rocks beneath your knees.’  Beautiful imagery in this piece, and the Matrix like choice – leaves me wanting to hear what happened next.

“Family Time”

“Well that’s because this picture is…umm…well it’s special.”  Written in dialogue only – perfectly describing the awkwardness/embarrassment of children seeing into their parent’s past.  ‘Ewwww.’  With an all too believable twist at the end from the sibling.

Of The Moment

‘…feeling the moment up against her skin.’  A main character called Hel…..or is she.  Love the idea of these two chatting and also the reference to ‘the old guard’ – a different take. 

All the Colors of the Sun

‘They long to hold the sun in their hands.’  Filled with longing and broken dreams – this beach – a place where the myth is unveiled.  Love the idea of the woman being the ‘all the songs of summer’ to the man.  Beautiful title.

Re-made Man

‘Before I knew it, I was in bed with the wrong people.’  Corruption and politics – is this character a good man or not…..a new start and that killer last line, but somehow I am still rooting for him.  Possibly the beginning of a longer story? 

___

THIRD PLACE – Of The Moment by Catherine Connolly

Hedonism and Corruption – love the idea of those two having a chat….and wondering who else might be around; a different take on the prompt.

SECOND PLACE – LoveWins by Mark A. King

You there, with your 70 words and plastic tulip – I liked this very much.

And our week 67 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Pattyann McCarthy

with

Some Other Time

Cynical, cantankerous, fab character, made me smile despite dire circumstances – YES for this voice.

Congratulations, Pattyann! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s 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.

I’m still recruiting judges for July, so depending on my success, next week will either continue as scheduled with a new photo prompt, or there will be a Flash Master Face Off. Tune in next Saturday to see.

Cheers!

Hey all. Welcome back. I’d like to say a quick but heartfelt thanks to Mark A. King for acting as judge this round, and, as always, a great big thanks to you, the writers, for making Flash Frenzy a part of your weekly writing journey. You’ll find Mark’s comments below:

I just wanted to say a big thank you to you all. The prompt was a good choice and generated a wide range of stories. Each had elements I really enjoyed:

In mrmacrum’sBed Bugger”, we had a brooding tale of darkness and justice. The use of dialogue worked well in this piece as a tool to drive the story and bring life to the characters. I have to confess I’d never heard the term Bed Bugger before, I so looked it up – should I ever need moving services in the US, I’ll now be thinking twice before calling one of them up.

Vagrant Rhodia gives us the tale, “Elysium?” (Nice use of question mark). In 186 words we are granted some wonderful visuals and scene setting, including ‘an exchange of paper is made for a “flavor explosion in every bite”’ – so good. There were many other wonderful examples of words and phrases that richly described the scene.

In the Brian S Creek classic, “Closing Time”, we’re in the thick of the action, in the middle of an armed robbery. The dialogue works really well. It’s not just what is said, but when it is used and how it paces a story. I know Brian is proud of his progress in this area of his writing and he should be. On top of the dialogue and the action, we have a great ending.

Casey Rose Frank gives us a fine example of emotional and refined flash fiction, with “Beautiful Jukebox Emaline”. Her character, Emaline, is so giving, so caring and selfless that her beauty shines through. But the world can be a cruel place and her talents are confined to safe harbours for fear of others. I wanted to transport myself to the scene and attempt to help her, which shows just how well the character is written.

Deb Foy is a word magician and her story “The Difference Between Envy and Jealousy” is a great example of what she does so well. The following lines worked really well, “The blonde one chews her orange gum open-mouthed and speaks so everyone can hear her. “, “Mei slurps her noodles then pinches the fold around her eyes, wondering if she looks like they look. Her black irises follow their blue ones to the table by the window.” – a very fine example of showing and not telling.

I really enjoyed “Table Seventeen” by F.E. Clark. Great writing techniques used to hide the extra table and make us want to know exactly what was going on. The limo was a wonderful idea. I’m not entirely sure if Mr White is someone akin to Mr Grey from Fifty Shades, or another character from Tarantino (or something else entirely), but that’s the beauty. F.E. Clark knows, while the rest of us ponder.

A.J. Walker produced a piece of flash fiction with “Ripples”, that dipped in and out of dreams (or was it actually time travelling, or regression). Wonderful descriptions. Exotic visuals. The wonderful ‘dream’ sequences reminded me of one of my favourite films, Inception (I hope you don’t mind the comparisons, A.J.W). I love the fact that I’ve read it many times and I’m still pondering the dream aspect.

Elaine Marie McKay – a master of dark power with miniscule word-counts. “Cigarette Breaks”, is meant to be edgy and make us feel uneasy. It thoroughly succeeds thanks to the well written POV of the narrator, as they describe the object of their affections. I loved this line, “I watch his arm brush against your nyloned thigh which makes you search for more of your uniform’s flimsy material”. From this I felt unease at the way she was being treated by the customer, while always being aware of the equal unease I felt at the watching narrator.

Voima Oy is a storyteller of the finest quality. I adored the idea of disappeared people returning. Their unexpected return seeming to cause everyone confusion and disruption. This felt like the 2nd part to a story (sorry if it was and I’ve missed the first one, or if it is a tale that I should know). It stands alone as a great piece of flash as we have an entire world, filled with mystery and interesting characters (BobbyZen is just such a great name). I’d love to know what happened before and what happens next.

Catherine Connolly gives us the vivid “The City Of Innocent Deaths”. It is a story filled with stunning words and deep themes. It feels like the narrator is losing grip on reality and living in worlds between dreams, paintings and reality. Too many wonderful words to praise, but I particularly enjoyed the stunning opening.

Great work all. But now I must choose…

Runner up, Casey Rose Frank, for the wonderful (and beautiful) character and my slightly irrational longing to help her. Well done, Casey.

Runner up, Catherine Connelly, for the fantastic beauty of the words and conjuring of worlds half-remembered. Top work, Catherine.

And your round 56 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Brian S. Creek

with Closing Time

Congratulations, Brian for a story that combined many different elements and a highly enjoyable ending. A deserved winning story.

Congratulations, Brian! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie.

As February draws to a close, keep your eyes on your inboxes, Flash Masters. I’ll be recruiting judges for March later this week. Next weekend, Catherine Connolly steps up as Flash Frenzy judge. Hope to see you all there.