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?


– 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…


Firdaus Parves


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:


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.


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…


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…


Steph Ellis



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.


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…


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.


photo courtesy Ashwin Rao