Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 46

Howdy, and welcome to the dragons’ lair!!! It’s a world of craziness and fun and brilliance, all smushed into a very fast, very short 24 hours. Here’s hoping you (a) made coffee, and (b) type like a dragon maniac. If not, grab a mug of something memorable, then warm up your fingers here

NEWSFLASH: We are currently accepting applications for the first judge panel of Year Three. Many thanks to those who have already applied. What a spectacular Year Three it’s going to be! Still loads of time to get your application in: the deadline’s Nov 10. Details here.

And now for today’s prompt! October 24, 1929, known today as Black Thursday, was one of the awful days leading up to the collapse of Wall Street and the launch of the Great Depression. But even in the midst of these dark, horrible years, there were light and humor to be found, if you knew where to look. Today’s photo features the work of celebrated Depression-era photographer Marion Post Walcott (Google her work if you have a moment! she’s wonderful).  

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It’s goodbye time again, and will be for the next three weeks as this glorious panel of judges sashays off the stage. Flinging razor-tongued teen aliens every which way as parting gifts today is judge Betsy Streeter. Less is more, she says (meaning words, not trophies, of course); zoom in, she says, and focus on the tiny details to convey a textured character or fully developed world. Read more about what she looks for here.     

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays.   

Now, fetch your toothbrush and get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless specifically instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Clarence Hatry”):

bankruptcy

***Today’s Prompt:

Title: Mr. Hydrick, county supervisor, and Mr. Melody Tillery examining mouth and teeth of his mare, which has mule colt. Pike County, near Tray, Alabama. Public domain photo by Marion Post Walcott.

Title: Mr. Hydrick, county supervisor, and Mr. Melody Tillery examining mouth and teeth of his mare, which has mule colt. Pike County, near Tray, Alabama. Public domain photo by Marion Post Walcott.

Just for Fun: Perfect Timing

Toothpicks L3. CC 2.0 Photo by Moira Clunie.

Toothpicks L3. CC 2.0 Photo by Moira Clunie.

Perfect Timing

by Rebekah Postupak

It showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time, weeping and mewing pathetically.

My sister and I stood staring at it for a while, me, silently, and my sister with the perpetually distracting toothpick in her mouth, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw.

“You gonna take it in?” she said, gnaw, gnaw.

“I don’t know.” I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it, nor my ears from her chawing.

“Can’t just leave it there.”

“I know.”

She twirled the toothpick with her tongue, flipping it so she could start at the other side. This particular toothpick was from earlier this afternoon, I think. Her record for a single toothpick was eight hours, but that left her tongue with such splinters, she made it a personal rule to change them out every seven hours whether they needed replacing or not.

I hadn’t minded it so much when she used to soak the toothpicks in flavored oils. The cinnamon one smelled quite nice, in point of fact, and had I any interest, or teeth for that matter, I might have contemplated trying one out myself. Some of the others weren’t so pleasant. Lemon reminded me too much of furniture polish, or at least what I remembered furniture polish smelling like, back when we cleaned things. Chocolate was just silly; if you’re going to eat chocolate, then for heaven’s sake, eat chocolate. Don’t soak little bits of wood in it and pretend there’s any real sort of pleasure possible from that. But when our bank account ran empty, so did the oils. Now it was nothing but plain old wood, whittled into picks by an obliging neighbor.

“So, what then? It’s coming on night and the teapot’s not gonna boil itself,” my sister said, chew chew chew, flip, chew chew chew.

I didn’t answer, instead turning my eyes to the sky where a faint orange contrail from a sky dragon was exploding into tiny blossoms. This used to be my favorite time of day. Sometimes two or three sky dragons would cross at once, and their contrails would spiral like a whirlpool, so beautiful, so graceful. That had been nice.

Chew, gnaw, chaw, flip.

“You even know what you’re making for supper?” she asked, chawgnaw.

I looked again down at the porch, back at my sister, chaw chaw, back at the porch. The little dragon looked up at me hopefully, the growl in its stomach like the comforting rumbles of an approaching thunderstorm.

Back at my sister, chew chew gnaw, with the toothpick in her mouth.

Hey, no, wait.

Not lousy timing.

Not toothpick.

Kindling.


431 words. Written for the weekly flash fiction contest #FinishThatThought, with the required opening sentence and incorporating optional judge’s elements of a teapot, contrail, and spiral.  

Sixty Seconds IV with: Karl Russell

Hardly anybody wins four times at Flash! Friday. It just isn’t done. It may not be quite civilized. Or legal. But Karl’s gone and done it anyway (the lawyers are digging through the code like mad). 

Normally in this Sixty Seconds space we ask a few routine questions, and we get a few brief but fun answers.

Today will be anything but routine.

It will be anything but brief.

You may find yourself even more addicted to flash fiction than before.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Matchlight

Now for the official blurb: Our latest Flash! Friday winner is Karl Russell.  Read all about him here. This is his FOURTH Flash! Friday win, a feat managed so far only by Maggie Duncan and Betsy Streeter. Read this week’s winning story of his, “The Geek Shall Inherit…,” here, then take a couple of minutes to to see where Karl takes us today. I should tell you first that he — hey, that’s MY mic — hey, now give it ba–

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Well, this could be interesting. Rebekah has pulled away all the prompts and interview questions and given me free reign to waffle on about my writing, what it means to me and where it comes from, along with anything else I might chance upon.

Oh dear…

I suppose a good place to start is with this week’s story. For the record, I have never fabricated a fake photo of my true love’s BF draped drunkenly across another woman. I’ve never even used Photoshop. But… An awful lot of my writing comes from taking aspects of myself and my life, good and bad, and turning them up to eleven. Same with the Photoshop Machiavelli. I wasn’t bullied much at school but that was probably because I learned early on to hide, to avoid attention, to watch as the wrong guy got the right girl and say nothing. But did I ever wonder how to split them up? Maybe imagine vast, Byzantine schemes that would eventually “help” her to see the error of her ways and send her rushing to my arms for a John Hughes ending? Heck yes!

So, that’s where the kid came from, but how did I get there from the chess picture? Well, as with so many of my stories, there was a song involved. I saw the prompt, started thinking about ideas, then plugged the headphones in for the trip to work. Up comes Eels’ “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)” and the line “Do you know what it’s like to care too much, ‘bout someone that you’re never gonna get to touch?” Well yes, I surely do, and by the time I got to work (literally a three minute train ride) I knew what I was going to write about.

Going back through my stories recently for the Flash Dogs anthology that David Shakes and Mark A. King are masterminding, it was interesting to see just how much of myself I’d put in there (and people I know too, which is why it’s always a little scary when I post something and wait for the phone to start buzzing…). It’s almost like a fictionalised diary; pretty much everything I do and see gets worked through in the stories. Smile at me on Monday morning, and by Friday you’ll be starring in my latest piece. You might be fighting zombie pirates or eating enchanted peaches, but it’s you. And woe betide anyone who displeases me…

My story at The Angry Hourglass this week is a perfect example of where life and fiction crosses over; it’s about a scarred outcast who hides his insecurities behind sarcasm and only really relaxes at comic conventions, when he’s surrounded by people who make him look normal. I had the idea on Saturday.

At a comic convention.

I’m not him, he’s not me, but still, take that basic nerdy template and come up with a decent reason to maximise the social exclusion and there you go.

Ah, comics… The other great love of my life. Somewhere on this page, there’s a nice little sketch of Daredevil by Paolo Rivera, with speech bubbles by the writer Mark Waid. I love getting sketches and just started filling book number four, but what I like even more is getting a sketch, then handing it to the writer of the book and asking them to add dialogue. At the cons, the artists work till their arms drop off, knocking out sketch after sketch, while the writer just has to remember their name and how to write it, so it’s fun to put them on the spot a little. The results are always great, but this is probably my favourite: “I don’t have to win all my fights. I just have to fight.” The sentiment is so perfect for the character, for life in general and for writing in particular. Four wins in forty-four consecutive stories is a nine percent success rate; if you hit that level in most tests it would be an outright fail. But as Daredevil tells us, it’s enough just to turn up, week after week, win, lose or draw. That counts for something all by itself, and for someone who would really prefer to be hiding in the shadows and not drawing any attention, it’s still a kind of victory.

Autographed Daredevil. Image owned by Karl A. Russell.

Autographed Daredevil. Image owned by Karl A. Russell.

So I’ll see you all next Friday.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next…