Flash! Friday # 10

This contest is now closed to entries (but always open to comments/feedback!). Thanks to everyone for coming out to fight the snow (or not) today! The decision by our sharp-eyed judge Dan Radmacher will be posted tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Since we in Virginia are getting totally gypped on snow this weekend, Flash! Friday couldn’t arrive at a more perfect time. (And for those of you in the NE corridor snowed in, Flash! Friday’s arriving at a perfect time for you too, lookit that!) (And now that I think of it, those of you who mirror Virginia in not getting snow, and those of you following Boston and getting slammed–well, I’ll be hanged! Flash! Friday’s just in time!)

Welcome!

Today’s contest is judged by SVW member Dan Radmacher, who’s a spectacularly compelling writer in his own right… AND eminently qualified to judge today’s round, if for no other reason than he’s spent the last few months of his life pounding plaster and doing drywally things in his basement. This means (1) he has developed extraordinary patience and resilience under pressure, and (2) he’s gotten really good with a hammer, which will come in handy in the event of a tie.

And now…. We welcome you to dive headfirst into the flames of Flash! Friday # 10. Today’s prompt is a dark and mysterious photo…. accompanied by a VERY generous 150 – 200 word story limit (go nuts! minimum of 150, max of 200); be sure to include your word count and Twitter handle if you’ve got one). Read the rules if you haven’t already, and then…. GET WRITING!

To sum up:

Word limit: Write a 150 – 250 word-story based on the photo prompt below. Post your entry in the comments on this post. Include your word count and Twitter handle so we can laud ya like mad. (And then go comment on the other stories, if you have a minute.  Letting others know what they did right is such a boon.)

Deadline9pm ET tonight

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday) morning

Prize: A smoky, fiery e-trophy badge, your own winner’s page here at Flash! Friday, a 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and WORLDWIDE FAME AND ADULATION!!!! (or at least as close as we can get ya to it!)

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for the latest news/announcements/dragon befriending guidelines (in case you were wondering).  And now for your prompt:

Spotlight

 

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33 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 10

  1. The Player

    I’m so tired. I keep my shoulders squared, my feet apart and balanced as I stand on my mark. I try desperately not to show my exhaustion, although I catch my head slumping forward if I don’t concentrate enough.. The script is final…I must play my part: a leader – strong, determined and fearless.

    This is good. It is how it should and must be. It seems I’ve been preparing for this role for years, decades, perhaps before I was even born. It is the part I think I’ve always been meant to play – the role I’ve been destined for. It is what will make me complete… or it will completely break me.

    I rehearse once again. Running through the scenes and standing firm and confident (at least outwardly) on the mark for my all-important final lines. The play fails if I fail these lines. I take a short break and slug down the last of my caffeine-loaded soda. Back to work. I must be perfect in this role.

    If only… if only I weren’t so tired.

    188 words (sans title)
    Twitter handle: PotterBeth
    © 2013 Beth E. Peterson

  2. Title: Turn the Page

    Sometimes, I wear too many skins; sometimes, not enough.

    In this one, here, now, I’m sure you read defiance, arrogance, brutality. And the hulking of my shadow would probably reinforce that. In this skin, that’s exactly what I want from you, primal fear, primordial fear, the one that rides the neurons down into your reptile brain and makes you run.

    I only ask that you consider the other skins—husband, father, son, brother, among them. I’ve worn those, some well, some abysmally. This one, for the stage, is the money-maker, the nightmare-weaver.

    Let the music swell, let the lights flash, let the crowd roar, and the skin slips on. Every sneer brings applause; every obscene gesture brings adoration. Still, I am the walking shadow; I strut and fret that hour upon my stage.

    I know—we all know—one day I will be heard no more. Tomorrow and tomorrow, I am the idiot telling my tale, and you can only hope, for the sake of your impressionable offspring, in the end I signify nothing.

    Then, my hour is gone. The stage vibrates from the voices, raised in mindless worship, from the stamp of thousands of feet, beating time to notes already fading. I seek the shadows now, because this skin has begun to slough. The echoes of my sound and fury shake the last of the rafters and dissipate, and from a rack of them, I pick the next skin.

    Which? Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it?

    248 words
    @unspywriter

    In this is an obvious homage to my favorite playwright and my favorite play of his plus an acknowledgement of one of my favorite musicians. Care to guess? 😉

  3. Director Allen Green looked up from his theater chair and watched as the young man, he looked at the clipboard filled with names in front of him,….David Micheals….walked onto the stage. Not a very memorable looking boy, Allen couldn’t help thinking, but let’s see what he can do.
    David nervously nodded to the pianist hidden away beside the stage curtain. The music played. Gentle flowing music. Music for the soul. Then, he opened his mouth and sang.
    Allen was surprised at the wonderful baritone voice that came forth from him. Was surprised at how controlled it was, and how easily and melodically it meshed with the sounds from the piano. Every note was hit perfectly, every crescendo and decrescendo followed flawlessly. It was a stunning performance.
    As David’s voice faded out with the end of the piece, Allen couldn’t help but smile as he nodded to the ordinary boy in front of him.
    “You got the part.”
    David was too shocked to speak, and quietly walked off stage.
    Behind the curtain, in the midst of all the abandoned props and equipment, he couldn’t help but jump up and down. A wide grin split his face as he remembered all the people who had told him he couldn’t do it. All the people who had told him that a farmboy from Iowa could never make it to Broadway.

    229 words
    @bookwormattack

  4. Standing at his mark for the first scene in Act 2, he can just make out under the dim house lights the exact spot where she will be sitting tonight. Eighth row, seat 18. He wishes she would be closer. That was the best he could do, at the last minute.

    He pictures her, packed in amongst the rows and rows of faces, a tiny pale shape out beyond the glow of the stage lights. It’s a dimly lit scene, at the start of Act 2, he won’t be able to read her expression. To be honest, he won’t even be able to tell if she is there.

    What if someone tall sits in front of her and obscures her view? What if she looks away at just the wrong moment, and misses it?

    He walks through the scene again, the boards creaking beneath his feet. He comes to the mark again, practices again.

    What if she doesn’t come?

    What if HE is with her?

    That night he will stand at the stage door, coatless, rapid clouds of breath escaping his lungs, willing her to come around the corner, throw her arms around his neck and say, “Daddy.”

    198 words
    @betsystreeter

    • This is my favorite among the ones about theater. You did a really good job surprising me as well as making me feel empathetic for your character! in 198 words! Good job!

  5. I stood where the tape said stand. Couldn’t see a damn thing with those lights shining right on me. Knew I going to die, but I didn’t really have a choice. The text messages said I was to be there, alone, unarmed, hands visible, at 0145 hours, or no one would ever see her alive gain.

    Hell, I hadn’t even had to think about it. They knew I’d show up, and I knew I’d never walk away from the tape mark on the floor. But she’d be safe, they’d let her go.

    I’d taught them well.

    She’d asked me to walk away from my profession. Start a new life. With her. I’d told her no one ever walks away. I told her what would happen. They’d find her, take her, use her to draw me in. And then, make sure the group remained safe.

    But she asked anyway. I could never say no to her.

    They say there’s no honor among thieves. They’re wrong. We have our own brand of honor, and justice. Yeah, they’d shoot me, and then make sure I was dead. That was our oath. To protect the others. No one ever left the group alive.

    But I knew, standing on that tape mark, she was someplace else, someplace safe, and wouldn’t have to watch. I just wished I’d had the chance to say good-bye.

    245 Words
    @LurchMunster

  6. Just Me and My Shadow

    On the well-worn stage, we stand alone, my shadow and me. If I close my eyes, I can hear the roar of applause once more from all the crowds that used to fill the auditorium. I can smell the greasepaint and hear the hushed whispers from backstage. Memories flit through my mind.

    Break a leg!

    Don’t whistle in the theatre!

    Remember, a bad dress rehearsal means a great opening night.

    You got the lead! Here’s your script…

    Voices from my past…voices that are now silenced forever by the oncoming storm.

    This is one of the last safe places. The auditorium is large and only has two doors that still work. The ones leading out from the backstage area are welded shut. I have barred those doors and nothing will enter through them tonight. I feel like I’ve been running forever, but it’s really only been about six months.

    Six months since the plague came. Watching my family and friends die around me, and wondering why I was spared. Watching in horror when many of them came back to life and began hunting me like a dog. I’ve found no other survivors yet. I’ve seen no signs that there are any, but there almost have to be. How cruel would it be for a seventeen year old boy to be alone the rest of his life?

    “All the world’s a stage,” I whisper.

    “And all that crap,” comes a voice from beneath my feet.

    248 Words {including title}
    @Angelique_Rider

    • Yes! The Walking Dead comes back this weekend! This was great. Actually, I have extra reasons for loving this… I have a zombie story due in just TWO days and I really needed just a little extra push to get the revisions/rewrite finished.

      Great flash! I love that the voice at the end came from under his feet.

  7. Spotlight

    “Check the lighting and don’t take too long. Make sure everything is perfect because you only have two days.”

    He hated how he felt when they spoke to him. Years ago, when he first walked through the theater doors, he knew he would work his way up and was more than willing to start from the bottom. Someday he would make it to the stage.

    Too many years filled with too many rejections.

    Years later he is still merely a stagehand. Just the guy they yell at if something goes wrong…whether it was his fault or not. Years later and there’s more pain than joy in the theater for him. He’s afraid he’ll lose himself forever. Nevertheless, he still adjusts the lights as he was told.

    Now he’s standing on stage in the spotlight, and he needs it like he needs air to breathe. The theater is empty, so he stands tall, feet firmly planted on his mark, and he begins the monologue. The monologue he’s heard hundreds of times from different voices in the last couple of months. His voice echoes in the darkness.

    He knows he kills it, but no one is around to see it. His jacket slung across the seat is his only audience, but he doesn’t care anymore. He knows now in his heart he should be on the stage. He knows in his soul this is where he belongs. This is his place in the world.

    He belongs in the spotlight.

    ~ 249 words including title
    @BaseballMama621

  8. The Trial

    ‘Stand for the judgement’
    The sharp push in my back sent me staggering onto the dais. The light skewered me to the floor. My heart beat like a pigeon taking off as I faced the row of empty chairs.
    “Wait! What’s going on? Why am I here?”
    ‘You are the representative.’
    ‘Representative? I was snatched in the night!”
    ‘There must be a representative present’
    “Why? What’s happening?”
    ‘You were brought here to hear the judgement.’
    “What’s the being judged?”
    ‘Fitness for you to continue.’
    “Continue to do what?”
    ‘Continue to exist.’
    “What?”
    ‘If the judgement goes against you, you will not be allowed to continue. You will be ended.’
    “You mean killed! On what evidence?”
    ‘We have examined you and observed you for millennia. That is the evidence.’
    “Millennia? But I’ve not been alive for millennia.”
    ‘Your species has.’
    “But…”
    ‘The representative will be silent for the judgement’
    My tongue swelled in my mouth. I gasped, each breath tinged with panic and sour bile.
    Through the window I saw a familiar blue and white orb whirling in space.
    The jury filed in, faceless spectres in the gloom, their shuffling feet masked by the swirling rush of blood in my ears.

    200 words
    @nickjohns999

  9. He stood boldly on the stage, facing the empty seats as he ran through the piece; sounding out the lines, making sure his voice projected right to the back of the auditorium. I watched from the gallery in awe of his masterful approach to the piece.

    He hadn’t heard me come in and didn’t know I was here – I didn’t want him to; I wanted to see him uninhibited, striding through the scene, so I could witness his true brilliance.

    As he built towards the crescendo, working up a sweat pacing back and forth, I could feel the adrenaline start to rush through my own system and the hairs rise on my arms.

    Then he stopped centre stage to call out the lines with such fierce vulnerability I could feel my eyes sting, and as he fell to his knees to portray the final moment, tears streamed down my face.

    When silence descended I couldn’t help it; I rushed to my feet to applaud wildly. But the horror on his face upon seeing me, made me falter, and as he ran from the stage I called after him, hoping he would return for that night’s performance.

    197 Words
    @PurpleQueenNL

  10. Before settling into her seat, sixth row center, Emily took a moment to look over the stage. Her eye caught a reflection from the tape they’d used to set the marks for the singers, and she smiled, thinking of her days in drama club back in high school. Well – forward in high school might be a better way of putting it, since her days as a stage manager were nearly fifty years in the future.

    The house lights dimmed, and the spot op focused his light on the microphone at center stage. The singer walked out from the wings to polite applause, resplendent in a white tuxedo and black cufflinks, polished until they sparkled like diamonds in the stage lights. He looked down and closed his eyes as the strings began behind him, waiting for the right moment to enter the song. “I have dreamed…”

    As he sang, Emily was carried away on a sea of memories. Watching ‘The King and I’ with her parents, the days she’d spent lost and scared in New York, wondering if there was a way out from under her mistakes that had hurt so many, but most of all, Simon. The summer evenings she had spent with him in Cooperstown, the nights she lay awake afterwards, alone, and all the nights since, wondering where he was and if he was okay.

    “How you look in the glow of evening
    I have dreamed and enjoyed the view
    In these dreams I’ve loved you so…”

  11. The alarm went off while he was in the shower; he’d waken up long ago. The anticipation of this day, every Monday, was more than his brain could take. He ran dripping to turn off the obnoxious beeping before he heard an even more obnoxious banging on his back wall by Spiffy, his beloved drunken neighbor.

    Josh was desperate to get out of this hole. He worked nights at the local bingo parlor as a security guard. But Sundays were his day off, allowing him a Monday full of freedom and creativity. He quickly dressed, grabbed a banana, and took off on his Harley. The empty streets, at 5:30 am on a Monday, didn’t bother him.

    The sign loomed ahead of him as he turned south on Locust Street. He felt his heartbeat in his throat. He couldn’t believe this still happened after a year of Mondays. But so be it. It just proved how much it meant to him.

    After parking, he walked to the back of the building, shut down for the day. It was dark.

    He found his door, always unlocked due to an understanding friend in the business. He removed his leather revealing his short-sleeved plain white tee and black jeans finished of with some Chucks. They were his usual Monday duds; he didn’t have the nerve to change anything.

    He savored the emptiness of the theater, then turned on one light. He took some breaths, walked out to the “X,” and started on cue.

    249 words
    @dailybipolar

  12. He peered down at the empty seats of the theater, their tattered, worn upholstery and he knew. The souls of the audience would return, giving him many a body to choose from and good thing too; as the boy’s physical strength time stamped to end within the next three hours assured him. Long enough for this nighttime play: the satyrs gallivanting with maidens of garish colors, speaking of Shakespeare and the world his stage lay upon with words unfamiliar to their own dialects.
    As the play wore on, none of the blank faces staring up at the stage, their shadows congealing unanimously into the dark theater noticed how cadaverous the actor appeared in the harsh lights, nor how sluggishly he moved about. Just an actor, acting a strange sort of character, among many strange characters. He slid around the stage, as if dragged, arms limp. Abruptly he fell, the audience gasping collectively. Hanging limply over the stage, his expression frozen, blank, unnaturally shifted.
    Springing to assist the young actor as he thudded against the edge of the stage, a woman touched his shoulder with the intention of pulling him up out of the spotlight’s glare. Instantly, she froze. Her breath caught in her lungs, tightening. Breathing laboriously, she turned, her body a stone pillar; she glimpsed a shadow against her back, bulky. Nothing like her own.
    The boy on the stage, gaunt and dead, had no shadow at all.

    239 words

  13. Art for Art’s Sake

    “I am alone, but I am never alone!” he shouted.

    “alone…” the room said softly.

    “The world is a crowded and busy place! Everybody talks, but nobody says anything! And nobody’s listening anyway!” he yelled.

    “anyway…” whispered the room.

    He pranced and danced, twirling and waving his arms to emphasize his anger.
    “The world is crowded, but everyone is alone! No eye contact, no real intimacy! No one understands!” he screamed.

    “stands…” the room repeated back.

    He yelled wordlessly as he started flinging paint at the wall behind the stage. He stomped and threw brushes and screamed at his work. He kicked paint cans, colors splashing, cans crashing.

    “I am nobody and I am everybody!” he cried, fist high in the air. “I am nothing and I am everything!”

    “thing…” the room gently echoed back.

    When his piece was done, he stood on the stage, breathing heavily, sweat and rage draining out of him. He stood in the spotlight, with his back to his art, looking out into the empty room.

    “Art for art’s sake.” He said, too softly for an echo. “Art for an audience of one. An audience of none.”

    One last act of self-expression, just before he walked out the door.

    The lighting of a match.

    ~~~
    209 words, without the title.
    @ctperry744

      • Thanks. I read your piece too fast at first, it was like a scary confusing dream. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did go back and read it again, and it was worth it. Great story.

  14. I held my breath as the janitor walked on stage.
    Please don’t turn around. Please don’t look up.
    What was he doing here this late, anyways? My fourth night crashing at this dump, and no one had ever been here past seven. I crunched down lower behind the bars of the railing.
    He moved to center stage and stood there, just stood there. Looking out over garbage and ripped, empty chairs. He was skinny, and from the back looked a bit like my brother. At least, how he looked the last time I saw him. But that was a long time ago.
    My stomach growled, and I got ready to run, cause there’s no way he didn’t hear that. All I’d had to eat today was the bag of chips I stole from Chang’s. I felt bad about that, but I’m not exactly swimming in cash. And, I can’t go home. I won’t. Not until Mom calls the cops, and kicks him out. But I guess she already chose.
    Janitor is still staring. Dude, take off! I willed him to leave, pleaded in silence, but that worked as well as it ever did.
    Out of nowhere, he stomped the floor so hard I almost screamed. He lifted his head to the lights and yelled “I QUIT!” until his throat had to be bleeding, then ran down the aisle and outside, slamming the door. I curled back up in my blanket and tried to fall asleep. Some people have problems.

    249 Words @hackerverse

  15. ~The Gaffer~

    Karl hit his mark.
    Two hundred performances and he never once missed.
    He never once forgot his lines.
    He never once got stage fright.
    He never once had an audience.
    “Whatcha doin’ Karl?” drawled Scooter, the producer’s errand boy.
    “None of your business,” Karl answered, far more brusquely than he intended. Scooter didn’t deserve to be his whipping boy.
    Karl stared down at the mark. It was his tape there, he’d been the one that placed it in exactly the spot for the expertly handsome and all so superior wonderboy to hit in every performance. And hit it, wonderboy did. Hit it and wowed the audience every time.
    Wonderboy was the perfect choice for the part.
    It was the part Karl played every night, knowing he could do it even better. Two years ago, he’d proved it to himself, rehearsing until the words flowed from him naturally, until he dreamed as the character dreamed.
    But you’ll never get a part if you never try out.

    @USNessie word count 165

    I had a different idea first, and felt compelled to write it, so I put it on my blog. Then I re-did it within the VERY tiny word count of 200.

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