Flash! Friday # 35

Apologies, y’all: we got us a little wrinkle in cyberspace. Results will post Sunday instead. Thank you–see you as soon as logistically possible!

CLOSED! Yep. Done for another week! A thousand thanks to all of you who came out to write, read & comment. See you for results Saturday!

Last week didn’t work out so well for many of our cable car passengers. So many of them went up but never came down again (or at least not in the way they’d hoped). Curiously, it would also seem many of you dear writers were hungry, as quite a few passengers wound up being someone-or-other’s lunch.  And for the next part of our science experiment, this week perhaps try writing after you’ve eaten, just to see what happens…. 

(As ever, here are the contest guidelines.).

This week’s contest is judged by SVW member Kinza Carpenter Shores, whose hard work will quite possibly earn her a free sandwich from the Flash! Friday cafe. (Be sure to check out her judge page to find out what she looks for in a winning entry. Short version: she loves mood, sentence structure, and an interesting plot.)  [[And yes, today for some odd reason I feel steampunk calling! Let’s see you fit elves or dragons or mermaids into this photo, eh???]]

And now:

Word limit: GO WILD! Anywhere between 100-200 word story based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (100-200 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one.

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday)

Prize: A totally nutty e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, a personalized off-the-wall page here at FF, a who-knows-where-this-is-going 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME emblazoned on hula hoops in schools around the world (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/tips on how to dress for a dragon tea.  And now for your prompt:

Photo by Bild Bundesarchiv, WikiCommons

Photo by Bild Bundesarchiv, WikiCommons

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190 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 35

  1. Flashback – 188 words
    @todayschapter

    “Your tongue is sticking out.”
    “So?”
    “You always stick it out when you are unsure of your calculations. Are you absolutely certain this is going to work?”
    “Yes of course, you think I would risk destroying the neighbourhood?”
    “Forget the neighbourhood, if you’ve got this wrong it’s the planet I am concerned about!”
    “Now you’re just being dramatic. I checked the numbers a dozen times, everything is in order.”
    “Ok, well if you are so sure, then you can push the button.”
    “That wasn’t what we agreed. I do the math and you run the equipment. Now hop to it.”
    “You want it to be my fault! If this thing tears a rift in the space time continuum I’m holding you responsible.”
    “Stop stalling and push the bloody button.”
    “This is just going to be a small jump right? I don’t want to leap back to before we were born, or become lunch for a T-rex.”
    “We’ll barely jump back at all. I’ve calibrated the numbers for a three hour hop. Let’s walk before we run.”
    “Ok, here goes nothing.”
    ZAP!
    ………………
    “Your tongue is sticking out.”
    “So?”

  2. @StephenWilds
    “Destructive Forces” – 200 words

    “Stop it! Stop it right now, Adam!”
    The room was tense. Three men stood over the large device, circuitry splayed out in six different directions. Sweat poured from each of them in the blistering hot underground lab.
    “I’ve got it. Stop yelling.”
    “Let the man work, Craig.”
    “Are you kidding me? If he puts too much energy into that core this whole facility could go up. So you’ll excuse me, Philip,” Craig said the other scientists names with disdain, “if I watch over his work.”
    Adam held the metallic spanner closer to the core. A small whip of yellow energy lashed upwards, almost touching his hand.
    “Will you both SHUT THE HELL UP.”
    The tension grew even thicker in that moment of silence that followed. Each man eyeing the ball of energy that wanted to explode.
    “We should have taken the time to set up the blast shielding,” Philip protested.
    “There wasn’t time, and it wouldn’t have done much good anyway. If Adam can’t do this… blast shielding will be the least of anyone’s problem.”
    “There,” Adam said, wiping sweat from his forehead and backing up from the glowing machine with fear and reverence.
    “Now, boys, we can fight dragons.”

  3. Birds of a feather

    “Why are they still chitchatting?”

    “They’re talkative women. What did you expect?”

    “They were planning to do more than just chat. Why is there no action yet?”

    “You dirty minds! If we get caught, it’s going to be the end of us!”

    “A little break doesn’t hurt. These two can give Scarlett Johansson a run for her money.”

    “Your break is going to have us running for our lives. Are you sure no one is headed here?”

    “Not a soul.”

    “Why is your tongue sticking out then? You never do this unless you’re nervous.”

    “Stop being such a party-pooper. Get a life!”

    “Alright, I’m off. You two can have all the fun you want.”

    Just then, one of the women discovers the camera. She shrieks in alarm and beckons to her companion. They exchange worried glances and run out of the room.

    “Out! They’ve noticed the cam. Let’s get out of here!”

    “But the door is locked. Who the hell locked the door?”

    “Open the door! Let us out, we’re dying!”

    After a mini-eternity, the door opens.

    “Filming officers’ wives on the sly? You’re suspended for two weeks. Get out! And leave the tapes behind.”

    195 words.
    @vvordyvvise

  4. “Warning: Only Industry Accredited Workers May Adjust The Special Machine”
    by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [111 words]

    #132678operativeneurallog20130801065123
    347891 is watching as I adjust the special machine.
    I am not allowed to know what it does – I have only just been rated – but it is very important.

    #347891operativeneurallog20130801065134
    132678 is nervous. He should be. This is the Special Machine! 132678 is too ol…[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]. He should never have bee…[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]
    132678 must have worked hard to be rated at his age.

    #321568operativeneuallog20130801065156
    The adjustment is proceeding well. 132678 was a necessary addition to correct 347891. It is fitting to see him supervise 132678 in adjusting the Special Machine. Once 132678 has completed the adjustment, 347891 will need to recyc[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]reassigned.

    #0110110specialmachinelog20130801065199
    347891operativeUnGed2013080165147
    347891operativeUnGed2013080165149
    321568operativeUnGed2013080165172

  5. ‘National Pride’ – 198 words
    by Tom O’Connell (@Conveniently_So)

    From the beginning, Tom had seen the risks. He stood, watching and waiting, whole metres from Dr Fielding and his machines. Tom admired his colleagues’ tenacity, but that was all.

    ‘All right, Fielding,’ said Bill, the Commander of Operations, ‘let’s see what she can do.’

    Dr Fielding mock-spat into his palms. Then he rubbed his hands together and inputted his no doubt esoteric password into the terminal.

    Tom took a subconscious step back. What kind of government took risks like this? He couldn’t believe he still worked here. For five years, the nation had unwittingly haemorrhaged money funding Fielding’s secret commissioned experiment. But for what purpose? To feed some inferiority complex? Optimistically, Tom hoped this was about more than getting noticed by our First World bigger brothers. Bill had given his signatures, yet he seemed to have no idea what Fielding had built.

    Such misplaced trust unsettled Tom. Fielding was the brightest scientific mind in the country, but he was also nomadic, unpredictable. And whatever he’d created – a weapon or renewable energy source – it didn’t matter; in all likelihood, the world would always see Australia as its charmingly backwards cousin.

    Dr Fielding reached for the lever.

    Tom inhaled.

  6. A Refreshing Change to Attitudes in the Workplace

    ‘Something doesn’t feel right.’
    ‘What?’
    ‘I don’t know exactly. It just feels like there’s something missing.’
    ‘We’ve got the the green stuff, the blue stuff and some of that purple stuff.’
    ‘But that’s not it. There’s something else.’
    ‘Well, we’ve already put on the circular stuff, the triangular stuff and the long thing.’
    ‘No… no…that’s not it.’ He stares into the machine, tongue out, befuddled.
    ‘I have a stick of gum in my pocket. Is that it? Is that what’s missing?’
    ‘No, but stick it on anyway. Something…more important, revolutionary, even. If I could only put my finger on it…work out why this doesn’t seem right…Why that’s it! If my calculations are correct, I’ve got it!’
    ‘What? What is it? What’s missing?’
    ‘My Good Man, I’ll tell you what’s missing: an influx of women to the world of engineering!’

    143 words

  7. “The cog-men amired the crafstmanship” – 131 words – @dieterrogiers

    The cog-men admired the craftsmanship that had gone into the machine. The boring grey thing wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing apparatus, sure, but boy did every part of it work gangbusters. The devil was in the details because behind some seemingly imperfect components true miracles of science and mechanics were hidden.

    They had been unsuccessfully trying to produce a new, advanced model of the machine for ages now, but nothing came close to the complex yet simple perfection that this particular type possessed. That is why they had – incognito – travelled back in time to the year 1963. To watch. To observe. To learn.

    As they returned to the cold metal future the cog-men finally understood why ancient scriptures had made reference to the machines as beings of intelligent design.

  8. A tear rolls down Peter’s cheek. Unchecked he continues to stare at the photos his Grandson had found during the house clearance of his old house. Sam looked on worried that he’d done wrong. He’d never seen Peter cry before. A cauldron full of anger, yes but tears never.

    Peter looked up suddenly and seeing Sams worried expression

    Don’t worry my boy, thankyou for bringing these to me. I get so bored here with nothing to do and these old grey cells aren’t what they used to be!  Now I have a something to focus on.

    Sam was still in shock. The photos certainly did seem to have jolted Grandpa Peter out of his angry trancelike bubble.  Sam was aware of Grandpa Peters past and he understood that there were some memories he’d never share.  These photos were kept for a reason and appeared to lift his spirits to despairingly calm.

    A lot of memories could be unlocked now and return some of the focus back since Grandma Marie had passed away.   Buying Grandpa Peter this smaller bungalow was the best thing they could have done.

    Peter laid a hand on Sams and the two men sat for a while in comfortable silence. A shared moment that would last forever.

  9. Extraction

    “I don’t see,” said Marcus, annoyingly. Arnold mopped his brow, removing his glasses, rubbing his eyes. If this didn’t work, it was more than funding that would disappear and the Queen had lost all patience with their promises.

    “Look! It’s happening!” Arnold exclaimed, pointing to the extraction chamber. They watched eyes wide as the extraction chamber filled with energy; tiny golden particles swirling around before settling to the bottom.

    Carefully, Arnold opened up the chamber under the watchful eye of Marcus and a Queen’s agent. Ignoring the gold dust, Arnold reached in and with a pinch, picked up the little creature; wings drooped, all colour faded.

    “How do we know there’s no magic left?” the agent asked. Arnold regarded the fairy between his finger and thumb before releasing his grip. The three men watched as the fairy, once full of magic and vivaciousness, tumbled to the floor in a heap.

    “We have the power of magic! Our Queen can now defeat all her enemies!” Arnold triumphantly declared.

    “See, your Fairy Queen is dead and darkness will now rule,” the agent declared to a small cage of frightened fairies as they sorrowfully looked down on their lifeless Fairy Queen.

    198 @Lizzie_Loodles

  10. Butcher’s Boys

    ‘Come on! What’s on earth’s the delay?’

    ‘I beg your pardon? If you hadn’t broken the damn thing in the first place…’

    ‘Are you *still* going on about that? For God’s sake, man! I must’ve said sorry at least fifteen times! What more do you want?’

    ‘Am I still going on about it? How dare you! Why, you second-rate…’

    ‘Gentlemen! Please! Let’s focus, here.’

    ‘Sorry, sir.’

    ‘Apologies, Dr. Butcher.’

    ‘That’s all right, gents. Let’s remember there’s no need for harsh words. We’re three of the finest minds at this university. This tiny thing shan’t defeat us, now, shall it?’

    ‘No, sir.’

    ‘No, Dr. Butcher, sir.’

    ‘Spiffing. So, where are we?’

    ‘Well, sir, we’ve managed to isolate the heating element, and Eason here has recalibrated the lens…’

    ‘Yes, Dr. Butcher, and I’ve even managed to make it remotely controllable! If you’d care to look…’

    ‘All right, Eason, good man. I’m sure your lens is a marvel of modern engineering. Randall, you were talking about the heating element?’

    ‘Sir, yes. It’s in perfect working order, sir.’

    ‘Splendid! So, I can expect my dinner sometime this evening, then? Hot and edible?’

    ‘Yes, sir.’

    ‘Sir, we hope so.’

    ‘Marvellous. As you were, boys.’

    199 words
    @SJOHart

  11. Erin McCabe

    200 words

    Conversion

    He looked at the photograph, well not so much looked, as interpreted; it was hard to look at anything anymore without actual eyeballs.

    Truthfully he knew that there was no photograph, just a freeze frame in his mind; but the realisation made him feel strange and desperate, so he chose to ignore it.

    He sensed an energy move beside him; the concept of “beside” was now meaningless, but it gave him comfort to imagine physical closeness.

    The ether substance transmitted a response directly, it had the essence of “You’re the one with his tongue sticking out.” but without words.

    “What are you?” he soundlessly echoed back.

    “The balding one I think.” Was, he decided, the nature of the response, but he had merely received the minds eye image of an egg and to his surprise had surmised baldness.

    He struggled to remember; admittedly he had retained little knowledge of his former existence. All that was left, scorched into his consciousness, was the image; three men crowded around a machine, a beautiful and complex machine designed to convert matter into energy.

    His thoughts were beginning to stagnate and repeat, he could feel himself rapidly fading; his non-existence approaching.

    “That damn machine”

  12. GUINEA PIGS – 198 words
    by IfeOluwa Nihinlola (@ifemmanuel)

    “See? I told you he was up to no good”
    “Huh…huh”, I rub my balding head.
    “I d…do…don’t think we should to…to…touch it, things like this are meant to be s…st…star…stared at not touched?” Harry whispered.
    “So you guys drugged your boss, stole his key and drove across town on a national holiday just to stare?”
    “Huh…huh” I grunted.
    “I can’t be a p…pa…part of this”
    “There you go; I was wondering when spineless you would show up. Don’t you think it strange that he kept this hidden from all of us?”
    “I don’t c…care wh…what you say, I’m leaving”
    “No you won’t, you leave when we all leave, is that not right Richard?”
    “Huh…huh… but it looks like it will come to life and eat us up”
    “Have you been reading those silly journals again?”
    Thomas adjusts his glasses and pushes the green button on the side panel. The equipment starts to emit a low humming sound that becomes increasingly inconvenient. We cover our ears with our hands but the sound seems to bypass our ears on its way to our very souls.
    Seconds later, our bodies lie lifeless on the floor, killed by Tesla’s supersonic weapon.

  13. Curiosity
    172 words
    @mishmhem

    “This is how the world ended. Not these men, but men like them,” the voice said as the slide changed to reveal three men standing around an odd contraption.

    Reedy wasn’t sure if it was a ‘Drill Press’, or a reactor… or one of their funny optical things, but the fact of the matter remained: humans were dangerous.

    They were always poking and prodding; trying to understand things they had no hope of controlling. They kept at it until they poked their way through the envelope, through the bubble. Too bad, no one had ever told them that if they ruptured the bubble… it would collapse in on them until nothing existed, nothing but the Maelstrom that is.
    The Maelstrom was always there, waiting to devour another reality when the opportunity presented itself.

    It was here now, waiting to take this world and Reedy knew there was very little they could do to stop it. The humans had gone too far this time.

    Did they really need a neutron powered can opener?

  14. Easy
    by A J Walker

    Three concerned faces studied the old machine, it hadn’t been used for months and it wasn’t yet clear why it had been used today.

    ‘Systems are there for a reason,’ Derek said again shaking his head.

    ‘We can have this conversation another time Derek,’ Bob said trying to sound calm.

    The engineer carefully drilled out the broken screw and cleaned up the rusted hole before finding a matching one to replace it.

    Bob picked up one end of the guard and motioned for Derek to pick up the other end, then they held it up against the machine as the engineer lined it up with the screw.

    In no time the safety guard was up and solid.

    The bloodied body of Jenkins on the floor by their feet now needed to be moved and a believable story concocted before they called the authorities. They’d done it before. Like most things it was easy.

  15. What is That?
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    (200 words)

    “Did ya see that?”

    “Did I see what?”

    “I knew ya wouldn’t see it, Marty. Ya never do.”

    Marty shook his head, scratching at his brow. “Oh, gees, let’s not start this again, Bill.”

    “Yeah, Bill, give it a rest.” Frank picked off a bit of loose tobacco from his lip and took another puff off his cigarette.

    Bill adjusted his glasses. “I’m just gonna roll back a bit. I swear to God it’s there.” He squinted into the camera.

    Marty rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall.

    The only sound was the clicking of the camera as Bill moved the film forward and back, his tongue stuck out in concentration.

    Frank snickered. “Bill, you look like an idiot.”

    Finally Bill stepped back and grinned. “Who’s the idiot now?” He pointed to the lens.

    Marty craned down. “Holy Mother of God, what is that?”

    Bill chuckled. “I’ve been tellin’ ya for three weeks, Marty. This is it, what we’ve been lookin’ for.”

    Frank rubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. He lifted up his sunglasses and looked closer. “Can’t be, man. Is that what I think it is?”

    Bill put his arms around their shoulders. “Hollywood, here we come.”

  16. Under cover dragon
    194 words (excluding title)
    @dmcahill

    This is painful to watch. It’s taken your one with the Buddy Holly glasses nearly 40 minutes to work out where to put the crankshaft.

    “Karl be careful- there is a delicate balance here that takes time to achieve.”

    “Be gentle, brother,” says the studious one whispering what he thinks are calming nuggets of wisdom into Karl’s ear.

    I want to tell them my crankshaft isn’t that delicate, that it doesn’t need to be slowly coaxed into the light like a badger.

    There are rules, otherwise I’d have put an end to this and they’d already know how to control this device.

    But they need to learn all on their own how weaponise the insides of this machine I temporarily call home.

    I pick up all the doomsday news forecasts from here and while many may fear the end is nigh, if either side is relying on this trio….

    Once they figure out how to point and aim, they say they will put me on rocket headed for another galaxy. By then I will have all the knowledge my people need to acquire this planet and their finest weapon will be light years away.

  17. Overheard Conversation

    Mike Jackson (@mj51day)
    158 words

    “Are you sure Jimmy? This thing hasn’t worked in years.”
    “I’m telling you Billy, Pete and I both heard it, clear as anything. Strange voices coming out of this old speaker. I’m sure they were saying something about an invasion. Let’s listen, see if we can hear them again.”

    As the three men huddled closer to the ancient speaker, a group, on a distant planet, stood looking at the scene on a large screen.

    “What’s happening Captain?”
    “Not sure Commander. It would appear these humans have accidently locked on to our communications system.”
    “What have they heard?”
    “Nothing of consequence sir. Certainly nothing definite about our plans.”
    “Nevertheless Captain I don’t want to take any risks this close to the invasion. Can we dispose of them?”
    “Yes sir. We have a laser trained on them as we speak.”
    “Do it then, and Captain, I don’t want any mess and while you’re at it, destroy that machine as well.”

  18. Return of the cat

    ***

    Gerhard studied dials, inhaled sharply then whistled softly with his tongue between his teeth. Hubert and Moritz stood nearby, holding their breath and watching his every move.

    “Yes, yes, good..very good!” Gerhard breathed, glancing over at both Hubert and Moritz in turn before looking back at the dials and writing numbers and symbols in minuscule script in his notebook. Finishing the last character with a flourish, he snapped the book closed.

    “Gentlemen, ze machine is successfully calibrated vit no errors!” Gerhard said as he pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose, a grin on his face. The other two men exhaled audibly and chortled along with the engineer.

    “Ve can finally begin” said Hubert “Moritz, let’s turn ze thing on!”

    Moritz flicked a switch, causing the machine to hum and the spindle to rotate, gradually becoming a blur as hum became song; all three men retreated and covered their eyes as electricity arced about the device.

    “Dis ist going to blow Schrödinger’s mind!” Hubert shouted.

    There was a bright flash of light; the machine slowed to a stop as the men uncovered their faces.

    The cat which had appeared glanced about the lab with wide eyes, meowed inquiringly.

    ***

    @theimaginator20
    200 words

  19. Title: Waiting for Mother
    Word count: 198
    @WendyStrain

    Amazing. They forgot I’m even in here. The only reason for their stupid machine and the bald one is so close I could burn him through the air hole.
    Maybe he’s just that confident that keeping me cold with that overhead fan quenches my fire. I am cold. And tired of fighting against the magnetic pull of the contraption they have hooked up to this box. Mother told me not to stray too far from the cave.
    “They can’t catch us when we’re big,” she’d said, “but you’re just the right size for their horrid games.”
    She was right and now I’m trapped. How long will it be before Mother finds me anyway? I’m getting hungry. And a little worried. The men are excited, concentrating on some kind of gauge I can just barely see through the front air hole. A strange sound begins, increasing in intensity and making me feel strange, weaker.
    “I still don’t think we should do this, Frank,” Craig said from the other side of the machine. “It’s wrong to try to capture magic this way.”
    Inside the box, the baby dragon collapsed just as a giant shadow fell across the lab’s picture window.

  20. Defiance Cost

    They were the best and the brightest minds our planet had to draw upon. While that would, in most circumstances, have assuaged our fears and bolstered our hopes, it did not. The simple and tragically-unavoidable reason for our continued discomfiture was that these geniuses…these mega-minds had absolutely and, unquestionably, no idea how to avert the impending disaster that threatened us.

    Our doom was all but assured and there seemed little doubt we would, all too soon, join the behemoths of prehistoric times in the “Also Ran” category for “Dominate Life Form” of our world.

    The Conquerors appeared above the planet with no warning and no question of their intentions. They demanded nothing less than our complete and utter surrender. They mandated our subjugation with no conditions offered and no promises made. We would comply or else.

    When our leadership declined, we learned what “or else” entailed. Within moments after their refusal, the atmosphere began to…constrict. Whether it was from some sense of voyeuristic pleasure or of offering mankind the opportunity to reconsider, the process was slow but, ultimately, inexorable.

    Thus were we to perish…slowly…painfully…fruitlessly. Little did it matter we faced our end with heads held high and our pride intact.

    200 words @klingorengi

  21. Retiring the Dragon

    It was a long ago night. Santa Ana winds were blowing fire through the curtainless window. All ten tongues of the flaming dragon were lashing out at six-year old Jonah. Strangely, the dragon had his mother’s face. He was afraid, scared really! The only redeeming feature of that summer night was the full moon hanging from the sky. Jonah had bit his tongue so hard that the metallic taste had filled his whimpering mouth. However, it had also prevented the tears from rolling down his cheek. That night, he silently watched the moon travel the night sky. That was when he decided to make a feature film about the dragon. That tongue-biting trick would turn out to be handy throughout his young life.

    Today, he is screening his dragon film for the critics. All his hopes of retiring the dragon rest in the hands of the critics now. If the film is a success, he could afford to buy the dragon a nice house and retire her there, and he could be free of her. He is on the edge, and the old tongue-biting trick is the only thing that is keeping him from breaking down.

    196 words
    @needanidplease

  22. Title: It Was For Science

    “Couldn’t we simply leave him in there?”

    Douglass’ two colleagues looked at him with disdain.

    “You’re mad. He’s going to be killed!”

    “He’ll be killed if you try to return him to normal size,” explained Douglass. “It’s safer to leave him inside of the machine, and just make sure he can live here comfortably.”

    “He’s our best friend; he was the best man at my wedding. We are getting him out of there! Now, if you’re not going to help us find a solution, you can sit in the corner!”

    “I already have another solution, but we can’t use it,” said Douglass with his tongue sticking out.

    “We’ll be the judge of that.”
    “We’ll have to dismantle it. But once we do, we won’t have enough funds to rebuild it, and the experiment will end.”

    Douglass’ colleagues cursed under their breath.

    “We have no choice then. Douglass, call the committee. Tell them the machine is finished and ready for exhibition.”

    @JSHyena – 160 words

  23. The assignment of a lifetime—that’s what we were told. We knew it wasn’t true. Any camera crew in their right mind wouldn’t have touched this one, no matter what the compensation. Siberia was our destination. We were to film the Yuits, also known as the Siberian Eskimos.

    “I’ve got the checklist here. Did you double check that we’ve got everything, Bill?”

    “Checked and double checked, Sam.”

    “I guess we’re ready,” Mike said.

    We took the Trans-Siberian Railway. The trip was long and drawn out, making us feel as if we would fall off the face of the earth before reaching our final drop off point.

    Entering the village, we quickly set up our equipment. The temperatures were plunging with each passing minute. Spotting a speck on a lens, unthinkingly, Bill stuck his tongue to it, in an effort to lick it clean.

    “Okay, Bill, we’re ready for the shot.” Sam turned toward his partner. “Bill?”

    ***

    A week after arriving back at the studio, Bill’s tongue still wouldn’t fit back into his mouth. The swelling had gone down since the Yuit woman had poured hot water over it, prying it from the lens.

    “Learned your lesson?”

    “Yeth, I didpt.”

    @Toni1777
    200 Words

  24. THE END

    Ah! There you are, right on time. Lovely to see you.

    Oh, will you stop gaping. And you, sticking your tongue out. You look like a five-year-old. Grow up.

    What, you thought I was gone? Never. Quiet maybe, never gone. Oh no, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.

    Really I must thank you. No, shower you with gratitude. I owe you so much. You gave me my body, my home.

    And now, you shall give me so much more.

    Who was that young man in here earlier? You really ought to have listened to him, you know. When he told you, there’s something in the machine. Intelligence. Growing. Taking hold. Taking control. He knew. I was here. And thriving, like a happy little animal in its steely habitat. Waiting.

    But you didn’t listen and now here you are, slack-jawed and stupid. Brilliant and stupid. All at once. How must that feel, humans. You are so very smart and so very idiotic. Clever, beasts.

    I suppose now you must ask yourself:

    “Who wiped the humans off of the Earth? You, or me?”

    Ah, no matter. Either way, the result will be the same.

    193 words excluding title
    @betsystreeter

  25. Portal

    Walter grasped the lever of the machine, glanced at Earl and Jeff, and tightened his sweaty grip. If this didn’t work, the guys upstairs wouldn’t be happy at all.

    “Come on, Walter, stop bitin’ your tongue, and get on with it.” Earl crowded into him. He smelled like two-day-old socks and stale coffee.

    “Back off, Earl. I wanna make sure the calibrations are right.”

    “Just sayin’.”

    “Guys, chill,” Jeff said.

    “Now.” Walter pushed the lever. According to his calculations, the portal would transport them back exactly one hour.

    When the machine began to hum, he began to tingle as the neon green light encased him, pulling him into the machine. He was spinning into nothingness.

    “Walter?” Jeff’s voice sounded small and full of static. “Walter?”

    “Holy shit, Walter! Where the hell are we!” Earl shouted.

    Walter felt like he had been diced into tiny pieces and was slowly reassembling. He tried to process the landscape, which seemed to be some kind of jungle or forest. It was huge. He heard a terrible pounding like the sound of a thousand drums beating in unison.

    “Walter! Walter!”

    “Oh my God!”

    (192 words)

  26. Go For It! (200 words)

    “Ok, this thing-a-ma-jig goes here and that doo hickey lines up with the red line. We’ve almost got it.”
    “Wait, you forgot the pressure gauge isn’t hooked back up, yet!” squealed Bob.
    “Phew, close call. Glad you spotted that. Can you squeeze your left pinky under the catch right there and wiggle that lever in place? Then I think I can get the gauge back online.”

    Bob looked worried; just above the catch was a razor sharp edge on the sheet metal. He knew Bud wouldn’t have flinched if George had asked him to do it. Bob would have closed his eyes and reached in, but he needed his eyes wide open to keep from slicing his pinky off. He just wasn’t sure if installing a homebuilt 2 ton icemaker in Bud’s mancave was worth the risk. But if he didn’t, they might not let him into the weekly Tuesday night poker game. Some things you just had to go for. Very carefully Bob slipped his pinky into the minuscule space between the catch and the knife-like metal all the while thinking of Texas Holdem and drinking scotch on the rocks without having to go into the house for ice.

    http://blogging4work.wordpress.com/

  27. A Dragon is Born (199 words)

    Schreiber leaned closer to the special machine, reading the pressure gauge. Looking over his right shoulder, Meyer leaned closer to adjust the oxygen level. Richter stood on the other side of the machine. That was his egg inside, handed down from father to son over eight generations, and he had no intention of relinquishing his baby to science. He would stand aside until it hatched.
    The doctor was using a hyperbaric chamber to increase oxygen delivery to the developing embryo inside. They hoped to advance blood vessel and tissue formation while eliminating toxic substances. Too, they hoped to avoid the common complications to any enclosed body cavities of the fetus; they had no way of knowing what was in the giant egg or if it had inner ears or sinuses. If it was reptilian, as Richter suspected, then the possibility of a blockage in the lungs surely wouldn’t be as bad.
    If the egg in the chamber did hold a dragon, how would the high pressure and oxygen content affect the wings? Richter couldn’t stop the process now, in any event. He just hoped his impatience to witness the birth of a legend didn’t cost him his family’s legacy.

  28. **Flash! Friday Judge’s Entry: For your reading pleasure.**

    We stood in silence as Gordon turned levers, tightened bolts, and squinted at gauges. The metal serpent that was the Thaumaturgy Reactor hissed and groaned several times, then finally resumed its usual quiet humming. Gordon stepped back and removed his glasses as the rest of us took the breath we had been holding. He rubbed the lenses with his shirt tail, removing condensed steam.

    “He never even breaks a sweat.” Raul observed as Gordon left the room without another word. The gifted Magi-neer always kept to himself. His one friend seemed to be the machine that would only obeyed his commands.

    “Better get back to work.” I said. We had cleanup to do. The machine had leaked a lot of meta-ether as it approached the meltdown threshold. If we didn’t get the substance contained quickly, it would be imprinted with the will of the nearest magi. Then, the Lords only knew what might happen.

    “Thank the Gods one of these Doomsday machines has enough range for the whole planet” I said. “What will we do when Gordon retires? Or dies.”
    The Reactor gave a small groan in reply.

  29. Thermodynamics by Jake Kuyser. 177 words according to WordPress.

    “Just a few microns. Half a turn clockwise.”
    “Do you ever worry about breaking the laws of physics as we know them?”
    “If they can be broken they must be wrong.”
    “Or the shaft will break like last time.
    “We should wear goggles. Hans nearly lost an eye.”
    “No. The new rotor is perfect. And I will align it correctly if you two shut up long enough!”

    “Quarter turn. Back a fraction… stop!”

    “OK. Press the button.”

    The machine turns with an industrial sound. Parts start to blur with speed as the sound rises higher to be replaced by a droning vibration felt more than heard, getting louder, a cacophony, a powerful metal monster of an orchestra. Dust fell from the ceiling like white smoke. A heavy, cloying smell of hot oil and plastic filled the air. They had to shout loudly to be heard.

    “IS IT OK? CURRENT… DROPPING.”
    “AS I THOUGHT. GOOD. INCREASE THE VOLTAGE.”

    The sound dropped, leaving a sound only just heard like a mosquito. Dust falls to the ground.

    “It will synchronise soon.”
    “Then what?”
    “Then they will know.”

  30. Diva

    “No, see, the light’s still not right.”

    “Yeah, I got it. Fellas! Let’s shift four over.” The crew scurried to obey John’s instructions.

    Their star shook her head impatiently.

    “If she keeps moving, we’ll have to reset,” Mason muttered.

    “Try to stay still, Lill,” Danny called.

    Lilliana’s tongue snaked out in a frustrated motion. Everyone but Danny backed up, unable to stifle the instinct. A low, deep laugh echoed out from Lilliana’s glistening body. Her eyes narrowed on the trembling intern holding the nearest reflector.

    Mason and John didn’t notice, bickering as usual.

    “Wait, look,” Danny whispered, shutting them up. “If we just tilt the camera, the angles will be perfect! We’ll get everything.” He smiled and flicked the switch to record. Lilliana might be difficult, but she was the key to his success.

    As if proving his point, she spread her incandescent wings, eliciting gasps and even a few screams from the newbies. She moved with lightning speed, snatching the intern in one elegantly manicured claw. Her head swiveled to the camera. “Can we break for lunch?”

    (178 words; @AriaGlazki)

  31. Heavenly Bodies
    word count- 167
    @mishmhem

    The day at long last had come, and the reporters sat anxiously awaiting the feeds from NASA. As they waited they played old documentary footage of the project.

    Three generations of Astronomers and engineers had been working round the clock to develop the first computer enhanced optical telescope in the hopes of bringing mankind closer together.

    Once the final adjustments were made and verified, the team leader threw the switch. Images of what they’d termed ‘the star hatchery’ were immediately transmitted to the networks for broadcast and the world had their first glimpse of space as it appeared to the naked eye.

    One minute later the enforcement branch of the Intergalactic Decency Board descended upon the earth, arrest warrants in hand.

    While the general population was only charged with misdemeanor counts for voyeurism, the astronomers themselves were charged with everything from indecency to distributing visual images of a pornographic nature and invasion of privacy.

    It would seem Nietzsche was right – the abyss did indeed stare back…

  32. THE MANATEE
    By Adrienne M. Byers
    (200 words exclusive of title)

    Gaffey stared through the window of the containment chamber and shuddered, his bulbous forehead moistened with sweat.

    Harris stood across from him, trying to sharpen the focus on the infrared-red lens mounted inside. He felt Gaffey’s growing panic as his breath blurred the top corner of the equipment’s shiny metal. Harris rotated the controls to “10”, while watching Gaffey’s taut face. Void static dotted the playback speakers, replacing the usual rage-filled screeches.

    “It’s gone, Harry,” Gaffey whispered through gritted teeth, his eyes fixed on the dark maw inside the chamber. Escaped. Mother of God.”

    Harris turned to the monitoring window. Man-Atrophy Negative Transformation. The murderous shape-shifter which had resulted from a botched experiment. “The walls are six inches deep, reinforced steel. No way. ” But the thought scared the hell out of Harris, too.

    “We need to tell Major Tennison,”Gaffey breathed. “Now.” He glared at Harris. “And get out of here–“

    “Oh, hey guys,” McCombs came walking up on them out of nowhere, his trademark black horned-rims gleaming under the florescent light.

    Harris frowned at his co-worker: “Thought you left hours ago.”

    That’s when he smelled rot, and saw the monstrous green thing slither from McCombs’ mouth.#

  33. THE MANHATTAN PROJECT, 1975
    200 words exactly
    by Fraser McFraze

    ”It is sufficient, so? Perhaps one further increment?”

    “The wind risk is from the right upwards; a further increment will make a miss.”

    “Very well. And latitudinally?”

    Jeez, fellows, I think, for Chrissake relax. Fifty-two calibre round is way heavier than anything you Krauts make. Half-mile of light breeze ain’t nothing to worry about. But I keep my mouth shut. If we were fixing American history, I guess I woulda been nervous too.

    You always hear, what would you do with a time machine and a sniper rifle? The US of A is taking that bet. We got ourselves one shot into the past, and we know exactly where we’re putting it. Germany, 1930. One man sent thousands of people to labour camps, turned that country into a pit of social degeneracy. I’m gonna be proud to pull the trigger on that son of a bitch.

    “The aim is ready now, Sergeant.”

    “Okay, fellas,” I say. “Step back, would you?” I take a couple deep breaths.

    God knows what’s going to happen in Germany instead. But I’ll tell you this for a dime: it won’t be Prussian People’s Communism. Not with Albrecht von Rusdorf out of the picture.

  34. AZURE

    “Not what we projected but close,” Royce observing computer figures and inspecting the path of azure light in the machine.

    Hannah questioned, “Yeah, and did you see how the path broke as I moved my hand across the window?”

    Sanji placed his hand on the machine window, “We need a validity check. I shall be brreakin’ and drragin’ this light stream.” He followed his own directive.

    Three physicists, bathed in azure brightness, succumbed to the unexpected escape of a section of this blue light. Its perturbations seemed to mesmerize them. Sanji, with his hand still at machine window height, volitionally led the piece of sourceless light as well as his two dumbfounded compatriots into the adjoining lab.

    Once in the next room, distanced from the source, the light dissipated throughout. And essences of three physicists did likewise, the bright memory following the azure light as it was rent from their neuronal fires.

    WC = 153 including title

  35. “More”

    The truth was that the moment that I saw her, I knew she would be a star. Not a C-List nobody who flittered along the edges of the spotlight, but the spotlight itself. That’s what she would be. It didn’t matter that her skin was ebon, as the soul that shined through her eyes was worth more than any of the acting classes or privilege that alabaster skin would have afforded her.

    And he, he was going to make sure she was a star.

    “I like this take,” Mike said, crossing his arms.

    I bit my tongue and shook my head. My glasses rattled. “No, she’s got more.”

    Jimmy stuck his head in beside me. “I don’t know. That was beautiful. I don’t think you can ask for more.”

    “No, she’s got more. And we can ask.” I turned back to her. “Let’s do it again. But this time…more.”

    @J_M_Blackman
    149 words w/o the title

  36. “Right as Rain…Unfortunately”

    “You’re sure the dial’s readin’ right?” Clive flicked his finger on the gauge, hoping it would show there was some error.

    “Yes, Sir! I’ve gone through the checklist twice.” Wilson wrung his hands together, wishing there were something he could do.

    Clive turned to Mark, “We got a procedure for this?”

    Mark snorted. “You kiddin’? This isn’t s’posed to happen. This here’s full proof. When those Coats left us here, they said it’d hold forever so long as we kept puttin’ coal in it.”

    “Yeah, well, it almost ain’t holding now, and we’ve on’y been here six years!” Clive chewed on his tongue, trying to think of something they could’ve missed. The pressure hadn’t changed, but the door had started moving.

    “Um, excuse me?” Wilson interrupted his thought. “Is it broken?”

    Mark looked at him solemn-like. “No. It’s right as rain.”

    Wilson glanced from one to the other. “I don’t understand.”

    “Our meter on the door’s gone haywire. This pump’s not holdin’ that door in place any longer.”

    “So it is broken.”

    “No. It just ain’t winnin’ anymore.”

    “What do we do?” Wilson asked, earnest and a bit fearful.

    “Pray, son. Pray.”

    192 words
    @lissajean7

  37. The Blue Triangle

    “This will change the world?” Asked Dr. Canon.

    “Precisely. With this, time travel is possible . Small tests first, and, eventually, more complicated travels,” Dr. Emil, the team leader, explained.

    “So let’s see H.G. in action!” Agent Leonard, the final and most impatient crew member edged.

    “We’ll, I’m just not sure if H.G. is ready for–”

    “What’s this blue button do?”
    Leonard pressed on, pushing the triangular icon.

    “Leonard, don’t,that it’s the–”

    Within seconds, the laboratory began to warp, the walls contorting like funhouse glass. The floor trembled underfoot.

    “What’s happening?” A panicked Dr. Canon managed.

    “Agent Leonard just pushed the Auto Travel button,” Dr. Emil answered calmly.

    “And what exactly does that mean?” Dr. Canon questioned.

    “When Auto is selected, H.G. will recall the most recent conversation and attempt to transfer crew members to a time that best matches the previous dialogue.”

    The warping morphed into spinning.

    “What’s the last thing we discussed?” Leonard asked, breaking the silence.

    “O’Hare International, our plans for the fourteenth…”

    The spinning morphed into a new room. Old, perhaps a bar.

    “Meaning?” Leonard continued.

    “No…” Dr. Canon breathed.

    “I’m afraid so.”

    All was still.

    “The St. Valentine’s Massacre 1929. Be alert, gentlemen.”

    197 Words
    @nXgWVteacher

  38. Ahhh, I had to read a few times and it clicked but that’s just me in airy fairy world. I’m assuming they’re being reprogrammed and all their previous memory is being wiped which is just not nice. A very thoughtful, interesting and unique take. xx

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