Flash! Friday # 44

CLOSED! Y’all are seriously hilarious. And awesome. Thanks to everyone for coming out–we’ll see you Sunday with results!

Welcome to Flash! Friday!  What a blast we have every week, and I’m tickled pink that Friday’s dashed right back ’round again. Y’all are the bee’s knees, the icing on the cake, the jalapenos on the nachos. And as thanks, did I ever pick a fun photo for you today, all the way from Pataskala, Ohio, in southwestern Licking County, population 14,962 (and two!!! McDonalds!). What you’re going to do to the poor kids and this perfectly innocuous fountain, I don’t even dare imagine.  

(Find the mischievous contest rules here.)

This week’s up-to-no-goodness is judged by the Queen of Shenanigans, SVW member Beth Peterson, who every day comes up with seventeen Nefarious Plots to Take Over the World, and that’s even before she wakes up (which means your own mischief-making this week better be gooood). Be sure to check out her judge page to find out what else she looks for in a winning piece.

And now:

Word limit: 150 word story (no leeway this time) based on the photo prompt. Yep, keeping it short ‘n’ sweet again. (PS. Don’t get comfy there.)

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (150 words exactly, 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–the capitol of troublemaking–time)

Winners: will post SUNDAY 

Prize: An troublemaking e-trophy e-dragon e-badge coming your way, a misbehaving yet frolicsome winner’s page here at FF, an impishly personalized 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME accompanied by three checkmarks written sternly on classroom chalkboards 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/dragon detention hall survival tips.  And now for your prompt:

Drinking fountain, Pataskala, OH. Photo by Kenn Kiser.

Drinking fountain, Pataskala, OH. Photo by Kenn W. Kiser.

140 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 44

  1. A Drastic Solution

    “Mr. Frost, can you explain your actions?” Ms. Stone folded her wrinkled hands primly over the 30-year-old podium.

    Loosening his tie with one finger, Mr. Frost claimed, “Something had to be done.”

    “We have programs in effect for-“

    “Those programs don’t work!” He slapped the chipped laminate of the folding table. The sound echoed through the gymnasium.

    To the right, the entire board exchanged dubious glances. Mr. Lerner slowly nodded, but stopped when Ms. Stone looked his way.

    “We’ve had sex ed programs for decades,” Mr. Frost explained. “Those classes just teach them how! The parents aren’t intervening. Apparently it’s our job!”

    Pursing her wrinkled lips, Ms. Stone watched over the top of her bifocals. “Mr. Frost-“

    “What else should we do?” he demanded. “Build more daycare centers beside the high school?”

    “Mr. Frost! What you did was illegal. You can’t just pump birth control through the school water fountains!”


  2. Outbreak

    Paul pulled his winter scarf up over his mouth, “We have to find the source. If we don’t get it under control it could infect the entire population within hours.”

    Mitch stared at his carefully hand drawn map, “It can’t be far from here, all our eye witness accounts point towards this location.”

    Their foe was invisible, unforgiving, timeless. They scanned the area, looking for clues. Paul watched as a young boy sipped from the communal water fountain. That was it, that was how the disease was spreading. He reached into his backpack for the police tape he’d borrowed from his Dads work bag. As Paul bundled up the deadly fountain the emergency bell went off. He was out of time. He turned to find Mrs. Connor standing over him, “Oh dear Paul, please don’t tell me you’re still paranoid about Cooties! Lunch time is over sweetie, back to class.”


  3. The big dumpster in the sky

    I really should have seen it coming. It happens when you reach that age Paul McCartney used to think was old. The kids that had turned to me for generations to wet their whistles and get a moment’s peace amongst all the hollering, laughing, cheering and silent despair of this place won’t care where I go next. Yet I gave them a chance to recollect their thoughts, to dust themselves off, to remind them that this too shall pass. And this is how they thank me. Wrapped in tape like a common criminal. After four decades of service to this place. But there’s no thank- you card, no speech. But I won’t be able to forget the secrets their little hearts told me- the fears, the hopes, the dreams and plans their minds let me read. It’ll keep me warm, until I get to the big dumpster in the sky.



    We simply could not stay quiet in Ms. Frost’s class. Someone would whisper, then giggle, and next thing we knew she was yelling at us.
    “Silence!” she’d shriek. We’d all be quiet a minute, then someone would whisper, then giggle…and repeat.
    One day, she brought us in real popcorn with butter and salt. We could eat as much as we wanted. Soon somebody threw a kernel, then a few pieces of popcorn, and then a full-on popcorn battle. Ms. Frost didn’t move, didn’t say a word.
    “I’m thirsty” a voice chimed, then another…
    “Certainly. It is library time, so we’ll stop by the water fountain.”
    We started walking down the hall, whispering, then giggling, disturbing the other classes as usual. Suddenly it got real quiet.
    The only water fountain in the whole school was broken.
    It was a long time before we whispered and giggled in Ms. Frost’s class again.



  5. The Brothers Dim

    Leroy sees himself as some kind of criminal mastermind, Your Honour. Thinks up plans then gets his brothers to put them into action. Unfortunately for Leroy, every new criminal enterprise that he dreams up, Elroy and Delroy somehow manage to ruin.
    Even when they were in grade school and Leroy decided there was money to be made extorting lunch money, they made nothing. Elroy and Delroy waited until the kids were on their way home.
    So as soon as I was called to the contraption shown in this evidence photo here, Your Honour, I knew who to look for. I’ll play a recording of the interview with Elroy.

    “’Tain’t my fault this time, Sheriff. This was the big one, he said. Christmas money, he said. Jest take the ‘lectronic gizmo he made in science, and put it on the machine in the Mall. He shoulda said which one, is all.”

    150 words


  6. Erin McCabe


    150 words

    School Daze

    Upon entering the High School, Paul’s excitement was almost palpable; as expected, each room revealed building chaos. The Technical Drawing teacher atop his desk in nothing but stained underwear was shouting nonsense; pupils watching in abject horror as he scribbled on himself with pen and protractor. The mathematics teacher was curled in the foetal position shouting random equations as the English teacher, wrapped in gym hall curtains knighted pupils with a meter stick. The School Administrator was wrenching a photocopier toward an open window whilst dense smoke plumed from the woodwork room. Having constructed a barricade out of badly made clocks, the teacher had seemingly lit several fires. The art teacher streaked past painted blue from head to toe; the Head Teacher following; striding tall and proud in the school nurses’ dress.
    Paul concluded that poisoning the staff water fountain with LSD was certainly his most successful prank to date.


  7. Winter comes (155 words)

    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn

    ‘Winter comes and winter goes’
    ‘The more you pays the more it snows’

    David stopped. ‘Did you hear that?’
    Maggie tugged at his hand. ‘What?’
    ‘It came from that box.’ David tore off the tape and opened the battered door. ‘What the…’
    ‘Hi, I’m the winter imp,’ the little man in an all white jump suit said. He smiled and flicked his tail. ‘Winter comes and…’
    ‘I heard,’ David said. ‘You know your box is all battered and taped up?’
    ‘That’ll be those summer elves. They’ve never liked me.’ He grinned. ‘Going to give it a go for the pretty lady?’
    David pulled out a handful of change.
    The grin became a sneer. ‘Don’t do shrapnel.’ He stuck out his tongue, grabbed the door and clanged it shut
    Maybe the elves had a point David thought. As he turned back to Maggie a snow flake settled on the end of her nose.

    ‘Winter comes and…’


  8. Thirsty for Power (150 words)

    ‘Hello,’ said a silvery voice. Alicia looked along the corridor.
    ‘Over here,’ sang the voice.
    Alicia squinted at the fountain.
    ‘Yes, it’s me. You clever girl! Come on over.’
    Alicia took a few tentative steps towards it.
    ‘Come closer. That’s right. Get your pretty little head all the way in here.’
    Alicia heard a low rumble from somewhere dark and deep. Her head seemed drawn further and further down.

    Miss Lincoln, The Principal, was just in time to see the child’s ankles and soft shoes disappear. She rushed over, her eyes trying to see where in the world the child could possibly have gone…

    It was when The Vice Principal saw Miss Lincoln’s kitten heels go down the drain that she taped up the mouth of the fountain.
    ‘You were hungry!’ she said.

    Then she strutted towards The Principal’s Office before the big chair in there could get cold.


  9. The Library Fountain
    by A J Walker (150 words)

    Libraries had been getting progressively strangled by governments for years. As they were starved of funds for books and building maintenance many of the customers stopped coming.

    Dingly Dell Library was seemingly bucking the trend with increasing numbers coming through the doors many keen to stay all day and enjoy the ambience. Some stayed so long they would fall asleep there and were difficult to get out. There always seemed to be a queue at the drinking fountain, which seemed odd to the librarians as it wasn’t as if the building was hot – the boiler needed replacement.

    By Thursday the local press were there reporting on queues waiting to get into the library. It was all very perplexing.

    On Friday afternoon and the “Class 2C Incident” the mystery was solved. The plumber who’d connected the tank at the Vodka distillery across the road to their water fountain was never identified.



  10. Miss Smelly
    by TJ Marshall
    (150 words)

    “Out of Order,” the sign on the water fountain said.

    Jimmy shrank into the crowd. Although Principal Kelly “Smelly” Baron added a smiley face at the bottom of the notice, her scrunched up face said she was anything but happy.

    Her pudgy nose wrinkled, her eyes glared at the children. “I want to know who did this.”

    Jimmy bent his knees, and hid in the growing crowd.

    “Jimmy, come here.” Miss Smelly said.

    He lowered his head in between his shoulders doing the best turtle impression he could and walked through the pathway the other fifth graders cleared for him. Here it comes. She knows.

    He stood next to the huge woman, and tried not to breath in her stinky perfume.

    The principal leaned over him and whispered in his ear. “Find out who did this and then let me know.”

    Jimmy’s lips turned to a grin. “Yes, Miss Baron.”


  11. OUT OF ORDER (150 words)

    Years of watching her beauty fade like a well-worn petticoat has robbed me of the ability to do descriptive justice to her Parisian beauty. An antithesis of the physical blandness that had become the hallmark of my existence, her beauty attracted boys like a cube of sugar in a colony of ants.

    A hot afternoon during my last summer of high school, I was checking out my reflection on the chrome surface of the fountain, trying to escape the ruckus that was giddy Miss Brown’s class, when I felt her cold palm on my arm. Goosebumps broke out on my skin as I looked at her hazel eyes.

    I filled her cup, but she nonchalantly spilled the water on the concrete floor and that became the sum of our relationship – me giving, she throwing away.

    Now I’m back to where it all started and the fountain is out of other.


  12. Contraband

    In the end it was a good that the Hat Head Club drank our own water. Teachers just ignored us when we complained about the taste of the fountain. It was Monday and the HHC was meeting near the fountain. All five of us wearing our crazy, custom knitted hats and watching the gym class let out, each kid taking turns gulping the water, making a face, and turning away.

    Sarah gave us the new hats she had finished. Mine was an owl! She knew it was my favorite. Jenny got the three eyed alien, Sasha the panda, and Mica now had spiky, yellow, yarn hair. We giggled over our new prizes, fawning over Sarah’s gifts. Then Mica’s face turned serious as she covertly handed us each a bottle of water like it was contraband. We nodded solemnly reminded of the reason for our hats, our solidarity with Mica’s baldness.


  13. The drinking fountain


    It’d been easy to infiltrate the school; slip in during the early hours, follow the first to open a door. After that, map out the facility, then find a suitable vantage point for surveillance.

    Initially it perched in classrooms, but gained no information of value; children were not allowed to converse with each other there. No, better to be in communal areas; there children spoke, there they laid bare their psyches, there one could learn what it would take to dominate and control humans.

    So it disguised itself as a drinking fountain; recording, analysing, and communicating with the mother-ship.

    Some time passed.

    Somebody stuck a piece of paper to its chassis, another affixed yellow tape.

    One day, a man in overalls set down a box of tools, rolled up his sleeves and pried open the fountain.

    They found his body across the hall later, after one of the children screamed.




  14. Stuck (150 words)

    Damn! Bloody things broken again! This is the third time in a year, what’s wrong with these people. I told them last time that it needed updating but nobody ever listens to me. I must make a note to send a stern letter of complaint to the authorities when I get home. That’s assuming I ever get home.

    I could try travelling across town and see if the portal outside the library is working but I doubt I’ve got the time. The thing shuts at seven and it’s gone six already. What with this heavy holiday traffic I’d never make it.

    So it looks as if I’m going to have to spend this holiday season in this god-forsaken world stuck in this ghastly human body. Must check my data base and see what grotesque food and entertainment awaits me. I do hope my human host hasn’t made too many arrangements.


  15. “Somebody’s Watching Me”

    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    150 words

    I didn’t mean to. It’s just that it’d been a really bad day.

    My brother told me if I licked the outside railing, it would taste like a snow cone because of all the snow we got last night, so I did, but the only thing I got was a stuck tongue and the taste of blood in my mouth as I ripped myself loose. Why doesn’t mom ever yell at HIM?

    Then when I went to get a drink at school that creepy snowman was smiling at me, just like our neighbor Mr. Jenkins, who wanted to show me his toy soldier collection this morning, but when I went into his house he was wearing a bathrobe and he touched the parts that mom says only the doctor can touch. He says I can’t tell anyone.

    Dad says they’ll clean the puke up.

    But the snowman will always know.


  16. Pressing My Luck
    150 words (Not counting title or marks of ellipsis)
    @CharlesWShort http://www.charleswshort.com

    It was in the public library, and I realized it was my lucky fountain the day I asked out a cheerleader. I took a long drink, and asked her out. She said yes, even though I knew she was out of my league.

    I took a long drink before sending in my college application. I took a long drink before proposing to my wife. The fountain always worked.

    I took a long drink when our daughter started chemo. The doctor called her remission miraculous.

    I took long drinks regularly. Before investing in the market. Before betting on a horse. The fountain always paid off big.

    But now they have closed the library and everything good in life is quickly slipping through my fingers.

    So tonight before they demolish it, I came to steal my lucky fountain.

    Why is an alarm going off outside?

    Oh!, my watch stopped.

    Wait, I’m inside . . .



    LOCATION: Pataskala, OH
    PROGRESS REPORT: Discovered source of disturbance, the drinking fountain at an elementary school.
    ACTIONS: Disabled wiring, thus cutting power. Placed large “X” of yellow “CAUTION” tape over fountain. Taped up sign reading: “OUT OF ORDER!!! Please Do Not Use, Thak You smiley face”.
    RESULT OF ANALYSIS: The Spanish had it wrong, The Fountain of Youth is not located in Florida, but in Ohio.
    SITUATION: Send Help Immediately! Full scientific team required to examine problem in detail. Highly suggesst said team be composed of oldest available members. Also send in bottled water. Have been affected. Experiencing emotional problems and physical challenges. Mental facilities and memories are retained. All of my attempts to reverse the process have failed. Drawback to fountain is that you are literally changed to youth. Cannot control regression. Average age seems to be six to seven.

    150 words @ EmilyKarn1


  18. Disbelief



    “Told you.”

    “What about Santa?”


    “Our presents?”


    “Snow? The ice too?”

    “Yup. All be gone.”


    “Believe me now?”

    “Yes. Should we tell?”

    “I did. I told mummy, but she just laughed and said I was imme.. immege… immegining things.”

    “My mummy said if I saw something that made me sad I should tell Miss Lewis.”

    “You can’t tell her, silly, she’s the one that put it there. She’s a witch.”

    “Miss Lewis isn’t a witch, she nice. She tells funny stories.”

    “Don’t you see? She’s telling stories so she can do this.”

    “What are we going to do? I’m scared.”

    “We have to stop her. Cut up her books. I’ve got some scissors.”

    “Oh I don’t know Ellie….”

    “Amy! Come on! I’ll let you use the pink ones.”

    Hesitating, Amy once again traced the words on the board with her fingers, “Read the winter away”.

    150 words


  19. Johnny was having a bad day at school today, but then recently every day seemed to be a bad day. He was always in trouble for something, and today just wasn’t fair. He hadn’t even done what he was accused of doing.

    He trudged passed the fountain when suddenly a rare smile grew on his face accompanied by wicked glint in his eye. He knew just the thing. After a trip to his locker and a quick look around he poured something down the drain of the fountain. “Let the fun begin,” he thought to himself.

    Jauntily he walked to the restroom and stood there watching around the corner. He could hardly contain his glee when that old hag, Mrs. Kravich, walked toward the fountain. “Oh wow!” he thought as she was soaked from head to foot…this is just too much.

    Too bad, though because that brought Mr. Knobski, the janitor, who taped off the fountain.. Johnny turned to leave. The fun was over but he’d shown them, With a grin on his face he turned to walk away only to walk into the arms of Mr. Jacobs, the school Principal. His mouth went dry….



    No one dared mention “the incident.”

    A month had passed. The fountain, decorated and enshrined, as if suspended in time.

    I imagined future generations, hundreds of years from now, visiting this spot, and reminiscing.

    This is where it all began. Ground zero.

    The price was high. I often wondered, what value is one life, which ignites revolution?

    The janitor knew.

    “The time has come. I will lead.”

    The whirring hum lay silent. Silent as the procession of students walking past.


    The word was on the face of everyone.


    It spread beyond the walls.

    Fountains unplugged. Every school, every office, every municipal building.


    They will be coming for us.

    The incubus of germs, vanquished at last.

    New water coolers. Pure, refreshing, non-metallic taste.

    “He was brave. We will honor his sacrifice.”

    The faint smell of mountain streams, the burble of brooks…


    They were coming. We were ready.

    150 inspiring words of freedom


  21. “Caution, Caution”-150 words
    How could they? All those smiling faces mocking me when I am dying of thirst! I could just rip Mr. Snowman off the wall and suck all the juice out of him! The nerve of the Out of Order sign having another smiling face! It’s just too much I tell you! Even the paper snowflakes are taunting me. “Caution, caution,” it says! The only caution needed is for anyone near when I take my sledgehammer or torch to that nasty, no good, non-functional water fountain!
    How could it be broken today of all days? I was running late and missed my coffee. You know what that means now don’t you? I arrived at my first period already tired, thirsty and very grumpy. Of course this was not my favorite class and of all things to have scheduled, it was a forty-five minute lecture. I am PARCHED. I need water now!


  22. Don’t Question
    Laura Carroll Butler
    150 words

    The teachers were frustrated.

    “It’s as though they can’t think for themselves anymore. When school started, I had them rewrite and perform Romeo and Juliet in modern language. They loved it. Now they just sit and write what I tell them, no thought, no debate. They challenge nothing.”

    “I agree. I actually suggested to my 8th grade geology class that the fossil record could have been placed on the earth by aliens to throw us off their scent. They wrote it down without question. I had to tell them to ignore that; it won’t be on the SOL.”

    “They just sit there with water bottles, writing down everything, questioning nothing. It’s almost…Orwellian.”

    The change had happened after Christmas, they noted, when the water fountains stopped working. The school supplied the students with water from a new source, an American company for sure, even though it had a foreign name: Intefraga.


  23. The Cupid Adjustment Bureau – Fairy Division

    150 words

    “This is the best you could do?” I look at the broken drinking fountain incredulously. “With the benefit of countless millennia, this is the plan you decide on?”

    “Relax,” says Brian, rolling his eyes. “When does the old water fountain trick not work?”

    “We’re not in a chick-flick here, dude,” I say. “Real life romance, remember?”

    “Here they come,” Brian hisses. He flutters to hide behind the crime scene tape which bizarrely decorates the fountain. “Hide!”

    “Fine.” I fly to join him. “Budge up.”

    He shoves me and we indulge in an elbow fight.

    “Get ready,” Brian gasps as I get him in a headlock.

    A man and a woman approach the fountain. I pull arrows from my quiver and swiftly shoot them both.

    “Broken again,” the woman says.

    “Wanna get coffee instead?” the man asks.

    The woman nods happily.

    Brian high-fives me. Awesome. Another relationship successfully born.


  24. It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

    Two snowmen abducted our lake last night. Ten of us set out to bring it back. The wizard’s job was to melt the snowmen when we found them. The other volunteers protected the wizard. My job was to track the lake following the intermittent droppings of silt.

    We trudged along more garbed than the air warranted. The wizard leeched our heat for a heat reserve, in case the snowmen started reproducing. Cold radiated from my bones spreading pain. A blizzard sprang up obscuring the party. The wizard cajoled us with promises to melt all of the snowmen.

    Suddenly the pain stopped. With the pain gone, a clear thought came to me. Most of the volunteers opposed the wizard in the village. I pulled back my sleeve and looked at my arm made of snow.

    The wizard smiled. “I promised to melt all of the snowmen.” He shone like the sun.


  25. Fountain of Change (150 Words)

    When it first happened, uproar ensued. Tommy Gulliver just went for a drink of water at the old fountain and came with fangs and claws. But it was almost Halloween, and the teachers thought he was playing a prank. When he didn’t change back people began to worry.

    Before the Thanksgiving holidays Virginia Regent returned with a nose six inches longer and a long floppy tongue. Now people were scared.

    By Christmas, Principal Haley said he’d prove the fountain was fine. He took a big slurp and immediately began to shrink. His eyes grew beady, and black and white fur covered his body until he turned into a skunk.

    Little Mrs. Berryman came from the front desk. She regarded the fountain then placed an X of tape on the front and turned to the on-lookers.

    “Stay away from the fountain, unless ye want to find out who ye really are.”


  26. Title: The Law of Dare

    “I dare you to drink from that fountain,” said Sara Beth.

    The fountain was covered in caution tape like if my little brother had gotten a roll.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Because I want to see you do it, Jezebel. And you can’t turn down a dare, it’s the law,” said Sara Beth, the not-know-it-all.

    “I don’t want to,” I said.

    “You’re going to jail for turning down a dare!” yelled Sara Beth. Her two friends made the super annoying “Ooh!” sound.

    “Ok, fine,” I said. “I triple dare you to do it instead!”

    Her friends didn’t know what to say.

    “Well…I don’t want to,” said Sara Beth, who might be smarter than she looks.

    “I infinity dare you!” I said, pointing my finger at her. This got her friends making the “Ooh!” sound at her.

    Sara Beth finally went over and drank from it, took three steps and fell over.

    @JSHyena/150 words


  27. The Rule of Threes

    You can survive for three days, they say.

    You wait to be rescued, at first. Parching on the ground, hugging your own knees, subsisting on nothing but your reserves.

    But eventually, your thirst makes you desperate. Because you crave not just what you need, but what you are.

    So, despite all the signs, all the warnings to stay clear, you creep back to your source. Because you just won’t believe that something so essential to your existence has been simply been switched off.

    And that’s why I’m here.

    It’s been three days.

    But-well, I understand now. Now that I’ve found you both, together.

    You, me, her. That makes three. Such an awkward number, don’t you think?

    You know, survival experts call it The Rule of Threes. You can survive three days without water.

    But only three minutes, without air.

    I’m going to call it The Rule of Threes, too.

    @Donnellanjacki 150 words


  28. “Of Youth”
    150 words

    “Who’s that guy?” Sally asked.
    “And that girl, who is she?” Megan pointed, bewildered.
    “That one too. He’s really cute.”
    “Must be transfer students.”

    The girls smiled as they rushed into Mrs. Howard’s classroom.

    “A sub. Awesome!”
    “This is the fourth teacher out today,” Sally said. “Is it the flu?”
    A pretty brunette sat in the corner by the window twirling her hair.
    “Who is that? Another new kid?” Megan shook her head.

    Down the hall, scores of teachers pushed and shoved at the old drinking fountain, the one the students thought was broken. But the names had been drawn. The final six took their precious sips then ran laughing down the corridor to join their new classmates. Then, the custodian replaced the yellow tape and the “Out of Order” sign.

    Mrs. Perry, the elderly librarian, sighed.
    “Don’t worry, Hannah,” a teenage boy called out. “You’ll get ’em next year!”


  29. Cold Snap (150 words)

    The hall, though cheerfully decorated for winter with blue and white snowflakes and smiling snowmen, lay empty and still, an oppressive feel in the air.

    The custodian had unplugged the fountain over a week ago after a student suffered mild freezer burns on their tongue and lips.

    Despite not receiving any power, cold emanated from the metal like a sub-zero ice box, getting worse by the day.

    After the third day, students were detoured down alternate hallways.

    By the fifth, the two classrooms on either side got relocated due to the bitter chill that seeped through the wall.

    Now, the whole wing sat empty while repairmen scratched their heads and administrators wrung their hands

    Tomorrow, they planned to remove the water fountain entirely.

    Not that it would do them any good.

    Satisfied, the grin on the snowman taped to the wall beside the faulty fountain widened fractionally.

    Winter was coming.


  30. @HannahStreett1
    Oops – 150 Words

    I meaned it as a joke, promise. Didn’t never want to hurt nobody. See, we was learning how strong water is, right? So I thinked, ‘hey, let’s try.’ It weren’t hard. Don’t really know what I done—just messed with the wires on the fountain is all.

    Well, it worked real good. Some girly screamed when it splashed all over her sparkle-ified shirt. Weren’t enough to knock her over or nothing—just getted her wet. But… well, she deserved it anyhow. She laughs at my spiky hair.

    Maybe I even stealed her water bottle so she’d use the fountain. Maybe.

    …Yeah, okay. I done it. She knowed it, too. Went and tattle-taled to the teacher on me. I sayed she was mean, yeah? She don’t know how to have good fun.

    Anyways, I’m in the Principal’s office now. He telled me to write down how sorry I is.



  31. One of Those Days
    By Scott L Vannatter – 150 Words (MS Word)

    “I’m thirsty!” yelled Thorman, looking at the “Caution and Out of Order” warnings on the drinking fountain.

    “It doesn’t work, obviously,” said Milo,

    “Water is water. I don’t care if it’s cold or not.”

    “You don’t know why the signs are on it.”

    Thorman studied the inoperative device. He looked long and hard at the contraption as you would at someone just daring you to try something. He stepped forward and pressed on the “push” bar. After several tries, the machine sputtered, then shot a warm stream of water two feet hard into his face. He gagged a bit and stared angrily.

    “I doubt that’s the reason it doesn’t work,” smiled Milo.

    Angry now, Thorman smacked the uncooperative fountain, then grabbed the wire on the side.

    “What’s…” he screamed and fell to the floor holding his smoking hand.

    “That’s probably the reason.” The statement came with a partially held-in snicker.


  32. The Cooler Crowd
    150 words

    The office water fountain is next to my desk, and while I’m never part of the group that congregates, I overhear a lot of gossip. Today, my status may change as I have a juicy tidbit to offer.

    Last night, I saw Mr. Uppity-Vice-President Cecil Thompson and Ms. File-Clerk-in-Training Mary Beth Clancy dancing and snuggling at Pete’s Party Hearty.

    Now I know Mary Beth just graduated from Saint Ignatius Girls High and this was her first date ever. I also know Ole Cecil is married, has three kids and likes to fool around with naïve new hires.

    While I’m sitting here planning the most auspicious time to deliver my social salvo, the maintenance man seals off the fountain with yellow caution tape. I immediately see the demise of my baptism into the Cooler Crowd.

    Actually, I’m relieved. Mary Beth is my best friend since kindergarten. I can’t rat on her.


  33. “Caution”
    150 words

    “C-A-U-T-I-O-N,” Lilly said slowly. “What does that spell?” she asked pointing at the yellow tape on the water fountain.

    “Let’s sound it out together,” Mrs. Patrick said.

    “kaw-shuh n” Lilly and Mrs. Patrick said together.

    “What does that mean?”

    “It means: to warn or to advise that something is dangerous.”

    “Oh. So kinda like when I told Kristinif she bounces Tim like that, he’ll throw up?

    “Yeah, I guess so.”

    “Hmph” Lilly said. “Kristin didn’t listen to me and Tim threw up all over her.”

    Mrs. Patrick tried not to laugh.

    “Maybe, I should wrap him up in CAUTION tape. That way she’ll know not to bounce him like that.”


    Lilly continued walking down the hall. “Actually, I don’t think that will help. Mom always says, ‘she’s dumb as a box of rocks and that she can’t follow directions if her life depended on it’ No. That won’t work.”


  34. Boys!
    150 words

    “Is that the one?”

    “Yep, I hear Mr. Dingleburg got his face burned right off!”

    “No way! How could a WATER fountain burn someone’s face off?!”

    “Well, remember, the sides are always more than warm?”

    “Yeah, So?”

    “Well, heat inside the fountain is just hot enough to force the water up to the nozzle”

    “Like Old Faithful, at that park we went to last summer”

    “Yeah, just like that!”

    “Alright then, why on earth does it come out, cold!”

    “Simple, an air-conditioned liquid is released when you press to drink. That’s why the spout has two holes instead a’ one, and never tastes like water from the faucet.”


    “Boys! You come away from that fountain at once!”
    “Yes, Mrs. Peterson”, they all said, each peeking back over his shoulder, wide-eyed at the yellow-taped water fountain. One step ahead, of Mrs. Peterson, herding them down the hall towards their classroom.


  35. The Foam House
    (111 words)

    Dale and Kim pulled up to the house as the crane removed its last wall.

    “Since you slept through the briefing, I’ll handle this.”

    Kim nodded, though she wasn’t listening.

    It made her think of a blue cube of Jell-O with fruit inside. A girl reposed in bed, her father lunging for a door handle, the family cat with green eyes stuck wide.

    “Whoever did this must’ve blocked the outflow pipe,” she said, “and inserted the canister there. The canister must’ve been water-soluble so its contents couldn’t mix and expand before the killer sealed the hatch.”

    Dale looked at her with growing fear.

    She punched his arm and smiled. “Gullible Gus.”


  36. The Fountain of Ruth
    150 words

    Detective James Granger felt reality slipping away. He blinked; trying to remember his findings, but the harder he tried, the further the thought drifted away… he’d been working on a case, something about missing teachers…

    He whimpered as he felt everything changing around him and dropped to his knees. The water fountain that had held the promise of cool water only a moment ago now loomed over him and all he could see the rusting signs of… uck.

    His eyes narrowed. ‘Uck’ wasn’t the word he wanted, but it would have to do.

    This was all wrong. Then he saw the writing on the wall. It took him three tries before he finally sounded out the name ‘Ruth.’

    “Whoever Ruth is, ” he thought. ‘Her fountain’s busted.

    He sighed, as a brief moment of clarity hit him then faded. The scrawl didn’t say “Ruth’s fountain”, it said “Fountain of Ruth.”


  37. Little Miracles
    150 Words

    “What am I going to tell their parents?” Constance asks, frowning at a herd of giggling first-graders and wrapping her hands one over the other in a repetitive knuckle-cracking motion.

    She flinches as one of the students trips, initiating a chain reaction that results in droves of coordinately challenged youths toppling like dominoes. Constance presses her palms to her cheeks and gnaws on her lower lip.

    The thermometer reports an October high of 104*. There’s no telling how many gallons of sweet pumpkin wine have passed from various drinking fountains over pursed cherubic lips. Lips that only hours earlier whispered in unison the first public school sanctioned prayers of this century. They’d prayed for a miracle.

    Constance stares at the mound of intoxicated children. With their prayers answered, she wonders for the first time if it might have been a mistake to bring God back into the schools.


  38. If Walls Could Talk…
    “You promised!” Top Hat hissed.
    “I lied,” Snowman grinned.
    “Do you realize what this means? Read is going to be ticked.”
    “I was just having fun!”
    “By sticking your corn cob pipe….in the pipe?”
    Snowman snickered.
    “I swear I’m going to steal the Bunsen burner from the lab! That will teach you.”
    “You don’t have any hands, Top Hat! You can’t!”
    “Shh…Read’s going to hear,” Books whispered.
    “Hear what?” Read asked.
    “N-nothing,” Books squeaked.
    “Hey,” Read noticed, “What happened to Fountain?”
    “I don’t know,” Snowman said, crossing his fingers in his mittens.
    “This stinks. No one will think to read this winter!”
    Books couldn’t contain himself.
    “He did it!” Books yelled, his folds fanning.
    “Shut it, Books!” Snowman shushed.
    “Snowman…Is Books telling the truth?”
    “Well…yes,” Snowman turned his eyes to the floor.
    “How many times have I told you—“
    “See? He’s mad!”
    “–Not to tattle…”
    Books was silent.

    150 words exactly


  39. Next Generation

    It was amazing no one had found it. Cheesy banners, snowflakes, and even a snowman with a creepy, crookedly drawn smile had been pasted all over the wall. Yellow caution tape now covered the rusted water fountain.

    “It’s our secret,” Stacy whispered to herself as her classmates packed up their books.

    She followed them out obediently then ducked into the bathroom. When the laughter, shouts, and footsteps faded in the halls, she peeked through the window.

    Dashing out, she pulled the wire that hung from the fountain, reconnecting it under the yellow tape. She squeezed through the revealed opening. Darkness surrounded her, but Stacy sprinted through the familiar tunnels until they turned to grass.

    Little dragons swarmed her the second she stopped, brushing her wherever they could to say hello.

    Here, under a different sun, Stacy was safe. She paused to kiss her daddy’s photo, then finally spread her wings.

    (150 words; @AriaGlazki)


  40. Exodus Redux
    150 Words

    Emmett had had to do it. He had to see it.

    He wondered whether this was the second occurrence or just one in a string of many. After all, humans are clumsy things and not generally attuned to the slow crawl of flagellate and protozoa.

    This was it. Ground Zero.

    How it had occurred was not entirely clear. Perhaps it was some combination of human-borne pathogens, all bottled up together in this winter-sealed petri dish of an office, and the sudden jolt of a short-circuited refrigeration unit. Perhaps it was not.

    The dilapidated drinking fountain stared up at him, a cross of yellow caution tape the last line of defense. Cordons, quarantines, copyrights, and armed guards would not stay this righteous act. The miracle having occurred here owed only to the vicissitudes of fate. What right had anyone to ownership of this second sapience? And Emmett shall set you free.


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