Flash! Friday # 47

TA-DONE!!!!! and what a crazy ride! thanks, everyone–back with results on Sunday!

** Got what it takes?? Apply now to take a turn as a mega spiffy JUDGE in Year 2! Details here. The application deadline for the first panel is October 31.

WELCOME TO FLASH! FRIDAY!  Ahhhh, dear Douglas Fairbanks! Today’s mind-reading prompt comes from the 1919 film When the Clouds Roll By, a film you’d never guess was directed by the same person (Victor Fleming) as Gone With the Wind some twenty years later. Goes to show you never know what’s in a person’s head, no matter how hard you stare. Not that it stops some of us, of course, from staring as profusely and enthusiastically as possible. (Yep, that’s me behind your shoulder. No, not there–yes! there.)

(Find the invasive contest rules here.)

This week’s meddlesome festivities are judged by the apparently nonintrusive, safe-seeming, totally innocuous SVW member Dan Radmacher (PS. believe any of that at your own risk) . Be sure to check out his judge page to peek inside his brain for a change.

And now:

Word limit: 200 word story (5 word leeway) based on the photo prompt. 

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (195 – 205 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 is on Washington, DC time–heads up, as on Nov 3 (one week from Sunday!) we switch to Daylight Savings Time and will be off an hour til early spring)

Winners: will post SUNDAY 

Prize: A snooping e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, an embarrassingly impertinent winner’s page (down page! down! bad page!) here at FF, a Nosy Parker 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME whispered behind your back in gossip parlours around the world (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s as-often-as-I-can-get-to-it Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/tips on keeping secrets from dragons (PS. It usually requires the death of the secret-keeper).  And now for your prompt:

When the Clouds Roll By (1919). Public Domain.

When the Clouds Roll By (1919). Public Domain.

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187 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 47

  1. Not strictly legal…
    205 words
    @todayschapter

    “How did this happen?”
    “I told you Mavis, I was outside cleaning during the thunder storm and the next minute I woke up with this splitting headache.”
    Mavis vigorously kneaded the pie crust. She always baked when she was nervous. She wiped her hands on her apron, “but how does it work?”
    “If you hold still I’ll show you.”

    Miles placed his fingers gently on her temples. After a few seconds his face went a peculiar shade of crimson, “Well I say, I never knew you felt that way about me. I’m not sure that is even strictly legal. What exactly are you planning to do with that pineapple?”
    She pulled away, “I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t mean to think that, it just popped into my head. I can’t believe you really saw it!”
    “That settles it, I can’t continue as a butler, it would be a terrible waste of this gift. Will you come with me?”
    “But what will we live on?”
    “I shall liberate the safe combination to get us started.”
    “You can’t very well just poke master in the head!”
    “Simple, I’ll tell him he’s being fitted for a new bowler hat. Now hurry up and pack, and don’t forget the pineapple…”

  2. @StephenWilds
    “Intuition” – 205 words

    “What on Earth is that man doing,” Edgar asked his walking companion, seeing the two gentlemen through the store window. He was focused on the one with the serious look and his fingers on the other man’s temples.
    “Oh,” Marlin said, pulling out his lighter. “That is Douglass Rothschild, or The Magnificent Rothschild, or whatever nonsense he calls himself now.” He waved a hand dismissively before fighting against the wind to light his cigarette, exhaling a long stream of smoke.
    Marlin noted Edgar’s interest.
    “There was an accident a year or so ago, back when he worked for the bank. A tree was struck by lightning outside of his home and it fell on the house, setting it ablaze. His poor wife, Sara, died in the fire. He didn’t take it well.” Marlin continued after another long puff. “Since then he claimed that he could hear his wife from the other side, speak to her about the dead, and tell things about people by touching them.”
    Edgar looked stunned.
    “Really?”
    Marlin nodded.
    “At a party last year, the fool told me I would die of cancer in a year, if you can imagine that nonsense,” he said puffing one last time, after a dreadful cough.

  3. Erin McCabe

    205 words

    @disturbiakiss

    Audience Participation

    “Please welcome the Great Magento!”
    The audience of children, old age pensioners and bored house wives of all varieties went wild.
    Harold waited patiently; he paid a lot of money for this.
    Magento took the stage, dramatically removing his huge purple cape; his bulbous nose twitching nervously.
    “Please welcome our first volunteer; Arnold Pickett!” cried the announcer.
    Harold approached the stage, stopping briefly to smile widely at the crowd, like he had practiced.
    Magento placed his large hands on Harold’s temples.
    “Think of a number between 1 and 100!” he bellowed.
    Harold didn’t think of a number, he thought only of his wife.
    “Number 25!”
    Harold nodded enthusiastically and the crowd bombarded them with applause.
    “Think of a shape!”
    Harold did not consider any shapes; instead he focused solely on the four men outside; poised and waiting, contracted and deadly.
    “A triangle!” screeched Magento.
    “A square I am afraid.” Harold stated to the shocked and silenced crowd.
    Magento was an unmistakable fraud; clearly he had failed to perceive the men awaiting him in the parking lot outside the theatre. Once Harold had found the purple cape under his bed, it hadn’t taken a mind reader to figure out who his wife had been sleeping with.

  4. Master of Perception
    205 words

    ‘Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. What you are about to see here, tonight is an Art passed down to me through generations. I need a volunteer to join me on a journey of minds.
    You, Sir! Yes, you! Don’t be afraid. Come all the way up. Relax, Sir …you are in safe hands. I am going to place my finger tips on your forehead and by the power of telepathy I will read your thoughts.

    Please,relax, Sir. Clear the mist…

    (Silence)

    I seem to be receiving a list. A shopping list, is it? Peckish are we,Sir?

    (audience laughter)

    Water
    Eggs
    Padlock
    Not a sharer, Sir?

    (audience laughter)

    Cereal
    Duct tape
    And what’s this: stockings,Sir. For the lady in your life, I hope!
    Sleeping bag. Going camping are we, Sir? Hope the lady has a coat!

    (more laughter)

    Scissors
    Long life milk
    Cereal
    Matches… cigarettes?…No, not a smoker.
    Ah! But you do have a vice…

    (Man blushes a deep red.)

    …brandy!

    (Man smiles. Applause)

    Silence, please! This part is hazy…

    A newspaper, no….newspapers!
    Bleach
    And one final item….it’s coming through… a shovel!

    From that, Sir, I can deduce you are planning on going away for a very long time!’

    (Applause)

  5. A Moment on the Lips…

    ‘All right, Mr. Fairchild. Nearly finished.’

    ‘Doctor, may I ask – is it serious?’

    ‘Not sure, old chap. Let me just take another look at your skull. Hold still, now.’

    ‘My skull? But I thought -’

    ‘Hold still, Mr. Fairchild, please.’

    ‘I say! Are you quite sure you know what you’re doing?’

    ‘Mr. Fairchild, be reasonable. I am the preeminent authority on STDs in the country, after all.’

    ‘S… STDs? What on earth?’

    ‘Supernaturally Transmitted Diseases, sir.’

    ‘Of – of course. Yes. Supernatural, you say?’

    ‘Mmm. Just turn your head, there’s a good chap. Ah, yes – just as I thought. Definite lengthening of the earlobe, and if I’m not mistaken… Yes. A nascent protuberance.’

    ‘A what?’

    ‘You’re growing horns, Mr. Fairchild. Tell me, was it a faun? It normally is.’

    ‘It – what? It was just a kiss!’

    ‘Yes, yes. That’s what they all say. Why don’t you have a seat, old bean. You look done in.’

    ‘Good God. What shall I tell my wife?’

    ‘Oh, I should think it doesn’t matter. I give it about a week before you’re gambolling and eating grass.’

    ‘You can’t mean…’

    ‘I certainly do.’

    ‘Isn’t there –‘

    ‘Anything I can do? Afraid not, old bean. Now. Will that be cash, or cheque?’

    @SJOHart
    205 words, excluding title

  6. The Final Frontier
    203 words

    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn

    ‘Yes, I see what you mean, sir, big.’
    ‘I told you, Smithers, it’s not going to fit.’
    ‘Perhaps not, sir. Do you think Harrods can change it?’
    ‘It doesn’t come from Harrods, Smither’s. I understand it’s made by some clever fellows called NASA.’
    ‘Would that be Nasars of Oxford? I’m not sure I would trust them, sir.’
    ‘No, Smithers NASA, N,A,S,A. I believe it’s in America.’
    ‘Really, sir. How terribly modern. But, I still can’t see why sir wants to wear a space helmet in the first place?’
    ‘Smithers! Sir has no bally choice I’m told. One simply has to look the part. As the first British aristo to go into space, I can’t blast-off without one. And what would Cynthia think, hmm.’
    ‘Ah yes, sir, Cynthia. Don’t you think it’s just a bit extreme? Strapping yourself to a tower of liquid oxygen just to impress the young lady.’
    ‘No, Smithers, I don’t. And think of the family name, Smithers, and…and…England.’
    ‘England, sir, yes of course. If you say so. And what else will sir be wearing, besides this “space helmet”.’
    ‘I rather thought my new tweeds with the plus fours.’
    ‘From Harrods, sir?’
    ‘Of course, Smithers, one has to have some standards.’

  7. “The Nose Knows”
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    198 words
    ———————————————-

    “You’re sure this is going to work?”

    “Yes, positive. I’ve done it a million times before.”

    “So I just have to look at you and think hard? That’s it?”

    “Yes, that’s it. Stare deeply into my eyes and frown. The frowning is the most important part.”

    “Why’s that?”

    “The frowning shows you’re serious about this whole endeavor. Laugh, and the gods won’t grant you your request. Also, crinkling your eyebrows helps.”

    “O.K… But I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face just looking at your nose. It’s the… it’s the biggest nose I’ve ever seen.”

    “You don’t become an expert at this without sacrificing a little beauty for the art. Now shut up.”

    “O.K., O.K., I’ll be quiet. Look, here’s my serious face.” Silence reigned for about five seconds. “But honestly, have you ever LOOKED at your nose in the mirror? It’s freakin’ huge!”

    The master heaved a big sigh. He glared at the peon before him. They were always like this, the good-looking ones. Shifting his fingers up into the joker’s hair and pressing deeply into the skull, he grinned inwardly. Mock me now, handsome man. But I’ll be the one laughing tomorrow.

  8. “Quieting the Mind”
    203 Words
    @easmith_writer

    Charlie’s father placed a finger on each of his son’s temples. “Think with your head. Not with your heart.”
    Charlie’s heart would never forget the day he fell in love with the girl in the cranberry bog – how her linen gown splayed in a pool of red buds. His mind had forgotten the color of her eyes, but his heart knew they were the color of the sea.
    But the sea at sunset? After a storm?
    They had married quickly, but society was too caught up in the war to care for a thoughtless girl and a growing belly.
    Twelve months later the girl gave her mind to the war, too, shutting out the sounds of her family’s heart.
    The day she traded her perfumed gowns for a stark white uniform was the day she let her son trade her breast for the bottle.
    Charlie could still hear her heart beat. Wherever she was, in heaven or hell, could she hear his, too?
    “He’s too young to remember this. Let them adopt.”
    His father was right. The boy would never know the girl in the cranberry bog. Never know the color of her eyes. In that moment, Charlie decided to keep his son.

  9. THE EXAMINATION

    “Very interesting, very interesting indeed.” Doctor VonBruder pressed the middle finger of each hand to James’s temples. His eyes were narrowed intently over the blade of his nose.

    James eyed him skeptically. His mouth was a grim line. “Well Doctor, can you do anything about my condition?”

    “A most unusual case my boy, most unusual.” He lowered his hands and straightened the cuffs of his dark suit. Let me check my bag. AHA I’ve got just the thing!” He exclaimed. He pulled out a large crystal dangling from a fine gold chain. VonBruder pointed to a nearby upholstered chair. “Sit dear boy, sit.”

    Warily James sat down. “Now relax and make yourself comfortable. Watch the crystal closely.” The Doctor skillfully flicked his wrist and began to twirl and swing the crystal. It blazed with color. James was quickly mesmerized by the sparkling, flashing lights it cast.

    Sylvie waited impatiently in the next room. When VonBruder finally emerged she raced over to him. “Doctor were you able to help my fiance?” She wrung her hands anxiously.

    Tje Psychiatrist shook his head. I’m afraid not my drar. He still thinks he’s a chicken. Take heart, he’ll be cheap to feed and you can use the eggs.”

    204 words @EmilyKarn1

  10. Harold and the Patient
    @ShawnCowling
    203 words

    “Doctor, thank goodness you’re here. I have a pain in my neck. I think, I think I have the mad cow”

    Harold stepped away from the desk he was rummaging through and faced the raving mad man that had just burst into the room.

    “Say no more” he said, raising one hand to hush the sick man.

    He stepped slowly toward the man, still standing in the entry way of the office he had so rudely entered, looking him up and down giving a most menacing scowl.

    “Oh my, you do not look well at all, Mister?”

    “Thompson. What is wrong with me, Doc?” The man whimpered.

    “Allow me to utilize the very finest of my fanciest medical school training” Harold stood before Thompson, threw his hands in the air, wiggled his fingers and tapped Thompson’s skull.

    Thompson, confused, stared at Harold intently as the examination continued.

    “Just as I suspected. You have annum faustum. Quickly, you must get to the hospital in town. Only they can save you now. ” Harold waved Thompson out of the room hurriedly.

    With Thompson gone, Harold returned to the desk and finished filling his bag. He would have to flee before anyone else interrupted the robbery.

  11. Futility Defined

    That the brain of his long-time manservant and surgical assistant, Ludovic, was, by several orders of magnitude, more evolved and infinitely unique than that of any other exemplar of his species was an indisputable fact that Dr. Wilhelm Krupp had never succeeded in properly explaining to the benighted soul.

    As Ludovic retained no memories of his youth, owing to the very refinements that allowed him to function as highly as he did in comparison to his peers, Krupp quite understood the inexplicable confusion his helper must feel every single day.

    When dear, foolish Ludovic viewed his reflection in a mirror, he could not comprehend, while the young man staring back at him bore no unusual appearance to that of any of millions of other such men, the brain behind that plain, homely face had originally resided within the cranial chamber of…an orangutan.

    Given the singular nature of his intellect and the…purloined body in which it resided, it was quite undeniable that any undue notice of Ludovic could…nay, would prove disastrous to them both. Sighing at the sheer lack of effect his latest attempts to enlighten his prodigy had yielded, he wondered if something as pedestrian as banana crepes might, once again, console the lovable brute?

    205 words @klingorengi

  12. “Is this your idea of a Vulcan Mind Meld?”

    “Hush, your hair must be perfect.”

    Matthias sighed. When Thomas got it in his mind to be impeccable for something, nothing stopped him. “How long is this gig, anyway?”

    “It’s all day. Don’t try to tell me you don’t remember you promised.”

    “Thomas—“

    “Please, Matthias.” Thomas stopped and gave him a pleading look. “It’s just for one day and it’s for a good cause.”

    “I know, but it’s our anniversary and I really wanted to spend it alone with you.” Matthias wrapped his hands around Thomas’s wrists and squeezed gently. “The first official anniversary.”

    Thomas sighed. “I haven’t forgotten, I promise. But this was my uncle’s thing and he meant the world to me. You know he was the only one in the family who didn’t think I was sick or strange? Just do this with me today and tonight, I’m all yours. Please, Matty?”

    Matthias leaned forward and brushed his lips over Thomas’s mouth, sealing his love with a kiss. “Tonight, then, Thomas Hausen.”

    Thomas’s brilliant smile warmed Matthias’s heart as they moved into position in the Harry Hausen Haunted House for Universal Studios. Those who scare together, stay together. Forever.

    202 words
    @SiobhanMuir

  13. A MEASURE OF PROOF
    “And now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I shall prove to you beyond a shadow of a wisp of a reasonable doubt that Mister Granville here is not our killer. Mister Granville, please stand.”
    Herbert Granville rises from his chair, unsteady on nervous legs.
    “Mister Granville, please remove your hat.”
    Mister Granville removes his hat.
    “Mister Granville, it has been established by this court that the killer, who murdered his victim in the backyard of said victim’s home, gained entry through a gap in the fence, is that right?”
    “Yes,” croaks Mister Granville.
    “And we know that the gap in the fence measured eight inches, is that right?”
    “Objection!” yells Prosecutor Thompson.
    “Overruled,” barks the judge. “Continue.”
    Mister Sorrowman places his fingers on Mister Granville’s temples, steps back keeping his arms perfectly stiff, marches across the courtroom and leans down, robot-like, over a ruler lying on the table.
    “Eleven inches, Mister Granville, you are a real egg-head.”
    “Objection!” Prosecutor Thompson pounds the table. “This is a ridiculous parlor-trick!”
    “Eleven inches, ladies and gentlemen, far too large a head to stuff through that fence. This is not your killer!”
    In the gallery, Mister Granville’s wife lets out a cry and faints.

    208 words with title
    @betsystreeter

  14. ~~~ His NOSE…I can’t get over how HUGE … ~~~

    Umberto dropped his hands. He hated this part of his job. “Pardon, sir, there is still a stray hair…”
    “Of course,” his employer said with a polite smile. Umberto placed his fingers delicately on his employer’s hairline again.

    ~~~ I mean…really…a nose like that. I wonder if… ~~~

    Umberto removed his hands for just a brief moment, then steadied himself and resumed his job.

    ~~~ …explains why he’s never been married. Poor guy, he’s probably never been laid…~~~

    “There you are, my lord,” Umberto declared, nodding as his employer politely thanked him and walked out the door. If the Earl ever suspected Umberto’s secret gift, he would be fired for sure. It was a curse.

    Umberto turned at a gentle rustling. The countess, left alone, as always. “May I help you, my lady?”

    “I just… my maid is indisposed…”

    “Of course…” Umberto reached out to help her with the earring that was caught in the lace at her neck.

    ~~~ …never touches me anymore. But Umberto…he’s so kind…if only… ~~~

    Umberto smiled, and allowed his fingertips to linger just a moment on the lonely woman’s neck. Perhaps this curse was a gift after all…

    204 words @USNessie on twitter

  15. PREY

    He had reached that stage of life termed as distinguished. The hair receding from his widow’s peak was fringed with grey. His face wore character lines. He wore a black suit, a white shirt, and a tie. He appeared to be completely respectable, a banker or perhaps a doctor. He chose his target carefully. A younger man in his late twenties, neither handsome nor homely. He approached casually. He stood so that his gaze feel squarely on the others eyes. “Come quietly with me.” He said conversationally. He led his prey into the paneled study and closed the door, muffling the noise of the party outside. “Be still and silent.” He ordered. He placed the middle finger of each hand on the yongsters temples. The eyes widened in panic as the fingers elongated and penetrated the skull. He began to suck the brain, up through the fingers, the arms, and into himself. He scoured every thought, dream, and memory from the most vivid to the most obscure and made them his own. He dropped the empty husk when he was finished and wiped his hands fastidiously. Wearing the appearance of the younger man the doppleganger smiled evilly and stalked from the room.

    203 words @EmilyKarn1

  16. Makeup!
    Word count: 200 exactly
    @NomDeBen

    “Cut!” the director shouted. “That was horrible! Where are the writers? When I said I wanted more non-verbal communication, I wasn’t talking about some kind of circus mind reading act! Fix it!” he barked as two disheveled men ran up to him during his fit.

    “Sir?” The taller man asked hopelessly before the director cloud storm completely off the sound stage, “Are we still limiting the number of spoken words for the whole movie?”

    “Yes! No leeway. The movie is Two Hundred Words not Two Hundred and Seventy Six Words!” The director completed his tantrum and left.

    The men looked at each other sighing deeply in unison. They had spent endless nights trying to tell this sad drama in an hour long screenplay with this ridiculous constraint. “You think he’ll count French words?” the shorter man asked rhetorically.

    “We’ve used up all the words in the finale. How are we supposed to explain that Mark is John’s long lost brother and that he had amnesia after a war injury or he would have been home to help with their dying father?” The taller man complained.

    “Oh! We need a head wound.” The shorter man was suddenly excited. “Makeup!!” He yelled.

  17. Premonition
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    204 words

    “You’re saying that I can see the future, just by pressing here?” Doug asked.

    “It’s a bit more complicated. It has to be the correct spot.” Frank put his middle fingers on each side of Doug’s head, adjusting and murmuring, “Just so…”

    “Dear God!” Doug exclaimed. “I can see…war, we’re at war, with Germany again!”

    “Can you see more” Frank asked, excited his discovery worked on another.

    “Yes; we’ll win this one also, but the cost will be high. Now I see…how odd; a large white figure. It’s walking…on the moon! Yes, there’s our flag. We will soon be in space!”

    “This is incredible, Doug! What else can you see?” Frank was holding the position, though the excitement feverishly coursed through him.

    “It’s three women. They are related somehow. They are sitting on couches, talking about…well, that’s not appropriate,” Doug finished.

    “What?”

    “They are discussing things of an intimate nature. And how bored they are. One of them is named Kim. Oh, here come two more women…dear God, one of them has a frozen face! Sorry, that one is a man.”

    “Doug, what are you seeing?”

    “I think it is the utter destruction of our society. But I can’t tear my eyes from it!”

  18. Step Into My Parlour
    205 words

    The trick to being inside someone else’s head was never to truly reveal what you’d found because the person you lied to the most was yourself and the twisted corridors of the human mind helped protect people from those lies. Simon knew this; he’d known it from the moment that he’d manifested the ability to step out of his mind and into another. Deception was an art and Simon was Da Vinci, painting smoke screens that hid the truth even from himself but this man, Michael, he was something different, something new.

    Michael regarded him steadily as Simon crawled into his mind and there wasn’t even the smallest of flinches when Simon flung the doors to his psyche open. It wasn’t until Michael’s lips curled into a cold smile that Simon realized that he’d done exactly what the stranger had wanted him to but by the time the thought solidified it was too late.

    Ghostly fingers curled around Simon’s very being as howls and screams tore through his head. Simon struggled against the pull but Michael’s mind was too strong and Simon swayed on his feet, blood pouring from his nose while Michael watched him.

    The last thing Simon saw was that cold, cold smile.

  19. The Hat Store

    “So what kind of a hat are you looking for, Sir?”

    “Oh, you know, something dashing and modern. The kind of thing that the ladies like, but would be respected by a gentleman. Something spiffy but not foppish. Have you got anything like that?”

    “I’m sure we can help you, sir.” Johnson measured Mr. Allen’s head.

    “I’ve got a very large head,” Mr. Allen said.

    “You sure have,” Johnson said quietly.

    “What’s that Johnson?”

    “I’m sure I have just the thing for you in the back.”

    Johnson returned with a short brimmed bowler. “Here you are. Try this on for size.” Mr. Allen put the hat on his head and looked in the mirror. “It looks very stylish on you.”

    “Do you think so; I’m not very sure.”

    “Well, sir, it is the latest thing from England, but if you would rather, I’ll go try to find something else.”

    “Yes, I think you’d better.”

    Johnson took the hat into the back, took a Red and Blue pin and put it into the band. “Here we have the latest thing from Paris.”

    “Yes, yes, that’s just the one. So much better than that other old thing you were trying to pawn off on me.”

    Word Court 203

  20. Stroke of Genius

    “I’ve got it!” Master Ridgely dropped his pencil and froze. He’d been scribbling furiously for hours.

    Max had been doodling. “Got what?”

    “Don’t you see?!” Ridgely jumped from the chair, upsetting his precious papers. “I’ve figured it out! Oh yes. We’ll be the toast of England, boy – just you wait!” He strode about their small workshop, vibrating with an excitement Max hadn’t seen in years. Somehow, he avoided all of the busts displayed around them.

    Max lowered his pencil, folding his arms. “What have you figured out?”

    Ridgely wasn’t listening. “It all makes sense! If the measurements work, and with the Fibonacci sequence… Oh, yes!” Ridgely spun around. “We might even get a knighthood for this.”

    “Who needs a knighthood?” Money for rent would suffice.

    “It has to be tested, of course. I’ll need a few specimens, but we can start right here. Stand up!”

    “What are you on about?” Max knew better than to argue.

    “You’ll see, or you won’t, but I’ve finally got it!” Ridgely pulled him under the brightest lamp and started fingering his scalp. “Right around. No… Well. Wait.” He paused, crestfallen. “I say, Max. Do you, by chance, possess an extraordinarily large head?”

    No wonder they called the hatter mad.

    (205 words; @AriaGlazki)

  21. Blow Down
    @_katiekurtz_

    A Chicago wind whipped Harold’s Fedora off his head and sent it tumbling down the street and straight into a gutter. He’d been hatless since, waiting for a proper fitting from his man in Detroit.

    “Hmmm. Unusual,” Clarence said as he lightly tapped Harold’s head, making sure not to disturb his carefully applied pomade.

    “Care to tell me what happened in Chicago?” Clarence asked.

    Harold was on alert. What beef did Clarence have with his trip to Chi-town?

    “Checkin’ in on a dame I know,” Harold replied smoothly.

    “That so,” Clarence replied, gazing at Harold over his enormous schnoz.

    The shop door burst open. Harold instinctively drew his .38 drawn and forced Clarence into a chokehold. John Vitale’s thugs parted as the don himself strode in.

    “Shopping for new lid, Harry?” Vitale said, pulling one off a shelf as he walked over to Harold and Clarence.

    “Personally, I prefer a well-made Homburg. Ain’t that right, Clarence?”

    Clarence nodded, wide-eyed. Harold felt him trembling and realized the heat was off him.

    “The thing is…” Vitale whipped a pistol from his vest pocket and placed it at Clarence’s temple.

    “I also prefer loyalty,” Vitale concluded and fired.

    198 Words without title

  22. A Beautiful Mind
    198 words
    @m_a_thompson

    I am a radical in my field.

    Most Cognitive Artists like to start with a blank slate. They wipe the canvas’s mind before building up a new personality. Only the memories planted by the artist exist. With this level of control, a subject cannot act out of character.

    The practice leaves large holes in the canvas’s ability to hold discussion. Cheap storefront displays only converse within specific parameters.

    Artists build memories upon memories to create subjects able to hold extended conversations. Socialites probe canvases looking for holes to trip them up with.

    My approach leaves the canvas’s mind intact. I alter the childhood memories first. A nudge here or there can change a feeling of pride in one’s work, to a need for security. Terrible childhood memories can be smoothed into complacent ones.

    Check out my display The Bureaucrat at the Metropolitan museum. Go talk to him. I’m so confident in my work; I’ll tell you how to nudge him. Ask him about his time in a concentration camp as a child. He won’t remember dreaming of racing cars, or following that dream. He lives day in and day out now, not even aware he is a display.

  23. A meeting of minds

    “Hello again.”
    My God, it’s you.

    “Oh, hi.”
    It’s you. It’s really you.

    “Such a nuisance when the train is late isn’t it?”
    Thank goodness the train is late, it means I have longer to speak to you; to look at you.

    “Yes, a real pain.”
    And I get to spend just a few more heart-racing, precious moments in your company.

    “You, um, look nice today.”
    You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

    “Oh it’s just an old sweater, nothing special.”
    I wore my best jumper on the off-chance I might see you.

    “It’s getting cooler now the nights are drawing in.”
    Your smile would melt the chill away.

    “Yes, much colder.”
    If you would only wrap your arms around me.

    “Oh, um, here’s your train. That’s a relief.”
    I hate that your train is here. I wanted a few minutes longer…

    “Yes this is me. Maybe I’ll see you around?”
    Say we’ll meet again?

    “Yes, hope so.”
    I’ll be here, same time next Friday, just as I have every other Friday for the last few months.

    “Bye then.”
    I don’t want to go.

    “Goodbye.”
    Don’t leave.

    Slowly the train pulled out of the station, leaving two strangers alone on the platform.

    @dragonsflypoppy
    205 words

  24. Bad News
    @vbholmes
    204 words

    “Once the hairline starts to recede, it’s not long before the phony comb-over fails to cover those shiny temples.”

    Dr. Goldsmith places his fingers on either side of my head to indicate the extent of my predicted follicle loss.

    “How long do I have, Doc?”

    “Months. Five, six. Men your age, with your condition, generally lose it fast.”

    I brush my slender strands back and touch the hairless pink skin which, in my mind’s eye, now covers the entire top of my head.

    “What’s the next step?” I ask. Then I add, “And how much?”

    “Well,” Dr. Goldsmith rubs the side of his gigantic nose as he picks up a lined yellow pad.

    “I did a rough calculation before you came in.” He looks over my shoulder. “Twenty, thirty….”

    “Thousand?” I gasp. “Way out of my price range, Doc. Any alternatives?”

    The doctor looks at his reflection in the mirror and says, “I’ve never thought it necessary to do anything about my own receding hairline. However, my high forehead is balanced by the size and prominence of my patrician nose.”

    He writes a few numbers on his pad.

    “I can give you a nose like mine for only six.”

  25. One Lobe or Two?
    (202 words not including the title)
    @mishmhem

    Doctor Flemmerstein fought the urge to scream.

    It was the third time he had tried to explain his plan to his assistant, and Clyde seemed even more clue resistant than he had during the first attempt.

    He sighed, and began again.

    “If I apply pressure here,” he said tapping just behind the man’s left temple.

    “And here…” He added pointing to his right. “And stimulate the Temporal Lobes…”

    He paused, waiting for Clyde’s response

    “Then I’ll become unstuck in time?”

    Doctor Flemmerstein sighed, his shoulders drooping. “It will stimulate your long-term memory, and increase your ability to process auditory signals…”

    “So… no time travel?”

    “Not this week Clyde.”

    Despite himself, the doctor chuckled at Clyde’s relieved smile.

    When his assistant finally nodded, he continued. “This should increase the flow of blood to not only the Temporal Lobes, but to the Occipital and Parietal Lobes in turn, stimulating not only your visual and tactile perception, but also your cognitive understanding.”

    When Clyde nodded slowly the Doctor sighed. “Yes?”

    His assistant studied the equipment for a moment, and finally asked, “wouldn’t it be easier to just buy a smaller hat?:

    Dr. Flemmerstein smiled, “but where’s the fun in that?”

  26. A Good Idea
    (205)

    “What are you doing?” The fine hairs at Brian’s temple tickled as fingertips brushed against them.

    “I’m going to read your mind.” Charles’ silver gray eyes bore into his own.

    “There’s no such thing as telepathy.” Retreating, Brian gave a half-hearted laugh. He sobered, mouth dry, as Charles followed his movement.

    “Nothing to worry about, then. Right?” Charles sounded light-hearted, but the calculating look in his eye never wavered.

    “It’s not a good idea, Charles,” Brian warned, his back literally against the wall. Angry, he put a bit of steel in his voice. “Back off.”

    Charles coldly smirked. “No, I have a feeling this is going to work.”

    Instantly his hands clamped around both sides of Brian’s head.

    A pulse reverberated sharply; barriers built up over the years collapsed at the psychic touch.

    Then screams filled the air: piercing, horrified.

    After an eternity, the screams tapered to low moans and whimpers.

    Brian emotionlessly stared into Charles face; a thin stream of blood trickled from the man’s nose.

    Silver gray eyes blankly returned the gaze; the man’s mind destroyed in his arrogance.

    Disinclined to feel any concern, Brian pushed past. “I told you it wasn’t a good idea.”

  27. Unfortunately

    Wilson was a great sales manager. When he took the position every salesman doubled their sales and enjoyed twice the commission. He was encouraging, he was organized and he was great at teaching salesmen how to be better salesman.

    He taught them how to read people. He taught them how to convince a customer buying the product was their idea. He taught them how to be ruthless when it came to competitors. He taught them everything they needed to know about sales, perhaps more.

    The only hitch was a monthly after-hours, mandatory sales meeting with the spouses. It was intended to be a reward. Unfortunately, alcohol was always served, and Wilson was a mean drunk. He would belittle the men, and be suggestive with the women.

    Williams became the newest member of the sales team. He was young, impetuous, ambitious, and, unfortunately, jealous. At his first meeting everyone met his young, impetuous, ambitious, and very beautiful wife.

    Unfortunately, Wilson put a finger on each side of William’s head and said, “What’s between my fingers? Nothing, absolutely nothing!”

    Unfortunately, Wilson was found in a compromising position with William’s wife.

    Wilson’s replacement seems to be a good chap.

    Unfortunate things happen when performance is valued over character.

    205 Words
    @CharlesWShort http://www.charleswshort.com

  28. “Here,” the doctor said, pressing his finger hard enough into the side of my head that I could feel the perfectly groomed edge of his fingernail through my thinning hair. “And here. We will only need two holes, because the spirits are so close to the surface. But the drilling must be precise.”

    Everything about the doctor was precise. The surgical suite was impeccable, his tools lined up on an embroidered napkin, each perpendicular to the monogram. And the glass of ether-infused absinthe was exactly 1.25 ounces, poured to the line he’d etched on the side after taking my measurements.

    The spirits screamed, and so did I, as the tip of the drill bit pierced first my skin, and then began grinding through bone. The doctor’s hand moved smoothly in circles, holding the drill steady, until finally I felt the pressure release. The room turned red, and I saw through a haze as he moved to the other side of the bed and repeated the process. When he was done, the doctor leaned in close to my face, measuring something in my gaze.

    “I will have to leave the wounds open for twenty hours to finish the purge. But after tomorrow, you will be free.”

    205 words
    @drmagoo

  29. Memory of a Murder

    Oscar stared eagerly at the condemned man. In four minutes, Oscar would know all the man’s secrets; in five, he would kill him.

    Oscar—state-sanctioned psychic executioner—lifted his hands like a maestro preparing to conduct a symphony. His fingertips brushed the condemned man’s temples, wicking memory. He picked his way carefully through the crosshatch of remembrances until…

    There.

    Woven seamlessly into the organic quilt of true memory were those Oscar had fabricated and stitched carefully into place.

    The moon reflected in a silver blade.
    A scream.
    An ocean of blood.

    Oscar wanted the man to unremember, to know the truth before the end. He tugged at a seam, unraveling the memory.

    The condemned man’s hands shot up, clamping Oscar’s head like a vice. Oscar screamed—False! All of them!—as a geyser of unearthed memories flooded his mind. Behind the patchwork of invented memory, inhabited by a wailing populace of countless wronged souls, was a graveyard of rotting remembrance. Murderer-to-murderer, psychic-to-psychic, they lived each other’s confession.

    The room trembled and roared as psychic shockwaves passed between Oscar and the condemned man. In time, both men crumpled lifelessly to the ground—their lives and deeds forever lost in unremembered memory.

    205 words
    @LadyHazmat

  30. BETWEEN THE EARS
    by Dieter Rogiers – @dieterrogiers
    203 words

    “It’s all between the ears,” the physician said.

    Vilmos gave him a funny look.

    “I did not just invent my headaches . I am not insane!”

    “I didn’t say you were,” the physician replied. “Here, take three of these before going to bed tonight.”

    The physician handed over the prescription to the dumbfounded Vilmos, who by now was seriously contemplating a second opinion. Still, that night he popped three pills, just as the doctor had ordered, and soon found himself in the land of Nod.

    As the clock struck twelve the physician entered the house. Vilmos was still soundly sleeping. As planned. The physician didn’t bother to drag his victim to a table. He would operate on him right here in the bedroom with some crude cranial instruments from his medicine bag.

    He cut off the top of Vilmos’ head and scooped out the brain. The physician, an habitual gambler, had long suspected that Vilmos suffered from a rare affliction called Midas disease, which turns some bones of your body into gold.

    And indeed, as he gazed into Vilmos’ empty skull, the yellow glow of bony 24 carat nuggets enlightened the physician’s face.

    They were right where he had expected to find them.

  31. Measurements
    By: Allison K. Garcia (with the assistance of Margaret Weaver)
    196 words

    “What’s your hat size?”
    “I should know this, but it’s been so long since I’ve bought a hat. I’ve been saving for today’s visit.”
    “Why did you wait so long?” Mr. Topperstein scowled and placed either index finger on Archibald’s temples.
    “Well, sir, the wife was against it for quite some time, but she finally came around.”
    “They all do.” He walked his fingers skillfully around the skull. “I believe you’re a size 16, short. Now, which style have you got your eye on? We’ve got The Banker, The Gentlemen, The High and Tight. Oh, and our newest one is The Bootlegger.”
    Archibald squinted at the selection and sucked in cool air through his teeth. “The Gentleman, I think.”
    “Excellent choice.” Mr. Topperstein pulled the sandy brown toupee from the display case in the front window and smiled, his nose protruding even farther from his oblong face.
    Archibald’s stomach did a leap as he looked in the mirror. “Why, I feel like a school chum again. Like in my rowing days.” He stood up a bit taller.
    “It’s made from the downy fur of a pigmy goat.”
    “Amazing! It feels like real hair. I’ll take it!”

  32. A Monster Hoax
    (205 words)

    “You’re an expert drooler?”

    “The best, Doctor.”

    Dr. Frankenstein murmured and continued reading his applicant’s resume.

    “You say ‘master of moans.’ Groaning is more primitive.”

    “Moaning, groaning. Whatever mindless noise – I’m your man.”

    “No. Less than a man,” Frankenstein said, rising from his desk. “I need to examine your temples.”

    The applicant squirmed while the doctor felt them. “The bolts aren’t actually going into my skull, are they?”

    The doctor pretended he hadn’t heard the question.

    “You would be paraded around Europe. For months you wouldn’t be able to speak, and must routinely break from your chains to raid farms in the night and eat livestock. Raw, of course.”

    “Again, I’m your man.”

    Frankenstein nodded, looking weary. He sat. “I’ll contact you at the inn if I should need further, ah…interview. Igor will see you out.”

    The doctor decided he’d seen enough applicants for one day; his hideous assistant informed the hopefuls waiting without (many whom spent the afternoon squinting or staring at jars of pickled brains) to leave and call again tomorrow.

    Fog drifted outside his study window. In his fire Frankenstein saw the torches and pitchforks that would be carried by his investors if they learned he’d been unable to make his monster.

  33. “Belief”

    The Specialist moved his hands around the Infected man’s head.

    “Always counter-clockwise,” the Specialist murmured as he continued, explaining to the gaping audience of the Infected man’s wife, their teenage son and the liaison who had brought them all together to prevent a tragedy.

    “Is it…is it bad?” the wife asked hesitantly.

    “It’s a crock of shit, is what it is,” the son huffed. Before his mother could say anything, however, the Specialist turned to him, fingers still to the father’s temples.

    “Dear boy, I assure you, this is no crock. Your father…”

    His father was suddenly convulsing, flopping to the floor like a fish out of water and dropped into a skillet of grease. The Specialist followed him down the floor and rapped the Infected man’s forehead like knocking on wood. He went flat as a board, stiff.

    “Your father,” the Specialist repeated, “is good and possessed. Do you still doubt it?”

    The boy was silent, his mouth still twisted in uncertainty. “It looked like a seizure.”

    “I’m going to need your belief,” the Specialist said as the ‘seizures’ began again. “Soon.” The boy shook his head. The shudders made the floor tremble. “Now!”

    “I believe you!”

    His father fell still. The specialist left.

    205
    @J_M_Blackman

  34. “The Consumer”
    203 words
    @kristenafc

    The consumers lined up outside the superstore. The man, Mr. Smith, asked them to stand on the red X and clear their minds while he pressed his fingers to their temples.

    A blissful expression fell upon each face, then each consumer entered the store and picked the items Mr. Smith had instructed him to buy. This process eliminated the guess work; it could distinguish a working-class father from a wealthy bachelor, a student from an elderly widow. It deducted household expenses from gross income, then added available credit line. Each item’s barcode data was sent to the chip.

    Since her chip had malfunctioned, Sally had managed to scurry unnoticed into stores. She had smiled as she meandered the produce aisle, bought books she wanted to read, music she liked. But the police were keeping a closer guard these days.

    When it was her turn, she stood on the red X and trembled. Mr. Smith touched her temples.

    “Clear your mind, please,” he said, then tried again.

    They stared at each other, then Mr. Smith leaned forward and whispered, “Run.”

    “But where will I go?”

    “Next!” Mr. Smith shouted, as another consumer moved forward.

    Sally looked back one last time. Then, she ran.

  35. “Mr. Fairbanks, what is this?”
    “Why, it is my new time machine, Donald.”
    Fairbanks started to rest his hands on Donald’s temples, telling himself that is was absolutely acceptable to play with the little fibers coming off his skin.
    “Mr. Fairbanks, I feel a tingling sensation.”
    “Yes, Donald, you would. Now, close your eyes and think back to when you were….”
    Blasts of color shot through his vision. He felt as if H.G. Wells had put him in that dag machine that his father kept ranting about before his death. As he opened his eyes from the blinding pain, his father was there.
    “Father?” came out a voice he did not recognize.
    A low, rumbling grunt emitted from the towering man. Not a muscle moved or an eyelid twitched from the tower in front of him.
    Donald tried to move his legs to view his father more clearly. His legs felt concreted into place.
    “Father? Is that you?” Donald semi-squeaked in the voice that foreign voice.
    The grunt came louder this time. The immovable mountain inched a bit towards him. Panic started to rise as he shook his head.
    Suddenly, bright light seared his vision again. “Well?” Mr. Fairbanks said.
    “Oh” was the response.

  36. Of Rats and Man
    By Scott L Vannatter – 210 words
    @SVBookman

    “And these two spots located near your temples are auxiliary spots. They allow the telepathic portions of your brain to function.” Leonardo spoke crisply with just a hint of European accent.

    “Uh,” responded Silas, uncertain of what half the words meant but loving that Leonardo was giving him attention instead of the rats he normally handled.

    Leonardo excused himself and went into a back room and Silas heard him rummaging a bit and opening and closing things. He returned to the room holding a large rodent in his hands. Silas nearly cried. He had those things again. Would he never get the attention he felt he deserved as his assistant?

    Leonardo held the large rat in front of Silas and began speaking. “Focus on those spots, Silas. Those spots I told you about. Think, man. Try to read the mind of the rat. What is it thinking?”

    Silas concentrated hard. He stared at the rat. It stared back. He could clearly see a piece of cheese in his head, but did not figure Leonardo would want to hear that. Then, it became clear.

    “I see it! It doesn’t like being held. It…”

    Leonardo dropped the angry animal and went to tend to his wound. Silas hoped he had done well.

  37. Ten-Sixths

    “You head, it’s just so…odd.”
    The customer frowned. This was not what Leonard was expecting.
    “I mean, it’s obvious there’s power between those ears. Power to pull off whatever you want, really. I’m just not sure…”
    The Schnoz knitted his eyebrows together, parting then pursing his lips. Leonard mirrored the expression, frowning as well. For a moment, Leonard wondered what it was like to have such a large schnoz. Then, he decided, he’d much rather have his rather large forehead. Foreheads were more of a conversation piece. And they could be covered.
    The Schnoz got an idea.
    “Let me check in the back. It may work…”
    The Schnoz left periodically, leaving Leonard to explore the fading portrait, the peeling wallpaper.
    “That Schnoz is a weird one,” Leonard thought aloud to the portrait, “How do you deal with him day after day?”
    With eyes frozen in time, the portrait silently stared.
    “Yes, yes, yes,” the Schnoz clapped excitedly, “This one will allow you to harness so much authority. You will have so much power to manipulate them with this one.”
    Leonard muttered something about it being black. He wanted white.
    “Yes, Leonard, I know it’s black, but I’m a hatter. I’m not a magician.”

    @nXgWVteacher 201 Words

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