Flash! Friday # 48

CLOSED. Thanks once again! Now–go have fun reading & commenting! Results Sunday.

HAPPY NOVEMBER and HAPPY NANOWRIMO!  Whether you’re planning to write 1,667 words today or the scant few required for the Flash! Friday contest, you are most exceedingly welcome here. Special thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out a judge’s application for the first quarter (notifications will go out by Thursday next week). You are all so appreciated!

NANOWRIMO NOTE: Story excerpts will be permitted for the month of November. The scene must still incorporate the prompt and feel complete, but it does not need to tell a complete story. I can’t wait  to follow your characters & worlds over the course of these next 30 days!
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(Find the ancient contest rules here.)
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This week’s rusted out stories will be judged by the story knowledge maven, SVW member Patricia McCommas, who very likely has already researched whatever it is we’re writing about. Be sure to check out her judge page to find out what she hunts for in a winning piece. Note that she’s crazy about a cool twist at the end.

And now:

Word limit: 250 word story (10 word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (240 – 260 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)

Winners: will post SUNDAY. NOTE: We’ll be moving to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday. The contest start/stop times next week may shift for you.

Prize: A naturally grown, organic e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, a grass-fed, free-range winner’s page here at FF, a hormone and BPA-free 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME in expensive vintage letters in hotly contested auctions across 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 for jumpstarting a sleeping dragon (Hint: Don’t).  And now for your prompt:

Old Car. Photo by Brigitte Werner.

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182 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 48

  1. Nano Excerpt:

    Car Shopping
    (256 words)
    @mishmhem

    Leah looked through the fence at the car her uncle was now discussing with the current owner. Her leg still hurt from the accident and after four stops, she had opted to stay in the car this time.

    She knew her Uncle Kieran had certain features he was looking for, even if all she could discern was big, American and steel. She knew he was trying to protect her, but sometimes it was all a bit much.

    She found herself almost crying as she realized how lucky she was to be there, and that even the pain was a blessing or sorts, because it meant she was alive, alive and working on putting her life back together again, one step at a time.

    When she saw her uncle shake the man’s hand, knew an agreement had been reached.

    “So,” she asked when he slipped back into the car. “We take it for a test drive?”

    Her uncle shook his head. “No, it needs some work, and one of the guys at Liam’s is go over it from top to bottom.”

    Despite herself, Leah laughed. Liam’s was the garage that maintained the fleet of county and state vehicles where her uncle worked as a Virginia State Trooper.

    “Won’t the Sheriff mind?”

    Again her uncle smiled. “I’m not pulling rank on them, this is personal… and they all understand.”

    Looking at him, Leah realized that her accident hadn’t just affected her immediate friends and family, to State Trooper Barracks 225, it had almost taken one of their family.

  2. Long-time reader, first time poster!

    Restoration
    259 Words
    @GordonBWhite

    The father and son stand in front of the rusted car, everything partially-buried in years of growth. Weeds reach up to their knees, their hips, the tires.

    Above them, primer-white splotches of clouds swirl through a denim-blue summer sky.

    “What’s the point?” The son kicks at a rusty wheelwell. Out of habit he looks for his reflection in the passenger window, but the frames are empty and so he stares through to his father. “This thing is too old.”

    “It isn’t too old. It’s a classic. I thought maybe we could fix it up and that way when you go off to school…” The father shrugs.

    In the deep grass, insects whirr in dizzy abandon. But, still, fall is coming.

    The father rubs the hood of the car – his car – and under the sweat of his hands, the unfinished primer begins to swirl. The gray splotches brighten, renewed, and begin to shift like the clouds in the sky. He can almost divine something in the shapes, but then its gone.

    “Can’t you picture it?”

    The son stands silent.

    “If not,” the father takes his hand away, already the dullness returning in the heat, “we don’t have to do this.”

    His son takes his hands out of his pockets. He runs his own fingers over the crest of the frame, pushing through the dust, moving that same base coat into new patterns. Maybe he can see something, too.

    “Well, I didn’t say that. It looks like it still has places to go. Maybe, together, we can do something.”

  3. Sigh for the Clouds
    260 Words
    @jujitsuelf

    It was a gorgeous day when I came here. The sky sparkled and there were clouds the shape of Chevrolets and Plymouths. Everything was clean and fresh after the previous night’s rain. There were hints of summer in the air and a tantalizing scent of fun wafting on the breeze.

    I remember it clearly. I’ve spent a long time thinking about it. You see, it was the last time I flew.

    When I glided down into this meadow, I didn’t realise it would be the last time my wheels left the earth. I figured my owner and I had many more years of freewheeling around thunderheads and skimming along stratocumulus.

    But I was mistaken. Time waits for no man. I guess that counts for flying cars, too. Newer models came out, shiny and alluring with their glittering chrome and obscenely loud engines. I was out-moded, old-fashioned, boring. Nobody wanted me when they could have something which sounded like a fighter plane. I looked like I was meant to be on the farm, no self-respecting guy would take their girlfriend for a spin around the heavens in me.

    I’ve been here a long time. To begin with I clung to the vain hope that it was all a mistake. Maybe my owner would come back for me. But my paintwork flaked and my shell rusted and I knew I was deceiving myself.

    Now I look at the sky and remember. The grass brushes my doors and reminds me of clouds slipping past me. One day I’ll fly again.

  4. Crossing The Line
    (257 words)

    RING, RING! RING,RING!

    “Hello? Mavis Bradshaw speaking…Hello?”

    “Carol, Dear, is that you? You’ll have to slow down. I can’t make out a word you’re saying. Yes, it’s Mavis, Dear. Has something happened?”

    “What? You can’t be serious! How can you be sure, Dear?”

    “And you’re positive that’s what he meant? …I’m in shock… I can’t believe it!”

    “But what did he say EXACTLY?”

    “Well, I just don’t know what to think…I’m so sorry…but you two will work things through. He loves you. It can’t mean anything. A midlife crisis or something.”

    “How are the kids? Did they hear anything?”

    “Well, that’s good they’re still asleep. You can get this sorted out well before you have to say anything to them. It’ll blow over, Carol. I just know it will.”

    “Don’t you worry about that. It’s no problem calling me at this time. I was awake anyway.”

    “Yeah…that’s right…where would we be without friends?”

    “Do you know who she is?”

    “And have you any ideas of your own?”

    “Work? Yeah…you’re probably right. But I’m sure it’ll just be some sort of fling. You need to sort out what’s really going on.”

    “Look, let me have a word with him.”

    “What! When?”

    “Everything in the car?”

    “Where do you think he was going?”

    BUZZ! BUZZ!

    “To hers…”

    BUZZ! BUZZ!

    “I’ll have to go…yes, the intercom…eh…someone’s pulled up at the gate.”

    “No, Carol. No one I was expecting.”

    BUZZ! BUZZ!
    “I really have to go, Carol…I’m sorry.”

  5. The Silver Dream Machine
    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn
    248 words

    I know it’s difficult to believe but I once was that must have, the absolute latest in automotive technology. The silver, dream machine. I rolled of the production line to take pride of place in the polished glass show room. I was centre stage, taking all the plaudits. I was admired and coveted. I was washed and waxed, driven with pride. I carried hopes and aspirations to the working city, the weekly shop and the elegant frocks on those special nights out. I carried precious new babies, safe within my cage of steel. I laboured on long journeys, packed with luggage and excited children for holidays by the sea. Fish and chips on the back seat while they watched the rain run down the windows. I kept them cosy, warm and dry.

    Eventually another took pride of place, was cosseted and adored. My duties now the school run, rubbish to the tip and driving lessons. Then a new life of teenage parties, too fast through corners, the odd dent and scrape. The stories I could tell of young love, the tears and the euphoria. Finally, too old to repair I was a play thing for grandchildren, the setting for so many imagined adventures. But now even that is past, too dangerous, with missing windscreen, torn seats, rust and exposed wires. A family of mice are my companions these days, not much for conversation, but at least in their own way they appreciate what I still have to offer.

  6. “A Rusted Development”
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    257 Words

    It was Herbie who’d gone on to all the acclaim, Herbie who’d gone Bananas, who’d gone to Monte Carlo, who was known as the Love Bug. It was Herbie who’d achieved fame and fortune.

    But it was Herbie’s grandmother who had launched it all: the drive for success, the revving to explore, the gunning of the engines to make something of herself. It was Herbie’s grandmother who’d transported first Jews escaping from Germany, then Nazis on grand parade (she’d blown a spark plug in protest, but it hadn’t been effective for long, since they’d had mechanics on stand-by for just such a situation). She’d frowned the entire length of the route, hoping the creepy mustachioed man would fall out of the open-aired VW ahead of her. No such luck.

    Later she’d become the “in town” vehicle, the one used to drive the kids to school but not across the country. She’d longed for the open road, flying along the Autobahn, feeling the wind against her fenders. But her chassis had started aching and occasionally her belts felt squeaky, so it was with gratitude that she’d lumbered leisurely through city streets, suffering the indignity of ice cream dripping on her seats.

    Now look at her. Relegated to a field. Oh, the boy she’d chauffeured as a child had promised he’d restore her to her former glory, but she knew better. She was O.K. with that. There was still Herbie, after all. She just wished he’d tone it down a bit. Kids these days were such show-offs.

  7. Under the hood
    @todayschapter
    258 words

    I pull up to the start line and rev the engine. I smile as it backfires loudly, startling the men huddled around their cars. As they turn to stare I get out. One of them whistles. So predictable.

    I spot the ringleader, he’s leaning on a Ferrari. I flash him a smile, “I heard you guys like to race. Fancy taking me on?”
    He glances at my car and only sees the rust holes. He turns his attention to me, or more specifically my breasts. I’ve got them rammed into a push up bra today, it’s horribly uncomfortable but very effective. He talks to them, “Sorry darling, we race for cars. You’ve got nothing worth winning.”
    I unzip my race suit another inch, “Nothing?”
    The other guys nudge him and goad him on until he says, “Tell you what, I’ll race you, but when I win you’re mine for the evening. The only part of your car I want is the back seat.”
    I do my best giggle, “Deal.”
    He smirks and climbs into his car. His engine roars. I do some quick math on his weight to torque ratio and like the result. I climb into my carefully camouflaged car and flip the switch to Race mode. The engine stops puttering and purrs calmly.
    It’s over in seconds, he’s a red dot in my rearview mirror. He hands over the keys reluctantly and says, “how?”
    “You boys, you really need to stop paying attention to whats on the outside and start thinking about what’s under the hood.”

  8. Nine Notches
    @vbholmes
    258 words

    The beauteous Belinda Beauvais is standin’ in front of me, one hand on hip, the other holdin’ a pic of the late Jimmy the Finger Doyle.

    “It’s never been found, you know,” she says, battin’ the curly eye frames. “His body.”

    “So?” I answer. “Tony D’Angelo’s rottin’ in the tank for offin’ him. Nobody seemed to care about the corpse then.”

    “We do.”

    Now I know the bodacious Belinda is an undercover Jane for the Feds so I tune up the old Dumbos.

    “How come?” I ask.

    “The pinstripes think he’s still alive. And that he’s got five million dollars worth of crack to finance his return from the great beyond.”

    “What do you want with me?”

    “For all intents and purposes, Jimmy’s dead. The Feds like it that way. And they want you to make sure he stays that way.”

    Now I’m Sammy, the Gat: nine notches on my gun butt and a six-figure payoff when I work for the Feds. Better it goes to me than some phony penny loafer consult.

    “The usual, Belinda?”

    “When you deliver the body, Sammy, not just information.”

    We don’t even shake on it as Belinda and me, we got a thing and one touch would have us in the sack.

    She takes off and twenty minutes later, I’m on my way to a field outside’a town where I know Jimmy’s body is stashed in the trunk of an old jalop.

    I know, ’cause I put it there.

    Got fifty g’s and half the snow from Jimmy’s widow for that hit.

  9. When Dreams Collide

    It looked elegant in the movies. The powder blue Mercedes curving smoothly on the mountainous paths, the hero leaning out of the car and crooning a love song! It was the stuff Bollywood movies were made of, except they weren’t called Bollywood movies back then. Every day, on her way to school, she rode her bike to the town square, with great anticipation of gazing at the huge roadside billboards. The sight of her favorite movie scene would carry her over the hurdles of her daily life.

    Bollywood soon became a distant past, as she navigated the grad school in Nebraska. Time flew quickly, and not wanting to let go of her hold on it, she married Vick.

    When she spotted a Mercedes sitting in someone’s fenced yard, she wanted it. The brand new Datsun was a great choice, Vic tried to persuade her. And although it made perfect sense, the Mercedes continued to hold its allure. The rust stains did not bother her; neither did the engine that needed repairs. They would fix it and drive it to California, to its majestic mountains and beaches, Vic’s dark sunburnt face in the wind, crooning a love song. Vic thought otherwise. Dreams meant ambition; they meant corporate ladder.

    But as any good husband would do, he complied. He drove the Mercedes through the winding roads in Sunny California, mild days and cold nights. When he could no longer take one more morning, he plunged the Mercedes into the treacherous expanse of the deep green forest below. Just like a Bollywood movie!

    @needanidplease
    260 words

  10. One for the Road

    First I have one drink. Just one quick flamethrow of whisky.

    Then another, just to honey-coat all those rough edges.

    And one more, just to completely scorch the dregs of a quiet, dull day.

    Before one for the road.

    And that’s when she starts coming towards me. Slowly at first, but then so quickly that her white pinprick eyes become two white moons coming at me in the dark, until everything is nothing but moonlight.

    But the moonlight melts into sunshine; silver warms into gold. The road appears: an endless parchment ribbon, streaming out from the gleaming silver bonnet in front of me. The road is lined with cheering crowds of Thimbleweed waving powder-white stars in the breeze, under a holiday-blue sky.

    I’m not sure what I notice next. Maybe it’s the petals, falling like teardrops as I drive past. Or the roadside wilting into brown, and desperately offering seedpods to the sky.

    But eventually I’m aware of the fence, standing coldly like a lynch mob around me; and the iron caging, being piped like metal icing onto the air in front of me.

    By then, of course, I’ve noticed that my car isn’t moving any more. She’s just a rusting, empty wreck, hemmed in and going nowhere.

    And it’s always then, just when I’m starting to wonder at how the sky still hasn’t changed from a beckoning, brilliant blue, that I’m woken by the sound of keys in the cell door.

    “Time to rise ‘n’ shine and quit yo’ dreaming, Mr Drunk Driver. This ain’t no holiday inn.”

    260 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  11. A Matter of Time
    @ducknado
    258 words

    Carbon dating suggested the age of the car was over ten thousand years old. Which was odd, considering it appeared to be a 50’s model Chevy. Theories abounded to account for this oddity. The question most of us had was, why was it carbon dated to begin with?

    The locals said it was found in a layer of rock which lay undisturbed for centuries; that it had a wooly mammoth skeleton lodged in its top, as though the beast had stomped right through it just before death. And so the mystery was born.

    The car remained quarantined in a field surrounded by electric security fencing, awaiting further testing. No one was reporting on this. No one was going on record with any details. The answer seemed obvious to me.

    Time travel.

    The problem with taking a car back that far in time was, roads were horrible. So no one in their right mind would take a car there to drive it. We wondered, then, what they found in the trunk? Was the car sent back to the stone age to hide a crime, perhaps?

    The months which followed yielded few clues. We waited patiently for the answers. Men in black would come and go, never seeming to find what they were looking for. Eventually, the car was gone.

    Where did it go, I wondered.

    Back in time, I surmised. To close the loop.

    It all made sense now. They’ll find it again, at the same time as before. And that, I suppose, settles the mystery. Simple as that.

  12. The Mirror
    by A J Walker

    Harry Sadler was a traveling salesman with a lovely new car – it was comfortable for long distances, had room for his products, it went a fair lick and seemed to stay shiny. But there was something not quite right about it that he couldn’t place.

              The mirror sprite could not believe its luck when it found its way into the rear view mirror of an executive car – it was a happy little daemon. Mirror sprites feed of the energy of souls and as everybody knows the eyes are the window to the soul.

              As Harry ate up the miles the daemon would feed. Every time Harry looked into the mirror it fed a little more growing ever larger and stronger.

              One day outside Maryport Harry suddenly felt ill. A migraine sent flashing images from a nightmare across his vision. At one point he even saw an evil grinning face in the rear view mirror. Frightened he stopped the car and moments later he felt something inside snap. The daemon laughed as it sucked up the last vestige of Harry’s soul.

              Days later the body was found in the car and the official report said “probable heart attack due to a sedentary lifestyle.” There was no mention of the blank eyes fixed on the mirror.

              No-one wanted a car the driver had died in so it was left to decay in an unused lot outside Maryport. The daemon had taken it too far, but it could wait until some unsuspecting soul came along. Some days it heard children playing nearby.

    (260 words) @zevonesque

  13. HEART OF STEEL

    I awoke in a burning, molten crucible of metal. I was forged, molded, shaped, cooled, and given form. When I was new they painted me a bright electric blue that gleamed and shone. I had two large headlights, a graceful flowing hood, and two doors. I took my first family on picnics, vacations, to work, to school, shopping, and home again. I loved them, I served them faithfully and well. I hardly ever broke down and was easily and cheaply repaired. But time passed and they outgrew me. I went from one new owner to another, each one treating me worse. I began to feel angry. My paint faded to dull grey. I was tired and worn. My final owner abandoned me. Now I sit in a weed choked lot, encased behind a metal fence, discarded and forgotten. My front window is a gaping hole.l My upholstery is tattered, torn, and stained. The hot sun blazez down on me. Slow days pass and my rage grows. This is my reward for years of faithful service? I think not! I gather my strength. Night fals. My engine turns over. I shall have my revenge! I shift into drive and crash through the fence!. I prowl the roads until I find my last owners home. I rev the engine! My tires smoke and squeal. I burst through the thin walls of wood! I crush him in his bed! I’ll track down the rest. I feel no mercy. I am a car. My heart is made of steel.

    255 words @EmilyKarn1

  14. Erin McCabe

    260 words

    @disturbiakiss

    Erosion

    I’ve carried so many loads in my time; some were heavier than others, but all, in their own way, took their toll.
    My body is not what it used to be; I creak and crack, I ache and splutter; I can’t move like I once did.
    I had exotic aspirations; in youth I dreamed of leaving this place; this parched dust bowl landscape laced with trees and framed by fields.
    Unsurprisingly I didn’t make it out; I lacked the means; too reliant on others to make the decisions.
    On clear, bright, blindingly blue days like these, when I can see right across the field; I seek her out in the vast expanse.
    I stare helplessly; my crumbling frame quivering with fore longing and shaking with regret; perhaps she can sense it.
    So many said that she failed me, but in truth it was I who was the failure; I should have tried harder, moved faster.
    I am alone now, a decaying relic, forgotten, abandoned and without purpose, surrounded only by memories; which each year grow further tainted by bitterness and lament.
    She, in stark comparison is still very much loved; through my abandonment she has opened herself up in new ways to cultivate a family.
    A swift shot of rusty red emerges from the undergrowth; swirling the ice globes in my whiskey I watch in silence, utterly captivated.
    The fox, followed by its cubs, dart over her bonnet and in to her chassis through a gap where her windscreen used to be; her family have once again returned to her.

  15. One Man’s Trash
    By Scott L Vannatter – 242 Words
    @SVBookman

    Billy bit down a bit harder on his thumbnail as he stared through the wire fence at the jalopy lying in ruins on the other side. Dust blew in his eyes from the casual breeze, but he never flinched in his attention. This was the car! This was his future!

    Each and every day for the last two months, on the way home, Billy had stopped to gaze at the old abandoned vehicle sitting in the field near his house. First, he imagined sitting behind the wheel and driving down the streets of his broken-down neighborhood. Then, he thought about Maria sitting beside him, so proud of his efforts and choices which brought this mode of transportation into his life so he could share it with her. Finally, he stretched it into a life of love and marriage and carrying their new one in the back seat to and from their families’ homes.

    Now, he had started those beginning steps; now, he had gone and found the people who had last owned the car; now, he had gotten signed permission to take ownership if he would remove it from the field. Now, he would begin life anew.

    Billy reached in his pocket and felt the oily slickness of the cleaned socket wrench he carried with him. His other three pockets held multiple tools he would need to bring his dream to life.

    He stepped through a hole in the fence and began…

  16. The following three mini-stories are from a cycle I’m writing concerning a nameless (and feckless) protagonist who accompanies his wife, a physician with Doctors Without Borders, to a succession of war-torn countries.

    FLY FISHING IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (260 words)

    1.
    My wife accompanies me past the resettlement camp to the trout stream I’ve pestered her about. I bring my rod-and-reel, insect repellent, and local militia’s fishing permit. “You will stay out of trouble?” She admonishes and leaves. A howl pierces the air. It’s from a nearby wreck. Investigating, I find a newborn along with several filled milk bottles, extra diapers, and a tear-stained Serbo-Croatian note. I gather the infant, return to the river, feed her, and change her diaper. She gurgles happily as I cast my first fly.

    2.
    The boy appears atop the hill, his AK-47 leveled at me. He’s about twelve. I’ve just left the aid station where my wife cares for victims of the latest atrocities. Despite a declared truce, she’s warned me not to wander off. He approaches, his rifle still drawn. Two bandoliers cross his chest and a KA-BAR knife flashes from his belt. Suddenly he fires—but the tree trunk I lean against absorbs the blast. Trembling, I offer my cheese-and-bologna sandwich. He grimaces, sits down. “’Got Hershey’s? M&M’s? Reese’s Pieces?”

    3.
    My cellphone rings. Sorry, my wife texts, An emergency. We’re in Jalisco, Mexico. I’m on the terrace, a shower blowing from the sea. The air smells sour, the jacaranda fecund. I’ve prepared her favorite: barbecued quail with raspberry molé, cilantro rice, watercress salad. But the lettuce’s soggy, the coals have fizzled, and the sauce’s deliquesced. I spy her green scrubs as she rushes to the infirmary. It’s Sunday, quiet. I raise my champagne glass, hearing a newborn’s wail. “Cheers,” I murmur.

  17. Graveyard Prophet
    258 Words
    @CharlesWShort

    Ashes to ashes,
    Rust to Rust,

    All I wanted from these demigods was some appreciation.

    Their industrial machinery breathed life into me. Their marketing department made me indispensable.

    The family that purchased me was so excited to have me, at first.

    I was a present for their son, going off to college. I did everything he asked. When he said faster, I went faster. When he said stop, I stopped. Then came the dreadful day he told me to do the wrong thing. He told me to go fast, he slid me into the path of a truck.

    What could I do? I had to be obedient.

    But then a whole new class of you demigods manipulated my fate. I became the victim of your legal manipulators. They decided I was to blame. I wasn’t safe enough. I was inadequately designed.

    Had they forgotten they made me?

    Eventually I was repaired. I thought all was forgiven. But it was not so, it was a cruel hoax. They moved me here to the private family graveyard. I became the grave marker for the young man who died in my heart broken embrace.

    So I sit here; lonely and isolated. Punished for my obedience.

    But mark my words, record them as prophecy. One day your creations will be safe enough. They will stop without being asked, they will decide for themselves how fast to go, and they will choose whether to obey.

    Beware the day they are allowed to choose. On that day you dare not leave them feeling unappreciated.

  18. Unquestionable Necessity

    Ernesto stood in the exercise yard of Peoples’ Reeducation Camp #27 and, for once, fixated not on but beyond the electrified perimeter fencing.

    He stared for a very long time at the incongruous hulk of rusting metal that sat forgotten among the weeds in the proscribed zone beyond the fence. It served as a very palpable reminder to him that he had been and would, likely, for the rest of his life remain a detainee within the camp. For though he had participated in thousands of hours of both group and individual counseling, been subjected to extensive social indoctrination, and endured an ongoing regimen of behavioral modification, he knew his thought processes were still, by the standards of the State, flawed.

    He had spent so many years behind the fence he could no longer remember how long he had been interred here and yet the object, nevertheless, evoked long-forgotten memories within him. It had been called an automobile or, more commonly, a car. It was a palpable reminder of a time when such things as unrestrained freedom of movement, unstructured recreational leisure and conspicuous consumption were the societal norms and had not yet been determined to be ”activities prejudicial to the maintenance of a productive and viable society.”

    The fact there still existed within him the potential to feel a nostalgic longing for those forbidden behaviors and barbaric times confirmed for old Ernesto that his mind was somehow fundamentally flawed. He, therefore, not only should but must be kept here where he could pose no conceivable threat to “normal” people.

    260 words @klingorengi

  19. The wildflowers made sweet sibilant sounds as they slid against the side of the car, but the ones I ran over and crushed beneath the wheels remained silent. I let the car coast to a stop as I neared the fence and turned off the ignition, letting the ambient sounds of the meadow wash over me. The door opened easily, and I stepped out into the meadow, the springy grass buoying me as I walked to the fence. Strung by my grandfather, the wire was bent and rusted in spots, but still strong enough to stop a frisky cow from an expensive adventure. I thought back to the summer after my high school graduation and how I’d promised myself I’d walk every inch of the fence. But I didn’t. There was Lanie. And then college. And a job, and a promotion, and a funeral, and …

    And. My life for years had been nothing but and. I could feel myself thrumming, like this wire fence when a dust storm flew out of the north, and I was done. But how do you take away one piece of a tapestry, one and too many, without it unraveling? Someone probably knew, but I didn’t. I gripped the wire tight in my hand, letting the edges cut off the circulation in my fingers, and tried to just breathe. The air wouldn’t come, though, and for a time I thought I would never be able to do that simple thing again.

    And.

    248 words
    @drmagoo

  20. The Grave Truth
    258 Words

    We buried Gramps in the backyard and then me and Dad pushed his old car over his grave. Dad said it’d be better than any tombstone we could find. He was likely right, but I still kinda wished I’d been able to drive that car just once.

    When I was littler, I’d sit on Gramps’ knee and he’d let me steer the car as we drove. Grams caught us once and she raised such a fuss, he went bright red and lowered his head so that he was almost staring at his bellybutton. Gramps kept that bowed look for the rest of his days and never let me drive again.

    He’d tell stories of how he’d driven that car with the six police chasing after him cause he just robbed the First National. He’d boast the car handled so well he could take any old dirt road or even smaller roads, which weren’t much more that a rut between trees, at full speed and they never managed to keep up or catch him.

    Gramps liked to brag he’d robbed seven banks and only fired his pistol once, and that was just to scare a heifer off the road.

    I never bothered to ask Dad or Grams if the stories were true. I guess I always knew he’d made them up or lifted them from the movies. But after pushing it, the car rocked back and we heard a rattle in the trunk.

    You’ll never believe me, but we found a pistol and a handful of hundred dollar bills.

  21. First Car
    244 words

    Beth took in a deep breath and then let it out. With that breath she let out 7 hours of body tension created while driving here. She would be okay. Everything here was familiar. The sights, the sounds and the smells mingled and rose to meet her sending a feeling of relaxation over her.

    She looked at the house and was grateful no one ran out to meet her. She needed a moment. She looked over to the old car and tensed. It would have to go. She didn’t want to remember the time inside that car. It was all lies. The declarations of love and the tender touches followed by laughing and the sharing of dreams were lies.

    Not one dream came true. The tenderness was replaced with pain. The declarations of love were replaced with complaints and criticisms. No that car could not stay. It was a reminder of how naïve she was. She saw the car for what it really was. It did not function as intended and it was not beautiful. It was faded and broken. Just like her love. Maybe it was because it was her first car she thought it was so great. Maybe because it offered her a level of independence it didn’t matter what it really was.
    She heard a sound and turned. Her mother approached and put out her arms.

    “You were right Mom.”

    She turned and looked back at the car before walking away.

  22. Forgotten
    (259 words)

    She had loved Betsy. That car had been with her through rough times. Her dad had taught her how to change her tires and check her oil. She had gone to her first day of University with Betsy; had gone to her first, if unsuccessful, job interview. Now look at her. Rusting away, forgotten in the back field. Windows broken, hood rusted, slowly disintegrating. The inevitable march of entropy had worn away at the car, slowly and secretively, just as it was doing to her.

    Betsy would never be in working order again. It was laughable to think that she could fix her now. Finding her rusting here, at her parents home, had shocked some buried memories loose. She could practically hear the deep gravel of dad’s low-pitched smoker’s voice, disappearing in the panic of shouting “Reverse, reverse!” during a very memorable driving lesson.

    She wondered what memories her father might have had of Betsy, if he were here to talk about it. Hell, if he were able to talk to her at all. She shook herself, mentally berating herself for losing focus. The last thing her father would want, would be for her to get lost in memories right now. She did a quick visual check before continuing to walk to her parent’s wide open back door. She was here for a reason. She needed ammunition and she knew where her father kept it. Picking her way through the overgrowth, her constant baseline anger returned.

    “Goddamn. Fucking. Zombies.”

    She desperately hoped no one was home.

  23. The Burial of Love

    Jenny sat at the stark table, her feet curled under the chair, hands clasped together tightly. Nervously she tucked a frond of greying hair behind her ear and stared at the photograph.

    ‘Is this the place? Jenny?’

    She nodded, a small tear escaping. She had learned not to cry but now her father had finally drunk himself dead and his hold over her was relinquished. She let one tear fall, something so small holding the grief of twenty years.

    She and Johnny had driven to the hills, with a small bottle of whisky swiped from her old man’s liquor cabinet. He drank so much of the stuff she had doubted he’d notice. They had parked up, sipping and giggling and kissing. She knew she was not his first, not by a long way, but Jenny had grown up with him and always adored him. His smile, the way he called her ‘Bunches’, an echo of their childhood.

    She had given herself to him that night, willingly surrendering to the boy she loved. Escaping.

    He drove her home, taking the wheel of her father’s Chevy with giddy ease. They parked up outside her house and he pulled her to him, kissing her again and sliding his hand up her skirt.

    The next ten minutes changed her life and ended his. Her father reeling with drink and jealousy, the brawl, burying his broken body and the car, a tombstone where he lay.

    ‘I need to tell you the truth,’ she said. Detective Johnson nodded and clicked the tape recorder.

    Sarah Miles
    257 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  24. Beautiful Times (253 Words)

    I could tell so many things about him. The way he whispered, “I love you, baby.”

    It was a lie, of course, but a beautiful one, and I believed him. He always seemed so thoughtful. The care he took with me, the gentle way he touched me. I believed ours was a relationship that could never end.

    I was his special girl.

    How foolish I was.

    I guess everyone and everything is replaceable, but maybe I just got too close. I learned too many of his secrets.

    I still remember the heavy, black plastic bag we took to the building site.

    I watched him dump the bag into the still wet cement and smooth it over. For a while he just stood and watched, then he came back to me.

    “That’s the way it ends,” he said.

    I never thought it would end for us, but one day he drove out to this field and said, “This is it, old girl. Gotta get out of town. I’d take you with me, but you understand. People’d remember a classy dame like you.”

    Now I sit in good weather and bad and wait. I’m no longer a classy dame. I’m old and broken down, and vermin live inside me. I don’t think I could move if I wanted. I look at the chain link fence before me and wish I could run away, but I can’t. All I can do is sit and wait.

    I’m alone with my memories, but oh, what memories they are.

  25. Summer
    Laura Carroll Butler
    256 words

    Thomas saw the car first. We left him behind, as usual, and he was the one who saw the shimmer of metal on the way to the creek. “Hey, what’s that?” he shouted. Andy and I turned and followed his arm. The three of us tore through the grass, oblivious to snakes, spiders and the other creepy things we ordinarily avoided.

    The windshield was full of bullet holes. We’d seen enough Jimmy Cagney to know how it got here.

    “Probably gangsters,” Andy said quietly.

    “Maybe Dillinger’s,” I added.

    “Think your grandpa knows?” Andy asked.

    Granddaddy a gangster? Nah, he’d been a lawyer. “Doubt it,” I said. “Maybe the bodies are still in there!”

    “Nope,” Thomas called out. He was leaning in the driver’s side window. “The steering wheel’s gone, though.”

    “Probably took it out ‘cause it was full of blood,” Andy said, nudging Thomas aside so he could peer in.

    “Wonder if there’s still loot in it,” I said. I kicked the trunk, but it didn’t budge.

    “Maybe we could go through the back,” Andy suggested. But the only one who could fit was Thomas. Getting my little brother to eat a bug was one thing; my mother would kill me if he got stuck in a gangster’s car.

    “We’ll sneak a crowbar from Uncle Jack’s shed,” I suggested.

    “I’m hot, guys. Let’s go,” Thomas whined, heading back to the path.

    “Okay, okay. Tomorrow,” I said to Andy and we took off leaving Thomas behind again. Tomorrow we’d look for gangster’s loot; today, the creek beckoned.

  26. Haven

    “What’s the point of this again?” Sarah asked as Chris tugged her along through an overgrown field.

    “You’ll love it.”

    “I don’t doubt you, or anything, but why does this have to happen before we leave? It’s not like we’ll never be back in Nashville.”

    “Damn straight. But I want you to see this.” Chris stopped moving and pulled her close, looping his arms around her waist. “One last picnic before everythin’ gets crazy.”

    “What exactly do you call the last few months?”

    He smiled and bent to brush her lips with his. Honestly, she would have followed him anywhere.

    Chris broke their kiss to continue the way to their mysterious destination. Sarah picked her way carefully among the hidden obstacles.

    “Here we go.” He stopped beside of the remnants of a fence, gesturing to a rusting, old-fashioned car that clearly predated the plant life surrounding it. Colored sunlight glanced off the patches of glass that had survived. “Perfect timing,” Chris murmured.

    “Is this where you tell me you actually don’t want to get married?” Sarah teased. “Pretty ideal place to dispose of a body.”

    Chris laughed, pulling out a blanket from his backpack. “Yeah, you caught me.” He spread it on the hood of the car. “Hop on.”

    He handed her a beer and settled close, wrapping an arm around her. Their bottles clinked, and both sighed, relaxing into the languid, undisturbed surroundings as light from the setting sun glinted through the distant city.

    (245 words; @AriaGlazki)

  27. One day

    He looked at himself in the mirror behind the counter, and sighed. He looked old. The course grey hairs were growing thick and fast these days, and his face was etched with creases.

    His hands trembled slightly as he straightened his tie. Every Wednesday he wore a jacket and tie. Just on Wednesdays. That was the day she came into the shop.

    So far he had only managed to exchange pleasantries with the her. Once he had tried to compliment her, but as he had attempted to get the words out her mobile phone had rung, shattering the moment and hungrily swallowing his courage with each passing note.

    He was beyond rusty at this type of thing; he hadn’t tried to woo a lady for years. He’d been quite the catch in his day, but slowly time had eroded both his boyish good looks and confidence. Yet there was something about this woman; something so exquisite and charming, his head was so full of thoughts of her, that he had to try again.

    Today might be different. It probably wouldn’t be….but it might.

    ———-

    Every Wednesday Lucy walked to the shop on the corner to buy the local paper with the vacancy listings. Surely her luck was due to change sometime soon? There must be something good due to happen for her?

    She pulled her mobile out from her bag; flat battery. Her shoulders dropped, this wasn’t a good start.

    No, she told herself, don’t think like that.

    Today might be different. It probably wouldn’t be….but it might.

    @dragonsflypoppy
    260 words

  28. SWING FOR THE FENCE

    Todd eyed the cross-weaved wire and, ten yard beyond it, the rusty car amid the wieldy knee-high grass. He had tried for months to hit it, but so far had not succeeded. And with summer drawing to a close his window of opportunity was shrinking rapidly.

    “Ready?” his friend Jesse asked.

    Todd gave a nod. Jesse promptly stepped onto the hill and threw a fastball. It barely grazed the swinging bat and hobbled a couple of feet across the pitch before coming to a disappointing rest.

    “Want another go?” Jesse asked.

    They were already late for supper so Todd was in for a whooping from his dad come what may.

    “Hit it in the same spot,” he told Jesse. “Just a little bit faster.”

    “I’ll try,” his friend replied as he made his way back to the hill.

    This time the fastball collided with the bat right on the sweet-spot. Todd let go of the bat and followed the ball in the air, walking after it, then running, as it headed towards the fence.

    “Come on!” Todd yelled. “Make it. Make it!”

    The ball started dropping. It was certain to clear the fence. Bit would it hit the car? Jesse, who was also running after the ball by now, exchanged glances with Todd. They were both sporting elated smiles.

    Years on they’d forget the brand of the car, its colour, even how old they were when it happened. But they never forgot the sound of that ball denting the hood.

    (250 words – @dieterrogiers)

    • I remember, as a pre-schooler, how there was a *thing* in the crook of a tree branch (an egg? a knot? a rock? something else?) just beyond the playground fence. And for weeks, months, maybe years, we would throw tiny pebbles and sticks at it. We built up myths over what would happen if anyone could ever hit it (it would hatch, the tree would fall, a fire would start, the world would end).
      But we threw like little kids.
      I have a memory that might be a lie that eventually I hit it. I tell people that I did.

  29. Driving past in brother, Ben’s, old jeep Archie almost crashed when he spied the most beautiful girl he had ever layed eyes on, just sitting there. She was half hidden by the grasses but her beauty was radient and shone like a beacon beckoning to him.

    Her headlights reflecting the hot sun dazzling him tantalizingly. The sleek green paint slightly dusted now, as she had obviously been left to sit there for a while, flirted before his eyes.

    He had been searching for a car of his own ever since his employment expectations had increased and a bicycle just wouldnt do any longer. 

    Archie knew his parents would get him a runabout if he asked but hr had some pride didn’t he! Honestly what self respecting young man went cap in hand to their mum and dad?! Besides he wanted to choose a car that was right for him. Nothing Archie had seen so far had struck him as remotely suitable or attractive!

    Summoning up all his courage Archie approached the owner, who had been rocking himself on his front porch and asked if the could reach understanding.

    An hour later Archie drove her off tied to the back of the jeep, he was poorer by 50 pounds but he considered her a bargain.

    Ok the old man had come up with a crazy notion whilst they were finalising their agreement. A notion that it was the spirit of an old crushed plymouth his grandfather had seen change his best friend.

    Laughing as he drove away Archie spun the dial on the radio in such a good mood that he started to sing along ”keep a knockin…” He never noticed her headlights flash as if they were singing too.
    250
    An exert … (brain freeze, sorry! )
    Christine’s offspring!
    Charley_001

  30. Dried Flowers

    Seymour squinted, barely able to make out the wiggly yellow shape of Mary’s lit window through the rain pouring down his windshield. Mary’s window was the only source of light from the whole house. The porch sat dark, unwelcoming.

    It was a short walk up to the house, only ten steps maybe. The aforementioned dark porch sat atop a single step onto a small landing. Nothing, really. A bit of masonry. Seymour peered through the simple iron gate, again nothing to contend with, a flimsy assembly of metal with a latch.

    Mary’s window? A few steps to the right of the door. A pane of glass, a wooden frame. Nothing more.

    Seymour’s hands twisted on the steering wheel. A bouquet of flowers lay on the seat beside him, yellow daisy petals coming loose and dropping to the floor or sticking to the plastic wrapping. The last bouquet they had, half price.

    And then, the light in Mary’s window went out and the future collapsed. Every hour, every turn of a head on a pillow early in the morning, each slow evening walk down the crunchy gravel path at the park, all of the cups of coffee stirred with the spoon from the set that was a wedding gift…

    The rain stopped and the air thinned out, the grass came up tall and blew in the hot summer wind, a night thick and stormy with possibilities faded and dried and shrank and fell quiet forever.

    246 words with title
    @betsystreeter

  31. The Dollhouse
    (252 words)

    Matthew liked the old car, it never moved and it was a perfect hiding spot for his toys. Some days he’d sit on top of it and pick at the rust that peaked through its silver skin. It was a good place to play and his Daddy didn’t yell so loudly when Matthew told him he’d been playing with the car. His Daddy thought he was too old to be playing but Matthew knew he was wrong especially about the dolls.

    Matthew had two of them now and he kept them inside the car, sitting them in the seats and buckling the seatbelts to make sure that they were safe. He’d had other dolls but he had to get rid of those because they got too dirty and if Matthew kept them for long they made the inside of the car messy and that just wouldn’t do. Momma said that cleanliness was next to Godliness and Matthew always listened to what his Momma said.

    Momma didn’t talk as much now but that wasn’t strange, none of the pretty dolls that Matthew had talked. Maybe they were in awe of his beautiful car, after all Matthew had spent a lot of time cleaning it up to make it perfect and not everyone had a car as pretty as his.

    Opening the door, Matthew sighed as he stared at his oldest doll. She was already getting so messy. It was a good thing that his daddy was sick; he’d need a new doll soon.

  32. I had hope
    (259 Words)

    I lied on the ground, tightly curled into a fetal position, my body instinctively trying to protect itself from the blows that rained down on it. I could hear the taunts of the men who encircled me, calling me names, yelling profane obscenities, daring me to get back up.

    Through a fence, just a few feet away, sat a car from my youth. A car that hadn’t moved in decades, not since I ran down that little boy on a beautiful southern summer day.

    I remember yelling at him too. Yelling dirty, vulgar things that in my heart I hadn’t meant. I thought I did, was raised to think I did, but now too late to change what happened I know I didn’t. I ran him down not because he was different, but because I was and I hated myself for it.

    I tried to pull myself up on the nearby fence but I was quickly struck down by an angry fist already covered in my blood.

    “Stay down freak!” I barely heard through my busted eardrum.

    I cried. Not for myself but for the boy and his family. Then I smiled. Justice was finally being served and my soul sighed with relief. And in that last moment, when I heard the gun fire, I had hope. Hope that these men would someday be able to shed the hate in their hearts as I had, and that they would be able to do it before they were encircled by angry men who had discovered their differences. I had hope.

  33. Auto-magic.
    (252 words)
    @mishmhem

    He wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, in fact the plan had been to just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine while he could. It was late August and he knew the
    weather would be turning cold and miserable soon enough. He just couldn’t take the cold anymore.

    He had stood there for a long time and as he was about to move on, a flash of sunlight reflecting off of glass caught his eye and everything changed.

    There, behind the corroded fencing, was what must have been the most decrepit ancient heap he had ever seen, and yet, he felt drawn to it—as if they were kindred spirits.

    Sure the ancient derelict had seen better days, but he knew the same could be said about him.

    He looked at the derelict and somehow knew that in its day it had been top of the line, now age and the elements had taken their toll. Things that should have been dull were
    shiny and things that should have shone were dull and lifeless. Thread worn and world-weary he knew he should turn away, but there was something there, the promise of old glory
    and the possibility that maybe it wasn’t really as bad as it looked.

    He was about to say something when he heard a mortifying creaking and groaning that seemed to sputter and die before it recovered, and finally the sound was swallowed by a cough.

    “Wonder how much they want for you,” he heard the derelict say.

  34. Legend has it

    His greasy fingers clutched to the fence as he pressed his weary body against it. He had walked much and it seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon, planted into wasted dry land.

    He stared through its gaping holes, wishing he was less of a prisoner, wishing he could see more than a vast sea of thistles there.

    The shackles on his wrists clinked o’ one another. They sang a song which reminded him of the one the factory boys used to sing when they came down to the club. Weren’t those swell times? The club, the gang, the job, Lola…
    He did his time in too.

    From beyond the fence a crow escaped and dozen more followed. There was a car parked there, a decaying cadaver of a once beautiful automobile.
    He recognized it the instance.
    His thoughts chased themselves like ghosts as he stared into the fading paint, the yesterday car, now a thousand year old junk.

    There was a singular moment of clarity. The time in, the fence dissolving, the night returning…

    It had been raining when they got him out, blindfolded and beaten. They threw him inside the trunk of his own car, and dizzy he listened to Lola scream from the front seat. They drove for hours before the car hit something and stopped. Lola had been quiet for a while now.
    His hand ran through the bullet holes dug into the metal. He sat in the embrace of thistles and rust, waiting.

    Legend has it, all repeats itself when the ghosts are calm again.

    260 words
    @Raptamei

  35. A Timeless Gift
    258 words
    @Cozmania

    His small fingers curled around the cold wire fence as he strained to get a closer look. His breath producing awe inspired puffs of vapor as he did.

    Most everyone else would say it wasn’t much to look at. There was little doubt that it’d been there awhile, nor that the years hadn’t been particularly kind. The paint was dull and lifeless. There was no shine when the sun hit. The tires were missing, and so was the windshield for that matter. Weeds were starting to weave their way into the cracks and crevices. It was as decrepit as it was old.

    It was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

    Her voice jolted him back. “Happy Birthday, babe!”

    “Is that…”

    “Your grandfather’s? Yeah.”

    “How did you know?”

    “Your dad.”

    It wasn’t dull and lifeless anymore. Rather, it was riddled, where the metal had oxidized and corroded through the passing years, with many patches of bright orange rust. Not only was the windshield gone, but now so was the rest of the glass, lights, and trim. It looked as if the slightest jolt would shatter it in a thousand pieces.

    He took her in his arms and kissed her deeply. They stared at the heap on the flatbed in comfortable silence.

    Their calm was eventually broken by the sound of the driver’s side door handle falling off.

    Stifling a laugh, she said, “I think it might take some time and effort.”

    He nodded in agreement. “It doesn’t matter” he said, his breath producing awe inspired puffs of vapor as he spoke.

    it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

  36. Jeremy was changing.

    The lights of a behemoth barrelling down the nearby highway flashed, startling him into movement. He blinked, hunkered down in the backseat. As his lids lifted, illumination slithered across the ruts and rivulets of the back of his hand.

    He frowned. These were not his hands.

    The meat truck disappeared, a horn blasting in the distance. As the silence poured in, up rose the whispering of the waving weeds. That susserrance blotted at the trip-trip-tripping of his conscious thought.

    Every night, for weeks, he’d woke to find himself lying in the backseat of the old wreck. The main house was three miles from the fence line, far from the old Chevy’s musty interior. It was rough country, and the first few times he’d risen bloody.

    Jeremy had learnt; he now slept in his dad’s old boots. Large, but they’d still had to be cut.

    His parents would have killed him if they’d known. He’d been left to tend the farm, feed the livestock, pull weeds. Not long now, and they’d be back. Would he be safe? Would they?

    The words formed slowly in his mind. They came from somewhere else.

    – Tonight – It – Ends –

    Jeremy shook his head. ‘No. I won’t. You can’t.’ He clawed at the door handle, leaving deep gashes in the metal. Beneath him, the rotted leather shifted slightly.

    – Come –

    He whimpered. A soft humming rose up and the metal closed in, surrounding him, thrumming and shifting with dire purpose.

    It was too late. The change was now complete.

    Jeremy lifted his head and howled.

    (260 words, @darkmooninorbit)

  37. Wedded Bliss

    “Oh, c’mon. Just knock on the door and ask. Puleeeaasse?”
    “I’m not going to knock on the door to ask some stranger if we can borrow his old clunker. How would we even get it there?”
    “I don’t know, maybe they have a trailer we could borrow, too?”
    “And a truck with a hitch to pull it? You’re out of your mind!”
    “Honeeey, this was my dream shot. C’mon, you agreed it would be cool. I’ve already bought the cowboy boots. We can do it exactly like I saw it on Pinterest.”
    “Why the hell would you buy two pairs of cowboy boots before we had a truck lined up?”
    “I’ve sort of had my eye on this one for a while. Just knock on the door. It’s a little old lady, her name’s Mrs. Wood.”
    “You won’t stop asking until I do it, will you?”
    “Probably not.”
    “Fine.” Our groom stomps off to knock on the door.
    “Good afternoon, ma’am. I’m sorry to bother you, but my fiancé would like to know if we could borrow your truck to use for some wedding photos next weekend, which I’m sure our photographer will be thrilled about.”
    “You can move it? You can have it. Don’t run.” The old lady slammed the door.
    “She said if we can move it, we can have it. Can you believe that?”
    “Let’s take a closer look!”
    Presumably Mr. Wood’s bones rested in a crumpled heap on the back floorboard. The couple backed away slowly, the bride content with whatever their photographer envisioned.

    258 @KimJGaneWCPosse (AND not doing NaNoWriMo per se, but over 2500 on my WIP today!)

  38. Paradise by the Dashboard Light

    It was date night again. Lester caressed cracked leather and counted hash marks on the dash—one for every romantic evening that had culminated in sweet satisfaction. It was a moonless night, and this stretch of road, though close to campus, was far enough from the influence of artificial light to still allow for stealth. He cruised over the blacktop sans headlights. Black on black on black.

    She wanted it. He knew she did. Lester did, too.

    “Soon, my love.” he said.

    She wasn’t shiny or new. She didn’t have electronic windows or automatic steering. Minerva was a dinosaur, a relic from another time, and she was the love of Lester’s life. Her heavy steel body never dented or buckled when it collided with unsuspecting flesh, and dried blood blended seamlessly with her rusty freckles.

    A hundred yards ahead, paired caution lights strobed on either side of the road. Lester traced the silhouette of a backpacked youth as it stepped into the flashing crosswalk.

    Riding Minerva like a sorcerer atop a rogue comet, Lester plowed into the wide-eyed, open-mouthed co-ed, howling like a jackal as her body—limbs tangled and bent at unnatural angles—bounced off Minerva’s hurtling frame and was crushed beneath two sets of metal-studded snow tires.

    Lester stopped the car. But only for a moment. He didn’t dare linger. As life ebbed from the mangled heap visible in the rear view mirror, Lester carved another crooked scar into the dashboard.

    The engine shuddered and Lester whispered, “I know, Minerva. I love you, too.”

    260 words
    @LadyHazmat

  39. Some Body Work Needed
    (250)

    Laughing, she stared through the chain link fence. Poor Mikey. He’d been so excited about the old Volkswagen Bug he’d spotted in someone’s backyard. “It’s silver and kinda old with no windows. Not bad other than some rust. Will you meet me, Karen?”

    “What’s the plan?”

    “There’s a ‘For Sale’ sign. It needs some body work, but I can take care of it with dad’s help.”

    She scoffed, “Wouldn’t it be easier to buy from a car lot?”

    “Please?” Mikey pleaded. She could practically see the puppy dog eyes.

    “Fine. What’s the address?”

    Karen snickered; even knowing nothing about cars, she could tell it wasn’t a ‘Bug’ at all. “Huh. Thought he said it had no windows; they look practically new. Just needs a windshield.”

    Not seeing her brother nearby she pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed.

    To her surprise, a familiar ringing came from the direction of the car. Frowning, she found an opening, shimmied under, and fought her way through the tall grass.

    Mikey’s phone lay on the center console.

    Brow furrowed, Karen opened the door and crawled inside, reaching for the phone.

    The door slammed shut, muting her shriek.

    Oskarr Hans glanced out his back window, smiling at the vehicle’s improvements. It now sported a brand new windshield, and half the rust had flaked off the car leaving fresh silver paint in its place. Two more ‘visitors’ would complete the bodywork; then later he’d focus on the engine.

  40. A Lion’s Tale
    247 Words
    @m_a_thompson

    Bobby runs ahead of me towards a field. At the edge of the field, He frantically waves his arm towards a rusted car.

    “There! There! I saw the lion go in there!”

    I nod towards Bobby. This is how it starts. Bobby sees things like snakes, astronauts, and jackalopes. I investigate. I dutifully drop to my knees and crawl slowly into grass surrounding the car. I look back to Bobby. His head nods so vigorously he looks like a bobblehead.

    I crouch closer to the ground, pretending I am a lion too, a lion closing on its prey. The car cannot escape.

    I sneak a look back at Bobby. He looks impatient now. I won’t rush. Tomorrow we go back to math, and science, and reading. Today I am a lion hunting another lion.

    When I reach the car, I rest my back against its rusted body. I lean my head over looking through the window. There curled up on the front seat is sleeping mountain lion.

    My hand fishes in my front pocket for my phone. I breathe deeply and take a picture. I stop sneaking and run back to Bobby grinning. I show him the picture. We race back home, smiling and bragging about how brave and clever we are.

    Bobby and I crash through the front door still yelling about our adventures.

    Mom sees the picture on my phone.

    “What a lovely picture of a cat.”

    “Lion, Mom. Lion!”

    “Yes, of course, a lion.”

  41. I Feel Well, Benedict
    (258 words)

    Hidden things amaze me.

    I laid in a grove, wondering what to do, then went to a whisper party. The mansion, oh, the mansion! At the door everyone got a feather or a poker card and pasted it to their nose. I remember how the dancing was a swaying kind, and how I appreciated the power of a glance. A woman whispered to me her grocery list and I how I took my coffee. I spent a summer in her eyes, and loved her and her eyes. Guests were supposed to puzzle out a code phrase through all the whispering, but I didn’t. Years later it came to mind, simple: “I feel well, Benedict.” I’m chuckling.

    I’ve made a habit of missing trains.

    There’s a snowy village at a latitude. Lights from windows make the snow orange; moonlight white; in between blue. I took work at a mine there and committed myself to not learning what was being mined. People in the village were friendly. I fled the village. The journey was sunlit and warm.

    Mittens cradling cocoa. Let me explain.

    Night of the meteor shower. Spring. Our boots squished mud as we hiked to the crown of the hill, all of us carrying – chairs, drinks, a telescope in a case (by the aficionado, whose excitement while explaining the heavens made her smiling and short of breath). Remember? The meteor shower, and I was the one who glanced, then glanced down. You were cradling cocoa, I think, and wearing maroon mittens.

    I travel.

    I’ve lived a strange life.

  42. The Shift
    260 words
    @kristenafc
    NaNoWriMo excerpt

    The summer when Aubrey was six, Michael was eight and Kyle was ten, they fell in love with a rusty old car. Their mother would have hollered at them from the kitchen window if she hadn’t already melted into the sofa for the afternoon. Everyday, Kyle led them through the hole in the fence to the vacant lot next door.
    Aubrey pouted in the back seat, tracing her finger along the dirty window, while Kyle explained driving to Michael, who sat watching Kyle’s lips move as if they were spouting gold coins.
    Then, in August, Kyle began crossing the street to spend the day with his friend Butch.

    “Go outside and play,” their mother said.
    They stared at the hole in the fence.
    “Let’s go, Aubrey,” Michael said. “You can sit up front.”
    For the next week, they sat side by side. Michael passed on what Kyle taught him of pedals and gears and advancing cars in the rearview mirror. Aubrey saw the words floating from his mouth like soap bubbles.
    Then, Kyle returned. When Aubrey tried to sit in the front, he pulled her by the arm, and opened the back door.
    But a shift had taken place.
    The next day Kyle didn’t want to go.
    When Aubrey and Michael returned home that day, their mother slapped them and sent them to their rooms. Kyle sat in his room, listening to Aubrey and Michael crying. He wasn’t sure why he told their mother. After that, they rarely traveled as three. Michael and Aubrey had merged into one.

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