Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 2

Welcome back! As we plunge our feet deeper into the icy depths of winter, frost dangling awkwardly from noses and chins–oh. Sorry, hold on, let me turn on the space heater. Whew. That’s more like it! As I was saying: a very warm welcome to Flash! Friday! It’s a pleasure and honor having you here, whether this is your 1st or 54th visit (if it’s your 100th visit, please see me after class about borrowing that time machine).  

Now that we’re in the first quarter of Year Two, remember we’ve got a fabulous new rotating panel of judges in (mostly) this order: M. T. Decker, Whitney Healy, Erin McCabe, and Nillu Nasser Stelter. Get to know them! (Want to judge for Quarter 2? Apply here. Deadline’s Feb 15.) Today well-known, two-time FF winner Whitney Healy stands at the helm–be sure to head to her page & give her your own toasty welcome!

What’s New, Dragonlings? Don’t forget this year we’ve added a required extra challenge to the weekly prompt, called the Dragon’s Bidding. The element (inscribed in the dragon’s own bejeweled pendant) will change every week. Note that you do not need to include the exact word in your story unless instructed to do so (e.g. “include the word ‘triskaidekaphobia'”).  

Also remember: Results post Sunday evenings. Flash Points, a feature in which a particularly outstanding FF story is highlighted, posts on occasional Mondays. Unforgettable #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner will post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.” And remember YOU, the heart of this community, are welcome at any time. I’m waiting for you here with coffee (or tea, if you must); take off your shoes and get comfy! 

Now let’s do it!

Word limit150 word story (10- word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name inscribed on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless that is specified):

FlashFridayDuty

***Today’s Prompt:

Snowman on Lake. Photo by Petritap.

Snowman on Lake. Photo by Petritap.

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177 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 2

  1. @StephenWilds
    “Protector” – 155 words

    Rosaline had the snow packed as tight as she could get it, a purple-gloved hand holding it at the ready. The young girl watched her breath on the air for a moment, focusing. It was only a moment later before she let it fly with a grunt. There was force behind this one as it hit the beast; the vile creature that would have torn her friend asunder.

    A direct hit! The beast shook with an irritated fury and growled in her direction. A loud howl struck the air, signifying to the others that she was on guard. It was Rosaline’s watch, and she had to be there, even if mom and the others couldn’t see them. She couldn’t leave her friend defenseless, out in the open with its frail arms and cute little black buttons.

    Rosaline packed another snowball tightly. She would be ready for the next wave, because that is what friends do.

  2. @AdrianGeorgeNic , 157 words.

    Constructive parlays

    “You’re still at it, huh?”
    “Yeah… Takes longer than I hoped.”
    “But why are you doing it?”
    “I have a sense of duty to the kids.”
    “Really? I always see you yelling at them.”
    “Only when they trespass on my property. Other than that, they’re simply adorable.”
    “If you say so. Have you done this yearly?”
    “Yes. Today’s snow, though, is the worst I’ve seen in all my fifteen years of building.”
    “How can you tell?”
    “Usually, it stuck like glue and you could mold it however you wanted. Not now. Feels like dandruff.”
    “Uh-huh. Anything I can help you with?”
    “A celery stick and some cardboard.”
    “What? I don’t even have celery in my house. Why don’t you use a carrot instead?”
    “Bah. No originality.”
    “Perhaps. I just can’t fathom the change. Neither will the kids.”
    “Rotten punks. See one thing and never intend to change. Get off my property before I make you a snowman.”

  3. Goblin’s?
    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn
    152 words

    ‘Goblins?’ said Inspector Kirby, head of the Weird and Wonderful Squad. At least that’s what other officers called it.

    ‘Goblins, definitely Goblins,’ replied Harold, the Inspector’s main expert in the weird part, being distinctly weird himself.

    Inspector Kirby kicked at the snow, the spray twinkling in the early morning sun. ‘Why would Goblins make a snowman?’

    ‘Everyone one makes Snowmen.’

    Inspector Kirby shook his head, this was going the way of so many other conversations with Harold. ‘And I suppose they drove here in their trucks,’ he said pointing to the tracks.

    ‘They’re older than him,’ Harold said.

    ‘The Goblins?’

    ‘The tracks.’ Harold poked the snowman’s midriff.

    Inspector Kirby half expected it to chuckle. He sighed, he hated asking Harold questions, the answers were always way left of where he wanted them to be. ‘Go on then, why Goblins?’

    Harold sniffed. ‘No carrot. Everyone does a carrot nose. But Goblins hates carrots.’

    • You know, you’ve made me really want to see more of Harold… and Inspector Kelly. I like the relationship and well… Harold’s expertise and the fact that he’s so matter of fact about it all.

    • I like the child-like-yet-adult fantasy world you’ve created here: I’m not sure what it’s reminding me of, but it’s making me thin of song story I read when I was young. Love the development of characters and the ending made me warm inside! An excellent piece.

  4. Erin McCabe

    Please note this entry is a judge entry posted just for fun and not entered into the competition this week.

    @disturbiakiss

    160 words

    Thumpty Thump Thump Thumpty Thump, Look at Frosty Go

    Opening his eyes for the first time in over a year, Frosty admired the skill of his construction; five foot with shiny black coal buttons, a pointed carrot nose and tiny stones for a mouth complete with corn-cob pipe and top hat; he was a classy snowman indeed. Hearing the familiar sound of children playing he raised a snowy hand, beckoning them for song and adventure; as was his yearly duty. They approached swiftly rosy-cheeked, smiling and shouting.
    Some minutes later Frosty recovered consciousness, the world blurred through his remaining eye. He ached; reduced to no more than a snowball, his corn cob pipe was splintered into pieces and his nose was separated into two halves by a child’s bite. He could see them in the distance, one now wearing a top hat; Frosty tried to call out, but they had stolen his mouth. “Kids these days!” He thought disappointedly as he welcomed the gradually building warmth of the sun.

  5. Coffee Stop
    by A J Walker (160 words)

    A contented smile spread across Jennifer’s face, the steaming coffee was gorgeous and the mug was doubling as a hand warmer. Outside the cafe the world appeared a white wonderland glistening in the wintry sunshine. On the edge of the frozen lake, beyond the road, a lopsided snowman seemed to be observing her.

    She was half way home for Christmas and it was the same stop every year, it was as traditional as the tree and crackers. She swore the snowman was always there, but she only ever went home at Christmas, a sense of duty.

    ‘Do you want a fill up love?’

    ‘What?’ Jennifer looked up at the waitress, ‘No, thanks. Better be off shortly.’

    ‘Long way home? In these conditions everywhere is a long way.’

    Jennifer laughed. Perhaps she should go home more often, maybe when the road was safer, the journey shorter and, it wasn’t duty. She could check then if the snowman was still here too.

    @zevonesque

    • Nicely done. The thought of the snowman seeming permanent, but then the protagonist realizing she is only home once a year is a interesting idea. Cool story!

    • I appreciated your use of longer sentences. When a sentence is longer (or arranged in a manner aside simplistic) it makes a reader wonder where a piece is going, which is exactly what this story made me do: I wondered what was underneath Jennifer’s external self–and, it made me think of how busy of a people we have become…Well written.

  6. Extraction

    ***

    “So these are the new models?” asked Shui, setting down her case of diagnostic equipment.

    “Yup” replied Geoff.

    “And a lame-ass snowman is the best they could come up with?”

    “Hey, they’re nano-bots, not super computers. Anyway, they did their job. You’ve got to admit, the satellite’s completely camouflaged.”

    “Yeah, ‘spose so, but…hey…our satellites don’t have these markings” she said, brushing away some snow from the machine. “Did head office give us the right coordinates?”

    “Request came from head office for sure. Whose markings? Infallitech? Opus Systems?”

    “Not sure, but I don’t like that buzzing sound…” Shui replied, her eyes fixed upon the machine as she stepped away from it slowly.

    “Proximity sensors?”

    “Yep.”

    “We got time to run before the pulse wave hits us?”

    ****

    —9*/&%103a^.3824***[ Targets acquired ] ***926;M+726K%~>—

    —279/^J6%+153***[ Message received. Extraction pod ETA 45 minutes. Ensure their brain meat is prepped correctly; integrity of their network data and passwords is a priority. ] ***8271<13H7C$%/—

    ***
    @theimaginator20
    160 words

  7. A Duty of Care
    @jujitsuelf
    154 words

    I am a very special creation. I fell from the sky on silent wings, carving my way through air cold enough to freeze the ‘you know what’s’ off a brass monkey. I landed softly, better than any airliner has ever managed, my purpose in life a little hazy but my determination absolute. I would be the very best snowflake I could possibly be.

    How long I lay there I don’t know. I draped myself over my brothers and sisters, sparkling softly because that’s what a snowflake’s remit is. Lie and sparkle and look cold. But anyway, along came a miracle and now look at me! Actually, you can’t look at me because I’m at the very centre of a snowman’s head. I’m not a half of a whole, not even a trillionth of a whole probably, but I’m doing my snowflake duty to keep this snowy man upright.

    And damn, don’t we look good?

  8. Before the sun comes up

    Don’t take youth for granted, I know I did! Life’s too short, you need to live it. I used to have a bushy head of hair, not this patchy undergrowth you see now. These scrawny arms used to be mighty logs, I’d drive the ladies wild. I had the longest nose you’d ever seen, and you know what they say about men with long noses. If only that stupid deer hadn’t eaten it! I just wish I had travelled more.

    I know what you’re all thinking, you’re freshly made, you feel invincible, you have all the time in the world. You’re firm in all the right places, tightly packed, white as a daisy. Well it was only yesterday that I felt that way too, and look at me now. You owe it to your creators to make something of yourselves. If not for them, do it for your fallen comrades. Just do it quickly, before the sun comes up.

    @todayschapter
    159 words

  9. Tom O’Connell /@Conveniently_So

    * * *

    ‘Snowman on the Lake’ (160 words)

    Claire closed the door with her foot and carried the final box to her car. Michael was waiting, hands in pockets, down by the lake. She secured the box in the back seat and joined him.

    ‘Hey kiddo.’

    Michael looked up. ‘Hey.’

    She gestured to the stout, slouching snowman. ‘Who’s your friend?’

    Michael shrugged. ‘Mum and I used to build them all the time.’

    ‘Oh.’ Claire looked out across the lake. She’d never been good with children. ‘Still can’t believe my sister lived on a lake. You know she hated water growing up?’

    Michael smiled thinly.

    ‘This can work,’ she said. ‘You can leave this cold behind, meet some kids your age. Have you ever seen the ocean?’

    Michael shook his head.

    ‘You’ll love it. It’s a whole other world, Australia.’

    She held out her hand. Hesitantly, Michael accepted it. They trudged up the snowy path and piled into the car.

    Michael’s snowman slowly faded from the rear-view.

  10. *Flash! Friday judge’s entry, for your reading pleasure *

    Lone Sentry
    Word Count: 156
    @mishmhem

    The soldier nervously made his way across the field and hunkered down behind the wall of a children’s snow fort. Other than a lone snowman nearby, there had been no signs of life. The children would have sought refuge when the first siren sounded a warning of their approach, abandoning their mock battle for the real thing. He popped up and did a 360 scan of the area with his sniper scope then switched to thermal.
     
    He was the only source of heat for miles: He was safe as long as the villagers didn’t take to the high ground where the snow wouldn’t absorb his heat signature. He smiled as he pulled out his radio.
     
    The smile died on his lips as the slight pft of a silenced shot took his life.
     
    His grim duty done, the snowman lowered his pistol. He couldn’t stop the enemy army when they arrived, but he could slow them down.

  11. The Sentry
    160 words
    @radmacher

    “Private Jones!”

    “Yes, Sargent!” The young private snapped to attention, though it was hard to tell under the heavy parka.

    “What is this … thing … standing in front of me?” The Sargent chewed an unlit cigar as he stared.

    “It’s a snowman, Sargent!”

    “That is one raggedy-ass snowman, Private. It looks like it just came off a three-day bender!” The snowman leaned to one side with its arms waving, looking very much like a drunk. A dark spot bruised its temple. “Who built this sorry excuse for a snowman?”

    “Sargent! I did!”

    “I should have guessed, Jones. I should have guessed.” He looked it up and down, moving the cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. “And why did you do that, Jones?”

    “Someone’s got to stand guard duty tonight, Sargent!”

    He looked from the bundled-up private to the lame snowman and back again as the wind picked up and howled over the lake.

    “Proceed, Private!”

  12. Adult (Word Count: 141)

    Derek and his sister, Melissa, burst inside the small farmhouse they called home after spending the morning building a snowman. “Brrr! Got some coffee made, Mom?”

    Dad slumped at the kitchen table, face buried in his hands, while his mother clenched a twisted rag, eyes puffy. “What’s wrong?” His father silently handed him an envelope bearing “Selective Service System” at the top. The world wavered and his knees buckled.

    Melissa’s eyes widened as she realized the significance. “NO! It’s not fair! He can’t go!”

    Derek clasped her forearm. “I have to, Mel,” he whispered. Mom stepped over and gathered both her children in her arms.

    ***

    Two days later, Derek drove away from the farm for the last time, no longer a child. The snowman’s silent vigil neared its end, the heat chipping away the remnants of a too short life.

  13. Svärd looked out upon the icy plain, watching, waiting.

    There he’d sat since the Age of Ragnarök – the time of Fire and Ice; hurtled down from the skies and driven deep into the huddled fjords; the Left Hand of Tyr ripped free from the God of Justice and spat out, coherent, into Midgard.

    The war had been catastrophic. They were all gone now, the Old Ones: The All-Father, The Watcher, The Wolf, The Storm, The Trickster, The Wise Woman, and the Keeper of the Horn. Like they’d never existed.

    Svärd knew this, but did not know how, or when thoughts had come. He’d merely sat there, encased in his mountain of ice, an impotent being of ancient birthright: old, far older than anything else alive.

    Then, with senses untethered, he’d felt a change. Now, there was another: like him, but not; distant, yet close.

    The Power rose up within. His icy prison slowly began to crack.

    Watching. Waiting.

    Hoping.

  14. In the Lodge After the Race
    (159 words)

    In the lodge there was not snow. Snow was outside. Markus had ridden through it all day, and he would no more because he was the winner of the race. The winner of the race.

    He’d wanted to kill his competitors while they raced along wintry landscapes. It wasn’t necessary because he was in first place the whole time. But he wondered, if he had been in second place and had a gun, would he have shot the man ahead of him.

    It didn’t matter, because he was the winner of the race and the lodge was warm with fires and he knew the snow outside would crack underneath his feet. “Underneath my feet the snow will crack, but the snow is outside and I am here, in the lodge warm with fires.”

    He picked up his glass of spirits and moved to another room in the lodge.

    Outside, a yeti stared into the lodge through a frosted windowpane.

  15. Icarus

    ‘So, you have wings where we have arms! It’s still suicide,’ said one through a crooked smile.
    ‘Maybe, but I’m not scared. It’s difficult to explain. I feel like I was meant to do it. Why else would I have been given them?’ he said, the wind making his wings flutter.
    ‘Meant to? There’s no purpose to it! Stay here.You’ll be safe. Goodness knows our lives are short enough.’
    ‘I can’t. I don’t know why I feel this way. It’s like a calling. Maybe the purpose is just doing it.’
    ‘Madness! They’re decoration.’
    ‘They’re not. They’re at my core. I feel them, and I can’t stay here knowing I have wings. I can’t stand still knowing I could soar. Just one single moment, when I am what I was meant to be, makes it all worthwhile.’
    Chattering began. Deliberate movement. Finally, his button eyes marvelled at their somber ovation, as one by one The Snowmen raised their black hats.

  16. Best Served Cold

    The savage sunshine drives shards of snow sharpened daylight past my squinting eyelids.
    I hate this place.
    “You’re sure we found our missing suspect?” I ask.
    “Sheriff, we was at school together.”
    “How long’s he been Frosty?”
    “M.E. can’t guess, ‘till we pull the body out. Someone sure packed him in hard though. Snow’s been here six weeks. More last night, covered the tracks, old and new alike.”
    He kicked at a sparkling ridge, scattering it in powdery ruin.
    “Sheriff? This the same spot the little girl’s body…?”
    “…near as makes no difference.” Tears, blown frozen on my reddening cheeks owe more to past failures than present cruelty of the elements. “Wait until CSI finish. Then let the M.E have him.”
    I trudge back to my cruiser.
    ‘To Serve and Protect’
    One out of two is not an average I’m proud of.
    The ragged snowman’s windblown wooden limbs wave a frozen benediction over the silent crime scene.

    157 words
    @nickjohns999

    • Excellent use of alliteration in the opening line and throughout: choosing the “s” sound creates a sort of his as one reads this piece…and for some reason, the hissing seems very appropriate. The sheriff would hiss under his breath. The public would hiss at another crime scene. I also really like how much defense we see the sheriff producing. He really does keep his “wall” up when he talks of past failures and present weather. An intriguing take.

  17. A Frosty Revenge
    The snowman sat on the ice of the lake. He was decorated with arms made from fir-tree branches. Smaller twigs formed his eyes, nose, and the five buttons down his front. He even wore a wispy toupee made from clumps of needles. He sat still and silent under the frigid winter sun. Night fell and he came to life. His wooden eyes seemed to burn with fire. Crunching and swishing he traveled across the snow and ice. Directed by the malevolence which had created him, he sought out his target. A pair of young boys trudged home through the gloom, tired from their exertions. Silently the snowman engulfed the larger one. The boy struggled and fought, gasping for air. Its grip tightened. The boy slowly suffocated. His frozen body dropped to the ground. “Go now>” His duty done, the snowman dissolved back into individual flakes of snow. “that’ll teach him to bully me!” The younger brother said coldly. 156 Words @EmilyKarn1

    • This piece sent chills down my spine. This really digs into the darker side of presumed innocence, and how so much hatred can build in one so young. Favorite phrases: “wispy toupee” and “directed by the malevolence which had created him”. These two images contrast so much: a “wispy toupee” sounds whimsical, naive, safe..and then we see what lies beneath with the latter description. Impressive writing.

  18. “I got’s em!! Nobody gettin’ past me, no sir! It’s mah doooo-teeee!”

    “Every year. This happens every year…”

    “What? What, I can’t see! You guys are all taller than you were last winter. I can’t see any more! What’s going on?”

    “Nothing, just another crazy snowman out there acting like a maniac.”

    “And the skiers just cruising right on by, they don’t even notice. I wonder if they can’t hear him.”

    “That pine needle combover is truly sad.”

    “Oh come on you guys, let him have his fun. He’s only here for a couple days, then he melts. We get to be here all year round. Just leave him be.”

    “Unless the loggers come…”

    “Oh well that’s uplifting. Thanks for that thought.”

    “Raaa! Lookit me an’ my fearsome BRANCH-ARMS! Gaaaa!”

    “Wow, this one’s particularly nuts.”

    “Having a good time though, isn’t he?”

    “Yes, you’ve got to give him that. Maybe we could all learn something.”

    155 words
    @betsystreeter

    • Haha! This piece made me smile! I love how proud the snowman sounds! I’m also a fan of the not-so-impressed resort workers. And who doesn’t love a good combover?

  19. “They are like ants fleeing the colony after someone had stirred the nest!” one soldier said to his comrades. “Look at them, mindless useless ants crossing our borders seeking refuge!”

    “They have already taken jobs from our countrymen!” another added. “They come to take and gave nothing back.”

    Three soldiers stood watch at this checkpoint as the depressed and deprived traced across the snow in droves. The third knew that most had been walking for days. He saw first hand what war can do to families and communities. He knew that look in many of their eyes whose families were torn apart by this war.

    What he couldn’t stand was the light lost in the children’s eyes. So before his shift he took the time to make a snowman. It brought him great joy to see each and every child smile at his gesture of Love. A gift for the season.

    Word count 151
    @glynisrankin

  20. Santa Beacon
    @ShawnCowling
    154 Words

    Jack pushed the rolled snow to its final destination. Heavy, wet and full of far too many twigs to be called pretty, the base of the snowman was ready to go. He smiled at his work.

    “Jack, what’re you doing?” his young sister, Jackie, asked. His parents were not the cleverest folks.

    “This is the start of our snowman,” he answered.

    “What’s he for?” Her question stunned him.

    “He’s our Santa beacon, Jackie. Haven’t I taught you anything?”

    “Santa bacon? Is it made of elves? I don’t think I want that.”

    “Beacon, like a signal. It is the snowman’s duty to show Santa where to land. Without a snowman, well, Santa would have no idea where to get cookies and milk for the reindeer.” Jack explained as he rolled the middle section into place.

    “Can I help?” Jackie asked, stepping closer to Jack and the snowman.

    “Go get me a carrot and we’ll see.”

  21. I haven’t gotten to participate in so long! I enjoyed everyone’s stories!

    @KaySully7, 159 words

    The Snowman

    Wind whispered through the trees mimicking the sound of the water that flowed freely in the spring and summer. A lone snowman stood on his own, left behind by a snowshoeing family. From discarded clothing they dressed him. 

    The snowman became watcher over the crystalline winter landscape with coal black eyes, found near the train tracks where the train runs between the mountain towns. Now they served as the snowman’s windows to the world. 

    His arms outstretch to embrace the landscape. The wood existed on the path before the lake, fallen from a Douglas Fir as a pine squirrel scurried across the branches. The branches may be brittle, but they served the snowman well. 

    The snowman stands guard over this place, birthed from humans and nature. His duty is that of silent observer of wilderness. When his role is done he will rejoin the water cycle, falling elsewhere, waiting to gain shape and  face in the next winter.

    • I absolutely love your concluding paragraph: this defines this snowman’s purpose. Also really appreciate the imagery depicting the pine squirrel, the fallen Douglas, the crystalline scape. Beautiful.

  22. Snow-man’s Land

    The war had raged for as long as the trees had been there. Longer than most memories lived.

    No one knew who had started the tradition. No one cared. It had been tradition for as long as the war.

    During the summer months the wide expanse between the two forests was a crystalline lake; and a grave, bodies thrown to the carnivorous fish in the water. Warriors killed by the enemy; old men who’d taken their last breaths in battle, too frail to fight any longer. War was brutal; unforgiving, and turned children into adults, boys into men.

    Until the lake iced over and the first snows fell. Then it was a race, sleds skidding through the powder to the centre of the lake, rough branches and pine needles clenched in eager fists.

    The enemies worked together to build the Sentinel. When he melted, his duty done, the truce would end and war would rage.

    Word Count 155
    @Rhapsody2312

  23. Snow Daze
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    157 words

    “It’s lonely at the top”, they say. Oh yeah? Try being stuck out here on a damn lake in the middle of nowhere. Sure, they do their duty by me, occasionally coming out to reattach my arms or give me a new nose. No more carrots, though – the deer snatch them. Too bad; this current ‘nose’ hurts like a mother. And what’s with the evergreens on my head? I can’t tell if they’re crowning me with laurel or just giving me a really bad comb over.

    Either way, I wish they’d stay. Frosty doesn’t know how good he had it, surrounded by kids all day.

    I’d give anything to be able to follow these tracks, to head out and see where they lead. Instead I stand here, sentinel to nothing with no hope except to wait for the sun to melt me down. At least swimming with the fishes ain’t so bad.

    I’m not alone then.

  24. “The Thawing”
    Kristen Falso-Capaldi
    @kristenafc
    156 words

    For a moment, they were two children. They built a snowman together, laughing and play-fighting, arming themselves with snowballs and tree branches.

    It was fun, and she worshipped him. “But not enough,” he said. His eyes grew cold, like stones. “Not enough to go though with it.” He said it was her duty as his girlfriend.

    The snowman is still frozen there; the air around it whips icy.

    She didn’t go to school that day. “You deserted me. Us.”

    “You’ve got to tell them,” her best friend told her.
    “I can’t.”
    “It’s your duty, your obligation!”
    “I love–d him.”
    “You could stop it.”

    She dialed the number. Hung up. Dialed. Hung up.

    Dialed.

    She saved them all. All except one.

    The police shot him before he could fire the gun.

    All the time, she stares out the window at the snowman. She knows the thawing is coming. She anticipates it. And she dreads it.

      • Thanks, Jess. I really tried to avoid the topic, but went to school safety training this week that included, among other things, 9-11 call tape from Columbine. I left emotionally drained and sad. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so writing about it had to happen.

      • Thanks so much! It is a subject that I just can’t wrap my mind around, so writing about it was unavoidable.

    • This is an extremely well-written piece. You being in full sentences, then move to fragmentation, indicating the sense of urgency and doubt the narrator is having. And what a twist! I had no idea she’d be saving people; I had assumed what she wouldn’t do was only for him. Very good read. Powerful.

  25. ‘A Slight Interruption’
    Megan Besing
    @MeganBesing
    152 words

    “I’m freezing.”
    I placed my overstuffed arm on my hip. “How are you cold?” My fingers tugged on my scarf exposing my lips. “We’ve only been out here for twenty minutes?” He bent his knees and let out a grunt. “Come on then.”
    “No! The snowman’s not finished yet.” His sister wrinkled her nose.
    “I know honey. When your brother warms up, we’ll come back out.”
    “Can I bring my purple earmuffs and put them on the snowman?”
    “Sure, come on guys.” Lifting up my legs, I worked through the piled snow. “Bub,” I called back. “I thought you were cold?”
    “No.”
    My arms fell to my side. “What do you mean no?” Tilting my head, I watched his little legs dance. “Bub, do you have to go to the bathroom?” His stocking hat head shook. “Hurry, let’s go and after you finish your duty, we’ll come right back out. I promise.”

  26. Call of Duty
    Fernando Aires
    @nandoaires
    155 words

    “Do you think daddy likes snowmen?”, our son asked, while grabbing more snow from the ground. “I’m sure he does”, I answered, cleaning the tears from my eyes with my cold gloves, while smiling to him.

    My husband left two years before, to get himself into this stupid war. I tried really hard to think on a good thing coming from it during these two years, but simply couldn’t.

    On that day, the television announced the war was finally over. I felt happy for the first time in the last two years.

    On that day, I hugged my son, we went outside, played with snow, and created a snowman so round it could be shaped by a machine.

    On that day, the door rang, and there was two officers with a medal and a low voice, saying to me they were sorry.

    On that day, the snowman outside melted, and my heart inside as well.

  27. A Mother’s Duty

    The downside of living in the Northwest Arctic was having no neighbors to invite to Christopher’s birthday parties.

    For his fourth birthday, in January, Maggie built him a snowman. Though she was the only one to sing Happy Birthday that day, Christopher had a great time with his friend, Frosty. He wished on his candles for a black top hat, like the one in the story.

    In August, when the ice over the lake melted, Maggie caught Christopher sneaking out early to go swimming.

    “Never without me,” she’d told him, time and again.

    In December, Maggie built another snowman.

    In January, she hung the silver birthday banner above the door of their log cabin. Maggie stood near Frosty, and sang Happy Birthday for her little boy. It was a mother’s duty, after all.

    The upside of living in Alaska was not having to worry about anyone judging her for having a birthday party for her son, who’d drowned that summer.

    160 words by
    @West1Jess

  28. The Santa Secret
    154 Words
    @CharlesWShort http://www.charleswshort.com

    Everyone has a Santa secret.

    For children the secret is Santa is real. They see him in malls, on TV and in parades. They write letters to him which are never returned by the postal service. But the most convincing evidence of all is they find gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. With the wisdom of children, they believe.

    For adults the secret is Santa is not real. They have seen the fake Santa costumes. They have used children’s unsent letters as shopping lists. They were the ones who put presents under the tree. Through the experience of adults, they disbelieve.

    I was handpicked by Santa himself. It is my responsibility to guard both secrets.

    Children still deserve to discover the world with wonderment.

    And adults? Those pernicious adults! They tell themselves they have outgrown the fantasies of childhood, but they didn’t outgrow anything. They just got moved over to the naughty list.

  29. Dragon Lake
    It once was a fairy land full of dragons & magical lake was a place of their birth. Many bad things had happened & one day the land was cursed. Twas covered with ice, snow… everything was dead-cold, but life is still sleeping there & magic lake could have rebirth.
    The lonely standing warrior is the protector of curse. He was a dragon-killer, too ruthless to be left alive, while all the dragons were sleeping, so now he’s a snowman-guard. I’m an offspring of this magic creatures, which were hunted just cause of gold & magical power within them (at least that’s what legend has told). I have a dragon inside, the ancient necklace holds secret power of mine, the two captured dragon-spirits, that can finally break this curse. My duty is saving all dragons, no matter how much it’ll cost. I know that I won’t survive, but at least I’ll bring dragons to life.
    155 Words
    @gorgeous_jaan

  30. For Everything A Reason
    159 words

    The snowman was beautiful; every curve of its body and lopsided distribution of snow that made up its physique made the little boy smile. He’d sneered at the perfect round figures of the other snowmen he’d seen on the hill.

    He never wanted his creation to be like those because then it wouldn’t be able to fulfill its duty.

    From his perch in the old pine tree he could see the teenagers that were drawn to his masterpiece.

    They hesitated at first but soon they couldn’t resist the urge to fix his design.

    He waited until they’d began to work, drawn in by the spell woven into the very snow, before he approached them but they never noticed him, trapped in the vision they saw nothing but the snowman.

    They toiled until their fingers turned blue and the boy knew that soon their frail bodies would give out, succumbing to the cold and fatigue… he just had to wait.

  31. Timmy’s Snowman
    WC 154

    Its shabbiness echoing what I feel in my heart, this snowman was the last thing I ever did with my little boy. We had been having a time of it, throwing snowballs and sledding down the slope off the western shore of Crystal Lake. Timmy’s coughing was supposed to have been a common cold. Until He coughed up blood. We got Timmy to the hospital, but his condition somehow worsened and…my heart got ripped out of my chest that night.
    Now, I’m walking around this frozen caricature as my tears fall clouding my sight. I feel it my duty to destroy it, yet this is my last tether to my son. This was ours.
    I wrap my arms around it and my insides seem to let loose as deep wracking sobs escape me. I lean my head next to this cold, frozen head, and I hear Timmy’s voice, “Love you Daddy! Love you!”

  32. Caution, Thin Ice
    (159)

    The children gathered on the shoreline, staring out across the snow covered lake. “Do you see it?”

    “No.”

    White clouds of disappointment huffed out. The children returned home, skates dangling forlornly.

    *

    “How about today?”

    “Nope.”

    “Man.” Snow went flying as booted feet kicked at the drifts in annoyance. “When is it gonna be safe?”

    *

    Before the question could be asked, triumphant yelling echoed, “It’s there! It’s there! The ice is safe! Let’s go!”

    Feet crunched upon the snow, and with rosy cheeks and wide grins, the children cleared the ice to begin their traditional hockey games.

    One child wandered over to the lopsided snowman in the center of the lake, where it dutifully stood silent sentry over the one spot where the ice was the thinnest and took the longest to freeze over, signifying safety at last. “Thank you,” she patted it gently with one mittened hand, then turned to join her friends.

  33. @nzstelter
    160 words
    This is a Flash! Friday judge’s entry and not eligible to win.

    The Snow Guardian

    I have watched over Susie since the first time she built me. Her tinkling laugh warmed my ice-cold heart as she piled glistening snowflakes upon each other. I stood proudly on her papa’s ranch, her guardian on the darkest nights of the year. She remade me year after year with diminishing care but I remembered the first year and my love for her remained unchanged.

    When she was eleven I watched from afar as they told her her papa wouldn’t be coming home. My cold touch could not comfort her in her grief so I pledged to continue my silent watch over her. When the sun’s rays begin to melt my form, I trickle into the earth, duty-bound to return the following year.

    Susie is thirty now and I am a lack-lustre, lop-sided parody. She is a sombre woman but I remind her of the child she once was. And that is enough for us both.

  34. The Climb

    Her legs ached, bones gnawed by cold and hunger, but the kids waited at the foot of the mountain; There was no turning back.

    She ran for the next overhang, the packed snow crumbling as she hurled herself onwards, upwards, towards the prize. The ledge held and she scrambled on, breathing heavily.

    They had been three days without food, two without shelter from the cold which took her lover. She could have laid down herself when she found him, but a mother can’t quit. She has to strive and fight and climb.

    Another leap, another moment of terror, legs kicking at air, then catching against the mountainside, desperation propelling her forward.

    Then she saw it, jutting from the sheer face. Hurling herself upward, she wrapped her forepaws around the carrot, weeping with relief. This would feed them, for a little while.

    She waved triumphantly to her baby bunnies far below, then began the long descent, pushing her prize before her.

    (160 words)
    @Karl_A_Russell

  35. Shift Work

    (154 words)

    Ashima breathed out, ivory clouds floating across the emptiness of the lake as she surveyed her work.

    Manprasad was taking shape nicely. Ashima plunged a wooden branch deep into his white flesh. She knew her colleagues mocked her for spending time here. Questioning why she didn’t join them at the tropical lagoon, or gambling her meagre wages away in the casino.

    They were tiresome locations in Ashima’s opinion, filled with cyclical gossip about targets and management.

    Here, at the lake, she at least escaped for a moment.

    “NEHRU, SHIFT RECOMMENCES IN 20 SECONDS”

    Already? Ashima tried to ignore the AI’s intrusion, placing coal eyes onto Mansprasad’s face.

    Clinging to the silence.

    “DING”

    She was back. The virtual coldness obliterated by the humid heat of New Delhi.

    She began tapping, joining in the thunderous rhythm of her colleagues in the click-farm.

    Yearning to return to a realm of white silence.

    • A virtual world! Definitely not what I imagined! I liked this take on the prompt. Nice writing. I particularly liked how defined her schedule was, and you mirrored this fact through the use of dialogue and caps.

  36. Iceman

    That first year. The fresh, virgin snow, compacted in my hands and moulded into something beautiful. Each handprint a testimony of love and possibility.

    I drain my fourth beer and stumble out into the grey sludge.

    ‘Come on, Daddy!’

    I watch as they chase after growing balls of snow. Rolling around the yard, collecting layers of fighting and yelling and loathing.

    ‘Look Daddy! Do you think it’s enough?’

    The ice air sharpens my dulled brain. Yes. Enough. No more.

    That first year was perfect. Moulded into something picture postcard. The ideal. Now we scrape together whatever we can muster. Scrappy branches stuck open-armed. Welcome to the years of getting by. A family hour of ‘that’ll do’. Where everything is dampened by the cold.

    My children’s faces are illuminated with hope and wonder and awe.

    ‘Make a wish, Daddy.’

    I close my eyes and reach for another beer.

    Sarah Miles
    148 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  37. Winter Tale
    157 words
    tinman18@live.ie

    His name was Snowy, because the children who had built him believed in straightforward names, like calling a teddy bear Teddy.
    Because he lived in Northern Minnesota he was five months old, which is over a hundred in snowman years. He was aging, though. His eyebrows had grown unkempt, his arms had become frail and stick-like, and he could no longer smell carrots all the time. Yet he still stood all day in the field, because that was his duty.
    But had the locals not been as thick as two short planks they would have noticed the ski-tracks. He was built upon, well, two short planks, and at night would gleefully surf the countryside.
    He loved to creep up behind drunks on their way home from Jeb’s Bar and gently say “boo”.
    They swapped eerie tales about him. Because they were the parents of the children who believed in straightforward names they called him the Abominable Snowman.

  38. Scott L Vannatter
    159 Words
    @SVBookman
    (Feel free to check out my blog page “Carolyn” for all her adventures)

    Carolyn had been walking for quite a few days. She was tired, but happy that she had not seen any night crawlers in well over two days. She did not sleep better; she still had to be alert. However, the reprieve had been nice.
    She had covered several miles since leaving the last town and its nightmares and was now in a very rural area. She looked out over the fields covered in an early snow and almost enjoyed the brisk cold air lightly blowing on her cheek.
    She stopped and stared hard at the figure in the distance. The sinking sun was behind it, making it difficult to see clearly. She decided to chance it and walked forward, knife in hand, gun holster unsnapped.
    A short, sharp laugh escaped her as she realized the snowman was not a threat. It was standing guard duty in the field, evidently built by…the thought snapped her awake. Who had built this?

  39. Patrick Stahl
    @patrickjstahl
    159 words

    “Oncifer Fought a Frosty Foe”

    Oncifer bent low behind a fir tree. Needles jabbed at his scalp, easily passing through thinning black hair. He took one last huff of air and charged.

    “For Myrihy, Lady of Valor, Queen of Duty.” Oncifer drew a broadsword from the sheath at his belt. The blade’s tip drooped, level with Oncifer’s knees. He grunted, jerking it higher.

    The slush beneath his feet thinned, then vanished several feet from his foe: Lord Bystoff. Oncifer smiled. His arms, he thought, they may as well be twigs. He hefted his sword again.

    “Any last words?” Oncifer asked, breathing hard. “Bystoff the Defiler.” He dropped the flat of his blade on the lord’s shoulder.

    Several moments passed. The lord’s lips appeared to be as good as frozen. Oncifer tapped his foe’s neck three times in warning. “None?” It cut clean off on the fourth stroke.

    The old general replaced his snowman’s head and walked back to the fir tree for another go.

    • I appreciate how descriptive you are, particularly when discussing a “broadsword” rather than just a sword, or talking about how heavy the weapon is. Specific detail is paramount.

      • Thank you. I strive to find the perfect amount of description, to include only what is important to the story, while still giving you that warm-and-fuzzy feel of literary fiction, to some extent. The weight here was important in foreshadowing the point that the protagonist is actually a very old man. Along with his thinning hair and shortness of breath, by the time you hit the last sentence you should understand.

  40. The Snow Queen

    Alex clumsily raised his sword in one hand as he gestured to Princess Giselle to get behind him with the other. The current threat in front of him, Queen Jessamine, Giselle’s stepmother, cackled evilly at his actions.
    “You cannot defeat me, you useless boy.”
    With one wave of her hand, Alex’s sword flew from his grasp. Helpless, he could only watch as with another wave, the queen froze him where he stood.
    “NO!”
    Giselle’s scream pierced the night air.
    Undeterred by the girl’s outburst, Jessamine snapped her fingers, and two guards seemed to materialize out of nowhere.
    “Take the girl.”
    Giselle struggled against the hands that firmly grasped her arms, but to no avail. They were too strong for her.
    “Now, my dear one,” Jessamine ran a slender finger along the girl’s cheek, “you will see what happens to traitors in my kingdom.”
    Alex could only watch as the girl he had promised to keep safe headed toward her doom.

    160 words
    @bookwormattack

  41. A Not-So-Jolly, Not Very Happy Soul

    Penance is one thing; hell another. With penance, a few Our Fathers, a smattering of Hail Marys, an act of contrition, and you’re free and clear until the next time. Some things, however, exceed the human capacity for forgiveness. Someone should have explained that. Maybe, just maybe, that would have stopped…

    Who am I kidding? Nothing would have stopped me. So, yeah, here I am, in my own personal hell.

    No one ever questions how I got where I am because no one comes here. Part of the punishment thing, you see. I don’t mind though. Here’s where I’m supposed to be, and I’ll stay. I may be a lot of bad things, but I’ve never run out on anyone or anything.

    If you were to come around though, you might lean close, put an ear to my chest, and you might hear, ever so faintly, thumpety, thump, thump.

    If you happen to see an old silk hat, it’s mine.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

  42. It had been more than five hundred years since the last shots were fired in the Great War, but Sergeant Ryan Collins still manned his post. His last orders were to stand his ground no matter what, and he obeyed. He didn’t leave his post when the fusillade from the East signaled the start of the invasion. He didn’t run for cover when the big guns came out, and the noise from the cannons was only eclipsed by the screams of the wounded.

    And when the covering fire from his flank pierced his lungs and shattered three vertebrae, still Sergeant Ryan Collins stood his post. No one had the heart to bury him, when at last the smoke cleared and the victory celebrated. Mortal flesh decays rapidly under the onslaught of nature, but not his. Standing there, covered in the snow of an eternal winter, Sergeant Collins stayed faithful, watching for an invasion from the East that would never come.

    160 words
    @drmagoo

  43. Winter Promise

    Molly’d promised Tommy on his second birthday that every year they’d build a snowman. It wasn’t an obligation she took lightly, and each year since, the miserable weather of December somehow gave way to a crisp, picturesque day, perfect for creating their masterpiece.

    Their favorite field was deserted, but the silence simply left more room to grow this year’s temporary friend. Crunchy flakes of snow rolled easily into a lumpy base. By the time the torso had been clumped together and stacked, hints of icy moisture seeped through colorful gloves.

    Feet were stamped and fingers flexed to restore blood flow before rolling the head. A stack of branches picked from a neighboring fence of pines was recruited to add reaching arms, verdant buttons, and brown eyes. Tufts of needles quickly transformed into hair. They always used the same pipe for a mouth.

    Shivering, Molly stepped back to survey the snowman. “Happy birthday, Tommy,” she whispered to the darkening sky.

    (159 words; @AriaGlazki)

  44. @palefacewriter

    Snowman. – 150 words

    Marco got distracted, that’s all. He got so excited when he saw the wounded bird struggling near the woods, he ran off without sticking my mouth onto my snow face.

    I hear searchers coming back again, probably to check for clues. If the darn bird would have taken its wounded landing even five minutes later, I’d have been fitted with my quarter potato mouth and then…. Then I’d still be a lifeless pile of snow without a voice, right? Go ahead, say it. You’re wrong, but I know that’s what you’re thinking.

    Snow people have soul! The ones who mould us gift it to us. Oh yes. And that’s exactly why, when those searchers come back to look around, they’ll see me leaning, my branchy left arm pointed exactly in the direction that Marco ran. They’re gonna save him, you’ll see. And then he’ll be back here to finish me.

  45. Snowman – 150 words
    @palefacewriter

    Marco got distracted, that’s all. He got so excited when he saw the wounded bird struggling near the woods, he ran off without sticking my mouth onto my snow face.

    I hear searchers coming back again, probably to check for clues. If the darn bird would have taken its wounded landing even five minutes later, I’d have been fitted with my quarter potato mouth and then…. Then I’d still be a lifeless pile of snow without a voice, right? Go ahead, say it. You’re wrong, but I know that’s what you’re thinking.

    Snow people have soul! The ones who mould us gift it to us. Oh yes. And that’s exactly why, when those searchers come back to look around, they’ll see me leaning, my branchy left arm pointed exactly in the direction that Marco ran. They’re gonna save him, you’ll see. And then he’ll be back here to finish me.

  46. Lord of The Sky

    There it was. Simon bent low scratching at the ice and snow with dark exposed fingers. With effort, he freed his volume of Lord of The Flies from its frozen tomb. He tried to fan through the familiar pages but they were cemented. Simon smiled. He brought the sacred book to meet reverent lips and then turned to make his way back. The fires had died away days ago but the scorch marks remained on the twisted metal and shards of ice. A strong scent of jet fuel lingered as well. Simon carefully stepped over what was left of the other members of the expedition. They were so lucky.

    Upon his return Simon laid the volume before the Snow Lord.
    “Who am I?” his lord challenged.
    “You are Lord of The Sky” Simone answered dutifully.
    ‘And who are you?”
    “I am obeisance.” muttered Simone.
    “Yes, and for this you have been spared. Now get me a herring!”

      • No worries at all. If you forget the word count, just add it in a reply to your own story, as you’ve done here. All’s well, and welcome!

    • Oh… I just saw some precedent allowing me to fix a thing or two in comments because, in my case, I got a little too excited and posted before it was ready. I understand “flash” refers to word count and not how fast you pound it out but I got ahead of myself. So… title should be Lord of the Skies. And I inadvertently changed Simon’s gender to Simone at his last name reference.

    • hahahaa! I responded from the sidebar and missed seeing that myself. Yes, sadly, the snowman was a previous contest. However, there is a LIVE contest now if you’ll refresh your screen from “home.” The correct prompt is a painting of an anatomy demonstration from 1829. My apologies for not noticing that earlier.

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