Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 6

It’s Friiiiiiiiiiiiiday!!!!! What yumminess we have to look forward to today with all the stories about to explode. It’s a great deal like the excitement surrounding childbirth, isn’t it? minus the massive hospital fees. Or labor pains. Or needles and machines and things or, conversely, birthing stools and things. Or, of course, sleep deprivation or throwing up. OK. So it’s not like childbirth at all. Never mind.      

On a more rational note, welcome back to judge Whitney Healy! She is waiting most eagerly for your stories–Whitney! get that pen out of your mouth! you’ll ruin your teeth!–and can’t wait to see how you’ll treat today’s prompts. Don’t forget to check out her judge’s page to see how she approaches judging.

Reminder! We now have a required extra challenge with the weekly prompt, called the Dragon’s Bidding. The element (inscribed in the dragon’s own bejeweled pendant) changes every week and must be a thematic component in your story. Note that you do not need to include the exact word in your story unless instructed to do so (e.g. “include the word ‘flugmiðar‘”).  

What Else: Results post Sunday evenings. Flash Points, a feature in which a particularly outstanding FF story is highlighted, posts on occasional Mondays. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner will post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah–one of these days one of you is going to click on that to see my changing but gorgeous mug) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.” On the menu this week? Thanks to our temporary warm front, I will be serving up burgers (yes, including portabello mushroom steaks) and corn-on-the-cob. Come back often so as not to miss it! 

Your turn!

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 flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; YES, today you must include a tiger or a turtle):

TigerTurtlePendant

***Today’s Prompt:

Tiger & Turtle, Duisburg, Germany. Public Domain photo by Chraecker.

Tiger & Turtle, Duisburg, Germany. Public Domain photo by Chraecker.

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151 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 6

  1. This is How We Know Each Other

    It is a closed loop, our life together.

    We began with a slow climb, ascending toward our dreams, linked. Addicted to each other’s attention.

    In lock-step, our days and nights like mirrors to one another.

    Then a few bumps, changes, little things and then bigger ones.

    We took it all in stride. When you pulled into your shell I waited, when I tired you slowed your gait until I could be with you again.

    Sometimes we stood together still, gazing outward, enjoying a hard-earned view.

    We hit steep drops, though, and spins so fast we could hardly see each other, our necks straining, pulled hard against the force. A tiger chasing its tail.

    Thrown upside down, words shouted that could not be taken back, eyes dead and blank with used up anger.

    But neither of us took the stony path out and away. A closed loop it was, and we knew it.

    We know it now.

    156 words excluding title
    @betsystreeter

  2. Perpetual Stairs (Flying in Dreams)
    (160 words)

    Of course I knew the appraisal of things, that all is stacked forevermore as turtles upon turtles. It’s a haunting thought, and appropriate.

    I’m a prisoner to my dreams. When I was small, I wanted to build a machine to pull them from my brain, so I could watch them on TV whenever I wished.

    An impossible thought. So I placed hope in writing.

    In my dreams I’m often in a house, which I know is the house I grew up in. A plain house, but at some point (perhaps through a closet panel) I find a network of hallways and rooms branching off. Labyrinthine. Wondrous.

    Later I wanted to fly in them. I studied hard and learned. But regardless of my lucid endeavors I would find gravity my enemy and the action of my arms more like the feet of a man on stairs with concrete boots. Never ending, with disappointments repeated like the grooves of an amphibian’s shell.

  3. The Awesome Beast (154 Words)

    Out of the verdant hills I rise, my steel stripes gleaming in the sun. I am the great tiger tightly coiled, ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey, and yet I am grounded unable to move, as people climb me, their cameras pointed to the neat rows of red roofed homes below. Through light and dark, winter and summer I stand, unable to break free.

    “Oh, the view is magical,” many voices say over and over in different languages as they click away.

    But magic is not safe.

    I am the mighty steel leviathon. Tread on me with care lest you slip because I am a treacherous beast. I may be staked to the ground, but I am not without peril for the careless. See me silhouetted against the orange red sunset, twisted and turned. Be afraid when you look down from my great height.

    I am the awesome beast. You are the cautious turtle.

  4. Tiger and Turtle (158 words)
    Ian Martyn (www.martynfiction.com)

    Tiger strode the land, Turtle swam the seas. They had been chosen by the council of all animals for the task of understanding the strangest and most dangerous of all creatures, man. Man who was destroying the very thing that he and all animals depended on for life. If only they could make sense of man then maybe, just maybe, they could save them from themselves.

    Tiger and Turtle had seem many strange things. Tiger had wandered jungles of grey where nothing other than humans lived, where even the light of the sun was banished. Turtle had swam seas where huge manmade beasts swept the depths depriving them of life.

    Finally, Tiger had summoned Turtle to this spot.

    ‘Why here?’ asked Turtle.

    ‘Because,’ answered Tiger, ‘I fear this sums up everything I’ve learnt. They separate themselves from the land and all things living. They pleasure in activity, moving up and down, round and round, and yet going nowhere.’

  5. Möbius Strip (158 words)
    Tom O’Connell / @Conveniently_So

    * * *

    Kurt knew the legends. Valhalla was the home of the damned, a prison, a footbridge to nowhere. Spurred by heartache, the goddess had created it. Its twisted design represented her pain, tightly coiled and circling back endlessly.

    Approaching, Kurt saw lost souls loitering against handrails, resigned to fate. The portal he’d travelled through deposited him in Valhalla’s centre.

    ‘Goddess,’ he called. ‘Do you hear me?’

    Seeing that the voice belonged to a mortal, the Goddess appeared, pet tiger in tow.

    ‘Why have you come?’

    Kurt looked at the tiger and squared his shoulders. ‘I know of your pain – I’ve heard the legends.’

    ‘And what of it?’

    ‘I offer consolation, companionship. You need not go on this way, torturing souls to quell your heartache.’

    The Goddess scratched behind the tiger’s ear.

    In her toothed grin, Kurt saw he’d been wrong. Valhalla’s twisted design did not represent the Goddess’s pain. It represented her fury, tightly coiled and circling back endlessly.

  6. The Thrill of the Kill [150 words]
    (by @doctormikereddy)

    Tiger with his ‘go faster’ stripes had always been the more adventurous, Turtle thought. Yet, they had come to an uncomfortable impasse. His shell being sufficient defence against the stealthiest of attacks. So, he warily returned his enemy’s greeting, “And good day to you too.”

    “Have you seen the fine fair on the hill? The roller coaster is the largest in the Jungle,” Tiger purred. “We are past prey and predator. It’s not the time to talk of killing and eating. Let’s go have some fun!”

    So, Turtle found himself sat next to His new friend in the front car, the security bar pressing reassuringly on his stubby legs. After the first drop, he raised his arms in solidarity, the better to enjoy the bends and loops, Tiger had explained. It was the corkscrew that flicked off the Turtle’s shell. Tiger grinned.

    “Curse you for your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

  7. The Tiger’s Mark

    ‘You’ll know ‘im by the tiger on ‘is jacket,’ Jez had said. ‘Idiot’s never without it.’ So I’d followed the flash of gold all the way up to the Whirligig, the tiger’s jewelled eyes starin’ me down with every step.

    ‘We’ll see who’s smilin’ in a minute, mate,’ I winked at it.

    He jogged up to the viewing platform, me a shadow in his wake. The tiger seemed to nod, almost knowingly, as he went; I checked my blade, sweatin’ hard.

    ‘Get the job done, fool,’ I muttered.

    I glanced at the CCTV camera; nearin’ the blackspot now. I picked up the pace.

    Suddenly, he turned, flingin’ the jacket off. He was covered in long, thin scars, shinin’ silver. His mouth gaped wide, and I smelled it – hot, meaty breath. I heard the low rumble. I saw the yellow eyes like trapped suns, and the gold-black fur.

    I never had a chance.

    Screw you, Jez, I thought, as he pounced.

    160 words
    @SJOHart

  8. Okay, so my italics went sideways – no pun intended. I wanted ‘knowingly’ and ‘Screw you, Jez’ to be italicised, but not the rest. *sigh* Perhaps one of these centuries, I’ll figure out this interwebs thing… 🙂

  9. “Humans are selfish”
    Word count: 160

    “Troubles are a part of life Son. At times, life offers fragrant bliss that wraps you in ecstatic embrace and sometimes it burns you to ashes. Choice is your’s, get scattered by the winds or get a rebirth; be a phoenix !”

    He paused for a while and took a melancholic sigh.

    “The world out there is a jungle. A jungle of humans –brutal like tigers and delicate like butterflies, running through the paths that have no destination. They run after time, with veiled eyes and end up at the same spot where they start running –and the thing is, they never understand this fact. They just like to run blindly”

    “Grammpa! That’s why you don’t allow me to play with them?”

    “Yes my son! We are tortoises. We can hide in the bushes and see the beasts playing but we can’t go near them. They will play with us and kick us off ! That’s what they always do”

    “Humans are selfish”

  10. Loop
    By: Allison K. García
    155 words

    Don’t let the name fool you. Turtle was not as slow as he appeared. My best friend since high school, people put him down for his handicap. They thought he was dumb because he was in a wheelchair. Having a fever as a baby, his body and mind didn’t move as fast as he would have liked. It was a burden to him, and the name-calling didn’t help.

    They called him retarded, stupid, an idiot, and would sometimes even bark at him as he wheeled down the hall. I never did. Ever since I was paired up with him for physics class, I knew he was a force to be reckoned with and I wanted to be on his side.

    All those years of hatred and anger built up in him, he found release in his project. His machine. I only glimpsed it once. He called it Loop. And somehow it would destroy the world.

  11. A bit of fun?

    “Jenny, you can take your blindfold off.”
    “What’s this? A roller coaster? I told you I didn’t like them.”
    “Yeah, but look. You can walk on this one. There’s nothing to fear.”
    “Sure? If something happens, I’ll put you in the hospital.”
    “Haha. Okay, okay. Just make sure you a judo maneuver, not a taekwondo kick. That way I won’t get to spend a month behind white tiles.”
    “Two months.”
    “Why is my gut trembling?”
    “Maybe it sensed something from me.”
    “I haven’t even set foot on the platform and already I’m getting dizzy.”
    “And I feel great… Hey, is that a tiger over there?”
    “Where? …I don’t see a thing in the woods.”
    “I’m pretty sure I saw one springing from tree to tree.”
    “A ninja tiger? You saw too many anime.”
    “I’m serious. Look. There it went again.”
    “It’s coming this way. Holy sh…”

    @AdrianGeorgeNic
    146 words.

  12. The Rush
    by A J Walker

    Even when he was young Phil had been an adrenaline junky; he’d always have to climb up the tallest trees and he’d be the one volunteering to get lost footballs from the school roof. He’d do the most ambitious knock and runs – jumping over fences and through hedges whilst chased by the biggest slobbering dogs.

    In his teens he’d saved all his money to travel to amusement parks to take on the fastest and scariest roller coasters. A true junky though he always craved more.

    He began to make up his own challenges. He’d proudly show his scar from when at 18 he’d raced through a safari park and was clawed by a tiger.

    His last successful adrenaline rush was in Barcelona Zoo where he’d walked behind a lion and yanked its tail. It was probably ironic that he died following an embolism suffered after slipping on a turtle in the adjacent exhibit. The turtle had felt a little rush.

    160 words
    @zevonesque

  13. Before you can blink

    The tiger eyed his latest meal. He watched as it bumbled around in circles, its movements slow and cautious. This would not require hunting, he could have some fun. He stepped out of the bushes and growled, “Times up old man.”

    The turtle craned its head towards him, “Please don’t come any closer, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
    Tiger grinned, flashing teeth, “You’ll be my dinner before you can blink.”
    “Young man, I am two hundred years old and I have learned a thing or two. You think I’m this old because I never met a hungry tiger before?”

    The big cat pounced, arcing through the air. Turtle retracted his arms and legs. As the tiger landed the ground beneath him exploded, blasting them both into the sky. Turtle landed with a thud, Tiger landed in chunks. As turtles head appeared he said to no-one in particular, “For example, I learned to read. Welcome to the minefield.”

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  14. Industrial Origami
    (143 words)

    They drew you into the air like a rousing musical score; carved you into the landscape like a coiling Serpentine Dragon.
    A Tsunami- you surge at the horizon.

    But this turtle stares up at you in awe and with a sadness- a sadness I can’t shake off. Beginning my slow climb over your curves, my desire is to run, rush over you. It feels as if I should. Your tin heart seems to beat an exhilarating song as you unwind and dip then furl once more.
    However, I am reminded with each tentative step and signpost heralding danger that this is not the thrill you or I seek. That here, in this stale static, your vibrant music goes unheard; your spiral serpentine complication meanders to a nothingness and your rolling waves fade.

    I am the turtle and you, in truth, a Paper Tiger.

  15. Through A Turtle’s Eyes

    As I ascend the hill, I see some new human contraption upon the ridgeline. A black, ugly stain against nature’s natural beauty. It rises high into the air and all among it, humans crawl. What is the point of this contraption? It seems as useless as humans’ lives themselves. They can go, and ascend its loops and whorls, and see nature, but they are not seeing nature as it was intended to be seen. We turtles may not be all that wise, but we have long lives and we at least know this much.

    Even still, I follow the well-worn path to the top. Unlike the humans, I know how to enjoy nature and it does not involve ugly blights of steel that poison the land. No, I enjoy the wind upon my shell, the sight of the trees below me, and the smell of the land after a spring rain. For me, a turtle, it is the simplest things.
    160 words
    @ebthompson93

    • “A black, ugly stain against nature’s natural beauty. It rises high into the air and all among it, humans crawl.”–An excellent line. It’s interesting to “hear” a turtle discuss how humans are “crawling” when the turtle himself crawls. Makes a reader think about what is important.

  16. LIFE
    A beginning, yes I stand here as proof.
    Straining to see the end, yet even worries fail to produce what is to come.
    No moment by moment I live. Walking the same as you, yet each step leads us to a different course. Loops and turns callous my heart. Repeating failures and heartaches only retreats my soul. I am a turtle. Protected as long as I stay inside my shell, hoping to hide from the destruction life brings. Except, I wasn’t formed to hide. Peeking out my head I see the light and take the out stretched hand. Without Him life is just a journey, a never-ending cycle of ups and downs. But because of Him I have a purpose. Standing tall I look the world right in the eyes. “You will not win.” For the storms and struggles will no longer leave me crawling. Now, I will be carried through.

    @MeganBesing
    151 words

  17. For I Have Touched the Sky

    Fritz was by far the most adventurous member of his widespread and numerous clan. In fact, they all considered him an insane daredevil. The tale of his latest stunt left the aghast with disbelief.

    Fritz spoke to the assembly, a strange light gleaming in his eyes. “I got into position underneath the coaster. When the park closed I began my climb. Slowly, every muscle aching, I pulled myself up each rung. I scrambled and scraped desperately! It was terrifying! I was barely long enough to span the distance between each of them.Several times i almost fell, one slip would fininsh me! Dawn came and to my exhausted wonder I saw that i had reached my goal.

    I had climbed up to Heaven and touched the sky!”

    How the turtle had got to the outside of the top loop of the roller coaster, no man among the walk-down crew could say.

    150 words @EmilyKarn1

  18. The line and the loop
    @dieterrogiers – 143 words

    The curious walkway curves meandered like a steely determined stream, yet they led nowhere. There was no beginning. There was no end. Just an infinite loop of stairs, an Escher etching brought vividly to life.

    Here corporate suits forgot their worries for a minute, as they imagined defying gravity on the smooth silver slopes.

    Here young minds dreamt of futures brave and bold, undeterred by the lofty expectations their parents put on them.

    Here the old felt new again, the wicked virtuous, the defeated invincible.

    Yet all of them invariable said rather swift goodbyes to the tranquil bliss the walkway provided.

    Without exception they returned to their hectic workloads and overstuffed leisure commitments.

    They all withdrew into the safe fold of a linear world where you had to follow the straight line to go places.

    They forgot the turtle could tame the tiger.

  19. Natural Selection
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    160 Words

    “Told you you should’ve given it a rest,” the tiger said as he licked his paw, smoothing it over his ear.

    The turtle eyed the top of the hill, his perpetual look of irritation etched more deeply now across his face. He said nothing.

    “But no,” the tiger went on. “You had to prove you were not only smarter than that hare, but faster, too. Racing back and forth up there as if you could defy the laws of nature.” He shook his head in amusement.

    “How was I to know,” exclaimed the turtle with a snap of its beak, “that that stupid snake would try to outdo me?” He gazed again at the skeleton stretched eerily across the sky. “But I don’t get what happened.”

    “Looks like something – or someone – frightened him out of his skin. And bones.” The tiger licked his lips again, giving his friend a knowing glance.

    The turtle grinned. “Hope he was tasty.”

  20. Subliminal Messages

    Heike Mutter rubbed his temples and stared at his design pad. It was with bitter self-contempt that he ripped off the top sheet and punched it into the palm of his hand until it was a crumpled ball of defeat.

    He poured himself a large glass of Burgundy and slumped into his favourite chair, das Denken Stuhl; his thinking chair.

    Half an hour later and with more frustration than inspiration, he turned on the TV and flicked through the channels; trite comedy, local news, a documentary about the turtles of Honduras.

    Resigning himself to the latter, Heike watched the mighty creatures battle against the odds to reach their goal. Overcoming failure, swimming against the tide. Yes, he knew all about that. Called to his bed, he finished his book, The Life of Pi, and drifted into unsettled sleep.

    The next morning Heike bounded down the stairs and grabbed his ‘phone.

    ‘Ulrich? Fancy a ride on a roller coaster?’

    159 Words

    Sarah Miles
    @_sarahmiles_

  21. The Tiger Trap

    “Do tigers live forever, Grandpa… Like dragons?” Said the boy. His grandfather smiled, struggling to hide the pain in his chest.

    “No, they live very long, brave lives and then they just fade away.”

    The boy considered this and then skipped back to the old man and took his hand.

    “Like yours?” The boy asked. The man regarded the faded tiger tattoo adorning his own arm, its blue outline sagging and worn as the skin beneath.

    “Yes, like mine.” He said.

    “And where do they fade away to, Grandpa?” The boy had run on ahead up the steep incline of the Magic Mountain’s stairway.

    “Well there’s a special place for very brave tigers in the sky and that’s where they go to rest.” The man said, looking at the darkening clouds. His pain was much worse now.

    “Is that where we’re going, where the old tigers go?” Said the boy, far ahead on the climb.

    “Maybe laddie, maybe.”

    160 words excluding title.

  22. S. Todd Strader
    160 Words
    @ToddStader

    He paints a henna tiger and turtle on my arms. It is a surprise he says, an adventure. He is a hopeless romantic but not much for keeping secrets. I know he has a ring..

    I came to Germany for a semester abroad. We met here at the giant sculpture in Duisburg. I was enjoying the view. He approached.

    “Do you like it?”

    “I’m more of a nature girl” I replied.

    From there it was coffee, bike tours and so many walks. Now he brings me back. I smile. I picture myself saying “yes.” But what’s the adventure?

    We approach the loop. He forces the restraining gate.

    “Let’s go.”

    “We can’t.”

    He pulls me along. The arm paintings glow! Upside down we do not fall! Most marvelous of all… a moments disorientation and we emerge from a giant tree! We step aside. An old fashioned car passes. Then he gets on his knee.

    “I know you like nature” he begins…”

  23. Life
    152 Words

    My life is a circle. My life is a distorted circle that sways in the breeze and twists against the wind.

    The most depressing thing is that I can’t get out. It seems as though no matter what I do, I’m doomed to repeat my mistakes. No matter how hard I try to struggle free, life’s vices pull me back down into the mire of depression and anger.

    I wish I could be like the others. I wish I could break free from the shackles life has burdened me with from the moment of birth. I didn’t ask for this life, I didn’t ask for this struggle.

    The only thing that gives me hope in this warped circle I call my life, is the idea that one day, somehow I will evolve. I’ll find a way to cast of this constraining turtle shell of frustration and repetition and be free to live.

  24. Project Hermes

    Transfixed by the withering gaze of Colonel Jesik , the commanding officer of the Special Weapons Branch, the director of Project Hermes fidgeted nervously.

    “I was not aware the Imperium had provided you boundless resources and such considerable manpower to construct an amusement park attraction, Director. Where is the wondrous device you spoke of that shall, as you wrote, ‘infinitely augment’ our soldiers’ abilities to conduct the war?”

    “I assure you while the Hermes hardware looks a bit…unconventional, once our men have undergone the procedure their speed, strength and reflexes will be nearly beyond belief,” the Director stammered.

    “And have you any proof of your claims, good doctor?”

    Reaching behind him, the scientist removed a small desert turtle from a specially-reinforced box. “I can only present this test subject, Colonel, who yesterday completed a five-mile obstacle course in but three minutes and 17 seconds.”

    The disbelieving shock on the Colonel’s face made all of the Director’s unease melt swiftly away.

    160 words @klingorengi

  25. Appeasement

    When the probes told us the air was somewhat breathable, we emerged from our underground shelters. No one was certain just how long since we’d walked on the surface of our own world. Much excitement prevailed.

    As an anthropologist, I had priority to venture out where the sun—not artificial light—could touch my skin. Still, I had to wear protective clothing and thick, dark lenses over my eyes, none of which kept me from beholding the incredible structure we found on the first day. We walked around and climbed on it for hours.

    “It’s a henge,” said the Professor. “See how the sun shines through that circular area. Obviously, a henge.”

    I pointed to the plethora of round, concave artifacts scattered about. “I do believe these are turtle shells, likely used as digging implements for constructing the henge.”

    “Or sacrificed to the gods.”

    “Do you think perhaps…”

    “Yes, yes, they might still be around!”

    “Quick! We need a turtle!”

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

  26. On the Frequency of the Birth of Dupes

    As crazy ideas went, this was his craziest. A roller coaster called The Tiger, now that was intriguing, but putting it out in the middle of nowhere?

    On opening day there were more reporters than customers, but Dad was in his element with the press.

    “P.T.! P.T.! Why call it The Tiger?” asked one stalwart snoop.

    “To honor my own grandfather, you see. He went on safari to the Dark Continent, his life’s dream really, and, well…” He wiped away a fake tear at this point. “He was attacked by a tiger and eaten.”

    “But, P.T., tigers aren’t found in Africa,” pointed out one nosy newshound. “They’re indigenous to Asia.”

    Ah, Dad never missed a beat. “Well, this was such an exclusive safari, they imported the tigers. Next question!”

    After the stories went to print, crowds came to The Tiger by the thousands. What an entrepreneur was my old man. If you believe that, there’s this roller coaster for sale.

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

  27. The Duisberg Rider’s Club
    @CharlesWShort
    211 words (Yea I know, DQed. Not enough time to edit it down today.)

    The Duisberg Rider’s Club, a group who meet to ride rare and valuable steeds, has gotten out of hand. The problems started three years ago when Lord Balkington showed up riding a massive tiger.

    We all applauded his contribution until after lunch when we discovered it had consumed several of our mounts, including my prized Salzburg stallion. He merely laughed claiming it proved his animal was superior.

    The battle was on. The next year I rode a bear. The tiger killed it.

    The year after that hardly a horse was left in the barn, riders brought all kinds of predators which in turn fell to Balkington’s tiger.

    But this year, I rode a dragon, 23 feet long with scales like armor. Other’s brought minotaur, unicorns, griffins, Balkington’s tiger of course, and even a turtle arrived.

    The meal was spoiled by sounds of screeching and fighting in the barn. When the sounds abated we fearfully approached the barn.

    As the doors swung open a severed dragon’s head lay on the floor in front of us. But right beside that was half of a tiger carcass. So what was it that had managed to slay all these creatures? We found the turtle. Poor thing was holding his overstuffed belly with all four claws.

  28. Twist

    Morning came predictably. Shunning suburbia’s sun, pantomiming the actions of a typical day and swigging down the dregs of her tasteless coffee, she picked at the chipped, red polish on her toes.

    Each convolution of his contorted explanation, he’d given the night before, began to fold in on itself within her mind. His lethal tiger roar and sharp slant of tongue, before he’d decanted his scotch and a sigh, had silenced her last night.

    During college, they’d been on the debate team together. His astute mind and quick wit, she once found intriguing, had morphed like a block of sharp cheddar left out far too long. He now held the same plastic quality, crusty corners with oily sweat beads bubbling out of the, once, rich morsel.

    After dissecting his convoluted lies with each peeling red flake, she made a call. She knew how he liked his scotch, among other things. The divorce papers were served a week later—neat.

    @blackinkpinkdsk
    159 words

  29. Turned Turtle
    156 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    Many things come about by mistake. The blow-torch, for example, was accidently created by a very bad man trying to invent a flex-free hair-dryer.

    Sorry, that should read a very bald man.

    Six-year old Timmy was awaiting his turn at the top of the roller-coaster when he dropped his pet turtle. Those worried about Timmy’s happiness will be pleased to hear that his parents bought him an identical-looking turtle, since there is no other sort, and that Timmy is both content and gone from this story.

    Like buttered toast, though, the turtle landed the wrong way up, but his screams of terror became squeals of joy as his built-in luge grabbed velocity by the reins and rode it as far as the wheel, where it whizzed him around and he catapulted into space, like a meteor breaking free of its orbit.

    He bounced, rolled down the grassy hill, and went gleefully straight back for another go.

  30. Waiting Tiger, Dead Turtle
    @jujitsuelf
    158 words

    “Tiger, confirm position.”

    The voice in my ear was cool, calm, professional.

    “Set,” I replied. Why waste words?

    “Turtle should be in view in two minutes.”

    “Copy.”

    It was a bitch of a shot. Uphill, almost into the sun and the breeze was picking up. Why had I taken this job?! For the nice half million I’d collect when it was finished, of course.

    For a moment I mourned my lost military career. If things had been different, I might be with my mates in Afghanistan now. But they hadn’t been different and I was just another mercenary for hire.

    The weird-ass sculpture thing on the hill was deserted, good, least I wouldn’t risk hitting civilians.

    “Turtle should be there,” the voice warned. “Take the shot.”

    “I see him,” I answered, my trigger smooth under my finger. It was just a job. The half million would see me through till the next rich bastard wanted a hitman.

  31. “Stop hitting me!”

    “I’m not! I just moved a little.”

    The children were starting to bicker like kindergarteners rather than young teens. This was supposed to be fun, not a long argument while taking in sights.

    Aunt Ashley should have been exasperated with the kids by now, but she seemed calm, lifting a few full-page flyers from a nearby shelf.

    As the line inched slowly around, Ashley began folding and tearing at the paper. The children quieted. Not just her children, all of the children in the line.

    Ashley produced first a paper tiger for Masha and a turtle for Jamie. As the children marveled over the small works of paper art, Ashley caught each of them by the eye.

    “Each of you has your own strengths, and each your own weaknesses. Work together and you’ll accomplish more.”

    With that, she hopped over the guardrail and led the family into their own waiting car with the crowd’s blessing.

    158 words
    @WendyStrain

  32. “I wanna ride the dragon!” The dual cry of my children, synchronized but not harmonized, soared above the din of the carnival, Maya’s trembling alto rising to a squeak above Christopher’s crackling not-quite-baritone. With the lines like they were, we only had time for one last ride before heading out to meet Jenny for dinner, so I couldn’t even have them trade off. Who designs a roller coaster with only one dragon? Everybody likes dragons.

    I frantically looked over the other cars, hoping that a solution would appear. Ninety-two in the shade, we’d all been stuffed with more lemon shakeups than should be legally allowable, and if I didn’t come up with a solution quickly, we’d be that family everyone told judgmental stories about on their way home.

    Ah – there we go. “Christopher, did I ever tell you about the Cosmic Turtle that carried the Earth on its back?” Maya smiled, but Chris was hooked. He loved a good story.

    160 words
    @drmagoo

  33. Seeing Stripes

    My father chucked his vomit-striped coat at my mom.

    “You better see about getting this cleaned,” he said. “Ben went and heaved his guts all over it, now didn’t you, son?”

    I stumbled forward as he roared with derisive laughter and gave me a paw-swipe of a cuff on the back.

    “You shouldn’t have taken him up there,” my mom said, her voice shaking a little. “I told you he’d be scared. He’s scared of- of heights.”

    My father looked at her. His lips peeled back into a snarl.

    “Y’ know,” he said to her, lowering his voice to a growl, “you better teach this boy to get the hell out of his shell. I swear he gets more scared and damn doe-eyed each time I come.”

    He turned away, and slunk silently down the road.

    We watched him go until he was just a dark, twisted threat on our horizon once more.

    153 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  34. Mother

    The tiger was a statue. Only the very tip of his tail moved, tracing a complex loop in the air. The piercing yellow eyes fixed on the boy. He shot across the plain like bullet. The boy did not run, but fell to the ground kicking his feet into the chest of the beast. They tumbled together, rolling, violently, tossing dirt and grass into the air.

    “You are not strong enough for that trick any more.” The tiger growled. “And you smell too much like food.”

    “You are getting so much bigger brother, but you smell too much like poo.” The boy chided punching the thick chest of the tiger as they lay tangled in the weeds. “Good game. Come on, mom’s waiting with for us.”

    Mother smiled as she saw them running across the plain towards her. Her son and his brother, best friends. She embraced them and blinking her piercing, yellow eyes licked them both clean.

    158 Words – @NomDeBen

  35. Reality sucks

    Jeff looked so disappointed I even thought about not saying “Told you so.” But not for long.

    “Told you so,” I said, joining him by the locked gate across the loop at the top of the ‘Turtle and Tiger’. “You can’t actually walk the loop. It just looks that way, from a distance.”

    Jeff looked forlornly at the loop arching above us.

    “I thought maybe the steps would be at some clever angle, or something,” he said, “so you could just keep walking up, till you’d actually done a loop-the-loop, on foot!”

    “‘Fraid this is reality, little bro,” I chuckled. “No actual tigers here, or turtles, and walking always requires gravity.”

    “Reality sucks,” muttered Jeff, mooching over to the fencing that ran along the walkway’s sides. Then, without warning, he leapt over it, disappearing from view.

    I rolled my eyes. Sighing, I spread my wings, leapt, and followed him through the clouds.

    I flipped a loop-the-loop on the way.

    @Donnellanjacki 2nd Entry
    159 words

  36. Jeremy Milburn
    Word Count: 150

    *Justifiable*

    “I yelled, ‘Stop it, Jake!'”

    “My little baby huddled like a turtle, trying to retreat into the wall as if it would envelop her in an impenetrable shell. The belt left welts like tiger-stripes down her arms and legs. I stepped in and yanked his arm back. He whirled and punched me.”

    “Pain…I remember pain, but nothing after that.”

    “So you don’t remember getting a gun and shooting your husband?” the detective asks.

    “She just spilled some milk…that’s all. I…I…”

    “Melinda? I need you to focus.”

    “It’s always such a roller-coaster with him…Katie loves roller-coasters. Do you?”

    “The M.E. says the wound entry is consistent with it being fired by someone your daughter’s height. Did she shoot Jake?”

    “Katie? Where’s my baby?”

    “She’s at the hospital, Melinda. She’s in shock and the doctors say she’s repressed the episode. Who shot Jake, Melinda?”

    “I did. Detective? Never tell her otherwise. Please?”

  37. Sacrifice

    Will heard Cassie shriek as the ‘coaster left the track and instinctively threw himself across her. He didn’t see what happened to the kids in the front cars, but he felt wet warmth splatter his back, then pain cut through all thoughts save one; Protect Cassie. So he did.

    A whipsawing cable tore his side, railings pounded his head and steel wheels crushed his legs, but still he shielded her.

    As his eyes gave out, he saw her as she first was, fresh and pinkly plump, clinging to him as she did now, and he knew that he had saved her, and that it was time to go.

    Later, with the wreckage cleared and the lawsuits settled, Cassie’s father took her back to say goodbye. She had a new toy now, and she showed him the scarred Earth.

    “That’s where William Tiger saved my life,” she whispered.

    Clutched in her tiny hands, Mister Turtle silently vowed to do the same.

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

    • Snuck that ‘tiger’ in on me. You caught my attention with what was happening and held it throughout. I’d love to see this as a longer story with more details!

  38. Treed (or is it, Staired?)

    (159)

    Angry shouts spurred him on as he giggled breathlessly, headed toward the uppermost loop. Adjusting a water-balloon filled backpack, he hopped the gate and clambered onto the top of the metal contraption.

    He gave a cheeky wave. “Hey, there, Suze!”

    “Calvin!” came a waterlogged shout. “Get down here this instant!”

    He cast a smirk down at her. “Think we should, Hobbs?”

    The orange and black striped tiger vigorously shook his head. “Nope. Hopefully, she’ll get bored and go home soon.”

    “Eh, whatever.” He blew a raspberry and grinned harder at the answering shriek.

    “I’m gonna rearrange your face, Calvin!”Suzy glowered, then smirked back, settled down on the stair, and pulled a damp book from her pocket.

    Hobbs frowned, “We might be here for a while.”

    “Humn. You might be right,” a hint of uneasiness colored Calvin’s tone.

    The tiger nudged his friend, “Don’t suppose you packed any tuna sandwiches?”

  39. Showdown: 1958
    @JMnumber6, 168 words

    The slow rumbling sound had been growing for the last hour.

    Most of the townspeople watched from their vantage points as the last few stragglers ran toward the abandoned rollercoaster, the only high ground in town. The TV news station in the next town had gone dark twenty-four hours earlier and everyone knew they’d be here soon.

    Most folks carried .22 hunting rifles which would only be useful with a lucky shot, but they felt better carrying them so the sheriff didn’t say anything. She and her deputy carried her father’s two Marlin 1895s, capable of making a charging grizzly think twice about its life choices. She hoped they’d be enough.

    Dust rising over the hill to the west signaled their arrival. Vicious monsters, capable of cutting a man in half. As she checked her gun for the fifth time, she decided she’d be angry too if she suffered from radioactive gigantism.

    As the first thirty-foot snapping turtle crested the hill, she steadied her rifle and took aim.

  40. Prometheus

    The hologram screen surrounding the serpent shaped contraption buzzed lightly as it transmitted a landscape view. Footsteps echoed up and down its metal stairs. Men, women and children frantically searched their ways back and forth walking the narrow rails of the machine.

    “This is the work of a brute.” whimpered the creator, as exhausted he sat, marveling in tears his creation.

    His “Prometheus” wouldn’t stop. This was the unintended consequence of his frivolous ambitious overreaching. These people, at the end they found themselves starting from the beginning, no memory of minutes ago, no concept of hours gone by. He had created the sort of cycle that destroyed their minds, trapping them in a limbo of repetitiveness in which they existed in their normality just for a split second. To fear.

    Soon their system would catch on the anomaly, and they would die maddened and starved becoming mere shells of humans. And he would suffer the helpless observation of that process.

    160 words
    @Raptamei

  41. Jess closed her eyes, remembering that summer night. Flashing colorful lights. Cheers. Shouts. Smells of corn dogs, funnel cakes, fresh vomit. My God. Could it be ten years? Nothing remained of the fairgrounds besides the rusted-out roller coaster tracks, a black silhouette against the deepening purple sky.

    * * *

    “C’mon! I want to ride!” Tommy admired the tiger-striped coaster cars as he did with Harleys, Corvettes, and all things fast.

    Jess tickled underneath the baby turtle’s pale chin. “I’ll call you Flugmithar.”

    Tommy sneered. “Just remember who won you that dumb turtle.”

    * * *

    Jess recalled the aftermath: Tommy, saying he was leaving their slow little town; her crying, begging him to stay. Sympathetic little Flugmithar watching from his terrarium. Her brief time with Tommy had been a bone-shaking roller coaster ride. When she thought of him, she preferred the brightly burning memory of their magical summer night at the fair.

    153 words.
    (I’m new here. Thought I would give it a try this week.)

  42. Friends for Life

    “We could do it, you know.”

    “Do what?” Sarah didn’t take her eyes off the grass between her fingers.

    “Rig it. Show Davey what it’s like to fly.”

    They turned to watch the security crew, striding over the steel skeleton.

    “He wouldn’t go without Tim,” Sarah said eventually.

    “If we can rig it for Davey, we can for Tim.” James knelt down and took her hand. It stilled in his, but that didn’t stop the obvious stress and guilt and sorrow he couldn’t stop seeing in her. At seventeen, she’d been the strong one for so long. For too long.

    “The doctors wouldn’t let him.”

    “We’ll sneak him out.”

    “Them.” She paused. “Would it be safe?” Sarah would do anything for her baby brother.

    “They’re not shutting it down for safety reasons.”

    She nodded sharply. “It has to be soon.”

    James squeezed her cold fingers. “He’ll love it. They’ll love it,” he self-corrected. Davey went nowhere without his pet turtle.

    (@AriaGlazki; 160 words)

  43. I’ll Be Damned
    When the van began unloading the colorful seats I knew I’d made the right decision.
    After meeting the salesperson from the church pew company I felt there must be an alternative.
    I’d never started a religion before. I’d started a vegetarian restaurant and a free school and a
    therapy practice and a petting zoo and a box turtle rock band and a flower garden. But a religion was different.
    My faith option was based on the belief that life was a roller coaster ride, meant to be enjoyed.
    Rocky Point was closing. It had a good long run. But the amusement park scene was going in a whole different direction.
    A video arcade was soon to occupy the site of my most wonderful childhood memories. And
    how fortuitous. The roller coaster seats were now posted for sale on Craigslist.
    Just what was needed for the Holy Church of the Ups and Downs.

    158 words. Beth Voso

    • This is a delightful read. I love the image of a box turtle rock band… (my mind has made them a metal band because it is so… un-turtlelike.) I wasn’t sure where it was going, but Ups and Downs is something I can seriously understand.

  44. On Shallow Ground Where Nightmares Breathe
    160 words

    She saw it again, from atop the walkway. Jenna had promised her mother that she wouldn’t visit that place alone especially after that girl had gone missing but she couldn’t stay away. Beneath her feet the metal was a living, breathing thing and it called to her when she tried to leave it behind.

    She wondered if it was actually the walkway that wanted her to return or that thing.

    She could just make out the faint outline of the large feline, from where she stood, its dark stripes helping it to blend into the foliage. At first glance it looked like a tiger but Jenna knew it was more than that.

    It had always been so much more than that.

    The girl hadn’t been the first person that had gone missing from this area and Jenna was certain that she wouldn’t be the last because despite the creature’s lax pose even a fool could tell that it was hunting.

  45. Flash! Friday judge’s entry, for your reading pleasure
    (157 word) @mishmhem

    Why the Serpent Sheds Her Skin.

    “Momma,” Turtle asked Tortoise. “Why is there a big snake twining its way along the rocks?”

    Tortoise looked at the twisting thing, noting the way it seemed to tie itself into knots.

    “It isn’t a snake,” Tortoise answered after a minute. “It’s the snake’s skin.”

    “Its skin?”

    “Yes dear: As snakes grow they shed their skin…”

    “Why do they do that?”

    Tortoise paused studying the form before them. “They didn’t used to,but one day, very long ago—snake was sunning herself when Tiger attacked her. Snake was strong, and clever—but Tiger was stronger and armed with claws and teeth. When he pounced on her—she had but one thought: escape.”

    “She fought long and hard but Tiger was strong and his teeth held her tail so tight she couldn’t break free. Trapped, she cut her skin and slipped away—leaving him with nothing but what you see.”

    Turtle nodded sagely. “Because beauty is only skin deep.”

  46. Steps
    Laura Carroll Butler
    157 words

    I’ve taken these steps before. Now I walk them with my little tiger. From the start, he was powerful, energetic, and ready to tackle the world. It was my job to protect him from his own strength and unpredictability. Like a good mother, I held his hand to steady him while he tested his footing on the steps. I let go a little bit at a time as he gained confidence. When he decided to make the loop, I let go, ready to catch him if he fell. Over and over the loop he went, stumbling into his adventures while I took the safer steps.
    Now we reach the end of my steps and my walk is less steady. I would prefer to slow down and hide in my shell some days. But my tiger takes my hand and his energy pushes me through. When I reach the end, he will be there to guard my memory.

  47. (160 words)

    Mob Enforcer’s Muse

    I slouched on my bar stool five fingers deep into a bottle of Jack. A crumpled unlit Cohiba teetered between my chapped lips like an inverted deadbeat dangling from the thirteenth floor balcony of a fourteen story highrise.

    I wasn’t looking for love. Wasn’t looking for a shoulder to cry on, a warm body to lay beside or any of that emotional shit. Alone. That’s the way a man solves problems. The way a man lives life. The way I liked it.

    Then she happened.

    She moved like a tiger, purposeful, stalking. (A tiger in knockoff Jimmy Choo’s with heels like six inch prison shanks.)

    She leaned in. Long, winding twists of fiery loops and curls brushed my cheek. I glanced up and met intense, penetrating sapphire eyes that insisted I accept she could have any man in the joint.

    “Is that a gun in your waistband or are you just happy to see me?”, she purred.

    Both baby. Both.

  48. “Slow Escape”
    Kristen Falso-Capaldi
    160 words
    @kristenafc

    They were done growing up in this town.

    The boys stood under the roller coaster, passing a joint, the familiar screams and whirling machinery above their heads.

    “People always compare life to a roller coaster,” Joe said, “but you end up back at the beginning.” Jimmy said he liked that about roller coasters.

    Summer was over, and Joe and Bob were going to college. Mike was joining the marines. Jimmy was staying.

    They half-joked about leaving Jimmy in town with their girlfriends.

    A few feet away, a turtle lumbered by. Jimmy rushed over and flipped it.

    They watched it struggling, its legs begging the air.

    “Dude, flip it back,” Joe said.

    Bob was about to rescue it, but the turtle righted itself and started its slow escape.

    “Ok, let’s go,” Mike said, crushing the joint under his sneaker. “You coming, man?”

    “Nah,” Jimmy said.

    Jimmy watched his friends disappear, then he rode the roller coaster till the park closed.

  49. Up, Up and Away
    @vbholmes
    158 words

    Sarah Allenhurst was a structural engineer traveling in Germany with a group of like-minded business associates. She was pleased to find the monumental “Tiger and Turtle” sculpture on the itinerary and looked forward to seeing it. However, she was afraid of heights, and definitely in trouble, when she learned the architect was giving a walking tour of his creation.

    Sarah looked up at the soaring artwork before she placed her foot on the first step. She was terrified, and her heart began to pound. She felt light-headed, queasy, and she hadn’t yet begun to climb. She backed away, then felt a hand on her elbow. Gary, a colleague, moved next to her by the stair.

    “One hand on the railing, the other on my arm,” he said. “Don’t look up or down. And keep smiling. I’m acrophobic, too, but together, we can stay with the group.”

    Sarah wasn’t convinced, but with a buddy, she was game to try.

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