Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 7

Friday AGAIN!!!! Can you believe it?! So much fun and happiness, all wrapped up in one little bitty day. Thank you so much for coming to share part of yours with us here at Flash! Friday. Wouldn’t be the same without you! PS. I mean that. Would be very, very depressing. And lonely. Though also perhaps slightly less well-behaved, I’m thinking.     

Back taking another turn as judge is mischievous Erin McCabe! She loves a great twist at the end of a story, so let’s twist away this week! Read more about her (though she is suspiciously silent on the topic of breakfast cereals) here.

Yes, please! In case you’ve been away for a while: 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 ‘Schicksal‘”).  

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) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.” And being served up in the Flash! Friday mess hall this week is a good, ol’ fashioned bowl of chicken soup (take your pick: the comforting can o’ noodles kind, the white bean chili kind (wow), or the totally awesome pho kind, which I could eat every day for years before tiring of 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; does not need to be the exact word unless that is specified):

destiny

***Today’s Prompt:

Statue of the Republic @ the Court of Honor and Grand Basin, 1893. Public domain photo.

Statue of the Republic @ the Court of Honor and Grand Basin, 1893. Public domain photo.

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137 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 7

  1. James
    (160 words)

    When James was a baby he peed and messed his diapers.

    When James could walk he splashed through mud and offered, without words, to help build the settlement’s houses.

    When James was a man he thought a girl was pretty and opened his soul to her. She didn’t respond as hoped and the thing died. Another girl did, and they enjoyed a great month. Consequently, a new baby was born to the settlement.

    When James was grown he realized he was witty—a shade brighter than most—and dissuaded the chief of a neighboring tribe from slaughtering them.

    After James died the people of the settlement (now a granite city) immortalized him in stone. They gave him muscles and washboard abs, neither which he had, and completed it by omitting the penis (and weren’t penises always missing since statues’ erections; pun intended).

    If James could see it wouldn’t he have laughed and said, “I was a man. Worship something else!”

  2. A Family Affair (157 words)

    The rhythm of feet upon cobbled stone rang out through the city. Dirty faces peered out between wooden slats, watching the man in the cage being carried past. He pleaded, demanded, promised; yet no one replied.

    They entered the square, the lake looked sorrowful, grey and uninviting. Like the people massed at the steps of the domed building he had till yesterday called home.

    At the top of the steps his son waited, the warmth of his youthful smile echoed in the steel of the blade in his hand.

    Hands tore him from the cage, forcing him to kneel. His son addressed the crowd, lifting the blade, yet he heard no words, lost in contemplation of the ancient statue that stood on the other side of the lake.

    She had witnessed him hold that same blade years ago. Watched in silence as he had run the blade across his father’s throat.

    Claiming his birthright, becoming a king.

  3. For Flocks Sake

    They said it was suicide. The legend dictated that any who dared try would be struck down. The oldest of them swore he’d seen it happen. Porridge didn’t much care for legends. He stared up at the statue and declared to all that would listen, “I shall make it my perch.”

    The other pigeons clucked and cooed. Someone nervously muttered, “Don’t upset the gods, for flocks sake.”
    Porridge puffed out his chest, “Don’t be fools, there is nothing to be afraid of. Let me show you.”

    He leapt into the air, circling high above the square. He waited until all were watching before diving for his target. His feet tingled as he touched down, but it was simply from the cold. After a few seconds he spread his wings triumphantly and declared, “I told you! Watch me poop on your legend.”
    There was a quiet pop and a shower of feathers, a reminder to all to respect the gods.

    159 words
    @todayschapter

  4. Festidius

    His name was carven in stone before his birth. The stars were imbued with the knowledge of his name, although the why of it (and who had urged them to remember) was forgotten. They eventually lost interest.

    When he was born, an eagle circled once overhead. This was taken as a portent: of what, no one knew, but it was definitely portent-y.

    His name was Festidius, and he had an impressive nose.

    As an older man, he’d travel to the corners of the globe and find that, rather than being pointy—as corners often are—they were instead quite round and shiny, like the edges of dice. He’d chisel a few inscriptions of each to hang in his bedroom, then eventually head home.

    Fate would not be kind.

    After many years of trying to get home—fighting cyclopii, banshees, wizards, faeries, and a slightly irritated goat—he would walk back into his home and die.

    Of what? Only history knows.

    160 words
    @darkmooninorbit

  5. They were all gone, the Big Things that had made everything stone and brick and hard. Gone one day, as if the wind had blown them somewhere else like autumn leaves. As if they melted like the rare snow on a cold day in winter.
    The survivors tried to make the best of the place. Not an easy existence for pigeons, rats and roaches, an abandoned metropolis.
    “What do you suppose that stone figure means?” one cockroach asked another, as they wandered the vast square, looking for bits of crumbs the Big Things left behind.
    A huge image of a big thing dominated one end of the square. Every once in a while, a passing bird rested on it. It was useless to vermin.
    “Reminds me of a poem I ate last week. “Ozymandias,” said the other roach.
    “Was it any good?”
    “Gave me indigestion. Old paper makes me ill.”
    150 words
    Eliza Archer

  6. The Stonecarver’s Boy

    At his birth, his mother wept.

    ‘A daughter would have been wiser,’ frowned the doula, taking him away.

    His training began immediately. He grew within the workshop, chisel in hand, prodigious and alone. From a distance, his mother watched.

    In time, the Emperor took a wife.

    ‘Let it be his masterpiece,’ came the order.

    His mother tried to warn him; once, she even passed beside his workbench, so close she could feel his warmth, but her dropped note was swept away.

    The finished statue was fit for a goddess. On its raising day, The Imperial Guard came for its maker, and – willingly, unknowingly – he went.

    ‘You will never better this,’ decreed the Emperor. The blade fell quickly – there was no time for anguish. He never knew his fate was sealed from the day he was born, like all stonecarvers’ boys.

    The Empress’ statue was anchored with its maker’s blood; a fitting memorial stone.

    154 words
    @SJOHart

  7. It Was, It Is, and It Always Shall Be
    By: Allison K. García
    160 words

    I have known my destiny since the day of my creation. That moment when I was formed, when the Master’s hands molded me into being, in that very moment I knew what I was and what I was to do.

    It was inevitable. Why fight it? Once your destiny has been cut for you, there is no turning back. One can either stay still or move towards it, which for the longest time has been the same thing.

    I am a statue.

    Imbued with the honor of that which I represent, I stand tall, unmoving. Alone against the elements. Time wears me down yet I hold strong.

    From my pedestal, I see all, hear all, feel all. The biting wind, the searing rain, the blistering sun – it is all insignificant. Merely a test.

    I have been lying in wait, for the day my call will come, and I will rise up and take my throne.

    Today is that day.

  8. ‘No Regrets’ (158 words)
    Tom O’Connell /@Conveniently_So

    His sixtieth had arrived, but Charlie was alone, thinking of 1935, of Pearl. He withdrew the framed picture, hidden in a study drawer, and placed it on the mantel. Looking at it, he felt ill. Estranged daughters, three divorces, and a career spent manufacturing soap, yet this regret eclipsed them all.
    The statue stood in all its monochromatic glory. Not an especially romantic spot, but it was where Charlie and Pearl had promised to meet following his tour of duty. His reasons for not showing were trivial at best.

    Depleted, Charlie touched a hand to the photo. The image rippled at his touch and he flinched. What was this?

    Drawing on reserves of courage, he offered a finger, then a hand, then his entire arm. The portal received him like a body of water.

    * * *

    This world was colourless. Beneath the statue, an incredulous Charlie surveyed his twenty-something body. Pearl was smiling and waiting for him across the way.

  9. The Empire Builder
    Ian Martyn (www.martynfiction.com)
    159 words

    I was once as mortal as any man. Now I’m cast in stone, set high on a pedestal for as long as wind and rain allow. Some think this my greatest achievement, a gothic extravaganza, a geometric perfection. We tamed the sea for our own amusement, for regattas and displays of wealth and power. We marvel at the elegance and the mastery of architecture. But in doing so we forget the people that made it possible. Those that built an empire with their sweat and blood. Those that died thousands of miles from home so we could edify ourselves in palaces and cathedrals. And yes I plead guilty to that vanity. I chose to ignore my humble beginnings, rising ever upwards on a wave of self interest. So now it is my destiny to stand here and peer out beyond this false facade to the fields and humble dwellings, a constant reminder of the people who made it possible.

  10. Rebirth of the Republic
    by A J Walker

    Samuel held Arthur’s head in a vice grip, their noses almost touching.

    “We’re doing this,” he spat out, “tonight.”

    Despite his barrel girth Arthur looked half a man under Samuel’s sudden explosive anger.

    “Off course,” Arthur said, “never any doubt. We’re almost there.”

    Samuel stepped back from Arthur, pushing him gently away by the shoulders.

    “Sorry Arthur, I’m just a bit wound up.”

    “I feel it too.” Arthur held out his hand and the old perspiring men shook their greasy hands.

    The men were dwarfed by the heavy boxes and sacks they’d been busily stacking up over the week inside the grotesque statue.

    They left the tunnel and looked back towards the hollow Republic. They longed for a past that would never return, but this monstrosity mocking their history would do it no more. As they lit the taper they said a prayer to generations past. The Republic burned blackly, but destiny returned it younger, stronger like a golden phoenix.

    160 words @zevonesque

  11. Star-crossed

    The man woke at dawn and set off. The woman lay in the hospice, imagining how he would look as he hurried to meet her. So long ago now that they had made the assignation. But her destiny had been otherwise, the war and now her cancer had changed everything, for ever.

    It was nearly time and he was never late. He took up his usual place beneath the statue, a lonely but proud figure in his best suit and hat and sporting in his button-hole, a fine red rose. In her bed, the woman pressed a faded rose to her lips, she was crying softly as the dying often do. The great bell tolled the hour. The man coughed, adjusted his tie … But she didn’t come. He waited five minutes more. After fifty years one can afford to wait five minutes more. It began to rain.
    He had remembered, she had not, he concluded sadly, walking away.

  12. Illusions

    I’m sitting here, in the middle of the town square, looking at the statue of some guy who lived centuries ago.
    I have no idea who he is, what he did, or why he is put there in the first place. But he must’ve been some big shot to be featured in the most important area of this town.
    Judging by that scepter and the way it’s thrust in the ground, I’d say he was a tyrant. One who wasn’t loved by people, but they were too afraid to do anything about it.
    Then came the politicians and every other wise guy with a big belly who languished in his fame and fortune.
    Until it was time to go. In the dungeon. In the tomb. In the waters. Simply go and make room for another spineless guy.
    What a destiny.
    Wish I could have his power for an hour.

    149 words.
    @AdrianGeorgeNic

  13. All’s Fowl in Love and War
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    159 words

    The young woman’s eyebrows knit in puzzlement as she stared at the water. “Why is a chicken crossing the canal?” she exclaimed before covering her mouth in embarrassment; ladies did not shout out loud, even at the World Fair.

    “To get to the other side?” a deep voice proffered from beside her. Startled, she looked over to see chocolatey eyes crinkle in amusement. “Although I’ve no clue how a chicken ended up in the middle of Chicago, either.”

    Her green eyes sparkled as she returned his grin.

    Years later the two returned to this spot of their first meeting, although of course the buildings – and the water – had long since disappeared.

    She gazed into his familiar eyes, hooded now with aging lids, and murmured, “It was destiny, my love.”

    “Yes,” he said, leaning in to plant a kiss on her graying locks. “Destiny…and a chicken.”

    From behind them they were certain they heard a cluck of approval.

  14. The Sacrifice Of The Republic

    “Long live the Republic! Long live the Republc!” Jorge dutifully chanted with the rest of the crowd. What Republic? He wondered in the silence of his own mind. We are ruled by an evil tyrant!” You didn’t express such thoughts aloud of course, to do so was to court sudden death. Th Secret Ploice would break into your house in the middle of the night and execute you. Jorge didn’t care about his own life, with the deaths of his family he had nothing left to live for. No, now all he cared for was Justice, but in this corrupt country such a thing didn’t exist. Verey well then, he would create his own! How ironic was it that he stood in the Court of Honor! He armed the suicide bomb he wore and threw himself at the target! Freedom was his Destiny! The staue that concealed the computerized monitoring device blasted to biits!

    154 words @EmilyKarn1

  15. The Saving Defect

    I grip the weapon in my scarred left-hand and balance the decoy. Mother rushes over. “I’m sorry I ever tried to change you.” Her watery eyes dance with regret. General Concord nods and pulls her away. Air presses out my chest and I climb to my destiny.

    Marching steps beat against the stone road announcing the bloodshed yet to come. The sun breaks free from the capital as the whites of my target’s arrogant eyes beam with premature victory.
    Sweat weaves around my knuckles gluing the metal to my hands. My bicep tenses and I release the javelin. General Odium falls off his horse clenching the spear through his heart as hidden soldiers storm the stunned troops.

    I didn’t do this for my country. I jump off the platform. They tried to change me into their ideal mold. Behind me a shutter opens, a young boy extends a wooden sword in his left hand. No, I did it for him.
    160 Words
    @MeganBesing

  16. A THIN THREAD NEVER BROKEN

    Martha leans over, head between knees, and stuffs a small cardboard box back underneath her bed. The lid stays on with the help of a rubber band restraining a thick stack of identical air mail envelopes bearing Martha’s temporary address in a neat, earnest hand.

    This afternoon, hair wet with rain and hand clutching a map of the local museums and monuments, Martha will unlock her mailbox and find only an empty rectangular space. She will climb the stairs and join the chattering students above.

    Across the ocean, a young man has run out of air mail envelopes. He swings his backpack over his shoulder. It seems lighter. He steps outside and squints in the sunlight.

    *****

    “What’s this? Grandma’s love letters?”

    “She said there was a boy in college, wrote her every day.”

    “I wish she was here to tell us what happened.”

    “I think they broke up when she was overseas. But she never forgot him.”

    @betsystreeter
    157 words without title

  17. The Palace of Justice

    Maybe today I’ll visit the Palace of Justice, over there.

    It’s a magnificent building, of course, made of snow-white marble. They say it’s filled with more light than a diamond, with a dome so high you can see your destiny from its windows.

    I idly turn my feet in that direction.

    Then a cappuccino in a café, maybe, with a warm, buttery croissant on the side. Or perhaps a Danish, drenched in icing.

    I smile to myself as I stroll across the cobbles, now barely even aware of the watchful eyes of that imposing statue overlooking the square.

    The statue raises its arm, and blows a whistle.

    The reality of my past, present and future screams around the concrete square until the Palace is gone, and my square, brick fortress is rebuilt. The Cell Block Supervisor returns the whistle to her pocket.

    I troop across the small prison exercise yard, holding on to my imagination.

    I’ll need it inside, too.

    160 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  18. Fate? Destiny? A horse? Which of these had brought him here?
    He pondered these thoughts as he sat looking out over the water, as he watched the statue guarding over the court of so-called honorable men. The man made a noise of disgust. He knew what an honorable man truly was. He himself had been one.
    Alright, maybe he had been a little overzealous in his pursuit of justice, but that was a better flaw to admit to having than those who sat in their Court of Honor, ignoring it completely.
    “Mommy! Who’s this one belong to?” an excited child’s voice cried.
    “Oh, this old thing? Let’s see, it says Mr. Henry Thomas,” his mom replied, squinting to see closer.
    “Who’s that?”
    “I don’t know, sweetheart.”
    The man, Henry, frowned. No one ever knew who he was, but he had been an instrumental part of the American Revolution.
    He tried, and failed, to refrain from turning over in his grave.

    160 words
    @ebthompson93

  19. Breaking
    (159 words)

    We met there one last time. I was still in love with her, but I guess I knew, even before I arrived, that this was goodbye. I had messed everything up- at work, at home. Even then, I still clung to the vain hope that I could save this. I rushed to her as soon as she called.
    She didn’t want a scene. She had witnessed enough of those. That’s why she chose to get me there in the busy swell of the afternoon.
    But I had lost control. I still cried. People look when men weep. ‘Please. I can’t handle this. I can’t cope.’
    I had never felt so bereft, never felt the cold presence of absence creep over me so acutely.
    ‘Not like this, we were meant for each other!’
    Looking up at her majestic form, I had never felt more fragile, more human. In that bronze there was resolve, and I knew I was alone again.

  20. Forbidden Souvenir

    Calming himself, Basil realized he had gravely underestimated the zealous fervor the guardians of the device would exhibit. The weapon he had been forced to use, a relic of the Dead Times, had so obliterated the sentinels as to leave behind no trace of them whatsoever. He hoped.

    To use the Temporal Translation Module was absolutely forbidden but use it he would. Since he had been a boy his father had told him of the world and its beauty before the Dead Times and created in him an unassailable sorrow he would never know these wonders.

    Now that his father had passed, Basil was no longer content to let those stories be his only link to those times of legend. Setting the coordinates to the proper date, time, and place he went in search of his destiny. Moments later and decades away he stepped out to survey the empty plaza in search of a suitable memento to return home with.

    160 words @klingorengi

  21. Sight-Seeing Tour

    Our tour bus passed above the heads of the workmen preparing the exhibit to open. It was 1893 in Chicago and we really were in that time and place, but carefully cloaked from their senses.

    The tour guide explained, “The statue represented the glory of progress. These buildings were built to house displays from all over the world. The event was meant to unite mankind through industrialization. People had great confidence in humanity and expected to create world peace, but instead they sparked two world wars.”

    Someone asked, “Did we really expect a unified and peaceful world?”

    “Some consciously, some unconsciously, but peace was not their destiny. A unified world did not spring up for another 150 years and then it was anything but peaceful.”

    Another spoke with a rare touch of melancholy, “It seems so obvious now. It’s too bad we couldn’t figure it out back then.”

    The angel serving as tour guide responded, “Hindsight is 20/20.”

    158 words
    @CharlesWShort (www.charleswshort.com)

  22. A Cunning Stunt

    The great statue of the Emperor was finally finished and stood beneath tarpaulins awaiting its public unveiling. The weary itinerant stone masons trundled along in their cart, away from the city, a jug of wine passing freely among them.

    “Why are you sniggering, master mason, what joke amuses you?”

    “Well,” said the mason, “I did make a few last-minute changes.”

    “You fool! We’re all destined for the lion-pit now, and you know how cat-hair irritates my sinuses.”

    “What changes did you make, then?” Said another.

    “I chiselled his gown wide-open at the front.” The men groaned in disbelief.

    “You gave him a tiny pecker as well, I suppose.”

    “No actually, no penis … I gave him something else.” There was a wary silence.

    “What?”

    “Well, you know … what the ladies have and we don’t.” The mason grinned sheepishly.

    “By Jupiter, we’re all dead men! You gave the Emperor a ….”

    “A pair of cami-knickers … What was you thinking?”

  23. Freedom Rising

    Jaime looked up at the statue considering the history behind it.

    He recognized the eyes most. They were the same eyes that looked back at him from still ponds. But the man in the statue wasn’t Jaime. It was Jaime’s father, Ben, and he’d almost succeeded.

    Ben captured the staff and the magical orb that would return freedom to the people and throw down the tyrannical Magic Council in their domed capital at the other end of the square. He’d raised the staff and the orb to draw from their power as he brought the roof down over the council, but they were ready for him, turning him to stone in an instant along with the tools needed to stop them.

    Jaime visited the square often as he grew. He knew every inch of it, including the reason his dad failed.

    He turned, gripping the disguised staff/spear of his trade. Now it was time to correct that mistake.

    158 words
    @WendyStrain

  24. Thou wouldst be great
    @dieterrogiers – 146 words

    Tomorrow, there’ll be millions. They’ll flood the square and crowd the streets. The noise will be deafening. And you’ll be right at the heart of it. You’ll be the person they’ll want to see.

    So prepare yourself. Make sure every word you utter out there is passionate. This is your date with destiny. Here your place in history will be cemented. So you’d better not blow it.

    But be not afraid of the moment. Embrace it. Show them of what stern stuff you are made. You were born to lead them. They are but mere mortals. You are eternal.

    The dictator’s wife kisses her husband.

    She feels the trepidation in his lips. But she knows tomorrow he will not tremble.

    Neither will she, though she should.

    For when they’ll drag her onto the scaffold, there’ll be only one thing left to say.

    Build my gallows high.

  25. “FINALLY.”
    @CliveNewnham – 156 words

    Smoke and mirrors, spinning and stillness, fragments of thought, steadying. Chicago was deserted! Her time jumps had betrayed her. Where was the Exposition, the people to hide among? Plague? Desolation? How could this be?
    “Finally.”
    She turned, seeking the merciless eyes of the speaker. Around her his three accomplices sidestepped. “Make the republican do it, Dragon,” one sniggered.
    “They call me the Dragon, on account of these fire shooters.” He flicked the barrels of the two sawn-off shotguns toward her. “My friend wants you naked.” Their lascivious breathing hissed. “So, let’s start with your gun belt, nice and slow.”
    She followed the indications of the shotgun in his right hand: boots next, drop trousers, waistcoat, stetson, she began untying the thongs at the top of her vest, hands under her hair, nape of neck…
    There, four small knives. Thud, thud, thud, thud…
    Dead, dead, dead, dead.
    Standing, she sighed, “They named me Destiny, for good reason.”

  26. To Caesar What Is Caesar’s
    @TinmanDoneBadly
    150 words

    Augustus had been the latest of the Caesar brothers to go, following an accident involving a Roman candle and a trailing hem on his toga, so Caesar Septemberus, although originally only IXth in line to the throne, discovered that he’d been born destined to become Emperor of Rome.

    He emerged from Caesars’ Palace, mounted the Plinth of Power, held aloft the Rod of Lightning and the Pigeon of Homing, then stared in astonishment at the empty square.

    “There’s no-one coming,” said Nero from behind him. “I’m staging a coup.”

    “Coo,” said Satnavus, the pigeon. They ignored him.

    “The people won’t back you,” said Caesar. “They are loyal to me.”

    Nero looked out at the square. “So I see,” he said.

    “I will offer them bread, and circuses, and a really delicious salad that I invented myself,” said Caesar.

    Nero shrugged. “I’ll offer them pizza,” he said. “They are Italian, remember.”

  27. The New King

    The crowd poured out of the great Basilica into the Avenue. Forward they surged toward the statute of Jupiter, the new king to be crowned there. Behind him they walked. A crown of golden laurel leaves held over his head. His victory on the plains outside the City, had saved civilization from the Barbarians. Destiny had brought him to this moment. The crowd called out, “Crown our King.” The priest went to put the crown on his head.

    He turned to the crowd as he pushed the crown aside. “No. My fellow citizens, I can not except this crown.”

    But the crowd called, “You must,” again the priest moved.

    Again he pushed it aside. “I will not except. No man should have this power.”

    The Crowd for the third time called for him to be crowned king.

    For the third time, he pushed the crown aside, “Hear me, I am Cincinatus, and I will retire to my farm.

    Word Court 158.

  28. A Fixed Point in Time

    Deety & Maureen exchanged a glance. They could see the ships beyond the arch. The improbable ships, for Deety and Maureen had sabotaged them earlier, and the agents rarely failed when chaos was involved.

    “Again? That’s the fifth time in a row! Let’s go back…”

    “Not yet…maybe they don’t blow up this time.”

    They watched along with the few onlookers around at that early hour. At the first boom, Maureen hit the button.

    “Sixth time’s a charm?” Deety asked as they hurried to where the explosive-laden boats were anchored.

    “Let’s just disable the trigger this time. Maybe subtlety is the key.”

    Sabotage accomplished, they watched the growing crowds and approach of the ships.
    “The only way that bomb is going off this time is if…”

    They watched as a bolt of lightning arched down to hit, not the statue, but the trigger ship. Ten seconds later the ships exploded. Eleven seconds later, Maureen hit the button.

    “Seventh time’s a charm?”

    160 words exclusive of title (Yes, I needed that leeway)
    @USNessie

    Some weeks, I look at the prompt and go “Hmmm…” Other weeks, like today, I go “Ooh! Ooh! I know!” and the trick is making the word count.

    Bonus points to anyone who knows (without googling) why I chose those names.

    Bonus points redeemable if you happen to show up to my house within a day of me baking brownies.

  29. Carved into the bronze were the saddest words she ever laid eyes on:

    ON THIS, THE 20th DAY OF OCTOBER, 1893,
    We remember and honor our princess,
    ISABELA DON GIORDANA FELLIPPO
    Age 16 years, 7 months, four days

    Below the plaque was a plate that read:

    This memorial commemorates the untimely death of Her Royal Highness,
    ISABELA DON GIORDANA FELLIPPO.
    Legend states that when her father, the King, refused to release her from an arranged marriage to an elderly duke, she ran here secretly in the middle of the night and jumped. Devastated by the tragedy of losing his only daughter, and never wanting to lay eyes on the ground where she fell, the King had the aqueducts opened and filled the courtyard with water. He then declared the waterway never to be drained, even in the event of his own death.The declaration was signed into law on the first anniversary of her suicide.

  30. Henry
    Laura Carroll Butler
    159 words

    Henry knew by her smile that the lovely woman in line for the Ferris wheel was his destiny. He would have jumped into the car with her, but for his cautious nature.

    She too was cautious, but her friend, Alice, nudged her arm in encouragement. “I’m Lily,” she said.

    “I wonder if you would accompany me to dinner tonight?” he asked late in the day. “Both of you, of course,” he added.

    Lily turned to him, staring deep into his blue eyes. He had been patient all day, but she was tired. “I’m sorry, Dr. Holmes. I must take a rain check.”

    Henry’s smile was sincere and kind. “I wish you would reconsider,” he said. “I’d so like to know you better.”

    Lily wondered. Maybe she could find the energy…

    **************************

    “Yes, that’s him,” Alice said, staring at the picture of Dr. H. H. Holmes, Henry, The Castle Murderer. “You were right, Lily. There was something off about him.”

  31. The floodwaters came slowly, filling the seaside villages and towns before running into the hills that surrounded the city. For hundreds of years, the rolling peaks had protected kings and presidents from invaders, and never once had the walls of the city been broached. But water wasn’t men on horseback, or in the belly of a tank, and agonizingly, imperceptibly, it reached crests and began running down the other side. Water that had been trapped in glaciers for millions of years was now free to roam streets and boulevards, and it was only a matter of time before it reached the central square.

    Because of the contours of the land, once the water found its way through the city, it passed to the east, and into memory. Passing gulls would alight on the top of the capitol dome and the Scepter of Eternity wielded by the Destiny, and fly off again, cawing their songs into a world without men.

  32. Mrs. O’Leary’s Portentous Cow

    All will worship me.

    We built the White City on the ashes from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow’s fateful kick—a city of stone for a world’s fair. Some said the site was cursed, though. Take that statue. It gave me and the rest of my crew the creeps. I swear we could hear it talking. The things it said. No decent person should hear those words.

    In the plaza before me, they will make sacrifices to my greatness.

    Then the deaths started. A guy on the Electricity Building crew got electrocuted. Another at the Agricultural Building got buried when a retaining wall collapsed. Even a buddy on the statue crew fell from the top of the scaffold, his face frozen in fear. Before he fell, we heard that statue talk.

    They will kneel in the blood and proclaim me god above all gods.

    Maybe Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knew something we didn’t. After all, the White City burned, too.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    157 words

  33. Reshua was undeterred by the absence of a swell in the plaza. Preaching to an inattentive and reprobate congregation of near-none, he delivered his lines without hope of applause, a dead-pan clown before a humorless audience, a futile herald without listeners. The irony of the empty space completely belied his earnest tone of significance.

    Faithful presentation of the aeonic elders’ message would suffice.

    No aristocratic pontification, Reshua’s words were articulations of the shared destiny, penned on the heart tomes of all who had ever sojourned the republic.

    Despite all appearances, his words found a mark. Purpose obliterated the sullen expression of a solitary figure – young Nariyah. Years of woe made irrelevant by her interaction with eternity.

    Reshua hadn’t noticed Nariyah, nor see her confidently exit the square. However, he could no longer speak, and his message ended.

    Change was imminent. But, had this particular age-old wisdom been intended for Nariyah?

    @Computilizer
    150 words

  34. In Memoriam Tempus

    It surprised him how much death hurt.

    Not that he felt physical pain; He’d once fought Dr Dragon, MD in the heart of a screaming sun without even getting a tan. No, what really hurt was the feeling of things left undone. The crimes unsolved, villains uncaptured and poor Lynnie Lemon forever unaware that bumbling Greg Grunt was secretly The Amazing WonderGuy…
    And now he was buried in the cold, dead dirt, just like his Justice Cohort mentors promised would happen.

    Bummer.

    Up above, they built statues memorializing his sacrifice, which was nice. Maybe the face looked more like The Thrust, or the legs were modelled on Squirrel-Man, but what did he expect? They were kit jobs after all, thrown together at speed whenever the heroes fell, which they did with alarming regularity.

    Luckily, that wasn’t all his mentors had promised, and as he waited for the inevitable, miraculous resurrection, he practised the best ways to tell Lynnie the truth…

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

    Excelsior!

  35. On A Knife’s Edge

    The outcome is predestined, so they say of the Honour Court. Decision by steel, mettle tested – literally and figuratively. Jon has never had much truck with that. Trial by blade determined by skill in swordsmanship, more like. Alternatively, those who pay stay, is the whisper once safely away from the duelling grounds, more commonly known as the Court of Death. No sense speaking where it might be heard by the wrong ears. Such mistakes are likely to prove fatal, one way or another. Now, however, Jon wishes for a little faith. Perhaps it would console him as he waits – misguided or not.

    His “crime” is trivial and yet has led to the ultimate consequence. He wishes he had paid more attention in lessons – when it counted, had he but known it. He never intended ending up here. Facing his opponent, preparing to fight. Only one to walk away.

    He raises his sword. Meets his opponent’s eyes. Hopes honour prevails.

    (160 words)

  36. Waiting Upon Troubled Shores
    (160)

    The Golden Lady, her expression reserved and severe, stared out across the water. For over a hundred years she’d watched over the Land: a Symbol defending Light, Purity, and Honor with her very presence.

    The Land’s Power had faded in the past decade. Hope became hard to find and Truth lay thin on the ground while Lies flew thick and furious in flocks and murders darkening the Spirit of the People.

    The Eagle’s wings twitched as the Lady’s fingers tightened along both staff and globe. ‘Is it time?’

    ‘Not yet.’

    The bird cocked its head, staring at her with one beady eye. ‘When?’

    The Golden Lady looked toward the horizon where a dark sail could just be spotted. Her grim countenance lightening. ‘Soon.’

    ‘Things will be better?’

    A graceful shrug. ‘Different, at least. Hopefully better.’ She smiled minutely as another sail appeared. ‘But the People have finally made their Choice and it is that which we Defend. Are you ready?’

  37. I Wait For The Memory Of Your Face
    159 words

    Michael stood at the edge of the shadows and watched the young artist stare up at the monument.

    Mere minutes ago the youth had been arguing with several of his companions, his voice buoyed by passion that had not yet experienced despair as he claimed that Columbus’ journey had not simply been an accident but instead destiny .

    Michael was inclined to agree.

    “Beautiful isn’t it?”

    The man started, glancing back at him.

    “Yeah,” he agreed after a beat, his gaze shifting back to the statue as if he could do nothing else and Michael supposed he couldn’t.

    “I keep getting seasick though,” the man confessed. “Isn’t that strange?”

    Michael shrugged, “Maybe it’s the water,” he offered up, his eyes glued to the face that he hadn’t seen for more than a millennia.

    “Maybe,” the man whispered before frowning at Michael. “Hey, do I know you?” he asked unsurely.

    Michael chuckled softly at the irony. “In another life, perhaps.”

  38. Once and Future Dreams
    157 Words

    I stand alone, looking down over my great city—just one of many great cities stretching across my vast land. I am king, ruler, and patriarch. The citizens gaze at me from a distance, overwhelmed by the power and ingenuity that I represent. I wear a coat of burnished gold, a fitting cover for the leader of a great country whose people work hard and are not afraid to get dirty. Here, everyone is free to pursue their dreams.

    I raise my arms in joy as I look upon the chattering crowds, acknowledging their success and celebrating it with them. My reign will end, but my ideals will live on in the people’s hearts. I am the Once and Future King. I am destined to one day rise again from the ashes, wearing a coat of bright gold to represent the many dreams that have been realized in my absence—and the ones still in the making.

  39. For Want Of A Meal
    160 words

    Emmanuel couldn’t say why he’d gotten on the ship that day. Perhaps it had something to do with the dwindling rat population or maybe it had been a touch of destiny either way he hadn’t regretted it.

    Sailors paid little attention to a stowaway who was willing to work so that was what he did.

    He worked.

    He took over for the cabin boy, the runner, anyone who couldn’t do their job because of the illness that was sweeping through the crew.

    When the ship finally made land Emanuel was the last man off and Columbus had laughed about that.

    Emanuel would have laughed too but he’d been too busy cleaning up after himself to do that.

    Pausing Emanuel glanced up at the large statue, that had been erected to remind them all of Columbus’ adventures, and smirked.

    He wondered if Christopher had ever found the bodies he’d left behind.

    His mother had always said he was a messy eater.

  40. The Immortals

    She stared into the eyes of the woman before her. They were blank, devoid of emotion and she wondered who hid beneath this stony gaze? She wanted to reach out her hand and touch her, give her some warmth, some kindness, some hope. To the passer-by she looked formidable; her countenance commanded respect and mesmerised others. But look a little harder and you could see she had weathered many storms and with the wrath of Medusa she had been turned to stone.

    The woman stared back at the statue. Such majesty, such strength, immortalised forever. We are the same, you and I. Man has turned us to stone, moulded us into what he wants us to be.

    No more. My destiny is not to be petrified, not to be trapped in a body sculpted by another. My path is freedom.

    She curled her toes over the edge of the bridge and let the wind take her.

    157 words
    Sarah Miles
    @_sarahmiles_

  41. Fear Sets In
    @SVBookman
    160 words

    Carolyn felt the icy shivers of destiny crawl into her stomach as she watched the night crawler going for Billy’s throat. She covered the distance in two strides and tore the thing off the boy. Even as it was continuing upwards, she stuck her knife into the infected monstrosity. It fell to the ground with a sickening thud, lifeless and unmoving.

    Carolyn then turned her attention to Billy. She grabbed at him, looking for marks and bites. He was scared, shaking horribly, but not as scared as Carolyn was when she saw the tiny tear on his neck. It was not much, just a scratch, but it had broken the skin; there was a tiny rivulet of crimson streaking down, just a drop or two. Was it enough? She didn’t know.

    She held Billy in her arms, the bodies of the four night crawlers in heaps around them. She cried. Now, only time would show if Billy truly escaped.

    • In case it gets noticed, I forgot to follow the photo prompt this week; I simply followed the word. I understand this will remove me from the contest. Please just enjoy the entry for the continued story of Carolyn.

  42. Standing before the Public Thing
    @pmcolt
    154 words

    Wind moaned through the empty streets. City plaza stood empty, except for the two newcomers — and her. She was an imposing figure, chiseled in stone in an era past.

    “Why are we here?” asked Walker. “Who was she?”

    Zed stood unfazed by the blustery winter wind despite his tattered jacket and threadbare clothing.

    “She was a goddess. Or… a memorial to greatness.” Zed surveyed the empty ruins of the city. “These people obsessed over greatness. Believed in manifest destiny. Aspired to do great things. They never understood… their fate was the same as everything else. Simply, their only destiny was to die.”

    The duo admired the towering goddess: her stoic face, gilded robe, and crumbling beauty. Zed scratched the peeling skin behind his neck, then grinned.

    “Everything dies. In a way, we are Destiny incarnate.”

    Walker laughed. “The Undead Republic.”

    “Come,” Zed patted Walker’s bony shoulder. “Let’s find something to eat.”

    “Brains?”

    “Brains.”

  43. Some men would let the world burn

    Let dollars be thrown in the air in celebration of the future, of prosperity and innovation, and let the electrical body be immortalized! Let men from each side of the world join hands and put great minds together to create and improve. But God let that be at a lower cost.

    Oh, how each light bulb pulsates with power, so bright! So many!

    In the crowd I am alone, amongst the buzzes and the clacks of apparatus modern and astonishing. Beyond that I see a society that does not abide by the rules given to it by Destiny. I breathe the air of its false utopia and it sickness me. I have seen a future of Godlike men, emotionless. So tell me Lady Republic, what shall I do to save you?

    Ah, there comes old Moore, frightened and absurd. Is it the look of my own handmade apparatus?
    “Visconti, wait! What are you doing?”

    Salvaging, cleansing. Let it all burn.

    160 words
    @Raptamei

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