Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 9

Hellooooooo, and welcome back again! We’re kicking off this week’s Flash! Friday Olympics-style. No half-constructed hotel rooms, though – just a fabulously supportive community, a whirlwind of a contest, and approximately 68.4 tons of adrenaline. With a combo like that, it’s bound to be fun!  

DON’T FORGET!!! The deadline to apply as a judge for the 2nd quarter (April – June) is Feb 15. Hurry up!  Details here.   

Thundering in and flinging sanity everywhere for us this week (at least, it looks like sanity) is judge M. T. Decker. She’s got all kinds of ideas about how a winning story ought to look: read about those ideas at her judge page. Of course she likes proper grammar ‘n’ stuff, but she also adores stories with fresh takes on the prompt or unique twists. Time to think outside of the box!

Awards Ceremony: Results post Sunday evenings. 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.” Hungry? Today we made double fudge brownies. I invite you to eat some. Now. Quickly, before they’re all–oh. Sorry. Too late.  

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 instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word ‘che’ron‘”):

envy

***Today’s Prompt:

Panathenaic Stadium. Olympic Opening Ceremony 1896. Public domain photo.

Panathenaic Stadium. Olympic Opening Day 1896. Public domain photo.

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60 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 9

  1. @StephenWilds
    “Triumph” – 160 words

    Stefan moved through the crowd slowly, eyes darting from left to right as he searched for Michael. His stomach was nothing but knots now, hands sweating and shaking, even though it was so cold that his breath was visible.

    There were so many people here, so many more than he had expected. That was a good thing, or it would be when he was ready to leave, but for now, it made his target quite hard to spot. Luckily, Michael would stand out in his expensive coat, preferred seating, his more expensive escort, and perhaps a top hat and cane for this event.

    Stefan had no sooner thought of the excess, how much he despised Michael for it when he spotted him, heading in the back way with the Ice Princess, through the darkened hall, where his actions were less likely to be seen. Stefan’s thumb felt the blade. He had practiced this all week. Now was the main event.

    • -Wanting Envy- 159 words

      Anthos was just one of 30,000 people at the stadium that day. They were all there to watch almost 100 men attempt to prove that they were the best of the best. Go for the gold was what they all chanted.
      He was not a rich man by any means, and let’s be honest he did not care to see which man could jump and run faster than the others. He was here to see Envyana, and he was able to get a seat that was only two rows rows behind her.
      Her gold hair was a thing of beauty, shining against the morning sun that day. The way she laughed as she sat next to Malgon hurt Anthos so. 30,000 people, and the only one he had eyes for was the one woman who wouldn’t look at him even if he got the gold.
      He went on to get the gold that day, but he never had Envy.

  2. The Chosen (160 words)

    Beneath Hallett the stadium throbbed with anticipation as the opening ceremony reached its climax. Flags fluttered in spectator hands, cameras flashed, athletes waved. Hallet felt envious of his clients, the athletes were magnificent creatures, lithe muscular perfection. Provenance was incredibly important he’d been informed.

    A final check, all systems green and the targeting parameters were at acceptable tolerances. ‘Time for miss en place’, Hallet depressed the [decloak] button.

    The ship’s mass suddenly covered the stadia in shadow. Hallett looked down on craning faces panicked and fearful; feeling the low rumble of the tractor drives kicking in. Before long selected athletes were floating angelically into the belly of the ship. Their screams quickly silenced by the AI auto-chef process that was now transforming the cargo into a delicate sashimi.

    The alarm sounded, the entrees were needed in five. Hallett prepped the hyper-jump; he couldn’t afford to keep the Galactic Gastronome Society waiting.

    Not if he wanted a decent tip this time.

    @imageronin

  3. Divine Perspective

    The gods adjusted their cloud, and peered down for a closer look at the proceedings on the Greek hillside.
    “It feels like a thousand years since they’ve had an Olympics ,” observed Mercury.
    “Damn,” said Aphrodite. “They are wearing clothes. What fun is an Olympics with clothes?”
    “I’m glad they are covering their dangly bits,” said Athena gravely. “It’s sport, not some sort of orgy.”
    “Ha!” said Hera, with a snort. “Do you really think I’ve come to watch a bunch of stupid humans jump and run? I’ve come to see the best bodies the human race can offer, and I’d like them naked. See that fellow high jumping? Much more fun if I could see what nearly hit that bar.”
    “Their clothes are ugly. They don’t drape,” said Apollo. “I think nudity would be more becoming than those bathing garments.”
    “There’s one improvement,” thundered Zeus. “Look at all the female athletes!”

  4. “The Spirit of the Games”

    He passed through the throng unseen, trying to understand. A huge, hard-packed racing ring led into the unknowable distance. Tiers of chattering people – even women – rose high all around. Unfamiliar flags fluttered overhead. That particular feeling – the only thing he recognised about this place – was in the air. Expectation. Competition. Conquest.

    But where were the offering fires? The temple to Zeus?

    ‘Stop!’ he instructed a passerby, but the command was ignored. Confused, he looked down at himself, oiled and ready. He was unused to being overlooked, accustomed more to greedy stares, flashing hatred, raging jealousy. He thrived upon it. It drove him to win.

    But where should he go? There were no slaves to direct him. He could not see the athletes’ enclosure anywhere.

    Then, a cheer rose from the crowd. He turned. A group of men, oddly dressed, thundered toward him.

    ‘Wait,’ he said, hands raised. ‘Please!’

    But they passed through him, scattering his shade to the gods.

    @SJOHart
    160 words

  5. But A Dream (160 Words)

    Caranus surveyed the field with pride. He’d given up counting the spectators hours ago. By now, their numbers had swelled into the thousands. The Ceremony of Ascension, judged by the Olympians themselves, would truly be the grandest in recorded history.

    He wished his half-brother were here to bear witness to his victory, but Caranus knew that the craven idiot was preparing his own ceremony. Ever since the oracle had proclaimed that one of Philip’s sons would become ruler of the entire world, the two brothers had been envious rivals.

    Caranus, in his moment of triumph, felt sorry for his brother. How awful it would be to believe that you had achieved what you most fervently yearned for, only to wake up and realize it had been but a dream. Better never to have dreamed at all, Caranus thought, than to be so close only to fail.

    It would be a mercy when Caranus ascended the throne and had Alexander executed.

    –Decater Collins (@doctorentropy2)

  6. The Last Day
    Ian Martyn (www.martynfiction.com)

    So this is it. I knew this day had to come. I thought I would be sad, fearful even. But now it’s here I’m glad, the waiting is over. I’ve had my time, my days of glory. I’m tired.

    Look at them, tier upon tier of ugly faces, masks of hate, filled with blood lust. Well blood they shall have, mine, mingling with the sand of the arena. A stain that will fade, along with the memories of my deeds.

    ‘Come on, Arturus, get it over with. Stop milking the crowd.’

    ‘This is my time, Decartus, why should I not make the most of it? Are you afraid, old man? Do you envy me, my youth and vigour?’

    ‘No, Arturus, on both counts. As for your youth and vigour, that does not last. In a few years you will be where I am now and another will stand in your place.’ His eyes reflected the truth of my words.

  7. Fastest man alive

    I stare at the old photos. The display represents Olympic purity, before dieticians and personal trainers got involved. The marshals usher us into the roaring stadium.

    We line up. I tense, ready to surge. BANG. The race is over in seconds, 4 years condensed into the blink of an eye. I am first across the line, my country will be proud.

    The judges review the finish. They position me on the silver podium. The medal weighs around my neck like an anvil. My national anthem burns with every note. I have failed. I glance at first place and something snaps. I reach up and tug on his gold medal until it grips his throat. I hold it tight as he squirms. The marshals try to pull me off, but they haven’t trained like I have. When they finally release him, he slumps to the ground lifeless. My honor returns, for the millions of witnesses I am the fastest man alive.

    @todayschapter
    160 words

  8. The Olympics…yay…
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    145 words

    I know I used to get excited about it. Man, that one summer vacation in Ocean City, it was on the TV all week long. Perhaps somewhere between Tanya Harding, OJ Simpson, and steroid scandals, I lost faith in sports.

    Or maybe it was the internet. It used to be a big thing to see people from other countries and learn their stories. Now I can do that every day.

    Or maybe I’m mad at America. But, that can’t be it, because I always rooted for other teams and countries when I was a kid.

    Whatever it is. I’m not excited, though I feel I should be. I mean, they’ve given me this sweet apartment in Sochi, paid for a whole new wardrobe. I ought to be gracious. Still I’m not looking forward to getting in front of the camera. News. Someone’s got to read it.

  9. Comparing the Olympics

    Whenever I look at this picture, I think to myself, “Man, those people sure came out in hordes.”
    But who wouldn’t? It’s the first modern Olympics. Even if the competitors aren’t that great, it’s still a magnificent achievement.
    Despite the disgruntled times when wars went on, the low wages and the famine, it was a pleasure to go out back then. Besides, most people didn’t know what to do with their time. Not that they do now, but at least you have more choices.
    Also, the air was cleaner. No pollution, even if there was the odd horse manure in the middle of the road.

    Nowadays you have a mass-marketed event that brings together millions, but if you say a wrong word, you’ll be deemed a racist, a xenophobic or some other word. If you piss off the wrong people, you might get kidnapped and killed.

    Hmm. Makes you wonder when it was more peaceful.

    @AdrianGeorgeNic

    156 words

  10. This is a Judge entry and for fun only.

    Erin McCabe

    @disturbiakiss

    155 words

    You Throw Like a Girl

    I watched it fly with baited breath, standing on my toes to see it rocket across the fence. I willed it to hit some freak pocket of gravity and suddenly, devastatingly plummet.

    “Such speed, what trajectory!” he screamed in his shrill, mock Commentator voice.

    When finally ready to land, its sickeningly unremarkable thud announced both my defeat and his repeated triumph.

    “Another Olympic Gold medal for Mitch Mellor!” he shouted, unashamedly clapping himself.

    His lips hissed the frantic, familiar sound of simulated applause, cruelly signalling what was to come next; his ridiculous victory dance; a cross between a constipated chicken and an anaphylactic octopus, it was a strange sight to behold.

    My Dad was staring out of the kitchen window; I resolved to wait until the sour stink of jealousy had wafted away before going back into the house.

    ————————————————————–

    “Where are the boys Darling?”

    “Doing the usual”

    “Throwing potatoes over the garden fence?”

    “Yep.”

  11. Envy’s a bitch

    “You can’t escape, you know.” Sarah stroked the cold metal of the javelin that lay across her lap. She glowered at the grovelling woman at her feet. She was thin, petite and had a nice face under the make-up streaks. Sarah would kill for her functional legs. She prodded the snivelling figure with the javelin, “Hey, why did you appear, anyway? Aidan and I were happy.” She dug the sharp end into the woman’s side, receiving a whimper as a reward. “Hey, you should run,” she said, prodding the woman upright. “I can’t catch you; I’m stuck in this chair.” Another prod. A stumbling reward. “Run!” Finally the woman burst into a shaky run, tears pouring down her cheeks. “About time,” Sarah murmured, with a cold smile of feral pleasure. She turned her wheelchair around, drew back the javelin and aimed. The huntress downed her prey; after all Sarah was a para-olympian and envy was a bitch.

  12. The Competition
    by A J Walker

    Brothers Gargol and Rygol were playing the ultimate game of Civilization. They each started with a sparsely populated planet, which they named after themselves. They were permitted a little prodding and pruning every four years, when they could also introduce selected technology to assist their population.

    Gargol was doing rather well he thought. His was a pretty and self contained planet, if not particularly dynamic. The people were happy with their lot, particularly once he’d introduced wine and beer technologies.

    Rygol was envious of the general happiness observed on Gargol. There seemed to be a lot more aggression, even wars, on his planet. He mused that it may have been how he’d engineered the population. In 1896 he’d reintroduced competitions on Earth to find who were the fittest, fastest, strongest then he’d spirit away the athletes to his planetary stud – several years after their success, when no one would notice their disappearance. It had seemed like a good idea.

    (159 words) @zevonesque

  13. “Glorious History”
    160 words

    “And James Connolly was my great, great, great grandfather. Such an American treasure. He placed in three events at those first modern games,” Flora said in a sugared voice as she turned the pages of a family album dedicated solely to clippings of their historical superiority. She ran slim candy pink nail down a page and pointed, “And here’s my great uncle John representing the US as well.”
    She smiled at me and I did my best to duplicate the expression as I imagined smashing the tea service over her head.
    “I just think you’d have to agree, Laura, dear, that while it is of course,” she paused and wetted her lips, eyes skyward, dramatizing her search for the word, “Admirable that your grandmother was one of the coaches for the women’s gymnastics team, I think my family’s legacy would best serve as inspiration for the talk for the ladies’ club.”
    “But of course, Flora.”
    Her oneupmanship certainly had roots.

  14. The Last Olympics
    @CharlesWShort
    151 words

    In the 1970’s they began doing tests to be sure the women competing were not men in disquise.

    In the 1990’s they began testing for steroid use.

    In the 2000’s this testing was expanded to a large number of other performance enhancing drugs.

    In the year 2020 they began testing to be sure that contestants were not clones.

    In the year 2034, after certain medical advances, they began testing for genetically enhanced humans.

    In the year 2042 they began checking for androids.

    In the year 2046, after the nuclear holocaust, they began testing for irradiated mutants.

    Now this year, with the start of what most people believe will be the last Olympics, the few people remaining on earth are testing for something new. We must make sure none of the competitors are angels or demons. The apocalypse has begun.

    The few people here wish they could return to a simpler time.

  15. The Greats
    (157 words)

    The King was a jealous man. He had sent the medals over for engraving even before the Competition.
    (Behind the townsfolk’s cupped hands, behind closed doors, behind the King’s back) the three Princes had been long referred to as,’Princes 1st, 2nd and 3rd.’

    The Engraver’s son, was the best sportsman in the land but the Engraver read the King’s instructions – ‘Greg The Great, 1st; Olly The Great, 2nd etc.’

    The Engraver’s son found it difficult to lose. But did.
    When the three Princes were helped down from the podia, the King roared,
    ‘What is this!’
    ‘Your Highness, this is the new European style of engraving. The ‘G’ and ‘R’ are being done this way. Very vogue. You can tell by your eldest’s name, look, “C-h-e-c.” Still G-r-e-g. Still G-r-eat!’

    (Behind cupped hands, behind closed doors, behind the King’s back) the townsfolk said that the Engraver was very clever.

  16. Unbeaten

    She watched the athletes with muted admiration and a splinter of jealousy.

    She too had endured years of training to get where she was today, but there was no podium for her, no medal of honour. She wore her rewards very differently. With shame and humiliation.

    It had taken all her strength and endless bouts of physical endurance to bring her to the required standard. She had learned when to speak and when to ‘shut the fuck up’ and taught herself how to take a blow to the head without crashing to the floor. She knew how not to get her fingers burned and what noises to make when he ground his body into hers at night. World champion of subservience.

    As the national anthem filled the stadium, she saw a tear caressing the victorious cheek. As she picked up her suitcase and clicked the door shut, she realised it was her own.

    153 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  17. The Auction

    The stadium was packed. More than one caravan arrived in time for the great auction. Buyers wanted to look over the merchandise while spectators, slaves themselves, crowded the field barriers trying to see if anyone they knew was out there.

    Lissa watched them, wishing she could be among them. She was supposed to be continuing her mother’s work. She wanted to show them the new things she’d created which could make life so much more comfortable.

    A greasy man with foul breath and a few yellow teeth remaining in his mouth came to paw over her. The restraints on her arms and the tether held tightly in Travis’ grip just behind her prevented her from doing anything about it as the disgusting man explored her body.

    “How much?” he growled at Travis.

    All her talent and knowledge, and she was going to be sold like meat. Right now, Lissa couldn’t be more envious of those common idiots crowding the barriers.

    160 words (whew!)
    @WendyStrain
    possibly an excerpt from Out from the Delta Shadows

  18. The Collector

    Hubert carefully scrolled the cursor across the computer screen, zeroing in on his target. “Almost… Almost.. There! Gotcha!” His finger stabbed the Execute button. Machinery whirred and hummed. A beam of light reached out and locked onto crossing the finish line. “Copying object.” Lights flashed. A large erect tube filled with mist. The machinery fell silent. A bell dinged. “Cloning completed.” The mist cleared to reveal a naked man standing in the tube.

    “Yes!” Mr. Walters shouted in triumph. “That takes care of 1896 Athens, Greece.Let’s move on to the next nexus.”

    “yes sir, Mr. Walters.” The lab-coated Hubert replied. “Resetting for 1900 Paris, France. Time Machine engaging.”

    “you’re sure that there’ll be no duplication?” Mr. Walters asked worriedly.

    “Relax, it’s aproprietory process, Mr. Walters. I guaantee it.” Hubert soothed.

    “I’ll be the envy of every member of the Famos Athletes Club with a complete set of Marathon winners!” Mr. Walters gloated.

    155 words @EmilyKarn1

  19. Citius, Altius, Nippiness
    147 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    It was 776 BC, and the pitifully small number of flags bore witness to how few city-states had entered these very first Olympics.

    Athens were there, of course, along with Thrace and Sparta. Marathon were in too, hoping to win the really long and as yet unnamed feature race. But Troy had boycotted the games, perhaps understandably, and Corinth hadn’t yet got the hang of a calendar that went backwards and had turned up four years earlier.

    The dressage was about to start, and the first horse stood waiting in the main arena. As it was yoked to a cart this was likely to be interesting, especially the bit where it would have to dance sideways, but even so the watching crowd glared enviously at those in the packed stands around the smaller arena.

    This was where the beach volleyball would be taking place.

    In the nude.

  20. Envy Duels
    (160 words)

    Spectators cheered as a mace shattered the 90-year-old man’s ribs, sending his corpse sailing. His opponent and neighbor, the victor, legally won his vintage cat clock.

    Next battle: brother versus brother, over one brother’s wife. She howled from the prize box, filling the colosseum with anguish. A sledgehammer crushed a knee.

    “Envy. You see?” Zhone said to his foreign friend in the stands.

    “I don’t,” Glen said.

    “One—blood lust. Two—population control. Three—he,” Zhone jerked a thumb toward the emperor, reclined and wistful in his levitating flowerbed, “believes desire is the greatest principle for ordering society.”

    “Then I challenge him,” Glen said. “I desire his hovering contraption.”

    Zhone laughed. “He grows too many species! Some with razor-sharp, throwing pedals, others with poisonous pollen to sprinkle on your itty bitty nose. He goes unchallenged.”

    “Then, I envy your coat.” Zhone gasped.

    At sundown, Glen halved him with a chainsaw, to raucous applause and a daisy-sniffing sigh from the emperor.

  21. The Symbol of Civilization

    He was proud to represent his nation at the first reestablished Olympics. Standing at the starting blocks he admired the sea of humanity that gathered to watch. His event would start the games that demonstrated that mankind was bigger than his hate for himself; that mankind had indeed clawed its way out of the dark days of war and ashes and that civilization would conquer chaos. He had been born long after the Year of Fire and the desolation of the seas. His sport had been reconstructed from pictures and old stories as one of the first Olympic sports.

    The starter pistol fired. Clutching the burlap at his waist, he leapt forward in giant bounds, focusing on the goal, ignoring the athletes that fell, legs tangled in their sacks. He jumped ahead knowing they envied his bounding strength and grace. As he hopped near the finish line, he thought to himself, “This race is in the bag!”

    @NomDeBen
    Wordcount: 157

  22. Of lucre and ambition
    @dieterrogiers – 160 words

    Humanity’s fate would be decided here, in Greece, where thousands of years ago battles less bloody if not less heroic were fought.

    On one side stood the angels, wielding swords of white fire. On the other, the demons, sharpening their brimstone axes. And in the stands, an anxious assortment of mortals.

    Man had summoned the dark and the light to arbitrate his future. After harvesting the power of steam and lightning, ushering in the age of the atom was the next phase in human evolution. But man was cowardly and did not want to be responsible for decisions about the atom’s power. Whether he would use it for good or for evil would be decided by God and the Devil.

    As the battle erupted, demons were slain and angels slaughtered. In the stands man was in envious awe of the power both sides wielded.

    Whoever the victors, the mortals silently agreed, the power of the atom would obliterate them all.

  23. The View from the Mountaintop Cafe

    @Donnellanjacki
    157 words

    There they go!

    Racing down the mountainside, their skis slicing sibilant zigzags into the diamond-powder snow. They slant themselves like sleet, spraying frost first left and then right, their descent swifter than the fastest falling snow.

    I remember my own tumbling, tripping attempts at this. My skis slipped and clacked beneath me like a pair of demented chopsticks, and my desperately planted ski poles chose to stay standing in the snow, solemnly marking the spot where my dignity lay buried, while I continued to flail my way down the (practically flat) slope.

    While-there they go, skiing Olympic sized rings around my abilities, with their silver-quick speed and solid gold control.

    I am alpine-green with envy!

    Sitting alone in the café and smiling my applause, I graciously settle for conquering the soft, white peaks of my cappuccino foam.

    And I pick up a pen, and begin to slide my way contentedly across the rink-smooth surface of my notebook.

  24. Only a Matter of Time
    (158 words)
    The security checks were being performed. They were rigorous. Once they were completed, the race would begin immediately. The timing had to be right, or the opportunity for cheating would be left wide open.
    Every record broken was scrutinised, Award Ceremonies were scheduled long after events.
    It had to be this way.
    Hope of curing Cheats was dashed when the Deadly Sins Vaccine had indeed turned out to be deadly. There were riots. Its use was suspended.
    Officials knew that it would be impossible to prevent cheating indefinitely, and that the Games were a necessary tradition. They were what kept the masses happy. It was imperative to retain the integrity of the Games, or at least appear to do so, for as long as it could be done.

    On the track, Zander felt the tape on his chest, heard the starting pistol and crouched down at the starting block having already accepted the medal two months before.

  25. Vindication

    Voroshenko was tired, hungry and very cold but within him burned an unquenchable fire sustaining both his mind and body.

    Security for the ceremonies had been more aggressive than he imagined it would be and he’d feared his clandestine vantage point would be discovered. He was irrevocably committed to his course of action and so could only huddle deeper in the snow and scrub brush and wait.

    He had been on the verge of collapse when activity in the area below increased in intensity. Through his scope he watched as the stands were steadily populated and all was made ready for the grand competition.

    When he sensed the time had come, he sighted in on his first target and fired. He expended a total of ten rounds before he was himself shot and killed. He died with a smile, having vindicated himself as to whether he should have been dropped from his nation’s biathlon team for his unreliable weapons-handling skills.

    160 words @klingorengi

  26. The Emperor of Detroit

    Morrison sipped his brandy thoughtfully, watching through the thick glass as the hordes shambled into the floodlit stadium below.

    “How do you get away with this?”

    Ford shrugged.

    “My city, my rules.”

    “And they sold it to you?”

    “They couldn’t keep bailing them out. The police budget alone was crippling. Private security’s much cheaper.”

    “But what about the media and protestors?”

    “You get the occasional fag socialist who really believes and we hang them, but most of that 99% crap is just jealousy; ‘We want what you’ve got, but we won’t work for it.’ Throw a couple in a pit with the table scraps and they’ll fight till there’s nothing left. The rest know their place.”

    The klaxon blared for the first fight. The masses roared, shaking the executive box.

    “And you really think they’ll sell me San Bernadino?”

    Ford grinned.

    “If we keep the water switched off for a couple more months, they’ll be begging you to take it.”

    160 words
    Karl A Russell

  27. Endurance

    My eyes return again and again to the photograph prominently displayed across the front page of my father’s newspaper.

    He folds down the corner and frowns at me, his whole posture exuding irritation. “Don’t you have something to do?”

    “Pa,” I dare whisper. I point to the stadium in the photo. “Pa, can I compete there some day?”

    He looks at the picture, then snickers. “Women can’t be in the Olympic games, silly. You all don’t have the endurance for it.” He continues chuckling as he settles back in and resumes reading.

    I turn to watch my mother in the kitchen, on her knees, scrubbing the floor. The wash hangs in the background, visible through the rear door. I can smell the iron heating over the scent of potatoes on the stove. I look back at my father, who’s been in that chair for more than an hour.

    My mother raises her head and gives me a small, knowing smile.

    Margaret Locke
    @Margaret_Locke
    margaretlocke.com
    160 words

  28. Mark grabbed his bag of chips and settled into the couch. The well-worn microfiber received his robust form warmly.

    “Mark, what are you doing tonight?” his mom called from the kitchen. “I printed out some job postings you should look at. I’m tired of my twenty-five year old living in my – “

    “It’s Friday night, mom!” he yelled. “Let me relax!”

    Mark flipped through the channels before settling on the Olympics. Figure skating had just started. Mark laughed. “Mom, you should see these guys in their stupid outfits.”

    “Here he is,” the announcer said. “Jack Wagner. The best in the world. He’ll be performing a routine that nearly netted him a perfect score at nationals.”

    “This should be good,” Mark said.

    When Jack Wagner finished, the arena erupted. Mark wiped a tear from his eye.

    “This twenty-five year old is on top of the world!” the announcer said.

    “Mom, can I get those job postings?” Mark asked.

    158 words
    @hlpauff

  29. Gladiator

    It took Olympian strength to leap the hurdles some days. Sal knew the ones. When tasks took non-allotted time; ate into hours. The sleep filled, rest bound days. She boxed those away behind closed doors; her warrior walls.

    Converse and counterbalanced against these – the gladiatorial days. Those to pole vault over obstacles. The ones Sal envied for their effortlessness on the others. Fun filled and fanciful. Family, friends and fulfillment. Love and laughter. While the race lasted.

    She stacked moments upon one another, wherever; whenever. However; whomever. Ducklings at play time. Sun on the skyline. Ally; always. Her mini miracle. Smiling; sleeping; giggling; gurgling. Best endeavour ever. Worth it. Worth it all.

    Sal classified days via her personal podium. A system of order amongst chaos, when it threatened to invade. She had her reasons. Clear cut and crystal. The world was yet her stadium. Sal aimed for gold. Always.

    @FallIntoFiction

    149 words

  30. FEAR OF FLYING

    I picked you up every last time you fell.

    Reached under your arms, lifted you to your feet, and gently pressed you to try again.

    Sometimes I showed you what to do, how to leave the ice and then land effortlessly, how to make nearly impossible feats look easy. Like dance. Like flying.

    You watched, and then you attempted to follow. Your first efforts looked clumsy like you were a bear cub on skates.

    But eventually, you got it. And you got the next thing, and the next. After many months you became weightless, a butterfly made of spider silk.

    How you flew. Even on the ground you looked like you were flying.

    Now, as I watch you enter the stadium, my breath puffing out of me in little clouds, the world gathered to celebrate our work,

    My chest contracts into a stabbing, black, hateful desire to see you fail.

    It should have been me.

    @betsystreeter
    155 words without title

  31. First, the violins. Then the snap of the snare. My countrymen, holding blue and yellow and white flags, leapt to their feet as our national anthem filled the stadium, their cheers echoing into the night.

    All for me.

    Stepping to the top of the medal stand, I was the center of attention as I would be forever more. Cameras from around the world zoomed in on me, the strutting peacock of the Americans at the head of the pack, and I waved, like the dutiful son of the motherland I was assumed to be.

    But I saw none of that. My eyes were focused on the one face not in the crowd. My brother. The lucky one. Lost in an unmarked grave at the start of the genocide that birthed our nation. I’d live on as a symbol of the victory of hate over peace, feted by kings, while he had nothing but eternal sleep in the arms of angels.

    160 words
    @drmagoo

  32. History Lesson WC 156

    “Look out!” came the shout and the spectators scattered. Once the discus was down and harmless the laughter and antics of the crowd took over and was quite infectious. Even Mr. Garrett was joining in.

    Robert Garrett, was a shot putter and this was his first ever try with the discus. His first two throws had been short and wobbly. The next was far off the path, but his next two had everyone laughing and keeping a keen eye out. He came close to taking off some heads with those.

    The discus was Greek. Garrett had never even seen one before, so it was a safe bet that his last throw was a formality. But he started his whirlygig motion and let fly, and this time to the amazement of all, it flew straight and true.

    When it landed past the farthest by over half a foot, this unlikely American had just won the Silver.

  33. Kallimarmars – of Marbled Beauty Fair
    (159)

    Moonlight danced along glowing white marble. Pennants fluttered, casting their shadows over empty risers that hummed and sang in barely restrained energy, all eagerly awaiting the dawn.

    Dainty feet clad in leather sandals glided silently across the stone. A tall, regal woman in traditional dress paused within arm’s length of the marble statue that graced the entryway.

    Gray eyes gazed coolly upon the figure, “This was once mine.”

    The tawny owl upon her shoulder stirred; she calmed it with a touch. “But with your patronage, they forgot mine.”

    Caressing a cheek, a smirk played upon her lips. “Are you not happy? It’s truly a magnificent achievement. And just think, you’ll always have the best view. So be of light heart. With the games beginning tomorrow, you should be the envy of any true fan.”

    “Enjoy your just rewards, Averoff.” Athena bestowed a kiss upon the figure’s brow, renewing the spell before fading away. “See you in four years.”

  34. Crushed Dream

    With a mighty push, Tracie launched herself in a perfect arc from her wheelchair to the couch.

    “And she sticks the landing! The crowd goes wild!”

    She turned on the T.V. just in time for Opening Ceremonies. Absentlminded, she reached for her tablet too. It played a song that reminded her of John, her crush, and displayed a selfie sent by her sister, Jennifer, newly arrived at the games.

    Jen was at the Olympics while Tracie sat at home. The plan had been they both would compete. Twins, one master of the pommel horse and one unbeatable with an epee. The media would have ate it up. Then came Tracie’s accident.

    The line of her lips lifted in anticipation. She knew Jen would do it. She would do it for both of them. She wiped a tear from the screen. The picture, though, stabbed her to the core. There with Jen, his lips pursed to her cheek, was John.

    160 Words
    @ToddStrader

  35. The First

    Sweat lined my gloved fingers. I squeezed my poles for the millionth time. My eyes reopened to find a burly man motioning me to take my mark. The gate went down. Instincts and training took control.
    A red flag waved, and my skis sled to a stop spraying the crowd with ice crystals. Fans erupted when my time displayed. “You did it!” Coach jumped on top of me. Laughing he pressed me into his chest. “I’m so proud of you!”
    Tilting my head, I received my medal and an armful of flowers. My empty hand rose, and I glued on a smile. My country had never before placed in this event. A heavy silver medal dangled from my neck. The spectators grew silent as a melody filled the stadium. Three flags lifted into the sky. The red, white, and blue flag followed the yellow one. I gritted my teeth. In my book, I was the first to lose.

    158 words
    @Meganbesing

  36. Citius, Altius, Fortius

    No one would place a laurel crown on her head, except in her dreams. She would not even be allowed in the stadium; Coubertin had seen to that. All that mattered, though, was one foot in front of the other and to keep doing that for 40 kilometers.

    She ran, until her bones jarred with each footfall; until pain lanced up her shins into her knees; until each breath was like a knife in her side. In step with her, she sensed the ancient soldier Pheidippides, who ran until he announced a Greek victory then died. He whispered to her, “For Greece! For Greece!”

    Yes, for Greece she ran, and for women denied. Even when they stopped her short of the stadium, she cried, “Nike!”

    Unlike Pheidippides, there would be no statue to commemorate her marathon, no one to shout “Stamata Revithi! For Greece she is an Olympian!”

    She could only long to stand in Panathinaiko; then, obscurity reclaimed her.

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words
    Genre: Historical Fiction

  37. Cold Medalist
    (157 words, @pmcolt)

    For the first robot Olympian, laurel crowns and gold medals meant nothing. Victory would bring NVS-1 the only thing he wanted: respect from the humans.

    His first memory was a file upload: the first modern Olympics. How that grayscale image had captivated his impressionable neural net! Olympians – proud gods among men. How they were lauded and cheered and loved!

    Years had passed. Upgrades transformed NVS-1 from a clunky robot into an agile metal marvel. Yet even as he toiled among them, he remained an outsider to human society.

    The Sesquicentennial Games approached. Athens restored the Panathinaiko to glory.

    And NVS-1 was a competitor!

    He bolted the skis to his feet, polarized his optics against the glare, then looked at his human competitors. The secret to biathlon, he decided, was to shoot first, then ski. He chambered a rifle round.

    Ready… Aim…

    A hundred thousand screaming human spectators leapt to their feet. NVS-1 listened to their cheers. Victory!

  38. Red Right Hand
    159 words

    There was something almost artistic about Elena’s work.

    Of course it wasn’t easy. Human nature was never easy but she hadn’t failed an assignment yet.
    All it usually took was a few words whispered into the right ear and she’d be a shoe in.

    After all it wasn’t fair that a certain gymnast had to work so hard, slave for so long, only to be passed over just because his teammate had a better public persona.

    It certainly wasn’t fair that the woman who had sacrificed her family life to train, night after night, was benched because their coach happened to like blondes better than brunettes.

    Everyone had a dilemma, a slight or a problem that they tried to bury so deep. All Elena had to do was prod at that hidden wound until it festered into something grotesquely beautiful.

    Because honestly, human nature wasn’t really all that complex and it was like they said…envy was the easiest sin.

  39. A Meeting with Meaning
    160 Words
    @SVBookman

    Carolyn looked at the woman standing in the doorway. There were four young children behind her. Carolyn lowered and holstered her firearm. The woman calmed immediately and lowered her sharpened pipe. Both continued to stare. Carolyn spoke first.

    “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just never expected to see humans, especially children.”

    “Oh, oh, I understand. Same here for you.” The woman motioned Carolyn inside. The children had to be asked twice to move so she could enter. They were excited to see a new face, a friendly face.

    After locking and boarding the door back up, the woman, Sheila, offered Carolyn some tea.
    “It’s cold, but good.” Carolyn heartily agreed. It tasted heavenly. She looked at the place. It was fixed up well. Carolyn was a bit envious that they had it like this, then regretted feeling that way. They were treating her as if she was in the Olympics.

    “Well, tell us about you.”

    And Carolyn did.

  40. How Champions Are Made

    “You cheated!” Kira huffed as she palmed open the hatch to their dormitory.

    “I did not!” Arianna stood taller and crossed her arms, indignant. “I am a member of the 57th Intergalactic Olympic Games.”

    “So you’re good at covering your tracks.” Kira interrupted and entered.

    Arianna stalked in after her and grabbed a holo of an old photograph off her headboard. “My ancestor was a champion at the very first Olympic Games, 1896EME.”

    “What’s your point? That was forever ago.” Kira glared before turning around and palming through the color options on the wall, wishing the designers of the Olympic Space Station had installed holographic capabilities.

    “I’m merely stating that my athleticism is inherited. I don’t need to cheat.”

    Kira snorted. “No one has ever completed a 3240 quad-corkscrew layout-rebound in variable-G before. It’s impossible.”

    “You’re just jealous.” She pursed her lips. “Besides, if you’re looking for cheaters, the entire wrestling contingent from Ptaxil grew extra arms.”

    157 words
    @lissajean7

  41. The Mental Olympiads
    (160 words)

    “If you want the recipe for my sugar snap cookies, I’d be tickled pink to share it. But later, of course, after our games.” Cornelius giggled when saying “games.”

    Cornelius Q. Corpone had turned his quaint apartment into a gathering space for friends. He arranged chairs in a circle and set out finger foods and punch. His mistake was forgetting to turn off the television (he enjoyed background noise while vacuuming and polishing): his cerebrally gifted guests saw the Olympic games, saw fit athletes competing.

    Zurry, whose cigars’ pungency rivaled the thickness of his accent, said, “You admit, the menfolk are, how you say, studmuffin-ish, da?”

    Bradley perked up. “I’ll bet they have all sorts of sex with sexy women!”

    Cornelius Q. Corpone, scared that the television stole his thunder, blew a note on a kazoo. “And now, mental Olympiads, we commence our first Mental Olympics.”

    Zurry said to Bradley, “You know nothing of the sex.”

    “More than you, nerd!”

  42. A Writer’s Lament

    It’s hard, they say. The training, the restrictions, the keenly scrutinized diet and the woeful lack of social life. The years of absolute focus and determination, all underscored by an un-satisfiable, ruthless ambition that drives them through the pain.

    But all that sweat and tears, those injuries and sacrifices, they could lead here: the Olympics. Only the best of the best, if you discount all the loopholes limiting entries from the same country, could compete for the ultimate athletic honor, claiming their time in the public eye.

    The pinnacle of mastery, with an unquestionable marker of success – that’s what awaits them: a resounding cry, declaring virtuosity or denouncing nerve-pressured failure. Definitive, quantifiable, and unassailable.

    Theirs isn’t a world of gray-scale insecurity, languishing in indeterminate obscurity, at the mercy of public subjectivity.

    If only our world was as black and white.

    (140 words; @AriaGlazki)

  43. Blood Crieth Up From The Ground

    Xenathon stood with them as the crowd went wild. ‘Come on, Helena. Be upstanding for the competitors. They deserve your praise.’ At the base of the stadium, the well-muscled competitors began their lap of the arena.
    Helena slowly dragged herself up to her full height, the pain on her face mixed with pride. ‘Oh my. There’s Perintius the Greater. He’s so dreamy.’
    ‘Dreamy? Really? I guess. He’s as strong as an ox and as fit as a war horse.’
    ‘That’s what I said.’
    Xenathon kicked his sister in her maimed leg. She winced, then smiled.
    ‘Jealous, brother?’
    ‘Not even slightly. Apollo guides my path; he knows that I have chosen knowledge over strength.’
    Far below, the competitors were nearly finished their lap, when a loud bang rent the air. High above, beings exploded forth from a black tear in the sky.
    The crowd screamed as the dark shadows fell.
    ‘Brother!’
    ‘I love you, sister,’

    (154 words; @darkmooninorbit)

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