Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 10

Still caught up in the fabulous global adventure that is the 2014 Olympics, I couldn’t help but fall in love (look! sideways Valentine’s reference!) with this week’s prompt. OK, so it’s not suitable for a triple axel or power play, but there is something compelling about these slopes nonetheless. I can’t wait to see just what adventures you dream up for our judge!    

LAST CHANCE!!! The deadline to apply as a judge for the 2nd quarter (April – June) is tomorrow, Feb 15. RUN!  Details here.   

Dropping in with writerly alley-oops and switchbacks of her own this week is judge Whitney Healy. What she seeks in a winning entry isn’t a mystery: check out her judge page! She likes words, a lot, and the more rhythm and detailed beauty you can carve out, the better.

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.” And now if you’ll excuse me–there’s skeleton and men’s free skating on!  

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 ‘Ολυμπιακός'”):

patience

***Today’s Prompt:

Kolmanskop. CC photo by Damien du Toit.

Kolmanskop. CC photo by Damien du Toit.

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105 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 10

  1. Grains of Sand
    159 words
    @ebthompson93

    This was it. The end of his life.
    Holding hands with Death, his life flashed before his eyes. But it wasn’t as he had expected. It was like a house filled to the brim with sand. Each grain of sand a memory, a love, a passion, a lesson learned.
    This grain his first kiss. That one the day of his son’s birth, where he learned patience as he paced the hospital floor. And that one over there was a memory of golfing with his friends.
    The door opened and he looked up at Death. But Death wasn’t looking at him. Instead, he was fixated on the sand filling the room, flooding in from the doorway. These were no longer his memories, these were what-could-have-been’s. The roads not taken, if you will. And when he had seen them all, he looked up at Death and said,
    “It’s time.”
    Death nodded and led him through the doorway into the Great Beyond.

    • . Very ingenious. Each sand a memory and then turning into what if.

      Question for you-1. you gave death a name, I wonder if a name should have been given to the man or woman who is about to start a new journey.
      2,in the last paragraph, who is looking into the sand – death or the victim?

      Very nice

      • I’m glad you liked it! In answer to your questions, I actually didn’t give death a name. I just personified him. And I didn’t name the person because I wanted you to be able to put yourself in their shoes. The person is you, me, and everybody.
        In the last paragraph, Death is looking at the sand first, then the victim follows his gaze. Sorry if that wasn’t clear!

  2. Collapse -155 words

    Jeremiah knew the irony which now glowered down at him like the hot Nevada sun he was at war with that Wednesday afternoon. It had been 36 hours since anyone had seen his son alive. Three hours since he found his sons size 4 Velcro Nike sneaker.
    “Like sands in the hourglass all right,” he said to himself as he came upon the abandoned house that seemed to be consumed by the desert sands long before today.
    The ransom note now soaked in the pocket of his wet and dirty blue jeans, he pulled it once more and read it to himself.
    “Jermiah,” it read, “I’ve taken our son. You told me you don’t have the patience to be married anymore, let’s see if you can find the time to find him on the last day of his life.”
    The house collapsed before he was able to step one foot inside the sand covered parlor.

  3. @StephenWilds
    “Buried” – 160 words

    Jinder let the sand fall through his fingertips, descending back to the rest of its friends and family that had all blown in with last night’s storm. It had been bad, one of the worst in quite some time. Tariq was proof of that, jaw still gaping outside of the home that the two had first stopped at.
    “It’s ruined.”
    “Yes, yes it is,” Jinder replied as he squinted, eyes peering across the rest of the homes.
    “All of our work was undone by one storm. We’ll never be ready-“
    “Calm yourself, Tariq.”
    “We’ll have to call in more men. We’ll have to hurry. It’ll never be done on time.”
    His partner was trembling.
    “Haste will only cause us to error. No matter how close the hand of the clock, we must practice caustion at a timely pace.”
    Jinder went to grab the horses.
    “We are all going to die.”
    “No, Tariq, we will be ready when the demon comes.”

  4. All the time in the world

    My soul seemed like a small price to pay. I didn’t even take a moment to think about it, “I’d like more time on Earth. In fact I want all the time in the world.”
    The Devil smiled, “You’re sure that’s all you want?”
    I foolishly pushed my luck, “And a big house.”
    “Ok, that seems fair, I’ll make sure you live in a mansion. Sign here.”
    I scribbled my name as fire ran through my bones. The devil pointed at a paint flecked doorway, “There you go.”

    I opened the door and sand poured out, covering my feet. I jumped back, “What’s this?”

    The Devil glanced up from his clipboard, “That’s all the time in the world as requested, every hourglass emptied into your new mansion. One more thing, your new home doesn’t have an exit. Or food. When you’ve had enough there’s a door straight back to hell. I hope for your sake that you’re a patient man.”

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  5. Sisyphus & The Minotaur (160 words)

    I awaken to find myself in the belly of a labyrinth forged from derelict rooms consumed by sand. A bellow rings out, echoing off decomposing walls, yet I’m already wading through the treacherous dunes, towards the next room.

    Today I escape.

    My heart is pounding, fear binding my clothing to my skin. Reality transformed into motion, stooping, clawing, wading, fighting to exist. Every grain marking a second of guilt, a sentence I have had to learn to accept.

    A rage fuelled cry, the sound of wood splintering, he’s gaining.

    I push onwards, scrabbling at yellow grains that deviously give way, clawing through room after room. Never looking back, no need, just focus on reaching the exit.

    Another door screams out, this one close behind me. I wade on, fat tears rolling down my cheeks as urine soaks my crotch.

    Then a horn gores my stomach, pain like fire, falling into darkness.

    I awaken to find myself in the belly ….

    @imageronin

  6. Was that good bye?

    An earthquake happened a few days ago. Out of the blue, like they always do.
    I came in this forsaken country to shoot pictures of atrocities, but I never expected to be in one myself. Not like this, at least.
    So, I’ve been stuck here ever since. Nobody came around, maybe because this place is at the outskirts of a small village.
    I tried to get out, but the windows have been filled with too much sand and it’s impossible to get through. The rooms are the same. Heck, the door’s jammed and I can’t even get out of this one.
    Will I ever be saved?
    Maybe I need patience.
    But I don’t think I have it in me anymore.
    My eyelids are falling like a curtain falls after a bad play. Abrupt and without remorse.
    I guess this is…

    140 words
    @AdrianGeorgeNic

  7. Dimorphism in Cocoa Sunrise (The Death of Dr. Arthur Cecil Penegru’s Magic House)
    (154 words)

    I’m convinced the oceanic vista of the Blue Room caused Dr. Penegru to burn Cocoa Sunrise to the ground. His hotel went unappreciated by guests.

    “My magic house [as he called it] does not inspire great loves or profound hates. At best, it coddles lukewarm enthusiasms.”

    As facilities manager of his surrealist lodging, I kept his art functioning—kept his indoor monsoon spigots flowing, kept his pillowcases doused with hallucinogenic alkaloids, kept his radio-controlled ghosts lurking benighted corridors with wallpaper as thick and sensual as velvet. I kept the grandfather clocks whispering, and made sure all smells remained configured.

    I advised patience, though Dr. Penegru (a nudist, did I mention?) sulked in the Green Room, evocative of a cloistered forest grove. Across the hall the Blue Room was visible. Although it was merely a two-dimensional trompe l’oeil I painted on a wall, it was enough to represent to him, I believe, freedom from delusion.

  8. The Trip of a Lifetime
    158 words
    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn – http://www.martynfiction.com

    ‘The mind is a wonderful thing,’ said the advert. ‘It is all of who you are and all you ever will be. You will have, literally, the trip of a lifetime. ’ I know, but that’s sales patter for you. Anyway I paid my thousand credits and sent for the kit. Two days later I sat and opened the manual. It suggested I read it all before starting, but who does that?

    I attached the sensors as shown and pressed the button. There was a mental lurch and clouding of vision, then I’m here. In my hand was the manual, not the same physical one you understand. I thought that was quite neat.

    I had just formed the thought ‘What is this?’ when the book flicked open.

    ‘The rooms of forgotten memories.’

    ‘What are they?’

    ‘You’ve forgotten.’

    ‘So why am I here?’

    ‘If you’d read the manual you wouldn’t be.’

    ‘So what now?’

    ‘Start walking and be patient.’

  9. Deathtrap

    Every breath boiled. Sweat trickled down my spine. The trail was clear, her deep footsteps beckoning. Their darkness calling to mine.

    Soon, it would be over.

    A tumbledown house swam into view. Sun-bleached, half-rotted, its front door stood open. Paint peeled off its walls.

    I paused, breathing hard.

    Then, I ducked inside.

    In a dim room, half-filled with sand, she waited. Her body bore my scars. I settled my hand around my gun, and my skin prickled.

    ‘So. Death comes, even for one like me.’ Sand, gritty and sharp, began to whirl like multitudes of tiny knives as she spoke. I spat and blinked it out. ‘Each grain is a life,’ she hissed. ‘A life you took. A life you touched. A life you destroyed!’

    ‘Not my problem.’ I fired.

    But my bullet became a desert wind, and my gun crumbled to dust.

    ‘I have waited so long for you,’ she smiled, as I shattered, sparkling, at her feet.

    @SJOHart
    159 words

  10. Of Mortal men, 155 words.

    Desert survival depended on the gods. Elsme’s modest shrine was centrefold of a picturesque Oasis; as such she was blessed with routine worshippers. Over time devoted followers built a temple in her honour. Elsme was pleased. When a ragged boy appeared before her, she took him as her own and the people praised her virtues.

    Her child grew, strong and devoted. Her people grew wealthy and proud. The blessings of Elsme became legendary and soon tribes began to covet the Her Oasis. Once such tribe descended as an oncoming horde; weathered and honed by the desert. Before long her precious child was called to war; assailing her fears with a promise to return. Disaster upon her, the goddess wept; cracking the heavens to flood the blood churned sands. Elsme sat on her throne, and waited. The hourglass filled the temple. The once beautiful Oasis dried up yet still she waited. One day he would return.

  11. Buried
    By: Allison K. García
    167 words

    “Ma?”

    I groaned and squinted at the clock. Four a.m. Patience up at this hour with that tone of voice did not forebode well. “What’s the matter, honey?”

    Patience wept quietly in the hall.

    “Come here.”

    Patience slinked over and kneeled at my bedside. Her long brown hair caught the light of the full moon, giving her an ethereal aura. But she was far from angelic. Naming her Patience was perhaps a curse. None of my other four children had tested me as much. She was forever getting herself into mischief. Now sixteen, it had only gotten worse.

    “What happened?” I lifted her chin with my hand.

    Choking back sobs, she cried out, “I ruined the house!”

    “How do you mean?”

    “I snuck out to see Kevin and left the door open a bit. It created some kind of wind tunnel.”

    She guided me into the kitchen, now buried under snowdrifts.

    I sighed. “I needed to mop the floor anyway.”

  12. Dreams
    by A J Walker

    Borba’s dreams were now inevitable and they were clearly eating him up. He visibly shrank daily in front of his investor’s eyes.

            He was building a Las Vegas in the middle of the most inhospitable African desert. A monument to mankind showing the mastery over the world he lived in. It was his dream, to be his legacy.

            But now his dreams were killing him. Each night the same voice spoke to him.

            ‘Go from here.’

            ‘This land is sacred.’

            ‘Do not build here.’

            Night after sleepless night. Incessant.

            ‘Leave.’

            Fine imported marble and grand glass edifices had risen up, some incredibly high, dazzling iridescent above the shifting sands of the dunes. They were heralded around the world as a modern Wonder.

            Slowly, almost imperceptibly, but inexorably the desert moved in. One by one Borba’s buildings were gobbled up by the sand as the desert patiently took bites from man’s monumental folly.

            Borba had played dice in a loaded game.

    (160 words)
    @zevonesque

  13. “A Thousand Years or More?”
    Casey Rose Frank @CaseyCaseRose
    160 Words

    She sat atop the sand. Sand inside a house that was not a house, but a prison.
    “My love? My love?”
    The searching question echoed, waxing and waning in the wind that blew through open doors making eddies and drifts in the sand.
    She sat.
    She had heard her love’s voice dance through the house, words breaking against wood corners, and slipping into piles of sand, but she had never seen him here.
    For many days (years?) she had waded against the sand, crying “I’m here!” until her voice was raw and useless. She would think him near only to whip around and find nothing but the persistent wind, his voice still probing, “My love?” in remote and whispery places. She dropped down to the sand and cried.
    Now she simply sat and waited. There would always be more doors. There would always be more sand. In this purgatory she was Eurydice waiting for her Orpheus to lead her out.

  14. “Patience”
    Dan Radmacher @radmacher
    160 words

    Their last fight had been terrible. She had turned her intimate knowledge of him into an awful weapon, her tongue lashing him like a whip, tearing holes in his soul that might never heal.

    Finally, she had glared at him, her contempt complete. “I’m done. We’re through.”

    He had pleaded and begged. Finally, he found an inner reserve of strength. His tone quieted, and he thought perhaps he had gotten through to her.

    “I love you,” he said, barely above a whisper. “I will always love you. I’ll wait for you, however long it takes.”

    She just looked at him. He tried to read the look, but could not. Was there a glimmer of hope there? Or was it only pity?

    He looked around him. He had waited, as promised. He’d lost track of time. Judging from the sand shifting around him, it had been awhile. He thought of her face once more. Just a small glimmer of hope? Maybe?

  15. Island Idyll
    @vbholmes
    160 words

    The noonday sun burned my skin as I lay on the hot Caribbean sand. I swirled my forefinger in the tiny grains, mimicking the kaleidoscopic circling of primary colors that radiated against my eyelids. Resplendent reds blended with luminous yellows to create flamboyant oranges that electrified dazzling blues which merged with virgin yellows to produce brilliant greens that fired up recycled reds. My mind and body transcended reality and soared into a psychedelic universe of whirling, twirling planets, stars and familiar faces. Family and friends flashed in and out of my cosmic rapture, each accompanied by a briefly-felt tangible emotion which surged through my accepting body.

    Harry. The image of Harry blew apart my sensual escape. Tiny fragments of pure color rained down on my consciousness and, in that moment, reminded me that my emaciated body lay next to his as we patiently awaited our fates, not in the Caribbean, but in an abandoned, sand-filled building in the Sahara Desert.

  16. Unforgotten
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    158 words

    “Don’t move,” he’d said, planting a quick kiss on her mouth. “I’ll be right back.”

    She’d waited. Waited as days passed into months, months into years. She’d watched the wind whip grains of sand into the room, covering the remnants of her life, but she’d refused to close the door. He’d said he’d be back.

    Occasionally there were noises outside and she’d turn her head, hoping to hear his voice. It never came. Still, she didn’t move. He’d promised.

    “Here it is!” A woman peered through the window, her eyes bright with tears. “Grandpa said he could never bear to return, not once he’d come home and found her gone, only bloodstains left behind. Nobody knows what happened to her.”

    “Maybe he’s with her now that he’s passed on,” a man consoled.

    Sunlight stole in through the door, shining on her face. “Told you I’d be back,” it whispered, enfolding her in its warmth. She smiled. At last.

  17. Green and Blue
    160 words
    @blackinkpinkdsk

    Not all heaven but not all sin, her ink was filled with love, empathy, and where they’d been. She wrote to empty her pedantic mind.

    Blue eyes locked on green. Warm breaths seeping out of eager lips, slow walks and talks, chasing dawn. Their reckless, wild youth eventually slipped through their fingertips like silt and made room for the raw and real, messy details of life.

    He adored green and she blue. They painted their home in both hues; a fixer-upper but paid for with sweat and tears. A boy, Brett, and a girl, Sue, blessed their lives as the years grew. Fun and adventure became a delicacy sampled in between over-scheduled tidbits of life, in lieu of spontaneity, but laughter remained.

    One turned into two. Two became four. Four was reduced back to two. Then came the news.

    Life is not simple math, it’s calculus, statistics, and uncomfortable patience as patients pray. Cancer took her favorite blue.

  18. Dimensional Difficulties

    Emerging through the portal, Andrew moaned with disappointment. The dilapidated conditions of the room and the shifting sands within left him little doubt he had failed to reach his desired location.

    He recognized the place as one of the temporary structures constructed to house the project’s research staff. What he had no way of knowing was when or in what alternative dimension this version of the building stood?

    Clearly, the modifications he and Sanders had made to account for cosmic drift during transit were as-yet flawed. His wristwatch had ceased to function and thus he had no idea how long he had been gone.

    Marshalling his strength, he rose and stumbled towards the next portal. With a myriad of alternative realities to explore, he knew the sooner he carried on the sooner he could get back to his work. It might take a thousand more transits, but he knew doubt and despair would never accomplish what persistence and perseverance could.

    160 words @klingorengi

  19. The Wages Of Sin

    “Repent, ye Sinners, Repent! The Hour of Judgement is nigh! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said in Retribution.
    “Though the mills of God grind slowly;
    Yet they gind exceedingly small;
    Though with patience he stands waiting;
    With exactness he grinds them all.”

    The Wages of Sin are Death and Destruction! This was a place of riches and excess that fed off of Desperation and Greed! See how the Mighty have Fallen! The neon signs that flashed their Lures litter the avenues! The desert has crept in and its sands cover the pavement knee-deep!Their fine buildings are empty and deserted! Lust brought them Down! Pride was their Ruin! Gluttony, Sloth, and Envy Ruled over this City of Sin! The Wrath of God was their Just Reward! Change your ways lest you Follow!” The fire and brimstone preacher ranted thunderingly. His eyes were flashing wildly. He was frothing at the mouth. He stood tall on his soapbox before the former City of Las Vegas. 159 Words @EmilyKarn1 or karnemily@yahoo.com

  20. If I could speak, I would tell you how beautiful I once was- the nicest on the block.

    I have memories of lush green grass as soft as Persian rugs adorning my feet,. Flowerbeds filled with color. Colossal red apples growing in my orchard and an oak tree with a tire hanging form its limbs entertaining the children. I can still hear them laughing.

    I would also tell you how sad and lonely I’ve become. I miss the birthday parties, barbecues and Christmas when candles glowed in my windows and gingerbread baked in the oven.

    But moist I would tell you about that horrible night that changed all of us. They killed my master and took the gold and coins but left the jewelry in the wall.

    I’m patiently waiting for their return. Once they walk thru my front door, I will trap them in the sand and they will never leave and I will then rest.

    Words 160

    Title- Beautiful

  21. Honor Your Mother (160 Words)

    You were warned.

    Decades ago when the temperatures began to creep up in the summers and winters became extreme, you were told to protect me, and you laughed. Those people shouting about the environment were nut cases, you said. What do they know? Who cares?

    You laughed until the oceans swallowed your beachfront homes, and the rivers turned to streams then trickles. And soon water was rationed in little jugs. But you created big plants to desalinate the oceans and slowly the seas began to dry up because people needed water. More and more water. But there was never enough. So the plagues and hunger came.

    Now your homes belong to me. My winds sigh through the shattered windows as sand pours into the rooms. To see your homes now, you would never realize they were once palaces built to flatter your vanity.

    Did you think I would endure your wanton recklessness forever?

    You were warned: Honor your Mother.

  22. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    In the back of my mind, on the edge of my subconscious is a room filled with sand.

    It’s the accumulation of all the debris blown into the sky, by every mortar I launched in Iraq. It blew into the air, and floated back into my conscience.

    In time, it overflowed the room. It invaded every compartment in my head, making them all useless, tomblike and full of death.

    My family didn’t understand me stranded in the sand.

    I couldn’t break free to find a job. The sand had hold of me.

    I was afraid to clean it out. Scared of what I might find underneath. Maybe the body of an enemy soldier. That wouldn’t be so bad, but if I found a child. . .

    Thankfully, I found someone to help me clear out the sand. He promises when he is done it will be clean. Apparently he has some experience emptying tombs.

    @CharlesWShort
    152 Words

  23. Here I Go Again

    My hands dig through the rising sand in search of my spectacles. I really must remember to take them off next go around.

    ‘Pardon me do you have the time?”

    It was a reasonable request. I was polite. Why take offense? Ah found them and the lenses in tact, good.

    “Tsk tsk in such a rush, five turns for you” he had said.

    Realization comes, his was not a disposition of anger. It was amusement. He’s done this for his amusement! I brush sand from my waist coat. I dare say good man, if you are a jinn, wear a turban not a tophat.

    The walls of the strange little house shift again. The floor arcs becoming, once more, the ceiling. I tumble out into the ampule. The glass is turning. I and the sand begin another migration. What turn is this, three? I take a deep breath as I rush toward the aperture. Here I go again.

    158 Words
    @ToddStrader

  24. A Patient Soul
    @JMnumber6, 151 words

    Lee was a patient soul.

    When the gangs moved into his neighborhood, he waited patiently to see if his neighbors or the police would take care of them. When they didn’t, he moved to another neighborhood, leaving behind the neighbors who couldn’t afford to move.

    When the government became a dictatorship, he waited patiently to see if the patriots who opposed the dictator would win their civil war. When they lost, he emigrated to another country, leaving behind the patriots who were being rounded up and executed.

    En route to the new country, his ship sank and he died.

    When he arrived in Hell, the devil led him to the house of his sins, which was filled with sand. “Your punishment is to remove the sand from here, one grain at a time.”

    “That will take eternity,” the man complained.

    “Yes,” the devil replied, “but after all, you’re a patient soul.”

  25. The Black Dog

    The sky is purple and along the horizon there is nothing; no ship to rescue me, just the setting sun, its fire and energy drowned by the patient, mocking sea. I run to the edge, fists balled and tears streaming, ‘Help me! Please, somebody has to save me!’ But nobody hears. I see a ramshackle beach-house abandoned at the top of the dunes. I scramble towards it, sand embedding itself into my over-bitten fingernails and the razor grass scores my arms. I take a breath before entering, the walls are stripped and torn, their former beauty eroded by the relentless demands of nature. The doors are open to me but I can’t get through them. There’s sand, everywhere, thick and drifting. I feel like it is sucking me under, consuming me, further and further until I disappear.

    I open my eyes, reddened by panic, and look to Dr Edgecombe. ‘Doesn’t every new mother feel like this?’

    158 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  26. Exploring

    Slowly, surely the sand crept into the room, finding cracks and crevices to work her way inside the room. She’d been waiting years to work her way into the building, patiently allowing the wind to blow her against the walls and windows until she worked her way inside.

    Once inside, she swept from room to room; piling up in places and sneaking into corners. She wanted to see everything; fill up all the curves and hide in all the niches. The rooms were empty which let her spread out across the floors and mound across them, sweeping across the area until she covered everything.

    Settling in, she realized that the wait had almost been worth it. Now she had the rooms to herself, but she would never know what the two-legged forms had done here for they had left nothing behind. Her patience had not been completely rewarded.

    Word Count: 148

  27. “Forgotten”
    160 words

    They didn’t know how long they had been waiting. How many years had fallen away, while they held aloft the foundations of what had once been the temple of kings.

    It didn’t matter.

    For eternity they stood in their sacred circle, for only a moment they bore the weight of stone and marble. Time did not matter, to the temple-bearers. Time was nothing but the sands of the once-was, shifting, swirling, swelling, sinking.

    Sometimes the sands would settle. Sometimes the sun would warm the dry, cracked skin of a temple-bearer, lighting his dead eyes and sunken face. He might wake a little, see a little, and ache with the burden of centuries. But then the sands would drift again, the sun would fade, and time was lost in counting the numberless grains of sand.

    Time meant nothing. It flowed around them, like eddies in a river of sand. The temple-bearers would continue to wait.

    Wait for the kings to return.

  28. Earnings

    “Grab a handful. Hold it as long as you possibly can. With your other hand, start digging. When you become frustrated, squeeze the sand you are holding. Repeatedly. Be sure to continue digging with each squeeze. Clear?”

    Nodding I grasped a handful with my left hand, and pawed at the huge pile with my right. Silently, continually, I cursed at myself. I was stupid, dumb, answering this ad. Falling for a scam.

    “Reap what you sow! Get what you give! Fairness and accuracy guaranteed!” it had read. Yeah, right, whatever.

    A long time later my right hand was cramping and I felt cuts and stings in my sore left. Opening it, I saw the sand had become beautiful, if rough, diamonds.

    Gasping, I held them up, admiring them, my fatigue suddenly gone.

    He came and removed the diamonds.

    “Sure you worked hard, and yes, earned these. But see how high tax your self-loathing has become. Better luck next time.”
    @auraburrows 160words

  29. An Empty World
    @jujitsuelf
    153 words

    “What happened here?”

    Alexei’s Russian-accented voice crackles over my comm. He’s breathing heavily, too spooked by our surroundings to conserve his oxygen.

    I roll my eyes. We’re on a hitherto unexplored planet in the Andromeda galaxy. How am I supposed to know what happened? I breathe slowly and wish I’d been born more patient.

    “Terra-forming gone wrong?” I offer.

    Alexei grunts and shoulders another door open. Sand cascades everywhere. The house is full of it, like everything else on this rock. The people here were civilized but stood no chance against the choking desert.

    A flash of white beneath the brown catches my eye. Alexei curses as a bleached human skull grins up from its sandy grave, empty eye sockets mocking us.

    “Time to go,” I say.

    Alexei nods and backs out of the house. I follow, there’s nothing to discover on this world. We’ll leave the ghosts to their dunes.

  30. The Chosen
    (158 words)

    Red Dragon’s squadron had been carefully selected. Novus was an arid planet. A journey through it required a collection of minds that could meditate and mend when confronted with such relentless environment. But even then, its shifting, rolling nature duped even its wise passengers. Novus’ sands were slow but savage, patient but pernicious. Being sealed against it, did not prevent being blinded by it or exhausted by it.

    ‘Red Dragon to Earth.’
    ‘Come in, Red Dragon.’
    ‘We are in the fifth month of the reconnaissance.’
    ‘Copy that. Anything to report? We are no longer receiving images from Novus. What is it looking like , Red Dragon?’
    ‘Not good, Commander.’
    ‘Expand. What do you see?’
    ‘Sand, Commander. Just mountains of it… and us!’
    ‘Please clarify, Red Dragon. By that are you indicating that you have found no other life forms there?’
    ‘I mean as I say, Commander. We see sand and us. We see Red Dragon’s squadron landing. Again.’

  31. Some People Stand In The Darkness
    158 words
    TinmanDoneBadly

    She was the last.

    She had hidden in the abandoned beach-house while Hoffula, the vampire of Baywatch Bay, had preyed upon the other bikinied beauties, who had discovered that necking with the Hoff was not quite what they’d expected.

    He was the ultimate life-guard, making you undead forever.

    She could hear him running up the beach now, in slow motion and carrying a small bread-board. She had patiently sharpened an old mast into a stake large enough for his huge chest, and as he pulled open the door she grabbed the stake with both hands.

    It was too big for her to lift. He smiled, fangs flashing.

    She pulled the mirror from the wall by the bedroom and smashed it over his head. A flying shard pierced his heart, and he slowly faded away. His smile was the last thing to vanish, like the Cheshire Walrus.

    He hadn’t seen the mirror coming. That invisibility thing works both ways.

  32. Reductions

    I am ground to grains by you; miniscule proportions. A steady slow creation. Loss begins at my toe; the ochre nail. Barely noticeable at first, at least by you. A careless word and gone. I tell myself I do not miss it. My reduction, one digit alone. I tell myself.

    The missing foot poses new problems. I set myself to hobble, resolved. You step upon the scattered silica granules in my wake with your soles. I hear the grate on wooden floorboards, the grind and crunch. You don’t – or so it seems. You say to stay, safe with you. I do. I wonder why.

    Times passing anchors me to the floor. My remnants splay about me; pass through the gaps in boarding, make good their escape. I cannot hope to follow, unless by gradual division, which continues apace. An inexorable shrinking.

    Perhaps if you are patient, some day you will wake surrounded by the pieces of me you have made.

    @FallIntoFiction

    160 words

  33. Shambles and Fond Memories

    I’m falling apart. I couldn’t possibly be falling apart any slower. I’m an entire planet that has been abandoned by all life. One day, everyone just up and left me. Left without me. What am I supposed to do now? I guess I’ll wait.

    Every house that they built on my surface is as much a reminder of its occupants as it is of what I have become–dust and bones, a John Doe skeleton. I used to be so much more. I lived and breathed with those inside me, so vibrant and effervescent, but I turned out to be more meretricious than anything else. If I could for a second–for a grain of sand slipping through an hour glass and out from my pores–see, taste, or feel the place where everyone had gone… That is all I ask.

    But no one will come back, and I have all the time in the world to just wait.

    156 words

  34. “Clean this up right now,” Ella said. “I mean it. Clean it all up and stop smiling.”

    Jari tried to wipe the smile off his face but he couldn’t. He was so glad to be free. He covered his mouth with his hand so she wouldn’t see his big grin.

    “It’s everywhere. It’s in everything. This is ridiculous. My cat is buried somewhere. Clean this up.”

    “Would you like to use your second wish?” Jari asked.

    “No! Are you crazy? I’m not wasting another wish. In fact, I should get a do-over. This is clearly not what I wished for. I wanted to be at the beach.”

    “You asked to be surrounded by sand and sun. I gave you sand and it is sunny out.”

    “Clean. It. Up.”

    “If you just wish for it to be gone, I can clean it up instantly. Otherwise I’d have to get it out of here by hand.”

    “That’s fine. I’ll wait.”

    158 words
    @hlpauff

  35. With Bones Bound To The Sands Of Time
    160 words

    She’d watched as they erected the house. The laying of its foundations brought tears to her eyes and by the time the first family moved in she’d been inconsolable.

    The house was empty now. It had been empty for more years than she could count but she remembered the glimmer of joy that sparked in her heart when she noticed the first piece of paint lifting from the wall.

    It had been a slow process but she’d watched as the front of the house collapsed in on itself.

    Once upon a time this stretch of land had been nothing but a beach where the children would gather to play but it had all changed after that day.

    A cold breeze swept past her and she hugged herself tight, ignoring the waves that lapped at her feet.

    She knew that soon the house would be gone and she could wait.

    Patience was only one of the lessons death had taught her.

  36. Worn To The Core

    Once, they had loved each other unconditionally.

    He had been soft and warm, pinkly tender, delighting in her caresses.

    She had been nurturing and comforting, devoted to his every need.

    Once, back at the start, when things were good.

    But over time they just …grew apart.

    He became hard, abrading her like sandpaper, till the house was filled with the detritus of the woman she had been, when all that remained was a brittle core of molten glass, shot through with twisted anger.

    They fought, and he sought to shatter her, but she pushed him away and knew that his pain would only seem the greater, as every blow she laid upon him served only to sting her own worn flesh.

    He withdrew his love, spat it back at her, then gave it to another, but she waited with depthless patience, knowing that one day he would have to leave.

    Knowing that one day, her son would became a man.

    160 words
    Karl A Russell

  37. The Vacation Box

    “It’s here!” I raced into the cottage with the gold box. “One beach vacation, including towel, umbrella and sunscreen, ready for me to enjoy. Yippie!”

    Finally! My patience had run out while waiting for it to arrive by post.

    “Perfect timing, too!” I’d just finished the last order of love potion orders for Valentines. Now it was my time. I couldn’t wait. I set the box on the table and ripped open the accompanying envelope labeled: ACME Boxed Get-a-Way. Three pages of instructions were enclosed. I tossed them aside and yanked off the string.

    Poof.

    Winds blew through the cottage. Once all the sand settled, I looked around. “Where’s my ocean?” Anger boiled like the potions in my cauldron as I found the discarded instructions. “And why is there a camel in my living room? I distinctly ordered a rainbow umbrella, not a Bedouin tent!

    Dearest Customer, thank you for ordering the Sahara Desert Vacation package #23….

    @Jackie_Castle
    157 words

  38. The Neighbor
    @m_a_thompson
    160 words

    I considered myself patient before meeting Janipur.

    He appeared from inside my closet and spoke good English for an alien. Fancying myself an ambassador, I invited to him dinner. Hours later, he left through the closet.

    The next morning, sand spilled through the closet door. I shoveled the sand back through and closed the door.

    When Janipur returned for dinner, I explained that the door was left open last night. He said it wouldn’t happen again.

    Spilling sand greeted me again in morning. Janipur apologized. He snuck back through to learn about Earth. I told him we ask to enter others’ homes. That night I braced the door shut.

    The next morning Janipur rode a machine pushing sand through the broken door. I pulled an ice skate out of the sand and ran at him screaming and slashing.

    After he hadn’t moved for minutes, I looked around. Doors lined the edges of a pad in the middle of a desert.

  39. Preparing for the Storm
    159 Words
    @SVBookman

    Carolyn patiently walked with the children as they showed her their new home, the elementary building. It was old and had character, but had also been beaten by the elements. One room did not have a window and the sand and dirt had blown in, covering the floor and parts of the wall and doorway. Carolyn knew this was an open invitation to night crawlers and needed to be sealed.
    After the tour, she and Sheila sat down and seriously discussed what needed to be done to improve the security of the building and better protect everyone.

    Carolyn removed her hunting knife and her Berretta. She laid them on the table by the lantern and looked at Sheila.

    “Do you know how to use either of these as weapons?” The question was blunt, the intent clear.

    “No, not really,” Sheila responded.

    “That ends first thing tomorrow. I will go look for some weapons here in town.”

    Preparing, she slept.

  40. Sands of Time

    Everyone has a hell. It’s never the lake of fire and brimstone the preachers use to scare you into conformity.

    You see, I always left. First, I left home and never went back, not even when a sick mother begged. Then, I left college for the business world and left as well the first of many women who were foolish enough to love me. I left job after job, taking with me knowledge for the next. I left friends and mentors and bosses who had invested in me, always when I made the most money off them.
    I even left life under my own terms, but my hell is to keep on leaving.

    In a house with endless rooms I wade from door to door, that scrap of heavenly blue sky always eluding me. It’s right there, just beyond the next room. To get there, all I have to do is leave, for eternity. And I will, when I’m ready.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

  41. “Sloth”
    (160)

    “Soon,” they’d said.

    I’d nodded, blank-faced at their earnestness, not letting the bitterness and resentment show. They never understood and I got sick of the hurt puppy-dog eyes and pouts received in return for any bouts of “peevishness.”

    I’m to bring back a mortal’s lost hour-glass sand; the wasted time frittered away (as I had once done). Doctor offices are a favorite, with high school advisory classes a close second.

    It’s hard, back breaking work, especially without access to proper containers for transport. I manage, at best, a dozen handfuls a day.

    They swore once the room had filled to the ceiling my penance would be finished.

    Close. So close. I could practically taste my freedom.

    Then they opened the door with a smile and added another room.

    But that’s okay. I don’t mind so much anymore.

    I cannot end my task until it is completed.

    However, in a few years, I’ll have enough sand to bury them properly.

  42. “Love is patient,” she said, picking up a grain of sand with her tweezers. Tossing it over her shoulder, it disappeared, leaving only an infinite number behind.

    “Love is patient,” she said, and another grain. I did not move. How could I, under this mountain?

    “Love is patient,” she said, and another grain. The weight of a thousand days, a million failures, a lifetime of regrets piled against the door to my prison. A door that was impossible to open.

    “Love is patient,” she said, and another grain. I placed my hand on the doorknob, and then it dropped to my side.

    “Love is patient,” she said, and another grain. This time I tried turning the knob. It was stiff, but it turned.

    “Love is patient,” she said, and another grain. The sand resisted, but the door moved, and the sun peeked in.

    She took my hand. “You had to do it. I just showed you it was possible.”

    159 words
    @drmagoo

  43. The Sands of Space and Time
    (155 words, @pmcolt)

    We’ve watched their history. The passing of nomadic tribes. The rise and fall of city-sates. Carthage. Babylon. Karakorum. Empires and peoples come and gone. San. Bantu. Boers.

    They live and die upon the Sands, those fleeting giants of the Earth. For all their towering height, their length of time upon this world is short. Ten thousand of us would not match their height. Ten thousand of their years is but a blink to us. They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are their years, and then they die, and are buried in our Sands by their progeny.

    The first of us to come to Earth, in countless ages past, was fruitful and multiplied, and (thanks to exponential growth) subdued the earth. Our forty-five-greats-grandparent was progenitor to us all, the Sands who fill the deserts and the beaches.

    Mankind, too, will pass; we Sands will carry on.

  44. Learning the Hard Way

    Ms. Nuttlebug grunted as she tilted her head raising her gaze from her book. The steps moaned as she ascended to investigate the latest shriek. The younger one’s smirk matched the size of his sister’s crocodile tears. The girl pointed and opened her mouth, but there was no need. An innocent doll no longer had its head.

    The nanny raised an overgrown eyebrow and flipped over the timer on the dresser. “Don’t get up until it’s time.” Closing the door she left little Johnny on his bed to think. A yell stopped Ms. Nuttlebug on the tenth step. She grunted and repeated the climb yet again toward the children.
    She heaved her thick skirt through the threshold and stepped up on top of the sand. “I’ve warned you never to touch the timer, or my patients would run out.”

    “I’m sorry,” the wide eyed boy said.
    “Good, now clean.” Ms. Nuttlebug left with a hidden smile. Finally, his first apology.

    Words 160
    @MeganBesing

  45. Oceanside
    @peacesong464
    167 words

    I studied my face in the rear view. Weathered, I ‘spose. It had seen too many summers at this beach. One last drag on my Marlboro. She never could stand me smoking. Those colorful houses up on Oceanside Avenue. Cheery little places that used to sell for big bucks. That was then.

    20 years ago, Hurricane Alice wiped out most everything here. The only people left here were bums who rented motel rooms by day and did what cheap labor they could find. Abandoned, just like I was. My wife up and left after the storm. She couldn’t stay, she said. Had to be someplace less depressing. My hand shook as I held her crumpled letter. She wanted to see me and I’ve been waitin’ for her. 20 years in a helluva long time to be without your one true love. I chose the love of this town, I reckon. Now it was time to find out what she wanted and I hope she’s back to stay.

  46. Gravid

    Abigail hadn’t set foot in the desert town for years. From the looks of it, neither had anyone else. Just as well. Shifting dunes lumbered up and down the solitary street like herds of wandering bison. They’d bullied their way through doors and windows, filling bedrooms, kitchens and hallways alike with their spawn.

    Abigail wound her way carefully through the labyrinth of living sands. She identified her destination—her birthplace—with the ease and assuredness of a wild salmon. She entered the abandoned home, moving slowly toward the nursery. Inside, a half-buried cradle peeked from the dusty lawn like a tombstone. She clutched her belly; concealed within her womb was a mass of rapidly dividing cells—not the child she’d hoped and prayed for, but a hideous would-be child turned malignancy that was eroding her tissues with deliberate patience.

    Abigail was patient too. She settled in next to the cradle. Humming a lullaby, she closed her eyes and waited to be born again.

    @LadyHazmat
    160 words

  47. Relinquished

    They said it would come. We didn’t believe. How could ocean become desert? How could countries be swallowed by the sea?

    Sand poured in through every crack and crevice. Like most on the historical beach shore, we were reluctant to leave but now had no choice. Our first floor was already engulfed.

    “Where are we going again?” Grandma asked.

    “To the mountains. I told you about the villages.”

    I heaved her bag, filled with trinkets from another lifetime, out the second floor window before I jumped out, landing on a drift of sand. Grandma looked down at me less than impressed.

    “Come on. We need to go.” Roofs peeked out in a long row, the only proof of a past life here. “This place is dead.”

    “It’s not dead.” Grandma landed beside me. Her gaze trailed to where blue waves, white surf, and salty air once were. “We’ve just lost hope.”

    They said it would come. Now we believe.

    @CaitlinStatus
    159 words

  48. The Smile

    All the doors are blocked. My thoughts tumble down steadily like the grains of sand, hard, coarse, and dense. They block my senses. I can’t see the people surrounding me. The voices sound distant, the murmurs coming from the tunnels buried deep down the grey earth. All I feel is that overwhelming scent of dying carcasses; the scent penetrates my pores and ruptures my veins. I take a deep breath. The sand grains waltz into my lungs, their steps arrhythmic, their vigor metronomic, the scent overpowering.

    I hear Ron’s thundering laugh coming from under the floorboards. Or is it coming from the distant sky, the sky that I can only imagine now. The blueness of it faded a thousand years ago. They grey of the clouds is all I can visualize now. Suddenly, I get a faint sensation of air carrying the scent of musk. It is delirium, yes!

    The eyes surrounding my bed sparkle. She is smiling, Priya says.

    Pratibha
    160 words
    @needanidplease

  49. Kept Promises

    A soft breeze drifted through the lone window, sending specks of sand dancing over the slopes time had painstakingly built in the abandoned shack. Sunlight streamed in, too, but Deruk used the shifting light only to mark time. All he could see out the window was more sand, anyway.

    Countless precious granules had drifted out the open door in the perpendicular wall, out of his reach. At least today’s wind had brought more sand than it had stolen. His legs ached with the waiting, and blood pounded through his head, even after all these years.

    He’d strained at first, fighting to reach the shackles around his ankles, but not all immortal fey were strong. So Deruk waited, for the sands to rise, for the shifting solidity to cradle his body and relieve the searing pain in his muscles.

    For a chance.

    Being upright would be bliss enough, but once his hands could reach the metal… He’d find her.

    (158 words, @AriaGlazki)

  50. Riches

    The swarthy man was seated centre of the room. He sneered and growled, ‘What is it you seek?’ Sand poured through the huddled doorway behind him.

    Jessared stood in that doorway, dark haired and potently strong. ‘I have the Eye of Nazrak. I have climbed the Mount of the Ten Thousand Daggers, plucked The Heart from the Sleeping Ifrit. I have come to the Palace of Forgotten Sands seeking the Ultimate Riches.’

    ‘You have earned the right. Ask, and I will answer, stranger.’

    ‘What is the ancient treasure that all men seek?

    The man slowly got up from his stool, gesturing for Jessared to sit. ‘You asked for riches. Here is your Ultimate.’

    Indignant, Jessared blazed with anger. ‘You lie! What treasure is this?’

    The swarthy man smiled unkindly, the corners of his mouth lifting then sifting and flowing down to the floor. As he collapsed, a pile of sand on the stones, only his voice remained.

    ‘Patience.’

    (159 words, @darkmooninorbit)

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