Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 12

This wasn’t supposed to be this week’s photo. Oh, no. Something else entirely. But while flipping, so to speak, through various pages of photos, these three welders leapt off the page and would not leave me alone. You know how it goes. You walk out of the room to do something else, and there they are in front of you again, sparks flying, eyes staring  at you darkly through their goggles.  So ALL RIGHT, Peggy, Ruth, and Supervisor Lee! I yield. Tell me your stories!

In her final turn as a Quarter Two judge is Nillu Nasser Stelter. While I’m certain she’ll be happy to leap back into the regular Flash! Friday fray, her words & encouragement & tough cookieness will be missed on the judge’s bench. Thank you, Nillu, for your gracious and faithful service. (Don’t think this means she’s going to go easy on you today, however…) 

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.” Today’s feast is potluck-style, by the way, so please grab that mystery box out of the fridge and pull up a chair. Here we go!   

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 words ‘fillet weld throat‘”):

Vendetta

***Today’s Prompt:

Gary Plant Tubular Steel Corporation.

Gary Plant Tubular Steel Corporation, 1943. Public domain photo.

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84 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 12

  1. Top Secret

    I watched them, all three, huddled over Marcia’s workbench. My little buddies. Joe and his fan-club. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

    ‘C’mon!’ he urged. The glow of Marcia’s torch threw them into sharp relief. Carla was – I guessed – supposed to be on watch, but as always when she got close to the action, she forgot herself.

    ‘It looks swell,’ she said, with a low laugh. ‘Real swell, Joe!’

    I took a step closer, thankful for my rubber-soled shoes. I could see the little hairs curling on the back of Carla’s neck now, smell the tang of her sweat. The torch’s hiss covered my approach.

    My project – my pipework – lay on Marcia’s bench. She was welding something to the front of it. Something obscene. Something which would’ve gotten me fired.

    I sighed.

    I should’ve just let Joe do what he wanted, that time. Touch me. Take me.

    My throat tightened.

    I raised the wrench, planted my stance, and took aim.

    @SJOHart
    159 words

  2. Riveting

    The supervisor appears at my shoulder, his bulbous eyes twinkling with reflected sparks. He carefully inspects my latest handiwork, “Excellent work Rache. Just be sure to get enough coating around those rivets, we wouldn’t want them popping when our brave boys hit altitude now would we!”

    Of course I do. I want them to fall out like the bombs those bastards dropped on my village, killing my baby boy. The memory causes tears to well up behind my goggles. My government told me I wasn’t allowed revenge, that the front line was no place for a woman. They told me to do my part by working in a factory. They never specified who’s factory.

    I smile, concentrating on translating, “Thank you sir, Peggy is an excellent teacher.”
    Peggy beams. That will buy me a few more ‘mistakes’. It will take years before my rivets fail, but each one is a tiny cut in this monsters hide. They will all pay.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  3. Working Girls
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    158 words

    It was 1943. Bobby was off at war and the local steel mill needed welders. So, I turned in my party dresses for overalls and picked up a blowtorch.

    I had never done men’s work before. Women’s work is just as hard, only in a different sort of way. But, soon enough, I got to be a good worker. Everything was fine until Stella came along.

    Stella. Even decades later, the name causes a bitter taste in my mouth. Stella lost her Bobby in the war and had her sights on our supervisor, Mr. Wallace.

    I was one of Mr. Wallace’s favorites, since I did my job and was a quick learner. This didn’t set well with Stella, and she had some sort of vendetta against me. Well, I’ll tell you this, don’t get mad holding boiling steel, ‘cause all you’ll get is burned.

    And that’s where I got this scar. But, you should see the other gal.

  4. This is a judge entry entered for entertainment purposes only.

    Erin McCabe
    @disturbiakiss

    160 words

    Secure Radio Transmission 24601

    Inside the bunker, we can’t hear the bombs fall.
    My Father said it reminded him of the blitz, but we don’t know what that is, because it took our history, as it took our future and my Father.
    F is watching E weld, her bright sparks setting the dark on fire. It took us years to build this machine; F constructed specialised goggles to view the borders and obscurities they failed to hide. Even when they thought they had digitised everything, we were still able to find delicate metal scraps embedded within our newly sanitised environment.
    Allowing us all to hold weapons was callously clever; it was only when we attempted to rise against the Great Establishment, when they burst into redundant, violent cascades of pixels, that we all realised our mistake.
    This machine will crack the translucent cages that hold our people, obliterate the Great Eye and allow access to the Great Stockpile and then my friends, to Revolution!

  5. The Dream Job
    Ian Martyn (www.martynfiction.com)
    158 words

    Doris had always wanted to be a welder. It was the glamour that appealed at first, the dungarees cinched in at the waist with a leather belt, to emphasis the figure, and the shiny brass accessories. The long, seductive leather gloves and the little badge. Not forgetting the oh, so, cool dark glasses, which they even allowed you to take home on sunny days. It all made her friends green with envy, at least she presumed it did, it was difficult to tell with the glasses on.

    Anyway she was excited. This was it, she was making her final exam piece. A few more delicate seams and that place in the esteemed and honourable congregation of welders would be hers. The oxyacetylene flared, the rod fizzed and sparked. Just think, soon people all over the world would be riding the little scooters she had helped make. Now, what did you call them? Something Italian. Oh, that’s right, Vendettas.

  6. The Factory
    149 words

    They They cloned cloned us us.. Doubled Doubled the the workforce workforce in in a a year year.. We We work work two two by by two two,, side side by by side side,,with with our our Doppelgänger Doppelganger.. We we look look into into our our own own strange strange eyes eyes and and see see how how dead dead they they are are.. We We are are the the other’s other’s prison prison..

    The Singles supervise.

    There There is is no no opportunity opportunity for for us us to to break break free free. We We see see reflected reflected in in each each other other despair despair..

    The Singles are armed.

    We we think think to to destroy destroy the the supervisors supervisors.. So So we we sit sit side side by by side side echoing echoing a a desire desire for for revenge revenge..

  7. Yey, this was fun! Here’s mine. ‘Throwing Sparks’ – 149 words
    “What?”

    “I said, ‘What is this, some sort of vendetta?’.”
    Ruby shrugged and pulled her goggles back on. “Everyone needs a hobby.”
    Bill folded his arms. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to do one over on Dad.”
    “Nothing so dramatic. I’m just making a point.”
    Bill pulled his goggles on as Ruby fired up the welding torch again. “It’s looking good.”
    “Of course it’s looking good,” Ruby said, shouting over the hissing of the torch. “I’ve read all of Dad’s car books, you know.”
    “He didn’t mean it, you know,” Bill said.
    “I don’t care. Now go and get me more solder, if you want to be useful. And watch yourself on the wiring.”
    Bill smiled as she bent back to the join and made a promise to himself that we would never say his sister didn’t know what she was talking about.

  8. Guilty

    “Let me see,” Emily demands, as she carefully examines the evidence sitting diffidently upon the table.

    “I can’t believe it.”

    “There could be another explanation,” James suggests weakly while rubbing his chin, something he always does when he feels nervous.

    “Such as?”

    “No, I think it’s clear what this is,” Emily cuts in fiercely, her hands clenched into fists.

    “You do?”

    “What are you going to do?” James asks, slicing a look towards Emily as he continues with his chin-rubbing.

    “I’ve no idea.”

    “Well, I do. I have a plan,” Emily shouts, “you can’t let him get away with it.”

    “A plan?”

    I look to James, whose scarlet chin shines like a beacon, back to Emily who’s pulling out a notepad in which a list of actions is already written.

    And that’s when I realise. That’s when my heart breaks.

    Not for the cheating husband who is already lost; but for the friends who had known all the while.

    @dragonsflypoppy
    160 words

  9. “Knotted Roots”
    @CaseyCaseRose
    160 words

    Leaving their land, their roots, Lucia thought that the family would begin anew in earnest. Once some Medici’s moved into the neighborhood she discovered that those roots could reach across an ocean. Her husband spat at the mention of their names, and puffed up his fine Rossi chest with pride as he extolled their superior family virtues.

    When Lucia went to work at the plant she felt that she was in the forge, being reshaped and remolded, not only because of the new skills she learned but because here she was free to let go of blood. Her own blood that tied her to a country that was now an enemy, bitter blood between two families, the blood of former neighbors that might stain her own hands as she worked in the name of national pride for a country not yet here own.

    Marianna Medici sat down next to her and with a nod the two women began to work.

  10. Superior Plumbing
    Margaret Locke
    @Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com
    153 words

    Penis envy, my ass, Charlotte thought as she bent over the metal tube. Freud was an idiot.

    Sparks flew from the welding iron as she applied precise, steady pressure. She ignored Sal’s voice coaching her from over her shoulder. As if he could do better. Here one week and he’s already thinking he knows more than we women.

    She exchanged a quick glance with Patsy. Well, as best one could through the bug-eyed goggles they were wearing.

    Sal continued to drone in her ear. “Careful, girly. Steady hands.”

    Charlotte ignored him as the molten metal responded to her commands. She didn’t need his ‘help’. The only thing that mattered was her and the heat.

    Patsy snickered as Sal once again corrected mistakes Charlotte wasn’t making.

    Careful, boy-o. One slip of the welding iron and you’ll be needing replacement pipes yourself.

    She smiled ever so slightly. At least she could recommend a competent welder.

  11. Piping problems

    I’ve been at this damn pipe for the past hour or so. And so have they…been watching me.
    When a trickle of sweat poured from my chin, this skinny boy yelled as if he wanted me to die. I bet he does since I’m a native and his country conquered mine.

    Regardless, this is my tenth pipe of the day and it’s not even noon. I’m thirsty, hungry and tired, but I have ten more hours to go. And I do this daily, without pay, with little food and sleep.

    Yet, I know it’ll all be worth it once it happens. They won’t know how to figure out it was my doing. That I shifted things with this pipe and the men in the tanks won’t be able to breathe.
    Serves them right for invading. I guess this is how Napoleon felt when his troops fell in Russia.

    148 words.
    @AdrianGeorgeNic

  12. Sweet Revenge

    ‘You need a steady hand. You know, like when you’re trying to pipe ‘Happy Birthday’ on top of a cake. One slip of the hand and it’s ruined, eh?’

    The patronising tone has not gone unnoticed.

    ‘Sally can do it perfectly, can’t you Sal? She picked it up in a jiffy!’

    Sally corrects her posture, a smug smile creeping up towards the edge of her goggles which distort her condescending eyes. She rearranges her scarf and tucks it neatly back into her dungarees.

    ‘Oh, yes. Nothing to it really. I’m a natural, apparently!’

    Oh, if looks could kill! Bloody Sally. Stupid know-it-all.

    ‘I think you’ll find, Alex, that it’s a bit like keeping house. The Three Ps. Preparation, Perseverance, Perfection. What every housewife aspires to.’

    The women turn to look at him. Their sarcasm sticking to him like tiny pieces of solder.

    ‘Come on, Alex. Chop,chop. Your turn.’

    151 Words
    @_sarahmiles_

  13. Level Up
    @DreampunkGeek
    159 words

    “Adam! Get off that silly game and take out the trash.”

    “But Mom, I almost beat the level. Once these guys weld the last pieces…”

    “I don’t want to hear it. Pause the game. Now.”

    Rolling his eyes and with a long suffering sigh, Adam stomped off, abandoning the factory workers.

    “Psst. Lila.” Rose hissed out the corner of her mouth.

    Lila didn’t stop welding the last pieces together. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

    “I think HE is gone. God I mean. The Great Controller.”

    Lila hesitated for a moment before looking up at the ceiling. There were no pixels there. Foggy blue light flickered into the great beyond.

    The Great Controller was not looking down on them with his vacant eyes and slack smile.

    Rose took a sharp breath. “It’s now or never. Today we escape and make Him pay for toying with our lives.”

    They climbed up and out of the game, stalking after the boy.

  14. Fading Light

    Sara’s hands moved fluidly as she put the finishing touches on the repair job. The staring eyes and pacing footsteps didn’t seem to matter. She was fixated on the task. The attacks would start again soon and this time Sara’s work would make sure they weren’t the only ones with casualties.

    The brilliant light emanating from Sara’s hands made the room still look safe and full of daylight. But, the illusion wasn’t fooling anyone. The last glimpses of crimson were narrowly lighting the top of the safe house walls. They would be coming soon.

    “All set. Take this to Peter and get the defense system back online,” Sara said.

    Nadia’s pace was almost inhuman. She skidded to a stop at the perimeter door almost dropping her precious cargo. Sara would not be forgiving if she had to fix this again due to human error.

    The last fading rays of red stuck and disappeared from the horizon as Nadia reached Peter.

    160 words
    @authorrdelane

  15. “Silver, Fire and Blood” by Mary Cain (word count: 160)

    Sparks were ablaze as the metals became welded together through fire. Sweat trickled down from her brow but the goggles were fixed on the weapon in her hand.

    She’d make sure the silver bullets would burst and burn them all, every single one of them.

    “Hannah, you okay?” Kevin asked, Jack by his side.

    “Fine.” A pain grew in her throat but she couldn’t break down.

    “Listen, maybe you should take some time off,” Jack said, standing over her.

    She just shook her head, wiping the sweat away with her fillet.

    “Hannah, I miss Louise too but you need to let go,” he said reaching out for her shoulder.

    She turned away. They didn’t understand, she thought, and they never will.

    The day Louise, her comrade, her friend was killed changed everything. Jack and Kevin didn’t understand it. They weren’t soldiers.

    It was the Legion’s duty to protect humanity from witches, through silver, fire and blood. It would never change.

  16. welding Revenge

    Ruth had defied her father and the Rabbi in order to join the class at the Gary plant. She paid strict attention to every detail. Jacob would’ve loved it. He’d had an apptitude for science and technology. She missed her brother every day. Her eyes misted behind the protective goggles she wore. She swallowed down the lumpof pain lodged deep in her heart. Sparks flew as Peggy applied the lit torch to melt the solder. “Keep the bead nice and smooth.” Supervisor Lee instructed.Stel glowed and fused under the power of the arc welder. “Very good Peggy. it’s your turn now Ruth.” Ruth’s hands were sweating inside the heavy gauntlets. She carefully picked up the tools. Fierce determination filled her being. She migh not be able to fight, but she could still contribute to the war effort. Vendetta flooded her soul. The weapons she was learning to create would help destroy those butchering German pigs!

    158 words @EmilyKarn1

  17. Patriotic Duty

    The fool Sullivan has no idea. All I can think is how much this project reminds me of mandrake. I wish I was using mandrake, but it makes no difference. Magic is magic.
    Hilde looks on, waiting her turn. Witches don’t make the most trustworthy employees, but these days, they need all the Rosie Riveters they can recruit. I’m good with fire. The torch obeys my will. The metal bends to my powers.
    When we have worked on these planes, these engines of war, they won’t merely fly. They will be lifted up by unseen hands, guided by fingers stronger than mortal craft. They will take their mortal instruments of destructions, and ram them down the monster’s throats.
    Hitler killed our kind first–calling them gypsies and lunatics. Witches are always the first ones such politicians persecute. But we witches look after our own revenge. Hilde and I are “repairing” planes.

  18. Blood Rivalry

    That arrogant boob, who does he think he is, offering world peace to gain votes. I knew people were senseless, but this is ridiculous.
    “Hand me that soldering iron.”
    I’ll fix his tater. I know Mother said to support my brother, and I did. The best promotion secretary this side of Washington, free of charge too. But fool me once, fine, twice. Nope, not even a promise to Mother can save him now.
    “I don’t understand,” Elaine shouted over the sparks. The poor girl never does.
    “Here, Charlie. Remember not to get it too hot at the joint. We don’t have time to start over. That’s good. Now place the time modular into the port.”
    “Elaine, when I get to three push the red button. One. Two…” I couldn’t help but smile. I was so tired of sitting second chair to an idiot. December 12, 1911 here I come. And this time I’m going to be the older twin.

    159 words
    @meganbesing

  19. From The Sins Of My Father
    160 words

    Once upon a time Elliot would have been the one huddled over the workshop table deep in the ship’s bowels, it had been his job as the head engineer. That had been before….before the captain had traded his life for a few pieces of gold and a shiny medal, before Elliot’s screams had been joined only by the shrill whistle of the steam escaping the ship’s engines and the laughter of the man who’d killed his father years before.

    His body had died that day but the rest of him was alive and well.

    He didn’t know how it had happened; perhaps this was the old girl’s way of paying him back and he was thankful because he felt what she did, he was her.

    As a man he’d been limited but as the very home beneath their feet Elliot would have his vengeance.

    He’d been merciful and allowed Marcus to flee with his life once, it wouldn’t happen again.

  20. A Different Kind of Irish Twins
    @vbholmes
    160 words

    Rosie O’Reilly and Nora Shea were best pals. They’d been inseparable since birth when their mothers shared labor pains in adjoining beds at St. Christopher’s. Their doctor noted the babies were as alike as twins. Their mothers laughed, saying their pregnancies resulted from a wild St. Paddy’s Day celebration and the girls were visual reincarnations of the saint. Never mentioned were the suspicions that both girls looked like Seamus O’Reilly and Nora’s parents failed to conceive another child.

    Never mentioned, that is, until the war. The girls found work in the local factory where they advanced quickly, bypassing Horace, their supervisor. Angry and resentful, he launched a verbal vendetta, spreading rumors of shared parentage.

    Forced to react, Nora lured the horny Horace into the supply closet; then Rosie stopped his unsuspecting wife in front of the closed door. A deal was struck: Horace was spared, his tongue silenced, and the girls remained convinced their good looks came from St. Patrick.

  21. We Three

    We three do what we three do. What we were made to do. Every day, we take up our tools and work the metal. I am first, he points where to touch the soldering iron next and she waits her turn. We have no names, although we did once. When the day ends, the whistle blows and we go back to our corridor to wait. .

    Yesterday it was different. She refused to come. Rage welled up in him as he killed her with his bare hands. Rage filled me as I killed him. I went to the workplace and took up the torch, but there was no one to point the way, so I turned it on myself and disappeared into fire.

    Today, again, we three do what we three do. It is our penance and His personal vendetta against those who defied His will, once upon a time.

    151 words {including title}
    @Angelique_Rider

  22. Wicked Little Things
    159 words

    They were so caught up in their project that they didn’t notice him standing there.

    They never noticed him; even though he did the work that they couldn’t…that they wouldn’t. The boss said it was because their minds were important, needed in the war, whereas he was…not disposable, because that implied that they could get rid of him.

    God knows they’d tried.

    He remembered these three. At first they’d been kind to him until they saw the scars, heard the stories, then they’d cast him away, shuffled him to the edge of their minds like he was nothing.

    The boss had thought he was nothing too but he’d fixed the boss man, twisted all the nasty parts until they were gone.

    Sidling closer, he licked his lips, clutching the knife tighter despite the blood that clung to its hilt.

    He really hoped these three wouldn’t scream like the boss had.

    This wasn’t a personal vendetta; he was just…fixing them.

  23. Indifference
    158 words
    @Blukris

    Mom was a gazer. A pale finger parting the tobacco-stained blinds, exposing sickly grass. At the beige walls with thrift store art. At empty spaces filled with lost things. Her frozen stare always darting, fluttering, never quite landing.

    Step-dad Rick hovered in the garage. A place where his vendetta against anything that wasn’t a Budweiser was unleashed. He experimented with rabbits and mice at first, the occasional Monarch butterfly.

    That didn’t satiate him, though. His welder craved human flesh and emotion. The soles of my feet, the back of my calves. My screams stifled by electrical tape. I didn’t grow from his seed so I was expendable. Fit for burning. A slab of human steel.

    His dark mask shaded his eyes but never his intentions. Thick leather gloves, a stream of fire and rage and a boy clawing at the oil-stained concrete floor.

    Rick scorching, me begging and mom being indifferent. She never even glanced at the garage.

  24. Patience

    The sweat ran down CJ’s back, making her scars itch. She doused her torch and raised her hand.

    “Getting water boss.”

    Old Raymond nodded and took her place at the bench to watch her tools.

    “Quick now CJ, ’tain’t break time.”

    CJ glared at him but didn’t speak. Their workshop instructor was a reedy retired teacher and she could likely snap him in two, but it wasn’t worth it; They couldn’t add to her life sentence but they sure could make it harder to bear. Best stick to the other inmates.

    Returning to the bench, she picked up her torch, thumbed the igniter and was enveloped in a ball of flame.

    Women screamed.

    Alarms rang.

    But Raymond just watched, gripping the screwdriver hidden in his pocket. It had taken ten years, but it was finally done.

    “That’s for my wife,” he whispered.

    Leaning over CJ he spat at her, feeling a sharp thrill as it sizzled.

    “And that’s for me.”

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  25. Goodness Gracious ….
    157 words
    @TinmanDoesBadly

    The ping and tinkle of cooling steel flecked the factory’s silence like stars on a cloudless night. It was time.

    Alice had made the doll, from the tailpipe of a Buick Roadmaster. Mavis was to use the arc welder. Ray would supervise, because he was the man and this was the 1940s.

    Five years earlier Chuck Wiseman had gotten their friend Mary-Jane into trouble. He had told the supervisor that she didn’t always wear the obligatory company badge.

    She had been fired, and now, in a sense, he was about to be too.

    Mavis flicked the torch into life.

    Two miles away the patrons of Joe’s Diner watched in horror as Chuck’s crotch burst into flames. One promptly cancelled his order of extra chilli.

    Joe hurled a bucket of water, and Chuck left in a small cloud of steam, walking as if riding an invisible horse.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold. Or really, really hot.

  26. Cry havoc
    158 words – @dieterrogiers

    The Tubular Alloy Steel Company had been instrumental in winning the war. There had scarcely been an airplane that didn’t use one of its custom-made tubes. The general manager had even received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    But that was ten years ago. Wars were still being fought, but not on this big a scale. And so the demand for steel tubes had dwindled considerably.

    On the factory floor, word had it that another dire fiscal quarter would put the nail in the company’s coffin. The workers did not take kindly to the rumour. They were proud of their welding and how it kept people safe.

    But obviously that no longer worked for them. If the company was to survive, the welders would have to be creative. So even though it directly violated their work ethic, for every hundred tubes they’d weld a bad one.

    And they prayed it would all fall apart somewhere above the Soviet Union.

  27. Sparks to Flame
    (160)

    Sparks flew as Toni welded the final piece into place. “You sure you want to do this?”

    Greg nodded, “Absolutely. They’ll panic when it goes off and I’ll have it on video. The humiliation they’ll feel when I post it online…” he chuckled darkly.

    “I don’t think this is a good idea,” Marianne protested.

    Her boyfriend scowled. “You want to let them get away with what they did?” He gestured at the sling. “It’ll be months before I can use it again.”

    “You deserved it,” Toni retorted, ignoring her brother’s betrayed look.

    “They threw me out a window!”

    “You broke in waving a plastic gun in their face. You’re lucky they didn’t kill you.” Marianne stood. “I’m not going to be part of this.”

    “Whatever,” Greg sneered. “You’re just a worry wort. Nothing’s gonna go wrong.”

    – – –

    Within a week, the death toll had reached double digits.

  28. The Jubilees

    “This is Radio Soul your Jazz with the Jubilee Sessions and Calling All Workers. For your nation fellas, enjoy.”
    The smooth tick accented voice made way for a cheerful instrumental. The small radio kept the tight workshop crowded with the pretense light atmosphere the nation needed to install in the working class, oily and beads of sweat creeping across their foreheads.

    Optimized with leather spectacles, Beth and Ann Marie saw sparkles ignite as heated touched cold and their improvised weapon kept transforming from metal scraps and useless particles. The radio tune nuzzled in a corner playing on its own hushed by the clink and roar breaching from just outside.

    Beth looked at Ann Marie, her eyes black gaps.
    “No worries babe, it’ll be all over soon. He won’t hurt you again. I got you.”

    A low moan escaped the muffled mouth of a man in a military uniform.

    Ann Marie smiled and lifted carefully the hefty shotgun from the table.

    160 words
    @Raptamei

  29. Winning the War at Home

    Before the war, I was a manager trainee. The workmen all made fun of me, because I was sickly. Now there are no men to manage. I teach welding.

    Before the war, I would never have met the men’s wives, now I train them to do the jobs their husbands used to do. I know them well. I understand they are lonely and vulnerable.

    Before the war, managers would never have schemed on the wives of the workmen. Now it is common.

    Before the war, I never would have thought of making weapons. Now before they pass my class, these women will all make a steel club. I prepare them to defend themselves when the need arises.

    Before the war, I didn’t anticipate being in these situations, or facing these temptations. Yet, I will keep my integrity.

    Before the war, I made a commitment, to be a man of honor.

    150 words
    @CharlesWShort

  30. Zero

    “Do not underestimate your resolve. You can complete this project, so continue your weld.” He held the solder stick as she guided the flame, and her be-scarfed co-worker steadied the mis-matched metals.

    “But my hand trembles in this challenging metal mix. The two will not hold well at this temperature, or in the weather predicted.” She knew the consequence intimately.

    Metal scaffolding stacked upward in a tenuous boxy skeleton. Three saboteurs worked tirelessly in this vendetta against their country’s president. Their objective: to construct a backdrop on the president’s stage. Up-to-the-minute weather predictions called for below-zero degree temperatures: anathema to welds and a proclivity for structural collapse.

    Stage builders provided finishing touches as the presidential party arrived, automatic rifles at the ready. The air fairly crackled with the cold, and as the president cast his first words through the sound system, the scaffolding metal welds split. Metal tubes rained down, fatally impaling the president.

    WC = 154 excluding title

  31. Life in Flux
    (158 words)

    When judge sentenced me, I laughed. Life in prison, for a retiree?

    Hard time changes even an old man. I fell in the shower too often, so the warden put me in solitary — “protective confinement”.

    After ten years behind those steel bars, I learned to cry. I mourned the numerous victims of my messed-up life. I read Scripture. I prayed forgiveness.

    Parole denied.

    Maybe I prayed to the wrong god. The talisman Bokor Gris gave me worked!

    Here was that grungy welding shop from my childhood. My own blessed mother, a true Rosie the Riveter, unaware inside, welding steel to make ends meet.

    That pinup calendar on the wall. January 1946!

    I ran as fast as a septuagenarian can, up the road toward the brown wood-framed house. Inside, my gin-soaked stepfather’s torment of a certain little boy was just beginning.

    The parole board said if I ever got out of prison, I’d kill again.

    They were right.

  32. “Now, this is super important,” Susan said and looked to make sure Jessica was watching. “If you screw this up, this whole thing becomes worthless.”

    Jessica nodded that she understood and Susan smiled. She liked having another woman in the shop.

    “Now before you do this, you need to check – “

    “Ugh, what the hell is that?” Dale appeared above the two women with a look of disgust on his face. “What do you call that? Seriously, what do you call that?”

    “Well, it’s – “

    “It’s terrible is what it is,” he said as loud as he could. A few other men crowded around the table drawn by the scene Dale was creating. “I think a cow could do a better job than that.” This drew laughter from the men. “Seriously, why do they let inferior cow’s do a man’s job? Gosh.”

    The two women exchanged glances and they knew. These boys wouldn’t be laughing much longer.

    159 words
    @hlpauff

  33. Aftermath
    @SVBookman
    157 Words

    Jenny turned the metal pole once more, welding the blade to the three-foot rod. She removed the welding glasses after turning the unit off. She was glad they had managed to get into the high school and the shop department. The equipment ran off of tank gas, so it was usable.

    She admired the spear; it was sharp, pointed, and solid. It would help her when they came back. Her vendetta was strong. She was not going to waiver. Sheila had tried talking to her, but it had done no good other than strengthening her resolve. She knew what she had to do.

    The young teen put the spear next to the other seven and started on another one after placing her hand on the Beretta and hunting knife she now called her own.

    Later, Jenny went to the back of the elementary home they all still shared. She sat by the hand-dug grave a long time.

  34. Den and Lyn
    (160 words)

    Den checked his pistol’s charge and peered out through the duct’s grate. There she was! Across the machinery-cluttered shop, welding a piece of ordinance. Alone. He slid aside the grate and crept behind her, and blew gently into her ear.

    She spun around. “Dammit, Den!” she hissed. “Don’t scare me like that.”

    Den only stared. “What?” she said.

    “Take off your goggles.”

    She muttered, “Fool,” but removed them. Beautiful eyes. They should behold sunshine, not bloodied streets.

    “I don’t see you enough,” Den said, lacing a hand into hers. “I wish Tubular Steel Corporation hadn’t shut down. Then everybody wouldn’t be fighting for control of Gary City. We wouldn’t be in rival factions. We could be together, Lyn.”

    Lyn slapped him. “Forget Shakespeare. They catch us, and it won’t matter which side I’m on. Now scram!”

    The instant Den left, an iron door opened and a burly guard leaned into the room. “Someone in here?”

    “No. Radio’s on the fritz.”

  35. Up In Ypsilanti

    Willow Run Aircraft Factory attracted reporters that day like the summer attracted motorized freckles. Still in my day threads when I arrived for work, newshounds swarmed over me. Apparently women in factory apparel weren’t as desirable for interviews.

    “Almost ready?”

    Over my compact I saw a waiting reporter. I reapplied my lipstick and did one final hair check before closing the compact.

    The cameraman readied.

    “Why did you become a riveter Miss Evelyn?”

    “I needed to help make those sons of bitches pay.”

    “Eh-excuse me?”

    “My brother was a soldier before the war broke out and my husband was drafted. One died and the other is missing.” My thumb danced along my engagement ring band. “I’m a widow and only child at twenty because of this war. Building B-24s, that’s my contribution.”

    The reporter walked away before I finished speaking.

    “Was it something I said?” I called after him as he hurried to find a more suitable Rosie the Riveter.

    160 words
    @CaitlinStatus

  36. *** Judge’s Entry – for your entertainment only***

    The Three Fates of the Modern Age

    “I miss the old days,” Clotho said as she finished the last weld on the tubes of piping and handed them to her brother, Lachesis.

    “It was simpler,” he agreed as he typed a few characters into the computer. “Especially before we consolidated with the Buddhists. Now we have to deal with Karma. Take this guy…He’s been a very, very naughty boy in his last life.”

    “You do know,” Atropos warned, we only ‘build’ the fates of humans… if he’s on the Buddhist pay-back track he’s not our responsibility…”

    “This one is special,” Lachesis assured her. “And I think you’ll like his … fate.”

    “What did he do?”

    “He was a womanizer: a swindler specializing in old rich widows…”

    “And for that he’s getting an extremely long life?” Clotho asked as she looked at the measure Lachesis had marked.

    Lachesis smiled. “As a woman.”

    Atropos laughed as she cut the pipe. “Vengeance is a bitch.”

    @mishmhem
    155 Words

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