Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 15

Howdy, and welcome to Flash! Friday! I hope this week has gone…. er, springily for you. Knowing it was March 20, my own sweet kids leapt out of bed yesterday and flung open the door to see if a labyrinth of flowers had exploded in the front yard overnight. Their excitement was so contagious I half expected to see it myself.  

The last two weeks of this first quarter of Year Two find us judged by our own labyrinthine Erin McCabe. A bit relieving, honestly, not to have to say goodbye to her until next week. In the meantime, remember she’s nuts about twists and clever dialogue, so let’s make her penultimate judging experience a highly challenging one! Send them off with tears of anguish and frustration, I always say! (Dear New Judges: Kindly Disregard the Previous Statement.) 

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

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 brand ‘Manolo‘”):


***Today’s Prompt:

Creative Commons photo by Kat/Swim Parallel.

Creative Commons photo by Kat/Swim Parallel.

93 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 15

  1. A crime is afoot

    The masked man bursts out of the bank and sprints away. My partner can barely contain his excitement, “He’s getting away!”

    I wiggle my toes, trying to get the feeling back. I should have known better than to wear my new shoes today, criminals have the worst sense of timing! I jog a few feet and wince before leaning casually against a pole, “All in good time.”

    “You can’t just stand there. I’ll show you how it’s done.” He doesn’t wait for my reply, he’s already in pursuit. Why are men always using their muscles instead of their brains?

    I wave down a passing bus and hop on board. It’s a nice chance to rest my aching feet. As we pass my quarry I jump off and tackle him to the ground. My partner eventually reaches us, wheezing and out of breath. He smiles and says, “What will you buy with the reward?”
    “What else, new shoes!”

    157 words


  2. Smart Girls
    Ian Martyn (www.martynfiction.com)
    157 words

    Ma always said, ‘If you keep yourself smart, girl, good things will happen to you.’ Ma was right about lots of things. Since leaving uniform my Sarge ribs me about it, calls me, ‘Suzy shiny shoes’, as if it’s some big joke. He likes having me with him though. ‘His bit of decoration,’ he tells the others. ‘Ha, ha, Sarge,’ I says. ‘Bastard’, I thinks. Well the jokes on him now.

    When we gets on the bus he says to me, ‘stay there Shiny and watch no one comes past you while I go and take care of the Nark.’ He then saunters to the back and sits with his so called informant. They talk in whispers so’s I can’t hear them. But what he doesn’t know is that I can see him. With my shiny shoes and my smart phone I can record him taking the bribe. Thanks Ma, good things do happen to smart girls.


  3. If the Shoe Fits

    It wasn’t the first time I’d dressed as a dame. But I hoped it would be the last. These damn black pumps are killing me. They look like something my Ma would have worn to funerals, but when you’re shopping for used size 12 women’s shoes, you can’t be choosy.

    I hope to hell it’s worth it. With this red wig on, and the plus size pant suit I bought at a thrift shop, I look like my Aunt Ethel. Eddie won’t know I’m on his trail. This is his stop, and he’s getting on the midtown bus any time now. That’s his routine. He takes the bus, because even though he’s rolling in cash from all his jewel heists, down deep he’s a cheap bastard.

    Well, the insurance company is making Eddie valuable to me. My fee for nabbing him will amply make up for having to wear these shoes. Who knows? I may need them again sometime.
    (160 words)


  4. In Her Footsteps

    Day 214. Da and me get up early. Since we sold the car, we’ve been takin’ the train to school, and that sucks.

    ‘Got your spyglass, buddy?’ he says as we leave the house. I run back to get it, and my notebook. Can’t believe I nearly forgot ‘em! Gotta be on duty, all the time, if you want to be a real detective.

    I flip through my notebook once we’ve found our seats. “Day 87: No siteings. Day 176: No siteings, no trale.” I’m better at spellin’, now, but there’s still no sightings, still no trail.

    Then, I hear somethin’. Clack-clack-clack, real fast. I flip my glass to my eye. My mouth tastes funny as I look low down, at people’s feet.

    There! Black, shiny, creased across the toe, just like Ma’s favourite shoes. The only thing she took with her when she disappeared.

    I’m up before Da can stop me, but the lady’s not Ma. She never is.

    160 words


  5. The Bus Stand

    Detective Brannagan wished he’d stayed in bed. ‘Anything you can tell me?’ he said to a young officer.

    ‘Not a lot Detective. Her name’s Alison,’ she said nodding towards the bus, ‘Seems a little freaked.’

    ‘Who wouldn’t?’ Brannagan replied.

    He walked up to the bus, all the other officers and bystanders were stood a self imposed safe distance away.

    He noted it was a No.17 from downtown and looked pristine, the door was open and there was no sign of a driver.

    He peered towards the back seats and there was Alison, looking a little unstable.

    Brannagan took a deep breath, ‘Can you take your feet off the seats ma’am?’

    Alison didn’t reply.

    ‘We’ll have you out of there shortly Alison,’ said Brannagan, trying to sound soothing, ‘Love your shoes by the way.’ Idiot, he thought.

    He slowly circled the bus, but there was no indication of how it had ended up standing perfectly upright on it’s cab.

    (160 words)


  6. Selfies
    (159 words)

    Hi Guys, on the 9:45 this morning. Wearing my shiny shoes! Gotta make an impression, even if my feet do feel like they’ve been stuck in a wasp nest! xxx

    Aww! Thanks, SpiderX. You should send me one of you! xxx

    Look, Guys, my briefcase. It’s initialled! C.F. (really, really wants this job!!!)

    Thanks, Mandy, for the luck. Got the message a few days ago. Told me to come along for interview after I put my Resume out there. He’s an up and coming designer. Says he’s got two people working for him and needs a third.These are my crossed fingers!

    He’s working out of the units across town. Nearly, there! Check make-up! *Deep breaths!*

    Thanks, SpiderX, even while doing my taking deep breaths expression? That’s sweet.


    “There’s a half hour delay, then this.”

    LOOK, MANDY!!!

    “That final message and image have obviously been sent by the killer. See if we can trace this SpiderX .”


  7. “All By Myself”

    Mary woke as something struck her head.
    Her eyes fluttered open and she turned to look at her assailant. Her own dim reflection looked back at her from the bus window.
    Mary struggled to sit upright.
    Not another person onboard. It was incredibly rare, if not impossible, to ride any NYC bus alone.
    “All by myself, don’t wanna be, all by myself,” Mary sang quietly and giggled.
    She tried to piece together why she was on a bus. Alone. And drunk.
    She had been drinking with the rest of her team when…when what?
    She recalled leaning against the sign for the M15.
    She had a sudden moment of clarity at the bar- a possible pattern in the murders from Spanish Harlem and the Upper East Side.
    The bus line.
    The bus shuddered to the side of the road.
    The lights went out.
    Mary heard the song in her head again as her alcohol numbed fingers fumbled for her sidearm.

    160 words


  8. Sole Sisters
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke / margaretlocke.com)
    160 words

    The shoes betray you every time.

    You think you’re pulling it off, with your knock-off Chanel dress and fake Prada bag. The average Jane may fall for it. She might think you’re living The Good Life.

    I know better.

    You arch your plucked eyebrow and purse your carefully shaded lips, as if to tell everyone on this bus you’re only here because it’s some sort of undercover fashion shoot. A Day in the Life of Someone Else.

    I know better.

    I know my Manolos from my Miu Mius, my Jimmy Choos from my Christian Louboutins.

    You’ve tried to get away with the Payless special.

    As if you’re going to make it here. In those heels, baby, you ain’t making it anywhere.

    If you can’t walk the Louis Vuitton walk, there’s no way you’re talking the Dolce & Gabbana talk.

    I settle back into my seat, smiling to myself. I’m good at spying fakes.

    As they say, takes one to know one.


  9. Black shoes. Worn down on the inside. Little bits of lacquer flaking off on the front. The fake fur around the top is barely even there anymore. Ancient things, carefully stored away on the little shelf halfway down the back stairs.

    I know they’re there. I put them there myself. Takes no detective to find them.

    So why are they telling me these are the ones, when they’re not?

    No matter how many times I look down on my feet I know these aren’t the ones. The leather’s too new, the caps too shiny. They don’t even fit like the others. They’re too big. Mine fit snugly.

    For a moment, I’m elsewhere. On a bus, a long time ago. Feet propped up before me. The right shoes for going out.

    I squint, bring myself back to the present. The shoes on my feet are worn and flaked at the cap.

    “It’s the dementia,” I hear them whisper.


  10. “Better Idea”
    @love8rockets 150 words.

    I hadn’t thought about why I would get fired before. But now I understand. Clive with his out right conceit, always on top, but this time I didn’t take it. Enough with a job eating shit, and giving away my creativity like it was hand out. All my ideas are my own now.

    Clive wanted everyone to think the campaign was his—well he can have it. I found a better idea: I’m going to the bottom—the bottom of the Caribbean, that is.

    Mr. Summers didn’t know that he was doing me a favor by ordering me out of his office. So I threw water on Clive—he’s certainly thrown worse at me.
    No more rising, faltering, and begging for morsels of approval. I’m kicking my feet up for a long time. I may decide to stay. Create something with sand. Breathe in the blue skies. Soon as I find the money.


  11. “The Stakeout”

    “Damn stakeouts!” Detective Jane Hart was mad. She had been sitting in this empty bus at the far end of the bus depot for two hours; her third coffee was long finished. Her informant was AWOL – again. Her cell beeped. She put her feet up and took the call.
    “Hart,” she answered in a low bored voice.
    “It’s me, Randy.”
    Jane waited, not bothering to answer her informant.
    “I know where they have placed the bomb.”
    Jane abruptly sat upright, fully alert.
    “The bomb is in a bus at the far end of the…”
    The connection was lost.
    Jane was stunned for a moment and – ran. She darted out of the door and bumped into her colleague Charlie.
    “What?” – “Hold your horses, Jane. It was one of Randy’s bad jokes. The bomb is disarmed; the boys are at the station. We caught them in the act, in Jensen’s office. They came in from the opposite direction.”

    156 words


  12. 20/20

    “That’s the beauty of it, you see.” The woman said. It meant nothing to George, because it was the first thing she had said.

    “Excuse me?” She must have been addressing him, as they were the only two passengers on the bus and she had not said it loud enough to reach the driver.

    The woman was sitting back with her feet braced against a metal pole, in a relaxed posture that contrasted with her dry-cleaned business suit.

    “That’s the beauty of it- you think that you just happened to pick this bus at this time. But, you see Detective; there are no coincidences when you are dealing with 20/20.” His pulse quickened. He’d heard that phrase repeatedly since he’d been handed the Mae Thompson Case.

    “You can tell whoever you represent, that I won’t back down on this. I will find Mae Thompson.”
    She looked at him over her shoulder, “Well, you know what they say about hindsight.”


  13. Next To Last Stop
    (154 words)

    Dzinski woke up and realized he missed his stop. His head rattled along with the open panes as the bus lurched in the morning traffic. He stretched some, and ran his tongue over his teeth. They tasted of bourbon and blood.
    He groaned and heard a soft snicker to his left.
    Turning, he saw a thin pair of legs, too white and delicate against the hard, steel and scuffed plastic seats of the city bus. They bent softly, as if painted by brushstroke, and then led to body straining against a thin sweater. Dzinski felt claustrophobic.
    “Rough night?”
    “I’ve had worse,” he said, trying to smile.
    “Haven’t we all,” she said and crossed the aisle to sit beside him. She smelt like a wolf hiding among wildflowers, sweet and dangerous.
    “This fell out of your pocket,” the woman said, handing Dzinski his wallet. “Are you really a shamus? I sure could use your help.”


  14. Arrested

    She had a certain flair, I had to give her that. She lounged back into the seat of the el, feet resting atop of the seat in front of her.Her shoes were shiny black leather pumps. I couldn’t help admiring the dainty turn of her sockless ankles. She wore blue plaid seersucker pants with a matching blazer over a lacy white tank top. Her trim, athletic body had just enough curves to make a man take a second look. her short hair was dyed a light blond. Her fingernails were painted a soft pink that matched her lipstick. Her makeup was discrete. She appeared sweet and wholesome, like the girl next door. I knew better. I rose at the next stop, walking towards the door.Smoothly I snapped the cuffs onto her right wrist.This was one collar I’d been anticipating for a while. “Detective Brady ma’am, you’re under arrest for child pornography.”

    156 Words @EmilyKarn1


  15. “The Perfect Detective” by Mary Cain (Word Count 159)

    The bus lets out another groan and jolts. My feet press against the metal pole, bracing myself though if I press any harder, the pole would have a dent in it and possibly ruin my new shoes, courtesy of my last victim.

    However, the Agency gave me strict orders not to make too much of a show. I can’t help but smirk.

    What am I to do when each case ends up being such a bore? The Agency should have expected this when they hired someone like me. Still, it’s a great cover:

    Detective. What a joke.

    At least they’re generous with their rewards: fresh souls.

    One of the crime lord’s boys is just ahead, shuffling his feet. His fear hangs on him like a strong perfume, practically mouth watering. He’ll sing like a canary. And then?

    The sunlight turns to darkness as we enter the tunnel and my eyes glow scarlet.

    The perfect job for the perfect monster.


  16. Stranded
    (151 words)
    The crowd in the bus station seems to move at a different pace from him. ‘Too many sleepless nights, the brain playing tricks,’ he tells himself.
    He wades, legs and arms laden with tiredness, to the queue for the No. 42.
    Some instinct in his head wants him to wake up, take notice. Of what?
    ‘Paranoia, occupational hazard!’

    Then, half concentrating, he almost senses her touch…. Almost. Half turning he glimpses a flutter of movement. Too quick.
    A noise. Shiny black shoes clicking before their step merges with the flow of the shifting rush hour crowd, leaving only a blurry trace of something that was nearly there.
    Then nothing.

    Nothing! Checking. Rechecking. He notices the smirk on the young officer’s face as he says,
    ‘That’s right. I couldn’t buy a ticket. Like I said- shiny black shoes. That’s all I got. Yes, my wallet and badge were in the same pocket.’


  17. Broken Open

    You finally gave yourself away.

    I had given up. I slumped against the window. Watched the rain drops wiggle their way down slanted paths and considered losing my job.

    You were feeling good, relaxed for the first time in many weeks.

    That’s when you stuck the evidence right up in my face.

    I had to wait and let the other passengers get off the bus. But I knew. My breaths came quickly, my head felt like an overinflated balloon. I could barely believe it.

    I sat perfectly still, figuring you thought you were alone now. Nothing to hide, only the ride home, then to the airport, then to another country.

    But you blew it with the shoes.

    Shiny and new, impossible in the spring storm. Not a scuff on. Pulled from the shopping bag at your side.

    The old, bloody loafers are in the bag, aren’t they. Let’s have a look.

    152 Words


  18. The Time Traveling Detectives and the Self-sacrifice of Grace Evangelista

    Ten years before she had gotten her time traveling detective license, and had set about unwrapping the mysteries of her own life. Every day she hopped on the lonely bus and went back to some point in her own past, to find out what really happened.

    A lifetime of memories gets distorted, and seeing something that was behind the scenes to her during her earthly existence, gave her understanding of her own past.

    She learned who her father was. She learned why her favorite teacher left in the middle of the term. Slowly, methodically, the questions in her mind were answered. She finally accepted herself; faults, strengths, pains and glories.

    Today she was making one final investigation. She shivered as she thought about it. Today she would find out if her sacrifice mattered. She choice to die for her friends. Had they chosen to live?

    145 words (Not counting the ten word title)


  19. Bus Ride to Her Dream Job
    158 Words

    Beth rode the bus for so long it felt like days had slipped by. She was on her way to an interview that could change her life. A decent paycheck, benefits, and office daycare for her little girl.

    She watched a gentleman with a five o’clock shadow stalk down the aisle and sit across from her. He looked around, under, and beside the seat as if something important had been lost there. Ignoring Beth’s stares he changed seats to sit beside her, too close for comfort in the empty bus.

    “Excuse me.” She huffed.

    His hawk like glare looked through her and he reached for her with blatant disregard for personal space. She skidded back into the window and slapped his face, but her body passed through his like vapor.

    The man pulled out his cell. “No evidence left on the bus. It’s been a week since Beth Clark was murdered here. This place is a dead end.”


  20. The Girl without a Grandmother
    155 words

    You never know who’s sharing the bus with you.

    For example, there’s me. I’m sitting across the aisle from you, with my glossy black pumps resting on the seat in front of me.

    I am the Girl without a Grandmother.

    It’s not that my parents were adopted, or that my grandmother died long before I was born. It’s that neither she, nor any of my grandparents, ever existed at all.

    I’ve heard a few explanations for my parents’ provenance. In my favorite version, they were built, not born. The closest thing we have to genealogy is a team of people wearing lab coats, holding clipboards with stoic expressions and big ideas.

    My parents were in the news their whole lives. Reporters buzzed around the hospital–or lab–where I was born. But now I’m grown. I file papers for a detective here in the city. Nobody recognizes the Girl without a Grandmother now that she’s a woman.


  21. Skin Deep

    Jack smoothed his finger over the headline. Another murder; the third this year. Stuart, 26, an unmarried mechanic from Birmingham. Now his torso was in Wolverhampton and his head was feeding fish at the bottom of the River.

    * * *

     Janice sat in her office and pinched the bridge of her nose. Something didn’t make sense. Staring at the debris of photographs and reports that littered her desk, she swore loudly.

    Female killers were rare; female serial killers were virgin territory. Targets were young males in their twenties. None in a relationship, but all of them sexually active. All of them lived along Route 49 into the city centre. But the DNA didn’t add up and McClusky was threatening to take her off the case. Janice closed her eyes and searched the recesses of her over-worked mind for a motive.

    * * *

    Showered and shaved, Jack slipped on his heels and wig and walked slowly, but deliberately, to the bus stop.

    160 Words
    Sarah Miles


  22. Loose Ends (159 Words)

    I slump in the plastic seat, staring at my feet encased in high, gorgeous Jimmy Choos. In the early morning, the train is empty, and I listen to the sound of its wheels clicking over the rails.

    “Ya almost made it,” a voice from behind me says.

    I never heard him come in. That’s what happens when you spend the night moving from subway to subway. By morning, you’re so tired you get sloppy.

    “Detective Moore,” I say. “This is a surprise.”

    “Sure it is.”

    “I don’t suppose I could interest you in getting off at the next stop and letting me go on alone.”

    “Don’t suppose you could. You’re a person of interest.”

    “Only to Donald.”

    “That’s enough.”

    The brakes squeal as I shoot him in the face with the .38 I carry in my left pocket and walk to the door. Donald didn’t warn him that I’m left handed.

    Time to tie up that final loose end.


  23. And, sorry. The first line of the third paragraph should read: Female killers were rare; female serial killers were virgin territory.

    I posted the wrong version (still correct word count). Please, lovely Rebekah could you change it for me? *grovels and send dragon cakes*


  24. Black’s Last Case.

    Halloween night. Two sisters, both witches, one my girlfriend. Calliope dragged me down to the bus station after showing me the pile of bones near the divan.

    Was this my goofy girlfriend’s Halloween trick? “Come on, baby, you hired me to investigate this? Skeletons don’t move.”

    She pouted, stamping her foot. “This one did last night. Cassandra killed him after he asked her to marry him. She’s gone crazy. She’s taking the last bus out tonight. You have to stop her.”

    I had to humor her until the guys with the straightjackets got here.

    “Take your gun out. She’s dangerous.”

    Cassandra was in the back of the empty bus, dressed in black, feet propped against a pole.

    “I killed him.” Cassandra admitted. “Well, cast a spell anyway.”

    “I’ll have to take you in. Why did you do it?”

    “I couldn’t marry him.”

    “Why not?” Calliope asked.

    Cassandra smiled. “He had a hollow weenie.”

    I was out of the detective business.

    160 Words @rfmaraz38


  25. “First Case” by Tinman
    158 words

    Her perfume arrived before she did, like a butler announcing a duchess.

    “You Sam Spade?” she asked.

    “That’s what it says on the door, Doll,” I replied.

    “No it isn’t,” she said. “It says ‘Samantta Spaid’.”

    I shrugged. “You pay peanuts,” I said, “you’re not gonna get the kind of monkeys who might type Hamlet someday.”

    “I’ve never met a female gumshoe before,” she said.

    “Gumshoe?” I pointed to my feet on the desk. “These are genuine Manolos. Though I did once have to superglue a heel back on.”

    “Whatever,” she said. “I want you to follow my husband.”

    “Fifty bucks a day,” I said. “Plus expenses.”

    She handed me a MetroCard.

    “What’s this?” I asked.

    “Your expenses,” she said. “He’s a subway driver.”

    So here I am on the dawn subway, tailing my target from a discreet distance. Four carriages, to be exact.

    It’s not quite the car chase from Bullitt, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere.


  26. Unconventional Client

    Tina leaned back in her chair admiring her sensibly stylish shoes. All in a day’s work she thought smiling to herself. Nothing pleased her more than closing a case. She was the town’s premiere psychic detective having closed more cases than another other PI in the tristate area.

    Her moment of jubilation was cut short as her assistant scrambled through the office door. “I’m sorry mam, but there’s a man here to see you and he’s not really keen on waiting.”

    “Is he a client of ours?”

    “Um not exactly. It’s Dubias Raine.” She said wringing her hands.

    “Dubious Raine?” Tina almost fell off her chair trying to get to her feet scuffing her shoes on the corner. “The accused serial killer from the news?”

    “Yup that’s the one.” Her face white as the pearls around her neck.

    “I can’t wait no more.” Dubias lumbered into the room. “I’m innocent and you’re gonna clear my name.”

    Words: 156


  27. Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall (Who’s the Best Monster Of Them All?)
    160 words

    The crime scene would’ve turned anyone’s stomach.

    When she’d taken the job to find Mrs Stevenson’s missing husband Marlene knew that the woman had expected her to find a mistress or even a secret family not this…carnage.

    Mr Stevenson had put up a damn good fight, at least that’s what the cops told her but an idiot could have seen that.

    The destruction and the bloody handprints that were smeared across the once pristine walls of the man’s tiny office was a testament to the man’s will to live but in the end it hadn’t been enough.

    Sighing Marlene stepped onto the bus.

    Thankfully, it was empty and she kicked up her heels, leaning her head back against the seat.

    A flicker of red caught her eye and she reached down to rub the smear of blood from her shoe.

    She was getting sloppy…or maybe it was just that she was tired.

    Investigating her own crimes was always so damn draining.


  28. The press boys have labeled him the Bus Stop Slasher. A catchy little number, I’ve been tracking this guy for weeks now, yet every Friday another dame falls victim.

    The night bus turns left on 57th, engine complaining as it wallows through the slumbering metropolis. I flex my toes, my size tens aching in the shoes I bought from a perv shop down on 128th. I’m the first to admit as a dame I’m an eyesore, yet the captain was insistent. Whatever it takes we catch this guy. Another stop comes into view, no perp waiting in the shadows. The bell dings, an old dame struggling with her shopping trolley.

    Likely victim.

    I move quick, helping her negotiate her way onto the sidewalk.

    The driver, a real prince, departs, engine retching smog.

    She’s apologetic, I tell her I’m fine. I’ll call up a black and white for a lift.

    I barely feel the blade she thrusts into my stomach.

    (159 words)



  29. Shadows and Light.

    Her shift was over.
    The bus home barreled between the yellow taxis, swung between cars and trucks, hissed at the cyclists and the Brownian drift of pedestrians. Spangles of sunlight speared through the tower shadows and blindingly flooded the intersections.
    They had almost caught the diamond thief. If that phone trace had come through a couple of hours earlier, they’d have been there. Babs Baboosa and the buyer would have been locked up. Instead, Babs was on her way to the morgue.
    Not a jewel had been found in her pad. Yet her place had been turned over – drawers emptied, cupboards scooped out, clothing scattered – almost clinically, as if to mask a scent.
    Shalini, untouched, on the dresser.
    Glumly Lacy stared at the shine of her shoes; her black shoes.
    No black shoes! Lacy dialed the Precinct. There had been an assortment, but not a single black pair. Every girl has black shoes.

    @CliveNewnham – 155 words


  30. Terminal

    The 79E pulled into the bus terminal just after midnight. The driver killed the engine, then the lights, then leant heavily on the horn, a late night wake up call to the drunks who occasionally passed out on the back seat.

    Nothing stirred. The driver locked up and left, and a little later, the terminal was closed for the night.

    So no one found her till the next morning.

    The coroner came first, declaring her dead, surprising no-one.

    Then SoCO, taking photos and fingerprints, trying to discern which of the dubious stains were freshest and which were from a hundred previous, mostly consensual connections.

    By the time DI Spence caught the case, he had almost the whole place to himself. Sitting beside her on the back seat, he dreamed of the days when you could still smoke back there.

    He smoothed the girl’s skirt and crossed her ankles, offering a shred of modesty, then rang the bell.

    “Your stop love.”

    160 words


  31. I’d always loved these shoes, but not tonight. I’d walked for ages looking for Larry. He really was impossible. No sense of direction or ambition. We needed to be at the undertakers for noon but he hadn’t shown up. I had to pick the coffin, the furniture, that’s what they call the brass handles and what colour the lining should be. I went for a papal shade of purple.

    At 6pm I caught the bus home. At 7pm I called the police. A nice detective asked me about Larry. I told him all I knew which wasn’t much. He was 5 foot 11 although he always said 6 foot. He had deep brown cow like eyes, I offered the detective a glass of milk but he declined. He had the sweetest smile. I cried a bit and he said he would try very hard to find Larry. Didn’t tell him Larry was laying in the funeral parlour.

    157 words


  32. Question Time

    “So – you accept you stuck two fingers up at Mark yesterday at the bus stop after you got off?”


    “Well, do you or don’t you?”

    “Er..” The pause lengthened, walls seeming to close in on Caroline.



    “Well, what? What reasons could you possibly produce in your defence? Really – I’m interested?” The girl’s feet rested comfortably against the back of the seat in front.

    “…No defence produced; prosecution point, I feel.”

    “Seriously! Aren’t you getting above yourself, Jill? Or should I say Detective Childs? Isn’t that how you hold yourself out these days, given you see fit to busy body into everyone else’s business? What difference does it make to you whether I did or I didn’t? Really? Now I’m interested to know?”

    “Well, did you ever consider he might have turned around because he was interested in you?”



    “Case proven. Defence rests. Prosecution evidence? None? Well, then.”


    “Exactly.” A smug smile. “Verdict confirmed.”

    160 words


  33. The Long Ride Home
    After a long day of chasing crooks and various other miscreants, Sybil looked forward to her ride home. Most of the other detectives on the squad had their own cars or used the company cars, but Sybil liked the clack-clack of the trains. She liked leaning back in the seat with her feet up on the back of the one in front of her and allowing case notes to float through her head.

    If she’d finished a case that day, she’d go over the evidence she’d collected to make sure she had everything she needed for an air tight case. If she still had an open case, she’d mull over what she’d gathered so far to see if there was another string to pull to possibly solve the case. More than one case had percolated in her head on the ride home and a new idea had come to her.

    The train ride home was the perfect place to think.

    Word Count 160


  34. Fancy Footwork
    160 words

    Kevin rested his aching feet on the seat in front of him, glad nobody was on the bus to admire his ill-fitting footwear: a pair of shiny black women’s pumps. It was a handy trick—put on the shoes and follow them straight to the owner—but it was hell on his soles.

    He removed a shoe. As he inspected one of a dozen blisters he’d acquired that afternoon, the bus swerved violently. The shoe flew from Kevin’s hand and landed in the aisle several seats in front of him.

    Moving toward the front of the bus, Kevin bent to collect the rogue shoe. He froze mid-stoop. Under the adjacent seat was a suitcase. He inched it into the aisle and unzipped it slowly. The suitcase was full of feet.

    Kevin took the black pump and carefully slipped it over the freshest severed appendage. He sighed and pulled out his cell phone.

    “Hello? This is Detective Prince. I found Cinderella.”


  35. Is it possible for the ninth paragraph on this to be formatted to reflect that the dialogue is continuous here i.e. the sentence starting “what difference” is part of the same paragraph, please? Thank you in advance!


  36. Habit

    After Finchley Central, the tube comes up above ground. Commuters blink at each other, slightly bashful; like afternoon cinemagoers, the sudden sunshine drying up our black and white daydreams of detectives, lovers, motels, eggs easy over.

    There aren’t many left, now. The girl next to me is still reading. “I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you.” We’re too British to move apart.

    This is when I always get scared.

    If I tip my head slightly, I can see you under the brim of my hat. You’re greyer, since the court case. After the surgery, I thought I’d be safe. You’d never recognise me again; never put me through it all again. But now, my palms are damp.

    Totteridge. You get up, wait for the doors to open. As they close, I take a breath, then walk after you.

    146 words


  37. The Hunted Prey
    159 Words

    Shauna Perkens stared quietly at the polished tips of her new Gucci low heels. Private detective work paid well if you had the right clients and Shauna had the right clients. She sat with those same shoes against a pole in a nearly-empty bus. Her client’s interest had gotten off several stops ago. Shauna decided five stops should be enough to keep suspicions at bay.

    She sat up in her seat, standing when the next stop arrived. She walked to the door and slid out into the raw world of Philly. Brotherly love was a good moniker, but, from her position, the city was anything but. Her keen eyes saw the deviance in so many who passed by her. If they only knew how easy they were to read, but they did not. Her job was mostly easy.

    He had noticed her on the bus and waited, following her. If she only knew how easy detectives were to spot.


  38. brb (160)

    Blood was everywhere. Well, I guess it’s always everywhere, pulsating beneath our opaque skin, bubbling against the seams. In this particular case, it was splattered on the walls, the ceramic toilet, the tile floors and the shower curtain with the rubber ducks.

    Detectives always muse that their last case is the worst case they’ve ever fielded. Most detectives are bullshitting you, though, because they want to seem important.

    I’m not lying when I say that this was the worst case I’ve fielded. You can trust me. No, really.
    The back of the dad’s head had flaps on the left and right side and brain goo seeping out. Magnum blast. Burned barrel marking on his forehead next to a Revlon “Really Red” kiss smear. High-heel imprints in the blood. Perfume aroma.

    His son, the killer, took the bus. I know both of these things because I am him. I am a good detective.

    I told you it was my worst case.


  39. Friends

    Suzy hid her clunky boots, jealous of the girl in front of her flaunting her tiny, trendy feet on the rail. Suzy didn’t make friends. Girls found her odd, with a funny laugh, and unusual interest in dragons instead of boys.

    When the murder happened at the front of the bus, the girl sat up in horror, pointing, a scream rising in her throat. Suzy calmly put her hand on her shoulder saying, “They can’t see it.”

    “What!?” the girl gasped looking around at the oblivious passengers while the woman’s body fell into the aisle.

    “Happens every day. I thought I was the only person that saw it.”

    The bus stopped and passengers passed through the ghostly corpse and the phantasmal detective that boarded with his notepad and trench coat.

    “What happened?”

    “I don’t know. I’m headed to the library to do some research. I think I have to solve it.”

    “Can I come? Name’s Erika.” her new friend smiled.

    Word count: 160


  40. “Surprised”
    160 words

    Won’t he be surprised to see me? Actually, he probably won’t even recognize me. Though, it has been five years. To the day.

    It’s amazing what you can learn in five years. Strength. Resiliency. The ability to forget. Well, not forget, but subsume. Not to mention a host of… specialized skills.

    It took a bit of social engineering to find out his schedule. Not a bad bit of detective work, if I do say so myself.

    He’ll step onto the bus, see me, and say something like, “Excuse me, miss. We’re on Transit Authority property. You shouldn’t—”

    I’ll shoot him in the knee and cut that sentence short. Then I’ll walk slowly to the front. I’ll look him in the eye. And just before I put a bullet in his brain, I’ll say, “A word of advice, friend. If there are only two people on your bus, and one of them yells ‘Rape!’ you’d god-damned better do something about it.”


  41. She was a dime dame, I thought at the time, looking as tame as I could with my dome hidden under a fedora and my schnozz ensconced inside the latest tome by that gal – you know the one. A cheap floozy. A lady of the night who’d do anything for a quarter, and anyblessedthingyoucouldthinkof for a buck.

    Then I saw the shoes. Leather that wasn’t harvested from a cow at the slaughterhouse, it was seduced off its back after a dinner of the finest freshly-mown grass. Her shoes didn’t support her when she walked, they transported her above the detritus of this mortal plane. And she was coming to sit next to me, no matter how much I tried to hide. The jig, as they say, was up.

    “Nice shoes, honey. How much did those set us back?”

    “Not as much as you’d think.” She smiled. “Besides, I have to look good for my husband, you Chief of Detectives you.”

    160 words


  42. At Last

    She sat in her seat, feet up, relaxing. She was out of food now, but wasn’t worried. There hadn’t been any fresh snow for days, and she was sure the rescue crews would get to the bus she’d been stranded in for almost a month any time now.
    She hadn’t always been this carefree. It wasn’t too bad at first. There were lots of people then, easy to be overlooked in the crowd. But after a week or two, that was stressful. She had to use every trick she knew, and even made up a few new ones.
    It hadn’t been pretty, but she did what she always did. She survived.
    Suddenly the door burst open in a screech of crowbar on metal. A suit and two EMTs cautiously came inside.
    “My name is Detective Hardy.” the suit said. “These two medics are going to take a look at you, and then I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

    160 Words (excluding title)


  43. Reflections on Patent Leather Shoes
    158 words

    The old joke about nuns not letting Catholic girls wear patent leather shoes because they reflect up proved true during the investigation of Mary O’Reilly’s murder.

    It was standing room only on the # 36 bus when someone stuck a shiv in Mary’s back. Nobody could remember who was sitting or standing near the victim, so suspicion fell on her ex-boyfriend, Tommy O’Dea.

    Now Tommy had a rap sheet and everyone agreed he didn’t have a chance, but Detective O’Banyon wasn’t convinced. He discovered Kathleen McCarthy had been sitting across the aisle when the dirty deed was done.

    Mary had put her feet up on the back of the seat in front of her, and when questioned by O’Banyon, Kathleen admitted she’d seen the face of her lover, Sean Rafferty, reflected in the toes of Mary’s patent leather shoes.

    Long story short: Sean got the chair; Tommy went straight; hooked up with Kathleen; they lived happily ever after.


  44. Picture Perfect

    The scowl marred an otherwise perfect visage. Blue eyes make large and luminous via trendy tortoise shell glasses glared at the detective as she tossed an envelop onto the desk.

    “It’s the fifth in as many weeks. What the hell am I paying you for if you can’t stop whoever’s stalking me?”

    “Mrs. Jamison, you knew this would be difficult. There aren’t any clues as to who’s taking the pictures and you’ve stated that you haven’t noticed anyone nearby to have done so.”

    She shuddered in remembrance, “It’s like they’re standing over my shoulder or something.” Another glare. “Figure it out.”

    “Are the results what you wished, Mr. Jamison?”

    “Perfect. She’s so paranoid about a stalker, I haven’t needed to worry about her … extracurricular activities.” An eyebrow raised in curiosity. “Just how did you manage that angle, anyway?”

    “Oh, micro-technology is a wonder, these days,” the detective smirked, tapping a finger on his glasses.


  45. The Watcher

    She would get on the bus shortly. I stretched my legs out and waited.
    Vinnie drove me all the way to Stratford so I could be on before her.
    I put my feet up and leaned back into my seat, feigning nonchalance as the bus pulled to a stop.
    She entered amidst a large group – business people, young mothers, students – and glanced around the bus before sitting a couple rows ahead of me on the opposite side. She pulled out a book and put her back to the window, seemingly unaware of anything else.
    Her bodyguard sat in the seat across from her.
    One stop.
    Two stops.
    Three stops.
    The drop needed to be made today.
    I stood, heels clicking on the metal floor. I picked up my bag and hurried down the steps and out the door.
    I didn’t have to turn around to know she was following me.
    Stupid detective. I’m the decoy.

    155 words


  46. *** Judge’s entry – for your reading pleasure***

    @mishmhem – 160 words

    Michael Philips tensed as he felt rather than saw the flash of the cellphone’s camera. Feigning indifference, he looked around before focusing on the scene in front of him.

    It was 10:13 and the cable car was almost completely empty. The photographer in question was sitting ahead of him taking art shots of their shoes. He smiled, relieved.

    After two years on the run, he’d learned to watch for the warning signs: someone showing too much interest in artwork around him—strange vehicles on his street. He’d already moved three times this month alone, always staying one step ahead of the law.

    Police officers were the nicest of the hunters he’d had to deal with: bounty hunters being the worst. There were occasional private-eyes, but they couldn’t afford to look for him too long. He was thankful that the young woman was more interested in her shoes, never realizing until it was too late just how shiny those shoes were.


  47. Hailee Eddinger Laughs Last in Stiletto Heels
    (159 words. Did I squeak in before the deadline? My wife gave birth to our secondborn daughter just yesterday, so I’ve been quite preoccupied…)

    A ruddy leviathan of a sun beat its oppressive light upon the ragged landscape. Through the tinted windshield, Hailee saw sunspots on its enormous surface that were bigger than the full moon. She exited the vehicle in full protective gear.

    “It’s an oven out here!”

    “Minimal carbon dioxide atmosphere,” her Tattler told. “Surface temperature 627 Kelvin.”

    “Hot enough to melt lead. Chroniton detection?”

    “Positive, southwest.”

    “He’s here!” Hailee debated her options. Shadowed by a rocky outcrop, her vehicle — a VW Acerbus mini-bus — was safe from the hellish heat. Her silver thermal suit, though…

    “Cooling system failure within two hours,” warned the Tattler. “Recommend immediate mission abort.”

    “Negative!” With dogged determination, Hailee set off. Barren dirt crunched beneath her heavy boots. “I’ve followed him to the end of the Earth. I won’t rest until I get back what he stole from me.”

    “A pair of shoes is not worth the risk.”

    Hailee ignored the Tattler and marched on.


  48. Lost and Found
    158 words

    Harrison glanced over at the bus stop, ‘Let’s go from the beginning.’

    Beams flicked back through her notebook, ‘Well, the neighbour saw her leave at 3pm yesterday “looking quite smart”. The bus driver said he dropped her off here at about 5pm with two bags of groceries. They were dumped just here.’ Beams gestured beside the fence line.

    Harrison straightened up and squinted into the distance, ‘Where does this field go?’

    ‘Ends up at Bateman’s Quarry.’

    ‘Did we search it?’

    ‘The field, or the quarry?’

    ‘Either. Both!’

    Beams hesitated, ‘We concentrated our search around her route home – wait, Sir!’ she clambered over the fence after Harrison.

    ‘She went shopping, you say?’

    She looked back to her notebook, ‘Pasta, vegetables, dog food, milk, butter, bread – ‘

    ‘Let’s say she crossed this field.’ he turned to look at Beams, ‘Why?’

    Beams grappled with a decent idea.

    ‘What would be so important?’

    Then she heard it.

    A dog barked.


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