Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 41

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to another rip-roaring, fresh-outta-the-box Flash! Friday! And speaking of out of the box, it’s my sincere hope that y’all will gnash your teeth at me over today’s totally cliched prompt. And then write about something else altogether. More than one judge has commented in recent weeks on their attention being consistently drawn by the stories that “stand out” from the pack. So I dare you to look past the surface, past the obvious, and write the story lurking offstage.

It’s a real pleasure to introduce you to the magnificent castle in Syria known as the Krak de Chevaliers (Qalat al-Hosn). This place is something else. Built into its present form around 1200AD it’s, yes, a Crusader castle, and invaders simply could not bust their way into this place (take a look at its walls!). And now, you are saying, please explain how you arrived at this glorious castle On This Day In History. –Well, I’m so glad you asked! On this day precisely 80 years ago, Bruno Hauptman was arrested in New York for the murder of Charles Lindbergh’s little boy. And that put me in mind of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (have you read that? love it), and suddenly I found myself in Aleppo at the Baron Hotel, where she wrote part of that disturbing tale (I’ll have thirteen orders of justice for takeaway, please). And now you have arrived with me at the Krak, where I will watch safely hidden in the curtains as you wend your mysterious way onward.

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Wending her way onward on a daily (offbeat) basis, because that’s how she rolls, is returning judge Betsy Streeter. Excellent flash, she says, is all about economy and detail. Read the translation of that curious phrase here.   

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays.   

Now, grab a battering ram and 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 Monday

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(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Lawrence of Arabia'”):

Include a marriage proposal

***Today’s Prompt:

Krak de Chevaliers/Qalat al-Hosn, Syria. CC photo by Jon Martin.

Krak des Chevaliers/Qalat al-Hosn, Syria. CC photo by Jon Martin.

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779 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 41

  1. Persistence
    by JM6, 156 words, @JMnumber6

    Relaxing on the bed, he had to admit: it was a hell of a view, an ancient castle as seen through a hotel room window. Then again, she was probably there when it was built and she’ll still be around long after it crumbles back into the dust and sand from which it rose.

    Unless it already had. He couldn’t really be sure how much time had passed, here inside the bottle.

    She entered from the balcony, as if she had been just around the corner, there but unseen. “Hello, my love. Have you reconsidered, yet? Will you marry me?”

    He stood, pleading with her. “I’ve told you. I’m already married. Just let me go. Please.”

    The djinn shook her head. “I can’t do that. I hold the key to your freedom, my love, and you hold the key to mine.” As she faded from view, she said, “You’ll come to see it my way, eventually.”

  2. Josh Bertetta
    157 Words
    @JBertetta

    “Aperture”

    Life is a darkroom.

    They say it’s not a black and white thing, that we can’t divide things and frame them is such neat and tidy ways. I thought they were right and in believing them I could capture some semblance of life. I thought I could develop my life into something worthwhile, maybe even contribute something..

    But now in my hotel room, exposed to the war-torn streets, peering out my window toward a history no one will ever know, past a history that in time none will remember, I wonder, were they right?

    Life is black and white.

    Isn’t it?

    I asked her a simple yes or no question. She said no.

    Those outside don’t ask “maybe” or “I’ll think about it” questions.

    They ask you yes or no questions.

    If you say yes, you’ll live.

    If you say no, you’ll die.

    The guns fire bullets as fast as my camera shoots frames per second.

  3. Kathy Maffei
    151 Words
    @elfenkate

    From The Bed

    “We still stand little man”.

    His eyes caress the high walls. Looking for some weakness. Anything. He sees nothing. Only solid stone. And dust. Dust on everything. A slight breeze and it blows around and settles again. He turns from the window, looking to the plaster ceiling. It’s cracked and peeling in the corner. He looks to the table. His watch, a pack of smokes, a matchbook from the café across the street, several empty wine bottles and that hateful ring; shiny and mocking.

    “No.” The cold word hangs in the air days later. The skin still feeling the brush of a last kiss.

    ” I would break those walls for you. Those impossible walls will fall. If you would just be
    mine!“ He remembered gesturing over the city, pleading.

    He looks back to the window. His eyes closing as he settles into the air vibrating with the laughter of dusty walls.

  4. Then

    When he was a younger man. That is what he thinks of now.
    Years that burst with vivacity, fresh cracked pepper verve and sharp cedar lust. Years that allowed for leisurely, decadent hours spent in bed, thinking, composing a life’s song to be danced across the streets of every corner of the world. Decadent hours that belonged to him alone when he preferred and with company when he did not.
    This man did not know how many hopes won’t bear fruit. He doesn’t know of whom he will fall in love.
    Chocolate and tobacco. A scent so like his own and so different in its origins.
    Secrecy and shame over something that feels like the essence of him. He knows that for them there is no marriage proposal, no family life there. The world he wants to see does not want to see them in return. So he leaves. And continues his bittersweet composition.
    Now, a story, nothing more.

    159 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  5. Song of the Night Owl
    155 words – @scturnbull

    Bright sunshine bleached the castle white and painful to look at. Lilith turned to the wall.
    Adam watched her, flinching as another mortar round crumped near-bye.
    “You can’t do this. We’re married,” he said.
    She remained facing the wall. Her voice was quiet, but firm. “We were joined. It wasn’t a marriage.”
    “How can you say that?”
    She turned back.
    “‘Here, you’re married’ is a fait accompli, not a proposal. I was never asked. Never asked.”
    “I’m asking you to stay married to me. Begging you.”
    Gun fire rattled in the street. An explosion pummelled the air. The room shook, dust drifted from the ceiling. They looked at a dirty cloud rising from the castle and drifting on the breeze.
    A corner tower was slumped down the hillside. The sun cast a deep shadow on the exposed interior.
    “They bombed the castle,” Adam said.
    “Yes.”
    “Everything is being destroyed.”
    “Some things were already rubble.”

  6. Freedom
    151 words @lsunil

    My princess will be now getting ready to meet me. I look at the tickets in my hand, tickets to freedom. Mom had asked me, “Is she a real princess? Why does she want to be free?” She isn’t a real princess, but she is the princess of my heart, of my life. I want to take her far away from slavery, get married, start a family.
    Princess looked across the window of the castle at the swanky new hotel. Putting on her earrings, she looks at the mirror. She looks at the unused broom at the corner of the room. Today, finally she will escape from this castle. The curse will be lifted. The curse which said, “Only a man who truly loves you, can set you free”. She waited over 600 years for this day. She smiles demurely into the mirror. The image in the mirror laughs back wickedly.

  7. Like a Dali Painting

    Three months in the hotel and he hadn’t been inspired to write a single word. He spent the days lying in bed fully dressed, except for his oxfords which he kept by the door.

    His fiancé frequently called, and he’d tell her, “just a few more days.” But the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months. He started forgetting why he’d come to the hotel. He’d proposed then promised to write her a vow that would make even the apathetic weep; that, he was certain of. But what he wasn’t certain of was why it mattered. He wasn’t even sure what his fiancé looked like anymore.

    Replacing the memory of her was the vista; the long, languorous curtains, the sharp angled doorframe, textures of the distant castle, and the surreal curves of terrace guardrails. It was like a Dali painting. Lying there he felt forgotten by time, and he was content in letting forever pass him by.

    @goldzco
    159 words
    #flashdog

  8. Dream Wedding
    160 words ….@lsunil

    ‘Why for god’s sake do you want to get married in this castle?’ Jim demanded.

    ‘I have always dreamt of a castle wedding?’ Gina reasoned.

    ‘It’s costing me $50K!’ he shouted. ‘Are you listening?’ he followed her.

    ‘Don’t you love me honey? You said you will get me the brightest diamonds, the most expensive gifts when you proposed. I am just exercising my rights.’

    They hurried to the wedding room setup in the castle among family and friends.

    Jim hesitates as he suddenly hears a booming voice in his head. ‘You will be a poor man in 3 years’. He calls out to Gina. ‘Sorry dear, I can’t marry you. I can’t let you spend my money like this’, he gets into his car and drives off to the nearby hotel.

    Gina smiles and thinks, ‘Good riddance!’. She marries her true love Tim at the castle and sends the wedding bill to Jim. Anything to make a dream come true!

  9. A Fairy Tale Prince?
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    158 words

    It was so simple when we walked hand in hand along that golden beach our hearts warmed by the tropical sun. She was my princess and nothing in the world would keep our love apart. But then I hadn’t seen her stepfather’s castle. What’s more these sheets don’t feel that strong to me. I could plummet to my death just climbing down from my window.

    We were carried away by the romance, the story that would begin our fairy tale lives together. A knight of old carrying away his lady fair against the wishes of her evil guardian. However, I hadn’t appreciated the height of those walls and no doubt there will be guards, armed guards. Yes, I want to be in arms of my beloved, but dying in those arms tonight is less appealing. No, no, I’m no coward, but there’s no point in being a foolish, dead hero is there? Hey ho, win some, lose some.

  10. @pamjplumb
    #flashdog
    94 words

    ‘Love Hurts’

    She left while he wasn’t looking. Head turned away, overlooking the city, pondering the history and its people, forgetting her momentarily; he never even heard the door. Focused on the wedding white walls of the castle, he hadn’t listened properly.

    Now, in the silence of her wake, all he could do was listen; listen to the echoes of his own vacuous promises of love, of marriage that she rejected with each shake of her head.

    She left nothing of herself, no tokens of a lost love, only the precarious digital imprint in his camera.

  11. ‘Til Death Do Us Part
    (158 words)

    His favourite shirt. His favourite trousers. His favourite view. The process was almost complete.

    He proposed to me on the balcony of this hotel room that he had carefully selected.
    A well travelled, history buff who knew all there was to know about sport, and an artistic, scientist who knew all there was to know about film: we were a match made in quiz team heaven.
    He’d tell me I was all facts and hourglass figure. I’d tell him to whisper in my ear the dates of historical battles while we made love.

    I knew from the outset I could never bear losing him. I’d never find anyone else this perfect for me.That’s why I started studying the ancient art: an insurance policy of sorts.

    Once satisfied, I swung open the balcony doors allowing the odour of the formaldehyde out. Finally, I perched between his fingers the last cigarette he’d dragged on – a little breath of life.

  12. @avalina_kreska
    (160 words)

    Crusade

    Martin’s gaze fell on the castle, still standing after 814 years.There was something about its grandeur, its fortitude, its refusal to crumple and fall. It was a difficult decision to make. On the darkened desk in the corner lay the proposal. Did he want to take a leap in the dark despite his inner warnings? No different from a marriage, once you’ve signed the contract there’s no going back without a heck of a lot of heartache and paperwork.

    England and Scotland have been divided before. The old wounds still suppurated in secret, the haves and have nots, divided hearts never sit well until someone demands the surgeons scalpel. Shouts rise. Hammers fall. Neighbour stands with fists, ready for blood. Oil flows between us all.

    Martin walked to the desk and picked up the pen. Momentarily his hand wavered. Shaking, he ticked the ‘NO’ box. He placed the vote in the envelope.

    ‘The castle stands and always will.’ He thought.

  13. From the Window
    145 words
    @MicroBookends

    They met in the Baron Hotel again, in the beautiful suite with the view of the castle. They lay entwined on ruffled sheets, the breeze from the window cooling their sweat-slicked bodies and carrying the sounds of the market below. He ran his fingers over her copper skin, never seen by another man let alone touched.
    “Marry me,” he said.
    “Stop.”
    “Come back to England with me and marry me.”
    “Please stop. You know I can’t shame my family.”
    He turned away, the illusion was broken. He felt her rise from the bed and begin to dress: to hide her beauty from the world.
    “Will I see you next week?” she asked from the doorway.
    “Yes, I’ll look for you from the window.”
    Now he waits in the Baron Hotel, in the detestable suite with the view of the castle. Will she ever come out?

  14. Castle of the Kurds
    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    160 words

    They come on horses, numb from the weight of armour. They carry swords stained by the red liquid of life, extinguished. They come on tourist buses, dragging their wheeled suitcases, bang-bang-bang over my cobbled streets.

    But…it is I that watches them.

    I stare at them through my battlements adorned with ancient text. My towers of worship and pain scan the streets and hotel rooms, peering in; looking for him. I’m tired of crusading knights; driven by obliteration and the glory of their god versus all others.

    Yet, one day he came to me. T .E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia. He was worthy. A knight who rejected the glory of knighthood. The embodiment of charisma, passion and bravery. He knows forbidden love, as do I. He gazes at me, and I at him. A proposal of marriage, we’ll be entwined by prose and verse.

    Immortalised in ink; scribed the on thin pages of deadened trees. Our love, eternal, will never die.

  15. @avalina_kreska
    (158 words)
    #flashdog

    Cavalier

    Martin’s gaze fell on the castle, still standing after 814 years.There was something about its grandeur, its fortitude, its refusal to crumple and fall. It was a difficult decision to make. On the darkened desk in the corner lay the proposal. Did he want to take a leap in the dark despite his inner warnings? No different from a marriage, once you’ve signed the contract there’s no going back without a heck of a lot of heartache and paperwork.

    England and Scotland have been divided before. The old wounds still suppurated in secret, the haves and have nots, divided hearts never sit well until someone demands the surgeons scalpel. Shouts rise. Hammers fall. Neighbour stands with fists, ready for blood. Oil flows between us all.

    Martin walked to the desk and picked up the pen. Momentarily his hand wavered. Shaking, he ticked the ‘YES’ box. He placed the vote in the envelope.

    ‘What have I done?’ He thought.

  16. Ram

    It’s my fault.

    After less than a day, her skin turned pink and her hair started clinging to her neck in sweaty loops, but she was still beautiful. So beautiful.

    It’s my fault.

    We’d eaten. There’d been wine. I just asked her, right there, by the side of the road. One knee, and all, but no ring. No ring.

    She said ‘yes’, and everyone around us clapped.

    It’s my fault.

    She spotted a junk-stall across the road. Tourist tat, souvenirs, that sort of thing – and rings, plastic ones with fake gems. A modern woman buys her own bling, she’d laughed as she dashed out.

    She forgot which way to look.

    It’s my fault.

    Now I am the besieging army, and I am the fortress wall. I shore up the cracks as quickly as I make them, but the assault never stops. It can never stop. I will not let it.

    It’s my fault.
    It’s my fault.
    It’s my fault.

    @SJOHart
    160 words
    http://sjohart.wordpress.com

  17. As a Good Man Does
    @ymberlenis
    149 words

    Please forgive me, Antonio, my love.

    I know this is all my doing. In my fervor, I discounted your warnings, your pleas. I believed better of them. But of course you were right. You always were, amour. They didn’t understand, didn’t want to, didn’t try.

    I was naive, the trance of a blissful future only broken by the flashes of torchlight against their blades. And for that, I am alone, whilst here you lie, wed instead to the earth that covers you.

    I have been hiding for days, waiting for this moment to be alone with you one last time. I will leave tonight, to find another village, another home, another existence. Someday, I will find a wife, as a good, upstanding man does, and we will have so many children no one will question again. This is all I can do to repay the debt of your blood.

  18. Dwayne III’s Bargain

    May 8, 2149

    Corporal Dwayne Charles Hicks III lay in bed, gazing upon a land that appeared not to have changed in thousands of years. Just a kilometer away from this tableau out of the Arabian Nights sat the mighty spaceport controlled by the United Federation of the Middle East.
    A little over two weeks from now, Dwayne would be on the planet Cronos 7, which was near the constellation Taurus. He hoped his team would find nothing, but he couldn’t help wondering if the sinking feeling stomach was something more than acid reflux caused by the awful fare served up by the Military.
    “If I come home,” Dwayne bargained with whatever deity might be listening, “I’m going to propose to Stacey, and I’m going to retire from the Military. Don’t know what I’ll do for work, but it’ll be better than making her worry every time I go away.”

    150 words
    Thalia from @UndeadNether
    Also published at http://hickswyliedna.blogspot.com/2014/09/dwayne-iiis-bargain.html

  19. A World of Waiting

    John shut the curtains on both view and sun. They were for later. It had seemed simple at first. So few words to create; a minute – micro – task, really. Instead, he was staring at the current blank page, sitting in silence, wishing he were anywhere but shut away from distractions, waiting for the whispered words to rescue him, crumpled papers mounting in the bin by the bed. They were slow at it, though he knew they would be there. They always were, somewhere, hidden away. Until then, he and the room were wed together; the simple proposal – proving anything but – accepted on opening the door. He would not leave his world of waiting until they were documented. Only then could he consider other offers. Tempting though they might be, he would prove himself faithful. He hoped they would hurry though. He wasn’t keen on the concept of a forever commitment, vow aside. He liked life outside four walls.

    (160 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  20. Bishop to Castle Four
    by A J Walker

    The Count was doing it all as it was supposed to be done. Nice meal, champagne, flowers and then down on one knee. He was thoroughly delighted when, after an appropriate pause, she agreed to be his wife.

    Julia had looked down on him, as he struggled to balance his knee on the stone rampart floor, thinking how pitifully small he appeared in the moonlight. All the clichés, quite endearing and yet embarrassing too.

    The Count couldn’t believe his luck, the elegant woman had come from nowhere, stolen his heart. Everyone in the town was enchanted by this mysterious beauty.

    Across the bay from the castle Malcolm lay in the hotel room wondered how Julia’s night was going. His wife always seemed to close the deal, but there was inevitably an element of doubt. His phone buzzed on the pillow, the message simply read, ‘I’m getting married, again.’

    Malcolm smiled and reached out for his wine. The con was on.

    @zevonesque
    (160 words)
    #FlashDogs

  21. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 159

    Castles of Air

    I’d known her since that time I pasted mud across her face, when we made pies in the gutter and called them chocolate. Her pigtails morphed to ponytails, and then her hair swung low across her back. I proposed marriage to her in the apple orchard when we were nine.

    She baked apple pies for the reception instead of the traditional wedding cake. We made plans, she and I, for the honeymoon—a trip to Europe, to walk the old ways through history as we tour the ancient architecture, visit graves and smile at the Beefeaters in London’s Tower.

    Fate called her before her time, left me to walk alone, to finish the pages of this book we’d begun. The pictures blazed in full color until she went; now their edges are tinged with brown.

    I went to Europe anyway, painting the chapters with washed-out colors, gripping my aching brush to render the unfinished stories, building castles in the air.

  22. The Crusader

    365

    The stark light of the mirror betrayed the price. Line etched eyes, echoing the slashes Elijah had scarred into faded grey walls. Counting days in a life outside time, insubstantial to the staccato world lying beyond the bars.

    730

    An existence spent subjected to threats, propositions and fears. Strengthened only by cherished memories of Krak Des Chevaliers’ twilight interior. The caress of interlaced fingers, of shared pulses racing. Walking in shadow, the pain of longing giving them courage. Seeking escape, seeking their true self. Stolen clandestine moments, lips entwined, shared breath.

    That fateful morning, whispered promises of a future, a ring slid onto Elijah’s finger.

    Walking outside together, apart, the police waiting in the morning light.

    1095

    Elijah rested his elbows on the railing of the balcony. Chavaliers lay before him basking in the afternoon light. The hotel door opened, Firas entered, older, hurting, still beautiful. Wearing those very clothes he wore three years ago.

    Fingers interlacing.

    Together.

    1

    160 words
    @imageronin
    #flashdog

  23. The Fairy Tale

    She defeated the cab driver, who drove away cursing. She put her trusty smartphone back into its case and gazed up at the soaring tower. Just inside, the concierge pinned her with a fierce glare. Undaunted she swept on. She’d try every door if she had to. Mounting the staircase she made for the top floor. She guessed where he’d be – he’d always built castles in the air and dwelt among them. In her bag, the phials of precious liquid clinked.

    The scent of him drew her along the passage ‘til she paused, hand on heart, outside his room. Inside she slipped through the shadowy quiet to stand by his bed. His eyes did not open but his lips curved. When he’d asked her to marry him, all those years ago, she’d thought that he was rescuing her. Slowly she bent and kissed his damp forehead, removed the empty syringe from the cover beside him.

    156 words
    @clenpen

  24. Scheherezade’s Dream
    160 words
    @van_demal

    That’s the view he likes best, he tells me – that specific perspective. The foreground obscured, truly a castle in the air.

    That’s reality, I want to tell him. Ancient stone constructed on the firmest of foundations. We are the fairy tale in this modernity. That’s what I want to tell him, but I won’t. Why disabuse him? I need him to be the romantic, the dreamer. How would it work otherwise?

    He maintains a parody of relaxation, his chiaroscuro mood. How they like to be in control, for it to appear effortless! His jaw keeps flinching, chewing my question over.

    My proposal.

    It makes it sound like a business proposition. Makes it sound like what it is. But he doesn’t need to know. Let him see the fantasy, let this rich man dream of rescuing maidens and living in castles if it buys his name. What’s a name to me? Just a breath of air. Names are easily disposed of.

  25. Crusading on a Sunday afternoon
    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    160 words

    She’d left him, again.

    She’d be back.

    He’s a catch.

    Sure, she moaned about his bedroom and the Power Rangers bedding. She complained about the once-white socks now covering the floor like permafrost. She wore gloves while picking up the radioactive coloured half-eaten cheese-puff packets.

    She even nagged about the lack of intimacy, caused by his mum’s sonar hearing and the subsequent banging on the door, “Geoffoooorrey! No more hanky-panky.”

    Geoffrey (or Pug_Face9 as he liked to be called), wasn’t born for this mundane existence, or stressy girlfriends.

    He was a crusader. A king of lands. Master of civilisations. Destroyer of beasts. Creator of worlds. Minecraft pioneer.

    Who needs glass windows, when you can have a flat screen TV? Any view you like at the touch of a button.

    On the screen, the creation that had taken months. The castle of Krak des Chevaliers. And in the sky, clouds that spelled “Will you marry me?”

    She looked.

    She ran.

  26. Mea Culpa – Judge’s Entry, Just for Fun!
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    160 words

    He’d been promised glory and honor, a place in history as a defender of the true faith. What he got was mind-numbing boredom. An impregnable castle and months of nothing but marching and stewing and raging at the enemy.

    So he’d impregnated something else. Not on purpose, of course. The market maidens had been a welcomed distraction for lonely nights and lonely knights. How could he have known Marisa’s father was a sorcerer, a practicer of dark magic?

    He’d done the noble thing. He’d asked her to marry him. But that had not been enough to appease Ahmad.

    Eight hundred years into the future, Ahmad had thrown him.

    The women in the marketplace still cast surreptitious glances at him, appreciation for his face evident in their eyes.

    He never noticed. He only had eyes for the castle. Besieged by remorse, by loss, by the sense of what might have been.

    “Forgive me, Marisa, for I have sinned,” he whispered. Daily.

  27. The Vanishing Wedding
    Evan Montegarde
    160 words

    It was to be a quick proposal and immediate wedding, choreographed to accommodate a Wall Street schedule, Krak des Chevaliers seemed the perfect place for the ceremony; until it became clear it contained a roaming wormhole. Brando proposed as scheduled on the ramparts then vanished when Sheila merely turned away to add blush. The entire Mariachi band imported from Guadalajara for the reception was missing, only their fabulous sombreros left behind. The tussled Mother of the Bride insisted she had just made ravenous love to Benjamin Franklin in a colonial Inn behind Independence Hall.

    Only Shelia’s Dad Alastair seemed unfazed as he staggered to the highest tower of the castle, He opened the ancient wooden door there and walked through. Seconds later, he walked out clutching a dark green bottle capped in wax.

    “Now that is well-aged single malt,” Alastair exclaimed as he opened the plug and drank deeply from the bottle Rob Roy had handed him a minute earlier.

  28. Wrong Motives
    @_HannahHeath
    160 words

    Mira liked history, otherwise he wouldn’t be here. Walking out to where she stood on the balcony, he stared out at the massive castle walls. So huge and beastlike, they scared him even more than the plan formulating in his head. And Mira wasn’t exactly calming, either. Squinting through her glasses, chattering about how priests had been martyred at those very walls. Of all the things to talk about.

    Abruptly, he grabbed her hand. “Do you want to get martyred?”

    What? No! Wrong word.

    She stared at him, the reflection from her glasses almost blinding. “What?”

    Ready to puke, he corrected himself, “Do you want to get married?”

    He regretted asking as soon as he uttered the question. He knew what she would say. It wasn’t fair to have asked.

    A huge smile. “YES!” she nearly shouted.

    Crap. Now he’d done it. But she was a good cook and he was so very tired of eating his own burnt food.

  29. Grooming
    @accidentobizaro
    149 words

    The proposal took me weeks to write. You don’t often get the chance to apply. As soon as I saw the ad, I chased referees, called in favours, bartered wildly. Anything to escape the drudgery.

    Life in the palace: that’ll be different. You’ve got status, as a husband. Perks. French cuisine. Library card. You can just go for a run, outside, whenever you feel like it. I mean, look. Even this holding room’s got a window. That sun. It’s so bright.

    It’s been a while, now. I wonder how the assessment’s going. They’ll be in again, tomorrow, the two of them, on those chairs next to the fridge. They ask the weirdest questions.

    I think I’ve done OK, so far. The next round’s practical. Tasks, tests, group work. I should be all right, as long as I keep my eye out. Can’t have anyone pushing me down the stairs.

  30. The Newsroom
    @voimaoy #flashdog
    160 words

    I wanted to be here. Outside the window, the City of the Butterflies. The Crusaders fortress. The calls to morning prayer.

    I had an assignment here. I was covering a war.

    She stood framed on the balcony. My muse, here. Kim. Asian cheekbones, black hair, photographic genius. We could work so well together.

    But she wasn’t my partner. She was with Jeffrey. At first I thought they were father and daughter, but they were a couple. Why?

    “Wake up, Rick.”

    “What a sight to wake up to. Marry me?”

    “Stop it. It’s time to get up.”

    “I’m serious. Marry me.”

    “I’m serious, too. Jeffrey sent me. We have to go now.”

    We headed downstairs to the newsroom, typewriters clacking away. Jeffrey handed me a cup of coffee. “Here, drink this.”

    “What’s up?”

    “Butterfly migration. Look out the window.”

    Yellow butterflies were everywhere, swirling over the towers. Kim started snapping pictures.

    “What’s that about?”

    Jeffrey smiled. “An omen of peace,” he said.

  31. Broken Window
    @hollygeely
    156 words

    Jim threw open the blinds and took a deep breath of fresh air. They were finally on vacation! He knew Steve was going to propose somewhere romantic. He hoped it would be on the beach –

    He blinked.

    “Was there a castle yesterday?”

    Steve set down his book and came to the window.

    “What the crap?” Steve said eloquently.

    Jim closed and reopened the blinds. The castle was gone and in its place long-necked dinosaurs ate leaves off of tall trees.

    Impossible, real-live freakin’ dinosaurs.

    Steve’s eyes were wide.

    “This window is teleporting us through time! We could see history unfold before our eyes! This is amazing!”

    Jim pulled the cord twice more.

    Outside, a T-Rex devoured the castle from earlier.

    Twice more.

    A pterodactyl dressed as a clown threw a pie at the window.

    “On second thought, I’m going to ask for our money back,” Steve said.

    Jim thought that was probably for the best.

  32. I Take Thee
    160 words
    This isn’t a ‘Death Be My Lover’ kind of tale. Not that he hasn’t tried – he has, on his terms. Then, one irrational night when I was sad and scared and sought comfort in his embrace, I knocked on his door.
    “Elope with me,” I begged.
    He turned me away, saying, “It’s no fun like this.”
    So, now Death and I, we have an agreement. His promise of forever I will accept sweetly only after a life of hard running. He’ll give me chase over land, sea, and air; I will taunt him as befitting my nature, because no creature mocks Death as well as I.
    He will laugh, indulging my hubris even as he haunts my mortality, and I will run for so long when he appears for the final time my first instinct will be to run, again: even as I’m grateful; even as I’m tired; even as I say yes to forever.

  33. A Dangerous Game
    John Mark Miller – 150 words
    @JohnMark_Miller

    “Madame, would you do me the great honor…of becoming my wife?”

    Evelyn’s cheeks had glistened with soft tears as she whispered, “Yes…my knight.” Her radiant eyes had warmed his soul, and with a shock, he realized that he had fallen hopelessly in love with Evelyn Devereaux.

    But it’s a dangerous game, courting a thief.

    Now he lay in the hotel room for a long moment, gazing at the impregnable walls of the old castle and savoring the memories locked within them. A few feet away, in the hotel safe, lay the heirloom diamonds he had quietly lifted from Evelyn’s dresser.

    Hot tears scalded his face. He had slipped through Evelyn’s defenses, but had not emerged unscathed. Her heart was surely broken, but his was forever lost.

    It really is a dangerous game… courting a thief.

  34. The Crusade

    Henry was kneeling when Marion made her proposal, scrabbling in the dirt beneath her furious gaze.

    “I want a divorce.”

    He ignored her, eyes down, brushing away at the curved edge of a drinking bowl.

    “Did you hear me? I’m done with your stupid quest!”

    He tugged at the rim of the cup, forgetting his archaeological training in his need to not hear. His fingernail tore on the metal and his blood splashed into the plain looking cup.

    And then he knew.

    “Henry?”

    Marion stepped down into the pit, crushing priceless antiquities with her thoroughly unsuitable shoes. Henry stood, swung the bloodied cup and added a fresh jet to the draught it already held.

    He buried her in the dig site, then returned to their room, overlooking the Templars’ last redoubt. He was lonely, but he knew he needn’t stay that way.

    Not anymore.

    “Marion,” he commanded.

    The blood in the Grail shivered to the sound of her answering laugh.

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell
    #FlashDog

  35. Cardboard Castles

    I unpack my suit and shoes, and lie back on the bed for a rest.

    So, this is it.

    I position my gaze out of the window while my mind’s eye wanders restlessly. I smile, suddenly remembering the day when she asked me to marry her. She was rather indignant when I declined- in fact, I just laughed, of course, and laughed.

    But today, she will become the princess that she always was. Her transformation will be complete; this is the end, the happily ever after. The girl that I remember will be gone.

    “Hello there!”

    She pops her head round the door. “Found your room okay, then?”

    There is already a tiara twinkling in her hair.

    “You look so…so grown up!” I whisper.

    She just laughs, of course, and laughs: “Well, I am twenty-six you know, Dad!”

    My memory is clinging to candles and cakes, to fairy-tales told, to cardboard castles built.

    I don’t want to give her away.

    160 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  36. I don’t expect to win anything for this, really. It was more for my satisfaction than anything else. Twistless fluffy stories are usually outside my range…

    The Glory of Gloria
    A glorious day it was, and he lay on his back, basking in the sunshine that streamed in through the wide, open window of the castle… thinking, as always, of Gloria.
    She permeated every fibre of his being, every second of the day. And it had been so for years. Many warm years, since he had fallen completely and irrevocably in love with her.
    Today was a special day, and today he thought of her more than usual, which was saying something. Four years ago, on this very day, he had proposed to her. It had been a grand affair, with a ballroom full of rose petals and himself down on one knee, gazing into her tear-filled eyes with such love shining in his eyes that a mother’s love for her daughter would be rivalled.
    On this day, four years back, he had asked her, ‘Gloria, will you marry me?’
    The answer had been glorious indeed.

  37. Fairyfail
    160 words
    Dear suitor,
    Hello! Thank you for your engagement application. This is a task many a man would die for. First and foremost, physical fitness needs are paramount in order to be successful, and as such, we urge you not to give up based on a few pesky hurdles.

    Requirements are:
    -Travel resilience
    Must be able to ride or walk for days at a time
    -Shrewd judge of character
    Lately, pirates have been seen on Twitter (#showmethemoney) bragging about tossing passengers overboard to keep the fare and avoid the island.
    -Be Species Conscious
    Knowledge of endangered Draconis Occidentalis anatomy required for sedative suppository to be effective
    -Peak Reflexes
    See previous requirement
    -Fireproof clothing
    No waking the Princess while singed naked
    -Good time management
    Must get in, get out, and get off the island before sedative wears off

    Let us know when to expect you,
    Sincerely,
    The Queen and I

    Your Highnesses,
    Nope, nope, nope, fuck you, and nope.
    Sincerely,
    Prince Charming

  38. Tourists vs. Ex-Pats
    by Nancy Chenier
    @rowdy_phantom
    159 words

    Tourists vs. Ex-pats

    The first time Ari visited, I pegged him for a tourist. He clutched his mother’s hand when Mina nosed his pockets. No native kid from here to sunrise was intimidated by goats. I linked fingers with him because we shared an age and an incongruity.

    “Deema, leave them alone,” Ommah said, rolling out flatbread.

    “But they’re like us.”

    She sighed. “They are and they aren’t.”

    ###

    Ari returned at the time of conquest, when a citadel crouched over the shepherd camp. Bolder, he clambered up the slopes to stroke the coarse hides of the animals. I greeted him, startling him, our shared language emerging from my sunbaked face.

    ###

    He visited one last time, when bombs crippled the walls that centuries never shattered. Goats abandoned, I took cover in the village.

    “I came back for you” he called, leaning from the hotel balcony.

    The ground growled under my feet.

    “We’re alike,” he said to my hesitation.

    “We are and we aren’t.”

  39. The Curse
    @okiewashere
    157 words

    My brother Frederic used to be a loner. He wasn’t looking bad – he was just shy. He rather stayed at the hotel to read than going out with me.
    This changed when we got off the plane in Syria. A beautiful girl was there to get us to our hotel. Frederic was as smitten with her as she with him. On the fifth night, he asked Sariya to marry him. She looked at him with big sorrowful eyes.
    Sariya told him about her family’s curse. Whenever someone proposed, the family member was catapulted back into the thirteenth century – exactly 13 minutes after the words were spoken. If they touched at that special moment, both would live together happily ever after. Frederic held her hand, ready to change his life. He sneezed at the wrong moment, and Sariya was gone.
    Frederic never forgave himself, staring hard at the Krak des Chevaliers, grieving for his lost love.

  40. LOVE, NO MATTER WHAT

    Brian S Creek
    147 words
    @BrianSCreek

    Michael pulled the diamond engagement ring from his trouser pocket and lay down on the bed. He squeezed it tight while looking out the open balcony doors towards the majestic stone structure across the river.

    He yearned for the day when the ring would end up where he had always intended; upon the tender finger of Sarah Chevaliers.

    If only he knew how to break the curse that had ruined their lives. If only he could get his hands on the mad, jealous, toad of a sorcerer.

    Michael wondered if Sarah could see him from this far away. Did she even have eyes in her new, larger, stone form? Were her legs now the battlements? Were her arms now the mighty towers?

    He sighed. Until he could find a way to undo the spell he was just a man who loved a castle.

  41. Correct formatting should be:

    Optimism Rei(g)ned

    “King Arthur will return to save the people,” the prophesy had predicted.

    Yeah, right.

    How those few words had energized, encouraged, and sustained me for years upon endless years—like a long-promised marriage proposal that never materialized. I’d trekked long and terrible miles in war-torn and soul-broken cities, searching for the catalyst, for that convergence of earth-shattering events mighty enough to re-awaken him from eternal slumber.

    I’d walked among the wounded, helping and healing along the way, positive that the power of their anguish and pain would beckon him back.

    Nope.

    I’d forayed into famine-stricken lands, bringing sustenance and words of hope, assuring people that Arthur’s arrival was imminent.

    Nothing.

    I’d mediated the divide between peoples, despairing that political differences could create such cruel hearts. This, certainly, would summon him.

    Not a chance.

    I’ve grown tired. Immortality really sucks. I should keep searching—perhaps visit the scene of some new Hell-on-Earth horror?

    Nah, I’m good here. Nice view.

    • This is really nicely done, Annika. You do a great job of capturing the feelings of futility throughout his immortal life; even threw in some alliteration too. Loved it! Especially the line, “Immortality sucks.” Well done. 🙂

    • Merlin! I love me some Merlin! I really enjoyed this story, from the cleverness of the title to your descriptions of all Merlin has done to try to bring about the return of the Once and Future King. And then to imagine him saying, “Nope, done, just gonna chill” was perfect.

      • Thanks! I *might* have forgotten to look at the “word of the day” until the last minute so I had to find a way to make work that in at the very end. I’m glad you thought it was smooth. 🙂

  42. Unfolding Love
    158 words
    @priyanka14

    He considered himself the luckiest man once. The love of his life had said Yes. He earned decently. They wanted to live together forever.

    Gazing out of window of the hotel room all Philip could see was astound fort that seems to have been alive since ages. He had known it from more than 20 years now. The view hasn’t changed a bit. He is lying placidly on his hotel bed for hours now. He kept hearing laughter of his heart. Can anyone be second time lucky?
    He had met Ida in the same city and never knew he would be visiting this place ever after she left. But he had to rush in back because of an email. It could be a joke. But he is waiting for the history to repeat.

    She left unannounced when all he wanted was her. Mean, she was, he thought and looked back at the letter, signed by Miriam Ida Philip.

  43. Actually, Rebekah, I don’t know how to do formatting in a comment. But every second paragraph should be ital. Can you tell me how to do it, delete it, and let me resubmit as well? Thank you.

    • Sure thing! to start italics, insert an i between < and its opposite. To end italics, bracket /i with the same < and its opposite.

      Sorry to be a bit vague here, but WordPress doesn't let us explain it more clearly.

      • Rebekah, in honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, “Ahoy! Thank ye matey for a fixin’ ma mess. Arrr! Dragonesse!” I hate that I complicated your day & I greatly appreciate your patience and help!

    • Ty again!
      Obstacle
      @5ahara1
      166 words

      Reclining, he considered his proposal. The thought of her lips curving into a smile at the sight of the ring made his heart pound.

      His fingers still burned raw from where he had scrubbed. Blood really does stain; even skin.

      He inhaled, imagining her sweet fragrance. He imagined caressing the length of hair he guessed – no, knew – was hidden under her scarf.

      The task hadn’t been difficult. A means to an end. An end that would be joyous. Fitting.

      He smiled as he went over the words he planned to say. “I know we just met…” But he knew she loved him. Her chocolate brown eyes would warm at the sight of him.

      The husband was a “chill wind” in his desert sun. He hadn’t even uttered her name as he died. She deserved better.

      He rose, impatient to find her. He longed to hear her honeyed voice say, “Yes.” On his way to the door, he kicked aside the knife still glistening with warm blood.

  44. A Good Show
    160 words
    By M. J. Kelley (@themjkelley)

    The sheets folded like cream across the mattress as she rolled through them, twisting her body to avoid the morning’s light.

    As she cocooned, the sheets uncovered his body. He awoke.

    His head lay at one end of the bed and hers at the other.

    Her eye shadow had bled, lipstick smeared–her face like a child’s watercolor–hair still in an elegant rope braid.

    He gripped her foot. “Let’s get married,” he said to it. He kissed the big toe. She muttered in French and gently pulled away.

    “She enjoyed you last night.” A voice came from beyond the reach of light.

    It startled him. A figure sat there.

    “I don’t remember.”

    “A good show,” said the figure.

    He got out of bed and clothed himself. “Who are you?”

    The figure laughed like a donkey.

    “Leave by the balcony,” the figure said.

    “But there’s no stairs…”

    Her eyes fluttered open. She stretched. “You’ll have to fly then,” she said.

  45. @jujitsuelf
    160 words

    Cacophony

    “Do it for me.”

    His voice was honey over silk, sliding across my skin. I buried my head in my pillow.

    “Dear writer of mine, come out and play.”

    I didn’t write him with the ability to make everything an innuendo.

    “Give me the castle, make Katrina propose to me and I’ll leave you alone.”

    Like he’d left me alone last time when I’d promised him his own spinoff from my novel.

    “Fine,” I mumbled.

    He smiled. I know he smiled, it slipped down my spine like ice water.

    “I’ll write whatever you want but get out of my head.” I was pleading, no shame left.

    “Why would I do that?” He laughed, smooth and wicked. “This is where I was created. You’re stuck with me. Now, get your laptop and get writing.”

    I did as he said. It was the easiest way. Maybe he’d let me sleep if I gave him what he wanted. But somehow, I doubted it.

  46. Her Eyes. 154 words. @LucciaGray

    I’m back in the same hotel, overlooking the same Medieval castle, and lying on the same bed where I begged her to marry me and start a new life in another continent.

    I met her when I was an international exchange student in Homs, preparing my PhD in petroleum engineering. I felt the unexpected thump of love at first sight when her supple fingers sunk into my stunned hand, and her warm honey eyes melted into mine.

    My tutor, who introduced us, proudly announced that his only daughter was shortly to marry his brother’s son, her first cousin. I failed to dissuade her, and left, alone.

    Too many years later, I read her letter one more time:
    ‘Although you are always with me, it’s time we meet again. Please come for me. Now I can leave’.

    I looked at the picture in the envelope and sighed.

    A child smiling at the camera.

    Her eyes.

  47. Because (148 Words)

    Because she said no, I find myself adrift. I am wanderer in a strange land where all life’s vivid colors have turned to shades of grey.

    I still hold all of those dreams in my memory, my castles in the air, forever lost. They linger, mirage-like just beyond my window.

    But I lie in the cool dark, her words a burning tattoo on my heart. “We cannot be. We are too different. I am promised to another.”

    She swept away in a whisper of jasmine and bergamot, and I cursed the differences that fracture acceptance.

    “We are too different.”

    And yet we are not. Does she lie on her bed and think of me? In the deepest night does she call out my name?

    When morning comes, I’ll move on once again, but tonight I’ll dream. I’ll hold her in my arms again and pray to never wake.

  48. A Letter Home

    Gawain sorted through the photographs, deciding which to include.  The family who posed for him had thought it a joke when he asked them. He wiped his eyes.  The last letter from his mother had been in someone else’s handwriting. 

    Dear Mother,I have wonderful news. Marion said yes to my marriage proposal. We will have a small ceremony here  before returning home to you.  I’m including some more photos.  Now you know that I will not be alone once you are gone. I could not be happier.

    He finished the letter and sealed it in an envelope with the photos.  Postage was as close as he could come to paying for a ticket home. Most days the life of his letters was the only thing that kept him going.

    The phone rang when he was already asleep on the bed.
    “Gawain?  The hospital just phoned me with the news. I’m so sorry.”

    Words : 156
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com

  49. Tom Smith
    @sunderland101
    Ever After – 158

    The Prince stared at his castle. Is he still alive? The “he” was the king, who remained bed ridden.

    It had been weeks since his arrival in that room with that woman asking him that question day after day after day. She was obsessed with becoming Queen. He wished he had never met her.

    The performer enchanted the Prince. She stood juggling three apples when she looked like she ought to eat them. “No!” She dropped her props, the crowd, angry at her unprofessionalism, dispersed. The Prince helped her pick up the apples, happily eating one when offered, that’s when things got a little hazy.

    He couldn’t believe what he was doing, but he had to. “Yes!” He wanted to see the King before he died.

    “Really?” He nodded. I’m going to be Queen. “You won’t regret this”

    You might, the Prince thought, that arsenic took too long to kill the King, I’ll use something else on her.

  50. Differing Views

    The words were out of my mouth before I thought about the consequences. Closing my eyes I tried not to think about wedding dresses, who could sit next to Great Auntie Dora and whether liquorice all-sorts in little net bags were naff or not as wedding favours. Maybe she’d let me come here every year on my own to recharge my batteries. No she’d want to be with me all my waking time and even in my dreams. God I feel like I’m suffocating.

    Why oh why did I say yes, it must have been the drink. This place is amazing the view across the bay is breath taking. Wonder if he’ll let me come here every year with my friends.

    That girl downstairs with her friends looked nice

    That man on the balcony looked nice.

    Returning year after year, same week, same room; we’ve had a good life together. It’s not an affair; it’s a match made in Krak.

    (160 words)

    stellakateT
    #Flashdogs

  51. Thank you so much for sharing your story! A reminder that while all stories are welcome, it needs to be between 140-160 words to be eligible for winning. If you’d like to edit and resubmit, I’m happy to swap them out or delete this one. Just let me know.

    • Blast! I knew that, and don’t know where my mind was at the moment! (Right now, I’m getting to pin everything on pregnancy brain, so perhaps I’ll use that.) Oh well, next time. I more just wanted the challenge/practice and feedback

      • Oh, and the last comment starting with “Blast!” was in response to Rebekah. Everyone – thank you for the feedback! I was afraid the subject would be trite; overdone. I’m glad it still spoke to people.

  52. The only way David could judge the time was by the slowly dimming light around Arla’s castle. It had been three days since he’d asked her to marry him, the three longest days of his life. He’d knelt down at the royal banquet and pledged his troth, swearing fealty to the kingdom with which he had waged furious battles for so many years. But once he’d met Arla, he could no longer see monsters across the battlefield.

    She’d loved him too, or so he’d thought. Arla didn’t have an answer for him at the banquet. Nor did she have one on the first night, or the second, and by the customs of his people, he could wait no longer than sundown tonight.

    Just before dark, a shadow rose from the castle. Even in the dim light, David knew Arla’s form from the others of her kind, and as she flew towards him, he knew that peace had come at last.

    160 words
    @drmagoo

  53. @jujitsuelf
    158 words

    Homecoming

    “This is where we’ll be landing?” Adrianna stared out of the window. “Ingenious. How long has this structure been in place?”

    “Many of this planet’s years,” Seyeq replied.

    “And what do the natives call such constructions?”

    Gods, she was beautiful. No other being in the universe had such delicate lilac skin.

    “Castles.” Why was he croaking? Idiot. “I’d…er…I have something to ask you.”

    Adrianna smiled faintly.

    “Marry me?” Why had he blurted it out like that?

    She kissed him before his panic attack bloomed further. “Of course I will, fool. Now land this thing.”

    Seyeq bowed. “The planet is ours, a gift from my father.”

    “Remind me to thank him later.” She slipped her arms around his waist and kissed his neck. “Much later.”

    Seyeq shivered but concentrated on settling their ship onto the landing plate, only relaxing when the castle walls rose past their windows and blotted out the alien yellow sun. They were home.

  54. Gluttony

    Committing a deadly sin is an experience of the damned.

    When it ends with the words ‘Marry me’, you might as well hurl yourself into the inferno and save Lucifer the bother.

    She targeted him from the moment she saw him standing in the lobby. Catching his eye, she smiled and as she sashayed past, whispered in his ear ‘Room 621’.

    A Pantone 7427 fingernail pushed the elevator button and, to heel, he followed her inside. Like the pro that she was, she halted the elevator and, somewhere between the third and fourth floor, she owned him.

    In her room, he feasted on her; gorged himself until his stomach ached and, fire in her eyes, she fed him. When there was nothing more for him to take, she drew out the words from his bruised lips.

    When he woke she was gone. The air was putrid with her scent and he longed for redemption.

    154 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  55. ‘Godisnjica’
    160 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    Congealing blood has settled in the folds of our unkempt sheets. His face is pale alabaster, the angry slash below source for the pools; his undulating form landscape for tributaries to feed them.

    He’s found a peace neither of us knew in marriage.

    He’d proposed in this room – such an offhand way to ruin a life.
    He was on the balcony, cigarette in one hand, coffee the other.
    “Of course…we should marry,” he’d said – his back to me.
    I was lying supine, a light breeze playing across goosebumped flesh.

    We’d been here two days – known each other three.

    I couldn’t resist the tortured artist …until he began to torture me.

    So many “sorries”, too many “never agains.”

    It was his suggestion to come back here, to recapture what was lost.
    I can’t get those years back, but my dignity is restored.

    I kiss his cheek; leave a tip for the maid and head out to the square.

  56. Yearning

    The words stuck in my throat as she turned to face me. Ever since we had left the markets, senses filled with spice and humidity the clamouring voices had beguiled me. Teasing me with exotic temptations. Yet I had pressed on, always in her shadow, till the guide had led us tourist cattle into the quiet twilight of the castle.
    Her steps echoed, clack, clack, clack. Gunshots that split the twilight, I followed, intoxicated, enraptured heart pounding. Her blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders, her floral dress, a realm of roses, clinging to an hourglass silhouette.
    She stopped, examining the eroded hues of heralded invaders. Preoccupied, ignorant to my presence. My heart in my mouth, I reached into my pocket, feeling for the declaration of my love. Reaching, searching, fingers enclosing.
    Her breath quickened at the sight, hands extended, lips parted. Words tumbling, pleading.
    It mattered little, my blade silencing her fear.
    I adore love at first sight.

    Gabor Z
    160 words

    Authorial declaration:

    Currently visiting Image Ronin (someone has to apparently) and this first ever flash fiction venture is all due to him plying me with red wine and rum into the early hours hours after arriving … so blame him.

  57. Every Picture
    @geofflepard 160 words

    Bastards.
    He’d done their bidding. Helped draft the script. Let himself be filmed with a knife to his throat. He knew they’d pay the ransom.
    ‘We get the money, she’s yours.’ The girl lowered her eyes. His bride. She was beautiful. Demure. ‘She’ll marry you; you live like rich man.’
    Why did he believe them?
    ‘Big wedding. Here.’ They’d showed him the castle.
    It hadn’t been easy, persuading his family. He knew what they thought. They’d told him of their ‘shame’; but he knew they’d pay.
    He was elated when they said, ‘The money’s come.’ Like the biggest high.
    ‘We go to hotel. Big secret.’ The blindfold was a precaution, they said. Why did he agree?
    When the door closed he ripped off the cloth. Yanked back the curtains. How they must be laughing. A bloody picture. Four walls and a picture.
    He lay on the bed, thinking about his fiancé. He knew she wanted him. She’d save him.
    Bastards.

  58. No.

    He was about to lose consciousness on the bed, his hands pressuring his abdominal wound, when the ambulance and the police arrived in the street, the shrill sound of their sirens shouting through the open hotel room window and bouncing off the ceiling.

    Quickly he rehearsed the words: “She said she surprised me in this romantic hotel room with a view on the Krak des Chevaliers for a reason. Then she asked me to marry her. I said no. She got furious. She completely lost it, officer. She grasped the butter knife from the breakfast tray and stabbed me right here. Luckily she missed any arteries. I had to fence her off and pushed her over the balcony. I had to, officer.”

    Suddenly voices screamed behind the door. It exploded, shards of wood flying everywhere. He was too far gone to feel surprised.

    Through slowly closing slits he saw a big blurry stain of blood coming at him.

    158 words
    @bartvangoethem
    #FlashDog

  59. Bottle of Beer

    159 words
    @stellakateT

    The painting was an abstract of red paint. Like one of those magic pictures you stare at for ages and then you see a famous landmark or an animal. Three figures of men; one was wearing a bowler hat, one had half a face and the last one was just a smudge. She ate her cereal thinking about the red shoes her husband loved her to wear. He would enjoy this just as much. It was an investment for their future.

    Arriving in Krak he realised why his mate Freddie was always going on about it. The views were spectacular over the bay. Taking a cold bottle from the fridge he swallowed it quickly. That picture was the last straw, at first he thought he’d slash the canvas but that would be vandalism. Her blood splashes greatly improved it. Now she was a work of art and he was free, no extradition treaty. God he loved being a widower.

  60. “The Proposal”
    by Michael Seese
    160 words

    True love always prevails. Or so Richard hoped.

    His associates scoffed at his plans. “Marry the princess? You?”

    Who’s laughing now? he thought.

    Richard lay on his bed, staring at the castle, waiting for the signal that his proposal had been blessed. The imposing insular walls no longer seemed unscalable.

    The King had staged a tournament to determine who was to be his only daughter’s suitor. Archery, jousting, and other barbaric pursuits. Having been born outside of nobility, Richard could not compete. Instead, he circumvented the charade, and homed in on the girl. Moving with the swiftness of an arrow, he swooped in, courted, and wooed her. Within a week they toasted their betrothal with wine.

    Wine laced with poison.

    Richard’s proposal was simple: give me her hand—and the throne—and I shall give you the antidote.

    He knew the King would acquiesce. For true love does prevail. And no love is truer than that a father has for his daughter.

  61. Last Chances, Second Glances
    @mishmhem
    159 words

    Cora watched as the man, Captain Wright, dozed. She had treated his injuries, but she knew that there was more to his suffering than physical pain. He had been sole survivor of the shipwreck that had taken his peoples’ lives.

    He was the last of his kind, as she was hers.

    She did what she could to make him comfortable, giving him a view of familiar scenes rather than antiseptic steel-gray walls, but even so– he was still prisoner to his isolation.

    As his dreams turned darker, she called to him soothingly. “Captain … you are safe.”

    She waited as he shook off the last of his dream and stared at her. She saw his expression fall as he muttered, “Only a computer…”

    She paused, the sky in the window darkened in response. “And you, are only human, we all have our burdens to bear.”

    “Figures,” he sighed. “I meet the perfect woman, and she’s a computer… Marry me?”

  62. @blackinkpinkdsk
    160 words
    Free Verse

    The bare walls breathe poetry as he exhales his sins. It’s all about angles and slopes, though he daydreams in stanzas. The timing of life rings the same: right conditions, obtuse people, acute diagnoses, negative reactions, positive assholes, zero purpose, no hope. Angles and slopes easily become reality lived.

    Architecture—that’s his thing according to the fancy certificate displayed on his meager office-wall back home. Roughly 6,000 miles from where his head now rests. He should know the exact figure, number, measurement but it’s all become meaningless to him. Out of habit, his mind is still listing things, grouping them together.

    The foreign monument mimics the weight of her memory. Her vast presence that’d fill a silent room without a word. Her inky fingertips tasted of poetry as she’d trace his mouth before they’d kiss. Her eyes replied before “yes” left her lips, but he couldn’t contain her chaos. He reneged and cancer slipped its ring on her finger.

  63. Sacred Vows (160)

    He had vowed never to set foot near the Krak again. But here he was, the Templar fortress looming outside his hotel window.

    The vow had been made, before the Grand Master himself. He had kissed the spot on that white tailbone, right above his buttocks. Repeated all his lines. Sworn to fight to the death. Was it his fault he couldn’t die? Surely it was the hand of God.

    In a thousand years, Louis had tried hundreds of ways to end his life. Others had been eager to help. Even the Saracen sword that severed his neck had somehow failed, as the executioner watched in horror while skin and bone fused back before his eyes, leaving only the faint white circle that necklaced his throat.

    After being celibate for a thousand years, he’d decided to risk everything. He was going to propose to Mira. Would he live or die if he broke the vow? The Templar graveyard lay ready.

  64. Unrequited
    by Laura Carroll Butler
    143 words

    The Grand Tour: afternoons absorbing art and architecture and nights in search of cheap entertainment and companionship. In Florence, the first night, wine-sodden Michael, his arm around Davis, kissed him. Not the first time, but different. Friends since childhood, Michael was the one who held a sobbing Davis the day he found out his mother had died. For Davis, the feelings grew, but the friendship came first.

    Davis was in bliss. A week later, in Venice, Michael left the bed early, distracted, anxious. Hours later, Davis heard him outside. He had two women, their faces covered in hideous masks.

    “I’ve a headache,” Davis begged off. It would be many hours before Michael returned that night, if he returned.

    When he came home to England, Davis would find a proper lady and marry her as was expected. For now, he watched the night pass.

  65. Rejection by Mary Cain (Word Count 148)
    The distant sirens and the fine wine could not drown out the answer she gave him. That simple word, bitter and cruel, mocking him like a sick tune.

    No.

    His fist tightened, and without a second thought, he slammed it against the thick wall, swearing through gritted teeth. Blood trickled from his knuckles and the skin turned blue.

    No one ever said no to Sebastian Law. Yet, she did.

    “Stupid woman!” He flung himself onto the bed, staring out the open balcony door.

    He didn’t need her!

    He clenched the small jewel black box and clamped his eyes shut.

    He didn’t need her. But all he could see was the way her green eyes lit up like candles, hear her quick witty tongue that always rendered him speechless, feel her kiss, so gentle he could still taste it on his lips.

    “Come back. Please.”

    The silence answered, “No.”

  66. Sir Erik the Western Star- Hero of Erelia
    (158 words)

    When Erik first told his parents about his other life they’d smiled in that “we know better” way parents do. But what was once childish imagination became “delusions”, even “disease”. Doctors came full of promises but Erik made sure they left with nothing but frustration.

    Here he was Erik Weston, 19-year-old loser extraordinaire. His parents had long since given up, but he didn’t mind. If they knew him in his real life, they would be proud. Every night when normal people went to sleep, Erik went somewhere else. He couldn’t say how he’d discovered the passage to his other world, but the people of Erelia were sure lucky he had. Without him their world would have been lost a hundred times over. It was no wonder Princess Myra had accepted his offer.

    As Erik felt the world of bills and ramen noodles slip away, he awoke in his true body.

    Myra rolled over, “How’d you sleep, my love?”

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

  67. The Proposal
    148 words
    @FictionAsLife

    He had introduced himself as Paul. What a lovely, traditional name, Jennifer had thought.

    They chatted amiably as they rode their rented bicycles over the cobblestone streets to the end of town. Conversation died when they reached the dirt road up the mountain. Anticipation of the winery at the end of the ride was all that kept Jennifer going. They stopped to catch their breath on the steps of a parish church near the top.

    The surprise of their presence stopped an olive-skinned grandmother stopped in her tracks. She spoke animatedly as she asked a question in Arabic. When it became clear that they spoke as little Arabic as she spoke English, she pointed to her hand. She slipped her fingers over her fourth finger and looked questioningly at Jennifer.

    “No, no ring,” Jennifer said, suppressing her laughter.

    The woman walked away, shaking her head and muttering.