Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 46

Howdy, and welcome to the dragons’ lair!!! It’s a world of craziness and fun and brilliance, all smushed into a very fast, very short 24 hours. Here’s hoping you (a) made coffee, and (b) type like a dragon maniac. If not, grab a mug of something memorable, then warm up your fingers here

NEWSFLASH: We are currently accepting applications for the first judge panel of Year Three. Many thanks to those who have already applied. What a spectacular Year Three it’s going to be! Still loads of time to get your application in: the deadline’s Nov 10. Details here.

And now for today’s prompt! October 24, 1929, known today as Black Thursday, was one of the awful days leading up to the collapse of Wall Street and the launch of the Great Depression. But even in the midst of these dark, horrible years, there were light and humor to be found, if you knew where to look. Today’s photo features the work of celebrated Depression-era photographer Marion Post Walcott (Google her work if you have a moment! she’s wonderful).  


It’s goodbye time again, and will be for the next three weeks as this glorious panel of judges sashays off the stage. Flinging razor-tongued teen aliens every which way as parting gifts today is judge Betsy Streeter. Less is more, she says (meaning words, not trophies, of course); zoom in, she says, and focus on the tiny details to convey a textured character or fully developed world. Read more about what she looks for 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, fetch your toothbrush and 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 specifically instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Clarence Hatry”):


***Today’s Prompt:

Title: Mr. Hydrick, county supervisor, and Mr. Melody Tillery examining mouth and teeth of his mare, which has mule colt. Pike County, near Tray, Alabama. Public domain photo by Marion Post Walcott.

Title: Mr. Hydrick, county supervisor, and Mr. Melody Tillery examining mouth and teeth of his mare, which has mule colt. Pike County, near Tray, Alabama. Public domain photo by Marion Post Walcott.

318 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 46

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 150


    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, she told me.

    So as I finger the check on the table, sliding it over the dark wood grains that swirl through the oak, I study the zeroes that line up behind the number one like an equine parade, circling the track to the starting gate.

    I know why she had traced her pen over the paper only moments earlier. I see the reasons in her shuttered eyes as they slant sideways at my hand. I had watched her do the same for my brother two years ago when he disappeared into the Orient, never to be seen again.

    My destination is the Yukon or someplace equally appalling.

    It doesn’t matter. The point is, I lost command of my life when I lost control of my bank account. Now, the gift horse wins the laurels and I’m only along for the ride.


  2. Black and White Winter
    [Judge’s entry. Just for fun.]

    All of us at the H-Bar Stables were riding high until that Thursday.

    Even now, I don’t know how much money the stables lost.

    Some of the Wall Street suits back east leapt from their office windows.

    Our accountant was less dramatic, but when the East River swept his car away, all our financial records went with him.

    For a while, I tried to keep up appearances: a lot of men work the stables, and most have mouths to feed back home. Every morning, I’d trot Mister Tillery out around the grounds for the usual dog and pony show: grooming, exercise, and such.

    As the frigid winter set in, though, I found the cupboard increasingly bare. Water soup and hardtack crumbs only stretch so far. It was a bitter December morning, with the wind blowing through my dark coat, that I knew I had to sacrifice Mister Tillery.

    He was a good trainer, but we horses have to eat.


  3. *** Judges entry – just for fun! ***

    A Hard Bargain

    Hydrick casually strolled around the colt, “He’s a fine looking horse. I’ll give you $500 for him.”
    “$500? Is that a joke? I’m worth ten times that.”
    Melody coughed loudly as Hydrick exclaimed, “I beg your pardon?”
    “Nothing sir, must have been the wind.” Melody kicked Charlie in the shin, achieving the exact opposite of the desired outcome, “You want to start a kicking contest with me?”
    “What ever is wrong with your voice, you sound terrible!”
    “A little hoarse perhaps?”
    Melody tried pinching Charlie’s mouth shut, but Hydrick walked around to see him wrestling with Charlie’s lips. He stared at them both curiously, “Whatever are you doing?”
    “I wanted to show you his lovely teeth.”
    “Yes very nice, but I’m more concerned with the other end. I need a new stud horse. I have a field full of mares that need impregnating. It’s a shame I can’t afford him.”
    “What? Why didn’t you say so! Let’s call it $250.”

    160 words


  4. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 145


    Her majestic wings flay the air, pushing, pumping, pulsing high, thrusting as she gains height, circling, floating, diving. She loosens her bond with the earth, leaves the trappings of cliff and tree and mountain behind. The horizon is her mate, and she flies to meet him.

    Here in the heavens is her home; the clouds are her pillows, the sunlight her blanket. Here is where she soars, freedom twisting the feathers of her plumage. She plunges, down, down, far down until her talons close over the hapless mouse or squirrel or rabbit, and she’s rising again, returning home. She beats the wind to the cadence of liberty.

    Then the glove calls her down, the tether bankrupts her flight. A hood drops over her head, darkness shutters her vision. The cage door yawns its welcome, and her jailer turns the key.

    Slavery hides in all forms.


  5. Moral Bankruptcy
    153 words

    Tom was sweating through the crisp shirt he’d avoided paying for. He wasn’t prepared for the dry heat of the Midwest, and on occasion, considered discarding the black sport coat. Jeff on the other hand, appeared much more comfortable in his denim coveralls and loose-fitting jacket.

    “Mighty fine mare you got there,” Tom said when he saw the red chestnut mare.

    “Yep,” was Jeff’s only response. Then, for the next half hour, the men inspected the horse from tooth to tail. “How much you want fer her,” Tom asked.


    “Pesos?” Tom exclaimed, “Jesus, you know nobody got that kind of money right now.”

    “Take it or leave it.”

    “Alright,” Tom said and brandished a checkbook. He filled out the check, and then both men shook hands. Tom smiled, knowing the check wouldn’t clear because he didn’t have a penny to his name. Jeff smiled back, knowing the horse he sold wasn’t his.


  6. The Gift Horse
    150 words

    The dun mare whinnied and tried to lift away but Gabe held tight and lifted her lips, letting the adjustor see the teeth.
    “Gabe, You have this animal down as a three year old, a prime specimen. Y’ask me, this horse’s a great deal older than that.”
    “See, things as they are, the bank’ll only take on what it can profit from. Your land, machinery, why they may be on the worn side, but we can sell those. Auction on Friday. But it’s my job to make sure we’re not left with things that’ll cost more to keep. This ol’ nag looks in worse state than the one that left you to flit back to her folks in Mobile.”
    For the first time a seed of hope sprouted inside Gabe.
    “No, I reckon best thing’s you keep the ol’ wreck. I hear horsemen’re still needed Nevada way.”
    “Thanks, cuz.”



  7. The Killer
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    159 words

    Michael met Mr Quigley at the gate. ‘I’m ruined I tell you, ruined,’ he said. ‘And all cos of that so called horse you sold me.’

    ‘Now hold on Michael,’ Mr Quigley said opening the car door and searching for where to place his highly polished brogues. ‘What are you blathering on about, man?’

    Michael threw his hands in the air. ‘That damned horse you sold me, he’s…, he’s…, attacked my other horses, torn chucks out some, killed others and eaten one. Its half wolf, I’m telling you.’

    Mr Quigley removed his hat and scratched his balding pate. ‘Eaten one, you say?’

    ‘I do say,’ Michael said grabbing Mr Quigley by the sleeve, giving him no choice but to follow. All thought of ruined trousers and shoes fled as Mr Quigley witnessed the carnage. There was blood everywhere. Michael approached the horse with great care and opened its mouth. ‘Just look, canines! And they must be an inch long!’


  8. Look Down That Long, Lonesome Road

    “So what ye reckon?” Seb had kept his distance, fearful of jinxing the buyer’s inspection. He wandered over, brushing dust off his clothing that, in contrast to his potential savior’s, was as disheveled as his farm.

    A shrug, “I want to see ‘em run. Make ‘em canter.”

    Thunder echoed from Seb’s whip. ‘Look at ‘em, nature’s poetry in motion.’


    “Grain, the best scraps.”


    “Broken in, one crack of the lash and they understand. Amazing creatures, docile, not a maroon amongst ‘em.”

    “I’m hearing rumors ye might be in trouble? Money wise?”

    “Just tittle and tattle, jealous competitors. Now ye got an offer in mind?”

    They bartered long, a dance that Seb sometimes led, sometimes followed. Till palm pressed spittle sealed the deal.

    Dusk, Seb waved farewell. The ebony faces peering out from the wagon’s cage unresponsive. Only the chink of their manacles disturbing the spring evening.

    Seb recounted the money, barely enough.

    Yet it would have to do.


    160 words


  9. @avalina_kreska

    Drinking my way out of debt

    ‘You’re kidding me! Who ever heard of a vampire horse? Just more malicious rumours.’ Thomas opened his eyes as wide as he convincingly could.

    ‘Well, let me just check her teeth.’ Barney poked around before recoiling at the stench of garlic.
    ‘Phew! Can’t hang around in there too long!’ he said, standing back.

    ‘You see – that proves it, everyone knows garlic is the number one vampire deterrent.’ Thomas said.
    Barney walked around the horse again, he didn’t want to buy any trouble, but heaven knows, he had to placate his daughter’s wishes somehow. This horse was bargain.

    ‘I’ll throw in the colt too.’ Thomas held out his hand. Barney shook it, his daughter would be thrilled.

    Thomas rubbed his hands together in his mind. When you’re going broke you stoop lower than a foot scraper. The two will be back within a week, after the colt has had its fill. That’s the tenth sale this month. Things are looking up.

    160 words


  10. The Travelling Show

    ‘All right, Peggy girl. Sssh, now. Jus’ let the nice man examine ya.’

    ‘Is she normally this restive, Mr Appletree?’

    ‘Nah, Mr Kleeman, sir. She jus’ gets nervous around strangers, y’know?’

    ‘She looks in pretty poor condition, sir.’

    ‘Bin doin’ my best, Mr Kleeman. It’s hard, these days. Audiences are down. I’m on my knees.’

    ‘It’s difficult for everyone, Mr Appletree. But if this beast is suffering, I will have her destroyed, asset or no.’

    ‘Aw, come on –’

    ‘Look, let’s not drag this out. Wedge her jaws, please.’

    ‘Her teeth are fine, man.’

    ‘They’ll pass. She’s not as shiny as she could be.’

    ‘Who is, these days?’

    ‘Tail and mane a little lacklustre, too. Now – the wings. A bit tattered, maybe?’

    ‘She’s bin workin’, Mr Kleeman. It takes a toll.’

    ‘Right. Well, look. I’ll recommend she stays with the show, for now, but I’ll be back next month. And tell me, for the paperwork, is she ‘Peggy’ or ‘Pegasus’?’

    160 words


  11. Put me out to stud!

    “Put me out to stud! I said – oh for Silver’s sake, get your hands out of my mouth. How am I supposed to be a man whisperer if you won’t let me whisper. I know you’re nearly bankrupt but you can afford me. Buy me and put me out to stud. The whispering ponies will be worth their weight in gold.”

    Jeb let go of the horse and scratched his head. He had a strange feeling that if he bought this horse all his money worries would simply disappear. And he wouldn’t use him in the field. He would breed from him and sell the ponies.

    “What have you done? We’ll be ruined!”
    “Don’t worry Mother, the ponies will save us.”

    Unfortunately, a year later his mother was proved right and the bank took their farm. In the warm stable the tired yet happy man whisperer planned his next move.

    151 words


  12. Who would have thought?

    It’s so demoralising when they’re pulling and pawing at my face. Of course, it doesn’t hurt per se, not in a physical way, but I have my dignity. I so hate to be mauled like a common animal. And common I am most certainly not. It might look like I’m lazing around in the field without so much as a care in the world, but it’s all going on in my mind. And of course there are a few in the next field, the ones that were bought last Spring, that are a little on the dim side, shall we say. These men think I can’t understand their money worries, their impending sense of financial doom, but I do. I got a first class degree in accounts management two years last summer. Not that I’ve been able to get a job since then. Everyone knows what the job market’s like these days. But I’m still looking.

    156 words


  13. All or nuthin’

    Religiously, they awaited the weekly draw, planning a future. Jack checked the ticket as the numbers spiralled onto the screen and then he’d look into her hungry eyes, whispering,

    ‘We’ve only goddamn gone and done it.’

    He’d follow it up with a raucous burst of laughter that hit her like shotgun, riddling her body with pellets of hate and desperation.

    This week was different. Hell, she’d been brave for long enough and she needed Fortune’s favour. Needed it to escape the bailiffs; the shame. Him.

    Surely this time he wouldn’t joke? His solemn words launched her heart like a balloon, but before the string had left her fingers she knew…

    She stared at him, her eyes leaking poisoned tears.

    ‘I hate you for this.’

    Aw, come on. You know I was just horsin’ around.

    Numbly, she searched for any scrap of love she once saved for him. But her heart was as empty as her purse.

    156 words


  14. “How are you, Hazel?” Dr. Tillery, the veterinarian, asked the lovely black mare who had come to see him with her mule colt.
    “I’m fine, Doctor,” Hazel whinnied in reply. “But I’m very worried. The crops did poorly this year. If we can’t somehow raise the money, we’re going to have to declare bankruptcy and sell Equine Estates. I do so hate to take little Mackenzie from her home where she feels safe and comfortable and live on the plains not knowing if we’ll be able to find adequate shelter for the weather.”
    “Well, this won’t do at all, Hazel,” said Mr. Hydrick, the kindly county supervisor. “We can’t allow you to lose your property. We’ll have to come up with some way to help the farmers keep their homes in spite of the scant crop output.”
    “Tell him about the ice monster that froze the crops, Mama,” Mackenzie neighed.

    150 words
    Helena from @UndeadNether



  15. Let The Only Sound (Be The Overflow)
    159 words

    “Well she looks like a healthy one,” Mr Hydrick commented as he looked the mare over.

    Melody nodded, tugging his cap back in place. “Did my best by her, though feed was hard to come by for a while.”

    Mr Hydrick inclined his head in understanding. Many of the farmers had lost their lands to bankruptcy as the economy slowed but Melody had somehow managed to keep his head above water.

    “Been taking them down to the river, plenty of stuff to eat down there,” Melody grinned cutting into the other man’s thoughts.

    “Be careful down by that river. Smithy lost two farmhands down there. He thinks we’ve got gators again.”

    Melody cocked a brow at that but before he could say anything the mare nipped at him, whinnying until he slapped her away.

    “None of that now, Bess. You know it ain’t feeding time,” Melody chided.

    “You must smell like her feed,” Mr Hydrick commented.

    Melody just smiled.


  16. Like Mother, Like Son
    Judge Entry; just for fun!
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    160 words

    The injustices they put her through, poking and prodding her as if she were a piece of horseflesh. Except, er, she was. How would THEY have liked it if someone stuck fingers in all parts of them, searched their skin for sores, their feet for imperfections? And the way they yanked her lips around, examining her smile from every which angle. It was disgusting. An invasion of privacy.

    My mom never forgot it, told me the story all through my younger years. OK, year: it only takes one to go from foal to horse. “Mind the men,” she said. “See that they don’t take advantage of you.” I just whinnied in response, giving her the half-attentive grunt teens give.

    I’m thankful I inherited those fine white choppers. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. No plaque marks her contribution, but her legacy lives on on TV screens everywhere.

    Did I forget to introduce myself? Hello, I’m Mr. Ed.


  17. The Art Of Keeping The Horse Between You And The Ground

    Can I remember the first time I rode the horse? No, only the last time.

    The euphoria is like nothing else. No one can touch me when I’m on the horse. There’s nothing more I need or want. When I’m on the horse I’m perfect and the world is perfect with me. But when I’m off, I’m in turmoil. I must think and feel pain and look in the mirror that always shows a stranger. I must listen.

    “You’re a disgrace to this family’s good name.”

    “You’re morally bankrupt.”

    “You can sink no lower.”

    So I steal and beg and sell anything, including myself. I do it all for the oblivion of the horse.

    You say I can sink no lower but you’re wrong. There’s a long way for me to fall yet. You see, no one on the outside can understand the battle to keep the horse between you and the ground.

    153 words


  18. An Inspector calls

    Smell it on him. Musky, older than his years. No amount of fancy cologne’s goin’ cover that up. He never smiles – but he’d be about to get his jaw unhinged if he did. Can’t kill a man’s livestock, kill a man’s business and be caught smiling about it. Hard enough he’s forever brushing the dust off his suit. Try farming in it fella! God knows it’s close on miraculous anything grows here.

    And now he won’t look me in the eye. Ain’t a thing wrong with my animals but I know it’s coming all the same. Whole state’s bankrupt, everybody’s saying, yet here’s his fancy new hat. He was out to old Jones week before, Hendersons before that. Animals culled to stop the spread, he claimed. What could the bank do then but foreclose? And they say bankers are broke and jumping out of windows. Not in this town. Here it’s their souls are empty, not their pockets.

    158 words


  19. The Game

    ‘Teeth don’t look good.” The first buyer complained.
    ‘It’s a congenital flaw. Most horses on the ranch have it. Don’t mean a thing. Here’s the vet’s appraisal.’ Sighed the seller.
    The buyer eyed the document carefully.
    ‘Look at the shiny coat and strong legs. She’s a winner, like the rest.’
    The buyer stroked its rough back and squeezed the skinny legs.
    ‘Best thing about the ranch is the price.’
    ‘Why you selling so cheap?’
    ‘Moving away. Wife wants to go back to Europe.’
    ‘I’ll let you know tomorrow morning.’
    ‘’First come first served.’
    The buyer looked at the queue of players waiting their turn, and exchanged the case with the cash for the deeds.
    They shook hands.
    ‘You’re the twenty-fifth buyer so far. You’ll sell it for double next year, so long as we all tell the same story. There’s only one rule to this game: the last buyer goes bankrupt. Make sure it’s not you. Sell the damned horse.’

    (160 words) @LucciaGray


  20. Horse Trading
    146 words

    Today was the day when all of his problems were to have been solved, when the sale of his mare was to have saved his farm, but today was not going well for Melody Tillery.

    To start with he had woken with a zit the size of a jellybean just beneath his lip. Then he had discovered that the mare had developed mule colt overnight. This makes horses ornery as a mule and dangerous as a Colt, the equine equivalent of vodka, which was why the mare, right in front of his potential customer, had suddenly taken a giant bite out of the peak of his cap.

    Weaker men would have wept in frustration, but Tillery simply wrenched the horse’s mouth open and pulled the piece back out.

    He had grown up in Alabama with the name Melody. He didn’t take crap from anyone or anything.


  21. Horse Meet
    by A J Walker

    Patrick made a point of looking over the entire horse nodding sagely as he did.

    ‘Beautiful horse you have here.’ Patrick said. ‘Beautiful.’

    ‘Grace has been my best friend over the years,’ said Brian, ‘but don’t let my wife hear that.’

    Patrick guffawed loudly. ‘I’m sure they both know.’

    ‘Shame I have to get rid of the horse.’ Brian shook his head. ‘This bankruptcy is a cruelty.’

    Patrick nodded. ‘Well, I can only say I’ll take great care of her. She deserves it.’

    It looked like Brian was going to cry there and then, but he held out his hand and they shook on it. The money would just disappear now so giving Grace away knowing she’d be cared for was all he could do.

    Patrick gently lead the horse into the box, which it shared with another bankruptcy recruit.

    As he drove out of town Patrick sang his current catchphrase. ‘Cheaper than dogs and a lot more meat, Yee-ha!’

    (160 words)



  22. The Cubicle at 7:32am
    (160 words)

    The office hallway was silent. She stared at the photo prompt, despairing.

    – I don’t have the talent for this. Or the time.

    Overhead the florescent light buzzed sickly. Like a dying fly in winter.

    – A horse… I know nothing about horses! And what’s on that guy’s lip?

    Piles of white paper watched her. She had that report to file today and while her boss wouldn’t give a shit if she finished this writing prompt, he would definitely throw a shitfit if she didn’t finish adding headings, checking graphs, copy, paste, copy, paste.

    – A man selling all he owns for his wife’s top of the line cancer treatment. No…

    She fidgeted, perched on the edge of her ergonomically approved swivel chair.

    – Father spending last penny to give daughter horse. That’s crap…

    She could kill a whole forest on a report so dry you’d choke just looking at it but trying to break into creativity? Forget it. Her word bank was overdrawn.


  23. ‘The Deed That’s Done’
    (160 words)

    The land thawed, the usual faces made their appearance back in town, save Jackson’s.
    No one was necessarily complaining; however, a group of the guys decided to be neighbourly, see if he needed a hand. They all knew what an absence, these days, could spell.

    The road to Jackson’s farm was clear. No reason to believe he’d struggled en route.

    ‘If, I mean, when we see him, we’ll be real tactful, right?,’ said Briggs.
    ‘Yip, he’s a proud one,’ said The Vet.
    ‘Yeah, “proud”, that’s why his wife left by the light of the moon-‘ The Vet coughed McCall to a stop.

    They searched.
    Inside the stable, the stench of decay rode the air. Ten horses, just pain and bone, lay dead.

    ‘He ended it, and took the horses with him?’
    The Vet surveyed Jackson’s corpse, pulled his neckerchief from his face and cleared his throat. ‘Other way round. Feed’s locked up. He starved them. Horses took Jackson with them.’


  24. Straight From The Horse’s Mouth

    The Depression had hit Morton hard. Everything had gone – work, the tools of his trade, home, wife. The only thing keeping him from skid row was his departed uncle’s lame racehorse.

    Now, here to see him was his last hope, Eli Feinstein. A Presidente cigar protruded from the side of his mouth, the tip glowing red like the coals of hell.

    “OK, kid. Whadya got?”

    Trying not to let his agitation translate into a tremor in his voice, Morton nervously began his pitch. A sheen of sweat like diamond dust coruscated on his puckered brow as he stammered his way through each line – alternately facing Feinstein, then moving the horse’s lips with his nicotine-stained fingers to reveal the equine dentition.

    The protracted sigh made Morton stop.

    The impresario worked his cigar to the other side of his mouth, then slowly shook his head.

    “I ain’t surprised you’s bankrupt, kid. That’s the woist ventriloquist act I ever seen!”

    Geoff Holme
    Word Count: 159


  25. Horse Trader

    “You say you bought this mare from that old horse trader, Clarence Hatry?”


    “How old you say he told you she was?”


    “Try 17! More likely in her 20’s! She’s lame in that left hind too… You don’t know nothin bout horses do ya? Didn’t think ta look in that old horses mouth, did ya? Didn’t walk her around did ya? What were you thinking buying this old wreck of a mare? Least the colt seems ok. That’s something.. ”

    “Look here, see this? She has a tattoo here. Belonged to someone important long time ago.. Not no more. Nothin but a broken down old girl now.. Least wise she got this here little mule colt. Kin break him into something useful.”


    • Ah, a writer after my own hear. Here I though I was the only one who “borrowed” the Clarency Hatry name because I was too lazy to make one up. 🙂

      This story felt very pragmatic and real. I liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was my first attempt at flash fiction- I thought the use of the name was bonus- so I wanted to incorporate it. Thank you for taking the time to read!


  26. @UK_MJ
    160 Words
    “Dollars and Scents”

    He wore cologne.

    That’s what I remember most about that day.

    I was nine and for weeks, I’d been listening to my parents worry. Long after they thought we were asleep, they’d sit at the kitchen table and talk. What would we do? Where would we go? What was going to happen to us?

    I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop but that ramshackle farmhouse only had four rooms. Except for the littlest kids who didn’t know enough to be scared, we all laid awake and listened.

    When the man from the bank finally came, he wore cologne. He kept his hands behind his back as he followed Daddy around the farm, looking at all the stuff that wasn’t ours anymore. He had on a starched dark suit and a hat so shiny, I figured he plucked it brand new off some store’s shelves on his way out.

    He never said a word.

    But he wore cologne.

    I can still smell it.


  27. Josh Bertetta
    “No Sympathy”
    149 Words

    “I still don’t understand why you take it so personally.” He opened the archive to a random picture. “I mean look at this. Peanut butter in a horse’s mouth making it appear to talk? This is what they did with their time?”

    “That’s not all they did you know. They did some good. Still, I can only wonder…What if we had told them? Shown them?”

    “You know that’s not why we were sent.”

    “I know, I know. Observe.” Glork sighed from all three mouths. “And look what happened. They destroyed themselves. If they only knew…”

    “I’m telling you, they got what they deserved.”

    “They could have learned.”

    “Learned? Look what became of them. They weren’t always that way you know. In their beginning they understood. Then they forgot. They forgot they weren’t the center of the universe. And when they forgot they bankrupted themselves.”

    “And now they’re gone forever.”


  28. The Gift Horse
    Laura Romero
    (153 words)

    Money was running out. The mare was getting stingy with her gifts. The bank was getting greedy with its demands. And Mitchell was getting nervous. The bank was threatening to close down the farm. Mitchell was tired of waiting for the mare to produce. He needed the money. Now.

    Stooped from stress and farm life, he entered the mare’s stall. His fingers found their way inside the mare’s wet lips; smooth teeth brushed his work roughened knuckles. The whinny warned him to stop but Mitchell kept on. His nails found the edges of the mare’s teeth and gently tried to pry them open. He whispered sweet nothings in the mare’s ear. She tried once more to shake him off. He leaned his head on her coarse hair. He forced her mouth open and looked inside the empty cavern.

    Nothing. The mare shied away. Mitchell collapsed, knowing there would be no more gifts.


  29. @johndotpy 154 words

    Born to run.

    “What do you mean?” The thought unthinkable. “I run with my hooves, guys. What the hell is going on?”

    Twitching leads to mane flicking, which leads to a stomp and scrape. Hardcore revealed below soft sand; true nature below gentle skin.

    “Moonbeam! Skydancer! Tell ‘em it ain’t true!” Whatever’s going on, he’s spooked.

    Across the yard two older greys lean into each other. There’s a winnie and a snort, signifying their understanding, but indifference, to his fate.

    “But I’m nothing without the running. I love the running.” The pain and the fear, while easy for him to express, appears meaningless in front of these teeth obsessed goons. He’s been misunderstood all his life. Except for the running. They got that right. He was born to run. But he knows, if he panics any more, they’ll be sure to Shergar him.

    The uncertainty too much, he kicks, he runs. He seals his fate, and theirs.


  30. Christmas Dinner
    153 words

    “Do you remember that Sherlock Holmes story?” Marv asks.

    Greg shrugs. “There are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories.”

    “The one where they find that big blue diamond in the horse’s throat.”

    “I know the one, but it was a goose, not a horse. Imagine having a horse for Christmas dinner! Anyway, what about it?”

    “I was just thinking how nice it would be to find a diamond down Jackson’s throat,” Marv says. He looks out the window. Jackson’s old and not good for much anymore. He can’t even pull the cart.

    “Stupid to wish for something like that,” Greg says.

    “I suppose. Wish some money would fall in our laps, though.”

    Marv and Greg are almost out of food. The first few flakes of snow fell this morning, and if it gets too cold too fast they’re not going to be able to find work.

    Christmas dinner might be horse after all.


  31. Too Big To Fall

    Jack swung the axe –


    – And the giant fell, screaming.

    As he hacked away, Jack thought of the harp.


    The hen.


    The golden coins.


    He thought of the leaking roof, the smell of decay filling his dreams.


    He thought of Old Bessie, three times unsold at the horse fayre, returned home to the shotgun and the pot.


    He thought of Momma’s aching rib, broken with the force of her endless cough.


    He thought of the shyster, who had taken Daisy and promised magic in a handful of beans.


    He thought of Momma’s silence as she walked from the table, the foreclosure notice laying there like the word of doom.


    He looked down and around at the Bank Manager, spread all over his office, dropped the axe –


    -and he thought of what Momma always said about giants.

    “You ain’t so big…”

    Then Security broke through the door, guns raised.



    160 words


  32. Needs must

    We needed the money, Jack and me. So when he heard of Mr Hathaway’s interest in me, Jack had just had to set up a meet.

    “Thing is, Nell,” he’d said wringin’ his cap so hard I started to think it would never spring back, “What choice we got?”

    I must’ve looked worried then because he’d patted me on the head, y’know the way he does that makes me feel all safe?

    We’d met Mr Hathaway the next day. Jack told him about the good things I could do, but I don’t think Mr Hathaway listened. He’d just walked around and around me, rubbin’ his chin and lookin’ me up…and down.

    “She sure is a fine filly, Jack. I’ll take her,” he’d said shakin’ Jack’s hand, then slappin’ me hard on my rump.

    Poor Jack’d looked so sad after we left Mr Hathaway. But I couldn’t understand why; it’s good money bein’ one of Mr Hathaway’s maids.

    160 words


  33. The Survival of the Tirt

    @ Geoff Le Pard: 160 words

    The Tirt arrived on the meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs. Which was a shame, as these super-intelligent microbes needed a host – warm, moist and airy – and dinosaurs’ mouths were perfect. Being in North America they chose, instead, the Bison – pacific, herbivorous and with few predators.
    The Tirt adapted to their host; they helped them through ice ages and droughts. Like all things super intelligent they contemplated change but wise council prevailed.
    When man appeared the Tirt didn’t appreciate the risk; but Bison herds shrank and the Tirt had to move. The Tirt council rejected man, an omnivore; rather they needed something man valued – the horse.
    But with the car and the crash, the Tirt had to change again. Research was commissioned – find a host who will survive and succeed whatever happens.
    And so it was that, on 24th October 1929, the Tirt transferred on a globule of spit into the mouth of a fat banker from Wyoming.


  34. Flesh Vs. Steel
    160 bloody words (it started out as 550! Ugh!)

    A pricey veterinarian gave Fakir a final check, examining mouth and stifles. Rumor said the horse’s owner had bankrupted himself creating this unorthodox race, and Fakir faced two options: win or die.

    The horse’s muscles shivered with leashed power. Freddy’s stomach lurched. This race would make or break his career.

    Freddy mounted his Gladiator velo, crouching low. A jockey assumed his position atop Fakir.

    Bang! Fakir lunged ahead. Freddy pedaled with cramp-inducing fury. When they hit the curve, Fakir had to slow. Freddy accelerated around him.

    Fakir thundered ahead on the straightaway.
    The pattern repeated every lap, the horse dominating the straightaway, the velo winning the curve.

    Freddy galvanized around the final bend.

    Snap! A whip crack heralded the last desperate sprint. When Fakir should have passed, he held back, keeping even. Deliberately?

    The velodrome erupted. Fakir’s jockey avoided Freddy’s gaze as they awaited the result, but Fakir nodded at him in secret accord.

    “Flesh ties steel!” boomed the officiator.


  35. Depression Glass

    I watch birds now, their various wingspans, as I sip my coffee. Overpriced coffee from oversized mugs, brewed in coffeemakers costing more than my monthly wages when I was still a productive member of society.

    That sounds ungrateful though, which I’m not or at least I shouldn’t be. My granddaughter has kindly taken me into her home. A home I never could have provided for Vera, but then times were different.

    Her petite, gloved-white hands flapping around as she’d prattle on about some sale at the nursery. “Lilacs,” she’d said. She fancied gardening, and hated horses, but her hands remained petal soft even in the end as I held them between my own calloused monsters.

    Milk-glass cups—we used to drink our coffee from—are kept on the top shelf of the hutch I built, collectibles now. We don’t drink out of them.

    “Lilacs are in bloom.”

    “Ah, yes! How are the birds today, Grandpa?”

    “They don’t change.”

    160 words


  36. @betsystreeter (Judge’s Entry just for fun)
    153 words minus title


    Some say he faked it, but I know better. I was there.

    Yeah, that’s me, or my scalp, I should say. Bottom right. I swear on a stack of Mad Magazines.

    Ol’ Potter, he never took off that striped hat except the one time when the horse kicked it off him.

    I brought it to him, in the hospital. Full of mud. He couldn’t speak, but his eyes said thank you. I just left.

    I heard Potter moved in with his sister so she could take care of him.

    If you were there, you’d know how bad it was. A man could lose his memory, easy.

    A sound like nothing I’ve heard. Hoof on head. I can still hear it today.

    The bankers said it was awful convenient, for him to “forget” his debts like that. They said he faked it.

    But I know better. Nobody can fake that.

    Rest easy, ol’ Potter.


  37. Tools of the Trade
    (159 words)

    Ace liked his blackjack the best of all his collections tools. It was heavy enough to pack a wallop on any bankrupt jockey groveling for another loan extension, yet small enough to chuck into a bush if a copper happened to cross his path. Looking at the horse though he’d wished he brought his pliers. The blackjack was doing no good.

    After a few more unsuccessful punches he tried opening the race horse’s mouth. The beast clamped down on his fingers after swallowing his beloved blackjack. Ace looked up at the horse almost challenging the thug to continue his assault and remembered the jockey’s last words before blacking out in a gasping pile “you can’t get the money back. I made the horse swallow it.” Ace was going to have to return with a bag of oats and play the waiting game instead of strong-arming the beast. Not just for his boss’s wad of money, but for his blackjack.


  38. Never Look A Gifted Man In The Mouth

    “I stick to the lower arcade, this area tends to give the most accurate information in regard to business.”
    He pulled the horses lips further back and pointed a single fat pinky toward the back of the mouth.
    “See the shape of the dental star back there? The shape indicates your LPW stock will be mighty fine. But the shape of the wolf tooth here indicates you should dump any stock associated with the west coast.”
    He let the horses mouth close and patted her neck.
    “Horse teeth divination is the real deal, my friend. I’ve visited fifty-four houses this year and the horse at every home has dictated how closely they teeter between wealth and bankruptcy.”
    His upper lip protruded as he ran his tongue over his own teeth.
    “Horses are the only way to go for business, I’ve heard of a lady to divines love’s fates by cat teeth but me n’ cats have never been friends.”

    160 words


  39. The Flood
    (140 words)
    ‘You are the first, Jacob. But many are journeying here.’
    ‘We are grateful, Elijah. You called when we felt lost, when there was nothing left. We look to you to quench our thirst, to bring new hope. We heard you from the fields and from the mines. We heard you from the hills and from the planes.’

    The ground below them trembled.
    ‘This is our time, Jacob. He has said it will be done without Man. Man has failed twice already. We have been brought here to safety. He has promised us a new world that will, in time, emerge from this dust.’
    Jacob looked to the arid mountains in the distance that seemed to shift and sway with a flood of animals.
    ‘It is now. They are coming, Jacob. They are coming in their numbers. This is The Beginning.’


  40. Post Time

    And they’re off!

    “Get his mouth open!”

    I’ve been here before, his fingers pushing behind my teeth like a bit. Why does it make my heart leap like at the burst of the gate?

    Tillery takes an early lead…

    “He swallowed it!”

    “Reach down his throat! It’s the sole prototype.”

    As they grapple with my head, all I can think about is turf churning under my hooves, slick flanks jostling for position.

    Hydrick is pressing hard on the outside…

    “Put that down! He’s my last racer.”

    “With the amount invested in this project, failure could bankrupt the nation.”

    They yank on my reins. This familiar contest overlays the familiar thrill of running hard. Heat breaks within me. Froth thickens in my mouth.

    Coming to the top of the stretch…

    “What’s that buzz?”

    “It’s activated. Get back!”

    The rifle cracks again.

    Lightning cleaves the world in two, the fissure as thin as a finish line. I charge…

    “Get his mouth open!”

    160 words


  41. Collateral
    by JM6, 158 words, @JMnumber6

    “Yeah, the horse isn’t too old,” the vet said. “Add it to the total.”

    “How much?” the farmer asked, his voice a quivering whisper.

    “Still ten thousand short,” the lawyer replied. “We’re going to need a family member. Maybe two. Depends on who you’re willing to give up.”

    “Please, there has to be another way.”

    “You knew the loan laws passed after the 2018 Megacrash require collateral. You signed the default terms.”

    “But my wife, my sons, my daughter,” the man sobbed.

    “You could always surrender yourself for the collateral. An experienced farmer is worth more than ten thousand to the Agri-Corps. Your family could keep its personal possessions and Government Support Services would care for them.”

    “No,” the man said, his eyes white with fear at the mention of the Agri-Corps. “No. How much for the children?”

    “Well, girls are worth more than boys. For obvious reasons, ” the lawyer added distastefully. “But the choice is yours.”


    • What a harsh dystopia! I love how you offer an out with self-sacrifice that the farmer opts out of. at least the lawyer has the iota of conscience as to find the business distasteful.


  42. 160 words
    Born Horsey

    Mum said the orthodontist was overpriced, and with incisors like mine I ought to see a veterinarian anyway. She didn’t know where I inherited my overbite. Her family had perfect teeth.
    Dad showed the vet my cavity.
    “Too many sugar lumps,” the man said rubbing his palms. Customers like us kept bankruptcy at bay.
    My ear tickled and Dad knew just where to scratch. “Isn’t she gorgeous? She gets her looks from her mother. There’s certainly no equine on my side. I mean, I like my oats – but served with cream and sugar – never straight from the bag. No, Willow gets all that from her mum.”
    “Oh I don’t know,” the vet said, “Sometimes they’re just born horsey types – nothing to do with genetics. Born horsey – simple as that.”
    “No, the girl gets it from somewhere, and it ain’t from me.”
    The vet shrugged, tucked the cheque in his breast pocket and trotted away, his tail slapping his legs.


  43. TO THE END

    Brian S Creek
    157 words

    Jefferson finished checking my horse over and gave a thumbs up. “He’s fit to race, boss. But only just.”

    I stepped forward and looked Fortunes Raider in the eye. “I don’t want to tell you how important this race is, old friend. We’ve have had a hard few years and it’s all on the line today.”

    “I know what’s at stake,” said Fortune. “A win’ll get the bank off your back.”

    I ran my hand down his brutish yet soft neck “Ignore the prize money. Ignore the crowd. Ignore everything. Go out there and run like you used to.”

    Jefferson moved to the doorway. “Hey boss? It’s not long ‘till the race. You want me to go fetch Tony and tell him to suit up?”

    “You do that,” said Fortune. “And tell that short ass not to be afraid to use the damn whip. We got a race to win.”

    I smiled. We might just do this.



    Brian S Creek
    157 words

    “Is this what you was looking for, Dr Wasling?”

    “I can’t believe it. If this is what I think it is then the stories are true.”

    “You can read what it says? See, that’s why I called you, Doc. Everyone knows you’s the smartest man in town. What does it say?”

    “This, dear Bill, is the name of the horses owner or, to be more precise, it’s rider. This is no ordinary horse; it is one of the four horses of the Apocalypse.”


    “Trust me, Bill. You’re going to be a rich man. This is the discovery of the century. How exactly did you find it?”

    “Oh I didn’t find it. Jake Davey from the next farm over sold it to me. Said he needed the money on account of the bank foreclosing on his property. Says since the horse turned up his crops just done withered up and died. Ain’t that the darndest thing?”



  45. Keeping Up Appearances

    “Best horse ever born.” He grinned and glanced to where his partner stood scowling. But the magic held and the horse seemed normal as long as you didn’t look too close.


    “Like the wind. Could outrun the law if it had to.”

    The man shoved a wad of banknotes in his hand. It had to do. He stuffed the payment in his pocket and walked back to his partner as the man sped off.

    “That was unnecessary.”

    “The horse will return when the fool reaches his destination. Or the spell wears off. He’s imprinted on his mother.”

    “Hilarious. You don’t just go selling people’s sons.”

    “Meat, mead, and maids. It costs a fortune to maintain a feasting hall.”

    “It’s not my fault your father bankrupt your whole family. It’s my son!”

    “It’s the least you can do, Loki.”

    “If that robber kills my son when he sees he has eight legs I’ll kill you – god of Thunder or not.”

    Words : 160


  46. Oh, the life Mr Haydock had lived, before the great crash. The Girls, the best beds, oh, the nose-bag and the Aqua Minerale! Everyday had started with his personal assistant waking and cleaning him – he’d liked the brushing the best, he loved the bristles tickling his nerves and the gentle Swoosh as it breathed through his hair. Then, after breakfast it was out for a run and frolic with the lads and sometimes meeting up with some pretty young fillies they would be introduced to, individually…

    Then came the day, not so long ago, that the assistant changed, and he wasn’t anywhere near as caring, non of the lads liked these new ones. Gone were the girls, fresh bedding and the really tasty food. You never miss fresh until it’s gone. Now we’re here with a load of ruffians with new people, staring at us,checking our teeth and talking about glue and dog food

    Word Count 154


    • I’m aware this week’s picture prompt was one third filled with a horse head, but this created a completely horse free visual for me:

      “Everyday had started with his personal assistant waking and cleaning him …”

      The next half of the sentence brought me back to the horse, but the first half made me think of a super wealthy, spoiled man from old money who never worked (or bathed himself) a day in his life.

      I agree with Stella about the way the story exposed the universal theme of aging and the way, in some cultures, respect and age are inversely proportional.


  47. Let’s Talk
    Sam straightened his hat and dusted off his overalls just in time. “Morning sir, thanks—”
    “Let’s get on with it.”
    Right. Sam’s hands shook. “It’s simple. Place it….” Dagnabbit!
    The horse flattened his ears, stomped, and backed up. Sam swallowed what felt like cotton as the business man checked his watch.
    “Come on, old boy.” Sam grabbed the reigns. His eyes pleaded more than his mouth could say in front of the man. It was this or the glue factory. No more racing meant no more money. Sam had spent everything on Bamboo’s last trip to the vet. “Like I was saying. Just a tad of peanut butter on the gums…Looks like he’s talking.” The silence echoed in Sam’s ears.
    The man rubbed his chin, switched his gaze from the horse’s moving lips, and stuck out his hand. “Meet me at the CBS parking lot five. Walter will want to see this.”

    153 words


  48. Matt L.
    159 words

    “Why Clarence Hatry, you ‘ol coot. Didn’t no one ever tell you, you ain’t supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth?”

    “Gift? You call this here nag a gift? Her teeth is yellow and brown as that buttercorn squash rotten yonder by the fence post. Straits is dire round here, but don’t think for one secon’ you gonna foist this here swaybacked butter-toothed nag on me Sam. Don’t care how good ah price you give. You think that buzzard’s up there circlin’ for that rotten buttercorn squash? Well he ain’t. Buzzards is opportunistically inclined carnivores, Sam. That one there’s on a reconnaissance mission eyeballin’ this pitiful used up creature anticipatin’ her impending demise after which he’ll send word back to his wake who’ll swoop down an pick what little meat’s left off her tired ol’ bones.”

    “Alright Clarence, alright. Knock fiddy bucks off it for ya.”

    “Throw in a quart of that sweet corn liquor?”




  49. @stellakateT
    159 words

    The Proposal

    “I’ll buy you anything you want; I’ll buy you a horse”

    I didn’t want a horse their teeth make me anxious, I fear of being bitten and at sixty I wasn’t too keen to learn to ride one either. Being driven around in his brand new Jaguar was my first choice.

    I patted the nose of this nag; it was old like we were, look at its teeth my man told me, it shows its age. He’d bought it off a farmer going to the dogs. A real bargain but this horse was handsome and strong like himself, came with a story about it winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup decades ago not once but twice!

    Pledging his love for me in the traditional way; his deep blue gypsy eyes reflected my smiling face. His values were deep rooted. I was soon to be his wife and I should have a horse. It was my due, like an engagement ring.


  50. Molasses
    John Mark Miller – 159 words

    “I’m so sick of molasses!” Rachel wailed as she sat a single pancake on the table for the four of them to devour. Her face, once pretty, was now worn and haggard. Amazing, really, how a thing like bankruptcy could age a soul.

    A car door slammed out front, and the oversized headlights of Mr. Larken’s sleek black Cadillac peered through the front window.

    “He’s come for the horse,” Tom moaned. The girls started sobbing, but Tom quickly shushed them.

    As he trudged outside, he whispered, “You know that horse is all I have left, God…”

    Larken shook Tom’s hand, then wiped it quickly with a white cloth. They walked to the barn, and Tom bared the mare’s teeth.

    “What’s that black muck on her gums?” Larken demanded.

    Tom’s eyes widened. “M…must be laurel poisoning, sir.”

    Larken spat. “Keep it… it’s worthless.”

    Tom’s eyes glistened as the Cadillac sped off. “See now?” he grinned. “Molasses ain’t all that bad.”


  51. “Moonbeam”
    by Michael Seese
    159 words

    “Stop it!” I yelled. “You’re hurting Moonbeam!”

    The soldiers ignored me. Papa stood still, like a statue. His face was red. He’s been looking like that a lot lately, ever since the soldiers came to live in our town. I don’t think Papa likes them. But I think they’re nice. I see them doing nice things, like helping people get to the trains.

    Papa said der Führer is morally bankrupt. I had to look up that word. It means you have no money. Maybe that’s why he took our bakery.

    My brothers and I used to play guns. Once the soldiers came, Papa told us to stop.

    “But what’s wrong with playing war?” I asked. “Nobody gets hurt.”

    He patted my head. “Then perhaps they should put you in charge of all wars”…

    Ja,” said one of them. “We can use the horse. We have no need for the children.”

    That was the first time I heard Papa scream.


  52. Horse Sense (160)

    Warning Bill of his impending bankruptcy must be the right thing to do. In a hundred years, the teeth of a mule mother never provided wrong advice to the Sullivan’s.

    Seamus himself had no money in the stock market, and what little money he had was under his mattress, not in a bank. He figured protecting the man who paid his wages was a good idea.

    Of course, a Harvard-educated man like Bill Simpson didn’t believe that the teeth a mule’s mother could predict that Wall Street was headed for disaster in a matter of days.

    “Seamus, I know you’re the best man with horses I’ve ever had—but this—telling me to sell all my stock? Now if it was a horse race bet—“

    “Just look at her teeth,” Seamus explained. “It’s as plain as day. November 29.”

    Bill looked. Seamus read molars as if he was reading the Rosetta stone.

    “Why would I lie to you?”


  53. Trading Insults (160)

    Everybody knows you can’t trust a jackass. Trust me, I know. Around the stable, my life has been hell since I gave birth to a mule. Now I’m for sale. Cheap.

    “So,” the other horses snicker, “You’re the one who got knocked up by some slick-talking donkey, huh?”

    Jethro did know how to talk. And he wasn’t an ordinary donkey—he was the best friend of Sudden Storm, that racehorse everyone thought might win the Derby last year. Jethro had friends in the highest circles.

    “She looks older than five to me,” the man in the hat says.

    “Look at her teeth,” says, Mike, who has not treated me nice since my foal was born.

    I could tell these humans treating me like a piece of worthless mule-breeding horseflesh, that according to Jethro, men are going to “fix” something big. Something called the stock market is going to crash.
    When they’re bankrupt, who are the jackasses then ?


  54. “She’s a good horse.”

    “That she is.” Though she wasn’t. May have been, but unless you squinted, you couldn’t see that horse anymore.

    Seeing the look in my eyes, the man said “Well, she ain’t no racehorse no more – though she was in her day. Like the wind. But I ain’t tryin ta cheat ya. She’s from good stock, and she’ll breed true. I’da kept her, but I had to sell my stud when the roof caved in.”

    I nodded, walking around the horse. This man couldn’t have cheated me any more than he could grow wings. You could see he was of good stock too, but nowadays luck trumped breeding every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    He was asking too much for the horse, and he knew it. But as he held my gaze with his, he didn’t blink, and he didn’t waver. Pride doesn’t feed the kids come wintertime.

    “She’s just what I hoped for.”

    160 words


  55. Mrs. Ed Phones Home
    Evan Montegarde
    160 words

    The indignities my people endue for a bankrupt race. Their species spent with their own greed and endless self-imposed turmoil. Why we were sent here eons past is lost, even unto the most ancient of us.

    “Do you think horses think much Sam?” Supervisor Hydrick asked as he watched his friend examine his horse Mrs. Ed’s fine chompers.

    “Doubt it sir, otherwise why’d she breed with a donkey?”

    This is preposterous; the donkey was my only friend and kindred spirit. What does this over-grown baboon expect keeping me locked in a miniature paddock with him for months, a luau?

    Back in the relative sanctity of her stall, Mrs. Ed appeared to be sleeping.

    “Why have you put all of us on this decrepit world of bi-pedal apes?” Ed beamed telepathically toward the home world Equus.

    The totally unexpected mental response was ominous, “Relax Ed, those fools taste great, soon they will be 7 billion strong, and then it’s chow time.”


  56. BLUE
    160 words

    There’s this movie, where a girl and her horse win a big race and they’re famous. Well, Blue isn’t a race horse, not even a plow horse. He’s a big gray mule, and he looks almost blue, so that’s why we called him Blue.

    My dad said we’d have to sell him because of the mortgage. We’d have to sell everything and  leave the farm because of  forclosure. Bankruptcy, my dad said.  We needed $5000.

    The big race at the County Fair had a first prize of $5000.  We entered, me and Blue. Everyone  laughed at a 12-year old girl on a mule among  all these fancy racehorses. But  they weren’t laughing when we  took the lead.  I could hear people cheering, “Go Blue!”

    It might have been different if the horses hadn’t been spooked by  the flashbulbs.  They  just backed away, but not Blue. He kept on running, and we won and we smiled. That’s better than a movie. It’s true.


  57. Gift of Providence

    Here comes one, a kid shambling up the rutted road. I hoist my Stetson and hustle to the barn.

    My kids think me addled as egg salad keeping the stables going, figure I’m keeping Abigail’s memory alive. They ain’t half-wrong about both.

    Providence ambles from her stall, ribs barring her buckskin, but we share a forbearance that a few skipped meals can’t scratch.

    As Providence nuzzles dry grass from the boy’s hand, he dares a smile, as if afraid fate’ll smack happiness clean off his face.

    “Pa,” my eldest explained, “no one can afford charity anymore.”

    Yet there’s never been more need.

    Part’s for my Abby, sure, but more’s for them. The ones that manage to steal a day from scraping coin out of the gutters.

    By the time they jaunt twice around the ring, laughter shares his saddle. It’s a joy that’ll mount his heart and ride with him back to the soot-choked city, bolstering him against fate’s blows.

    160 words


  58. @elfenkate
    157 Word Count

    Dusty Glue

    Jonathan wiped his eyes with the yellow hanky.

    “Dust” he said aloud.

    The men a few feet away paying no mind to him or his excuses.
    “Well, she looks pretty good. All things considered. ” The first man said.

    “Been seein’ a lot worse. Diseased. Most starved right down to the bones.”
    The second pushed his hat back on his head.

    Jonathan wiped his eyes again. This time with back of his hand. The dirt and grit stung for a moment. The girls were with their ma. Heading to the sanctuary named California. There was work. Clean streets. They wouldn’t see this.

    The dust ruined them all. Not just the farmers, but bankers like himself too. Luck allowed him to get free while the others would be buried in dust deep as snow drifts.

    But it was Moonbeam that would be paying.

    The first man stepped back and took another hard look at the sad creature and nodded.


  59. ORIS

    The secrets lie within the mouth. The orifice of information. That cavern of multipurpose design.

    By word of mouth the gelding’s fame preceded him. He kicked the ball in the pasture. Others watched as he kicked the orb; bursting from his stance with slingshot energy, charging at breakneck speed to beat the ball to the far side. He mouthed the round competitor in a victory shake and casually cast it over fence boards.

    Two-leggers mouthed unintelligible sounds at each other, sometimes to the runner in the pasture. They lowered hats toward one another while four-hooves circulated in elegant style about the paddock.

    The seller: “Let me mouth him; check the condition and age of the runner’s dentition. Yep….a two. Wouldn’t want to lose my skin over inaccuracy.”

    The buyer: “Now the vet will take a gander. What do you think, Doc?”

    The vet: “He’s a five, and needs floating by the dental condition.”

    From the mouths of traders come lies.

    WC = 160, excluding title


  60. Over the Edge
    156 words

    Charles sold his house when the asteroid hit, against the protestations of his wife. He told her about the rumors, about the rock at the bottom that could see into the future. He told her that he never liked the house anyway.

    He spent his last penny on the mule at Cliff’s Edge. It was strong enough to hold the supplies for the journey and his wife, but she stayed just outside the gate, tears on her cheeks, pleas on her lips. Charles went over the edge anyway.

    His mule collapsed halfway through the descent, but fortune would smile upon him again, as another traveler passed by him, just a little too close to the edge. He could have sworn he saw the other man stumble on a rock, but he couldn’t be sure.

    His new mule made the descent quickly, but all he found at the bottom was the wreckage of what he had become.


  61. For Sale (160 words)

    Shivering and naked, except for the shroud of their shame, the slaves kept their eyes to the ground, as the two men with hats inspected them.

    “Broad shoulders and thick hands. Stallion, this one,” the man with a round belly said.

    Where Kunta came from, he never saw round bellies.

    “Cleft foot on this one, maybe he can do housework,” the man said.

    Then the men came to Kunta. He was wiry with slender legs, but iron-forged eyes. His calloused hands covered his penis, the last vestige of his pride from these men.

    “Hands up, spin,” the man with the round belly said.

    Kunta clenched his jaw so tight he was certain he could snap manacles. His long legs were the envy of his soccer buddies growing up, as it made him the flash of the field. Now they might as well have been cement blocks.

    “Up and spin,” the man repeated.

    He spun, bankrupt on fortitude, plentiful of shame.


  62. Bessie

    “Yer sure this is right, Everett?”

    Everett was the idea man.

    “Sure, Frank. If we don’t, we’ll lose the farm.”

    Frank was the follower.

    “It’ll hurt her, though.”

    She was their last horse.

    “Only for a minute. She’ll forget all about it.”

    “How’ll she eat, Frank?”

    “Carefully, she’ll eat carefully.”

    “Yer certain her fillins are pure gold?”

    “Yep. All those dentist folk use gold.”

    “Those dentists must be rich.”


    “What if she never forgets how much it hurts?”

    “She’s a horse, Frank. She’ll forget.”

    “But it seems so cruel.”

    Everett rolled his eyes. Frank was always overthinking.

    “Do you wanna save the farm or not, Frank?”

    “Yea, but…”

    “Do it for Ma.”

    “For Ma.”

    “We gotta. It’s the only way we’ll be able to pay up.”

    “Yer right, Everett.”

    “On three then?”

    “On three.”




    Complete chaos. Loads of whinnying. Hooves.


    Moans of pain.

    “How bad?”

    “They’re gone, Everett. Yer front teeth are gone.”

    “Damn horse.”

    160 Words


  63. In The Mouth
    160 Words

    A hearty and familiar aroma rose from the umber broth. This was his first time in a soup kitchen and the first hot meal he’d had since everything went wrong.

    The last time he’d been happy was at the race track. His wife said it was addiction, but it wasn’t. He simply felt good there. But now she’s gone and so is all of his money. All because of that damned horse.

    A chunk of meat melted over his tongue. He ate voraciously until his teeth hit something hard. He spit it out and stared at the object, disgust welling up in his stomach as he realized what it was.

    “Happens ev’ry now an’ then,” the old man, unnoticed until now, said. “I got one t’night too.”

    Beside the old man’s bowl lay a perfect match to the object in his hand: a tooth too large for any human mouth.

    “It’s food. It’s free. Best if ya just don’t look.”


  64. Jennifer Ricketts
    147 words
    The Loss

    “We lost,” Greg said firmly. “How did we lose? That bet should’ve been a sure thing.”

    “You know your wife is going to disown you now, right?” I shuffled nervously, my hands glued into my pockets from the unbearable heat.

    Greg frowned at me. “I’ll find a way out of this mess. Somehow, some way. I don’t want to lose her. I CAN’T lose her.” He began mumbling and sweating profusely.

    Worried about him, all I wanted to do was reassure him. The words stuck in my throat – I felt like we were out in the Sahara. I was out a lot of money, too. But I didn’t have a wife – I only had myself to worry about.

    Pacing back and forth, Greg looked too pale for being out in the sun all day. I looked up – and saw his wife marching our way.


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