Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 50

WELCOME to Flash! Friday! Normally I behave myself beautifully (stop laughing. This is not an open mic) and wait to introduce the judge after the diamonds, but today I can’t stand it. I’m just going to have to tell you STRAIGHT UP that we have Poised Pen judging today! 

Gotta say I’m partial to writers’ groups. My own beloved Shenandoah Valley Writers (which consists of rock stars you know like Tamara Shoemaker, Margaret Locke, Taryn Noelle Kloeden, M.T. Decker, Allison Garcia, Maggie Duncan, and my dear friend and SVW co-founder, publisher/editor Susan Warren Utley… I KNOW, RIGHT?!?! Chills!) has woven itself into my heart. These people have sat at my table eating muffins. They’ve sung karaoke at my birthday party (here’s looking at YOU, Maggie Duncan) and written me dragon stories. And every day they push me to write better.

Approaching Poised Pen only made the best kind of sense.

The Poised Pen writer’s group is based in Liverpool; they meet, and meet often, and I understand there may be copious amounts of ale involved. Please join me in welcoming them (represented today by Catherine Connolly and AJ Walker), and read more about them here.

Couple quick announcements: next week is week 51 of Year Two; you are going to love meeting next week’s guest judges. And then on December 5 is Flashversary (hang on to your hats!). December 12 will, if you can believe it, usher in the first week of YEAR THREE with our brand new judge panel. After that, I think we’ll have to schedule a very nice, comfy naptime.

As for today’s prompt: DID YOU KNOW that on November 21, 1877 Edison proclaimed to the world his invention of the phonograph? And it’s hard to think of the phonograph without thinking of the ethereal tones of Caruso (who took two baths a day, scrapbooked, and always carried good luck charms; but I digress). For him the mic is always open.     


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, shelve that record and write us a story! 

* Word count150 word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, excluding 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 a mischievous group of writers named ‘Flash Dogs'”):


***Today’s Prompt:


Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Bain photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions.

Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Baen photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions.

354 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 50

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 153


    You stood there before my mother’s lace curtains, poised, the words purpling your lips with the phrases you surely thought were meant to comfort and cajole. You wanted to offer them as a gift, something to cheer me, like a newborn puppy or a mewling kitten.

    How could you know that with each loathsome syllable that dripped from your bleeding lips, your explanations and your posturing served only to further drive the spike deeper into my already bitter heart?

    Had you a thousand explanations, I would slay them with razor-edged sarcasm.
    Had you a myriad of mindless motives, I would eradicate them with insidious silence.
    Had you uttered, even once, a hint of a plea, a whisper of an appeal,

    I would have bent like a supple reed before the current.

    But no, you took what was mine and put your own name to it.
    My album, my music, my life.

    You thief.


  2. Master and Servant
    by JM6, 160 words, @JMnumber6

    “Who put the Jingle Bell dogs in the record player?!”

    “Sorry, dear,” Mrs. C— said. “I was entertaining the youngsters from next door. They listened to it all afternoon.”

    “Wait. The alien ones?” Mr. C— asked.

    “Yes, dear.”

    “I’ve had it. They’re coming for dinner tonight. Now we have to play nursemaid as well?”

    “You mustn’t say such things!”

    “I don’t care. Ever since they took over, we humans have had to come when they call, begging for scraps. I’m tired of it.”

    “Dear! Stop!” Mrs. C— cried. “Their youngest is still here, sleeping in the next room!”

    The door opened and the alien puppy entered. He walked over to Mr. C— and looked up at him. Clearly he had heard everything.

    “I’m sorry,” Mr. C— began.

    The puppy just lifted his hind leg and expressed his displeasure on Mr. C—‘s shoes. “I wanna hear the song.”

    “Of course,” Mr. C— said submissively as he played the record again.


  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 143


    In a world where music is a trail of notes, mixed with many others, where they blend for all the world like butter on toast—a combination that melts together, harmonizes, with the taste buds, filling your mouth with delight, and suddenly, the clouds sprout rainbows and puppies wear tutus—

    In a world where the melody is discordant, crashing, refrains of thunder and passion, Revolt of the Black Keys . . . music is different, too—butter and toast, each one separate, unique.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you and I could blend like that?

    Apart, in sync,
    Your yin, my yang.

    You are you,
    And I am me,

    But together, I think,
    When I sit back and look in the mirror of your eyes,

    When I watch your thumb
    Trace the length of mine—

    I think, don’t you,

    That we make some pretty good



  4. Josh Bertetta
    160 Words

    “I don’t know what to call this one”

    They put a “non” to my name to distinguish the true from the false. They clothe me in all sorts of names to shackle me within their arbitrary limits. But see, I’m as shapeless as a dream and can take whatever form I want whenever I want and just when they think they’ve pinned me down like some butterfly on a board, there I go, warm in my covers, changing shape on them, and flutter on just outside of reach.

    Funny really, ‘cause that’s what my name means (the etymology of it anyway): to shape, to fashion, to invent. And what I shape is always true. Matter of fact, I point at it, the truth that is.

    Today I’m a man in a suit playing a record looking at his puppy.

    And of those clothes?

    Today I’m wearing nothing but a trench-coat over nothing but my birthday suit.

    So watch out cause I’m about to expose myself with a flash.


  5. @MattLashley_
    155 words

    This is the One, Babe

    “No one’s gonna hire a forty-five year old DJ in a rented tux to spin records on an antique hand-cranked phonograph.”
    “One word — Moby. The hand crank and tux are my hooks, babe. It’s what the kids call chic. This is the one, babe. You’ll see.”
    “Except a growing bald spot, what’ve you got in common with Moby? Nobody says chic anymore. Like fried chicken flavored diet chewing gum was the one?”
    “Just bad timing babe. Weight loss market wasn’t ready for the revolution. Whaddya mean growing?”
    “Guess the market wasn’t ready for Do It Yourself Puppy Circumcision Kits either? Yes growing. There’s more hair in your ears than on your head.”
    “Who knew canine mohels had a union, babe? Dom put up the fly-fly-flyers all over the college campus bulletin boards. Just a matter of time.”
    “I’m cheating on you.”
    “What, babe?”
    “With Dom.”
    “Yeah, Dom. Good guy putting up all those flyers.”


  6. Animal Magic
    Ian Martyn
    160 words

    ‘Madam, It’s my pleasure to demonstrate for you the ‘Carlton Repeating Animal Producer…,’

    ‘Yes, Madam, I am aware of the acronym. Pardon? Yes, very drole. If I may get back to the demonstration? This is the very latest in home pet fabrication or as we in the trade call it, DNA formatting technology. For the paltry sum of $999 plus $49 for each animal disc all your small, furry dreams can be realised. Now what would Madam prefer? A marmoset, a chipmunk perhaps?’

    ‘A puppy. An excellent choice, Madam. The puppy disc comes with a bonus animal on the other side. You just place disc on here.., wind the handle.., and.., “Hey Bingo”.

    ‘Yes, Madam I can see that’s not a puppy. Yes, it is a kitten. I put the disc on the wrong side. But that allows you to see the beauty of our unique patented system. I’ll just flip the disc.., feed the kitten back in here.., and…


  7. @bex_spence
    145 words

    Silence, breaks.

    The record turned projecting the sound of silence. The conductor stood directing the children as they ran across the vinyl track. He’d promised them fame, fame and puppies, there was one in the vase but they wouldn’t see it.

    Noise filled his head, always there a constant irritant buzzing through his brain. He’d captured nothing, pure nothing, a slice of heaven in the hive of humanity. It was a nice touch he thought that the record was powered by the youthlings, the nosiest of them all. They were so easy to lure, to bring to his instrument. Greedy for attention, for a stage on which they could perform.

    On the phonograph a child fell, tired of running, of the relentless strain. The others stumbled, dominoes falling. The silence was broken, gripping his head, crushing it tight, the noise filled the room and the conductor wept.


  8. The Curtain Call

    Gracefully remove the disc… blow off the dust… smile at the words Caruso: His Greatest Hits… place it reverently on the turntable… and – ah! – that jolt of pleasure as the stylus settles… and finally, the sound. The sound. The sound, and the memories…

    ‘Enrico!’ Careful! Don’t scratch it!


    ‘You’ve got that blessed phonograph going again!’

    ‘Yes, dear?’

    ‘What have I told you?’

    Caruso rolled his eyes.

    ‘We must let the past be the past, I’m retired, blah-blah-blah.’


    ‘Sorry, dear.’

    ‘Come on, now. Come through to the family room. Oh, The Talent We’ve Got! is just starting.’

    ‘What a treat.’

    ‘It sure is. Tonight they’ve got a woman who can sing underwater – underwater, Enrico! Can you imagine? – and a little dancing dog. He’s called Puppy, the Pride of Poughkeepsie.’

    ‘He’ll find that hard to fit on a calling card.’

    ‘What, dear?’

    ‘Nothing, sweetheart,’ Enrico sighed, sliding the record back into its sleeve. ‘Nothing at all.’

    156 words (with apologies to the shade of Caruso, who – of course – sadly never got to ‘retire’.)


  9. Puppies Chase Kittens

    WC: 158

    Smiling, you stood there, harmless as a puppy.

    Naive, I stood close, like a kitten.

    You whispered into my hair.

    I snuggled closer.

    “What’s your story?” He asked.

    “Runaway,” I grinned. “Dumb parents…”

    He smiled, showing that he understood.

    “What’s your story?” I asked.

    “Some stories are too dreadful to tell.”

    Music played softly.

    The lights were dim.

    We sat there together, long into the night.

    “So no one knows where you’re at?” He asked.

    “No one but you!” I had drank too much.

    His romantic smile turned to a wolfish one.


    In my quest to be loved, I forgot the truth.

    Puppies chase kittens.

    Parents are trees.

    And kittens need their trees.

    This kitten ran as fast as she could, but she couldn’t reach her tree.

    I have a feeling that whenever someone asks about my story, I will have to answer, ‘some stories are too dreadful to tell’, if I ever escape his trunk alive.


  10. The Bark Box

    I’m concerned about my pack.

    For starters, they can’t figure out how to walk on all fours. I’ve tried showing them, but they just stand there grinning like idiots.

    Don’t ask about their communication skills, their butts can hardly string a sentence together.

    Then there was the whole ‘sit’ debacle. I know they can do it too, I’ve seen them, and yet they get so very excited when I do it.

    That was all bad enough, but this new development is the final straw. Their barks weren’t very good, but at least they tried. Now they’ve brought home a strange contraption to bark for them! They gather around it at night and spin in circles, hypnotized. I think it’s taking advantage of their stupidity. It’s up to me to protect the pack! A healthy dose of urine should scare it away.

    Then maybe I can get back to solving the mystery. I will discover who’s a good boy.

    160 words


  11. Harmony for the Mind

    John hefted the visitor’s luggage into the hospital. With his tailcoat and cravat he looked like no doctor John had ever seen, and he told him so.

    “I’m not a doctor. I’m a therapist.”

    John checked the mandate. The instructions were clear, and signed by the Professor himself.

    “Please show me to the puppies.”

    “Puppies? Brave men to the last. Show some respect.”

    The little man held up a manicured hand. “PUPs is medical parlance for previously untreated patients: a tabula rasa for my methods. Please, show me to the men.”

    John looked at his men while the therapist set up his apparatus. Their injuries were not on the surface. Physically they were well, but each had the thousand-yard stare characteristic of their condition.

    The therapist turned a handle, the apparatus crackled, music displaced silence. The patients remained motionless, observing horrors only they could see. The therapist watched the men. John watched the therapist. A man began to cry.

    159 words


  12. “Hey Maestro!”


    “You’re late with your payments again.”

    “Yeah, guys, I know. These phonographs are starting to sell like the hot cakes but I’ve just been so unlucky on the tables….”

    “Yeah, right. Now, Maestro, this is nothing personal. But money is money and a debt is a debt. And Signor F is getting just the little bit impatient. Now, you know he would never hurt such a beautiful voice, the voice of the angels, you know that right? But what about your family? What about your wife’s little cagnolino, her little puppy? You wouldn’t want anything to happ-”

    “OK. Stop it right there. What is this? A prompt with an Italian and suddenly we’re all Padrino? What next? Spaghetti and meatballs and sleeping with the fishes?”

    The writer lifted her fingers from the keyboard and the voice in her head fell silent. Every time. Every time she thought she could get started again, the writer’s block descended.

    159 words


  13. Gone to the Dogs
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    158 words

    “You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog, cryin’ all the time.”

    I shudder to think what Mr. Edison would say if he knew the crimes this phonograph committed on a daily basis. Screeching instruments of some sort or another, caterwauling of the worst kind.

    “Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay, bow wow yippee yo yippee yay.”

    I have no doubt Aunt Myrtle did this. That crazy old bird was always up to one nasty trick or another. Even after death, her ashes are somehow wreaking havoc on my beloved music player. She knew I despise canines.

    “They called it Puppy Love.”

    Gone are the days of Mamie Smith, Louis Armstrong. Duke Ellington. All I hear now are the endless barks of humans masquerading as singers.

    “The dog days are over…”

    Yet I play it again, and again, hoping each time for something new. Something different.

    “Who let the dogs out? Who who who who who?”

    Doggone it.


  14. A re-submit for lack of words:

    The Making of a Master

    “She had twenty-one children.”

    — This one’s not right. Look at that gimpy leg. He’ll never make it to the Covent Garden. Start over.

    “Twenty boys and one girl.”

    — Not Soprano! I said, “Tenor! Tenor!” You fool!

    “Too many.”

    — We’ll make as many as necessary. My Enrico will woo the world with his voice!

    “I am number nineteen boy.”

    — He’s perfect ma’am. Don’t you agree?

    — Perfect is subjective. Try another. This time use a touch more hound intestine. I want to hear an F5 from that throat.

    “He was number twenty boy.”

    — Now you’ve two? You’ve got to bleed one.

    — I don’t think I will… Why not let them decide which will make their mark?

    “I scrub and scrub and still can’t wash away my skins. Or my sins.

    It was me or him.

    What would you do if faced with a better version of yourself?

    Suicide or homicide?”

    Word Count: 148


  15. Josh Bertetta
    “The Compression of Sound”
    158 Words

    Mp3s reduce music to 1s and 0s. And of course you can pick and choose to buy the songs you like. And if you’re young you probably walk around listening with headphones on.

    With CDs you still had to buy the album, but you could skip the songs you didn’t like and you probably knew the song by its number.

    Unless you wanted to hassle with fast-forwarding and rewinding, with tapes you had to listen to it all.

    With a phonograph you could skip the songs you didn’t like, but whereas CDs and Mp3s are crisp and clear, with records you heard the crackle—the roughness and imperfections.

    Mp3s are fantasies of an ADD, germophobic, and air-brushed world, a world spinning and spinning and spinning like a puppy chasing its tail. And the way things are going—if we don’t tune the world out with our headphones–we’d be lucky to find the spindle at the phonograph’s center.


  16. Graffiti:

    The final words spray from the nozzle under Sophie’s glove. “There,” she says with pride, “that story will enrich lives.” Her Pomeranian mask’s eyeholes frame the graffiti fiction — making it more perfect.

    Sophie scampers to the meat department where William is finishing his short piece about love’s healing power. He looks manly in his leather duster and fedora over the Rottweiler mask he wears.

    No one does rogue fiction better than the Flash Dogs.

    They join hands and jog to the Concordnia Hotel, which will host the final socialite ball. What better group to introduce the painted word to than those who view themselves about others?

    Chloe and Noah text to say they left a maintenance entrance propped open. Once inside, Sophie locates her fellow writers, the pug and the beagle, standing without a word written.

    Sophie prepares her flash piece, and heads to the curtains, when she senses it,

    ,the grandeur

    ,the memories

    ,the hall already is art.

    159 words


  17. “Once again from the top”
    “There was that annoying phrase rolled out again and again! How many times do I have to stand here putting this record on? At least I am not expected to smile for that’s the least of my worries. ”
    I could see my mate Sam exasperatedly signing at me but I ignored him petulantly.
    “quiet” hissed Sam across the stage “you know what his hearings like, be professional”
    I sighed but did as Sam directed as I watched our director manoeuvre the kids back into position.
    “once more from the top” he yelled.
    I lowered the arm about to freeze in the moment of the record when I heard “cut”
    “oh for goodness sake” I yelled “will someone find a damn puppy for this kid so we can wrap this scene!”



  18. Spiritual Remix

    “There is no dog.”

    Conan Doyle frowned.

    “Then that would mean…”

    Houdini nodded.

    “Aloysius was struck by a car and killed when just a puppy.”

    They listened. Initially, it sounded like the howl of a monkey, but finally resolved into the whimpering of a dog in great distress.

    “I was alone in the recording booth,” said Caruso. “The photograph proves it.”

    Arthur and Harry pored over the photograph. If it was true…

    “Now listen.”

    Caruso placed a finger on the record, began to turn it backwards.

    “Now listen.”

    Arthur and Harry pored over the photograph. If it was true…

    “I was alone in the recording booth,” said Caruso. “The photograph proves it.”

    They listened. Initially, it sounded like the howl of a monkey, but finally resolved into the whimpering of a dog in great distress.

    “Aloysius was struck by a car and killed when just a puppy.”

    Houdini nodded.

    “Then that would mean…”

    Conan Doyle frowned.

    “There is no dog.”

    160 words plus titles



    Brian S Creek
    153 words

    An audience of five sit in the dimly lit study of renowned scientist Professor Parker.

    “I call it the P.U.P.I,” says the Professor as he leans against his latest invention. “It stands for Portable Underworld Projection Interface. A radio to the other side.”

    The device is almost as tall as the Professor and housed within a wooden cabinet. The front is covered in lights and dial, switches and buttons and the whole object emits a low humming noise.

    “This machine will allow mankind to communicate with the land of the dead,” continues the Professor, “whilst remaining in the land of the living. I have invited you all here tonight, my friends and colleagues, to be witness to this historic event.”

    He presses two buttons on the device and pulls a lever. “Behold!”

    There’s a flash of light and the Professor is gone.

    Dr Reilly eventually brakes the silence. “We’re going to need tea.”


  20. Promises
    159 words

    “Evelyn, don’t let that mongrel in with muddy paws!” Mama called.

    Caruso had snatched the mail packet as he blazed into the house.

    “Caruso, no!” Evelyn pulled the packet from the dachshund’s jaws. He pattered after her into the parlor.

    “Oh!” The mail contained a newspaper clipping showing Enrique and a Victrola. “He’s coming back to San Francisco!”

    The opera singer had made such promises last year when they’d met at Mrs. Bartlett’s musicale, though Maude had warned her: He’s a Casanova, darling. He plays with all the ladies.

    But he hadn’t kissed Maude.

    Evelyn read his brief message:

    Enclosed find tickets for my sold-out San Francisco show. I recall you fondly. Congratulate me, I married Dorothy Benjamin of New York last August.

    Married?! Tears pricked Evelyn’s eyes. Caruso—the puppy, not the man—pawed at her dress. Evelyn threw down the packet and stormed from the room.

    The puppy happily devoured both tickets and letter.


  21. The Voice
    (160 words)
    She sat draped in his dinner jacket, the way she would have been had she been stepping out into the sharp, night air after one of his performances.
    She sat on his armchair, his dog at her feet, as she listened to his rich, deep majestic tones and yearned for a man whose voice surrounded her.
    Once the arm of the stylus completed its journey, she placed it on the first groove again.

    Her brother interrupted the first bars of the song.
    ‘Sal you must stop. You must begin to live in the present. These are his ghosts.’ His arm made a sweeping gesture around the room.
    ‘But, Arnold, he sounds so vital like he might come through the door at any moment.’
    ‘I’m so sorry, Dear Sister, but you must realise these sounds are mere memories reaching out to us from some point in the past.’
    ‘Memories,’ she echoed, restarting the arm to allow the music to begin again.


  22. Mom’s Best Friend
    152 words

    “Here you are, Mother,” I spoke softly, as to not startle her, “You love this record.”

    The needle gently dropped to the spinning black disk with a soft scritch of sound. From the bell-shaped horn of the Victrola emerged first a hiss, followed by the dulcet tones of violin strings vibrating against the bow.

    I settled my eyes on the ornate urn next to the gramophone, letting the music wash over me.


    Nipper strolled into the room on four padded, puppy feet, paused by my side, and cocked his head. His black ears, contrasting with his white body, perked up to listen to the recording.

    After a moment’s attention, Nipper snorted and threw back his head to howl in displeasure as the urn on the column began rocking violently, threatening to upend itself to shatter on the floor.

    “I’m sorry, Mother,” I cried, steadying her remains, “You dislike Mozart today?”


  23. HEY, JUDE

    There’s a scratch in “Hey, Jude.” A tiny pop, really.

    I sit in the middle of the living room rug. Cross-legged, like when I was a little girl.

    My phonograph was a bright-blue, portable model then. I played “Spoonful of Sugar” over and over. Tormenting my parents. When it ended, I plopped the needle back at the beginning.

    Like I’m doing now. And I listen, and wait for the pop. There it is.

    We all wonder, have we made a mark on the world. But we make so many. Some more pronounced, like a family or a work of art or raising a puppy to a big dog. But so, so many are imperceptible, tiny bits. Dust. Air. Things we touch. Smells. Scratches on records.

    The phone rings. I don’t answer. It will be more condolences.

    I place the needle back at the beginning and wait for the pop on your record.

    152 words w/o title


  24. The Sounds of Silence
    160 words

    The music echoed in the empty ballroom, every scratchy bar magnified by the wide expanse of polished marble tile. The imperfection in the sound went unnoticed by the woman dancing alone. Eyes closed, she swept across the floor in the embrace of a long-dead partner.

    “Oh, Giles.” The simpering giggle was incongruously at odds with the silver of her candy-floss hair. “What if Father heard such talk!”

    Humming random bits of song, she clutched at her skirt and held it out in a graceful swish of vintage silk.

    “Giles! If I dance with you again, people will talk!”

    More steps brought her directly beneath the twinkle of a crystal chandelier. Diamonds caught fire around her throat.

    “Well, perhaps once more . . .”

    Almost lost amid thick snowy fur, a pair of black button eyes watched the old woman dance through her memories. The puppy yawned, scratched newly trimmed nails into the fragile brocade of an antique chair, and went back to sleep.


    • The first line description of sound echoing off the marble tile sets a great scene. And the connection introducing us to the rich older woman dancing alone in the next line was very nice, as were her subsequent imaginings and remembrances of yesterday. The whole thing was well-written and moving.


    • Another touching tale of love and loss, and a reminder that amid the splendour of life, sometimes it’s the things with no monetary value which mean the most. This was beautiful, and sad. Well done.



    Brian S Creek
    159 words

    I remove the vinyl from its sleeve and blow gently across its shinny surface. There isn’t a speck of dust on it but it feels like it’s the thing to do. I set the record down on the turntable and carefully lower the needle. The powerful voice of Enrico Coruso floods my apartment, drowning out the sound of next doors yelping puppy. Settling down in my La-Z-Boy, I let the voice and the music wrap itself around me.

    The recording had been a prize possession of my late Grandfather, something he’d cherished more than either of the women he’d married. I was honoured that he left it to me.

    I sit here now, recently divorced and jobless, letting the lyrical art that emanates from my Sony speakers cross from the other end of the century and relax me to my very core.

    I take the last of the pills and down another tumbler of Glenlivet.

    I close my eyes.


  26. The Whisperer’s Plaything
    by @Jim_M848
    160 Words

    “Look at your mucky little paws!” He exclaims gleefully “a long journey to see me hmm?”

    “A drink?” He sashays to the turntable. “NO! Some music!” Winks, “The gramophone or the digital? Where do you live hmm?”

    I rest my snout on the velvet pillow, conserving strength, time. I shake my paws remotely.

    Touches his pouting lips, eyebrows speaking, “Do we have a sneaky wee peeker hmm?”

    He moves energetically, coat tails flying, to where I rest, leans to me and confides, “I don’t think” he giggles, “I AM think.”

    Pressure pain starts in my fingertips where the blood begins to pool. He blinks and it shoots up my arms, “Need to jump out!” I yell and the veil lifts. I spill into the laboratory, gasping cold air.

    Urgent words, “Was he there?”

    “Yes” I rasp.

    “What is the Poupee?”

    “It’s us… he’s coming. Kill it… NOW!”

    She falls to her knees, ripping fistfuls of wires from the equipment.


  27. Play it Again
    155 words

    Sounds in air,  his master’s voice.  The puppy sits posed by the phonograph, ear cocked  and iconic.  Live or memory, the voice repeating. The image is everywhere.

    The dog of memory, chasing his tail, round and round.   The record spins as the earth spins. Boys and girls spin to the songs, wide skirts swirling,  hearts beating  in time to the  music.  “Live from the Avalon Ballroom…”  Dance, dance, dance.

    What happened to the party line, “Mabel, can you come over?” My grandmother’s voice.  She listened to  Caruso.  She made us sit in the living room, while she played the old recordings.  “Voice of an angel.”  Over and over, never got tired of the songs.

    We wanted to go to the Avalon Ballroom, dance to rock n roll. “Dogs in blue suede shoes,” she said.

    We heard voices of angels, “G-L-O-R-I-A”  and the devil in a blue dress.  Everything spinning. Dance, dance, dance.

    Play it again….


  28. Bordeaux Blend

    The needle skipped again. Chatter over incessant seas, love’s death grip seized me. I moved the vase of lifeless tulips—flopping haphazardly—back to the coffee table, in anticipation. As if it mattered where the insignificant tulips sat, but it did. Affairs of such discretion dictated ambiance. Now the music must be changed.

    Walter entered the room pulse racing, tormenting me further as I poured the wine. His eyes lapped me up as a puppy would affection. Juncture of life and death just beyond my fingertips, pumping with the liquid I craved, sustenance.

    Death ripe on my lips, my tongue snaked the corner of my mouth, inspecting for remains. I stood and righted my cufflinks.

    Mimicking the convexity of the tulips’ stems, Walter’s body lay limp on the floor. The last drops of wine pooled on the plush rug. Shame he never got a taste.

    Perfect placement for the tulips but the music was off, love never fit quite right.

    160 words


  29. The Food Of Love
    140 words

    Back at the beginning of the last century, before George Foreman was even a light embryo-weight, Caruso was marketing his own grilling machine, The Frydermaus.

    There was a hot-plate for doing eggs, a grill for bacon and burgers, and even a full oven, with small vents from which delicious roasting aromas could emerge, as haunting and pervasive as a Bach fugue through organ pipes, or a fart through a bubble bath.

    The Frydermaus came with a free record of suggested recipes, including Caruso’s signature grilled fish dish, O Sole Mio.

    It was launched in time for Thanksgiving 1900, and sold well, but most people had gone back to conventional cooking methods by Christmas, feeling that they had been sold a pup.

    Nobody had been able to wind the oven up fast enough or long enough to cook a whole turkey.


    • Some great humor in this one. I particularly enjoyed the George Foreman grill and light embryo-weight class bit. And, since I’ll always be a nine year old boy at heart, I’m afraid fart jokes will always hold a hallowed place in my heart.


    • Fantastic humour. Lovely picture in my head of people trying to wind up the oven to cook the turkey and not succeeding. ‘Frydermaus’ brilliant.


  30. Oh how we danced!

    @geofflepard 159 words

    Carefully Maurice lowered the needle onto the record.
    ‘Do you remember this one, darling Rebecca? Vienna in ’34. You danced beautifully that night. The sway, the length of your neck – they called you the Swan, remember?’
    Maurice held the pose for a moment.
    ‘Exquisite. But no, this one. Your favourite.’
    Maurice fumbled for another record.
    ‘Why did you love Strauss? I never understood. Berlin in ’35. Do you remember their faces when you transitioned to the quickstep? One minute you were a fairy queen, such poise; the next you were scampering with exuberance of a puppy. Oh such fun!’
    Maurice stepped forward, hands out.
    ‘Come, this is our tune. Such a perfect night! You should have been champion. But never mind. Whatever they did, they will never stop you dancing in my heart.’
    Maurice picked up the photograph of his beloved Rebecca and held her as he had so many times as they took to floor, moving as one.


  31. Delusions of Grandeur by Mark Driskill
    Wc 160 without title.
    “Will that be all, Lady Wadsworth?” ,Reginald asked wearily.
    “Yes Reginald, my Constantine needs a rest. Prepare our tea on the balcony.”
    “I didn’t sign up for this!” He often muttered to himself.
    He wanted to scream at his delusional employer,
    “The puppy doesn’t exist! It’s’ all a delusion!”
    But she seemed so content in her imaginary world of morning tea and conversation with this figment of her lost mind, that he couldn’t bring himself to ruin it. So, every morning he resigned himself to this little charade, setting out tea and playing music for a delusional heiress and her “canine companion”.
    Then every evening, when he finally made it back to his room, she was there waiting.
    “Did you have a nice time Reggie?”
    “It’s Reginald! Call me Reginald! Remember to wake me in time for tea.”
    Dr. Wadsworth would then hand him the little plastic cup with his medication.
    “Sleep well. You see Dr. Constantine tomorrow for evaluation.”


  32. The Price of Passage

    The hum of engines marked the silence. “Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this, his last live performance,” the debt collector said, standing next to the machine that would extract the voice from the ether and trap it in a recording. The collectors never bothered to learn names.

    Dressed in his best suit, the singer took his place. An audience of engineers and maintenance workers applauded. His wife cried silently while his son clutched a stuffed puppy.

    It had to be perfect. With this final song – the last of his voice – the payment for his family’s passage to the new colony would be complete. But they had known the sacrifice. There were worse ways to pay for passage from the hell Earth had become. A voice hardly seemed to matter.

    The music started; a recording of his wife singing. Now he would complete the duet, tearing the words from his heart.

    “Te voglio bene assaje, ma tanto tanto bene sai…”

    Words: 159
    Quote from “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla



  33. Of course, no problem. It’s up there in the rules above the pendant. “140-160 words, exclusive of title.” Happy to swap them out for you; and I’ll clarify the rules further.


    • Thank you! Of course as soon as someone pointed it out I scrolled back up and there it was. I’d wondered off to other pages to find it unnecessarily the first time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Upgraded

    The voice was nearly ready. Megan hunched over the bain-marie where a tiny orb coagulated.

    The body of her beloved (taken too soon: a curling accident) lay on the worktable with his throat flayed open. Aided by a mostly-legal blend of stimulants, she’d labored long nights on the voice, distilling it from Caruso’s coarse gramophone recordings. Gregory wouldn’t mind, what with that weird nasal quality to the original.

    Of course, there were a few other adjustments:

    Eyes commingled the blue of Newman with the penetration of Depp (goodbye, cardboard brown), enthusiasm extracted from a puppy (Gregory’s apathy could be intolerable), libido tempered as a damascus blade (one she could wield according to her mood).

    Done! All that was left was to await the storm clouds.

    Thunder jolted Megan awake.

    She scrambled to Gregory’s side. His eyelids fluttered, but his mouth worked around silence.


    Something nudged her leg. The puppy. It barked in a bored, but perfect tenor.

    160 words
    Nancy Chenier


  35. His Master’s Voice

    157 words

    Whispers and scratches echoed from the fluted tube atop the phonograph, the first bars of music struck, and then singing.
    “Hold my heart and hold my hand,
    Dance and dance with—“
    The song stopped abruptly, the needle scratching across the shellac.
    “For sake, Hyacinth, your hound did it again!”
    “Leave Rufus alone. He’s just a puppy. Aren’t you, sweetie? Yes you are, yes you are, and Thomas is a bad, bad man.”
    The young labrador rubbed against Hyacinth’s leg, wagging it’s tail.
    Thomas tutted and turned back to the phonograph. He lifted the black disc and inspected it for scratches. Happy the surface was fine he put it back and lifted the needle arm, swinging it onto the edge of the platter.
    Hyacinth watched her putative suitor. Pater thought him suitable. Mainly for his money. Hyacinth was less convinced. She leaned down to whisper in Rufus’ ear.
    “Go get him.”
    The puppy scampered toward the phonograph table.



    • I can just picture them there, the bored, unimpressed heiress undermining her suitor’s attempts to woo her. Loved the bit about using the puppy to annoy Thomas.


  36. Ah, Sweet Beethoven

    “Please, Ms. Claudia, Sit up straight. Elbows in. You’re not on the ball field.”

    You could have at least changed clothes before you came for your piano practice. There’s still line chalk from the diamond on your lavender pinafore. Look at your nails!

    “Here. One more time.”

    My last student of the day. I don’t know why Mrs. Rockefeller continues to expect me to turn this tomboy into a lady. Blood only runs so deep and this niece is nowhere close to the river. I stifle a chuckle. That’s exactly the smell… Hudson River backwash.

    Gently raising the needle on my Victrola I placed it again on the indentations: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. “Listen. Find the passion. You have to feel the music.”

    A car door. Saved. The chauffeur to take Ms. Claudia back to Kykuit.

    Rushing to the kitchen, I immediately plopped on the floor beside his wooden crate. Apparently I had awakened him. Ah, Sweet Beethoven

    160 words


  37. @MattLashley_
    160 words


    The maid pulled the note from her apron, with trembling hands unfolded it, and read it again. Then she took a deep breath and pushed open the office door.

    Ridge, the strong brother, George, the weak brother, Jennifer, the self-absorbed sister, and an estate lawyer who looked like a weasel sat around a large desk.

    “Yes?” demanded Ridge.

    The maid, eyes down like a scolded puppy, held out the note. Ridge grabbed it and read aloud, “To my steadfast maid … I leave my phonograph …” He looked up and asked the weasel, “What will the phonograph fetch at auction?”

    “Couple hundred at most.”

    “Fine. Let the maid have it. Objections?” Heads shook.

    Ridge narrowed his eyes and said “You may take the phonograph … in lieu of your final paycheck. Do you agree?”

    The maid nodded. Relieved Ridge hadn’t finished the note, she hurriedly rolled away the old phonograph and the million dollars of bearer bonds tucked inside.


  38. Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails

    The last time he saw his father, he was gripped by the shoulders and in his ear, was whispered, ‘Join up. Fight. What are you made of, Boy?’

    Sayid cowered in the corner of the room, rocking to the external thundering and clutching a small, skinny dog that he had rescued when its mother had been blown apart, along with his own. The house shuddered and clouds of dust fell like early snowflakes from the crumbling ceiling, swirling and dancing in the shards of light that pierced through the shutters. Pets were not allowed, but with nobody left to enforce this rule, he clung to this small, flea-ridden life, as if it were his own.

    After the thunder, the howling started. Random, at first, it was a cacophony of agony and shock. As grief took over, the howling became more melodic, filling the streets with arias of mourning. Sayid threw his head back and joined in the chorus.

    158 words


    • So clearly drawn. The mark of a good story for me is if it plays as a movie in my head. Safe to say this has happened for every story I’ve read so far.


  39. Needs Must

    155 words

    “Are you sure they won’t recognise my voice?” asked Caruso as the needle finally came to a halt. He felt ashamed.

    “No chance, big fella,” said Luigi. “We’ve pressed an initial 50,000 …”

    Caruso raised his eyebrows. “You think we’ll sell that many?”

    “And we’ve got capacity to press twenty times that number.”

    Caruso shuddered at the thought. How could he have sunk so low? Perhaps there was still time to stop, back out. His valet entered the room.

    “I’m sorry sir,” said Mario. “But they insisted I deliver this … this creature directly into your hands.”

    Mario thrust the wriggling puppy into Caruso’s arms and left. A note had been tucked into the collar. It was his reminder payment was due.

    Everything began to close in on him, but even as Caruso fled out into the street the song still chased after him. “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today …”


  40. Blubbering in the doorway, by Mark Driskill
    w.c. 150 without title
    I stood there for a lifetime, faint with disbelief. How long had it been? He hardly resembled the young lad I had left blubbering tears in the doorway twenty years ago. I left him at the academy to become more than I knew I would ever be able to make him. A life like mine was no life for a child. Since then, I had spent a million hellish nights telling myself that. Regret gnawed me to the bone. Finally, back in the country, having drained every year of its promise of better days, affliction dragged me home to beg the almighty for an extension on my borrowed time. Impending death mingled with fear of a greater loss. Here I stood at the entrance to a grand hall, seeing my son, serving tea to heads of state. “Can I help you sir?” Now I’m the one blubbering in the doorway.


  41. The Barkthur Murray Patterns

    No no no. It’s STEP one two three, not step ONE two three. Belle Jasmin MacGuffin, sometimes I think you don’t want to learn to dance at all. Again. Yes, we’re going to do it again. We’re going to do this until you know the entirety of the dance. I will not have the Duke and Duchess of South Winterford here with their mutt that they call a purebred Alsatian howling and barking and calling it singing and have to clap and bow and scrape and act like it wasn’t my mother that introduced the kingdom to the aethereal glories of Lady Twinkletoes. No! It will not stand! Now, are you ready? Position. And STEP one two three STEP one two no no. Not on the rug! That was a gift from Queen Victrola to my great grandmother, as you well know. Done? Fine. And STEP what is it now? Oh, I wuv you too, widdle cuddews.

    157 words


    • Wonderful. Love the contrast between her mockery of the treatment given to the Alsatian by its owners and then right at the end she succumbs to exactly the same behaviour.


  42. The Silver Song of the Lark

    @Making_Fiction  #FlashDog

    158 words

    The karaoke bar was heaving, so they went to the back, where proper music could be played – through a proper record player. Let the youngsters, gangstas and Beats-wearing hipsters sing what they thought passed for music these days.

    Shankly sat at the bar, ale in hand, smiling. He looked like a puppy dog compared to the scowling bulldog Dalglish, who was trying to sing the Proclaimers version of King of the Road.

    Shankly adjusted his Paisley tie and winced as Hansen sang, monotone, to a Rush record.

    “Hey maybe, I’ll get one of those kids to come and sing, eh?” Shankly shouted to him.

    “You can’t sing anything with kids.” Hansen replied.

    He sang like a castrated pup, maybe a whinging poodle, or maybe like a Colly, more.

    Disgruntled, Shankly went to the record collection to Hunt for the only song for the occasion.

    The ghosts sang their lungs out knowing there was hope in their hearts.


  43. The Passing of Seasons

    The summer evening was intoxicating, a blanket of stars; smoking barbeques; the chatter of neighbours. Filling the void between the complaints of Timothy’s swing.

    With each upward arc he reached out too the ivory coin teasingly hanging in the twilight. On the backward swing Timothy gazed at the welcoming light spilling out from Grandfather’s home.


    Monty’s silhouette filled the kitchen door, barking again, summoning his confidante. Since the divorce summers had been spent with Grandfather. He had bought Monty that first lazy season, a dervish of paws and tongue. Tears of laughter rolling down Grandfather’s face as the two pups wrestled in sunshine.


    Monty disappeared inside; Timothy followed. Grandfather’s music was playing, a sonorous voice filling the house.

    They were waiting in the lounge.

    Monty, head on Grandfather’s lap, nose buried under an alabaster hand.

    A mug of tea, contents soaking into the carpet.

    Eyes, ivory and unseeing.

    The world filled with ice.

    Summer was over.

    158 words


  44. “Silent”
    by Michael Seese
    159 words

    “No, honey! It’s too dangerous.”

    Erica was tired of her parents treating her like a child. She wasn’t a child anymore. She was 13. She was a woman now. “The Reverend says I have a gift. A gift from God. One I shouldn’t keep for myself,” she said, scratching Harley’s floppy ears.

    “I assure you, ma’am, it’s perfectly safe,” the Outsider said, his smile askew.

    Erica thought the Outsider seemed nice enough, despite the whispers. The whispers from folks up the Valley that these “soundcatchers” didn’t just copy your voice. They stole it. Forever.

    Erica’s mother continued. “But I’ve heard—”

    “Myths, propagated by ig—” He caught himself before he said it. “Ill-informed people. People not like yourselves.”

    So what if it is true? Erica saw it as a small sacrifice to make for the town, for the church. For if she could never speak again, then she could never speak of the things the Reverend had done to her.


  45. The Record Player

    He didn’t want the neighbors to hear.

    It didn’t matter if he had to explain the marks on his hands once more—his coworkers believed it was a skin condition—nor if the puppy, the most recent redress, scampered away in fright. He could live with a lie. He could be a passing terror.

    But judgment, especially from those with whom he shared walls, was reprehensible. He swept the autumn leaves off the sidewalks; he picked up the mail when anyone went on vacation. They shared more than walls, more than a block in this boundless city. They shared a community and they shared an idea: he was a good man.

    Yet she was so selfish. Again.

    He placed the glass on the coaster and guided the needle to the vinyl. Träumerei.

    What a gentle melody, he thought. The neighbors will love it.

    143 Words
    Eugene Schacht @storyboss


  46. His Master’s Voice
    157 words

    When I was young, I would fall asleep listening to my father sing. The tender love songs were for my mama, but the lullabies were mine alone. And the world was perfect.

    And so it went every night until the day they never returned.

    Papa’s friend Giuseppe came instead and took me to his house. I remember little of that night, but I remember him saying “Poor boy- he doesn’t understand that his papa is gone.”

    “He was a good man, and a wonderful singer” his wife agreed. “But you know he cannot stay here. He is young and someone will want him.”

    “I will take him to the pound tomorrow,” he said, promising his wife it would be done.

    His words haunted me and I could not sleep, until Giuseppe pulled out a record and played it for me.
    For one more night I could pretend all was well, for I could hear my papa singing.


  47. @stellakateT
    156 words

    Measure for Measure

    Gently placing the stylus in the groove, the gramophone comes alive.
    “Do you need anything else Lady Bracknell?”

    I wanted to say “that will be all Wilde” but its difficult now so I shake my head. My words come out muffled and in the wrong order. I’ve given up speech. I hope my facial expressions still convey my true feelings.

    I adore this song. My husband and I would sing it in duet. His rich baritone charmed the women in abundance. Sometimes I would cry silently but I outlasted all the young debutantes and stood stoic as his coffin was lowered into the frozen ground.

    The music transcends me into happier times, playing with the puppy, a gift from my fiancé. When we married the pup went missing, a nuisance my husband said. When I die Wilde the butler will get the house, everything, and my husband will be heard turning in his grave. Fait accompli!


  48. Legacy

    My spare key clattered into the bowl by the door, disturbing the quiet. I stopped first by the record player I swear Cal kept just for me, to switch on his last record. His voice, so filled with warmth, scratched through the emptiness of the living room. Dim light fought its way through the windows, into the stillness, onto the dust.

    I sank onto the couch, motionless as memories surrounded me. He sang of our first touch, the pouring rain that prompted our first kiss.

    Wistfulness edged the lyrics. We’ll never have another first one, he’d murmured when I’d mustered up the courage to ask why.

    Soft footsteps padded across worn wooden floors, stopping by my feet. I reached out, scooping Cal’s puppy into my lap. He whimpered, staring at me with shining chocolate eyes.

    “I know, buddy,” I whispered, curling my fingers in golden fur. “I’ll miss him too.”

    (150 words; @AriaGlazki)


  49. Replay (160 words)

    “Get a load of this puppy!” he said, his enunciation of puppy sounded like a deflating balloon. It would have been comical if we couldn’t hear what was coming from that contraption.

    We thought ourselves fancy because we were stuffed into expensive suits and wetted our palate with the finest of wines, but here we stood, transfixed by the sounds.

    Sounds we paid a hefty price to hear.

    It was a woman, Beverly, he said, and she made these gasping noises after he slit her throat. Like she was trying to retain the life force in her body, but it was quite literally slipping through her fingers.

    Someone behind me asked him to play it again. He did, slobbering with that fat tongue.

    On the second time, I won’t lie to you, I could feel movement against my trousers.

    Then the contraption started stuttering, so that Beverly’s gasps sounded like a whirring sewing machine.

    The movement below died down. Dammit.


    • This went to a very dark place. I do find it a challenge to read about this type of theme ( I was interpreting it as some kind of sex ring), but it is so interesting and clever to base it on such early technology. A well written and thought provoking piece, as always.

      Liked by 1 person

  50. HMV

    . The black puppy crouched in the back of the crate, head on his paws. He refused to budge, no matter what Helen did. Offering treats, toys– everything failed.

    “I know how you feel,” she told Buddy. “But you are all I have left.”

    When Jim and Eva had gone down in the small plane, she had struggled to move until she remembered the puppy her son and his wife had adopted shortly before the wedding. Getting Buddy from the kennel had given her a purpose, and now taking care of the animal provided her with some frail link to what she had lost.

    Her only son had left no grandchildren behind, but there was Buddy. Of course, the press would add, there was Jim’s music. His talent had brought him fame, fortune . . .and the wish for a private plane.

    An image came to her: his master’s voice.

    She put on Jim’s CD. Buddy emerged from the crate.


  51. “Music Soothes the Savage Soul”
    160 words

    We were two days deep in cannibal territory when the drums began to thrum at dawn. We could hear them in the distance. The sound intensified until we passed, then it suddenly stopped, only to begin anew further upriver. The pattern was repeated throughout the day; however, the only signs of life we saw were a mongrel bitch and her two puppies that retreated into the brush at our approach.

    The drums ceased to announce our progress at dusk, and we set up camp. Reverend Simpson and I were alone when figures appeared in the shadows. The preacher sent a quick prayer to his Lord, cranked up the Victrola we were delivering to his mission, and placed “Amazing Grace” on the turntable. Our invaders, stunned by the music, withdrew.

    The drums were silent for the rest of our trip; and on Sunday, Reverend Simpson found an unanticipated congregation of man-eating savages waiting to worship the God of the Talking Machine.


  52. Grandad

    My grandad had a signed photograph of Caruso. It was the one thing I chose to keep. I don’t know how they met or what it meant to him, but I like it.

    Looking at it, I remember all the old stories; fighting to get his medals from the ministry; the puppy that “followed him home” from the pub; the series of clapped out cars he drove. I remember the smell of Brylcreem, boiling hambones for soup and the sliver of potato peel he kept in his tobacco tin. I remember lying on the living room carpet with my colouring books while he watched the racing, our lives two arcs which ran parallel for a while but rarely intersected.

    I look at the dedication, think of the man who loved and fought and lived, and it saddens me that so little remains.

    This ink.

    This paper.

    My misremembered stories.

    All fading, with time, to smooth blank whiteness and dust.

    159 words


    • This seems like a very real collection of “snapshots” of a much loved grandparent – apart perhaps from the Caruso photo… Very gentle, poignant and moving.

      It’s hard to sum up each piece of your work, Karl, without repetition of superlatives.

      (Was the sliver of potato peel to keep the tobacco moist?)


  53. Going Home (160 Words)

    Whoever said you can’t go home again was dead nuts right.

    You knew it was true when your plane landed, and it took you almost three hours to get through customs. Then the rental car you ordered was wrong, which didn’t matter except it was just one more screw up in a long line of screw ups.

    You knew it was true when you walked into your home, and Caruso still blasted from the stereo. Mom’s new puppy peed on your shoes, and every friend, neighbor and casual acquaintance you never wanted to see again lined up to kiss you.

    But you really know it now that you wait in this funeral parlor, the smell of gladiolas almost knocking you out.

    Welcome home. You want to run away or hide under your old man’s coffin, but you can’t because you’re here to show family solidarity.

    When the funeral director turns on the music, you wish it were Caruso.


  54. Tiempo Antico
    by Alissa Leonard
    160 words

    “Scoot! I said don’t touch it! It’s an antique.” Harold adjusted the phonograph with delicacy.

    “But Uncle Harry, I wanna hear some music,” whined Annabelle. “And so does Sugarpuff,” she added as the puppy squirmed in her arms.

    “We don’t touch…”

    “Why not? You just said it played music! I heard you!”

    “Well, of course it plays music, Annie, but it’s old, so you have to be very careful with it.”

    “Oh, I’m careful, Uncle. I am. I can carry my milk from the counter to the table and not spill a drop.”

    “I’m sure you can…”

    Annabelle tried again, “Uncle, please?”

    “No, Annie.”

    “Why not?”

    “When things get old, they become delicate. Easily breakable.”

    “But you’re old, Uncle.”

    “This is much older than me. Think of Great Grandma Rose. You wouldn’t want to break her.”

    “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to listen to her speak, Uncle.”

    A tear formed in Harold’s eye. He put a record on.


  55. The Abyss

    The jukebox desires coins bathed in anguish. My pocket is bulging with those. I feed the nostalgic gal then crawl to the bar.

    Intoxicated bones with masks of sorrow lounge on decaying stools, a whimpering pack of discarded puppies pining for their master. Glasses are being fractured by aching hands. Marinated eyes plunge for deserted images floating in amber liquid. We drink memories at The Abyss. We splash our guts with the distilled echo of things that don’t come back.

    Words are extinct here. Our mouths are preoccupied with swallowing fraudulent remedies. Our ears tuned solely to the paralyzing songs that tell our story with a folksy twang.

    A kid in a pink Oxford is peeling the label off his beer with wounded talons. His first heartbreak, perhaps. I buy his next round. He nods. I want to tell him to stay afloat, but my coins have bartered a deal: A melody that tilts the bottle. Lyrics that consume shadows.

    @Blukris #FlashDog
    159 words



    Tone upon tone resonate around gilt picture frames, against their oiled inhabitants, and literally inside the leaves of authors carefully collected on surrounding shelves. Honey warm tones, shaped in the language of waxy grooves, and moderated by a single stiletto of cold steel, envelope me.

    My eyelids play an ethereal scene with an aria filling a vacuous cavity where a hundred well-dressed people have assembled. Eyelids fallen as lightly as the curtain against which the solo also hangs sweetly. The air I inspire in sympathy with this instrument of flesh vibrates of victories, of love, of strife, of utter sadness. My hands rise and fall to the rhythm, leaving the warmth of my lap companion whose nose leather flares as if in appreciation.

    The aria reaches a crescendo, with cymbals clashing and tenor voice outstripped by brass. The clash, climactic, reverberates within the amber ambience of this diminutive library, an inner ear for canine and human audiophiles.

    WC = 157, exclusive of title 11-21-14


  57. Something Old and Something New in Sector Alpha CMa
    [158 words]

    “Galloway, you old space dog!” The voice startled me. My hand audibly scratched the stylus across the vinyl recording of Santa Lucia.

    “Senator?” Memories flooded back as I turned. After twenty years, her hair was grayer, but that disarming smile had changed little. “What brings you out here?”

    “Senator?” she mocked. “Is that all I am to you? I’ve been promoted: governor of Sirius colony.”

    A figure cowered behind her like a frightened puppy. “This is Dr. Vannevar, your new biolab chief.” He looked like a child dressed in daddy’s lab coat.

    “Can’t Earth send someone… experienced?”

    “Older, you mean? Antique, like that anachronism of a music player?”

    “It’s a link to the past.”

    “Past. That’s Earth. Past. Kaput. Moribund. Dr. Vannevar was kind enough to use the biolab to make you a gift.”

    My gift yipped at me and wagged his tail. I scratched behind his furry ears and smiled.

    “Consider this a link to the future.”


  58. Gotta Have That Jazz
    Evan Montegarde
    160 words

    The record swirling on the phonograph was a gold-plated copper disc from Voyager I, not that it mattered to the ashes in the vase or astronaut in the room.

    Renfroy yawned as he removed his helmet, the hissing sound of depressurization filling the ornate parlor.

    “Wow, so what is all of this?” He said looking around.

    The voice from the ceiling replied calmly, “Imagine Schrodinger’s cat is in that vase, only it became a puppy that never lived or died.

    The music playing on the ancient machine was Count Basie’s Swinging Jam. Oddly, not a recording placed on the Voyager probe.

    “Guess the doggie must have somehow fried if it’s in the vase; so why no Chuck Berry?” Renfroy said as he unzipped his suit front.

    The voice didn’t respond.

    “And this is a Tesseract,” Renfroy continued, “Just for me?”

    Count Basie kept filling the room even as Renfroy noticed the stars were reappearing above.

    “Guess not,” Renfroy said chuckling.


  59. Siren’s Call

    The price of her balcony seat exceeded Gloria’s monthly income. From this rare vantage, she glimpsed Marcello scanning the crowd from the wings.

    She held her opera glasses with a hand sheathed in sea-mist satin. Her jewels netted the chandelier’s light. He couldn’t fail to notice her.

    Marcello followed his voice on stage like the sun trailing the dawn. Hearing his warm tenor stoked an old fire, one they’d kindled before fame whisked him away. His passionate aria embraced her.

    Despite his magnificence, jeers percolated in the silences. Gloria stifled a wince. It was the claqueuers, professional applauders, the ones Marcello refused to pay.

    He sought her gaze, a harbor in the impending storm. She smiled, securing his floundering confidence.

    The crescendo cued Gloria’s part. Yelps, puppy-like yelps, pelted down from the balcony. The audience snickered. When Marcello realized they were coming from her, his song wrecked itself on her shoals.

    He should’ve known better. No one spurns the claque.

    160 words
    by Nancy Chenier


  60. Ophelia Heads for the Pound
    Evan Montegarde
    159 words
    (Another story just popped out so I thought I’d post it.)

    Ophelia was livid; Preston had dropped the ball at the Ball quite literally.

    “What a prick,” Lydia said her arm wrapped around Ophelia’s slender shoulders.

    Ophelia nodded, “All I asked of Preston was his undying love and total devotion for an eternity.”

    “How could he do such a thing, you look amazing tonight, is that a Lagerfeld?” Emma asked as she held Ophelia’s hand.

    Ophelia nodded. “Yes, little something from Paris last month; He said I needed a puppy Lydia.”

    “Did he even have the ring?”

    “Oh he had it, in his pocket, which was bulging among other things. But he never even reached for it.”

    “What a bugger,” Lydia and Emma said in unison, and then laughed.

    From inside the club the girls could hear the beat of Get Down On It filling the air.

    “Ophelia, would you mind terribly if I go find Preston, he’s probably crestfallen?” Emma asked.

    “Go for it, I’m headed for the pound.”


  61. Memories
    Jennifer Ricketts
    160 words

    Reverently, I placed the record on the player and carefully lowered the needle. The soulful voice of Janis Joplin flowed from the speakers placed around the living room, and I curled up on the couch with a thick quilt and my new puppy, Max, whom I had just adopted.

    Giant snowflakes lazily drifted down outside my window while Max slept peacefully on my lap. I sipped my mug of cocoa and gazed at the world outside, quiet and peaceful, reminding me of a snow globe after it’s been shaken. This would be my first Christmas without my husband, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it.

    I liked to think Max and I gave each other comfort and companionship such as days like this when the memories would come flooding back of how happy my husband and I had been. Until the cancer had taken him.

    Tears slipped down my face until I gently wiped them away.


  62. Caruso
    157 words

    Caruso was the runt of the litter, but his cries those first few nights were deafening. Mother said he needed to learn to behave and forbade me from comforting him. She would play her favorite old opera records to help drown out the wailing and help ease our guilty ears.

    Caruso eventually stopped crying, but every time Mother played her records he would howl along with the music. I would join in and hum along, annoying Mother to no end.

    As college approached, Caruso’s old eyes told me he knew I was leaving soon. The morning I left, I played Mother’s records one last time. His tail wagged as we performed a duet, howling and humming. He wasn’t there when I returned home the next summer.

    Last night we laid my mother to rest. After the service, I played her records for the first time in thirty years. The humming helped ease the pain constricting my throat.


  63. Noir Society Vinyl
    (160 words)

    The parties were always the same: After polite introductions, Paulson took requests for the first hour then played another hour of curated recordings from his own collection. The twenty people seated before him were a shadow of the original Adventurer’s Society that had birthed their splinter movement. These refined men and women were those dedicated to the darker, more sinister, and truer experiences in the world around them. Through pain, one could better understand life.

    Paulson slid the vinyl disc from the plain matte black sleeve. Careful not to graze the incision on his thumb from the night’s earlier blood ritual. He may have been a practitioner of the black arts, but was no masochist. The polite chatter, clinking glasses, and even the whimpering of the corgi puppy in Dame Grenier’s lap stopped as he laid the needle on the record. With a hiss and a pop the audience were treated to Paulson’s latest sound recording: a murder by strangulation.



  64. Special Plate
    159 Word count

    The tablecloth was placed on the large table. Jewel tones glittered and sparkled by the chandelier light. Silver bowls sat cozy next to the fine bone china plates. All their edges gilded in gold. The candles stood tall in ornate holders the length of the table.
    The older man over looked the dining area. Once he was pleased the setting he took out his pocket watch.
    He watched the the little hand tick,tick,tick,tick away.How many ticks had he seen in his twenty years? How many puppies had the old woman have him serve with such luxury? The strays were brought in, cleaned up, taken care of. Huskies, Jack Russells, all sorts.
    He pulled out the chair at the head of the table as she entered.

    “Play the Chopin.” she declared.

    The music filled the room as the silver tray was placed in front of her.

    “What are we having this evening Philip?”

    “Shepard Pie, ma’am.”


    • You paint the scene very well, and I love the phrase ‘Silver bowls sat cozy next to the fine bone china plates.’ and how it isn’t until after you read the story that you think ‘dog bowls.’ well played.


  65. @goldzco21
    156 words


    Fat babies were cute. Fat puppies were cute. It seemed like everything fat was appealing, except himself. No one talked to him except for the occasional, “hey fatso, change the record,” or “hey fatso, play that song again.”

    His fat seemed to bother others more than it bothered him. He liked the way he looked. The only time it was an issue was at these dances. He’d arrive optimistic, saying to himself, “today’s the day Marty. Today you find a dame.” That never happened. Instead he’d stand alone until someone would spot him and say, “fatso’s not doing nuthin’, have him play the record.”

    Sometimes at the dances, he imagined being one of those Russian dolls. Under each layer of fat was a smaller, thinner, better version of himself, and at his core, there was a radiant light. Everyone would marvel. And they’d twirl around, with, and through him, and he would never feel alone anymore.


  66. (I know its late but I had to write)

    Best Friends
    (WC 156)

    It began when he was just a puppy. He would do normal puppy things; chase his tail, scratch, or get a special treat from the man.

    The man was so nice but kind of peculiar.

    He listened to a box that howled in the strangest way. It hurt puppy’s ears so he howl as well. The man laughed, tried to play chase, or would give treats.

    The puppy liked to make the man happy. It was like getting his belly rubbed.

    Pretty soon, he had the man spoiled. Every time he would sit and listen to the howling box, he expected puppy to howl. Puppy would get some kind of treat.

    Then the day came when Puppy’s teeth hurt. He chewed, it helped the pain.

    “Drats,” the legs of his phonograph had been chewed.

    In frustration, the man locked that dog out of the conservatory. It was always howling when he tried to listen to Caruso.


  67. Late entry – just for fun (Had to take my “pup” to the vet for surgery!)

    Here Be Dragons

    “As my colleagues before me, I fail to see good reason to invest in your apparatus. You have no business plan, no projected sales, no orders… Indeed, you have failed to make a single sale thus far. Furthermore, you have conducted no market research: you have no notion if anyone would wish to buy this contraption.

    “In my opinion, you seek to sell us a pup, sir! And for that reason, I am out!”

    “I thank you for your time, gentlemen.”

    “Sir, you have failed to gain financial backing from any of The Dragons. What will you do now?”

    “I am more than a little deflated but I am not downhearted. I shall continue to develop and improve my transportable phonograph until the day when it be ready for the world… or the world be ready for it.”

    “Spoken like a true Victorian entrepreneur! I wish you every good fortune with your endeavour, Mr Walkman.”

    Word Count: 155


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