Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 4


Kind of funny to send new year wishes when we’re already a month into Year Three here at Flash! Friday; but then flash fiction’s always ahead of the curve, isn’t it?! Gone are the days the literary world can get away with claiming flash is for people who don’t have time to write (or read) proper stories. We’ll show you proper, dear World, with a pickle and side of chips!

In case you’re curious, today’s photo of a Young Boy Spying was inspired by this day in 1942, in which the FBI convicted 33 members of a spy ring, which is still (I think, or at least Wiki tells me to think) the largest espionage case in US history to end in convictions. It is also inspired by various and sundry sneakinesses recently committed on me. Since they were kind sneakinesses I am not permitted to complain, but it puts me on Red Alert all the same. One eye open and all that. 


Our final new team of Dragon Captains (wave hello, Team Three!!! dear, brave, rabble-rousing boys!) consists of familiar #FlashDogs Carlos Orozco and Eric Martell (aka DrMagoo). Be sure to read their bios and their judging philosophies to see what they look for in winning entries. It is going to be One. Fun. Ride. this week!  


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

Now, polish up those dark glasses, dust off your Super Secret Spy Costume, and write a story based on the photo below.

* Word count: Write a 150-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.

Deadline: 11:59pm 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.


Spying, 1972. CC3 photo by Daniel Teoli Jr.

Spying, 1972. CC3 photo by Daniel Teoli Jr.




435 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 4

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 158

    Siren Call

    “Mummy, I drew a picture. Want to see?”

    “No time, bug.”

    The words were familiar, like the bowl of soggy Cheerios that graced the table every morning, or the second stair that groaned the same protest under his weight. They festered, stale, molding.

    His mother twisted a curl, dabbed her lipstick, snatched her purse, left the house. She wouldn’t return until morning. She never did.

    He’d followed her once, watched as she lost herself in the clamor of the city, her eyes shining as she basked in the admiration of her coterie, too busy to remember the boy she’d left at home, who’d cried himself to sleep night after night.

    In the morning, he asked to go to the park.

    “No time, bug.” Just like always.

    It would never change. The wild draw of the city held too much attraction, and its siren call drowned the whimper of the boy who hid in the corner.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 160

    The Meeting

    She’d promised that bus #23 would stop between 28th Avenue and Mason. She would get off and stand at the corner under the marquee. She would wear a green button-down blouse. Green, because yellow made her sick, she said, and green highlighted her sea-green eyes. Besides, she had given away her last yellow blouse.

    He wondered what sea-green eyes looked like. He’d only seen brown eyes. Chocolate brown.

    He was hungry.

    He wished he’d brought chocolate. Something to give her. She would like that.

    The squeal of brakes jerked his gaze across the street. The bus. He took a deep breath, glanced around. A dandelion struggled in a sidewalk crack. He plucked it.

    The bus pulled away, and green caught his eye.

    He crossed the road, wiped his sweaty hand on his pant leg.

    “H—hi.” He held out the dandelion. “I’m sorry it’s yellow.”

    “It’s perfect.” Her sea-green eyes creased. “I’m Lena. But you can call me Mama.”


  3. Soda for Shirley

    Every day. Every day, he showed up, same time and place. Rain, shine – hell, even if it snowed.

    Snow? Huh. Stranger things had happened.

    He’d only stopped for a soda. One, because he didn’t have enough for two. A soda for Shirley, with a straw and a pretty pink napkin around the cool, sweating bottle. He’d only left her alone for a second, just long enough to hand over his dime.

    But when he’d turned around, Shirley was gone, and a yellow Beetle was pulling away. A yellow Beetle with a strange shadow in the driver’s seat and no licence plate, going too fast.

    He hadn’t heard the bottle smash. He ran, but it didn’t matter. He lost the car at the next intersection, heart ripping inside him. It vanished, and his baby sister with it.

    So now, every day, he showed up, same time and place, waiting.

    When the Beetle came back, he’d be ready.

    160 words


  4. ‘When you see, you’ll know’

    157 words

    Delroy had his instructions. Follow, observe, report. He took them seriously. The people he followed never knew he was there. A ghost.
    “Why am I following them, Mama?”
    She smiled at him, but sad, like when told him Coral wouldn’t be the only girl he ever loved.
    “When you see, you’ll know,” she said.
    They were easy to follow. The big one had a long afghan coat and the white one just looked out of place this part of town. Delroy wondered if he was a pusher or a pimp. He wasn’t sure what either of those things were, but knew they were bad.
    A car pulled into the sidewalk new by the look of it. Delroy stood to get a good look at the gleaming bodywork, and listen to the burble of the V8.
    The men got in the car and it pulled back out. The driver saw Delroy and they stared at each other.



  5. “Invisible”
    152 words


    That’s my spy superpower. I’m a dark face in a winding maze of chocolate faces, honking horns and the smell of asphalt after rain.

    Charlie never sees me. He has his new friends, the ones who come after Mama goes to the hospital. They drink and smoke and put their feet on Mama’s carved coffee table Daddy made her. He’s not here to stop them.

    I’m invisible at school too. But that’s cool. If I’m ignored, I don’t get my head in no more toilets.

    I’m even invisible to Mama now. Sometimes she’ll look at me over her instant coffee sludge, and say, “Eat those grits, boy, so you’ll be big like you Daddy.”

    Then the clock demands and she rushes into the night.

    But I know the truth now. I saw her get into the car with the fancy-hat white man. I’m truly invisible.

    Nobody sees me. I see everything.


  6. Becoming
    (160 words)

    I don’t sleep. I can hear things, really hear them.
    I hear the cockroach, and the dew burst on to grass. I catch fragments of Night’s love and its fractured sounds of war.
    I can’t close my eyes when the world won’t quieten.

    Something else as well – I’ve started listening. At first, I thought the words were drowned in water, but the more I listened the more they seemed smothered by cloth.
    This morning, I came down to Grime Street. I sooth one ear on the metal box that clicks and hisses its consistent sounds. My other, I train on the 14th floor of the apartment block, bypassing the sound explosions on the busy street.

    The girl is up there, but I hear Mama’s voice, inside my head this time,
    ‘What lies you tellin’ now!’

    And I know, then, no one will believe I heard a muffled cry for help from way down here, never mind from thirty blocks away.



  7. New Entry mistakenly entered wrong earlier which I hope you can delete if possible if not I apologise and you can delete both cheers x

    Another Row

    He said “What are you doing with the all the grocery money”
    She said “Turn sideways and look in the mirror”

    “Oh no” I thought, another row
    neither of them ever take a bow
    verbal insults will ensue
    these exchanges make me blue
    They’ll send me to bed
    with a pat on the head
    thinking out of sight, out of mind
    must think I’m deaf, dumb and blind
    I’m a kid not a fool
    my escape is school
    nothing to worry about there
    friends and teachers who care
    I’ve watched them separately
    Hiding their pain from family
    Surely everyone knows
    Its right under their nose
    I love both of them you see
    but there no longer married happily
    there staying together for me
    I watch their demise in misery
    I’ve heard the word divorce
    screamed ’til their both hoarse
    maybe that’s their best course
    whatever happens couldn’t be worse
    Could It?

    151 words


  8. Mrs Yankowski: ‘Commie’
    A.J. Walker

    Mark took out his pencil, checked his watch and wrote the details into his notebook. He was sure that she Mrs Yankowski was a commie – how could no one else see it?

    She met a woman on the corner of 3rd and Main. She looked normal too but Mark knew a commie spy would – they were sneaky like that. It was only a matter of time before Yankowski passed on the deadly secrets.

    He wrote down a brief description, but they were too far away to see properly. In the margin he wrote down ‘binoculars!’ . This spying lark was going to require investment.

    Mark knew he’d have to get closer but was wary that he’d be seen. Yankowski would recognise him from class for sure. In the margin he wrote ‘disguises’. It would be easier when he was old enough for a beard or moustache, for now he’d just put on some joke glasses before sneaking closer to the enemy.

    (160 words)



  9. @stellakateT

    160 words


    It’s so hard to keep him clean now he’s old. That’s why I sent out Joel. Told him to follow Mrs Baker and her friend Audra and report back where they’d been. Told him not to let them see him, he had to be a real detective. He’s up for challenges, he has to be and life is full of them

    I couldn’t stand the look in his eyes. He knew. They say they’re the window to the soul and I knew I wasn’t going to heaven, not now or in the future. If I had money I’d have arranged for someone to come in and do a quick job. I crushed up my sleeping tablets mixed them in drinking chocolate and force fed him. It took a little while for his breathing to go shallow then stop. I hid him in the dustbin. I’ll tell Joel he’s gone to live elsewhere. It’s only a dog I keep telling myself.


  10. The Alien
    150 words

    Studying these creatures known as humans is so tiresome. They are so slow. What can you expect with those small feet and hands? They don’t seem fanciful at all. They look so ugly.

    But Zed wants to know how these creatures are living on this planet, making fancy things out of thin air. The grapevine says, they have all they need inside their heads. They use it for creating all sort of things. They can move on everything on earth – walk on the land, be like fishes in the oceans and even birds in the air.

    I take a closer look at the head. It’s just round with some fluffy colored threads called hair. And they can’t even use it to see what is behind them.

    So, all I have to do is sneak up behind them and grab a few of them. Zed needs some specimens from this planet.


  11. Prevention
    By David Shakes
    160 words

    The boy’s face is pressed to the Econolite casing. He hears the buzz of electrics within. The bottle atop the box vibrates imperceptibly.
    He’s made it. It’s already going down and needs to act now.
    The women are standing on the sidewalk, the car they’re about to climb into pulling to a halt.
    Leaping up, the boy sprints towards the unsuspecting women. The one who’ll become his mother gestures to the men within.
    Adrenaline surges. Despite it all, there’s a moment of indecision. Does he really want it to end? Then, he knocks hard into his would-be mother’s chest.
    Snatching her purse, he continues to run down the street.
    As he’d hoped, the woman pursues. The car pulls away, its occupants too impatient for paid companionship to see how the scene plays out.
    Too late to regret, the boy feels himself slipping out of existence.
    The secrets of time travel go with him.
    The purse is left on the sidewalk.


  12. Talking in tongues

    @geofflepard 158 words

    ‘What you doing, son?’
    The kid jumped back. ‘Nothing.’
    The officer rubbed his flaccid jowls and forced a smile through the thousand-beat folds. ‘I been watching, son. Last three days, you come at just before noon, stick your ear to that box and write on that pad. That ain’t ‘nothing’.’
    The kid looked at the polished boots reflecting a hopeful sky. He peered at the officer. ‘I’m translating.’
    The nod was slow and judgemental. ‘And what you translating?’
    ‘Tongues. Pastor says I can hear tongues.’
    The old man bent a sceptical ear to the box. He heard whines and scratches. ‘And what they saying, these tongues?’
    ‘They telling the future.’
    ‘Yeah? Like what? Nixon is honest?’
    ‘No, but they say they’ll be a black president before I’m old.’
    The rumble of laughter shook the kid like a hand-held earthquake.
    ‘Really?’ The officer wiped his eyes and turned to go. ‘Whatever next?’
    The kid looked at the narrow-minded back. ‘A woman.’


  13. Eye Spy

    155 words

    “You’re only jealous,” crowed Katie. “They want me, not you – four-eyes.”

    “Katie,” warned their father.

    They company men had ignored Brian; he wasn’t quite what they were after. They wanted her eyes, the company men had said, perfect specimens of clear-sighted youth; their new technology meant they were after only the brightest recruits.

    “It’s a lot of money,” said Brian’s stepmother when the cheque came through. “Do you think they’ll look after her?”

    “They promised, didn’t they,” said his father. “And they said she could see us whenever she wanted to.”

    Brian walked along the street noting the cameras that were everywhere these days. There was a glimmer from the surveillance light over his own porch. The hazel orb blinked, reminding him of Katie’s eyes … they were just the same colour.
    Then he smirked. Her money had paid for his laser-treatment; his eyes were perfect now.

    At the door, the company men waited.


  14. Candy jars

    ‘There, that’s the one.’ Grandmother was pointing at an old building, smiling.

    ‘It was the largest store you’d ever seen,’ she continued, ‘in those days.’ She stared at the old black and white photograph, a newspaper clipping. ‘There used to be a whole wall full of glass jars. They were all filled with candy, in all the colours of the rainbow.’

    Her eyes sparkled. Her old joints seemed a little more supple as she gestured around the living room, pointing at the jars only she could see, naming all the different sweets she remembered.

    ‘But of course we didn’t have the money to buy sweets. We didn’t even have enough to buy what we needed. I never wore clothes that weren’t Missy’s and Cissy’s first.’ She let out a sigh.

    ‘So when we were sent out stealing, we made a pact: never to rob this store. Not the one with the colourful candy jars. And we never did.’

    Sandra C. Hessels
    158 words


  15. Phil’s Fate
    160 words

    “Hey, Phil. What are you doing?” Mary asked.

    Phil pressed a finger to his lips and shushed her.

    “I’m hiding from them.”

    Two elderly women, one in a shawl and the other in old-woman billowy pants, stood harmlessly on the sidewalk.

    “Why?” Mary asked.

    “They beat me in a poker game,” Phil said.

    “Are they going to beat you up?”

    “Don’t be stupid.”

    “Did you lose your soul to the devil? I hear that’s a thing,” Mary said.

    “It’s worse than that.”

    The fringe woman turned, and caught sight of Phil. She nudged her companion and pointed.

    “Run!” Phil said. Mary watched the dirt fly as he took off.

    “Come back here!” Pants lady said. “You owe us a date, young man!”

    “That’s not so bad,” Mary said.

    “And a strip tease!” Fringe added.

    “I did warn him about playing poker,” Mary said. With a shrug of her shoulders, she went on her way, and left Phil to his fate.


  16. Steph Post
    157 Words


    If you cross that line, there is speed. Woosh, zip, zim, brrrrur. Airplane noises inside of cars. Airplane noises between the fields of asphalt and the clouds of steel. Glass reflecting the speed. Reverberating. Like a constant pulse. Like the frogs at night, back home, thrumming at the back of their throats. Airplane noises in clammy amphibian skin.

    Like Superman, I would wheel my arms and tilt my body, making the wooshing with my lips. Buzzing, ker-powing, ker-smashing. I made the sounds of the four-color dots and dug my elbows into the warm dirt when I fell, my bed-sheet cape tangled. Ker-splat.

    But here, away from crickets and stars, is a world of speed. A world of step back, don’t touch, not you, move it, you break it, you buy it, what the hell, who are you, who are you, who are you?

    I want to say, I am Superman!

    Instead, I say, just leave me alone.


  17. HATE

    Brian S Creek
    152 words

    I feels the grownups eyeing me as they walk past, all wondering why the little boy is hugging a metal cabinet beside a busy street.

    If I was white then they’d probably ask if I was okay. But that’s the rub you see ‘cause if I was white then I wouldn’t be hiding like a scared little mouse.

    Can’t remember the last time I made it home from school without something happening. I’m just so fed up of being chased, of being beaten, and of having my stuff taken.

    I watch my hunters as they pass by a tobacco shop on the corner. These guys have been trained by fathers who hate with no real reason. Now I gotta go home and face my own Sergeant Major who just hates them all right back. I guess me and them white boys are just soldiers who fight each other ‘cause we’re told to.



    Brian S Creek
    158 words

    “Hey Ray-Ray, you see him?” says Charlie from his hiding spot.

    I lean out from my cover and glance over the windows of the building opposite. There’s a flash and a bang. I draw my neck in real quick as the bullet flicks the ground just inches beside me.

    “You get hit?” calls Charlie.

    “I’m good. Our guy’s in the top row of windows, second in from the left. The one with purple curtains. He’s all yours.”

    Charlie settles his rifle into position. He’s the best shot in the platoon. He’ll take care of this chump and we’ll be home for tea.

    His brow kisses the scope lightly and he holds his breath.

    “You kids stop hanging around on the sidewalk with your toys. You’re putting off my customers.”

    I turn to see Mr Feedles stood in the doorway of his bakery looking a little peeved.

    I guess me and Charlie should get home before our mom worries.


  19. Enshrined

    I created a shrine
    whispered “she’s mine”
    I dreamt of our future life
    decided she would be my wife
    I followed her day and night –
    if spotted I was always polite
    I never thought of wrong or right
    never felt the need to be contrite
    It wasn’t out of spite
    I just fell in love at first sight
    that’s my plight

    This I wrote in trying to explain myself to a Counsellor because I could never speak out loud why I ended up in the same place watching the same girl every day, it would be like sharing her and she was mine. He looks at me and says “you’re only eleven, there’s no way you can have such strong feelings at eleven, there must be a reason.”

    I put it down to when I’d been told I was adopted and felt afloat in a stream of nothingness, she was my anchor, always will be.

    157 words


  20. The Streets Are Alive
    159 words

    The Econolite was the world’s first portable music player. Its name derived from the words “Econo”, meaning “made on the cheap”, and “lite”, meaning nothing.

    It was not a success.

    To begin with, there was the issue of its size, though in fairness if it were any smaller you wouldn’t be able to stack your LPs inside it.

    Then there was the noise pollution. If you had an Econolite you could be heard from three blocks away, because of the awful grinding sound as you dragged it along the street.

    Because of this sound, and because speakers were not included, you could only listen to the actual music by pressing one ear against the side.

    The biggest controversy, though, occurred on the morning that every Econolite owner received a parcel in the post.

    The biggest band around, Smooth and the Smooth Smoothies (this was the Motown era, remember) had sent each of them a copy of their latest album.


  21. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 160

    The gentle hum of electricity seeped into Darren’s skin. His bones vibrated as every muscle, tendon, and nerve ending soaked up the waves of power from the box.

    No-one else on the sidewalk could feel it. But Darren drunk it in like parched soil takes in water.

    Three blocks ahead, stop lights flickered.

    Two blocks behind, cars screeched to a halt as the lights suddenly flashed red. Darren heard the crunch of bumpers. He didn’t turn. He just smiled.

    On the horizon he saw a plume of smoke. His fingers told him the stop lights had gone out completely on East Fifth.

    Cars trundled to a stop on the street in front of him; drivers vented frustration with their horns.
    Satisfied, Darren let go of the metal box. It would take about ten minutes for the electronics to right themselves. In the meantime, he could cross the road safely.

    The same road that claimed his mother’s life a month ago.


  22. @bex_spence
    155 words


    The noise of the city was immense, engines droned, shoppers chatted, workers bustled, they all merged into a wall of sound. Joe stood on the corner, pulling himself close, seeking some internal silence, a void in which he could concentrate.

    He’d seen her moments before, and then lost again. He scanned the streets, eyes constantly seeking. He saw the thief leaving the store, saw the child step into the road, high above a man teetered on the edge of life, Joe saw these moments passing but none registered.

    He had eyes only for her, the girl in the dress, creamy white, speckled with daisies. From his view point he searched, seeking that which could not be seen, then, there, she was there, finally. She sat on the bus, her bobbed hair leading to the nape of her neck and then that dress. Horns blared as he stepped off the kerb, too late, she was gone.


  23. Cure.
    David Shakes.
    144 words.

    Don’t walk.
    I can hear the electric heart of the city beating its analogue rhythms through a thousand relays.
    Down here the city smells of exhaust fumes and urine.
    The paths of a thousand commuters are marked out in patches of coloured gum, like breadcrumbs to guide them home again from a day’s mundane toil in the concrete forest.
    Don’t walk.
    I see my mother on the sidewalk. Here’s where *her* journey begins. If nothing else, I’ve seen her smile. I didn’t know she could smile.
    The relays continue to chant their options. Will I walk? I could still go back. But she deserved (deserves?) more.
    I’m doing this for you Mom, for a brighter tomorrow.
    I silently tell the gods of the city my choice.
    I offer up a prayer and ready the sacrifice.
    I don’t walk.
    I run.


    • “I can hear the electric heart of the city beating its analogue rhythms through a thousand relays.” Stunning! Love the movement of the words and the conflicted voice.


    • This is *so* well written. ‘…the electric heart of the city beating its analogue rhythms through a thousand relays… mundane toil in the concrete forest…’ I love the concept behind this (because it’s so clever), but I wish it wasn’t so heartbreakingly sad, too. Excellent work.


  24. Soul Music
    160 words

    The policeman guards the corner. He don’t like black boys on his street. Once he caught me and he said—all threatenin’—“Get back southside where you niggers belong.”

    Ain’t no record stores southside.

    I duck behind an electrical box, waiting for him to turn. Then I dash past the white ladies leaving the salon. They scream like I’m a thief.

    “Lincoln!” Hutch says as I burst into the shop. “You heard the new Wilson Pickett?”

    “This boy bothering you, Hutch?” Damn cop leans through the door. Must’ve heard them ladies.

    “Lincoln just wants a record.”

    Hate seethes behind the cop’s narrowed eyes. “Might want to check his pockets,” he says as he leaves.

    “Asshole,” Hutch mutters, putting on Don’t Fight It.

    Hutch ain’t like most crackers; he likes soul music. “You wait,” he says. “This music’s gonna move everybody. Change’s coming.”

    I bounce to the beat, but I ain’t sure Hutch is right. Even music can’t cure some folks.


  25. Invisible

    I’m wearing my smart jacket today, in case she sees me. It would have been warmer in my coat, but I’m still wearing my jacket, in case she sees me.

    She goes shopping with her friend Lynn every Saturday. They’re going into another shop, now, and they’re laughing. She laughs a lot more with Lynn than she did with us. I watch her from a special hideout on the street that keeps me invisible, because I think she’d be cross that I’m following her. When she still lived with us she was always wishing that I’d leave her alone (but just for five minutes.)

    I don’t tell Dad that I always come to watch her shopping. Since she left us his face looks sort of plastic and hard whenever I talk about her, and it’s scary.

    The cold is making me shiver now, coz I’m just wearing my jacket today. My smart one.

    Just in case she sees me.

    159 words


  26. For Your Ears Only
    154 words

    “If I could offer a hint about hiding,” said the voice behind him.

    Louis spun, startled.

    “It would be ‘never rest your drink on top of the thing you’re hiding behind’,” said the man.

    Louis reddened at his mistake, but also trembled at having been caught.

    “Don’t worry,” said the man. “I’ve been watching it too. The building with the neon cotton-bud.”

    Louis nodded. “I’ve seen people being brought in there at night.”

    “Extracting their ear-wax,” said the man. “Blofeld’s going to drop a giant ball of it on Huddersfield.”

    “Why?” asked Louis.

    “Dunno,” said the man. “Possibly to improve it. Anyway, we can’t let that happen.” He flipped open what looked like a lighter and pressed a big red button.

    The building vanished with a soft pop.

    Louis stared in astonishment at the man, who smiled.

    “I crept in there last night,” he said, “and hid a giant boiled sweet in the basement.”


  27. Reg Wulff

    (160 words)

    Jarod’s lower lip quivered and a tear ran down the side of his cheek as he hugged the cold metal box. He looked around the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of his mother or aunt, but they were nowhere to be found.

    He’d been on his own for a few hours now, lost among the maze of asphalt streets, concrete sidewalks and towering buildings. Even though there were people bustling about the sidewalks and cars filling the streets, Jarod felt completely alone and scared. Nobody on the sidewalk acknowledged him and drivers only saw him in the brief second it took to honk their horn and yell at him to get off the road.

    Jarod began to cry as he hugged the metal box tighter. He wished it really was his mother, and longed to feel her arms around him and hear the beating of her loving heart.

    But all he felt was the cold metal of the box.


  28. Head Games
    159 words

    Memories trapped in a digital gallery kept me from coming undone.

    Phone in hand, lights extinguished, earbuds implanted deep.

    Fifty seconds of obsession in HD.

    Three smiles.

    One shot of her backside, a plump dictator in snug denim.

    One muffled sneeze.

    Thirteen graceful steps across the carpet in her sensible flats.

    Six words.

    The glow of the screen gashed the darkness. I poured a milk stout, snatched a mason jar and plopped down on the couch. Hit play.

    “Happy Birthday, baby. I love you.”

    Hit play.

    “Happy Birthday, baby. I love you.”

    Filled the glass repository with teardrops. Screwed the lid on.

    She wobbled next to me, mute and contented, as I began to brush her curly, onyx hair with tender strokes. It smelled like coconut.

    Me and the head exchanged lustful glances. I pulled it close to my face hoping to catch a trace of that southern lilt. That honeyed voice. No dice.

    Hit play.

    Six words.

    One lie.


  29. The Voice
    145 words

    He heard it in the classroom. He sat in the back and in the middle of Mrs Smiths class, there it was. First a strange silence, Mrs Smiths voice could no longer be heard, he only saw her mouth move. And then, the voice. A lingering inside the worn concrete wall, a wordless longing, whispering.
    He tried to hear but there were no words, just a voice; soothing, comforting, kind.
    Mrs Smith was in front of him.
    “My dear, the bell just rang, aren’t you going home?”
    The chair fell as he started running.
    That longing, he just wanted to be part of it. Not wanted.
    Outside as he rushed by, he briefly saw the headlines.
    Children mysteriously vanish
    He followed the whispering, and when passing an electrical box, he just knew. Softly and quietly he leaned in, and began to fade.


  30. Hope

    You know who I am don’t you? It was forty two years ago but you know who I am. I can see it in your eyes. You know I’m not just a regular house breaker with a gun and pliers and duct tape. Now you’re remembering the little boy hiding in the street as you drove away. And just now you’re wondering whether to move but you know it would do more bad than good. It would be slower. Yes, that was me hiding there all those years ago. Those years you have had but we didn’t. They were long years. Did you enjoy them? Did you savour each moment like a ice cube to a man in the desert? I hope you did.

    Hope. Yes, I always had that. For all those years. I could not have survived without it. How does it feel not to have hope? How does it feel to feel like you do now?

    159 words


  31. Friday 8th August 1969
    I had been released two years earlier. I was just a child, sitting on the kerb, minding my own business. They crossed the crossing six times, six photographs and I am in every one of them. Those boys might have been used to the attention but surely they could have warned me? Within six months I was famous. ‘Paul is dead,’ was the cry. Well it wasn’t me who ran him down. Every time I went down a street little boys would peer at me – some hid, some would stare and point and shout. Eventually, in 1986, a kind soul bought me and put me in this German museum. So now I am home, clean white and dry. I sit and stare at the starers, at the obsessed, at the curious. I know I will never go back to Abbey Road, but I wish that just for one day I could drive down that street again.
    156 words
    Lloyd Mills


  32. Howard Street
    160 words

    What just happened? He hugs the hard cold metal of the box, names etched in the surface–Mavis, Delmore, Richard Brown. Not the names he knows. He was just standing here, a moment ago, waiting for the 151 bus, out of sight of the surveillance cameras and the rival gangs.

    There’s a fried chicken place, a liquor store. They are gone from the time he knows. He knows the convenience store, where he buys lottery tickets for Mrs. Reynolds, the Currency Exchange where there’s a line down the block on Fridays, when the Jamaican cab drivers send money home.

    His home is just down the street, or it was. The big white apartment building, where the elevator is always out of order. The building looks brand new. How did he get here?

    In the distance, he can see the 151 bus approaching. The streetlights change from red to green. Names on the box look familiar–Avery, Jem, Kareem. All his dead friends. He’s home.


  33. Tongue Lashing

    The parched pavement hasn’t felt rain in weeks, and I’ve a certain thirst for something this city affords me. Retribution. I can smell it in the air, the scent of the storm.

    My patience is a practiced trait. The innocent boy has followed his mark, week after week. Vile things she’s spewed at him when caught, I’ve overheard.

    It’s as if the atmosphere sucks moisture from its weakest inhabitants to produce the desired Christ-quenching rain. Yes, rains are coming. Today I’ll feast as a king.

    The woman who wore the ill-fitting title, mother, overlooked me in the alley. My Ka-Bar made quick work of the offending organ; my soon to be delicacy.

    Succulence is in the preparation. Minced garlic, sliced shallots, and one whole star anise. Took me a few years to perfect the recipe. I simply boiled my own mother’s odious organ along with her insults and profanities.

    Then the rains came and cleansed my impurities.

    160 words



    Bottle and glass rattle together in shaking hands. Spencer downs the last of his supply.

    Tickets tear in half, voices bright with anticipation fill the air. Perfect rows of enormous lightbulbs shine white-hot under the marquee.

    Spencer waits a few beats at the top of the steps, then pulls up his collar and scurries toward the corner store.

    His best yet, they say. Like nothing that’s ever been done before. Where does he find the talent, the range? What gifts.

    Spencer rounds the corner again, paper bag bottle in hand. What will they think? It’s crap, you know. My worst ever. Destined for the trashbin of history.

    He ducks behind a newsstand and watches the last patrons push in and the doors swing shut. He can’t resist a glance at his name in foot-high letters.

    Two hours later chattering crowds spill into the street. Spencer sleeps it off in the stairwell, his face invisible in the dark.

    159 words


  35. Walk / Don’t Walk

    There’s the kid, just where Mother said he’d be. He’s got a good thing going, helping the helpless at the crossing. That’s a rare thing in this neighbourhood.

    I stand and watch him awhile. He leans against the signal control box, picking his teeth, ready to offer aid. An old man with a humpback and bottle-top glasses shuffles along the sidewalk. The kid moves in and ushers him across the street. The man hands him a buck for his trouble.

    There! As soon as the man puts away his wallet the kid dips in his sticky fingers. The man shuffles on, a smile on his face, perhaps his jaded view of society refreshed, at least until he realises his wallet is missing and he’s left stranded at the bus stop.

    I know calling the police would do no good. Thankfully I have my own methods of making sure the kid doesn’t walk.

    152 words


  36. @jujitsuelf
    156 words

    Without a Song

    He was always there, always in the same spot. He can’t have been more than ten, maybe not even that. His face had the pinched look of a kid who never ate enough. We used to look out for him every time we passed his corner. But we never stopped to offer him a cookie or a sandwich. Not once. Too busy being busy.

    That kid had the sweetest voice. My friend Marcie said it was like listening to an angel. He’d be there, singing and humming all day long. Folks would stop and listen, toss him a dime or two, then walk away. He made the day better for having heard him.

    The boy was a part of the furniture, a constant. Every day he’d be there, leaning against his streetlight, singing his heart out.

    Until one day he wasn’t.

    I never knew what happened to him. Nobody did.

    We were too busy being busy.


  37. Between Worlds

    People say I’m delusional, but I know faeries took my sister away. Their world remained even after the city spread across the land, blooming in neon, sending trees of glass and metal skywards, the steady heartbeat of electric lights replacing flickering starlight. The other world was banished to cracks between shadows, glimpses in the corner of your eye. But when the moon is full and you know where to look, you can see them dancing on forgotten fields. And if you wait for the right moment and step into the ring of dancers, they’d take you away from the hardships, hurts, and poverty of this world. That is what my sister did. That is what I would do, if I could gather the courage.

    I see them dance, hear the music, see my sister.

    In a blinding flare of headlights and screaming tyres the dancers disappear, leaving me behind.

    And I wonder if knowing is a gift or a curse.

    Words: 160


  38. Find Me

    “Hide, Baby, hide real good so I’ll have to search real hard to find you.”
    “And then it’ll be my turn to find you, right Mama?”
    Her face droops a little. I think that she likes being the seeker best too when she says, “I expect that’s about right.”
    She pats the top of my head and I smell Ivory soap on her skin.
    She places her hands over her eyes and begins to count.
    I grin and run down the alley, out into the bigger world, her numbers growing larger and fainter.
    This is the biggest game of hide and seek I’ve ever played and I can feel my stomach dance as I run through all my choices of hiding spots.
    I find a spot that hides my body but lets me peek out so I can watch Mama’s face when she’s stumped over where I am. I’ll giggle to see her searching so hard.
    Now I wait.

    160 words


  39. Charlie waived his little hands and with his index finger pointed towards the silver box.


    The silver box quickly opened and he descended down the steps to the world of wizards. He picked up his blue cloak, wand and dashed through the wall to find his best friend Wallace.

    He would not fail this time. He would rescue Wallace from the evil Lord Vernon who captured him and is holding him in the Tower.

    One step at a time, Charlie scaled the stone wall. The magical rope, for the two of them to escape, was around his waist. One more step and he..

    “Charlie. Boy. Stop day dreaming and get in this car. You don’t want to be late visiting Wallace at the hospital, do you?



  40. Mimi N.
    160 words


    You didn’t go looking for the Fae woman. To see her, people said, you had to get lucky. Danny didn’t buy that. He could find her.

    Janie bragged about seeing her outside the soda shop. Old Lady Jenkins saw her in Lainie’s boutique, running long, pale fingers over the silks and taffetas. Billy’s dad said she lurked outside the pub on Friday nights; Billy’s mom called him a drunken fool.

    Day after long, hot day, he stood peering at the shops from behind the utility box across the street. As the last humid August afternoon faded, he turned from his post and found her.

    Her golden eyes blazed, but her voice was a gentle breeze. “I can’t save your father.”

    Danny’s eyes welled. “You can.”

    “Aye.” She brushed away his tears. “But you’d have to pay, and he won’t want to live without you.”

    Danny looked at his shoes.

    She kissed his head. “Be strong.”

    He nodded, then shuffled home.


  41. @pamjplumb
    160 words
    Box of delights

    Ennis leans close to the metal box and listens. Nothing. Over the noise of the passing traffic he can only hear empty space despite what he’d seen earlier. Graffiti scrawled in random shapes offers no secret code to tell him how to get in.
    Yesterday, as he stood eating his hotdog, Ennis saw a man open the dull metal door and poke his head in the cavity. In seconds he’d pulled through the rest of his body and disappeared in a rush. Open-mouthed for so long his hotdog got cold, Ennis eventually walked away, disbelieving.
    But today, he stands in the same spot, clutching another hotdog, waiting. For more than an hour no-one comes. By three Ennis is ready to leave. Then a spindly lady pauses by the box, glances at Ennis then disappears. So he ventures to the box again. Runs his fingers over the embossed writing. Click. The door swings open. Ennis draws a breath and steps through.


  42. Black and White
    159 words

    The pearly-white beetle whistles a merry tune down the slate-colored street, chirping at the enormous slivery bus spewing leaden exhaust as it labors with its belly-full of passengers. Ladies parade across the granite avenues between street and shop, wearing brilliant ivory apparel, clutching frosted alabaster bags straining at their seams.

    I cower, terrified breath ravaging my throat. I do not belong here.

    Yesterday, I fled into the raven twilight – choosing the uncertainty of ebony and onyx star speckled skies for my bedroom ceiling, instead of the resolute beating promised in mother’s alcohol-poisoned eyes. The reek of cheap spirits and cheaper perfume preceded her down the sooty, cracked plaster hall, her face the obsidian color of guaranteed violence.

    Flight, rather than clenched knuckles forcefully sending blossoms of bisque, bone and cream fireworks to explode behind my eyelids, was my hasty decision.

    But now, alone in this big, monochrome world, I’m wondering – where do I go when I’ve run from home?


  43. “Seen at Last”
    by John Mark Miller – 150 words

    His breath came in gasps,
    Hot tears splashed on the pavement,
    But no one noticed.

    His father beat him,
    His mother was high…again,
    But no one knew this.

    Teachers found him rude,
    Some wondered if he could talk,
    But no one asked him.

    His stomach grumbled,
    He searched for trash on the street,
    No one paid him mind.

    He asked for money,
    Was shoved – rough – against a wall,
    No one stopped to care.

    Salted tears burned deep,
    His young face, gashed and bleeding,
    No one seemed to see.

    The street box was cool,
    And as he clung to its strength,
    He saw a window.

    He found a boy there,
    And gazed into mirrored eyes,
    He saw everything.

    He stayed a long time,
    Unable to move his legs,
    He spied on himself.

    A smile touched his lips,
    It just felt so good, you see…
    Just to be noticed…

    Seen at last.


  44. Heads up

    We all dream in black and white, right?
    Only, this morning Jez tells me that he had a dream in full technicolor.
    ‘Mickey, it was amazing! I lived in this huge mansion in the countryside. The trees and grass were fresh greens, the flowers bright pinks and reds. It was so real, I didn’t want to wake up.’
    Jez was found on the streets.
    I know for a fact he hardly slept last night. he didn’t dream in his sleep, he dreamt in his head.
    If he had told me that same dream was black and white, I might have believed him.
    I dreamt last night. It was the dream I’ve often had since I saw Jez on a city street, spying on a woman he thought was his mum. This time, the woman turned around, and Jez didn’t fall to his knees sobbing, with his head in his hands.
    I smiled.
    ‘Hold on to that dream, Jez.’

    158 words



    “Look at all the fools.”
    “They have to go to work every day.”
    “They have to pay for everything.”
    “They have no time to have fun.”
    “They were all fools.”
    “They should have stayed hidden.”
    “They shouldn’t have gotten caught.”
    “I’m smarter than them.”
    “It can’t find me here.”

    Jeremy carefully peeked around the corner of the electrical box. Scanning both sides of the street he looked for his nemesis. He watched for any movements in the shadows. Jeremy pressed tighter against the electrical box trying to blend in. He listened for his name to be whispered on the wind as it caressed his cheek.

    Seeing grown-ups walk by with lifeless eyes and downtrodden souls strengthened Jeremy’s resolve. He was not going to be one of them. Jeremy was never going to be taken.

    “It will never find me.”
    “I’m never going to grow up.”
    “I’m going to be a kid forever.”


  46. New Horizons

    Like a steel bearing in a pinball game he bounced around, crashing from one icy member into another, the members outraged to silence by his ashen remains.
    Yet it was his life’s work, spying on the night sky, on the stars stretched wide across the empty darkness, which was besmirched. It was his tracking, his great discovery that had been reduced.
    Of course he was dead now, had been for nearly twenty years. But within months of his ashes being divided, his Pluto was denounced as little more than a rock. Yet perhaps always he had been heading for this climatic moment.
    The name of this his final carriage is itself prophetic, New Horizons. It crumples against a rock, which nudges and ricochets amongst the other asteroids in the Kuiper Belt, and diverts a train of three racing back towards Earth passing Pluto carrying the remaining ashes of Clyde Tombaugh.
    There will be no place to hide.

    @CliveNewnham – 157 words


  47. Josh Bertetta
    “The Power to Speak”
    156 Words

    “He was spying on us dear. Don’cha think?”

    “Spying!? What do you with all your flawgic know about it? You’re nothing but a womenstruashunner while I stand suffering-side trying my very best to ascribecome! But you wouldn’t know the differeference now would you? Spying? That little African-American boy spying? Are you really that self-impot…important? All your presentimental comments on how much you love me leave me feeling nothing but freedumb. I have half the mind to e-womancipate myself from you right now! And for your transinformation, I wish he was spying on you because then, at least, it would give your god-damn subparanoia some semblancease and then we wouldn’t have to have this lexiconversation one more time. All your speak about reknewing our relationship. But you don’t get it do you? I see it now. See it all too clearly…Marginductive words to maintain your sense of some fucked up hierarkey over me.”

    The man said, “huh?”


  48. Finally

    Spring raindrops splashed across our apartment windows, splinters of glass digging into my skin.

    “Where’s Momma?” My voice shook.

    Daddy frowned, refusing to look at me. “Be a man.”

    The glass dug deeper.

    I saw her nearly two years later. I was eleven and had a penny for the gumball machine at Woolworth’s. She was at the bus stop, chattering with some lady. She laughed as I passed by. The foreign sound startled me. I wanted to run up to her, hug her, and beg her to return, but instead I hiccuped and walked on.

    Be a man!

    I swallowed the hiccups and turned to study her, letting the signal box protect me. Her laughter filled the pockets of silence between the passing cars until her bus came, delivering her a final escape.

    The splinters swelled into shards that pierced my chest. I stuffed my hands in my pockets and headed home, finally a man.

    155 words


  49. Surveillance

    Maybe it was because the signals were so high-pitched only young ears could hear them. The kid was certainly a spanner in the works.

    The monitoring station continued its work, sending back reports minute by minute, hour by hour as it had done for ten Earth years. Women walked by, chattering about the latest styles and what to cook for their men folk that evening. A VW Beetle sped on its way, unaware that its every vibration was monitored, assessed and evaluated. The bus was checked against the route monitor.

    The Grand Council assessed the plans and gave the go-ahead.

    The time is ripe for invasion. The disguise is perfect.

    Now, if only that darn kid will move, we can get down from the top of the terminal and be on our way to world domination. First stop, that diner called McDonalds.

    @jemima_pett – 142 words


  50. Reds Under The Bed (a prose poem)

    159 words

    Paranoia crept through the streets like red weed from the War of the Worlds. It strangled everything, entwining tendrils around its host and suffocating with a gentle insidious pressure.
    The creative heart surrendered first. Los Angeles bright sunshine succumbed to a smothering fug; residents dropping and gasping like soldiers on a cold and wet western front.
    This was the new war. No longer the Hun, the Nazi. Now the prey was red.
    We, got the Rosenbergs, fried their asses. But the commies creeps below the bed.
    The commie is hippy. The commie is gay. The commie is black. Each and everyone wanting their way. The white, western, mans wife and job and country club is prey to the commie demanding life be equal, full of borscht and welfare state.
    We must sacrifice our sons in Asia if we want to be free.
    Free to be you, free to be me, so long as we’re not the god-forsaken commie.



  51. Scamp.

    “Black car, blue car…
    Lady in a red dress…
    Never seen a hairless…”
    Daphne knelt beside the boy laying a hand on his forehead. “Take it easy,” she said.
    “Think he’s concussed, miss. He bounced pretty hard against the bonnet of my car, see there!”
    The man pointed to the dent in the bonnet of his Pontiac. “Probably punch out okay, but it’s no surprise he’s rambling.”
    “Black car, blue…”
    “Take it easy,” Daphne repeated. “An ambulance will be here soon.”
    “Why’d he run out in front of me,” griped the driver of the Pontiac. “That’s jaywalkin’ that is!”
    The boy shook his head. “Black car, blue…”
    “Okay,” she soothed.
    “Why’s he keep saying that? My car’s yellow.”
    “Oh look here comes a policeman,” said Daphne.
    “O-o-ohhh,” sighed the policeman. “That you, Joshua, trying to pimp a few bucks, again?”
    The boy scrambled to his feet and scampered away down the street.
    “Well, did he ask for any money?”

    @CliveNewnham – 159 words


  52. Memphis, 1964
    159 words

    I’m watching from the corner when Antoine Tyson leans his broom against the wall and walks out.
    Mr. Dodgson, Antoine’s boss, yells, “Won’t be any job left for you if you walk outta here today, boy!”

    Antoine unfolds a sign from his pocket and sticks it to his shirt. I AM a man, it says.

    Momma told me I couldn’t march—I was too young; I might get hurt. But some things you just gotta do, no matter the risk.

    Jim Walker steps behind Antoine, the same sign pinned on his shirt. Others join them, forming a single file marching up the middle of Vance Avenue.

    Policemen beat down the sidewalk, guns pointed. Antoine and the others keep on walking, singing “We shall overcome!”

    I leap into line, unfurling my sign with shaking hands: No child is free until all are free.

    I start singing, too. My voice is all I got to put between me and the guns.


  53. Super Boy Gets Girl (to smile and wave)
    Word count: 157 words

    5:00 hours 2 secs
    Girl smiles and waves at Super boy.
    Super boy smiles and waves back.

    Super boy catches cat in arms as it falls from roof just above girl’s apartment block.
    Super boy prevents unfeasibly cute, small girl on scooter from hurtling into certain skinned – knee – conditions.

    4:59 hours 58 secs
    Super boy waves fist furiously at tall, muscle bound ruffain propped against car. Ruffian shies away.
    Super boy stops dear, old lady stepping out in front of heavy rush hour traffic.

    4:59 hours 55 secs
    Girl opens door of apartment block.

    4:59 hours 53 secs
    Super boy gives signal.

    Super boy takes up position at lamp-post.

    Tom sent climbing up drainpipe.
    Sis places skinned – knee – inducing pebbles on path beside scooter. 
    Uncle Eddie parks car as close to aparment block as is permissible.
    Gran takes up walking stick, assumes old lady posture and positions herself at the side of busy road.


    • This is so cute and lighthearted! I love it, and I really enjoyed the “telling the story in reverse” style you used. Thanks for the smile!


    • Love this! What an exquisite finale (which turns out is the set up). I enjoyed this immensely. “skinned–knee–conditions” made me giggle way more than it should have.


    • This is lovely; only realised it was going back in time when I got to final paragraph – should pay more attention. What lovely family to go to that trouble to help Super boy get the girl; heartwarming.


  54. Out of the Shadows

    People scurry around me. They don’t see me. I blend in the landscape like a piece of concrete building or a piece of some odd-shaped furniture to dodge. I lurk in the shadows of the world that doesn’t give a fig about my existence, but I never cry out for their attention.

    I observe silently. Not Benny though. Yesterday, he sauntered over with a gold watch on his wrist and a twinkle in his eye. “Check this out,” he said and flashed a stolen credit card in my face. “You little piece of trash. “ He mocked me. I didn’t care enough to respond.

    I watch how people behave and listen to what they say. I read most of the time when I am not in the school. One day I will move out of the shadows and become Mr. Bradford. They will have to notice the wealthy and kind-hearted Mr. Samuel Bradford, who takes care of his friend Benny.

    160 words


  55. The Age of Foolishness

    The metal surface of the traffic terminal warmed Monet’s cheek. His senses overwhelmed by the stench of this ancient city founded on greed. Monet clung onto the scarred surface, his body trembling with every heartbeat.

    The chrono-jump had been harder than he anticipated.


    Monet unleashed his neural net, meshing into the caveman circuitry of the traffic system. Within nano-seconds omnipotence beckoned, rushing outward along copper webs. Monet a spider lurking on every corner, suspended above every junction.

    Whispers in the darkness, his fellow liberators connecting across the globe. They had been heralded as saviors, ceremonies marking their departure.

    Yet Monet would never know if he’d saved Isabella from the present they had inherited. Her scarred skin and petrified lungs, banished from existence.

    For his death would be a thousand lifetimes away from his little girl.

    Monet activated the hack, reassembling information.

    Interrupting the Age of Foolishness.

    Horns screamed into the chaos as the world ground to a halt.

    159 words


  56. A Family Affair

    Carl sees the tall man meet her at the lamppost; bobbed black hair, windswept, brushing her ears as she smiles, scarlet lips wide, light eyes looking up directly into dark. Together, they move along the street, his hand at her elbow, guiding. Carl watches his progress, silent, from behind the Econolite’s barricade, whilst the tumult of traffic passes, oblivious. The man reaches for the girl’s hand – grasps it in his, curling long fingers around her smaller ones, enclosing them completely, slipping something into her top pocket. Afterwards, he pulls her towards him – hugging her to his side. They turn the corner, left and away. Gone.

    Lisa. They’ve named her now. After Nancy. Who followed Debra. Who was found, eventually – though she took recognition. Lisa has her picture prominent in the paper, now the number missing has multiplied. Carl has seen it; seen Lisa. Not Nancy. Not Debra. He dials the number listed below – his father’s fate determined with the digits.

    (160 words)



  57. Terrible Lizard
    159 words

    Crouched behind the utility box, Isaac peers at the intersection where the dinosaur will appear. Conditions are right: just enough smog burnishes the afternoon sun, just enough traffic growls along Marpole.

    On first sighting, Isaac was playing hide-and-seek. Somewhere in the synchronization of light and breath, heartbeat and engine, the skin between worlds peeled apart and let an Apatosaurus peek through.

    Issac’s satchel reeks with last week’s spinach. Bait. His eyes sting from holding them open, but a blink can ruin everything.

    Okay, it wasn’t hide-and-seek. He’d been avoiding Glenn, his foster mom’s “friend”, and his tar-pit stare.

    This time, Isaac will lure the Apatosaurus to the curb in front of the Ivanhoe where it’ll crush Glenn’s Harley. Then, when Glenn rushes out to save his precious motorcycle, the Apatosaurus can stomp him too.

    Giggles percolate in Isaac’s belly. He presses his lips into a frown. He must replicate conditions exactly. The tiniest trace of joy can ruin everything.



  58. Of Whispers and Secrets
    (160 words)

    Trembling, the uninvited tears silently cascaded off my chin as I hid behind the tiger lilies.

    John, this is not working out. I don’t want you at that uppity nip joint any longer.

    I knew Dad had a night job. It paid much better than the trucking docks.

    These aren’t the kinda people that you can just go up to and quit. There are consequences. Repercussions, honey. That’s my job… the repercussions.

    They respect you. They asked you to join them. That’s got to count for something.

    Respected my knuckles. They respected my size- I usually don’t even have to use my knuckles.

    Dad massive arms enveloped mom as she was now soundlessly sobbing.

    OK, Vera. I can try to go back to boxing at the gym. That’s where they found me. I can probably strike a deal if I return to the fights.

    The outer door shut.

    Running to the window and slipping down the escape, I followed Dad.


  59. The Better Choice
    (157 words)

    “Listen for the firecrackers, Alby. When ol’ man Johnson walks away to check it out, you run in and grab the cigs.”

    My heart plummets as I stare into the steel gaze of my older cousin, Sam. I shake my head until my brain rattles. “Uh-uh.”

    Sam’s eyes narrow. “Don’t be a baby.”

    His words pierce my pride. Before I waver, Gramma’s words echo in my head. Be a good boy, Alby. I love you. The pain lessens. I stick out my chin. “No.”

    Sam leans closer and his sour breath turns my stomach. “Fine. Baby had his chance to be big. Joey’ll do it.”

    Joey nods, sneering at me.

    I turn and tear away, my feet pounding concrete and my breath ripping my chest.

    Firecrackers clatter behind me. Winded and afraid, I collapse against a sturdy traffic box.

    Moments later, two sharp popping sounds punctuate the air. Someone screams.

    Those didn’t sound like firecrackers to me.


  60. “Kid Spies”
    By Michael Seese
    160 words

    My name. Bomb. James Bomb.

    My drink. Shirley Temple. Shaken, not shtirred.

    My super-secret mission. Following Missy Jacobs, a villain of the most oderous kind, to her hideout. I need to find it, and neuterize her using any means necessary, including and if necessary, my super-secret Booger Gun.

    Missy is dangerous, and smart. On Maple Street, she nearly catches me. I hide behind an electrical thingy. But when I look, she is gone. I run to her last known position. I look up. There, I see the name:


    Oh no! That’s where they all go to re-energize their Cootie Rays. Entry is impossible. I wait, and write down in my super-secret journal everything I learned about tracking girls. I should share this intell with Dad. Maybe he can use it to find Mom.

    Suddenly, the door opens, and Missy steps out. Before I can react, she kisses me with her Cootie Ray.


    Can’t breathe…

    Lights fading…




  61. Child’s Play

    Life had dealt Franklin the short end of the stick, quite literally. After thirty years he was still waiting for the ‘growth spurt’ he’d been promised as a kid. No-one ever expected him to amount to anything. It was his greatest asset.

    Dressed the right way, he looked like a child. Following his target was child’s play, or at least that’s what he wanted them to think. He’d often bring a few neighbourhood kids along to help sell the act, they’d do anything for more pocket money.

    The man in the suit laughed as the pack of kids bustled around him. He didn’t feel the tracker being slipped into his jacket pocket. He’d lead Franklin right to the kingpin. The only question remaining was who would pay the most for the information. The rival cartel had deep pockets, but the FBI had all that taxpayers money. Franklin was always short of everything, except cash. It pays to be underestimated.

    160 words


  62. Payback

    Apart from a mud-caked terrier sniffing hopefully at the dusty bins in the corner, the musty metropolitan back street was deserted.

    Suddenly, a tremendous crack, like that of a whip, rent the air. The dog dropped his new find, a banana peel, and ran away yelping with his tail between his legs.

    The alley was no longer empty. Two boys stood blinking, their eyes adjusting to the darkness.

    The older boy stole out of the alley and stopped at a graffitied electric box. A bottle and coffee cup stood on top, abandoned.

    “Perfect.” He pried the cover off, revealing complex buttons and lights.

    “What are we doing here, anyway?” the younger boy cut in, “We’re from the future! Can’t we just look at a history book?”

    “Our books won’t have it yet.” He leapt up and snatched the glass bottle.

    “What are you doing with that?”

    “Payback, that’s what.” He lifted the bottle and smashed it against the controls.

    by Elise Swiftling
    Age 11
    (159 words)


  63. Innocence:

    Turn away young fella. Sights like this shouldn’t aren’t for the young.

    In the distance the bus appears — right on schedule.

    A boy, not old enough to shave, rests against a mailbox. He has no reason to see what is about to happen.

    The bus comes closer. Cuckoo, the City’s rising gangster, and his parade bus is coming to win the hearts of the people. A crowd forms as the open-roofed tour coach passes.

    I saw something like this when I was young. I’m still scarred. Look away young man.

    Cuckoo throws candy down to the kids. Treats don’t erase his muscling into rival territory. I’m not the assassin, but I know it’s about to go down.

    The kid must sense it as well. He wisely hangs back. Look away young man.

    The bus approaches slowly. Cheers rise. The boy still leans against the mailbox. His hand creeps along his back. The boy pulls out a .45.

    158 Words


  64. Friends in Passing
    Robert J Becraft
    159 words

    It was the city in March, not quite spring, not quite free of winter. He leaned against the metal box, feeling the heat seep into his body. Soon, he thought, real soon.

    The memories of his friend flooded in, recalling their last meeting. Touching smooth curves, radiant warmth, much like the sun-warmed metal box. Their mutual understanding, unspoken, but strong between them gave them strength in a friendship that grew with each meeting.

    He peered down the street, traffic flowed past, each car cold, anonymous, and foreign. A cold breeze swept past him, chilling him. He pushed tighter against the warmed metal, drawing the heat into himself.

    His hand dropped to his waist where his tool pouch hung, his job, his skill. He was one of the best.

    His attention came back to the traffic, a swell of anticipation. Rally numbers came into view. There! His friend came rolling past. “Hello Herbie!” he hollered, hands waving wildly, “Go buddy!”


  65. Foy, d.b.

    word count: 160

    Brown Eyes Catches Blue Eyes

    “There are things worse than death.” I remember when Silas said it, the creases in his face dug deep. Would he still say that?

    A girl steps up to the street’s edge. Her face is like an apple, round and smooth and fresh. Even her skin is the color of apple flesh just bitten open.

    “Listen to ‘em,” Memaw added. “Better to run and scream and fight than suffer evil.”

    My blood is running, my heart screaming, and my stomach fighting bile but I stay focused on what I’ve been told.

    A Ford, smooth and bright, rolls past and there are no automobiles up or down the street. She’s going to cross; I close the distance between us.

    “Excuse me, Miss.”

    She turns and her eyes are the blue of Memaw’s Easter dress. “Yes?” My ears tingle with the warmth of that voice. “Is something wrong?”

    “I need help,” I point to the alley where they wait. “My kitten’s lost.”


  66. Invisible
    Evan Montegarde
    157 words

    You know when I hide my face I can’t see but better yet nobody can see me.

    My Pop says people don’t see me at all and even if they could, they’d care more about a dead rat cause I don’t matter for squat. He always says “I’d trade you for a beer but nobody wants the deal.”

    “Pop is flat out crazy,” my Mom says but only to me when I’m invisible, otherwise he’d smack her silly for a while and that don’t cover well with Maybelline.

    White folk don’t seem to see me whether I’m visible or invisible; I just don’t exist to them judging by how they never look at me or bump me on the street without a word.

    “I might be worthless,” I sometimes think, but I can go invisible and that makes me special. One day, maybe, someone will see me and I won’t be invisible anymore. Until then I’m a ghost.


  67. The Escape

    Danny sprinted down the street, shoving people out of the way. He heard angry shouts behind him but didn’t care. He had to get away, had to escape. Danny dashed across the road, forcing cars to swerve to avoid him. He ran through a dark alley and onto another street. Leaping behind an electric box, he hid, watching the street silently. Yes, this spot was safe enough. They would never find him here. Danny remained motionless for well over an hour, senses alert for any sign of his pursuers. Every muscle in his body was tensed, ready to make his escape should the need arise. Suddenly, rough hands grabbed him from behind and dragged him out from his hiding spot. Danny struggled and yelled but his captor retained his hold on the helpless boy. “You can’t do this!” Danny screamed, “I can never go back there, never go back to school!”

    by Ian Phillips
    Age 13
    (151 words)


    • I work in a school and yes occasionally kids still clamber over gates or fences to escape but they do get caught (I support students in class so I try and make things a little better for them where I can). You’ve described the sense of chase and tension very well. I would like to know what drove Danny to run.


  68. A Shaky Town Knight and the Fiefdom of the Bell-Bottoms
    [158 words]

    The valiant knight-errant watched sadly from afar. In this urban forest of gray and drab, he had found no fellow chevalier. Instead, he espied his foes.

    “I am Sir Gwillym, born of the Red Dragon,” he had earlier proclaimed, clad in stunning aluminum armor. His fair-skinned brethren treated him with contempt, taunting relentlessly and calling him by epithets he was ashamed to repeat. “The Black Knight!” one mocked. His heart sank: he did not wish to be the black Galahad, but simply to be Galahad.

    After such heartbreak, he dared not face them again. Discarding foil armor and cardboard sword William slunk back to his bedroom overlooking a 4th Street discotheque, concealing his glistening cheeks and red eyes.

    “I am a knight!” the lad sobbed into his pillow. “Born of the Red Dragon!” And he knew his heart need be of a dragon, for what mere mortal could walk unscathed through the fiery scorn of such a society?


  69. Hold Up
    160 words

    “Don’t go,” I say, as I have dozens of times. “Gotta a bad feeling.”
    “That’s puberty,” Marlon says. Nothing changes. His lapel folds razor-sharp against his chest. He settles that damn fedora low over his brow. The brim cuts a shadow across his eyes.

    It’s a film that won’t stop replaying. Even hunched behind a traffic pole a block away, I witness every second. Alarms shriek, tires screech, a dark Caddy strands one of the robbers. Shots. His body jerks and sags to the sidewalk.
    One hand clutches a cloth bag spilling over with jewelry. The other hand tries to staunch the blood from the bullet that erupted out his gut. My brother’s breath huffs with pink spittle. The whites of his eyes glow in the hat-brimmed shadow.

    Instead of “don’t go,” I snatch his fedora and slam out the door. Marlon’s curses chase me down, polished wingtips slap against stairs. I gain the furnace room first. Something’s gotta change.



    • ‘My brother’s breath huffs with pink spittle’ is great. Love the whole idea – the younger brother having a sense of dread for the older brother’s welfare. It is a great ending, too. Very fitting.


  70. By Elisa @AverageAdvocate
    Word Count: 160

    “Syzygy Enchantment; Syzygy Eclipse”

    “Boop, boopity-bloop,” my nails rattled, clutching the box while I jerked, gripping tightly to control this stone and my hopes in it.

    “Don’t you mean ‘Beep, beepity-bleep?’ ” Harold asked, concerned.

    “‘Boop’ works just as well as ‘beep.'”

    “Are you sure?” Harold’s unibrow rose a smidgen. You could call us brothers–thanks to our rabid family dynamics–so I knew he was nervous.

    “It will work,” I assured, my faith living. We couldn’t keep living these monthly nights of terror.

    Harold whimpered, “What if the Uncles find out?”

    “Shut your chops so I can concentrate!” Relenting, I added, “We’ll bring something home from the butcher’s.”

    Harold wrapped his fur-streaked arms around himself, rocking, waiting. I beeped and booped the incantation on the lycanthropy amulet.

    Finally we heard the roar, that hopeful promise brewing. A flash banished the dusk while the city heedlessly moved around us. Searching for the russet moon, I tensely reached for Harold’s paws, but instead our smooth, calm palms collided, curse-free.


  71. Discretion
    by JM6, 146 words, @JMnumber6

    Eventually, I saw him. The boy had been following us for three days, peeking out from inside phone booths, around corners, behind traffic signal boxes. It was cute, in an annoying way, but far too dangerous for us.

    I wasn’t sure how he first became aware of us. I suspected that Dominique had been indiscreet. Indiscretion is, unfortunately, one of her more charming qualities. This time, however, it had consequences. As the eldest of our group, it fell to me to resolve this complication in our lives.

    She looked at me, fully aware of what I had to do. That was the moment I realized she had allowed herself to be seen on purpose. That was the moment she smiled.

    And that was the moment I finally fell out of love with her.

    Killing the boy was distasteful but necessary. Killing Dominique would be a pleasure.


  72. Backflash Flashback
    159 words

    Floating on the waves of memory, it’s interesting, what you remember. Things that were so clear that day and then faded in time; are once again sharp.

    “I’m going to count back from 10…9…8…”

    The voice drones on, but I’m already there. It’s a spring morning. I’m 9. I was supposed to be at home, watching my little sister…

    “Tell me about the fire.”

    I don’t want to. I don’t want to remember, but it’s haunted me for forty years. I owe it to Angela.

    I was playing hide and seek. I’m it.

    “8… 9… 10. Ready or not, here I come.”

    “Focus on the fire…”

    I pause, turning from the game. I see the flames and start running. The hotel we’ve been living in is on fire, only this time I remember what I’ve tried to forget.

    I open my eyes and look around, begging them to deny my words.

    “It was him, my father set the fire.”


      • Thank you… mixing tenses like that really made my grammar police genes twitch 😉 But for the first time… it had purpose. (My dad asked me why couldn’t I make the mom the villain?)


  73. Safe
    (160 ineligible words, for dragons’ sake)

    She hated that she had to do it, that she (SHE!) was forced to hide her greatest treasure so. Queen of the Mountains, they had called her. The world was hers! Or had been, for a time. To think it had come to this.

    The heavy box tumbled awkwardly out of her gleaming talons. She scrambled after it, scratching it in the process. It did not break, for all that; it would serve its purpose. It must.

    Choosing the right human was less simple. So many failed, and quickly.

    “Can you guard my box without looking inside?” Tendrils of flame wrapped round their ankles.

    “Yes, Your Majesty!” They leapt at the chance. But in the end they all proved untrustworthy; she roared each incineration in furious desperation.

    Sleep pulled powerfully at her eyes, and she felt her heart slowing.

    Too late.

    “Keep this safe,” she croaked as darkness fell. Would anyone hear?

    From across the street, the teenage boy grinned.


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