Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 5

WELCOME! What a joy to see y’all here again. Thank you for coming and firing up a few of your dreams here at the dragons’ lair; we promise to handle them with the greatest of care. Or at least do. How the judges will treat the tales behind the scenes, one can only imagine. (I am, however, keeping a very stern eye out. It’s IR, after all, and Joidianne, as captains this week….)   

For today’s prompt pic: on this day in 1431, and just three days past her 19th birthday (January 6, 1412, we think), the judges’ investigations began for the young Jeanne d’Arc‘s trial in Rouen. This gorgeous painting is by Eugène Thirion, who died ten days and one hundred five years ago (January 19, 1910).  In this single work of art we have life, death, fire, a simple but fearless maiden, and the whispers of an archangel warrior. Oh, dear writers. So much! So, so much! I can’t breathe.


We’re back at the top of the battle boards today, with our first Dragon Captains, Image Ronin & Joidianne taking on the herculean task of judging. Suspense and intrigue way outside the box, says Joidianne; how’s about a bit of scab-pickin’, says Image. Past the surface; beyond the superficial. -Don’t they sound easy to please??    


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, raise your swords and write your fiery stories in the sky.

* 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.


Jeanne d'Arc, 1876. Painting by Eugène Thirion. Public Domain.

Jeanne d’Arc, 1876. Painting by Eugène Thirion. Public Domain.



619 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 5

  1. Those Who Hide
    by JM6, 160 words, @JMnumber6

    “Dad? Why do we Hide?”

    “‘To save the myriad voices of the world for future generations.’”

    “But why don’t we speak up and make sure those voices are heard *today*?”

    The man smiled patiently at his daughter. “Those who fight don’t always win. You remember Jeanne d’Arc?”

    “Yeah, she was kick-ass.”

    “Heh. Yes, she did many brave things and won several battles. But then she lost and was burned at the stake.”

    “I know, but she fought for a just cause instead of Hiding.”

    “But who told her story?” the man asked.

    “I don’t know.”

    “We did. Some people tried to bury her story, saying only the men of France defeated England, not some peasant girl. We were the ones who kept her story alive in people’s minds until they could accept the truth. Had we fought and died with her, who would’ve known her story? Hiding *is* a just cause.”

    “Maybe,” the girl said grudgingly. “It’s kinda boring, though.”

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 158

    Taking Risk

    Do it.

    Risk is the dark voice that fans the tempo of swirling thoughts feathering my mind. I clench my trembling fingers together. The knuckles are white, bloodless.

    It’s safer not to.

    Security, the angel of light, nudges me—he who has always fed me the voice of reason as he sits in familiar domain, as if he knows me.

    Today, he reflects my frailty.

    Dive deep; the courage is there.

    Risk clutches for my attention. He overrides my insecurities, stamps my fears into the dust. I raise my eyes to the familiar form who sits across the table from me. The gray eyes, their cruelty neatly veiled now, watch me, waiting.

    “You ain’t got it in you, baby.”

    I release the clench of my knuckles, tug the ring free from its decade long groove.

    “I want a divorce.”

    The circlet vibrates across the table, settling with its metallic ring a ten year argument with my angels.

  3. @betsystreeter
    154 words


    Brother and sister lie on their backs in the grass.

    “What do you think happens when you die?” the boy asks.

    The girl turns her head. “I think we have to decide.”

    The boy considers this. “Have you picked something, then?”

    “Yes,” she says. “When I die, I will become an angel.”

    “The kind with wings and a robe?” the boy asks.

    “I will come to people in their darkest moment,” the girl says. “I will appear whatever way they wish to see me, and then it will be okay.”

    “I like that idea,” the boy says. “I’m going to be an angel, too. I am going to go to sick children.”

    “Like me? Will you come to me?” the girl asks.

    “Yes, I will come to you in your darkest moment,” the boy says. “I will be there for you, as your angel.”

    The girl smiles. Overhead a cloud dissolves into the blue.

  4. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 159


    He doesn’t know me, not well. I doubt he could tell you my name if you asked him. But every morning at 7:14, he breezes in with two coffee cups in his hands, his scarf thrown over his arm instead of around his neck, one corner of his mouth melting into a dimple.

    The coffees are for Mrs. Anderson in 3B, with a bad back and a love for white chocolate mocha, and Miss Rice, who hates coffee, but tells him that she loves it because she knows she’ll get an extra visitor most mornings.

    I’m the one who drinks it later, hiding behind my desk as I watch him bend over each bed, holding a hand, patting a shoulder, pulling up a chair to look at a picture of a new grandbaby.

    How do you tell him?
    How to make him see?
    How to convince him that a simple girl,
    A wisp of earth,
    Could love an angel?

  5. 150 words.

    Didn’t mean for it this way.
    Didn’t mean for all the blood.
    Didn’t mean for all the dead.
    No… this isn’t right.
    Eat the bread, but don’t forget the cell. Drink the water, but don’t forget the stench. Pace around, but don’t forget the mission.
    Sit still. Push away everything. Ignore the rats. Only me now. Pray hard. Reach out. Pray harder. Grasp it… More… More!
    …There! The presence! The voice!
    Hear it whisper.
    “That was not sin.”
    Feel its touch.
    “If it were, you would not hear me.”
    Be embraced.
    “Remember who you live for. Remember who judges you.”
    Yes… Recall the scene…
    Remember the screams, for it was sin. Remember the blood, for it was penance. Remember the regret, for they were lost.
    God’s gift to the world. Harsh. Necessary.
    This way was meant to be.
    The blood was meant to be.
    The dead were meant to be.

  6. Wise Men

    “I hear voices,” he says and whips his head from side to side. It looks like he hasn’t slept in days, the dark circles under his eyes a deep purple.

    “Chill out,” I tell him, grabbing his shoulders. He shakes free and steps backwards.

    “I think I’m going schizo.”

    “Everyone’s a little schizo.”

    “Not like this they ain’t. I can’t go schizo. I’ll lose my job, my friends, my—”

    “What exactly do you hear?”

    He looks around, paranoia saturating his eyes, and whispers something inaudible through his teeth.

    “What?” I say.

    “Go to the East. Find the king.” He yells. His face goes white. He runs to the nearest corner and covers his ears with the backs of his hands.

    I stare at him. He shifts his body back and forth. I can’t force myself to tell him that I hear the voices too. Instead, I huddle in the corner opposite him and wait for the voices to stop.

    160 words

  7. @Making_Fiction
    160 words

    Spat from the heavens. Wherever she worked in her life she felt alone – she felt different.

    Today would be the worst day.

    Under an incendiary morning sky, the skeletal frameworks of scaffolding impaled the horizon.

    She knew they’d be up there. In the heavens, they’d be judging her. A construction site is no place for someone like her.

    She was still convalescing, but need outweighed pain.

    With every tentative step, she visualised the seeping, felt the rawness of fresh scars, the future sting of antiseptic, the lines of scalpel that created her.

    Sure enough, they walked the suspended boards of cement-flecked timber from where the builders hung over the edge of the steel bones like handsome angels with hate in their heart.

    They called her unimaginable names. They bared their skin.

    She walked tall. She walked to her office where until recently she was still incomplete, still man.

    For today was the best day. Today, at last, she was herself.

      • Thank you. You’re doing an amazing job with your writing and brilliant support for others – I just wanted to acknowledge that while I had the chance.

      • Awww thank you, that’s so sweet. 🙂
        For a long time I felt that other writer were strictly the competition, not to be admired unless they had already made it big but thankfully, some kinder writers have shown me how rewarding it can be to rejoice with others’ work. It help that everyone here is so dang good too. 😉

    • This is truly a poignant slice of the life for someone on the other side of transition, and in particular the social changes that come with being female. Vivid, haunting, and beautiful.

    • How did you do this? I love how you incorporated the angel prompt into the male dominated world of a building site – ‘she knew they’d be up there’ and ‘over the edge…like handsome angels’. The paragraph about the surgical scars is amazing too. The emotional pain screams through the whole of the piece. Accomplished writing. Well done.

    • “Spat from the heavens,” “incendiary morning sky.” So much vivid description. So much pain, but such an uplifting final line. This is really touching.

  8. bex_spence
    155 words


    ‘They’re here again’ Michael whispered in his smooth choral voice.


    ‘The children’

    Joan stared out of her canvas prison into the world beyond. Hundreds of eyes stared back at her, watching, judging. At least once a week the children came and stared. She wished they would go away, leave her alone, leave her to rest.

    The children, a jury of their own making, pointing wildly, screeching carelessly, disinterested in her cause, passionate about the pain. A tear rolled down her face.

    ‘Can’t you make them leave?’

    ‘Are you sure?’

    ‘Yes, just don’t hurt them this time?’

    Michael slowly nodded. The smile faded on his face.

    He reached to embrace her, the corner of the canvas curled, as the flames licked through the paint.

    ‘Time to say goodbye’

    Joan looked into Michael’s eyes as the flames consumed her, consumed them.

    ‘Thank you. ‘

    Flames filled the gilded frame. She was gone, set free at last.

  9. @Making_Fiction

    160 words

    Angel of Death


    She walks wards of clinical hinterland and navigates paths of life and death.

    Her uniform is always clean, crisp and blindingly white. She looks like the model professional and her smile is that of cherubim.

    She gleams brightly at the visitors.

    But they infest the hospital. They are like parasites around their sick. They only care for themselves.

    Inheritance due, perhaps? The pretence of care driven by the soothing of their personal guilt?

    She knows they’d rather be at home watching the game, swigging the poison of alcohol or wallowing in debauchery.

    She knows not if the people she puts to sleep are going to heaven or hell. She doesn’t care. She cannot see angels or demons hovering over the beds of the sick in their land of eternal greyness and hope devoid.

    At her side, the needles and cotton-wool. She is doing them a favour and releasing hospital resources for those that might benefit. She is an angel.


  10. Foul Justice

    Rain fell, like the heavens weeping for one of their own. Where drops hit the pyre they hissed, vocalizing opprobrium for this act of barbarity. Flames licked hungrily upwards, imploring the sky to accept the smoke that poured upwards with the screams of the innocent.
    Finally it ended. The crowd moved off, shrouded in guilt that weighed heavier than their rain-sodden cloaks.
    In darkness the still smoldering pyre shifted. A skeletal hand pushed up, shifting ash and charred wooden faggots. The naked skull lifted, twisting this way and that as it scanned the courtyard with eyeless sight.
    Extricating itself from the remaining chains it stalked towards the gate. The guard never expected to be attacked from behind, by a skeleton. With his life he also surrendered his sword, and a cape.
    Armed and cloaked the undead warrior set out; the memory of a heart burning with desire for vengeance.

    150 words


    Brian S Creek
    151 words

    I have been watching her for a while now ever since her beautiful voice drew me down from my seat in heaven.

    My cloud floats down, closer and closer. I see how soft and delicate her skin is. My chest begins to tingle. I want to reach out and touch her.

    But there are rules. Ever since the Immaculate Conception we angels have been forbidden from associating with humans. It is too dangerous.

    Yet the closer I get to her the more the yearning washes over me. I want to take her in my arms and become one. I want to breathe her in.

    Still singing, she starts playing with her hair. I lean forward to smell her fragrance. I reach out my arm, my hand, my finger. So close.

    Someone is watching me. My master.

    I spread my wings and take flight. The urges leaves me as I leave her.

  12. “The Saving Breath”
    by Michael Seese
    145 words

    Gas hissed from the valve under the unmistakable sign: FLAMMABLE. Sydney struck another match, only to watch it go out.

    “Damn it! Why won’t any of you light?”

    Alone, more alone than ever, she tried again. And again. Luck still would not even blow a kiss her way.

    She fell back, crying. So much had gone wrong lately, beginning with that night. She had ignored her parents and the weather alert, and decided to drive to Cameron’s. She always drove carefully, more so in the snow. She remembered missing the curve just in front of his house… The pond… Her car sinking… Gasping for air… Cameron’s arms around her… His heroic push…

    Then watching him slip beneath the ice.

    “I miss you, Cameron. I miss you so much.”

    “I miss you too, Syd. But it’s not your time,” he whispered, blowing out yet another match.

  13. Descent

    The angel sculpted a woman, and she was perfect. Each curve just right, each line true, not a strand of hair out of place, not a smudge or blemish upon her skin, no cracks or sags, all balanced and correct. Eyes the blue of the blessed sky. He named her Joan.

    He visited her, fifteen years after the wombprint. It was all gone. The hair dank like straw, fingers scarred, bulges of overflesh across her hips, her breasts, her legs. The Earth and its incessant drag, its poisoned waters, had ruined her. It ruined them all.

    He screamed, thrashed at the skies with his wings, struck his sword through the shadows of her mind. The Earth failed its last chance. She would never amount to anything, none of them would. He ascended, drained, the blue-green globe at his back.

    Joan slept off her headache. She woke the next day to the warmth of the sun.

    156 words

    • I like the contrast between the greater idea of perfection and the ruination of all on Earth with the sheer everyday tone of your last line – Joan so completely unaware of her failure, just another day. (Although you could read this as generally God gives mankind a headache but if he leaves us alone we’re fine 🙂 )

    • Love it. The imagery here is fantastic, and the angel’s angst comes through so strongly. I think my favorite bit is that last line, illustrating Joan’s simple, human experience of beauty in contrast to the angel’s struggle for perfection.

    • Thanks everyone for your kind comments. For me, Joan is the hero, but not through any God-given blessing, just from being her own perfectly flawed human being in a perfectly flawed world. Also: isnt fantasy such a great genre when you can throw in a word like wombprint and get away with it? haha

  14. A Lesson from History

    We called her Bad off because she smelled of charity and her pillar-box tank top was held at knifepoint by her shoulders.

    Prescribed seating and out-of-touch teaching made her my history partner. We held hands under the table while dates and places shunned us and found shelter in keener ears. Back in dark corridors I called her Bad off because I wanted no one to know. I thought she wore plate against the names, till teacher spoke of the fire: all taken. She left a note in my locker: when you call me those names you make me do bad things.

    I walked around all day with the note in my pocket. I took it out in history class and read it again. The writing was neat and measured but the paper smelled of cigarettes and chip-grease. I screwed it up and left it on the empty seat beside me.

    150 words

  15. Heavenly words
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    154 words

    ‘Susan, Susan, do you not hear the fanfare pronouncing my love for you?’

    ‘Oh you, you’re all fanfares and beating wings. My mother warned me about angels like you. You only come down to earth for a bit of hanky-panky. Then it’s off back to heaven and I’ll never see you again.

    ‘Oh Susan, you wound me deeply. See my feathers moult at the harshness of you words. My clouds turn to rain. If I cannot melt your heart then I shall pierce mine with this sword.’

    ‘And I’ve heard that one before, the old stabbing through the heart trick. You’re immortal. No, you get a girl to go all faint and sympathetic, then its wham bam thank you mam, a brief moment of ethereal ecstasy and I’m left holding the baby, literally.’

    ‘Susan, Susan, my love. Is there nothing that will convince you?’

    ‘Well a nice pair of stout shoes wouldn’t go amiss.’

  16. Guardianship
    Michael Simko (@michaelsimko1)
    160 Words

    My lady coils at his appearance, and averts her gaze.

    I reach my index finger to the third vertebrae below her neck. Summoning my power, I invoke cold.

    My lady shudders and looks back at Earl. On either side of her face I create warmth. Her body responds with a blush. I summon the scent of rosemary in front of her nose, and on her hair, so this sensation may linger.

    Earl isn’t her type, or anyone’s type. He’s pale, awkward, and has bad posture. He’s the one for my lady to love.

    It’s been a month since I started creating physical sensations when my lady sees him. My powers only work by adjusting the factors that humans interpret as love.

    She approaches Earl and takes his hand.

    I feel a little pity for my lady. But, as a true believer Earl has me, his own guardian angel. My lady should be more pious, so an angel would protect her.

  17. Gone

    I can’t do this any more. I just can’t.

    You can. You are strong, the strongest girl I ever met, remember?

    It’s too hard.

    I’m here though. Right with you. Like I said I would be.
    I unpeel my ear and cheek from the door, because they got kinda stuck to it when I was listening in.

    “Who you talking to mommy?”

    I look in the wardrobe, then under bed.

    “No-one, Anna.” She’s crying. Again. “Mommy was just talking to herself.”

    I check behind the curtains too. Just in case.

    “C’mon sweetpea, let’s get you to school.”

    I take mommy’s hand and wish really hard for a smile to go through my fingertips to hers.
    He watches his girls leave the room. He sees Anna glance back, over her shoulder, and shake her head. Then, they are gone.
    As the bright morning sunshine slices in through the window, an angel weeps.

    152 words
    @lilwhitefeathrs (formerly @dragonsflypoppy)

  18. Attempt #1914JM

    “They know you don’t belong here,” warns the whisper in my ear.
    “I’m doing my best,” I say out loud, clenching my sweating hands.
    Faces from paintings turn to look at me.
    I can smell smoke in the distance. I sense a moment on the precipice.
    “It has been advised that you return to us,” the whisper repeats for the third time today.
    “Not yet!”
    More faces turn to look, words whispered behind hands.
    “Please return to the point of origin. You are going to be killed.”
    I want to claw the implant out of my head, cease these words cutting through a thousand years to pierce my thoughts and my resolve.
    I can do it. I can witness history, understand first hand the waves and currents that shaped the world I know.
    “No. I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”
    And I keep walking through the crowd.

    151 words

  19. Joan sat on the rocks, watching the men who followed her prepare for another battle. By God’s will they would convert the unbelievers, or remove them from God’s Earth. This was her destiny, as spoken to her by the Archangel Michael.

    Pride’s eyes gleamed. Joan was such a treasure. The way she believed his disguise, the words he whispered in her ear, the tasks he asked her to perform. “Your way is the only way, the way of God the Father,” he whispered the words once more. “Our Father in heaven, may your will be done.”

    Joan’s eyes glazed as she thought, “God picked me to lead this fight.” Her right hand formed a fist before her chest. “I shall rid the world of unbelievers.” Her gaze swept over her followers, “No matter the cost.”

    Pride laughed mightily, knowing the body count would rise so long as Joan survived, and performed the so-called will of God.

    157 Words

  20. Title: Contemplation

    There are both angels and devils among us. They whisper in our ears and light fires in our souls. At every choice, dilemma, and decision the opinions of these other beings weigh in on the human mind. But humans are not puppets – they still choose a course of action. The ultimate choice to follow the persuasion of angels or devils depends on the individual. Some individuals are inclined to be more influenced by angels; others, by devils. These people live their lives with clear instructions in their ears and burning passion in their souls.

    Then there are people divided down the middle. People like me are not swayed one way or another, but rationalize the options. We stare off not at the world, but through the world, in limbo of contemplation. The curse of hearing both the angels and devils and agreeing or disagreeing with both sides equally leads to a life of inaction. So we sit. And we stare.

  21. Title: Battle Ready
    Word Count: 158
    Twitter: @serotoninjunkie

    “Don’t look back.”

    She holds the tattered broom in her hand and focuses her wide eyes on the open field ahead.

    The trumpet blares, sound erupting like lava spewing from an angry volcano. Still, her eyes stay focused away.

    The angel’s presence, once calming, fans the flames of her fear. Though she doesn’t turn, the cacophony of battle reaches her ears. It has begun.

    She stands, the broom falling to the ground as her decision is made. The sound of its wooden handle hitting the rock below lost to the sounds of metal crashing into bone behind her.

    Fluidly, she reaches up and takes the shining sword from the angel’s hand. Its heavy weight and deadly cold steel feels comforting to her clammy hands.

    She slashes the air once. Twice. The blade shimmers in the red dawn light. She turns, battle-ready and unafraid.

    She steps forward, closer to the fray.

    “Don’t look back.”

    She knows she never will.

  22. Angel of War
    159 words

    “Are you sure about this?” Jason had worn a toga exactly once before and that night was why he no longer spoke to Jack Daniels.

    “Of course it is,” Isabel said. She picked up her broom and tested its weight, as though it was a mighty spear.

    “I’m not a good actor,” Jason said.

    “You don’t have to act, just sing. You’ve got the voice of an – ”


    “ – angel.” She grinned and passed him the plastic halo. “Besides, Judy bailed at the last minute and you’re my only option.”

    “That’s flattering.”

    “Jason. In a moment, you’ll be airborne, bestowing upon the maiden tidings of battle and glory.”

    “I’m pretty sure I’ll still be the idiot in the toga.”

    “Don’t worry. You’ve got great knees.”

    Isabel smiled the smile that had got Jason to agree all this. There was no point in trying to resist; he took up the prop sword and became the angel of war.

  23. BAIT

    Brian S Creek
    150 words

    I have never hidden from my wife what it is that I do. The day that I enlightened her I expected that she would be repulsed and flee. To my surprise she understood.

    From then on, understanding was all I ever asked from her. She never judged my methods or my goal. She never asked me to step from my path. On the contrary she surprised me further.

    She sits now as bait, in the centre of the clearing. As instructed her mind bellows forth thoughts to lure my prey.

    As the Angel approaches my wife, my one true love continues to remain still. She cannot reveal her true intentions or risk the creature’s fury.

    The sight of my Damned Rifle stares at the creature’s chest. I wonder how many more Angles I must exterminate before He intervenes.

    He will grant me an audience. He will answer for his crimes.

  24. Elisa @AverageAdvocate
    Word Count: 157
    On Her Own Two Feet

    The stone might be dusting her toes, but Joan can stand on her own through a little dirt.

    What I’m concerned about it whether she war away the sticks and stones. Can she fight off heartbreak? A friend’s betrayal? Cruel laughter or an enemy disguised as her boyfriend?

    She was always a tender reed, an unlit wick in my arms. I’d wonder how one so thirsty–needy–could be one so strong. She used to giggle adorably when I’d use our lamb skin to hide my face. Even then, with a chubby grasp on the leather, she wasn’t scared when her protector was out of sight.

    Pigtails and arrows, swimming holes and swords; braver than I, but I’d hold her to comfort while enveloped in the dark.

    Despite the plague, despite the wars, she was her own but she was everyone’s–especially mine.

    Then one day, my fragile girl flew away.

    Joan handle the world, I’m just not sure I can.

  25. Predetermined
    154 words

    Wings aflame, they come with some new proclamation.
    They’ve given up with whispering and subtlety, there’s nothing mysterious about their ways.
    All the noise and fury of heaven is at their command and directed at me.
    I do not listen.
    I will not listen.
    I cannot listen.
    It’s all about choice, about free will but their message is relentless. How many times must one dismiss the creator before being left alone?
    I’d speak with Mary but she never comes. She’d understand what it means to hold a life in your belly, to forge it in the furnace of your heart. She’d know what it means to love the child and not the man he will become, to only love the child.
    I catch their words on the wind:
    “…and he shall be known as the Prince of Pestilence, the juvenile pariah of nations.”
    I do not listen.
    He’ll have me.
    He’ll have his father.

  26. Josh Bertetta
    “A Walk at Night”
    151 Words



    “Stinks.” `




  27. A Devil in the Head
    159 words

    Agatha ignored the sensation of beetles crawling up her neck, the urge to yawn, the hammering behind her eyes.

    The witch-hunter, hired by her aunt, brandished his bodkin. “Shed your earthly garments!”

    Agatha disrobed, terrified.

    He stabbed her chest, belly, thighs, never penetrating the migraine’s throb.

    Why did her own family trust this stranger’s word above hers?

    “Witch!” Spittle flew into Agatha’s face. “See her teat that does not bleed!” The hunter pointed at a mole.

    Her aunt gasped. Agatha knew he’d flipped his bodkin surreptitiously, pressing only the blunt end there so she would not bleed.

    Rage overwhelmed pain. Her migraine exploded; she called her familiars.

    An angel removed the witch-hunter’s head with one swoop of a fell sword. A knight blared a weirding trumpet, stealing the memories of onlookers.

    Agatha dressed as her guardians and the witch-hunter faded away.

    “You had the headache—” her aunt said blearily.

    “It’s gone,” Agatha replied. “No need for the doctor.”

  28. Wireless Echoes

    We were birthed from machines. Armed with digital missives and vacant bones, we found one another behind a blinking cursor and gigabytes of ache. No skin. No voice. We yearned and soothed with prose typed from plastic keys.

    Faith wasn’t only her name. She believed in soul mates and the fairy tale of true romance. She worshipped at the altar of sonnets and serendipity. Men had derailed those notions repeatedly.

    Her poetry spoke of loss. Of fading heartbeats, like a wisp of crimson smoke dissolving in the night air. Her messages, her electrified ink, told stories of fractured encounters.

    She lounged on my synthetic lap. I asked for her sorrow and a purging of the loneliness. Her analog heart spilled throbbing blood across my screen. I cleansed it with a sympathetic text.

    I was the therapist. She was the savior. Her melancholy ruminations suffocated my own pain. Faith reached through the machine like a replicated angel and healed me.

    159 words

  29. Unwanted Guest
    158 Words

    “Cut! Cut! Cut!,” shouted Escobar for the twelfth time today. “Why can’t you three do what is demanded of you?! Devin, you’re facing the wrong way, AGAIN. And Steven, you’re in the middle of telling Sarah she’s not welcome in heaven. This is not a happy message. Stop whispering. You should be shouting! And your holding your sword like it’s an afterthought. Point it at Sarah. And where the hell is Josephine?”

    “Right here, sir,” the costumer director squeaked, mouse-like, from the corner.

    “Where are her shoes?”

    “Her shoes, sir?”

    “Yes. The poor girl’s got no shoes.”

    “Well, yes, because we decided she was poor. Poor people don’t have shoes.”

    “Bare feet brings on a sense of innocence. Shoes, though… shoes are a gateway to evil. Only with shoes can you effectively run from Justice, kick a man when he’s down, or scuff fancy floors. Get her some shoes!”

    “Yes sir!”

    “Let’s do it again, from the top!”

  30. Josh Bertetta
    The Paradox of Obedience
    160 Words

    “What the hell happened to you?”

    “Fuck if I know. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”

    “So what are you going to?”

    “Well he gave me freedom to roam, do whatever I please.”

    “Well that doesn’t sound too bad.”

    “Yeah, I guess.” He sighed.

    “Why do you keep whispering?”

    “Because he said I can only whisper from now on.”

    “Whisper? That sounds kind of weird. So really, what happened?”

    “It’s kind of fucked up. I mean there I was obedient as I have always been, worshipping him as only he can be worshipped. Then he goes and creates this dude, names him Adam, and tells all of us to bow down to this, what he called, ‘human.’ I wouldn’t because I only bow down to him. He says I was being disobedient. And there I am thinking he was testing us. Everyone did it but me. I was proud of myself. Then he says, ‘Get out Shaitan!’”

  31. Seeing
    (153 words)
    We assemble the chairs into a circle, when the doc arrives. He tries to wear casual clothes, but they’re unsuited to him.
    ‘Guys’- his informal, generic address for those who’ve dispensed with rank or whose rank dispensed with them – rolls around his mouth like an oversized gobstopper.
    Liam – divorced, allowed only supervised visits with his kids – is always desperate to speak. He’s nervy, rattles like a pill bottle. I can’t look at him for long, his fidgeting fingers make me want to find an itch to scratch.
    Steve sits opposite me, splay-legged, muscle-bound. He’s steady. Still. I let my eyes hold on to him for now. But he’ll cry ten minutes in.

    The doc thinks I’m not paying attention.
    ‘You taking your meds?’
    ‘No,’ I say as I continue to avoid the dead gaze of the boy soldier for whom our circle forms a halo.

  32. Foy
    word count: 156

    #JeSuisJehanne, #JeSuisCharlie

    Her pulse is thick.
    There, her cross awaits eager to embrace her despite arms broken for kindling at its feet.

    His wrist tilts.
    It’s time and he sits at the head of the oaken slab, heart pumping coolly.

    Knots rub her flesh, tenderizing her for the flame’s feast.
    The Fierbois blade would devastate these bonds but its hilt is far from grasp.

    Scritch. Scratch.
    His pen pulls proposals into the third dimension, an armament as unassuming as they are.

    Manic roars cut her ears.
    She who violated their masculinity must burn for her rebellious cause.

    Normalcy’s thrum shatters in screams.
    Free expression -raping the image of the prophet- is the impetus for blood now spilling.

    An armored hand lights the pyre.
    Faith cannot hold the floodgate and epinephrine surges through her bloodstream.

    He’s staring into the dark eye,
    Cortisol driving his body into a hyperglycemic state seconds before the firing pin is struck.

    Two candles extinguishing.

  33. Ignoring The Call
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    156 words

    “Hark, go ye east! There ye shall find a man of the name Bob, and embark upon a dinner date, and later possibly some smooching…”

    Joan took in the bizarrely dressed – but admittedly foxy – fellow hanging over her shoulders. He wore a gaudy green sheet with ludicrously large wings attached to it, and held a sword – a sword, for Pete’s sake.

    This was the strangest circus she’d ever seen. Dudes cosplaying as trumpet-blowing knights. Angel wannabes suggesting hook-ups. Where were the acrobats? The clowns?

    “I haven’t even finished my cotton candy!”

    “This is thy last chance. Thy eHarmony membership doth expired yesterday,” whispered the flying Adonis.

    “Does he look anything like you?”

    “Doth anyone in real life?”

    Joan sighed, her shoulders slumping.

    “No thanks,” she said. “I don’t wanna miss something important.”

    The angel rolled his eyes.

    “Like thy soul mate?” he muttered as he flew off. “And women say men never listen.”

  34. An Awakening (160 words)

    It was as if Sylvia could see the battle hymn coming over the hills like silky fog before she heard it. Maybe it was just in her head, but her blood seemed to dance at the edge of her skin.

    The rhythmic cadence from the distant drummer caused her to walk a bit faster, to stand a bit taller and to grip her hand a bit tighter on her axe.

    She wasn’t supposed to be here. Nobody knew she was, but the battle hymn had drawn her from the village. Drawn her to the axe.

    That battle hymn represented the coming of death; the death of her father and brother, the last time they came around. Death’s arrival ought not sound so beautiful.

    Sylvia had only ever used the axe on a stubborn block of wood, but she still remembered how powerful the swing had felt.

    Human flesh was not like wood, but naturally it would be just as stubborn.

  35. The Summoner
    A.J. Walker

    Horns reverberated through the valleys and the forests with the noise from horses and cannons, swords and bows; Death would be busy here today.

    Joan sat on the limestone outcrop overlooking the battles, feverish shivers ran through the young woman in waves as her visions became solid. She’d foretold this day, when what seemed hopeless and lost would be overturned.

    The voices told her to be strong, that her words would bring victory to her people and that peace would follow. She would be the summoner. Michael spoke confidently yet conflicted; she must take control. Risks were high, but to do nothing would bring only defeat.

    She found her voice and the words from nowhere flowed, words she had never heard and yet knew the meaning. Over and over; a chant.

    People knelt beside her afraid of this witchcraft. The chant louder as her voices left her. The noise of war paused as the summoner’s words brought forth the dragon.

    160 words

  36. Sir William
    (158 words)

    Sir William stumbled and nearly fell as he sidestepped the battle axe closing in on his head. Seizing the moment when the marauder overreached and was off balance, Sir William ran his opponent through to the crossguard. Pulling his sword from the belly of the marauder, Sir William whirled and met another incoming blow. Using the pommel of his sword, Sir William smashed the marauders face relentlessly.

    All around him the world raged as mercy was forgotten,

    Steel sang as it bit though armour and into flesh. Men screamed as steel severed limb and life. Compassion and humanity were lost to the violence of the frenzy.

    Picking up the bloodied banner Sir Gerrard once held in his now lifeless hand, Sir William urged the knights on. Stepping over the dead, Sir William and the remaining knights purged the village they had sworn to defend of the last marauders.

    In deathly silence, Margaret sat and waited for her angel.

    • An alternate last line. new word count 160.

      “Sitting on the stone wall, Margaret sat and waited for Sir Gerrard.”

      • AARGH, it must be Friday, sorry it’s been a long week. The last line shoud be:

        “Sitting on the stone wall, Margaret waited for Sir Gerrard.”

        Disregard my previous reply. Th new word count should be 158.

        Thanks, Reg

    • Such a visual scene; you do a great job of pulling your reader in to feel the screams and the harsh breaths. I enjoyed your edited endings, but I actually liked the first one the best, because the deathly silence contrasts so, so vividly with the clamor of the entire beginning. Excellently done.

      • Thank you Tamara, after leaving it for a while and coming back to it, I like the first one too. I was was trying to imply that Sir Gerrard was the angel in the picture and that he would still be charged with protecting the villagers even after death.

        Perhaps a better ending would have been: “In deathly silence, Margaret sat and waited for Sir Gerrard.”

        Thanks again. I really appreciated your feedback.


      • I cleaned it up a bit, hopefully the deadline hasn’t passed, lol. (it;s been

        Sir William stumbled and nearly fell as he sidestepped the battle axe closing in on his helm. When the marauder overreached and became unbalanced, Sir William seized the advantage and buried his sword to the crossguard. Wrenching his sword from the marauder’s bowels, Sir William whirled and met another incoming blow. Using the pommel of his sword, Sir William smashed the marauder’s face with relentless fury.

        Around him the world raged as mercy was forgotten. Steel sang as it bit though armor and into flesh. Men screamed as steel severed limb and life. Compassion and humanity were lost to the violence of the frenzy.

        Picking up the bloodied banner Sir Gerrard once held in his now lifeless hand, Sir William urged the knights on. Stepping over the dead, Sir William and the remaining knights purged the village they had sworn to defend of the last marauders.

        In deathly silence, Margaret sat and waited for Sir Gerrard

        156 words.

  37. Unraveled

    Morning came, predictably, as an encasement to this weary life. The moon was trapped within another daybreak, visible to the naked eye, and I found a gnawing within myself. Here tethered to this earth, a shroud of invisible shackles bound me, and the moon was almost mocking in its own misery.

    Silence is loudest with the absence of chatter, but the mind won’t stand for quietude. The mind wants chaos to fester, to tug you deep into the gallows of your own past. Where the innocent girl pleas with passionate stars, but none are brave enough to answer.

    My hands were wrought and worn from unsuccessful clawing at the cloaked beast within, a most skilled and dangerous foe. Soma and psyche raged war as the sun rose and set, but the mocking moon wasn’t as predictable. It whispered sacred oaths, and I knew time was coming to a close.

    I’d worn my heart thin, and scarlet cuffs bore my shame.

    160 words

      • Thanks so much, Tamara! It’s always nice to know what someone thinks when we pour our words out on a screen. Thank you for always reading and taking the time to comment.

      • This is the best comment one could read. We always hope to make a reader feel something as a writer. Thank you!

    • Strong imagery ‘scarlet cuffs bore my shame’. Do I detect a touch of the werewolf here is that just me going to my darker place? Lovely work.

      • Haha. Not a werewolf this go around. The slow unraveling of a woman’s mind. Though, that’s the beauty we all read different stories from the same books. Thank you for the lovely comment!

    • Blew me away. Your story throbbed with ache and it rattled my soul. A profound tale written with the elegant hand of a master storyteller.

      “Silence is loudest with the absence of chatter.”
      “Where the innocent girl pleas with passionate stars, but none are brave enough to answer.”
      “Scarlett cuffs bore my shame.”

      Bravo! And if you have a spare tissue, I need to dab my eyes.

      • Your comments always inspire me to write better. Thank you for the continued encouragement and kind words!

  38. Re-Annuciation
    (160 words)

    Gabriel had a problem.

    In the last 48 hours he’d had a half-eaten cheeseburger thrown at him, a Rottweiler sicced on him, a straight razor wielded at him, and three police reports filed against him.

    The solstice deadline buzzed about his skull, and he muted it by chain drinking Amaretto sours in the only bar still open after two. He’d come with three potentials—presuming he was being cautious for having backups. Now, he had no one. The first time had been so much easier.


    The gent’s soulful expression (and divine cut of his posh overcoat) marked him as client material.

    “You look like you could use a little company,” Marianne purred, sliding into the booth. Vinyl creaked under her garters.

    When she introduced herself, the gent stared at her with cerulean eyes. He leaned across scored varnish. “May I ask something… unusual?”

    The earnestness in his angelic voice made her giggle. “With eyes like those, honey, I’ll do anything.”


  39. Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
    @CliveNewnham – 160 words

    Black smoke roils switching off the stars while the surrounding buildings glower, blindly watching our sightless subservience. Another truck arrives to penetrate the fence of government guards, uniformed and helmeted in black, that protect. The truck tips its content over the asphalt.

    Faces – a cast of orange shades – fall upon the dumped books and paintings, gathering them to carry to the raging source of light.

    I lift a painting and recognise it. “Pierre!” I hiss. “This, it is a master.” He ignores my remark gathering armfuls of books, but I persist, “It is Jeanne, just before her death.”

    “Don’t speak,” Pierre warns just beneath hearing. “Nobody dares hear you.”

    “They say she was a witch.”

    “There is no such thing.” With his hoard, Pierre waddles toward the fire and I follow.

    Returning for more, I am separated from the others by two guards, taken out through the fence. The fires burn, the light dims – no such thing.

  40. Teenage Kicks
    160 words

    Open this door right now, young lady! You have overstepped the mark this time and no mistake! I know what you’ve been up to. Madame next door told me she saw you sneaking out in boys’ clothes. Now, when you’re becoming a woman, it is difficult. I appreciate that, I’ve been there. But dressing as a boy is not the answer. I don’t know where you get it from.

    And as for going down to the garrison – you’re making a laughing-stock of yourself, my girl! Your poor father’s name will be mud if you carry on like this, and if he’s stood down from the watch – well, I don’t know how we’ll manage.

    You need to start thinking about other people. What God – and I – appreciate is some good hard wool-spinning, not you passing on breaking news from the saints. Why on earth would they talk to you?

    There’s no use sulking!



    Jacques, she’s gone again…

  41. Fate’s Choice

    She watched the battle play out in her mind’s eye; a reflection of the true events outside the dwelling she shared with her sisters. They, too, were busy weaving a myriad of similar threads into the tapestry. Already the threads of the future were gathering; the seemingly inevitable outcome of the battle and its aftermath. Her tears burned, streamed, dripped with every thread she severed. With every soldier that fell. She spotted him through the swirling veil of past-present-future. The one she had saved at birth by not cutting the thread. The one she had grown to love. This was to be his last battle; she saw it in her sisters’ eyes. She took his thread, and paused.

    “There has been enough death today.”

    The dark, uncut thread glimmered gold and spread, changing the pattern even as they worked it, flooding it with light. And, for the first time, she saw the beauty of mercy in her work.

    Words: 158 http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com @CarinMarais

  42. “Thou Shalt Not Kill”

    The angel smiled. “You’re not going to get into Heaven like this.”

    “What am I supposed to do now? Will God free me from this post? Make my flesh impervious to fire?”

    “That’s not how He works. He helps those who help themselves.”

    “But I did everything I was asked to do. So many lives, so much pain. I was promised martyrdom.” I paused, not to fight back tears, for I had long ago lost the ability to cry. “I was promised peace.”

    “Yes you were, but by whom? Not by Him, who has the power to grant such things.”

    “You promised me.”

    “Yes, I did.” He laughed. “Wisdom comes to us all, doesn’t it, even if it takes until our funeral pyre? Maybe you’re not quite as dumb as I thought.”

    The torches came for me now, and the bonfire came alive. The last thing I smelled on this earth was brimstone, and He made sure I burned forever.

    160 words

  43. Ring Of Fire
    143 words

    They had asked for a simple flyer to promote their show.

    But their printer Eugene was an artist at heart, as all French are. He set out to create a poster that spoke not of a mere circus, but rather heralded a mystical, dream-inspiring, soul-thrilling experience.

    Obviously therefore the picture could not include clowns.

    Instead he showed Claude, the stick-swallower, helmet firmly in place to prevent the stick coming out through the back of his head. He showed Etienne, the trapeze-artist, his expression captured, as was his heart, in aching yearning for the star of the show.

    This was Joan, a fire-eater of such skill that arc-welding is named after her to this day. She was pictured in all her smouldering beauty, proudly holding her oil-soaked torches.

    And with her right fist pressed to her chest to try to ease her permanent heartburn.

  44. @stellakateT
    148 words


    He was a real pain in the neck, forever whispering in my ear whenever I had lurid thoughts. Well not exactly lurid but things that I would have to confess to Monsignor McDougal. I would die before I could say the things that I thought. I love running barefoot through the fields, I love the sun on my face, I want to lead men into battle for God and my country. I know the last one is really scary, enough for the men in white coats to arrive and cart me off to the nearest institution.

    Ever since I read about Joan of Arc I’ve had these thoughts, I joined the Army to stem these feelings. I’m one of the boys now I drive a tank and drink beer. I swear like a trooper. The voice in my head is always him. It’s God I know it is.

  45. Title: Hold that Pose
    words: 157

    “How much longer do we gotta hold these poses? This harness has given me a wedgie the size of the Grand Canyon.”

    “Shut up, John, no one wants to hear where your underwear is going! At least you ain’t in heavy armor that covers your entire body up to your face! I’m roasting in here. It’s like this fire on the backdrop is literally cooking me.”

    “Will both of you quit your whining? I’ve had to put drops in my eyes seven times to keep them this wide.”

    “Yea Katie, sitting down for twelve hour portraiture is hard. At least Alex and I are actually posing for this painting.”

    “Lay off her, John, Katie didn’t know they only wanted her here for her bug eyes! Haha!”

    “You guys are so mean!”

    “Alex is only saying that because he likes you.”

    “John you rat! I’m gonna kill you!”


    “Can’t punch me, Alex! You’re gonna ruin the painting.”

  46. Heavenly Desire
    156 words

    “You know what I ask,” Michael whispers seductively in my ear, his hot breath tickling its way down the back of my neck. “You know you want to.”

    His velvety, angelic voice sends a frisson down my spine. His soft-spoken request is the brush of downy wings tickling every hair on my body to stand erect, rigid, eager to give in to the raging desire pulsing through my soul. I can feel the desire…the want…slide down the length of my body to pool in my chest.

    The sibilant hiss of my pulse pounding in my ears chants “Yess, yesssss, yessssss,” in time with my wildly beating heart as this ache of desire threatens to consume me in the heat of its crescendo.

    The Archangel requests I give my life for King, for God, for the greater good as the wailing trumpets herald in a new day of flame and retribution.

    Today, I die for my country.

    • Hmm, I think someone’s impersonating Michael–and the hiss of pulse along with the steamy seduction gives me a hint as to which angel it might be. Well done.

      • Is “Yes, Yesss, Yesssss” one of the overused phrases? 😉 Lol! Whew, let me get my pulse back down to normal and tell you that I thought you did an exquisite job with this. I especially like the last two paragraphs and how they skew the expectation just enough to grab the reader’s attention (ahem, should the reader’s attention be at all wandering at that point) with a sort of gripping stare that says, “Hey, THIS is what I meant.” Loved this. 🙂

    • Wow. Steamy! I’ve always thought that religious ecstasy could have an almost erotic quality to it, with its intensity, its passion. Love this take on the prompt.

  47. Talking with Angels
    A.J. Walker

    Adelina had ticks and talked to herself. She was usually easily avoided, today though I missed her approaching from behind
    “Do the angels talk to you?” She said.
    I did not answer, but she knew.
    “They always talk to me.” Adelina said.
    “All the time?” I said. “Are they with us now?”
    Adelina nodded. “They are here. My angels are always near. You have an angel too. She’s good for you.”
    I have never heard an angel.
    “Have you ever really listened?” Said Adelina, as if reading my thoughts. “She is here now and she says ‘listen’
    She would.
    “That’s good.” I said, trying to formulate an escape. Hoping my phone would ring.
    “We are at war, you know?” Adelina said. “And yet you do not fight.”
    I shrugged, wondering which war she was referring to.
    “Our angels say we should pray together Jean.”
    “You know my name?”
    “Of course, your angel told me.”

    (160 words)


  48. Title: Kicking up dust
    Word Count: 155

    Yesterday, I ate an angel.
    All dusted pink and golden-hearted caramel.
    Spear; sugar-spun and cut gums.
    Wings; truffle and split cheeks.
    Face; fondant and sneering.
    Cut back and my heels are kicking up dust. Dust that glitters in the early morning sun like tears at midnight.
    The day goes; drugs store, grocers, stares, smirks.
    And then it’s dark and you don’t see the dust no more but instead the lights and the crowds and the bars.
    And all the faces are full of shiny and happy and pills.
    And they’re shiny and happy but it’s all arm’s length, behind a screen. Because I should be drinking and leering and ripping the tights off not putting them on.
    And their shiny and happy smashes the screen and their angel faces smile behind candy-coated fists.
    And today, grit sticks to my lips, bones cut my flesh.
    Today, my heels are broken.
    Today, the angels taste of dust.

  49. For Today
    146 words

    She is beautiful, even in her grief.

    They blew horns of hatred, loud trumpet blasts filled with anger at her faithlessness.

    They whispered, whispered around her head, sibilant, spiteful hisses. They called her a witch, a jezebel, a whore.

    They could not break her soul, could not break her spirit, so in rage they broke her heart.

    They took her children.

    Now she clutches her breast, trying to ease the dreadful ache, trying to understand, trying to see how God’s will has been served by her suffering.

    She weeps, though she will not let them see. She mourns, and her friends mourn with her. A part of her has died, but she has not died. When the flames of their stake have faded to cold grey ash she will still live, a light for a dark and broken world.

    She is beautiful, even in her grief.

  50. All Honour and Faith

    Faith kneels in the grooves created by Honour’s greater weight, holding vigil; counting to tomorrow, palms pressed together. “Ready, sweetheart?” her mum asks, mouth stretched into smiling; brows drawn together. “It’s your turn for testing, now.”

    “You know what to do?” her father queries. Faith nods; solemn.

    “Happy birthday, honey,” her mum adds, lips trembling.

    “Time to go,” Father says, glancing towards her mother, hand caressing her shoulder. “We mustn’t be late.” They walk together, side by side, to where the Host are waiting in the square, readily assembled. Already, smoke wings skyward; pitch mingling with light.

    Faith watches the flickering; feeling the heat warm her skin where she stands. “It won’t hurt? During?” she asks, looking from one to the other.

    After a pause, her father says, “It won’t. I promise.” His voice cracks. He swallows. “Go on, baby. Make your sister proud.” He gestures towards the flames.

    Faith walks forwards slowly.

    “Please, God,” his wife murmurs, eyes upraised.

    (160 words)


  51. Words without Wings

    160 words

    “What do you hear?” they’d asked Joan.

    And she had told them. They prescribed Clozapine.

    “What do you see?” they’d asked her.

    And she had told them. They’d locked her up … for her own safety.

    Once she would have been called a visionary, a mystic, perhaps a prophet, but there were no such things these days. She was just one more lunatic in the asylum.

    Religion would never have existed if God had waited until the age of science to speak. To be a true God, your miracles had to be performed centuries ago. No proof required.

    “Don’t leave me,” she’d whispered to the two that had chosen her.

    And they had gone with her into the realm of the mad. There they found more minds willing to listen even if outside they were ignored. And so they whispered in their ears and then watched and waited. Words do not need wings to fly, they just need a voice.

  52. The Way of Wood
    158 words

    Once there were angels, whispering. Their wings brushing the earth, consorting with the peasant girls. Girls always barefoot, expectant, listening. Sunrise, the song of the mourning dove. Woe, woe woe…

    Devils or angels, voices on the radio. Drifters moaning under the boardwalk with Sandy and Rose.

    Joan hears voices, too. She endures the mockery of the football team, blocking her way to the lockers. “Weirdo!” “Space alien!” She looks them in the eyes, says hi, defeats their bravado with quiet calm.

    Later, she will stare down riot police, blocking access to the seats of power. She will write the words that move the world, but not to war. She will endure prison and house arrest. She will see her image trending on the internet.

    She will embody resilience. Isn’t this what she was promised, that day in her quiet room? The angel she did not believe in told her, “You, my tender sapling, you will become the way of wood.”

  53. Temptation
    by Michael Seese
    160 words

    Temptation does not call.

    It sings. It whispers, coos, breathes softly in your ear. Jeanne rocked on the ledge, her feet dangling over eternity, struggling with the decision.

    I’ll catch you, the voice said. I promise.

    Jeanne had lived a life full of promises, most of which rotted and died. Her ex-husband had promised it would be a one-time job, that no one would get hurt. He was wrong on both counts.

    “I’ve done … so many bad things,” she said.

    Everyone sins. We accept that. We forgive. We welcome.

    “Then I’m ready,” she said, taking the literal leap of faith. Immediately, something felt wrong.

    “What’s happening?” Jeanne cried out. “Where are you?”

    A warm blast singed her face. The voice returned. It no longer sang. It hissed like steam, and smelled of sulphur.

    I suppose I neglected to warn you. To tell you how far you were going to fall. But I’ll keep my word. I will catch you.

  54. Nephilim
    (159 words)

    I am an abomination. They once drowned the whole world, just to kill my kind. But my sin is not my own, why must I suffer for it?

    The day I learned my true identity was the day my father almost killed me. He apologized as he tore back the blade. Thick blood pooled all around me, my life was fading yet he was so beautiful. Eyes of molten gold, drops of blood glittering like rubies adorning his great white wings, how could he be so cruel when he was light, and warmth, and beauty?

    I never knew how my mother saved me. She took that secret to her too early grave. But now I realize what she gave up, because I’ve bought my own miracle. For the price of one soul, a harmless broomstick, the only thing I had on hand, is turned into a staff of unrivaled power.

    I will find my father.

    And he will suffer.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden

  55. So Be It
    154 words

    The day after her twenty-sixth birthday, Azrael realized she was the Angel of Death. To say it made life difficult was an understatement, what with octogenarians going into cardiac arrest as she was paying for her frozen pizza and Diet Coke at the local Piggly Wiggly.

    The afternoon she slowed her car to let a line of teacher-led kindergartners cross the street she realized leaving home was no longer an option. The dump truck sent five-year-old bodies flying through the air like bowling pins, and Azrael raced home to escort herself from this world and into the next, even if it meant she’d spend eternity wishing for corporate-level air conditioners and a never-ending glass of sweetened iced tea.

    But the rope broke, and the gashes in her wrists healed before she pulled the razor blade from her skin.

    She scowled, then struck the word hallelujah from her life.

  56. Witch-hunter
    @CliveNewnham – 154 words

    The water no longer boiled. The curses no longer burst from bubbles. The trees silently reflected over the murder of another innocent girl. At the bank side the itinerant witch-hunter watched the cawing crows that circled, mirrored in the lake. He cocked his blunderbuss and fired at the heavens. That no bird fell surprised him but he hid this with his sudden uncertainty.

    “Raise the chair,” he commanded. The villagers levered the chair back into the air. The girl was still tied, body slumped, liquid silver streaming from her ragged clothes. Satisfied, he mounted his horse and rode back toward the road. Leaves rattled in the birches, branches swayed, out of the rushes burst Amelia Cathwort, hair wet to her scalp, her fingers all pointing at his heart.

    He tried to raise his pistol, dropped it, clutched his chest, dropped from his horse, dead.

    From the ducking stool cackled Amelia’s guardian angel, her twin.

  57. Purity
    (160 words)

    “Are all angels beautiful?” I ask. “Like you?”

    We recline in the grass near the watering hole. Up here I can unwrap my hair. I barely feel your fingers as you braid it.

    “All souls are beautiful,” you say.

    “I’m not.” There are no mirrors in the settlement. Only vain women behold themselves.


    When I first saw my angel, he invited me to dance on the altar. The sun poured over us in rainbows through the stained glass. When the elders dragged me away, ignoring him, I figured only little girls had to behave so we could be pure vessels.


    “You are mistaken,” he says, pulling me to the pond.

    Beauty exists in the doe’s cautious step, in the moon’s caress on midnight waters, in you. Not in the sinful.

    The reflection hovering there contains more wilderness than sanctity.

    You put your face next to mine.

    I whisper your words like a prayer, daring to believe: “All souls are beautiful.”


  58. Subtlety

    Ben Miller @NomDeBen
    Word Count: 156

    “Smite him before he hits you again.” The angel commanded her.

    “Don’t look at me with your stupid face!” her husband yelled spittle on her face. “What’s this crap? Where’s the real beer?”

    “My friend made that.” she mumbled “Said its got more alcohol.”

    “You don’t have friends. Don’t be so stupid. I hate hobby beer.”

    “Smite him! I will strengthen you. Lift the sword and plunge it into his evil heart.” The angel demanded.

    She looked down helplessly at the butter knife on the table.

    “Stupid! You drank all my good beer! Go get more!” He shoved her face with his meaty palm.

    “SMITE HIM!”

    “Shhh” the bottle answered as he opened it and poured the brew down his throat.


    “Shhh” the venomous serpent whispered from where he lounged across her hunched shoulders. “Some things require more subtlety.”

    She left the front door open and the bottle drooling on the kitchen floor.

  59. Comeuppance
    144 words

    I hear voices/see visions, so they sent me by train
    To this hilltop retreat for the ill (and insane).
    Despite weeks of treatment, the voices rage on
    The most chilling belonging to Dark Angel Vaughn.

    I’m weary of things The Dark Angel has said
    (Whispered from a cloud that floats o’er my head).
    I’m tired of his lusting for bloodshed and death
    And the stench of his hellacious, vomitous breath.

    This evening, his ranting has caused me to kill
    A handsome young man on this forsaken hill.
    Vaughn cheers at me, jeers at me, calls me an ass
    Yet admits that I “stab pretty good for a lass.”

    So I place one hand on The Cross of The Lord,
    My other hand gripping the fallen man’s sword.
    I whisper a tormented-maiden’s prayer then
    Swing the blade up and backward as hard as I can.

  60. An Angel’s Tears
    Evan Montegarde
    158 words

    I admired the painting for the sake of art. We once cherished great artists and paintings, from the Abbasid dynasty to the palaces of the Maghreb. I wondered if there really was such a thing as an archangel, a power beyond almost all but God.

    The museum was busy, bustling almost and filled with school children in matching uniforms being ushered about by their doting Mothers. I had picked a Friday afternoon, it was late spring and already the taste of the impending languid summer was almost perceptible.

    I closed my eyes for a quick prayer of encouragement, remembering my training and the blessings to come. I was fortunate as a tour group of old pensioners, perhaps Americans or Canadians moved by. It was easy to mingle among them as I placed my hand on the pin. I felt the cold metal plunger and as I pressed down I thought I saw the angel in the painting crying.

    • From such a peaceful image of a quiet museum with children and elderly just enjoying life to the horror of the last paragraph makes this very poignant. Tear-jerking last line ‘ I thought I saw the angel in the painting crying.’

  61. Deception
    159 words

    He came upon me as I knelt amid the basil. The sun dimmed and cool moisture kissed the back of my neck. I looked up. He stood before me, wrapped in gray fog and smelling of ozone. He wore an imperious expression and gazed at me with dark, inhuman eyes.

    I froze, trowel in one hand, weed in the other. He looked ridiculous.

    “Mistress,” he said, his voice like the crashing of boulders.

    I swallowed my laughter. “Makis.”

    His eyes narrowed. “Go on. Say it.”

    “Fog? Feathers? A toga? An excellent spell, but a bit over the top. Do dragons have no sense of subtlety?”

    He snarled. “The girl refused to listen until I took on this ridiculous form.”

    I shrugged. “She’s pious.”

    “You should have let me destroy her.”

    “If you had, others would have hunted you down. Your ego will heal. Did you persuade her?”


    “Good. Now lose the toga. We have a war to orchestrate.”

  62. A Scoliosis of the Soul
    @geofflepard 159 words
    Giovanni knew, even before he knew anything else that he was touched by the divine. He itched to prove himself but his self-portraits were ridiculed. He was a hack, experts said.
    One day, Giovanni told himself, they would bow down; they would acknowledge his greatness. He would do whatever it took.
    But time desiccates, it draws life from hope. He began to despair. Until, one emasculated afternoon, emerging from a suppurating fog, he saw her, his long awaited muse: luminous, but cloaked in a carapace of fear.
    He locked the studio, blacked the windows and eased back her hood. He wept as he gazed beyond her eyes and into her soul; at last, he understood the bargain. He began to paint.
    The scream chilled the men who heard it; what was beyond that door? And where was Giovanni?
    Everyone agreed the picture was exceptional; the terrified woman and the attentive sprite whose face, they acknowledged captured Giovanni to perfection.

  63. Persecuted
    160 words

    Jan sat and gazed up at the painting, not moving except to breathe. It was the only piece on display in the back room, and it drew little traffic. This pleased Jan; it was as if the young girl with the sword and the whispering angles were for her, and her alone. She looked a bit like the painted girl, Jan thought—sad and frightened and alone. Persecuted.

    Fight back.

    Jan stood and whirled around, sure that one of her classmates was playing another trick on her, but the room was empty. She returned her attention to the painting. It had changed. One of the angles was looking at her.

    You know what to do.

    Beyond the whisper, Jan heard the teacher’s whistle calling her and her classmates back together. She grinned and reached inside her bag. She’d been unsure before, but now things were clear.

    Fight back.

    Jan might not have a sword. But she had her father’s gun.

  64. Voices
    150 words

    Noise. Constant noise in her head. Never ending chaos demanding her attention. Whispers, shouts, pleas. Encouraging, begging, threatening. Commanding. Pushing, pulling, tearing her apart. Closed eyes brought vivid images of the angels she knew surrounded her, sigh of wings fluttering around her head. Sometimes those protective wings almost drowned out the voices, lent an illusion of peace. Encompassed her in warmth, safety, lulled her to sleep with the melodic rhythm of the gentle beating of those great wings.

    Until the voices broke through, telling her terrible things, coaxing her to a path she didn’t wish to follow. There was no escape. Voices speaking to her, breaking through the barrier of wings, insidious whispers that were more frightening than the strident shouts.

    Eyes turned towards the angel next to her, pleading. The great wings gathered her close, surrounded her with calm, blessed quiet descended. She relaxed into the embrace.


  65. Museum of the Damned
    159 words

    “This late 19th century painting by Eugene Thirion is a classic example of French Political Art…” the tour guide’s bright, vibrant voice dropped away as Sylvia gaped, mesmerized, at the sweeping whorls and splashes of pigment, carefully arranged to suggest human forms, within the gilt frame.

    She stared harder as the design shifted, slowly spiraling, distorting the figures into a maelstrom of swiftly-spinning color which sucked at her sanity, tugged at her soul.

    “I burn,” hissed a sculptural voice, echoing from the whirlpool to Sylvia’s ears. “I saved them all, and they burned me for my efforts.”

    Completely ensnared, Sylvia reached for the roiling vortex even as it stretched toward her, knowing, but not caring, that the touch meant madness, fire, death, damnation.

    An icy hand clamped on her shoulder, painfully forcing her knees to impact the cool mosaic floors of the museum.

    “Don’t stare at them, my dear,” chirped the tour guide, “You wake the damned that way.”

  66. The World Anew
    [158 words]

    Her constant provocateur, the avatar of Saint-Michel perched upon his white wispy cloud. “The trump of war cries out! Heed its holy call!”

    Jehanne wept not for the trillion souls killed by the Great Holy War. She had long since shed a tear for each precious life lost; she had none left to cry.

    “No human survives on this planet but you and he!” Saint-Michel urged, floating on wings of a dove, but speaking with a hawk’s voice. “Kill him, and good triumphs over evil!”

    Jehanne turned her back, clutching the necklace that bore the cross of her tormentor. Bare rock chilled her feet. Nothing grew in ground saturated with millennia of blood and hatred.

    “There has been too much death,” resolved Jehanne. “I choose life.”

    “Then cursed are you among women!” screeched Saint-Michel, before vanishing in a whiff of sulphurous smoke.

    Her former enemy approached Jehanne, and as they embraced, their newfound tears moistened the barren soil.

  67. A Simple Misunderstanding

    Have you ever crossed that line with a lie, where you know there’s no going back? I have.

    It was Michael’s stag night. He’s a bit of a saint, so we made it a big one. I don’t know who had the bright idea of dressing up as girls, but of course I went for it. Shaving my legs was the worst, I have no idea why girls do that. Anyway, I guess I was a little too convincing cause a drunk french pillock got a little too frisky. I didn’t mean to hit him so hard, but down he went. Next thing you know all the girls in the place are calling me an inspiration, chanting about girl power. I tried to tell them my name was John, but they wouldn’t listen.

    I can’t tell them now, they are going to be pretty mad when they find out. I’m just going to have to keep them in the d’arc!

    160 words

  68. The Rescue

    Don’t be afraid; I’m here to save you. Take my hand–

    The stick? Oh, no worries. It’s just a distaff. D-I-S-T-A-F-F. Stop; it’s not funny. I used to make my living thanks to this little guy, and his buddy the spindle. STOP LAUGHING. Maybe if I show you my sword, you’ll take things more seriously.

    HA. Sobered up real quick, didn’t ya? Thought you were so clever, poking fun at my distaff, but–

    SIGH. There you go again. How about you keep your eyes on my sword, hmmm? Sharp girl’s lopped off a head or fifty in her day.

    Okay. What in heaven’s name is funny about that?

    C’mon, step away from the edge. No; I can’t leave til I save you.

    No. I’m not leaving.

    Of COURSE I’m all up in your biz. I’m your guardian angel, idiot. Should I sound my trumpet to prove it?

    You can’t hate me; we just met.

    Hey! HEY NOW! Don’t—



    160 ineligible words

  69. Voices

    Jennifer stopped briefly in front of the painting, having just passed by a dozen others, giving them only a passing acknowledgement. She had been tasked by her historian father to visit a museum while she was in Paris on business, so she had taken a walk in between meetings in order to complete her father’s assignment.

    “Jeanne d’Arc” she read to herself from the golden identification plate. Oh right, she thought, Joan of Arc. The crazy girl who heard God… or an angel anyway, as the painting showed. She smirked at the thought of a bygone era in which a schizophrenic girl would become a martyr rather than an asylum resident.

    “Jennifer,” a soothing voice spoke in her ear “your meeting begins in 15 minutes and it will be a ten minute walk from your current location.” Jennifer broke away from the painting and headed to the museum’s exit, heading her bluetooth’s warning.

    153 words

    • I like the way you’ve created a similarity between the Joan in the painting and Jennifer studying it; both hear voices and the voices carry instructions; makes Jennifer’s smirk seem a trifle misplaced!

  70. Voices

    ‘No one ignores Lady Lucia’, said Lady Lucia, ‘you will only do whatever I tell you. Drink that juice’.

    ‘No..no..no..listen to yourself. Lucia is only being stupid. You don’t obey ladies anymore. Its poison’ said Lourdes sounding like the teenager she was.

    ‘Honey! You ignore both of them. It’s your wish to do whatever with your life. Don’t be scared of Lucy dear’.

    ‘Voices! Voices! Always! Telling me what to do!’ thought Maria. ‘I am just a housemaid in this huge castle. Are these ghosts? They are controlling my thoughts. How did they get inside my head? I only wish to sleep without them waking me up in the middle of the night.’

    ‘Are you going to just mop around or listen to me?’ it was Lady Lucia again.

    Slowly, Maria sipped the juice, letting the sweet tangy taste fill her senses. Soon she will be able to sleep peacefully and no more ghosts.

    154 words

  71. The A-listers

    “Cut. My God, Angela can you stick to your lines.”

    “This movie is supposed to be about Joan of Arc, but her character has yet to say a meaningful line. It seems like I’m just the eye candy for this.”

    “Bingo. So you better stop creating a ruckus, or we’ll have you replaced with the next piece of candy on our list.”

    Angela felt the costume wings of Daniel DeMarco brush against her back. “Angela, you better chill out. It isn’t worth it. Just do the movie and move on,” he implored.

    “Easy for you to say. Your character has depth. I’m tired of woman characters just being eye candy.” Angela tossed down her props and stood, arms folded, at the center of the set.

    “I will destroy you, Angela,” the director said, tugging at his black turtleneck.

    “He will blackball you,” David whispered behind her.

    “Well, he can burn me at the stake while he’s at it.”

    158 words

  72. Jean
    152 words

    She sat alone, because no one could see
    The voices in her head, telling her what would be
    They didn’t couch their words, didn’t justify
    That’s how she knew they spoke the truth
    She sat alone, knowing what had to be done
    She stood alone, knowing what would be done
    On the field and afterward she saw their victory and her defeat
    She was willing to pay the price
    Knowing they could never accept.
    They would couch their words, and justify their deeds,
    But in the end it would all be the same.
    “It’s only human,” a sad voice said.
    “It’s only human,” she agreed.
    But the battle was joined and she led the dance
    Thinking only of God and Country
    Damn the cannons and damn the cannoneers
    She had promises to keep.
    She stood alone, as far as they could see.
    They couldn’t see the angel take her hand and weep.

  73. The Fire and The Flame
    159 words

    Jean was the first. She heard the voices calling her to act and she would not be denied.

    It’s strange really, given the choice between being culled from the herd like sheep or taking to the sword, the choice became easy. We were drawn by her fire, but afraid of the flame. She led, and for a while we were more than sheep, more than the tenant farmers to be turned out on a whim. We were an army with a cause, and the cause was just.

    We were powerful, but the king feared her power even more than he feared the wolves at his door. She was the sword his advisers swore would be unmade, and so it was done.

    What they never understood, what they couldn’t’ understand was she wasn’t the only one.

    I’ve heard the voices too- They tell me it’s time to wait, that our time will come, and the sheep will have their day.

    • More will always come after if the cause is just. I like the way you describe her followers as sheep but in such a way that you know that they are more than that, even when biding their time – there is more, much more, hidden beneath those harmless exteriors.

  74. Mystic
    157 words

    Françoise clenched her prayer beads. “I hear the angels.”

    “What do they say?” her mother asked.

    Françoise’s eyes widened as she beheld a sword gleaming pink in the clouds. “They sing of glory and…” Her brow furrowed. “And of an army’s march. Tonight.”

    The knight who had come to their cottage on the edge of the Wilds spoke. “But it is an eclipse. The dead walk this night. My men will be slain by the thousands.”

    Françoise turned her eyes to the blackness she faced every day. “If you do not go, our worlds will die.”

    He exhaled. “As He wills it. Thank you, mademoiselle. Madame.” His footsteps went to the door. “The mystic has seen death at Planète Achille. We leave at once. And may le Créateur rest those souls who see eternity this night.”

    “You should rest.” Her mother’s voice wavered.

    Françoise faced the visions. “Not yet. They still need what He may give me.”

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