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.


  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.


      • 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


  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.


  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.