Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 8

HELLOOOOOOO! A pleasure to see your sparkly faces back here at the lair; it’s just not the same without you. And in case you thought the Year Three updates were done…. well, we’ve still a couple more shenanigans up our dragonsleeves for you. ❤ Our weekly interview with the latest champ, #SixtySeconds, has been shifted to Thursday. The move will give winners a few more hours’ breathing room to answer the questions, AND it will free up Wednesday for our newest feature:

Warmup Wednesday!!!

Starting this week, each Wednesday at 12:01am Washington, DC, time, a photo prompt will post. No judges. No pressure. Just a muse-nudging photo and a place to write and comment on stories. Consider this a chance to explore scenes with a character or setting from a WIP, an opportunity to introduce the FF community to other sides of your writing, and/or, best of all, a venue for flexing those microfiction skillz and igniting our imaginations as the week hurtles toward Friday.  (*Note* We will send out Twitter reminders only this first week; going forward, make sure you’re following this blog to receive updates.) 

REMINDER: a reminder that ALL dragons (that means you! anyone who submits a story here) are eligible to earn the Ring of Fire badge (and your name on the Wall of Flame) by submitting at least three times in one month. For many of you today will mark your second entry toward this badge, and February 6 will seal the deal. If you missed last week, today’s entry will count toward the first round of eligibility. Questions? Me too.

Here’s a peek at the badge: 

rof2RING OF FIRE!!!!!!

 

REMINDER # 2: New format: Remember the former “Dragon’s Bidding” (an element required in addition to the photo) now focuses on the primary elements of story: character, setting, conflict, and theme. The new word count window is 190 – 210 (exclusive of title/byline). Please be sure to follow these new guidelines carefully!

Tweet any questions to the Flash! Friday team at @flashfridayfic. Now, sheesh. Enough babbling. LET’S WRITE!

♦♦♦♦♦

Judging today is Dragon Team Four, made up of fierce dragon captains Sinéad O’Hart and Pratibha Kelapure. Today’s story element is perfect for this team, as they both adore fleshed-out characters. Pratibha especially loves stories exploring the human psyche, and Sinéad loves well-crafted dialogue and humor tinged with bittersweet.         

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  I (Rebekah) occasionally post my own unbalanced writings on other days under “Dragon Munchies” (see the drop-down menu in the sidebar).

Now, grab your boxing gloves and leap into the ring!

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) 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 Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.

AND HERE IS YOUR TWO-PART PROMPT:

(1) Required story element (this week: conflict. The below conflict must play a central role in your story. See a description of this week’s conflict hereClarification: “man” signifies “human,” not gender):

 

manvman

(2) Photo prompt to inspire (required to incorporate; does not need to be literal):

 

Kinderspiel. CC2.0 photo by Hartwig HKD.

Kinderspiel. CC2.0 photo by Hartwig HKD.

Advertisements

385 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 8

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 207

    Cracks

    Cracked.

    The chasm between us splits open, an echoing gulf that resounds with our empty words. Enduring friendship buries beneath the blowing dust and the silent cries of the night wind.

    I love her, he whispers, the shells of the words crackling like broken casings in the air.

    I do, too. But I can’t say it.

    He’d put the ring on her finger first, but country called him to his duty, and war summoned him to his death. When his name came up on the lists, she’d gone pale, her face smooth as granite, not a fission of weakness on the white surface.

    It took four years for me to gain the courage. I never replaced the glow in her eyes, but the shadows lightened. I couldn’t make her melt in my arms, but her hands were tender in my hair. When my ring slid into the groove the other one had left, perhaps it chafed, but only a little.

    Now, he stands in front of me, the rain pouring in sheets across my doorstep. My brother, the ghost, the spectre from beyond the grave. The water pastes his hair to his forehead, but all I see is dry, barren desert.

    And cracks stretching long before me.

  2. Greed
    (209 words)

    The old man doesn’t move.

    I call out to him, my voice cracking like the desert sand beneath my feet.

    The old man doesn’t move.

    I hear the thunder rumbling in the distance. I see the clouds on the horizon. But even if they have water in them, it’ll never reach me. I know if I don’t get some fluids, I’ll be a pile of bleached bones, picked over by the vultures circling overhead.

    The old man doesn’t move.

    I take a few more steps towards the tree. Other than the old man and the vultures, it’s the only living thing around. Once there were others, but they’re all dead now. Bleached bones on the sand. I hesitate and turn around. I don’t know if I can do this. But deep down I know that if I don’t, death won’t pity me. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. The hot air burns as it passed through my nostrils, down my throat. I turn around again and start walking towards the tree.

    The old man doesn’t move.

    I see the oranges hanging on the branches. There’s enough to save me and all mankind. I draw my knife.

    The old man draws his.

    He won’t share the oranges.

  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 199

    The Shade Tree

    The sun bursts through the clouds the day you bring your boy home from the hospital. Fatherhood tempts you with visions of fishing wire and lonely campouts, backyard catch and T-ball.

    You’re his hero, Dad. He grips your hand on the first day of school, terrified of the red-haired girl with a snaggle-tooth that sits in the desk next to him. Her freckles scare him, he says. You smile and tell him that you’re his guardian, and even girls can’t get past you.

    The first time he shrugs off a weekend with you in favor of a birthday party with his friends, you swallow the hurt and send him off with his favorite Superman pajamas packed neatly in his bag. You agree, not sure why, when he asks you the next day to donate the pajamas to charity.

    When he brings home a girl, she’s cute and auburn-haired. Her freckles have faded, and braces have straightened her teeth. Her green eyes dance with his brown ones, and he doesn’t ask you to guard him anymore.

    When he leaves home, you swallow the lump. You’ve lived your life shading him from the burn.

    But see, Dad, he prefers the sun.

  4. Josh Bertetta
    @JBertetta
    “The Grass is Always Greener”
    196 Words

    Man versus man. Man versus nature. Man versus himself.

    “Are they really that much different from one another?” he thought.

    Mohammed watched his grandson, his grandson who would rather play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on his PS3, storm away.

    They had fought, and Mohammed stood there, in his black, under the sun. And would do so until the sun exchanged the tree for him, standing still and straight, as the shadow’s center.

    It was a metaphor, really. This place, that is. A metaphor for the world today. A world that had lost its bearings, the wheel having long shed its axle and his grandson’s life would become, Mohammed, tried to explain, as dry and barren and empty if he continued to disown his past, his heritage, his roots.

    He wanted to be like them.

    But you are of us, Mohammed had said.

    I don’t want to be like you.

    Those were the last words Mohammed heard.

    He would follow his grandson of course, for the boy of the city knew nothing of the life of the desert.

    The past and the future: Man versus Man.

    Progress: Man versus Nature.

    Us and them: Man versus Himself.

  5. The Protector
    (210 words)

    I hate the desert. It’s hot and the rain never reaches me. The wind burns my face and sears my lungs. Most of all I detest the vultures, the dead should be allowed to rest in peace, not nourish vile creatures.

    Sometimes my mind wanders back to the place of my birth. I long for the sea breeze and gentle lapping of the waves on the beach. I yearn to fall into the water and wash the dust of this desolate place from my body. It’s been an eternity since I’ve seen the red and orange hues of the sunset.

    I would go home if it were not my charge to protect the tree and the knowledge contained in each orange.

    In the distance, I see another man approaching. He is haggard and dusty. I can sense the thirst on his lips and desperation in his soul. If he were to ask for one orange, I’d hand him one and invite him to sit in the shade with me.

    But men never want only one. They claim to need them all, when a single orange would save them all. That is the way of man. That is why their bones litter the desert.

    I rest my hand on my knife.

  6. Lost Souls
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    209 words

    ‘Why?’

    ‘Why? There are aimless souls out there with no road to follow. Souls that were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Souls that have lost their way. Souls that are worth saving.

    ‘And what will you do when you find those souls.’

    ‘Save them.’

    ‘How?’

    ‘I’ll think of something.’

    ‘You will only join them, lost, wandering. Stay with the tree. The tree is a beacon of hope, salvation lies beneath its shade.’

    ‘Perhaps I don’t deserve salvation if I cannot save others.’

    ‘Always this feeling of unworthiness, the need to chastise bordering on self-pity. Self-pity taken to extreme can be a sin as well. Past lives are just that, past, gone. The sins can’t be undone, but forgiveness can smooth the sharpness of the memory, ease the perceived pain. And somewhere self-forgiveness must begin.’

    ‘What do you know of my sins, my pain? You’re not real. You’re a phantom, a conjuring trick of my imagination. You waste my time preaching forgiveness when there are mislaid souls to be found. Perhaps they will offer forgiveness. Maybe then I’ll listen to you.’

    ‘Are you sure it’s those souls you seek? Or is it madness, oblivion that attracts?’

    ‘What do you know? You are not me.’

    ‘I am you.’

  7. The Dust Bowl and the Mango Tree

    We’ve been travelling for weeks. Running from dust into dust. We’ve no fuel for the truck, no water for our parched mouths, and no food for our children’s bellies. This tree bows under the weight of its fruit. A mango for each of my children would not upset the old man’s harvest.

    “My family is down the road. We are twelve. We’d like some mangos.”

    He looks like a good man despite the shotgun across his lap. How can he not be swayed by the plight of a large family? I know he’ll spare some fruit. He has to spare some fruit.

    “Let them come.”

    Thank God, we are saved.

    ***

    This tree is the last on my land. I’ll never pull it up, whatever the landowner says. My wife and daughter are at rest beneath its boughs, enjoying the shade. The fruit was my wife’s favourite. I haven’t eaten a mango since her flesh enriched the soil.

    “My family is down the road. We are twelve. We’d like some mangos.”

    He thinks I can be intimidated by their number. Am I intimidated by the swarm of rats in my grain store? No. I make sure I have enough traps.

    “Let them come.”

    I have shells for them all.

    @MicroBookends
    208 words

  8. FAQs

    @Making_Fiction

    209 words

     

    We are near the end now.

    I once harboured you – in roughened houses, in biblical arks, behind strengthened doors and the curled razor barricades of Flanders.

    You cut me with sharpened metals from the earth. Peeled my skin. Pulped my flesh. Yet, you nurtured and respected me.

     

    We once were close.

    I gave you the tools to ask questions and provide the answers. To scribe poetry.

    You wrote. You questioned. Sometimes questions came on crumpled pages with stubby charcoal. Why do I cry when I see the once-living eyes of my enemy? His flesh and bones like my own, only cloaked in different colours.

     

    We once enjoyed equality. We gave. We took. We watched each other grow.

    I inhaled your breath. I drew nutrients from deep beneath your feet. I converted the energy of a distant sun. I exhaled.

    You inhaled my breath. You planted the seeds. You nurtured my children and spread them throughout the lands. You exhaled.

     

    We once enjoyed simplicity.

    My pages.

    Your words. Your worlds.

     

    We are no longer equal.

    I am not numerous enough to help.

    Your material dreams, squabbles and pointless questions fill the screens. The trolls on Twitter and adult-site FAQs are powered by furnaces filled with my fallen brethren.

  9. Come The Revolution (Part Three)
    207 words
    Normality returns slowly to a city after revolution, the inhabitants nervous to accept safety has returned. The streets were quiet when I checked Baz-Baz and Gina’s place.
    The door was open.
    I went in, hoping to find my friends, ready to attack looters.
    “Who the hell are you?” Asked the stranger. He was as tall as Baz-Baz, and about the same age. And he had a shock-flail pointed at me. My knife suddenly felt inadequate.
    “This is my friends house,” I said. “I’m watching it until they return.”
    He shook his head. “They wont be.”
    He put the gun down. In seconds he went from a looter I was ready to stab, to a sad-faced stranger with the demeanor of a lonely tree in a desert plain.
    “What do you mean?”
    “Their both dead.”
    “What?”
    He shook his head, like it didn’t matter.
    “Tell me how,” I demanded. The knife wavered in my hand. I gripped it firmly. “And who the hell are you?”
    Gina’s wind chimes tinkled softly.
    “Does it matter. They’re gone, and so are the people responsible.”
    I hadn’t believed there be a revolution. Though I didn’t want to, I believed this stranger who told me Baz-Baz was dead.

    I am attempting to do a unified story across three flash challenges this week. This is part 3 – part 1 is on http://alissaleonard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/finish-that-thought-2-30.html and part 2 is on http://www.nataliebowers.org/2015/01/26/lastlinefirst-a-flashfiction-challenge-week-2/

    @clivetern

    • I love how you incorporated the prompt here. “In seconds he went from a looter I was ready to stab, to a sad-faced stranger with the demeanor of a lonely tree in a desert plain.”
      The story across 3 challenges is really ambitious, and so well done!
      I applaud your writing, and your vision.

  10. Cracking up

    I thought I saw him in the distance. I wasn’t sure if he was walking away or coming toward me, but that knot in my stomach, the slight tic of my right eye, told me he was returning. I am unfinished business. I am on the run.

    It’s because I stepped on a crack. The pavement outside Bartram’s is always so busy and my bus was pulling up. That’s when it happened; I tried to side-step an oncoming pushchair to get to the queue and that bitch bumped into me. Didn’t even say sorry. I stood, unable to move, while she took my place on the bus and sneered out of the window at me. She knew what she’d done; she’s in it too, with the rest of them.

    One crack. That’s all it takes to fall apart. It lets the panic seep in, slowly eroding the gap between sanity and paranoia. He slipped in through the no man’s land, unseen by all but me. I know he’s there, in the shadows. I’m waiting for him. I’ve barricaded my windows and cut off the telephone, but he’s here,

    inside my head,

    whispering to me.

    194 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  11. Shattered.

    209 words
    @lsunil

    Bob wiped away his tears with a white handkerchief. He was remembering his late wife Nina, when Sam drove up to his house.

    Bob was surprised to see Sam after almost 40 years and let him in the house.

    ‘Nina’s gone.’ Bob said pointing to a young Nina’s picture on the shelf.

    Why do you think I came?

    ‘I know. I came here to offer my condolence,’ said Sam, his pained eyes taking in the picture and other family pictures.

    ‘Don’t tell me you still love her.’ Bob said derisively.
    The arrogance.

    ‘I always did Bob. She would have been mine, if you had never come into the picture’

    ‘If Nina had really loved you, she wouldn’t have married me,’ said Bob.

    If Nina had really loved you, she wouldn’t have come to me for our secret meetings.

    ‘How do you think she could resist your fancy clothes and that big car? She had hopelessly fallen for your bling. She was so young and innocent. And now she has died before her time. ’

    ‘No Sam. She genuinely loved me. Maybe, not initially, but we have had a good life. ‘

    ‘We were lovers,’ said Sam softly and walked away.

    Bob looked at Nina’s picture, his life, a sham.

  12. Gift Horse

    (196 words)

    What to get the man who has everything? It’s one of the great unanswerable questions. When the time came for Henry’s birthday, his colleagues thought they had it nailed. They’d club together, they decided, and buy him a course with a personal trainer. What, they thought, could possibly go wrong with that?

    Quite a lot as it happened. Henry may have been materially wealthy, but he had no drive. He was quite happy with his indolent lifestyle and had no desire to change. When the trainer turned up, unannounced, at his house, he tried ignoring him. It worked for a while, until one day, he woke up to find him doing burpees at the foot of his bed. Henry had no choice then but to run. He ran first to Scotland, and when the trainer followed, he took the night boat to Norway. From Norway, he moved to deepest Transylvania and, from there, he crossed the Urals to Siberia.

    No one knows where Henry wound up, but, as birthday presents went, it had been a disaster. Next year, his colleagues decided, they’d make a donation in his name towards a soil irrigation project in sub-Saharan Africa.

  13. Small Talk
    (206 words)
    The low thrum of the refrigerator rattles the room. She stands at the kitchen window looking out at the garden.
    ‘I won’t manage tonight, John’s still running a temperature.’
    He flicks over a page of the newspaper so that it snaps at the cool, morning air.
    ‘You won’t miss me. You hardly noticed I was there, last year. Who knew librarians had so much to say? And anyway I hate bite-sized conversation with stale food…Did I mention? John’s teacher wants a word. Has some “strategies” to share.’
    He abandons attempts to finish reading the story he’s started. His tense fingers press a fold in the newspaper as sharp as the crease on his trouser leg before he slaps it down on the table.
    ‘He’s “withdrawn” apparently. I’ve made an appointment… The tree’s not looking too good. Old, I guess… Diseased. I wonder how many families’ secrets it’s screened over the years.’
    He lets out a guttaral breath.

    ‘When did I become just a noise to you?’
    The chair gouges at the wooden floor as he rises to leave.
    She turns.

    ‘Not now,’ he says.
    She moves across the kitchen to the doorway ensuring he feels the slam of the door as he exits.

     

  14. Overindulgence
    210 Words
    @michaelsimko1

    Paradise has been lost. My world was a place of wonder and laughter. I wanted not for food nor comfort. I woke each morning so grateful that I would shout my appreciation. Life was perfect.

    One day she arrived. Things were better that I could ever imagine. We completed each other. After indulging on the mead of love, my past life was a pale imitation.

    Then there was the day disaster struck. Or more to the point, she ruined everything. All the fauna and flora perished. My life was destroyed. She was only thing I loved that survived—and I was filled with hate. My vitriol was unrelenting. After a month she left. Only then did I realize that it was her that I missed most.

    I wondered the cracked gray of the world eking out a living by drinking putrid water and catching insects. This must be purgatory. Did God slay me?

    Despondent, I returned to my former home. It is a desert of emptiness, with one burned, shriveled, tree remaining. I tripped over the snake’s corpse as I neared the tree. She stood up.

    We reunited. Spouses again. Then she said she was hungry and headed for the tree.

    Come on Eve, I think you’ve had enough fruit.

  15. Until
    S. Todd Strader
    Word Count 208
    @toddstrader

    The once fleet footed man trudged the dust, a mere shadow against the scorched earth.

    He approached the Sentinel standing silent before the remaining tree. His sandal-ed feet crunched unforgiving ground where once lush green caressed bare skin.

    “What no flaming sword?” his voice as bitter as the ground.

    “Not needed” replied the other. “All is gone. I guard a wasteland. Did you really mean to come against me?”

    “I came for the tree. To destroy the thing.” A quiver escaped his lips. “Cain has slain Able. I have lost a son to a son… I mean to cut that thing down.” The Man hefted a crude blade.

    “Ironic if it were not for this tree you would have no concept of vengeance.”

    The Man’s demeanor shifted “Can we not come back?” he implored. “We have suffered much.”

    “Look around” said the other undaunted. “You have lost paradise. It is not the fault of the tree.”

    “But what will I do now now?”

    “Go home. Bury your dead.”

    The scene would play out again and again through the ages. The Man’s sandals gave way to better protection, but the scorched earth remained, Cain continued to slay Able and the answer never changed, “go home bury your dead.”

    Until…

    • Uncompromising view of man. I liked the line ‘Cain continued to slay Able and the answer never changed, “go home bury your dead”. Very true in today’s world.

    • Many saw Biblical depths in this prompt and did so well at pulling out those details. This was one that stood out to me.

      ““Ironic if it were not for this tree you would have no concept of vengeance.”” Well done.

  16. The Clay Family showdown at Lonely Tree
    200 Words

    Dust devils swirled idly across the parched earth, as if the wind didn’t really believe in the job it was doing.
    “It’d be easy to shoot you now,” Jeb said.
    “And how’d you explain it away?” Figg asked. “She don’t believe you no more. And she’d know yer lying.”
    “She’d believe you tried to run, like the thieving coward you are.”
    Figg watched his brother like a cat watches a mouse. Only this mouse was on the edge of insanity, and had a weapon.
    “It doesn’t have to go like this,” Figg said.
    “Your right. Unclip that belt and step away real slow.”
    “And what, Jeb. You going to ride me into town. The brave lawman and his lowdown thief brother?”
    Jeb nodded and licked his lips tentatively, as if unsure there’d be enough moisture on his tongue.
    “You never think things through properly,” Figg said. “It’s how the lies started. I may be the thief that ran away, but you’re the sheriff who lies.”
    “You—“
    Jeb’s arm jerked as he fired. The bullet went wide. Figg’s didn’t. Jeb dropped his gun and clasped his shoulder.
    “Tell ‘em what happened,” Figg said. “Tell ‘em the truth, it’ll do you good.”

    @clivetern

  17. The Montreal Meat Metaphor
    @hollygeely
    208 words

    The tension was so thick Mary-Anne could taste it. It had the distinct flavour of Montreal smoked meat.

    A silver platter was on the table. Jack and Allen stood on either side. Jack’s arms were crossed. Allen’s outstretched hand was the angry red of slapped skin.

    “It’s just a sandwich,” Mary-Anne said.

    They stopped glaring at each other to turn their fury upon her.

    “This sandwich is a metaphor for our entire lives,” Allen said.

    “Okay. How?”

    “Imagine Jack and I are trapped in the desert. The ground is barren and there’s only one tree but it doesn’t have any fruit. Imagine we’re the last two men on Earth, and this is the very last sandwich. Who gets the sandwich, Mary-Anne? WHO?”

    “Whoever wins the sandwich wins the war,” Jack said.

    “Why not split it?”

    Allen gasped. Jack snorted with laughter.

    “Right.” Mary-Anne had never understood her brother. Or Jack, for that matter. She grabbed her mail and left them to it.

    *

    CRASH!

    Mary-Anne rushed in to stop the inevitable massacre. The sandwich was spewed across the floor, smears of mustard forming a frowny face on the tile. Jack and Allen were making out on the table.

    From this angle, Mary-Anne couldn’t tell who’d won the war.

  18. Not Far From The Tree
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    209 words

    “God, Dad, you’re such an a-hole.”

    He watched his son storm off, all thunder and lightning. Seems it was always that way lately, always gray where he and his eldest were concerned.

    When had the clouds come? When had the sun stopped shining? When had the ground beneath them cracked, shifted, to become a barren, parched landscape of lost moments, dying of thirst in spite of the insults and epithets that rained down daily?

    Sometimes, just for an instant, he saw him again as a baby, crawling away with such delight, only to turn and cry because he’d gotten too far. Or as a toddler, racing across the playground, only to demand daddy’s help on the slide or the swings. Even as a grade schooler, his son would come to him, seeking shelter from the bullies.

    When had the weather changed?

    He wished he had an olive branch to offer, some shade from the storm.

    His colleagues assured him these tempests were normal, that eventually all would settle down again, that calm waters would return.

    He knew they were wrong. He knew if he couldn’t fix this, couldn’t shore up their crumbling relationship, one day, his son would walk away and not come back.

    Just as he had.

  19. Defiance
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    197 words
    I will not give up anything else! No amount of pleading, cajoling, promises of a new toy, games of hit the cheerios in the toilet will work. Already I’d given them the bottle, the binkie, now they want the diaper. Wear big boy pants like Da, she says. What was next? Cuddles in her lap? It was because of what kicked me while I snuggled in her soporific arms, drowsily listening as she read Goodnight Moon. There should at least be compromise, right? No more naps! A later bedtime! I know the fun begins when I’m tucked in.

    She talks to Zack’s ma at the playground while Zack and I move the dirt around with our backhoes and front end loaders. Zack’s mother tells her no one ever graduated from high school in diapers. They don’t think I’m listening, but I am. They’re taking my bed away with the jungle gym bars that are so fun to scale. I’m ready for a big boy bed, they say and the new baby can have my old one, isn’t that nice? No! My bed! My lap! My story!

    Aren’t you excited to be a big brother, they ask. No!

  20. The Seed and The Sow
    200 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    The Planter walked away from his latest endeavour. Behind him, The Uprooter shouted his usual vitriolic attacks. Between and beyond them, scorched earth spread in unending uniformity, save for the beautiful tree The Uprooter now threatened.
    “When the last tree has fallen…”
    The Planter blocked out the rest of the words by reciting the Liturgy of Planting over and over in his mind, washing out all thoughts save those of The Seed and The Sow.
    “You’ve left your box.”
    He had to repeat it several times, but The Uprooter was more than satisfied when his adversary turned, a pained expression on his face.
    Within his robes, The Uprooter carried the smallest of vials. The seeds of destruction weighed little against the heavy price they carried. One drop would wither the tree to a burnt stump.
    “Look inside.”
    The Planter’s words were unexpected, suspicions keenly aroused, and yet The Uprooter gingerly opened the dark box.
    Inside the seed case was empty.
    “When the last tree has fallen… ” echoed The Planter.
    The two faced one another, their inevitable redundancy the only commonality they’d ever know.
    The Uprooter remained rooted, his hand gripping the vial.
    A faint breeze rustled the leaves overhead.

  21. Beyond The Window

    His father always called the darkness outside their home Wasteland. When they fought, his father would drag him to an open window by the scruff of his collar and force his face into the emptiness.
    “Look! Look at what there is outside this house! Outside my house! Nothing!”
    Leaning into the darkness with his father’s hands pressing him forwards he would shiver and squint, forcing himself to try and see something other than nothingness.
    “Learn your place,” his father warned. “Nothing survives out there my son.”
    Curling his hands around the window frame he would nod, allowing the same hands that pushed to pull him back inside.
    “You stay you hear. You stay put and behave.”
    He would nod again. Simple, silent, agreeable.

    Later, his father would give him apples. The fruit curled in his hand he would return to the window to eat. He let the cores drop, listening for a thud or splash to tell him what lay outside his home beneath the darkness, but he heard no sounds.

    When his father grew old there were no apples, only bent fingers, and threats of Wasteland.

    He wondered though, with eyes burning, opened wide… could he see apple trees?

    [200 Words]

    @caroljforrester

  22. Dustless
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    206 words

    The old jalopy sputtered to a halt. Tim was grinning like he’d swallowed cream. That boy had been nothing but trouble all day.

    “What the hell,” Herb said. “Tank’s half full.”

    “Maybe we ain’t going to California after all,” Tim crowed. “Won’t be picking beans in Fresno.”

    Herb frowned. Tim might not like it, but this drought brought tough choices. Herb got out and checked the engine.

    Tim stepped onto the parched land, so dry even dust wouldn’t settle here.

    Herb stared at the damage. The accelerator cable had snapped—that couldn’t have happened without help.

    The boy stood, a dark, stubborn shadow beside the last living tree in western Texas. He’d set their single valise beneath the tree, as though he already knew the car was busted.

    “The hell’s wrong with you, boy? This ain’t no game, marooning us in the goddamn desert!”

    Tears streaked Tim’s face. “I ain’t leavin’, Uncle Herb. I buried my momma back home. I’ll hunt jack-rabbits, and when the rain comes—”

    Herb covered his face with his hands. “What rain, dammit? It’s gonna be a long, dry walk back to the farm, but we got no choices left. You win.”

    Tim slipped his hand into Herb’s. “We’ll make it.”

  23. 198 words w/o title
    @betsystreeter

    THE DUELING TREE

    When I lost the duel, I became a tree.

    I quit my occupation as an awkward young man and blossomed strong and vibrant, covered in broad leaves, casting shade upon lovers and curious dogs.

    My bare branches in winter sketched out a rounded shape, as my arms once had around my love.

    Paces. Twelve? Fourteen? I don’t remember. It didn’t matter. My foe dismounted that morning with the purpose to kill me, and he would not fail. I knew this and slid willingly into the funnel of the Expectations of the Human Male.

    Bang, bang. They all saw him turn, fire his weapon into my back. They piled on him, hauled him back to town and tore him to pieces.

    I lay on the ground alone, my blood and my flesh melting into the earth. A sweet feeling, like a long, slow dive into the cold ocean.

    When spring came, I sprouted through the dry ground.

    Sweetheart, you found yourself with neither of us. Hold your new love’s hand, lean on my trunk. I will protect you from the sun.

    Let your children run, and climb.

    I witness all of the duels. Not one of them is fair.

  24. Stolen childhood

    @geofflepard 210 words

    Mike Tippett was an honourable man. Respected. He’d moved the family business up market from his father’s day. From common thievery to BespokeAquisitions.com in twenty years. Stealing to Order his dad called it but he was on a stretch without daylight for another twenty. Old Masters, rocks of all colours, exotic animals, rare stamps, exclusive wines, first editions – they were their bread and butter. The testimonials raved about the quality of their research as well as the subtlety of the violence. It was important not to taint the product with traceable gore.

    Mike liked order but for once he was unsure. Soon one of his boys would take over. To decide he’d set them a test.

    ‘Get me what I want most’.

    Carl had gone for Fangio’s winning 1950 Alfa Romeo, a clever lift out of Argentina. But Josh had shown his true colours.

    Mike held the photo of his darling Abigail about to be abducted. They didn’t do people. It was the first commandment. If it got out his reputation would be shot.

    Josh knew what he was doing. He wanted to move the business on, just as Mike had done. Mike tapped his phone. Not a call he’d thought he’d ever make.

    ‘Which service do you require?’

  25. Scent of Sorrow

    She tucked seed packets and plant labels into an old recipe box. Notes written with a fine-tip permanent marker accompanied each one. Basil for bruschetta. Tulips for grandma’s vases.

    We were young. I was busy working to make something of myself. I never spent enough time with her in the garden. She’d come in with dirt smudged across her cheek.

    “Shower with me?” She’d smile and narrow her left eye just a touch.

    I never took enough showers with her either.

    She added to her recipe box of memories over time. Lilac that smells like love. I didn’t realize then.

    Entering the chapel with trepidation, I’m struck by the overwhelming scent. Now I understood. A stranger in a foreign land, I’m surrounded by another man’s generations.

    “George, glad you came.” Carl was a better man than me.

    “Lilacs—” I focused on the funeral flowers. Emotions seem to get the better of me as I age.

    “Carolyn always loved you, George.”

    Words are moths in my mouth, but I nod. I fumble with my coat pocket to steady my shaky hand; tissue-paper fingers seek the meager sprig of lilac I snipped on my way here.

    I’d lost her long before today. Fissures of festered regret are all I’ve left.

    @blackinkpinkdsk
    210 words

  26. Into Madness
    202 words
    personalvapes@gmail.com

    The Tree.
    Concealed within leafy camouflage, sharp twiggy fingers reach, slashing gaping fissures across the sky. Skeletal talons elongate to grasp, clawing the clouds, rending the firmament, sundering the heavens, fragmenting my mind.

    The Shadow.
    Digging, crawling, scrabbling across hardpan, dry land, seeking moisture, fluid, the cool kiss of sensibility. Only dead desiccated Earth underfoot, thirsting for the water of sanity, the meaning of life.

    The Sun.
    It ignites the sky, the howling inferno a rage of confusion, flames of incandescence melting my vision in blinding radiance. Eyes without a face spiral: staring, accusing, dragging me to the depths of derangement.

    The Figure.
    Born of interplay between light and dark, it circles closer and closer. The form, the visage, the countenance, the bearing: all are mine in mirror image. He wears my face, my clothing, my hair and skin, eyes dark, empty, devoid of my soul.

    I reach out, my shadow form, with hands my own yet not, feeling the touch of foreign flesh on my cheek even as I register stubble against my own fingertips.

    I Falter. Drop. Accept defeat.

    The last tear of resolve evaporates from my cheek.

    The war within is ended. My personal demons drag me to madness.

  27. Incident at Dry Creek Ridge
    @voimaoy
    198 words

    He is my arch-nemesis, my dark shadow, the opposite of me on a molecular level. It’s Friday, and I hoped not to run into him, today. It started out so positively. My hair was looking fabulous.

    He greets me in the lobby, by the newsstand. “Nice hair, Bailey,” his tone, dripping with irony. We have nothing to say to each other. We can’t even agree on the weather. The elevator opens. “You first,” he gestures for me to get on. It’s just him and me, now.

    Now, we are in a dry and desert place. The sun burns overhead. There is one tree. “This is your arena,” an alien voice says. “Here, you must fight to the death.”

    “Not today,” I say.

    “Did you say something, Bailey?” I want to wipe the smirk from his face. He’s begging for water, for mercy. The tree offers no shelter. We are the last two humans on Earth.

    “I said, that’s a nice tie.”

    “Nice try.”

    A rope appears. It’s alive in my hands as I twist it around his neck. He has a rope, too, binding me. Deftly, I slip out of his clutches. A bright blade gleams in the sun.

  28. @stellakateT
    202 words

    Under Discussion – Survival

    We’d argue who’s God was mightier, what hue the sky was, what time was okay to have the first drink of the day, whose wife was the most fertile and whose children were the more intelligent. We bombarded each other with fire arms, pestilence, disease and death. We’d plot and plan to conquer, desperate not to show our weaknesses, only our strengths pushing us forward.

    I demanded all to answer and smote those who refused through ignorance or apathy to say who was the more respected, him or me? I stood strong and heeded no one. The wise old woman Eve tried to show me the error of my ways. She put terrifying visions in my head but I learnt to blank them out.

    From the beginning of time we’d fought. It was man verses man until Nature finally ran out of patience. Earth was drained of its essence. I stood and watched him walk away defeated. I had won the final battle and lost the war. Under the last tree on the plain Pandora’s Box stood shaded by its cooling leaves. The Apocalypse soon to be unleashed, God save us all I prayed. Whose God it was I no longer cared.

  29. The Hanging Tree (Strange Things Did Happen Here)
    210 words

    Matthew twisted the rope between his hands, ignoring the way that the fibres tugged at his skin as he looped it into a noose.

    David watched him warily. “You sure this is gonna work?”

    “It’s either this or you take your chances with the posse the Sherriff’s probably already put together,” Matthew responded before holding the noose out to his brother.

    David grimaced, “You’ll be quick, won’t ya?”

    “Ain’t gonna take but a second to get the picture done, then we can get it sent ‘round. Hopefully they’ll buy it.”

    David didn’t say anything to that but he did pull the noose around his neck.

    “You know I didn’t mean ta’ hurt her,” David whispered and Matthew sighed because David never meant to do any of the things he did.

    “Come on, let’s get this done” he prodded finally and David rolled his shoulders before stepping onto the rock.

    Matthew tightened the rope, fingers curling around the coil as David tried to catch his balance.

    “You know I love ya, right kid?”

    David nodded, “I’ll buy you a drink after this one. Ya done right by me, just like you promised Ma,” he admitted.

    “And I ain’t about to break that promise,” Matthew whispered.

    Then he kicked the rock away.

  30. THUNDER AND LEAD

    Brian S Creek
    206 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    Thomas squinted as the wind brushed his face with dust. His revolver gained weight as the seconds passed. He adjusted his grip, steadied his aim.

    Several feet away, under the shade of the last tree, his brother watched him.

    “You won’t shoot,” said Jonathon.

    “You underestimate how far you’ve pushed me.”

    “Please. We grew up together. You’ve never been able to make the tough decisions and you’ve never been able to get your hands dirty.”

    “What you did was . . . ungodly.”

    “Then let Him inflict his justice upon me. Release the burden to your higher power. Maybe He’ll have the balls to follow through.”

    Thomas felt his trigger finger itching to release the thunder and lead but he refused to believe his brother was truly lost.

    “Tell me one thing, brother,” he said, “and answer with honesty, if you can.”

    “As true as blue,” replied Jonathon.
    “Why did you do it?”

    “Why not?” Jonathon’s smirk became a monstrous grin, one so full of evil that it was the exclamation mark on his soul.

    A tear rolled down Thomas’ cheek as he realised his brother no longer walked the earth.

    The finger tightened. The thunder cracked. The lead flew.

    And there was one less monster in the world.

  31. “Withered Youth”
    John Mark Miller – 200 words
    @JohnMark_Miller

    I met my younger self today…

    Oh, I had forgotten what glorious ambitions I had entertained in the freshness of my youth! How I laughed into the wind as I chased my sister through the lush gardens of our estate, enamored with wild dreams. One day, I would make my family proud. One day, I would change the world.

    When I enlisted as a soldier, the eyes of my parents glittered with pride. But somewhere in the heat of battle, I lost my way. I allowed fear to overcome me…

    And I ran.

    Disgraced, my parents cast me out. My name became a curse on the lips of my friends. Even my sister could no longer bear to look at me.

    Now I am but a dry leaf which has fallen away from its flourishing branch – ever drifting, I wither away in loneliness. I have seen many successes in my time, but happiness merely evaporates within the parched soil of my soul.

    I searched the bright, hopeful eyes of my younger self for understanding.

    “Haven’t I done one thing right?” I cried in desperation.

    I met my younger self today… and, without a single word…

    He turned and walked away.

  32. Sacrificing for Art
    (208 words)

    After two months on the set, making “Waiting for Godot” come to life for the big screen was taking its toll. The endless cracked lakebed made all of the actors a bit cracked themselves. Hair and makeup despaired as high winds blew across the dry African soil.

    The suits made everything worse. And trying to keep the tree alive became a constant battle. Who knew that water was so expensive in Africa? Special water trucks had to re-supply them weekly. There were daily battles with the caterer.

    Weeks without sushi and organic kale, without quality tofu and fresh blended juices –never had so many actors sacrificed so much for art. Hopefully Samuel Becket’s vision of the existential human experience would prove Oscar worthy.

    “Why does anyone live in Africa?” asked the actor playing Estragon “I can’t imagine what they do to make a living in places like this.”

    “I know. They raise coffee somewhere—remember that movie with Meryl Streep? But no Starbucks for miles,” said the Vladimir.

    “I think they’re poor. That’s one reason Gil opted to make the movie here—to bring some money into this area.”

    “Maybe they should buy some trees. It’s hot as hell without any shade. They need to plant trees. “

  33. That’s My Story
    200 words

    “I’m telling you – the tree was THIS big!”

    This declaration received a spattering of hrump’s, hmmmm’s, and at least one lurid guffaw, which decayed into the general background noise in the bar.

    “And these two fighting fellas,” the storyteller continued, gesticulating wildly in an attempt to set the sheer scale of his story in the proper perspective “Were giants! HUGE! I barely came up to their bootstraps.”

    A glass slid down the gleaming wooden bartop toward the speaker. He sipped, smacked his lips in appreciation, smiled widely around the room as thanks for the purchaser.

    “The ground, see, was cracked from their fighting,” he continued. “Every move they made was followed by more rocks bouncing down them holes. I was afraid the box I came in was gonna get sucked inna one.”

    Silence grabbed hold of the bar, as all conversations ceased abruptly.

    “The box, you say,” said the barkeep, “The one that’s bigger on the inside?”

    The storyteller nodded so vigourously, he threatened to topple off his stool. “Yea – the little blue box with the tour guy inside,” he confirmed.

    The bar erupted in laughter.

    “See if I ever use Doc’s Vacation Services again,” he grumbled into his drink.

  34. First Among No-one
    205 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    Adam yawned, so widely he could hear his jaw crack. “God, I’m bored,” he said.

    “How could you be?” said God. “You have the whole world.”

    “What I have,” said Adam, “is a garden full of nothing and a tree you won’t even let me climb.”

    “Talk to the animals,” suggested God.

    “I think you’re mixing me up with someone else,” said Adam.

    “There isn’t anybody else,” said God.

    “That’s the problem,” said Adam. “I need someone to pit my wits against. I need to be challenged.”

    “Very well,” sighed God. “I Spy, with –“

    “Oh, for Your sake,” said Adam. “I’m not playing that again.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because it’s too hard against someone all-seeing. Last time your ‘something beginning with A’ was the Andromeda nebula.” He yawned again. “I’m going for a walk,” he said. “Down to the angels with flaming swords and back.”

    “Wait, “said God. He pointed to his toolbox. “As it happens,” he said, “I have some bits left over from you – ribs and stuff. I was thinking of making you a companion.”

    “Another man?” said Adam.

    “Sort of,” said God.

    “And will I find him –“

    “Her.”

    “- and will I find her challenging?”

    “You have no idea,” said God.

    • Brilliant!!! My kids are asking, “What’s so funny, Mommy?” as I cackle over your story. Love the I Spy game. The last line is a stroke of genius. So good. 🙂

    • Oh this is good. Love the dialogue, and that walk ‘down to the angels with flaming swords and back’, and that last line …

  35. Brother

    Before I knew the world, before I knew my mother, I started my life with my brother.
    We faced each other in the womb, mirror images of curled fists and unfinished frowning faces.
    He joined the outside world first.
    He was the first one held by my mother, the first miracle witnessed by my father.
    And then I arrived.
    They knew I existed. But I was the extra.
    Identical fair skin, identical dark eyelashes, identical coos of laughter but because he arrived first he was the one who was meant to be.

    Despite our shared features and a lack of secrets since we even shared thoughts not spoken, eventually a distance yawned between us.
    It was a desert of loathing, built grain by grain as our parents heaped praise upon him and disdain upon me.
    I grew to hate my brother.
    To feel that it was single moment of luck that had made him more worthwhile than me. I feel asleep with images of his erasure sliding through my mind.
    If he were gone then I would be the one who was meant to be.

    And then I looked into my brother’s smiling face, and I felt whole.
    I needed my brother.
    It was our parents who needed to go.

    210 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  36. “I am large; I contain multitudes”

    I crouched on the slender limb, willing the springy wood to settle. I’d be along soon, and while I was ponderously slow, even someone as dull as me would notice me bouncing up and down like a featherless vulture.

    It took even longer than I’d expected for me to show, and when I finally staggered into view, I realized that my worries had been for naught. I’d imagined myself the vulture, but I was the carnivore, consuming the dripping haunch of some unfortunate creature in a gluttonous frenzy. Focused as I was on the meat and gristle clenched tightly in my sausagelike hands, I wouldn’t have noticed me unless I fell on my head.

    Which, of course, I did, as soon as I passed beneath me. The worst part was coming into contact with my doughy flesh and feeling it give under my knees as I fell. I veritably bounced off the hardpacked dirt, but while I sprung easily to my feet, I was reduced to trying to roll over like an tortoise.

    If this had been our first battle, I’d have assumed I was done, but me and I were locked in an eternal struggle, and I knew how strong I was. And, ohh, that meat smelled so good.

    210 words
    @drmagoo

  37. THE LAND

    193 words

    They stared. His eyes went to the gleaming knife hanging from her belt. She was diminished by his size. He was so big. They were all so big. She backed away. He took a step toward her.
    “No!” The cry was sharp, animal-like.
    “You’re on my land,” he parried.
    “No!” This time the word had power and her eyes were fierce.
    “You’re on my land,” he said again.
    She moved. He braced. Their eyes locked. Slowly, she took up her jug and stepped past him, her face defiant. She knelt down by the water and drank furiously, careful to keep him in view. She splashed water on her dirt-covered face and shivered from its icy touch. She sprang to her feet.
    He was next to her, towering. “You’re on my land.”
    Her hand went to the knife; he grabbed her arm. She tore it away, a look of repulsion on her face. He dropped his eyes.
    Carefully she lowered her jug and filled it with her gaze fixed on him. She rose.
    “You’re on my land.”
    “No, you’re on mine,” she spit and disappeared into the dust, beads rustling against the deerskin dress.

    • I like this take on who ‘owns’ the land and the false perspectives that maybe settlers take against native peoples.

  38. Kaleidoscope

    He loomed over me as I relaxed under the lone tree in our backyard. He was wearing his battered work uniform and his right hand was strangling an aluminum can.

    “You wanna get laid or be a man?” His finger and a stream of spittle landed on my notebook. “Get inside and hit the weights. I’ll spot you.”

    Dad thought the key to manhood were muscles, beer and any form of red meat.

    “Not now, Pop. I’m writing her a poem. Might sketch some flowers, too.”

    “Boy, a pen won’t drop any panties. Your mother didn’t care about that crap. Words are for the weak. Let’s go.”

    He didn’t know I was listening when he whispered his love for her as her body dissolved away.

    After the workout, we share a meal of hamburgers and fried potatoes.

    “You like this girl? What’s her name?

    “Olivia. She has the greenest eyes, dad. They’re liquid emeralds bathed in moonlight. They own me.”

    A fissure of a grin parted his marbled lips.

    “Your mother had pretty eyes. I ain’t no poet but they knocked me down many times. Blue like the ocean, son.”

    We finished our dinner in silence, our minds aglow with colorful orbs. We found solace in those feminine lanterns.

    @Blukris
    208 words
    #FlashDog

  39. And so the Son Shall Rise

    208 words
    @el_Stevie

    The sturdy oak of his father had long since rotted, become filled with lies and deceit; a mere husk of his former self, Stephen could hardly bear to look at the man. The damning evidence lay on the table between them.

    “So … what do we do?”

    Stephen stared at him. “We? What do you mean we? This is your mess.”

    “If it gets out …”

    “Let it.”

    “And your mother. Would you put her through the public humiliation this would bring?”

    Stephen fought the anger down as the permanent ace up his father’s sleeve was played yet again. He took out his own document.

    “What’s this?” asked his father.

    “My price.”

    A few shares in the company; the man would agree to that. He didn’t need to read the small print.

    “And your mother?”

    “I won’t tell her a thing.”

    Stephen didn’t need to tell her. She already knew, had always known and still she stayed with him; for her, marriage was until death do you part. And Stephen had that solution in his pocket.

    “A drink to celebrate?” he asked, turning away and pouring them both a scotch.

    “Why not?” laughed his father and signed the paper. “You never know when it will be your last.”

  40. And So It Goes (207 Words)
    Sarah Cain @SarahCain78

    “Henry, will you fix his tie? It’s just not right. You know the way your father was.” His mother glanced around. “Mr. Verni has been so kind, I just don’t want to insult him.”

    When Henry leaned closer to the ebony coffin a faint, chemical odor greeted him. He almost jerked back, but he grasped his father’s sober black tie instead. His father’s face looked unnaturally plump. It was no longer the parchment death mask that stretched over his fine bones just days before. Henry worked the tie free and began to reknot it.

    Just four days ago he’d performed this same feat for his father, who’d said, “Damn it. I don’t need help. Especially yours.”

    But Henry had helped, as if that would make up for thirty years of misunderstandings and anger.

    “You’re too much alike,” his mother always said.

    It wasn’t true. Was it?

    Henry finished with the tie and smoothed it, his fingers brushing against his father’s stiff, cold hands.

    “Perfect,” his mother said.

    Four days ago in a fit of rage his father had slapped him hard enough to split open his lip. He then dropped dead on the bedroom floor.

    Today Henry stared at his father and smiled.

    “I win,” he whispered.

  41. Survivor
    210 words
    @laurenegreene

    The shade of the tree did not cover them against the searing sun that seemed as if it would never set. The scorched earth lay ahead of them, and they couldn’t think of walking any further. If they stayed here they would surely die.

    When they had tried out for Survivor, they did not think they would be in this predicament. Stuck in the desert, alone, with one drop of water between the two of them.

    “My tongue is swelling. I need the water,” Romney said.

    “Get lost. This is mine,” Spear said.

    Romney’s hand gripped Spear’s, steal-like despite its dried out weathered appearance.

    “If you want it so badly then go fetch.”

    The canteen cart wheeled through the air. Spear didn’t see the punch, but just felt the tooth come lose as it mimicked the action of the canteen; blood sprayed out of his mouth. Romney pulled himself across the cracked and broken desert floor, trying desperately to reach the canteen.

    “CUT! Not realistic,” the director said.

    “Really? Because this fake blood tastes like crap. Do we really have to do this over?” Spear asked.

    “It has to look realistic if we want the world to think you’re really stuck out here in the Chalbi Desert on your own.”

  42. “Kinderspiel”
    by Michael Seese
    210 words

    Hope comes here to die. He sure as hell didn’t.

    “Do I know you?” he asked when he spied me beneath the moribund tree. His words hurt, perhaps more than the cavalcade of fists delivered more than 20 years ago. How could he not remember? I wanted to melt into the fractured earth like yesterday’s rain water did.

    And like today’s blood would.

    “Maybe this will jog your memory,” I said, tossing at his feet the necklace whose pendant consisted of a tooth. My tooth, which he knocked out, confiscated, then gleefully returned to me as a souvenir.

    Realization graced him. Just like life always did.

    “Darrel? Is that you? How long has it been? I’ll bet—”

    “Twenty-two years, three months, seven days. Since the last time you beat me. But who’s keeping score? Apparently I am,” I said, leveling my gun.

    We reverted to fourth grade, though our roles reversed. I was the bully, and he was the sniveling coward. Only… he wasn’t.

    “Are you insane? We were kids,” he said calmly.

    “I am insane. Or so says the parade of doctors.”

    “What are you going to do?”

    “What needs to be done.”

    I put the gun to my chest. It was his turn to live with inescapable agony.

  43. The Road Less Traveled
    @UK_MJ
    205 words

    “You’re breaking your mother’s heart.”

    The graveled words stopped me cold. When I looked back, his eyes were as hard as they’d always been.

    “She doesn’t have one. You made sure of that.”

    Once, my stepfather’s jeering laugh would have cut deep. Not anymore.

    “What?” he mocked. “You gonna start crying about not getting enough hugs? Grow up, boy. I put a roof over your head. Fed you. Put clothes on your back. Her, too, when no one else would even look at you. You owe me.”

    “Send me a bill.” I turned my back on him again.

    “You leave now, don’t ever come back.”

    “I don’t plan on it.”

    “You ain’t got what it takes to make it on your own.” As the distance between us increased, his voice got louder. “You’re stupid. Always have been, just like your old man.”

    My steps faltered. He noticed, and laughed again. Fists clenched, chest heaving, I kept walking. To turn around would be to let him win.

    And I was done letting him win.

    “You’ll be back!” he yelled. “Crawling! Just wait and see!”

    I stared straight ahead, toward the dust kicked up by the bus on the horizon.

    No, you wait and see.

  44. The Family Three
    (208 words)

    There was a little house where lived a little girl who, at night, when she was tucked up in her dark, little room, wasn’t scared of ghouls underneath her bed or bogeymen in her cupboard. No, instead, she was scared of the monsters who raged and roared and stomped downstairs in her living room.
    She didn’t always know what they were saying, or why they were saying it, but she knew from the ugly way they sounded that they were very angry:

    ‘Black.’
    ‘White.’
    ‘Eye’
    ‘Eye’
    ‘Tooth’
    ‘Tooth’

    She had an idea that before she came to bed next night, she’d leave each monster a sweet thing to put inside their mouth. Surely, this would sweeten what they said! She worked in the kitchen all day long baking beautiful, frosted, magical cupcakes that she just knew would work!

    The next night, she pulled her covers up to her chin and told Teddy he could take his paws away from his ears because she had fixed the monsters, and she and Teddy listened:

    ‘White!’
    ‘Black!’
    ‘Eyes.’
    ‘Eyes.’
    ‘Teeth.’
    ‘Teeth.’

    Tears flooded her cheeks, and she trembled. ‘Teddy, I think it’s time to take something out their mouths.’ So next day, she went to the kitchen and sharpened the scissors.

  45. The Last Dryad
    205 words
    @rowdy_phantom
    #flashdog

    It was selfish of me to think he’d settle his footsteps into mine. My son strides his own path across the blanched land. Away from our tree.

    I entered labor at the base of my laurel. Her slim yet steadfast trunk doulaed him into the world. I cradled my seedling babe, whose reedy cry made the leaves shiver.

    Afterbirth and acorn sown together, I opened his fiddlestick fists and guided his palms to pat the soil. The petrichor still makes him sneeze. I sang lullabies to his roots, coaxing them deep that they may find fleeting moisture in bedrock.

    I nursed him into a sapling, a wiry joy reaching for the sun. His tree flourished while the grove dwindled around us. I let mine go, too, planting my hope in his. I made myself believe that the earth would hold onto its magic a little longer.

    He untangles himself from the shade and moves toward a horizon busy with cloud. It was foolish of me to think he’d settle. My son strides across the waste. Away from me.

    In green shadows, I pack his case: seeds and cones and what is left of my hope. Someday, may he hear the lullabies echoing from the earth.

    • Lovely. So many beautiful turns of phrase – ‘doulaed him into the world’, fiddlesticks fists, seedling babe …’

    • Beautiful language here. I love, “His tree flourished while the grove dwindled around us. I let mine go, too, planting my hope in his.” This story expresses so much the joy of birth, the sorrow of letting go. Lovely.

  46. The last piece of the jigsaw
    208 words
    @awenthornber

    This time I win the battle, but at what cost?
    I can not escape the dream, it is an unwanted visitor.
    I watch two figures battle it out. I know I am one of them, but which one is never clear, not until the end of the dream.
    Every dream is the same except for my opponent.
    I meet my fight partner as soon as I drift off to sleep. This week it has been my ex wife, my boss, the guy who runs the corner shop, the doctor and the dog walker, whose dog cocks its leg on my gate post each evening, but tonight I do not know my opponent. This makes the dream more terrifying.
    I am fighting the unknown.
    The heat of battle is almost unbearable.
    It is exhausting, moving around, darting in and out, yet in bed I am thrashing about without restraint.
    I try to cry out, but the words die on my lips.
    The figures clash, my opponent falls then reveals his face.
    ‘You win.’ said death. ‘You have a choice. Come with me now, painlessly in your sleep; or wait until your waking hours, when you will be in so much pain, you will be begging me to come back.’

  47. Our Dance

    You mimic I,
    One;
    Shadowed being,
    Stringed puppet.
    Twinned;
    Dancing tandem,
    Dark on light,
    Enmeshed; held fast; intertwined
    Captive created,
    Closeted internally,
    Combusting; combined,
    Lacking escape.
    Fissures splinter
    From pressures;
    Darkness prevailing
    Over all.
    Life lived,
    Continuing,
    Surviving,
    Sleepwalker shuffling
    Desouled,
    Wanderer once,
    Chained presently,
    Autopilot on,
    Now,
    Inextricably linked,
    Forever seemingly
    Fighting
    Enduring midnight.
    Together
    What are we?
    Hate versus love,
    Kaleidoscopic chaos
    Occasional,
    Familial,
    Foe and friend,
    Words lacking,
    Tipping scales
    Swaying,
    Pendulous perpetually,
    Still,
    Hope prevailing
    Beckons
    Onwards
    Blackness beyond
    Apathy faded,
    Gone;
    Silence prevailing –
    A
    Momentary ceasefire;
    Meeting midway
    Are we
    Finally
    Face to face?
    Finally
    We are
    Midway meeting
    Momentary ceasefire;
    A
    Prevailing silence –
    Gone;
    Faded apathy,
    Beyond blackness
    Onwards
    Beckons
    Prevailing hope
    Still,
    Perpetually pendulous,
    Swaying,
    Scales tipping
    Lacking words,
    Friend and foe,
    Familial,
    Occasional,
    Chaos kaleidoscopic
    Love versus hate,
    We are what?
    Together
    Midnight enduring.
    Fighting
    Seemingly forever
    Linked inextricably,
    Now,
    On autopilot,
    Presently chained,
    Once wanderer,
    Desouled,
    Shuffling sleepwalker
    Surviving,
    Continuing,
    Lived life,
    All over.
    Prevailing darkness
    Splinter fissures;
    Pressures from
    Escape lacking.
    Combined; combusting,
    Internally closeted
    Created captive,
    Intertwined; fast held; enmeshed
    Light on dark,
    Tandem dancing,
    Twinned;
    Puppet stringed.
    Being shadowed,
    One;
    I mimic you,

    (197 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  48. 40 years (203 words)
    @howdylauren

    As I watch him pace aimlessly and sweat under the blistering sun, I almost regret shutting him out. He tried so hard to break through my impenetrable walls, to know my heart, but he underestimated me. I was not one who was waiting for a savior to make me vulnerable.

    He pauses and glances around the dry chasms of the desert, eyes wide, gulping, swallowing his spit to satisfy his parched throat. I almost regret, because he did everything right: he brought me soup when I had the stomach flu, he showed genuine interest when I told him about my day’s work, he stroked my hair when I cried during my few moments of weakness. But I knew that his ultimate goal was to peek around the bones of my chest and prod and poke at the organ beating helplessly inside. So I sealed my rib cage with a glossy smile.

    Now, I stand guard at my Pandora’s Box of secrets. I am the flaming sword at the gate of my Tree of Life. He vainly tries to “carry” my box for me, to “water” my tree, not knowing how futile his attempts are. Not knowing he is doomed to wander the desert.

  49. Cloche Portrait

    There’s an innocence to pigtails and skinned knees, chasing butterflies with hope of capture just to set them free. The memories come and go, puddling like rain on parched pavement. My mind has become a cavern of chasms. Wars waged every day within my own sunken ravine, of the girl I was and the woman I’ve become.

    My grandmother lived to be a hundred, married to the same man for seventy-five years. She canned her own beans and lived to see her grandchildren have families of their own. Though, we canned nothing and grabbed meals on the go between lessons and little league.

    “Touch your hand. Describe how it feels.” As a child this was a simple request my grandmother would incite. I’d rattle off a wet, soft, cold or some equally lazy descriptor with carefree childhood ease.

    The request has stuck with me. I glance down at my aged hands now and wonder what she felt. It never occurred to me to ask the question in return. I wonder if she felt scars, lines of wear, and creases of regret. No one knows how much life they get to live, but I know it’s too late for a seventy-fifth wedding anniversary.

    Maybe, I could can some beans.

    @blackinkpinkdsk
    210 words

  50. Stalemate.
    @CliveNewnham – 201 words

    Eve’s cat-eyes watch the raspberry sundae sunset; the orb melting through the mountain pinnacles bleeding across the parched delta beds. She senses his lurking in the mountain shadows seeking her across the crazed mud flats, just like all the yesterdays, watching the coming night.
    He will not creep out into the coloured light. Nor will she move from behind her rocks until the shades of night swallow them all.
    Darkness’ tsunami sweeps over the streaks of rose, the white, the greys and blues; in the swamping pitch a pallid luminescence seeps up from the dirt.
    Across the grey they creep, laser guns holstered at last. Arrows nocked on bowstrings, both seeking the food that crawls from the cracks and holes to hunt. Both frightened, demented, they keep to their side of the divide.
    A scuffle, a scrape, ears focusing to the sound, eyes dilating, arrow loosed, thud, another arrow ready. It is a meal, not large, but enough for a couple more days. Eve sighs, shudders, collects her prey and returns to her rocks.
    After she has consumed her prey, she will continue to hunt in her darkness; just as he hunts through his, both blaming the other for the wastelands.

  51. Shade
    A.J. Walker

    It was too dangerous for Elijah to move far from home. It was safe where he was and luckily it was the most beautiful place in the world; there was no need to leave. He owned the land, the trees and the water. It was a fine place indeed – one people wrote songs about.

    Jacob looked on with thirst and envy at all Elijah had. As the summer sun bore down he was most envious of the trees and the shade it gave for free. At some times of the year legend had it that the trees bore fruit. He’d heard you could pick their watery delicacies straight from the tree. But that was just nonsense. Jacob thought they were pretty and the shade was worth killing for, especially now when all was hopeless.

    Elijah could sense Jacob’s greed and avarice from afar. He could feel his eyes on him and on his home. He would never let Jacob take him. He had weapons and Jacob had none. He would hit first once Jacob was within striking distance of a club made from the great tree. He sat against the tree enjoying a cooling breeze thinking what a wonderful world it was that he lived in.

    Jacob made his move.

    (210 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  52. Waiting
    @KayCSulli – 199 words

    I was the first one to arrive. The past summer had been dry making this normally high plain as broken as the deserts to the south. The letter had come from the hand of a young boy on a borrowed horse.

    Meet me where we met at noon next Friday.

    I stood in the sparse shade of a dying Cottonwood.The leaves of the tree had turned brittle, like my shoe leather I sorely needed to replace. Being an outlaw is not as glamourous as the dime novels would suggest. The man I waited for had put me in this life.

    In the rippling heat I first assumed he was an illusion, but the growing darkness on the bleak landscape told me it was him. My former lover was always the very image of death coming for his enemies. Nightmare on a horse.

    “You came.” he said.

    “Of course.”

    “You shouldn’t have come.” Silver glinted in his hand as he raised the pistol towards my face.

    Bang.

    His horse startles. My grim reaper falls. I stand over him, holstering my gun.

    “You see, Love, I never could say no to you. And now I no longer have to try.”

  53. Archie’s Ache (310 words)
    @brett_milam

    Archie had the sense that his innards were an archaic grand piano with an endless array of keys that nobody could find the tune to.

    Yet, before his mind’s eye danced a symphony where the world aligned, shape to shape, color to color, line to line, and Archie to Jillian.

    Oh, but Jillian. Archie’s pores exuded a miasma of longing that he hoped was masked by the distance to which he kept from her. Fear tethered him like a man in a desert to a tree with shade.

    His neck hair danced and shivered in the afternoon’s beating sun at the memory of her perfume kissing the edge of his tongue when she passed him after lunch.

    That closeness and the heat which flared up in his stomach and chest, seemed to lift him off the ground; the pushed he needed. No more would their love languish in the what-if, the could-be, and the should-have; the doldrums of his sequestered thoughts.

    Floating on fire, Archie stuck his hands in his pockets for dear life and walked to where he knew her locker to be.

    Then he saw Travis, a classmate, standing before her, as he said, “Jillian, would you go out with…”

    The negative hound in his mind snarled hungrily.

  54. In the Loop
    209 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    “The things one does for love,” Terrance sighed.

    The younger man snorted. “Yeah, Terry–“

    “Don’t you call me Terry,” he snapped. He didn’t remember ever being that smug—or his hair being that thick.

    His time’s Carla had warned him about paradox. Terrance tried to resolve her warning with the solitary tree piercing the wasteland and the light crackling on the horizon like TV snow.

    “You did this for ego.”

    Now it was Terrance’s turn to snort. This guy knew only the university-Carla–hiking shorts and midnight enchiladas. Older Carla had since wound herself so tightly in the Aeon Project that Terrance could hardly touch her. So, he’d detoured the test flight a little, to a time before he went into the air force instead of following her post-doc—and ended up here instead.

    “Ever consider, Terry,” the younger man said, “that she knew what you were planning?”

    “She would’ve–“ Terrance swallowed.

    The light along the horizon stretched upward fuzzing out the sky.

    The man stood. “When I get back, no military for me.”

    From the stuttering shade, Terrance watched his younger self disintegrate into a monochrome blizzard. Terrance’s reality had to win. He stepped away from the tree. The loop of time closed around him like a noose.

  55. Farther, Further, Father (210 words)
    @brett_milam

    Father passed the blade in the same nonchalant manner with which he’d pass the comics section of the newspaper. Resigned to its fate.

    I, on the other hand, held its cold steel in the palm of my hand with reverence. A reverence normally reserved for women and wine.

    Father’s first happened back in the Dust Bowl days when the earth coughed dust. In days when trees shivered in the night for lost leaves.

    I was to perform my first in the nocturnal wastelands of Detroit where shadows curled up with other shadows for protection. Where street lamps stopped bothering with their warm glow.

    Father’s victim was nicked with the point of the blade at her carotid artery. She bled on his shoes and his hands. Nowadays, I’d catch him looking at his old, cracked hands, as if still seeing her blood.

    I was not surgical like him once I started in. My hands became one with the steel and I felt indestructible with each slash.

    Father watched, then turned his head.

    I often asked father, once he revealed to me what he did at a young age, if I had what he had.

    Father would turn his head, then, too.

    I was a more fully realized, evolved version of father.

  56. Story 2
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    200 words

    Root, trunk, branch and we, the dangling leaves. Delicate slivers of humanity, each unique but forever connected. Even as we fall and decay, we nourish and become one with the whole.
    We may not have grown upon the same branch, but that can’t hide our symbiosis.
    Why then, do I hate you so?
    You deny your part in this tree of life. You stubbornly believe that your branch is somehow autonomous, that your choices have no consequences beyond the slim twigs of your own fragile existence.
    There’s a rot setting in and you’re poisoning us all. How can you be so arrogant?
    You have no right to stir these feelings in me.
    They cloud my thoughts and obliterate the whispered song of the whole.
    I dream of the day that you are pruned, a canker removed.
    Damn you for these thoughts.
    I doubt you even register them, such is your arrogance.
    How long does the leaf live when ripped from the branch?
    You are good for naught but compost.
    I will cut you down myself.
    Perhaps, in your passing, new growth can occur.
    Perhaps, in your passing, my mind will be freed.
    Root, trunk, branch and we, the dangling leaves.

  57. The Wise Man.
    Vanessa Louise Lester
    @VanessaLester
    210 Words

    To become truly enlightened takes years of meditation, and self- discovery. Harold had taken years of medication and memorised a book of Buddhist quotes. The company provided his robes.
    As gigs go, the ‘Holoset’ was far better than the bearded, red suited man. He hated kids. He especially disliked Elves. Spirituality paid better. There was usually no vomit except occasionally his own.
    He’d sit for hours under the thinking tree waiting for someone to ‘find’ him. Usually he got a warning in his earpiece. Enough time to suck a mint and disguise his ‘special’ coffee smell.
    He saw the ‘disciple’ walking towards him and felt peeved he’d not been warned. The ‘Long Road’ package meant, though he’d only been on Holoset for a few hours, in the disciple’s reality, he’d travelled many months.
    He sat cross-legged opposite Harold and said nothing. For hours.
    Harold was dying for a drink.
    “I came here to kill you. You killed my family. I know now, I can’t”
    The disciple removed Harold’s earpiece, replaced it, then poured away the contents of his flask. Two years for three lives. Driving drunk. Harold always felt it wasn’t enough.
    To become truly enlightened takes years of meditation, and self- discovery. Harold followed the disciple for a lifetime.

  58. Mano a Mano (Hombre a Hombre)
    @mishmhem
    199 words

    Three weeks in the desert had taken its toll. At first it wasn’t that bad, I’d find a watering hole here… a cactus there, but I was running out of time. The last three signs of water had been nothing more than an illusion, or worse a hallucination.

    I don’t even know anymore. I thought I’d lost my pursuer, but now, I’m not really sure if he’s there or just my mind playing tricks on me. He seems to appear at the strangest of times, always closing in on me. I don’t think I have that much more left in me.

    I’d decided to take my chances, having spied a tree in the middle of this God forsaken place, but even as I drew closer, I saw my tormentor all but lounging beneath the tree. I had no choice—I was dead either way and I decided that if it came down to it, I would rather die like a man than die slowly, running away.

    My mind made up I had walked towards him, only to see that my pursuer wasn’t who I thought it was.

    Pogo was right. I have met the enemy, and he is me.

  59. Foy
    @db_foy
    word count: 205

    “You Can’t Fight Another’s Battles”

    When he sees her, guilt scuttles from a neglected cavity in the ground, crawls up his pant-leg, beneath his collar, and into his ear.
    You did this. Why didn’t you help?
    “You look…” A lie crystallizes on his lips. “…terrible.” It melts away.
    Her back bumps under a familiar snort, “well, you haven’t changed.”
    Bitterness circles the hollows of her cheekbones, expressing itself in the green violet of a day-old bruise.
    “How’re you liking it here?”
    “Fine. I’ve got all I need.”
    “Have you?” His eyes follow the arc of her kingdom, syringes poking at the sky, fifths dangling fruit-like, the ground parched as her deflated veins.
    You could’ve prevented this. If you hadn’t turned your back.
    Drew crouches in front of her, shoulders square.
    “Lila, please, come away. The mountains, I’ve seen them work miracles.”
    “I don’t need miracles.” Her legs squeeze the crate beneath her–“Benzodiazepines”–as if she’s giving birth to its splintered form. “I could leave the moment I want to.”
    “Can you?”
    Her nails tear silently at the skin, punctured and healed, covering her arms. That black rage would split him down to his atoms. He looks away and stands, towering above his sister.
    “Well, if you change your mind…”

  60. Pace Tua
    by Alissa Leonard
    209 words
    @lissajean7

    “Please, Great One. Let me pass.” The boy bowed deep, clutching the small case to his chest.

    “The rules forbid it.”

    The boy licked parched lips and scuffed a foot against the cracked earth. The tree beckoned not ten steps ahead, its glistening leaves shading a near perfect circle of the wasteland. He eyed the Great One and considered running for it, but remembered enough stories not to try. “What rules?”

    “You haven’t a weapon to contend with.”

    “Weapon? I’m not here to fight you!”

    “My leaves aren’t free, young one.”

    “I don’t want a leaf.”

    “Everyone wants a leaf.”

    “Not me! I want adventure! Excitement!”

    The Great One squinted suspiciously. “Then why did you come?”

    The boy hugged the case tightly to his chest.

    “What do you carry?”

    The boy hesitated. A hot wind tore across the desert. Dirt stung his eyes, pebbles chattered, and the leaves tinkled just out of reach – taunting him with a longing that threatened his boyish exuberance.

    “A promise,” he finally answered, sending the case tumbling to rest beneath the shade of the leaves. “Will you remove it?”

    “I cannot enter the shade of the tree.”

    The boy smiled. “Perhaps I shall return when I am ready for peace… and bring a weapon.”

  61. My Dear Friend…
    193 words, @pmcolt

    “Come on, big brother. Let’s go halfsies on it!” They say there’s a fool born every minute, and that fool is my brother Jonah.

    “Forget it. No more harebrained schemes.” They also say a fool and his money are soon parted, and that fool is me. Ever since childhood, Jonah has been chasing one crazy scheme after another. All that time, I’ve been chasing right after him, from Bangor, Maine to Bahrain. I bought into his “foolproof” lottery ticket system, which left me with a $500 credit card debt and five free sno-cones. I helped him buy into that ice cream parlor in Derwent, Alberta (population 100, not big ice cream consumers).

    Now we were stuck together in the “most verdant fruit orchard in the Middle East,” nothing but a single suitcase and a scraggly tree on a patch of bone-dry earth to our names.

    “Just look at the brochure, though!” He waved the time-share advertisement in front of my face. “Anyplace in Hawaii has to beat this dirt farm. And you deserve some time to yourself, big bro…”

    In hindsight, I should have at least made him promise me the first turn.

  62. Tree’s company

    The two men stood and stared.
    “What is it Bill?”
    “Dunno Ben.”
    “Can we eat it?”
    There was a loud audible crunching, following by gagging, “Nope.”
    “What about the green bits?”
    More gagging, “Still nope.”
    “I can’t help but feel this thing is important somehow. What’s it doing sitting here in the middle of the desert?”
    “Dunno. Maybe it stopped for a rest?”
    “Send a vid to the oracle. He’ll know what it is.”

    After a few moments the widget buzzed, and the tall man scanned the message, “He says it’s something called a treeee. Apparently it needs nutrients and water to survive…”

    Both men stared at each other.
    “How long have we been partners Bill?”
    “Feels like a lifetime Ben. You’re like a brother.”
    “I didn’t even mind that time that you slept with my sister, remember that?”
    “Not really, we were pretty drunk.”
    “Regardless, we’d never let a little drop of water come between our friendship would we?”
    “Perish the thought old chap. You are more important to me than the billions of credits under that treeee.”
    They both reached behind their backs slowly, smiling awkwardly.

    The gunshots echoed across the plains and the tree found itself with just enough nutrients to last until the next discovery.

    208 words
    @todayschapter

  63. EMULATE
    WC = 210, exclusive of title (1-30-15)

    “You haven’t the voice nor the communicative skills to pursue your chosen field. Listen to yourself. You sound as if you are related to Yertle the Turtle: nasal. And your voice doesn’t project. How do you expect to interact with people, especially administrators, with a voice like that? You don’t enunciate either. You drop the endings off words. You would be a poor model for those you need to help. What if you worked in another English speaking country? Would you understand their form of English? What if a patient asked for a ‘plite?’ Would you even know what that is?”

    “You know, Dad, your insecurities regarding my six year program in communication disorders surprises me. In the first place, having received merit scholarships covering all my expenses has relieved me and you of financial responsibilities. My professors have chosen me to lead seminars and to design special studies in specific communication disorder areas. I’m sorry you do not hear, see, or feel the quality and worth of this individual you instructed to follow dreams, and to never give up. This person before you worshipped your advice, admired your work ethic.”

    “I spoke as you spoke, Dad. It was you whose language clarity, style, and sound I emulated and imitated.”

  64. The Legacy
    (210 words)

    “Dry as a bone.” I scrutinize the cracked, warped mud stretching out before us.

    ”Why did you ask me to meet you here, Dad? It’s bloody hot.”

    “I thought that would be obvious.”

    “Our tree.” My son’s voice drops and he nudges a clay shard with his toe, sending it skipping.

    “Yes.”

    He gazes at the leaves rustling above us. “How does it still have leaves? It should be dried and dead.”

    I reach out and trail my fingers across the tree’s trunk, a lifetime of memories captured in the deep cracks and burly knots of the graying bark. “Because I water it every day.”

    He raises his eyebrows. “It’s a half-mile walk from the house. Why?”

    “It’s where we laughed and talked and skipped rocks. Where I watched you grow into a man. I couldn’t lose that.”

    “An escape from the world of business, you’d say.” A smile flickers across my son’s face.

    “A short-lived escape.”

    He bristles and then sighs a pained huff of a thousand been-theres. “How often must I apologize about my company diverting the water? It was a business decision. Is that why I’m here?”

    “Nope. Wanted to tell you that I have only one month to live. And I’m leaving the tree to you.”

  65. Elisa @averageadvocate
    WC 210
    On The Path to New
    ——————–

    Kamel and his wife shone, lighting up the drying plains by night with their love and resting as the smoke of their fires beckoned enemies by day.

    But but the sweet couple knew of no foes–each other’s own safe harbor. They blocked out the past in the present, no sounds of planes and wars.

    Kamel would whisper to her belly, or lay his head on her chest, counting the stars numbering their dreams. She would flirt and chatter of their memories not yet born. Then Kamel’s wife would flow her fingers through his locks, as if it was the plentiful water they did not have.

    In the evening they would awake with their dawn and trek to an unknown home. The rubble and hate of the last was behind them as new hope arose and aroused, the brilliance to their path.

    In their morning, before the light faded, they’d make an under-tree nest to sleep in. She’d prepare scraps. He’d find kindling. Then Kamel would count dreams. She would talk of bathing in the clean fresh water of the future.

    “Fighter one,” the airman spoke, “There are armed forces on the ground. I repeat, there are armed enemy forces.” Then the response came, “Roger that fighter seven. Target and eliminate.”

  66. When Love Ends

    The sun raged down through the sparsely leaved branches, and the fissured ground reciprocated the assault, sending heatwaves back toward the vast, cloudless sky. Jack saw Hannah leaning against the thin tree trunk. The red stains were spreading throughout the bandaged nubs where her arms used to be. This was true love, Jack thought. She was willing to consume and be consumed in spirit and flesh.

    Jack felt an itch on his foot and reached down to scratch it, but his fingers only found the brown powdered dirt. It was a neuropathic itch. Hannah had feasted on his legs a week ago. This produced a faint smile on his face. He loved the idea of becoming one through these feast.

    “It’s your turn today, love. Shall we start on one of your legs?” Jack asked. Hannah turned away. Jack scooted toward Hannah and kissed her waning calf. “What’s wrong, love?”

    “I’m leaving, Jack,” Hannah said. “I thought this was what I wanted but, being here, alone with you. . . I just—I can’t.”

    Jack stayed silent.

    “I’m sorry, but I can’t help how I feel.”

    “How do you plan on us getting back? I don’t have legs.”

    “That’s the thing, Jack, I can’t carry you.”

    Jack understood. It ended here.

    209 words

    @goldzco21

    #flashdog

  67. Two men fought in a vast wasteland.

    Surrounding them stood creatures of all shapes and forms, lost mythological beasts once only dreamed of. Above the crowd of strange etheric creatures fluttered tiny men and women with butterfly wings shouting obscenities at the two humans locked in combat.

    A tall fair woman wearing a gown made of dewdrops and spiderwebs and a glowing silver crown on her head stood at one end, watching. Large muscled beasts, half man, half bull, stood on either side of her. She watched the humans in silence as one tightened his hands around the throat of the other and squeezed. The crowd roared as a lone figure rose.

    “Bring the champion forward”

    The guards escorted the tired champion to their Queen and shoved him to his knees. 

    “Human, you are triumphant. I promised freedom and life to the winner and I swear I will make it so.”

    The man gazed up at her, his eyes bleeding as they absorbed her beauty.

    “However, I have decided to treat you as you have treated my people and this world.”

    She turned to her two guards.

    “Break both his arms and legs and leave him here.”

    The Fairy Queen smiled as the last man screamed.

    206 words
    @joshbgosh

  68. Casey walks through the desert, finding the one fabled ‘Paradox Tree’ that couldn’t grow here but did. This was the entire reason why this ‘Master Akura’ guy dragged Casey across the Pacific Ocean; something about being the ‘Chosen One’ or some crap like that. Casey goes to the tree, setting his suitcase down.
    “I guess this is the part where I meditate to receive enlightenment or something,” Casey says, “Just like that one Bruce Lee movie.”
    Casey sits down. After attempting to put his feet on his thighs (and painfully failing), he resolves to sit with his feet under him. Casey looks down at the ground, trying to ignore the voice that told him this was the stupidest thing since Miley Cyrus. Suddenly, there’s a rustling sound as a large black something jumps out of the tree. It stands up, snapping into a crisp combat stance.
    “You are not to be here, young one!” the ninja shouts, “Begone!”
    Remembering just how deadly ninjas were, Casey turns around and runs, leaving his suitcase. The ninja folds his hands behind his back and shakes his head. Then he removes his mask, revealing the old man who had brought Casey here.
    “He’s not quite a hero yet,” Akura says with a disappointed smirk.

  69. What It All Boiled Down To.
    @CliveNewnham – 207 words

    “You have taken everything, every damn thing, you bastard!”
    “But if I hadn’t, we would have nothing.”
    “We have got nothing, damn it!”
    “We have our lives.”
    “We… We… WE… ?”
    “Yes ‘we’.”
    “We? You selfish pig! There is no ‘we’. There never was, there never will be. It’s always been all about you. I want this… I want that… I’ll get this… I’ll take that. You’re sick!”
    “But-”
    “You are ILL!”
    “But darling, where would we be if I hadn’t taken stuff.”
    “We’d be better off. I’d be better off.”
    “Rubbish. We’d be dead, just like all the others.”
    “You are dead.”
    “N… No I’m not, ha-ha-ha-ha.”
    “You are. You’ve never given anybody anything. It would have been nice if you’d just given me a bit.”
    “What’re you talking about? I have given you everything! Least ways shared it.”
    “I’m not talking about stuff.”
    “What?”
    “I wish you’d just held me sometimes; given me strength, comfort; if you’d just loved me a bit.”
    “Oh for pity’s sake -”
    “Don’t talk to me about pity.”
    “What!”
    “If you’d had an ounce of love in you, you’d have given us something to live for.”
    “But -”
    “Go. Go now. Go! The tree is mine.”
    She pointed the gun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s