Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 10: WINNERS

Thank you to the many of you who’ve expressed concern with regard to the supply of proper chocolate here at the lair. I’m pleased to report that for now we are managing (despite the nearly ten inches of snow currently descending above ground). We will, of course, keep you updated. 


Remember to stop back by tomorrow for the second part of our interview with Flashversary winner Maggie Duncan. And then Wednesday’s our Warmup Wednesday feature (I am really, really loving this event, with its casual, no-stress atmosphere!), and Thursday’s the Sixty Seconds interview with today’s winner.

Finally: don’t forget to check out the rapidly growing Wall of Flame to get to know the faithful dragons at the heart of Flash! Friday. 


Dragon Captains Image Ronin/Joidianne4eva sayWell, if I told you that we poor judges have spent the past few nights dreaming of catnip and sandals, would you feel pity? No? Thought as much. But firstly a big thank you to all of you who entered this week; combining kittens with the leather clad, pointy end wielding realm of the gladiator was a task I myself would have shied away from. So thank you to all those who took up the shield of narration and the spear of scornful mutterings … really appreciated.

Sadly, as some bloke adept with swords once remarked, “There can be only one”; so with sand still between our toes and blood on our knuckles, let’s see who stood triumphant at the end, and who sadly got fed to the lions.



Susan O’Reilly, “Ginger Nut.” 

J: This tale was highly amusing, from the desperation of the narrator to get away from his cat to the underlying (possible) reasons why the cat is apparently baying for his blood. Not a word is wasted, and the final product was brilliant, though you can’t help but think that with all that provocation Ninja’s anger might be well-placed, after all.

IR: A playful take on the prompt that offered up the terror that is the needle equipped kitten. The advert at the end, really closing off the tale, and dismay, of our narrator. 

Reg Wulff, “Flufficus.” 

This was well-deserving of a special mention, there were so many layers here; but what really caught my attention was the absolute apathy of Flufficus. The lack of emotion gives the tale a cold feeling that made me shiver every time I read it… and I read it quite often.

A piece that really captured the plight of the damned and enslaved, delivered from the perspective of a narrator unmoved and seemingly unconcerned. Very intriguing.

Mara Fields, “The Argument.”

This was another take that brought a smile to my face. Poor Rob never had a chance at finding the right costume did he? Maybe he should have stuck with the gladiator get up.

A different take and one that deftly brought together our Dragon’s demands with a playful touch that brought a smile to my face. Though “if in doubt, always choose Batman” is my advice.



Rachel Lynn, Heart of a Gladiator.” 

The relationship between man and kitten here was a brilliant concept to build on because it makes you feel not only for Stanith but also for Bumble, who has most likely lost the only person he had.

The sadness, acceptance and resignation of Stanith’s existence permeated this piece. A well thought out and moving lament to friendship in all its forms.

Tinman Done Badly, Cat Fight.” 

This tale was amusing from the very beginning and it definitely delivered at the end. Clearly the narrator hadn’t counted on the fickle nature of his opponent and now he’s paying for it with his dignity.

That final line resonated with the cat owner in me. The ability of such a small animal to project contempt with a mere quizzical stare! A well-crafted and humorous take on the prompts.

Brian S. Creek, “Off Switch.”

I probably shouldn’t have found this tale as humorous as I did; after all, the narrator has gone through a lot to confront this Marcus Denton, only to be taken down with something as insidious as kittens.

Taking a sci-fi vibe was a brave decision, but this Running Man meets You Tube delivered on both genre and humour. The imagery of this 80s action hero (well, in my mind) being subdued by endless kitten faces was just wonderful.


Craig Anderson, “Nine Lives.” 

I really enjoyed the twist here, the way that the author invites you to pity this terrified participant, and then in the blink of an eye the focus of the story has changed from someone to be protected to someone to be feared. Kittenus Maximus has truly lived up to his name.

“Kittenus Maximus”, aside from “Spartacat,” no other Latin/Monty Python moniker made me chuckle with delight. Thankfully Mr Maximus proved as durable as the title of the piece, and proved that it’s not about being the fastest, but the second slowest when outrunning peril.


Steph Ellis, “Pollice Verso.”

Now this was a take that I thoroughly enjoyed. I didn’t expect to see something quite this dark among the tales this week {Editor’s Note: O Ye of Little Faith!} so this caught my attention very quickly and held it through to the last word. The imagery used here was decadently dark, and I must say that Commodus’ horror was well-placed.

The darkness of this piece resonated with the writer’s evocative take on the trope of arena and judgment. The disdain of Dis, irritated by a gladiator’s offering false devotion, was wonderfully captured, and much like Greek mythology, the punishment for such transgression was handed down two-fold. The final feline reveal was particularly well done, shifting the tale into the horror that the narrative had hinted at before.


Brian S. Creek, “It’s What’s On the Inside.” 

I must admit that I wasn’t expecting this plot twist, but what a plot twist indeed! And quite a fitting punishment, very in line with what one would expect to see dished out by the Gods of the Roman Pantheon. I had to re-read the tale a few times. Even now I’m left with questions, but the biggest one of all is, how did the Narrator come to own Carpophores? Or, more importantly, who is the narrator?

This week’s nefarious Dragoness juxtaposition of kitten and gladiator meant that we ended up with a rich array of tales that took us to recurring themes. Hence it was those moments of flash that took us on a diversion, away from the expected that stuck in the mind. The wit, pace, playful narration and ending made this an excellent example of combining two seemingly incompatible demands. A really delightful read.


Tamara Shoemaker!!!


“Over the Fence”

Everything about this tale invites you to look closer, from the flow of the language to the imagery captured through the narrator’s eyes. It’s a maze of hidden meanings and bitter truths hidden beneath a somewhat superficial beauty, and that’s what captured my attention from the very start and held it to the last heart-breaking line. This was a brilliantly original take on both prompts and a well deserving win.

It was the imagery that made me pause and sit up, as if for a moment I was in the suburban façade that evoked hints of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. The time lapse of a family settling into a new home, and the nostalgia of youthful innocence eloquently captured through passing seasons was wonderfully captured. The shift towards the gladiatorial requirement was adeptly done, moving us into the final act and reveal of the darkness that lingered behind the white picket fence.

Just beautiful.

Congratulations, Tamara! Please find below the rights to a third devastatingly tragic winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here are also your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Over the Fence

The yard next door is empty until your family moves in.
The “for sale” sign tumbles, and the picket fence whitens.
Flowers line the porch, and the front windows light at night like laughing eyes.

The crisp autumn evenings echo with shouts, leathery thumps refracting from the glove on your hand as you pound your fist into it, waiting for your dad to toss the ball.

The heated steam of summer bakes your bronzed legs. An open book nestles below your shaded eyes while the blazing sun roasts above.

In winter, your parka fluffs around your pinked cheeks like the warm fuzz of a kitten’s fur, and your blue eyes snap with cold and fun.

They think they know you, the girl-next-door.
Button-cute, they say.
Daddy’s girl, they say.
Tom-boy, they say.

They don’t have my vantage point from beyond the fence.
They don’t see the losing battle where you’re alone in your field,
Arrayed with useless weapons
And harmless nets,
A dull spear
And a cracked shield.

The cancer spreads like warm blood,
Soaking your cells with poison and dulling the warrior’s glint in your eyes,

So that one day I wake up,
And the yard next door is empty.



4 thoughts on “Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 10: WINNERS

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