Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 16

HURRAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!  Friday is here again, and I can finally stop that nasty itchy annoying impatient feeling the rest of the week offers. It’s been a tremendously fun week here at the lair. Did I mention I got to meet  Maggie Stiefvater? One word: The Scorpio Races: Wow. (Yes, yes, you pickies. The one word is Wow. Aren’t I sneaky???) Here’s the first line of TSR, in case you needed convincing: It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die. 

WALL OF FLAME: Don’t forget!!!! Have you submitted stories here at least three times in March? Be sure to claim eligibility for your MARCH badge. Prizes at calendar year’s end from among those with the most badges in 2015! Details and the names of our fabulous Ring of Fire badge holders here.

♦♦♦♦♦

DC2Judging today is Dragon Team One: that’s the fearless, globe-sandwiching team of Image Ronin and Joidianne. If I were you, I might worry less about their judging abilities (which are stellar) and more about how the two of them sandwich the globe.  No wonder alien invaders have steered clear of Earth!*

* As far as we know    

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

Now, all eyes on the prosecution, and write!

* 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 be your story’s central conflict {note: for an explanation of this internal conflict, see here.} Note: “man” as used here is NOT gender-specific):

 

manvself

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

 

First Woman Jury, Los Angeles, Nov 1911. PD photo by Library of Congress.

First Woman Jury, Los Angeles, Nov 1911. PD photo by Library of Congress.

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345 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 16

  1. Really, Peers?
    208 words
    personalvapes@gmail.com

    Hello, ladies! Ya’ll are looking mighty fine this day. Too fine, for such a man as myself to be looking so brazenly at you.

    I must resist staring too hard…but it’s been so long since my lovely Lucille. WHY did you bring me to punish you? I treated you well, took care of you. I assisted you from the coach, made sure your slippers didn’t get filthy in stagnant puddles, kept other men from roughly handling you.

    Why did you do this to me??

    Ah, Lucille. A smile to light the darkest night. A smile gifted to me as I retrieved your handbag from the curb. I loved you right then, a simple smile to enslave a simple servant.

    Why would you have then given that smile to another? And given him your body, heart, soul and hand in marriage as well?

    You wounded me, Lucille – you tore my heart from my chest and displayed it as some macabre trophy for your friends and family to laugh at.

    Who laughed last, Lucille? Who was left standing, and who was lying in a pool of blood on the floor?

    You giggle in my ear. In front of this jury of women, I will be judged for your death.

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 194

    Gotta Go

    They’d said it would be a three hour session, three hours of captivity before our release.

    I was told to repress it, to bury it, to disallow its existence. “Don’t speak of it,” they’d said. “Pretend it’s not there.”

    But it is there, hiding behind the closed windows, the hot breaths, the stifling air. Sweat dampens the back of my blouse as I strain against it. My moist handkerchief crumples in my gloves.

    Desperation bleeds through me, presses all around me. Ignore it, but I can only fight so long. Banish it, but my mettle weakens with each passing moment.

    The pink taffeta next to me swishes with the movement of gloves across it. A hat’s feather bouquet before me tickles my nose, and I sneeze.

    That was perhaps a mistake.

    The corner where I sit folds itself around me, closing me in, choking me until I can no longer breathe. I grind my toes into the floor planking, rocking in my chair.

    At long last, the marching orders come. Freedom rings in a breath of movement. Boots shuffle, chairs scrape.

    I mow down the five ladies that stand between me and the toilets.

  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 198

    Empty

    She lies swaddled, dark lashes sweeping flushed cheeks. The pacifier and bulb syringe rest next to her head; baby footprints track across the blanket. Her name plate says, “Lianna,” though it won’t stay that way.

    It was the name I’d blurted when she’d nestled in my arms before the nurses whisked her away to clean her, prepare her for her new parents.

    I hate them, whoever they are. They, with their nursery at home that features a bird mobile over the crib and a hand-painted tree on the wall. In the corner, an overstuffed bear sprawls, waiting for pudgy-armed hugs. Diapers stack neatly next to the changing table, and across the rocker, a hand-knitted blanket waits for spit-ups and bedtime stories and lullabies.

    I hate them.

    The nurse approaches, the clipboard in her hand. A few papers, she explains. You can go on your way.

    I can hardly see the page where I scrawl my signature. The fine print blurs together behind the moisture. Only one name stands out from the mist of black and white swimming words.

    Lianna Joy.

    May you be their joy.

    I turn to go, and my arms are emptier than they’ve ever been.

  4. Pocketfull

    It is the first day of November, and so today, someone will die. They line up before us; the unlucky. They call us crows and vultures as we sit in judgement but the Sisterhood cares little for opinions.
    Power to bring forth life is the usual lot of women but for us the power of death is held in our dainty begloved hands. Who better to safeguard the living than those who birth it in blood and pain.
    Pain. I stifle a sob but my hand rises with my sisters. My lover will be put beyond the veil. We will survive another year in the bubble.

  5. Decisions, Decisions

    Mrs Riley stared towards the front of the courtroom, overwhelmed, and a little frightened. She was just an ordinary woman, but here she was, part of the first ever female only jury. She slumped back against the wall, her mind reeling with the day’s proceedings. They would be asked to make a judgement, a decision, for or against that poor man.
    Mr Riley said she couldn’t make a good decision to save her life. Maybe she should just agree with whatever everyone else said. Should she, though? She did have a brain, after all. Rot it, she would make her own conclusions. She gave a little snort, as if to seal her intention. Several of the other women glanced at her, brows furrowed before they quickly looked away again. Oh, what was she thinking? She couldn’t even choose a hat that suited her. Even the colour was all wrong. Ridiculous woman.
    The men at the front of the courtroom started talking again. Mrs Riley straightened her back, concentrating. Unbidden, an opinion formed in her mind. The more she heard, the clearer it became. She had made a decision, on her own. It felt good. A smile began to appear on her lips. Mr Riley was in for a surprise.

    Word count: 209
    Twitter: @AngelaJMaher

  6. Turning Point
    (109 words)

    They can read my thoughts like an open book. They can see through me as though I was a ghostly apparition. They can sense my desire to help them.

    But do I help them?

    What they ask is not the natural order of things. It is not the way our society has operated or is meant to operate. In time, perhaps, but the nation isn’t ready for such change; the balance of power would change in ways that are inconceivable. We would be weakened; their ideals are too soft for such a hard world where strength is needed. To give them any power would be a mistake
    .
    But that’s not a rational argument.

    Perhaps their voice would provide points of view that are not considered at the moment. If they had power, the powers that be would have to learn how to compromise and truly negotiate.

    It could lead the nation down a new path, a new way of being in the world. Or perhaps to ruin.

    The final decision rests on my shoulders. I know what they want me to do. I know what others expect me to do.

    Do I stay with the current order of things? Or do I pass the resolution allowing women to vote?

  7. The Curious Case of Henry John Stanwick
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    209 words

    ‘This is a case the like of which has never appeared in my courtroom before. We have heard evidence of this man’s lewd, licentious and solicitous behaviour. When questioned the accused, Henry John Stanwick, has not denied any of the charges put before this court. He has refused an attorney and submitted his own defence, such as it is. His only mitigation is that he is, and you’ll pardon my language for these are his words… “just too damned handsome for his own good”.
    ‘Mr Stanwick has brought forward expert witness to testify to this. Hilary Mandel the lay Methodist minister and Doctor Jane Hargrieves have given their sworn testament that he is indeed, according to the church and modern science, “too damned handsome for his own good.” However, I would ask you to discount the words of Miss Mandel as it appears that she believes she is now engaged to the accused.’

    ‘Ladies, seeing as each of you, it appears is married to Mr Stanwick, I would give you chance to speak. Yes, Miss…’

    ‘Mrs Stanwick.’

    ‘Yes, of course, Mrs Stanwick. Go ahead.’

    ‘Thank you, Ma’am. I just want to say I don’t mind sharing.’

    ‘Hmm. Henry John Stanwick, I will see you in my chambers, alone, now.’

  8. Judge, Jury, Executioner

    He looks so fine up there, his head thrown back, a thick pulse thudding at his throat. If it weren’t for his shackles he could almost be in church, a pillar of righteousness.

    But instead he’s in the dock, and I’m here.

    The judge reviews the evidence, making it sound even more damning than the prosecution had. Gruesome injuries, he drones. Overwhelming strength. I tremble, but the defendant doesn’t hang his head; he stays straight-backed, his eyes fixed in the crowd, on one face in particular.

    I don’t have to look to know which one.

    When I caught my husband sneaking out at night, I did nothing for the longest time. I waited. I chose my moment carefully, following on silent feet. When I saw him embrace another man – this man, whose life I’m about to judge – a rage like hellfire filled my bones and blood.

    So I crept to his house. I murdered his wife. It was as if a demon overtook me.

    And when they dragged him to trial, this fine innocent man, he confessed. To spare my husband, he confessed. To spare me the shame.

    ‘Madam Foreperson. Your verdict, please.’

    Like a coward, I rise and condemn him, and his eyes never leave my husband’s face.

    @SJOHart
    209 words

  9. Sold for a Price
    206 words

    “..it was sold for a price and I am due recompense for it’s loss.”
    My witness statement sounded sincere, heartfelt, just, when I wrote it and practiced before the mirror. The courtroom sucks life from the words, turning them into husks which sound like a naked plea for money; as if a few coins will balance things out.
    For five days I have watched the people in this trial: The accused, attempting to look contrite, but barely making it past smug, especially when his lawyer made the prosecutor look like a chump; the judge who, to his credit, never snored once, even when the actuary was on the stand for three hours; the jury, looking bored and intrigued by turn.
    Watching them file out to deliberate on proceedings has left me as unsure of what will happen as listening to the rest of the trial.
    I wonder if my statement meant anything to them.
    Some friends suggested not making one. Were they right? My heart said no. My head said no. My stomach said yes. It has felt like I ate a bowl of lead from the time I said I wanted to do it. Right now, it feels like hot lead.
    Here comes the jury.

    @clivetern

  10. (207)
    @Viking_Ma

    Hats Off to the Groom

    You can forget it! I am NOT wearing that bloody hat!
    The milliner crept forwards like a playful kitten, holding the bright purple creation which dripped in beads, jiggled with tickly tassels and was crowned with flopping feathers. There was clearly far too much excess decoration. They all knew it: the bonnet was a fright.
    Angelina stamped her small booted foot and snarled at him in rage, her hands curled into white-knuckled fists.
    ‘I wanted Fuchsia NOT purple, you idiot man!’ She aimed a powerful kick at his shop counter. The register clanged as her boot made contact.
    ‘That monstrosity will not match my trousseau, what a DISASTER!’
    Her mother played with her gloves in the background, waiting for the temper storm to blow itself out. The milliner looked close to tears, his fingers fiddling with the fabulous frippery.
    ‘Miss Barmcake, I can only apologise…’ he began, voice fading as Angelina whipped around to face him with a thunderous frown.
    ‘I am going to have to go bare-headed! Be the laughing stock of the town! SCANDALOUS!’
    Lightning crackled as she whirled around, pummelling the shop shelving, her rage making her spit like a cuckoo.
    The milliner edged over to her mother. ‘The groom is a lucky man…’

  11. Word Count 210 excluding title
    @susanOReilly3

    Innocent?

    Charged with being a cheating Casanova causing heartbreak and mayhem everywhere, as it was not only hearts I stole. This lot would have been safe staring at me as if they’d never seen such a fine specimen before, all salivating but I only wooed the pretty ones.

    I stop myself short it is this blown out of all apportions love of self that has brought me here. I don’t see my crime as I am only giving me that I am after all what they all wanted. Is it wrong of me to extract a little fee even if they paid the price unwittingly? I’m worth it. They are the ones that should be on trial testifying to that fact.

    I shield my view and imagine them beautiful. My good looks, charm and wit will set me free, but I usually want to court this is going to be hard work. I isolate each one giving them all individual attention, they should be charged with lusting over the defendant. Each one sits straighter in her chair desperately trying to preen unnoticed. How could they find me guilty when they could not wait to buy what I had for sale? Smugly I awaited their innocent verdict. It was a foregone conclusion.

  12. @NJCrosskey
    210 words

    Text Appeal

    A: Hey 🙂
    J: Hey baby! Ruok?
    A: yh U?
    J: No 😦
    A: Wu?
    J: B1tch Jilly
    A: wot she dun now?
    J: Call me fat.
    A: Shes a troll! Y u care?
    J: So u thk im fat 2?
    A: No. Babe I thk ur gorge :*
    J: She said it infrnt of EVERY1.
    A: So?
    J: They all stared & laughed 😥 I h8 the way her gang judges evry1, lyk there queens. She needs a lesson
    A: yh
    J: I wish sum1 wld key tht fkn car her dad gave her. Big ugly scratches, for a big ugly b1tch.
    A: Lol Yh
    J: 🙂
    J: So wen u gonna do it?
    A: wot?
    J: fk up her car?
    A: Dnt b crazy
    J: I tht u luvd me?
    A: I do babe. Bt thts sketchy
    J: I new it. I new u wre just lyk all the others. U dnt care bout me at all. She mks my life hell & u dnt care! Ur a fkn coward
    J: 😦
    J: txt me bk babe Im sorry xx
    J: Babe?
    J: pls
    J: I dnt mean it.
    J: Just hurts 😦
    J: If u key her car, Ill do tht thing u lyk 😉
    A: K

  13. First Person Jury
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    208 words

    I rub my fingers over the photo, again and again. At first it drew me for the fashions. The cinched waists. The long dresses. The woman with the hat that resembled a cake. I was grateful I live in an era of greater freedom.

    But now I can’t stop looking at the woman in the back. The one who avoided the camera. Lips in a line, eyebrows up. Was it intentional, her avoidance? What was she hiding?

    Someone had scrawled First Woman Jury, Los Angeles across the top of the picture.

    They were there to pass judgment on somebody else. Yet I feel certain she’d already judged herself, that woman in the back. Found herself wanting. Convicted and condemned.

    Maybe I’m projecting.

    I study the woman in the front row, the one with the baleful eyes and defiant expression. It’s as if she knows. She knows what I’ve done. They all know. Family. Friends. Neighbors.

    I can make all the excuses I want, but I’m the one who made the decision. I’m the one who did it.

    Clutching the photo, the one I’d found in that second-hand suitcase, I realize the woman in the back and I are the same.

    Trapped in prisons of our own making.

  14. 192 words
    @SherLHoward

    Shunned

    The look she gave me signaled her surprise and contempt, that down-her-nose-look demonstrating her affiliation to the Carson’s of The Bank of Carson. Everyone else scooted their chairs as far away from me as they could. She remained rigid in her seat behind me, sighing like a spring wind for everyone to hear her distaste.

    For the first time in my life, these fine ladies couldn’t walk out of a room I’d entered. They couldn’t avoid my presence, my sinner’s stench, nor my opinion in the jury room.

    I focused my attention on Mr. Carson’s brother, seated near his client, smiling as smugly as his sister-in-law behind me. His smugness today had been replaced by the dreamy eyes and fumbling hands of lust last week in my bedroom. On this day, the accusations of thievery stood no chance against the oratory of this man who could argue with the skills of a golden canary. Skills that, unfortunately, did not carry into the bedroom. My lips trembled as I smothered my smile, remembering his scrawny legs and padded belly.

    In a few minutes deliberations would begin. Perhaps I’d be foreman of the jury.

  15. Proof
    @laurenegreene
    208 words

    The trial was simple: did she or didn’t she kill herself? Six months pregnant with another man’s baby. The plaintiff’s lawyer said it was all very clear that she jumped.

    Katie sat in the front row of the juror box and listened. She understood the need for self-harm. She’d been doing it for years. Sitting here, amongst these women, most who were older and wiser than her, she didn’t know if she could come to a conclusion. The wickedness of self-doubt always sitting next to her.

    The three piece suit and top hat droned on. Katie pulled back her sleeve to count the marks she’d made on her arm; six now. One was precariously close to the artery. Jack had found her that time, the baby crawling around with red knees, in their tiled bathroom. He seemed relieved when the summons had come for the jury.

    “It’s remarkable, Katie. You’re making history. Baby will be fine with Nurse Delores.”

    And now the doubt crept in again. If the woman who died felt as lost as she did, felt the fear and anxiety of the world on her shoulders, then maybe, just maybe she threw herself off the building. Where was the proof otherwise?

  16. Only A Woman
    @laurenegreene
    206 words

    The first words out of Ethel’s mouth were, “I can’t.” Ethel believed she couldn’t do much. Her parents believed she’d inherit the world.

    “You’ll see, Ethel, dear. One day women will even have the right to vote,” her mother said.

    But Ethel was too busy telling herself she couldn’t pass her history test. Her parents had sent her on to college. She would be educated, this child of their old age.

    When the summons came, Ethel was shocked. She was even more shocked when she saw the all women jury.

    “What if I’m the one who causes a hung jury,” she asked the woman next to her.

    Ethel took detailed notes throughout trial. A pig theft. She didn’t even know there were pigs in Los Angeles. Ethel finally felt like she was overcoming her fears. Fears she had carried within her like an overstuffed suitcase her whole life. Fears of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m only a woman.”

    She was named foreman, and in the end she was the one who handed down the guilty verdict. Self-doubt scoured away like scum from a bowl. She went on to be a leader in the Suffrage movement, so more women could reach their potential as she had.

  17. The Kitten Verdict
    By JM6, 205 words, @JMnumber6

    She imagined a jury in her mind, debating the verdict.

    * * *

    “He’s going to ruin our stuff,” argued juror number one. She always saw the dark side.

    “He can be tamed,” juror two tried to reassure. She liked to see the best in everyone.

    “We don’t need him in our life,” declaimed juror three, with her independent streak.

    “But we’re alone too much,” whispered juror four. She’d always feared solitude.

    “I agree,” concurred juror five. Then again, she agreed with everyone.

    “Well, I don’t agree,” piped up juror ten, refusing to wait her turn.

    “But do we have time?” asked juror six. She liked to worry.

    “Well, *I* don’t have the time,” answered juror seven, her irresponsible quality evident to all.

    “I’m sure it won’t be that bad,” juror eight contended, but she just liked to argue.

    “Right, he won’t be that bad,” conceded juror nine, who always gave in to the last voice she heard.

    “He’s a killer, like all of his kind,” warned juror eleven with her inborn viciousness.

    “It’s just a kitten,” said juror twelve, bringing rationality back to her thoughts.

    * * *

    She looked at the small gray ball of fur one more time and, with a kind smile, said, “Yes, I’ll adopt him.”

    • Author’s note: this was an odd one for me, so I tried to have a little fun with it. It’s sort of a combination of the old TV show “Herman’s Head” … and utterly breaking the rule of writing that says “Don’t uses synonyms for ‘said’ in your writing.” Since I didn’t want the ending to be a surprise, I put the “case” in the title, although those who skip titles might still be surprised.

      I *still* think this was an odd one.

  18. Shooting Unicorns is Bad Form
    A.J. Walker

    George was an addict – if it moved he shot it. No qualms at all. He’d been taken to court many times, mainly for shooting seals. You can’t shoot seals, they said. Protected and cute. But he always got off. Men you see; guns and the American way. Bang bang.

    George knew he had a problem though and began to limit his shooting to one animal a day. Preferably something not protected, but sometimes… well, you can only shoot what presents itself.

    He shot the unicorn right through the temple. He’d never seen one before. He’d been fairly sure that they were only in fairytales. But there it was; a perfect, bleach white unicorn, flowing mane and a proud single golden horn. Sublime; and in his sights.

    Of course the media frenzy was distasteful afterwards. How was he to know they’d been shooting a film on the beach? He hadn’t noticed the starlet riding the unicorn. George had been surprised when the papier-mache horn crumpled as the horse fell dead to the sand.

    He probably wouldn’t have shot it, if he’d known it was just a horse.

    He definitely wouldn’t have shot it, if he’d known he was to face an all woman jury. The gavel fell twice. Bang bang!

    (210 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  19. Forever Perfect,

    The ladies stare back at me with undeniable hate. I have earned that hate. I am, likely, the biggest monster world has ever seen.

    The ladies’ beauty shows better when they hate. Their eyes are more vibrant, their eyebrows and forehead wrinkles, stronger. And all that it takes to reach this perfection is their utter contempt of me. It’s a price that I am willing to pay.

    I carry in the next lady. Her corset is so tight that she would be unable to walk even if I were inclined to allow her. I position the new one next to a woman with fourteen children. The new one is barren, and I can imagine her hatred of the happy mothers. That hate is the fire of this forge. I stoke that hate.

    “Ma’am, your womb has not stretched to grotesque proportions, hence you have no reason to not sit properly.”

    That earned more hate. I’m almost pleased with myself.

    The ladies are not allowed to move. Hold still or the unthinkable happens.

    This is almost perfect. Now, I squeeze that final bit of emotion out. “Ladies. Remember, woman is responsible for original sin.”

    That gets their hate perfected. I light the flash and take the photo.

    206 Words
    @Michaelsimko1

  20. Jury. Duty.

    It started so well. I was a part of history. The men said that women weren’t well suited to jury duty, that we’d let our emotions dictate our decision. We scoffed of course, it was the same tired arguments from the same tired men. They were fighting for a past that had long since left the kitchen.

    I was determined to do well, to make a sound judgement based on reasons and logic, to see justice done. We’d all seen the newspapers before they hid us from the world. Our case was high profile, the crimes were ghastly, vicious, violent. I subconsciously formed an image of the criminal in my mind, a small, nasty, spiteful man, desperate to prove how powerful he was.

    They brought the defendant out to face us. He was not the man I’d imagined. He was tall, handsome, impeccably dressed. His aqua blue eyes connected with mine and I knew in that moment that he wasn’t guilty.

    I listened to testimony after testimony, saw evidence that left no doubt. I couldn’t make it fit with the man I saw before me. Eventually I had to choose, but there were no right options, only wrong ones. I quietly muttered my verdict and felt the shame of betrayal.

    210 words
    @todayschapter

  21. Voices

    @making_fiction #AddictedToFlashFriday

    210 words

     

    Our voices remained muffled until first gunfire.

    Our voices drowned now by the factory machines, by the rumble of ploughs, by the roughened edges of endless laundry.

    Our voices are in our heads; our opinions are soundless echoes of inequality and hardship whispered in the shadows of our mind. I see it in the blank, unsmiling faces of the other women around me. They too know that such thoughts are selfish; such thoughts are for traitors.

    Our voices represented by our husbands – their voices are the shaking guns held in young and bloody hands, their voices are the weeping unseeing eyes of fallen friends, voices of urine-soaked boots and mud-mound pillows.

    Our voices are the transmitted crackle of wireless, of political promises, of fairer wages and fairer roles. But these battles are for another day, for today we build replacement components for death-machines and weave the fabric of khaki, green and blue – knowing it will be stained another colour soon enough.

    Our voices are hushed tones in the Underground, as we embrace with every whistle-fall of bomb and crack of tracer-fire.

    Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Our voices are for tomorrow.

  22. The Verdict is In
    A.J. Walker

    ‘He looks like butter wouldn’t melt. But I’m sure he’s guilty.’

    ‘There’s definitely something shifty about him.’

    ‘Have you noticed how close his eyes are together. Always a sign’

    ‘Did you see him stand up? He’s shorter than when he’s sat down.’

    ‘Short men – always think they have something to prove.’

    ‘Definitely guilty of something. He looked right through me, like he was undressing me with his eyes. Me with all these layers on too.’

    ‘Where did you get that hat by the way? It’s just lovely.’

    ‘Oh, do you like it? I rather like yours, but I’m not sure I have the face to pull it off. Or the neck muscles.’

    ‘That dress is just beautiful. Do you know if they make it in a smaller size?’

    ‘These canapes are gorgeous.’

    ‘I agree. Do you think we can take this jury thing up as a career?’

    ‘Jury, oh I forgot. Yes, definitely guilty. I knew his dad. A right bad lad he was.’

    ‘Oh, you knew him too? I do remember that thing he…’

    ‘Anyway girls. We haven’t heard any evidence yet. I’m not sure we should go on his looks. Though I agree his eyes are definitely too close together. And I am definitely wearing a hat tomorrow.’

    (210 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  23. Metropolitan Darkness

    @making_fiction #AddictedToFlashFriday

    208 words

     

    “I have watched attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion,” the charismatic Replicant says on the large LCD screen.

    From the Kinect senor, I watch the friends, their gormless faces and silly hats illuminated in harsh TV ghost-light.

    I have been calling them to me since the Nordic ships, since the Roman garrisons; since the name Londinium.

    I control their lives in subtle ways. A late train, can do amazing things. Technology has only made things easier for me. Every heartbeat, every movement, every nightly breath – now tracked through apps.

    They think they have choices. Mostly, I let them believe this is true.

    They’re more enslaved now than they’ve ever been.

    My soul is dark and I wish I had feelings. I’ve watched the rats carry the plague. I’ve watched the sparks of the great fire. I watched the pestilence and contamination. The gangland turf-wars. I did nothing.

    There are always more that come than leave.

    Yet, I long for something else. Inside, I am conflicted. I have everything, yet nothing. To breathe the cloying air. To smell the rancid odours of the passengers underground. To taste. To touch. To love. To lose. To grieve.

    I am alone. I’m just a city. Just a god.

  24. Word Count 201
    @susanOReilly3

    Justice

    I can feel their eyes searing my soul
    I’m trying to keep some semblance of control
    I have always acted on impulse
    My presence these women repulse
    Can feel prison walls closing in
    Punishment too great for my supposed sin
    Both of us were equal as far as I can see
    But she lied about her age brazenly
    Her skirt so short could have been a napkin
    Make-up so thick couldn’t see her skin
    Captivated by her scent
    Desire and passion, potent
    Vanity made me forget my wife
    I’m the best this girl would get in her life
    I never harmed a hair on her head
    Just took her willingly to bed
    Rape is such an ugly word
    She gladly accepted my unsheathed sword
    In my opinion that’s the only reason I’m here
    Her swollen belly causing her to fear
    I would have done the right thing
    Confessed to my one time fling
    But I did not force my self upon her
    I don’t deserve this awful slur
    Trust me to get the first all woman jury
    The unfairness causes fury
    I’m a lamb to slaughter
    She’s someone’s daughter
    I didn’t know she was fifteen
    “I’m Innocent” I keep repeating

  25. The Verdict
    (205 words)

    I tell myself I won’t even look. I know what I’ll find. I know how I will use the information.
    I know it will dog me all day. It will be the dull feeling in my gut. It will be my empty smile.
    But my disloyal eyes are tempted by the shining surface. Maybe I hope I will see something different this time. I glimpse in the mirror, at once, seeing and trying not to see.
    Immediately the jury jibes:-

    Too short. Too fat. Too you.

    I berate myself for looking. I berate myself for how I look.
    The grey edges of insecurity that I have spent the morning banishing expand and take full form:-

    Too flat-chested. Tree trunk thighs. Too ridiculous.

    I know I should quieten my acerbic critic, but she’s too loud and scathing. I will be late, but somehow she incapacitates me, she takes control. She needs me to be blank. She needs me to start again. Sometimes she makes me start over and over.
    I reach into my wardrobe for one of the uniform outfits hanging there that I will disappear into.

    When I see myself again. The verdict is in. I am chastised, dismantled, made small.
    I am invisible.

  26. @bex_spence
    194 words

    Grandma knows best

    The floor smelt of dust and polish, the boy inhaled and stifled a cough. He huddled in the corner behind a stoic wall of matriarchs.

    They’d shushed and coddled him into the corner, formed a circle around him. Ensuring he was hidden from view. Nathan knew he should stay quiet, she had said so, but he didn’t want to. He played with his car, pushed it up and down the floorboards, wheels grating, spinning wildly, and careened into his Grandmas legs.

    She turned hushed him once more, fear in her eyes as the room filled with people he didn’t know. He didn’t want to be here. Across the room bright sunshine broke through the window, he wanted to play not stay inside. He laid on his tummy, pushed through a sea of legs, sweeping across the floor, a snake in the pass. He felt a hand on his ankle, a shoe on his back, pressing into his little body, they tried to keep him from turning, silently keep him in place.

    With a push, he ran for the door. A broken cry behind him, the door slammed shut.

    ‘We have the child at last’.

  27. Routine
    (200 words)

    I touch the door frames going past each door. That wards off immediate danger.
    I try not to let the kids see me looking in on myself. I go through the rituals as surreptitiously as I can. I try to hide the strain.
    But there are telltale signs: my eldest shouts up that we’ll be late again.

    I need to do my final checks. Systematically.
    Pulling at the windows.
    I start early. It’s exhausting.
    I am driven on. I cannot miss a single pane of glass. They depend on it.

    I don’t know who I think decides our fate, what celestial jury will find me remiss for not paying attention and punish my family. It’s not that I don’t think of this. I am intelligent. But compulsion riddles me.
    I tell myself I will behave differently tomorrow.

    But today, I have to find the number 23. I find a book and turn to the twenty third page. This is the quick way. It feels like a cheat, not enough to keep the kids safe. I go to the newspaper, and I am lucky, an intruder has been given a 23 month sentence.

    ‘Right, kids. That’s us.We can go, now.’

  28. JUDGEMENT DAY

    Brian S Creek
    210 words
    @Brian S Creek
    #FlashDog

    August 13th, 2015. A date that will live in infamy.

    No one saw it coming but you can’t argue that it was inevitable. You live under someone’s roof and shit on their bed, they’re gonna get angry and kick you out.

    Why should the planet be any different?

    I was in a book shop browsing for the latest Brian Creek novel when it happened. The ground shook violently. A member of staff screamed earthquake and I ran to a doorway, crammed in next to a woman who smelled of Jasmine. I remember that.

    There was chaos outside. I could see people running past like a flock evading a predator. I didn’t know then how close I was to the truth.

    I poked my head out the door as a taxi crashed into a van across the road. The sound of the horn drowned out the screams of the people. I looked up the street and saw something that made my stomach drop.

    You’ve heard of Mother Nature, that force that looks after this world? That day I saw her, her and her sisters. They towered over London, 12 mighty beings, cutting a swathe through the city and then the world.

    Guess they didn’t like that we shit on their bed.

  29. The Commission

    ***

    He always looked about him after neutralising a target to make sure there were no surprises; a bounty hunter could make enemies easily.

    The parking lot was empty save for a few cars, silent bar the chirrup of one or two birds. A plastic carrier bag skittered across the sun-baked tarmac, bounded into the air, performed a somersault in the warm breeze before sliding up to an elderly Ford and snuggling up under the wheel arch.

    Rasputin allowed his thoughts dissolve into quietude, took a deep breath, exhaled and relaxed his muscles…

    …which tensed instantly to rock-hardness as somebody tapped him on the shoulder. He dashed forwards into a lunge, turning as his feet slid across the ground, drew his blade in one fluid motion before settling into a stance.

    A group of stern-faced women stood before him, dressed in late 19th century attire, the edges of their petticoats undulating beneath their pinafores.

    “Rasputin, the bounty hunter?” asked a tall woman in a plain black dress.

    “Yes.”

    “We are the Commission. You will come with us. Now.”

    Smirking, Rasputin disappeared….

    …reappeared in a 19th century court room, saw the women already sat before him on rows of benches.

    “You cannot escape justice Rasputin, any more than you can escape yourself.”

    ***

    210 words
    @theimaginator20

    • Like the way the Commission keeps track of him, especially as the jury. (Didn’t your time-travelling Rasputin feature in an earlier story – I think I remember reading one such and wanting to know more back story).

  30. BUTCHERS DOZEN

    Brian S Creek
    210 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    Their eyes scream murderer. Their judgement bores into my soul. The twelve women of my jury sit together to accuse me, to condemn me.

    My hands are still drenched in the blood of my last victim.

    Louise Stillback.

    Twenty five.

    Waitress.

    I slit her throat when she wouldn’t stop screaming. I really hate it when they scream. She bled out quickly; stopped struggling, stopped moving, stopped living.

    She became boring, just like the others.

    Guess I’ll have to find another. The next one will be prettier. She’ll love me like the others didn’t.

    The twelve women of my jury watch me standing there. They think I’m a bad person, they think I’m evil. I can see it on their faces. They want me in the chair. They want to send my soul straight to hell.

    Maybe they’re right. I don’t know. I just want to love and be loved but something inside of me wants more. Something I’m struggling to find.

    But find it I will. I’ll keep looking because she’s out there, I believe that. She’s out there and I’ll find her.

    The thirteen women of my jury stare at the knife, the one that has my prints on it.

    Guess I’d better wipe them off before I leave.

  31. The Trial of Vera Algernon
    @voimaoy
    202 words

    The jury met that morning, in Vera’s tiny apartment. She wanted to apologize for the dust on the bare wood floors. She really should wash them this weekend. She was always running behind, forgetting things or wearing the wrong things, as the jury constantly reminded her.

    “Vera, are you going to wear that sweater? There’s holes in the sleeves!”

    “Do something with your hair!”

    “Why are you eating that?”

    “What were you thinking?”

    “Not at your age…..”

    “Vera, you’re talking to the begonia again.”

    “”You really should…”

    “You really shouldn’t…”

    “It’s not really writing, is it?”

    At last the voices quieted. The Inquisitor rose and read the charges–

    “Vera Algernon, you stand accused of Eccentricity, of being hopelessly 21 at 39, of talking to cats and trees. How do you plead?”

    “Not Guilty, your Honor.”

    Disapproving faces regarded her black sweater, covered with cat hair.

    The Inquisitor intoned, “Do you deny the charges then?”

    “No, your honor, but I am not guilty. I am not apologizing anymore. This is who I am.”

    The courtroom grew quiet then. The ladies’ mouths opened in little oh’s of surprise, and white moths flew out, fluttering above their heads, around the sun-drenched room, and out the open windows.

  32. Hunger Strike #1
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    209 Words

    The burden of a thousand years or more rests upon her shoulders. This moment, she thinks, is a battle that began as far back as Adam and Eve. Sometimes I think even God hates me for my female flesh.

    She is not the only woman in this hungry line, but she is the one they look to lead them.

    Principles, she tells herself, though her stomach longs for sustenance. You must not be weak. This is for all women. You must persevere.

    The prison matron stands before the women, scowling. “Will none of you eat your supper?” she demands.

    Cold stares and silence are the only answers.

    The matron shoves a bowl into Emily’s lap.

    The aroma of food sets her every nerve alight with desperation. Her mouth waters. She has consumed nothing in three days.

    “Eat!” cries the matron. “Eat, you crazy thing!”

    “If I have power nowhere else in the world, I have power over my own body,” Emily says. “You cannot make me eat. No food shall pass my lips until I am free. We will continue this hunger strike until women are given the vote.”

    Yet within, the hunger boils, the need rises. Emily’s hands nearly reach for the spoon.

    How long will she last?

  33. Hunger Strike #2
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    200 words

    Emily, eighteen years old, lies in a hospital bed, IV’d and intubated. Her mother sits at the window, crying. Her father’s gaze refuses to see his daughter.

    “Look what you’re doing to your mother! What’s wrong with you? Eat, for God’s sake.” He stalks from the room.

    Her mother stands and follows, silently.

    Emily lies alone, too weak to lift an arm. Ten days of starvation led her to this. Vague memories from history class flit through her mind: rows of suffragist women on hunger strike, Catherine of Siena fasting for God, hysterical Victorian girls with their wandering wombs. Women pushed to the brink.

    She knows her mother blames herself. She knows her father only wants a return to normal. They want perfect, easy Emily back. Swallow it, Emily. Make us happy again.

    Ten days ago a man slipped a drug in her drink. Used her in ways she cannot fully remember. Ten days ago, her body spun beyond her control, violated.

    Perfect Emily is not allowed these secrets. She will not inflict such ugly knowledge on Mother and Father.

    Yet she cannot eat. She must not eat. She will tame this betraying flesh until it belongs to her again.

    • Such a sad story, I feel so sorry for her. Sad that some women who have no control over their lives often take it out on the one thing they can control – their own bodies.

  34. Hear, Hear
    @hollygeely
    209 Words

    Sue pictured her conscience as a jury of women, smartly dressed, with angry eyes. Such a thing was unheard of, but she figured they’d be on her side more often than not.

    She couldn’t face the jury today. She had a feeling they’d agree with what she’d done, but she didn’t want to take the chance. Her stomach was all in knots and the horse kept snorting like he knew something. Would Joe be able to find her? Would anyone?

    Sue had threatened to run once, a long time ago. “Where would you go?” Joe had asked, turning up his nose in that way of his. She still didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. She was free.

    Free…to do what? Where would she go?

    “I’ve gone and done it this time,” Sue said. The horse snorted again. “Quiet, Tulip. I don’t need that from you.”

    “Why’d you go and name a stallion Tulip?” Joe had demanded. He’d insisted on something more masculine but she’d always called him his right name behind Joe’s back.

    Sue was tired of being herself only in secret. It didn’t matter where she was going, as long as Joe wasn’t there.

    The women of her inner jury cried “Hear, hear!” and Sue urged Tulip onward.

  35. The Disapproving Dozen – 202 words

    They all sat together, each one of them stony-faced and unflinching. Red-headed Jane was scowling; her eyes staring bleakly ahead, disapprovingly silent, her mouth furled like a fist. And Sarah with the large breasts, in the middle of the back row, wedged between blue-haired Hilary and hatted Barbara, looked surly as ever, muttering to herself; her voice buzzing in my head like a band-saw hitting several good summers’ layers of hard wood one after another, its tone rising and falling as annoyingly as ever it did.

    Standing back, I took them all in, all twelve of them. One for every month; although it’d taken me more than a year to gather the whole coven together. Penny had been my first – she’d been the first to reject me too – and I’d gathered her in more than eighteen months ago, with Annaliese and Carmen following on quickly after. After that, I’d had a run, cold-storage not being a problem until I got to Fenella and Rachel, Rachel being the first I’d had to disassemble to get into the freezer locker.

    And now I had them all. Each one of them that’d turned me away. But they still all seemed to be disapproving of me.

    • Oooh, I’m a sucker for a psychopathic narrator! Love this, love how normal and rational his tone seems (which of course it would be, in his eyes). Love that there’s this little pang of sorrow and sympathy that hits me in the last line, then I have to have a word with myself for feeling empathy with a psycho! Very good. Nice and dark 🙂

  36. ***Apologies for the Darkness, I wrote what came.***
    @betsystreeter
    200 words + title

    THE MENAGERIE

    This time, the men drop a black bag over my head. Last time, I looked the firing squad in the eyes.

    Last cigarette stuck to my chapped lower lip. No worries, boys, let ‘er rip. No regrets. I seem to recall it rained that day. Low, fat, black clouds.

    The time before that, I recall a post. And flames.

    Today it’s hot. The leather straps stick and scratch on my wrists.

    Next time I expect there will be something new-fangled, a fresh invention fitted to the purpose.

    Around we’ll go, we beasts, you with your words that sting like a scorpion and strap that strikes out like your tongue.

    You’ll lock me away, like a treasure, like a prisoner. My body will grow wiry and tough, inside and out, from the labor and the lashings.

    I will grow in quiet resolve, to make you proud. To deserve your love.

    I will bring you gifts and tokens, newspaper clippings. I will be famous. You will be my inspiration and my teacher.

    But first, a few moments under the black bag.

    I will join you, and around we’ll go.

    Monsters in new bodies, the both of us.

    A son’s love is eternal.

  37. Foy S. Iver
    @fs_iver
    WC: 210

    Waiting for Moonrise

    Every moonset she burned to tear that picture down. Solemn eyes captured in a colorless world. Lips downward turned and bodies that hid bones drained of life’s marrow. It was disheartening.

    Every moonrise she permitted its persistence. Not because she knew any of them; maggot mouths consumed their corpses centuries before the Trans-Galactic Alliance, and millennia before she began life. No, it was the words carved in gray: “First woman jury.”

    Past and future are inextricably bound to a continuous sequence.
    Oppression.
    Release.
    Oppression.
    Release.

    Her kin were cycling through oppression. Millions per planetary rotation of Donor Replicates were birthed, raised, and harvested. They carried 46 chromosomes–same as their Buyer–yet none of the dignities afforded “natural humans.” Being cooked up in a lab and stamped with a PMR code negated that.

    She’d lived past 37 orbits only because her Buyer miscalculated, shredded in the turbines of a Transport Vessel. For her, that meant release. For other DRs it continued so she lobbied, petitioned, and fluctuated between hope and despair.

    Like a ship caught on the fringe of a spinning black hole she waited for her efforts to fail every moonset.
    And then she would remember it was all a cycle. Release would come maybe after the next moonrise

  38. Bees in her Bonnet

    209 words
    @el_Stevie

    Julia’s mind buzzed with ideas, visions that grew wings only to find themselves battering against the confines of her headdress where they would disintegrate and fall, squashed and smeared, back into the soup of thought.

    Growing up, she had never been afraid of where her thoughts might lead her but there came a day when her parents declared that she was no longer a child and that the days of creative freedom were over. It was time to wear ‘the hat’. Without a hat, they said, she would become invisible.

    At first she didn’t mind too much, her bonnets were pretty confections which set off her features and drew admiring glances whilst simultaneously generating a satisfying amount of jealousy from her peers. And the social whirl of those years kept the buzzing to an easily ignored, low background hum. But as time passed, Julia became frustrated with the restrictions put on her, guiding her towards married life, children and an empty brain.

    The hat had become heavier, weighing her down, and the buzzing grew louder, a swarm of protest searching vainly for release. Julia did not wish to be thought of as a woman in a hat; and, despite the warnings, she took it off. She did not disappear.

  39. Pandora’s Jury

    @geofflepard 210 words

    Agnes saw the future. These twelve uncertain ladies would be the start. The next generation would be better educated. They would control more. Their homes, then their money, even their businesses.
    The tight corsets and heavy skirts would change to something more practical. Eventually even their bodies would be theirs to control. To own. No more accusations of hysteria, no more unwanted pregnancies.
    Agnes patted her hanky to her temples, absorbing the sweat her disturbing daydream caused. After their own bodies? Why they would control their minds. Have opinions. They would vote, become politicians and bring sanity to the affairs of nations.
    Her mind rebelled. She refused to let the next thought loose but insidiously it slipped free. Her sex would no longer be controlled by men. And if men lost power. If the reins were taken. What would be the purpose of men? She could see machines, made by women with the same love and tenderness lavished on their families taking over those jobs previously the domain of the muscled male.
    What would be the point of men? To provide the seed of the next generation. Nothing more.
    She stared at the feeble accused. There was one thing that wouldn’t change. Female compassion. Her decision was easy.
    ‘Not guilty.’

    • I like the acknowledgement of female compassion at the end, even as she foresaw women taking the place men.

  40. It’s Still Me, Just In Fancy Dresses

    “Alright. I’ve been asked out on a date. But I’m not sure I should say yes,” I pondered out loud to myself.
    “To my mind palace!” I shouted.
    I scrunched my eyes up tight and focused on finding the inner tools best suited for my needs.
    The swirling mental detritus of cat videos and allegorical understandings of dystopian authors cleared and I was standing in front of a jury of old-timey women.
    “Ladies, I have assembled you here today to help me make a well-thought decision about my potential date.”
    “Is he handsome?” asked Gertie, pulling her hands to her chest as she smiled.
    “Well, not really no,” I could see Maria sag a little, “BUT! He does very smiley eyes, and they’re green like sea glass.”
    There was a collective sigh from the group.
    “Does he have money?” Ethel asked, squinting at me.
    “Eh, I don’t know. But he showers regularly.”
    Ethel nodded.
    “Does he have a good job?” asked Maude.
    “Yes!” I said, “He works in a bookstore part time and a comic book store part time. It’s all books, all the time. So should I say yes?”
    “I like peppermints,” declared Edith gummily, beaming at me.
    “Not helpful. But noted,” I said.

    207 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  41. @colin_d_smith
    209 words

    Doug’s stomach wrenched. Three days ago the decision seemed easy. The right thing to do. Not just right, righteous. There were the handshakes, the slaps, the shoulder grips, from guys who used to avoid him. People who mocked his name were now hailing him. He was no longer the laughing stock; he was their champion, their voice. His name was draped in gold and carried on velvet through the pubs and social clubs.

    But now, standing in the wings, surrounded by his new friends smiling and fist pumping, Doug wanted to crawl into a corner and wet himself. And yet he couldn’t let them down, not now.

    He peeked around the long red curtain at the faces staring up at the stage. They looked chiseled and unforgiving, watching Mike with unaffected disinterest. When Mike walked off, the smattering of limp applause galvanized Doug’s conviction.

    “Go for it, Dougie!” said Mike as he buttoned his shirt.

    Doug drew a deep breath and nodded.

    Two minutes later, he walked out onto the stage. Three hundred pounds of naked flesh daring the audience to react.

    The female judges stared in cold silence, but Doug could hear the hissing laughter from the wings.

    It was the last humiliation. Doug would see to that.

  42. Retribution

    As Julian’s BMW spiralled off the motorway, his life did indeed flash before him.

    He saw his mother, pandering to his every childhood whim, driven by the twitching fist of his father.

    He saw his teenage self, and desperately searched for the face of the one person he had ever truly loved. One night together, crammed in a small tent, huddled together for warmth when his arm tentatively enfolded the young body next to him. They awoke the next morning, he with a new world before him and his love waiting to rip his reality from beneath his feet. Julian packed the tent, tears streaming down his cheeks, as words of regret and disgust trickled into his ears.

    As the car started to roll, faces of girls he’d had during college came at him like bullets from a firing squad.

    He saw the whores he had humiliated, the wives he had taken and the daughters he had stolen.

    Just before the car exploded, he found the face he had been looking for. Now aged and grey, a respectable father of three, but eyes watered with guilt and regret.

    Julian was greeted at the pearly gates by God and the angels, luminescent in judgement.

    God looked at Julian and spoke softly,

    ‘I’m not sure you belong here.’ she said.

    218 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  43. Ariadne’s Freedom

    “What will you create for your entrance exam?”

    Ariadne flinched under the gaze of the examiners. “I will weave a seagull,” her voice trembled as she took up the threads. Outside the sea chanted.

    One chance, she reminded herself. One chance to get away from here, away from the darkness. Forever.

    Her hands moved swiftly as she poured into the threads not the fear or anxiety she felt, but slivers of hope for a future that seemed to glimmer just beyond reach.

    She thought of the freedom of the sky and vast ocean as the wings took shape beneath her hands. Keeping every heavy thought locked inside, she pushed every ounce of lightness into the white threads. As she cut the thread, a silver sheen rippled over the seagull that was small enough to fit in her hand.

    “And what does this bird mean to you?” The eldest woman asked, her face and voice impassive.

    “Beauty… hope… freedom. Everything I wish for.” Ariadne threw the bird into the air, where it spread its wings and hovered as if alive. She felt her despair fade as the bird landed on her hand, returning her hope.

    “You will have your freedom, Ariadne,” the examiner smiled.

    Words: 203
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com
    @CarinMarais

  44. Twelve Angry Women
    (208 words)

    Sophie couldn’t believe the trial that they decided to use female jurors for was an obscenity case. She’d hoped for a case of woman who killed the husband who beat her Saturday nights. This was a mild-mannered reporter quoting, “bastard” and “God damn.” King hadn’t uttered the profanity himself.

    “I hear worse when the coffee’s in the boarding house I run,” said Mrs. Douglas, leaning back in the chair.

    “I say worse on Monday when I get in another load of shirts to iron,” offered Molly. “I’m off today to do this?”

    “So these our are facts. The official called Mr. King some swears words, and Mr. King quoted him accurately. A reporter telling the truth for once.”

    Nellie, the youngest juror, plucked at her sleeve.

    “I’d hate for my fiancé Harold to think I approve of such language,” she said. “He works at the bank.”

    “I’m sure when he is collects debts he’ll hear far worse. Possibly even from ladies,” said Mrs. O’Neill, the oldest juror.

    “Wait till you go into labor with your first child. You’ll swear yourself,” added Mrs. Douglas.

    “So we’re in agreement? Not guilty? “said forewoman Sophie.

    “Your damn right we are. What do they think we’re made of? Rose petals and spun glass?

  45. On Trial
    210 words
    @rowdy_phantom
    #flashdogs

    Molly kick-stamps her foot and sirens go off in my head. I lash her into the cart seat before the explosion flings her onto the floor.

    The Good Mothers are there. Before Molly’s first screech, their glares crawl over me like fire ants. You’d think I’d be immune to them by now since the condemnation started during my unwed pregnancy.

    I press my forehead to Molly’s. “Please stop screaming, Mole.” I’ve been fielding customer discontent all day.

    “I’m not screaming!” she wails.

    Iron talons of shame rake my face. I should’ve gone straight home after daycare, but I couldn’t bear dry cereal for dinner (again). The Good Mothers don’t care what is or is not in my fridge.

    The one cracking her molars as she grits disapproval at me has my mother’s jaw. And Mrs. Raised Eyebrows over there? My ex’s mother, fakey-baffled that I would imagine my readiness for the ranks of motherhood.

    Then, another woman steers into the condiment aisle. As she passes, she squeezes my arm. “You’re doing fine, Mama.”

    I bob in the odd calm of a stranger’s sympathy. The Good Mothers dissolve, fire-ant glares and all.

    I start singing “Little Green Frog “ into Molly’s shrieks and head for the cashier. Today, I can do this.

    • Oh, those disapproving looks, I think we’ve all experienced the disapproval of others over our own parenting skills (and yes, usually in the supermarket!). And again there’s always been that one showing sympathy and support. Nice take.

  46. Dragon’s Dance
    (WC 202)

    My dragon tenses ready to dance.

    My friends now look down upon me, “I have shown good works; yet, I hear odium murmuring amongst them.”

    Trepidation crosses faces and loose jaws chatter, “Denounce him! Denounce him!”

    My inner self whispers, “These words are a trap.”

    Then suddenly like breakers of death, the sky turns dark. War anthems begin. New dragons come screaming expectations of a feast of carnality to follow. My dragon returns a familiar call, excited and ready.

    The jury of goddesses lines the wall. They gaze hungry for the dance. I look to the one in their midst that I will always love. Her smile would end this all, not in a violent victory; but by my total surrender to her conquering smile.

    I see behind her eyes. The one who now has her is not love; yet, still she casts down her eyes and turns her back to me.

    My dragon dances, ready. Vengeance longs for simpler times past. He will not have her and I will release the destroying flood of my retribution.

    The dance begins and a clearer head prevails. I calm my dragon of teenage hormones, “Calm down dude, she only went out with you once.”

  47. @stellakateT
    209 words

    A Dying Breed

    “Look” I yell “this is a photo of your Great grandma Josie in 1911”
    She flicks a glance, chewing on her hair “So!”

    I want to slap her face like the doctor slapped her bottom when she refused to take her first breath. My beautiful, wonderful, spirited daughter has always been contrary. Some says she takes after me, now that would make me proud, but she’s Josie through and through. She has the same petulant stare. I look at the photo, wondering where the women in this family lost their way, somewhere between Los Angeles and London. When émigrés were heading to America we were heading in the opposite direction.

    “She was on the first woman jury. Can you imagine what people well men said about that?”

    She looks up from her phone pausing in between tweets on Twitter, messaging on Facebook, playing Candy Crush.

    “Did she send some man to his death?”
    “Probably I don’t know”

    She sighs long and hard. She’s heard my lecture says she’s going to do it but never does. Women have died for you, now that’s one of my most passionate pleas. It falls on deaf ears. How can the Women’s Movement have faith in me when my own daughter refuses to vote!

  48. A Blade in the Darkness
    210 words
    @iwrites

    The darkness rises from the floor, becomes her. Her claws lash out, painted words ripping into my flesh.

    So pathetic. Fat-ass wannabe!

    I swing the stick I hold, swing for her head. She cries out, falls away to rejoin the black cavern. I run, harder and faster, my feet slipping on the slimy floor. Another shadow leaps out. I swing as the girl yells.

    You wore that yesterday! Ugly bitch!

    I cry and strike, my stick now a bat, breaking into the girl. I want to scream, but I have no voice.

    The darkness is so great ahead, but I run toward it still. The floor heaves, and the trio rises. Their forms melt together like black wax falling from a dying candle. They laugh and point, but I spin into them, my bat now a small sword. I cut them down.

    So close now. I reach the chasm and stare out into blackness. So much pain. It boils like an ocean made insane. I lift my sword. It’s bigger now, light barely shining through the blood.

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

    I scream into that vast, bloody ocean of decay. The darkness pushes back, tries to crash in. I hold my razor-sharp blade against it, for it’s all I can do.

  49. Food Monster
    210 words
    @sydney_writer

    Food. Oh-mi-gosh I’ve got to have food right now. I need food. I need food. I NEED FOOD.

    I shut the fridge door. Nothing really sounds good to me. I’m hungry, but I’m not.

    Don’t you turn your back on me! Cookies, melting in milk, slipping down your throat like warm syrup, filling up every part of you that is empty. Shut that fridge one more time, and I’ll stick your brain with a hot fire poker until you give me FOOD. You’ll be miserable until you eat something.

    I cup my hands around my hips. If I eat now, how can I ever forgive myself? How could I stand in front of a room full of witnesses and give my case? No matter how I approach my body, my eating habits, I’m guilty as charged. I just want to be beautiful. I just want to not be hungry.

    Forget the stupid jury and the stupid judge. Feed me now and I’ll shut up. More… more, MORE. You can’t escape this. I’m going to eat you from the inside out until you listen to me. See, your throat is already swelling. Think of the cookies—the smooth frosting between Oreos!

    Stupid voices. Shut up. I stalk out of the kitchen.

  50. Believer
    205 words
    @sydney_writer

    I never wake up and truly believe John could call me today. The words, “I will never date you,” are too final. But today, right after I finish my boiled egg lunch, a mysterious number shows up on my cell. Voicemail bings.

    “Hey, uh, this is John. Call me sometime. It’d be good to hear from you.”

    I cough water out of my shocked lungs and clink my cup down on the desk. The jury of my heart launches to evaluate John’s trial.

    “This is bad for you,” Heartbreak says.
    “You’ve dreamed of this,” Wishes says.
    “You don’t even know if he wants a date,” Logic says.
    “Puhleeze, what else would he want after a year of silence?” Inner Goddess says.
    “He’s so handsome and funny,” Schoolgirl says.
    “You can’t put yourself through this again,” Shutdown says.
    Memory is the last to chirp in. “You said, ‘If you’re breaking this off with me, the loving thing to say so that I can move on would be, “I’ll never date you”’?”

    “I want this,” I whisper. “I’m the judge. I make the final decision.” I pick up the phone. For the first time in over a year, I let myself truly believe in second chances.

    “John?”

  51. Never Alone

    The jeering began as soon as she started up the path to the clinic.

    “I told you that boy was trouble. But you always knew better than me, didn’t you, you little tramp? Spread your legs enough times and you’re bound to catch something.”

    Julia spun around. “M…mom?” Her mom was a thousand miles away, and Julia hadn’t even told her. How could…

    But of course she couldn’t. Julia was alone in the chill of the morning.

    “Your mother was never strict enough, and your father… He was a man, I knew he’d lay with any strumpet who’d have him. At least the whores he visited were smart enough to take precautions. They’re Jezebels, but you’re a murderer.”

    “Grandmother Collins? But you’re.” Julia shook her head, tried to clear the screeching from her ears. She’d never once had her Grandmother’s approval when she was alive, and apparently nothing had changed in death.

    Julia wrapped her arms tightly around herself and fought her way to the door. The voices in her head reached a crescendo as she took the handle. Her foot hovered over the threshold, absorbing every argument, making them part of herself.

    When her foot finally came down, Julia stepped into her new world. But not alone. Never alone.

    210 words
    @drmagoo

    • She changed her mind – thank goodness. Poor girl though to judge herself so harshly. Lovely last lines.

  52. What am I doing here? How’d I get here?

    Shhh, just sit quietly.

    But…where is this?

    Shhh.

    Who are you?

    Name’s Hattie. Remember now?

    Hattie…yes….sounds familiar…

    Quiet now. Think. It’ll come. It has every time.

    Silence, broken by slight rustling sounds, a cough.

    Oh…yes…Observers. We’re Observers.

    Good.

    We’re here to learn about this civilization…all the firsts…

    Very good. Now, do you remember why you specifically are here?

    I did something bad. I tried not to, but I….. Now I have to….

    You must learn and pay for your crime. The firsts teach you.

    It….it hurts though….I don’t like this….

    Then you will learn all the better.

    At the back of the jury box, the young woman with the large straw hat and sad, slightly startled expression cried out, her eyes downcast toward the floor.

    “No…no…I won’t do it again…I promise…”

    The matronly woman beside her, her gray hair piled atop her head, patted the girl’s hand, without looking at her.

    “You most assuredly will not.”

    ***************************************************************************

    Where am I now?

    This is your last stop.

    “Mary Surratt, it is time for you to die.”

    No, wait! I’ll never do it again!

    The woman falls through the trap door, hanging from the gallows, swaying slightly in the breeze.

    It is done.

    210 words, not including title.
    @Angelique_Rider

    BTW, Mary Surratt was the first woman executed in the U.S.

    • Just looked her up. Such despair in her voice, makes her seem almost a young girl, makes the reader want to stop the trial.

  53. The Empty Chair

    “Smile ladies. This photograph will make history. The first woman jury. You are indeed privileged.”
    “Please wait. I’m afraid you can’t take the photograph yet, sir.”
    “Why not?”
    “Someone is missing,” said the woman next to the empty chair.
    “Who’s counting? Smile, I haven’t got all day!”
    “We have to wait for Hazel. There has to be twelve in the picture,” she insisted.
    “Where did she go?”
    “Her husband needed his lunch”
    “What?”
    “She had to prepare lunch for her family.”
    “Her duty is to the community. She has been appointed to be on the jury.”
    “I’m afraid her husband only understands it’s his lunchtime.”
    “Does he realise she could have serious problems for not fulfilling her municipal duties?”
    “She’ll be back soon, I’m sure,” the woman implored.
    “Your honor,” started the photographer. “I suggest calling the police to bring her back.”
    “If her husband’s lunch isn’t on the table, she’ll have more serious problems than a visit from the police,” explained the woman.
    The gavel hit the sounding block as the judge glared at the photographer, “We will adjourn until four o’clock. You can take your photograph then. Tending to her husband is far more important than a simple speeding motorcyclist. Don’t you agree, Young man?”

    (207 words) @LucciaGray

  54. Uncomplicated

    207 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call
    @callthewriter

    Sink.

    Sink.

    Down.

    Drown.

    She slipped lower, chlorinated water cresting tepid over her ears. Her own heartbeat throbbed in the muffled stillness.

    She closed her eyes. Wished the bathtub would lengthen, deepen. Become a whirlpool swallowing her into nothingness.

    Isn’t that how she got here though? Wishing for oblivion?

    The languorous flow of the benzodiazepine began to flush into her limbs. Which had the nurse given her at the med window? Xanax. Klonopin. Ativan. It didn’t matter. Chase it with Haldol and the world slowed down. The noose of fear in her chest relaxed. The voices, like a chorus of judge-jury-executioner, quieted.

    Only.

    Only SHE was the executioner. Or would have been.

    Now she was a patient. Hands tied. Well, not literally. No sharps, ties, or cords allowed.

    She lay awake at night, staring at her roommate who slept curled on one side, hands covering her face as if to ward off a blow.

    Imagine bathing to stave off boredom. The night watch would pound on the door any moment. Only bathe at appointed times. No drowning allowed.

    But she would get better now.

    Life was simple now. Uncomplicated.

    Eat.
    Sleep.
    Therapy.
    Suicidal ideation.

    Hopefully she’d be able to cross that last one off the list pretty soon.

  55. Guilty as Charged
    @FictionAsLife
    200 words

    On the third day of deliberations, a tray of bagels appeared on the conference table. A dozen chairs surrounded the table, which, but for a speaker phone, looked like a quotidian conference room in any nondescript office building in suburban America. We were not allowed phones or communication with the outside world. We were prisoners of the Government, trapped until we arrived at a verdict. Shuttled between the courtroom and the hotel, shielded from both the consumption and production of news.

    We had heard two grueling weeks of evidence. Weeks of an egotistical prosecutor and an unpolished defense attorney attempting to sway my immovable opinion. Weeks when my fingers itched for my piano. Weeks when my arms yearned to hug my children. Weeks when life was on hold.

    When we had started deliberations, we discussed the shoes she was wearing, the blood stains on the carpet, the fingerprints on the counter. Now finished discussing the evidence, we were a hung jury, with seven saying the accused was guilty, five declaring her innocence. Twelve hungry women who wanted this ordeal to end. My bagels, thank God, did the trick. Convicting the innocent accused saved me from the prisoner’s life I deserved.

  56. Hooked
    208 words, @pmcolt

    He fled down an alley and into the back entrance of a little white church. Reshaping his body into a human silhouette, he strained as bony fins contorted into five-fingered hands, and mottled silver skin became a smooth flesh tone. His fleshy barbels trembled beneath his new beard. “Their hats are removable,” he scolded himself. “Not their heads!”

    Hemoglobin-rich blood stained the arm of his suit jacket. He dabbed it with his handkerchief as he walked, hoping that no one would notice. He never meant to hurt humans, but they were fragile land creatures, and sometimes their bulbous heads screamed to be removed. That irresistible impulse had forced him to leave London thirty years ago.

    In the New World, he had turned over a new leaf, found religion, and learned to control the urges. Until now.

    As he emerged into the nave, he blundered into a young lady.

    “Oh, pardon me, sir!” the southern belle apologized. “Say, are you our new preacher?”

    Such a large hat… “You might call me a man of the Chapel,” he said, forcing a smile. Nearby the choir ladies sat, hats on their ellipsoidal heads and eyes on him. Gill flaps quivering, he strained to remain human. Addiction was so hard to overcome.

  57. MISTLETOE EFFECT
    WC = 200 (03-27-15)

    Student honor court commenced, with youthful faces blooming in a copse of saplings. One aged hardwood shaded a corner, lending approval in the guise of a nodding bough as the light winds of inexperience bent the young growth.

    My exposure to the rule book was limited. I needed more time before this trial.

    She stood before the court accused of cheating: a hemiparasitic move among a grove of vulnerable trees of few growth rings.

    Am I like that? Have I ever turned a leaf with malintent? Have I rooted myself in her camp………….ever? Have I judged her prematurely?

    A rustling among the presenters from both sides of the court brought no early decision. Not enough light had been shed upon the accusations. No proof of rooting without benefit of the soil and nutrients of the average tree.

    True, no one actually saw her tap another. But have I listened and comprehended all the facts adequately? Am I swayed by one wind?

    The hemiparasite showed herself in the waning hours of the trial as each sapling in court was overcome by wafting excuses which rooted in “y” branches and bloomed with intoxicating perfume.

    Now I wonder if I have been infected.

  58. The Women

    They were in his room again, all of them. He sat in the mahogany chair and stared down, afraid to look at any of the women.

    “Did you have a rough day Mr. Heston?” the pudgy woman lying on his bed asked in a voice he was sure was delivered with a Cheshire Cat grin. He said nothing, but stared at his forearm, pulling vermillion paint off of his arm hair.

    “He doesn’t wanna talk,” a gurgled voice said from somewhere behind him. The room erupted into cacophonous laughter.

    “I SEE your having a bad day,” a new voice said. The women broke into a second round of laughter as Mr. Heston looked up to see the new apparition. This woman was thin, with high cheek bones and two blood oozing holes where the eyes should’ve been. It was Jennifer from the laundromat.

    “Aww look at that Jen. He recognizes you,” the pudgy woman said. He looked at the pudgy woman and saw the artificial Cheshire Cat smile. The lips and cheeks had been carved off forming a permanent, gory smile. He grimaced.

    “What’s the matter? Can’t look at your own work?”

    “I could stare at it all day,” Jen said. Laughter filled his head, and the world went black.

    210 words
    @goldzco21
    #flashdog

  59. Blazing a Trail

    At first, the grayscale image was just a blur. Pictures took a surprisingly long time to load in her new office, probably, because of the gauntlet of firewalls they had to pass through. After a moment, the image resolved.

    Rachel stifled a laugh. Then, remembering that she was alone in her office, she laughed openly. The clothing was so antiquated, especially in contrast to the black suit and pencil skirt she was wearing.

    She looked over the women’s faces. Only half of them even noticed the camera, before the photo had been captured. 1911, she thought, long before digital photography and selfies. Looking at the camera, or not, all the women were focused and resolute. They were prepared for the task that was about to be set before them.

    If these women could blaze a trail, so could she. The knot in her stomach began to ease for the first time since the official tally had been announced.

    Rachel took a breath and pushed back her desk chair. She chose to follow along the curved office wall, rather than step across the presidential seal on the floor. She took one last moment to gather her courage, then left the safety of the closed room. The torrent of press awaited.

    @acmarkz
    209 words

  60. Two Truths
    210 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    The scales gleam with starlight. A plume on one scale, a pulsing heart—mine—on the other. My fingers rub the frayed edges of the hole in my chest. This time, I figure I’d pass since I’d actually married her. Minimal drama.

    “Still too heavy,” Anubis announces. His jackal snout bumps me as he whispers, “Very close.” Unfortunately, very close is like almost pregnant.

    A tear slithers down Osiris’s teal cheek. Those ancient eyes don’t have moisture left for me. Tears are for her, the soul that should’ve gone on to Tuat ages ago.

    The Assessors about the Hall’s perimeter express grim judgment. Some hiss, scowl, bare teeth, yank at their tongues. They don’t unnerve me near as much as Ammit. Part-hippo, part-crocodile, she hauls her girth from the mire, face swollen in overlapping teeth.

    “Marcus,” she rumbles almost seductively. I flinch. Of all my names, that one’s the most embarrassing. Almost as bad as Lancelot.

    “Hello again.” She’s developed a taste for me. Her grey tongue rolls probes my quivering organ. The flesh around the chest cavity shudders.

    I lean toward Thoth. “Parting advice?”

    He clacks his beak. “Change genders.”

    I guffaw as the leaden tug of the material world reels me from the Hall. Thoth, what a joker.

  61. My Own Worse Enemy
    208 words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    In the story of my life, I think I’d have double billing as protagonist and antagonist.

    Case in point: I’m sitting in a jail cell after a jury my ‘peers’ decided I needed to be locked up. It’s not what you think, really… hear me out.

    The only thing I had in common with said jury was the lack of a ‘Y’ chromosome and the inability to get out of jury duty. We made it through the original case, and I was pleased with my self control. That lasted until the penalty phase, when my patience took a direct flight out of town, leaving my antagonistic self in charge.

    Three hours away from a hung jury I was in rare form.

    “Why?” I heard myself asking out loud. “Why could any of you possibly think this woman deserves leniency?”

    The foreman looked at me in ill concealed contempt.

    “She lost her husband!” she declared in a condescending tone.

    The other women nodded, making me feel like I’d grown another head.

    Antagonist me was now set on counting coup.

    “She didn’t ‘lose’ him- she hired he boyfriend to kill him. She got what she wanted.” I yelled.

    ***</center

    I keep telling them it’s contempt of jury, not contempt of court.

  62. WITNESS
    207 words
    @jes3ica

    Nellie felt buoyant when she opened the jury summons, and worried that the paper would dissolve into her ecstatic palms. A second chance to do right.

    It wouldn’t be like when she was fourteen, after the sky fell and nationalism became an amphetamine. She saw those kids chucking rocks through the Naderi’s windows. Rocks became bricks, bricks became cinderblocks. One of them hit the Naderi’s little boy and he spent weeks in the hospital, until the family moved away.

    But before they did, Nellie’s school friend Zainab Naderi came to her house. Zainab spoke to Nellie’s father with the careful formality that conceals suffering. “Mr. Harris, I believe your daughter witnessed the assault on our house. No one is coming forward; we need her to go to the police.”

    Nellie’s father turned to her, surprised. “Nellie, did you see anything?”

    Nellie looked at her friend’s troubled, sleepless eyes, her tangled hair. Zainab was terrified, almost unrecognizable. Nellie ached for her to leave.

    “No,” she said, and a stone grew deep inside her.

    The trial, Nellie discovered, was a dispassionate financial case, and the jury voted unanimously to acquit after a twenty-minute deliberation.

    Nellie packed up her unused notepad and walked, with her stone, from the room.

  63. “At War”
    by Michael Seese
    208 words

    Aiden stared at the faded photograph, ruing that he could touch her skin in sepia only. How he longed to return home and hold her once more. But now, lying there with a hole in his belly, such a reunion would have to take place in his dreams. Or the afterlife.

    “The war needs me,” he had told her when he said goodbye.

    “Your war be damned,” Maggie spat back. She only cursed when her passions were truly inflamed. “I need you.”

    He promised he would write every day. And he remained true to his word. At first, he waxed poetic about the glory of the fight against tyranny. About serving the cause of freedom. But as reality set in, his letters sagged under the weight of frustration, anger, fear.

    And pain.

    Her missives read like paeans to indefatigable love. To her belief in him. To admiration of his nobility. But the last one cut deeper than flesh.

    “Please give this up. If not for me, then for our child.”

    He blinked back phantom tears, tears which would not fall from his parched, sunken eyes.

    A familiar face appeared outside his cell. “You ready to give in Aiden? Call it quits?”

    “No, warden. The hunger strike will continue.”

  64. Toxic Truth

    Twenty eyeballs stare at me without blinking. Ten minds process the pertinent facts of my case. She died and they said I did it. But I didn’t.

    The prosecutor layed out the facts that pointed to my guilt. My heart rehearsed the truth of what really happened. I had a mind to speak up and set the facts straight. How could I when I held the guilty party, the person that I know did her in, so close to my own heart that it hurt. To tell or not to tell. To die with a lie, or live with the truth.

    The big clock on the wall ticks the minutes by in slow motion. The judges gavel shocks me back to where I am and what I face.

    “What say you?” he orders. “Guilty, or not?”

    One by one they condemn me to the gallows.

    “Have you anything to say,” he asks the question of me when they finish.

    It’s now or never. The name hovers on my lips. My eyes meet theirs in the back of the crowded courtroom. I heave a sigh.

    “I have nothing to say, Judge.”

    He pounds the gavel again, sealing my fate.

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