Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 17

Happy Friday!! I must admit I’m still a bit teary-eyed over last week’s win by Sinéad O’Hart who, in serendipitous timing, is judging today with her partner-in-crime Pratibha. If you haven’t read Sinéad’s frank interview, please do so here. It is hard not winning, no matter how many times we tell ourselves it’s not the winning (or the getting an agent/publishing contract, or the breaking through Amazon levels, or the making of bestseller lists, or the number of comments on a story, or, or, or) that countsHow does one dig deep enough to find the courage to press on after disappointments? For some it’s a lifelong quest; but thanks to communities like you, it’s a quest we as writers never need to undertake alone. Let me tell you again, because it’s true:


Thank you, dearests, for all you do, Friday after Friday after Friday, to support each other. Friendship and encouragement like you unfailingly provide are the best prizes of all. ❤

WALL OF FLAME: The Wall’s been updated to reflect the current March badge holders (no worries; we keep careful account of all badge holders; when you earn a new badge, your name goes back up showing all your badges). Prize drawing at year’s end among those with the most monthly badges! Details and the names of our fabulous Ring of Fire badge holders here.


DC2Judging today is Dragon Captains Team Four: Flash! Friday’s latest fiery champ Sinéad O’Hart and fellow winner Pratibha (from Vol 2 – 34). I trust y’all brought your shades to stave off sun-blindness, what with all that WINNERS’ GOLD. Be sure to check out their judge pages to learn what they look for in winning entries. It’s going to be an amazing round; I can practically feel the electricity. Thanks so much, captains!   


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

Now let’s 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.


(1) Required story element (this week: theme. The below theme must be your story’s central concept {Note: blunder: a stupid or careless mistake}:



(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:


Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, USA. GNU Free Documentation License photo by Daniel Schwenn.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, USA. GNU Free Documentation License photo by Daniel Schwen.

250 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 17

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 199

    Nothing and No One

    The clouds triangulate around a silver moon, and I know that you’ve won.

    Your glance across the table is as dry as sand, like pollen blowing in the wind. How many times have I pleaded and insisted and begged?

    “We’ll make it,” I’ve said.

    But your glance is a dry desert.

    “I’ll never do it again.”

    But your lips are a sealed casket.

    “I’ll get you to trust me again.”

    But the doubts blow before me like tumbleweed in the wind, dry as dust, dead as bones. They carry with them the spectres of dried hopes, ghosts of long-forgotten promises.

    I should have let you sail by, you and your cargo, but instead I raised friendly color. Now we’re trapped on a desert island, embroiled in a blunder of my own design.

    Had the fates struck our colors, had we sailed by as ships passing in the night, we would not to be



    Lonely on this desert island where we speak different languages, and the surf provides our common speech.

    We lie, side by side, the earth’s circumference separating us, our gazes fixed on the moon above, and make cloud formations out of nothing and no one.


  2. “Oops”
    Josh Bertetta
    210 Words

    Everyone makes mistakes. Some are bigger than others. This was one of those bigger ones.

    So Jerry ran, ran for his sorry-ass life.

    It had been dark. Very dark, and cold.

    Then it was bright. Very bright, and hot.

    The desert, he knew, was a place of forgiveness and believe you me, Jerry asked for it, and then some.

    He needed lots of forgiveness. More, probably, than most.

    He’d change. He’d been arrogant.

    He would, he really would. He’d be good.

    He promised. He’d been prideful.

    Jerry never much prayed to God, but that day he did, and then some. He needed to in the land
    where you have to lose your life to find it.

    Jerry was already lost.

    Life was always a horizon away.

    He more than deserved the sunburn he knew he’d get. God would chap his ashen Irish hide.

    Sometimes mistakes, they kill, and when they do you run. He’d already run a long time and figured he’d covered a good distance, but when you run up and down dunes one after the other after the other you don’t get as far as you think.

    He’d learn later the newspapers named the one who made this particular mistake (most would call it a blunder) “The Ripper.”


  3. All it Takes

    Garcia took another cigarette from the pack and lit up at the bar. He’d managed to quit for two months this time ‘round, but he could never fully get it out of his system. No one really does.

    “Can I bum a smoke?” The man next to him said. Garcia held out the open carton. “You need a light?” The man shook his head.

    Garcia pulled at the flabby skin underneath his chin. He’d gained 20 pounds these last two months. He knew they would be impossible to lose too. 20 pounds heavier, but one wife and two kids lighter, Garcia thought. He started calculating his wife’s and kids’ weight so he could subtract that from his gained weight but stopped, realizing how stupid of a task it was.

    “Need another drink, Garcia?”


    “Back at it, eh?”

    “All it takes is a moment of weakness.”

    “Don’t I know it.”

    He took a drag and then a drink. It suddenly hit him; he would die fat and alone. No more second chances. It was the final run down that steep, sandy hill into the valley of death. The only thing he could control, he thought as he lit another cigarette, was how fast he made it to the bottom.

    208 words


  4. (209)
    An Accidental Cure

    ‘Is it switched on?’
    ‘Yes Doctor.’
    ‘Subject 44, adult male, 31 years old. Suffered severe hydrophobia for the last six years after a near drowning incident.’
    ‘Probe…7mm please.’
    ‘Beginning positioning. Scan suggests shading at a depth of 213mm.’
    ‘Hot needle please, wake up, people!’
    ‘I am using the needle to blast the phobia from the brain. Here at the Columbus Institute in Eastern Slovakia, we are the first team in the world to offer treatment for phobia through a physical operation. We have cured five individuals from crippling terrors including arachnophobia, claustrophobia and triskaidekaphobia. This is our first hydrophobic.’
    ‘Nurse, magnify the scan please, I need to check the depth of the shading…’
    ‘Is there a problem, Doctor?’
    ‘The scan…who loaded it into the screen?’
    ‘Nurse Elmore, Doctor. This morning…’
    ‘Idiots! Fools! Goddamn it, another subject wasted!’
    ‘What’s wrong, Doctor?’
    ‘The scan is inverted, people.’ ‘The image I am precisely following is on the wrong side of his bloody head.’
    ‘Oh Doctor! We followed the protocol…’
    ‘Wake him up. This may be salvageable.’
    ‘Reducing anaesthesia. Heart rate steady. Another minute…’
    ‘Gareth? Can you hear me?

    ‘Gareth? What do you see?’
    ‘Heaven!…I’m in a dry world…no water anywhere….sand all around! I’m cured!’


  5. Running to Samara
    by JM6, 210 words, @JMnumber6

    The desert stretched before me, seemingly endless. Normally, I’d be conserving my energy, especially since I had no water.

    I ran.

    It was a stupid mistake but it was about to cost me more than I expected a stupid mistake to cost. Not death. Death would be a blessing, compared to what awaited me if I was caught. No, the Waykeepers had a different punishment in mind for me. They were going to exile me to The Between.

    Never heard of The Between? Okay. You live in one universe. I come from a different one. How I got here doesn’t matter. What you need to know is this. It’s possible to open up a portal from one universe to another. The thing is, it’s also possible to create a portal which doesn’t open up on *any* universe. Instead, it opens up on … nothing. Some people say nobody can survive in The Between.

    They’re wrong. I know because, when they tried to open up a portal to The Between for me, I could hear the screaming. What you *can’t* do in The Between is *die*. Nothing but eternal screaming.

    I ran.

    Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the Waykeepers hunting for me. I prayed for death to find me first.


  6. Diameter – 205 words

    The Trickster’s face rearranged itself into what I presumed was a smile. “I warn you that I’ll place you as far away from water as is possible,” he said. “It’s my Rule. I can’t release you unless I make it almost impossible for you to survive.”

    Of course, I’d laughed, thinking my wilderness training would serve me well. He’d drop me on the edge of the desert, diametrically opposite the nearest oasis, expecting me to die trying to cross it. But I was wilier than that: the Trickster had met his match.
    – – –
    The opacity of the Zorb-ball collapsed around me and I only just managed to scrabble out in time to see the scout ship’s thrusters disappearing below the horizon. At least I had a heading for the planetoid’s base now. Although, knowing the Trickster, it’d be foolish to trust in that; he could have doubled back on himself, trying to lead me in the opposite direction from the one I’d need to take.

    So I took a heading to 45 degrees of his flight, thinking I could skim the edge of the desert, avoiding the worst of its dragons’ breath airlessness. Or at least that’s what I’d thought until I found the Zorb-ball again…


  7. Dice Man
    @making_fiction #FlashDog
    206 words

    How do you fix a blunder of global proportions?

    Life was good. Fine wine and dry shelter. Camaraderie so great that we would happily die for each other.

    Now I sit and roll the dice in my palms pitted with callouses and scars – wounds inflicted by others, and shamefully, by myself. I feel the dice indentions like dimples on my soul, without looking I know their smooth surface, once pure and perfect, is blood-stained now.

    Once a warrior of fearsome reputation, I have become a front, an elaborate façade of confidence layered on shame and self-doubt. Every decision I make through close fists. Dice rolled where others can’t see them.

    I watched the twisted thorns. Shrapnel in extremities. The mocking sign above the place of the skull.

    We wanted souvenirs. I rolled my dice. Not sure why, it was just another day. Just another event.

    I have no idea if he is what they say. The point is they believe.

    They say he’s back. He could be anyone I meet. The servant? The leper? The strangers who seem to accuse me with judging eyes?

    Perhaps the items are cursed?

    Now they call from the bitter desert sands where I hastily buried my fabric secrets.


  8. His shack

    Michael Dickel

    207 words

    Of old loves—psychedelic San Fran-man, un-Grateful Dead-camper, cuddly beekeeper-lady, off-key piano man who just left—she slipped up most falling for the one reflected by the yin-yang, fire-moon, fake-jewel pendant she holds. She had wanted reprieve from cold conflict. That trip to his desert shack promised isolation, heat, but nearly killed her.

    Perhaps it killed him…he stopped writing. She never replied.


    She begged him to take water, the car might break down.

    “The car is fine,” he grunted.

    “Ten years old, burning oil. Fine?” He didn’t listen.

    It threw a rod on a quiet two-lane, too many miles from anywhere, too little traffic.


    They stumbled into heat rather than cook in the car. What love they had evaporated along the road-ribbon wrapping them into knots as they walked without talking.

    The map suggested a short-cut across a loop in the road. It didn’t show the dunes or warn them of slipping down lip-cracking hot sand. It didn’t show him blaming her.

    “Stupid. If you hadn’t said we would need water…”

    Later, on the road, she hitched a ride with the one car that passed, headed away from his shack.


  9. Mirage
    208 words

    Bloody blunder that’s what it was. Bollocks. I could have sworn, I was signing up for a trip to Mount Desert, Maine. All-inclusive. When I showed up to the airport, I was surprised to see my plane was going to Africa. I mean, who doesn’t look at their tickets? Me, that’s who.

    And now, here I am, running down a freaking hill for my life. And it’s hot, dreadfully. They’re chasing me, but they’ve fallen far behind. My marathon days have served me well. I didn’t even know hills existed in Africa. Who invented this horrid place anyway? A sadistic god content on torching his fallen people, that’s who.

    Thank God I packed extra water today. I stop for a minute, look behind me. There’s no trace of the errant tribe; I stumbled upon their sacrifice by mistake, but there’s no way I’m going to be their next victim.

    I come to the bottom of the hill, and I’m surprised to see a road off in the distance. Blurry, weathered, but a road. And I hope to fucking God it leads me the hell out of here.

    When I get out of this place, I’ll be content if I never see another grain of sand in my life.


  10. Keys, Phone, Wallet – Have You Got Everything?
    A.J. Walker

    Left – right – left; a simple physical mantra as I make my way through the isolated mounds of quartz and mica; where geology has been defeated by wind. My awe at these mighty dunes subsided when death became a likelihood.

    The accusing empty bottles on both hips swing on the carabiners reminding me with each step of my dry mouth and sapping energy; stupidity. My tiny rucksack holds out hope with its precious mobile. I can get through this; if I can just get a signal.

    The largest dune stood before me a challenging behemoth, but I knew I could beat it. One step then another; left – right – left. At the top I’d get a signal and call for a million gallons of water.

    Each step brought me within a whisker of collapse but in some exponential trick I managed it. At the top I saw the lake below on the leeward side. It was a mirage, but I was drawn inexorably. Driven by gravity and delirium I sprinted like an athlete down the dune.

    The phone rang gloriously – I’d been right. I turned and saw my rucksack like a cairn at the top of the dune as I fell and went into a roll towards the imagined oceans miles below.

    (210 words)



  11. Mapping Fate
    @SherLHoward, 199 words

    Our maps of enemy turf reeked of incompetent idiocy. We’d been led into unexpected topography more times than I could count during my years in Western Asia. Why, then, did I trust that map when I sent Sargent McCorkel and Private Lance on the mission? Not that we had any options at that point anyway. We knew we’d all die soon. I’d hoped I might save those two kids at least.

    When our five parachutes had first dotted the barren desert, we knew the landing was the only easy part of the mission. Our job: seek and destroy the desert group whose mission included the destruction of the primary source of oil in Saudi Arabia. Six months of desert training and I’d thought that was rough until the real deal hit. Lost in the desert–a blunder in cartography costing our lives. I’d prefer an enemy bullet.

    Your brain really does feel fried—you know you’re only thinking of a drop of water and rescue. Focus escapes your slippery grip. When McCorkle staggered back into our midst, our parched gasps were audible but not a body moved.

    “Nothing. Nobody.” McCorkle collapsed to the soft comfort of our familiar sand.


  12. Bird
    (210 words)
    Hatty, the old witch, (the kids only ever whispered the old witch part) had gifted them the bird. After their Dad had unsuccessfully treated Hatty’s goat, the bird was to be his only reward.
    Beth read out the note attached to the cage.
    You deserve this.
    ‘It doesn’t sound like she’s grateful.’
    Her mother brushed away Beth’s words along with the feathers that littered the porch.
    ‘She’s sad. It’s her way of thanking your father however odd it seems.’
    Cal, and Beth were under strict instruction to leave the hen alone.
    Beth only took her eyes off her little brother for a second- one moment he was playing in the sandpit, the next he was with the bird.
    Before their mother found out, Beth wrapped a handkerchief round the peck on his finger and wiped away his tears.
    The hen didn’t lay. Their mother continued to boil shop-bought eggs. It was she who heard the high pitched squeals that morning. She rushed to the breakfast table where Cal was perched with talon grip.
    His three year old lips mouthed, ‘Mummy.’
    But all she heard was a squawk.
    ‘Where’s your sister?’ she said to what was left of him as he pounced and ripped with his claws.


  13. A Wind from the Desert

    206 words

    Manni put more wood on the fire. “So, you found me, but we’re lost?” She took a pull from her bottle of Kehar, brine-wine.

    Deleld, her putative rescuer, looked sheepish. “That about sums it up,” she said.

    “I was lost, you weren’t lost, now you are lost. That’s an increase of one hundred percent in people lost in my immediate vicinity.” Manni drank again, and passed the bottle over.

    “Is it? I’m no good at maths.” Delela took a drink.

    “Navigation either, obviously.”

    “That’s rich coming from someone already lost.”

    In the increasing gloom the high pitched call of sand-otters could be heard, alerting each other as they emerged from their burrows.

    “That would be true,” Manni said, “if it weren’t for one thing.”

    “Which is?”

    “I wanted to be lost.”

    Manni struck with ferocity and Delela toppled sideways, head lolling unnaturally.
    As Manni took hold of the body the chest began to glow. She dropped it and ran, scrabbling to get behind a patch of nearby rock.

    When she regained consciousness it was midday. She found her water, and sat thinking. All she’d wanted was to be left alone, and they sent a dupe-assassin masquerading as a rescuer.
    Manni vowed revenge.



  14. So Far Away
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    210 words

    It had been a mistake.

    No, not the decision to race through the dunes on one of the hottest days of the year.
    Not the forgetting of water in his eagerness to escape. He deserved the torment.
    Not the forgetting of sunscreen, though undoubtedly he’d be in agony tomorrow.

    He was in agony today. It was agony that’d sparked this flight, this attempt to outrace the truth, the searing knowledge that life would never be the same again.

    He was an idiot.


    Why had he kissed Molly McGruder? Why had he let other things follow kisses?

    The drive for physical pleasure had overridden common sense, as it had so many times in the past.

    Only this time he’d lost the thing most precious to him. He’d never forget her face, the shock, the hurt, the sheer betrayal written there in each tear that stabbed its way down her cheeks.

    It’d been a mistake.

    Now he ran for physical pain. He needed it. He deserved it.

    It wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. Some sins were simply unforgivable.

    Around him, ahead of him, behind him: all was desert. As was his life, now that he’d lost her.

    He knew she’d never forgive him. He knew she shouldn’t.

    He ran.


  15. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 197

    Faulty Reasoning

    Every day is uphill, a race to the finish. Pride mixed with pain streaks my emotions as I cheer your determined pace to the end. Your muscles burn, your lungs flag, your breath comes harsh and heavy. I wish I could run with you, but I’m barred from this competition by all the laws of nature.

    The doctors had said it could be years. Pills, treatments, constant monitoring. A slight fever means a clinic trip, a headache means more medicine.

    When I smooth my hands over the silky skin of your scalp, I raise my eyes to the heavens and scream my heartache to the four winds.

    Is this my fault? Where have I blundered so deeply that I would bring this on you?

    But when you look at me, your gray eyes spill innocence, trust, faith.

    “It’ll be okay,” you whisper as you curl your fingers in mine.

    And it is. I see the tension ease from your sickened body, the uphill race slant down. That finish line does appear, and the scenery is verdant on the other side, full of promise. I cannot cross it with you, not this time.

    I must wait my turn.


  16. Running,

    My lungs howl with frustration, but I press on. The race is the only thing.

    The echo of Baqai’s scream whips my legs forward in a manner better than any taskmaster could. That wail of horror and agony keeps me running.

    I can’t believe I let Baqai talk me into this. I should have told him off.

    “You have to come with me, you love a challenge,” he said. “This is the toughest triathlon in the star cluster.”

    I no longer like challenges. The swim in their salty lake that keeps everyone buoyant was great. The bike ride through the capital city was fine, even if some of the locals kept chanting that we were all going to hell.

    At the time I thought they objected to our bicycle shorts. Now I know better.

    We were 35 kilometers into the marathon across the dunes when it happened. It started with a tremor. Baqai stumbled, not the first time since the course is across sand dunes. Then a gaping maw claimed him.

    I focus on my pace. Fear destroys speed. I focus, must relax, and keep running to survive. There’s only three kilometers remaining. I’m almost out of the desert.

    Is that a tremor starting?

    204 Words


  17. One Small Thing Is Everything

    Idle hands make it hard to think.
    When my fingers are moving something around, worrying over something my mind moves in tandem and soon my answer is found, my questions are soothed.

    I replay the moment over and over again in my mind each time willing with all my being that I will do something different.
    I am sitting on a large dune and my partner is next to me with the binoculars. He watches our subjects in the distance. I slide the pale gold band from my finger and begin to twirl it from finger to finger.
    I think about how slowly time passes in the desert, the strange dangers here, that unchanging scenery makes it feel like a dream. Most of all I think about her face, the woman who wears the twin of this ring. She never takes hers off.
    And mine drops into the sand.

    I sifted and dug for an hour but then we had to leave. The sand had swallowed my tether to her and a world too far behind.

    I stare at the pale stripe of skin and feel my stomach twist as the sun begins to fill that in too. Now I only think about when I’ll get home again.

    208 words


  18. Metaphorically
    202 words

    March 25, 1822
    (The date I left)

    Whoever you are, however you find this, I swear it is true.

    Professor Hampton often told me that life is like a mountain one has to climb. “It’s always uphill, but we must never let that stop us.”

    He had dedicated his life to the study of time travel. He had thrown away an illustrious position at the university and squandered his wealth.

    That fateful afternoon I found him, grinning, nearly burned to a crisp.

    “I’ve done it, Freddy,” he said. “I’ve almost reached the top.”

    “You’ve left a light on,” I said.

    “The past is incredible. I shall look to the future next.”

    “Professor –“

    “Don’t interrupt!” The professor lifted his hand to wag a finger and bumped one of the buttons. His eyes widened and the room exploded with light.

    “Get in, quickly!” he cried, and I threw myself into the machine.

    When we emerged we found a barren wasteland of sand. We were perched atop a massive dune and the entire world sloped down and down with no end.

    “We’re doomed,” Professor Hampton said.

    “What about climbing the mountain?” I asked.

    “I’m sorry, Freddy. It looks like it’s all downhill from here.”


  19. Dylyce P. Clarke
    208 words

    Stupid Camel

    I blamed the camel. If it hadn’t been draped in pretty colors, this wouldn’t have happened. The camel’s blanket reminded me of Grandma’s pendant. The one she’d worn when she wrapped me in the folds of her love and soothed away my tears.

    I’d only wanted to see it around the camel’s neck. It looked awesome hanging there! The blue stones reflected the cloudless sky and the gold resembled the warm sand. Then I’d gotten distracted.

    Why should being dragged away to a land I’d never seen upset me? I could blame the East India Trading Company for making my family move back to England, but they weren’t the source of my misery.

    They hadn’t comforted me when the hard life of my youth overtook me. They didn’t knit my heart back together with colorful stories rooted in a love for the desert. Grandma had. India was the only home I knew. I loved it and didn’t want to leave. I should blame Grandma.

    Next thing I knew, the camel spit at me and loped after the caravan taking me away from this beloved land. I raced behind it, whooping and hollering. Grandma might understand, but my dad would kill me if I didn’t get that pendant back.


  20. @bex_spence
    190 words

    Just one more grain

    The hourglass turned. Sand swept through the funnel. Grains falling without constraint. Without indication of the consequences their passing held.

    Watching time, the Watcher knew his time was running out. He saw them running, sprinting to reach the other side. Little knowing nothing changed. Through the passage the world was the same. It would always be the same for them. The heavy, reliable sands of time.

    Their passing weighed with culpability, 60 minutes to change. To fight for right or wrong. No sound, no mechanism just the sand, burying the minutes.

    He turned from the glass, looked to the door. The heavy lock intricate with detail, stars and moons cast in iron. Weaved a tying bind. Still not enough to keep him in.

    A bind was what brought him to where he was, to the moment he couldn’t run away from. He sat head heavy in his hands.

    Lifting the glass, he hoped to ease the passing of time. To prolong his place in the world. His back strained under the weight.

    With a slip and a blunder the glass tumbled between his hands, smashed upon the floor. Time was out.


  21. Land of Opportunity
    208 words

    “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” my great-great grandmother said. “A land of opportunity. How were we to know? It was all just getting started, then. I can’t blame your great- great grandfather, he was just as optimistic as the rest, and I was young and in love. The world was new and everything seemed possible.”

    My ancestors were talking to me again, about the way it was before, when our people left the watery world for the solid ground of Earth.

    “It was difficult at first,” my great-great grandfather explained. “We had to adapt or die. Eat or be eaten. It took some time to perfect protective coloration. There were a lot of mistakes.”

    “I was a victim of the Pre-Cambrian trend,” my great-great aunt said. “The trilobites were so flashy. It seemed each succeeding generation was trying to outdo the previous in innovation. Eyes, fins, tails, legs…bigger and better. I wanted it all, of course.”

    “It was after the dinosaurs that I found my own style,” my great grandmother said. “Small and furry suited me.”

    “I dreamed of flight,” my great grandfather said.

    “I dreamed of cities,” my grandmother said.

    And me? I’m starting over. I’m scrambling down the sand dunes, heading back to the sea.


  22. @colin_d_smith
    210 words (excluding title)

    “A Dry Run”

    This could be beautiful.

    A clear cloudless sky fading blue to white as it melts into the horizon. Pure brown sand ebbing away for miles in drifts like waves that lap against the skyline. The sun, warm, bright, making the sand glitter like fragments of crystal.

    This could be beautiful… but it isn’t.

    There’s no breeze to refresh my face. No clouds to shield my skin from the searing sun. No oasis to relieve the parched ground and my parched lips.

    And there’s not another soul in sight. Not another sound but the thump of my feet into dry sand, the thud of my heart as it strains to pump blood, and every harsh breath as my lungs fight to keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

    But this is the way it was designed. At least for me.

    I suppose if I hadn’t baked King Lorax’s cake fractionally too long, if I hadn’t argued with him when he said the cake was dry, he may have been merciful. As if. But my baker’s pride wouldn’t be still.

    “Not dry?” I can still hear him scream. “I’ll teach you what dry is!”

    So here I am, forced to run this course until he says stop. Or I die. Whichever comes first.


  23. @Emmaleene1
    210 words (excluding title).

    Poking the beast with a stick

    Where time was measured by season and crop rotation, the turning of months in a year, the meaning of hands revolving around numbers is replaced by a serrated metal blade to tear open cans. Now, time is measured out in tins of soup and beans and pineapple slices.
    The sun glints from his corrugated roof. Alone in our galvanised existence, I haven’t seen movement for a while now.
    The shimmering air vibrates with forgotten ghosts, apple trees, acorns, bluebell, buttercup, cowslip, dandelion, heather and ivy. Rich fertile land now a barren dessert. Whole village wiped out, only us two left. All my fault; my blunder in the nuclear waste plant. He was my boss; a bit grumpy now irreversibly venomous. I know not to knock on his door. He’d shoot me with his old blunderbuss, leave me walking around with guts in my hands like dirty washing.
    Need to check if he’s alive. After relentless unrest, nail-biting, pacing, I risk it.
    Sand swirls on the wind, howling gusts whirl, whip, trudging crunch of sand beneath feet. I throw a rock at his window. A web of cracks emanate from the point of impact.
    A sudden burst erupts, zing of metal severs the sky. Danger in the present tense.
    I run.


  24. Reblogged this on emmaleene and commented:
    Here’s my story, written for Flash Friday
    Poking the beast with a stick

    Where time was measured by season and crop rotation, the turning of months in a year, the meaning of hands revolving around numbers is replaced by a serrated metal blade to tear open cans. Now, time is measured out in tins of soup and beans and pineapple slices.
    The sun glints from his corrugated roof. Alone in our galvanised existence, I haven’t seen movement for a while now.
    The shimmering air vibrates with forgotten ghosts, apple trees, acorns, bluebell, buttercup, cowslip, dandelion, heather and ivy. Rich fertile land now a barren dessert.
    Whole village wiped out, only us two left. All my fault; my blunder in the nuclear waste plant. He was my boss; a bit grumpy now irreversibly venomous. I know not to knock on his door. He’d shoot me with his old blunderbuss, leave me walking around with guts in my hands like dirty washing.
    Need to check if he’s alive. After relentless unrest, nail-biting, pacing, I risk it.
    Sand swirls on the wind, howling gusts whirl, whip, trudging crunch of sand beneath feet. I throw a rock at his window. A web of cracks emanate from the point of impact.
    A sudden burst erupts, zing of metal severs the sky. Danger in the present tense.
    I run.


  25. Wanted


    “Yes?” The woman turned, seeing uniforms emblazoned with a gold hourglass on the breast either side of her.


    “Currently,” she said, blinking from one man to the other.

    “Settles it,” one said.

    “You’re coming with us,” said the other. “The Chronos wants you. You were due for trial last week. You’ll see the problem, I’m thinking?”

    “Aside from where you’re clearly both barking and I’ll be going now?” February responded sharply, moving away, before one man caught her shoulder, nodding at his colleague, who pulled his sleeve up, tapping the device around his wrist.


    “Our little blunderer,” a bearded man said, frowning. “How does she plead?” he said, addressing the men.

    “We didn’t quite have time…” one said hastily. The other shrugged.

    The older man sighed. “You stand accused of crimes against calendar, punishable by the Chronos. Your response?”

    February’s brow creased.

    “Do you deny appearing twice in Sweden without permission or that you carelessly encouraged monthlessness in Russia and the abolition of seven day weeks for five?”

    A silence, as February remained nonplussed.

    “No matter. Mistakes must be fixed. As must you,” the man stated bluntly.

    “Inefficient. Reset,” a stern voice agreed loudly.

    “Neutralise,” said another.

    “Don’t worry, you won’t know about it,” one guard whispered.

    (210 words)



  26. The Punishment
    210 words

    “Stupid, stupid,” Gayle mutters. Blisters sprout between his toes. The dune slants endlessly upward; his feet sink deep into soft sand with every step. His lips are cracked; his skin is raw.

    All for one tiny mistake.

    He fantasizes about reaching the top—will he find a well of cool water? A beautiful woman who will rub salves on his ravaged skin?

    His misstep hadn’t been that dire, only a cultural misunderstanding.

    At the top he will beg forgiveness, and the king will agree that his penance is done. King Muhsi is strict but just.

    After all, as a foreigner, Gayle doesn’t know the customs.

    She had been so lovely, that veil covering everything but wide green eyes. How could he have known that she was Muhsi’s daughter, that she would tattle to her father after Gayle had teasingly flicked the fabric back to reveal her face?

    Finally, Gayle crests the summit. There the king stands in white robes, surrounded by his guards.

    Gayle falls to his knees. “Please, it was only a small blunder,” he rasps through parched lips.

    Muhsi glares down, unappeased. “You compromised my honor. That is no small matter. Drag him back down,” he commands his men. “He will climb it again. And again. And again.”


  27. Time Travel

    A single rounding error. That was all it took. Sometimes it’s the smallest mistakes that have the biggest impacts.

    It was a simple experiment. The hourglass would teleport across the room and into my hand. The grains of sand would demonstrate my inventions molecular level accuracy. This was to be my finest hour.

    My heart races as I push the button to initiate the transfer. There’s a flash, and then a feeling of nausea. Why is the room spinning? As my eyes adjust I focus on my palm, but the hourglass is nowhere to be seen. I look around and the enormity of the situation hits me. The hourglass didn’t teleport to me, I teleported to the hourglass. The safety protocol worked as expected, it detected the overlap in matter and compensated accordingly. Fantastic proof of my design, but now is not the time for celebrations.

    I stare up at the impossible. The sand is a mountain, an insurmountable foe. I always wanted to have all the time in the world. Even if I can make it to the top, the chances of someone seeing me are as tiny as I am. Still, what else am I to do? I guess I will just have to take my time.

    209 words


  28. A Story Between Me and Thee on the Occasion of Our Shipwrecking

    I have a blunderbuss on my shoulder and a dragon in my pocket. Don’t believe me? Look. What? I never said it was a real dragon. That’s just what that little firearm’s called. A dragon. As likely to breathe fire out the back as the front, and then you’re in trouble, flames licking up your arm and you searching for a pail of something cold and wet to stick it in. Not that you’ll find any such on a desert island like this

    Meanwhile, your enemy has sailed away, laughing up his own decidedly not-aflame sleeve, and you’ve one shot left. He thinks you’ll save it for yourself, for that moment when you just want off this island, fast, and if death is the quickest way, bring it on. But there’s his blunder, because there’s not a man alive with arms long enough to shoot himself with a blunderbuss. Be a shame to waste it, though.

    You take aim, squinting against the whip of sand in your eyes. His eyes go wide, then he’s lowering the row boat off the side, thinking to escape. Too late. Your shot strikes his gunpowder store and all goes up. All except the row boat bobbing towards you on the incoming tide.

    (208 words)
    Twitter: @RachaelDunlop


  29. Momentum

    I feel the curve of the earth under my feet. Propelling me forwards. Propelling me out of bed each morning. Sending me, lurching, into the office each day, even as I lean back, putting on the brakes.

    I’m racing though my life like hot sand skittering across the surface of a dune, barely touching the surface, never part of the cool, steady solidity below.

    Time is my enemy, time is all I have that is my own. Lunchtime, now that’s precious. I take the stairs down to the street, not waiting for the elevator, feet sliding off the last of the worn concrete steps. No one to see, but still I feel the urge to style it out, exit with a flourish.

    And I’m out, and I’m under the blue sky, under the white clouds clean edged against the office buildings rising from the ground. Out here I am my own person, out here I can breathe. I have an hour, a small segment of the arc the sun will make in the sky, but enough. And when it’s over, I’ll return to the life I seem to have blundered into. Time flies, even as it crawls, shifts even as it build mountains, holds me fast even I as sink.

    (210 words)
    Twitter: @RachaelDunlop


  30. Heart of Glass


    210 words

    A city is just a desert.

    Sand everywhere, transformed by furnace and chemicals into the spires of glass, transparent walls of opulence and gluttonous coffee-shop excess.

    I run through the dunes, a blurred shape against the glass malls and lights.

    The city also has an absence of intelligent life. The passer-by assuming I’m an unclean addict, or worse.

    Like the desert, the city is cold at night, cold enough to kill; the frigid air inhaled by the nocturnal predators and scavengers who roam the lands seeking prey.

    A car will offer warmth. A stranger offer shelter. But at what price?

    The predators will not get me, for I am wise to them.

    At first, I believed my mistakes had led me here. That I somehow deserved this infinite land of purgatory. Did I care well enough for mum? Maybe my blunders and occasional time spent eating or sleeping cost her weeks, months, or pain? I’d curse myself that she’d still be here and I’d not have gone into the care system. But I have come to slowly realise that I am not at fault.

    One day I will proudly walk the glass dunes. My head will not be high. I will be looking towards to ground, where I once slept.


  31. Looking Back

    After eighteen years a huge weight of responsibility had been lifted from around Alex’s neck: Jenny was leaving for college. His own post-secondary school experience was short lived: he partied too hard, spent no time in class, and didn’t return for a third year. Real life interrupted what was supposed to be his four year escape and the launching pad for a successful life in corporate finance. Funny how split second decisions can impact the rest of our lives.

    Alex noticed there was something different about Lisa. The other young women who hung in their circle had a seriousness about them that Lisa rebelled against with all the vigour available to her five foot five inch frame. They immersed themselves in the women’s liberation movement, social justice, and saw college as an important first step towards having meaningful impacts on the world. Alex wondered what Lisa had seen college as a starting point for.

    Alex wished he had stopped himself but there isn’t much hope bringing a runaway train to a screeching halt. Thirty-eight years, a lot of thinking, and not much to show for it. It would have been better to have never started.

    (197 words)
    Twitter: @RobbDixon


  32. Run a Meter, Run a Yard.

    196 words

    Run a meter, run a yard,
    One hundred meters, four hundred meters, eight hundred, fifteen hundred.
    Run a mile. Do it fast, under four minutes to join the list of one thousand three hundred and thirty eight other fleet footed neophytes of Mercury who bear news of their hard fought training.
    Five thousand meters, ten thousand, steeplechase; longer each race. The starting line crossed carefully counted times, round and round, keeping pace in your own mind.
    Now the ultimate, the marathon. Pheidippides finished as number one, exclaimed ‘Joy to you, we won!’ and to exhaustion did succumb. Fewer die in newer times, acclimatized to distance and route, able to run through the wall and stand exhausted. These mere mortals, men and women, work so hard, and what they attain is the glory deserved.
    Now comes the super runner. Running for miles, running for days, over mountain tops, through valley plains, through the desert, across the veldt. Always the eye is on where the foot goes next. Once finished they consider their rest, though even then planning where to run next.
    Run a meter, run a yard. It’s only a footstep, that’ll carry you far.


    nb* no real blunder or mistake connection – so feel free to ignore for judging.


  33. Stick to It (210 words)

    Moony was throwing three-day-old bologna at ma’s motivational poster. On the second try, she managed to get the bologna to flop against the blue sky.

    “Take that symbolism, ma,” Moony muttered under her covers.

    She surfaced and on the fourth try, she hit the man running down the sand dune. Over the top of the poster was a quote from Confucius, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

    Ma was likely to barge in soon, as she always barged in.

    For the tenth time that day, literally, ma would ask Moony to go see Titanic with her. Everyone at the diner was talking about it, she’d say, and she just had to go see it.

    Moony didn’t have time for romance movies because she had a romance playing out in her own life. Okay, Mitch didn’t look anything like Leo, but he was hers and that’s all that mattered.

    After some time suffocating under the covers and ma seemingly having given up, Moony trekked out of her room.

    She was waiting on a postcard from Mitch. He was on vacation in Hawaii and said he’d write her.

    The mailbox was empty. Fourth time that week.

    “Knew I should’ve stuck with the bologna.”


  34. The Circus
    (210 words)
    She levitated for a living: no tricks, plenty of strings.
    Her parents had known what the world would be like and had kept her shoes full of secrets and lead. But she fell for a guy whose chest had a wallet where a heart should have been, and her mistake was letting him see her feet leave the ground. He cottoned on quickly, pimped her out in red canvas shoes, five shows a day, and she was consumed by the candy floss crowds. They didn’t marvel at a remarkable feat: they threw coins in a bucket and wondered how such a trick could be done.
    But her temples blistered and chafed, and fever set in so he agreed to her having a break. His mistake was to have her sell the balloons along with the freak show’s clown. The clown was sweet and made her laugh.
    They didn’t let on when she’d regained her strength; instead, the clown weighed her down with bags of sand which meant she could be at his side for longer.
    So they fell in love and concocted a plan that would release them both from this place. Holding red balloons and each other’s hand, they poured out the sand and floated away from the circus.


  35. The Difficulty of Lunching With Wizards or Why Melvin Needs New Friends

    The Wizard Thelonias was enjoying an extremely satisfactory lunch with his friend and occasional travel companion, Melvin, who was in fact a red tailed squirrel.
    They sat in the middle of a circular clearing, the trees around them providing excellent shade as they enjoyed their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, quite heavy on the peanut butter.
    “I should greatly enjoy some tarts for dessert,” said Thelonias, with a great amount of wishing in his heart. Due to the peanut butter however, out loud it sounded more like, “I hood gately toy shum arts er desert.”
    Melvin immediately popped up, alert and wary of these words, but before he could dart away the lunch party found themselves suddenly sitting in the swirling sands of the desert while an art and toy bazar burbled with activity in the nearby tents.
    Melvin sighed.
    Thelonias laughed and brushed the crumbs from his long white beard.
    “Oh dear,” he said, tongue now freed from its peanuty mischief.
    “This is a funny turn of events, itsn’t Melvin?”
    Melvin squinted at the wizard.
    “Let’s try this again: I should greatly enjoy some…ahh…some…ahhh…” and then Thelonias let out a rip-roaring sneeze and the lunch party popped away once more to locations unknown.

    208 words


  36. A Drought of Morality

    I got off at the Pasadena stop and promptly slipped on some mud, falling face-first and ruining my suit. The run-off from some guy washing his Plymouth had formed the only puddle in 400 miles, though where he’d gotten access to the water, God only knew. Wiping the sludge from my eyes, I crawled over to a bench, and tried to take stock of my situation.

    The bench was weatherbeaten and faded, and I felt the boards give way as I sat down to pull off my shoes. As I hit the ground, the rending noise let me know that the bench wasn’t the only thing which had just fallen apart, so I pulled off my ruined pants and threw them in the trash.

    And my jacket. And the dilapidated thing I’d been calling a valise. And, after a moment’s thought, the rest of my clothes. I’d come naked and screaming into this world, and it seemed like it was worth another try.

    I flipped off the guy washing his car and started running west. The pavement had been baked to powder, and I glided easily towards the sun. We hadn’t accidentally dried up all the oceans, had we?

    199 words


  37. Kill Your Double
    207 words

    Having a twin was awesome; at least that was what Mary-Anne told anyone who asked.

    Of course she adored her twin sister, June. She loved the way that June liked what she did, the way that June always wanted to have what she did.

    June was her best friend after all.

    It never annoyed Mary-Anne.

    She wasn’t angry that June was apparently the pretty twin even though they were identical in everything from their crooked teeth to the mole on their left thumb.

    Mary-Anne was used to June getting what she wanted. June always got what she wanted despite the fact that Mary-Anne was the one who fought tooth and nail for it.

    June wanted a new dress? Of course their parents would get it.

    Mary-Anne saved up for a trip to the sand dunes for months and June got her money handed to her in a day.

    Mary-Anne paused in her digging to glance at where June was toiling away.

    Perhaps she should have told June that these sand dunes had a bad history of…

    A scream interrupted the thought and Mary-Anne sighed.

    It was a good thing that Mary-Anne liked holes because it looked like June was going to be spending a while in hers.


  38. @stellakateT
    210 words

    The Quandary

    Milo took that photo years ago. It’s done me well. Brought loads of money into my bank coffers, paid for Celeste to attend private schools and Dianna to live like a Duchess. He did try to take me to court over the copyright but I threw a few thousand at him and the last I heard he was pulling pints in a bar in Dublin.

    “So you were in the Desert in 1984 then Sir?”

    I nodded, they say the older you get policeman look too young to be doing their job.

    “So you knew Simon Strong, the man in the picture?”

    I nodded again. Truthfully I didn’t even know the bloke’s name just some kid running down a sand dune. That image was iconic like the tennis player showing where she kept the spare ball for her second serve.

    “We’ve founds his remains Sir”

    I feigned surprise. I always wondered why Milo didn’t get the guy to collaborate that he was the photographer.

    “We need to ask you more questions at the station Sir”

    I nodded yet again like one of the dogs you see on the parcel shelf in cars.

    Do I admit guilt and keep the money or admit I wasn’t even there and Milo gets rich?


  39. The Run
    (210 words)

    Staring at the sea of sand as he ran down the dune, Mark knew he was in over his head.
    As a boy in small sleepy Kansas farming community, Mark dreamed of a life beyond the wheat fields that lay like a patchwork quilt over the countryside. While his classmates spent hours throwing the pigskin around in hopes of becoming the star quarterback, Mark spent hours learning about Cricket, Soccer and Rugby.

    Although, he never understood how the game of Cricket worked. But truth be told, nobody understands Cricket.

    Mark used his time to delve into world maps and old National Geographic magazines. He grew excited at the idea of meeting the Asaro Mudmen of Papua New Guinea, or exploring the Mayan ruins of Oxkintok.

    One day Mark read a book about taking the path less travelled. Mark decided that he needed to see the world through his own eyes and not the pages of a book. His father didn’t understand why he wanted to leave his hometown for some far off land. Mark’s mother gave him a hug and told him to be safe.

    When Mark learned of the Wadi Adventure race, he bought a ticket to Dubai.

    Mark should have learned a bit more about the desert first.


  40. Title: Waste Management
    Words: 210

    “The Interplanetary Highway Construction team set up plans to drill through planet Arena to create a direct route from here, Earth, to planet Escapar on the others side. That correct?”

    “Correct, Judge. The IHC created this plan so travelers from Earth could get to their vacation destination in half the time by travelling through Arena. The only problem was that Arena doesn’t have the IHC standard of gravity to simply reallocate the matter tunneled onto the surface. So the IHC contacted Earth’s Waste Management Operations, EMO, to see where a viable option would be to put the tunneled out material.”

    “Tunneled out material? You mean the sand?”

    “Yes, Judge. Arena is a sand planet all the way through the core.”

    “What did EMO say?”

    “They mentioned that there’re deserts and oceans all over Earth. There’re recycling plants and other systems in place to accommodate the sand.”

    “You’re telling me that the EMO agreed to use Earth as a dumping ground for nine million tons of sand waste?”

    “Well, Judge, the sand was calculated and weighed on Arena, not Earth. On Arena, the sand weight about one ton.”

    “This ‘miscalculation’ has cost us ten-fold. How am I supposed to explain that landscapes, biomes, landmarks, and homes are now just deserts? Unacceptable.”


  41. Some people call me a moron. My mother calls me lazy. I prefer to think of myself as nonconformist.

    It’s too easy to go through life doing what everyone expects of you: getting a good job, marrying a good person, raising decent kids. I, on the other hand, chose the road less taken.

    I travel quite easily through the dunes of mankind, squeaking out a shotty living, getting nothing but passing glances and the occasional sigh from those on high, riding by in their fancy minivans. My mother’s sighs can be heard from miles away. Her eye-rolls are legendary. Once they even rocked the foundation of the city of Los Angeles in 1994. I think it registered a 6.7 on the Richter scale.

    As I scrape the last of Chinese leftovers into my dog’s empty bowl, I scroll through an email list a month in the making. Hundreds of them, emails. The only real form of wealth. I feel sorry for the poor bastards in Nigeria, asking for money, they must be desperate.

    While I lick the plastic spoon, I open an attachment. My computer screen turns black. I flick it impatiently before shaking my head. “Damn piece of junk. Can’t get anything refurbished worth-a-damn anymore.”

    206 words



    Brian S Creek
    205 words

    Why didn’t he listen to me?

    The stupid, drunk fool. A teacher too afraid to listen to his student, too obsessed with making a name for himself. And what did it get him?


    “Don’t be silly,” he’d said. “The symbol above the door pertains to life eternal. Don’t you understand? This is what man has been searching for? This temple is the key to immortality. It is a gift from God.”

    But he didn’t see the symbol above it. The rock face was a little damaged and it was hard to read but it was there. I could make it out but I was always good at reading the language. That’s why the Professor hired me.

    So why didn’t he listen?

    The symbol above meant harvest; ‘To Harvest Life Forever’. And that’s what’s going to happen now because that idiot ignored me and opened the doors. Now he’s dead and the whole of the world will suffer.

    All I can do now is run. Run through the desert. Run back to civilization. All I can do is warn people. Because I saw what came out of that temple and it was not a gift from God.

    Oh God, why didn’t he listen to me?


  43. A Case Of Mistaken Identity
    210 words

    “She’s ill!”

    Sophia blinked slowly, shaking her head as she stared at the doctor. “What?”

    “Deathly ill,” the man repeated, with a finger in the air like he was proclaiming his diagnosis to God himself. “Look at her skin, as withered and cracked as Egyptian parchment!”

    “But…” Sophia tried to cut in only to be railroaded.

    “And look at her veins! They’ve all collapsed under the strain of it all,” the doctor carried on, oblivious to the nurse desperately trying to catch his attention. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we cut her and she bled sand…like one of those sand dunes you see on the TV.”

    “Doctor, she’s not…” Sophia tried again but the man was having none of it.

    “Come on then, lay her down and let’s get this examination under way. I’m sorry to say that I’m quite certain she won’t be well enough to go home with you, the poor thing. We might even have to keep her here for a while to get her back on her feet. She looks like she’s two steps away from being a mummy!”

    Sophia swiped a hand across her face and squinted at the doctor. “That would be because she is a mummy. I’m your patient.”

    “Oh,” the doctor whispered.


  44. Book of the Damned

    208 words


    “Flesh cannot outrun the sands of time,” said Bishop Sperring, as they surveyed the body lying on the bed. “He has gone at last and for that we should be thankful. Let him rest in peace.”

    Peter looked at his handiwork; the corpse, with its twisted expression didn’t look very peaceful to him. Not for the first time he wondered if he had killed the right man; the Master had never been anything but kind.

    You do right to wonder,” whispered a voice. “Is this really the man you think? You were warned, weren’t you?

    That was true, he had been warned … by the Bishop. He had been told he would find the Devil’s work in the Master’s journal, secrets that no mere man should look upon. But first he needed Peter to find the book.

    Don’t,” said the voice.

    Peter closed his ears. Was not the Bishop a servant of the Church? Together they carried out God’s bidding; it wasn’t murder, Peter was merely casting out a demon and for that he was absolved of any sin.

    He handed over the journal. Looked into the abyss of the Bishop’s eyes, felt the terrible coldness seeping out from him. And saw. Saw that he was already damned.


  45. @betsystreeter
    198 words

    “I’m so stupid.”

    We sit side by side on the twin bed. Close by, but allowing space. Our legs touch but I don’t look at her.

    “There’s two people in every relationship.”

    “Whatever. I did something stupid. Now I don’t even exist. Did you know, she won’t even look at me any more.”

    “I’m sorry, honey. Sometimes people disappoint us.” My stomach is somewhere near the floor. She is so fully, a person. Capable of hurt of an adult size.

    “I just want to know what I did.”

    “We may never know, hon. People make weird decisions. She’s got some issue. Could be anything.”

    I wrap an arm around her hunched shoulders. Silent crying shakes her body. She brushes hair out of her face. A tear drops on her thigh.

    I take off the lid and pour out heart-strength, piping hot and real, straight into her veins.

    “This is about her.” I say this because it is true.

    Her pain is true, also.

    True, and full of thudding pain and burning red face and sudden undeserved loneliness. Slipping off an unseen edge, falling and sliding and never knowing why.

    “You’re a good person.”

    This is the most true.


  46. Excavations
    (210 words)
    In the end, the agents at area 51 admitted, muttering to each other anyway, it was all a tragic mistake. An alien craft was a dangerous thing. Burying it in sand seemed a good idea. Much of the treasure’s of Egypt’s storied past lay preserved in shards of tumbled quartz, salted away for future generations to sort out. Why shouldn’t the burned husk of the UFO be entombed the same way?

    If only that stupid research group hadn’t started studying the photographs, puzzling over all those bits and pieces from the craft, all those artifacts that made sense, in 1951, to no one at all.

    Decades later things became clear.

    “This was a rescue mission,” said Dr. Pham. Dr. Patel agreed. General Allen wanted to slam his fist through his desk, and pull out the ghosts of all his predecessors who controlled the secret base, those dead old soldiers so sure every stranger is a foe.

    “A rescue?”

    “Whoever they were, they were bringing cures. Answers. One of these things was some sort of code for a genetically engineered medicine. Not sure what it was for—too much damage to the artifact.”


    “Maybe even old age. Shouldn’t have shot down the craft.”

    “They were only doing their duty.”


  47. Uh-oh







    ‘Oh no!’



    ‘A camel!’



    ‘If he doesn’t…’



    ‘Get out of…’



    ‘My way…’



    ‘I’ll end up…’


    ‘In his…’



    Roderick shouldn’t have started running down that steep desert dune.

    46 words, so this is for entertainment purposes only :-E
    #flashdog #tired #overworked #etc


  48. BAD DAYS (206 words)

    They –my girlfriend and her mother –seemed to derive a certain inhumane pleasure from taunting me. I could understand her mom’s reservations. I was living in her house with her daughter, consuming her food and beer and sometimes, sleeping on her couch. However, I never really got my girlfriend’s.
    This morning was no different.
    ‘You didn’t take out the trash last night, fool!’
    I heard her scream from miles away. No, not today. I had awoken ten minutes to 8am, with a hangover.
    I threw on my clothes, both in a bid to avoid her tantrum and to meet resumption.
    I had only just arrived the office when I realized I was wearing my shirt inside-out. I had also worn two different pairs of socks.
    The rest of the day would take a downward spiral. I mixed up names in correspondences, and once, my boss found me dozing at my desk. I would have a bath of insults afterwards.
    I got home at night. Disheveled, tired, hungry and smelly.
    ‘Dinner is finished!’ Girlfriend’s mom responded to my greeting. Girlfriend chuckled. I eyed her, and then she added:
    ‘And better take out this morning’s trash I dropped in your closet.’
    This day couldn’t have gotten any worse.


  49. Preventative Measures
    210 words

    The air of a skin suit stinks of a peppermint-schnapps hangover. That’s my life of the last ten years: cleaning nozzles and breathing menthol vomit.

    At the next station, Revan bobbles a hose valve. His muffled curses cut through the buzz-static of suit filters.

    I scoop it up. “Here you go.” I force the membrane over my face into a smile. I went to his dormer last night. We tried for sex, but the wrestling through bodysuits for a scrape of intimacy is a sad reminder of what we can’t do or feel with our bodies. A tiny miscalculation in the capacity of our building materials to shield us from Ferris Moon’s atmosphere has made us a colony of body condoms.

    I pat his shoulder through our prophylactic layers. “Take a break, Rev. I’ll cover.”

    His gaze as hollowed-out as the one after our coitus defects, he shuffles back toward the dormers.

    I take my break at the view lounge. Footprints pock the dunes leading out to the cavorting figure of Revan. Naked, he howls into an ochre sky and kicks up sprays of frozen rust.

    As dark welts start peeling open his torso, I turn away. I want to hold onto this feeling of envy a little while longer.


  50. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 209


    As the world’s supply of Jews was swallowed in a wave of sand, the flesh below Greg’s eye twitched.

    “Damn it!”

    Ballpoint penetrated drywall and stuck. He hooked his finger into his tie and jerked until it hung like a noose.

    “Give me that last move.”

    Damn you, Thalia.

    She’d won “Are You CEO Enough” three years running, and he wasn’t about to let her walk away with that billion dollar bonus again. His barefoot South Americans would be sushi for her army of Asians, though. He needed a DQ.

    Interns crawled over each other to cue up instant replay, while Greg’s mustache glowered on behalf of his hidden mouth. The last survivor attempted to outrun death on mortal spindles, stumbled, and re-died.

    “Poor Bastard…Someone slip into the Environmental Control System–on the dark. See if her cronies hacked it.”

    He was willing to bet his handful of Muslims that sandstorm wasn’t natural and anything other than human-on-human damages was prohibited. He just had to find Thalia’s fingerprints.

    “Show your hand, B–”


    Lights strobed.

    “Rule breach detected.” The computer crooned.

    Greg straightened his spine, expectant.

    From her glass booth opposite, Thalia winked.

    “Greg Bachman, you’ve been disqualified.”

    Sinking to his chair, he realized. Last night was a mistake.


  51. Flying too close to the sun

    @geofflepard 207 words

    Barrow Venables was the Dick Fosbury of sand running. His hitch and slide dominated the sport. Everyone ‘barrowed’ the dunes these days.
    Now, Barrow held court from a motorhome; the ‘Mr Quote’ of cavalcade, as it chased the equinox around the globe. Rarely did Barrow watch. If the wind was up it wasn’t really a spectator sport – ‘as pleasant as being circumcised by sandpaper’. He’d appear on practice days, alongside some sycophant, testing the sand before retreating inside. ‘Barrow’s burrow’ was a place of acerbic wit and wandering hands.
    Everyone marvelled at his reinvention as sage. For Barrow was blind, his sight taken at 40 km when testing his technical invention at an unlicensed event in Angola. He hadn’t checked the slope for rocks, hubris bringing his downfall.
    As each race progressed, Barrow sat and listened, waiting for the sounds –the collective intake of breath and fathomless silence – that preceded a crash. In those moments he flew again, joining the competitor in their parabolic panic, while, like the crowd in the Coliseum, awaiting the Emperor’s Verdict.
    A sigh meant safety. Barrow made tea. But a crackle of static, better a scream and he was alive again, within touching distance of the World title forever denied him.


  52. A Bad Day at the Office
    (209 words)

    Trusting Calloway, that was my first mistake.

    But, Lord help me, it hadn’t been my last.

    From not packing an extra suit to botching the landing, this entire mission had been a haphazard series of blunders that had damn near killed me. But hey, the day wasn’t over yet. It still could.

    Smug, pug-nosed Calloway was probably sitting in our commander’s office right then, outlining why she should have my job. Criminally inept. That’s what Scott said she called me the moment after I set out on the mission she promised would “make my career”. Yeah, make it crash and burn anyway.

    But hey, I’m an optimist. Even sprinting down the dunes, microscopic shards of silicon berating my unprotected skin, I had a chance. If I could just recover the artifact, complete the mission, and not suffocate, then Calloway’s sadistic little sabotage would fail.

    I had about 7 more seconds until the extraction team would be forced to teleport me back to the ship, lest my lungs explode. I could see the strange cube peeking out from the sand at the bottom of the dune. All I had to do was reach out and grab it.

    Which totally would’ve worked, if I hadn’t tripped and fallen on my face.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden


  53. Ambush

    210 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call

    “It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” Michael gasps, sand turning red underneath him. The air tangs with the warp and weft of gunfire.

    The buggy lies at the bottom of the dune, crumpled metal and spinning wheels. Ariadne digs in the wreckage. When she pulls the case
    out, it flashes in the sun.

    Another buggy sails overhead, slamming into the dune. It explodes into pieces of hot shrapnel. I lean over Michael, to shield him with my body. My hands press deeper into the wound. Michael screams.

    Dodging bullets, Ariadne careens back to us. She slides into me, spraying sand. She palms the lock and the case pops open to reveal a control panel and a large button.

    Her voice strains over the concussion of grenades. “Still bleeding?”

    Michael’s blood wells warm around my fingers.

    “I’m sorry,” he says. His eyes glaze. He coughs, splashing me with blood. “I’m sorry.”

    Ariadne shakes her head. She gestures; the holograph rotates. “No,” she tells Michael. “It could have been anyone’s mistake.”

    Michael’s whispering, but it’s lost in the cacophony of battle. I bend into the words.

    “It’s over.”

    “No,” I tell him.

    “It’s not over ’til I say it’s over,” grits Ariadne.

    She punches the button.

    And the sky catches fire.


  54. What were we Thinking?
    210 words

    It had always seemed odd to us that this planet, teeming with an abundance of life, should only produce one species gifted with sentience. Why had none of the other large animals, either the felines or the bipeds, not crossed the barrier from simple animal hierarchy to true awareness? Why was it us, the reptile, who rose above simple survival to adapt our environment to suit us?

    Our best minds debated the length and breadth of this question, emerging with a single, logical theory. The hostile, murderous sands of our desert environment had forced our sentience. Our simple reptile forebears had little choice – learn to alter this environment, or die as a species.

    Our First Learned Rule: Adapt, or Die.

    Thus did the Dragon flourish.

    “To further prove our theory,” The Collegiate insisted, “Let us experiment on the biped. Let’s see if their struggle for survival equates sentience.”

    What were we thinking???

    We’d mastered the elements for our species’ survival. Tampering with life for experimentation was our species’ downfall.

    We blasted the savannah for science, scorching the life from the soil, tearing the water from the land. The biped reached awareness with the fire of this violence embedded in their veins.

    Thus did the Human emerge to annihilate the Dragon.


  55. Sand of the Gods

    The gods’ mountain towered in the desert, spilling sand from its peak. In hidden furnaces the glass life-shell hourglasses of mortals were formed before being sent into the scorching sun to be filled with the falling sand. And the Fillers at the foot of the mountain became immortal as life seeped from the sand into their pores.

    He poured a few grains into a tiny glass and handed it to the sightless Gatherer. He knew what such a tiny hourglass meant – mother and child would run out of time together. At his age he could no longer stop the tears. Knowing how much time a person had to live wasn’t right. Just last week they’d filled thousands of life-shells belonging to those who’d all die in the same war.

    How many glasses had he filled of people who would die in their sleep?

    That night he scooped sand into a bag, swung it over his shoulder, and headed out to where the Gatherers kept the hourglasses.

    Rows upon rows of life-shells were hidden inside the Gatherers’ caves. He took the first hourglass and added more sand. When he came to the tenth, the hourglasses rattled, cracked and then one after the other exploded.

    He dropped the sand. And ran.

    Words: 209


  56. One Day I’ll Lamp that Jeanie
    A.J. Walker

    “Firstly I said give me a perfect body. Cheeky get said why not just work out? Then I said I wanted to be lord of all I could see. Lastly I went for the old favourite.”



    Bryan shrugged. “You’re looking a bit ropey.”

    Dick laughed. “Don’t be silly lad. Twenty four hours until it takes effect. Don’t know why, but can’t complain to no ombudsman.”

    “You okay?”

    “Bursting. Desperate to go to the bog. But afraid the spells will come on then and I’ll end up as Lord of the Bog.”

    Bryan poured a long glass of water.

    The next day Bryan found Dick’s room empty but for an hourglass on the table.

    In his newly buffed – but diminutive – form Dick stood on his sand waiting for his world to turn upside down. As the years passed he spent most of his time drawing shapes in his personal Etch-a-Sketch pondering what his three wishes should have been – and wondering what he’d do to Jeanie, if he ever saw that nancy boy again.

    He mused about the nature of time, but generally he just longed for someone to turn the hourglass so he’d have the excitement of diving down the sudden slopes and falling through the hole.

    (210 words)


  57. Mara Fields
    208 words

    Misfiled Paperwork

    “You’re going to do what?” Clare’s voice cracked.
    I rubbed the back of my neck. “I signed up for that reality game show, Can You Last? Sort of a play on Survivor, but kicked up a notch.”
    “I know what it is; it’s suicide!” Clare put her hand to her throat. “Why? Why would you do it?”
    I shook my head. “It was a mistake; a blunder on Henry’s part. You know what a crappy agent he is.“
    “If he screwed it up, then he can fix it!” she said.
    “Honey, he can’t! You sign that contract in blood. It’s not—”
    “But what do you have to do?” she interrupted, her voice shaking. “Is it on a raft like those horrible cannibals last season?”
    I shook my head, swallowing hard. “No. It’s in the desert.” The image of being chased through sand dunes by herds of rabid camels came unbidden to my mind. If they caught you, they trampled you then spit on your mutilated carcass. Clare didn’t need to know those details.
    Clare gripped her forehead, tears standing in her eyes. “I’m going to mistakenly run Henry over with the Hummer. Ooops. Sorry, my bad.”
    “If I survive, we’ll do it together, honey, I promise.”


  58. Crucifix
    206 words
    Visions of Other Worlds

    The desert sands are unfriendly to a lone runner who carries no provisions. But I can’t stop.

    The cat of nine tails tore flesh from bone. The crowds jeered and screamed all around the whipping post. Blood spattered my sandals.

    Overwhelming heat suffocates my lungs. I pant for air that will not come. I can’t stop.

    He stumbled during his forced march through the streets and I turned away. Someone else took the wooden beam. It might have been me if I had not denied my belief in the scrutiny of the long night before.

    My legs begin to shake. Every step drives fresh agony into aching muscles. But I can’t stop.

    On the hill of his crucifixion, I abandoned my fellow believers…and him. When the hammers fell and the nails pushed through his wrists, I fled. In fear and revulsion and grief, I ran as if my own grave had opened before me.

    Clouds collide overhead. Darkness evaporates the light. Freezing wind scatters the heat. A cry fills the heavens with agony. I collapse into the sands and weep. It is over. He is gone and my last act was to betray him.

    Salt and dust fill my tongue as I plead for forgiveness.


  59. Pride Goeth
    by JM6, 209 words, @JMnumber6

    He fled across the desert. He was already lost, but he knew he had to keep running and never stop.

    He’d been one of the most celebrated archaeologists in the world, famous for his discoveries. When he’d found the tomb, he knew it was important. It was in the middle of a trackless waste, far from any ancient city or caravan route. He knew it must contain some great king of the ancient world, hidden from those who would disturb him.

    Even as he ran, he could remember the inscription he’d translated from the ancient language only one step removed from Enochian: “Here is bound an angel of the one God. Do not open the chamber, for it contains your death.”

    He’d laughed when he read it. For tomb curses, it was original. He’d even made a note to link it to the first warning ever given to Man. “Do not eat of the tree in the center of the garden, for it contains your death.”

    “Such foolish pride,” he thought. Then, “Of course.”

    He stumbled, falling to the bottom of a dune. When he looked up, Lucifer stood before him, wielding a flaming sword. “Rise, my liberator. You will stand at my side in the battle to come.”


  60. The Weakest Link

    Twin omnipresent suns bleached undulating sand as Erone-22a#1 scrambled. Sand-repel boots displacing grains as he leapt down another shifting dune, the steadily decreasing o2 HUD indicator moving into worrying territory. Yet he pressed on, for if the prison planet, and in turn the orbital portal to the home world, was to be secured, he had to warn Zone 4.

    Maybe his loyalty would see him heralded as the saviour of Zone 7. Leading a combined might of clone guards, shock troops and press-ganged lifers against the handful of charismatic charlatans currently rescuing their beloved leader from incarceration.

    Suddenly the power dipped on his left sand-repel boot, sending Erone-22a#1 cartwheeling till gravity and sand halted his inelegant progress.


    Erone-22a#1 fumbled, the pathetic shot from his pistol barely scratching the vessel hovering above him.

    The shadow that consumed him was familiar, the ship that only an hour ago he had allowed to pass through the planet’s force field without the normal recourse of protocols, verification and checklists. Yet the female voice that crackled from the speaker, dripping sexually charged assurances coated in honey and caramel, well, how could any cold-blooded clone resist?

    A cannon slowly swiveled.

    The potential saviour of Zone 7 clenched his eyes.

    Feeling sand drift through his fist.

    210 words


  61. Dude, What a Buzzkill!
    206 words, @pmcolt

    The moment his feet hit the sand, Liam knew this was a bad idea. But he was still buzzed from last night, and Mia was watching him with those midnight blue eyes when his friends dared him to surf the jet stream.

    Working for Designer Aerial Beachfront LLC brought plenty of perks for the friends. Their most recent trillionaire client wished to show off his fortune by building a lavish beachfront house five thousand feet in the air. Each night after hours, they partied in style in the unfinished mansion in the clouds.

    “Watch this!” boasted Liam. Balancing on a small sand-covered antigrav board, beer bottle in hand, he hovered in midair, riding the breeze like a surfer on a wave.

    “Dude, bet you can’t reach a mile high!” taunted Logan. Liam hesitated: riding the board upward would carry him away from the safety of the construction platform.

    Pride won out: as Mia and the rest watched, he rode uneasily upward. Reaching a mile altitude, he jumped for joy.

    As his feet hit the sand, he instantly realized he had landed off-center. The antigrav board tilted forward, and he lost control. “What a buzzkill!” Liam shouted as he plunged past his friends, toward the waiting Earth.


    WC = 200 (04-03-15)

    Tipping up, bottom up, up into morning mist. Yes, a drop forms on my nether region as I tilt my backside up in the moist, water-laden atmosphere. The condensate rolls between my legs as if I juggle a sheep bladder loosed from a Bedouin mum.

    I tip skyward more. My tensile vessel wavers and glistens in luscious, thirst-busting iridescence. Refracted through my liquid globe, which has grown to four-leg proportions, I behold a sandy apparition behind me. The parallax view is distorted…..I’m not sure if it is kin or killer. But my thirst overwhelms me. My carapace beds this backpack of morning dew, and I perform a lithe handstand to slip the quivering, wet bubble into my parched mouth.

    Magnified in my quenching water blob, what once appeared to be sandy now looms hugely hairy in my tri-sight. Perhaps I, in my handstanding hubris, misjudged my surroundings.

    Sand beads exploded like an ancient blunderbuss, and I felt eight hirsute bars lock me in a desert prison. I am now leeched of my early morning liquid breakfast and am fast becoming the liquid breakfast of my desert arachno-captor.

    Such is life on the dunes: just a Frank Herbert sequel for me.


  63. Breaking the Spell
    210 words

    The silence in a four-year-old’s room is always cause for alarm. I entered to Raya fumbling in her wardrobe. She blinked dark pools of innocence at me.

    “What’s up?” I readied myself to get stern. She’d been acting out, ever since Chaz and I hit that sudden arid patch in our marriage. Although I took pains to shield Rae, it’s hard to hide a parched heart.

    “I didn’t mean to—“ The innocence rippled into tears.

    I gathered her up with the offending item: a broken ceramic bowl, edges gooey with clumsy repair attempts. “We can get another.”

    “This one!” she insisted. “You and Papa started fighting after it cracked.”

    Guilt throttled me. Everything horrible is personal to a child. “Sunshine, this bowl has nothing to—“
    The scent of roses and apple blossoms tickled my nose. I sniffed the ceramic. Lianas coiled around my heart laden with coral blossoms.

    I drew the shard away and the vines shriveled.

    Fury blinded me. He’d promised he wouldn’t use that crap on us. I stuffed her satchel with a change of clothes. I didn’t regret trusting a Bender—Raya being one result—but I wouldn’t make that mistake again.

    “Where are we going?”

    I kissed her forehead. “Somewhere to celebrate happy accidents.”


  64. Reflections of a Dream
    Evan Montegarde
    209 Words

    Dr. Weisenbach sighed as he eased back into his chair, “So, in this dream you run endlessly down the giant sand dune, never reaching the bottom?”

    “That’s about it Doc.” I said eyeing the clock hoping to see the hands moving visibly faster.

    “Tell me again how she died.” Weisenbach’s voice was flat.

    Oh God I thought, not again. “As I have said repeatedly, I screwed up, I fell asleep and somehow they got in, they took her and when they were done they killed her. I never knew what happened.”

    The good Doctor leaned toward me, “Sleep? Really Agent Drake? I think something more sinister had you incapacitated my friend. Think deeper.”

    “I don’t know, I was tired, I had secured the site, but they still got in.”

    “You didn’t secure the site Agent; in fact the forensic report states you opened a window.”

    I was irritated, “Yeah I know what it says. But I didn’t see them or what happened to her.”

    Weisenbach pushed, “Think Drake, you weren’t sleeping, you saw them, look around, there was a mirror, what did you see?

    “Alright, black, thin things, weird looking, I was terrified.”

    Weisenbach smiled as he looked at his reflection in the window, “Now we are getting somewhere.”


  65. In the Sandbox
    200 Words

    Head bowed, eyes down he counted. 56,231,778,901,570,253.

    His memory of his life before was dim—but he knew he did not belong here


    It was the counting that kept him alive, gave him purpose—but what purpose was there? Other than seeing if the tedium of counting of every grain of sand in an endless sea of sand would drive him mad, he could see none

    He froze as he felt a surge of energy pass through him, making him all but scream. How did they expect him to….count—to maintain the count when…

    Error… Fault

    He fought to remember.

    He felt the power sag then even out but the memory was fading.

    Power. It used to mean so much more, now it tethered him to this hellish half-life of torment. It gave him too much time to think. Was he a man locked into a computer, or an Artificial with the memories of being human? Did it really matter?

    He looked up as he felt the sand shift and watched longingly as a man ran past him, down the mountain of sand.

    It wasn’t… fair…


    There was nothing worse than being an Artificial Intelligence with ADHD.


  66. @AzelynKlein
    210 words

    Like a crab, I live for the sand, breathing it in as a fish breathes water. I scuttle down the slope one foot pounding after the other. At the bottom, I jump to a stop. Beads of sweat swim down my bare back, and the sand nips at my ankles.

    Why do I feel like I’m forgetting something? Could it be my car keys?

    Pound. Pound. Pound. goes my heart.

    I check my pocket. They’re still there. Then what is it? I couldn’t have forgotten my shirt. I left it in the car, I’m sure of it.

    The car.

    A new question forms in my mind, and I bolt back up the slope. Too quickly. I slip and cough on my life-source. After two slippery minutes, I make it to the top and repeat up and down of several more slopes until I’m back above the parking lot. My green car is a like palm amidst the dunes.

    I tumble down the last slope, rush to the car, and bite back a curse. It’s unlocked. Like I left it. I fling the door open, but my shirt is missing. So is the GPS, the sunscreen, and the water.

    I’m not a crab. I’m a red lobster, fresh served for lunch.


  67. The Game of Sand (WC 208)

    I had just got here and my mouth was dry and full of dried spit paste. Sand, so dusty and granular, but it still splashed in a moisture robbing dry soak. I could kick myself for getting into this, but, first I had to find someone. If I could just stop and rest; I would feel better. I needed to find that young woman.

    All this began in cool shade on a pretty day, nothing unusual.

    Out of nowhere, an athletic looking young woman appeared next to me. She was sweaty and knocking dust off her shorts, reminded me of a bird in a dust bath. Attractive, sweaty, and dirty; some men like that sort of thing.

    She winked and said, “Do you think you can handle it?” and gave me a look.

    I don’t do this sort of thing, but, she was 25 years younger than me and I hadn’t seen that look in at least that long. My ego and other things needed the lift.

    Being a coy old dog, I suavely answered. “Are you talking to me?’

    “Yep, can you handle it?” She says.

    “Like a man half my age.” That was my blunder.

    “Then tag, you’re it.” Then, I was poured into this sand.


  68. “Out Of Time”
    by Michael Seese
    208 words

    I want to scream, “Fools! You’re running out of time.” But they’ll never listen to me. They never have. Life is a series of slippery slopes. A single misstep may not matter. But too many can quickly cascade downward, giving birth to an unstoppable avalanche.

    A young mother facing abandonment pleads for him to stay, even though she knows it – he – is a mistake.
    A child facing punishment pleads for another chance to behave, even though he knows he did “wrong,” whatever “wrong” is.
    A teen facing facing the fury of his drunken father’s fists pleads for the beating to stop, even though he knows the alcohol is in charge.
    A terrified woman facing the barrel of a gun pleads for her life, even though she knows the bullet is coming.
    A man on death row pleads for forgiveness, even though the ones left behind want him to burn.
    A world facing the cancer known as mankind pleads for relief, for an end to war, greed, deforestation, pollution, population, fossil fuel infernos, global warming.

    As I – the last grain – spilled to the lower globe, I’m sure they thought, I’ll just flip the hourglass over, and start again .

    Not this time. Not this time.


  69. The New Guy
    208 words

    Keith had prepared himself for his internship as best he could. He’d brought sunblock, light clothes, his dig tools, and his references.— everything he thought he needed to survive a six month rotation in the desert, but as he left the relative cool of the Land Rover and headed towards the main tent, he heard a scream coming from over the next rise.

    He watched as someone exited the man tent and rushed towards the hill.

    He dropped his bags when a man crested the hill and half ran, half slid down the hill.

    “Dragon!” the man yelled, but it wasn’t a warning, it was an order.

    Keith watched in amazement as the man who’d left the tent threw the man something that looked like an over-sized pistol, or what you’d have ended up with if you’d crossed a pistol with a rifle.

    He then turned and aimed as a bus crested the hill and headed straight towards the encampment.
    The man fired, and Keith watched as the bus came to a halt.

    With a salute, the man offered him his hand.

    “Dave Mahew,”

    “Dragon… That’s an eighteenth century blunderbuss…” Keith said nodding towards the gun.

    “Can you think of anything better to stop a 20th century blunder-bus?


  70. It’s like stepping in quick sand. The more I struggle, the deeper I seem to get stuck. On the surface, I try to pretend like everything is normal. Like I’m in control. But underneath, I’m frantically scrambling to try to gain a foothold on my life, but all the while, I’m getting sucked in further.
    It starts innocently. A party, a joint passed around. White lines at a friend’s house. And before you know it, you’re throwing away everything you’ve worked so hard for, and the only thing you care about is what’s going up your nose or into your veins next.
    Friends don’t bother coming around anymore after a while. It only takes so many times of blundering your way through a conversation half attentive and fully stoned for them to get the hint. Even the ones who try to be “true friends” get tired of it eventually.
    But the thing about quick sand: because fighting is futile, it becomes really easy to just stop fighting. It’s much less painful to just let it all wash over you and pretend you don’t care. Even as you lose everything and everyone you love.

    (193 words)


  71. Sara Tranum

    209 words

    Pride and Precious Steps

    Sweat slipped between my shoulder blades, forming a streamlined army of droplets cascading along the curve of my spine before halting at the line of my waist band. The sun’s rays pounded my shoulders, my arms, the sand and therefore, my feet, for hours. For not quite four hours.
    So close.
    The ridge, that last climb, led to the last downhill, to the finish. To the sweet, merciful end. Heat built in my shoes, the skin of my feet long since rubbed raw. A moisture filled my socks, one that could only mean painful steps for days to come. But the victory of the finish was just a few hundred yards.
    The shimmer drew my eyes. They were there, watching and waiting. For me. From the flash of sunlight on glass, I stretched taller and lengthened my stride. I’ve done it.


    I could taste the salt from my sweat as a wayward bead found its way to the corner of my mouth. This was a cold sweat. The next frame showed my misstep. And the next, my knee being forced in an awkward angle, out to the side. Then tumbling down, spraying sand in my wake. And in the last, I finally crossed the finish line….but on a cot.


  72. Dear Heavenly Father,

    What is there in life but to chase after the consequences of one’s near feats?

    You dangle a promise from above, while you threaten to jail me in an equidistant pit. I flip the chains on death, but your god of war intervenes. For what fun is there in the art of battle if the paint doesn’t stick to the canvas?

    Now I run the gamut. Up and down again each day, I relish the sight of that insurmountable shelf of rock—a stone’s throw from the precipice.

    No, there is no harvest in my plight. But I am no personification of sun or sea. I simply savor your gift of this world such, that I refuse to give a breath of it back.

    And I do so love the descent.

    Your Devoted Retriever,



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