Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 19

WELCOME TO FLASH! FRIDAY! This week was such a riot!! Congratulations again to our two Golden Ticket winners, Becky Conway & Geoff Holme. (E-chocolate for everybody!) This week also marked the debut of our brand new occasional contest, Flash Dash, in which the prompt goes up and you’ve got just THIRTY MINUTES to post your story. My heart’s still pounding. Be sure to pay attention, as we’ll likely run another one of these before month’s end; I’ve got another Flash! Friday mug that’s dying to travel. And maybe a shiny gold coin or two.

And in case that wasn’t exciting enough:


Y’all, judging contests is a seriously cool way to kick your own writing into high gear. Serving as a judge here is also a (very, very appreciated) way to give back to this community. Please consider throwing your (dragon) hat into the (fiery) ring. The application deadline is May 8. Details here.

WALL OF FLAME: Believe it or not, today is the THIRD Friday of April, which means you may be eligible for the April Ring of Fire badge! Have you participated at FF three times this month? Details regarding how to get your talons on this sparkly badge, as well as the names of our current fabulous badge holders, can be found here.


DC2Judging today is Dragon Team Three: Captains Carlos Orozco & Eric Martell. It took some doing, but at last we managed to rouse these dragons from their naps, and they’ve promised to stay awake long enough to judge this round. I’ve a feeling once they start nibbling on your stories, staying awake will not be a problem. Your stories are just. that. good.    


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: setting. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, the below setting must be your story’s primary one. Look for ways to make this setting crucial yet organic to the plot.) 


(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:


Prison Guard, Stockholm. Public domain photo.

Prison Guard, 1910. Public domain photo.

432 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 19

  1. Scoville State Pen
    207 words

    Clive gave Briggs the nod and the old man poured tie first gallon of milk down the drain. Clive left Briggs to his sole task for the day to inspect the rest of his kitchen teams’ work.

    Jackson and Grant carefully set serving trays at each seat in the cafeteria. Wingnut followed, counting out four saltines for each tray.

    For Clive, today was better than Thanksgiving. At some point, long before he starting serving his own life sentence, they started growing ghost peppers in the prison greenhouse. The warden at the time let the inmates make hot sauce from the incendiary chilies and once a year the guards challenged the inmates to a contest to enduring drop after drop of the condiment.

    The inmates, used to the hard conditions and harder diets, beat their guards year after year. It was a morale booster for the incarcerated men that didn’t have much else to look forward to outside of the structured life in prison.

    Clive confirmed that Briggs was nearly done with getting rid of milk. Things would be different this year. He’d found a new way to concentrate the sauce and with his first grandson on the way thought this was the right time for a breakout.


  2. Dear Danny,
    I miss you. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and miss you like crazy. How am I going to survive without you? Counting the days till I see you again!
    Love, Me

    Dear Danny,
    Today I mowed the lawn by myself. Also, the Yankees won. Thought you’d like that. When I tucked Junior in, he asked me where you were. We both cried. I miss you.
    Love, Me

    Dear Danny,
    Junior starts school tomorrow. Can you believe our baby is so old? Your brother said he’d come mow the lawn next week. He’s been so good to us. Miss you. Wish you were here.
    Love, Me

    Dear Danny,
    Junior’s Christmas program is next week. Your brother is coming down for it. Isn’t that nice? Junior is so excited. Why did you have to go and get yourself locked up, anyway? I made your favorite meatballs tonight, and your brother loved them.
    Love, Me

    Dear Danny,
    Junior lost his first tooth last night, and your brother gave him a dollar. He’s such a great guy. He’s been sleeping on the couch so he doesn’t have to travel back and forth so much. Hope you’re well.
    Love, Me

    Dear Danny,
    We should talk.

    (210 words)


  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 205

    Reporting for Duty

    A sailor waits for his ship with every fiber of his being. His whole attention focuses on the moment when his feet can feel the rhythm of the ship beneath them. He counts the seconds; each one ticks slowly, standing in still isolation before the next vibration, the next passing of the baton from one fragment of time to the next.

    You know how he feels. You’ve smelled the baking chocolate, the mouth-watering aroma. The drool glands produce their substance in unrequited amounts; the saliva rolls across your tongue. You swallow.

    Your olfactory goes haywire as the smooth scent slides through your senses; you grip your oven mitt, impatience shuddering through your fingers as you stare at the timer, that never-ending timer.

    Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven…

    Random brand names shoot through your head, and you wage a mental war as you decide who offers the best taste. Duncan Hines? Pillsbury? You always did like the dough boy.

    Twenty, nineteen…

    You gaze at the timer like that sailor. His captain has called; he’s prepared for duty. He strains for that first sight, that one glimpse, of his vessel.

    Two, one…

    The long beep sounds, and you report for duty. There are brownies to be eaten, after all.


  4. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 210

    Promises Broken, Promises Kept

    The counter crusts over with unscraped pans; I snatch a spatula and hurl my frustration into the crusted omelets that line the skillet.

    The football game blares from the living room; Landon’s snores harmonize with the crowd’s roar. With each hitch in his breath, I slam the spatula home. I bang the skillet into the sink and grab the cutting board.

    Scrape, scrape, slam. Bang. Rattle, scrape, slam.

    Today, my birthday, he’d promised to take care of it. Did he? Of course not. Tears blur my eyes, and I throw down the spatula, storming from the kitchen. If he wants a mess, so be it. I whirl around the kitchen peninsula, slamming the bedroom door.

    I don’t realize I’ve slept until I open my eyes and stare at Landon’s dark curls where they contrast against his white pillowcase. In a flash, the anger returns. I slide from the sheets, snatching my pillow to take with me to the couch.

    In the kitchen, I stop at the end of the peninsula and stare across the bare counter. Not a dish mars the clean granite; even the drainer is empty of cups and plates. On the refrigerator, an orange sticky note hangs from the freezer door.

    “I’m sorry, babe. Happy birthday.”


  5. Fated
    208 words

    “Grandma, is this pops?” Sophie asked as she studied a black-and-white photograph at the kitchen table while her grandmother, Margaret, stood by the stove and stirred the mac-n-cheese.

    Margaret turned off the stove and sat down next to Sophie. She studied the picture through her glasses. “Yes, this is from when he was a soldier in the war.”

    “What did he do?”

    She sighed. Her husband, John, died five years ago and yet, there hadn’t been a day that went by when Margaret didn’t miss him. She couldn’t remember when the picture was taken but just by looking at his face took her back.

    The night they met, Margaret was upset after she found out her boyfriend had cheated on her that she had been sulking by the window at the bar. “Are you alright?” She glanced up at the stranger, sympathy written all over his face. She nodded. “What’s wrong?”

    She looked into his large brown eyes and somehow knew immediately that they were fated. In one breath, she spilt all that she’d bottled up to this stranger she’d just barely met. Months later, they were married. It wasn’t until that fated day when Margaret visited him at work when she realized.

    “He was a prison guard.”


  6. Cell Block
    Josh Bertetta
    210 Words

    It’s cold here, and lonely.

    And quiet. Too quiet.

    I’ve got a cup of coffee. I blow on it, but don’t drink it. I sigh a lot. Probably too much. It’s not fun doing what I do.

    It’s kind of ironic really (being a prison guard that is). You know you are free because you get to leave when your shift is over. But it isn’t one of those jobs you can just leave at the office. It goes home with you and you play with your kids through it. So in a way, you’re not free. Sure, you’re not behind bars, but you can’t get away from it because it follows you.

    Even in your most private moments you’re exposed. I stopped sleeping next to (and with) my wife months ago. Why bother I figure.

    Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to be locked up, because then at least I couldn’t fool myself.

    I’m locked into a job and there’s no key for me.

    I look at my cup of coffee, hide my face behind my newspaper, and glance at my wife across the kitchen table. She’s eating her canned peas and carrots. I haven’t said a word to her all night.

    It’s cold here, and lonely.


  7. The Brigade

    The balance of the knife was key to a relationship that shifted from fear to familiarity. For years Vincent had honed his skills, till he reached the point that the sharpened blade was an extension of his reality.

    Once things had been different, a clumsy oaf dabbling, sweat beading upon his brow, under the scornful glare of his mentor M. Garoche, a man whose shadow cast further than the universe that was his kitchen.

    Vincent would stand there, a rough diamond amongst the culinary brigade clad in virginal whites, before service. Then M. Garoche would ding the small brass bell, creating before him a world of whirling dervishes, the clatter of copper pans, the flash of silver blades. Vincent existing within a million cuts, transitioning in time from vegetable to fish, fish to meat.

    Meat to flesh.

    The sound of the boat carried on the spring evening, chugging slowly in the twilight. Her occupants fooled into complacency, lanterns flickering, laughter lilting as a cigarette was passed back and forth.

    Secure in the certainty of their invasion.

    Vince gripped the blade, balancing on the parapet of the bridge. Beneath him his comrades readied themselves, amongst bushes and trees that nestled along the riverbank.

    Then a bell dinged.

    206 words


  8. @Viking_Ma
    208 words

    Too many Cooks

    The kitchen was fragrant and hot. Cleo swiped the knife on the carrots, decapitating her uncle a hundred times over, with a grin hidden inside her mouth.
    Louise switched on the mixer, gazing inside, imagining her now dead rapist being cut into a thousand tiny harmless slices by the sharp blades.
    Collette crushed potatoes with the heavy steel masher, thrusting downwards and viciously twisting, picturing her father’s face, bruising and bloody beneath the creamy mass.
    The guard checked her watch. ‘Lunch should be ready within the hour!’ she yelled.
    The women, hunched beneath the heavy memories of their attackers, and their own defensive retaliations, chopped, mixed and mashed all the harder. Fear, pain and hatred seasoned the food.
    The prison board bi-annual grand dinner was a smug affair. The men sat in the meeting room, awaiting the food sent up from the kitchen. They washed it down with bottles of burgundy, congratulating themselves and each other over budget savings in the women’s prison.
    The women hurried in with steaming platters, eyes on the thick carpet. Appreciative grunts and snorts, slurps and belches filled the air.
    Cleo hid her grin again, picturing the ground glass sliding down these pigs’ throats. Many more men would pay.


  9. Oh, to be warm!
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    209 words

    Do you have any idea of how cold it is here? The wind howls up river lashing hail and snow against the thin pains of my personal ice house. And then, and then, that sadistic bastard of a sergeant insists that I patrol every half hour. If he catches me slacking by even a minute he makes it every quarter of an hour. Even in this coat, wicked, icy tendrils sneak through the smallest of gaps threatening frost bite in places where you would least want frost bite. And don’t ask me about taking a pee.

    And for what, some homicidal seal with explosives strapped to its back? I ask you. There’s nothing here. The road stops at the ‘back of beyond’ and that’s still fifty miles away. So I huddle behind the glass on an old stool with a wonky leg staring into the grey, monochrome gloom that pervades this god forsaken place. In idle moments I dream, I dream of my home and the kitchen that’s always blanketed in a comforting fug of warmth. Where a man can remove his boots, put his feet up on the stove and watch his socks steam until the heat becomes too much to bear. Will I ever be warm again?


  10. End of Watch
    David Shakes
    210 words

    I wait with anticipation for the end of watch. The steaming warmth of the kitchens my next destination, a welcome refuge from the steel cold of the perimeter walls and vampiric northeasterly winds.

    The sudden transition from cold to warm reddens my cheeks, a good thing, hiding as it does the flush of excitement when I catch a glimpse of her. I’m ignorant of her crimes and wish it to remain so, though the reasons she came to be in prison would do little to tarnish her beauty or dampen my ardour were they revealed.

    Today, a smile. Just the briefest of glimpses across bubbling pots but enough to melt the ice that had settled in my bones from the long shift preceding. The eight hours worth those eight blissful seconds, could it be that she has reciprocal feelings?

    A Note, tiny script on a scrap of paper.
    A wish, that we could be together.
    The blow, a sentence that would see her into dotage.
    A plan…

    Outside the perimeter walls, my old vantage point seems a long way up, a longer way off.
    I have her final note in my pocket.
    I have a bullet from her husband in my chest.

    Alone, I wait for the end of watch.


  11. The Superhero Alchemist

    @making_fiction #flashdog

    197 words


    She sits and waits. Her time is coming.

    In her kitchen, the kettle boils and her mind brews. Cupboards of unobtainable chocolate call to her, but she must resist, for there is a higher calling.

    She thinks about the superheroes of the world. The flowing capes, the shiny symbols, unearthly powers and magic spells. She knows these things are not real, yet are all around her.

    She sees the beauty of the word.

    So much potential trapped behind razor-tipped walls.

    The nervous are kept prisoner by the guards of tradition. The insecure are intimidated by the oppressive wardens of form. You must not enter this realm, they boom, as they brush their starched uniforms of exclusivity.

    In her kitchen, she cooks. For what is more nourishing than the camaraderie of kindred spirits? The dryads of opportunity? The romantic dance of dreams?

    As she mixes, the artic blue hemisphere appears followed by the flickering arc fires of orange, and they circle the globe, once filled with a centre of darkness.

    In this moment, in her fiery kitchen, she is the dragon queen, her precious eggs snuggled under wing, incubating, until they fly, breathe fire and rule the word.


  12. The Way Things Develop
    210 words

    Jürgen wanted to itch his nose, but the cameraman was explicit about him not moving for at least a minute.
    The seconds passed: One zeppelin, two zeppelin, three zeppelin. He should be in the canteen enjoying frickadelen, borscht, and a nice warming schnapps. Instead he was here with his nose on fire, his belly rumbling, and knowing he would be the butt of jokes for a few days.
    He thought about the canteen again, and warmth spread through his chest and cheeks. Lisle was serving today. Lisle always gave him larger portions, and the front knot on her dirndl suggested she was cautious. He hoped to be the one make her tie it on the right. Maybe today he would ask her to Friday’s dance.
    “Thank you Obergefreiter.” The cameraman was packing his gear away.
    Jürgen blinked, and scratched his nose. Thoughts of Lisle made a sprint tempting but he had to set the right example for the soldiers.
    The canteen was full. Jürgen scanned the room, ostensibly for a seat, in reality to spot Lisle. She had her dark hair wound into buns, her cheeks flushed with the heat and dashing about. Turning she saw him and her face flashed into a bright smile. He’d definitely ask her tonight.



  13. Word Count excluding title 210

    Too High a Price

    Marriage is my prison wall, my husband my warder. The kitchen sink is my daily chore, no window that would be too interesting for me. I remember a joke my uncle was fond of saying “Dad why do brides wear white?” “Son, all kitchen appliances come in white.” Many a true word said in jest, I should have heeded those words.

    I listen to his breathing, out sunning himself in the garden, today I was allowed open the patio doors, probably so he can hear me if I stop working for a minute. Our kids, the reason I stay, whenever they ask him anything he says ask ‘her’ indoors and back to his snores. I have been demoted to her I don’t even have a name anymore.

    I was a reluctant bride may as well have been a gun at my side. My pregnancy, my parents insisted. Wealthy and embarrassed I was constantly harassed. They couldn’t take the shame so put money in my name but I had to stay married for a period of ten years but it would secure me and my baby for life. I didn’t hate him then, thought eventually I would fall in love. The twins are now five my soul is striving to survive.


  14. Mistaken
    209 words

    Ken took a deep breadth. The aroma from the canteen’s kitchen was everywhere. It smelt like Clara’s cooking. He felt a tug at his heart.

    He pictured Clara cooking happily in the kitchen for their dinner. She loved to cook. Always experimenting with new recipes. And he was the guinea pig for all her cooking experiments. But, he loved it. He loved her. Clara loved him too.

    She would always be waiting for him when he would go home on his vacation. She would prepare all his favourite food and just wait for him to arrive.

    But the last time, it was different. She was not aware of him coming home. Maybe, because of that she couldn’t ‘wait’ for him. He arrived home in the evening around 7 pm. Steve was there too.
    Clara introduced Steve to him as a friend. He was surprised with Steve’s presence.

    When he saw them talking in whispers, he knew it. He hit him with a baseball bat. Clara jumped in between. The bat hit her fatally.
    Steve gathered her in his arms and started crying. Ken was filled with even more rage at the sight.
    Between his sobs, Steve told Ken, that he was a cousin of Clara, hiding from the police.


  15. Tuber Tears
    209 words

    “Oliver, chop up the onions,” Momma said.

    She stood near the stove, stirring the soup. Poppa was on duty again, and had been for the last two days. Momma worried about him. The phone was secured to her ear, the cord cutting a trail through the kitchen.

    “Oy, weapons made out of pencils. That’s what killed Solomon, I heard. Ian’s job is going to give me a heart attack. I swear, I’ll kill him if gets hurt and leaves me to fend for these eight kids on my own.”

    Tears streamed down Oliver’s face. He wiped his eyes with the sleeves of his shirt. His sister toddled in, and Oliver pushed her out of the galley kitchen that seemed crowded with him, Momma, and the voice of Aunt Tessa coming through the phone.

    “Is this enough?” Oliver asked, his eyes red-rimmed.

    “Why you interrupt me? No—we have to take some up to the prison too, Oliver. Keep cutting and keep your snot out of the food. Tessa—yes, sorry. Why God didn’t grace me with a girl before number six is beyond me.”

    The tears burned his eyes now. He thought of Poppa with a pencil stuck in his neck as he scraped the onions into the soup.


  16. Late Night Warm-Up
    208 words

    Ramon shuffled into the kitchen just before midnight, bleary-eyed, half of an unlit cigar in the corner of his mouth.

    “Can’t sleep?” Grigorio asked. “I keep telling you it’s those damned stogies.”

    “It ain’t the damned stogies,” Ramon replied, glaring at the cook. “It’s the damned convicts. They never shut up. All night, every night, they shout and scream and bang on the cell doors. They never sleep.”

    “Sure they sleep,” Grigorio said, pouring a cup of his secret recipe super-strength coffee. “As soon as the sun comes up, everything quiets down. They sleep in the yard. They sleep in the dining hall as soon as they finish wolfing down whatever I’m serving that day. They sleep when they’re supposed to be working.”

    Ramon took a sip of the coffee and spit it out. “Damned thing’s cold.”

    Grigorio took his cup and put it in the microwave. He pushed the button.

    “Why don’t they just stay awake during the day and sleep at night like *people*?” Ramon griped.

    As the two of them waited for Ramon’s coffee to heat up, the lights in the kitchen dimmed and the microwave stopped. Twenty seconds later, the microwave and lights resumed normal operation.

    Grigorio handed back the now-hot coffee. “Beats me.”


  17. 210 words
    @feclarkart #Flashdog

    The Lamentation of Archie McCrae

    Keeen-wah, arugula and pine-nut salad – my raggedy arse!
    Look-it him – stood there, without a care in the world, I’ll soon see about THAT.
    Ar-rooo-goo-la, Jesus wept.
    In ma day it’d be concrete boots for you ma bhoy.
    Sparkling water. Fae a BOTTLE! Nivver touches the hard stuff does this one.
    Gives me the creechies.

    Hah – broken glass all over yer fancy ceramic floor – better watch yer……

    Aye, aye, shouting for the missus now are you? She’s the one with the stones in this house, that’s for sure.

    Aye – and while we are on the subject of stones – I’ve bone to pick wi you. I know yer secret – ma bhoy – architectural salvage my eye. You stole that stone fae the auld whisky factory, doesnae belong in a kitchen, does it?!

    Aye here they come, yer missus and yer wee one – see them I can thole. But you ma bhoy? It’s your fault I am here, and I WILL make you hear me.

    Steal the stone: forever atone. Didn’t realise you had brought me with you when you made off with yer spoils, did you? I bled out on that stone.

    Do you know who I am?

    Feature lintel over yer aga – my raggedy arse!

    Bhoy – YOU – ARE – ON – MA – LIST!


  18. Shadows and Light
    210 words

    Shadows aren’t what you think. Trust me, I’m the only being without one. That’s why the guard keeps me here, a prisoner of sorts, in this strange cosmic kitchen.

    Let me explain. On these shelves are many jars, ingredients so to speak. I have another shelf lined with recipe books. I’m currently making a dish which the guard will collect at the appointed time. Last night’s order was made for a blue planet, the third orb from its yellow sun. It was a comet set to burn brightly in the night sky. It required specialist ingredients that I had delivered to me. Today I am making a replacement sun for a galaxy flickering slowly towards darkness. My worktop is dusted with moonglow and the leftovers of a supernova I baked this morning.

    My primary job is to make light. Only I can do this because I am not subject to it. Remember I said that shadows aren’t what you think? We all know that without light there can be no shadows, but there’s more to it than that. Shadows are the portals the dead use to peer into the realms of the living. Without them souls would weep in eternal darkness.

    Excuse me, the guard is knocking at the door.


  19. Taste of Home

    Standing on the bridge, Gaurav cast a long look at the white expanse of deserted snow and the snow-capped mountains. There was no movement to be seen. Not even a stray leopard or a jumping goat met his eyes. It was like the terrain itself had frozen. Somewhere across the snow-white horizon was Pakistan, but all was quiet on the border today.

    His breaths rose like hot mist in front of his eyes. Guard duty at the military outpost on Siachen Glacier was a lonely job.

    He looked at his watch – five more minutes before his turn ended, and the next soldier took over. Right at six his reliever arrived. “They are making malpua in the kitchens”, he said.

    Gaurav hurriedly took off. Malpua was his favourite dessert. As he ran towards the mess hall he remembered how as a kid he would pester his mother to make it for him.

    The mess hall was warm with hearty food and cheerful company. The cook slid a brown malpua glistening with golden syrup on his plate.

    Gaurav took a bite and smiled to himself. He patted his pocket where lay the last letter from home: “…when you come home, we’ll find a good match for you. Come home soon, son”.

    210 Words

    Malpua is an Indian sweet dish. I have posted the recipe on https://mitraarchita1995.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/taste-of-home-a-flash-fiction/


  20. (192 words)

    Adeline could see the docks from here in all their fog-shrouded mystique, taunting her with the secrets they concealed and the shadows they teasingly cast. She knew from his letters that Jack was coming home this week, but she knew not when, and she couldn’t help but flick her eyes over to the window every few moments, convinced that the figure of her dearly beloved husband would fling itself out of the mist any second now.

    The walls of the kitchen seemed to close in on her as the seconds ticked by, marked quarterly by the savage flick of her knife, and still the docks remained silent and stubborn. Minutes passed, and Adeline’s heart seemed to sink with every one of them, the elation she’d felt earlier at the surety that today would be the day fading and falling in dejection at yet another sundown with no sign of Jack.

    A knock sounded at the door, startling Adeline out of her reverie. It was Jack, it simply had to be! She flew from the kitchen, down the stairs, and tore open the door leading down towards the docks.

    It was Jack’s Captain.


  21. Heritage
    210 words

    A mug of coffee sat forgotten on the kitchen table as Anna stared down at the old photograph. So this was her great grandfather. She flipped it over and read the inscription. James Stapleton, 1910. Stapleton, not Roberts like she was. If things had worked out differently, she would be a Stapleton too. It had taken years of research to find this image, to discover her true heritage. She peered at the face, trying to find a resemblance to herself.
    She still hadn’t discovered why James Stapleton hadn’t claimed her grandfather as his own. Most of the family skeletons were still securely locked away. Only this one had come to light, courtesy of an entry in an old, locked, forgotten journal. It had sparked a search through family records, and trips to the local archives. Eventually she had identified the man who had to be her ancestor.
    The acrid smell of something beginning to burn brought her abruptly from her reverie. She jumped from her chair and dashed to the oven. She yanked the door open with one hand, grabbing an oven mitt with the other, and retrieved the cake, now a shade darker than ideal. The recipe had been her great grandmother’s. She wondered if James had tasted it.


  22. Carpaccio
    210 words

    ‘Have you heard?’ Ron hissed through the bars, ‘Chef’s got parole!’

    Chef’s name was Gaston something-unpronounceable and I hadn’t known he was a real chef till Woz showed me him smiling on a full-colour library hardback. ‘He had a Michelin star. That’s why he’s here.’

    ‘What, for criminally good food?’

    ‘Nah. When the inspectors came, his sous-chef screwed up. Chef grabbed a cleaver, and here he is.’

    I loved watching Chef work. He’d built up a brigade, but he only picked long-stayers. ‘I teach you everything and you leave? I think not…’ he would say, jabbing my chest. He liked me, but I stayed a porter.

    Chef was tense the next day; he shouted even more than usual. ‘You seem worried,’ I said, wheeling over a trolley of veg.

    He picked his knife up, and put it down again. ‘I’m rusty…I’ve lost my edge. What is outside? Judgement. Failure.’ He shrugged.

    ‘But your food’s amazing!’

    You think so.’

    A few people were missing on parole day. Chef wasn’t. He’d been working overtime, making stock, slicing and dicing.

    As I took my seat, the starter came out. Slivers of rare meat edged with pepper, and a side salad.

    I’m not sure why I pushed it away.


  23. Special Breakfast
    208 words

    Harold looked up at the long line of photographs on display. Most of old Bill’s belongings had been destroyed in the fire of ’26 but one or two pictures remained. The one of him by the lighthouse was inspiring. He’d been a master of fishing and a very important chef.

    Harold wanted to make his great-great-great grandad proud.

    He turned on the stove and greased the pan. He had already gutted and scaled the fish. He kissed it on both sides to add the secret ingredient: love. It went in the pan for two minutes on both sides, in the oven for five, and then he got out the blowtorch. That wasn’t part of the original recipe, but old Bill would have been proud.

    Mickey arrived just in time. Harold passed him the plate and beamed with the pride of his ancestors.

    “I’ve made you a special breakfast,” Harold said.

    “Oh. Thank you, but I don’t eat fish,” Mickey said.

    Harold collapsed into a chair, leaned back, and put one hand to his forehead with Woe.

    “What’s the matter?” Mickey asked.

    “I really thought you were the one,” Harold said.

    Mickey frowned. “But?”

    “But it wasn’t meant to be. You and I, Mickey…We can never be sole mates.”


  24. Ping
    209 words

    We met in the supermarket. He looked so mournful with his dinner-for-one that I said hello.

    Chatting led to a cuppa, then a drink, then a meal out, and before I knew it I was popping round most evenings to feed Jim.

    ‘Isobel always made a pudding…’

    Ah, Isobel. I pummelled the pastry some more. Isobel had been a very good plain cook. Roast dinners, braised beef, stick-to-your-ribs food from scratch. She had been the Queen of Puddings. I was the queen of the microwave, but of course Jim had never needed one of those.

    It was his birthday, and what he’d really like, he said, eyes misting over, was Beef Wellington. ‘I haven’t had that since…’

    Why hadn’t I smuggled in ready-made pastry? I encased the pink flesh in a lumpy beige blanket, then poured a glass of wine and went through to the lounge. Jim was reading the paper.

    ‘Isobel would never have drunk before the meal.’

    ‘I’m not Isobel.’

    ‘No, dear. Shouldn’t you be starting the washing-up? I can dry, if you like.’ The paper didn’t move.

    I put the pans in to soak, turned the oven right up, and bought myself a ready meal on the way home.


  25. Waiting for the End
    205 words

    He was nearing the end of his shift in the grey pre-dawn hours. The chill in the air had given him a runny nose but he could still smell the beginnings of breakfast being prepared by the inmates. He could see steam snaking out of the roof below carrying with it the scent of percolating coffee, sizzling bacon, frying eggs and yeasty bread.

    His mouth watered at the prospect of a full belly; a perk of the job. He still marveled that some of his charges could cook better than his own mother, and then he bit his tongue in admonishment. These men were criminals. Thieves, murderers and rapists. He couldn’t allow himself to think of them as people.

    He stamped his feet to ward off the chill and refocus his thoughts. His breath fogged in front of his face and he was again reminded of the hot meal waiting for him. It had been a long, and thankfully, uneventful night and he was cold and hungry.

    A movement caught his eye. He jerked his head toward the back door of the kitchen. Only guards were supposed to use that entrance. Why was he there? Time to get to work. Food would have to wait.


  26. Word Count 210 excluding Title
    Self-appointed janitor, surveys his domain, unbeknownst to him, his prison. His armor is his belief that he is not insane. His payment is his satisfaction that this place still stands he keeps it clean with his own bare hands.
    The bodies of trespassers are dispersed throughout, creatures of all shapes and sizes given some clout. Nothing is wasted, if can’t be used as decoration it’s tonight’s meal, cooked in his kitchen, devoured with zeal. His clothes are the covering from many of these the shells from a tortoise protect his knees.
    He’s heard rumbles and whispers from his hiding place, that his home is an eyesore, a disgrace. Talk of moving him bandied around he planted traps in the grounds. Chiseling bones with gusto great weapons can be made, you know. His only companion he calls rover, he tries training him to attack over and over. Rover thinks it’s a great game and with licks responds to his name.
    Besides his home, Rover is his love, no roof so he constantly converses with the man above.
    Replaying in his mind his mantra “this is my coliseum, my castle beware of causing me any hassle.”
    He murders the social worker sent to give him a home, now in prison he roams.


  27. @bex_spence
    192 words


    Sun streamed through the window, Robin woke before the alarm. Rose out of bed and set into a morning routine worn in over the years. Wake up, wash, go downstairs.

    In the kitchen a saucepan bubbled, eggs sacrificed to the pan. The soldiers stood along the worktop, parading their buttery uniform with pride. Spread, butter, slice.

    Stepping over the cat, a practiced manoeuvre, he reached for the kettle, filled with water, pressed to make the morning fix. Ping, pour, drink.

    The hob sizzled as the eggs boiled over, pulled him from his morning daze. That wasn’t in the routine. Searching around the kitchen he realised she was gone. Search, scan, lost.

    He was alone, just the cat for company and a pan of boiled water. The water had caught him, the same as each day. Just as it should be, just as it always was.

    By not deviating from the routine she had bought precious time; step by step he hadn’t noticed she was gone. Until now.

    Turning in a frenzy he heaved the pan threw it at the wall, broken eggshell and yolk slipped down the wall, his routine fell apart.


  28. The Chains of a POW
    205 words

    Innocent eggs and bacon sizzle merrily in their pan.

    The chatter of machine guns
    forcing their deadly payload
    into unsuspecting human flesh.

    Fruits, ice and yogurt whipped to a cold, sweet froth in the whining blender.

    The howl of the air-raid sirens
    bouncing off the barricades
    singing the song of death’s guarantee.

    Bread warming, drying, golden brown in the toaster that ticks, ticks, ticks…


    Screaming. Endless screaming. My throat is sore, my head aches – but the scream will not stop pouring from my lungs. The flashback knifes into my brain, no less real, no less sharp or shiny than the cutting utensil on the countertop before me.

    Blood – copper-tinged red runoff from the steak stains the white marble cutting board.

    So. Much. Blood.

    An ocean of brutally spilled life, thwarted promise, foiled dreams. I’m overwhelmed by the fluid – drowning in an endless typhoon of death.

    He stands again, firm and solid in my mind’s eye, atop the wooden battlements, armament cradled lovingly in the crook of his arm. Cold eyes, cold face, determined to end my screaming by slamming the butt of his rifle across my fragile nose.

    They say you have to let the war go – but it refuses to loosen its grip.


  29. Food Fight
    Dylyce P. Clarke
    (210 words)

    I wept as I rolled caramelized Crème Brulee around on my tongue, before letting it glide down my throat. When I pulled sheets of made from scratch five-layer lasagna from the giant ovens, I choked back sobs. The captivating smell of fresh baked soon-to-be- buttered rolls, yeast-infused dough having risen all afternoon scenting the kitchen with its fragrance, alerted me they were done. My esophagus went into anxious spasms. I suppressed the gorge rising in my throat. Meal preparation finished, its time to begin.

    I glare at the producer seated on stage as they position the food carts. When they herd the prisoners in, I want to hide. As soon as the whistle blows, fistfuls of food fly around the room. My food, my beautiful, slaved over, highly paid to prepare food!

    The rules were simple, the prisoner wearing the least food at the end of ten minutes wins.

    It began with the guy hunched in the corner. Within seconds food no longer flies through the air. One-by-one the men sit down to eat.

    What was a week’s extra shower privileges compared to the succulent taste of those magnificent morsels I’d prepared caressing their tongues?

    The first season of reality TV show “Prison Food Fight” began and ended that night.


  30. When life serves you lemons – 210

    It had started with a library book. The chatter that had reverberated following the ricin letters mailed to prominent politicians on Capitol Hill had activated his furtive imagination.

    The small factory used to prepare the rehabilitated for life outside was the perfect place. The decision to manufacture castor oil… Inspired. When life serves you lemons, make lemonade!

    Getting a job in the factory had been relatively easy, assisting with the manufacture of the oil was harder. Offering to produce more oil from the discarded seeds had appealed to parsimony and once the principle was established, production was encouraged.
    By preparing the beans convincingly he dried and ground diligently, syphoning off just enough – all deliciously hidden, right in the open.

    Havvers was first – older and meaner than anyone. He soon picked up a cold, turning into ‘flu a baffling coma, stroke, then death. He quivered with excitement

    Pepper was used in much of the food served from the kitchen and had been easy to spike. The infections spread like wild fire, taking prisoners and staff indiscriminately: Death stalked, levelling all in his path.

    No-one noted that he didn’t eat – just drank water, from his own cup.

    Looking down on his rescuers from the prison walls, he took death’s hand and smiled


  31. @colin_d_smith
    200 words

    I hear the voice of Miss Scully, my first grade gym teacher: That’s right! Fold your arms. Make a ball as small as you can!

    I loved Miss Scully. She had the prettiest blue eyes, and long dark hair that she braided and tied with a bow. I pull my legs tight to my chest; how proud she would be of me.

    But it’s hard to stay still.

    Through the pantry door I can smell shrimp sautéed in garlic. Beef cooking in a red wine marinade. Potatoes. Carrots. I swallow the saliva building in my mouth as quietly as my dry throat will allow.

    Suppressing my growling stomach is even harder.

    Three months on flavorless soup and stale bread will do that to you. Make you reckless enough to hide in the kitchen. Desperate enough to wait until no-one’s around, hoping for scraps, leftovers from the senior officers’ supper.

    I hear footsteps close to the door. Now children, hold your breath!

    The deep growl of the Prison Commandant.

    “Officer Giles has gone AWOL. You seen him?”

    A meek “no” from the senior chef.

    I feel the pulse in my neck throbbing.

    “Make a thorough search. No mercy. Shoot on sight.”


  32. (209 words)

    Time is A-Coming

    Moses Jones sang under his breath as he peeled potatoes.

    Oh, sinner man, you had better pray. . .

    “What’s that crap?” Ox asked..

    “Old song my grandma taught me.”

    “Well shut  up.”

    Moses smiled. He’d dreamed of working in this kitchen since he’d been locked up.  His grandma had taught him stories from when his great-great-great grandma was a slave in Alabama.

    She’d been a cook too.

    “Cookin’ is in your blood, child,” his grandmother said, letting him chop herbs with her big sharp knife. “Just keep cooking.”

    She’d grown herbs in her garden out back. Her  little yard  was crowded, figs bursting off the bushes, peaches dangling from the tree out front, pecans hailing from the tree out back every fall. Pots of tomatoes. Flowers too.

    So many roses, and that big back hedge of oleander—red, and white and pink.

    His sister Deborah lived in that house now. She’d sent him a new Bible for Easter.

    “Grandma Jael would be happy you’re cooking,” she’d written on the flyleaf.  “I love you.”

    Guards hadn’t found the leaves pressed in the pages. Naybe they hadn’t cared. Moses knew what they were. They’d add  spice to tonight’s potatoes.

    Ready, my Lord, ready. . .



  33. Hell’s Kitchen
    206 words

    The sign at the entrance read “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here” which was taken from an epic poem from old Earth. This place could have inspired it. The maximum security prison was protected by force fields and lakes of molten lava. The inmates made up the most incorrigible beings of all the worlds, and to be sent here was indeed being sentenced to Hell. There was no escape.

    Vuillard Baptiste had been a 5-star chef before his culinary experiments crossed the line of decency. You know his atrocities. He did not deny them. Still, he maintained the necessity of certain ingredients, the breath of a three year-old child, the tears of a woman in love.

    He did not have such luxuries, here. There were only irradiated vegetables, grown hydroponically, bubbling in their tanks.

    The peppers were hot, though. Vuillard had special peppers, so incendiary they were off the Scoville scale. But there was no water, no sweetness. The menu never varied.

    This was his punishment–to prepare forever inedible meals, to rage at incompetents who grinned moronically and played with the ingredients. Carrots and tomatoes were never meant to do such things.

    And all the while the guards looked on, clinking ice in sparkling glasses.


  34. Food Riot
    208 words

    The Commandant had stockpiled carefully: winter wheat, malted barley, coarse graham, fancy durum. He stalked through his fort’s kitchen, tallying his reserves. His flours would last until relief arrived at this cursed backwater.

    He hoped.

    Screams shook the kitchen’s walls. The scent of fresh bread steamed from the kitchen vents into the outside air. The baker cowered in the corner, not daring to leave though her work was done.

    The Commandant ripped into a loaf, scowling at the empty icebox—no butter. Drought had killed the grazing grass as well as the harvest. He shoved several loaves into his overcoat and climbed the stairway to the deck.

    Wild-eyed, fleshless women surged at his walls. “Flour! Bread!” they cried.

    One voice rose above the others. “If ya can feed yaself, ya can feed us!”

    He glared down at the starving women. His stores were for him and his men, not this rabble, but if he didn’t act, they would breach his kitchen walls.

    He withdrew his baguettes and tossed them into the crowd. Homespun skirts ripped, blood spattered, and scrawny fists pounded withered flesh as the mob turned on itself for the precious bread.

    A grim smile twisted the Commandant’s face. These peasants were so easy to manage.


  35. Too Awful To Eat

    When he was six she got a call from the principal’s office. Two black eyes, one for each boy.
    After she she put him to bed she started making pie dough. She cut the butter, measured well, rolled the dough, silent worries mixing in. Hands busy.
    When he was ten he brought a knife to school. Just wanted to show off the detailed handle to his friends he said.
    Suspended from school for a whole week.
    Blueberry pie, bitter with too little sugar and half-made prayers. Then honey rhubarb, on the verge of poison. She offered her son slices of neither, her worried hands were not offering a reward for his behavior.
    When he was sixteen he struck a girl with the family car. He said it was an accident, the details proved otherwise. Off to Juvie.
    Lemon meringue too tart to eat, apple crumb full of tear soaked apple slices and a split in her thumb from cutting.
    When he was eighteen he killed another boy in Juvie and now it was off jail.
    Mixed berry pie, kitchen sink pie, shoofly pie. Pie crusts sat in stacks in the freezer.
    Unanswered prayers baked into everyone.
    A single boy’s lifetime rolled out in a series of regretful pies.

    209 words


  36. For the sake of the Party

    @geofflepard 209 words

    Lee turned the ring in his pocket: one revolution.

    Jin touched the groove where the ring had been, before the guards manacled her hands behind her back. ‘Turn the stove off,’ she said. No point wasting the stew.

    Lee knew what she did in the kitchen. Cooking up schemes. Just ideas, steamed by anger, seasoned with regrets. He had tried to open her heart, releasing the pressure. A party man, good at toeing the fine line.

    He thought Jai’s arrival would make a difference; it had but not as he hoped. His neighbours whispered; the rumours simmered all summer.

    When they took Jai ‘for the State’s benefit’ Lee swallowed his anguish. Daily he pleaded his way up through the bureaucracy. Every day he came back to find Jin stirring, stirring. One revolution, two revolutions. ‘Your party,’ she spat. ‘Your revolution.’ He ignored the whispering shadows.

    The day he found the right desk, he cried. Silently without tears. That night he told Jin he had found Jai. She understood, taking off the ring and laying it on the table.

    The party official turned over the ring before pushing Jai to his father. Lee turned, leading Jai past the watchtower towards their future. In the distance a gunshot cracked the air.


  37. A Woman’s Place

    I know my place. Here, leafing through recipe books and sipping coffee that’s crafted from home-ground beans.

    My hair is neatly pinned up and if you kissed my neck, you’d inhale a feint waft of Coco Mademoiselle, desperately trying to escape from my round-necked sweater, waiting patiently for its a pearl necklace.

    My days are filled with pristine exercises of cleaning, chatting, chastising and cooking. I do not dream of running down sweet heather hills or boarding tight sweaty trains to little-known destinations. I do not dream of this. I dream of nothing. I mark the days on my pretty calendar, adorned with sweetly sketched kitchen utensils and feeding me handy tips. The weeks pass quickly but the days are long.

    My knife plunges into the tight flesh before me and I carve and fillet it into carefully labelled freezer bags. My husband would applaud my careful butchery and, no doubt, suggest which wine to serve with each piece. My husband is a perfectionist like that. There’s simply no escaping him; he likes everything, everybody to be just so.

    I scrape the leftover offal into a black bin bag until only the heart is left on the counter. Severed and bloody, I feed it to the dog.

    210 words


  38. Cooking Something Up
    A.J. Walker

    Sometimes Tony enjoyed the isolation of a prison guard, but when the wind was bitter and gusty like today being on the wall was sheer endurance. Everyone laughed at ‘his’ wall joking that a little skip and jump and it would be bye-bye cell and lumpy porridge.

    George and Tomaz broke into the administration with ease heading straight into the kitchen, ferreting through the drawers pulling out all the knives, selecting their weapons of choice.

    George turned to Tomaz. “You get the pans going, I’ll sort out the onions and chillies.”

    Tomaz ran across to select the best pan for the job. “This’ll do.”

    Before long they were working like a well-oiled machine; slicing, dicing, stirring and tasting their concoction.

    “Smells like heaven, George.”

    They both stopped to fill their lungs with the sublime aromas.

    The prisoners in the yard all made their way over towards the out of bounds area, drawn by the delightful smells.

    Tony decided to walk around the wall to see what was going on. He then saw two prisoners leave the administration block and he pulled his gun down on to them. They waved.

    George grinned, “Don’t shoot, Tony. It must be bitter up there. We’ve rustled you up a quick chilli, mate.”

    (210 words)


  39. Meat is Murder


    210 words

    Cook heard the stomp of the guard’s feet overhead, a dusting of plaster raining down with each step. He stirred the flecks into the morass that was the evening’s dinner. It would provide extra bulk.

    He looked at the joint currently resting on the side. Five more minutes and the juices would have soaked up nicely. Prisoner 591’s contribution.

    “Running a bit late, aren’t you,” said Cook as the door opened.

    “The hunt took longer than expected,” said the Butcher, emptying a variety of bloody packages into the chest freezer. “But I think you’ll find it was worth it.”

    “No problems?”

    “Not really. Prisoner 592 didn’t want to be bait, but when I explained it was for the greater good, he was more than willing.”

    “And he’s come back in one piece?”

    “Of course,” said the Butcher. “That was one time …”

    Cook’s eyes slid over to the joint which was now ready to carve. They’d made a good job of getting rid of the evidence. “I know, I know,” he said. “Anyone could’ve made that mistake.”

    He looked at the clock. The new prisoners would be arriving soon. More mouths to feed. He was going to have to step up his creativity a notch. The cupboards were nearly bare.


  40. Available Ingredients
    A.J. Walker

    Casually leaning on his rifle Jerry spoke to the warden. “It’s strange so many prisoners haven’t been getting caught recently. Don’t you think?”

    Prisoners had always escaped from Chapeltown’, the low fence was more a demarcation than a preventative. They were generally caught or often came back on their own accord – it was rare for an escapee not to be back within the fortnight.

    Larry nodded. “Been trying to work out what’s changed. It’s not like this place has become worse, or the prisoners different sorts.”

    “Usually want to be back after they can’t face the freedom.”

    “Indeed. You heading for your break?”

    “Yep, see what chef has sorted today.”

    “Seems a good sort. Not sure where he learnt his trade but he makes a mean casserole.”

    “Beautiful. Somebody we should keep hold off.”

    “Big lad, strange way about him, but I won’t be letting him go.”

    In the canteen they found it was a casserole day and the aromas filling the room nearly brought a tear to their eyes.


    Jerry sat down to two bowls, the juice soon running down his chin. “Wonderful.”

    The warden ran out from the kitchen. “Jerry, STOP!”

    He turned. Through the open door he saw the head of Prisoner 2437 on the sideboard.

    (210 words)


  41. Lunch before Leaving (207 words)
    Wallie’s Wentletrap

    “Ah, no. Really?”

    George looked up. He smiled.

    “You shouldn’t be here, Lieutenant,” he said.

    “I? I shouldn’t? For God’s sake, sir—”

    “John. Sit down.”

    They were a curious pair. The one, grey-haired and weathered with just a bit of comfortable weight on him. The other, young and thin as a whittled stick. Prison clothes. Standard uniform. The prisoner was assured and self-possessed. The lieutenant was sweating.

    “Need help slicing those tomatoes?”

    “No. You can spread the mayonnaise.”

    The lieutenant laughed. There were tears in his eyes. A former commander, demoted, court-martialed, sentenced for life, comfortable in a penal institution’s kitchen. It wasn’t allowed. But he was a friend. Fights, arguments, and a question of innocence, had made them friends.

    “Can I bring lunch to your cell, and you’ll go back?”

    “No. Got a napkin?”

    “What are you going to do?”

    The lieutenant’s voice trembled. He looked like a kid. Terrified.

    George cut his sandwich across. “Lunch at half past. Freedom, quarter till. You don’t have to do this. If you report me, they won’t punish you.” He glanced up. Almost, not quite, smiled. “You could shoot me, Lieutenant. Have it over with.”

    The lieutenant cleared his throat.

    He hesitated.

    “Cheerful bastard,” he said. “I’m starved.”


  42. Eat Your Vegetables
    210 Words

    My mother and I had the same fight every night when I was a child.

    “Eat your vegetables!” she would scream.

    But I wouldn’t. I would stare at her defiantly and eat everything but the “légume du jour.” Her punishment was to keep me at the kitchen table until my plate was clean. No TV, no playing outside, nothing. Not until I ate my vegetables.

    I never started eating them, though. I inherited stubbornness from both of my parents, giving me a double, lethal dose of it. I sat at that table until bedtime every night for months on end. I began befriending the appliances. The microwave was my favorite. We never remembered to set the clock on it, so she was just always blinking 00:00 at me. I called her GE after her maker. She was a great listener.

    I suppose that’s how I wound up as the head cook in this prison galley. Nobody can get these appliances to sing like I can. And the best part? I get to force these criminals to eat them. Sweet, sweet justice. Well, I guess in the case of vegetables, it’s bittersweet. If only my mother were aboard this ship as well.


  43. Our Father’s Grace
    207 words

    Father led the prayer. We all voiced our versions, from Joan to Teddy, lest his wrath begin at the beginning—as opposed to the end. We knew there’d be wrath, but it was always best if we could eat first. Seemed like our stomachs always growled, despite the well-stocked kitchen.

    “Sit up straight, Walter.” Father turned his sternest eye on him–Walter wiggled taller.

    Father passed the vegetables and we each took exactly one teaspoon of peas, corn, and potatoes.

    “Joan, did rooms pass inspection this morning?”

    “Oh, yes, Father, and homework is complete. Perhaps we could go outside after dinner,” Joan said. She looked at each of us in turn, raised her eyebrows in a way that told us to be silent. Begging by one resulted in restrictions for all.

    “I’ll have to think about that.” Father then served us each the tiniest sliver of meat and piled the remainder on his plate and smothered it in gravy. My mouth watered.

    We ate in silence and sat quietly while Father ate and read his paper. I patted Teddy’s squirming knee under the table. He’d ruined many a night with his three-year-old enthusiasms. He’d learn eventually. We all did.

    I wondered if Mother would ever rescue us.


  44. @betsystreeter
    201 words


    Her hair is different today. There’s a piece loose in the front. I like it.

    They’ll tell her to put it up when she gets to work at the restaurant though.

    Had I been there before she left I would have said something. She would shoot me a look and I would smile back and hope that under it all she appreciated that I cared.

    Today is Wednesday so she walks to work at five. It’s her early shift. I hope she’s on time. She can’t lose this job. She’s got to learn responsibility.

    I would give anything to get in her business and nitpick until she shouted at me and slammed the door.

    I back away from the railing so as not to catch her eye.

    The day before I left I sat facing her in the kitchen and guided mashed apricots into her mouth. Then I scraped her chin with the spoon in tiny gentle strokes.

    That was the last day I lived unaware I would be sharing her with a stranger. Someone who was already sharing my bed.

    She passes under the bridge and like that she is gone. Until tomorrow.

    I turn and head back to work.


  45. Sanctuary

    There was love in the way she poured milk on my cereal. The plastic jug tilted by a fragile hand, filling the bowl halfway. Just how I liked it. A motherly wink when she prodded me to eat the banana slices sitting atop the sugary concoction like fibrous wafers of a solidified disease. I ate them for her.

    The first of the month was our food jamboree. The bologna and tuna casserole were replaced by fresh ground beef, homemade tacos with a dollop of sour cream, and an unhealthy dose of raspberry sherbet. Food stamp nirvana, she called it, before vanishing for the graveyard shift. When she cooked, she seemed happy, like she was making up for lost time. Our kitchen was her aromatic church.

    When dad was released from prison, mom changed. The kitchen changed. Pop would smolder at the table, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes, while accusing her of cheating when he was gone. The neighbor, a coworker, anyone with testosterone. Eventually, she retreated to the bedroom, forcing us to survive on cheese and uncooked hot dogs.

    She dissolved after that. My father’s insecurities turned her into a human stew of anxiety. But, decades later, I can still picture her in our kitchen, her luminous smile a bursting peppermint star.

    @Blukris #FlashDog
    210 words


  46. No Hard Lines
    (198 words)

    “You got the tray for Thompson?” I push the food cart into the kitchen.

    “Solitary confinement’s right here.” The chef slides the covered plate down a long metal counter. Popping the lid, my face pinches up. “Salisbury steak?”

    “It’s his favorite.” The chef shrugs.

    “Why the special treatment?” I shove the covered plate onto the cart.

    “It’s Thompson’s birthday.” The chef chuckles, extends his hand. “You must be new ’round here. I’m Fat Jake.”

    “Harry. Yeah, this is my second week.”

    “Word of warning,” Fat Jake’s eyes lose their twinkle. “Just leave the tray and get out of there. Thompson’s crazy.”

    Solitary confinement’s located at the far end of the prison. Just outside Thompson’s door I stop the cart, open his platter, and spill a bag of macerated peanuts into the Salisbury sauce. Once it’s mixed I re-cover the plate and unlock the door, it swings aside, revealing a middle-aged man. Thompson looks at me, his eyes wild. I place the plate on the floor and kick it towards him.

    He dives on the food, eating with his fingers. He starts to gag, then cough, then choke. I stoop over his spasming body. “That’s for killing my sister.”


  47. Empty (210 words)

    We were eating shadows that night. We all knew it.

    Those of us in the mess hall watched the cook prepare the meal. Twenty years ago, he raped two college girls in their dorm. Now, with well-worn hands, he carefully flipped the thick patty to conceal all the juices. His tender movements were unnerving and reflexively, I touched my baton.

    The meal was simple enough. One thick patty with American cheese, two thinly sliced pickles on a
    fluffy poppy seed bun with a dime-sized topping of ketchup and plain mustard. Pretzels and a Diet Coke without ice filled out the rest of the order.

    No dessert. I thought that was weird. If I was set to die, I’d be gobbling chocolate pudding and banana cream pie and, well, now I was hungry, but the chef was busy.

    Busy preparing his labor of love for a dead man.

    I was talking to Joey, my longtime friend and fellow guard, and he agrees. This whole fucking thing’s weird.

    Since I woke up this morning, that’s all I think about. This dead man process. The other guards were being nice to him. Warden Jessop was even playing goddamn chess with him earlier. He won, of course.

    I didn’t like the taste of shadows.


  48. 199 words
    Rattus norvegicus

    I love this hot, dirty place. I have places to hide and ample food sources. A bit of fat from a ham hock or some stale bread crumbs can keep me going for days. There were even some in this hell hole who didn’t try to kill me. I suppose I could make a good pet for some of the less violent offenders. Sometimes those men in their starched black uniforms put out treats for me, but I wasn’t fooled. When those didn’t work, some sweaty guy with a poison wand tried to “rat” me out. Heh, I love a good pun. What I love even more is sneaking into the kitchen at night and gathering up the remains of dinner in my cheeks. I could hear the head cook cussing when he found my calling cards the next day. Suckers. Last night, I was making my nightly foraging run, when the prison guard spotted me. He grabbed his club from his side and lumbered down the corridor after me. They’ll never catch me. Me and my family have been captives here for generation and we know how to get around. I wonder what’s for dinner tomorrow night.


  49. Fairy Cakes

    When I recognise the man in the shadow coloured coat, I realise that more than a decade have passed on his side of the wall since he was told he had to leave. It feels like centuries have disappeared.

    At the kitchen window I wave at him and can see the haze of blue and grey glass buildings on his side of the world. But he doesn’t see me.

    The oven dings and I rush over to remove a new tray of cakes. Now that I know he’s here, I start on a new batch of batter; all golden eggs and silver apples. His childhood favourite. I make snow white frosting flavoured with summer roses. Flakes of crayon-yellow sunshine glitter on top.

    An apprehensive hand grips my heart. Almost none return here. They disbelieve every memory of magic. They start believing none of this matter. They become hollow.

    Clutching hope in my chest, I put the tray of frosted cakes by the open window and let the fresh smell drift into the air.

    I wait, hands trembling. Fidgeting. Every second stretches to a year.

    Then he looks around at the familiar smell and smiles like a child; released from the glass and smog world for a while.

    Words: 208


  50. Chadrick was sick of the smell of overcooked bratwurst. Once again, he’d looked up from his lovelorn ruminations to discover campfire-blackened char. He sighed, crunched down, and began strategizing anew.
    He’d met her in school. She was verboten, but he was entranced by her sad cinnamon eyes and her sweet demeanor. He’d fought his feelings for weeks because her arm’s 6 tipped symbol was as strong a restraint as the wall that later surrounded her enclave.
    By the time he’d succumbed to his affections, the process had begun. One day, he’d arrived at school to discover that her people had been imprisoned on their own streets. Later, he’d watched in revulsion as they were herded like sheep onto trains.
    Despite the soldiers’ declarations, he knew her life was in danger. That very night he’d followed the tracks, stopping only for meager meals and begrudging moments of slumber. He’d arrived weeks later, horrified to discover piles of bodies. His search was frantic until he’d caught glimpse of her the next morning. Since then, he’d spent hours planning escape attempts, each more implausible than the last. As his frustration mounted, so did his determination.
    He’d get her out of there, if he had to slaughter every Schutzstaffel in Auschwitz to do so.


  51. @stellakateT
    210 words

    Cooking Challenge

    “I can’t cook” she yells at Shorty

    He stands six foot high in his stocking feet with steely blue eyes and the bushiest eyebrows this side of the Atlantic. What do they say about love and a man’s stomach? She’s tried to create mouth watering dishes that would make him love her more. She tries hard to be the perfect wife but this kitchen is her prison. It laughs at her attempts, it hides the perfect ingredients, and it burns almost everything she pulls out of the oven. It hates her.

    Tonight we’ll show her who’s the best cook, the oven challenged the microwave to a duel and the dishwasher promised the washing machine that it would breakdown first, spilling water by the gallon turning the kitchen into a watery grave.

    She switches the light on putting two slices of bread in the toaster. Pulling a small tin of beans from the overhead cupboard, it dislodges the two tins of rice pudding in front. One falls heavily on to her forehead. Seeing stars like in the cartoons, she steadies herself not seeing the other tin pushing the electric toaster onto the floor where the water edges towards her feet. Waiting for the Widower to come home the appliances joyfully hum.


  52. Home Fires
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    207 words

    He looked forward to coming home to that kitchen every night and tossing his cap on the table before plopping down to dig in to whatever she placed before him.

    Meatloaf. Pork chops. Chicken. He didn’t care what it was; only that it was hot, ready, and waiting for him.

    His wife would smile and nod as he told about his day, the uprising in the south cells, the inmate who’d committed suicide, the guard who tormented prisoners with lit cigarette butts.

    She’d pass the potatoes. Offer rolls.

    Occasionally she’d make an apple pie, or, when he was really lucky, a peach cobbler, the cinnamon infusing the whole room, instant aromatic relief from the stress of pretending the suffering didn’t bother him, that he was cold and hard, like those he guarded. Like those he served with.

    He wasn’t. He was the bread she made – crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, always there, always dependable.

    Like this kitchen, which he loved coming home to every night.

    Until one night there was no dinner.

    He found her slumped over on that kitchen floor, those loving eyes closed forever. And it was then he finally knew.

    It wasn’t the kitchen he’d looked forward to after all.


  53. YUCK

    Brian S Creek
    197 words

    Why does she do it?

    It’s because she hates me. What other reason is there?

    I tell her every time that I don’t like beef stroganoff but she keeps cooking, keeps making me eat it.
    There’s loads of foods I don’t like but this is the worst. It tastes disgusting, it looks disgusting and it smells like a word I’m not allowed to say.

    Okay, so I can see the joy on her face as she dances around the kitchen. Since dad left this room has become her happy place. Most nights we sit at the table, just mum and me, and all she needs is my yummy noises.

    Fish and chips.

    Shepherd’s Pie.

    And Sunday’s tasty, tasty roast.

    But every now and then she makes beef stroganoff and then she makes me eat every last bit.
    I normally don’t have any bad feelings against our dining room table. It’s where I draw, or build Lego or where we play our board games.

    But when beef stroganoff is on the menu it becomes my prison, a place I can’t leave until the warden is happy. I’m trapped at the table until I finish every last chunk.



    • Isn’t there one meal we all hate and yet have to keep eating. But there is also that element of hope amongst parents that a child will come to like/love a meal that they themselves enjoy if they keep dishing it up often enough!



    Brian S Creek
    193 words

    I’ve got three years left on my sentence.

    To some that sounds like a lifetime. But I’ve crossed off twelve years already so it’s nothing more than the home stretch.

    At least it was.

    I blame them, obviously. It was their fault, their ‘clerical error’ that put me into a compromising situation. I mean, come on! Look at my record. I was put away for murdering my wife’s family with poison. I feed them a tasty roast dinner that was laced with poison.


    So was it the best idea to put me in charge of the prison kitchen when the regular guy called in sick? Of course not!

    You stick a steak in front of a lion, he’s gonna eat it.

    You put a football in front of a young boy, he’s gonna kick it.

    You place a vat full of soup in front of a man who doesn’t like many of his cellmates and he’s gonna do something about it.

    Warden got fired. Couple of inmates found their freedom via body bags.

    Me? I’ve had ten years added to my sentence.

    Think I might take cookery class to pass the time.


  55. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 209


    Guillermo hadn’t seen this cocina in years.
    There was the table, hand-carved by Papí; the stone fire pit, still guarding ash from Mamá’s tortillas; and the chillies, hanging like memories, from the rafters in red bundles. Nothing had changed.

    Settling in the chair, years, heavy as a corpse, fell away from Guillermo’s shoulders. He was in uniform, “Policía Federal” stitched over the meat of his heart. Its midnight blue was faded as if he’d snaked through sand. Opposite sat a woman. She smelled of everything familiar: cornmeal and carne asada .


    “Guillermo.” She didn’t call him “Mijo” like he expected and it stung.

    “Te extrañaba.” He wished she’d pull him into that cinder and cayenne perfume, cradling him back to childhood.

    “Where are they?” This was the first he’d heard English pass her lips.


    “The ones you let go.” She was unsmiling. “You’re their leader, aren’t you?”

    “Please, Mamá, I don’t know what you’re–”

    Her calloused palm smacked the table face.

    “Get cute with me again, Nevarez, and I swear to god I’ll bash your head in!”

    * * *

    From the serenity of the observation room, two officers studied the proceedings.

    “Rivera is getting heated, Señor.”

    “And Nevarez isn’t lucid. Pull him. He’s no use dead.”


  56. “Feeding Time”
    by Michael Seese
    209 words

    Mealtime is the highlight of my day, I say, feeling quite the gourmand.

    Succulent greens comprise the first course. Tender, tasty, often sweet. They’re a rare treat, and always the first to go. Any morsels not consumed quickly wilt, shrivel, and get tossed into the trash.

    Next comes the main course. What a spread! A glorious feast of flavors, bordering on bacchanalian. Each day, something new and exciting graces my plate. I gorge. Leftovers here are as scarce as hope.

    Many steer clear of the nuts. Fine, I say. More for me. Shell thickness matters not, as pressure is one of nature’s irresistible forces. I squeeze, squeeze, SQUEEZE until that first fissure appears. Then I ease up a touch, and WHAM! The sound as they crack, in and of itself, is satisfying.

    What I find fascinating is that all of them – the green ones, the hard ones, and the rest – look the same as they are driven through my gates. They may think they’re wrapped with different labels; but they aren’t. They’re all garnished with fear.

    I can see it.

    I can taste it.

    I lick my chops.

    Feeding time!

    I will eat them all, spit out the remains, and floss my fangs with the razor wire.


  57. DEATH BY CARAMEL – 218 words

    Noise and tension. Bustle and animosity. Sugar and butter. Yup, it was yet another day in the prison kitchen with the cooks’ whites all looking distinctly… orange.

    So, anyway. I’d got my sugar, syrup, water and butter all in my pan, stirring it like a demon and keeping a keen eye on my thermometer. I was watching the colour and waiting for it to turn golden brown. And keeping my head up and watching everyone else.

    Now, Turner, the guard, he was behind me all the time. Like I wasn’t a trustee at all. It was a prison, Goddamn it. How was I ever gonna sneak a weapon out? After all, didn’t they count every knife, fork, spoon and spatula before and after every shift; searching every hand, pocket – and all the other ‘pockets’ you might hide a piece of flatware in?

    But I persevered. Poured all my mixture out and left it all to cool, adding a few chopped nuts for taste. Gloria’s Fabulous, they called it, one of the best recipes ever. Guaranteed to satisfy. And when I finished, I rapped the tray, putting most of the shards into a bowl.

    But saving a few for myself. Or rather my cellmate, Sturgess. And after I’d stabbed him with my toffee knife – well, I’d eat the evidence.


  58. Room For Rent

    “I’d like to meet some of the other women before I sign the papers,” Annie said. “I need to know who I’d be living with.”

    “Oh, you young things worry too much.” Granny chuckled and shooed Annie into the kitchen. “The ladies of this boarding house are just lovely. Sit. I’ll fix you a nice, hot cup of tea and a some pie.”

    The scent of apple pie made Annie’s mouth water. “I suppose I can stay awhile.” She took a seat at the sturdy wooden table.

    Granny served Annie a steaming cup of tea and a generous slice of pie. “I’ll just go get the paperwork,” she said before bustling down the hall.

    As Annie lifted a forkful of warm pie to her mouth, a sharp whisper startled her. “Don’t eat that.”

    A wide-eyed woman scurried into the kitchen. “Did you drink the tea?”

    “What? Who…?”

    “I’m Cheryl. Listen. She’s no kindly Grandmother. We’re all trapped here. If you haven’t eaten anything, you still have time…”

    “Clever Cheryl.” Granny stood in the doorway, her jolly warmth replaced by a predatory grin. “I know what you’ve been up to. You’re too late.”

    Annie’s panicked eyes met Cheryl’s. “I…there were peppermints. In the living room.”

    Cheryl sighed. “I’m sorry.”

    210 words


  59. PREY

    208 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call

    When it starts out, it’s all cooing sighs and late mornings and flowers for no reason, forgotten in the sink while we have sex in the kitchen. Jewelry. Sunset walks on the pier. That vast expanse of sky turning lavender and tangerine and the water humming underneath us while he swings me in a circle. Laughing.

    Then it’s not that any more. Sure, it’s gradual, but it feels like overnight.

    He’s coming home late. Smelling of Other Woman.

    Turns out I have a type.

    Then I’m stumbling into the kitchen,
    ducking as the blue-willow teapot shatters on the wall above my head;
    he’s lurching after me around the breakfast bar;
    he grabs my hair;
    he’s got his fingers wrapped all the way around my throat;
    but I happened to grab the butcher knife from the draining board
    and I just




    The blade slides through his temple, behind his eyes.

    Blood pooling on the terra-cotta tiles.

    He’s got this surprised look.

    Like when I said yes to coffee. When we were still at when it starts out.

    The rest is easy.

    The pier is dark with those burned-out lamps –

    pieces of him a midnight snack for the cruising hammerheads.

    Time to buy another vintage teapot.


  60. Trespasser
    (208 words)

    Everything seems louder in the dark.

    Especially the screams.

    My body catapults out of bed, and before my sluggish neocortex can catch up with the more primal layers of my brain tissue, I’m in the kitchen. Holding a butcher knife. As if that would help.

    I take in the scenery as my heart recedes to a more sustainable rhythm. Stainless steel appliances, a swiffer leaning beside the granite-ish counters. No doubt this is my twenty-first century apartment. But when I close my eyes they are still there. Prisoners proclaiming their innocence until their throats run dry and hoarse. Guards wearing their uniforms like a sultan’s robes, gliding through the halls with absolute power over life and death, mercy and suffering.

    I should have never let my friends drag me on their so-called ‘paranormal investigation’. Glorified trespassing, more like. But we hadn’t just trespassed on government property, we’d crossed a far more sinister line. I could remember every moment of the doomed adventure, the warning spikes of the electromagnetic field detector, the cold chills, running for the exit. But there was one thing I couldn’t remember: Leaving.

    I stare desperately at the kitchen, my home. I am here. I got out.

    But why do I still hear them screaming?

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden


  61. Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah.
    (210 words)

    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.

    I’ve suspected for a while now that the heat from the kitchen wasn’t coming from any cooking. I can’t blame her. All those weeks and months I spent at sea, what was Dinah to do? For years she waited by the window, keeping her vigil by candlelight and waiting for me. But I had seawater water running through my veins and the trade winds always whispered in my ears, calling me to the ocean.

    Someone’s in the kitchen I know.

    For once fair winds brought me home a day early. I even had time to buy flowers for Dinah after the ship docked. When I opened the door I saw his boots on the floor and his rain slicker on the coat rack. Waves of pain crested my heart and drown the words trapped in my throat.

    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.

    For moment I was angry sea. I wanted to howl and rage, to crash into the kitchen and wash everyone away. Then I heard Dinah laugh. It was a laugh that had drifted away over the years, a laugh I had abandoned.

    I knew then that the salty sea mist would be the only thing to caress my cheeks.

    Goodbye Dinah.


  62. Experiments In Conversation

    “Reckon they’re paying close attention now, don’t you?” Baker said, with a nod towards the blinking dot at the corner of the ceiling and dark lens beside it. He took a sip from the mug, the contents steaming. “Needed that,” he said. “Figures we’d be staying awake with them.”

    Carey cast a furtive look towards the door. “Careful,” he said. “Don’t fancy ending up the other side of the bars like Pete.”

    “Step too far, that,” said Baker.

    “Didn’t do anything, did they?” Carey answered. “They want to see what happens. After.”

    “We’re being paid, y’know,” Baker said, after a pause. “Them too.”

    “Should be paid double,” Carey said, tone sharp. “Pete especially.”

    “Only another week,” Baker said, after a quick glance at the camera. “We’ll make that, easy.”

    “Three won’t,” Carey said, shrugging.


    “Can’t have gotten better after last night’s performance. They need to step in – but they won’t.” He caught the other man’s eye briefly. “Power’s going to the Captain’s head too. He’s getting off on it.”

    “Shit,” Baker said.

    “Precisely,” Carey said. “It will be.”

    “We should’ve done something,” Baker said.

    “Didn’t though, did we?” Carey replied. “Bit too late.”

    “Is it?” Carey asked, before the kitchen’s warmth was substituted for the chill approaching the cells.

    (210 words)



    • Loved the dark tone of this. It reminded me of a film I watched recently, (eldest kept on at me to watch) it, called The Experiment with ‘normal’ people becoming guards and prisoners in an experimental set up to see how their personalities evolve according to the role given.


  63. Dilemma
    (209 words)

    “Get out of my wheelhouse, you scurvy dog!”

    “You’re as useful as a barnacle on a buoy!”

    “Lord thundering Jesus! You can’t even handle a mop well enough to swab the floor!!”

    The words stung worse than the sea spray that jabbed at Adrian’s tear filled eyes. Overhead, gulls circled and mocked him with their shrill cries. The sky grew dark as the clouds began to spit at him.

    “Shape up or ship out!”

    Adrian decided it was time to ship out. He contemplated his failure as he walked along the pier, his self-confidence being eroding with the lapping of the waves at the pilings. He’d never failed at anything before, and the salty taste of defeat lingered in his mouth.

    As he walked Adrian considered his options. Should he admit defeat and let someone else take the helm, or should he charge back in and demand that he be respected? Considering everything, Adrian didn’t think he’d done that badly, after all, nobody died on his watch. Nobody had ended up heaving or retching over the railing.

    Although Adrian may have been a fine ship’s captain, he was a terrible cook and even worse first mate in the kitchen.

    Hopefully his wife would allow him back on the crew.


  64. Palladium Chef
    210 words

    Allez, Cuisine!

    –Minire, tell us about tonight’s theme ingredient.

    –Well, Kargax, the choq is a knot-fruit straight from Altair’s sixth planet. Even our Palladium Chef will have a tough time incorporating its coarse pungency into Rigelian cuisine.

    –What about our contender, Minire? I would’ve sworn she’d challenge Palladium Chef Sol.

    –It is rare for a native Terran to challenge outside her home cuisine. Yet, she seems comfortable with the crusted nematodes Rigelian dishes require—Wow! See her throttle that tiara worm? Here’s a chef not afraid to show her ingredients who’s boss.

    –One wonders how she’ll` work in the theme. Remember the last Terran to enter the arena?

    –Indeed! PC Sol mistook his sous-chef for fresh viands.

    –Thus, the moratorium on using rival species in culinary combat. And to enforce it, we have Warder Valector manning the ramparts.

    –A shame. PC Spica’s firemoss-infused human liver is to die for.

    –Now, dear, let’s show some respect for—Minire? Are you seeing this?

    –Kargax, the Terran has attacked PC Rigel! She’s severed one of his heads!

    “You savages moussed my father!”

    –Warder Valector is now escorting the Terran from the competition.

    –A shame. Her filets look divine.

    –Speaking of divine filets, Minire, PC Sol no longer appears to be in the galley.


  65. Pensées in Pollux b Penitentiary
    206 words, @pmcolt

    Kinny didn’t look like no murderer. In fairness, not I nor nobody in the cell block knew if he was, not even Kinny. When the government mindwipes you, you don’t remember nothing. Not your name, not poor momma’s crying face. Still, it costs a fortune to haul prisoners 10 parsecs from Earth to Pollux lockup, so Kinny wasn’t no jaywalker.

    KINN-9893 took my cellmate’s bunk. Jaxa was a funny guy and lousy poker player: a perfect cellmate. But after ten years they called JAXA-3514’s number: his sentence was up. In came this scrawny beanpole in grandma glasses.

    “You ain’t gonna last one night guarding the stockade,” I warned him. (The prison walls didn’t keep us in: they held the savage Pollux predators out.) “If you got any brains, make yourself useful somewhere.” And he did: turns out he was a magician in the kitchen. Our processed soy and garden herbs never tasted better.

    That first evening I lingered outside the kitchen after dinner, drunk on WELS-7332’s bathtub whiskey. The aroma of tomatoes and rosemary lingered in the air. For the first time, an image broke through my mindwipe. A woman in a black dress. An Italian restaurant. “Were you my lover,” I wondered, “or my victim?”


  66. Emily Clayton
    204 words


    I’m the kitchen guard. A rough-talking, tender-hearted soul. That’s why they call me Avocado. I’ve even got the shiny tag to prove it. Step into this room, and it’s a whole new world. You leave your shit at the door, and you focus on the joy that comes from life. I ain’t got no time for whiners.

    Freddie walks in, and instantly I see that he’s got baggage. Buck up, Freddie, I growl. This is a happy place. I show him his place at the counter and watch to make sure he’s focused. Knives are dangerous around here. They’re excellent for slicing out a hunk of sizzlin’ steak, but they’ve been known to spontaneously attack. These prison guards have it tough, that’s for sure. It’s my job to keep the men laughing. I love watching the rosy twinkle that creeps up their drawn cheeks. Replace the hollow expressions with ones of Christmas morning happiness: that’s my goal.

    Once in a while, someone crosses into the realm of misplaced reality. I can tell by the haunted look in Freddie’s eyes, by the heaving of his breath and the erratic pulse in his right hand that’s making me bolt for the corner. We’ve lost another one.


  67. 195 words

    A Man of Ambition

    For a man of ambition, the inestimable value of a Bic pen cannot be overstated. I’m wearing one right now. Today could be the day I decide to use it.

    Outsiders think the most dangerous place in prison is the yard. It’s not. I learned that from my cellmate, a fifty-something professor of literature with a receding hairline who pulverized the skulls of his young wife and her lover with an unbreakable titanium Sharper Image meat tenderizer and afterward tried to hang himself with some butchers’ string.

    The professor said the most dangerous place in prison is the kitchen. Because it’s the seat of power. The ruling throne over a felonious kingdom whose citizenry primarily comprises murderers, pedophiles and a robust assortment of garden variety congenital losers. History clearly demonstrates, he said, the men who control the food control the people.

    He also said the pen is mightier than the sword–especially a pen with a nice hollow shaft and a slightly sharpened end—because it makes a great shiv in a pinch and is easier to hide in your anus.

    Chow starts in five minutes. Today may be the day I rise to power.


    WC = 200 (04-17-15)

    “Chuck the larger wood into the stove, Archer; it’ll break the bridge and burn hotter.”

    Archer complied…….with visions of destroying the Bridge on the River Kwai. Large explosions took out the main struts. Wood splintered through billowing clouds of nitroglycerin residue.

    Saving the World War II Allied Forces by hitting the kwai Bridge imbued Archer with power and pride. As he threw out his chest, breathing in his success, the acrid bridge smoke smelled of blueberries.

    And flak hit him squarely in the face! No, not flak: The Crow Brothers had flapped in the window to eat cooling pies on the kitchen table during this important Southeast Asian battle. They had brought cousins, too. And the stove was smoking fiercely. Feathery blackness obliterated Archer’s Kwai adventures as gangly, imperious ruffians of the bird family helped themselves to the spoils of Mom’s blueberry pies laid out in battalions.

    Archer grabbed pot holders to save the cindering pie in the oven. He fanned away roiling explosion smoke from the enemy at the bridge only to face the murder of crows with blue blood on their beaks and talons, still raucously laughing at him.

    Now he would have to answer to General Mom.


  69. Whatever it takes

    I’m stuck, incarcerated in this hellish place. I wanted it all, the big house, the nice car, the overseas vacations. I was willing to do whatever was necessary, or at least I thought I was. I didn’t want to work for it, let those other girls squeeze into pencil skirts to try to earn their fortune. I wasn’t good at maths, or typing, or shorthand. The only thing I was good at was enchanting men. Turns out that was the only skill I needed. Shame it didn’t last.

    My keeper stalks towards me. He’s dressed in his dark grey uniform, always so traditional. I put on my best smile and stop to adjust his tie. He pulls up a chair and says, “good morning sweetheart, what’s for breakfast?”

    He never said anything about me cooking, not once, until the ring was on my finger. Before that it was all holidays in the Mediterranean and fancy restaurants. Soon as I was leashed he changed his tune. Suddenly my place was in the kitchen, just like his dear departed Mum. I should have guessed I was her replacement. Still, my newfound role as Suzy homemaker does have it’s advantages. He never should have mentioned that seafood allergy…

    205 words


  70. Keep Out
    209 words

    Pops returns from work, mouth flattened into a line.

    “You forgot your mask,” Mama says from the boiling tub. “Again.”

    I slice tubers into wedges, enough to feed twenty families. Pops works the perimeter patrol, keeping out the diseased scavengers desperate to destroy the peace we ceaselessly labor to maintain. Outside, the sky is toxic red.

    “I borrowed one,” he says.

    An affair, I decide. I slice, trying to slice away the outrage I feel for Mama.


    I shadow Pops to work. When the outer door opens, my skin tingles, anticipating the acid teeth of wind. Instead, open-air heat embraces me. Nothing like the constant swelter of ovens and stoves.

    Then, I see them. Beige-skinned people. On the beach. On sailboats. Our enclosed compound stretches from the shore into the sea and they live alongside it. No one wants to come in.

    “We’re being kept,” I say unable to anchor myself to simple betrayal.

    “It’s not our world,” Pops says behind me. He’s had time to process the emotions and landed in sad resignation.

    That night, I try to evoke the salty air, the unbearable dazzle of sunlight. All I get is potato stench, stale kitchen sweat, a smear of tears. And I hate myself for knowing the difference.


  71. Kitchen Aid

    It takes a moment for the reality of the situation to dawn on me. The initial panic is followed by a slow realization of what has happened. I knew she’d taken it personally.

    My mind wanders back to that fateful day a month ago. My wife had insisted we needed the help of a professional. Since when is designing a kitchen so hard to do? Sink? Check. Fridge? Check. Cooker? Yep. Job done. No need for fancy 3D diagrams or intricate plans, just draw it all out on a napkin and you’re good to go. I’d brought my ‘designs’ to the meeting, but the so called expert quickly dismissed them. Some nonsense about building regulations and a magical kitchen triangle. I insisted and eventually she begrudgingly used my layout. Then we spent far too long trying to figure out what colour defined us as a couple. Utter codswallop.

    Anyway, I might have subtly suggested that any idiot could do her job. She seemed to take it all rather well, or so I thought, until I found myself standing in our brand new kitchen. I guess I never noticed her fancy plan didn’t include any door handles on the inside. I guess I didn’t draw those on my napkin.

    208 words


  72. Birthday in Camp 22
    Evan Montegarde
    209 Words

    It was in the kitchen Kyung-Soon found her last refuge. Gasping for air and with pangs of pain wracking her body she fell to the floor. Nobody ever left Camp 22 alive, and now her soon to be born baby was to die on the cold icy concrete floor of this outpost of Hell. Kyung-Soon crawled across the floor, covered in blood, her baby’s head almost crowning. She groped for towels on the bars above her head and tried to make something of a nest for her child.

    Down the hall she could hear the sound of the guards’ clacking boots growing louder as they approached. She heard their screams and shouts and knew that when they found her they would both die. She would be beaten to death, her baby stomped or worse, thrown into the oven.

    She knew Sosamshin would be first, her meaty fist grabbing the club she would use to beat out her newborn’s brains. Kyung-Soon cried in desperation, tears pooling on the floor. With a last push the baby entered our cruel world, her welcome a mound of dirty dish towels.

    Kyung-Soon never saw the bright light above them and the prison never saw either of them again.


  73. Shenanigans
    208 words

    Ilsa carefully tucked her hair beneath her kerchief and paused before the mirror. Her outfit was simple enough, favoring practicality over fashion. Working in the prison as a cook- it really didn’t matter, but she made sure everything was in order anyway— one never knew who they might run into.

    She drew a deep breath and left the locker room, heading towards the kitchen. She knew the guards would watch out for her and do their best to keep her safe from any shenanigans. What they couldn’t know was that the shenanigans had already happened and she was here to put an end to them.

    She moved like the older woman she appeared to be. Working hard not to draw attention to herself.

    She smiled as the guard opened the door for her. “Such a dear lad,” she said as she entered the kitchen and the guard carefully locked her in.

    Once the door was closed she nodded to the trustee who’d been sweeping the floor.

    “We have two minutes,” she warned, her voice deepening. Quickly the trustee and the woman exchanged clothes, knowing that when the woman left in eight hours— no one would know that Kurt Saunders had been on self-service parole this past week.


  74. Sara Tranum
    207 words
    “Something Special”
    “Mary,” he called. “You makin’ somethin’ special for me today?”
    “Yes, suh, Mista’ Peta,” was my reply. Every day, he patrolled up above, leering at the new women brought to the prison house. Every day, he strolled along that walkway to where he could peer down into the kitchen and watch us labor in the choking heat of the kitchen.
    Today, though, I really did have something special.
    “Mista’ Peta’,” I called up, just before he turned away.
    The guard paused and sternly gazed down through the open window. He spat tobacco over the rail and glared at me. “You got somethin’ ta say, Mary?”
    “Ye-yes, suh,” I stammered. “Got some heavy cream we’s whippin’ for the dessert. I put a lil’ extra suga’ in one. You look for tha plate in the middle, that’ll be the special one.”
    His ice-blue eyes narrowed and lips curled back from stained teeth slightly. “Very good. Thank ya, Mary.” Then he continued along the walkway, back straight and shoulders square.
    I smiled at his back, whipping the small bowl of cream to absorb the warfarin and hummed slightly. I pictured how he would bleed from places that, at his doing, I and so many others had bled. Something special, indeed.


  75. Reblogged this on The Mom Who Runs and commented:
    Sara Tranum
    207 words
    “Something Special”
    “Mary,” he called. “You makin’ somethin’ special for me today?”
    “Yes, suh, Mista’ Peta,” was my reply. Every day, he patrolled up above, leering at the new women brought to the prison house. Every day, he strolled along that walkway to where he could peer down into the kitchen and watch us labor in the choking heat of the kitchen.
    Today, though, I really did have something special.
    “Mista’ Peta’,” I called up, just before he turned away.
    The guard paused and sternly gazed down through the open window. He spat tobacco over the rail and glared at me. “You got somethin’ ta say, Mary?”
    “Ye-yes, suh,” I stammered. “Got some heavy cream we’s whippin’ for the dessert. I put a lil’ extra suga’ in one. You look for tha plate in the middle, that’ll be the special one.”
    His ice-blue eyes narrowed and lips curled back from stained teeth slightly. “Very good. Thank ya, Mary.” Then he continued along the walkway, back straight and shoulders square.
    I smiled at his back, whipping the small bowl of cream to absorb the warfarin and hummed slightly. I pictured how he would bleed from places that, at his doing, I and so many others had bled. Something special, indeed.


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