Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 23

WELCOME to Flash! Friday! I’ll have you know — and I’m quite sure this is all your fault — that after last week’s prompt I searched high and low for some sort of magnificent coconut ice cream, but failed to find anything more inspiring than a can of coconut water “with pulp.” Not that chewing on soggy pieces of mysteriously aged coconut meat isn’t fun, but, yknow.   

Judge update: I’m delighted to report we have an official, brand spanking new panel of judges for the bottom half of Year Three, yes, we do! Y’all already love these writers; you will soon love them even more. ♥ We’ll be ready to announce their names by May 29; the new (game-changing!) term starts June 26.

Spotlight Interviews: What a romp Tuesday’s interview with superstar Tamara Shoemaker was! Congratulations to FF newcomer Bill Engleson (Denmaniacs4) for winning the copy of Tamara’s newest novel, Kindle the Fire. A reminder the Spotlight feature’s open to any of you in the FF community with a project coming out (indie, traditional, hybrid, web — we’re crazy about it all!). We’d love to hand you the mic to let you chat about it! Contact us here.


DC2Judging today is Dragon Team Three: Captains Carlos Orozco & Eric Martell.  Carlos’ favorite thing is unpredictability, for which he assigns Bonus Points. Similarly, Eric hopes your stories will captivate him with interesting characters or worlds. And, of course, that they will have been beautifully proofred proofread.   


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, your story must take place in the below setting “Downtown”.) 


(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Navajo man representing the Yebichai god Zahabolzi/Zahadolzha. 1904 PD photo by Edward S. Curtis; image retrieved from Wellcome Images.

Navajo man representing the Yebichai god Zahabolzi/Zahadolzha. 1904 PD photo by Edward S. Curtis; image retrieved from Wellcome Images.

630 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 23

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 210


    The dust of sixty-plus years coated his bronzed face as he stared down at the town from his perch. The rest of his skin had grayed with time, but his lips had never cracked a smile.

    His feet rested on a pedestal at the edge of a used car lot, and he glared across the river at the school beyond. They’d named the mascot after him—the Chiefs, until a court case banned the term and replaced it with the innocuous Eagles.

    He’d become a landmark in this town. Tourists hugged a brown leg while they posed for a camera; tired Main Street meanderers paused for a break in his shadow. Gangs graffitied spray-painted tattoos on one bare calf; girls kissed interested boys behind the pedestal.

    I worked in his shadow, operating my store where I could see the rigid profile. The eyes faded more each day, and rumors swirled that the city might give the old guy his final rest.

    On a drizzly day, I nestled a set of books more snugly on a shelf, pulling the window closed to bar the rain from my merchandise. I traced the rivulets on the glass.

    “Will that make you happy?” I whispered.

    His cheeks dripped moisture below his empty, empty eyes.


  2. Yinglan Zheng
    Word Count: 207


    There is a museum downtown. Just take a right on Main Street and it’s there. I would visit the museum every time I go visit my grandma. There would be a new exhibit every time. The one I remember best was the Native American exhibit.

    It was the first day of the exhibit, I remember, and the museum was especially crowded that day. I didn’t know it until I spotted the sign as grandma was cruising her car through town. I immediately begged her to let me visit but she insisted another day. “Please grandma.” I begged with my sad puppy dog face.

    One look at me and she caved and quickly, she found a parking in the museum parking lot. As I strolled through the museum, I took in every fact and breathed in the history that was surrounding me. It was amazing, so much better than sitting through a history lesson in a classroom.

    At last, I stopped at this photograph. It was a photograph of a Navajo man. So much emotion, I gasped. The picture was taken in 1904 before Photoshop and digital technology. As I looked deeper and deeper into the photograph, the more it was making me want to be a photographer.


  3. Josh Bertetta
    “Modern Problems”
    210 Words

    Jerry plopped into his EZ-chair, turned on his laptop, and said “God damn it” when it read “Updating.” The microwave beeped. He said “God damn it” again, got out of his chair, and fetched the pre-packaged dinner he’d bought from the convenient store a whole elevator-ride down from his top-floor downtown condo. He sat, kicked back, ate his dinner. He washed it down with bottled spring water.

    Jerry deserved to be a little irritable. It was a long day. After work he had to brave traffic only to spend 30 minutes in line at the pharmacy. Eventually he got his pills.

    His home-screen finally up, Jerry, smiling at the picture of the Indian he set as his wallpaper, wished he could go back to that simpler time, when life was easier…

    Haseya ground corn for hours today after walking, thanks to the current drought’s sucking the river dry, five miles under the blistering heat to the spring to collect the day’s water. After checking the withering corn for worms, Hastiin and others buried four more bodies. The medicine man said there was no cure for the sickness the White Man hid in the blankets they gave the People. Afterward
    everyone danced for rain.

    Tomorrow they’d do it all over again.


  4. When the God Awoke
    (208 words)

    When the Grandfather God came to check on his people, he realized his cloud sleep had been a long slumber. The red land he knew so well, its towering cacti that raised their green prickly arms to the cloudless sky—this he recognized. This was home, the land of his people.

    But now lights blazed like a valley of fallen stars. There was a beauty in the lights, and he marveled at the tall structures full of glowing squares of light. But the smell of the smoke of the valley assaulted his nose, the stench of a fire consuming some strange beast for which he had no name.

    Things hummed, beasts of metal, thundering like buffalo in endless lines along dry rivers of grey rock. He moved amid the man-made mesas, searching.

    The people in this place had the faces of strangers. Faces of the worshipers of other gods, men and women who had no name for him.

    His children were gone from this valley of the sun. They did not dance until dawn, singing for him their Bluebird song.

    When he stopped and wept, an unexpected rain fell upon the desert city. He had overslept. Grandfather God went away, in search of someone who remembered his name.


  5. Acceptance
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    203 words

    He was a proud man. He believed in the ways of his ancestors, their connection to the land and a balance with nature. The city dwellers had lost that. They had manufactured their own concrete order to the world. They paved their streets and blocked out the light with tall buildings. They relegated their trees to designated parks as they’d done with his people. He didn’t resent them now, there was no point. Change came, the young swept away the old. That was also nature’s way and who was he to say it was wrong.

    In his youth he had he had given his anger free reign and rejected everything these city dwellers stood for. In his middle years he realised that the salmon could not swim against the flood for ever. That he must find quiet waters and be at peace with the world his god had seen fit to place him in. In his elder years he realised that good and bad were not black and white, in any sense. So now he strode the streets with calm acceptance. His body was not what it once was, his feet ached and a pair of Nike Air trainers would sure feel good.


  6. (210)
    Travelling Spirit

    More taxis than stars in the night honked and barged, squabbling for lane space. The people on the pavements pushed and elbowed to force their way through cracks in the mass. Downtown was packed, heaving, smelly. The skyscrapers leaned in menacingly, blind window-eyes watching.
    Behind it all the sky was a putrid yellow, the clouds dull smog wisps. Nobody had seen a tree for six years now, and the only greenery downtown was in the tang of the acid rain.
    Even the lowest weeds were grey, scrabbling through the dust and grime. Car tyres kissed the shining roads, and enormous advertising hoardings screamed the next big gleaming things.
    These people have chosen their gods, thought the Indian. He had walked through time, seeing the future of his lands with increasingly worried eyes.
    He moved his head slowly, observing all he needed to see. The pavement people walked through him, a ghost from a forgotten past. They chased their dreams, frowns and sad eyes discouraging kindness.
    He spread his hands and rose above them all, sniffing the sick sky and feeling the dirt in the very air.
    There was a loud CLAP! And he whooshed back in time and space to the meeting and the Elders, with bad news to tell.


  7. @AvLaidlaw
    201 Words


    The other guys call me Chief. That’s not so bad. I’ve been beaten up a couple of times, so Chief’s not so bad for the money. Better money than you’d get in the Nation.

    We’re sent downtown to the construction site, down to the banks and advert agencies, the concrete and the glass. The steel skeleton’s already half up so we walk along the girders some hundred feet high and get riveting. “You’re really not afraid of heights?” Some white guy asks me. That’s the Mohawk. Different people. Me, I nearly pee myself every time I get up here but I’m not going to say that. We’re macho guys up here.

    We move up. It’s going to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, they say, taller than the ‘scrapers going up all over those hot countries with the oil. Forget about the last few years, they say, America is back, baby. They’ve put up all these Stars and Stripes all over the site but they kind of hang limp because there’s no wind.

    “We’re making history,” he says.

    For a few years. Then someone will build something taller, then another even taller. They think they’re going to reach heaven someday.


  8. The Bright Lights

    200 words

    Music spilled from the bar. Opala almost didn’t go in, but she needed to be around other people, no matter the freneticism. The walk from mid-town had allowed her to drink in the city, to reconnect. Neon signs spilled adverts into the night sky, a wash of increasing color. Her loft apartment was high above the traffic and she’d forgotten how melodic the revving engines, squealing brakes, honking horns, and slamming doors could be.

    The barman acknowledged her and she exchanged a note for a glass of wine. Thinking was impossible so she let go, closed her eyes and drank in the atmosphere. She’d finished her crying, her moping, had got to the point of feeling empty. It was time to recharge.

    “You want to dance?”

    A man, young man, with wide eyes and a feather head-dress stood nose to nose with her. Did she? She nodded without thinking and he grinned. They gyrated together until she claimed fatigue.

    The air was cooler, the streets quieter.

    “I’m Kitakima,” he said.

    Opala raised an eyebrow.

    “Okay, Adam,” he smiled. “Look, I know a little place that’ll still be open. You want to eat?”

    “Sure,” she smiled back, feeling better.

    @Clivetern (after Petula Clark)


  9. Honour restored

    @geofflepard 210 words

    His earliest memory: the man in the hat giving him a dollar and his mother’s anger that he didn’t understand. Every change in the moon, she’d sit, head bowed, humming for an hour. Always on the corner of 6th and Bright while he danced for rain like his uncle taught him. He learnt, if people gave money to keep it.

    At eight they made him go to school but he skipped classes. His mother said nothing, just went alone. She died when he was twelve; no one said what happened but they’d boarded the site and she could no longer sit.

    By fifteen he was in a gang, scraping for bucks, working on construction. They began redevelopment and found a burial site. TV made him famous, with his tribal tattoos.

    It was his spot, the corner he dealt from. The cops, the other gangs tried to shift him but he always returned. He was the chief.

    His uncle, ancient and hooked as an old crow, came. ‘It’s time, son.’ When his uncle died, he found an ancient tribal costume.

    The pressure built – the mayor declared war, the money-men saw condo opportunities. He dressed carefully; the full moon shone as he, the last proud warrior went to met his foe.


  10. Wrong Turn at Albuquerque
    210 words

    With a flash of blinding light, the portal opened up in the cave entrance and the trio of explorers emerged, blinking, into the New Mexico sun.

    Priscilla looked at the rough desert landscape, disapproval causing a sharp little V to appear between her carefully pucked eyebrows. “Honey, I thought you said your device worked with doorways to be sure we always landed on a civilized world.”

    Professor Hendriks checked the readouts on his PAD. “Sorry, dear. It seems that the Portal Access Device has a wider range than I thought. This cave entrance could also be considered a negative liminal space. In fact, because it’s a cave, the liminality factor is greater than any man-made doorway by at least a factor of ten. We’ve been pulled off course. We just need to find an electronics store to add a restriction limit and prevent a reoccurrence.”

    Mariela tugged on her father’s jacket. “Daddy? We’re not alone.”

    “Excellent,” Professor Hendriks said. He approached the Navajo man with the ceremonial garb. “Could you please direct us to Downtown Albuquerque? We have some urgent business to conduct.”

    The man looked at the three strangers and said, “Where have you been? Ever since the Yellowstone Caldera erupted, this is all that’s left of Downtown Albuquerque.”


  11. Business as Usual
    (204 words)
    Downtown, he drafts insurance documents. In the confines of a cubicle, constrained by white collar and the nine to five, he pins down words with precision: weights them down with correctness.
    The vocabulary of life and death and drama dulled with clarity.
    He feels pity for himself, and for the stuffy, firm words of commerce that he commits to paper.
    On lunch breaks, he avoids Main Street sandwich bars; instead, he ventures into his imagination. He relieves these earnest words of their burden, rips them from their long established contexts, and lets them float above partitions. Transformed, novel now, they cast off their mask of ceremony.
    Pretty words bejewel the air in affecting delicate shades above him. Transcending corporate definition their association rises. Plump vowels form, their bulbous, fertile curves expanding into assonance until they pop, one by one, with a string of exclamation points, raining down their freshness upon the room.
    He is awash with new meaning. He ensures that this new found treasure, this vibrant prose that’s been coined will never again be neglected. He jots it down in his notepad for fear he might forget the value of those connotations that, in giant office blocks, are contracted to terminology.


  12. THE RAIN MAKERS (210 words)

    Amherst, Massachusetts, 1733. Five Rivers sat on a dusty orange crate outside the Deerfield Saloon and set up his shell game on a beer barrel. Patrons waited for their turn to try their luck.

    Austin Dickinson had watched the rigged game for months. He saw how the old Indian would place his thumb on the pebble while lifting the shell that the duped player picked. Five Rivers noticed Austin and gave him a wink.

    At the end of each day Five Rivers would leave one shiny coin on the gate post in front of the Dickinson house. Austin would then casually walk by on his way to the candy store downtown.
    Amherst, 1998. Rivers sat in the observation room of Weatherhead Casino surrounded by flickering closed circuit camera screens. He looked at the blackjack table and saw that the college kid was back. Gambling is luck of the draw, but not for him. He counted cards. He could beat the house.

    At the end of each week Rivers would unlock his car door and keep walking through the parking lot. Minutes later the kid would casually walk to the car and place a manila envelope on the seat.

    Tradition was important to Rivers. He always sought to honor his elders.


  13. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 210

    The Hunt

    This one is for courage, the Great Warrior had said in the smoke of a thousand fires. The deep boom of drums had underscored the cracked timbres of his voice.

    In the mirror, my hand straightens the hammered silver plate I’d reconstructed into a belt buckle. It had once decorated the belts of my ancestors as they raced with wolves. Today, I will chase a different wolf pack.

    This one is for valor.

    The furs decorate the cuffs of my suit jacket. Once, they had signified strength, the skill of hunting. Today, my ambitions hunger for different prey.

    This one is for victory. I slide the necklace under the collar of my shirt and tighten my necktie, glancing over my image once more in the mirror.

    Up until now, the sun-bleached grasses had been my pavement, the mountains my only horizon. Now the cacophony of car horns and taxi stops, buses and construction hammer through the thin glass of my window. The city hums with energy, a million ants building their colossal anthill.

    My ancestors had strapped their courage to the bare backs of their ponies as they rode on the wind. Today, I bind my courage in the hard-knuckled grip of my briefcase and step through the open door.


  14. KINGBIRD’S CURSE by E.F. Olsson
    208 words

    It was the last time they held ‘Pioneer Days’. The old town square downtown was packed. They labeled it an ‘historic district’ but since that day, it has been historic if a business could last two years there.

    They blamed old Mr Kingbird for the curse. On the final day, he walked on the stage. The marching band noticed him first – the drums and horns died to an awkward stop. Mr Kingbird was in full Native American warrior dress – red and white face paint, beads dangled from his neck, feathers hung from his belt. I didn’t recognize him at first.

    Once he had everyone’s attention, he leaned into the microphone: “You are here to celebrate this town. You enjoy this land. But I want to remind you of who you took it from. It was my ancestor’s land.”

    “Look at you! Who wouldn’t want you out of here!” Yelled Mr Rose. “Go away!”

    The mayor ran to the microphone and pulled it away from Mr Kingbird. He muttered something to him. Mr Kingbird started to chant. The mayor jestered to the band and they started playing again.

    For a day, things were normal. Then, Mr Kingbird died. But he still walks the town square reminding us.


  15. Title: Painting
    words: 208

    Margaret’s eyes pierced the oil painting of the Navajo man. The Downtown Art Festival had so many other paintings to look at – the Indian man was boring.

    “Come on – there is one with dolphins and ships further down.” I said starting to walk. But Margaret didn’t follow me. “Ugh, it’s like you have a crush on this guy or something!” I sneered and went on my way to look at the cooler art.

    Later that day I was having a coffee at the end of the festival, waiting for Margaret to make her way down the line. When my phone rang I wasn’t surprised it was Margaret.

    “Finally! What…”

    “I need you to pull your car around behind O’Charleys and pick me up.” she demanded.

    “What’s wrong? I’m on my way!” I said worriedly. I ran to my car and drove faster than the speed limit to the lot behind the restaurant. Margaret was there with a large painting in her arms.

    “What the hell, Marge?” I shouted rolling down the window as she pushed the painting in my back seat.

    “He doesn’t belong here!”

    “You stole that stupid painting?”

    Margaret’s eyes flashed at me, her dark brown eyes and Cherokee skin igniting in fury. “He deserves respect.”



    Brian S Creek
    209 words

    I remember I ordered the Kobe Beef.

    The firm had just closed a big deal and the bosses wanted us out celebrating. It was a nice day and the piazza was bustling. Everything was New York and normal.

    And then the Native American Indian turned up.

    A crowd started building just down from our restaurant so a couple of us went to check it out. A Native Indian was stood there wearing next to nothing. People took pictures, someone called the police.

    And then he started touching people.

    Nothing violent or crass. He just touched their foreheads with the tip of his finger. And it wasn’t everyone, either. He was choosing people from the crowd as if he had a purpose. Those touched just stood there with an odd look of realization on their face. It was a surreal thing to watch.

    And then he touched me.

    My world changed. He’d awakened something in me, in my blood, and I saw the world for what it really was. My heritage rose up inside me. Looking around I could see the others he had chosen, the others like me. Each one was nuzzled by a red halo. Each one knew what they had to do.

    And then we were many.



    Brian S Creek
    209 words

    Maurice’s heart was beating fast. He’d talked the talk and now he was walking the walk.

    “There you go,” said the teller as she nervously placed the last money bag on the counter.

    “Thank you kindly, ma’am,” said Maurice. He tipped his hat because manners are important, grabbed the bags, and walked out of the bank.

    “Hold it right there!” yelled a vulture dressed in black.

    Maurice spotted the Sheriff’s badge and cursed. His trigger finger itched. “It don’t have to go down this way, Sheriff.”

    “Drop the money and the gun, and lay on the ground,” said the vulture.

    Maurice smiled at a fine looking crocodile in a pretty dress across the street. She smiled back. In the blink of an eye his pistol was drawn. Each thump of the hammer sent a small Native Indian flying through the air, little axes swinging. The Sheriff dived for cover as Maurice backed away down the street.

    Maurice could taste freedom. His horse was just across the street. He made to run, but failed to see the stagecoach barreling down the street.

    + + +

    “Dispatch, the bank robber’s down. Hit by a bus on the corner of Fifth and Eastwood. Looks like he was high on something. We’re gonna need a coroner.”


  18. Let the Battle Begin
    (210 words)

    Tehmomneh’s grieving spirit flows through the hard-walled canyon that swallowed up the land of his ancestors. Towers of cold stone now point upwards where ochre and mustard painted tepees dotted sweeping plains. Mechanized metal carries warm bodies over sacred ground foot-fast ponies roamed.

    He clothes himself in the trappings of his holy office. Fire inflames his blood. Vengeance boils to the surface of his very being. No more the silent swift shafts of death bowing to hard pellets of flesh destroying balls which brought his mighty people to nothing.

    Head held high he strides into the center of town. The white man stands before him. He represents his people. Tehmomneh represents his. Here in this place of meeting he’ll take one last stand to settle their fate once and for all.

    Father sun silhouettes the painted warriors behind Tehmomneh . Wind-kissed feathers ruffle slightly. They raise their weapons and . . .

    The sound of instruments being tuned jolts Johnny from his reverie. He hoists the drum major’s staff high and prepares to lead them into competition in the Annual Indian Heritage Day Festival parade. Drumbeats echo through the concrete canyon like war tom-toms. Johnny taps the pavement and the Navajo High School marching band steps proudly down Main Street.


  19. Forget All Your Troubles

    “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go…” he sings in a sweet falsetto, swinging his fringed hips back and forth.
    I keep walking down the gum stained sidewalk just trying to get to work.
    His face appears over the edge of my cubicle, slashes of paint on his face. He tips his head from side to side singing into my grey space, “Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city!”
    I scrunch my shoulders down and keep typing.
    He stands behind me at the urinals, step-touch, step-touch shuffling behind me, shoulders thrown back, fingers snapping, belting, “JUST LISTEN TO THE RHYTHM OF A GENTLE BOSSA NOVA!”
    I grit my teeth.
    He stands next to the fruit cart on 14th street, caressing a stack of limes while I pay for an apple. He croons out, “So maybe I’ll see you there…” to the vendor who hands me my change.
    He hums next to me, our hands side by side hanging onto the metal rail of the 6 train home.
    We get through the front door. I slump against the wall inside and wish with all my might to no longer be haunted by delusions of a male Navajo Petula Clark.

    210 words


  20. Hunter and Trapper
    (210 words)

    Sunday downtown. No bustle. No business. Just aimless out-of-towners running out their clocks. And me.

    Weekend gear simpletons gather in the plaza to hear some huckster Navajo pitching his show. Feathers and paint. Beads and bones. It’s cheesy and degrading, but opportune. I lurk in the crowd with my own agenda.

    I hear the Navajo selling it: “This is an ancient purification ritual….” I smirk. Sure it is, chief. He drones on. Coins splash into a hat at his feet, while I prowl the spontaneous hunting ground.

    I’m patient. I’m particular. I circle and scan methodically before spotting succulent game. She’s blond, leggy, alone, and definitely not local. My groin aches. My knife whispers. The Navajo starts drumming, and the pursuit begins.

    Rhythmic chanting. Heads bobbing. I brush up against her. She smells like apricots. The Navajo howls. Pulsating intonations rock the crowd. She moves, and I’m right behind her. Craving, I can practically taste her blood on the blade.

    It’s all so predicable before I’m suddenly yanked backward, gasping furiously while my prey slips away.

    Confusion. Compression. I’m rising above the crowd, gripped by an unseen force. No one sees me, except him. The Navajo. Watching. Commanding. Purifying.

    Contracting in pain, I laugh spitefully as the trap closes shut.


  21. Title: The Artist
    words: 206

    “Paint me like one of your French girls!”

    “You aren’t French. You aren’t a girl.”

    “I mean like in the movies.”

    “That’s not a thing.”

    “Oh come on, Percy! You painted Abigail like a mermaid, that’s not a thing either.”

    “First off, stop lying on the couch like that – I’m not painting you as a French Girl. Ok turn slightly to your left. Hands by your side. Actually, left hand up. Ok don’t move.”

    “Ok, man! What’re you thinking? “

    “Just stand still.”

    “OK! Still. I got it. I can do that.”

    “Stop talking.”

    “Right, sorry.”

    “Let me work through the vision. How do you feel about becoming a historical figure?”

    “Yes! Like Zeus! Or Bob Marley!”

    “I was thinking more of nameless figures in history. A bit more general.”

    “Like…General Robert E. Lee? That’d be cool!”

    “No. That’s not the general I meant. With you standing there – if I ignore everything coming out of your mouth – I can picture a Native American Chief. That’s what we’ll do.”

    “Eh, I don’t know Percy….”

    “Keep your mouth closed and trust me.”

    “Ok you’re the artist. Paint me like one of your Chiefs! Think this painting will be famous enough where people will say that in the movies?”


  22. Religion Fest
    210 words

    Downtown MegaToronto (formerly the city of Peterborough) was packed with a myriad of species and subspecies. Representatives from every known religion were dressed in the traditional garb of their god(s)/goddes(es) etc.

    The council had appointed Robin as Head of Security. Robin thought Religion Fest was a bad idea. Religion was a sensitive topic and getting them all together was bound to spark debates.

    “I don’t like it,” Robin said.

    “Yeah, this cotton candy is disgusting,” Mel said.

    “You’re eating spider webs from Kor.”

    “Oh. Crap. I paid 80 credits for this.”

    “Something bad’s going to happen. I can feel it,” Robin said.

    “Calm down, Chief. You’ve got guards everywhere, and the carnival atmosphere should stop things from getting nasty.”

    As if on cue, a screaming match broke out. A circle of robed, feathered, naked, etc. attendees began to circle around the argument.

    This is it, Robin thought, as he pushed his way through the crowd. This is how the intergalactic war begins.

    “Give me back my donut!” bellowed the High Priest of Pluton.

    “Try and take it!” hissed the Spider-Monk of Kor .

    I was wrong. Robin was relieved. It’s just two idiots arguing.

    Unfortunately, as it turned out, he’d been right.

    The Donut War lasted three hundred Earth years.


  23. For Sale
    209 Words

    Jim—whose real name is Hoke’e Yaabini’ii, though he never tells that to anyone—sits in the shop on the main downtown drag. The shop is squashed between the Tibetan store that reeks of Nag-Champa and the ice cream parlor.

    Faux animal skulls, bronze statues made in China, and sage smudge sticks from New Age Imports, Inc. clutter the shop shelves.

    A woman pauses to peer in the window. The mask in the display has caught her attention.

    Jim frowns. He should put that mask away. It doesn’t belong here in the shop, but it always draws people in. Real things always do.

    As though impelled by unseen forces, the woman crosses the store’s threshold.

    Jim keeps his face as stoic as granite. “May I help you?”

    “That mask,” the woman says. “How much is it?”

    “It’s not for sale,” Jim says. “But I have these.” He pulls down other masks from hooks above him, masks made for just this purpose: to be sold.

    “Why won’t you sell the other?” the woman asks.

    “That one’s real.”

    “Aren’t they all real?”

    “My grandfather wore the one in the window,” is all he says. He can feel the old man’s angry ghost spinning above him. Sacred things have no place downtown.


  24. Nightway
    by Tony Amore
    203 words

    Merger negotiations broke up after the CFO stormed out. He was distracted, restlessly waiting on news from home. He really should have been on the first plane back but his wife insisted. “Waiting there; waiting here,” she had said. “No difference. Waiting is waiting.” While riding his bike home after dark their son was hit by a distracted driver. Bones had been broken, his spleen pierced. Surgery seemed to take forever. Aimlessly for hours, he wandered this unfamiliar city.

    The November light tricked him. Was it morning or evening? Lost among unfamiliar street signs, he wandered into a park near an unexpected river beneath a stretch of desert highway. A low pulsing hum drew him towards a park where people danced in rhythmic chanting circles adorned in traditional costumes of skins and feather, fur and paint.

    Transfixed, exhausted, he watched. An old voice spoke, “Been at it for three days now.”
    “Yep. Seven more to go.”
    “It’s a healing thing,” he said donning his mask. “I’m on.” He trotted off to join the dance.
    “What’s a healing thing?”
    Turning back he replied, “The dance of course.”
    He felt what he thought was the pulsating world around him; it was his phone.


  25. Long Walk
    200 Words

    If you go west, to Albuquerque, to Santa Fe, to Phoenix, you’ll see the same strip malls, cement construction, and fast food chains that you can find on any downtown drag in America. You’ll find at least one gun shop and at least one tourist trap exploiting a canned vision of the American West.

    Maybe you will walk away from these downtown districts. Maybe you will pass the suburbs by and keep on going, out to where the red land flattens and the bright sky opens and the history of a land unfolds.

    Out here the wind carries ghosts. Prairie hawks scratch the sky, opening new worlds. Magpie tricksters taunt sly coyotes in a spinning, age-old dance. Out here life emerges in layers of color: brown rocks, iron red land, blue sky, glittering white sunlight. All creation.

    Out here the earth remains scorched by memories of slaughter and surrender. The people on the wind whisper their histories: We died from smallpox; we died from flu; we died from starvation; we died from impatience and greed; we died from human failures. We have nothing left but our stories.

    Listen and do not forget.

    Out here every walk is a long one.


  26. Word Count – 198

    Standing Tall

    Downtown noises fill my ears
    Boisterous revelers roar their jeers
    I’m not as mild mannered as I appear
    They’ll feel the weight of my spear

    Proud and strong my ancestors
    Would turn in their graves at the stares
    I advertise the shops wares
    My weapons stave some glares

    Originally from New Mexico
    To New York we decided to go
    No need for our arrows and bows
    Could not foresee the woes

    I sit here on my wooden horse
    I can’t think of anything worse
    There flashing cameras whore
    Disdain seeping from my pores

    My hair braided with dignity
    Its length praised in history
    Bills keep me in captivity
    I long to be roaming free

    My name is Chaske first born son
    Shoppers call me ‘chief’ respect is gone
    Their laughter and pity I shun
    In my head I have already won

    I’ve expressed myself on the totem pole
    Each etching a piece of my soul
    The carving fulfilled a role
    It gave me back a semblance of control

    I wish I was back in my mountain state
    Eating my supper of a homemade plate
    These people make my teeth grate
    Poverty becoming the seed of hate


  27. 210 words

    Ode to Paige
    The Chatter

    “The Downtown Eastside was a humongous chipper that slowly sucked Paige down and ground her up.”

    “Oh so many times, anyone of us could have scooped her up, comforted her, taken her home, protected her.”

    “Many tried. Social workers, cops, street workers, family. Her mother was a drunken disaster. Hell, for those last 4 years, she was on a roller coaster of housing. At least 50 different places. FIFTY. Foster homes, Detoxs, a furniture stores worth of spare couches, SRO’s.“

    “She was a bright Aboriginal kid but she was forever drowning in the wake of her mom. And then, overdosing in a bloody public washroom in Oppenheimer Park. Crappy place to die.”

    “So, who’s to blame? Everyone who did just enough and not one bit more? The few who pulled their bureaucratic hair out trying to do the right thing, not even sure what that was at any given moment; or what about the sludge hole that is the hard-edged Downtown Eastside?”

    “There’s a life’s worth of pain and sorrow there; hundreds of helpers, agencies, everyone doing their bit, gnashing teeth; moving molehills when it’s the goddamn mountain that needs shifting.“

    “There’ll be others, you know!”

    “I wish I didn’t, but I do.”


  28. Touring Atlanta
    210 words

    “And this downtown area sprang up from the blood of Indians, after they were forced on the Trail of Tears,” the tour guide said.

    They were standing in downtown Atlanta, traffic blaring, and all Hope could think about was getting a nice refreshing glass of coke from the Coca-cola museum.

    “Native Americans,” Rocky said.

    Hope rolled her eyes. “Here we go again,” she thought.

    “Excuse me?” the tour guide asked, with a flip of her hair.

    “You should call them Native Americans. It’s politically correct.”

    “Is that right, young man? Have you ever talked to an Indian and asked them what they’d prefer to be called?”

    Rocky stuttered. “No, can’t say that I have.”

    “Well—I’m married to one. Indians. They prefer to be called Indians.”

    “That’s ludicrous. They’re not from India,” Rocky said.

    Hope could practically feel the fizz in her mouth. And here Rocky was arguing about something stupid, once again.

    “They’re used to be calling Indians. Why do you insist on arguing?” the tour guide asked, with a stamp of her foot.

    “Don’t take it personally. He argues with everyone,” Hope said.

    A taxi cab swooped by splashing dirty water all over Rocky’s new khaki pants.

    “Can we move on?” the tour guide asked with a smile.


  29. Free Day
    209 words

    Every day, at the Art Institute of Chicago, the works of art come to life, under the gaze of thousands of eyes. The Museum has free days, but the works of art have free days, too.

    On this particular free day, five artworks were chosen to go out and about among the living people. They were–“Navajo Man,” by Edward S. Curtis, George Seurat’s “Le Grande Jatte,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Salvador Dali’s “Venus with Drawers,” and a sculpture of a tree by Charles Ray called “Hinoki.”

    The Museum is right downtown and near Lake Michigan and Grant Park. The party of Le Grande Jatte and the tree called Hinoki set off to see the lakefront and the trees.

    American Gothic, Venus with Drawers and Navajo Man decided to explore the downtown streets. They found them bustling with life and tall buildings. Venus wanted to go shopping. The couple in American Gothic felt strange in this crowded and noisy place, where everyone was holding phones. Navajo Man noted that they all seemed to be lost, in a hurry to go nowhere.

    At the end of the day, they returned to the quiet Museum. “Next time, I’ll go to the Lake,” said Navajo Man.

    “I’ll bring shoes,” added Venus with Drawers.


  30. Last Stand

    He pauses, disorientated as always at first.
    He sniffs the wind, but stinking, fetid odours of exhaust fumes, discarded fast food, and industrial smoke wrinkle his nostrils.
    He looks for the sacred mountains, but a shroud of haze blankets the city, blotting out the far horizon, stinging his eyes.
    Sunset brings no respite as, everywhere, harsh yellow beams carve out stark pools of territory. Incarnadine pulsing lights and screaming sirens reveal the murder of the peaceful, innocent night.
    Effortlessly he avoids scurrying people, seeking their sanctuaries of home before hazardous night blankets their neighbourhoods.
    Even in the quiet, secret shadows, the wind does not sing to him, corralled as it is within unyielding parade ground files of buildings.
    He lopes cautiously past somnolent suburbs, disdaining to acknowledge snarling dogs, captive behind their walls and gates.
    The shining, obsidian asphalt abrades his pads.
    He has seen enough.
    Gathering his spirit, retracing his mystic path, he resettles, soft as blown thistledown, into his resting body.
    Rising, uncurling his gnarled, knotted limbs, he faces the assembled warriors.
    “Coyote spirit has foreseen the future. Better to fight and die than to die and not fight. These new men will despoil the Land.”
    “To victory!”
    “Who promised victory?” he mutters to the setting sun.

    210 words


  31. Traveller
    (210 words)

    Nobody really noticed Ahiga as he stood at the street corner and watched. Some people stared for a few seconds and another asked him if he’d lost his teepee, but for most part he was invisible to the people scurrying about.
    Ahiga looked around but failed to recognize the world surrounding him. Gone was the stillness of nature. It was replaced by harsh sounds, putrid smells and sights that assaulted Ahiga’s senses. The Bilagáana were everywhere, it was as if Ahiga’s people had been erased from existence.

    When the smoke from a passing diesel truck enveloped his face, Ahigia closed his eyes and choked. The world began to spin and Ahiga felt himself falling though time.
    When he opened his eyes, Ahiga was once again sitting on the ground in front of a campfire. He was relieved to hear the sounds of Navajo chants and drums as warriors danced behind him. Ahiga was comforted by the familiar faces of his tribesmen and sights of the encampment.

    “Ahiga,” one of the elders sitting across from him began, “What did you see? Did Zahabolzi speak to you?”

    Ahiga knew that the fate of his people rested on his ability to convince Hoskininni to fight the Bilagáana that were coming for their land.

    Note: Bilagáana is the Navajo term for white people.


  32. A Moment
    210 words

    Conchita arranged her full skirts as she sat down on a bench along Santa Fe’s main street. She snapped open her fan to ward off dust that rose up as wagons passed by, harnesses creaking. Determined to have time alone, she sent her maid after ribbons for her wedding nightdress. Conchita gazed around at her vibrant new home, taking in the wooden buildings with many shops, the clatter of boots on the boardwalks, and the friendly faces underneath the warm sun.

    A young man with the shiniest long black hair she’d ever seen leapt off his horse. He tied up the reins and stepped lightly up to the boardwalk. As he glanced her way, she looked down feeling her cheeks redden. A curious fluttering began in her chest and her parasol dropped. In two strides he was beside her. As he picked it up, his piercing dark eyes seemed to recognize her.

    “Here you are miss.” Her maid placed the package in her lap and the young man drifted silently away.

    Alone after finishing the ceremonial dance, the Navajo gazed down on Santa Fe. As he had often done for the past twenty years, his piercing eyes sought a certain bench and imagined the girl with the lace parasol.


  33. The Journey
    (209 words)

    I watch the droplets trail down the window from inside my boyfriend’s car. The water makes rivers across the glass, distorting the gray skyscrapers.

    We’re tripping on shrooms.

    I know, I know, we shouldn’t be driving. I told my boyfriend this, so that excuses my own irresponsibility. I nod at the skyscraper as if they can nod back in agreement. The festival is downtown, so downtown is where our journey takes us.

    Plus, the shrooms haven’t even kicked in yet. We’ll not entirely.

    We pull into a spot. My boyfriend slides his hand into mine as we walk along the gray sidewalk nestled between the gray skyscrapers and gray street. The rain soaks our hair and clothes and leaves me with the desire to twirl on the sidewalk, so I do.

    “What is a rain dance when it’s already raining?” A man asks me from inside my own mind. It’s a gravelly voice and for a moment I smell campfire smoke.

    My thoughts flutter, from gray to vivid, colorful images. As we approach the festival, the man’s voice returns, the shrooms kick in. “No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.”

    I nod with the man in my head and enter the festival.


  34. Bringer of the Rain
    208 words

    You may not recognize me, but you know me.

    I am there when “those boys” collapse in silent giggles after hitting every doorbell in the entire high-rise. The eye-roll and head-shake.
    I am with the tiny, almost-women, sitting with their mochas, tittering over boys outside. The once was.

    When your child makes emphatic declarations that the dog will learn to drive when he’s “ibber” and it’s hard to tell your lover through the laughter, that is me. The imagination that is.
    When the entire floor erupts in groans because your dad sent a company-wide one-liner, that is me. The day-lightener.
    When the examinations conclude and your street-hardened student’s impromptu rap reduces you to tears, that is also me. The joy because of pain.

    Yesterday, it was me who broke your technological haze with the street jammers rhythm. The pause in the “have-tos”
    Today, it is me when mall floor makes her stilettos slip and your joke invokes her laughter. The learning to relax.
    Tomorrow, it will be me when you chuckle over the bobbing dancers at the “Party in the Park”. The freedom wish.

    My face you may not know, but my heart is in you always.
    For I am Zhadolzha, Bringer of Laughter and Bringer of Rain.



    Next time you go downtown, take a minute.

    Slow down and be there with the slice of humanity who happen to be there too. These are your partners. The crew hand selected by fate or happenstance for this bit of pavement at this moment in this spin of the Earth.

    A one-of-a-kind collection of human beings. You shall not look on its like again.

    Every person you see, anyone who has spent any substantial time cruising around this planet, walks that sidewalk without someone. Each body bears invisible negative space, like Peter Pan’s shadow tucked away in minds or pockets.

    Or DNA. Maybe it’s hair the exact color of mother’s. Or a lack of hair, like grandpa. A song sung by elders once at the family picnic. A photo stuck to a plastic wallet sleeve. A paper face, once a reminder and now a flat, lifeless shape with nothing to say.

    For some it sits heavy like a dull black stone in the ribs. The final trip to the vet. The phone call that came last week, last month.

    For others it’s a fork in the road they never saw. A historic battle on the plains.

    Watch it walk around you.

    200 words


  36. For so Long as One Remembers, We Shall not be Forgotten
    210 words

    Silent. Unmoving.

    Only the breeze running slow fingers through the feathers in his hair betray his composition is flesh and blood, rather than stone and determination. The traffic buzzes around him and his carefully cultivated square of earth, grass, tree and bush. He, and the meticulously-designed park in the center of town, appears curiously out-of-time.

    Memories. History.

    He remembers the Great Spirit crafting a beautiful blue-green jewel; proudly displaying it within the sterile blackness of all. The Sky Woman shaking the Water of Life from her shawl. The Breathmaker again sculpts his figures out of clay while the Trickster tempts the pale ones from across the great Ocean. The devastation visited upon the Earthen Mother.

    Knowledge. Wisdom.

    The child at his side, a waxed paper cup of water, sugar, and unnatural chemicals in her outstretched hand – a kindness for this strange figure clothed in the furs and feathers of his native dress.

    Their hands touch around the offering. The child’s eyes widen and age as memory flows.

    Torch. Passing.

    The ancient man – a figure appearing from time long forgot – fades to nothingness in the afternoon sunshine bathing the downtown park square.

    The child, her head full of old memories, will carry forward the History of the People.


  37. Fool’s Contest

    “Tahoma, why are you wearing that?”

    “I’m Navajo.”

    “So? You were Navajo yesterday and wore a suit.” He watched his wife’s eyes . . . wandering.

    “It makes me comfortable.”

    “It looks comfortable, other than the hat.”

    “The headdress of Zahadolzha, it goes with the body paint.”

    “Hmmm. Body paint.” She was studying his chest. “Are you showing off for me?”

    His eyebrows rose up suddenly. “Let’s go with that. Is it working?”

    “You didn’t think of me at all when you put that get up on, did you?”

    “No, but if you like it, I could wear it more often.”

    She circled around behind him under the pretense of getting another cup of coffee, carefully checking what else was exposed.

    “Oh, I like it, but you are not going to attempt to wear that on the subway into town.”

    “Why not?”

    “You’re carrying an arrow.” She said dryly. “They won’t let you on with a weapon.”

    “I have to carry the arrow,” Tahoma said thoughtfully, “Maybe I’ll hide it.”


    “Maybe I should leave it here.”

    “Tahoma,” she said, making her voice firm, “You’re a legal clerk, what makes you think that outfit is appropriate?”

    “It’s casual Friday, and last week MacDonald wore a kilt.”

    203 words


  38. Finding Harmony
    201 words

    As the bus made a left turn, the sunlight covered the black, embossed text on the business card and made it nearly as white as the heavy card stock it had been printed on. Just like that, the name and title — “R.J. Collins, Music Producer” — nearly disappeared.

    However, when the bus slowed down in front of the stop, they came back. Ernie sighed. He wished he hadn’t met R.J.

    A week ago, the producer had shown up at one of his performances. When Ernie was done, R.J. bought him a drink and asked him some questions, including “Do you write your own material?”

    No, he didn’t. His repertoire included what the Navajo tribe considered “popular songs,” although everyone else would label them “traditional.”

    R.J. chuckled. “Well, how would you like to make them truly popular songs?” he asked. “Let’s meet next week.”

    Now, next week was here. Ernie stepped off the bus and then strolled down the shaded sidewalk.

    A few blocks later, he arrived at R.J.’s building. He looked up at the top of this behemoth, which seemed to block the sun. He grabbed the cold, metal door handle, but as he was about to pull it open, he stopped.


  39. Firdaus Parvez
    203 words

    ‘About potatoes and other things’

    Long ago, in a far off land, Lone Wolf is hunting when he stumbles upon a strange metal monster. He drags it to his settlement, and presents it to his Chief. One day, while tinkering with it, Chief Snow Owl, pushes the right button…
    “Good afternoon viewers, I am Shreya Rastogi, reporting live for NDTV. Right now we are in downtown New Delhi. There is complete chaos here. A strange man has been holding up the traffic for the past fifteen minutes. His clothes look a lot like the Red Indian displays in the city museum. Has the museum come alive?! Let’s take a closer look.”
    The camera pans over the snarling traffic. The level of honking is earsplitting. There- in the middle of the road Chief Snow Owl sits; legs crossed, eyes closed, chanting a strange song.
    “Mystery solved folks. Apparently, there was a breakout in the psychiatric ward of the city hospital. An ambulance is on its way. So much for the museum coming alive!”
    Somewhere close by a strange machine beeps-
    ‘Back to origin in one minute.’
    A young man places a sack of potatoes on it and bends to tie his shoelace.
    That’s how potatoes got to America!


  40. Zahadolzha
    (210 words)

    Zahadolzha stands at the intersection of 39th avenue and Carter way. Nobody sees him or hears him.

    The power of the gods to be felt is only possible through the belief of man. Gone are the days of the old gods, for man no longer sees or hears the world around him. Man no longer listens to the words Zahadolzha once whispered on the wind. Man no longer turns his gaze inwards to see that which surrounds him. Man no longer takes advice from ancestors, spirit guides or mother earth.

    In the old days Zahadolzha would shake the earth or open the sky, dousing man in a torrent of rain.
    Man would stop and listen. They would become fearful and ask Zahadolzha what they had done wrong. Great councils would debate the best way to go forward and resolve the mistakes.

    “Zahadolzha,” man would cry, “we hear you; we thank you for your wisdom and your patience.”

    Now man just scurries when the earth shakes or the sky opens and tries to explain it away. Man thinks he is all knowing and master of everything. In reality, he understands nothing.

    Zahadolzha had come to shake the earth and open the sky one more time to see if man would listen.


  41. @bex_spence
    200 words

    The number five bus

    Downtown what’s that? An American dream, far from the streets of my rural village. The kids in my school talk about going downtown, like they know what’s there, what it’s all about. Our nearest town is a bus ride away and all it has is the usual high street shops, WHSmith, Boots, a record shop if you were lucky. There were no bright lights, no neon signs.

    The weekly market sells laminated posters, you know the ones, New York skylines and Native Americans in mood lighting. Something to make you feel like you’ve been somewhere, make you feel like you have a clue. Truth is none of us do. We try to paint a picture of ourselves, a kaleidoscope of colour exciting and vibrant. When really we still paint by numbers, and most of that is in shades of sepia.

    Still we go, we run the rituals, join the tribe. Same each weekend. The number 5 into town, get off at the library. Walk to the fountain, hangout. Maybe buy some sweets or a bottle of pop. So long as you fit in. So long as you’re seen.

    But today, not me. Today I ride the bus out of here.


  42. So many good stories already, but here goes!

    Song Remembered
    by Wakefield Mahon

    Alexander GreatHeart, threw on a polo shirt and Dockers and stepped out into the city street. The photo shoot was his niece’s idea. “People need to be reminded of the culture that we’ve lost, Uncle Alex.”

    He shook his head. Lost indeed, he had been raised to be a singer, a healer, but since he’d left the reservation and moved into the city. All of that seemed futile and foolish.

    The cement, rock landscaping and asphalt magnified the already oppressive heat of the Tempe sun. When he glanced down, he noticed a single blade of grass struggling through a crack in the sidewalk.

    “Ha! Little plant, you don’t want to grow in a lawn but you’ll grow in this place?”

    That’s when he heard the song. It was faint at first, but then it came back to him, for it had always been inside. The beat, the melody, and finally the words. An ancient rain dance.”

    For a moment he let himself go, oblivious to the people gawking, but they stopped laughing when the water came crashing down.

    He smiled. No matter the actions of the Earth Surface People, the Holy People still remain, waiting for harmony to be restored.

    200 Words


  43. @colin_d_smith
    200 words

    “Street Warrior”

    The pathway is warm to my feet, yet still I walk. I will make my journey’s end despite these people staring, stopping me, trying to talk to me. I don’t understand their strange tongue, their strange skins, and wonder why they too are not hurrying. I see their bundles. Are they, like I, not on an important journey, one that has taken many hours?

    I wait at the edge of the path. We, my entourage and I, must permit the metal wagons to pass before we may proceed. Yet still I am harassed by the people around me. Have they not encountered my kind before? Again they try to make conversation, but the noise from their mouths is as the babble of birdsong to me. If they only knew me as my tribe do: the mighty warrior of a thousand hides. They would fear me as they ought.

    The loud beep noise is familiar. Now I may take my leave from the path’s edge and cross to the other side in safety. I feel a hand upon my head, the gentle scratching of my ear, and the voice of my sightless servant that brings me such pleasure: “Good boy, Zahabolzi!”


  44. Nightway Ceremonies and Peaceful Take-overs
    Maven Alysse

    Curtis snapped photo after photo as the Dancers whirled through near empty downtown streets in Phoenix, Arizona. His heart pounded in rhythm to their steps; breath catching in his throat at the sheer joy and peace that emanated from their voices uplifted in song. Along with those who braved the cold, he prayed this would work.

    Seven years ago, the aliens had arrived, blackening the sky and sickening Earth’s inhabitants.

    Within two years, every human had a computer chip implanted that kept anyone from attacking the aliens. It kept everyone docile, but inwardly they seethed.

    Nine days ago, the Navajo leaders began the Yebichai Dance which would, hopefully, cleanse the world of the interlopers, restoring balance and harmony.

    The sun lightened the sky and Curtis could see the ships that filled the sky wink out one by one.

    A great should of jubilation rose from the spectators. It was working.

    The Dancers continued to chant.

    Curtis’ camera clattered to the ground.

    The Dancers finished their song of celebration. Their leader, Zahadolzha, smiled at the cleared skies and streets. Finally, all the interlopers were gone. Balance had been restored and his people’s lands returned to them.

    (195 words)


  45. I watch the city people glide over the marble floors, moving from one exhibit to another. The past is enclosed in glass with stuffed animals, fake woods, and a painted background.

    “Look, kids,” one father says to his three boys, “there’s an Apache. Think he’s gonna get a buffalo?”

    He does not know the difference between an Apache and an Iroquois.

    “I think you made the Apache sad,” says the smallest, a blond boy.

    “Don’t be silly. He’s wax,” the father says. “Look. There’re some arrowheads over there.”

    The boy stands in front of me, and squints at the square legend, his lips moving as he reads. “Iroquois,” he says. “You aren’t an Apache. You lived in New York.” He smiles. “You look very brave. Did your people march on the Trail of Tears?”

    I want to reach out to this boy who has come all the way downtown to visit this place, but already his father is returning to reclaim him.

    “Come on, David. Come see the arrowheads.”

    The boy looks back at me, and waves. I hear him say, “Dad, he’s an Iroquois not an Apache. There’s a difference.”

    I want to wave back but can only watch them disappear into the crowd.


  46. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 206


    I am the heart. Do you hear me beating? Pounding thrum thrum in this open-air chest?

    “Temp 97.4, pulse 111, respirations 12, and BP at 117/88. O2 Sat. on room air 98%.”

    There’s much I could tell you. I see everything there is to see – everything that shouldn’t be.

    “Patient’s pupils are constricted and non-reactive.”

    The untitled, the unclaimed, shivering in discarded blankets, as they scavenge for grates to warm half-living corpses.

    “Skin is cool and cyanotic.”

    I know their suffering, feel it in my alley-veins and concrete-bones.

    “Glasgow Coma Score is 3.”

    Their toothless grins chase fear through your enamel. You cross here before reaching them.

    “Glucose 55. Establishing an IV.”

    Can you hear them? Rasping breaths fighting for their share of oxygen?

    “Lung sounds coarse.”

    They come frequently now, seeking shelter in my sanctuary arms.

    “Administering dextrose and 5.2 mg of Narcan.”

    But I’m not the only one to welcome them. Keen-eyed vultures sell them security, normalcy, oblivion, at the prick of a needle.

    “Sixty-nine year old male found with altered mental status. Unresponsive on arrival.”

    You fault them for their weakness but have you walked in their moccasins?

    “We’re en route. ETA 10 minutes.”

    I am the heart. Do you see me bleeding?


  47. @stellakateT
    197 words

    The Wind Blows

    Touching her cheek she sucked in the sounds and smells of downtown. The curried food of the Indian take-away, the stale beer of McCarty’s bar, her own sweat no longer the sweet fragrance of the deodorant she had sprayed over her vast armpits some seven hours ago. The wind glanced the left side of her face, whisking her golden curls into a frenzy. Flicking the hair from her one good eye she surveyed the territory. The graffiti announced she was entering Fun Boys Land. Cartoon characters larger than life leered out of alleyways enticing paying customers to join in and play the game of life and death.

    With a mission to complete she dodged the zombies, people with no aim in life apart from living as long as possible in the status quo. It would be hours before she found him. His body firm; resilient against those who valued him no more. Waiting just for her, he stood proud, chanting his war cries into the wind.

    He would charm her enemies, protect her friends if she had any and save her from herself. In the corner of her bed-sit the wooden Indian statue dominated. He was home.


  48. Downtown in Down Town
    209 words

    Downtown in Down Town, the devil makes work for idle hands.
    And we watch the box-sets on Netflix while the world outside burns.
    Downtown in Down Town, the devil smiles as we forget her. She is just a myth, and she likes it that way. Her eyes glean knowing we are the believers of false gods and we’ll soon toil the streets of sulphur beneath, down deep beneath the Down Town.
    And we watch the countdown to the product launch, anticipating the aroma of the shrink-wrapped packet. The strap on our wrist feels worthy. The glass face reflects our status. We cannot not smell the exhaust fumes from the diesel machines as labour, they chug and they bury our old, perfect, products in the nightmare pits of landfill.
    Downtown in Down Town, the devil knows apathy is atrophy. The sirens are the concertos of the concrete, a lullaby to the lackadaisical.
    And we pay the charity directly from our salary, and slumber knowing our coinage is helping to save the world from behind our fortress of triple glazed windows and memory-foam pillows.
    Downtown in Down Town, the devil remembers the Navajo who believed in good and evil, in the sun, the earth and the sanctity of all that exists.


  49. “No Escape”
    by Michael Seese
    210 words

    Our town has a Main Street. Correction: our town is Main Street, and not a whole lot else. I doubt much has changed since the days when the wooden Indian keeping watch over Connor’s Cigar Store was alive and kicking.

    Boredom here is a low-hanging fruit, plentiful, ripe, and waiting to be plucked by anyone young enough to be restless. My friends and I all had escape plans. The lazy ones turned to alcohol or TV-induced coma. Others thumbed a ride out on a semi passing through; their inevitable response to “Where you headed?” being “Anywhere else.” A few of the radical kids studied hard, and went away to college.

    As I haunt Main Street, I see the next generation sitting around, wasting their lives, languishing in the same stupor we did. I want to grab them by their shoulders, shake them, and say, “Wake up! There is something beyond.”

    But I can’t.

    You see, most exit strategies allow for a round trip. Mine – jumping off the water tower – did not. But somehow, even in death, I’m still here. Devoid of life, just like Main Street.

    In the movies, lost souls are told, “Go to the light.” But which direction does one go when there’s no light to be found?