Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 27

Well, I’ve gone and done it now: started work (at last) on my middle grade novel (yes, of course there are dragons! at least one that I know of, and you know what they say: for each dragon you can see, ten more circle above, helping plan the menu). There’s something particularly delicious, isn’t there, about kicking off a new project? There are no plot holes, no continuity problems, no superfluous characters, no writerly bad habits to drive your editor crazy. When settling into the first page of a new book — whether you’re writing or reading — there’s nothing but big dreams and glorious promise. (For now!)

Because THERE lies the realer reality of the writing process: dreams on this page, shadowed by the just-you-wait on the next. And guess what?? It’s that very tension between hope and fear that we’re exploring in today’s prompts; I can’t wait to follow where you lead.  

cropped-ffbadge-lg2.jpg

Dragon Emporium!

 

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DC2JOIN ME IN THE GRAND FAREWELL for beloved Dragon Team Three: Captains Eric Martell & Carlos Orozco, who are judging for the last time today. Carlos, from the beginning, has begged us for unexpected plot twists and remarkable characters; Eric, for his part, strongly recommends you create captivating worlds and characters and then stay the course. I’m thinking they could have been talking about themselves: a couple of truly remarkable, memorable characters who have captivated an entire writing community. They’re clever, worthy judges and fierce #FlashDogs; lest you worry we won’t hear from them again, I’m delighted to report BOTH captains have stories appearing in BOTH volumes of the soon-to-be-released (June 21! and you will most certainly be hearing more about that in the days ahead) Flash Dogs anthology Solstice: Light and Solstice: Dark. Eric and Carlos: I am proud to know you both, and on behalf of Flash! Friday, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your passion, dedication, and above all, a job truly well done.       

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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.

AND HERE IS YOUR TWO-PART PROMPT:

(1) Required story element (this week: setting. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, your story must take place IN this setting, as defined by you): 

 

theater

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847. Public domain daguerrotype photo by Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard.

Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847. Public domain daguerrotype photo by Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard; courtesy Google Art Project.

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561 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 27

  1. The Vampire Has No Teeth
    (205 words)

    “I stare at them with sensuous, soulful eyes. They can not resist my emaciated flesh and bedraggled demeanor. The chains? Ha, the chains they are a prop to draw in the bleeding heart females with savior-like complexes. To them I am the bad boy that got away, yet can still be saved.”

    “Cut! Marcel, ya gotta deliver that line with more feeling.”

    “Sorry. To them, I am the bad boy that goat away, yet THEY CAN STILL SAVE ME!”

    “Marcel, I said feeling, not volume. Try it again.”

    “To them [dramatic pause] I [emphasis on “I”] am the bad boy that got away, yet can still be [dramatic pause] saved [followed by a knowing smirk]. Little do they know that I want to sink my teeth in their willing flesh. To draw their succulent blood into my mouth, swirl it around my tongue, and let it slide down my throat.

    Yuck, Gary. That line always makes me gag.”
    .
    “I didn’t write it, Marcel, I’m just the director. Take it from the top. And this time, will you please put in the teeth. I know they hurt, but ya gotta get used to them.”

    “I thar at ttthaaa wif thanthus thofuth eyth . . .”

  2. Performance
    204 words

    From my spot on the stage, I watch them as I always do. They’ve grown complacent. It has taken four years.

    Four years ago, I was captured. Four years ago, they put chains of cold iron on my wrists, knowing that I could not work any magic while so-chained. Four years ago, I became a slave to the carnival master who displayed me: tuppence a head for the punters and a ha’penny for their mewling spawn. But tonight, a command performance for Queen Victoria and the House of Lords.

    “Come See The Faerie Prince!” the signs proclaim. “Cold Iron Shackles His Terrifying Magic!” one of them adds.

    They’ve relaxed. Most of the crew is new, and they probably think I’m just a pretty boy, pretending to be a lord of Faerie for the carnival master.

    Well, I *have* been pretending. For four years, I’ve pretended to be an ordinary human. I’ve also pretended that cold iron leaves me helpless.

    It leaves me without magic, that’s true, but I’ve had four years and I’m not stupid. In four years, anyone, even a Prince of Faerie, can learn to pick a lock.

    Tonight. For one night only. A special performance. One that England will never forget.

  3. The Unreliable Narrator
    @making_fiction
    204 words

    I’m what you might call an unreliable narrator.

    But you can trust me.

    I‘ve been summoned to tell tales of the theatre and this dashing gent, with his smouldering Oscar Wilde look about him, his unruly cravat, foppish hair and come-hither eyes.

    He is the greatest Shakespearian thespian that has ever lived. He has held aloft the poor skull of Yorick, ‘neath the strutting beams of the Globe theatre. His calls for Juliette have settled, and softly seeped into the thatched-roof fabric where they will live forever; like his searing talent.

    What’s that you say? What about the bottle on the side? Perhaps he likes a tipple between scenes? Maybe a genie, you say? Well, there was this one time in Band Camp…

    In hindsight, I forgot to mention that beneath the disarming looks of the ‘actor’ there are chains round his wrists, rips in his trousers and yes, have you noticed that ball attached to his feet? Are we even in the theatre? Or, do we stand beneath the glorious archways of Notre Dame? Behind him is a back so curved and bulbous they call him cruel names and tell stories of him to scare children.

    Perhaps, you should not trust an unreliable narrator.

  4. Cave Magic

    We sit with our backs to the great out-wards. The flicker of the fire behind us, we watch the characters play out their stories on the cave wall in front.

    We must not look behind.

    Our theatre is of heat and cold stone and the arc of the cosmos away away away – far away behind in the blue black.

    We must not look behind.

    Shadows play on the wall before us, tell us tales, lead us and make pictures in our heads; remembrances of what has happened in the light.

    We must not look behind.

    Crunching of feet on rock sand, spitting of the fire, the puppet master is fast tonight.

    We must not look behind.

    The stories are of gods appeased, creatures caught, food to eat.

    We must not look behind.

    The cave echoes, our collective breath adds to the dripping walls. I marked those walls with tallies of my kills. I am a brave hunter. My family eat well. We wear skins for warmth and have full bellies.

    We must not look behind.

    I wish I was the one to look, but cave magic is stronger, and more clever than a wild beast.

    Spark fear trickles down my spine. It is not my time.

    207 words
    F. E. Clark – @feclarkart
    #Flashdog

  5. ,,The Long Run
    (208 words)

    Success was a filthy word to Jonas now. Being in a hit play—what actor doesn’t dream of such a fate? But night after night, the lights come on. The crowd of faces, the endless faces melting into a parade of skin covered smiling skulls—night after night they wait for him, beyond the lighted stage. Hungry. Mouths open, laughing, hands slapping together eagerly. Devouring, night by night, his very soul. He can’t escape those bars of seats, the walls of curtains.

    He has become the prisoner of the stage, a creature fated to perform, day after day, show after show, mouthing the same old lines, a puppet on contractual strings too lucrative, too carefully crafted by the lawyer’s wits to ever break.

    He makes good money, but he has no time. No time to spend his wealth, no time to live, to love.

    His character has swallowed him. He is Sam, and Jonas Wilkes is dead.

    Each day the same old play. His world’s a stage, but his sets never change. He dons a costume, she wears hers. They kiss. She slaps his face. They kiss again in artificial snow.

    Poised on the edge of the stage, he bows and prays the show will close.

  6. Monologue

    Look, I was young, just starting out, and I needed the money. It’s not a crime, OK?

    Well, yeah, maybe an artistic crime.

    You’ll have seen it a thousand times. I take a bite of the oat bar, turn to camera and cry ‘It’s SO good!’, oats spilling out of my mouth. As far as I was concerned it was fifteen minutes of fame. I pocketed the cash, went back to repertory, and thought no more of it.

    I didn’t expect to turn into a meme. ‘Hey, it’s the Oat Bar Guy!’ Harry, my agent, tells me that all publicity is good publicity. He showed me a GIF of myself the other day. I nearly threw up.

    Casting directors are always surprised to find out that I can act. For example, I hate oats. I’ve landed some great classical parts, all serious roles, got good reviews, but if I go on a chatshow I know darn well what they’ll ask me about. I did Hamlet off-Broadway a couple of years ago. When I looked at Yorick’s skull, some idiot in the audience shouted ‘It’s SO good!’

    Every. Single. Night.

    In this great theatre of life, I’ll forever be Oat Bar Guy.

    @lizhedgecock
    202 words

  7. @AvLaidlaw
    210 Words

    And Then Is Heard No More

    In the prison van, the guard dips a rag into the zinc bucket then dabs the dried blood from the prisoner’s face. The guard is a young man, a faint moustache and too skinny for his uniform, and he gently holds the prisoner’s arm to help him stand as he would help his old babushka. He pulls a flask from his tunic and offers it to the prisoner.

    “For your nerves. It’s good. My Uncle makes it.”

    The prisoner stares straight ahead. The guard glances over his shoulder to see what the prisoner is looking at.

    “It’s time. You remember your lines? What they told you to say?”

    The guard leads the prisoner out of the van, through a brief glimpse of the snow laden skies and into the courthouse. The prisoner flinches in the glare of the flashbulbs and film lights bleaching out the faces of the audience who sit either side, so silent that the click of the guard’s boots echoes off the marble walls. And there on the stage sits the Commissar wreathed in the lights as if he is not of this world but some monstrous spirit summoned from the bleakness of winter.

    “If they ask,” the guard whispers, “you will say I treated you well?”

  8. Within a Play.
    (206 words)
    @elaine173marie

    Cousin Martha was horrid the summer I stayed with Aunt. Father’s trip was to be extensive.

    I arrived and Martha handed me my script. She had pinned a plush, red curtain to the walls in the library. I was informed this was the boundary between reality and fiction. It simply seemed a waste of a good tent to me.
    I looked through my ‘Top Secret’ script.
    ‘Am I GREGORY?’
    ‘Dear me, no! GREGORY is dashing…mature. Tall! He will be played by Peter from next door.’
    In a flurry of feathers and nylon, rehearsals began. It made little sense to me why I wasn’t allowed a toy sword: it didn’t seem much of a play without one.

    Martha rehearsed. Peter gave guidance on whether stage left or right revealed her best side. I didn’t mind. It gave me time to make myself a pillowcase sling, or try out my Long John Silver hop.

    For the purposes of realism, for the scene in which my character waved his father off to prison, my cheeks were to be pinched (behind the curtain) until I cried.

    That day I believed Martha was punished for her cheek-pinching skills, it would be a whole 2 years and 6 months later before I realised the truth.

  9. Across the Fourth Wall
    206 words

    Aloise twirled the parasol handle with her fingers. She’d picked it up in Le Touquet and thought it added a light elegance to her appearance. The garden was blooming beautifully now summer had arrived and the warmth was delicious alongside the scent of blooming flowers. If only they could do something about M. Crecey next door. Always banging around and constructing things. Crossing the lawn her footsteps crushed the chamomile leaves, adding to the heady aroma. She shouldn’t really walk on the grass, it was so delicate, but it was worth it on a day like this.

    At the fence she glanced casually into M. Crecey’s garden. He was fussing over some large box on a tripod. The man was always fiddling with something. She turned to look at today’s construction. It looked for all the world like a theatre stage.

    Her heart skipped.

    On the stage M. Crecey’s butler lay sprawled in soft flannel clothing. The cloth fell suggestively on his lean, muscular torso and Aloise’s heart beat faster, her breath shortened and the air seemed suddenly thicker. Were she to swoon now, would he leap from his pose, scale the small fence, and catch her?

    The world turned dark, and she fervently hoped so.

    @clivetern

  10. Detour

    ***

    Rasputin scratched at the insect-bites under his coarse linen shirt and scowled at the photographer.

    They’d taken his weapons, clothes, implants and external devices and flung him amidst the byways, as vulnerable to the vortices as some ignorant primitive from an un-contacted world. The Commission had said that he was going to 21st Century Paderborn, but they didn’t tell him about the little detour they’d need him to make on the way.

    They hadn’t told him he’d end up in a 19th Century dungeon cell, lying amidst filth and flea infested straw, posing for the sake of some cretinous aristocrat with a penchant for peasant theatre. His heart had sank when the directive appeared in his mind. He was to be a steward for one Baron Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard, gaining his trust and confidence before receiving further instructions.

    “That’s it Louis! Show me those smouldering eyes! Pout a bit, that’s right, good, good!” said the Baron, scampering about the cell as he moved his camera tripod and threw the cloth cover over his head. Another flash, the scent of burnt phosphorous and saltpetre filled the dank air.

    Bastards.

    After he’d found the traitor, and retrieved his equipment, there’d be hell to pay.

    ***

    @theimaginator20
    205 words

  11. A TRULY GREAT MAN (210 words)

    Stavros was known as the strongest of men. He pulled locomotives with an ox harness over his shoulders and was able to row a longboat full of men across the channel single-handedly.

    But a great man was not merely muscle and bone. A man needed reason. A man needed to understand how the celestial bodies moved across the sky, for navigating travel over great distances and for predicting weather changes to aid in agriculture.

    A vast knowledge of flora and fauna allowed for propagation. Plants could be separated into categories of food, medicine and building components; animals for food or beasts of burden.

    Beyond reason was appreciation. The ability to bring value to things of quality. Music, art, and story telling. Philosophy, psychology and ethics.

    Several men in the land possessed these lofty skills. Skills that, along with extraordinary physical strength, would create the ultimate human specimen. This specimen would be the beginning of a new optimal breed.

    With the help of the authorities, Dr. Franklin Steinway gathered these men. A dozen in all. In the hospital theater he took the parts he needed; the fastest legs, the strongest arms, the most wise brain and the most full heart. He harvested these parts, and constructed a truly great man.

  12. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 200

    Shackled

    Cass’ reflection moved with her, mirroring her hands as they slid her stockings up her legs, the fishnet a linked weave of barriers that formed a prison of her flesh.

    Sadie would cry again tonight when Mam had to work.

    Cass dabbed her eye make-up, forcing the pain back into the depths of a person she once knew but no longer remembered. It was a vacuum, a bottomless hole, and everything she did disappeared into its swirling blackness.

    Except Sadie. Pudgy fingers would pat Cass’ weary face, spotlight stained and riddled with mens’ touch. Sticky lips would kiss Mam’s cheek that lay buried beneath the blush of rouge and powder.

    Cass draped the feathers across her neck, adjusted the cheap crusted jewels in her hair, surveyed herself in the mirror.

    In another life, she would be a shop girl, a lady’s maid, a seamstress, or a housekeeper. Fate laughed behind its cruel hand and bound her in shackles to this life instead.

    Cass took a deep breath and stepped from behind the curtain into the dizzying lights of the burlesque and the approving roars of a multitude of leering men. Sadie was waiting, but pain chained her to the theater.

  13. Discovered
    Word Count: 207
    realmommaramblings@live.com

    I was being watched. I knew it in my marrow. My insides crawled with unease, as if my very cells knew something was going to happen. I should have listened to those instinctive warnings. I was slightly distracted, though, by the Greek god of a man nibbling at my neck. His lips sent chills down my spine, dulling my other senses.

    “Stop it,” I giggled flirtatiously, “we’re missing the movie.”

    “I didn’t come for the movie.” He breathed in my ear.

    I was thankful for the darkness of the theater so he couldn’t see my red-hot cheeks. He pulled away and I immediately felt a shift in the air. I could feel every molecule; time was slowing. I tried to focus my energy. Not here. Not now, in front of this glorious normal creature. I stole a glance over at my date and that’s when I noticed them. Two men in grey suits, looking stiff among all the lax postures of hormone charged teenagers, sitting in the row right behind him.

    “Joran, I have to go to the bathroom.”

    “Hurry back,” he whispered, lightly touching my lips with his thumb, hand cradling my chin. My skin burned with his electric touch.

    I’d probably never see him again.

  14. The theatre of dreams
    @geofflepard 207words

    ‘The doctor will help.’
    I was suspicious. I wasn’t going back.
    ‘Are you sure?’
    ‘You’re not going far without help.’
    ‘I want a blacksmith not a quack.’
    We’d tried three but you could see their fear: ‘murderer’ reflected back at me. Pierre told me they felt safer with me hobbled but the guard would catch us soon if I didn’t lose my manacles.
    ‘He says it will be easy.’
    ‘How much?’
    ‘Money doesn’t matter.’
    ‘No charge.’ The speaker’s voice filled the room with a chill. ‘I can set you free.’
    ‘You a locksmith?’
    ‘I am your hope, Monsieur.’
    ‘Are you frightened, doctor?’
    ‘Are you?’
    I laughed. I’d kill him later for that.
    He took us to his rooms where I inhaled his noxious fumes When I woke my arms were light. Free.
    The doctor was at another table. He said, ‘Take care, sir.’
    I am not patient. I began to stand, to finish him off and go. But as I moved I realised my arms had gone.
    ‘They are here. On my creation.’ On the table I saw a monster, a stitch of parts, my arms lying at its side.
    The monster stirred, flexing its devil fingers. ‘Now Klaus, show our guest how you use your hands.’

  15. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 208

    Ungrapeful Audience

    “What’s he doing?”

    “What do you mean what’s he’s doing?”

    “He’s just lounging there like some god straight from Olympus. Who does he think he is? Thor?”

    “I think he forgot his lines.”

    “No one’s saying anything. This is awkward.”

    “Maybe if I go up there and feed him grapes…”

    “Do it. He might be hungry.”

    *****

    “I don’t understand this show.”

    “You don’t understand two hours of a man lying on a stage saying nothing?”

    “It seems like he should at least talk to a skull or drink poison or something.”

    “You’ve watched too much television.”

    “Television!”

    “Go feed the guy grapes. Honestly, it would probably cheer him up.”

    *****

    “Well, that was a wasted evening.”

    “At least we got a close-up look at the strong arm of the law.”

    “Yeah, I’ll be sore tomorrow.”

    “We went out in a blaze of glory, though.”

    “That’s us. We should make this a thing.”

    “A thing?”

    “Yeah. You know, visit all the plays, force-feed the actors on the stage, get escorted off by security.”

    “The brute who handcuffed you looked hungry. You should have given him the grapes.”
    *****

    (My sincerest apologies. I’m not sure what came over me.)

  16. A not-so silent film
    210 Word
    @plaguedparent

    Rumor was it could talk and Warner’s Theatre was showing one that Saturday.

    “How do they talk,” my little brother Harry wondered.
    “Same way you talk,” I answered.
    “But they’re pictures.”
    “Hurry up knucklehead or we’ll miss it.”

    Dozens of people crushed the theatre entrance. Rudy and Jack ducked under the velvet ropes but ushers chased them away and they ran off into the alley. Harry and I pushed in but after a few minutes the manager announced the matinee was sold out. Everybody groaned.

    “Now what,” Harry asked. Pop gave us each the morning off and a dime so we could see the talking picture but we had to work right after to earn it.

    Rudy waved excited from the alley. “Hey, you guys want in,” he asked. We nodded and crept back to where Jackie was working the door with a jackknife. Behind us someone cleared his throat.

    “What are you boys up to,” a cop asked. We froze.

    Harry held up his dime. The cop smiled, put the coin in his pocket then tapped his billy-club against the door. A man opened the door. “Find my friends a seat,” he said. We offered our dimes but he shook his head saying, “You boys ain’t see nothing yet.”

  17. Princess Marie
    @hollygeely
    206 words

    Mary hired Stan because he was distractingly handsome.

    “Okay, Stan –”

    “My name is no longer Stan. It is Stanton Marcus Banana-Orange the Third.”

    “What…”

    “I need a proper name befitting my new stature as a lord.”

    “You’re not really a lord.”

    “Obviously I know that, I’m getting into the part. Do you see these sleeves? Real silk, real lace!”

    “Can you get fake lace?”

    “Don’t you have a plane to catch?” Stan said, with a dismissive flick of the wrist and an expert toss of his golden hair.

    “Marie’s waiting outside. Don’t mess this up or you’re not getting paid.”

    “I never mess up, oh peasant girl. The world is my theater and this home is my stage. When I speak with Marie’s cousin I shall tell her that Marie was whisked away to become a princess and I shan’t mention your name at all.”

    “I don’t know why Sara never liked me, but she can’t stop us once we’re on the plane. She’ll be home any minute now.”

    “I know. Go on. And don’t worry about paying me; Mary and Marie are my favourite couple.”

    “Thank you, Stan.”

    Stan pursed his lips.

    “Thank you, your lordship Standon Marcus Banana-Orange the Third. My princess awaits.”

  18. A Tale Told By An Idiot

    Yes, all the world’s a theatre writers’ group,
    And all the people in it merely hacks;
    Each has an ending, or an opening line
    But then encounters something that distracts…

    Your neonatal child that mewls and pukes
    Without a nurse to take him in her arms…
    The daily school run for a youngster who
    Regards a day at school devoid of charms…

    Your sighing, smitten teenager who loves
    The checkout girl at Tesco from afar
    And promulgates his passion in a song,
    Whilst punishing an amplified guitar…

    The T.A. sergeant in the flat above,
    Parading up and down in hob-nail boots,
    Employs swear-words that make a trooper blush–
    His temper flares in marital disputes…

    Maybe you have to face a magistrate
    Who sits in judgement of some minor crime–
    Perhaps intoxication at the wheel,
    And you are banned from driving for a time…

    Your feeble Father may now live with you
    And shuffle round the place in moccasins,
    With specs on nose and voice like whistling breeze,
    And old, darned socks that slide down withered shins…

    Then you become the focus of the scene
    That terminates this saga picaresque:
    Your body just a desiccated husk,
    Pen still in hand, and shackled to your desk.

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    Word Count: 205

      • Delicious poem. Loved it especially “this saga picaresque.” not to mention “your body just a desicated husk.” A clear call for all of us to get outside more.

      • Thanks, Holly. As for the title, I’m pretty sure that Mr Shakespeare won’t be suing for plagiarism.

      • denmaniacs4: “A clear call for all of us to get outside more.” Amen to that, my friend!

      • Well, it is a parody of the seven ages of Man monologue from “As You Like It”, and I did need to tie it in with the photo prompt somehow!
        Thanks for the feedback, Marie.

      • Not sure whether it is ironic, really, as this is the first time I’ve submitted to Flash! Friday proper in goodness knows how long; I feel like I’ve been staring at photo prompts waiting for inspiration and feeling my life draining away…
        But, on a cheerier note, thanks for the kind words.

    • I can’t seem to reply to your comment Geoff – it is my first time here for a while too. Can’t wait to read what you came up with for the Flashdogs Anthology 🙂

      • There’s only a limited hierarchy of replies on this site… 😥
        Don’t get too excited about my submissions to the #FlashDogs anthologies – I feel like a football club hoping to avoid the relegation zone in the Premier League!

      • Thanks, Eliza. I’m glad you were able “Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play” on words. 😀

    • I had to look up “picaresque.” Thanks for the new word. BTW, loved your pun about the undertaker with funereal disease. I laughed ’til I was coffin.

  19. Breaking the Fourth Wall
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    205 words

    The play was not political. No piece sponsored by the ancien régime would dare examine the revolution—no liberty, equality, fraternity here—no rabble swelling in the parterre, jeering whenever an actor in silken breeches made an entrance. As though, Le Vicomte thought, they didn’t all want to wear silk.

    Thank God the old rules still applied here. Les Salle des Machines, with all its elaborate sets and machineries, remained a glorious tribute to the monarchs who had sponsored its spectacles. A haven for Royalists. Aristocrats who still dared filled its seats. Blue velvet curtains guarded the private boxes, last bastions of a crumbling social order.

    Fitting, thought Le Vicomte. His only remaining protection was fabric.

    The sans-culottes came during the third act. No one was really surprised. The players froze onstage, all lines forgotten as the fourth wall shattered and the rabble surged up the aisles.

    They shouted and screamed, throwing rocks, wielding daggers. They swarmed over the stage, spreading chaos and terror.

    Wigs tumbled, silken sashes ripped, flesh bruised.

    “Liberté!” shrieked the rabble. “Justice!”

    Le Vicomte darted behind his curtains. He stared at the signet ring on his left hand. His shaking left hand.

    This time he knew there would be no escape.

    • Very evocative piece, EJ. I love “As though… they didn’t all want to wear silk”.
      [ Surely it should be ‘La Salle des Machines’ and ‘who still dared fill its seats? ]

      • HI Geoff, you are right about the article in the French, I think. But the second sentence is meant to be in the past tense, as the rest of the story is also in the past tense. The construction could work either way; in this case the “dared” is modifying the aristocrats, not the verb. They are aristocrats who dared (in general) who filled seats, rather than aristocrats who dared (specifically) to fill seats. = )

      • Sorry, I was reading your story on my very small tablet through my scratched reading glasses. I thought ‘Aristocrats who…’ was a continuation of the previous sentence. (Perhaps ‘Aristocrats, who still dared, filled its seats.’ would make it clearer. 😀 )

    • Like the historical setting to this. The drama of the French Revolution is one that always grabs me. Nice take.

  20. @dizzy_diaries
    193 words

    The Audition

    Auditions are never easy. There are cold readings. And even colder stares from my fellow actors. Actors who look remarkably similar to me. It’s a surreal experience, sometimes, to feel like I am competing against myself for the same part in a show. I suppose in a way I am.

    Getting the part is even more difficult. Doubts creep up and whisper in my ear as I speak my lines. Emoting, if you please. Am I good enough? That’s not the right question. Of course I am good enough. But do I have what the director is looking for? Now that is the question.

    I know I am charming, good looking, I daresay. But will he want me? Does the director want me?

    Memorizing lines, learning the blocking, singing, dancing, choreography… Easy. Compromising my integrity… Well, that’s quite another matter now, isn’t it? How can something that is so expected be so frowned upon?

    There comes a point in time where every man must make a choice. Am I willing to sacrifice my pride to get a part? Ruin my reputation among my peers for a shot at fame?

    Yes. Yes, I am.

  21. Marionette
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    195 words

    It is fortunate that I was born handsome. I shudder sometimes, when the dark of frustration, late in the night, grips me. I remind myself what happens to the désagréable boys. They are sent to the country. They become laborers and their hands are studded with callouses and scars. Their faces are burned by the sun or the forge or ineptitude, their own or someone else’s. My hands are soft, my face unblemished. I am touched by tender hands that shackle me to the position I am desired. If my face was not handsome, I would not be displayed. I would be hidden from sight, free to live a life of obscurity.

    C’est mon destin. It is my destiny. To be displayed, anonymously for others to view. They will see me as a modéle, a subject. We both know that I am his marionette. True freedom belongs to the one who pulls the strings. I will not be allowed to visit the places my image is displayed. It is his conception and he will call it what he desires. And I will be remembered for my beauty and he will be remembered for his skill.

  22. The Biograph Theatre

    She’d been around the block so many times she looked like she lived on a Ferris Wheel.

    “I don’t wanna do this. It’s not in my nature to be a snitch. That’s what he’d call it, right? But I don’t have a choice. They say I’m undesirable and they’re gonna pack me off back to Rumania. Do I LOOK “undesirable?”

    She had a few rough edges on her. Nothing a little tender sandpaper wouldn’t fix.

    “You look fine, Anna. But you’re right, that’s the way it’s shaping up. Unless you give us something of value. Do you have anything to cap a deal?”

    “I got something, Mr Purvis. If he finds out, if you don’t get him, well, he’s a crazy hot head.

    “You help us, we’ll put in a good word with the Department of Labor. That might mean no deportation. It’s your best shot.”

    Anna Sage was scared and scrambling. Her well-used back was to the wall.

    “Okay,” she bent. “Tomorrow night, Johnny, Polly and I are going to the movies. That new Gable film!
    Maybe! Johnny likes to act all Gable, you know. But he’ll fight. He won’t go back to jail. He’s nuts.”

    The deal was sealed. Dillinger was as good as done.

    210 bullets
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca

  23. Ozymandias?
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    199 words

    Once he’d owned horses. He’d had silk breeches, custom boots, and meat every night. Patés and mousses. He’d ruled over tenants, farmers, and peons, as his father had before him, his grandfather before that, in an unbroken patriarchy stretching centuries.

    He had believed he deserved his good life, that his blood bestowed it. That he’d been born better than others.

    He had seen the starving peasants, gaunt-cheeked and hollow-eyed. He had wished that God worked differently, that his own plenty had not forced their lack.

    His sympathy had not saved him.

    They had come. They had put him in fetters at knifepoint.

    Now he waits, the cell shrinking, his memories his only mattress.

    A grim theater plays out daily in the Place de la Révolution just beyond the prison.

    He knows the sound of the gathering audience, the shrieks of the tricoteuses gnashing their knitting needles to incite the spectators.

    He knows the silence when those scheduled to die are brought onto the macabre stage.

    He knows the gutting swoosh of the guillotine blade, the screams that follow.

    They call this mercy.

    He wishes God worked differently, that their liberty did not demand his death.

    His turn is coming.

  24. House Arrest

    He slid the CD, a meal of memories, into the mouth of the plastic device. It accepted his offering with a grinding, mechanical thank you, a sound that became his friend over time, his partner in torment.

    Images leaked from the television, coating the walls and his face with the chaotic light of evacuation. He was a human tree on the couch, rooted in the fabric, sedentary, except for his eyes. They shimmied in their sockets, pulsating blue, as they drank the beauty on the screen and devoured the colorful silhouettes that crawled through the darkness like radiant serpents.

    Over time, he had moved his bed into the basement. And the refrigerator. The microwave. He turned a storage closet into a matchbox bathroom. This theater of solitude became a damp penitentiary of the past. Daily, he slammed the mental bars, turned his key of regret, and did his time.

    Newspapers piled up on the porch like black and white firewood. His lawn grew into a suburban savannah. The mailbox gained weight.

    Richard couldn’t differentiate between dusk or dawn, snow or sunshine. The outside world was as foreign to him as happiness.

    He snatched another CD, stabbed Play. Caged bones and iced soda, their trip to the zoo last summer.

    @Blukris
    208 words
    #FlashDog

  25. Theater of the Mind
    (210 words)

    Men howl with madness and scream in pain but I do not hear them.

    Instead, I hear the birds singing and leaves rustling as the wind caresses tree branches. I hear the laughing of my children and the babbling of the brook near my home. I hear my wife’s sweet voice.

    The squalid dark cells have broken many others. They cry for mercy and beg to see the sun. The cold and dampness keeps them awake at night, until exhaustion robs them of their senses.

    If only they knew that in the darkness, the cells could melt away. Once your eyes are closed, a new realm opens for those with sight. I can see the sun and smell the salt water of the ocean on the cool breeze. I can feel the sand beneath my feet and waves lapping at my ankles as I stroll to end of my imagination. There are no walls in my mind and the cells cease to exist.

    Many in this prison have lost their wits and succumbed to darkest realms of humanity. They have forgotten they are men, becoming twisted and tormented souls awaiting release from this miserable existence.

    But not me, the theater in my mind is the thing that keeps me sane.

  26. Might We Return To Where Our Heart Belongs

    I smell dust. The kind that has settled into red velvet curtains and shimmers like fairy dust under the gelled lights.
    I hear ocean waves crash against the shore.
    Only that’s not quite right.
    It’s the sound of applause ebbing and flowing in rhythm with blood, with my heartbeat.
    I see the stage and my heart beat picks up, the applause hums faster.
    I run hands (so newly smooth!) across the smooth wooden floorboards of the stage.
    He enters stage left. Such a familiar action. Shows off his best side.
    Him, him, him, replaces the applause in my pulse.
    He looks as he did at the peak of his career. Just after we fell in love.
    “Gracie, come up here,” he says reaching out a hand in the spotlight.
    I glide over to the side stairs and climb to the stage.
    I hear echoes and see flashes of faces. Sequins flash in memory and I hear a time step that will start the orchestra.
    We meet in the middle of the stage and he is real, real, real.
    We are wearing the costumes from our first show together. I fix the loops of his tie, as I always did before.
    “I’m home.”
    He smiles and we begin to dance.

    209 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  27. Method to my madness

    They clip the shackles shut with a thunk. I grab the producer, “How long does this play run for?”
    “6 months, maybe longer if ticket sales meet target. With a big name such as yourself it could run for years! Can I also say how impressed I am with your conviction to this role, no pun intended!”

    He’s out of reach, so I can’t punch him. I grit my teeth, “Method acting is a serious business. Could you track down my agent, I think he’s around here somewhere.”

    The producer wanders off, no doubt to find the craft services cart. After what feels like a life sentence my agent appears, holding a plate of delicious treats. He leans down and says, “Looks like someone’s been a bad boy…”
    “Not funny Tim. I thought we discussed that you wouldn’t accept any roles without talking to me first!”

    Tim nods slowly, “That’s true, but I temporarily forgot about that when I heard the rumour you were looking to sign a new agent.”
    “What? Don’t be ridiculous, I would never do that to you…”
    He takes a bite of a large juicy donut, “And I would never sign you up for a play about a convict on hunger strike. Enjoy getting into character!”

    210 words
    @todayschapter

  28. Broken
    (210 words)

    “No warden, you have not broken me. You may shackle me, beat me or bugger me. But you will never break me.” Henry stood up and walked up to the bars that held him like a caged animal. He grabbed on with bruised knuckles and glared at the warden for a moment.

    “No, wait, I’m sorry, I’m just not comfortable with this concept of being buggered.”

    Groans echoed from the darkness beyond the cell as the warden stood there shaking his head.

    “I mean really, buggery; don’t you find that kind of repulsive? Don’t you think that behaviour casts the penal system in a bad light? I know it’s not a palace or grand hotel, but shouldn’t there be a bit of civility in here.”

    “This is a supposed to be a prison,” the warden began to protest.

    “Well of course I know it is,” Henry retorted. “You think I haven’t noticed the bars I’m holding onto. I’m just asking if we can replace buggery with something else. Could we use a torture rack instead? Being whipped or flayed alive are also good alternatives. Oh, and then there’s………..”

    “Damn it Henry, just read the line the way it was written!” an angry voice shouted from the darkness. “Lights, camera, action!”

      • Thank you stephellis, I hesitated before posting it, I’m glad you see the humor in it!

    • I laughed out loud at the ending (which was bad because it’s late and my house echoes 🙂 ) I’ve known some actors like this! Great job!

    • You Brits and “buggery.” I have never understood how you use that word. I have a feeling I may not want to. Good story though. Clear condemnation of the penal system.

      • Yikes. Just looked it up. I guess subconsciously I meant “condomnation of the penile system.”

  29. And The Crowd Goes Wild
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    208 words

    I’ve chased her my whole life. I’ve played Romeo to her Juliet, the stage my sun. I’ve screamed Stella at the top of my lungs, Phantoms of desire spurring me on. I’ve Don Juaned my way through this theater, a Casanova to all, seducing my way into her heart.

    Or so I thought.

    I’ve cast seductive glances, sardonic stares. I’ve raised eyebrows in all the right places, let tears fall when the role demanded it, yet still she refuses me. She teases, playing hard to get, night after night, audience after audience.

    I’m Marc Antony, Lancelot, Tristan, Paris. What more does she want? What more can I give? My love for her is constant, yet she taunts me, her fickleness evident in every performance, ever changing, ever elusive.

    I’m Rhett, Rochester, Heathcliff, Darcy. I’m every lover that ever was and ever shall be. And yet never have I attained her.

    I’m reduced to this.

    A final effort, the last hurrah in my life-long quest. I have donned fifty shades of gray. I have entered this Red Room. I have manacled myself to woo her, to win her–that always-coveted, never-achieved standing ovation.

    Is it enough? Will it get me that encore?

    Call me Christian. Just call for me. Please.

  30. Sic semper tyrannis

    There is no honour in the stage. I strut and stroll, bury my trivial being into whichever role has been assigned. Pretense! All pretense!

    Out there, there is the real play. Life. Actors; a long line of pretenders.

    That day when I saw John Brown, imperious fighter, abolitionist, man of God, hung, deservedly, facing his maker with such courage.

    The hole is bored. I see in. His every move tonight under my murderous gaze. Do I dare? Do the scales seem fair?

    Dear Lucy, I carry your sweet image next to my heart. You are the gravest price I will pay. My lost flower, my intended, will you even understand?

    I cannot abide jail. Those few days on incarceration in ’63, have they prepared me for that possibility? No, I cannot accept that fate. Give me liberty or…can I face THAT possibility?

    Can I kill the man? The head must be chopped off. Lee’s head has been severed. The south is in shambles. Balance must be restored.

    The hole is bored. I will be there. I will peer in. He will be so smug, having squashed the south, full of himself.

    And then, as the play wanes, I step into the box.

    A bullet to his head!

    209 assassins
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    a second shot

  31. title: The Stagehand
    words: 209
    @RTayaket
    #flashdogs

    I got a job. It wasn’t a role, but at least I wouldn’t go another month on dollar noodles. They said “starving artist” like a subculture – I didn’t realize that I’d actually be starving. I walked into the theater, dressed in stagehand black (though mine was more faded gray) and saw two people on stage. One had papers in hand – the director. The other was a handsome guy, dressed in rags but clearly an actor. A pompous one. He was yelling that he was doing the director a favor; that his “notoriety on the thespian scene,” was worth more than the whole production. The director looked like he was going to argue. But he saw me and sighed instead. “Come up here, man. Anton, lie down, we’ll talk about payment later.” Anton lay down in a box and I put the prop shackles around his wrists. “Only a thousand a week to lie on the floor… “Anton grumbled.

    Months of rehearsal passed. Anton complained daily.

    ***

    Opening night I lay on the floor in the box, wrists shackled. I could see the director’s look of shock as the curtain rose.

    At the end of the show, the director eyed me curiously. “See you tomorrow,” he said, writing me a check.

  32. The Fantasy Play

    Daniel steps into the auditorium, the deafening sounds of music and voices washing over his ears like a tsunami. The ceiling stretches above him, as tall as a cathedral’s. Three rows of plastic seats with red fabric cushions march from the back wall to the stage. The lights dim. Music and conversations die as thick velvet curtains sweep apart to reveal a wooden floor. His eyes are glued to the stage like a starving man stares at food. The audience’s anticipation crackles in the air like a storm cloud about to burst. Then, just as the first actors appear on the stage, the vivid picture blurs as if someone were removing a pair of glasses. A curtain of blackness descends upon the theater.

    Daniel’s eyes snap open. The scene has changed. Stone walls and barred doors surround him and a layer of old, prickly straw lies beneath him. His heart drops. Each breath of the musty air cascades through him with an icy touch. The rope binding his hands bites like a viper, and rough, frayed clothing scratches his skin. He’s still in prison. Sighing, Daniel closes his eyes again; at least he’s free in his dreams.

    197 Words

  33. Theatre of Love
    @voimaoy
    210 words

    You cast me as a prisoner of love. Your eyes wrap me in chains.

    Your lips seduce me, speak the words that keep me here. What is this magic? I must surrender. All my rhymes and sonnets, all for your eyes only.

    And for you, I would gladly play any part, become the love you never had, the one who did not betray you, the true love strong and sure forever, as certain as gravity and rain.

    For you, I would become the sun, the flowers that follow the sun, the fruit of the flowers, the juice running down.

    Then, you cast me in a different light. You wanted a stranger, a villain, a dark mirror. Now, in the evening hours, we count our bones and losses. We are shadows dancing to candles. We are the last of the sherry in the glasses.

    And in these rooms, these voluptuous rooms, the world becomes a dream. This theatre of the mind is where we play our parts. Let the show begin. How many nights and days of lines we know by heart?

    Would that I could leave you, to walk free in the fresh air. To walk down the street and marvel at the sky, to watch the people passing by.

  34. Silent Awakening
    @agardana09
    206 Words

    Excitement bubbled inside her belly as her fingertips trailed along the velvet seat. It was worn, a telling sign of many tales told. It may even be the exact seat she sat in when she first saw this silent film many, many, years ago.

    Agnes had been about ten, then. Going to the theater had been a privilege that her father bestowed only when she had behaved her best. She remembered how her hand felt in his larger one as they crossed the street to the shining lights of the movies. The bulbs had dimmed in the years; the painting had chipped as well. Her father had passed away decades prior.

    Agnes had read of the re-release of A Heart’s Love in the newspaper – the most interesting thing she had read in the papers in over a decade. Her own heart had raced just from the two lines of text because she easily recalled his face, his laugh, his Hollywood smirk. The actor on screen that had taught her exactly what a man could do to a girl’s pulse.

    In that moment many, many, years ago, Agnes had learned what attraction meant.

    The lights dimmed. Agnes held onto the velvet seat and fell in love, again.

  35. @firdausp
    Light and sound
    207 words

    Marble floor tiles. I keep staring at one trying hard to keep the tears inside. Marble tiles-marble! They suck me back several years.

    Her hand feels soft in mine. I can see she’s been enjoying the light and sound show. The silhouette of the white marble Taj Mahal in the background just adds to the romantic mood I’m in.
    As the play comes to an end, I catch her wiping away tears. She giggles in embarrasment.
    “I love you,” I whisper. She smiles, her eyes pools of dark night skies.
    “How much?”
    “Trick question!” I laugh.
    “This guy built the Taj for his wife. What will you do?”
    “I’ll build a Taj inside my heart!”
    “Clever boy!” She taps my nose and laughs, and I feel my breath catch at her beauty.

    Marble floor tiles…
    “It’s time.” The nurse looks solemnly at me.
    We walk to her room. And there she is surrounded by machines and tubes. A steady beep the only sound. Light and sound show.
    A prisoner of her own body- I’ve been selfish. It’s time to set her free. She’ll stay in the Taj Mahal of my heart forever.
    I take her hand and nod. The doctor flicks the switch.
    The show ends.

  36. An Audience at Bedlam

    The audience is here early today. They stand behind the bars of the stage, jostling for the best view of my one-man show.

    “He’s not doing much of anything, is he?”
    “Is he always like this?”
    “I thought he was going to be violent.”
    “I paid good money for a show, not to watch some dandy lie on a floor.”
    “Why is he in chains if he’s not doing anything?”

    I stare past them to where I know the corridor is leading to a world outside this theatre of madness.

    “Do you ever let them out?”
    “Not by the smell, haha!”
    “How long has he been in here?”
    “He looks familiar.”
    “Like that other man in that play”

    Ah, a fan. Maybe they’ll remember me when they hear my voice. Or perhaps they have at least some breeding and will appreciate talent.

    “To be, or not to be,” I start. My voice scratches, obscuring some words. “Whether ‘tis Nobler in the mind -”

    “My word! They actually trained the creature to recite the Bard!” The audience cackles and points.

    “-to suffer-”

    Some of the audience trails on to watch the other shows. They came to see animals, after all. Entertainment. Not broken people. Not someone they could become.

    Words: 208
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com

  37. Brother Computer’s Final Final Show
    (215 words)
    Mark Morris

    The view-screen’s display broke up into a scramble of static for a moment, Brother Computer’s voice-over continuing flawlessly until it steadied.

    “Trueman and Hayzi woke early this morning.” The picture switched over to show the show’s two remaining house-mates making themselves breakfast. The camera zoomed in close, the screen capturing both of their faces but keeping a view of the ever-present show timer counting down behind them.

    “Hayzi thought she’d make herself ready for the show finale tonight;” the time-code skipped ahead three hours, the coverage focusing only on the woman this time. It showed her unpacking three completely different outfits from her case, trying each on in turn, eventually choosing elements of both the second and the third and finally topping it off with the ‘signature’ sunglasses generously loaned to her by the show’s production company, MoltoCon.

    The live feed switched over again, this time showing the paddock beyond the compound surrounding the show’s ‘house’ set. “As you can see, the crowd is even bigger this week;” the camera zoomed out, panning across the hordes of the dying and already undead, the plague having run through the assembled public in less than half the day they’d been kept waiting for the winner’s announcement. “The house-mates just won’t believe the reception they’re going to receive.”

    • Trying again – over did the word count before!

      Brother Computer’s Final Final Show
      (209 words)
      Mark Morris

      The view-screen’s display broke up into a scramble of static for a moment, Brother Computer’s voice-over continuing flawlessly until it steadied.

      “Trueman and Hayzi woke early this morning.” The picture switched over to show the show’s two remaining house-mates making breakfast. The camera zoomed in, capturing both faces but keeping a view of the ever-present show timer counting down behind them.

      “Hayzi thought she’d make herself ready for the show finale tonight;” the time-code skipped ahead three hours, the coverage now focusing only on the woman. It showed her unpacking three completely different outfits from her case, trying each on in turn, eventually choosing elements of both the second and the third and finally topping it off with the ‘signature’ sunglasses generously loaned to her by the show’s production company, MoltoCon.

      The live feed switched over again, this time showing the paddock beyond the compound surrounding the show’s ‘house’ set. “As you can see, the crowd is even bigger this week;” the camera zoomed out, panning across the hordes of the dying and already undead, the zombie plague having run through the assembled public in less than half the day they’d been kept waiting for the winner’s announcement. “The house-mates just won’t believe the reception they’re going to receive.”

      • So it’s his ‘Final, final, final’ show then! Great twist at the end. Scary to think that people could shut themselves away like that and not know what’s going on in the world around them – and then to be greeted by mindless hordes; hang on, I think you’ve drawn a pretty good analogy for today’s society here. 🙂

      • I’m afraid I’ve watched rather too many series of Big Brother. (I gave up when it moved to Channel 5.) I originally watched it as a student of human behaviour but saw it become a medium of manipulation for the people outside the house. And then it became rather silly…

      • I agree with Steph. I also can’t believe the production company is so blasé about it 🙂 Nice twist!

      • Maybe the production company – and most the rest of the world – have come down with the zombie virus too. Maybe the housemates are the only two in the area unaffected…

  38. The Final Bow
    @VedBrown
    (207 words)

    The stage is set. The lights adjusted. A heavy velvet curtain is drawn and lying in sumptuous bundles on the floor. This is my night. I would finally be the star, the headliner. Every eye would fall on me and every newspaper would carry my picture.

    I glance at the clock. Twenty minutes to show-time. People scurry back and forth, headsets glued to their ears and mouths. Actors gurgle water and sing to themselves in brightly lit mirrors.

    Scampering up the rigging to the hanging castle-gate intended for Act Two, I tie a heavy rope around a protruding spike. My hands tremble as I pull two pairs of handcuffs from my pocket and secure one of them around my ankles. Adrenaline and fear sprint through my veins, leaving me lightheaded and fidgety.

    A few actors have lined up below. Stars ready to shine.

    I slip my head through the loop at the end of the rope and square my shoulders with the audience. I can hear their voices now, filling the place with laughter and expectation.

    The cuffs bite into my wrists as I close the steel around them.

    Act Two will be a memorable one.

    Swallowing, I take a final bow, then step off the rigging.

    By Valerie Brown

  39. Curtain Call

    208 words

    @el_Stevie
    #Flashdog

    Dust motes danced lazily in the sunlight. Its feeble rays piercing rotten beams and fallen rafters, a spotlight without a star on which to focus. Richard stirred, tossing aside the remnants of what had once been the stage curtain. His body ached from a night spent on bare floorboards, his makeshift straw mattress – a relic from props – doing little to ease his discomfort.

    His mind wandered back to his glory days.

    Who are you kidding?

    He had performed in Macbeth.

    As a tree in Birnam Wood.

    His interpretation had been second to none.

    You were plastered.

    Richard’s hand automatically reached for the bottle. Alcohol had become his ball and chain, imprisoning him in an act without end.

    An old playbill, yellow and torn curled down the mould-ridden wall. Only the title was still legible, Othello; hadn’t he been cast as Cassio once?

    That should have been his big break but drunken celebrations had led to disgrace. He would have been perfect he thought, looking sadly at the now empty bottle. Even today, he could still recall his lines:

    O thou invisible spirit of wine! If thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!

    No more. It was time to bring down the curtain.

  40. Restaurant Theatre
    210 words
    @talithaarise

    Patatinos! Gather to me!” Grandiose gestures peppered his speech.

    “The photo for this scene, it must be magnifico! We will dredge masses from their scrambled existences into the picante life of Louie Cariglio! This poster, she will be the antipasto. Come.” He minced to stage left.

    “Props! Jail scene! Here! Now!” Covert smiles washed the crew. Stagehands anticipated directives.

    “Careful, idiota! That vase is worth more than you! Those chains! Wrap them! Il pomo, it must look real!” Black clothing mixed and swirled the scene.

    “Stop! Louie! Your eyes must be magnetic! Your face will be Chianti Riserva. Like mystery itself!”

    The actor’s attempt was cesium in water.

    “No! Not Prosecco! We want tirimisu. Again.”

    This time was a la Facebook teenager. Subtle smirks braised stagehand faces.

    Oi, mio! This is cannoli! Come. Like salame al cioccolato. Layers upon layers in one look.”

    A third try landed at petulant toddler. Nudging and nods sprinkled the stage.

    “No! Not Italian Ice! Italian Caffe! I cannot work with you. No mystery, no enigma! Tell mi sorella, Conosco i miei polli. Either you go, or I!” The Director cleaved through his crew. “Louie” looked beaten.

    A voice echoed from the sound booth. “Don’t worry, caro. Theatre is his pane e vino. He’ll return.”

      • Thanks, ladies! Still felt some awkwardness in the phrasing. Keep hoping the day has come that it doesn’t take me half a day (or more) to draft so I can edit more, but that day is not yet. 🙂 Until then, I’ll just keep plugging along!

  41. Foy S. Iver
    @fs_iver
    WC: 209

    A Boy in His Time Plays Many Parts

    Cliff says we shouldn’t stay in one place for too long.

    “Unpredictability is survival. We keep moving.”

    I don’t want to leave this place. To him, it’s a carcass: paper-flesh peeling from brick-bone; soot like ashes shrouding crumbled plaster; velvet chairs laced with webs even spiders have abandoned. To me, it’s a sanctuary.

    Middle School was my first. I plunged my soul into As You Like It, an oak against a paint and wood Forest of Arden. If the world had waited to self-destruct I would’ve been an actor, every day a new face, a new time, a new history awaiting me.

    Cliff’s voice cuts through. He’s standing on the fallen curtain, its noble purple a deathly gray.

    “Follow my orders and no one has to end up like Harris.”

    Harris. She’d been our shepherdess, soothing the bite of a hardened leader, until 2 days ago when we’d found her home. It was a tangle of exposed piping and cracked support beams. She was digging for her parents when a Golla took his shot.

    “And keep up or eat shrapnel.” Cliff slings his pack over his chest. Tired, the others stand. Defiance swells in mine. I won’t be his Dodier anymore.

    Once again, I plant my feet center stage.

  42. Meladrama

    “Hope you’re comfortable, Dodier,” Molard sneers.

    “Actually, I’m not. This ball and chain weigh a ton.” Dodier strains against the restraint, unable to shift it at all. He huffs, “And the cuffs are too tight.”

    Molard snorts, “Next, I suppose you’ll be complaining about the quality of the food I’m giving you.”

    “Now that you mention it, I do prefer brie cheese to swiss, and the water tasted a bit stale.”

    “Well, too bad. You’re a horrible prisoner, you know.” Molard stomps across the cell. “You’ll remain here until the ransom is paid.”

    “Might be a touch difficult,” Dodier slumps to the floor, chains clattering.

    “Why is that?”

    “You never sent a ransom demand.”

    Molard dashes off a note and throws it out the window. “Yes, I have. So, until I get what I want, you are here to stay.”

    “And what would that be?”

    “A purple spotted hippogriff.”

    Dodier rubs his chin, “We only have blue ones. Will that do?”

    “Oh, yes. That would be ever so lovely.”

    “If you’ll unlock me, I’ll get you one immediately.”

    “Sounds good,” Molard releases Dodier’s shackles.

    “Martin. Thomas. Time for bed.”

    Groaning, the two boys set the puppets down and close the toy stage. “Yes, mom.”

    (word count: 204)

  43. @stellakateT
    210 words

    Playing the Game

    Not sure how she persuaded me to repair and paint the scenery for the next production. She loved amateur dramatics including the director Peter Maynard. I thought he was a bit OTT but he made her smile.

    “The theatre of life is what you should be watching, you’re a prisoner addicted to those video games, you never see daylight, you’ll stunt your growth,” grumbled my Auntie Cyn. I loved her like nothing else but I’d never show it.

    When Dad was sent down she’d stepped in. I knew he was in prison but she maintained he was just away like a rich man on vacation. Not sure what he’d done but I liked to think he was a cat burglar. I’d forgotten he was a burly heavyweight more likely to commit bodily harm than mastermind a daring hoist.

    The brooding eyes of the prisoner bored down into the audience. Peter had said it was a master stroke of mine projecting the photo onto the backdrop. Auntie Cyn had to agree I’d learnt something playing those computer games.

    The play was a turkey; Auntie Cyn had a tiny part but hammed it up well, she got a standing ovation. One day I’d write a play that would make her famous.

  44. Mr and Mrs Maybe

    The light is already low as Carter moves forward towards the rows of seats. The red velvet curtain is still in place before the screen. “Hey,” he says, as he settles into place, crumpling the ticket into his pocket.

    “Hello,” the lady to his right responds.

    “Don’t you love that they kept it?” Carter asks.

    “The curtain?” his neighbour asks, head turning; shadow playing across her indistinct features.
    “That too,” Carter says. “No. I meant the feel of the place. Though some of that’s in the details, I guess. You’re local? So you know, right? How it was?” The response is a shrug, as the woman looks towards the front again. “Couple of minutes,” he says, checking his watch. “It’ll be ten past.” He leans back against the balding fabric. “Hope you enjoy it,” he adds, looking towards her briefly.

    Silence falls upon the pair as they occupy the darkness together. The light dims again, as the curtain pulls to one side to display the screen behind it, illuminating the auditorium, before the credits begin to reel across.

    Carter smiles briefly. “You never did see how it ended. Maybe next time.” The seat next to him is empty – cold to the touch of his fingers as they tease the cushioning.

    (210 words)
    @FallIntoFiction

  45. Title: Role Playing
    Words: 207
    @RTayaket
    #flashdogs

    “Well slap my bottom and call me Sally! If it ain’t the sheriff’s dog, Mr. Jackson in chains! I done seen it all!” Tommy said, slapping his leg and guffawing at his own perceived cleverness. His goonies followed suit. Tommy kneeled down in front of me. I could taste the alcohol exuding from his body. “You got yourself in a real pickle here, chained up in the box. You ain’t nothing special, dog!” He spat and I felt his brandied saliva roll down my cheek. His goonies laughed again and they into the saloon. I could already hear bottles smashing and raucousness ensue. That was Tommy’s way.

    I stood and removed the chains from my wrists. We’d borrowed them from the children’s theater at the schoolhouse. We hadn’t had real chains at the outdoor stocks for months, but Tommy wouldn’t notice. He’d only see my public disgrace. We knew how he’d react from there.

    Sheriff Wilson approached. “You ok, kid?” he asked. “You’re quite the actor, I don’t think I’d’ve been able to take it if he’d spat at me. You gottem real riled up. We’ll be able to arrest em all for good this time. Well done, deputy,” he said proudly, handing me spit-shined deputy badge.

    • “I could taste the alcohol exuding from his body.” “I felt his brandied saliva roll down his cheek” SO gross…but a perfect way to describe how inebriated he was. Well done.

  46. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    209 words

    A Theatrical Affair

    Ellie was in trouble. She felt the pang as the clock struck 9 p.m. It kicked at her chest and whipped like wildfire through her skin. Traitor. Harlot. Fiend. She’d heard it all before. Those eccentric whispering tones as her neighbours slunk to their curtained windows to watch her escape.

    Now, she heard it again. She whipped around, caught sight of the rustling sleeves, the flash of pink curlers. Mabel on the prowl.

    She slipped into the Golden Triangle Theatre, sighing with relief as her body sunk into the cushioned comfort of seat 55A. She’d once made a generous donation to the theatre, and now, she’d claimed a seat.

    Ellie was a regular. One of those frequent audience members obsessed with live action and the stage. She was a slave to her memories. Of the times she pranced and sang in school plays. That little girl danced in and out of her vision. A graceful, willowy blonde with a beaming face. What had become of her?

    She glanced at the guests. A small boy in the seat near hers. Children. Home. Robbie and Heather. Their names and faces blurred in the shadows. Perhaps she should–

    A fresh song tickled her ears. Entranced, she turned her attention to the stage.

  47. The Prisoner (209 words)

    The curtain fell as thunderous applause echoed around the old theater. The actors trotted off stage left towards the dressing rooms, leaving the director and his protégé.
    “David, that was amazing! How’d you manage to find someone so convincing for Alec?”
    The director turned to the student, recognizing the look of awe from his own internship days.
    “Well, Peter, sometimes to find the right actor for a role, you have to find someone who’s not an actor at all.” David strode toward the mobile prison unit that stage hands had wheeled off stage for the ensemble’s curtain call.
    “E-excuse me,” Peter called as he trailed behind. “How do you mean? Where did you find him, then?”
    David froze at center stage, staring into the empty shadows beyond. “Wait, where’d he go?”
    “Who?”
    “Alec! The prisoner! He was just here…” The director gestured wildly at the now vacant space where Alec had been – or appeared to be – chained. The set of antique chains made the distinct sound of plastic striking plastic when he picked them up. “Oh, dear. That’s not right.”
    They stared at each other. “He escaped?”
    “So it would seem.”
    “Do you think we can slip out?”
    “My thoughts exact-” David’s pale green eyes widened. “Alec, no!”
    Scene!

    Sara Tranum
    @sara_tranum
    https://themomwhoruns.wordpress.com

  48. “The Fourth Wall”
    by Michael Seese
    204 words

    Samantha overcooked the eggs. Again. She also burned the toast. But she knew Jonathan wouldn’t be angry. He probably wouldn’t say a word. He could no longer be bothered to recite his lines. She, too, had grown weary of intoning the same stilted, dated dialogue, night after night.

    For years, Samantha and Jonathan followed the script.

    Dutifully.

    Get married. Buy a house in Middle Generica. Have a child. Have another. Daycare. Play dates. Chuck-E-Cheese. Skinned knees. Soccer. Ballet. Acne. First heartbreak. Driving lessons. Acceptance letters. Graduation. Freshman orientation. Student loans. A $150,000 scrap of paper, times two.

    After the children began inking their own stories, the leads’ lives lost their direction. They played each night to an empty house. A change in scenery, downsizing, could not disguise the inescapable fact that their production, despite a great run, would soon be closing.

    Prisoners in their own lives, Samantha and Jonathan continued to go through the motions, trying to flesh out their once-robust, now two-dimensional, roles. But after so many stagings, all of the drama – the ad-libbing – had been wrung from their performances. The only question left in Samantha’s mind was when the curtain would fall.

    And which of them would be the first to exeunt.

  49. CAUTION: Fame and Fortune may be Hazardous to your Health
    199 words
    personalvapes@gmail.com

    AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

    ‘They’ say screaming is cathartic. That you have to just let all that negative energy out into the universe, lest that bottled stress cause you severe mental anguish.

    Bah!

    ‘They’ need to take a long walk off a short plank.

    After all, nothing says ‘I’m a normal, healthy human being’ like bellowing all your stress, all your frustration, and all your agony out in one long, throat-tearing howl of agony. Or several short ones, if you’re unable to sustain one long, glorious burst.

    In the ‘real’ world, this behavior gets you a short trip to an over-stuffed room, filled with soft objects, numbing drugs, and orderlies in crisp, white uniforms who assist you into a leather jacket with buckles in the back.

    And give you a metal basin to poop in…carefully supervised, of course.

    But in the theatre world – an explosion on opening night, in front of an audience comprised of people who paid upwards of a grand a seat to be amused, enthralled, and convinced to completely forget reality for the length of the show (as promised by the adverts) by the wildly billed Diva of divas doesn’t get you a straightjacket.

    They gave me chains.

  50. MY LIFE IS A PLAY (AND I WANT MY MONEY BACK)

    Brian S Creek
    207 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    “The fat lady has sung. The curtain has closed. My dazzling career is all but over.”

    Clear signs of depression.

    “I used to be a star, you know. My name was always in lights and people would beg to get a ticket to one of my shows. I was Broadway.”

    Egotistical tendencies.

    “I suppose I knew it was coming. We can’t be stars forever, can we? But I burned so very bright. Perhaps I could have been the brightest.”

    Patient seems locked in delusional state.

    “I would have liked to go out on top. I realise that now. Do that one big show that shook the world. The performance that was never forgotten. But I got carried away and faded out like a has been instead. Now I’m stuck doing shows like this.”

    Patient seems to have created an elaborate backstory to fill in for the recent marital and financial loss he has suffered.

    “I thought it would all be okay if I got the old team back together. Winston as my director. Carrie as my leading lady. Do you think there’s still time for once last performance?”

    I recommend that patient’s meds are upped and that they remain separated from general population until signs of improvement.

  51. Matinee of Torment at the Theater of Lamech
    207 words, @pmcolt

    “We lit up Tinseltown onscreen and off.” Humphrey hefted the body over the bridge railing. A blood-covered hand wiped a tear from bloodshot eyes. “Alas, you were the better acting talent. I never suspected.” His wife’s paramour, that B-movie ham, made his final splash in Hollywood moments later.

    As Humphrey drove back to town, the theater marquee caught his eye: a matinee of their final movie together. One ticket. One popcorn. One soda. As the lights dimmed, Humphrey’s pupils widened. His murdered Delilah loomed larger than life on the silver screen. He knew the words by heart — his and hers — but something was amiss. This soundtrack was too ominous for a romance.

    Humphrey gripped his armrest and watched in horror as his character crept down a hallway. “This wasn’t in the script,” Humphrey muttered. A woman in the audience shot him an icy glare. His heartbeat raced like the soundtrack. The bedroom door creaked open. Within, telltale giggles turned to shrieks. In extreme close-up, Delilah’s face closed in around Humphrey, pleading for her life.

    “Don’t do it, Humphrey!” Popcorn flew at the screen. A brutal murder scene flashed in his eyes. “No!” Delilah’s anguished screams resounded throughout the theater — but why did the audience stare at him?

  52. Poutier as a Prisoner
    206 words, @amcbradley1

    “Think Dickens. Think Viva la Revolucion! Think Freddie Mercury.”

    “Those are wildly different things,” I say. My tone is lost on Vincent. He fans himself with one thick-palmed hand. His sweat-ringed purple and pineapple shirt is a betrayal to humankind.

    “Let’s start over. Your first line: How low I have fallen …”

    I intone after him. How low, indeed.

    “Passion, love, more passion!”

    “How low I have fallen!” I say. I finish my lines then shift uncomfortably on the hay. I swear they trucked it in from the local barn – fleas, pig reek and all.

    “Aidan, my love. I know you are not accustomed to live theatre, but you must make your expressions louder. The stage demands this of us, far more than the screen.” He thumps his ample chest.

    I take a moment to breathe. I return myself to my safe place – the retreat in Big Sur, Swami Allison’s gentle voice, lotus pose. When I open my eyes, Vincent is still there, but I am calm. I repeat my lines and they are brilliant. I have made manna from sop.

    “Poutier.”

    “That’s not a word,” I say.

    “Fine. More pout,” Vincent says.

    I frown. I am never, ever listening to my agent again.

  53. 203 words
    @betsystreeter

    The Descendant

    Marta hefts her father’s overstuffed leather case onto the table and slides out a sheaf of papers.

    “Juan Martiño Calderon. That is your name, correct?”

    “My associates call me Juan.”

    “Mister Calderon, we will continue your questioning from the point when proceedings were – interrupted. Understood?” Marta regrets her thin, small voice. Her toes squirm in secondhand pumps.

    “Yes ma’am.” He smiles. Predatory teeth, condescending eyes.

    Human breath thickens the courtroom air, bodies stuffed into every inch of space. The judge slumps atop the bench, a toad in a robe propping his large head on a couple fingers.

    “Very well, then.” Marta holds aloft an evidence bag containing a revolver. “We both know this weapon bears your prints.”

    The gallery convulses in gasps and shrieks. This little girl is signing her own death sentence.

    Mr. Calderon leans forward in the witness chair and hisses. “This – is not what we discussed…”

    “This is no longer a play, a performance,” Marta says. “This is a court of law. A good man lost his life defending you, and you let it happen, and now you shall stand for your crimes.”

    Marta knows everything. Her father made sure of that. The revolver clunks onto the table.

  54. Mrs. Allan
    (207 words)

    “Is Papa angry?”

    “Sh-h.”

    Mrs. Allan reached for her powder.

    “Mum, no…”

    “You know they all wear it,” she said.

    “What will Papa say?”

    “Hush.”

    She lifted his chin.

    Something wasn’t right.

    Mrs. Allan’s look of intense concentration, her finger resting on her lower lip, startled the boy from his shyness. Her absorption worked in his own grey eye a steady, quieting influence.

    “I know,” said Mrs. Allan. “I know what it is.”

    She tied the lace with deft fingers. The fabric was old, wrinkled and faded. But it had been her father’s favorite. Small for his age and almost too thin, the elegance of a generation past looked charmingly peculiar added to her adopted son’s otherwise plain ensemble, knotted as his throat.

    “Are you ready?” asked Mrs. Allan with a quiet smile.

    The boy hesitated.

    “You don’t—you don’t mind?”

    “Oh Eddie.” She kissed him softly. “Mind? How could I? Elizabeth Poe was a brilliant actress, and you share her blood—but you are my son, my Eddie. Give them your best. That’s all I ask. You will, won’t you? We could use a little more imagination in this house. Why not start on stage? Now. There. Let’s show them what Edgar Allan is made of.”

  55. Inspiration
    Word Count: 210

    The air of opening night always tastes like blood— my blood. No matter the play, no matter the audience, it’s always red blood.

    The theatre is filling up quickly and loudly, noble lords and ladies from all across the country have come to see our troupe’s first performance of “The Duke of Colborn.” For a play about an all-black-clad madman locking up and eating people in his cellar, the powdered ladies seem very excited to see it.

    I just wish our troupe leader didn’t take so much inspiration from it. My bruises from my last botched rehearsal still haven’t healed over. At least my costume will cover them up. He saunters near us behind the curtain, ever-smiling, ever dressed in red— even in all black.

    “Are you ready, my band of harlequins?” our leader bellows. “Are you ready to put on your demon faces and weave nightmares with your graces?”

    The older amongst us agree like cultists, low and groveling.

    The younger, myself included, can barely hide whimpers.

    He looks at me with butcher’s eyes. It’s the look he saves for his “favourites.” He will be portraying the Duke tonight. And I will be portraying his first victim.

    The crowd is going deathly silent now. The red curtain is rising.

  56. The Performance
    @FictionAsLife
    199 words

    It felt like Alex was always performing.
    Performing for an audience, crooning his saxophone. The audience that knew his music always came back for more.
    Performing for his daughter, who needed constant entertainment. “Play with me, Daddy!” was the eternal refrain.
    Performing for his wife, who thought his tax business was legitimate. This was the toughest performance for Alex, and the most important. His business gave them the money to fund her lavish spending habits. It gave them money to send home, so his parents could afford school fees for his three younger siblings. It was money to improve his village, to bring it to American standards.
    His contacts gave him word of the raid before it happened. The cops appeared at his house where his wife and daughter slept.
    “He’s at a gig,” she told them. “He’ll be home tomorrow.”
    But he wasn’t home tomorrow, or the next day. He wasn’t ready for that performance. The props were on the set, but the show waited for its main actor.
    Finally, he stepped out onto the stage. “Not guilty” was all he said. Two words to encapsulate his performing career.
    Sooner or later, Alex would have to stop performing.

  57. DESPERATION
    WC = 197 (06-12-15)

    Everyman:
    “Quarried from local pits by locals. Built in times of unforgotten debts and past inequities. Housed by the ribs of rejection and sternal breakdown. Limestone piled upon limestone, clammy reminders of long past ingratitude, and marked with the chisel pocks and chips of the incarcerated. Weak with the weight of thatch turned by time, and petrified into a pyramidal cap, an apex of man’s development. Only a partially used chimney to remind one of a more vigorous life. A memory of unfettered fire, that warmth dampened by repetitive thoughts.

    “A chill outcropping jaggedly floors this jail of ages. No warmth to creep in from solar streams. Only the wind of rejection, winnowing about the gray chamber, cooling its inhabitant unmercifully. And causing flesh to change to its inorganic cold cousin: stone.

    “Droppings viscously trickle through an open slot, high upon the stone wall, unreachable; yet the blue patch of life beyond the boulders affords minimal hope as it takes flight. And like sailing, floating stones, clouds occlude the transom.

    “Circulation and love surely exist beyond this congested rock frame. The fine for imprisonment insurmountable. Only hope exists, encapsulated, awaiting self-release.

    “A sad heart.”

    ——— Curtain ————

  58. “Prisoners”
    by Michael Seese
    209 words

    Darkness fears light. For light is inquisitive. Insistent. Indefatigable.

    I often wonder what I could have done to merit incarceration, though, in reality, I recognize my ruminations are merely an exercise in philosophical esoterica.

    Cogito ergo inimīcus.

    I think, therefore I am the enemy.

    My crime?

    I told the truth.

    The Bard opined, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

    Unfortunately, fools erroneously believe the boards upon which they tread were harvested from the Tree Of Knowledge, and their lines were scripted from pens divine.

    Theater Of The Absurd, at its finest.

    Lamentably, the truth is welcomed only begrudgingly, and embraced only at arm’s length. Indeed, it is regarded with suspicion, a slippery, slithering inconvenience. We all know how mankind views snakes. As an inherent evil, one which should be vilified, feared, and driven from Éire.

    So, here I sit, in solitary confinement, waiting while the powers-that-be search for a jury of my peers.

    I am reason.

    Thus, I rot, locked away by a human stain which fears the light of truth. Still, I cannot remain idle. I must find a way to escape.

    For if I were to stay here, how long would it be before I share my cell with hope?

  59. Lucky Break
    206 words, @pmcolt

    “Our revels now are ended. These our actors… um… are melted into air.”

    A flubbed line, but the show must go on. Not that these orange-jumpsuited brutes could appreciate Shakespeare. Empty eyes, emptier heads stare blankly — to them, Miranda is a warning, not a woman.

    Long ago, Hamlet Jack and his bloody beheadings struck terror along Route 81. But that was a drugged-up lifetime ago… and seven consecutive life sentences to go. Now theater is my opiate; I am more grizzled sorcerer Prospero than brash young Ferdinand. Prison cafeteria performances break the ceaseless monotony of boredom in the yard and beatings in the shower. “And our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

    In the back row, a heckler offends a rival gang. Heated words erupt into a tempestuous brawl as guards rush in, nightsticks raised. Nearby, one guard takes a chair to the head. Crouched by his lifeless form, I take his keys in my hand. “Most strange, beautiful fortune.” Freedom is but a concrete corridor and a locked door away.

    “As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let your indulgence set me free.” I take a final deep bow amidst the cacophony. Hamlet Jack exits this tiny stage, making his return to the Globe.

    • Nicely done. I like that you incorporated lines from the Tempest throughout the piece. You can feel the MC’s dances between the edges of sanity and insanity.

  60. Much Ado About Something

    The only light flickers from the end of a burning torch. The musty smell hangs heavily in the air, and other smells, deathly smells, rank and dark smells, creep forward from the shadows.

    “All because my Beatrice was really Claudio in disguise,” he says, on his side, then leans on his elbow. His sunken cheeks expose teeth now too large for the gaunt leftovers of the once superb playwright. He sucks at the end of a small femur as though willing a banquet forth, absently fingers the holes in the knees of his trousers, before he tugs on his cravat.

    “They arrested me for indecency, beat me for sodomy, seized everything, and, now, here I wait…” Disheveled, too long hair falls over fiery blue eyes dulled by the state of things.

    “Because I dared them to imagine that Benedict preferred Claudio rather than Beatrice.” His shoulders slump bearing weight unrelated to the metal cuffs biting his wrists. The chains chime like little bells, ironically joyful in the woeful conditions of the prison.

    “They starve me until I long for the rats to come near enough to capture– all for the escapades and secret longings of obstinate characters on a page.”

    200 Words
    @msbbrumley

  61. Upstaged
    203 words
    @rowdy_phantom
    #flashdogs

    I was loved here. Backstage, among my thespian family, a surrogate for the one that rejected me.

    So, I came back. Despite the rain falling through the gaps in the roof, damping down the drapes. Despite the shadows skulking the wings and the aisles.

    I was loved here, briefly. Under the stage lights. In the space between intermission and curtain call.

    So, I’ve come back. Despite my audience being nothing more than the dispassionate drizzle. I strut over groaning planks. The shadows glower.

    I came back here, the place where I pantomimed being a prisoner. Now, I have first hand experience, but reality doesn’t ingratiate an actor to his audience. They don’t want the real. They want the illusion of reality—a version of reality that they can fall in love with. Even if for a moment.

    They fell in love with me here. But there was nothing to love of the real criminal, the subversive artist that would corrupt the young and disrupt the peace–a version of peace the authorities could sell the adoring audience. It turns out they were the more adept performers. We never stood a chance.

    I’m here again, a prisoner of a lost love.

  62. THE SINGING GHOST by E.F. Olsson

    The auditorium of the Fort Theatre was in complete darkness except for the red lights of two fire exits. Dana’s final job before locking the building up was to vacuum the lobby. It was only her third show working there but she enjoyed it – the pay was low but so was the demand.

    The motor of the vacuum roared as she neared the staircase to the second level boxes. The vacuum sounded different. There was music and singing with it. Dana clicked off the vacuum – a woman’s voice faded away. She turned the vacuum on again and again there was singing. This time she could hear the words as if she was at the show.

    “He only had himself to blame,” sang out from the empty theater.

    Dana stepped into the dark auditorium. It was silent again. “Hello?” She muttered.

    The fire alarm system blared out. Dana jolted then ran to the lobby exit. Before the fire department arrived, her manager was there.

    “During our adaptation of ‘Chicago’, during the song ‘Cell Block Tango’, there was a fire. Some of the cast didn’t make it out. I was fortunate. But since then, this replay happens. And because of it, we can’t keep custodians.”

    Dana smiled and handed him her key.

    210 words
    @EFOlsson

  63. A Jug of Wine
    198 Words
    @mishmeh
    #FlashDogs

    Trish pulled into the parking space and studied the building for a moment before pulling out her recorder.

    “Hunter’s Moon Paranormal Tours, Site 213: Century Theater, Nokesville Virginia.”

    “Phase-One. Walk through…” She added as she unlocked the door and let herself inside.

    She paused and consulted her notes. Ghosts had been reported in the Basement, and the mezzanine level bath room. She was about to decide on the bathroom when she heard a faint groan and the sound of rustling chains from the basement.

    “This could be it,” she said in a hushed, excited tone.

    She followed the sound down into the theater’s basement and found herself facing a man lounging against the wall, a jug of wine beside him and a ‘come-hither smile’ on his face.

    She shook her head, more than willing to ‘go-hence’ than move any closer.

    She quickly pulled out her phone and called her boss. When no one picked up she left a hurried message. “213, confirmed haunted,” she said as she quickly exited the building.

    “Visual contact,” she added as she ran for her car.

    In the basement, Evan, the tipsy stage manager slumped back down and fell asleep.

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