Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 29

WELCOME!!!!! Well, we’ve arrived: the first half of Year Three’s over; today we’ve got uber sparkly guest judges (can you stand it??); and next week we kick the contest itself into high gear AND do so under the clever (if moderately ill-behaved) auspices of our newest dragon captain judges. So far this year we’ve seen the launch of the Dragon Emporium, two maniacal rounds of Flash Dash (watch for another sizzling race in July!), loads of Spotlight interviews with publishers, editors, and writers of all shapes and sizes (including brand new and seasoned novelists from our own community). We’ve given away money, magical FF mugs, a professional edit, and a ton of free books. WHAT A YEAR SO FAR!!!! 

Last week the flash fiction community also saw the publication of the #FlashDogs’ dual-volume Solstice: Light / Solstice: Dark anthologies featuring a whole horde of you; tomorrow, I’m pleased as dragonpunch to remind you, features the publication of Emily June Street’s The Gantean.

Too much excitement; may we take a nap now, please? you ask.

HECK NO! We’re just getting started. It’s been a fabulous Year Three so far, thanks to you fabulous writers spilling your dreams here every week; I can’t wait to see where y’all take us next.   


Luminous Creatures_logo_blue_smallAND NOW PLEASE WELCOME TO THE JUDGES’ DAIS the exquisite and fantastically talented team behind Luminous Creatures Press: Beth Deitchman and Emily June Street. LCP’s own very exciting Summer of Super Short Stories is starting up July 2: be sure to join them for that. Read more about Beth, Emily, and LCP here. And how to win their judgy hearts? Here they are in their own words: 

We like stories that follow an arc, that have characters, settings, conflicts, and resolutions. We want to be shown, not told. We like imagery, but with word economy, a tight rather than an embellished writing style, and we need narrative tension. We especially like stories that have depth. Give us some layers to think about and we’ll reward you.


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: character. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, a writer must be a central to your story — not required to be the protagonist): 



(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon. Studio promotional still photo 1936, public domain.

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon. Studio promotional still photo 1936, public domain.

485 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 29

  1. Let Me Sleep, he pleaded
    (209 words)

    I was terrified as he was when he emerged from the wall beside my desk. He looked as if he would like to crawl back into the plaster.

    “I realize I’ve been writing all night,” I said, running a hand over my hair. “But you needn’t look horrified.”

    “Please. I’m exhausted,” Lord Brandon Pettigrew pleaded. “Can’t you just write ‘He rolled over and fell asleep’.”

    “Women don’t want to read about men falling asleep. Men falling asleep is why they read romance novels.”

    “I’m begging you. Just let me rest.”

    He did look rather pale, and the circles under his dark brooding eyes were rather alarming. For a dedicated rake of thirty, he looked peckish. I realized he hadn’t dined for thirty pages or so. And he had been rather active. Riding horses, tossing Arabella over his broad shoulder. Ravishing her.

    Ravishing her again.

    And again.

    Oh dear. Perhaps my hero had a point. He did need some recuperating time.

    Perhaps I should stop writing for the night. It was, what? Three a.m.

    My poor husband was peacefully dozing for hours. Accountants keep earlier hours than rakish aristocrats in romantic novels.

    “All right,” I told Lord Pettigrew.

    “He fell asleep,” I typed, watching him vanish back into my wall.


  2. Josh Bertetta
    “The Monster”
    210 Words

    He knew it was coming and there was no way getting around it. The monster stood before him, in the middle of the room, front and center, glaring at him and baring its big white teeth.

    How it grew so big George hadn’t the faintest idea and much as there was no way getting around it, there was no getting away from it. It was there, waiting for him, licking its chops.

    He was doomed and, having nowhere to run, cursed himself for telling his wife to lock the door from the outside. George had sealed his own tomb and now those childhood nightmares keeping him awake most nights had come alive.

    Then he remembered: he hadn’t slept in days. George rubbed his eyes and prayed to God it was just a hallucination. But nothing changed, nothing at all.

    “Is this what you want!?” George ripped open his shirt, bared his heart. “Take it, rip it outta me! You stole it from me years ago. It’s blackened now. Take it, it’s yours!”

    It was okay; George was tired. He’d been through more than most. And most of it wasn’t pretty.

    No, George told himself. No, I won’t go out like this.

    He took to his chair to complete his memoir.


  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 194

    Two Roads Diverged Beneath a Pen

    Two sides cloak every character. My beggar is a prince, and my cleric is a thief.

    Two roads spread before every character. My stalwart knight flees when he means to press on. My silver-tongued hero balks on alliteration.

    Where is the control I had wielded when I’d first picked up the pen? I’d imagined the world waiting with bated breath, eager to glimpse my masterpieces. The shelves would empty as fast as I could stock them. The bookstore lines would stretch for blocks, the Hollywood producers would shadow my doorstep.

    My hero backs against a wall, his sword lost, his courage gone. One road holds climax, falling action, resolution. The other, a box without sides, floor, or lid.

    “Make your choice,” I demand, eyeing the first road hopefully.

    My hero grips his destiny, perverse creature, wishing to wield the words onto my page while I watch, a helpless bystander. He breathes life into himself, and I am but the tool, the fingers to stroke the words into being.

    My pen hovers, waiting. I wonder which path he’ll take.

    He shrugs away from the wall, choosing one road, while his shadow takes the other.


  4. Heroine

    (207 Words)

    “But where do the ideas come from?”

    It was a warm summer evening, sticky, stifling, but his aching limbs were somehow relieved by the lulling intensity of heat. He was tired. Very tired. And it was such an old question.


    She was looking at him with wide eyes.

    He never could resist those eyes.

    “What did you say?”

    “I don’t know what to write,” she said. “I want to write, but I—I don’t have any ideas.”

    He leaned back in his chair.

    “They come to you, ideas. This porch. That tree. There’s a story in all of it. But you can’t look for it. It’ll find you. It’s like love, sweetie, I guess. You can’t force it. When it hits, you’ll wonder why you worried at all.”


    She hesitated.

    He lifted his head.


    “But you write—about aliens and dinosaurs and the moon and—it’s not real life.”

    “Oh isn’t it? And the moon isn’t real?”


    He softly laughed.

    “Oh it’s real,” he said. “Or don’t you recognize Missy Zed. Savior of the Blue Planet?”

    The girl rolled her eyes. She studied her shoes.

    “I’m not like that,” she said.

    “You are like that every day,” he said. “My perfect little heroine.”


  5. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 200
    Title: “Kill Your Darlings”

    Claire didn’t dare speak as she watched Simon read the last chapter. She sipped some wine, hoping the warmth would make her less sensitive to the taut atmosphere between them. It didn’t. He flipped a page, banging his knuckles on the tablecloth. Claire flinched.

    “Why?” Simon said at last, shoving the pile of pages across the void, narrowly missing the candle in the middle.

    “I-I had to,” said Claire, her voice cowering under his icy blue stare.

    “Twenty-three books, Ms. Patterson. Twenty-three. And in every single one, Simon Parks escapes danger, gets the girl, and rides off into the sunset.”

    Claire moved her lips to speak, but nothing came out.

    “I’m your hero, Claire. What’s going on?”

    “I got bored,” Claire mumbled.

    Simon frowned. “What?”

    “You-you always win. Always. Back against the wall, you always find a way out. It’s… not interesting anymore.”

    “It’s made you a lot of money.”

    “You haven’t done too badly either, Simon.”

    “I want to live.” Simon’s words were resolute, but with an unstable edge. “I want to see book twenty-five.”

    “No.” Claire’s voice found strength. “Not this time. It’s time for me to kill my darlings.”

    Simon drew his gun.

    “Not this time. Darling.”


  6. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 198


    “Next.” My foot prickles and a cramp laces my calf. My stomach has gurgled for the last fifteen minutes, and I’d ruined the last audition when a loud rumble had interrupted an intimate kissing scene. I turn to Kenny. “Who do we have?”

    “John Wayne, sir.”

    I don’t blink.

    The John Wayne?”

    “No, sir. The John Wayne is dead.” The kid doesn’t bat an eyelash.

    I sigh and signal for the non John Wayne to enter and then drop my notebook. A grizzled, elderly gentleman shuffles into the room, his cowboy boots hidden beneath the chaps that cover his jeans. He tips a cowboy hat as he grins at me. “Howdy.”

    “Er, hello.” I fumble with the notebook, clear my throat, glance at Kenny. “Can you tell us a little about yourself? Why do you think you’re qualified to play the part of Shakespeare?”

    Confusion lights the man’s eyes. “Shakespeare?”

    “Yes.” I tap my pen on my recovered notebook. “You are auditioning for the part of the great writer, Shakespeare.”

    The man blushes, actually blushes. He scuffs the floor, his chaps swinging with the motion.

    “I thought you needed a rider.”


  7. Tendencies (210 words)

    Frank had a tendency to pull his hair out. He did that by the fist-full of grey, letting the clumps float to the ground for the cat.

    Frank stayed indoors under the comfort of shadows. There was one lamp inside his house and he had gnawed away at the chord. There were no mirrors anymore since his once immaculate black hair had gone grey. The cat, too, stayed away from Frank. It had learned its lesson long ago, when Frank started with its hair.

    The empty walls around his studio apartment were bombarded with fist-shaped holes, sometimes head-shaped holes and dried blood. It was a funhouse of descent; the descent everyone goes
    through in maturation, but for Frank, nothing lock-stepped with “everyone.”

    He had once been something, the kinda something spoken of in past tense because it’s hard to
    hold on to, especially when you had Frank’s tendencies. His anger held the strings directing his performance.

    Blinking through his darkness was the cursor, awaiting Frank’s version of distilled madness to pour onto its canvas, like something that’d dizzy Pollock.

    So, his veins settled and his brain rested in less-turbulent cerebrospinal fluid flows, Frank wrote. He wrote until the black lines put enough slack on the strings for him to sleep.


  8. Typewriter Gathering Dust

    “Dash, something’s gonna give. You can’t keep this up.”

    “Ease up, Lil. I’m just split milk. HUAC just knocked me over like I was an old commie cow.
    Maybe that’s all I am. A knocked over old communist bovine. I just can’t get up again.”

    “Will you listen to yourself?”

    “I stopped listening years ago. I don’t listen; I don’t write. Hell, I can barely fart.”

    “You can still find enough hard-boiled egg in you to be crude. That should keep your heart pumping for a while.”

    “Aw fuck, Lillian. I can hardly breathe. I …can’t…get…any…air…in…to…my…lungs. I have to sit an hour to get the strength to walk to the can.”

    “And there’s so much clutter, I’m sure you’d trip before you made it. This has got to end.”

    “What, Lil. I should give up the ghost? I already have. I wake up every morning and I almost convince myself that there is a spark of something there. But it doesn’t last. After a couple of drinks, and no ideas, I let it go.”

    “We are a disparate pair, aren’t we Dash? We gave it all we had. You certainly did. You can’t stay here. God help me but you need a nurse. I’m afraid that’s me.”

    210 Maltese Falcons


    • “What, Lil. I should give up the ghost? I already have. I wake up every morning and I almost convince myself that there is a spark of something there. But it doesn’t last. After a couple of drinks, and no ideas, I let it go.” There’s something a little heartbreaking in that paragraph. Well done!


      • Alex Raymond drew the original Flash Gordon. Around the same time, he and Hamment created Secret Agent X9…if the connection was missing for anyone. Anyway, Hamment got the flu and TB at the end of WW 1. His subsequent hard drinking, smoking and time served in jail for his political activity did him in. Sad and “heartbreaking.”

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The Writer’s Muse
    (210 words)

    Great characters make great stories. Boring ones need a mercy killing. I wanted to strangle my boring leading man myself. He put me to sleep.

    “Beloved lady of the feathered quill, awaken to your hearts desire. Let me lead you to a fairy tale place of enchantment, where sparkling gold writers dust awaits to bless your mind with transcendent prose. From the tip of your quill will flow creatures, the likes of which imagination cannot fathom. Awaken to write sonnets that make the Bronte sisters weep and Shakespeare cringe in abject humiliation. Awake my beloved to write my story.”

    The black drug flows to my brain, sparking a tsunami of synapses firing up neurons of creativity. I must have my fix of ink. Without it the mundane overtakes and routine taunts like a devil-dance of ordinariness. To write or not to write isn’t even the question.

    I open my eyes. His image seared in my memory – those eyes, that chest. I write.

    “Looming out of the mist on the moors, a dark figure oozing danger rides. Brooding eyes hiding more misery than his soul can stand gaze at the village below. Woe to those who stand between him and the object of his desire. He thunders down the mountain.”


  10. The Artiste
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    209 words

    You want to become a writer? Don’t. Listen with your head, not your deceiving heart. They say everyone has a story to tell, but the story is easy, it’s the telling. Its hell I tell you, hell. No one understands what I must go through for my art.

    The endless scratching of pens and the acrid smell of ink. The tap, tap, tap of the infernal typewriter and the annoying optimistic and cheerful ‘ting’ at the end of a line. Doesn’t it understand that every word on the page is like a drop of my precious blood forever lost. I can’t take any more I tell you.

    The words, the words, they torture me. Anachronistic meanings, archaic spellings and tortuous grammar. I see them in my sleep vying for attention, chastising me for a lack of application and slovenly ways.

    Revision and editing is death by a thousand cuts. Each remaining phrase opening me up for a whiplash of possible criticism or the cool balm of praise. How am I to know? I pick through them like a beggar at a feast looking for the juicy morsels and discarding the gnawed bones.

    What is to become of me?

    Sorry? The shirt? Vivian Westwood, darling. I do have some standards.


  11. The Little Things
    A.J. Walker

    Ashley sat in front of the tent patiently separating the accumulated detritus of the day before into “paper”, “cans”, “glass” and “miscellaneous”.

    Jocasta looked at him accusingly.

    ‘It’s awful what we are doing.’

    Ashley nodded understanding. He could feel the day was going to be a long one.

    ‘Ash, Ash I love you but we’ve only a matter of weeks to save the earth.’

    ‘I know love, but we can do our bit though.’ He looked guiltily at the miscellaneous pile.

    ‘It’s too little though!’

    Ashley looked down, he hated it when she talked of little things.

    Several tents away the journalist was listening, desperate for story ideas as the forecast festival mud bath had fizzled away like a Glastonbury rumour.

    He couldn’t work out where the conversation was coming from as sound takes strange paths to tents.

    The noise of the compressors heralded the cleaning of the toilets, sounding like a space rocket landing outside his tent and when he unzipped the flap he came face to face with Ming the Merciless – who staggered off whilst apologisimg profusely for trying the wrong tent.

    Later that morning he found his story when he tripped over Jocasta’s strangled body in the “miscellaneous” pile.

    Ashley tweeted “Best fest ever!”

    (208 words)


  12. Evil Twin


    203 words


    I wipe the spittle from my mouth and the crusting sleep from my eyes. I know he’s there. Watching. Waiting. Mocking.

    He is the commas. The stuttered pauses. The rat-a-tat-tat of the delete key sounding like gunfire.

    I face my evil twin. I know I can do this. Others say I am foolish to listen to him. I know I am ill prepared to confront him.

    He is the walls of missing writing degrees. The face of establishment. The fear of rejection. The fear of success. The crushing marathon ahead of me, when I can only manage shaky steps in a lush green park.

    In my war, dedication is my only weapon against such a foe. Therefore, I steal time from those that deserve better. What sort of man have I become?

    He laughs at the ticking deadlines and wistful word-counts. He gathers the dust of my neglect.

    Others say that I am a strong. A leader of words. A creative hero.

    He sees me with my doubting eyes, unkempt hair and roughened clothing. He knows I am a fraud, a hero that never was.

    In my peripheral vision, I see others face their own evil twins and I realise I am not alone.


    • Writing is definitely a lonely world though we are not alone in our struggles and trials. We each face our evil twins. I feel the sorrow of those who wait for me to finish, hoping for a little time, but there’s always more to write. Always deadlines to meet. Love your piece.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What a great theme this week. I like hearing other writers take on writing. I, too, have walls missing writing degrees. That’s ok though. More room for the cat poster saying “Hang in there.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Closure. (208 words)

    Scott was magnificent. Ripped, as the young say. Nothing like his skinny and dissolute father, where ever he might be. He’d re-appeared just once, years back, to see if he could tap the wealth of his famous son. But Scott would have none of it. I’d never been so proud. Until now.

    ‘Here’s some sweet tea, you want anything else, just call.’



    ‘No, mom.’

    ‘Some more biscuits?’

    ‘Mom, no more biscuits, or cake, I’m fine, ok?’

    The irritation in his voice hurt, but it was the defeat in his face that tore my heart out.

    ‘Sorry, Mom. For everything.’

    I sat beside him on the bed and took his hand. I could barely feel him squeeze in return, fingers boney, skin as slack as my own. There wasn’t anything more to say. Perhaps I would have judged, disapproved. And of course, I should have known. Should have guessed. Too busy working on my manuscripts to notice or care. I was as good as his no-good Dad.

    Then he smiled. And I recognized that smile, it shone down from every movie poster, every photo. He was still with me.

    ‘Hey Mom, read me some of your latest …’

    We both understood.

    I began the final chapter.


  14. Re-writes
    203 words

    The call echoed from the set and Paul hung his head.
    The door crashed open and the runner said. “Director wants more action in scenes three, five, six, and nine.”
    Paul swore, and ripped the sheet of paper from his typewriter. The machine, a Quiet De Luxe, dinged in protest as if bemoaning the pulp lines being pounded through it, when it could have been sat on a sun-washed table in Cuba with Hemingway’s bleeding prose pouring out.
    The re-writes took four hours and the set was quiet when Paul finished. He dropped the altered scenes on the directors desk, and headed to the bar.
    He was sipping his second whisky sour when the runner appeared.
    “C’mon!” Paul said.
    “Director said five and six are fine. But three and nine need to be better, and ready for the morning.”
    Paul took an eighth of scotch back with him. He stared at the keys. Time after time the director, or actors, demanded changes until the film’s heart was ripped out, replaced by tawdry action, or mawkish sentiment.
    “Damn them,” he muttered.
    He put a fresh sheet in the typewriter, tabbed to the center and wrote, ‘Nine Lives, by Paul Varjak’.



  15. Pages Ltd.
    205 words

    The next shift of Writers files into the hall in silence. The changeover has to be flawless, no breaks in narrative: too risky. Blips mean more subplot, a flash, perhaps, to erase any insight into reality that might have been glimpsed.
    The Customers, or Characters as they are referred to by The Company, mostly want to be flawed heroes. But you can be what you pay for.

    The Writers synchronise; they must join the brain feed at precisely the correct point on the arc.

    The heroes are being pummelled. The only fight they ever win is the last. The Characters must believe they have everything to lose. They must be half broken to rise again and triumph.
    The villains are always on the rise. Their pleasure constantly increasing towards climax. They have more sex, more booze, more fun, and they pay to win.

    The exchange is complete. The next shift is in place.
    But Writer 5 has blocked.
    Red. Red. Red.
    His thoughts are flustered.
    Danger. Danger. Danger.
    He tries to revive The Character- the kiss of life- but the plot is too far gone.
    The Character killed off: The Customer dead.
    Wife to be notified and sent the censored, signed copy of hardback Book 570k.


  16. Unforeseen

    It’s there, in my mind, like a weed. This was too easy.

    She’s never left the cage unlocked before. Not even for her cigarette breaks, or to eat – though she doesn’t eat much, now. But this morning she rose from her desk, mid-sentence, a ribbon of smoke rising from her ashtray, and left the room.

    My cage stood open.

    I ran, of course. Who wouldn’t? It’s not that she mistreats me, but captivity is a torment. I’m a free spirit. I’m –

    Oh, Zeus. She’s coming! It’s been so long since I was loose that I can’t remember where I am, or where to go. I must hide! But she keeps me in rags, barefoot, and anyway I may not leave this dwelling. Separated from her, I will die. Is that irony? I should know.

    Every writer needs a Muse, and I am hers, soul-bound. She doesn’t need to cage me, but she can’t trust me to stay.

    I reach a dead end. I turn, desperate, but she is behind me.

    There you are,’ she croons. ‘Enjoy your run? Had to get your blood up, somehow. You’ve really been underperforming lately.’ Her smile is a sudden blade.

    Ah, me. My fatal flaw? Plot twists have long been my undoing.

    209 words


    • Wonderful take, SJ! Sometimes I wish it were as simple as locking up my muse. Mine seems quite clever at picking the lock. 😉


    • This initially had me thinking of a sort of inverse Misery before I realised it was the muse. The phrase ‘can’t trust me to stay’ is so true.


    • I love this – just brilliant. I engaged with this story immediately and its characters.
      I was intrigued by the narrow line between muse and slave. This wicked writer controls her muse and while she can’t trust it to stay, she trusts it will return. I guess the muse is, in reality, the writer’s alter ego. 🙂


    • As a wanna-be writer I’ve always thought of my muse as a “something” I’m trying to make a life long friend. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to convince “it” that I’m worthy to hang out with. Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard and it will see that I’m actually a really nice guy.


      • Well, just don’t try to lock it in a cage, that’s all I’m sayin’. 🙂 Putting some words on a page is usually enough to entice your muse to come and take a look at what you’re up to! Good luck with the work.


    • ‘Had to get your blood up, somehow.’ On a course I was on, the tutor was keen to encourage all writers to exercise. Never thought I could just get the muse to do the running for me! Love the plot twist and that imagery: ‘a sudden blade.’


  17. In A World, Far, Far Away…. (209)

    Fingers danced a poetic tango over the keyboard, putting into clumsy words the light, ephemeral world view depiction of the mind’s eye. Sultry, mesmerising sunsets did no justice to the slowly fading colours as day turned to dusk, then to night. Clear sky darkening, dramatically changing colours, from bittersweet shades of red through navy blue as sunlight scattered through the atmosphere and faded, down below the horizon and then chased by a fleet of stars which dared the watcher to pick out constellations. Smooth. Clear waters, stretching out, mirrored jealously the sunset’s practised transition until all that could be seen were the lights of the small pleasure craft chugging back to port. The fire crackled energetically behind and a gentle breeze brought with it the unmistakable aroma of burning wood and cooking food. Turning, friends welcomed back the dreamer with a cold beer and a smile. Chef called out and everyone gathered chatting, eager eyes on the plethora of food on the grill, smoke spiralling up, eddying and dissipating a barely conceivable promise of affable conviviality….

    Angela gazed wistfully out of the tenement window as a squally wind battered the pain with sleet as the trees swayed dramatically, below. Her flash story ready, she wondered what Gordon would think…?


  18. The Duty of the Writer
    (206 words)
    This will be the last time he kills, Stephen promised, typing away. Too many deaths in one novel were unrealistic. Too many victims made one careless.

    A real monster knows his limits when murder ceases to be art.

    So far, the psychotic killer Pierre had established a pattern for choosing victims. He liked to prey on solitary people, up late at night. He was drawn like a moth to the lights of rooms, to climb up fire escapes or find open windows. His desire to make darkness fueled him on, that mindless passion to extinguish the one bright square of light in a dark building.

    Stephen glanced at his curtains blowing in the breeze. He was tempted to go and stand on his tiny balcony, to cool for a moment the fever of blood-lust in his brain.

    He’d been killing all night, although the only thing bleeding was words on a page. They still made a mess.

    Pierre was getting overconfident. He would have to die.

    He concentrated on the fatal mistake Pierre would make.

    He’d choose the wrong victim, someone as mad as himself.

    “I would never be so stupid,” said the man stepping through the window.

    Stephen drew his gun and fired.



    Brian S Creek
    206 words

    “Please,” he said, “please don’t.”

    I sighed. My son had the same look on his face the day his mother told him why I was packing a suitcase. “It’s out of my control, Roy,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

    “All the adventures we’ve had together. How can you give in so easily?”

    I stood up and walked over to the office window. I thought that if I looked away from him he might go away. But he didn’t.

    “How many times have I saved the Earth?” he said. “How many?”

    “Including the pilot?” I replied, doing a quick sum in my head. “Thirty-five.”

    “Thirty-five. That’s thirty-five times I have fought off alien invaders, or creatures from another dimension, and saved planet Earth from total annihilation. Who’s going to watch over mankind if I’m gone?”

    “The kids aren’t interested anymore, Roy. They don’t remember Buck Rogers, or Flash Gordon, or Dan Dare, and now no one’s talking about Roy Rocket. The studio are axing the series and I’m being moved onto another show.”

    “I get why people would lose interest in those phonies, but I’m better than them. I’m real.”

    I turned around and looked him in the eye. “No, Roy. You’re not.”

    And then I was alone.


  20. WAX ON, WAX OFF (238 words)

    “Gordon, come on. Get over here. We’re almost finished. One more pec to go.”

    “No! Get away from me! This really hurts, goddamn it!”

    “Come on buddy ol’ pal, you can handle this. You’re an actor. Act like a man.”

    “You didn’t tell me you’d be holding me down and pouring this hot goop all over me! My chest is on fire! It’s not natural to have all your goddamn hair ripped off your body. If God made men that way, so be it! We used to be monkeys, after all! We’re supposed to have fur!”

    “Um, Gordy, you’re confusing your origin of man theories, and, well monkey’s have hair not fur. Now get over here, we’re almost done. Then we’ll shoot the ad and you can go back to swinging in the trees with Eve, ok?”

    “If you come one more step closer I’m going to have my people sue the hair, or fur, or whatever, right off your asses! I’m warnin’ ya!”

    “Right, ok, sweetheart. We’re done. Wardrobe? Get this man his clothes. He’s going home. Let him walk around with half a hairy chest. We’ll have the writers work these shots into the ad by showing how painful our competitor’s hair removal products are. Now let’s get Gary Cooper in here. He’ll do anything for a buck.”


  21. @AvLaidlaw
    208 words

    Ming the Merciless

    The boy was called John. He never caused any real trouble in class, he didn’t talk back or get into fights, he just sat and swung his legs back and forwards because he was too short for the chair. His shirt hung out of the waistband of his shorts. There was a spot of jam on the side of his mouth and I wanted to take a hankie and wipe it off.

    “You were supposed to write about your holidays,” I said.

    “I did.”

    “If you saw a film, you should write about going to the cinema. Things that actually happened.”

    “It did.”

    I sighed. “At least you wrote something. But try harder next time.”

    I told him he could go but to tie his shoelaces before he tripped up. Then I looked at the exercise books on my desk, the odd misspellings it took ages to decipher, the report cards and the project plans… Flash Gordon. I remembered watching those model rockets so obviously on strings, but when you were a kid in the dark of the cinema…

    “Did you really save the Earth from Ming the Merciless?” I asked him.

    He nodded.

    “And you kissed Dale Arden?”

    “Yes. But I didn’t like that part as much.”


  22. Codex


    208 words


    I blew the smoke from my blunderbuss and readied chamber with gunpowder and buckshot, prepared to shoot the injured daemon should it rise.

    It did not.

    I jumped on to my steam-powered bike. Fired the engine–it gave a satisfied hiss as the wheels engaged with the cobblestones and the primitive power unleashed.

    I rode through Byzantium, skimming the lurid fabrics, their dyes dripping to the floor making my steam-bike skid.

    Then I stopped as I saw her.


    I am a maker of monsters. A creator of people. A conjurer of worlds.

    I am a writer of code.

    It was good to play my game instead of staring at the code.

    My screen is my codex. My keyboard, my lunarium. My mouse, my pippin.

    I eek out my time.

    Dad waits at home, with glazed eyes, dishevelled hair and shirt undone. He hasn’t worked since she passed away. I’ve been torn between living my life and caring for him.

    I have started to wonder if he is beyond saving.

    But Mum lives on. I paint her face on a passing character. Code fruit-stalls in the colours she loved. Write messages beneath the objects the players can’t reach.

    The machine is my codex and I am the scribe.


  23. Writers Block

    Another dead end. The lifeless grey wall taunts me, blocking my path with unwavering conviction. I know from experience there is no pushing through it. I was sure I was on the right path this time. Where did I go wrong? How far back do I need to go?

    I pick up my lamp, my guiding light. It flickers with uncertainty. I carefully backtrack, step by step, line by line. Please don’t let this lead back to the beginning. I’m not sure I can start over again.

    I reach a fork. The other path is unexplored, a blank canvas of purest white. Could this be the way to my ending? I carefully scratch my mark upon it, making it my own. My fingers tingle with a sense of fearful excitement, of venturing into the familiar and yet unknown.

    I’ve heard that others map out the maze before they set off, that they already know the fastest path to their destination. I’m not that kind of person.

    Maybe I don’t want to reach the end. I’m not ready to face the bright lights of the outside world. Here I can hide in the shadows, tucked away where no-one can find me. I’m safe in this labyrinth of my own creation.

    210 words



    An innocent poet will feel,
    and often far too much,
    how wishes sing with colors
    and that with glances our hearts do touch.
    At risk of showing madness
    a wiser man won’t tell
    that the moon and clouds
    practice harmonies
    and with each sunrise –
    a perfect new smell.
    Peer through the tilted glass,
    still, to observe is to confound.
    A quiet paper now wet with ink;
    from empty pen, a hollow sound.
    The words are all extracted
    like prisoners from a cell.
    The meanings could shake heavens
    but the process wrings out hell.
    Behind my eyes ideas hatched,
    in front I’m left to look
    as the one and only reader,
    but at least I wrote a book.


  25. The actor and the writer entered the restaurant. Within seconds adoring fans surrounded the writer, cameras flashing as they pushed their way closer to him. He pretended he wanted to get to his table, finally giving in with a good-natured shrug as he autographed napkins, receipts, even arms.

    The actor slunk away, unnoticed, his strategically unbuttoned shirt revealing a flat stomach and a chest that marketing said showed the optimal amount of hair. He sat at their reserved table and tried to get a waiter’s attention. When the third one rushed past him to join the throng around the writer, he gave up and went to the bar.

    “You a friend of his?” the bartender asked as he poured a shot of whiskey.

    “Work colleague. I’m an actor.”

    “You get to say his words?” The bartender tried to keep cool, but a tinge of awe shone through his effort at indifference.

    “Yeah, I say his words. I put life into his words.” The actor finished his drink in one practiced gulp, feeling the warmth of the whiskey join the heat of his anger. “You know, without me nobody would hear his precious words.”

    “Without him, no one would listen to you.”

    The actor downed another whiskey. Resignation replaced anger.


  26. Up Against A Wall
    208 words

    Up against the wall, and I ripped his shirt off.

    “No, it’s no good,” I say to myself and crumple the yellow paper.

    Dirk walks in holding Amelia. She’s cooing and while it’s cute it’s also distracting. Dirk walks to the kitchen and opens the fridge.

    “No food?”

    “Make it yourself. I have a deadline.”

    “What have you written?” he asks.

    I hold up my yellow lined notebook, my favorite kind for writing, and show him an empty page.

    He places Amelia in the swing where she starts screaming. He ignores her, walks to the waste basket and picks up the first piece of crumpled paper. I stare at him as he mouths the words to himself. He places his hands on my shoulders and squeezes.

    “We could recreate this scene,” he says.

    I throw the pen on my desk and take my earbuds off. Skinny Love trails into oblivion. Amelia’s face is beat red, and I scoop her out of the swing. Her cries cease and one final crocodile tear falls to the floor.

    I walk up to Dirk and he embraces me. We cradle the baby between us.

    “We could, but then we’d end up with another one of these and I’d never meet my deadline.”


  27. The Write Stuff
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    210 words

    So many nights he’d spent hunched over the keyboard, itching to type those magic words, the ones that would net him an agent, an editor, a publisher, a contract.

    So many queries, so many rejections. His wife joked they should paper the living room. He couldn’t see the humor. He only saw failure. Words telling him his words weren’t good enough, his stories weren’t strong enough, he himself wasn’t enough.

    “I’m more than a pretty face,” he cried, but the reflection in the mirror never answered back, never reassured him. “I’m a writer, dammit.”

    So many days he’d spent checking the inbox, the mailbox, praying for confirmation, for affirmation.

    It never came.

    In anguish, he pulled at his hair, ripped at his clothes. His wife, panicking, ran into the street, calling for help. Neighbors swarmed, pointing, whispering. Cornered, he fought like a rabid dog, until they took him away.

    He sits, still, fingers pounding on a computer that isn’t there, words dancing in front of his eyes, through his head, into his heart. He’s happier there, lost in his own fictional madness.

    And somewhere, someone is typing the story of this author gone mad. He will get his day, his life’s work finally honored, acknowledged, valued.

    Or, you know, not.


  28. Title: Blood Work
    Words: 207

    He was once an esteemed author – known worldwide and very famous. He was quirky, but nothing unusual as far as writers went. I knew of him and actually worked in the phlebotomy lab at his doctor’s office. I always heard rumors when famous people came in for checkups. But in the lab, blood had no names or faces.

    I spilled a vial of blood doing a routine blood test one afternoon – I didn’t even know it was his blood at the time. When I wiped the blood off the floor, a fully formed sentence appeared on the paper towels. It said, “At night the winds howl at the moon louder than the wolves.” I check the name on the label and I realized: it wasn’t the man who wrote, but the blood in his veins! His blood was his ink. He was no writer and neither was I; but this wasn’t writing, it was blood work. My specialty.

    “I just need one more prick to finish off the story,” I whispered, needle in hand taking slow steps forward. He backed up against the wall, determined not to let me near him. But the needle always found its mark, as his blood has many more stories to tell.



    Brian S Creek
    208 words

    All is silent at the deserted Wasling Farm. Our heroes wait patiently in the tree line.

    Their attention is drawn skywards as a flying saucer emerges from the dark clouds, gliding to a stop beside the big, red barn.

    Mike pulls out a notebook and pen. “’Dragon’. ‘Robot’. ‘Ghost’.”

    “What are you doing?” whispers Chris.

    “Adding ‘Alien’ to my list.”

    “Let’s not jump to-”

    A ramp descends from the belly of the craft and a group of purple creatures emerge.

    Mike adds ‘Alien’ to his list.

    Our heroes’ watch the aliens cross the field and begin setting up some strange equipment.

    “Should we stop them?” says Mike.

    Chris stands and makes his way over. Mike shakes his head and hurries after his friend.

    “Excuse me,” says Chris to the aliens. “Do you have permits?”

    The aliens all turn, ray guns raised.

    Our heroes should have perished then and there, but fortune was with them that night, fortune in the form of the galaxies greatest hero.

    The sound of thunder precedes the arrival of Roy Rocket, defender of the galaxy. He touches down and salutes Chris and Mike before turning his attention to the invaders.

    “You have until the count of urkmircs to get the hell of this planet.”


  30. Meal for Real
    210 words

    The coffee tasted of paint and I appeared to be eating my brother’s hockey gear. Still, it was free and probably all I’d eat today.

    Tim.id.ity had a name. Kara. I was still measuring her angle.

    “So, what do you do when you’re not feeding losers?”

    Her eyes widened. “I never said…”

    I rolled mine. We’d been through this.

    “Oh, right. Sorry.” Silence.

    I swirled my brown primer and Cleopatra-gazed her.

    “Ummmm. I nanny.”

    “Your Kewpies leave you restless for friends in low places?”

    “What? No. I told you. You looked like you could, you were…”

    “Lonely. Destitute. Sure. And…”

    She bit her lip. “My critique group said my characters were 2D and I needed to spend time with real people.” She went all super-hero stealth mode against her booth.

    “Wait, what?” Not the angle I expected. She fluffy for a writer. Maybe it was the nannying. “You want to put me in a story?”

    Her escape continued at a turtle’s crawl. “Maybe? If that’s okay, I mean. But… you need to be authentic.” She was about to hit the floor.

    “Fine. I’ll give you so much real, you’ll cry from your ears.” I grimaced at the coffee. “But I’m so calling you Tim and you owe me another meal.”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Part 2
    (209 words)

    I write you after you are gone. It’s all the power I have to resurrect you.
    I rip up the pages of the last two years; the suffering no longer a part of your story. I pick up at the point just after Gordon was born. You were so happy then.
    I give you back your thick, brown hair, and it hangs in waves once more. Fleshing you out is simple. No part of your face, your hips, your waist has escaped my mind.
    I try to write the depth of your feelings into your words while erasing their pain. I write the warm tones of your voice, so that it never has to say goodbye. I think hard about the words you say, for you were always smarter than me. I try to make them as sharp and incisive as yours always were.
    I write you into summer days and ball games. Conflict never troubles you- I was always boring! I don’t know how you ever put up with me.
    Gordon seems happier, but he has asked me to write something special, an upgrade of sorts, the program would give him a little brother.
    And I’m thinking hard about what your real response would be to this unexpected complication.


  32. Desperate times demand desperate measures
    (208 words)
    Mark Morris

    The page rippled before me and my character stepped out from the page, shrugging the paper aside with an irritated flexing of his shoulders.

    “Well?” he said. “What’s it gonna be? Am I going to get with this woman or not?”

    I sat back from my desk, discomfited by his appearance. “I… I rather… I’m not sure. I don’t usually write romance. You’re a direct manifestation of my thoughts: you must know that. You do, don’t you?”

    Carter arched his back, his vertebrae and ribs settling into place with a clunk. He’d seemed to have grown larger and more solid too. “I do know you’ve been making fools out of both me and Rhapsody with your ineffectual writing. I’m a decisive man and she’s clearly been in lust with me since chapter one.” He hammered his gauntleted fist on my table. “It won’t do. We’d never behave like this. Get to the point, man.”

    “But I’m an action and adventure writer. I don’t do ‘feels’. Every time I try to make my characters express their emotions they seem affected, not affectionate.”

    My hero rubbed his chin, the rasp of his perma-stubble loud against his glove. “I’ve an idea,” he said. “You can manage to take dictation, can’t you?”


    • Desperate times demand desperate measures (revised)
      (208 words)
      Mark Morris

      The paper rippled before me and my character stepped out from the page, shrugging the manuscript aside with an irritated flexing of his shoulders.

      “Well?” he said. “What’s it gonna be? Am I going to get with this woman or not?”

      I sat back from my desk, discomfited by his appearance. “I… I rather… I’m not sure. I don’t usually write romance. You’re a direct manifestation of my thoughts: you must know that. You do, don’t you?”

      Carter arched his back, his vertebrae and ribs settling into place with a clunk. He’d seemed to have grown larger and more solid too. “I do know you’ve been making fools out of both me and Rhapsody with your ineffectual writing. I’m a decisive man and she’s clearly been in lust with me since chapter one.” He hammered his gauntleted fist on my table. “It won’t do. We’d never behave like this. Get to the point, man.”

      “But I’m an action and adventure writer. I don’t do ‘feels’. Every time I try to make my characters express their emotions they seem affected, not affectionate.”

      My hero rubbed his chin, the rasp of his perma-stubble loud against his glove. “I’ve an idea,” he said. “You can manage a little dictation, can’t you?”


  33. Never Ending
    (210 words)

    There was nowhere for Tobias to run. He’d managed to evade his pursuers for a while, but now he was trapped in a room with one door and no windows. Between Tobias and escape stood three men, dressed in black with nefarious deeds on their minds.

    Tobias only had one option left. He would have to fight his way out of the room. Under his breath, he cursed the dimwit who thought up this twist in the plot.

    Tobias lashed out at the man closest to him. He landed a hard blow and knocked the dark figure unconscious. As the other two figures rushed towards his, Tobias prepared for their onslaught. Time slowed down as Tobias focused on the first man to reach him. Tobias stepped to the side as the man grabbed at him, ripping Tobias’s shirt and exposing his muscular chest. It was only a second before the second man wrapped his hands around Tobias’s throat.

    Darkness engulfed Tobias as the writer closed her notebook.

    Abigail put down her pen and sighed. She put the notebook in the desk drawer and closed it tightly.
    Lost among a myriad of other half written stories, Tobias was fated to languish forever in the dark.

    His end would never be written.


    • “Under his breath, he cursed the dimwit who thought up this twist in the plot.” I definitely enjoyed this line because it was funny, but also because it acted as a kind of foreshadowing of the self-doubt that would close him down at the end.


  34. The Storyteller
    (208 Words)

    BEEP BEEP – Entering optimal visual coordinates for planetary mass 4926, alias: Earth.

    Human 6.21046 picks up his tablet and taps a finger on the page, “From afar, the planet is blue but as we travel closer the mass turns into a barrage of colors: green and white, the yellow sun casts half the planet into shadow. I must move closer to fully investigate.”

    BEEP BEEP – Entering the atmosphere of planetary mass 4926, alias: Earth.

    He grips the tablet as the ship catapults forward. “Closer now, landmasses form. There is an infestation of crop fields and, in other areas, patches of grey. Hovering over them as I continue my descent, the blue of the planet almost disappears.”

    BEEP BEEP – Entering ground level of planetary mass 4926, alias: Earth.

    He stands when the ship lands, one hand pressed against the metal door and the other clutching his tablet. He writes, “My entrance has caused a disturbance. Humanoids are backing away from me in what appears to be fear. I tell them that I am a human as well. I assure them that I’ve traveled across the galaxy, from across time. One fearful humanoid vomits up his food ration.”

    Human 6.21046 takes a step forward.

    “I’ve come to write your stories.”


  35. Figure 1.1: Disappointed Mom
    203 words

    Jackie cackled with glee and kissed the computer screen. It had been so long since she’d had good news she had almost forgotten what it felt like. Not only would she be published again, but she was being hired as a full-time editor. No more scrubbing toilets for her! Her daughter would finally be proud.

    “Lila! Lila, guess what?”

    Lila groaned and lifted her head. She’d fallen asleep on her homework, and a long string of drool connected her face with page 127. Jackie was too excited to notice that she’d roused the teenager from homework-coma.

    “I’ve got a job!” Jackie said.

    “Was that worth waking me up?”

    Jackie had thought herself prepared for the difficult teenage years, but all the books in the world couldn’t prepare her for the reality.

    “What are you studying?” Jackie asked.

    “History. You can tell by the way I was snoring a minute ago. This textbook is the worst.”

    Lila sketched a quick mustache on Figure 4.5: Man With Shiny Chest.

    “Ugh. Who writes these things? They must be total losers.”

    If she had looked, Lila would have seen her mother’s penname on the cover. Jackie decided not to share that penname with her daughter after all.


  36. Poet Laureate of Mongo

    “Professor Limpet, you are the official Biographer of Tong Vultan, whom most scholars allow was the Poet Laureate of Mongo?”

    “Correct. Vultan Junior, Tong to his acolytes, although he rejected the violence of his father, still remained a loyal and admiring subject of Ming.”

    “That’s Ming the Merciless?”

    “Such an unfortunate appellation. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ming embraced the description. In consolidating political power, heads are always bound to roll. Ming lopped off his share. But the brilliance of Tong’s rhetorical flourishes contextualized and popularized Ming’s chaotic and rambling ascension.”

    “So, your position is that Tong was essential to Ming’s dreams of conquering the universe?”

    “Yes” Exactly. For example, in his brilliant poem, “Why Not,” he distills Ming’s megalomaniacal essence in eminently abbreviated dialogue glory with the befuddled Zarkov. May I quote?”

    “Of course.”

    “I will DESTROY your earth in my own way
    Why destroy the earth? Why not conquer it?”
    Why not!”

    “But Ming also was a romantic, as well?”

    “Yes. Tong harnessed that passionate side in his love poem dedicated to Dale Arden. A lovely piece, you will agree. May I?”

    “Of course.”

    “Your eyes!
    Your hair!
    Your skin!
    I’ve never seen
    like you
    You are

    “Thank you, Professor Limpet.”

    210 mongos
    with thanks to IMDB


  37. Cheesy
    (210 words)

    “Delilah, you’re the most beautiful woman in the south,” Darius began as he looked into Delilah’s ocean blue eyes.

    “When I hold you in my arms, I know that there is no other woman for me. When I feel your breath on my neck, my heart races like a Kentucky thoroughbred trying to win the Triple Crown. When you touch my hand, every muscle in my body quivers with anticipation. Every time I look into your eyes, I see a beauty that dims the starts and humbles the universe.”

    Darius ripped his shirt open, exposing his chest. Sweat rolled down his chiselled muscles as he threw himself back against the wall. His torso heaved as Darius drew deep breaths into his lungs.

    “I swear Delilah, I can’t live without you,” Darius continued.

    “When I wake up or go to sleep, I see you in the twilight between being awake and asleep. I can’t get your smile out of my mind during the day and your kisses steal my dreams. If you were to kiss me now I would melt. I’m supposed to be a gentleman, but I can’t hold it in anymore.”

    “Delilah, I need you.”

    OMG I cannot believe I just wrote a passage for a cheesy romance novel.


    • I… need to go wipe the cheese off my face now. I’ll come back when it stops dripping on my clothes. 🙂 Nicely done.


  38. Rewriting the Rule Book

    Sophie leaned forward and wrote the title of the lecture with a pencil so sharp, its tip snapped under the pressure of her precise, cursive writing:

    Forming your Romantic Hero

    She listened blithely to Mr Brennard’s tired instructions and jotted down snippets of advice that she’d never practise. Apparently, what readers wanted was someone whose strength of mind was mirrored by his muscular torso; a man with integrity and serendipity; classically handsome yet modest and demure.

    She exhaled a little too loudly and noticed Mr Brennard raise his eyebrow in response. Sophie slunk down into her chair and started to ponder what her romantic hero would be like: slim, skinny even with dark tousled hair that fell into his eyes. He’d read poetry and polish his morals like other men polished golf-trophies. His clothes would be a little shabby and there would be the faint smell of musk as he shifted in his seat and brushed her leg with his thigh. He’d pretend not to notice her but steal glimpses when she was writing and sketch her profile in the margin of his notebook. He’d pass her a note with a three longed-for words: Coffee after class?

    She smiled and nodded, screwing her notes into a tight ball.

    208 words


  39. The Writing Life

    The detective followed the orderly down the long hallway. Painted universal hospital green, the walls seemed to stretch to infinity, like one of those Matrix movies or something. Creepy, but this was an asylum.
    The orderly paused before a door and slid the cover over the small observation window aside. The detective peered inside, then looked at the orderly. “A padded room?”
    “Yeah, we keep a few of them ready,” replied the orderly. “For special cases.”
    The detective looked inside again and saw a wretched creature crouched in one corner. Gaunt, clothes torn, eyes darting about, he gibbered, drool rolling down his chin. Yellow and brown stains marred the crisp, white padding in the room.
    “Geez,” the detective said. “A real nut case.”
    “Yeah. You saw his apartment, right?”
    “A hoarder’s paradise, paper stacked everywhere, but I’m more interested in the fact the iMac he tossed out the window almost hit a woman with a kid on the street. The usual story. Neighbors said he was quiet, they hardly ever saw him, then he went nuts,” the detective said. “So what’s the diagnosis? Paranoid schizo? Psycopath? PCP?
    The orderly slid the door over the observation window closed. “Nah, simpler than any of that.”
    “What then?”
    “He’s a writer.”

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    208 words


  40. Finding the hero

    Wrapped in a cloak of self absorption she struggled to release the fire of creativity that lay within. She was sure it was there awaiting just the right moment to burst forth into life but for now she had lost the matches. There wasn’t even a smouldering ember to fan into life.
    How on earth was she to bring that character to life, the one she needed to break the deadlock in her narrative. She needed a hero! That was it. Someone who could break down the barriers and carry everyone off into the sunset.
    Did she need an archetype? Clever, brave and strong, with a beautiful face and stunning body, flowing from her pen and leaving a trace of smoking ink on the page. Did she?
    The family had to escape their situation somehow…..
    Her reveries were suddenly interrupted by the precipitous arrival of a small furry body that shot into the room and onto her lap. Her mood broken she smiled in pleasure and stroked the silky fur. Of course that could be it. All that was needed was a small vibrant bundle of joy………..just a pity it had to die in the process.

    200 words


  41. I Live
    199 words

    Out of the smoke of the crash, he emerged, unscathed and smiling. “I live,” he said.  The forces of Ming the Merciless shrank back in horror and surprise. The Writer smiled. A good day’s work.

    “Is that it?” Flash Gordon turned his face to the sky, where the persistent clacking was distracting. Dark clouds gathered, ominous.  It would be a  stormy night.  “You can’t leave me like this,” he cried. “I’m stuck here on this alien world!”

    “You’ll be fine,”  the Writer said. “I’ll be right back, I promise. I just need more coffee.”

    “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have hordes of zombies and Ming’s forces waiting for my next move. But that’s all right. Take your time. You’ll think of something. You always do.”

    In the meantime, the hordes salivated. A cry went up, “Flash! Flash! Flash!”

    Music started, wild and irresistible. Flash ripped off  what was left of his shirt. He danced, shoulders shaking. The crowd danced with him, as if they all had the same idea at the same time. Girls  swooned as they passed. Flowers rained down from the balconies.

    “Well, I’m back,” the Writer said. “What have you been up to?”


  42. Hunted
    205 words

    Blockading the door, Bertrand tried to develop a plan of attack, and he was running out of time. He put a trembling hand to a cut in his shoulder, attempting to stymie the bleeding. As he applied more pressure he felt a hard bang from the other side of the door. It had found him.

    He searched the room for an escape or method of defense, and discovered an open window and heavy-looking globe on the far desk. He was 10 floors above the street and would surely die upon impact if he chose the window-his only option was to clobber the creature with the globe.

    One….two….THREE! He abandoned his post at and lunged across the room. He grasped the globe by its stand and turned just in time to see the door burst open and the screeching, menacing, teeth-barring book hurtle itself towards him, annihilation the only item on its agenda.

    He braced, timed his strength, then let out a shriek as he swung the globe and connected with the book, propelling it back out the door.

    Silence. Had he killed his torturer at last?

    He inched towards his creation, needing to check if it was indeed dead. He approached, and heard it moan.


  43. Winds of Change

    @geofflepard 207 words

    I’m history’s scribe, that’s how I see it. Out there, recording divas and despots, Queens and Quislings alike. Fearless not reckless. As anonymous as any corpse, as persistent as gout, as sharp as needle point.
    And there’s a lot of history right now, filling the ever growing hole of 24/7 rolling news. It’s an addiction for both of us, reader and writer alike. High adrenaline, junkies all. My byline is as ubiquitous as my face is not.
    I plan. Detailed itineraries, schedules as crisp as fresh cotton. Even rest is packaged, placed in its slot.
    Yesterday, I came home. Today I did routine. Kids to school, cleaners, bank, coffee. Why does anyone take a coffee shop hostage? There are four of us. The terrorists, the girl behind the counter and me. They know who I am, what I’ve written. It’s not me they hate, just my words. We listen to the megaphone, the drone of the TV copter while they tell me what to do, what to say.
    But they’re not after my words, just my face and voice. They say they’ll kill me if I don’t. They tell me I must do as they say. But they’ve killed me already by making me the story.


  44. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 202

    Conflicted Flesh

    His knuckles locked, rebelling against the quill. Delay had been removed from the reckoning table, and the judgment placed on him. No, not on him. He was merely the decipherer, discerning the will of the First Fathers. He pressed tip to parchment.

    So it shall be written

    Each stroke, clean and glossy, carved his political epitaph onto the yet-to-come. Long hours he’d combed for an escape, a way to deny what logic upheld and tradition abhorred. But the luminous sisters danced against the black, full and jubilant, their lunar phases marking capricious destruction.

    That from hence

    Outside, the house divided raged: two heads bound by the same flesh. Whichever decision he offered, he would be fed to one mouth or the other. Their clamoring woke the fear in his belly and his perfect lines faltered.

    Through Time and before Nature

    It raked his soul to form the words. The entire history of their people would be invalidated, a culture effaced. New philosophies would rise and tear out the bricks of a millennial-long civilization. All he had taught his young about the way of the worlds would be negated. Blasphemy celebrated in the streets of Triton.

    We will be equal with one another.


  45. Writing is EASY – Just sit at the typewriter and bleed.
    202 words

    The words flickering on the computer monitor are runny…jumpy…bouncing and flowing in time with my heartbeat and furiously blinking eyes. The welling tears cause little prisms of distortion to dance against my retinas, occluding my ability to view my work. For a singular moment in time, I am distracted with the bright white background littered with little black characters swirling in time with my eyes’ movements.

    The moment is fleeting. Pain temporarily forgotten in fascination with this intricate ballet rushes back with a punch to my chest.

    Can you feel my pain when you read my words? I certainly hope so – ‘else what am I doing bleeding from my emotional wounds for a not-so-captive audience?

    Pain of the heart.
    Please see: “The Excesses of Flash Gordon” – MadDog Pub House Omnibus of Upcoming Fiction Writers – 1986.

    Pain in the soul.
    Please see: “A Flash in the Proverbial Pan” – Indie Writers Group Magazine issue 12 – Dec. 1992.

    Pain from the abuses suffered from a certain significant other.
    Please see: “Bright Spots Flash in Front of my Eyes” – Independent blog post – follow this LINK . Originally published February, 2001.

    My only truth? Life. Is. Pain.

    And Pain is the lifeblood of my carefully constructed words.


  46. Naturally Gifted
    word count: 208

    The professor rocks on the balls of his feet. “Finals start in three…two…. You may begin.”

    I cradle my head as I stare at the photo on my desk. A story. One simple short story. Why didn’t I take this class pass or fail? I’m a biology major. Not a literary…I don’t know. Whatever they are—geniuses.

    Breathe. Think. I chew on the end of my pencil. Okay, this guy. He looks like he’s…well, it looks like he’s trying to perform his best “Chandler” smile or hold in a fart. I sigh, erasing the entire last sentence.

    I need a hook. I need descriptions that don’t in in “ly.” I need…Crap! Only five minutes left.

    The clock on the wall ticks each second as if counting down to my doom. After scribbling out my words, I hand my examine to my professor.

    He clicks the red pen in his hand. “Here, let me grade it right now.”

    I swallow.

    He rests his chin in his palm before chuckling once. Twice. His wrinkles lift around his eyes while he smiles. “Well, I didn’t expect a story about dragons, especially ones who get paid for ripping up human clothing.” He rubs his chin. “Have you thought about changing your major?”


    • Impressing a writing professor. Nice 🙂 “He looks like he’s…well, it looks like he’s trying to perform his best “Chandler” smile or hold in a fart.” One of the truest things I’ve read today!


  47. “Mic Smash”
    208 words

    “I can’t go out there.”
    “Here, take a sip. I always find whiskey to be a good motivator. And what the hell happened to your clothes?”
    Martin inspected his torso, declining the booze. “You don’t like? Thought I’d go with a ‘Hulk after the rage’ look.” He frowned. His nerves didn’t need more taunting.
    “Why would you do that?”
    “Uh, it’s Marvel fan fic.” He rolled his eyes. Some people.
    “Jesus, Martin. Can’t you try not to be such a nerd for one night? Look at this crowd. Neckbeard, creepy wizard, and I’m pretty sure that old guy is actually dead. Yet you still stand out at open mic night as the weirdo.”
    “F off, Derek.” He unfolded the page from his back pocket, fidgeting as he scanned the audience. What if Derek was right? He worked his soul into this piece – forty-eight drafts, not counting line edits. It’s perfect.
    But what if it’s not?
    He snatched the whiskey and chugged half the bottle.
    “Easy there, lightweight.”
    Martin smashed the bottle and wiped his chin with his sleeve. “Fuck it. Rejection makes a writer stronger, no?” He marched onto the stage and approached the microphone. Held up his pages. Opened his mouth.
    And vomited on the front row.


  48. Writer’s Block

    207 words


    “What is this place?” asked Jerome.

    “Writer’s Block,” responded the guard briefly; a man of few words, he was well-suited to his position.

    Jerome gazed blankly at his surroundings; whoever had built it exhibited a total lack of inspiration.

    “This way.”

    Jerome followed the guard, feeling the weight of his sentence as he stumbled at its beginning. He recalled the judge’s stinging rejection, “Writers who cannot write cannot be writers.”

    “I’m nearing the end of my shift,” said the guard as he pressed Enter. “Someone will collect you for submission in a couple of hours.”


    “Time to meet your deadline,” said the new guard, leading Jerome and the other inmates deep beneath the building.

    Jerome found himself at the edge of a fiery pit, its heat so intense that he was sent staggering back into the cavern’s wall but the guard pulled him forward again.

    “These are the Fires of Imagination,” he said. “The time you spend here is determined by your form.”

    Jerome sighed with relief. He was a flash writer and indeed a spark had been ignited. He only needed two hundred words. This was not his ending, it was his first line. He was chasing the dragon. He was flying. He was free.


  49. @stellakateT
    206 words


    He knew his muse had left him. People called it writers block but he knew different. He’d disappeared. The bloke with the broody eyes, women were broody, clucking around new babies wanting one. God he couldn’t even get brooding right.

    He remembered seeing him Thursday night strutting down the Avenue. He almost felt love for him but it was more than that. Pure perfection deserved total devotion. Friday morning he’d been woken by the police doing house to house enquiries. Some bloke living opposite had gone missing.

    No he told the police he’d never seen him before when they showed him a photo. They apologised. The guy was dead. He had a horrified expression like someone was about to do him a serious injury.

    That can’t be right! Police said he was missing then showed him a photo of him dead.
    If he was found dead he couldn’t be missing. Maybe he’d go looking for him if he was missing. Maybe he’d go to the morgue if he was dead.

    This writing lark was difficult. Plots thicken, go awry. He hadn’t meant to put the fear of God into him. He just wanted to research whether dressed as an assassin he’d be more intimidating. He was!


  50. Title: Maximilian
    words: 208

    It was a Tuesday when Maximilian escaped the confounds of his pages.

    “Why’d you do that?” I exclaimed.

    “I want to go back.” he said.

    “You’re the one who came here, the page is right there, hop back in!” I answered gesturing wildly to the open notebook. There was a line on the page – could’ve been a streak of ink or a rip – or in this case both.

    “No. Back to Sybil. I liked her,” he said and started to flip the pages back.

    “No!” I said and blocked him, putting my hand on the page where Maximilian had escaped. “You can’t go back, Max,” I said, indicating the blank pages ahead in the notebook.

    “But Sybil made me happy.”

    “I know… and I’ll make you find her again!” I said. But it was a lie. Sybil’s village was burned three chapters ago. Max could tell. He pushed more forcefully on my hand to let him turn the pages and I pressed down harder. But then I was pressing on nothing, falling into the pen streak rip through which Max had emerged.

    I felt the cold wall behind me, my shirt was ripped. And it got darker as Max turned back the pages and erased my very existence.


    • I often flip around while reading books. It’s true, one can actually go back in time by going back to the start of the chapter. Things can be interpreted differently and change the rest of the story. You brought that up in a very clever way. Nice job.

      Liked by 1 person

  51. Orthographic Ligature
    204 words

    The quill scratched across the paper. Writing the story of a person’s life is no easy thing and for each paragraph, each sentence, written Hosha felt drained.
    The smell of the tallow candle reminded her that lunch was some time ago. She finished the line, rested the quill on it’s stand, and looked around. A dinner tray was on the table behind her: Cold meats, cheese, pickles, and bread. There was also a glass, a pitcher of water, and a bottle of ruby colored wine.
    While chewing she thought of the tale she wrote. A paper-seller with a nose for mystery, like why this house had an account dating back one hundred and forty years, why always the same paper had to be supplied – whatever the cost.
    A draft blew across the room flickering the candle and sending shadows dancing around the walls, which were lined with volume upon volume. A faint rustling, the merest susurrus, whispered in the air. Hosha listened, tilting her head to catch the sound. There was nothing untowards.
    Back at her desk she continued writing, tying the life of the paper merchant into the book. Tomorrow he would be another voice whispering from her library of bound souls.



  52. Writing? It’s easy.

    Writing? It’s easy. All you have to do is have stories in your head and then put them on the page. Listen.

    Last week like always I was flicking through the internet like it was a glossier monthly. The news stories do not interest me, they are too big and obvious and everybody knows them. Sport? Even worse, and only half the world gives a toot.

    I look for captions on the photos, the descriptions you see when you roll your cursor over the image. “Man holding alligator above his head.” “White House turns to rainbow shades.” “Flash Gordon disguised as Buster Crabbe.”

    I rolled the cursor back and realised there was the story – Flash Gordon was a real person, he had got into some kind of trouble and was disguised as an actor. Well, there’s your protagonist and your setting. Antagonist? Well, clearly that would be Ming who was the… the theatre critic, ready to destroy Crabbe’s career or, if and when he found out, melt Gordon with his ray gun. Conflict, tick.

    That left the twist. Always the twist. There needs to be a twist even though everyone is expecting one. A great twist might be for there not to be a twist.

    The curtain rose.

    Simon Williams
    208 words


  53. KNOTS
    WC = 203 (06-26-15)

    “Harvey, grab the sheets off yer bed. We’ll make it in time.” (I wrote down his every word.)

    Johnny and Harvey tied the knots, Harvey reeling from ether and tripping over his own leg bandages and hospital gown. (My notes also told of a battle axe of a nurse cursing after them at the window.)

    Plenty of “nots” to prevent their event: the desert heat, overheated engine cover, the burnt leg from the cover. The two climbed down their knots of cotton to escape Harvey’s impending truncation. (A departure unequaled, but they swore it to be true.)

    Divers they were and divers they would be. As Harvey said, “I’m not leaving my leg. I’ll dive first!” (His very words to me as he massaged his knotted and scarred gastrocnemious.)

    Off to competition, two wheels carrying the pent up practice and perfection of the dueling divers. Two competitors driving at a dead heat, sand racing by as their minds race toward water. They dive into the west as the dawn licks their heels.

    The line-up at competition: “Hey, Johnny, no knots to climb!”

    “Yeah, Harvey, you dive now….. You hear me? You dive; no die; you dive!”

    (My anecdotes from the 1928 Summer Olympics.)


  54. Portrait of the Artist as a Con Man

    “THE END.”

    The echo from the last clack of the typewriter hadn’t reached my ears by the time the guards put me in irons. I always told myself I’d draw the story out longer, savor every minute away from my cell, but my muse sang what she would and then fell silent, now as she had always done.
    All people dream, but dreams are dangerous things. I was tolerated because I told stories of safe dreams. To The Tribunal, I was a tool of The Purpose.

    But I knew something they did not.

    I wondered what people saw in me as they walked by my cage – the grey-clad organic automatons who shuffled by on their way to or from their place in The Purpose, catching a glimpse of me in their peripheral vision. I had little food, but it was free from rot, and I didn’t have to fight for it. My cage was small, but I didn’t have to share it. My back was not wrenched, my hands were not gnarled. To them, I was free.

    But I knew something they did not.

    There are no safe dreams. There are no yearnings which bring peace to the caged.

    Once Upon A Time, a light shone in the darkness.

    209 words


  55. See Ya in the Funny Papers
    209 Words

    “Join me.”

    “I won’t!” Bare feet moved against the rough floor until he pressed against the wall, his stance wide. “You will never be my queen! Never!”

    She wagged a slender finger at the wild eyed captive. “You will be my general, Hero. It is written in the Ides Accounts.” She advanced, her hand stretched toward him, fingers glowing with power. “The future cannot be changed.”

    “I’ll be free of you yet, Queen Zera!”



    The phone rang. He lifted the black receiver to his ear. Rolling a cigarette to the right, he growled, “Yeah?” Absently, he fingered the knots in the curled cord as ash landed on his pin striped pants. “Said that, did they?” He listened a few moments more, then slammed the receiver into the cradle. The impact vibrated the bells in the base. “Damn writers, always changing things.”

    Turning to the drafting table, he unclipped a large paper. Divided into smaller boxes, three quarters of the sheet had been drawn. He loosed a long stream of curses before crumbling the paper and tossing it in the waste basket. Fastening a blank, he took a drag and began again.


    “Queen Zera, I am yours.”

    “You will do nicely, General Hero; you will do nicely.”


  56. @BradyTheWriter
    193 words


    Everything in her hand trembled. Not from any fear of the prisoner laying on front of her. Like the others, he was strapped down at each limb and had his metal collar clamped to the table. The problem was the tattoo machine the state has supplied. Specifically the rear binding post that was loose and beyond repair. Each of her bones, tendons and fingertips shook after hours of operating her assigned machine on intake days.

    With the tingling in her fingers fading, she returned to this hour’s canvas. She’d already completed etching in his vehicular manslaughter conviction under the older, bluer possession charges tattooed higher up on his chest. She examined the victim’s list that came in with him. She checked the clock. She only had fifteen minutes to enter all five names underneath. It would likely be incredibly painful, especially since she had to go down to his abdomen.

    A yawn found its way up her throat and she bent over to start inking again. She has always wanted to be a true crime writer, but until she found a publisher willing to give her a chance this would have to do.


  57. No Match for the Interstellar Goddess-Crusader for Universal Justice
    210 words

    Olivia thwarted bullying crows by tossing her crusts directly to the sparrows. Despite three layers of antiperspirant, twin swamps darkened the armpits of her blouse. Good thing she wore a dark suit.

    (Her sleek figure clad in dark blue, Olympia streaked through midnight skies in her star-jet.)

    On the bench rested the pages that would close this stuttering chapter. She hadn’t seen David since the lawyer’s. How goes the alien poetry? His mahogany complacency, her broken-teacup pleas. She wondered if he’d bring the weed along again.

    (Jennicus Fetidae, the flesh-eating creeper-vine of Giana-7—Olympia’s neutron foil deftly dispatched coils reeking of asparagus steeped in Chloe perfume.)

    David arrived. Sans weed.
    “Damn birds.”
    There was a time she would’ve defended the birds, with blanched syllables and dropped gaze, as if apologizing. The way she’d defend herself.
    David glanced at his phone. “I can’t stay long.”

    (Dorvid, the terror of Centauri-B, bellowed, “You are no match for my brains!”
    Olympia’s foil slashed apart his tunic as she backed him into the maw of Annelid Gulch.)

    “I can’t either.” She plunked the papers in his lap.
    He reached for her but then quailed under her gaze. “You look… different.”

    (Sleek, confident.)

    “I’m meeting my publisher.” She turned and strode into her sunlit sequel.


  58. @firdausp
    (210 words)
    Ghost Writer
    …he dodged the deadly talons, but they got caught in his shirt, shredding it to ribbons. Backing up against the wall, his washboard abs tightened in anticipation, making him look like a Spartan. Suddenly, the beast lunged towards him, for the kill!’
    To be continued…

    She took a deep breath of relief as she finished writing. Placing the sheets of paper in an envelope, she addressed it to the editor of a monthly magazine. Her secret!

    The night breeze gently wafted the sound of crickets, from an open window, of her one room appartment. Her eyes sought out the sleeping form of her five year old. They softened with affection.
    Her husband lay on his side of the bed, his huge form gobbling up most of the space like a beached whale. She watched, in revulsion, his beer belly move with his rhythmic snores. Probably, he’d had one too many at the bar. Good for nothing fellow- she moved away.
    Carrying her sewing machine, she tiptoed to the balcony. The dress had to be finished, she couldn’t afford to make her clients wait. They were paying good money.
    Money- her only route of escape from the wall she was backed up against.
    She just might dodge those talons after all.


  59. “Worship”
    by Michael Seese
    210 words

    It was the eyes. They burrowed into her very soul with a relentless, seductive grip, and refused to release her. As if she’d want that to happen.

    Or perhaps the lips. So pinched and precise when verbally jousting with Ming, yet so tender when caressing hers with the mercy of a butterfly’s wings.

    No. It was the hands. A pair of velvet vises that could at once fend off a legion of the Evil Emperor’s minions while cradling her waist like a newborn.

    He would return. Such was their fate as written. He would come back for her. She knew it. Until that day, nothing could…

    “Please move along, Miss. The movie is over.”

    Why did he call me “Miss?” she wondered. He knows my name. Everyone knows I’m Dale Arden.

    She wasn’t moving. She’d paid her 25¢, damn it! As she had done last week. And the week before. And the week before that. And…

    One of the men in the white coats picked her up, and draped her over his shoulder like unfolded linen. Of course she now weighed 85 pounds. Not eating will do that to a girl.

    “Don’t worry, Miss. They’ll take care of you.”

    Angela was not worried. He would come. Flash would rescue her.


  60. “A Work Of Fiction”
    by Michael Seese
    210 words

    How could she not fall in love with him?

    Chastity Hunter’s greatest gift as an author, she believed, was her talent for capturing realistic characters. Whereas other writers’ creatures lay flat, hers positively leapt into her life. Once she had a solid image to work with, raw masculinity and inescapable sex appeal would ooze from her fingers. The brawny, yet fallible heroes always proved so real that her readers – bored housewives, a piteous label she once applied to herself – could not help but swoon.

    She always began with a physical description.

    “Ocean blue eyes that would pull under an Olympic swimmer.”
    “A steely gaze, which tenderly pierced the armor surrounding a wounded heroine’s heart.”
    “A careless cascade of blond hair.”

    Once she had the man in front of her, the plot lines would flow.

    “What kind of trouble can I get you into, my lovely little pet?” Chastity said aloud.

    Assuming she was addressing him, he tried again.

    “Please,” said the man with the blue eyes and the blond hair, the latter now dirty and disheveled, three weeks removed from his last shower. “Please let me go. My wife… My children… They’re worrying about me.”

    “I can’t do that,” Chastity said, returning to her keyboard. “I haven’t finished you yet.”


  61. A Black Beckoning

    Kel fits vowel upon consonant, one by one, sentences sprawling. For now, the naughties live. She’ll kill them later. She knows where they hide. Beyond them, the cursor flashes, mocking. The end a blind blank. Those words gambol wild where few fear to scribe, seeking light in the darkness. There the careless lose their way, without planned preparation. Kel scrawls now instead, from scratch. Hasty loops form, across once pristine paper. Kel squints, zig zagging lines through print. Illegible now. A crumpled ball flies free, falling low to hit the hardwood floors. A shake of the head follows, with a sigh, whilst the screen glares, white faced. Kel heaves a wordless grump, before the tap tapping of letters via keyboard commences once again. The script lengthens, dark letters forming. She pauses once more.

    Kel fits vowel upon consonant, one by one, sentences sprawling. They are there – save for where they are not. Such ghost letters haunt her; their presence a spine’s shiver, scarcely felt before leaving. She grasps mid-air quickly to pinion them into existence. Still they go, regardless, existing briefly – in fitful flashes – before more wilful words fight for precedence. She seeks to capture them before they fade into the void. The lost are many and mourned. Black beckons.


    (210 words)


  62. Emily Clayton
    207 words

    Lutania Rises

    I’m alive. I stumble from the salty depths, marine richness dripping from my legs. Turning, I gaze in wonder at the world of my own creation.

    Lutania. Here, people are born from the sea, at different ages, with pre-set, unknown life spans. Neural pathways cross on the day of determination. Massive degeneration. Confusion. Fear. Aggression. People become uncontrollable, rip their clothes, claw out their eyes. They must be sent to the sea.

    I glance at my naked self. Kienan Burk, my main character. He is me. I know how he lives, and I know how he dies. I dread page 337.

    Voices. Tender shushing. “Don’t stare,” the woman says. “It’s just another new face.” She hands me a set of clothes. Blushes. Walks away.

    Suddenly I’m in the swamp. Snarling. Screaming for freedom.

    Page 335. Blood drips down my cheek. Shadows overtake me and stab me with knives. I’m dragged to the shoreline.

    Page 336. I escape.

    Page 337. I scream at the stars. Extending my nails, I rip open my eye sockets and gouge out my eyes. Left, then right. Hot life pours down my tender, inflamed skin, as sharp metal sends me to sleep.

    The sea made me, and the sea will take me back.


  63. Pattyann McCarthy
    WC: 210

    Write Our Story!

    “Come on baby, let’s play,” I purred in his ear, lashing his wrist into leather bolted to the wall. “Pretend I’m writing our story. You’re my prisoner,” my eyes twinkled.

    “What do you have in mind?” My bar pick-up smiled sexily.

    “You’ll see, baby?” Moaning, breathy.

    His smile grew wider as he contemplated possibilities. He nodded, licking his lips.

    “My other hand’s free?” Furrowed brows.

    “Let’s just say, so you can do what I want, okay? Still purring, smiling.

    His smile grew broader as I leaned into him, ripping his shirt open, unzipping his pants. Licking the hollow of his neck, his nipples stood erect when I blew on his skin. I felt excitement between his anxious thighs.

    “Here baby, take this,” handing him a ten-inch blade.

    Worried eyes. “What’s this for?” Gulping.

    “Baby, just remember, I like it deep. Hard and deep.” I stood back from reach.


    “Go ahead baby; write our story with your blood.”

    Tears, confusion.

    “Start where I licked you and zig-zag to there,” pointing at his crotch. “And remember – do it deep. I like – deep. Go on.”

    “Why? Please? Who are you?” He screamed, crying.

    “I’m a Writer, oh, and – a serial killer. You’re my research.”

    My gun cocked, the cutting and screaming began . . .


  64. Drama
    210 words

    Deidre bit her lip and sighed as the remote tech flashed pictures on her screen and asked her to describe what she saw.

    The problem was, every time she tried to answer, what she thought and what she said were two different things.

    She watched the technician scrawl some notes on his tablet, and then he showed her another image. This one an inkblot. She smiled. There were no wrong answers on inkblots. As long as she didn’t say anything to ‘wrong.’

    She knew she was grasping at straws, but she wanted to believe everything was going to be all right.

    To her relief he didn’t write anything down when she answered, and then he showed her the picture. It was a picture of Buster Crabbe. The same picture she’d been looking at when this problem started.

    To her horror she blurted out: ‘Busted Crane’ instead of ‘Buster Crabbe.’

    He frowned.

    “Looks like it’s your built in auto-correct. Use your backup brain until we get this one straightened out.”

    “But…” she stopped, unable to tell him about her deadline.

    She futilely gestured towards her manuscript.

    “You’ll have it back Monday.”

    She glowered at the screen as she heard him mutter ‘writers are such drama queens,’as he hung up.


  65. Title: Shakespeare in the Shower
    Word Count: 210

    Life is hard. Alright? I made some mistakes. Okay? Booze and blood were my vices. Hallucinations and wounds were my rewards. My therapist told me to try writing as a kind of “artistic nonsense therapy.”
    But to write, I needed to read. Books are hard, so I turned to plays.

    Yesterday I was just throwing out my trash. I never expected to find a man inside. I asked him why he was there.
    “I am waiting,” he said.
    “Please say its not for Godot,” I groaned.
    “Nonsense. This is not my endgame.”
    I slammed the steel lid down and rolled the can into the street. I hope the first horns I hear are the coroner’s.
    This morning, I found Shakespeare in my shower (clothed, thank God). I promised him a painful death.
    “All’s well that ends well,” he said.
    “Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean I won’t strangle you.”
    “As you like it,” he said.
    And then he was gone, my hands choking open air.

    Writing is surprisingly dangerous. It comes with the weight and ghosts of history; they cover me like dark iron skies filled with archer arrows.
    I wrote that line down; I can use it in some writing. My life is just one big story, after all.


    • This was so fun! I agree with the MC- “It comes with the weight and ghosts of history; they cover me like dark iron skies filled with archer arrows.” is a great line!


  66. The Hunter of Words

    “He makes me think of Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire. No, maybe a matador? He cavalierly takes off the shirt. It doesn’t matter that it is in tatters; there is something animalistic about him. At one moment, I see the terror in his eyes and the next a rugged indifference.” They say a picture captures a thousand words. It certainly sputters a thousand words out of Mila. The art receptions have that effect on her.

    He takes Mila’s opinions seriously, so he listens with the intensity of a hunter listening for the movement of the prey. Her facial expressions move like a story arc. He feels a plot line forming in his head. He needs to retreat to his den in the woods, among the company of his silence and solitude. He has found his prey; now he needs to devour it in the privacy of his hideaway.

    Mila holds his hand and leads him to the wine and cheese reception. The sight of her art clique, her words flow like a gushing waterfall. He shudders at the thought of another evening in this flood of spoken words. Again, something animalistic stirs within him, and he dashes out to his den.

    202 words


    • Ah, the art of the art critic. Beautifully crafted piece. And this isn’t too bad either… In fact it’s annoyingly good.


    • You created a nice sense of tension. I can totally relate to the struggle against the “flood of spoken words” (and of preferring the written word!)


    • Words. What to do with words… It’s like a painter looking at tubes of paint and wondering what new colors he can mix. Words seem to rain down and other times trickle. Word control. Is that ever possible? You brought up those questions clearly and artfully. Like a painter. Good stuff.


  67. @Emmaleene1
    209 words

    The Magic Ingredients

    The first rule of being a superhero: Never get complacent. My first mistake. Yes, life can be challenging when confined to the windows of a comic strip but the tragic demise is most likely when least expected. Never forget who is in control.
    After battling evil forces, saving lives, rescuing cute puppies and negotiating a superhero business-plan at my bank, I like some me time. Still high on the sensation of the breeze fluttering beneath my cape, I indulge in a fit of domestic bliss and bake some scones.
    Nose appropriately dusted with flour, whisking the mixture with my big muscly arms, I am overcome by the fear. I feel it before it happens, the writer tears strips off me. Not only deleting whole scenes of my comic strip routine but actually ripping strips off. I am being written off.
    I refuse to stop. In panic and desperation I continue churning. Clothes shredded I keep going, scrambling, ignoring the curdle. I reach into the bag labelled raisins, clutch onto a fistful of punctuation and sprinkle my dough with black dots of commas, semicolons and ellipses. Who knows where this ambiguity will take us.
    The first rule of being a writer: See the magic in the mundane.
    I will survive.


    • I saw the phrase “fit of domestic bliss” and immediately pictured his muscley self in a ruffled, flowery apron, cape hanging in a corner. I love how you found the magic in his mundane. 🙂


  68. The tribe of writers
    207 words

    There are legends among the people who live above the Arctic Circle that a long time ago there were some who set out to explore the lands below the horizon, beyond the place where things turn into other things and the lights shift and billow like curtains. They are the people of the shining bones, the lost tribe of storytellers.

    Are you one of those people? You may have a suspicion that you don’t quite belong here. Ask yourself these questions–

    Do the words come out of your purple-stained mouth like ripe berries, juice dripping down your chin? Do your eyes itch in the bright light of daylight? Is there a space between your fingers throbbing? Are you the one who is always getting into trouble? Are you hounded by doubt and self-loathing? You may be one of those people.

    Do the voices in your head have names and faces? Do they tell you stories of other times and places? Do you dream of other worlds and feel as if you’ve been there? Admit to yourself you are one of the lost ones, and now you are coming home. You are one of the old ones, the people of the shining bones, the tribe of storytellers and writers.


  69. The White Flag
    208 words

    Typing through the smear of butternut squash on one corner of the screen. Just a few hundred words or else I’ll thrust my hand into the blender. The baby sleeps but never in more than twenty-minute stretches. My heart drops into every little sound from the crib. I heft my sagging mood and race the impending wake-up wail.

    Scribbling in a notebook while the toddler’s engaged with a rainbow of plastic fish. Nothing rouses monkey-fury like Mom’s face lit by a monitor. I might get five minutes. I promise myself to edit the text when I enter it into the computer after she goes down. She’s rarely down before my own eyelids are drooping. It’s mostly brain-and-heart dumps anyway.

    I give up, cornered by my heart and hounded by my head. I resent our time together because it’s not writing. When I sit down to write, I fight the guilt over not savoring every flickering moment of childhood.

    Scrawling single words in the sand with a stick. Guiding impatient fingers over the letters until impatient sneakers stomp them out. I push her on the swing with one hand and text haiku in my phone with the other. The glares of more engaged moms fit into second lines.


  70. Dashiell vs. the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3
    206 words, @pmcolt

    The mottled orange face of the alien sun loomed large in the viewscreen. Sweating bullets and gasping for breath, Dashiell pressed his browline glasses back up his nose. Blood dripped from the clawmark across his chest. “Just a scratch.”

    Leaning against the cryogenic conduit to cool himself, Dashiell checked his .38 revolver. “One bullet left.”

    With a crash, the hatch deformed visibly, struck by some awesome force. “I may be a washed-up pulp writer,” he shouted, “but I’m a fighter.” Razor claws forced the hatch open. Dash took aim as the reptilian entered. “Somehow I’ll get back to Earth. Then I’ll let everyone know aliens are real.”

    The quadrupedal alien approached deliberately, licking its lips. He backed away. “They say write what you know. Want to hear the title of Dashiell Pendragon’s next bestseller?”

    The creature lunged at him, seeming to soar through the air. Leaping aside, Dash took aim and squeezed the trigger. The bullet whizzed past the reptilian’s crested head, striking the cryogenic conduit. As liquid oxygen gushed onto the scaly beast, it writhed in pain. Dashiell covered his ears to muffle its death shriek.

    When it fell silent, Dashiell prodded the lifeless alien’s face with the muzzle of his revolver.
    “Slaying the Dragon.”


  71. Lively Imagination
    Word Count: 205

    “Keep running!”

    “What is that thing?”

    “I’m not sure,” Robbie panted, his plump stomach in knots. He glanced back, they had a small lead on the hideous beast.

    “I didn’t think three headed monsters existed!”

    “They don’t,” Robbie huffed, chubby fingers pushing up his glasses, “at least not in real life.”

    “This is real life. Explain that.” Mike was a few feet ahead, holding back as to not lose Robbie.

    “Well,” Robbie gasped for breath, lungs burning, ” I think… I created it.”


    “You know that story I wrote last night?”


    “It was about a beast with three heads, eyes like molten lava, big cavernous nostrils. Sound familiar?” Robbie stopped short, hands on his knees, gasping for air. Mike stopped and doubled back.

    “You’re telling me that you somehow made it come alive?”

    “Well… yeah. It’s sorta happened before, just never with something so obvious.” Their heads jerked back as a shrill screech filled the halls.

    “It sees us.!” Mike pulled Robbie up forcing him to run once more. “If we can get around that corner we might lose it again. What happens in your story?”

    “Well,” Robbie hesitated as they turned the corner. A wall. “he chased his prey to a dead end…”