Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 30

IT’S HERE!!!!! And I’m going to pretend like y’all haven’t already scrolled to the bottom to see what the new contest looks like and will give you a proper intro anyway. Which means: WELCOME to Flash! Friday’s newest challenge! Our first half of the year, we wrote stories inspired by the basic elements of a story (plot/conflict, setting, character, theme) plus a contrasting photo. Now we’re ratcheting that up a bit by finding inspiration in the famous novels of yesterday. Here’s the deal:

* Novel Prompt: We will provide the name of a famous novel along with a summary of its story elements. If you aren’t familiar with the novel, no worries — our summary’s all you need.
* New word count: ROTATING. Each week will require a different min/max wordcount.
* Your challenge: YOU CHOOSE which two story elements to build your story on, and let us know which two you chose. Byline example:

by Rebekah Postupak, Elements: Character & Setting, 200 words, @postupak  

* Optional photo: for those who prefer photo inspiration, we’ll still include one, but it will be completely optional to use it for your story. The only prompt you’re required to use = TWO story elements from that week’s novel.   

QUESTIONS??? Just tweet @FlashFridayFic or ask in the comments section below. I have also provided a sample entry in the comments.

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DC2***NEW JUDGES START TODAY!!!!*** Join me in welcoming Dragon Team Five, the fabulous captains Foy Iver & Holly Geely! As writers, they need no introduction. But as judges? Ahhh, now, won’t this be fun! Foy challenges you to think way outside of the box. “If everyone has taken all the good stories, ” she says, “pull me down a different path.” For her part, Holly says a fabulously crafted character gets her every time. “Nothing beats a well-rounded character,” she says, “be they realistic or grossly exaggerated.” Is everybody up for the challenge?? LET’S GO!

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

* Today’s required word count: 200 – 250 words (minimum 200, maximum 250, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (this week’s min 200 – max 250 words, excluding title/byline), the two story elements you based your story on, and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday.

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.

AND HERE IS YOUR NOVEL PROMPT:

This week’s novel: The Count of Monte Cristoby Alexandre Dumas.

Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these; be sure to tell us which two you chose):

* Plot: A clever, now fabulously wealthy man seeks revenge on those who once wrongfully imprisoned him.
* Conflict: man vs man
Character: escaped convict
Theme(s): revenge AND/OR justice
Setting: Napoleonic France

OPTIONAL PHOTO PROMPT (for inspiration only; it is NOT REQUIRED for your story):

Château d'If, Marseille vu de la navette des Iles d'Or

Château d’If, Marseille, vu de la navette des Iles d’Or. CC2.0 photo by Jacqueline Poggi.

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175 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 30

  1. Story of Awesome Exampleness
    by Rebekah Postupak @postupak
    Story Elements: Conflict & Setting
    Word count: 242

    –and here is where you would read the totally fabulous story if this weren’t a mere example–

    –and that’s it! See how easy that was??

  2. Revenge
    (209 words)

    I should be a dead man. But that’ll happen soon enough.

    I should have died at Berezina. I should have died in the agony that was the retreat from Russia. I remember watching you ride by on your horse. You never saw me or noticed my bloody footsteps. While I slept on the cold ground you slept in your warm tent. I cursed you under my breath. I cursed the imperial eagle that wanted to grasp the world in its talons.

    But I wasn’t the one to die in the Russian steppes. Philippe, Marcel, Gaston and countless others died for your hubris. They suffered for your grand delusion of empire. Why was I alive? Had I so wronged god that he cursed me to watch my friends die.

    When I became your aide, I knew god had granted me a chance for revenge.

    A few seconds after I slip my blade between your ribs, your guards will cut me down. I’ll smile during the moments you take your last breath. I’ll laugh out loud with mine. I’ll stare into your eyes as the devil comes to claim our souls. I’ll shake the devil’s hand and offer you as my gift to hell.

    Time for the little corporal to die.

    Theme: revenge
    Conflict: man vs man
    (also set in Napoleonic times, but it doesn’t have to be France, lol)

    • You hope that he gets some revenge for all the suffering he’s gone through, trouble is we know he won’t, not that way anyway. Some great lines in here that set the stage perfectly, ‘the retreat from Russia, ‘the imperial eagle that wanted to grasp the world in its talons.”, the ‘little corporal’; nice example of showing not telling.

  3. “Time Served”
    @colin_d_smith
    Story Elements: Conflict and Theme
    Word Count: 247

    I saw her down by Blaney Creek, washed up on the rocks. First time I ever saw a naked white girl. Probably why I stopped and stared. And she was dead. Never seen a dead body before either. Blood on her face and eyes like glass: you look in, but there ain’t no-one looking back out. Creepy as hell. I thought about touching her, but I was too chicken, so I found a branch on the ground and picked it up to poke her.

    “Hey!” Mrs. Riley was walking her dog and seen me with the stick and the body. I made to run, but she went and set that old mutt on me. She called the cops, and next I knew I was serving life for murder.

    I’ve seen those dead eyes in my dreams going on fifty years now, thirty spent in a cell wishing I’d kicked that danged pooch and ran.

    Then I find Riley’s still alive, living in the same town. I dropped by to say hello, but she didn’t recognize me. Just as well. I passed myself as a new neighbor stopping to visit. What harm’s a 65 year old man?

    “Here’s your coffee, Mrs. Riley,” I say, smiling, taking the chair opposite her, stirring my cup, watching her take a sip. She goes to speak, but chokes, spilling her coffee.

    I grin.

    She’s dead before her cup hits the floor.

    Then I sip mine, cos I ain’t going back to prison.

  4. The Locksmith
    (100 words)
    Setting Napoleonic France
    Character: escaped convict

    “I am coming sir!” Gerard replied as he fumbled down the hall, wine decanters in hand. “Which wine would you prefer, the Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc?

    “Neither, I want the Merlot you imbecile. Chardonnay is for peasants and do I look like a peasant to you? Would a peasant command an imperial army? Would a peasant have the wit to best the greatest armies in Europe?”

    “No sir.”

    “Tell me again Gerard, how did you become my cup-bearer?

    “My emperor, I saved your life at Waterloo. I took a musket ball in the leg for you. As a reward you made me you cup-bearer.”

    Napoleon scowled at Gerard. “Yes I suppose that is why you fumble about the place, spilling wine. I suppose I should thank you for saving my life. What did you do before serving in my army?”

    “I was a locksmith sir.”

    “Were you a good locksmith Gerard? You’re a terrible cup bearer.”

    “I was an excellent locksmith; I’ve managed to open many locks. Most I didn’t have the keys for.”

    “Yes, yes,” Napoleon rolled his eyes. “I’m sure that if I locked you in a dungeon you’d be able to escape before this painter finished my portrait.”

    Gerard smiled coyly as he poured the wine.

  5. Title: Monster of West End
    Word Count: 210
    Elements: Theme, Conflict

    He’s out. Good behavior… Not for long.
    My terrified face frowns back at me from puddles on sidewalks. Singular, animal thoughts strung like bows fill my head. I shove a sod out of the pay phone. He starts shouting at me. I shout louder…
    Three coins, three rings of the phone.
    I hang up the receiver. No help for me.
    I see his face, cool and murderous, on the porn adverts inside the phone booth. I claw them to pieces until my nails bleed. The dagger rain rings like falling steel— each one a stab at me from his.
    Out in the rain— is that? No, it’s not. I thought I saw him in that white suit, when it all fell apart. I was hired to rob his wife but I threw the bastard under the bus when the job went south. The Monster of West End, everybody called him.
    It’s hard to breathe in the booth but the world is one slobbering maw now and I’m riding one of its teeth. I need to leave. Run. Somewhere. Is that him— No, it isn’t. It isn’t.
    A clap of thunder. Breaking glass in my face. Feeling of warmth in my chest, blood on the floor… the maw is snapping shut.

  6. The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy

    @Making_Fiction

    Story Elements: Character & Theme

    250 words

     

    She lived her life in the folds of oppression.

    He lived his life in the smothering love of his parents.

    She once twirled in the sunlight. Once smiled. Her dreams were crayon-colours. Roughly sketched blueprints of respect, dignity, self-worth and a mythical thing called love.

    He only left the house when they went with him. Mind that step, son. Have you taken your tablets? Button your coat. Don’t forget the emergency procedures.

    She pursued her dreams and saw that glimmer of love in broken men; men that she would come to realise were beyond redemption.

    He watched his parents die from the genetic disease that coursed through his veins and was left ill prepared to face the world alone.

    She folded into the roles and shapes demanded of her. She was the beautiful dove, the delicate orchid, the fearsome dragon. Between roles, she could not turn back to herself—such a person did not exist.

    He hid in the musty shadows of his house. Breathed the mould-spore mists. He didn’t clean the dust, for the dust was them. It was all he had left.

    They dreamed. They dreamed of impossible justice.

    In their dreams, they danced in the mirror-ball light of the moon. They touched with tenderness. Kissed with compassion. Their origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and feel loved.

    Perhaps she would leave these men?

    Perhaps he would leave this house?

    And perhaps justice would be found in the dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy.

  7. The Tale of The Master Baker
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    245 words
    Theme and plot (and possibly conflict)

    My croissant were the choice of royalty. My baguettes the toast of France. Ha ha, literally if you left them a day. My patisserie would make young women go weak at the knees. But such baking prowess draws envy. They see only the fame, the celebrity. They weren’t there for the years of training, the endless days of perfecting my technique. Do you think just anyone can kneed the perfect dough? No! it takes talent and dedication.

    Marcel was my biggest rival and I thought my friend. But it seems years of standing on the second tier of the winner’s podium had warped his mind. He was consumed with the desire to be the best in France and was prepared to try any means. I was accused of using performance enhancing substances, as if my bread ever needed the addition of baking powder for the perfect rise. But the allure of scandal to the press is like the scent of a fresh bake from my shop to the people of Paris, impossible to resist.

    And jealousy is the yeast to the fermentation of rumour. It needed little persuasion for other purveyors of mediocre pastries to feed the flames that bake mischief not bread. Surely, they’d whisper, with the vagaries of flour such consistent perfection is not possible. So now I languish while others seek my crown. But like a sourdough starter I bubble away out of sight and I promise you, I will rise again.

  8. 218
    @Viking_Ma
    theme – justice & conflict man/man

    Ghost Loop

    Jaques! I loathe you!
    I love you too!
    I hate you so much that I cannot put it into words!
    You just did?
    How could you sleep with my mother?
    We climbed into bed…
    You’ve destroyed my entire family!
    Your Aunt did seem miffed
    I am going to find you and kill you!
    You’ll have to catch me first

    The castle was empty apart from the ghosts. Dusty chains still rattled, and ancient moans echoed down the centuries. Not a living soul ever dared step inside. The sea head-butted the surrounding rocks, as if desperate to wash the whole place away.

    I’m coming to get you!
    Don’t make me laugh
    Dear God, how awful is this punishment
    I don’t mind
    Trapped here for eternity
    A year is but a fraction of a second
    Stuck in the dungeon with you
    We used to be friends
    Until you stole my mother’s honour! Cad!
    Aw, she stole my honour
    What?!
    She jumped me. I tried to resist…
    How dare you!
    It’s the truth!
    Jacques! I loathe you!
    I love you too! Hey, wait…we said that already?
    ‘Tis but our destiny, Jacques… trapped in this crumbling castle, sad spirits lost in despair
    I’m alright
    You aren’t depressed at this fate?
    No! We’ve got it all…sea views, good company…
    Jacques! I loathe you!

  9. Finale (235 words)

    (c)2015 David Steele
    (writing as David Parkland)

    Story elements: Theme and Conflict (and very nearly setting, but a few years late!)

    Jacques took a moment to appreciate the scale of the building. Vertiginous rows of plush seats, balconies encrusted with gilt scrolls, carved to the point of absurdity by a thousand grim-faced craftsmen. The Opera House was spectacular from any viewpoint, but peering up from the stage, even in the gloom of half a dozen lanterns; it was a sight to inspire majesty.

    He picked his way through the empty chairs of the orchestral pit, sidestepping the little brass stands to the clutter at the back where the xylophone and timpani lay waiting for their chance to be heard. There, also; the cannon.

    ‘Quite the spectacular!’ they had declared this wretched composition. ‘The genius of a true innovator! The innovation of a true genius!’

    Jacques allowed himself a smile. Tonight, when this cannon spoke in the final movement, they would know what a true genius could accomplish.

    He stood for a moment, drinking in the silence for long enough to be sure he was truly alone, before carefully siting and locking the barrel of the little weapon directly towards the Royal Box.

    His fingers were surprisingly steady as he unbuckled his satchel and retrieved the lead shot from its faded leather pouch.

    ‘Let the seals clap,’ he thought. ‘By tomorrow morning, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and all the other peddlers of his Bolshevik filth will be finished.’

    “Vive La France,” he whispered, to nobody in particular.

  10. The Gentle Sway of the Forest
    @elaine173marie
    Story elements: Theme and Conflict.
    250 words

    If you look closely beyond the spiky branches of the trees, and let your eye catch the colour purple, just along the line of the river’s edge, you’ll see her crumpled skirt.
    A few feet from that, the beer bottles they slugged from, as they counted the studs in the denim blue sky, glint in the sun now and then, the weakest of sign posts whispering of where she’s hidden.

    That night, she’d listened to his cigarette-stained words: he’d never love again. Innocent. Locked up. Too long. Lost faith. In everything.
    That made her want him more.
    She tasted the danger on his lips, felt the coarse rub of his skin, and ignored the claw fingers of the trees pickinging at the sutures of her patched up heart. Ignored the crickets’ wise chorus. Ignored the birds as they pecked tiny, cherry red warnings in her flesh.
    She could change him.

    Can you pick out the bright dandelions at the water’s edge, and trace her brown curls splitting the yellow?
    He’d told her she had nice hair. Sweet smile. Said he knew her family. Said she had nice eyes.
    If you looked from the other side of the river, you’d meet her dead stare. See the debt she’d paid for a no good brother, whose words could be bought.

    And if you look close enough so that your eyes can feel, you’ll feel the forest gently swaying as it casts its fresh, green blanket over her final resting place.

  11. Word Count – 248
    @susanOReilly3
    Story Elements – Conflict, Character & Revenge Theme

    Fallen

    His lift doesn’t reach the top floor, his mind a closed door. His dreams low he’s reached the depths of depravity, no deeper to go.

    Mentoring him in jail, walls he tries to derail. If you addressed his block it would be Deranged Lane he feels no pain.

    He smiles doesn’t beguile. Shaped like a sneer its coldness jeers. I’m meek in his presence fascinated by his essence. Unfortunate that although not everything fits, parts don’t gel, women fall under his spell. He gives me palpitations and I lose everything for him no hesitation.

    Conjugal visits not approved, the block moved. New heights reached, security breeched. I censor mail hover over detail. He gets what I approve of not ladies swearing undying love.

    I’ve reported he was temporarily insane and to keep him locked up no gain. Lauded for my credentials the plan has potential.

    His release date set, prospects make me wet. Freedom day I await with bated breath, hidden, can’t show myself, yet. He walks through the gate no emotion demonstrates. Waiting a distance from the prison I toot with precision. Three beeps agreed, when planting the seed. Steps quicken as I beckon.

    About two feet from the car he collapses I couldn’t tell how much time lapses. Blood spurts he’s mortally hurt. Standing triumphant is a dad in his daughters photos clad. Avenging her killing to go to jail he’s willing.

    I owned up to everything reality stings. Sacked in disgrace I hide my face.

  12. Carin Marais
    @CarinMarais
    Story elements: Conflict and theme (and character, sort of)
    Word count: 247

    Forget Revenge

    James had lost count of the years. He simply added layers to the black mass beneath his shirt as if he was making a foil ball out of chocolate wrappers. It was black and grey; made from fear, hate, and prayers for vengeance. Now, on the day of his release, he would at last have use for it.

    His old home looked different. The people were older, the children all frightened. John watched from across the street, just like the day he gave James up to the cops for killing a terminally ill woman. For taking Alyssa’s pain away. 

When it was dark, he took the ball outside. Inside the family talked, forgetting the ex-con in their midst. He could see John at the window across the street, watching the house through an open window. Watching him.
    
James plastered the last of his hate onto the ball. He threw the ball towards John, pushing his memories after it. John struggled when the roiling mass hit him, clutching at his throat, fighting for breath.

    James stared at the party inside the house. He felt as if he just woke up. It must’ve gone as planned. Alyssa would have no more pain now.

A strange woman came from the house. 

“Dad?” 

Dad? His mind flittered with memories of prison, darkness, pain — Alyssa.

    “Where’s Alyssa?”

    “She’s dead, dad. Remember? After you — what have you done?”

“Escaped.” It sounded like a silly answer, now. He wondered why he’d said it. 



    • The question of alleviating suffering in such a manner is something often in the papers these days, usually with a more sympathetic hearing than James had. And now he’s caught in that loop of forgetfulness and remembrance, tragic.

  13. “Air Pressure”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Conflict & Theme
    Word count: 200

    The headache seemed intent on dividing her skull. The baby would not stop crying. And the change in pressure as they reached cruising altitude was not helping matters.

    “Sssh, little one,” she whispered. “Everything will be fine soon enough.”

    Ella’s psyche craved quiet. But her body screamed out for sleep. The blur of the past six months – an indoctrination into a new way of life, really – had begun to take its toll.

    Others have done this. I can, too, she assured herself.

    And yet now, confined inside the speeding aluminum carcass, she found that a simple nuance of motherhood – quieting a colicky baby – had become a Sisyphean labor. Before she left, they had coached her. Told her what she could expect. But no words could adequately prepare Ella for this divine endeavor.

    They were right about one thing, though.

    The infidels never check baby bottles at security.

    “Is there anything I can do to help?” the flight attendant offered.

    “No. She’ll be fine,” Ella said.

    She just misses her mother. But in a minute, it won’t matter, Ella thought as she stuffed a rag into the little bottle festooned with pink horses – and filled with petrol – and struck her lighter.

  14. “Fridged”
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    Story Elements: Conflict & Theme
    Word count: 250

    The car engine growls, the speed picks up in a street of boarded up houses and fly tipped white goods.. The car in front gets closer and closer. Charlie roars the horn. “This is about justice for Hope.”
    “No. It is bloody suicide.” I reply. The horn roars again. “Christ have you ever beaten Michael in a fight? He’ll gut you like Hope.” I blink away the flashes of blood on the battered old fridge, red stains on the lino.
    “Least I’ll put up a bloody fight. Like I’d done if I’d be been bloody there.”
    “And I’d be booking your funeral now.”
    Charlie jumps on the breaks. My seatbelt cuts air from my body. “Bloody typical, you wouldn’t have done bloody anything. She was my wife.”
    “And I’m your bloody brother and I’m bottom of the bloody food chain and when you’re there you know who the big hunters are. You’re big Charlie but Michael is bigger. I don’t want you to die. Hope wouldn’t want you to die.”
    Charlie pulls me into his face. His spittle decorates his chin. “You don’t know what she’d want. What I want.” He shoves my body slams into car door. Tears leaked from his eyes. I’ve never seen him cry. Dread creeps through the back of my seat and squeezes my stomach. I’ve got this journey wrong, I’ve got Charlie wrong.
    “Sorry,” I whispered, looking for the door handle. Click and the door swings open.
    Charlie drives off at a sensible speed.

  15. Katie Morford
    @KLMorford
    Last Laugh
    Plot and theme
    225 words

    I told ya I’d have the last laugh. You didn’t believe me, did ya? But Gene O’Neil always keeps his word. I’m not like you.

    I get it. You’re the schemer in the slick hat, the king of the block. I’m just the skinny ginger kid dodging yellow taxis, swiping leather purses, wiping your turned-up nose. Until the coppers nabbed me that day, locked me in a cage inscribed with your name. No one cares about Gene O’Neil, you said. No one will miss him. Bet you had yourself a good laugh with the boys.

    Hope you enjoyed it. That was your last laugh.

    A few years in the slammer, a few black eyes and scrapping for my life, and I’m a dangerous man now. I learned to fight back and keep my freckled ears peeled. But I never forgot what you taught me. Fists bruise but words destroy.

    Now I’ll destroy you.

    I know your secrets. Keep your clubs and knives. I’ll slice you thin like the corner butcher’s ham. I learned from the best, each of your cruel jests a hairpin in my eyeball. So when the bright lights come on and the laugh track starts, you’ll know. Your day has come.

    You laugh in our faces and make people pay. I make people pay to laugh. Who has the last laugh now?

    • ‘I’ll slice you think like the corner bucher’s ham’ – definitely wouldn’t want to be on his wrong side! His anger really burns through the page.

      • Yeah,he strikes me as angry, but also in a way being happy and making others laugh is his way of thumbing his nose at the person who tried to destroy his happiness. So kind of a variant on “killing with kindness” lol

  16. Exile
    Story elements: conflict and character – I think!
    245 words
    @lizhedgecock

    Boots crunch on the gravel outside my window, pendulum-regular even in this heat. I regard the rosbifs, cooked a little too rare for my tastes.

    A knock at the door. ‘Your breakfast is ready, Emperor.’ The guard mangles the words, but I grow used to it. Tropical fruits and delicate pastries await me; but I remember to frown and ask whether the coffee is hot.

    My encounter with Napoleon was brief. An ‘Excuse me’ from the next cell led to a face I knew well. I bowed, and Napoleon gazed back at me. ’We are similar.’

    I smiled. ’We could be brothers.’

    ‘We could be each other. Quick!’ He shrugged off his jacket.

    ‘I don’t understand.’

    ‘I am to be exiled to a beautiful tropical island, but I do not wish to go. I have friends who can help me, here. What will happen to you if you remain?’

    I considered the value of the jewellery found on my person, and kicked off my shoes.

    ‘Stand straighter.’ I complied, although the weight of Napoleon’s uniform pulled me down. ‘Look at my expression. Better. Hold it.’

    Jingling keys grew closer. ‘Come on, Emperor.’ The guard looked at me, then at the drab little man slumped in the adjoining cell.

    This evening, I will tell the guard that I wish to walk to the harbour, and ten pairs of eyes will watch my every step as I pretend to test the bars of my gilded cage.

  17. Not With My Body You Don’t
    by Dylyce P. Clarke
    Story Elements: Revenge & Napoleonic France
    Word count: 250

    Madame Marguerite’s head refused to bow, nor her shoulders to stoop, despite the ropes that secured her wrists. A genteel look silenced Élisabeth, her Lady-in-Waiting. Although not bound, Élisabeth’s tear stained face looked the picture of abject misery. Madame Marguerite’s father, Viscount Montesquieu, had just banished them to the highest room in the château.

    Her crime? Madame Marguerite had refused to marry the Duke of Avignon. She couldn’t help that upon his arrival, she’d fallen in love with the Duke’s strapping valet.

    “You may imprison my flesh within stone, but these walls cannot encase my heart,” she said with quiet defiance.

    From her plush prison, Madame Marguerite sent Élisabeth to scour the countryside in search of a root that, once consumed, simulated death.

    When Élisabeth hesitated, Madame Marguerite explained, “Men may employ brute strength, my dear, but a lady has only her wiles.”

    A clandestine meeting with Marguerite’s lover procured two horses.

    Marguerite was actually doing the weak-willed simpering Duke a favor. Her father would never rise above his station and titles couldn’t be bought. But, with a Duke for a grandson he desired to control, well . . . Marguerite knew the moment she produced an heir, her father planned to murder her spouse.

    To her credit, Élisabeth’s shrieks once Marguerite drank the tea she’d brewed shook the château to its foundations.

    On the way to the cemetery, the procession was set upon by bandits who kidnapped the again shrieking Élisabeth. The only thing they stole was Madame Marguerite.

  18. Reality Bites
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    @ 232 words (counting by hand while on the interstate, so hey, I could be wrong.)
    Elements: most of them. Man vs man, (not so) escaped convict, France, justice, etc.

    I wish I were anywhere but in this car today. We’re hurtling through the air at eighty miles an hour, and yet all I feel is trapped, like a wrongfully imprisoned convict, cornered between the exhaustedly grumpy husband, the irritable, scowling teen, and the too-exuberant-for-this-small-space little girl.

    There’s no justice in this. Why should I be confined to this tiny front seat, when all I long to be is free, perhaps strolling the streets of London, gallivanting along the coast of France, or at least catching up with social media and trying to convince people to buy my book?

    The husband sighs as yet another vehicle cuts him off in the left lane. It’s like modern-day jousting, this testosterone-fueled road rage, man vs man in the quest to get there just a little bit faster.

    I focus only on this phone, on this story, willing myself to write in the middle of us zig-zagging lanes, willing my bladder not to empty itself right here, right now. That would only make everything and everybody that much more uncomfortable.

    I know I’m supposed to be crafting fiction, a miniature classic in the vein of The Count of Monte Cristo. Too bad. This is what you get – a truth more frightening than any fancy tale: the dreaded summer family vacation.

  19. Counting on Monty

    Theme/plot @geofflepard 241 words

    They were the chosen ones, the golden couple. Everyone loved them, for their wealth, their easy nature and wanted to be in their circle. They were breast-fed power, nurseried in control. And I willingly paid fealty for a smile, a moment of belonging. ‘We can count on you, Monty.’ How I glowed when I heard that. I was their factotum, their quartermaster, their whipping boy, happy to be their penumbra. I did their homework, took their detentions, fetched their food, cleared their messes and bought them treats and time.
    I followed them to college, happy to live the lie that was ‘good ol’ Monty’ if they let me taste nectar to hide the bile.
    We graduated; even as they had strings pulled, they still yanked my chain. I had a place at the counter; they were in the boardroom.
    But even gold dulls. Base metals stay true to their nature. I rose against the tide, each step shadowing their leaps forward. The crash, when it came washed all before it. Still they looked to Monty to take the rap, to cover their tracks, but now I had something to lose. Respect, a place, a family of my own. I cut the rope, watched them fall: disgrace, humiliation, bankruptcy. Out of the ashes, only ‘old Monty’ knew the systems.
    I am now the man of power, my children the chosen ones. I watch them learn to exercise their patronage and wonder…

  20. A Phoenix on Elba
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    244 words
    character: escaped convict
    setting: Napoleonic France (mostly)

    A great man does not quail when the opening appears. I rose from a war-torn wasteland. The people needed me. I led. I conquered, as great men do.

    My enemies thought an island was enough? Bah. Too terrified to execute me, they knew they should be grateful for the changes I wrested from the chaos. I built a new world from an old one’s ruins. No one wants to kill a god.

    I carried a continent upon my broad wings.

    Fools. If you give me an island, I will remake an empire.

    Europe’s less able leaders sit in their Congress, squabbling like children over sweetmeats, grabbing land, purveying power, whining about buffers, puppet states, protection.

    Do they have the vision to lead?

    I think not.

    The opening arrives. The twenty-sixth of the second month. The brig called Inconstant.

    Nine months and twenty-one days I have waited to rise again from the ashes, to resurrect myself.

    Weak sun glimmers on the crisp blue of the Mediterranean. Waves batter Portoferraio’s walls, crashing against the bulwarks like an army against a Russian winter.

    “You’ll never raze a continent and be forgiven,” one dares to say at the harbor where one thousand men await me.

    “We will see.” I do not fear. Though I have grown fat in exile, I know how well the people love me. More than love, they need me.

    There is a void, and only a great man can fill it.

    I rise again.

  21. PENNILESS AND WANTING

    Brian S Creek
    241 words
    Justice / man vs man
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    I watch him from the shadows as he bathes in my glory, his grin so false it’s almost true.

    He took my name and used it to climb the ladder to the highest rung of society, leaving me far below; penniless and wanting.

    But I finally tracked him down, yes I did. A favour here, a threat there. That was all it took to infiltrate his world.

    “Charlatan!” I yell as I explode from hiding.

    The party guests cease conversation and mastication. All eyes on me, how it should be.

    “This man is a fraud!” I say. “He has deposited a carpet of lies while winding his way into your lives. But his accomplishments belong to another. They belong to a man left stranded by the wayside, dumped in the gutter like a used condom.”
    “Charlie,” he says. “What are you doing here?”

    “Surprised to see me, dear brother,” I retort. His cheeks shine red as embarrassment coats him. He knows the reveal is near. He knows the truth will strip him of this adulation. Perhaps that’s what he fears most.

    Suddenly the pointy end of a sword is the centre of my universe. He jabs my shoulder with it and the pink cocktail stick cutlass snaps in two.

    “Ow,” I say.

    “Come on, Charlie, you’re ruining my book launch.” he says.

    “My book,” I say.

    “No, my book. All you did was suggest the title.”

    “And I never got paid.”

    • Ha! I was expecting blood on the carpet until the words ‘cocktail stick’ appeared. Nice portrayal of sibling jealousy festering into an imagined injustice.

  22. Escape

    Light streams through the bars of my prison and yet these rays do nothing to dispel my despair.
    I have begun to lose count of my time inside. Is it minutes, hours, days?

    I dream of that which I miss most. Green lawns with rich dark dirt full of life. Will I ever feel those tickling blades again?

    I roll over onto my side, seek another view of my familiar limitations.
    And then I notice it.
    The lock is not engaged.
    Have I been held prisoner by my own assumptions?
    I push against the door and find that freedom is mine for the taking.

    I rocket out of my prison and stand still in the middle of the open floor.
    I am free and I am alone.
    Revenge will be mine.

    I race up the stairs and select a pair of shoes with thin tapered heels, so perfect for gnawing and begin to chew. I leave my gift of ruin in the middle of their bed.
    I run back downstairs and stand strong while I urinate on the living room rug.
    Satisfying one urge I turn to another. I paw open the refrigerator door and follow my nose to a container of chicken. I nudge it from the shelf and gorge myself.
    Despite my initial joy I soon realize that I haven’t eaten too quickly and make sure to hasten to the front door for the chicken evacuation.

    Now it’s time to curl up on the couch and wait.

    249 words
    Escaped Convict and Revenge/Justice

  23. The Hawk
    A V Laidlaw @AvLaidlaw
    Story elements: Conflict and Character
    Word Count: 249

    The Hawk

    The kids play football outside. I hear the shouts and the football thump against the wall. Loved the footie when I was a kid, going to The Den with my old man, filling up my lungs and hollering as loud as I could when we scored. Daren’t make a sound these days. Daren’t go to the footie. He might be there, lurking in the crowd, waiting for his chance.

    I peer out through the gap in the curtains to see those kids play, to see a glimpse of sunshine for the first time in days. But there’s a police car. And him standing among those kids, looking at the house with those pale blue eyes. I know them too well. Hawk eyes. Inspector Hawkings of the Yard. I remember him, that starched copper’s uniform and razor rash on his neck, reading out his evidence in a flat voice. And me smirking because that old walnut faced judge could send me down for whatever he liked – I had a mate with the prison transport. Never saw the inside of the Scrubs. I laughed. His hawk eyes stared out from the newspaper.

    He’s looking at my window. He knows. I have to get out down the back stairs. Don’t know where I’m going to go. Can’t get a plane, he’ll be waiting in the departure lounge. Can’t take a train, he’ll sit down on the seat opposite me. Can’t walk away, I’ll hear his footsteps following me wherever I go.

  24. The Rapture (250 words)
    @brett_milam
    Theme: justice
    Conflict: man vs man

    Rory was hitchhiking through a hole-in-the-earth town. He sermonized the townspeople and tourists that walked by him.

    One too-nice college-looking kid stopped and actually seemed to be listening to Rory.

    “Abraham was ready to slice open his own son, Isaac, in the presence of All Mighty God, brothers and sisters,” Rory said, his vocal chords coated in decades-old smoke.

    The college kid nodded, as Rory continued.

    “And you son, God sent Jesus just for you,” Rory went on, his hands gesticulated in fiery passion.

    Rory had a bulky camping bag on his back, black shades covered his eyes and a thick, dirty mustache bulged from his lip. His skin evidenced his hitchhiking, as it had turned a rubbery brown.

    I people-watched. People were so self-consumed; they only navigated their bubble, oblivious to what lurked outside.

    Zodiac had it partly wrong. Humans weren’t the most dangerous animal of all because at least animals in the wild had a sense of a predator.

    Humans had let civilization dull their animal instincts.

    Rory thought God had sent Jesus to save humankinds’ sins. But God was either bored with us or dead. Someone else had to step up and I elected myself for that position.

    Someone had to remind humans of where we came from.

    Someone had to remind humans of the filth that they had allowed to accrue around them.

    Someone had to remind them of people like Rory. And of people like me.

    I was sent here to cleanse all the filth.

  25. Account Settled

    Dante Edmonds dropped anchor and surveyed the surrounding area thoroughly. The last thing he needed at this juncture was unwelcome attention from a coastal patrol vessel or from any manner of law enforcement.

    Having regained his freedom, he vowed he would never be so confined ever again. He wasn’t naïve enough to believe he was the first man imprisoned for selling antiquities of questionable provenance, but to have been betrayed by a man he’d trusted had been the more grievous blow. This was a lesson the rightful owner of this boat and its contents should have learned sooner. Edmonds had taken the first opportunity to eliminate him, casting his lifeless body overboard.

    As darkness fell, he went below decks and retrieved the heavy ordnance containers. Priming the contents of each for use, he returned to his surveillance of the sprawling mansion complex. The grounds were well-populated for the party only now beginning.

    Given the relatively short range of his weapons and the fact his mission was initially intended to be carried out by two men, the timing would be tight. Raising the anchor, he gunned the powerful engines, moving as close in as possible without running aground.

    Leaping from the pilothouse to the deck, he fired one after another of the heavy antitank missiles into the various visible structures. As he motored away from the burning rubble and carnage, he had no assurance he had definitely eliminated his betrayer but it was, all in all, still a good day’s work.

    250 words
    @klingorengi
    Story elements: character & theme

  26. 250 campaigns
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    Themes and Setting

    Three Acts

    “Nappy?”
    “Yes, my Empress?”
    “That is so dear of you. Even after all these years.”
    “You will ever be my one true Empress, Josie.”
    “I am sure Marie-Louise might take issue with that.”
    “There is only one issue of her that concerns me.”
    “So she is with child?”
    “Fingers crossed.”
    “I am pleased.”
    “As am I, my petit minou.”

    He draws her closer and the camera fades.

    Later. Much later!

    “You will always be my conqueror, Nappy.”
    “And you will always move and rule my heart.”
    “Could I impose, then?”
    “Name it.”
    “Paul. He longs to see Paris?”
    “BARRAS! He is an embarrassment. A roué. The man has no morals, Josie.”
    “Has he not endured enough? And for so long, Nappy”
    “Are you still enamoured of him?”
    “We have each had lovers. But he is friend to both of us.”
    “A friend is not a lover, Josie.”
    “May I draw to your attention that we are both friends and lovers?”
    “We are. But I am your Emperor.”
    “Then, my Liege, rule me!”

    Later. Much later!

    “I relish these moments at Malmaison, Josie.”
    “They seem to invigorate you, Nappy.”
    “Even so, I have been away a suspiciously long time. I must return to my incubator.”
    “You are wicked. That poor girl!”
    “She lacks for nothing.”
    “And Paul? Perpetual exile, and for what? Why, it was he who brought you to me.”
    “He was born for exile. It suits him.”
    “And you suit me.”
    “Then let me vanquish you.”
    “You always do.”

    • Love the irreverent ‘Nappy’, the poor empress to be referred to as an incubator (he actually referred to her as merely a womb didn’t he?) and the continuation of Napoleon and Josephine’s story – neatly done.

      • Thank you. For me, and I imagine others, the chance to do a bit of research to flesh out a rather hastily written scene is quite a reward……eg playing with Napoleon’s apparently accurate reference to Marie-Louise as a “womb.”

  27. Josh Bertetta
    “Salvation”
    Story Elements: Character and Theme
    @JBertetta
    247 Words

    “I will be vindicated,” mused Marquis, fingering his rosary.

    “My son, you must ask yourself…Are you the one to impose justice?”

    “Who else is going to do it?”

    “Does not the imposition of justice belong to our Heavenly Father?”

    “Are you kidding me? When was the last time God did anything on my behalf? Where was God when they took everything away from me and threw me in that prison to rot? Did God help me escape?”

    The obese priest in his gaudy gold-embossed red robe quoted scripture, preached the gospel, and explained how he might consider his life behind bars a metaphor for his former life, how he might consider his enslavement to wealth an enslavement to sin—a prison. How he might think of himself now, having lost it all, as free, truly free. If only he had the eyes to see and the ears to hear…

    He did to his teeth what prison did to him, staying his tongue as the little red beads, void of prayer, raced across his nimble fingers.

    “I am here for you if you want to ask for forgiveness my son.”

    He launched to his feet, repeating that three-syllable word.

    “This world is a prison, my son. The Lord can set you free.”

    “A prison, huh?”

    “A prison.”

    “And God is just?”

    “God is just.”

    “And Heaven awaits?”

    “Heaven awaits.”

    “Then let me set you free.” He slipped the rosary around the priest’s neck and imposed the Lord’s justice.

  28. A Dish Served Cold
    (250 words)
    @elaine173marie
    Conflict and theme.

    Dishes loaded. Last task. Or what should have been. Table 6 clicks his fingers before he sticks his overgrown thumbnail between his nicotine stained teeth. There’s a black rainbow arc being slowly sucked away from underneath it.
    ‘You missed a bit, Sweetheart.’
    I rub the cloth as fast as I can over the dribble of weak tea on the formica surface while he drinks me in.
    The skin crawls on the back of my neck. I turn to move away again.
    ‘What about the dustpan and brush?’
    I am back sweeping around his stout, stubborn boots.
    ‘Think I’ll have me a little something sweet.’
    My eyes are blinking midnight, Harry should have closed up 15 minutes ago.
    ‘We’ve only sundaes.’
    ‘That’ll do. Get yourself along now. Ah’ve a real appetitie.’
    In the kitchen, I gouge at the ice cream with the scoop, produce a yellow flavoured ball. Just before I plop it inside the glass, I stop,  check to see if Harry’s around, then I jab it with just the tip of my tongue.
    ‘What’s keepin’ ya in there?’ Table 6 shouts.
    This time I clench my teeth, well the saliva up in my mouth so that a puddle sits on my tongue. I bring the scoop up, careful not to lose any, and dip the icy sphere into the hot liquid. Using the scoop as a spit, I turn it slowly.
    A frothy layer of squirty cream to disguise the texture- finished. I slap the sundae down.
    ‘Three scoop sundae. Enjoy.’

     

  29. Crystal Clear

    by Allison Garcia, Elements: Character & Theme, 241 words, @ATheWriter

    Even on the best of days, Ralph Ludkin was a horrible man. Meth had rotted out his teeth, leaving putrid, darkened stumps, and he cursed like a sailor’s backwoods meth dealer whose trauma-based anger could flare up at any moment.

    This, in fact, was exactly what he had gone to prison for 237 days, eleven hours, and fourteen minutes ago.

    And for 237 days, eleven hours, and fourteen minutes, Ralph only thought of one thing, or rather, one person. His stepfather.

    Most of the reason Ralph was such a horrible man was due to his stepfather’s treatment of him throughout his childhood. But Ralph didn’t blame him for how he was. Actually, he didn’t mind the person he was, which was probably the worst part. What he blamed him for was calling his P.O. and turning him in.

    One meth lab, a kilo of crystal meth, and a brawl with his stepfather later, Ralph was on the short end of his ten-year sentence and nowhere near getting time off for good behavior.

    On this particular day, he was on his way to shoe and took his break, stabbing an inexperienced guard with a handmade shank. He made it as far as his stepfather’s local hangout, the 7-11, before they found him, a smirk on his face as his stepfather’s jugular squirted a stream of cherry red syrup near the Slurpee machine.

    One thing was clear. Ralph Ludkin was a horrible man.

  30. @jujitsuelf
    #FDHowl
    255 words
    Setting and conflict

    War

    Steam rose from snorting horses, bridles jangled and sabres rasped in and out of scabbards as their owners obsessively checked their readiness.

    Carefree birds skimmed across the battlefield, mocking the exhausted men with their joyous flight. Three days the armies had been there, three days of constant skirmishes and larger attacks, each side drawing blood but not enough to bleed the enemy dry.

    The redcoats were stoic in their retreat. They were always stoic, which made killing them all the more enjoyable. Ripping well-drilled men to shreds, decimating formal ranks and smashing perfect formations was heaven to a cavalryman. Pierre was a cavalryman and he’d already sent a dozen redcoats to hell. With luck, by dusk he’d have dispatched a dozen more. Vive la France. Vive l’Empereur.

    Movement in the British ranks caught Pierre’s eye. A man burst out of the ordered line and sprinted for the French.

    As he ran he waved both hands above his head and yelled, “Don’t shoot! I want to join you!”

    Pierre levelled his carbine at the running man, took a breath, held it, and squeezed the trigger. The redcoat’s head vanished in a fountain of bright blood.

    “Good shot,” Captain Baudin laughed, slapping Pierre on the back.

    “Thank you,” Pierre said, stroking his horse’s ears. Deserters are better off dead whatever side they’re from.”

    Whistles blew and sharp orders echoed down the cavalry line. Saddles creaked as men made themselves ready to fight and prayers echoed in the still air. It was time to earn their pay.

    • The waiting before a battle, surely one of the worst moments. The detached nature of both Captain and Pierre with regard to killing someone is, I suppose, necessary to survive in war. Nice take.

  31. ,The Best Narcotic
    (249 words)
    Theme and Character

    After thirty years, Emilio found his chance to escape in the prison laundry. He’d worked his way up to trustee the hard way, after that miserable court appointed lawyers failed to prove his innocence. Escape had been his objective.

    He would never walk out of jail alive on his trumped up murder charges. He knew that. His prints on the murder weapons, the door– hell, they’d even gotten semen from that traitor Ruby. He was as good as dead the moment Mabry double-crossed him.

    People who murdered pretty young blonde girls made the headline news. Emilio’s face was everywhere. His first part of the plan involved losing that face.

    The terrible grease burns in the kitchen meant he’d never peel another potato, and they’d also made him an unrecognizable monster. A monster able to walk right into Mabry’s place, and leave the bomb he’d learned how to make inside. Prison taught you things, just not the things society wanted prisoners to learn.

    It was after he’d watched that club go up in a fireball taking Mabry’s whole organization with it that the pains started in his guts. He’d taken his forged identity documents and headed to the ER finally, when he couldn’t bear the pain any longer.

    “I’m sorry. The results from your tests show you have advanced cancer. It’s amazing your still ambulatory, Mr. Kent. People with this many tumors in major organs– haven’t you been in pain for months?”

    “No.”

    Hate, it seemed, was the best narcotic.

  32. Setting: Napoleonic France
    Theme(s): revenge AND/OR justice
    Word count: 243
    @Digestibleink

    The Wedding Night

    My Dearest Leone,

    It is my wedding night. My husband lies drunk on the bed. I’ve been soiled by his touch because you are on my mind. Do not scold me for loving you so. We made our pack when we were children—remember? The night was indigo, the moon hung so low and full that you promised to blow it off its mantel with your kiss. I still bloom with the memory of your touches, your ardent tongue, your throbbing desire. My love, my Leone what have I done?

    This flickering candle only knows the truth. They say you are somewhere near Moscow. I spoke to Josephine, at the Marshals Ball, she is oblivious to our sin. Should I be jealous? Should I hang myself with the silk scarf you gave me?

    Time and money have led me to this. If I could only see you, hear your sultry voice one more time I would have the courage to face a life of bearing his children, smiling at his banker dinner parties, and being a faithful wife.

    Tell me what to do Leone? I am in the dark. This silk can free me from the life my parents and duty has prescribed.

    He snores like pig. And I am his wife.

    Kiss the moon for me Napoleon. Kiss me in your dreams. Whisper that you burn for me. If you are silent then my death will unleash your downfall.

    With a heavy heart, your loveliest,
    Clair

    (c) 2015 Digestible Ink

  33. Josh Bertetta
    “Resolution”
    Story Elements: Conflict and Character
    248 Words
    @JBertetta

    A homeless man, a butterfly, and a snail walked into a bar.

    They met to end, for once and for all, the age old conflict: which of the three was better.

    The homeless man, an escaped convict, said he, that is, humankind, was superior, for as it was said, he was created in God’s image and, as such, given dominion over the earth. “I could crush you,” he said to the butterfly. “And I could end your life with simple salt.”

    The conversation moved to one of habitat whereas once again the homeless man, by virtue of being homeless, could venture wherever he wanted, claimed his superiority for the others had no such freedom.

    “Ah, but I am then the freest,” claimed the butterfly, “for I, being created of fire, change from one state of being to another while you, born from dust, return to dust. Thus I am superior.”

    “If it is the stuff we are made from that makes one the greater,” said the snail, “then it is I who am the greatest, for I am made of water—”

    “Made of water!?” protested the homeless man.

    “While the butterfly changes from one simple shape to another, I, like water, can take the shape of my container—the spiral—the very shape of creation itself. I am the potential for becoming, the very stuff over which God breathed in Genesis. Neither of you would be if it were not for me. You see, I AM.”

  34. ‘Til Death Do Us Part

    245 words
    Story elements: character and theme

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDogs

    “Oh you poor man!” said Mary. “To have been married to such a creature. You are truly a saint!”

    William lowered his eyes, displayed the expected humility, hid the smirk hovering at the corners of his mouth. “I am a compassionate man,” he said. “And Lucy needed help. The judge agreed an asylum was more appropriate to her needs.”

    He did not mention the money that had changed hands to achieve the transfer from prison to sanitarium.

    “And you did not think to divorce her?” asked Mary’s brother, Lord Henry. “I mean, good God man, she tried to kill you!”

    “No, the doctor advised me she wasn’t long for this world,” said William. “And we were happy once.” Before I spent the money.

    His new housekeeper slipped into the drawing room with a tray of drinks.

    “Another act of charity?” asked Henry after she had gone.

    “What could I do?” said William. “The vicar brought her to me.”

    Behind the door, the housekeeper thought of the vicar and their night together. A secret he wished to keep. Just like the sanitarium doctor and his prescriptions.

    “A toast!” cried Henry.

    They raised their glasses. Drank.

    The poison worked quickly, efficiently, bringing the party to a sudden end. Now she could drop her disguise.

    “Prison and the madhouse, William,” said Lucy, enjoying the horrified realisation on his face. “They corrupt and destroy the innocent. Poor William, you look so thirsty. Let me get you another drink …”

  35. Claim Versus Claim

    We meet eye to eye and bow, the heat hampering our warm up. Simple stretches suffice. Today is not the day for lingering about our business. We will conclude with first blood.

    “You stand for revenge?” Devin asks. Ketana nods. “You for justice?” he adds, looking towards me. I assent.

    “Are not the two one and the same?” Devin frowns. “Can this not easily be concluded?”

    “Not so,” I reply. I shrug, looking towards my opponent. “In this we agree, I think?”

    “‘Tis so,” Ketana says.

    “Hmph,” Devin responds. “Then let us be quick about it and be done.”

    I look towards Lelaina, before bringing my blade straight before me in salute. She clutches Jervert’s arm, eyes wide. His hand is firm in hers. “Strike true,” she says, her other hand playing about her lips, bitten to the quick.

    “As ever,” I say. “Gods willing. The blade is newly sanctified.”

    “Revenge has the right of it,” Ketana mutters. “In this, for once. His claim is unlawful. Prior promise cannot be broken, once made.”

    “Say so?” I ask. “Has love no sway, then? Though that claim pre-dates more monetary union?”

    “We differ. Once again,” Ketana replies, the corners of his mouth quirking. A pause, before our shoulders raise, then lower; simultaneous.

    “First?” I ask.

    “First,” Ketana confirms. His blade levels vertical between both eyes as we slow and still into silence.

    The clash of metal rings loud as we parry; claim meeting claim. Justice fights for truth today – hoping to prevail.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (250 words)

    Conflict and theme

  36. Hope Chest
    by Pratibha @needanidplease
    Story Elements: Conflict & theme
    Word count: 206
    #FlashDog
    #FDHowl

    Night after night, she would watch the waxing moon from her narrow window soaking up every ray of lullaby-singing moon. Then on the full moon, when the moonlight spread like milky hope on the terrace, she would gather her worries, put them in a chest for tomorrow, climb the stairs, and gaze at the round pot of milk and honey in the sky for a long time. Later, she would put away her tiny hope into another chest and go back down to her apartment. No one ever noticed or cared. Gentrification of the city continued.

    One evening, she saw that dreaded yellow eviction envelope stuck to her door. All the neighbors had received one in the last month, and like the flies swat down, they were dropping out of the apartments onto the cold, angry streets.

    “I haven’t lived on the Hope Street last twenty years for nothing.” She said. She checked her hope chest, then her worry chest. The worry chest had grown. She lifted it and dropped it onto the moonlit pavement. One by one the neighbors followed her and dropped theirs. Soon, the mountain of worries filled the street.

    She grabbed her tiny hope chest, raised it high, and heralded the Revolution.

    Author’s disclosure: a slightly different version of this story appeared on Flash Flood Journal on June 27, 2015.

  37. For The Win
    by Tyler Call
    dedicated to Christian McKay Heidicker
    Story Elements: Conflict & Character
    Word count: 250
    @tylerthetuner

    The sun-baked stone clung to his blistered feet; shoulders hunched, breath in labored gasps, fingers clasped into sweating palms under the bronze sky.

    Recognize the tension on the inhale, release in the exhale. Again.

    The fear came and went.

    He gazed over the edge of the parapet. Not much to see. Only endless leagues of labyrinthine walls and suffocating shrubs. He closed his eyes.

    Jump.

    Nothing happened.

    Fall. Do it.

    Eighteen years of captivity had hollowed him out. He took a step. Another.

    The furious vexation of pursuing footfalls. The shouts of his warden.

    The edge of the cyclopean wall came and went.

    The air caught and pulled at him. His stomach was in his feet. The wind ripped tears from his eyes, breath torn from his lungs.

    Sounds thickened, as if submerged. An image flashed: his head forced into buckets of water during the beatings.

    No more.

    The stones rushed toward him. He stiffened, throwing his arms out.

    A dream-like lag.

    He was falling in reverse. Up toward the ledge. Toward his captor.

    Hungry fingers raked his ankle, but caught only air.

    He was a cloud, black and full. Filthy from months in the dirt and rage and sun and blood. Tears spilling over his eyelids and down, damned to crash to the rocks.

    I am Poseidon.

    Thunderous cries burst from his body, starting low and quaking up his spine.

    I am Zeus.

    His prison came and went.

    The wind filled his wax and feather wings.

    I am Apollo.

  38. Bad Girl
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    249 words
    theme: revenge
    conflict: man vs. (wo)man

    Nurse locked her in the turret for kissing Georgio.

    “Pray they never find out,” Nurse said. “Don Antonio will kill you!”

    Giuliana wept. She did not want to marry Don Antonio, a hard man older than her father. She did not belong to him yet.

    Her father’s footsteps rang on the stairs like requiem bells. More steps followed, some soft, some grim.

    Three men arrived: her father, cut-stone face; Don Antonio, rage-filled eyes; Georgio, braggadocio-ripened smile.

    “Kneel, Guiliana,” her father said.

    Quaking, she obeyed.

    Don Antonio held a razor-like blade. “This man claims he touched you,” he said, pointing at Georgio. “He says he kissed you under the loggia, and more.”

    Why? Georgio, why? She wants to wail. Is your manly reputation so important that you must sacrifice me to it?

    Don Antonio’s blade slashed. Guiliana screamed as blood poured from her cheeks, the sfregio marking her forever a whore in the eyes of the world.

    “You are a ghost to me,” her father said.

    Don Antonio dropped the blade, spitting in her face. “Puttana!”

    The men departed. Georgio’s face remained unmarked; men were celebrated for their lust, not maimed for it.

    Bad girl, daring to desire. Bad girl, owning the flesh that housed her.

    Antonio left the blade, likely believing she would see that she was worthless, her only recourse death.

    *******

    Guiliana clutches the knife, caressing it lovingly.

    When they sleep, she will move, a ghost between walls.

    She will cut them as they have cut her.

      • When it comes to women, history routinely outrages my sense of justice. This is sort of a Romeo-Juliet tale spliced with the story of the mistress of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (he had her cut with the sfregio after she slept with his brother). I was also thinking about slut-shaming and the latest news about the young Afghan women who had acid thrown in their faces for daring to go to school. It’s all infuriating.

  39. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 243
    Elements: Character & Conflict

    The Making of a Man

    The stage is set, the line drawn. She narrows her eyes across the space, determination clouding the green currents of her gaze.

    I still my movements, waiting for the whispered answer to my unasked question.

    “No.”

    Steel coats her gaze, and I recognize my sentence in their jade depths.

    In answer, I raise the fragile, miniature teacup to my lips, moistening my tongue with the tepid water, and moan with exaggerated appreciation as I set the cup back on its matching saucer. My wide-brimmed sun hat slides askew across my hair.

    “Would you like some more tea, Mrs. McMuffins?” she asks politely, triumph clinging to the timbers of her voice. My shackles are secure in her hands, my puppet’s strings taut and ready to leap with the first tug.

    “Some biscuits, if you please,” I answer meekly.

    A shadow passes the window, a figure stands on the doorstep. The chime of the bell overshadows my sigh of relief.

    Her puzzlement turns to excitement as the neighbor’s freckled face peers in the open crack. “Melanie? Can I play?”

    I scramble backward, my hat flying and my teacup rolling to the side. Opening the door, I slide out, hardly acknowledging the muttered, “Morning, Mr. Johnson. My mom got your text.” My eagerness knows no bounds. The outdoors beckons with manliness: car engines and lawn mowing and wood chopping and good old-fashioned sweat.

    I’ve escaped; Mrs. McMuffins will have to wait.

  40. Flash Escape
    by James Atkinson @jamesatkinson81
    Story Elements: Character & Conflict
    Word count: 250

    All prisons were spectacular back then… imposing, dark, structures in cities, acting as warnings to passing citizens… great fortresses on islands or dangerous, barely accessible, parts of the coast.

    The latter were meant for dangerous criminals to be kept far from civilisation but we had created a different need. Most of the prisoner population were prisoners of war or conscience, all with a burning desire to escape back to their cause, a sense of injustice feeding that fire.

    Making us so keen to escape they put us somewhere there was nowhere to escape to. But with a view across the sea allowing us to ever look west back toward our fight.

    We tried to get out in many ways, anything to get to the boats waiting along the coast for us. Nothing worked for a long time, though, until Jim Smith found a way. We all had mirrors you see- small handheld ones issued so we could try and make ourselves presentable. They were very keen on that.

    All we had to do was flash and dazzle the guards, blind them enough to take them down one by one. Easy, when you think about it.

    Shame the escape boats were just a dream. A rumour that had started goodness knows when and by whom.

    Our escape happened in a flash, our flight took years. I got home eventually, after the war had ended; after the repatriated prisoners, too. Most never made it, though. Wish sometimes that Jim had kept quiet.

  41. Elements: Conflict/Theme/Setting.
    227 Words

    Title – The Plans of the Diligent
    The Atlantic was as grey and cold as the austere walls of the cell. Pierre watched the rolling waves and smiled. Halfway to the horizon a frigate flew before the wind, its full sails appeared luminescent in the late afternoon light. In a few hours it would be here, his means of escape.

    Escape, the word lurked in his mind like a rogue battalion in search of a battle.

    Escape from this prison. Escape from the powerlessness. Escape from the lies.

    This time tomorrow he’d be back home. The first thing he’d do was inspect the vines. Make sure they hadn’t been abused. Then it was time for the reckoning.

    He wondered how Citizen DeFaux would react. Would he bluster and threaten, or lie again.

    Pierre paced the room. Front to back, side to side. He stood on the bed and reached up, stretching against the wall and judging how far above his fingertips the ceiling was. He’d done it a thousand times already, but he had time to do it a few more. When DeFaux was lowered into his newly constructed oubliette Pierre wanted to be sure it’s dimensions were exactly the same as this cell.
    He looked out the window again. The ship was closer, pulling hard towards the harbor. He touched his pocket. The pardon with Bonaparte’s signature was secure.

    The cell door opened.

    @clivetern

  42. The keys to the kingdom

    Confidence. It’s all I ever needed. They took my tailored suit, my designer watch and my sports car with upwards opening doors, but they could never take my secret sauce.

    It took a few months to assemble a suitable disguise. They take the maximum security part extremely seriously. Still, you’d be surprised what people leave laying around. A clipboard here, some thick rimmed glasses there, before you know it I’m a different person. The jump suit was the hardest part, but of all things it was my interest in botany that solved the problem. A couple of spin cycles with just the right mixture of berries turned inmate orange into maintenance team green.

    No-one ever questions a person walking with purpose, holding a clipboard. It’s better than an invisibility cloak. I walked right out of the front gate, my head held high. Confidence is the key that opens all doors.

    I haven’t forgotten those that took it all away from me. They say I didn’t earn it. That simply isn’t true, I conned a lot of people to earn that money. It wasn’t easy, it was hard goddamned work. Even idiots don’t just hand over thousands of dollars without question.

    If you can’t beat them, join them. The government was happy to take the results of my hard work, now I’m going on take the results of theirs. After all, what does it take to win an election? All you need is confidence and a winning smile.

    Say cheese!

    by Craig Anderson @todayschapter
    Story Elements: Character & Theme(s)
    249 words

  43. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 250
    Elements: Theme/Setting (Napoleonic France or thereabouts ;))

    Inigo Montoya’s Ultimate Career Path

    “You know,” says the Spaniard, “I’ve been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”

    “Have you ever considered piracy?” the man in black asks, a dimple flashing in his cheek. “You’d make a great seller of goods created by others and posted for sale in multiple locations across the massive world wide web.”

    “What web is this? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

    “’Tis of no import. You hack into various systems, steal wares, and sell them for a higher price, living off the profits. You’ll exponentially increase your income, and you won’t have to report taxes. The IRS would go nowhere near you because you’ve lived so long under the poverty level that they wouldn’t think to audit you.”

    “Ah, I see,” says the Spaniard, befuddled. “So if I take from the rich—”

    “Nay, friend, not the rich. We need no pedestal-climbing Robin Hoods. This is honest-to-goodness thievery. Piracy of the first order.” The man in black climbs through the window and jumps into a giant’s arms, breaking the poor brute’s back, and stabbing himself in the jugular with a stray iocane powder container.

    The Spaniard faces the prince’s justice, pondering the irony of a man’s encouragement to steal before plunging to his death, and decides he rather prefers Humperdink’s hooked nose to a short struggle on a world wide web… whatever that is.

  44. Elements: Escaped Convict; Revenge.
    249 words

    Title – Waiting to Return
    Marsha ran, crashing through the undergrowth with abandon. She’d forgotten what fresh vegetation and mud smelt like and even, in her flight, it registered as wonderful. Behind her there was still darkness and silence.
    The path dropped and she stumbled, falling to the leaf covered ground with an ‘oof’ as the little breath left was knocked out of her gasping lungs.
    A narrow beamed torch picked her out and for a moment the hope fell apart.
    “Marsha?”
    “Who the hell else is it gonna be?”
    “You’re later than I expected.”
    “Yeh, well, the door was locked. Look, Jeannie, you gonna stand yabbering, or help me up?”
    “Sure. Sorry.”
    Jeannie’s arm was thick, strong, comforting. It lifted Marsha as easy as it lifted sacks of vegetables at the warehouse.
    They stood face to face, starlight nearly enough to see each other. Jeannie was grinning. Marsha watched the face she had once known so well crease in pain and surprise.
    The shiv had taken longer to prepare than the escape. A sliver of metal scraped against the cell wall until it had a sharp point. A rough handle from a stolen off-cut of wood. Both of them bound together with twine created from bits of a mop-head.
    Jeannie didn’t say anything. Already dead and slumping to the ground. Marsha sat and cradled her as the prison klaxon erupted, and torchlight split the night.
    “I forgive you Jeannie. Now I forgive you.”
    She wiped hair from Jeannie’s face, and waited.

    @clivetern

  45. “Jacopo’s Place”
    @drmagoo
    Story Elements: Conflict and Character
    250 words

    He settled gingerly onto the barstool, eyes darting around as if he expected someone to tell him to stop. I’d seen the like before – after enough years as a guest of the state, most figured that freedom was a trap, and that they’d go back inside for something as simple as a cold one. Some would, of course, if anyone knew they were here, but I sure wasn’t dropping a dime.
    But he wasn’t in the nondescript blue suit they issued upon release, and he didn’t reek of iron and bleach. Eh. If he wanted to share his story, he would. I just made sure there wasn’t too much foam in his glass.

    He sipped at his beer tentatively, his eyes darting to the door every minute or so. By the time he’d gotten halfway through the glass, I knew why.

    “Murray? Murray!” The cry from the parking lot was piercing, and I saw him wince. “A bar? You’re in a bar? I specifically told you to stay home!”

    He sighed, and began to slide from the stool, doing his best impression of a whipped dog.

    “The john’s in the back.”

    “W…what?”

    “The john’s in the back. No one here has seen you.” I tilted my head towards the sign reading ‘Men,’ just in case he mistook my meaning. He almost smiled, then hung his head.

    “She’ll know.”

    “No one gets found in my place unless they want to be found.” I tilted my head again. “I am your man.”

  46. Five of the Clock
    Story Elements: Conflict and Character
    personalvapes@gmail.com
    242 words

    Too much alcohol. Too little sleep.
    Too much of whatever that white-ish sludge I found in the bottom of my whiskey glass was…

    He wanted me quiescent. Immobilized. But conscious. As much as I would like the reality of this room to fade away into my comfortable library, it stubbornly sticks to reality.

    His boots scrape along the concrete floor, his off-key whistling echoing weirdly from the steel rafters. Like a cobra strike, his face pops into my field of view.

    “Ahhhh…” the word a long, slow exhalation, punctuated with garlic and tobacco smoke. “No introductions necessary, I assume?”

    They’re not, and he knows it. His face and his escape have been plastered all over the news and social media since ‘The Butcher’ performed his vanishing act from his not-so-cozy cell a week ago.

    Those stories amplified as he resumed his grizzly ‘work.’

    “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” he says sardonically, his face inches from my own, his breath forcing trickles of tears from my watering eyes. “Have you ever heard the term? It’s an excuse. A cop out. A clever way to say I’d rather go fill my gullet with alcohol than to do a competent job.”

    A finger of ice traces it’s delicate way down my spine.

    “You said that, your Honor, the day you sentenced me to life without the possibility of parole.”
    He slowly draws a very shiny, very sharp knife between our faces.

    “It’s time for my drink.”

  47. Family Values
    by Mark Farley @mumbletoes
    Story Elements: Plot & Theme
    Word count: 250

    Sarah flipped to the next page in her notebook. “Juror number four was called Martin Richardson.”

    “Tall man?” Sir Barnabas was seated behind an enormous mahogany desk. “Blond?”

    “That’s him,” said Sarah. “He emigrated to America last year. Settled in New York. Wife, three kids. Works for Sony.”

    “Rich?”

    “Not by your standards.”

    He nodded. “Any more?”

    “That’s all we’ve found so far.”

    “When can we start?”

    “I recommend we finish tracking all twelve, then lay low for a month.”

    Sir Barnabas snorted. “Lay low? What for?”

    “Heisenberg.” Sarah flipped the notebook closed and pocketed it.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. It’s a science thing.”

    “What of it?” Sir Barnabas drummed his fingers on the desk. His missing finger — the one his cellmate had bitten off — left a gap in the rhythm.

    “In this context, it says you can’t search for something without being noticed.”

    His face reddened. “You told me–”

    “I told you we’re taking every possible precaution,” said Sarah. “And we are. But there’s always a chance someone’s realised what we’re doing.”

    “How? How is there a chance?”

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re watching you. They know you’re angry. If people start disappearing, you’ll be suspect number one. And when that happens, we need you to be clean.”

    Sir Barnabas shivered. “I can’t go back.”

    Sarah stepped forward and placed her hands on his. “I know, Daddy. Just concentrate on acting normal. Think up a good alibi. I’ll take care of the rest.”

  48. La Petite Force
    By Jacinta Owens @cintaowens
    Character: Escaped convict
    Setting: Napoleonic France
    250 words

    One night in June they plucked me from the street and took me to La Petite Force. The pigs who brought me to the cells were the same who would pay on their night off. Below the going rate. Sometimes nothing. Freedom is always the most valuable currency. The heat stank. Animals died where they lay down. People too. And to us prisoners it seemed to make the cell smaller. The heat was a prison from which there was no escape.

    The blacksmiths hammered all day, making new bars for new cells for new criminals. They sweated and bled. They drank wine and salt water and more wine. And one day in July they drank a little too much and cared much too little. It was enough for me to be gone.

    I was caught only by chance. But this time was different. One of the gendarmes looked at my face as if he had seen a spirit. He whispered I was her double, that I was bound to be worth money to someone. With that I was bundled into the carriage.

    The first time I saw her she was with the King. They dressed me like her and paraded me at their obscene parties to giddy applause. I thought of escape again, but it was out of my hands this time.

    On the steps of the Place de la Revolution, it was I, not Marie-Antoinette who faced the end with courage.

    My courage. My head. Freedom for us both.

  49. Sprung
    Story Elements: Character & Theme (Justice)
    250 words

    News of your endeavors scrolls across the newsfeed screen at the front of the shuttle. Tea-Kettle Crusader, the headline reads.

    Ha, ha, effing ha. The work of liberators ever belittled by a media sycophantic to the oppressors. You have far more important things to deal with than asinine epithets.

    Thankful your hair’s no longer dangling in black waves, you hunch your shoulders around your messenger bag. Swaddled inside, your precious charge stirs.

    Oh, Mercy, don’t let him wake up now. You bounce your knees. C’mon, just two more stops.

    A man in cargo shorts and flip-flops gets off behind you, but you know how to elude pursuers. And if he somehow discovers the sanctuary, there’s always plan B tucked in its holster. You hope it won’t come to that again.

    You loop around the block and duck through the food-cart alley before he rounds the corner.

    Incredible how viciously an owner will fight you rather than let his “property” go free. Masters resist as if their entire mode of existence were under attack. (And it is.)

    You clamber up the scree to get to the shelter. Flip-flops will never manage it in those shoes.

    The sanctuary shack is depressing. Generations of enslavement have incapacitated the freed folk. They crouch in silent despondency, cords coiled submissively about their housings.

    You settle the wee one next to a chrome-coated gent. Their beaters clink together, and the tyke calms right down.

    You force a smile, consoling yourself that at least they’re with their families.

    @rowdy_phantom
    #FlashDogs

  50. The Capture of the Tea-Kettle Crusader
    Story Elements: Conflict & Character
    250 words

    My sister’s 3AM howls draw the neighbors onto front lawns in bathrobes and boxers. The shadow across the porch does little for anonymity, but I stay there anyway while the authorities close Camilla the Tea-Kettle Crusader into the van.

    Officer Brent mounts the steps gut first. He pokes the tablet screen with blunt fingers. “Damn standard-issue crap,” he grumbles loud enough for me to hear. “Can I get her birthdate again?”

    “March 14th.” Three years and three days older than me.

    He scribbles on a used envelope with a chewed up stub of a pencil. “You did the right thing.”

    It doesn’t make me feel any better.

    Camilla knew what I’d done the moment the doorbell chimed. Betrayed trust the color of agate slammed into heart. I was six again, heart flailing under the same stare for revealing her secret puppy to Dad, who “disposed of it” I’ll never know how. I fail as a brother.

    But what else could I do? She killed some poor sod over a food processor. Never mind all the appliances she’d “liberated”. There’s a line between support and enabling.

    The taillights of the van disappear. She needs more help than I can give her.

    TV’s gone all pixelated. In no mood for TV anyway, I head to the kitchen. The coffeemaker gives an angry burp when I set it to percolate. Don’t tell me it’s on the fritz too.

    Its timer blinks furious red at me. Instead of numbers, though, it flashes one word: Traitor!

    @rowdy_phantom
    #FlashDogs

  51. Conflict: man vs man (in this case also woman)
    Character: escaped convict
    Theme: revenge and maybe justice too
    @firdaus (247words)

    Clown and I

    I was six, when I found my mother’s body at the bottom of the stairs. Her head was bent at an awkward angle. When I saw my father at the head of the stairs, I ran. I don’t know why, but I kept running till I reached the park.

    That’s where I met Clown. He had a big painted smile.

    We sat silently holding hands for a long time. He then sang me a funny song, I was laughing when my father came looking for me.

    Time after that is a blur. The funeral, the policemen in the house, my father’s anxious face, and Clown.
    The policemen took my father away and I was sent to live with my grandmother near the ocean.

    She was a witch! Everytime Clown broke something, I was sent to bed hungry. She was always screaming and shouting at me.

    At eighteen I inherited my mother’s estate. A huge house and a tidy sum of money.

    The day I was leaving, my grandmother went missing. I asked Clown, he just shrugged, and said maybe she went swimming.

    Clown and I were happy in the big house, until one night, I found my father at my doorstep. He had escaped from prison. I didn’t want to talk to him, so, I went to sleep, leaving him with Clown.

    Next morning he was gone. I asked Clown about him. Clown just shrugged and said, “Never go digging under the apple tree.”
    Whatever that means!

  52. RSVP
    @voimaoy
    250 words
    character/setting

    The castle perched above the sea. Waves crashed against the rocks.

    “Where are we?” Captain Garza said. “Check the coordinates.”

    “Coordinates confirmed, Captain.” First Officer Princess Palatine stood in cat-like readiness. “The Samsaran Index is off the scale, though. This is a hologram, an illusion.”

    “Looks like something out of the Count of Monte Christo. But why here? Why this?”

    “I’d be happy to answer your questions,” a smiling round man in Napoleonic uniform stood at the door to greet them. “Welcome to my world.”

    “You look familiar,” Captain Garza eyed him suspiciously. “Aren’t you–”

    Palatine hissed. “You’re the notorious criminal-”

    “Gormand Vuillard DuPont Baptiste at your service.” He bowed dramatically. “Princess Palatine, Captain Garza, please come in. I have a special dinner prepared just for you.”

    It was not an invitation they could refuse. Illusion or not, the furnishings were convincingly period, and the dining table was set with lavish silver and fine china. Against their will, the two took their seats.

    “But how,” Captain Garza said. “You were in a maximum security prison. Your crimes were–”

    “Gastronomical.” Baptiste grinned. “It’s a long story. Let’s have some wine, shall we?”

    Glasses of wine appeared before them. Intoxicating aromas wafted from under the chargers.

    “The Count of Monte Christo was one of my favorite books in prison,” Baptiste explained. “I had time to learn a lot of things.” He raised his glass. “To freedom!”

    “To dinner!” Palatine lifted a charger. On the platter, a roasted pheasant sat on a bed of autumn leaves.

  53. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    Story Elements: Character/Conflict
    228 Words

    Brothers to the End

    “How many times must I tell you? I don’t have to pee!”

    “We’ve been running for two hours. Surely you gotta go.”

    “Well I don’t. If you have to pee that often, perhaps it’s you with un problème.”

    That was me and Barnard earlier. Right now he’s sleeping. Probably peed on himself already. I’m keeping watch for the prison guards.

    Honestly, that man drives me crazy. I know he’s my brother, otherwise I’d have murdered him in his sleep. Kidding, Maman.

    “Simeone?”

    Damn.

    “Oui, Barnard?”

    Who are you talking to?”

    “I’m narrating une histoire pour Maman.”

    “She can’t hear you anymore.” He rolled onto his side and stood up. “Gotta pee.”

    Good, he’s gone. Now where was I?

    A yelp tore through the trees.

    “Barnard?”

    Barnard raced towards me, his trouser waist flapping in the breeze. “Oh, oh! A bee. It got me!”

    He pointed below his waist.

    “Petit frère,” I said with a laugh, “that’s your responsabilité. Go throw yourself in the stream. Might help with the odour, too.”

    He gave me a scathing look. “Sure. Like you always smell of violettes.”

    Oh, Maman. At times like these I’m glad to have mon frère. Helps to ease the gnawing hunger pains. We might kill a rabbit, but we’re better with large game. That Monsieur Gaspar, for example. Too bad we didn’t know he was your new man.

  54. Taking Action
    @2notch
    Story elements: character and theme
    236 words

    Twenty years in prison blurred the line between revenge and justice. By the time I escaped, I no longer cared about motivation. I just knew what I had to do.

    Our long line of travelers inched its way through security. I tried not to look suspicious, hoping my fake ID was as good as my cellmate promised. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be anywhere near an airport while state police searched everywhere for me, but I didn’t have the luxury of time. Of course, in a perfect world I wouldn’t be a wanted criminal hunting the man who sent him to prison.

    When my turn finally came I handed the agent my ID. He stared at it then at me. He scanned it and then stared at me again. By the time he waved me through I could hardly breathe.

    Once I settled at the gate, I swallowed my pills to chase away the pain. The prison doctor said I had six months. I only needed six hours.

    According to my sources, he always stopped by the same bar after work. Most nights he stumbled out around midnight. Between the booze and the limp he’d be an easy target. This time I wouldn’t fail.

    The plane left right on time. I relaxed once we left the ground, enjoying the shift in air pressure as we soared closer to heaven than I would ever be again.

  55. Flight of the Raven
    by MT Decker @mishmhem
    Story Elements: Conflict & Setting
    Word count: 249
    #FlashDogs

    Sara’s muscles strained as she dragged her brother to the passage way. Her vision blurred as another cannon shot shook the ground beneath her.

    Despite herself she gave a startled yelp as she nearly fell. She gave a furtive look around, knowing that the enemy guard was near enough to hear her.

    She pushed on. Getting to the secret entry was even more important now. Another explosion rocked the grounds as she saw the wall descending.

    “No, no, no…” she chanted under her breath as she used the last of her strength to get David through before it closed. She turned as she saw one of the guards raise his musket, but as he fired, another shot hit the grounds and the last thing she saw was the remains of her home falling all around her.

    “Easy, Lass,” she heard her uncle urge as she tried to move and found herself laying in the lower caves beneath the keep.

    “Father?”

    Her uncle shook his head sadly. “He knew the cost of fighting the usurper.”

    Sara’s smile was bittersweet. Her father never referred to him as king. Hearing her father’s words on his brother-in-law’s lips made her smile.

    “David?”

    “Still unconscious,” he answered. “You barely made it.”

    Sara nodded. “I know.”

    “Until he awakes, you must make the choices…”

    Sara looked at him and shook her head. “You..”

    “My name is not Ravenquest, child.”

    “Call the men together,” she said as she stood. “The usurper must not win.”

  56. Mercury Poisons
    @pmcolt, 246 words, story elements: plot and theme

    If she had only stolen my husband, I would have gotten over her betrayal long ago. But Abbi Stronton wasn’t just my backstabbing witch of a best friend. She was prosecutor general for North America. Why should someone of her legal stature wait through a messy divorce?

    Sedition was the charge, fifteen years the sentence. From the moment my rocket landed, I realized how thoroughly Abbi had stolen my life. My first month on Mercury was spent with laser chisel in hand, laboring in the underground prison to hollow out my own prison cell.

    “A housewarming gift,’ the aged warden said with an evil smile, tossing me a book. “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Thus began years of sadistic mental torture. By day I mined tungsten for export. Unlike the Château d’If, a tunnel on Mercury led not to freedom, but death. At night I read stories of wrongful conviction, and raged hotter than the puddles of molten lead on the surface.

    With sixty-two notches, one per Mercurian year, carved on my wall, the warden approached me. “They say our truth scanners are 99.9999% accurate.”

    I shrugged. He coughed hoarsely.

    “I say you’re my one in a million. This camp has made me wealthy off the labor of murderers and traitors, and deathly ill from lung disease.” He coughed roughly. “I see vengeance burning in your eyes. They say the best revenge is living well. I say one trillion credits could buy plenty of revenge.”

  57. Woe’s Revenge
    by Bokerah
    Elements: Conflict and Theme
    250 Words
    @msbbrumley

    I watched him stroll through the sliding doors. He took a seat, and the car lurched forward.

    Memory curtained reality. Gargoyles on either side. A dark alley. Rain poured down my back. The sound of grunts and whimpers, then a small voice begging for mercy.

    Wondering, I leaned forward, peering around the oblivious student and the businessman. He can’t see me. They never see me. On his face, three white lines angled downward, from his cheekbone to lips. Scars.

    Another memory brought horror curling in my belly.

    I know who you are.

    He stared at his phone. The jagged edge of a thumb nail stroked up and down. Something dark red streaked his cuticle.

    I know what you did.

    When I leaned back, fists clenched at my side; the sway of the subway was no longer the comfort it usually was.

    At the next stop, more people entered the car, filling it. I glanced over. He still scrolled down the screen, studying pictures.

    He took pictures when he was finished. I wished for something in my stomach. People always seem to feel better when they can throw up. Would it be true for me?

    He tucked his hands in his pockets, stared out the windows, his leg started twitching.

    At the next stop, I followed him out.

    I tucked myself in black feathers as I went. You’ll pay. I thought of the alley near his home. Fitting. He’ll never hurt another girl. Hell hath no fury like an angel’s wings.

    *Ineligible* WIP
    Piece is much too late, but I missed posting on Friday. It’s been written, so posted anyway. 😉 Flashin’ on Friday is one of my favorite activities. ❤ See you again on Friday!

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