Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 37

IT’S FRIDAY! And I’ll take you one further: it’s Friday, August 21, 2015. I point this out in case you are joining us from your time machine, particularly if yours is one of the older models without the self-updating clock (no judgment here; my model’s so clumsy, I can only travel to years ending in 5. Which is doubtless part of the reason I’ve abandoned scifi for dragonry: clocks are expected to obey your bidding at least some of the time, while a dragon never is. A backwards sort of reassurance, but there you go). 

In any event, glad you’re here, lookin’ good, pull up a chair, sharpen your pencils, summon your Muse (speaking of the Muse, guess who’s leaping into the Spotlight hot seat this Tuesday! It’s Flash! Friday’s own Aria Glazki, who on this very Tuesday will launch Mortal Musings into the world), and please spend a few minutes writing with us. Welcome!

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DC2Soaring into the lair from mysteriously lyrical and/or half-crazed parts unknown is Dragon Team Eight, which can only mean today’s stories will be judged by A.J. Walker & Voima Oy. As Voima lives not far from Chicago’s elevated train and A.J. is acquainting himself with his inner courier, you can see how they are both beautifully suited to today’s prompt. For their thoughts on what a winning story ought to look like, click on their names above.     

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

* Today’s required word count: 200 +/- 10 words  (190 min – 210 max words, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (this week 190 – 210 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 or forgetful, be sure 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 inspiration: Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer’s bitingly clever collection of tales by a colorful troupe of pilgrims — as a contest, no less, with a free dinner as the prize.

Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these elements; be sure to tell us which two you chose. Reminder: please remember the Flash! Friday guidelines with regard to content). 

* Conflict: man v man
Character (choose one): a knight on a quest, a patient wife, a treacherous wife, three foolish gamblers, a talking rooster, a saint who survives execution
Theme(s) (choose one): subterfuge, corruption, justice, pranks, courtly love
Setting: long road en route to a shrine

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

Traveler. CC2.0 pic by Nathaniel.

Traveler. CC2.0 pic by Nathaniel.

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276 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 37

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 205
    Story Elements: Character/Theme

    Questing

    It stretches before me, the wide corridor, the terrain of death. It is not for cowards to cross, oh no. Many of my forbears have tried before me and failed; many have met their ends on the cold battlefield, their bodies strewn across the hard surface.

    Why? Why do I choose to walk their footsteps? “’Tis suicide,” they say. “You will be the next miserable carcass left to rot beneath the rains and the buzzards, the blazing sun and the passing wind. Surely, you have a reason, a cause, to act with such sacrifice. Is there a maid?”

    I shake my head at the indignity of such a suggestion.

    “Are you fleeing the law?”

    “No,” I retort, offended.

    “Do you seek your fortune? Do you wish for death to claim you? Have you taken a dare?”

    “Ridiculous,” I scoff. “I wish only one thing.”

    “What is it you wish?” they cry desperately. “Surely you can tell us that.”

    “Indeed,” I crow, preening my feathers as I prepare to step onto the road. “I wish…” I pause, bracing for the journey ahead of me before continuing, “I wish to get to the other side.”

    #FDHowl

  2. A Rooster on Mars (209 words)
    (a talking rooster and an astronaut journey to Mars.)

    As soon as a tinge of light showed between the darkened fence palings, I stood on top and crowed.

    A voice yelled, “Shuddup!”

    I crowed louder. The air was peppered with foul language and a pair of hands grabbed at my legs.

    To escape, I soared upwards into the bush.

    A face appeared over the palings. “Lenny,” he called softly. “Nice Lenny, come here.”

    Chest forward, I crowed once more and strutted out of sight. I guess I survived execution that morning. However, I determined to show the world I had guts thus my journey to Mars began.

    During the trip, a man approached me. As he came closer, I said, “That’s close enough, buddy.”
    “You can talk?”

    “Yeah, I’m Lenny.”

    “’Where are you goin’ Lenny?”

    “Mars.”

    “Mars?”

    “Yeah, Mars … something wrong with that?”

    “No, Mars is fine … but you’re a—“

    “Rooster? So what!”

    “Nothin’. Okay, Lenny, you can sit on my shoulder and we’ll go together.”

    To cut a long story short, we became good friends. Fred happened to be an astronaut on holidays. He smuggled me in his bag, on the one-way trip to Mars.

    By the time we arrived on Mars, he and I were the only survivors plus one hen—

  3. The Acolytes of Lady Luck

    Goldie’s callused hands stacked rocks as Merv scratched charcoal onto the haphazard cross:

    Frank ‘ Dice’ Greenwald: ? – 1922

    When tears had eased they set off. Goldie had the boots, Merv the coat. Things had been bad sure, but losing Frank …

    Well that plain sucked.

    The road to redemption snaked onwards. Ahead some backwater casino that Frank had heard offered loose rules and looser women. A place card sharks could swim deep.

    Sometime later, when each step was an act of stubbornness, they reached a bridge crossing a deep ravine. Merv slumped, hands cradling raw feet.

    ‘The boots Goldie, c’mon.”

    Goldie paused, by rights it was Merv’s turn, but the thought of walking on this pockmarked road barefoot was unappealing.

    “Feeling lucky Merv?”

    #

    Ten long minutes had passed and each man balanced precariously on one foot upon the parapet. Their prize resided on the opposite side.

    Merv seemed to be wavering; yet Goldie didn’t feel confident. Pain was settling into his leg.

    Maybe he had to take the initiative?

    Accidents happened.

    Ask Frank.

    A blaring horn and suddenly a dervish of dust, glass and steel blasted past.

    Laughter left in its wake.

    Merv and Goldie spluttered and wheezed as they clambered down.

    To find the boots were gone.

    @imageronin
    #FDHowl
    Character/Setting
    210 words

    • Had to read it twice, as ‘Goldie’ put me in mind of Goldie Hawn, and I assumed that that character was a woman; who ‘each man’ might refer to ten minutes later consequently became a mystery.
      However, once all that was cleared up, it was a great read. ‘when each step was an act of stubbornness’ is a great line.
      I agree with David: the 1922 setting and the description of the automobile do tie in with last week’s prompt.

    • I really enjoyed this. What a story for 210 words! You brought a range of emotions and really captured the torture of a long journey. It is especially provoking that they were sharing once pair of shoes and one coat. Great job!

  4. A Knight of The Word
    207 words
    @TheShakes72

    A knight on a quest / Long road en route to a shrine

    In the beginning, there was The Word. The Word saw everything, knew everything and everyone. It connected all places and things. The Word flew through the sky and tunnelled beneath the earth. The Word was everywhere.
    Matthias’ feet hurt. The blacktop river stretched away from him, a seemingly endless flow of misery created only to torment his tired limbs. In his right hand he held the relic, housed within a battered blue suitcase. He never let go, even in his sleep. He wouldn’t let go, not until he reached Appelstor.
    In the time of tribulations The Word had ended. The old ones said man had misused The Word, twisting it to wicked purposes. What makes man hack down the very thing that sustains him? The Word was withdrawn and the world plunged into darkness.
    As a squire, Matthias had seen the look of longing on the High Priest’s face when Sir Steve had presented him pages from the Book of Jobs. What honours would befit a Knight who returned a complete tablet?
    There were many who said the world was better without The Word, but unlike Matthias, they would never wear the blue shirt or gaze in pride at their effigy standing proud behind the Genius Bar.

  5. @AvLaidlaw
    209 Words
    Character – A Saint who survived execution
    Theme – Corruption

    The Saint of Tyburn

    Now once there was a toad-faced judge squatting in Old Bailey, who looked ever so stern and godly when he put the black cloth over his wig and said I would hang. Me, dance the hemp fandango, for a murder I never did. Well, I did stick the knife in the misbegotten knave’s belly but the fellow did try to lighten me of three shillings with marked cards. So, in my mind, it made us square.

    All the Lords and Ladies came out to see, sniffing their pot-pourri lest the odour of honest sweat disturbed their delicate noses. But I’m blessed by Old Nick himself, blessed to the sum of three gold guineas that somehow found their way into the pocket of John Ketch to keep the noose loose. When he kicked away the ladder, I fell from Tyburn Tree to the ground and ran down the street while the guard were still smoking their pipes.

    I’m the man they couldn’t hang. A holy man. They ask for my benediction to keep the soldiers from a-knocking at their door. The saint of the sinners and vagabonds, the thieves and rotten souls detained in some rat hole at his Majesty’s pleasure.

    And perhaps I know my Bible better than thou.

  6. The Price of Admission
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    210 words
    A patient wife / Corruption

    You know my husband, everybody does. He either took your money or that of someone close to you. You hate him with an intensity fuelled by media frenzy and mob mentality. I suppose it’s only natural that some of that hate spill over.
    Does the fact that my husband’s a thief make these obscenities you’ve painted on the walls of our home any more true? Maybe to you. You probably think I knew, helped in some way like the media implied? You’re wondering how anyone could be so blind? I wonder myself.
    You don’t know my husband, nobody does. You didn’t see the unmasked joy on his face when our daughter was born or feel the electrical charge the first time he took my hand as we strolled along the beach. You haven’t held him as he curled up sobbing at the death of his mother.
    I can take this, I have to, but our daughter can’t. She’s lost more than money – she’s lost a father. She’s lost her chance at a normal life…
    What’s the point? You don’t care. Take your spray paints and go. This won’t bring your money back. Let’s call it the price of admission to our lives. Whatever it cost, it’s not worth it.

    • Certainly thought provoking. Her patient voice is strong, but I feel it is missing some clarity. You did make me feel sad about her daughter. Although, I found myself wondering if the husband was dead and so I had to read back through it to see if I had missed anything. In the end I figured out he went to jail (or at least that’s what my reasoning says based on the element “Corruption”) All and all an enjoyable read. 🙂

  7. Becky Spence
    @bex_spence

    The night is black….
    conflict/character
    197 words

    He dreamed of her, every night. Her face; he could explore it all night, a quest of discovery. Her eyes blue but not quite, in the light they glistened like the sea, that small scar on the bridge of her nose. Her scent, soft like lilac. She overwhelmed him as he slept.

    Tangled in his sheets, restless in his imaginings, he awoke, a tear in his eye. They’d had their time and he’d fallen. Wasn’t ready for the challenge, couldn’t pass the troubled times. The loss they had endured. She had taken it hard, him harder. Unable to support her. Unworthy to hold her hand.

    Tom sat, there was still time, only a year had passed. He could make it right. He pulled on his jeans, a t shirt. Grabbing his boots, he ran to the door. Out into the night. A left, and a right. Straight down to the park. He knew the route so well.

    He stood in the soft rain, her window alight. Stepping forwards he rang the bell. Waited.

  8. A NIGHT SO FOWL

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    210 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    * * *

    “Hello, Furan.”

    Furan had almost nodded off to sleep when the voice from the shadows startled him. He grabbed his blade, quick as a flash, and scrambled to his feet.

    “Who’s there?” he yelled to the darkness surrounding his camp fire.

    “An old friend,” said the voice.

    “I have no friends,” said Furan.

    The shadows chuckled. “I’m not surprised.”

    “Step forward and face me!” There was noise in the bushes to his left. He tipped the point of his blade in that direction, ready for anything.

    A chicken stepped before the glow of the fire.

    Furan laughed.

    “Cluck,” said the chicken.

    “Did you just say the word ‘Cluck’?”

    “How have you been, old friend?”

    Furan’s heart skipped a beat as he recognised the voice. “Vintico? It can’t be. We-”

    “Killed me? You should be so lucky. I’m just cursed.” He pulled two tiny, sharp blades from beneath his wings. “And somewhat angry”.

    “Wait. It wasn’t my idea. Clend wanted you dead. Said you was trying to take over.”

    “I’ve already spoken to Clend. You’re next on my list.”

    Before Furan could raise his sword, Vintico launched into the air and cut open his throat.

    As Furan choked to death on his own blood, Vintico disappeared back into the shadows.

    “Cluck.”

  9. Vengeance
    @laurenegreene
    Character/Setting
    192 words

    Maniacal laughter erupted from his lips as he came upon the corpse. Pecked by birds and eyes gouged out, he checked through the man’s pocket to see if a mere morsel remained but there was nothing. Some other pilgrim had arrived before him.

    He scratched his neck feeling the scar-like indentions from where the rope had cut into his skin. A saint. He’d been crowned a saint, once upon a time.

    The road stretched out in front of him, seemingly a million miles long. His stick thin legs carried him off, past the dead pilgrim and the charred sunflowers as the sun beat down on the asphalt. The shrine at the end of the road called out to him.

    His grip on the suitcase remained fierce despite the sweat accumulating between his hand and the plastic handle. He would show them. All those people who had tried to kill him. They had called him a fraud. But the truth was he had performed a miracle. Now he’d be a martyr.

    He quickened his pace trying to arrive at the shrine before the muffled tick tock in his suitcase ran
    out of time.

  10. @firdausp
    Justice is served
    (202 words)

    Patience is a leech, it feeds on false excuses.

    My heart bleeds as your sharp words punch holes into it. I watch the bright crimson, fascinated, numb to the piercing pain. It screams through me but I’ve become deaf.

    I don’t like to breathe anymore. It’s a habit I want to give up, but your eyes silently plead for help and I gasp to stay afloat. A never ending road to nowhere.

    Every night I lie beside you, dreading a bruising dawn.
    Your kisses I pretend are tender, I melt, unaware of the blade as it slides in, until the twist.

    “I love you,”— You choke out.

    That’s the only lie I believe, then you show me the truth.

    Hope—like gossamer between my trembling fingers. A webbing I desperately dislodge.

    Your time to take that road has arrived. It’s a long way but you’ll make it. Your bags are packed and I patiently wait.

    Eyes heavy with happier days—I smile as I mix venom to your coffee.

    Soon you’ll be there, curled up in the womb of nothing, covered in a blanket of earth. The shrine awaits. Your journey begins.

    I’m sorry, I can’t take your love or knuckles anymore.

    A wife (patient/ treacherous,depends)
    Justice

  11. The Wife’s Tale

    Anne stood in the icy waters, bathed in moonlight, hands slick with blood as black as sin. Crying softly, she gave her son’s soft, silent shape to the waves.

    “Anne! Where be ye!”
    “Fie husband, I am here, doing a woman’s work.”
    Henry toyed with the breakfast knife, muttering darkly.
    “If ye could do a woman’s work, I’d have a son and be rid of ye…”
    Anne held her tongue and stirred his porridge.

    When next the moon came full, her belly with it, Anne returned to the waters. She took the herbs, said the words and waited for the sign.
    Another boy.
    Trembling, she drew from the other cup, the taste as bitter as its effect, then braced herself for another farewell.

    Henry grunted, satisfied, gave her arm an extra twist.
    “There, that’n be a boy.”
    Anne crawled from the bed, fighting to keep her sobs silent.

    Another month.
    Another moon.
    Another bellyful of life.
    But this time…
    Smiling through her tears, Anne left the waters as clean as her heart and carried her daughter home.

    “Where be ye now, pig of a wife?”
    Anne stepped from the kitchen.
    “I’m doing a woman’s work, as ever, my lord.”
    One hand cradling her stomach.
    The other raising the breakfast knife.

    210 words
    (Either a patient wife and justice, or a a treacherous wife and corruption, depending on your point of view…)
    @Karl_A_Russell

  12. A Million Light Years From Home

    The oxygen ran out three systems back, each section of The Pilgrim flashing up on the Bridge Console as the bulkheads closed. Newman watched as they winked out, waited for the alarms to die, then reached for the acetylene torch. By rights, it shouldn’t work in a vacuum, but neither should his lungs; in no time at all, he had disembowelled the dead ship.

    Reaching the prow, he let his hopes raise once more and cut straight through to the void. It proved as ineffective as the mining drill, the pills and the razor blade. He killed some time scrambling naked across the hull, snapping antennae and frisbeeing satellite dishes towards the distant stars, but time proved as resilient as everything else on board.

    Eventually, having tried everything else, he leapt from the thruster cowling, turning slowly in the cold white nuclear fire which propelled the ship through the endless, empty wastes.
    It tickled, but nothing more.

    Admitting defeat, he swam upstream through the engines and returned to the Bridge.
    The Shrine was still there, hanging before The Pilgrim, taunting Newman with its promise of peace and surcease.

    With a sigh, he fell into the command chair, pulled up the chart and marked his progress.
    He was almost halfway there.

    210 words
    (Man vs Man, long road en route to a shrine)
    @Karl_A_Russell

  13. The Kiss
    (207 words)
    courtly love/ a Knight on a quest

    There’s a taste of perfume from her crimson lipstick- and in what should be an intimate moment with a woman he’s loved from afar, unreachable until now- he thinks of his mother. He has to focus, declare his affections, before she notices he has lost his contrary mind. She’s looking directly into his eyes, a strict mistress,
    ‘Are you listening to me?’
    He nods reaches out for her hand, and holds it in his.

    She leans towards him again, but he is uncoordinated, hopeless, his timing out like some sweaty- palmed kid bumping noses and teeth- hardly fin’ amour! He must be overwhelmed in this quest. He is heartened by her persistence, however.

    She tilts his head, takes full control, parting his lips with her fingers. He shuts his eyes… drifts-
    ‘Stay with me!’
    Fingers poke and prod him back into the room. Things are moving on. She’s unbuttoning his shirt. He feels her hands move across his chest.

    She pumps at his heart: ‘…28, 29, 30. Can you hear me? You’ve collapsed at the bank, Mr. Knight. Try to stay with us.’

    And it’s then he feels the snarling beast in his chest that she is trying to control and the feel of her lips on his.

  14. Old St Lux and Sir Halibad of Gallant
    @DHartleyWriter
    210 words
    Character: A saint who survives execution
    Setting: Long road en route to a shrine

    Old St Lux, skinless and weak, and Sir Halibad of Gallant, gutless and meek, and the shrine in the distance, a sprint away, but days yet of an inch here, an inch there, and long drawn hours of resting.

    ‘They hung me about…’ says Lux.

    ‘…and split first along the heel,’ says Halibad.

    ‘Then down a leg, then t’other, then stripped out my all and sundry, full view of all eyes.’

    ‘Aye.’ He was there. He knows this.

    ‘The back and front in the same stroke, flapped o’er like a shroud. Pulled ‘til the whole lot ripped off scalp-wise.’

    He almost sounds proud. ‘How does a man survive a flayin’’? says Halibad.

    A pause.

    ‘Shall we?’

    They go as much as Lux can bear. A scraped half-inch of screaming, soles tacky from bleeding, blister ooze and the rip of grit, still far from the Shrine of Healing. And rest.

    ‘Hot pokers in my head and at spine-base…’

    ‘…and toes off one by one. We must keep going Lux.’

    ‘No rush,’ spits Lux, lidless eyes, nails like claws.

    The knight looks at the saint. At the roots in his head, the severed tail, and the cloven feet. And at the shrine ahead. We’ll get there, he thinks, we’ll get there.

  15. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 202
    Story Elements: Character/Theme

    Happily Never After

    Day dances with night, a purple flirtation whose hues darken with each waltz across the sky. I work my loom, weaving the fabric of my dreams into a glittering gossamer tapestry. Another dusk passes, another moon rises, and the cold stone of my tower imprisons me.

    Over the mountains, he rides for me. His armor gleams, blinding in the sun. Stories of his quest fly to me on the four winds. His resolve is steady, his determination grim—my knight most valiant.

    At long last, I pass my gaze over the once-empty horizon, the completed tapestry over my window sill, and the shining brilliance of his helmet dazzles me.

    Morning has come; I’ve woven my last dusk to sleep. “Come, my knight, tarry no longer.”

    When he reaches the base of my tower, he dismounts, and dismay floods my heart. They never speak of passing age in the old tales, but Time has swept us into his unrelenting spiral.

    His armor is rusted, his eyes are dim. Rheumatism crusts his bones, and his tottering step cannot find the stairs.

    I turn from the window. My tapestry catches my tears, and the moisture melts it, thread by thread, until it is no more.

    #FDHowl

  16. Brave Sir Eggmund
    @hollygeely
    Elements: Character (talking rooster), Theme (courtly love)
    200 words

    Brave sir Eggmund came a-courtin’, his feathers shining bright,
    Upon his mighty St. Bernard they rode into the night.
    They braved the roads less traveled, and in places no one knows,
    Sir Eggmund fought foul monsters who had large limbs and hairy toes.
    They did not take hitchhikers, for their deadline did await
    (Besides which the St. Bernard could not withstand the extra weight).
    The king of their neighbor country had announced upon the spring,
    His daughter’d wed a noble night who served a foreign king.
    Brave Sir Eggmund was the best of best, among his feathered kind,
    And the princess could do no better, or so it was in his own mind.
    “What’s this?” the king did ask of them, when they had arrived,
    “A rooster upon a puppy? What joke hast thou contrived?”
    “I am here to court your daughter,” Sir Eggmund did declare,
    “For I hear she is a beauty, with rosy cheeks and golden hair.”
    “How now, you simple chicken, dost thou really believe,
    That I would let a chicken wed my dearest Geneveeve?”
    Brave Sir Eggmund looked him in the eye with his intentions true,
    “Good king,” he said, and stroked his comb, “I cock-a-doodle-do.”

  17. Cock-A-Doodle THIS
    Margaret Locke
    margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke
    206 words

    Character: Talking rooster
    Theme: Subterfuge
    Setting: Long road en route to a shrine

    “Why did the chicken cross the road?” you wise-asses always joke.

    No one ever asks about the rooster. No, forget the bloody rooster. I’m just comic relief, providing nicknames for male genitalia, supplying funny sounds for children to imitate (no self-respecting rooster actually SAYS cock-a-doodle-doo; don’t you people listen?), strutting my way around the henhouse. So you think.

    Cockerel, I tell you.

    Do you know what I do in my off time? It’s all subterfuge, sitting high on this fence day after day, pretending to guard those ridiculous hens below. They’d never leave the yard if given the chance. Scaredy cats. Oh, wait. Wrong species.

    You think I’m following centuries-old hormonal directions, guarding my progeny from attack. Ha. I’m planning my escape. I’ve had enough, always voicing the alarm with nobody listening. Don’t you SEE what’s happening, what they’re doing? Bunch of chickens.

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I ain’t goin’ down with the chicken livers. They ain’t making no capon of me.

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

    So I’m off to Hollywood, to lights, stardom, fame, acclaim. If that idiot Foghorn Leghorn can succeed, I’m a shoe-in.

    As soon as I figure out how to get across this road.

  18. @colin_d_smith
    Title: “The Knight’s Quest”
    Prompts: a knight on a quest/courtly love
    Word Count: 202

    It feels like days since I first embarked, and yet the sun has not kissed the horizon since I left. But that matters little to me. I would travel weeks, months, years for my beloved. I would take on all that man and nature would throw in my path to be forever at her side. I have only this past hour fended off the steel and might of the enemy castle, arrayed against me with a bloodthirsty vigor I have seldom seen outside the animal world. One can, however, well understand their concern. For my beloved is of their kin, and they would sooner flay my flesh to the four winds than see her heart stolen by one such as I. Such is their vehement displeasure at my overtures that the most brutal of ecclesiastical forces, fresh from the Crusades no doubt, have been thrown in my wake. I have sustained some injury, but none so great to deter me.

    And now, having slain all who oppose my quest, I come to the fortress that is my true love’s abode. I tie my steed to the post, and search for her chambers…

    Kasperov gazed intently at his opponent.

    “Knight takes Queen. Checkmate.”

  19. The Sorta Dark Knight
    by Joey To

    Found it: black armor. Well, black enough. Now I need a helm and—

    Mum, white is boring. Black is way cooler. The shield has to be black too. Yes, I know it’s just a costume but it is a “costume” party. Black is not evil. Anyway, it’s not just what you do but why you do it. You always say that. Besides, I’m no goodie white knight. Yes please, definitely need a sword. Not that thin one. That looks weak.

    Pfft, not trying to impress anyone. Certainly not Emma. Don’t even like her. It’s Lily who’ll be dressing up as some dark princess. We’re supposed to be in matching costumes. Yes, she’s the one who always looks a bit sad. It’s cos of that Jason jerk.

    “Jerk” isn’t swearing. And he is one. He’s a bully. What was that? Will he be there?

    Probably.

    Oh look, it’s that blue superhero outfit. Of course I don’t want it. It’s lame. That’s something he’d wear. No one, just talking to myself. I am careful. Nothing wrong with a few practice swings… shield seems strong and the sword is well balanced… like justice. I’m always careful.

    And this sword will be very carefully fitted up his—

    Yes mum, coming, got everything I need.

    Word Count: 210
    Character: a knight on a quest (mission)
    Theme: justice

    Website: http://www.joeytoey.com/

  20. Title: Kinds of Man
    Word Count: 205
    @RTayaket
    Story Elements: man vs. man, long road to shrine

    Before my father left he sat me down and said, “Son, there are two kinds of men in the world: those who write history, and those who are written about. The winners tell the stories, the losers are dead, no more stories to tell. What kind of man do you want to be?” He patted me on my head and walked out the door. I remember thinking how his green camouflage suit didn’t blend in with the giant magnolia tree in the front yard.

    Three months later there was a knock on the door and two decorated officers sipped my mother’s tea on our living room couch and expressed their gratitude for my father’s sacrifice. He’d died a hero. But he was dead all the same, no more stories to tell.

    On my eighteenth birthday I strapped on my father’s pack, suitcase in hand, and walked out the door. Enlisters had to be in by noon for boot camp. My mom cried, telling me I had a death wish like my father. But I was determined to find his grave, pay my respects to his shrine. I wasn’t destined to die like him, I had too much history to make. And sweet revenge to take.

  21. Let’s Go

    “Artow taking aventure!” “What the hell is he saying?” “Certes you can clepe your father.” “Is he going to do this all night?” “Who brought the bong?” “This is crazy. You said we could use your dad’s car!” “Axe your mother. Everich, this direction.” “Is he stoned?” “He’s not stoned.” “Hastow been a clerk!” “What clerk?” “Three African American brothers in a white neighborhood going to a Car’s concert looking for a ride. Whose brilliant idea was this?” “This was his idea!” “Certes!” “Its his birthday. We agreed.” “What time is it?” “Where’s the traffic?! There hasn’t been a single person that has driven by in an hour! You picked the only highway without traffic!” “Shut the fuck up!!!” “Nyce!” “He loves the Cars. Worships them. What could we do?The concert was on his birthday so we just said… great, let’s go.” “Great. Let’s go.” “Coy!!” “What?” “Did you just fart?” “What is this bullshit.” “There are no brothers that listen to that crap, man. That’s white boy stuff.” “The Cars are the greatest band ever. Candy-O is a masterpiece.” “He doth do speak English.” “What about Jay-Z, or Snoop Dogg?” “Here comes a car!” “This reminds me of that time with your sister…” “Whose sister?” “It’s your father.”

    (210 words)
    Long road en route to a shrine/Three foolish gamblers

  22. The Tale of the Constant Wife

    199 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Elements: patient wife, setting

    She sadly smiles as he cradles the box
    Home to the bones of the saints he has mocked
    She holds him tight as he cries out in vain
    Unanswered prayers that leave him in pain
    Yet he shrugs off her hand, turns his cold back
    Alone he must suffer, his life turned black
    And still they have so many miles to go
    In search of a blessing to end their woe
    And as they walk, her thoughts turn towards home
    To their little girl, lying lost, alone
    Where tended by nuns, she endlessly sleeps
    Keeps her eyes ever closed, her slumber deep
    An angel neither alive nor yet dead
    The cause of their sorrow, his guilt, her dread
    One moment, ‘twas all, when he looked away
    A mistake for which he must ever pay
    Yet she remains, his true and constant wife
    To lose him as well would leave her no life
    So she follows him on his pilgrim road
    Repentant sinners with a heavy load
    They walk through the rain, the dust and the dirt
    Seeking to heal an unbearable hurt
    And she prays again for her husband’s soul
    That this broken man at last be made whole

  23. @AvLaidlaw
    206 Words
    Conflict – Man vs Woman
    Character – Patient Wife (or so she claims)

    The Scribbler’s Tale

    Scribble. Scribble.

    I’m a patient woman but there are limits, only so much a good lady wife should bear. He sits at his little desk all night scribbling away. The candles can’t be doing much for his eyes. And he coughs on the candle smoke. Cheap tallow dip. That’s the trouble with writers – they don’t have two farthings to rub together.

    And here am I, in my cold bed. Freezing, it is. If he can’t afford a fire then at least he should do his husbandly duty and keep me warm a-night. Fat chance. No nookie since he started his new book. Don’t marry a writer, said my good sibs. But oh, he charmed me, he did. What with his poems about that Trolley and Chrissie. Thought I was getting some of that action, you know what those nobs are like. But no, it’s…

    Scribble. Scribble.

    “Geoff, what are you writing?” I ask, gentle like.

    He mumbles.

    “Cranberry Tales? Who’d read that?”

    “Canterbury,” he yells.

    “That’s no better. Why not Southwark? Something racy, like that Fifty Shades of the Grey Friars.”

    Scribble. Scribble.

    “Alys, love. Where did you say you were born?” He says, all sweetly.

    “Bath. Why do you ask?”

    “No reason.”

    Scribble. Scribble.

  24. http://twitter.com/tim_kimber
    http://rightplacerighttim.com

    Brashk the Unclean – (208 words)

    My blade’s tip drips blood over basalt. A most palpable hit. Yet the beast rallies, more ferocious than ever. Its seething face – a hideous canvas of boils and canker – erupts with rage.

    “Just another puny man,” the brute bellows, his voice echoing around the cave. It breathes sulfur, caustic clouds snorting from crusted nostrils. We circle. Ay: there’s cunning behind crazed eyes. Even wounded, it does not rush – a patient warrior. I am careful not to trip over the bodies of the vanquished.

    Clutching lofted steel with both hands, I keep the monster at sword’s length, awaiting the moment to strike.

    This quest is for you Edward. I honour my Prince with this glory: the realm’s vilest monster slain. Your finest knight returns with the head of the Brashk. All hail! – they’ll cheer.

    My sword wavers.

    Should I return to court, I fear a greater evil, with more power to destroy my liege than this wretched creature: brazen whispers.

    My life is worth a kingdom. With death I spare him, his virtue preserved. No secrets to conceal. No slanders to discount.

    How can I survive? Nay. Let it come. I’ll fight for you Edward. And I’ll slay this beast as I’ll slay my love. For Edward, sweet Prince.

    ——-

    Character: a knight on a quest
    Theme: courtly love

  25.  
    Delusions of a Stalker
    (207 words)
    Justice/ courtly love
    @elaine173marie

    Our eyes met. Boom. We both knew. But she can’t admit it see. She’s married.

    He’d watch me from across the street. Leer. His gaze crawled all over me.
    I tried ignoring it.

    Who doesn’t want worshipped?

    He began sending me notes- ‘love letters’. He contacted my office, declared his ‘love’ for me.

    They want you to chase them some more. Those are the rules!

    I asked him to stop pestering me each time he called. Begged him. He wouldn’t stop.

    I stepped up the charm. So what? A little chivalry, maybe a little spice.

    Now, it was flowers, chocolates… underwear. My husband, Joe, thought I might be cheating, at first.

    She needs rescued. Her husband’s a loser.

    Then, he showed up at the house. Joe was sick of it. Told him the police were on their way. They got into a fight. He threw Joe down the steps. He tried to push me inside the house. I remember screaming. He kept calling me Princess. Then you showed up… Is Joe going to be okay?

    Guy suddenly wants to be a hero. He tries throwing a few punches, totally out of line. Had to defend myself and my girl. We done, here?

  26. The Lonely Fragment and A Cherished Promise

    WC: 209
    Character: A treacherous wife
    Theme: Subterfuge
    berrymichael07@gmail.com

    With those big blue eyes she looks up and smiles; they look like her mothers before they lost their warmth. I feel pride and joy swell within me, and I smile back. If only I could give her the world. She’s the crowning jewel of my life; she has no equal… at least not since the other jewel broke.

    I see red and taste iron whenever I see them together now. How could I have lost my love to that little cretin? One day, my wrath will be felt. Bruises of restraint will show on my arms. The laws will be in my favor. The cretin will be all mine to keep. A heart for a heart it will be.

    The days have gotten dark. Papa comes to say good-bye.
    “My love-”
    “Why are you going, daddy, why?” I cry. “Please don’t go without me.” He opens his mouth, but closes it when mother comes up behind me.
    “I’ll be with you again. I promise.” That is all he says before he hugs me and leaves.

    The light of my life has been lost to the darkness: the darkness that used to be so bright. I don’t know how or when, but some day I will get her back!

  27. Medieval Love Ballad & the Naked Girl Pen

    Over an emerald green hill a castle stands lifting the sky with an even pulse of stone. Your eyes shimmering through a portal carved with gardens and small ponds where gold swims in finned reflection. I stand facing this scene wearing my best metal. Sun hits me like a diamond throwing a million swords into the sky. My journey has taken me to this point. My imagination made you into so many things that you become nothing – that I couldn’t imagine.

    We met in Hollywood because of my screenplay. You extend small hand. Light is around you. I’m so tired. Writing has killed me and left nothing but smiling corpse. I’m not sure what’s left. I didn’t bring flowers.

    We went to an office on Paramount lot. I could see large set with medieval castle outside the window. I suggested that we go take a look. When outside, you climbed to the top of the castle. I stood there suspended in a fabulous moment of make believe. And the first thing I did was reach for my lucky pen, the kind with the girl on it that disrobes when you turn it upside down. It was where my sword would have been. I held it in your direction. You smiled.

    Courtly love / a knight on a quest
    (210 words)

    • Just discovered this site. Then came upon this! This is the most original. Best written. And he has almost no comments! A lot of cutsie things on here that are not serious writing. This is serious. It is REALLY brilliant, not just trying to be. A real head scratcher why no one is acknowledging it.

      • Stories post nonstop for 24h; it’s tough to comment on all of them right away. You’ll find a lot of people read & comment on Saturday, starting at the bottom and working up. We’ll get there. 🙂 So glad you found us!

      • Though for the record, funny stories are as valued here as serious ones. We don’t discriminate; we love ALL good writing. ❤

    • Hey, I’m just glad to be here. Its fun! But thanks for comments. I always find the comments as entertaining as the pieces themselves – like watching previews at the movies!

  28. Why did..

    What mischief is he up to now, people always ask. I hate to have my motives questioned every time I step out. I vow to be on my good behavior today. I must make my way to the East-West Shrine game in time. If I hurry, I can catch up with Billy and get on the 92 bus in time for a ten-hour ride.

    Billy, “wait up,” I cry out, but his headphones block out any ambient sounds. Dangerous, I know.
    I envy his tall, muscular build. He takes long strides, and is already at the intersection. As soon as he crosses the street, he will be at the bus stop. I must hurry. I should quit my cocky waltzing and walk respectably. Yeah, that’s what people always call me — cocky, but if you ask me, Billy is the cocky one. What with his devil-may-care looks and over-confident stride..

    The brassy squeal of a big-rig horn startles me. Billy’s rapt attention to the music pouring inside his headset is unbroken. I spread my wings, fly to the other side and do my cockerel struts. The colors startle him, and Billy looks up. Just in time to spot the big-rig and stop.

    That’s why I crossed the road.

    208 words
    @needanidplease
    elements: a talking rooster, long road en route to a shrine.

  29. Out to Roost
    @agardana09
    194 Words

    Character: A talking rooster; Theme: Justice

    “No one wakes up on time anymore,” Rob the Rooster told the horizon, perched on his spot on top of the hill. “I could crow from sunup to sundown and, still, everyone would wake up to their vibrating gadgets.”

    Rob did not want to be replaced. Rob wanted to rule the waking hour.

    “A plan is what this Rooster needs,” Rob considered under the fine morning glow.

    He needed to get inside the gadgets. The humans had a constant connection with them. If he could control the devices, then his job of Waking Up The World (on time) would be massively successful.

    Rob the Rooster needed a hacker.

    Good thing his best friend is a Worm™.

    It was easy to devise the plan, easier than resisting the urge to eat his friend. Worm™ may be a genius – but he was still a worm.

    If his friend noticed the inner conflict, it didn’t stop him from slithering into the nearest Wi-Fi hub and doing his magic.

    The next morning, when the sun rose at 5:43 am, Rob the Rooster heard the echoing sounds of vibrating gadgets all throughout the land – his job was done here.

  30. * Theme: justice
    * Setting: long road en route to a shrine
    204 artificial barriers
    @billmelaterplea

    The Migrant

    I wouldn’t say she was melancholic;
    Her dark eyes drowned in waters sinister.
    She sought pythonic squeezes of rueful frolic
    With fishy lawyers and defrocked ministers.

    But by way of natty preambles,
    I should tell you of her earlier years,
    Her father swam in a sea of gambles
    Her mother shook; moon-rumbles of night fears.

    She was twisted by vile upbringing,
    Parents consumed by bed-straws of sharp pain
    Night screeches’; a thousand crows singing
    Shadows drugged in the cells of the insane.

    *********************************

    From a life so woefully instructed
    Her expectations were remarkably low;
    Every door was chained, a future corrupted;
    No hope, no joy, each breath a final blow.

    Not fully formed, with a dollop of steam,
    She slipped from her blight, and the lightest load,
    Saw far away, the bare bones of a dream
    She trundled away on the lost migrant’s road.

    The journey was long and treacherous
    Hunger and mud, dogs of death and delay
    Women, children abused; men lecherous
    On the road, on the long trek to Calais.

    Setting to sea in ships made of sand;
    Smugglers cargo; all the smells of death
    As waters rise; a brief glimpse of land
    A deep gulp of air, that first freedom’s breath.

  31. Prank you Lord!

    “Ready!”

    St. Joseph said his final prayers. Perhaps the good Lord would save him? He’d been such a loyal and faithful servant. Surely that had to count for something?

    “Aim!”

    Who was he kidding? He’d seen enough sick children die and murderers go free to know that there would be no divine intervention.

    He scolded himself. Now was not the time to doubt his faith, moments before meeting St. Peter.

    “Fire!”

    Joseph held his breath. No pain came. He opened his eyes, expecting pearly gates. Instead he saw a frustrated firing squad.

    The Captain bellowed, “Have you lot been at the rum again? How can ten of you miss? Reload!”
    One of the recruits tentatively raised his hand, “erm Captain, we’re all out of bullets. The rest vanished from the armoury last night.”
    The Captain thought for a moment before making a cross over his chest, “One miracle I can ignore, but not two. Cut him free.”

    Joseph ran off before they could change their mind, muttering thank you towards the heavens.

    Meanwhile, in the armoury, the new recruits were being lectured, “This stupid prank war has to stop! At first it was funny, but now you’re hiding supplies and messing with sights. Someone is going to get hurt!”

    209 words
    @todayschapter
    I went with: A saint that survives execution and pranks


  32. 209 words
    character,
    setting, etc.

    Dona Magdalena awoke with the feeling of sin weighing on her. Every step seemed heavier than the next. She looked in her mirror.

    Sin was fattening. The affair she had been having with the village baker—all those clandestine meetings among the tarts and pastries. The inevitable post-adultery snack.

    It was time to repent. Besides, she was tired of getting flour off her gowns. She would cleanse her soul and hopefully regain her waistline. Of course, confession to Father Innocencio was out of the question.

    “I am making a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Monica,” she shouted in her husband Giovanni’s ear trumpet.

    “What?” he said.

    “Pilgrimage” she shouted louder.
    “Who?”

    “Take care of him,” she told old Maria.

    Magdalena had barely gotten through the courtyard when Maria came hurrying after her with a cage.

    “Madonna,take this rooster for your offering to the nuns, “she said.

    “Grazie.”

    Magdalena took the cage and started down the dusty road to the shrine,

    “Galosa.”

    Magdalena stopped.

    “Who’s that?”

    “Galosa.”

    She looked at the rooster in the cage.
    “Is that you?”

    “Greedy slut,” said the rooster.

    I must be mad, Magdalena thought. My guilt has made me crazy.

    “Did you give my cheating wife that swearing rooster?” Giovanni asked Maria.

  33. First Attempt

    Rojer watched as Princess Lucy waltzed across the ballroom in the arms of a man, as the court looked on. Lucy’s little sister, Katie, was stroking Rojer’s head gently whilst cooing at him. Rojer ruffled his feathers and sighed. His life as the King’s Jester was easy yet dull; his novelty the only reason he was there.
    Rojer shuffled on Katie’s lap, the frills and lace on her gown making his belly itch,
    “Katie, I’m too uncomfortable here,” he said gently. Katie giggled, and threw him on the floor. Rojer landed with a thump right in the path of the dancing couple.
    “Arrrgh!” shrieked Lucy’s dancing partner as he tumbled to the ground. Rojer started laughing, and so did Lucy. She picked him up and spun him round in circles until she fell to the floor with dizziness and elation. Rojer grinned at Lucy, and then leant in and pecked her cheek. The whole room gasped at this affection shown so publicly.
    “You’re an awful creature! Trying to take advantage of a lady,” Lucy cried. The King rose and shouted for the guards. After the months in jail and the following trial, the next time Rojer was in the ballroom was on the silver platter the King ate off of.

    210 Words.
    @BethanieNorman4
    A talking rooster and courtly love.

  34. #ImAwesome

    @BlueKnight18: Hitting the road today! #adventures Going to NY just to see Strawberry Fields. Jenna says it’s redic.

    @BlueKnight18: This bus smells like corn chips. And feet. #TheStruggleIsReal

    @BlueKnight18: I can see the skyline! It’s real! #NYC #YoDamnRight I need off this foot bus.

    @BlueKnight18: I thought the bus was awful, but man, the C train, what even is that thing? When in the 1800’s did they make that?

    @BlueKnight18: Central Park, bitches! This is the realest real. #LivinTheLife

    @BlueKnight18: Some old lady just knocked me down! WTF! She just plowed through me with this little wire cart. #CRAZY

    @BlueKnight18: Where all these strollers come from?! Can’t figure out these paths + it’s like a video game getting through these waves of wheeled babies!

    @BlueKnight18: Wherever I walk there’s someone playing the saxaphone. Ever heard of a guitar? Or drums? #CrappySoundtrack

    @BlueKnight18: I’ve asked like, 3 people now where strawberry fields is, I guess I’m on the wrong side of the lake? #Lost

    @BlueKnight18: This dude just yelled at me for accidentally bumping him while I was looking down at my phone. #CanILive

    @BlueKnight18: FOUND IT! Strawberry Fields! It’s like stone and stuff tho, not fields. Kind of confusing in this big ass park.

    @BlueKnight18: Who TF is John Lennon?

    @CaseyCaseRose
    210 words
    Knight on a quest
    Long trip to shrine

  35. Stone Free – 208 words

    Character: a saint surviving execution

    Setting: long road en route to a shrine

    ———————————————————–

    Matthias struggled to his feet, shards of rock coursing to the ground as he stood.

    “Enough. Enough,” he said, turning to face his accusers. “Surely you need not do this again, for am I not already dead?”

    The ringleader shook his head, his eyes disbelieving. “If you’re moving, you’re living, surely?” he offered, reasoning on behalf of the others already recovering the better stones from around Matthias’ feet.

    Judas’ replacement dusted himself down again. “Look,” he said, holding a sizeable sliver of glass before his mouth. “No breath. I must be dead.”

    “It’s a trick,” Judean Goon#1 muttered into his beard. “It’s a demon glass. One fashioned to an unworldly design. Like a chicken that speaks.” He nodded enthusiastically, agreeing with himself. “I’ve heard of those. It proves anything can be perverted by darkness. Even a man’s lunch.”

    Matthias sighed, suddenly feeling hungry. “I’ve a mission,” he said, rubbing his scarred stomach. I need to get to Jerusalem but first I must eat.”

    Goon#1 frowned. “There’s no such thing as a free meal. You’ll have to sing for it.” He looked about, seeing assent from the others. “Go on!”

    The saint nodded, coughing up a lungful of dust. “Okay,” he said. “Picture a bright blue ball just spinning…”

  36. @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Count: 210
    Setting: long road en route to a shrine
    Character (all six): a knight on a quest, a patient wife, a treacherous wife, three foolish gamblers, a talking rooster, a saint who survives execution

    Knight’s Tale

    The long-haired drifter stands by the roadside, cardboard sign in one hand, grubby bedroll in the other. The 1959, fin-tailed Cadillac Eldorado glides to a halt.

    “Headed to Rock Fest, huh?”

    “Yup. Always wanted to go there.”

    “Me too! Hop in.”

    “Thanks, dude. Name’s Hal Knight. Folks call me Cooter.”

    “I’m Geoff”.

    “That eyepatch you’re sportin’ reminds me of a John Wayne character.”

    “Rooster Cogburn?”

    “Thassit!”

    “Fisticuffs with three clowns in a poker game…”

    “You cheatin’?”

    “No way! Just didn’t run fast enough.” Conversation lapses. “Interested in some herbal relaxation? Take a look in the glovebox.”

    “Woah! Now you’re talkin’, Rooster!” Cooter gets to work on one of his legendary doobies. “You married, dude?”

    “Six years. Suzie’s not into rock, but she’s cool with me going. You?”

    “Bitch lit out way back with a New Orleans running back. I woulda strung him up, if I’d caught him.”

    “Bummer. What you do for a livin’, dude?”

    “Not much since I got back from Iraq… PTSD.” He takes a toke. “You?”

    “I just travel round, picking up people’s stories. Ones I like, I publish as e-books.”

    “Huh! How much you charge for that?” says Cooter, passing the joint.

    “Nix, nada, nothin’.”

    “Be serious, man! Ain’t no such thing as a free launch.”

  37. All Bets (among other things) are Off
    3 foolish gamblers/prank
    197 words
    personalvapes@gmail.com

    These three guys walk into a bar. They take a table way off to the side, drop a GPS unit on its worn surface, and start a frenzied, whispered conversation. As the clock slowly ticks around the minutes, the dialog becomes, if anything, more intense, with wild gesticulations accompanying the hushed tones.

    Slowly, all other debates, arguments, admonishments or declarations filling the bar with comfortable white noise die away as these three strangers capture all the attention in the room.

    Even more slowly does the conversation, and all movement, of the three men grind to a rather embarrassed halt.

    “So!” one of the three strangers pipes up in a squeaky voice, “What’s the name of this bar, anyway?”

    Thirty pairs of very interested eyes blink in unison at the man and his companions, wearing nothing but crochet thongs, socks, and flip-flops.

    The bartender clears his throat. “This is ‘Leather-n-Lace’, boys,” he announces with a decidedly wicked twinkle in his eyes. “We have the leather…I’m guessin’ you boys are the lace.”

    “Love is in the Air,” starts playing over the speakers as 30 leather-clad, perfectly muscled, very butch-homosexual men, move forward as a group.

    “I’m never gambling again…”

  38. Last Live Man

    Carl was scrolling, light eyes on his iPhone. “Kev bought it last night. We’re down a man.”

    “Sodding Sherlock!” Mal scoffed, brushing tousled tufts of dark hair from his eyes. “C’mon! Couldn’t catch a clue, could he? Better a team of two. Besides – he’ll be happy to
    be immortalised amongst the ‘dearly departed’. Worth a pint or two. One for the ladies.”

    “Like you wouldn’t? ” Carl eyeballed him briefly. “The site’s updating later. New rules. Storms on Twitter. Competition causes murder mayhem; all that.”

    “Missed it. Was re-checking the crime scene photos. Doesn’t hurt the victim’s a knockout. Something there somewhere; gotta be.”

    “Supposed to be a subscribers’ feed,” Carl commented.

    “You signed up already?” Mal asked, quickly. “The link’s live?”

    Carl nodded. “Spotted it a while back.”

    “Want to be in with a punt at a prize win. We working this through again, or what?”

    “I think we’re good for the minute. Better to review once anything new’s in, being honest. Should be up shortly.” A pause. “Forget that – it’s there already.” Carl displayed the screen. “You’re up.”

    Mal frowned, reading.

    “They’re pitching player against player, seekers now the sought after; sign ups exempt. Game’s gone all Assassin. Last Live Man for a reason, apparently. Better run.”

    @FallIntoFiction

    #FlashDogs
    #FDHowl

    (210 words)

    Man vs Man
    Theme – Subterfuge

  39. The Lone Pilgrim
    C. Centner
    Theme: subterfuge, justice
    Setting: Long road en route to a shrine
    Word count: 200
    [No Twitter Account]

    She walked along the road, her black Abaya and purple Nikes faded from the dust. She was alone. A sin, of course.

    “Where are you going sister,” the jihadi at the checkpoint asked. “And where is your mahram?”

    “The shrine.” Fatima replied honestly. “And I’m alone”

    “Ah, sister, that is a Shia shrine, and that makes you an apostate.” He discarded his rifle and pulled a knife. “You can convert or die.” He closed in on Fatima. “But I’ll spare you if you please me.”

    “As you wish,” Fatima said nonchalantly. He desired what men desired, and when he was distracted she plunged a knife into his neck.

    Fatima slipped on his pants, donned his shirt, and hung the full ammunition belt from her shoulders to cover her breasts.

    She strode onward purposefully.

    “Where are you going, brother,” the Jihadi asked the dusty figure approaching.

    “The shrine,” the figure said, tapping an AK. “To kill apostates.”

    “Ah, good brother!”

    Fatima passed the sentry, unshouldered her AK and put a round into his back. He fell, just as her relatives had fallen from Jihadi bullets. She turned and walked.

    It was a long road ahead. Her ammunition belt was long, too.

  40. @PattyannMc
    WC: 209
    Character: Talking Rooster
    Theme: Subterfuge

    Black Hairy Harry’s Trade-off

    “Excuse me, why are you hanging on my wattles? What business have you there?”

    “I need a lift home, and yer feet are bigger and go faster! It’d take me ferever to get dere!”

    “Does that excuse you hanging on my wattles? I ought to snap you in my beak, and would if I could reach you!”

    “Tis why I picked yer wattles. Keep yer spurs on! How bout I ride yer comb?”

    “How bout you ride on my back, instead?”

    “What’s special about yer back?”

    “I’m all itchy back there.”

    “Whoa,” Harry hollered as he jumped to Rooster’s back. “Tis busy backere! Yer got a million fleas ridin’ on ya!”

    “Tell you what, you eat, I’ll run. By the way, what’s your name?”

    “Hairy Harry and yerself?”

    “Just Rooster,” he sighed. “No one ever gave me a name.”

    “Lemme see, yer-a purdy rust color, so yer Rusty.” Harry spun gossamer threads so he didn’t bounce off.

    “Rusty’s nice. I think this is your home. It looks – spidery.”

    “Yep, this be me,” he spoke through a mouthful of fleas, swallowing hard and then he sank his fangs between Rusty’s feathers.

    “Ouch! Why’d you bite me?”

    “Needed somethin’ to wash down yer fleas! I’m stuffed. Thanks for dinner and drinks!”

  41. “Playing With Fire”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Conflict & Character (three foolish gamblers)
    Word count: 208

    Long after the wine had begun flowing, and shortly before it would spill, three boastful tongues wagged as they bluffed their way through the game. The antes escalated, as did the tenor of the conversation. It started innocently enough…

    “You two need me,” said one. “You know you do.”

    “We got along just fine without you,” said the second, sounding slightly sloshed.

    “I agree. You did,” the first countered. “But you’ve gotten soft. Now, I support you. I give you a bed to lie in.”

    “You may be strong, grounded. But in time, I can wear you down.”

    “Ooh! I’m trembling.”

    The third finally spoke.

    “You both seem to forget,” he said, coolly, “that I was here at the beginning. Well before either of you came along.”

    “That may be so, old man. But I could crush you now.”

    “And I could snuff you out like that.”

    Their insouciance proved too much. His temper flared, and he upended the table, scattering the cards. Seeing the smolder in his eyes, they realized they had crossed a line.

    The Earth quaked.

    Water started running at the mouth, babbling words he hoped would placate their friend. But his anger was not to be extinguished.

    “Game over,” said Fire, striking a match.

  42. “The Storm”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Conflict, Character (Which one… that’s a surprise. You’ll get it.)
    Word count: 205

    I barricaded the basement door, and huddled in the relative safety of a corner, holding my little one close. I struggled to stifle the tremble that seemed intent on burrowing through my body, starting at my extremities, not stopping until it took root in my heart. I needed to be, or at least appear to be, brave for him.

    We sat in silence as the storm raged above us. Mikey shuddered each time a plate shattered, or a chair splintered.

    “Do you think my Legos will be OK?” he asked.

    “Tell you what. If anything happens to them, I’ll get you new ones.”

    “Really? Even the Star Wars AT-AT?”

    “Anything you want, little man.”

    A momentary lull tricked me into believing the storm had passed. But it was just gathering steam, building to the next onslaught.

    “Where the fuck are you!” Though slurred, the words clearly conveyed the sobriety of the threat.

    “Ooh! I heard an F-word,” Mikey said.

    “I know. Don’t repeat it. Ever. Not at school. And certainly not in front of Grandma. Promise?”

    “Promise. I’m scared, Daddy.”

    “I am, too. But don’t worry. It will be over soon. And in the morning, Mommy won’t remember a thing. She never does. You’ll see.”

  43. Posting for Foy Iver, who is out of internet access at the moment:
    @fs_iver
    WC: 204
    Conflict: man v man; setting: long route to [Earth’s] shrine; Theme: corruption

    Title: Pilgrim Adam

    She was just the type of female Clive did his best to avoid: banal, talkative, her volume stuck on high.

    “I’ve been waiting eons for this!”

    Technically, impossible.

    “They say that if your suit is compromised, you’ll cook your brain in less than 30 minutes.”

    Gobbles up the Collectives’ lies like non-dehydrated food. Not surprising.

    “I’m Soliloquy.” She eyed him like a Banshee Cat in heat; Clive slid closer to the cargo hold door.

    “Got a name, holy man?”

    The getup was working at least. He imagined her eyes, spitting red angry, if she saw the survival kit buried in his robes.

    “Harris.”

    “Harris,” she said it back, heavily breathing out the “h”. “I like it. It’s sensitive.”

    He guessed she was from the CGL3 Quadrant. Had to be to drop enough blood for a Terrestrial Pilgrimage.

    “So, you’re an Earth Keeper, right?”

    She leaned forward, squeezing her biceps toward her chest. Clive fidgeted with his tassels.

    Should’ve boarded as a Waste Management Specialist.

    “Could you absolve me?” she asked. “Of my sins?”

    “Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of coming?”

    She leaned closer.

    “Not if I’ve already found who I was looking for.”

    Her fingers curled into a familiar sign. A repopulationist.

    “I was hoping to apply for the position of Eve…”

  44. Under The Cherry Tree

    I cannot blame myself for another man’s malice, but oh how I wish I wasn’t such a fool.

    “Meet her at the gate.” he said.

    “And don’t forget the pink roses.” he said.

    He was so convincing with that sly tongue, knowing wink, and comforting nod.

    Oh, I should have known better. We always met in the gardens; under the cherry tree.

    It is true that everyone knew she was mine; my sweet, my love, my heart.

    I was made a fool today, that is clear, and it serves me right for not using my head.

    As I see them there, under the cherry tree, I feel like I have already lost a piece of me.

    My heart truly cracked as her hand moved to her face with the soft gentle giggle that I so rightly love.

    “This is Royal Roger, isn’t he a dream?” She looked at me with friendly eyes.

    But, where was the love?

    While I attempted to best my defeat, her heart slipped from me into the palm of his hand.

    “But my love, I brought you flowers.”

    “Silly man, you know of lilacs I am fonder.”

    She turned to him dissing, confirming my missing, the chance I had with my dream; my love.

    Word Count: 208
    Elements: M v M / Courtly Love
    Amber Linson@WrittingOutLoud

  45. The Message
    Story Elements: Man v. Man, long road en route to a shrine
    210 words

    “… riding MY bicycle!”

    The others laughed uproariously. I cringed.

    “Tell another!” the six-armed Ladascaf priest shouted. The crowd cheered its encouragement.

    “Okay,” Dave said. “This Otituta was visiting Earth, right? You know the Otituta? The ones with the very short….”

    I glared at my husband as he began yet another off-color story. Didn’t he realize we were on a damned pilgrimage? I’d had to book passage on the ICL Canterbury three years in advance. It was our one chance to see the Universal Message.

    It’s supposed to be a beautiful, uplifting experience. It’s supposed to be the most intense spiritual encounter a person could ever have. We were joining priests and psychopomps, seekers and sadhus and members of ten thousand religious groups from the Six Known Races, who for a thousand years had made the sacred journey to see the Pulsar – White Dwarf – Schwarzchild Singularity trinary. After all, it’s not supposed to be able to exist. Where else would we find God?

    And here I was, stuck traveling with a man whose greatest pleasure was telling dirty jokes.

    “Wendy? No, it says ‘Welcome to Earth – have a nice day,'” Dave finished.

    The laughter from the other passengers was even louder than before. “Another!” the crowd shouted.

  46. To Canterbury
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    209 words
    character: saint spared “execution”
    Setting: long road en route to “shrine”

    We are a motley crew: Stuart Bailey, business mogul; Luke Wise, steel worker; Ginny McHaven, twelve years old, clutching her long-dead iPhone like a holy relic; Linda Coltrane, the engineer we hope can steer this ship; and me—Luca Nightsky—erstwhile saint and storyteller.

    “Five minutes.” Coltrane seals the airlock as we strap into our seats. “Twenty light years to Canterbury. Even with warp-speed, it’s a long trip.”

    “Story-tellings pass time amongst pilgrims,” I offer.

    The ship judders. Red numbers flick across the command screen.

    “St. Luca first!” Bailey decides in typical unilateral fashion. “Whoever tells the best story will win a free dinner on Canterbury.”

    “Does the colony have restaurants?” Wise mutters.

    The jolt of take-off plasters everyone against the seats.

    Young Ginny removes her mask. I shiver.

    I peer out the hatch, plague-mask still in place, filtering my air. Earth looms behind us, covered in serene waters and creamy cloud-wisps. At this distance, you cannot see the horrors we’ve escaped.

    I cannot remember the feel of a naked face or the kiss of fresh air on my cheeks.

    Canterbury is still only a tiny dot, a future dream.

    I begin my tale: “I shall lament, in the Tragic Mode, the sufferings of those who once stood high…”

  47. #jenstone4485
    themes; conflict, setting, character- patient wife
    word count 209

    The Road to York
    The York Road was long and arduous. The troupe, easy prey for cut-throats and bandits. A group of pilgrims heading to the shrine of St William were always a vulnerable lot; their number included the frail, infirm and the lame, interspersed by the upper echelons of society keen on flaunting their wealth. Only on such voyages of the soul would such noble personages mingle with the less fortunate.
    The Lady De Montforte was the subject of much debate; her marriage at York Cathedral was the talk of the group. Some thought it wrong for a beautiful young woman to marry a man twice her age, no matter how large his purse. Others felt it best to keep their noses out of such business. The lady kept to herself, riding her golden Arab mare in saintly silence, her future more carefully mapped than the road she travelled.
    Setting off from Glastonbury just after Michaelmas, the group would arrive by Christmas. Already there had been a few scuffles among the pilgrims. A merchant accused one beggar of theft; the poor boy received a black eye for his penance, despite protesting his innocence. It was hard to gauge such cases on the road, a magistrate would be found when they arrived.

  48. Laying (210 words)
    @brett_milam

    Character: Talking rooster
    Theme: pranks

    I was entangled in the bedspread, with one sock missing and the sun shining bright through the window. White curtains were a bad idea. Mental note: get darker curtains. With a roll, I tried to evade the sun and pretended to sleep. But my eyelids quivered resistance.

    My body ached from being in the bed, unmoving, for the last sixteen hours. But my bed was a refuge; my cushiony oasis away from human beings and their crushing baggage.

    Dad liked to say I was depressed, but that word felt scratchy and painful, like trying to slide sandpaper down your esophagus. I mean, yeah, there was that time I stayed under the cold bath water a little too long, but I was fine. It scared dad, but I was fine.

    And then there was Charlie. Charlie stayed in the corner, his colorful feathers and beak faced the wall. I liked it that way. It made my brain matter wiggle when he’d speak. Short syllables, like, “Move it.”

    Damn thing seemed to always be mocking me. Colorful while my insides were like a black and white movie.

    Well, the prank was on him. I stood up, took my one sock and stuffed into his beak. He won’t chirp now.

    That’ll show him.

  49. The Plank (210 words)
    @brett_milam

    They’d left him there for three nights and before the sun could rise on the fourth morning, he could smell his own dead flesh.

    He slid from his skin — or at least it seemed that way because the pain seemed to make his brain rattle — and down to the dead grass. It was dead, he soon realized, because of the onslaught of his dripping blood.

    Haggard, his feet carried him over the nearby hill, to which he tumbled down, righted himself and continued a lumbering pace toward the cave. He slipped by the Roman guard with too much ease, he thought. After all, he was moving slow and breathing heavy.

    Once inside, he gasped at the spot where he was entombed. His mother’s tears still lined his dead cheeks; her handprint encased on his bloody white garment.

    In the back of his head, which still thumped with agonizing pain, he heard a distant voice, “It is time.”

    That’s when he came one with his lifeless body, felt the resurgence in his chest, and his body pushed up off of the tomb.

    A peasant woman with icey blue eyes was the first to see him. He tried to convey his usual calmness, but to no avail.

    He had risen.

    ________________

    Character: A saint who survives execution
    Setting: Long road en route to a shrine

  50. The Knight That Never Was
    @nzstelter
    210 words
    A knight on a quest/justice

    They called him The Red Curse. Tales of him caused children to tremble and men to reach for their swords. To me he was Rodin. He never spoke; his name came to me whispered on the wind.

    We fought side by side against the rising dark. When Rodin turned his hooded globes to me on blood-thickened fields, I saw not a villain but kin worthy of my steel and coat of arms.

    Without him we would have been devoured. Yet the townspeople did not rejoice. Men are stronger when they are bonded by hate. Two dawns after the final battle, they tethered Rodin’s wings to the ground and pierced him with scalding rods.

    Rodin endured as the crowds grew. By dusk his scales were torn and slick with sweat. A solitary anguished call reverberated across the isles, but still he did not unleash his fiery breath on them.

    I knew my quest then. As the townspeople slept, drunk on their mastery of the dragon, I unclipped his chains and lit the hay bales until the sky turned crimson. Rodin flew, damaged and majestic, a valiant creature trapped in a vessel of fear. His wings beat a path away from the menfolk who had betrayed him: the knight that never was.

  51. The Gamblers’ Tale
    @bloggingbaker
    210 words
    gamblers/subterfuge

    “Are you in need, dear friend?” Christopher asked the grinning naked man. “Terrance, Perry, and I are on the road to visit the shrine of St. Andrew of the Holy Greens.”

    Perry offered a cloak from his bag.

    “I’ve no need,” the stranger said. “I must fetch a wheelbarrow for I have met the blessed Andrew!”

    Terrence crossed himself.

    “Did he take your clothes?” asked Christopher.

    “No, friend,” said the stranger. “Everyone knows how holy the shrine is. Out of respect, I rid myself of all belongings.”

    “Really?” Perry asked.

    “Yes,” the stranger said. “And he rewarded me with so much treasure, I must fetch a wheelbarrow. If you wish to meet him, you must rid yourself of all possessions. Or..”

    “Or what?” Christopher asked.

    “The hell hounds, dear friends,” the stranger said. “I was in a party of five. The other four wore clothes.”

    Terrence crossed himself again.

    “If you wish, I can watch over your belongings while you travel,” the stranger said.
    Christopher, Terrance, and Perry dropped their bags, dropped their trousers, and shed their shirts.

    “Thank you,” said Perry. “Blessings to you.”

    As the naked trio walked over the hill and out of sight, the stranger waved.

    “Blessings indeed,” he said while opening one of the bags.

  52. Character: a treacherous wife
    Setting: long road en route to a shrine
    Word count: 210
    @Digestibleink

    Wayward Domestication

    You must believe me, I love my husband. The first time we met, I figuratively fell to his boots, at the joust, all those years ago. He smiled, gave me his hand, and picked me off the horse excreta. The next week, we were married at Coventry. My father was a ceaseless bragger, “A knight for a son -in -law.” I was the invisible nipper before that. My brothers were the focus. Lessons from the monks, combat, riding–they had all the diversions. I was tangled up in domestication.

    I could say that he beat me or he cheated in our marriage. In truth, he was never home long enough to encourage a souring kinship. Sure, I had babies– seven– but three lived to adulthood. I gladly became his sisters surrogate. I gave birth to a fine set of twins, nursed them well into their toddler years.

    Another woman would have envied my rank. He came home yesterday foaming about a crusade to Jerusalem. I could have gutted him. I gave him a chance. He’s in the bottom of our well. In his stead, I’ll be blessed by Our Lady of Coventry as his youngest son, Father Gerard, with a knights brand at my side. The journey ahead has broadened.

  53. A Cock’s Tale
    Characters
    Setting
    Other stuff.
    (197 Words)

    On a sunny auspicious day in May
    A band of pilgrims set on their way–
    To the spot that saint had slain a wild boar
    now the waters relieved the sick and sore.

    The knight had a limp, which he tried to hide,
    From the shy young woman who was his bride,
    Two young knaves were paying nature’s price
    For for too much drink and too much dice,

    And one old gambler, whose luck grew cold
    As his mean wife a hateful scold.
    She wished him dead, to all who heard
    Mainly her last rooster, a clipped old bird.

    All will be cured, at St. Attracta’s spring.
    Holy water can mend anything.
    “That is what we’re told,” said the knight’s wife
    “But only once a year does it change a life.

    On year it reattached the severed head
    Of Good Saint Findal, who was surely dead.”
    At the holy well each pilgrim took a sip
    And the rooster enjoyed a refreshing dip

    “I am no whit better, “the lame Knight said.
    The shrew cried “My old husband’s not yet dead.”
    “I’m feeling grand,” the rooster was moved to say.
    And on newly healed wings, he flew away.

  54. Theme: knight on a quest
    Setting: road to a shrine
    204 words
    @bardbotherer

    The Heat of the Road

    In the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun, Sir Christopher’s amour felt like a scalding prison. Any other man, a weaker man, would have slid from the saddle and shirked the quest for a moment of stillness and reprieve. But Sir Christopher was not any other man. The grievous burden, lain on him in an hour of strife, was not to be anything less than his priority at all times; weather be damned.

    Sir Christopher gleaned upward, shielding his eyes against the formidable glare with a gauntleted hand. The road snaked away, dancing in the haze until it meted seamlessly with the horizon. He shook his head, either to clear it or in weary acceptance of his suffering. A bead of sweat dived from a golden lock of his hair down the crest of his forehead, skirted the eye, and swept sinuously down one cheek to be lost instantly on touching the searing gorget at his throat.

    The knight murmured a soft prayer to the heavens. Ahead, impossibly far, lay the shrine. There, if he wasn’t too late, his test. He would not falter. Ne operias sanguinem meum quest salus mea. He had a kingdom to save. His would be a tale of legend.

  55. Canterbury Cock-a-doodle-doo
    208 words, @pmcolt
    A talking rooster (by implication) and a long road en route to a shrine

    In April on that lonesome muddy road, two pilgrims from the farmyard met at dusk. Feather with her plumage prim and bright, and dusty Henny scratching near the side.

    “What brings you from the coop?” asked Henny.

    “It’s Red,” clucked Feather. “I’m leaving him.”

    “Oh, honey,” Henny said. “We’ve all seen how he struts in front of the other chicks. I’m glad you dumped that loser rooster.”

    “He thinks he’s cock of the walk,” Feather complained. “In truth he’s barely a bantam. I’m going to town. To the shrine, where chickens like us are worshiped. The building with the chicken on its sign.”

    “Indeed, I’ll go with you,” offered Henny. “Since my poor Leghorn is gone, I’m down to scratching in the streets.”

    “What happened? Was he antidisestablishmentarian?”

    “No, Feather: worse than that. It seems His Majesty decided to throw a grand banquet. The farmer took poor, sainted Leghorn.” Henny hung her head. “By now he’s royally plucked.”

    “Why so glum, hens?” came a kind voice. From out of the woods, a sly red fox approached.

    “Ba-gawk! What say you, fox? Leave us poor hens alone!”

    And so the trio rushed clucking towards town, seeking that fabled shrine of chicken-kind: the building with the chicken on its sign.

  56. It Rhymes With Dock

    I hope I remembered to grab my favorite beer stein before the door smacked my butt on the way out the door.

    In the end I guess I deserved it. I should have seen it coming. It wasn’t like the warning signs weren’t there.

    I should have been more attentive. When she was telling me about her day at work I shouldn’t have shushed her and complained that I missed the sports report on the news. Maybe there was something important she was trying to tell me.

    I should have been more loving. Perhaps there was some truth to her rant about how I held the remote more often than her hand. In looking back, I should have stayed home that night she lit all those candles. But who knew at the time that she had a night of passion in mind. I honestly thought the power hand gone out. I figured I’d have more fun if I went to the bar for a drink. I was so wrong about that.

    A strutting, arrogant, loathsome, opinionated, irritating, infuriating jerk she called me.

    Just a jowl jiggling, lip smacking rooster she said I was.

    Well rooster isn’t the exact term she used when she kicked me out.

    It rhymed with dock.

    Theme: Justice
    Character: Talking Rooster
    210 words

  57. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    Elements: conflict/character
    202 words

    Comb Over

    Sunshine spills o’er these sycamore hills and darts amongst the buttercup plains, yet for me, there’s darkness approaching. I failed. Fizzled out. Lost my sparkle.

    He’s coming for me, that foul creature. Wants to chop off the part of me that shines at daybreak. And all because I’ve had a nasty cold this past fortnight. Is it my fault I can’t crow through the dawn?

    Around and around I circle, pacing through my fears. I wander near the pond, near the other me. Is he there? Can he help me? I catch sight of his magnificence down in the dark deep of the pool. Cocky as always. He just tilts his head and chuckles.

    Swish and glint. The dicey blade is headed for my head. “Goodbye, world!” I squint, bracing for the bitter kiss.

    “Damn rooster!” His skin, speckled with broken blood vessels, reminds me of the butter pats stamped with Marianne’s stunning silhouette. Ah, now there was a hen. He, on the other hand, reeks of whiskey and death. He growls and sways on his feet. “You can talk?”

    One darkness lifts as another takes hold. I feel the shackles snap shut, and I know I’ll regret keeping my elegant head.


  58. The Goode Knight’s Tale
    210 Words
    * Character: a knight on a quest,
    * Setting: long road en route to a shrine
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Goode Knight, Sir Antony of the Dragon did not ride, but rather walked, his palfrey beside him. While he missed his warhorse, the diminutive saddle horse made a better companion than the destrier…

    “No! What are you trying to do here?”

    Kevin looked up from his keyboard and stared at his little brother. “What’s wrong with the story now?”

    “If you use words like ‘palfrey’ and ‘destrier’ you’re going to lose half your audience… besides, he’s a knight! A knight should be riding a warhorse… and what’s with this ‘companion’ sh…”

    “Michael!”

    The two brothers looked towards the kitchen and called out “sorry, mom!” in unison.

    Kevin finally shook his head and went back to writing.

    Goode Knight, Sir Antony of the Dragon rode bravely towards the shrine of Albert St. Yves.

    As he passed the Inn of the Blind Theif, he paused long enough to water his horse and ask directions…

    “Are you really going to go into every detail of his journey? I’m surprised you have had him stop every fifteen minutes so his horse can pi…”

    “Michael!”

    “Sorry, Mom…”

    Kevin sighed and tried to pick up the threads of his story and finally gave up.

    “Want to play ‘Cowboys and Indians’?” he asked.

    Mission accomplished, Micheal smiled.

  59. Straight Flush
    200 words
    Treacherous Wife
    Man Vs. Man
    @JamieRHersh

    Brian was holding a straight flush. I could tell because his leg was shaking the way it only does when he’s holding a good hand.
    I carried the tray of sandwiches across the room and rested it on the buffet behind my husband. With deft hands I slid the sandwiches on to plates, and passed them around the table to the three men who’d already folded.
    The room was quiet. All waited on my husband for his bid.
    Before I could talk myself out of it, I tilted the silver tray upward, where the light could catch it and send a reflection across the table to Conrad.
    Had he seen the flash? I couldn’t be sure, he was not familiar enough, yet, that I could read him.
    “All In,” Brian finally said, shoving his modest pile of chips in front of him with a flourish.
    I held my breath, as the three ousted opponents sucked in theirs.
    “Fold,” Conrad said, tossing the cards into a lazy heap in front of him.
    “Man, you’ve got some good instincts,” my husband said, shaking his head as he raked in the chips.
    Conrad’s eyes locked with mine.
    “I guess we’ll see about that.”

  60. Title: Falling, Fallen
    Character: A Knight on a Quest
    Theme: Corruption

    For years I have been a reaper in steel with a sword shaped like the Savior’s cross. I found honor and glory in the heathen’s cries. I heard them in my memories even as I danced at my wedding. Those days were warm, sunny.
    Today it is raining. The Cliffs of Dover are white and terrible beneath me, like the realm of Heaven itself. Will I still go to that pristine place when I die now? My blade which had ended untold heathens for God’s glory committed a mortal sin; it is covered in a friend’s blood— not even the weeping raindrops can wash it clean.
    A spark of rage. A moment of weakness. Did he really insult my wife? Or slander my king? Or blaspheme against God? I don’t suppose I will ever know, now. Our sparring turned to murder from those maybe-words.
    My ever-bloody sword hangs from my hand like a head on a broken neck. Behind me, the thunder sounds like vengeful hooves coming my way. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.
    Before God or man can claim my life, I will redeem it. My sword flies from my hand and is pulled down to wrathful tides and earth, heavy with sin. I follow after it.

  61. Charcter: three foolish gamblers
    Setting: long road en route to a shrine

    210 words

    ANCESTORS

    “We’ll never find it. The shrine doesn’t exist.”

    Trilby stopped walking along the ancient tarmac road, letting the other two overtake him. Cirrus looked back.

    “Of course it exists, we saw the photo-images. We’ve got to get proof of an old-human to get back my speeder!”

    “But no-one’s seen a Sapiens for years, they’re extinct!” Trilby said. Cirrus and George walked on, ignoring him. Trilby sighed and trudged after them, kicking at the crumbling tarmac, a far sight from the gleaming speedways of the sky cities, where no-one walked anywhere. His feet hurt.

    “We shouldn’t have taken that bet” he grumbled.

    He glowered at his friends’ backs. Cirrus was striding along, looking eagerly ahead for the twisted metal spires emerging above the forest. George was silent as usual, following a step behind Cirrus.

    None of them saw the pit hidden in the road. A few bewildering seconds, and the three of them were crushed together in dust-tasting darkness.

    They heard footsteps, then light blinded them as the pit cover was drawn back. A silhouette blocked the light and emitted a short bark of laughter.

    “Well, well. Caught some lofties from up in the sky.”

    Trilby saw the dull gleam of his teeth exposed in a grin. Tentatively, he smiled back.

    @ecjlewis

  62. The Highway
    @goldzco21
    Man vs man a long road
    209 words

    The old S-10’s brakes squealed as it pulled up on the side of the highway. The tires leveled the tall grass on the shoulder.

    “Where you going kid?” the driver called out from the open window.

    “Tuquilla,” the kid said, squinting against the noonday sun.

    “That’s some walk,” the driver said, pulling a cigarette from a beat-up carton. “I can take you as far as Bend, maybe Brewston.”

    “Thanks, but no thanks,” the kid said. He started walking again.

    The driver looked on for a bit. “What the hell is this kid thinking,” he muttered to himself. He plucked the cigarette from his lips and put it back in the carton. Then he cut the ignition and got out of the truck.

    “Hey kid,” he called out, “why don’t you want a ride? There’s no way you’re getting there today by walking.”

    The kid turned around. “I know. That’s the point. If it were quick I wouldn’t be doing it.”

    “Are you on some sort of pilgrimage or something?”

    “Or something,” the kid called back.

    The driver leaned against the Chevy’s grill and watched the kid slowly fade on the deserted highway. He hopped back into his truck and prayed he wouldn’t see the kid on the news tomorrow.

  63. The Saint (207 words)

    Setting: Autopsy room
    Protagonist: A saint on a quest for freedom
    Antagonist: Abandoned daughter (Medical Examiner)

    Dear God, it’s me. I don’t want to trouble You, but I beg You to let everyone know that I’m not dead. If You’re too busy, maybe Your Son could help me out. Amen.

    The air is punctuated with the flick of latex gloves and the sickening clatter of instruments on a stainless steel tray. The overhead lights flick on and a familiar voice says, “I’ll bet you didn’t expect me. Just seeing you, makes my day!”

    A gloved hand appears and Jane leans forward. “Why didn’t you marry my mother? You promised to help her when you found she was pregnant. But, you didn’t, you deserted her—left her in the lurch. Mum had to struggle hard to support me.”

    Your mother was a gold digger. She got what she deserved.

    A few seconds tick by—she raises a long knife. Running her finger along its edge she says, “How does it feel lying there, waiting for it to begin?”

    Her eyes narrow and a half smile follows. She whispers in my ear. “If you’re not already dead—Daddy dear—you soon will be.”

    My eyes fly open. Leaping from the table, I grab a gown and run. She did not see the stigmata on my hands.

    • Thanks, I do have a penchant for horror stories, sometimes with a little humour. My favourite writers are Stephen King and Annie Dillard, who is a magical writer.

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