Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 41

AS WE SPEAK!!! a pack of #FlashDogs in the UK are assembling LIVE and IN PERSON, which is so very extremely cool, all I have to say is, Wish I were there too!!! and Y’all better be posting pics. And, I’ll admit it, thirdly, Did anyone warn the local authorities? 

Thanks again to Holly Geely for taking the time this week to tell us all about her new book, The Dragon’s Toenail, and congratulations to Mary Decker, who won the free copy. (Also, PUPPY!!!!) As I said last week, coming up in the next few weeks look for #Spotlight interviews with a nonfiction writer/editor, a YA book blogger — and I’m thrilled to report that I’ve just added a screenwriter. Because, cool!

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DC2This week gives us the other half of our dragon swap, meaning we’re in for the treat that’s Dragon Team Seven: IfeOluwa Nihinlola and Nancy Chenier. Besides how they both love Star Trek, they both look for stories that push back the boundaries of what’s ordinary or expected. “Ground me in concrete imagery and evoke real emotions,” says Nancy. IfeOluwa adds, “Let the prompt soar on dragon wings.” -I’m thinking, Wow! it’s like they’ve already read your work!!!     

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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:  150 – 200 words (not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (min 150, max 200 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:

From last week’s wild fairy tale imaginings, we’re moving into a tougher screenshot of reality: Alan Paton’s profoundly moving exploration of pre-apartheid Johannesburg, Cry, the Beloved CountryAgain, a reminder that you needn’t have read the novel to take inspiration from its world and characters (though if you haven’t read it, please add this one to your list!).

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 (not gender specific)
Character (choose at least one): old priest fighting to hold on to tradition, father searching for his son, young man accused of murder, a civil rights activist, a pregnant girl
Theme (choose one): reconciliation, racism, injustice, repentance
Setting (choose one): a decaying village, a wealthy city in moral decline 

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

View in Village of Adarranu near the Black Volta. CC photo. National Archives UK, "Africa Through a Lens" project.

View in Village of Adarranu near the Black Volta, 1890s. CC photo. National Archives UK, “Africa Through a Lens” project.

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230 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 41

  1. The Ways of My Grandfather

    My grandfather once told me that a hand extended in kindness is a vulnerable hand. I dismissed him as a crazy old Zulu warrior.

    I should have remembered my grandfather’s advice when they came. Disheveled and dirty, they had come from a far distance. A long time ago we would have met them with a wall of shields. Painted warriors would dance and sing of victory. Our spears would taste blood.

    But times have changed since then. The old ways died with the last of the warriors. Rituals that trained young men for war were forgotten. They were replaced with prayers and songs to a great lord. I should have learned how to use spear and shield, but I learned how to make meals instead.

    The priest told me that a life of servitude and peace would please the lord. I made them soup.

    The priest was the first to die. I hid as everyone was dragged off in chains or slaughtered without mercy. They deserved the tip of a spear, not a bowl of soup.

    Stir the soup. Fill the bowl. Ask for forgiveness. It’s all I can do now.

    If only there was someone left to forgive me.

    200 words
    Themes: conflict (man vs man), repentance

  2. WHERE WE USED TO LIVE

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    199 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog
    (my 100th Flash! Friday story!!!)

    Character: a father searching for his son.
    Theme: racism

    * * *

    The human race was something, once. Earth, the jewel in our Empire.

    But greater riches have been discovered in the galaxy; new worlds, new civilisations. Earth is raw, and only the poor remain. Or the scared.

    I haven’t been back in nineteen years. My family wouldn’t have survived in this world stripped bare. We fled into the stars and never looked back.

    So why am I here, now?

    Jason, my eldest, a boy who fell far from the tree. I fear for him. Earth is a vile, lawless world now, a place only the bottom of the human barrel would call home.

    It should seem hopeless, but I have money and connections. Even an entire planet can’t hide someone if you know the right words. And can grease the right palms.

    So I stand now, in something classed as a hotel room from the sign outside; a cupboard in any other place. He sleeps peacefully on the floor, and beside him lays the problem. A Scarvian girl, pregnant with his child. An abomination not fit for my legacy.

    I pull out two syringes; one will help him sleep on the journey home.

    The other will help her sleep forever.

  3. Ancient Land
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    199 words
    Conflict and setting

    James Bourdon’s house stood on a hill and on top of that house was a veranda with a three hundred and sixty degree view. And yet standing there he could not see the boundary of his land. For that he needed a helicopter. As he flew he scanned the ground beneath smiling in the knowledge that it was all his. But as he neared his destination the smile turned to a frown and the frown to a scowl. The abandoned village was still there and even from this distance he could see so was the old man. His father had sent men to rid him of this village and the old man, as had he. They all returned claiming they couldn’t find it, or that they had succeeded and demanding payment. Yet here they both were.

    ‘I have told you many times to leave my land, old man.’

    ‘And I have told you many times it is not your land. It was here before you, or any man, was born and it will be here when god decides to reclaim it.’

    ‘Leave. Now.’

    The old man shrugged. ‘I cannot leave the land, James Bourdon. For I am the land.’

  4. ABANDONED AROUND THE COSMOS: LIVESTREAM

    “The last solar flare melted the domes. Constructed from ineffectual materials, they were a last ditch rudimentary attempt at survival. What you are seeing here are the remains of a flare burned settlement.”

    The drone-pod skims the surface, its livestream playing a trillion galaxies away.

    “Yeah, they had many warnings, the climate worsened over centuries, they had basic technology. But, they missed things, fought amongst themselves. Ultimately, they did not have the capacity to endure.

    The drone-pod zooms in on the burnt and rusted hulls of dwelling places.

    “They tried to flee, to find a new planet.”

    Space dust dunes fill the ruins. The drone-pod circles closer.

    “Their nihilistic tendencies, low intelligence and war-like attitude were unwelcome in the rest of the cosmos.”

    The drone zooms in on a human-baby doll, lying half buried in the debris. Head half melted; charred black. One eye, automaton like, sparkle winks in the wake of the drone as it passes overhead.

    “They could not be allowed.”

    168 words
    Theme: racism
    Setting: a decaying village
    @feclarkart

  5. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 167 words
    Element: Man v Woman / Reconciliation / Picture

    Title: Advice

    Taking a boiled cassava root, she said out loud “fruit of the Earth”, before placing it in the the woduro.

    Reaching for a plantain, “…and fruit of the sky”, then placing it in the woduro too.

    Setting to work with the woma, pounding the mixture in silence, her jaw set in concentration.

    The sun was high. Sweat began to run freely off her brow.

    But her focus remained undiminished, raising and dropping the woma, up and down, up and down, until, gradually, it coalesced, and from the mixing of sky and earth, a fine, almost elastic dough began to form.

    With tender care, continuing to work the dough, until, at last the fufu was finished.

    Flexing the cramp from her arms, she looked at her daughter.

    “The Sun has barely risen on your marriage, my child. Do you understand?”

    Her daughter nodded.

    “Good,” then smiling, “Do you think it was any different for your father and I? They are both good men. Now go and be reconciled.”

  6. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 177
    Story Elements: Character (pregnant girl)/Theme (racism)

    Expectations

    The morning of the shower, you tug the sock onto your thumb where it rests with little room to spare. The bonnet strings are silky, soft as goose-down on a breeze, and the tiny dresses lay like a rainbow tiara across the bed.

    Your refreshments decorate the table, every chair placed just so for your guests. You sink into the rocker to wait and trace your finger over the smooth oak of the crib. A flutter, a tiny hiccup, twists the side of your stomach, and you reach your hand to calm it.

    A smile curves your lips as a foot meets your hand, pushing toward your touch. Another weight lodges in your ribcage, and you shift to accommodate it.

    “Settle down, sweetling,” you murmur, and rise to greet your guests. The hour has arrived, and you open your door to an empty porch.

    The smile of expectation dies on your face. For the first time and not for the last, tears of pain wet your skin, skin of a different color than the life inside.

  7. Pregnant girl
    Conflict
    186
    @Viking_Ma

    Harvest Time

    My belly took its time growing big. Quickly I knew somethin’ was up, when I felt all spacey and super tired. That old nine months is everlasting eternity, at the same time as being over in a flash.

    I dreamed of it. In there, all safe and hugged by my body. A bean growin’ at the speed of light, until it was wedged into me, leavin’ me all breathless and full to the brim.
    Ma said to cherish the feelin’s as I weren’t never gonna have the baby to hold. A deal was struck with a Priest, of all folk. He was in the next town over, and his wife was just about dyin’ to have a baby of her very own. September was gonna be my harvest time.

    A Priest gotta be a good man. You’d better believe it. No man of God is going to be mean to a little baby. That’s what Ma tells me over and over, and slaps my face if I keep up the caterwaulin’.

    She don’t know it was a Priest did for me. I ain’t tellin’ her, neither.

  8. Waiting for the End
    Bibi Nafeeza Yusuf
    @bibi_n_yusuf
    200 Words
    Character: pregnant girl
    Setting: a decaying village
    ***********************************

    Haunted eyes stare into the past, searching for the smidgen of happiness that once was – happiness that was supposed to last a lifetime.

    The days have become colder and harder. The village that once bustled with life, songs and folklore is gone. And in its place was a graveyard of the past – thatched houses and unrecognizable people.

    In a few days or perhaps months, it will become a place forgotten by time and world. Mother Nature will reclaim her lost children, covering them in the blanket of her love and security.

    At that time, Granny Baobab had said, they will be reunited with the ones lost and stolen. And they will sing songs and play their drums, shaking the High Halls of Heaven while their bones turn to dust. From dust they came and to dust they return.

    They had all accepted their fate. Even the pregnant girl lost in her memories of pretense, slowly dying from starvation and yearning for the man who filled her head with tales of cities paved in gold and false promises as he plundered her treasures before he betrayed her.

    It was a story only tears could tell; the cowardice and decay of man.

  9. @betsystreeter
    193 words
    pregnant girl/village in ruins

    ALONE/NOT ALONE

    The last hut sat quiet, its lone occupant too weak to stand. There was no one to hear anyway.

    The girl had been born here herself, in this same space, a decade and a half before. She had emerged at the center of a circle of chattering women, lifted and sung to and taken to the river to bathe.

    Like a bird migrating home, she returned to this spot when her time came.

    She sat on crossed knees, rocking, sweat and tears shining on her face. Her mother had warned her: do not cry out, bite down on something instead. And so she did, mashing the hem of her sky-blue t-shirt between her teeth.

    With each contraction, the outline of her baby’s tiny foot would raise on her stomach. She rested a reassuring hand there, and sang a song her mother taught her. She only remembered the first two lines, so she repeated them over and over:

    “Come with me, my tiny child,
    I’ll bathe you in the river…”

    The sunlight moved across the yellow dirt floor as she rocked, back and forth, and pictured her baby’s face.

    Smoke rose on the horizon.

  10. Our Country

    Theme: Injustice
    Character: Man against women/pregnant girl

    199 words
    @sarahcain78

    Noonday sun turns tin hovels into ovens and bakes the earth into a choking dust that clouds behind the Jeeps. He glances at the unfriendly eyes watching him with from dark, impassive faces. No matter. He’s come for what is his.

    His driver halts before a shack, and he can hear the rhythmic chant of women’s voices inside. He motions his men to wait. No need for a scene yet. He strides through the doorway where the women dressed in shades of red are gathered around a low pallet on the floor.

    He says, “Where is she?”

    The keening continues.

    He grabs the bony shoulder of an old woman in a dress faded almost to pink. “Where is she?”

    The woman shrugs and moves aside to reveal her still form. A woman in soft crimson, with a scar puckering her right cheek, bathes her.

    “What the hell is this? What did you do to her?” he shouts.

    The scarred woman looks up. Expressionless. “What did you do to her?”

    He pulls out his pistol. He hates her knowing eyes.

    She says, “You can kill me, but in the end, you’ll lose. This is our country.”

    He pulls the trigger.

  11. Homecoming

    It crawled from the mire, dragging an umbilicus swollen with sluggish blood and ditchwater.

    Ahead, where the big house slumbered like a bloated leech, the dogs began to howl.

    The child raised its misshapen head and howled back.

    The hounds vomited and slumped into their own warm mess, eyes rolled back in their skulls.

    The child dragged itself onward, naked feet scrabbling at the rough rocks, fingers grasping at the dry grass like fat, questing grubs. It climbed the porch steps slowly, bringing each foot to rest on the same splintered board before it attempted the next.

    It took the stairs the same way.

    Grandfather grunted once in his sleep, then died. The child gave a small mew of pleasure from the doorway and moved on towards the nursery.

    Pushing the door open, it paused, watching the girl moving fitfully in her sleep. In the wan moonlight, she looked like a silver fish, roiling in the depths of the bedclothes. The child looked at its own, far darker skin and almost understood why it had been delivered to the mire.

    Then it set the idea aside, pulled itself into the bed and settled into the warmth of its mother’s arms.

    200 words
    @Karl_A_Russell
    Racism / A Pregnant Girl

  12. Unworthy
    @hollygeely
    Elements: character (old priest fighting to hold on to tradition), conflict (man vs. man)
    198 words

    “I am the Keeper of the Gate,” said the aging monk.

    Maximore checked his watch. “It’s three hundred o’clock, old man. Let me pass. I’ve got to empty this place out before they level it. Do you want to get caught in the explosion?”

    “None shall pass who are not worthy.”

    “Yeah, I read that book in school, too. It’s ancient crap, from back when humans were crowded together on this stupid rock with your pollution and twenty-four hour days. I don’t care about your gate. Nobody does. Let me pass.”

    The monk shuffled down the path toward the gate surrounding the ancient monastery. Maximore could not understand his attachment to the ancient building.

    “Open it so I can move on, you old fart.”

    The monk kissed the massive padlock. “Earth Mother, is this one worthy?”

    The ground trembled. Maximore was a spacer and unused to earthquakes, but he’d heard of them. It was no miracle.

    The roundhouse kick and subsequent beating laid on him by the monk was a surprise, though.

    “Suffer the wrath of Earth Mother, unworthy one! Feel Her wrath!”

    Maximore could only cry for his own mommy, who was certainly not of the Earth.

  13. The City View
    (197 words)
    @elaine173marie
    wealthy city/ moral decline/ father’s search for son.

    He sat alongside the pigeons on the ledge of the redudant court building. They didn’t seem to mind sharing their vantage point over the city’s sins.

    From there, he witnessed Main Streets scrubbed clean of midnight grime; well heeled shoes strutting shiny pavements; briefcases bulging with corruption. But a glance right or left afforded him another view, smeared with half-lived lives; corroded souls, on tarnished streets, left to scour through rich men’s residue.

    He’d turned every stone on every street, before he’d perched on skyline where he trained his eyes on those below. He searched for crumbs of familiarity: splay feet, freckled features- things four years might not have changed. Ready to swoop down if his baby bird, that seemed somehow swallowed by some pavement crack or alleyway, re-emerged.

    Twelve he would have been, still not a man, and buried in the greedy city’s innards.

    At first, he’d sought to rescue, but the clock had changed his point of view, and he could only seek to mend.

    Heads bobbed when he explained to his sombre companions how he couldn’t mend what he couldn’t find, and at last his empty arms transformed to flightless wings.

  14. Topsy-turvy

    Conflict: man vs. man
    Theme: injustice
    Setting: a decaying town
    WC: 165
    berrymichael07@gmail.com

    Not to far, ever so close
    Is the village of Wither-rose
    Once so great, it ruled the world
    Fickle is fate, Wither-rose unfurled

    As it’s power waned,
    Fear it did gain
    Never more the home of the brave
    Victims now, like the people they saved

    Victims of an ever-growing fright
    That no longer needs to lurk in the night
    Bad tidings it brings
    For un-righted wrongs it sings

    Wrongs like that of a school suspension
    For gun-like pop tart possession
    “Follow the rules young man,
    Weapon-like toys we cannot stand.”

    Wither-rose’s power further did dwindle
    New things did rise and kindle
    Like foolishness and inconsistency
    The town did become topsy-turvy

    Praised for intellect (isn’t this a shock?)
    Is the kid who took his bomb-like clock
    To his school, which somehow overreacted
    Had to have it’s statement’s redacted.

    To the house of white he was invited
    While the other kid was slighted
    This is the town of Wither-rose,
    This is the tale of how it goes

  15. Gah! Forgot to add the italics… Would you mind adding italics to the following words? Sorry!

    “lilies” in “You see: lilies” (2nd para)
    “mean” in “I mean: the lilies” (5th para)
    “need” in “we don’t need God to grow” (7th para) and finally
    “Science” in “Please! Listen! Science” (9th para)

    Sorry, always forget. And I like the way it focuses dialogue. Thanks!

  16. Title: Just
    Words: 165
    Themes: man vs. man, a young man accused of murder, injustice
    @Rtayaket

    “You can’t charge a baby with murder!”

    “It killed my wife.”

    “Benny, you aren’t thinking clearly. Lots of women die in childbirth. We certainly don’t punish the innocent babes for the natural process a woman has to go through.”

    “But it killed my wife. She needs justice.”

    “Hold the babe to your chest, you are his father. Don’t hold him out in front of you like you like you would one of your garden rakes.”

    “I just…”

    “That’s it, Benny. Hold him to your chest. Mary would have wanted you to love your son, not accuse him of murder. That’s it… support his head… now look into his eyes.”

    “I see… Mary!”

    “NO! Ben, how could you drop him? The baby is innocent! How could you? He’s bleeding. Call for the doctor!”

    “It killed my wife.”

    “I can’t feel his pulse.”

    “Mary deserves justice.”

    “Benny… I… ahem… Mr. Benedict Reynolds – you are under the arrest for murder in the first degree. How do you plead?”

  17. Character: young man accused of murder
    Theme: injustice
    200 bitter fruits

    The Fever Tree

    There was something fluttering in the wind; a whistle of warning, a rustle of dust swirling into his eyes.

    He dipped down into an arroyo and waited. Exhausted, hungry, he huddled against the dying slope,
    desperate to know what might be moving above.

    “How did I come to this?” he asked the God he believed in no longer.

    His next thought accelerated his pulse. His beating heart pummeled him.

    I cannot continue on this well-worn path, he thinks. Others have fled into the veldt before me.

    What has been their fate? Did they ever return?

    Reason says, “No one hears the voices of cowards who run away. The guilty always flee.”

    But reason has a twisted tongue.

    Reason also says, “You have seen the innocent hanging from the Fever Tree, mosquitoes sucking their spoiled blood as they swing in the putrid breeze.”

    His fear quickens.

    I cannot chance it, he decides. They must not see me. I’ll bush-bash my way through the undergrowth.

    His legs, rubber-runted, kick-start his crawl through the dry creek. The dirt and sweat splash the poison of bitterness into his heart.

    Guilt and Innocence rut in the night.

    They are one.

    Death is their fevered progeny.

  18. The Unprecedented Feast

    Harvest Moon Feast was around the corner. Pandit Shivkumar was drowning in worry. The drought had depleted his grain tower. And there was no virgin to serve food to the priests this year. He cursed Uma, his wife. Well, perhaps she didn’t cause the drought, but she was clearly responsible for the other thing.

    Radha sat in the corner stringing the marigold flowers. She awkwardly covered her bulging belly with an old sari, but the shame she had brought to her family and the village was laid bare. She had not dared to look at her father in last eight months.
    “No one will marry a girl from our village now.” Her friends had bitterly complained and abandoned her.
    Her rhythmic hands kept weaving the flowers. She wondered if the gods cared whether she, a fallen woman, had woven the garland.

    The baby girl arrived with full lungs and the cheeky face. Shivkumar felt the shame dripping from the roof of his house. He pondered for days.

    The day before the feast, he instructed his wife to prepare the feast. He would serve the food holding the little granddaughter in his arms, he said proudly.

    195 words
    Story elements: character(s), conflict, theme.

  19. Passing Down The Mantle

    She was the first in many years to grow round like a sweet ripe melon.
    Eyes followed her everywhere. Hopeful eyes, hungry eyes.

    The village had grown quiet, the squeals and laughter of young voices had aged away, and with no new children to take their place, there was a palpable absence. Even the faces of houses had sagged and become grey as though to express their pain as well.

    Nights around the fire had once been filled with stories. Grandparents telling their grandchildren about their own grandparents. Brave adventures, romances that had shaken the earth. The very fabric of their history weaving around the children who would wear it like cloaks and pass them on to their own children.

    Now in the evenings she sat at the head of the fire and groups came in steady stream to sit at her feet and talk to her round stomach as though the child would absorb their history.
    “You should have seen the way his fingers flew over the loom…”
    “She always had a gift with bees…”
    “My grandfather saved that entire flock…”

    “Remember us” their stories said.
    “I’m a part of you,” her blood pulsed back.
    “Hope,” whispered the village.

    @CaseyRoseFrank
    200 words
    Pregnant Girl and Decaying Village

  20. The Pact
    Word count 150
    Theme: racism
    Setting: A decaying village.
    No Twitter Handle

    Privilege is invisible to those that have it. It is skin and bone, part of their being. To the supplicants around them, the same privilege is a cold knife touching their throats, waiting for slip of the tongue or a wrong gesture.

    He took upon himself the right to love one of those that his privilege oppressed. Was it true love, desire for the forbidden, or an awakening of empathy?

    Did she truly love him, or was he an escape from the prison of their culture and its daily insults?

    Neither knew their real motives. They only knew that her true background could not continue. A new persona was needed — a foreigner from outside the laws governing the fixed spheres of their universe.

    So they made a pact to erase her background and introduce her to the world anew.

    And as they made mindless love, an ancient village burned.

  21. 200 words
    Character: old priest fighting to hold on to tradition
    Setting: a wealthy city in “moral decline”

    Faith in Humanity

    The mag-lev train glides by behind the overpass pillars, a hundred blurred faces rushing away from Charlie’s sermon. Stood upon a stolen McDonald’s chair in the courtyard of the mall, Charlie laments his inattentive audience.

    “Consider the lilies!” he cries. To his delight, a veiled woman takes notice. “You see: lilies don’t care about jobs, do they? Or marriage, or beauty. Right?”

    “What’s he tubing?” asks a passing black fellow, his skullcap hovering over wiry hair.

    “Something about flower unemployment, or something,” replies the woman.

    “I mean: the lilies just get on with it, don’t they?”

    A child pulls her parent from the throng of shoppers and says: “God put the lilies there to look pretty.”

    “No! That’s precisely my point!” He stammers as the girl begins recording him on her iGlasses. “God didn’t put them there… They grew! Just like us – we don’t need God to grow, or work, or love…”

    Angry rebukes buried his pleas. Who could oppose the omnipresent ignorance of United Monotheism?

    “Please! Listen! Science is the true faith! It made your holo-screens, trains; it made the planet…”

    “No it didn’t!” – “Weirdo!”

    “Throw off your shackles,” Charlie begs. “Put your faith in science – free yourselves!”

  22. @fs_iver
    Conflict: Man v. Man & Setting: Decaying Village (Planet?)
    WC: 200

    The Children Shall Inherit the Earth

    “Today’s Horacio’s deathday. Or it would be if he didn’t have astro-food for brains. Only his kind–inherently nonviolent–are allowed to live past sixteen winters.”

    The boy wheezes against pneumonia cultivating in wet lungs.

    “He prolly won’t live much longer, anyhow.”

    I move within the hologram.

    “That one?” It nods toward the female.

    “Decca,” I say and stand feet wide, arms crossing my chest. Hopefully, my pectorals look less pubescent and more predator.

    “Next frost she’ll be twenty but I doubt they’ll give her the full grace period. She’s showing signs of aggression already.”

    Decca snarls at two of the Pipe Rats begging for her ear of corn. She looks like death’s prostitute, her hair and face one bleak monotone. But she’s my world.

    “And you? You’re still alive.”

    The hologram goes dark. It’s just me and it, now.

    “I’m a survivor.”

    My insides are soggy bread but I keep my chin out.

    It’s silent, considering.

    “What’s left of Earth for three human rejects…”

    “And the ship, with enough fuel to get us to QX-37.”

    “You ask too much.”

    “For a planet run by children. And its resources. I disagree.”

    Its spider eyes glint and I know I’ve won.

  23. On the Interstate
    @voimaoy
    195 words

    character–man searching for his son
    conflict–man v. man
    theme–reconciliation?

    Fires in the West, floods in the East, the land was out of balance. In the middle, running through the heart of the country, was the interstate highway. On the interstate, there were lines of people, heading east and west. There was nowhere for them to go.

    In Iowa, they passed by empty cornfields, signs at the exits to towns with names like Lone Tree. National guardsmen waited at the exits. People on bicycles cut in line, to the jeers of the people on foot, carrying their babies in bright-colored blankets. The resourceful had dog carts, horses and mules.

    He had nothing, not even papers. Now that phones didn’t work anymore, he played the message over and over in his mind. “I’ll meet you at the river, dad.”

    The guard was a young blonde woman, smiling in spite of the pressing crowd and growing desperation. “ID, please.”

    “I lost my wallet, ” he said. ” You can find me in your database, surely?”

    “The computers are down, sir. Please come this way.”

    He joined another line of older people and some college students. In the crowd, he saw a young man who could have been his son.

  24. Generations
    @io_trooly
    192 Words
    Character: old priest fighting to hold on to tradition / Theme: repentance

    # # #

    His son’s life ends tonight. Whose fault is it? Whose doing? No one’s.

    At the same time, a child is born. Down in the village, in his hut, entrusted to his care. The girl is surrounded by women, chattering and laughing, rhythmic chants praising and praying. All men are banned from his home until the deed is done.

    Even he had to go, although his son – the father – is dying tonight.

    The hangman is only doing his job. So is the midwife. Do they care? They’re just tools. Tools of fate. Tools of Him, perhaps.

    One child in exchange for another. The other father is there, a silent presence. They’re all fathers, they were all sons once, they all know death. What is the value of a life? The whole is always more than just the sum of its parts. One life on its own is nothing.

    The loss weighs heavy nonetheless. Once piece goes missing, and everything becomes brittle. At one time he has gone wrong, pushed or pulled into the wrong direction.

    When the cry of a newborn rises through the night, he prays for a second chance.

  25. Words: 197
    Chosen: Character (priest) & Setting (wealthy city)
    @CarinMarais

    The Song of the Sun

    The priest stared at the horizon. The sun would rise soon. Beneath the tower where he stood a city with golden roofs were spread out as far as the eye could see. He waited while below him residents were turning on lights one by one as they got ready to go to work.
    He clenched his hands at his sides at the blasphemy. Lights were forbidden between the deepest hour of the night and the sunrise! At least in his day when someone dared to light a candle they would hide it. Not flaunt the shining glass baubles; trinkets emitting dead light. No one waited for the living sun anymore to start the day. He had to bite his tongue not to curse them. No one but him kept to tradition anymore.
    And they laughed when he warned them that the sun would one day not rise again. That it would tire of their disobedience.
    Not for the first time did he feel the stirrings of treacherous doubt deep within him. But he would still sing the song as the sun rises.

    The priest stared at the eastern horizon.
    And stared.
    And stared.
    But no sun rose.

  26. Words: 198
    Chosen:
    Character: Young man accused of murder
    Theme: Reconciliation, injustice
    @CarinMarais

    Mourning Clothes

    “You have five minutes.”
    The young woman picked her way down the dank steps to the cell. There a man not older than twenty sat with his head in his hands. Chains linked his hands and feet. His smile was uncertain when he noticed her and stood up. She was dressed in the dark mourning clothes of a widow.
    “I have to pretend I care,” she said softly, motioning to the clothes. “Now suddenly everyone acts as if he was a good man.”
    “And they think the worst of me.”
    She said nothing, but stared at his hands on the bars.
    “I regret nothing, you know,” he said
    “I wanted to tell them that I pulled the trigger,” she sobbed softly. “But the children -”
    “I wish I had pulled the trigger. I was a coward, nothing more.”
    “I have doomed you as well. They won’t even bury you in the cemetery.”
    He shrugged and the chains rattled.
    “I should have -”
    “I forgive you,” he said and took her hand in his. “I’ve always loved you, you know.”
    “I know.” She started crying. “I’m wearing these for you.”
    “Time for the hanging,” the guard called out gleefully from above.

  27. A Better Century?

    WC 199

    @carolrosalind

    Setting: City in moral decline
    Character: Old Priest / Pregnant Girl

    Dusk begins its descent with a promise of the night to come, forcing the dying sunlight to slide away across glass monoliths of modernity.

    The atmosphere changes as the day time city steps back to be replaced by previously unseen buildings, where light spills out invitingly across streets, through window cracks and open doorways. Bursts of laughter escape from overlapping conversations and merge with the city’s background hum.

    The River divides the city as easily as the city divides its people, rich on one side poor on the other.

    Tucked away beneath the modern, the ancient stone buildings withhold their secrets. Here in such a place is a church, now dwarfed by the demands of a new century. Inside a priest prepares the soup kitchen for the evening rush.

    With a sigh he opens the door to queue outside. They say things are improving but his clientele increases daily. Tonight on arrival he met a pregnant teenager, too scared to return home but after making a few calls he manages to secure her a bed for the night… but tomorrow who knows.

    Glancing upwards, searching through all the light pollution, he catches a shooting star and makes a wish.

  28. Between Life and Dreams
    @geofflepard 192 words a pregnant girl; injustice
    Wire diamonds framed Carlos’ vision of the world. Close up he could pretend the horizon was his to explore but dreaming had no place on the fried red earth. For days he’d dragged Jalla south and west, hunting for a weakness and only finding it in his diminishing hopes.
    ‘It is soon, Carlos.’
    He knew, without reminders, without looking. He’d counted the weeks.
    They bypassed villages, fearful of police, or worse, help that would tempt them to stay.
    When Jalla’s groans echoed the pounding in his ears Carlos stopped. A boy, pebble-eyed, watched from freedom as they nested, craving shade.
    Jalla called out once, as life replaced life, the earth a deepening red. Carlos cradled Jalla, willing his spirt to join her’s on its final journey. The boy poked a stick at the babe, dripping water onto its lips.
    Both dug in the dirt: Carlos as saviour of a soul; the boy, a soul seeking to be a saviour. They dug to their end: Carlos, nearing his wish, watched the boy hold their hope to his narrow chest as he headed for the horizon, towards a dream Carlos had never dared dream.

  29. Battlegrounds
    @MadilynQuinn
    196 words: conflict & character

    A brick sails through the window, raining glass down on the old priest. He brushes the glittering shards off his robe and grimaces at the flare of torches arching up through the stained glass.

    Around him, pews are empty.

    Something bangs against the barred front doors. He tenses as the crack of wood echoes through the cavernous church.

    The priest turns to the table of prayer candles. They tear at the wood of the front doors like rabid animals. He ignores it, taking a bunt and lighting the end with a match. As candles flare to life in front of him, he mutters a prayer for each invader.

    Behind him, the last restraints on the doors fling open. Torch light glares against the cross; Jesus averts his gaze to the sky.

    The priest lights one last candle – a prayer for himself – and turns to greet the mob: “The grace of the lord and the love of God be with you all.”

    The mob floods in.

    With flourish, he pulls a sword from the inside of his robe and dispatches the nearest invader.

    “Let us begin,” his voice rings out over the mass as his sword sings.

    • Defender of the faith in a literal sense, nice touch to have him move from a priest at prayer to warrior defending his church.

  30. Between Two Worlds

    194 words
    pregnant girl
    priest
    decaying village

    In the hot confessional booth, Juana fights off nausea. The church walls of thick old adobe aren’t enough to fight the blistering July sun. But she has to get through this.

    “Forgive me father, for I have sinned,” she whispers. “It’s been two months since my last confession.”

    “ Why so long, my daughter?”

    Juana swallows misery down, one acid bite.
    “There was a boy.”

    “Not from San Isidro?”

    “No. From . . .from a ranch. A rich boy from another world, father.”

    “How did you meet ?”

    “In the county library.”

    “Ah. Juana. The job I recommended you for.Your way out this village.”

    “I shouldn’t have agreed to meet him. I shouldn’t have. . . .”

    “Do your parents know?”

    “I will have to tell them soon. Tell him.”

    She fights the nausea, but the sounds of the struggle are unmistakable. Father Matthew knows as well as midwives..

    “You’re pregnant.”

    “Yes, father.”

    “You are blessed.”

    “Blessed? Travis won’t marry me. A Hispanic girl from San Isidro.”

    “But there will be a child of two worlds.”

    “What can a child do?”

    “Anything. Maybe even, build a bridge.”

  31. Posh Preggers
    199 words
    pregnant girl
    wealthy city in moral decay

    The being inside me gives a gentle kick, tickling my insides. I had been chosen. Young mothers were big business now in LA. Millions of girls all over the city were getting pregnant for the chance to appear on Posh Preggers, a reality show on Gossip TV that made huge celebrities of its previous stars. And they’d picked me.

    My “boyfriend” was a dull-as-plain-oatmeal actor, the real father, a gorgeous simpleton used as a pawn, paid off generously. A few months after it’s born, my “boyfriend” and I will leak the story of our break up to the press, I’ll dump the being on my parents, and start my real life as a celebrity. Endless opportunities ahead.

    Today’s scene. Learning the being’s gender with my “boyfriend” and parents (the real ones, also compensated handsomely). In the living room of the beach house leased by Gossip TV, I hand the envelope sealed by my OB-BYN to my mom. She opens it and clutches her hand to her chest.

    “It’s a girl!”

    We all hug and I feel a flutter inside that warms me. It’s a her. My knees give way and I sit, staring through the window at the ocean.

  32. From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    200 words.
    old priest fighting to hold on to tradition, injustice, a decaying village, racism.
    ————-
    “Once there was a time when I believed you all white devils,” explained the old sagomas. “Your people came and took all of the young men, and dragged them in chains to slave in your mines. Then came the years of sickness, entire generations of my people wiped out by the evil poxes you brought.”

    The ancient man paced around the tiny marker at the base of the massive, dead Marula tree in the village center.

    “Where once a village thrived is now just a destitute ruin, hopeless. Without our youth and their grandchildren, what future could there be?”

    The sagomas peeled away the cloth turban covering his eyes with great care.

    “Now I see that you aren’t devils at all, you are only the most evil of men. Men, who can be cursed, and made to pay for the injustice their sick culture has brought on this land.”

    When the turban fell away, his single malevolent eye blazed forth, spearing each of the urbanized white corporate henchmen with baleful malice.

    “You don’t believe in the Evil Eye. Your kind never has. So go back to your families, and take no care to guard against what comes for you now.”

  33. @stellakateT
    200 words
    Conflict / Theme: Racism

    The Palette of Life

    “This town used to be booming till they arrived”
    “If he says that one more time I’m going to deck him”

    I looked up from pounding the dirt out of their clothes. Why did I have to do the washing? I know the answer I’m a girl. My brother and grandfather both do my head in, one looking in the past the other hurrying to the future.

    Me, I live in the day. Serge has promised he’ll take me when they leave. He doesn’t consider me inferior. I might not be the best specimen but he says I’ll have a good life with him. Can’t be any worse than what I have now. He’ll beat the drum and I’ll dance to his tune. He’s promised I’ll see sights I’ve never dreamed of. I’ve seen sights I wouldn’t share with anyone. Horrible acts because their skin colour wasn’t the same shade as mine. They killed all, apart from us greens. Not sure why, maybe it’s because we merge in with their violet hues. Once I lived in a world of rainbow colours now there is only two. The world will soon be destroyed with a mix neither attractive nor creative, mud.

  34. The Confessional

    @making_fiction

    Character: Old priest fighting to hold on to tradition

    Theme: Reconciliation

    Words – 194

     

    The confessional box was empty.

    Father Joseph was accustomed to not seeing the sinner, just looking at a threadbare velvet curtain and hearing a muffled voice the other side.

    But this was new.

    The oak box always creaked with weight. The weight of exhausted bones, the gnarls of doubt, the gravity of responsibility. It rested only with the whispered sigh of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” the monotone voice mumbled. “This is my first confession.”

    Incense; familiar, spicy, sweet – tingled his senses and evoked long-forgotten memories of a younger him, in simpler times. “Go ahead, my child.”

    “I have had impure thoughts.”

    “Yes, my child.”

    “I desire what I cannot have.”

    Silence. He let it hang there.

    “I want only equality, freedom and respect, but I know that servitude and slavery are my place in life. If I accept this, my rewards will come later. This is true, isn’t it Father?”

    “Is that all, my child?”

    “Yes, Father.”

    Father Joseph listened to the machine say her penance with more conviction that he had heard from any parishioner.

    Who deserves forgiveness?

    What is intelligence?

    Who is he to judge?

  35. Belief

    Elements: theme – racism (and injustice), setting – city in moral decline plus character – young man (to be) accused of murder, conflict

    183 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDogs

    “Who’d believe you?” Hard faces sneered at him.

    Joe took another step back only to feel the cold certainty of dank stone behind him. A weary neon light flickered at the end of the alley. Occasionally he saw a flash of colour fading to black shadow as souls were sold under the dark cloak of night.

    A blade danced in front of him, its sheen dulled by the blood already spilled.

    Arman groaned at his feet, Joe doubted he had long left.

    What they had thought was just yet another stop and search had turned into a savage beating. White fists had rained down on Arman as soon as he had protested. Joe had kept quiet.

    The blade came closer; it seemed initially as though Arman’s fate would soon be his. An arm grabbed him roughly, held him whilst another pushed the knife’s handle into his hand, forced his fingers to curl around it.

    One of the men pulled out a radio. Called it in.

    More police arrived. Men the same colour as himself. He knew what they saw.

    Who’d believe him now?

  36. “Judgment”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Character (a pregnant girl), Theme (repentance)
    Word count: 200

    I think he saw it in my face. Real pain and real fear are hard to fake.

    “Who did this to you, Charlotte?”

    I cradled my belly, good practice, I figured, and wiped my eye. “It was my Daddy.”

    “That son of a bitch,” he said, angry as a lawman and angry as a parent. “Tell me what happened. Without going into the… ugly details.”

    “Since Momma died, he’s pretty much always drunk. And he’s a mean drunk. It started with yelling. Then the back of his hand. Then fists. And then…”

    “Looks like I’ve got some work to do. You got anywhere else to go?

    “No.”

    “Then stay here.”

    “Sheriff, he sleeps with his shotgun next him. Right in the bed. I thought you’d best know that.”

    “Thanks, Charlotte. Andy, you’d better come with me. And wear your vest.”

    I’d have to stop at the church later, and ‘fess up to telling a lie. It wasn’t all a lie. Just the part about who got me pregnant. But things happen for a reason. My Daddy is a real bastard. So now the Sheriff has an excuse. And me and Andy, and our baby, will have a place to live.

  37. “The Shepherd”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Character (old priest fighting to hold on to tradition), Theme (repentance)
    Word count: 191

    “Repent, evil sinners! Repent or face the wrath of the Almighty!” Froth flew as the Reverend delivered his vitriol. Shades ranging from crimson to magenta washed across his flushed face.

    “I know you are full of sin. I know you are carrying lust in your heathen hearts. I know you fornicate!”

    The assembled eyes averted, as his icy stare bore holes through their alibis. The Reverend could tell he was reaching them. Perhaps this would be the sermon that turns the tide. They really are sheep, he thought. Modern distractions – their Internet, their cell phones, their social media – have drawn them to the far and fearful corners of the meadow. And it is my mission to lead them back to the safety of the flock.

    “You have strayed. You have sinned. But God loves you. And I love you as well.”

    “Shut up, you psycho!” someone yelled, as he disconnected his call to 911.

    Taken aback, the Reverend knelt down on the cold steel of a manhole cover. And the “congregation” went about their business, paying no attention whatsoever as the police escorted the Reverend away from his street corner pulpit.

    • I feel sorry for him, much as I do when I pass preachers in our city centre. I don’t stop and listen – their faith is not for me – but nor do I mock and it upsets me when others do. I think it was probably right for him to go though when he started on the fornication, I dread to think of how that would have developed!

  38. character: pregnant girl Theme: racism
    (200 words)
    @zevonesque

    White Noise
    A.J. Walker

    Her beloved quilt cover hung over Penelope a useless shield against the voices downstairs. She hadn’t heard her father this angry in years – and it was her fault.

    There was never going to be a good time to tell them and she thought she’d timed it quite well. He’d just announced that he was getting a pay rise and the weekend was upon them. He’d been happy.

    Until she threw in that hand grenade.

    Bang!

    Clearly it was his fault. Couldn’t be his daughter’s.

    He’d thrown in his foul backward comments. She’d said she found them offensive and couldn’t stand to hear them. She’d stormed upstairs. Half an hour ago.

    Still he was going. Not gonna happen in my family. Nothing personal. No black boy could do that to his daughter.

    Love, what could she know of love? A child.

    Not having a child.

    Nineteen, Penelope thought. Hiding under a sheet. But grown up – and it is love.

    Penelope heard her mother’s pleading voice. The voice of reason peppered with fear.

    A slammed door. Car wheels spinning in the drive.

    Penelope crept downstairs to find her mother softly sobbing; behind her the gun cabinet lay open in a scream.

  39. Silent screams

    My back aches, the weight of my future hanging heavily in front of me. I stretch out, the clippers hanging limply by my side. It will be any day now. I wish I could protect him for longer, to keep him safe in his cocoon. Instead he’ll hang on my back, exposed to the harsh reality of this world.

    There’s nothing for him out here. The ocean is as empty as our bellies, the giant ships dragged their nets until nothing was left. The forest is gone too, cleared for the palm oil plantation that earns billions in profits but pays me pennies a day for my labour. There’s no more water in the well, it was sucked dry by the irrigation. Children lay thirsty in their beds, throats as dry as the summer breeze, yet the trees are well nourished.

    I feel no joy, just guilt. My baby will only know hunger, pain and suffering. I was not brave enough to end things before it was too late. Now he will pay the price for my cowardice.

    I try to speak up, to right this injustice, but nobody listens. I have no voice, even when I scream.

    198 words
    http://www.todayschapter.com
    Themes: Pregnant girl and decaying village

  40. REFLECTIONS
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    A tribe was surrendered with antique light coming from an ancient sun. Everything carved by tradition with toil of hands processing nature into usable forms. Man and nature living with shared risk.

    Now, the priest was surrounded with objects forged with unknown hands in unknown places. His fingers neatly laced on his lap in a London hospital; his son’s wife was giving birth. A new generation being pronounced by a secret genetic language whispered in each body. Crying could be heard from a room. Learning a new language wasn’t easy.

    His grandson was taken to a metropolis for a better life. The better life seemed to incorporate reflections because everything was hard, smooth, and shined as if searching for its true self. What profit a man if he gain the world but loses his identity? There’s no risk. No soul. No advantage.

    His grandson was brought out in a blanket. He looked like old weathered wood. A fire sparked in his eyes. He held the child wanting to bring him back to his village. Wanted to save him from reflecting on a life he had never lived.

    A steel window fell like a guillotine on purple intrusion of erupting dawn.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    (200 words)
    Old priest fighting to hold on to tradition &
    a wealthy city in moral decline

    • REFLECTIONS
      ~~~~~~~~~~

      A tribe was surrendered with antique light coming from an ancient sun. Everything carved by tradition with toil of hands processing nature into usable forms. Man and nature living with shared risk.

      Now, the priest was surrounded with objects forged with unknown hands in unknown places. His fingers neatly laced on his lap in a London hospital; his son’s wife was giving birth. A new generation being pronounced by a secret genetic language whispered in each body. Crying could be heard from a room. Learning a new language wasn’t easy.

      His grandson was taken to a metropolis for a better life. The better life seemed to incorporate reflections because everything was hard, smooth, and shined as if searching for its true self. What profit a man if he gain the world but loses his identity? There’s no risk. No soul. No advantage.

      An infant was brought out in a blanket. He looked like old weathered wood. A fire sparked in his eyes. He held the child wanting to bring him back to his village. Wanted to save him from reflecting back on a life he had never lived.

      Steel window fell like a guillotine on purple intrusion of erupting dawn.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      (200 words)
      Old priest fighting to hold on to tradition &
      a wealthy city in moral decline

  41. The Congregant’s Need
    198 words
    Story Elements: old priest fighting to hold on to tradition, young man accused of murder
    _ _ _

    “We have always been here,” the old priest chanted.

    “We have always been here,” the congregation repeated.

    “We are eternal.”

    “We are eternal.”

    [i]Are we?[/i] The thought entered unbidden into Zack’s mind. He tried to push it aside.

    ”We are the children of the true God.”

    “We are the children of the true God.”

    [i]Are we?[/i] Zack shifted from one leg to another. The movement caught Rev. Smithton’s attention and he scowled at the young man.

    Zack closed his eyes to avoid meeting the priest’s disapproving stare.

    * * *

    “Tell me, Zachariah. What is it about our faith that you find so uninspiring?”

    Zack paused before answering, not because he had to consider his answer, but because old Smithton considered quick words to be ill-thought. That is, unless the quick words were the ritual responses of the mass.

    “Not ‘uninspiring;’ ‘unexplained.’”

    “And what do you think you need explained?”

    Zack knew the priest would phrase it that way. It’s never what he [i]needs[/i]. It’s what he “thinks” he needs. In that moment, Zack knew what he needed to do.

    * * *

    “And that’s when the defendant told his victim that, as a child of the devil, he needed to kill, your honor.”

    • Nice contrast between past situations and the present courtroom situation.

      (NB italics usually work for me when I use ’em’ and ‘/em’ in brackets.)

  42. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    elements: character/setting
    199 Words

    Tumbleweed Believers

    I met him on the steps of the old church, watching the sky for some sign, some hope for a better tomorrow that didn’t reek of stagnant sludge, didn’t shove grit down the lungs of the innocent.

    He looked with bleary eyes, wiping the tears with the back of his grimy hand, flexing his weathered arms beneath his tattered grey sleeves. I could see the limp muscles fold in upon themselves. Hear them weeping from hunger, starved, used to the limit, like everything else in this place.

    I was a stranger in these lands. I watched the old man’s resolve stiffen as he noticed it too.

    “What do you want, young man?”

    “I just—”

    “Came to laugh at us? Take us away? We don’t need your help. God will provide.”

    His strong words didn’t match the fear seeping through his milk chocolate eyes. Loud, hacking coughs knocked him down. Down to the ground as tumbleweeds bounced by, the nearby stones smoothed by erratic winds.

    He declined my arm. Shook his head, his clothing, his reality. “My community is waiting.”

    I watched him stride through the rotted doors, to the darkened interior where waited the rodents and the bats.

  43. Darkness Remembered

    Randy Ball
    184 Words
    Conflict: Man v Man
    Theme: Injustice

    Zubani gave another stir to the brew in the wooden bucket at his feet. He looked up. Across the hard dirt an empty hut stood silent. Thatched from its rounded crown, down its circular sides, and all but the upper third of its darkened doorway covered by a skin, the hut looked like the one-eyed head of a giant buried to his shoulders.
    In that place he had conducted tribal incantations before his conversion—before redemption, before the gospel liberated him for his eternal good, and its harsh messengers subjugated them all for the good of things made from rubber trees. But tribal trappings had been hidden away or burned for the joy of forgiveness.
    The new lords had given them testaments then taken their dignity. He ran his finger down his neck chain and touched the black-bordered pass.
    Huptu took back his dignity. Said no to the vice regent that morning. Zubani had been called upon to bear the news to Huptu’s wife. She stared.
    He thrust his hand into the bucket and withdrew the dripping shaman’s mask then strode toward the hut.

  44. Faithful Servant
    @ceckybonway
    193 words
    Elements: Character (pregnant girl) and Theme (repentance)

    Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 3 months since my last confession.
    The child that I bear grows bigger every day and I am consumed with thoughts of abortion.

    Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 4 months since my last confession.
    My murderous thoughts have only increased. Father Abraham says that the child is a gift. That I was chosen by You to receive the release of his love in a time of weakness. I feel only revulsion and pain.

    Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 2 months since my last confession.
    The birth is near. I am consumed by grief and disgust. I cannot understand why you would use one of your servants to quicken my womb. I am only sixteen! Father Abraham continues to use me to save him in his times of weakness. How is my agony saving him? It is not my place to question You, but I, too, am weak.

    Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 1 month since my last confession.
    There is blood on my hands and I can no longer call myself ‘Mother.’

  45. It’s been a while, and it’s my first time trying this new format, so hopefully I did it correctly. Included a few options from the list, but I’ll say: repentance & a pregnant girl.

    Speechless

    Herman hooked his cane on the wooden pew then knelt, bowing his head before the Virgin Mother whose gaze he hadn’t met in years. The stone floor cushioned his knees, worn from his daily visits.

    Fingers brushed his forehead, chest, and shoulders, and a sigh passed through his lips. Blankness filled his mind where prayer should have been. Would he ever find the words?

    People cried in the streets, clinging to each other. A pale girl gasped, clutching her rounded stomach as rough hands knocked her down, disregarding the life within.

    Every time he closed his eyes, echoes of the past tormented him.

    Skeletal bodies marching to their doom, torn from their homes and stuffed into stripes. Hopeless expressions on faces of all ages, cordoned off by barbed wire.

    He’d done as he was told. Now he yearned for the forgiveness he didn’t deserve.

    Piles and piles of lifeless flesh.

    And everywhere the yellow stars.

    (155 words; @AriaGlazki)

  46. Title: “Reconciled”
    Word Count: 200
    Prompts: Reconciliation; a pregnant girl
    Twitter: @colin_d_smith

    You know I’m not good at this, but I’ll try. I know I’ve made lots of crap decisions in spite of your advise. And I’ve not been good to you and I didn’t do what you want. I know my life hasn’t turned out like you hoped, and I know what you hoped cos you always told me. But you always told me you loved me. I didn’t want to believe it. Now I think I do and I want you to know that I love you too. And I’m sorry for all the hurt I’ve caused you. This is not your fault. None of it is. I just wanted better for us both, and I think this is it.

    Love, Jo.

    Darryl read the note. The lump he already had in his throat became harder to push down, the tears harder to control. He gave up and let them flow as he passed the note to Lucy, but she couldn’t take it. Lucy was kneeling next to Jo’s bed, her shoulders heaving with grief. She wrapped one of her hands around Jo’s fist as it clenched the empty pill bottle.

    The other rested on Jo’s swollen but lifeless stomach.

  47. City of Guilt
    (150 words)
    Caitríona Murphy
    Prompts; Young man accused of murder, injustice
    I really hope you guys like this, it’s my first entry, please be gentle!!!

    City of Guilt
    They want it to be me. They want to point the finger of blame at me; gather momentum, have people spit at me, graffiti my door, darken my name.
    I’ve heard the names the do-gooders whisper; I’m simple, soft. Now their hissing breath form words like“dangerous” and “lunatic”. They think the beatings from my father affected my brain. That the colour of my skin is indicative of a matching inner darkness. Keeping to oneself in this place, this gold plated town of the rich and moralistic, is tantamount to confession.
    There is no evidence to link me to the girl who was murdered. The doctor’s son, with his sporty car and rough manner? His DNA sample was mysteriously lost. Notes changing hands. Changing minds.
    A lifetime of threats and swift bruises have left me aching for gentleness.
    All they see is my skin colour.
    All they see is my guilt.

  48. All Rise for the Popular Verdict
    198 words, @pmcolt
    character and setting

    “Woe unto Babylon!” The man in black stood atop a fiberglass boulder, pointing an accusatory finger towards the painted horizon. “You have given yourselves to carnal pleasures and bloodlust!”

    I ran past a thatch hut. With luck, this clueless preacher would distract the audience just long enough. “Twenty seconds,” the producer announced in my earpiece. Fleeing toward the fake jungle, I counted each footfall. “One… one… thou-sand… Two… one… thou-sand…”

    “Revel not in immorality! Reject this Hollywood gaud and gore!” This was criminal reality TV: only one contestant survived each episode. As a murder suspect, I was surely the underdog. If I survived the first commercial break, I could plead innocence and play for audience sympathy. A million dollars could buy a decent attorney.

    “Fifteen… one… thou-sand…” Then I crashed into another contestant cowering behind a plywood log prop. She was a woman, just a girl, but eight months pregnant.

    Agonizing wails came from the village: the preacher, whatever his crime, had met his fate. Tears filled her eyes when she heard the man’s screams.

    I sighed and raised my hands. “Oh, fine. I confess!” As the hidden dartguns targeted me for execution, I wished the woman luck.

  49. @fs_iver
    Conflict (man v. man) & character (pregnant girl) & theme (reconciliation)
    WC: 198

    Adrift on the Stars’ Ocean

    “Waiting wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t so god-absent silent.”

    Mina discarded the serotonin syringe, her forearm irritated.

    Calypso watched, half-turned, protecting her elephantine belly. Forty-eight hours since they’d heard from Richardson and Guerrero. It was getting harder to maneuver in that tin box.

    “It’s easy for you.” Mina’s words cut a chasm between them. “You have something depending on you.”

    “Hector needs you,” Calypso said.

    A scoff, black as the cold waiting to claim them.

    “I need you. We have to work together, Mina, to be strong.”

    The agency-provided hormone was working; Mina’s eyelids dripped.

    “They’ll be back.” Calypso rocked from her flaming right foot to her painful left. For her sake, they kept the shuttle’s gravity on. Pregnant and weightless wasn’t as good as it sounded.

    “They won’t.” Mina slumped over her harness. “It’s too far. They’re probably drifting right now.”

    Calypso counted to eight, nine, ten.

    “You know, I hated you.” Mina’s words carried little breath. “When you told us you were successful.”

    Dread bubbled up from Calypso’s stomach.

    “But you’re alright.”

    In the empty, a smile.

    “I hope they find us.” Mina tilted her forehead. “So you can meet him.”

  50. Title: The Falcon- A Most Noble Bird
    Theme: Injustice
    Setting: A Wealthy City In Moral Decline
    Word Count: 200
    Link: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/flash-friday-the-falcon-a-most-noble-bird/

    I am judge, jury, and executioner because all of those things have gone out of style in this city. I’m standing here, like a perched falcon, on the city’s second-tallest building. It’s the best spot to watch the absolute tallest building come crumbling down.

    C4 and a dream brought down that tower. Now tanks and bombs and mighty armies would see me ‘brought to justice.

    I call them ‘The Scales’, my brass-plated nunchucks. Because as I tilt them, justice finds its balance. One man attacks, low and slow. I tilt ‘The Scales’ and he falls with a guilty weight. Another comes, his knife small and impotent, and ‘The Scales’ do not tilt in his favour.

    They’re getting sloppy, all of their money buys them arrogance and confidence but no true weapons or armour.

    Now the sound of blades comes from below. I run over the corpses.

    Red laser sights from encircling helicopters paint the ghost of a grim mural on the roof all around me. They must think they’re safe up there, out of the reach of my weapons. But justice levels all playing fields.

    And yet, sometimes justice needs the help of a conveniently-stashed rocket-propelled-grenade to smite the wicked…

  51. Presumed Guilty
    169 Words
    Character: Young man accused of murder
    Theme: Injustice

    Matias tensed as the townsfolk dragged him to the the gallows. People he had known all his life were now sneering at him with fear and contempt.

    “I didn’t do anything please…”

    “Where were you last night!?” the sheriff demanded.

    “I was at my aunt’s home in Three Lakes,” he answered, dumbfounded. “She needed help with harvest since her husband died.”

    “Mathias,” the sheriff said in a kindly tone. You were the only man in this village that was not at our harvest, and therefore, the only one who could have killed a merchant and his wife as the traveled the hills.”

    Mathias shook his head, but even as he denied any wrongdoing they dragged him closer to his death.

    Before anyone could reach the second step, it was struck by an arrow – the same type of arrow that had killed a merchant just the other day.

    As they turned and pursued his defender, Mathias smiled knowing he was safe, as long as no one thought about the women.

    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

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