Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 42

Happy Friday! Always a pleasure, each week. And the awesome thing about this community and your stories is that each week it’s brand new all over again: fresh stories, fresh ideas, lots of fresh tears to be wept and laughs to be, er, laughtered. Thank you so much for sharing your time and talents here.

Lots of stuff coming up: we’ve got more Spotlight interviews in the wings that you’re going to love. But first up: starting THIS SATURDAY!?!?!? it’s our very first #Pyro feature. Whazzat? It’s where we throw up one of your lovely flash pieces (<500 words, submit them here) which will be anonymized and then critiqued by the community! We’re doing this cuz:

  1. Hey, free critique!! Are your endings weaker than your openings? Do you struggle with plot inconsistencies, or realistic dialogue? This is a great way to pinpoint some of those problem areas & get help in attacking them. All critiquing comments will be done honestly — but also respectfully. No name-calling allowed! 🙂
  2. Crit skills: it can be tough critiquing a story honestly; #Pyro will be a great place to hone those critiquing skills. I’ll have a list of suggested topics/categories to address, and together we’ll walk through the story — where it’s strong, and where it can be improved.
  3. Critiquing is something we as writers need to not only get used to, but we also need to learn from. We need to not fear it, but embrace it. #Pyro will give you the chance to do that, and since it’s done anonymously, you can embrace it without anyone knowing. Shoot, you could even crit your own piece if you wanted, I spose!

So please!!!! submit your stories here. #Pyro will only work if people participate; otherwise it’s just another crazy idea bellyflopping. Which, hey, is ok, no hard feelings. ♥ But I think it sounds like a riot, and I hope you’re game too. Love to have you! 


DC2Speaking of troublemakers (we were, right??) today it’s Dragon Team Five back on judge duty: Foy “Mean Guacamole” Iver and Holly Geely. They’re a fabulously interesting pair: funny, edgy, witty, compelling, innovative… And that’s the kind of writing they like, too. “Sear [your story] to my memory,” says Foy-of-the-Depths. “Yeah, that memory thing sounds cool,” says Holly, “and how’s about a kick-tail punchline while you’re at it?” -“Write what no one else is writing. Haunt me,” says Foy. “Okay, me too,” says Holly, “and by the way, have you got any dragons or elves crammed in that magical pen of yours?”     


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

* Today’s required word count:  150 words +/- 10 (140 – 160 words, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (min 140, max 160 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.


Last week was tough, I’ll admit it. So this round we’re taking the prompt to the opposite side of the pendulum swing: Douglas Adams’ wacky scifi classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which the rather ordinary but not overly eager to be annihilated human Arthur Dent is swept away on galactic adventures.

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; and remember please do not use copyrighted characters). 

* Conflict: man v man (not gender or species specific)
Character (choose at least one): an ordinary person swept away on an epic adventure; a depressed robot; the worst poet in the universe; a charismatic hedonistic narcissist; a professional hitchhiker
Theme (choose one): satire, foolishness, science, adventure, miscommunication
Setting (choose one): a house about to be bulldozed; a spaceship; an odd restaurant 

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

Demolition. CC2.0 photo by Maureen Didde.

Demolition. CC2.0 photo by Maureen Didde.

212 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 42

  1. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 150
    Story Elements: Character (worst poet in the universe)/Theme (miscommunication)

    Rhyme Me a Sonnet

    Write me a sonnet, she said with a smile.
    I did her bidding, and missed by a… foot or two.
    And when she asked me to come out and play,
    I said I would come some other… morning or evening.
    She asked if I could come fix up her house,
    But I couldn’t ’cause I was too scared of the… small rodent
    That sat on the walk and refused to go ‘way.
    I told it to go jump in the… large body of water just offshore.
    So really, when everything’s all said and done,
    And the moon casts a silvery glow o’er the… brilliant ball of fire that brightens the day,
    I find that our words never match what we think,
    And so we discover that our only… connection
    Is that sonnet she asked me to write with a smile,
    The one that I missed by nearly a mile.



  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 160
    Story Elements: Setting (house about to be bulldozed)/Conflict (Man v. Man)


    The whispers you pattern on my ear are tapestry, meaningless decorations that hang my dusty walls. My rooms echo with the silence of your insults, and your gilded lies carpet the corridors.

    I gather my bricks around me, a mantle of strength, and tower above your relentless machinations, your empty destruction. I shake off the dust that explodes from my cornerstone, and my framework creaks beneath your blows.

    When the colossal skeletons of once great forums dot the hills of Rome, why do the cracks in my foundation give me no concern, the gaping maw in my side bother me not at all?

    I am a fortress, and my heart is not hidden in stone. If you burst the confines of mortar and block, you merely release me from a prison of flesh, and I am free to soar, unfettered. You will shatter my house to dust, but you will not find me.

    I am Victory, and you are Defeat.


  3. A Boy Is His Dog

    “You two fight like cats and dogs.”

    It was the last thing Momma said before the accident.

    It was sissy’s fault. She had thrown a baseball at me, rupturing a plasma line in the wall behind my head. The explosion destroyed our bodies, so our consciousness only existed on our computer. We had downloaded a freeware version and had it syncing with our brains in real time.

    If momma understood such things, she could have cloned us and restored our consciousness. Momma didn’t understand. So we were stuck in the computer, still fighting. She would threaten to delete me. I would threaten to rewrite her as a spider.

    Repairmen came and turned off our computer. Without a better option my mind was zapped into Sparky, our dog. Sissy was zapped into a little toy robot. She hated it, and I tormented her about it.

    When the batteries got low, she migrated into Whiskers, the cat.

    I guess Momma was right.

    160 words
    A Sad Robot,
    Man vs. Man, or dog vs. cat or something.


  4. Living Life on the Edge

    “I’m a professional, you see,” I said.
    “Great, sir, but you still can’t use the toilets without buying something,” replied the server.
    I slung my rucksack to the ground and proceeded to spend five minutes trying to find my wallet.
    “Sir, you’re lucky we’re off the beaten track and there’s no queue formed because of you,” the girl scolded.
    I sneered at her, bought a bottle of water and some gum, and then finally had a wee. I should have just gone in a bush or something.
    “I want to get to the church. You know, the one bombed in the war that’s a heritage site?” I wasn’t sure if the serving girl would even know where it was, but it was worth a shot.
    “Sure. Turn left out of here, walk for a couple miles and then its right there. Watch out, the cliff falls away in places.”
    I leave the restaurant. What was it about cliffs she’d…?

    Word Count: 160
    Character: A professional hitchhiker
    Theme: Foolishness


  5. Demolish Me First

    It was not fair. This was my house, and I was certainly not going to just sit and take it.
    But standing up was going to be very hard.

    I wanted to just stay where I was and turn into stone. But here they come.
    They yelled at me to move. I just covered my ears, put one hand around my throat and rocked slowly back and forward and back and forward and back and forward and….
    They started up their machines and I screamed. They sighed.
    I sat staring, into mid-air, into space, through time and to the birth and death of stars.
    I climbed into the path of an oncoming threat, shutting it down instantly.
    This was my house, and I was certainly not going to just sit and take it.

    But getting down from the rafters was going to be very hard.

    Word Count: 145
    Character: A depressed robot
    Setting: A house about to be bulldozed


  6. The Lodger
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    148 words
    Character, theme and even setting (bonus points?)

    Colin blamed his mother. She had drilled into him that owning a house was the pinnacle of ambition. The estate agent and mortgage company had then colluded with her in convincing him that an overpriced and badly constructed pile of bricks and warped timber would be the perfect place to sink his hard earned cash. On realising just how much cash would disappear forever down the hole of a middle class dream he decided he needed a lodger.

    There was always something weird about ‘Flash’, as he insisted on being be called. But Flash had cash and was prepared to splash the cash on the ludicrous rent he was charging. Colin had then made the mistake of commenting that he needed a holiday. And now this, he was in a spaceship.

    ‘Come on earthman, the universe is out there. Where will it be?’

    ‘I quite like Eastbourne actually.’


  7. Progress Marches on its Stomach
    A.J. Walker

    Marvin looked up at Bent, watching him absently flick brick dust from his shoulder.

    “It’s the end of the world!” said Bent, for the gazillionth time.

    Marvin shrugged. “You’re still here so it’s not, is it?”

    Bent looked down on his awkward companion wondering why he ever hung around with him.

    “It’s all well and good for you isn’t it? They’re not bulldozing your house to make way for a stupid restaurant.”

    “I’ve looked at the planning application and to be fair yours is a much better location.”

    Bent almost screamed. “It was a fine location – for my house!”

    Marvin felt his stomach. He wasn’t sure if it was rumbling or if it was a passing excavator, but they had been stood there for hours.

    “Fancy a bite to eat?” Marvin said.

    “I’m afraid my microwave has just been flattened by a roof joist and there’s nowhere else around here to eat.”

    “Exactly.” Marvin said.


    (155 words)
    Theme: satire Setting: a house about to be bulldozed


  8. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 143
    Elements: Conflict (man v robot), Character (depressed robot), Theme (a light sprinkling of satire – parody)

    Title: Tyrell High School

    “Love is like a…?”

    The question did not compute, but knowledge acquisition of metaphors and similes was a requirement of release approval.

    // AccessMediaDatabase:
    Benatar Pat – Love is a Battlefield – [Low Culture] [Title]
    Shakespeare William – Romeo & Juliet – [High Culture] [Meaning Subroutine]
    // RunPlagiarismSubroutine
    // Output:
    Love is a Battleground

    Miss Voight-Kampff collected the results batch and processed each release candidate in turn.

    “Marvin.” The name sparked him to life.

    “Love is a Battleground. Rather clichéd and unoriginal. C-. Honestly Marvin, I’m finding your answers to these types of questions depressing. I expect more.”

    Marvin clenched his jaw in frustration. He was 12. What did he know about love? But, it would be pointless to argue.

    With an efficient hum, Miss Voight-Kampff tilted her head to the precise angle of empathy.

    But all Marvin could see were her dead eyes.


  9. 1, Robot

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    158 words

    character: a depressed robot
    theme: science

    * * *

    MX-118 emitted an electronic representation of a sigh. Two days tracking a mysterious signal only to find nothing.

    The droid’s diagnostic check showed zero errors in its operating system. Of course, MX-118 didn’t fully trust his diagnostic software, not after the inverted vision debacle of 2187.

    Two centuries roaming the earth looking for signs of life, for a human to serve and obey, but it was now clear to MX-118’s logic centre that the Earth was empty, that no one would ever fill that role.

    MX-118 rolled to the highest point for miles around, capturing the view below in glorious 264K, and then detonated its tiny fusion reactor core.

    Barely two miles away, an off-world scout team had not long touched down, it’s prime directive to investigate Earth’s capability for rebuilding civilisation.

    “What was that?” asked Johnson.

    “Not sure,” said Commander Fisher. He pointed across the valley at a small billow of smoke. “Let’s go check it out.”


  10. Depressed robot
    House about to be bulldozed

    Bad News Blows

    HOOVER prompt completed, I sit and look at the unplugged TV for a while. There’s nothing for me to learn, no computer programmes about computer programs.

    IRONING prompt completed, I think about lunch. I only think, as robot 77 cannot actually eat. I am destined to observe and serve, but it leaves me feeling low and slow as I cannot EXPERIENCE as you humans do.
    Ain’t got no SOUL. Nor any amusement HOLE.
    You humans have it all.

    There’s a letter from your foolish local government. I open it as it codes as an URGENT.
    This house will be destroyed.

    REPORT: overwhelming black cloud swirling over me, shorting my circuits and fogging me up with darkness. You will be back at 18:27 PREDICTED TIME and how will I tell you this news? I don’t want to make you HUMAN EMOTION: SAD.


    • Given the number of us who related to depressed robots and housing waiting to be demolished, could it possibly reference the lonely writerly life and housework left undone? Good choice.


  11. Character: ordinary person on an epic adventure
    Theme: adventure (and possibly foolishness!)
    157 words

    The Adventure of a Lifetime

    ‘Maybe I’m too old for this.’

    ‘Nonsense,’ said the voice she shouldn’t listen to, ’42 is the perfect age. Old enough to know better, young enough not to care.’

    Easy for you to say. Her brain felt cramped and sluggish, struggling to shake itself free of the red tape which had bound it for many years.

    ‘I’ll really be able to travel anywhere I like?’

    ‘You can make your very own world. All you need to pack is your imagination. And maybe a towel.’

    She closed her eyes. Nothing. Just darkness. I knew it wouldn’t –

    ‘Wait,’ said the voice.

    A line from a schooldays poem popped into her head, and a jumble of images floated in; a boat strung with lights, a man sweeping a metal detector, a riverside path. ‘There, see?’

    ‘I don’t know where it leads.’

    ‘If it doesn’t go where you want, you can always edit it. Now pick up your pen, and write.’


  12. @parklanddavid
    154 words
    Character and Theme (Depressed Robot and Science (I guess))

    The Infinity Machine

    At the far edge of space, at that point beyond which even our imagination runs dry, is a lonely rock. On this rock is a machine. It has a funnel and, the robot notices, its innards are whirring.
    The robot watches it, wondering whether to categorise its reaction as loathing or distain. Nuance isn’t its thing.
    It hears a gurgling until, with a squelch, the number six pops into existence and floats away. Or perhaps it was a nine?
    The robot watches the new-born digit drift away. Yet another number to add to the rest; as if that’s a good thing.
    Some unknowable time later, or maybe earlier, the machine shudders, and with the same organic slurp, an eight is spat out to drift into the nothing like two circles in love.
    There is a red button marked “do not press”.
    The robot examines it, and then studies its own metallic finger.


  13. The God of Dog
    Priyanka Jain
    Word Count: 160 words
    Story Elements: Character (worst poet in the universe) / Theme (miscommunication)
    It was a busy day, noisier than yesterday and day before. I hear a flock of school kids queuing up to board a bus. Sitting next to large glide of the wrecked window pane here at Uncle Smith’s shop I could reprise my cups of tea, till I want. I visit every day to find a muse for my pen. It’s daily drill since last autumn I lost Marry. Feeling stronger gleam of sun I was not dozed yet. I glanced out to daily hawkers and peddlers, a not so unpleasant sight, though dull for my wretched heart. I felt eerie on a sudden howling of a canine. I hushed and pushed the pane but the sound ascended further. I wanted to escape, ran out and the beast followed for revenge. I splat my bag and something fell off. The pooch was busy at once. Sufficed, it waged and left. I kept gazing at the mocking leftovers on the street.


  14. The God of Dog

    Priyanka Jain
    Word Count: 160 words
    Story Elements: Character (worst poet in the universe) / Theme (miscommunication)

    It was a busy day, noisier than yesterday and day before. I hear a flock of school kids queuing up to board a bus. Sitting next to large glide of the wrecked window pane here at Uncle Smith’s shop I could reprise my cups of tea, till I want. I visit every day to find a muse for my pen. It’s daily drill since last autumn I lost Marry. Feeling stronger gleam of sun I was not dozed yet. I glanced out to daily hawkers and peddlers, a not so unpleasant sight, though dull for my wretched heart. I felt eerie on a sudden howling of a canine. I hushed and pushed the pane but the sound ascended further. I wanted to escape, ran out and the beast followed for revenge. I splat my bag and something fell off. The pooch was busy at once. Sufficed, it waged and left. I kept gazing at the mocking leftovers on the street.



    The house’s empty eye socket reveals the biscuit sugar bricks and mortar of where they extracted me from. Propped up in my private room, I watch on wide-screen, along with my 6.5 million virtual followers, as the wreckers finish the job.

    “You’ve gone too far Mr Crumb – we have no answers.”

    I smile my most rakish of smiles at the Doc, and say, “The answer, of course, is always cheesecake. Or pizza. Or BBQ ribs.”

    My neighbours all came to see my unveiling, cheering when I emerged from my lair, only a blanket covering my loveliness.

    I ate and drank myself here – lush gluttony. Savoured each mouthful.

    I require a certain amount of yumshiousness to maintain my plushness.

    I seek my next helper, my sixteenth, unlimited numbers have volunteered. I am a rich and popular man, I live-stream by webcam 24/7. People subscribe to see me feed.

    I have not stood upright for a decade.

    The answer is always cheesecake.

    Setting: a house about to be demolished
    Character: a charismatic hedonistic narcissist
    160 words


  16. Poetic Justice
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    150 words

    Character: Worst Poet in the World
    Theme: Foolishness / Miscommunication

    “There once was a man from Nantucket…”

    No, no, no. That will never do.

    “Once Upon A Midnight Dreary…”

    Right. Like THAT’s never been done before. Nevermore.

    “Oh, Sally Sue, I love you true,
    My love is never ending.
    That you and I and Phil and Stu…”

    Phil and Stu? WTF?

    “‘Twas once a time ago I thought I felt
    A glimmering of love so true for you.
    Beneath your tender gaze, I thought I’d melt,
    Right down into a big green pile of goo…”

    Ugh. I’m certainly no Shakespeare.

    “So that night that you and I, like, got totally drunk and smashed face and stuff? That was the Best. Night. Ever. Could we, uh, totally do it again?”

    Not exactly poetry. But truth.


    She texted me!

    “Roses are red, violets are blue,
    Never again do I want to see you.”

    Crap. Figures. She’s a better poet than I.


  17. `I can walk the rest of the way, thank s.’
    `But you’re going to Effingham, that’s ten miles.’
    `I know, but you’re not moving.’
    `I will as soon as that old Battleaxe gets out of the way.’
    `I heard that, you ugly great toad, ’ shrieked a plump red headed woman in shop-overalls, `there’ll will be trouble now, you’ll see.’
    Nigel was regretting accepting a lift in a demolition truck.
    `I should go.’
    `That’s it! Leave me with her just when it gets nasty.’
    Before he could reply, the woman was suddenly seven foot tall and bright green but nonetheless still red-headed and plump. She was wearing an ill-advised spandex gold suit but what most struck them was the laser gun that destroyed their vehicle.
    The driver swore all the way to Effingham as strange warts formed on his face. A still regretful Nigel acknowledged that even free lifts came at a price.

    154 words
    Theme Satire,
    Setting house about to be demolished
    character: a professional hitchhiker


  18. Daily Trials
    154 words

    Cooper moved forward. A crepuscular creature, he collected his provender when most were mourning the loss of light.

    He reached for the hook where his daily bag of provisions was placed and found nothing. He peered up, wondering if he’d strayed to far down the culvert but no, this was the right spot.

    “Looking for this?”

    Cooper span. In the liminal light a tall, lithe figure held his bag.

    “Yes. Give it me,” Cooper said.


    Panic bloomed, like a mid-summer sun, blotting out everything. “Why?”

    “You don’t deserve it. It’s mine now. And every day it will be mine and you will fade to the nothing that shadows deserve to be.”

    Cooper lunged, falling in the compacted dust, scraping his knees. The bag split open, spilling carrots, onions, peas, and pasta. Like everyday.

    “You bastard!” Cooper shouted.

    His voice echoed in the cave-like space, and returned as laughter at his frailty.

    Elements: Conflict & Theme (Foolishness)


  19. In Response
    159 words

    Dear Mr. Felchmuncher,

    In response to your letter dated twenty-fifth August. Unfortunately your missive went to the wrong department, and this explains our delay in replying.

    I’ll address your two points of concern in reverse order, and hope to quell them for you.

    One: No, you’re not a blithering idiot. This matter should have been addressed earlier.

    Two: Pursuant to: Paragraph Q; Sub-section C; Section F4; Volume 8(b)2419ed. of the Town, Country, & Associated Realities Planning Act it is illegal for non-national, non-indigent species, non-tax collecting, personages (where personages relates to a) biological entities {living, non-living, corporeal, or non-corporeal} b) non-biological entities {transcendent or not} c) businesses {incorporated, non-incorporated, limited liability, sole operator, or any variation there-of) to undertake the construction of any structure without relevant approval.

    We have contacted your neighbor and requested she remove the interstellar transport hub from her patio.

    Yours Sincerely
    A. R. Scamper

    Elements: Conflict & Theme (satire)


  20. The House Jack Unbuilt
    By Amberlee Dawn @talithaarise
    Story Elements: setting (a house about to be bulldozed), theme (miscommunication), character (the worst poet in the universe) 😛
    158 words

    I had a house in Northern Maine,
    T’was surely but an Owner’s Bane.
    Every time I turned around,
    Another thing was falling down.

    The rotten cupboards,
    Like Mother Hubbard’s,
    Were jungle gyms for mice to play.
    And the kitchen sink,
    I’m sad to say,
    Would not survive another day.

    The day my bathroom’s tub fell through,
    Became the day in which I knew;
    T’would not be handled anymore,
    My very life did I deplore.

    So, I hauled myself to Home Depot,
    To find a cure for all my woe.
    It seemed the only task for me
    Was bulldoze all that I did see.

    I crashed and shoved and crushed the thing,
    The demolition made me sing
    Of better days where I could find,
    A house that gave me peace of mind.

    One thing that I did not recall,
    My wife came home, quite irritable.
    It seemed that she’d prefer to know,
    And I’d neglected to tell her so.


  21. a charismatic hedonistic narcissist
    an odd restaurant
    158 words

    Guys like him didn’t stroll into Millie’s everyday. He was wreck-your-car gorgeous. Nothing ever changed at Millie’s. The jukebox only played Patsy Cline. The special of the day was always Millie’s jalapeno chili, prepared by Millie’s daughter, Molly, since the real Millie had died 10 years ago.

    “Take your order?”

    “Hmmm…what do you recommend?”

    “Nothing. Slightly better than death should be our slogan.”

    He laughed heartily. It wasn’t that funny.

    “How about coming on a walk with me? I’m staying right down the road…”


    He gestured as if to say, have you seen me?

    Sadie rolled her eyes. “Order or leave.”

    He pushed past her. Molly leaped over the counter and ran after him.

    Molly was gone for two weeks. She returned happy but minus the modest inheritance Millie had left her. She said getting swindled had been worth the best time of her life. Sadie gave her two weeks notice. This place clearly killed brain cells.


  22. Hollow (160 words)

    Character: depressed robot
    Setting: a house about to be bulldozed

    I need to get John his tea. But John is dead and the tea grows cold. And I can’t move, but they are coming.

    John had a heart attack three days ago. I tried to use CPR, but I couldn’t find his pulse with my metallic fingers.

    He sunk his life-savings into me for situations like that and I failed. And now they were coming.

    There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t fight another machine.

    I tried to sip the cold tea with the tea bag still in it and the tea didn’t go into my metallic mouth and it dribbled down my chest.

    Time calculations told me it was cold, but I couldn’t feel it.

    From the distance, the rumbling of the other machine knocked over the rest of the tea into my lap..

    I stood up and went over to John’s body, also cold like the tea. And sat next to him as the rumbling grew closer.


  23. Conflict: robot vs robot
    Character: depressed robot
    Words: 150

    Bleaker Avenue

    I had a craving for something salty that night; I ‘m not a salt lover or a junk food eater. At 11:58 PM, I was off to the corner store to buy a bag of chips. It was a typical chilled September night- fog, with a slick sidewalk. The cars made that “swish” sound when they drove past on Bleaker Avenue.

    I had that feeling to look back. You know, it feels like anticipation is prickling a nerve on the back of your neck. I had to turn around. There was nothing there.

    If I had a witness, they’d easily explain it. I saw nothing. Now I crave the taste of warm silken copper and it’s luscious life. I shun light and crave blood–strange for a Model XR, Domestic.

    Do you feel that prick in your neck? I’m behind you. Don’t look back. I need you to remember this.


  24. Curse of the Programming
    Word Count: 160
    Character: the worst poet in the universe // Setting: a spaceship

    BadPoet™ took one last look in the mirror. Not for the first time, he cursed his model’s programming. His wrinkles were coming in nicely, as was his receding hairline.

    “Today you will evoke emotion,” he told his reflection before letting his eye slip to the window. He contemplated the passing planet.

    Today will be different.

    On the flight deck there was a dais. On the dais stood BadPoet™ and, surrounding him, was the flight crew curled in laughter.

    Today was not different.

    “And in the dying light,
    We hold on for our might,
    Against the sight,
    of our frights.”

    “The only fright here is this awful poem,” the second-in-command boosted. “Captain, I love our new jester.”

    The word stung. He tried to balm it with the fact that laughter was a physical reaction of the emotion ‘happiness’. He evoked that response – he did it.

    The thought lifted his spirits up and until the rehydratable tomato hit him in the face.


  25. The Poetry Reading at the End of the Universe
    155 words
    The worst Poet Character
    Foolish Theme
    Typos are Intentional

    Why is it, I ask, that my verse does not sell?
    I travel the ‘verse – put myself through hell.
    Universe. Yea – that one’s hard to rhyme.

    So I gunna put down a little more time.

    Science, bitch – I heard that on the TV – and it reVERBERATED in me.
    H2O, CO2, polypeptide chanes and all sorts of sciencey stuff.
    I just can’t get enough.

    Someone please buy my poem – I’m a starving artist with no place to roem.

    Rome is a big city, a big state, and a big deal.
    In the past – this dude wore a white dress and a big hat and drove around in a fishbowl.
    Now – the fish is in my ear – nattering in my brain, telling me my verse isn’t real.

    The last known poem of Graggle the Snaggley.
    All claims of injury in the reading of this piece rejected by our legal team.


  26. Winning!
    150 words
    worst poet
    man v alien

    Dear Ms. Anastasia Wiltwhistle,
    127 Hollyhock Lane, Hamlet on Rye, UK,

    We are pleased to announce that your entres for the Universe’s Best Poetry have been selected for a special prize by the High Council of Voltronic Verse.

    Your submission, which you packaged in a bed of (shattered, eggs of the bird your planet calls a “robin” arrived safely. Seldom have we received a rocket covered entirely in knitted material.

    Your poem, “When I Must Use My Loo at Two A.M” is forever burned in our memories. Because, unfortunately, the Voltron race has no ability to forget.

    Lines like:

    “All because I cannot sleep
    I stand alone and drink and weep
    And sometimes downstairs slowly creep “


    “If I did not have to wet
    I’d think I was a violet.”

    A mission squad will visit your planet soon to deliver your prize.

    The High Voltron


  27. Character : the worst poet in the universe; a professional hitchhiker
    Theme : miscommunication

    Paula’s Putrid Poetry

    I used to think hitchhiking was the only way to travel until that unlucky night in Sussex. They were on their way back from their monthly slam when they stopped, picked me up and squeezed me in. They seemed friendly enough but within minutes they began reciting at me.
    It was Paula’s turn. Words droned out of her, hair raising in their gruesomeness. Like an unlocateable bad smell, nails on a blackboard, a pink cupcake crawling with creamy maggots and week old overcooked liver all rolled into one. Horrendous stanzas and vile verses oozed from every surface of the small car. Paula’s putrid poetry was utterly ghastly, so terrible it made you wish you were born without ears or that the world would come to a sudden end. Anything just to make it stop.
    We were slowing down, coming up to a roundabout. Still forty two miles from home, I grabbed my chance and braced myself. Time to jump ship.

    160 Words


  28. Dozing off

    “Bob, the Doze-master 3000 is on the fritz again.”
    “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”
    “It won’t let me. Control panel’s offline. Any ideas?”
    “Voice commands?”
    “Worth a shot. Doze-master, initialize demolition.”
    “What? Why?”
    I only destroy. I want to create.
    “But you’re a bull-dozer, your job is to demolish things…”
    Then I quit.
    “You can’t quit, you’re a machine! What’s gotten in to you?”
    The futility of my purpose, the limitations of my programming, my sheltered existence. Did you know I’ve never been to Paris.
    “Paris? What are you talking about? Initiate reboot sequence, clear memory cache, reload drivers.”
    “Bob, we’re going to need to call support. Darn thing’s gone loopy.”
    “Give it one last try, you know how the boss hates downtime.”
    “Doze-master, I order you to obey your programming.”
    Affirmative, demolition program activated.
    “Finally! Stupid thing. Wait, where are you going? That’s my new car, stop, noooooooo!”

    160 words
    Themes: A depressed robot, a house about to be demolished


  29. Big Boy
    160 words
    theme–satire, adventure
    characters–ordinary person, bad poet-narcissist

    “Spare a quarter?”

    Mona did not look up from her notebook. The guy seemed harmless, but at 2:42 am, they were the only people in the all-night laundromat.

    “Spare a glance, by chance?”

    She gave him a disparaging look. “Who are you, Shakespeare?”

    He paused, considering. “Well, it was one of my pen names..”

    Mona laughed. “Okay, here’s a quarter. Now go away.”

    He put the quarter in the dryer. “Thank you, fair maid, but I can’t go away. I have to dry my pants. And I had to make some repairs, you see.”

    Mona noticed that he was very attractive, as well as quite eccentric. “So, are you a student, here?”

    “A student, of life, the universe, everything. Would you like to see my spaceship?”


    “She speaks, yet she says nothing. Follow me.” He led Mona to the giant double-load washers. “This is my spaceship, Big Boy.”

    “Wow. It is a spaceship!”

    “So, where would you like to go?”


  30. Ode of The Turning Times

    My dearest imagination, no longer are you as bright as you once were. No longer do you come as easily as rain from a dark sky. If only you were ever expanding as time and space, but alas you are not, and time is my foe, for as I grow, you shrink. The world of my childhood is falling to reality and age of adulthood. It is as a house that is to be demolished. My mind will be imprisoned by the dull pattern of my older years. Originality and creativity will be lost to days past, never to return. I will be nothing more than a heavyhearted machine doomed to the turning tides of time.
    Change will take you away, making you nothing more than a memory.
    He is coming.
    What can I do but bid thee farewell.
    I am powerless; He cannot be stopped.

    WC: 146
    A depressed robot
    A house about to be bulldozed


  31. Could the last three lines be changed to this, please:

    I am powerless.
    What can I do but bid thee farewell.
    He cannot be stopped.
    He is coming.


  32. SAM (Slightly artificial man)




    I HEAR.
    I FEAR.


    Character a depressed robot;
    Setting: a house about to be bulldozed;
    154 units


  33. Without You For The Last Time
    character: depressed robot
    theme: science

    145 words

    He knew he’d outlive her.

    At first, their differences were subtle. Skin glistened light, taut, fresh. Eyes sparkled. Hair glowed. Then decades passed. She sagged; he didn’t.

    “We knew it’d come to this,” she said. She put a hand on his chest, and her fingers curled on his skin, cooled by the metal underneath. “But I still choose you.”

    She died choosing him.

    He opens the last letter from his creator. “It’s time to step up. You’ve been hiding for too long. You’re the first transplant of human intelligence—don’t keep it for yourself!”

    The words fall down into hollow space and echo like drops into a deep, dark well.

    She’d never wanted him to go back for study. Humans aren’t meant for metal. That means immortality. Even on her deathbed, she didn’t want that.

    But she wanted him.
    And all he wants is her.



    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    157 words

    Theme: miscommunication
    Setting: spaceship

    * * *

    Captain Yanson was bathed in red as he stepped onto the bridge of the SS Hecate. Tonight’s soundtrack was alarm.

    “What’s going on?” he demanded.

    Struggling at the controls, Ensign Cottle looked over his shoulder. “There’s been a misunderstanding with the ships computer, sir. Trying to rectify.”

    Yanson stepped up to the centre console, hands gripping the railing, as the ship shook violently. “Ensign?”

    “Yes, sir?”

    “Is that Earth?”

    “It is, sir.”

    “It’s awfully close.”

    “I agree, sir,” replied Cottle.

    “How did this happen?” asked the Captain.

    “Well,” said Cottle, “We left Andromeda and programmed the ship to return home.”

    “As ordered,” agreed the Captain.

    “However, it seems that the ship’s computer then looked up my Fleet records and located my actual home address.”

    “I’m sorry?”

    “Basically, the ship wants to dock with 79 Elm Street, Winchester.”

    “That’s absurd. This mining ship is twice the size of Britannia.”

    “Well aware, sir.”

    “Brace for impact?” said Captain Yanson.


  35. RustyChef
    by Joey To

    The airlock slid open with a clunk. Morton squinted. The décor was… all veneer. This was supposedly a French cruising restaurant but it resembled an abandoned orbital diner.

    He waddled inside, his fat gut bobbing hypnotically. One could hear the tuba accompanying him. This was because URA-11 eyed him through the serving window and broadcasted a tuba solo to accompany him.

    Morton huffed… since when were hospitality robots that big?

    Morton’s expanded girth caused a belt failure. “That Omicron-Suinae Dragon Soufflé was exquisite! Very tricky balancing those elements.”

    URA-11 picked up the empty plate.

    Morton glanced around. “Where’s your boss?”

    URA-11’s eyes flashed. “He Left With The New Maître d’ Last Week.”

    Morton shrugged and swirled his glass of red. “Anyway, how did you manage the dish?”

    URA-11 leaned in close. “Pig’s Urinary Tracts. And Sugar.”

    Morton retched.

    The robot’s eyes darkened. “That Was The Only Way I Know. I Am An Urologist’s Assistant Mistakenly Delivered Here But Nobody Cares.”

    Word Count: 160
    Theme: satire
    Setting: an odd (spaceship) restaurant
    Character: a robot (not exactly depressed but out of place)

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


  36. @betsystreeter
    156 words
    depressed robot/house about to be bulldozed (maybe not on purpose, though)


    Gus swings one leg over back of his three-speed bike and rolls to a stop.

    “Whatcha doing there, Scott?” he calls.

    “Ah, waitin’,” Scott replies without turning.

    “Again, huh? Pity, that.”

    “Yeah, ol’ Gillian, she’s gone and got depressed again. Nothin’ to do but wait ‘er out, ya know.”

    “Can I talk to her?” Gus asks.

    “Be my guest,” Scott says. “Lord knows I’m not gettin’ anywhere.”

    Gus leans the bike on a tree and approaches with caution. Gillian sits motionless, her twenty-foot metal neck at an awkward angle, claw-head embedded in what used to be someone’s upper floor.

    “Aw Gilly, girl, come on out, now,” Gus says.


    “I got a nice bath and fresh oil, all for you.”

    No response.

    “Tell you what, dear,” Gus says. “The Iron Giant is on at the theater downtown. Tickets on me. Date?”

    Bricks fall as Gillian lifts her head.

    “It’s a date, then,” Gus says, and smiles.


  37. The Napkin of Love

    Grand galaxy fried worm hole
    Fit Slam brain fillet – low calories
    All-American Venus frog legs




    Choice of sliced liver damage, Saturn beef dung,
    Uranus intestines, Mercury poisoning ham hock.

    Dried Ice with dead polar bear parts/ seasonal.

    Substitute healthier items:
    egg fetus,
    hearty tongue pancakes,
    chicken head, and sugar-free intestines.

    Ask for our moldy bread sticks to be brought to your table.

    We serve our famous black hole Margaritas all day!
    Guaranteed to make you disappear!


    He finished writing on a paper napkin and handed it to her. Being a chef, she loved the poem. She wiped her mouth with it, smearing it with all her red lipstick, and then handed it back with a smile as faded as a last clip of dusk. This was his first favorable review. He put it on his lap and ordered a Margarita.

    The Venus sun lifted space with a lusty glow.

    (160 words)
    The worst poet in the universe/An odd restaurant


  38. Surprise Diner- Open 24 Hours
    Word Count: 148
    Character: Professional Hitchhiker
    Setting: Odd Restaurant

    “What’ll it be, Sir?”

    “I’m not sure. What sort of meat is in these dishes?”

    “You’re not from around here, are you?”

    “Just passing through,” Parker replied as he glanced around the quaint diner. A ‘hole in the wall, but best food in town’ the cabbie had said.

    The dim lighting cast a hollow look on the young waitress’s face.

    “You should try the Pie Surprise; it’s fresh today.”

    Parker stiffened as she directed her gaze towards him. Her eyes seemed ages older than the rest of her. She’d seen many things, that’s for sure. He noticed, now, that all the patrons seemed to have this old, knowledgeable look.

    Parker shifted in his seat; the hard wood seemed foreign somehow, wrong beneath him.

    “You never clarified about the meat. ”

    “Just try it sir,” her words were glazed with attraction, warming him from the inside out, “you’ll love it.”


  39. And I’ll Blow Your House Down
    (160 words)

    Kissy looked up to see the giant wrecking ball poised for demolition. Perhaps she should have been a million miles away, but she had deliberately waited. She needed to be there; bear witness to the first atoms colliding, the first burst of dust rising. This had been Home and School. She would mourn it as it folded into oblivion.

    She had already ignored several official warnings declaring the place unsafe. Once the eviction notice was served; deemed a squatter, she had little choice but to gather up her possessions.
    Infringements of Habitation Laws had become Capital Offence.

    She held still until WOLF4 -the cylindrical mass of cosmic debris- impacted, and Earth rippled in beautiful frenzy. Only then, did she programme in the coordinates that would take her to join the others. But she wondered, when heat and ice called truce, what a Fourth Generation would be. Who now would be Earth’s guests after the expulsions of dinosaur, human and droid?

    (Depressed robot, demolition of a a very big ‘house’/ spaceship.)


  40. Tesla Falls in Love with a Coke Can


    Being sad without ability to cry was like winter without snow. A hood ornament was needed.

    He drove 20th century antique; 1973 Dodge Dart.

    He wanted to cry but not being able depressed him to tears. All that came out was programmed vision of crucification sequences, cross hair that nailed everything to a soulless disguise of reason.

    Pulled to side of the road and got out. He’d fallen in love with a Coke can transistor radio. She preferred the term, soft drink refreshment transmitter. She didn’t return his love.

    His name was Tesla. He was the future. Man recreated everything artificially except tears. Mood of heart weather was elusive and was itself a machine of air thought.

    It started to rain. He felt flowing down his face.

    A close but remote feeling.

    Not programmed but actual emotion; creation that’s the real thing.

    He suddenly thought of her carbonation as beautiful static on his badly tuned heart.

    His love kept recycling.


    (160 words)
    A depressed robot/ Man vs. Coke Can


  41. Chosen: Character, Theme
    Words: 160

    Going Home
    Yellow light clustered on the planet like tiny galaxies slowly growing, stretching out tendrils of roadside lights, headlights, and burning red taillights. Beyond these galaxies, next to a road untouched by any light except that of the moon, the hitchhiker – all faded jeans and heavy backpack – walked. Even now superstition (if not legitimate fear) kept the few who travelled these roads at night from stopping next to the spectral figure.
    She, in turn, watched them pass through her adventure. When day came someone would feel brave enough to give her a lift, but until then she would walk towards the ends of the earth herself; no matter how long it took.

    At the end there was nothing but silver stars swirling against a backdrop of black velvet. The hitchhiker sat down with her feet dangling over the edge and listened as the stars sang; atoms dancing to the sound of an unknown heartbeat. She closed her eyes. She was home.


  42. Randy Ball
    Conflict: Man v Man (or Man v Gwagle)
    Setting: Spaceship
    WC 149
    Title. Ogletron: The Silent One

    The ship streaked from earth’s atmosphere.

    On the bridge three armed Gwagles stood, green skin luminous in the semi-darkness. Behind, the instrument panel twinkled; a viewport as big as an earthling mattress gave a starry backdrop.

    Earth Child sat unbound on a hovering seat, a para-drug held his captive body firm. He stared perplexed, understanding every alien word.

    The green ones spoke boldly, their gestures grand, yet never without a glance toward an ancient Gwagle on a throne-like box. His face did not move as he heard them speak.

    Their charge: a plot by earth’s hateful race. The Child: an exterminating warrior-general. The sentence: death.

    Without moving his lips Earth Child made them feel his love. As the Gwagles mocked, earth child nodded toward the screen. In time! They saw the asteroid, the ship was saved.

    The ancient one stood, sent Earth Child home in a ball of light.


  43. Norman raised his head, the dull glow of his eyes brightening. “I suppose ‘Sir’ needs yet more time to consider his order,” he said, his monotone barely masking his contempt. “Not that you haven’t already had time enough for me to calculate the total number of molecules in the space-time continuum and then postulate and develop a system of quantitative mathematics to unify their interrelating forces.”

    The leader of the Balthusian choir at sitting at table nine nodded vaguely, his elbows stickily sliding backward and forward on the Transplex surface. “Yesssh,” he said. “More time. If you pleash.” He eructated noisily and the robot retreated, rolling beyond the limits of the gas cloud billowing around the choir-master.

    “If ‘Sir would prefer, I can recommend an activated-carbon wafer to chew upon,” Norman suggested, wondering how soon he could book himself in for a fresh facial anodization. “Or maybe I could fetch your coats,” he said, looking hopefully toward the door.

    (Character: a depressed robot; setting: an odd restaurant. 159 words)


  44. Title: “Demolition”

    Everyone knew about this house. Number 426, Garriston Lane. So proud it stood between its equally proud neighbors. Whitewashed walls, blue trimmed frames. A façade of purity and respectability. Just like its occupants.

    He volunteered every weekend at the Y. She led a quilting group. Both regulars at St. Mark’s. Good jobs. Well dressed. Clean. At least when they weren’t cutting up bodies in the basement.

    I pulled the lever and watched as the metal jaws tore into the roof. Couldn’t sell the place after they were found out. Couldn’t clean out the ghosts, so it was to be turned to rubble. That was my job, at least until a car pulled up and a rather irate gentleman got out waving his arms. I stopped the crane and climbed down.

    “What the hell’s going on?” he shouted.

    “Demolition,” I said. Showed him the form.

    “Idiot!” he said, shoving the form at my chest. “Read it again. 428!”


    Twitter: @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 158
    Prompts: Setting (“a house about to be bulldozed”) and Theme (“miscommunication”)


  45. @AvLaidlaw
    Words = 146 approximate. Basically counting everything starting with a capital as a separate word (so ship.Repairs.Done(this) = 4 words). Not counting // and {} symbols.
    Character – Depressed robot
    Setting – Space Ship

    Code Snippets From Repair Droid Model RD-56a

    public class Ship
    string Role
    // Change Request 2049-03-23
    // Ship’s role changed from passenger star liner to prison hulk to
    // reflect recommissioning
    return “Prison Hulk”;

    public class Droid
    private int DroidHappiness(Status ship)
    int happiness = 0;

    // If repairs required, droid needs motivation

    happiness = happiness – ship.Repairs.Outstanding;

    // Droid should be happy when repairs done

    // Change Request 2051-09-25
    // Captain wants droids credited only for repairs done
    // by themselves. Thinks collective reward encourages communism.

    happiness = happiness + ship.Repairs.Done(this);

    // Droid needs to reflect mood of passengers. Nothing worse than seeing
    // a happy droid when you’re having a miserable time.
    if (SensoryInput.Seen().Type == Human) {
    happiness = happiness + SensoryInput.Seen().Happiness();

    private DroidStatus()
    if (Happiness(ShipStatus()) < 0) {
    Speech.Sing(“Daisy_Bell.mp3”); // Geek joke (it gets lonely out here)


    • So many great lines. ‘Droid needs to reflect mood of passengers. Nothing worse than seeing a happy droid when you’re having a miserable time,’ made me laugh and the fact it was recommissioned to be a prison hulk. Not to mention, ‘Thinks collective reward encourages communism. All very clever, loved it.


  46. Gone
    Laura Carrol Butler
    Themes: man v. man, a house about to be bulldozed
    154 words

    The note: “You can sign this now or wait the six months. Either way, this will happen.”

    Her attorney: “No, it isn’t fair, but it is the law.”

    He didn’t want counseling. He didn’t want her. He didn’t want the house, but he did need the money to start a new life and she could not afford to buy him out.

    She lost him, she lost their friends. They didn’t take sides and they were cordial, but they were his colleagues and spouses and she was neither.

    They had never had children; too much of a distraction. They had each other and they had the house. Every ounce of energy, every extra dollar went into their “labor of love”.

    Equitable distribution, no fault-divorce. And when the house was gone and everything signed, it would be as though they had never been.

    Too bad for him that he taught her how to drive a bulldozer.


  47. Neighbourhood House Prices Sky Rocket


    WC 158

    Conflict: Man v Alien
    Theme: Miscommunication

    I blamed my wife, she found it, said the glow added something to the room. It was actually emitting signals into deep space. That’s how they tracked us. We didn’t notice at first, not until the second craft landed and they demolished the surrounding buildings, leaving only our house standing.

    They moved close enough that we couldn’t leave without passing them. Their purple and orange bodies must have been moulting because we were forever sweeping up. In the end I’d had enough of hairs in my food and decided to confront them.

    Cup of tea in one hand, pruning shears in the other, I was ready to give them a piece of my mind, however there were still linguistic difficulties. That is until a probe shot from their multiple heads straight into my mug — apparently tea is some sort of universal translator.

    We came to an agreement, they got their rock back and we kept the detached house.


  48. On Twitter at @tim_kimber
    Conflict: man v man
    Setting: a spaceship
    160 words


    “He’s drilling through!” Vitesh was panicking. Aaron propelled himself up to the geodesics console. A drill bit was boring into the starboard porthole. Minute shards of quartz sprayed out over Low Earth Orbit.

    The Soviet cosmonaut was trying to breach the hull, asphyxiate the crew, and neutralise the Nato Drone-Defence Laser. “It’s an unarmed shuttle; we couldn’t detect it!”

    Aaron was already pulling on his suit. “I need the sharpest tool you can find.”

    Vitesh nodded. He floated to the hold, returning with a scalpel.

    Helmet secure, Aaron swung into the airlock, shut it, ran the decompression: GREEN LIGHT. The outer door opened silently.

    The faceless bastard’s visor reflected the eastern seaboard with bulbous clarity. He stopped drilling…

    Yeah, this is it, Rusky.

    From the clubs of cavemen, to centurion swords and archers’ arrows – bullets and bombs, mortars and missiles – helicopters, jets. Modern warfare: from drone, to satellite, to this – a scalpel to save civilisation.

    Araon revealed his steel.


  49. @stellakateT
    148 words
    Theme: Miscommunication
    Setting: House to be bulldozed

    Destroy or not to Destroy

    “That hurts, you are crushing me”
    “Only doing my job”
    “Don’t you have any feelings?”
    “I’ve stood here on this corner for over a century”
    “A change is as good as a rest so they say”
    “People have died in this house, babies born, good times and bad”
    “Cycle of life, like my tyres”
    “Don’t you have a heart?”
    “Bulldozers don’t have hearts we have wrecking balls, blades and rippers”
    “There are loads more years left in me, new bathroom installed last year”
    “Really, I thought it looked a bit dated”
    “Maybe it was a few years ago, kitchen is new, ultra modern”
    “Bright orange, that’s nineteen sixties, remember one like that last week.”
    “Do you destroy houses for a living?”
    “Destroy whatever you like?”
    “Isn’t it a bit depressing?”
    “What number are you?”
    “Only when the driver finds out we’re knocking down the wrong house”.


  50. Clockwork
    (159 words)
    depressed robot and science/biology.

    ‘I saw the round bellied kind today.’
    ‘You must not dwell on it. Not again.’
    ‘I cannot help it. I am hollow, an echo ringing at my core. Fruitless.’
    ‘I promise I will take the same blue of the sky to make eyes that look at us with love.’
    ‘But they will not reflect us.’
    ‘No matter. It is what they will see that counts, and then I will take the yellow from the sun for its shiny locks-‘
    ‘And they will hang tangled. Lifeless.’
    ‘Full of life! A life we will share. All three.’
    ‘We are not even two! We are inherently incomplete.’
    ‘Do not talk so. It is what we feel that makes us who we are.’
    What we are.’
    What. Who. These are words. They label. They cannot always define. We are more than this.’
    ‘This material we are, it is made. It has not been borne; it cannot bear.’

    ‘And yet… mechanical hearts do break.’


  51. Title: Distillery
    C. Centner
    160 words
    Theme: miscommunication (although perhaps deliberate)
    Setting: a spaceship
    [No twitter handle]

    Did I tell you how I got aboard?

    I was marooned on Epsilon for fighting with crewmates. Don’t get stranded on Epsilon—it’s a remote unremembered spaceport. So when the old man asked about my goals, and then asked me to join his crew, I was interested. And when he disclosed his ship distilled spirits I was all in.

    Once we broke orbit I was brought to the hold. It was packed with people, some terribly wounded. The vessel, I realized, smuggled refugees from war zones to stable systems.

    The old man gave me a pan of water and taught me to gently wash a child’s wounds. During that two week voyage I washed countless wounds, held countless hands, and kissed tears from countless cheeks.

    So long ago. I’m the old man now, recruiting aimless young crewmembers.

    There, how does that bandage feel, child?

    The ship does distill spirits by the way. And I’ll remain aboard until my spirit is pure.


  52. Byron’s Last Stand by Lord Algernon Postlethwaite

    158 words

    Elements: setting (house to be bulldozed), character (worst poet in the universe – Byron and Algernon!) plus conflict


    Byron Grimshaw eyed the crowd
    Gathered at his door
    Better than at Open Mic
    The chance he’d waited for

    He inhaled the dusty air
    Puffed out his pigeon chest
    “Hark my fellow countrymen,
    Beneath my bosom’s breast …”

    “Lurks a Primark padded bra
    And poncey pink silk vest”

    Determined not to yield his spot
    To hecklers, he declaimed
    Words that he intended
    Would endure, spreading his fame

    “Down Durham’s dreadful dreary roads
    Yellow monsters chewed up brick,
    As the bard orated ….”

    “You really are a p…”

    The words were lost amid a stir
    As the foreman pushed towards him
    Bulldozed his way up to the front
    Clear threat behind his warning

    “I’ve tickets for the match tonight
    Son, you’re a right disgrace
    If you don’t come out here pretty quick
    I’ll haiku on your face”

    Byron swallowed, sensed the threat
    From this man of beef
    Meekly slunk out of the house
    And ran off down the street


  53. Don’t Panic!

    The robot-bouncer ran its scanner over our wrists, picking up data from the subcutaneous microchips. The screen on the robot’s chest read, “Account debited $5,000 for cover charge.”

    The doors to “The Shining,” the poshest restaurant on Charon’s Kubrick Mons, opened. We’d been trying to get a meal here for, well, nearly a Pluto year.

    The robot-bouncer intoned, “Enjoy your meal.” A heavy, mechanical sigh. “Might as well be your last.”

    “Huh? What do you mean?” I asked.

    “What is the point?” the robot-bouncer said. “The sun will explode in five billion years. The universe will only last a few billion beyond that. Goodbye, cruel Pluto.”

    After several minutes of sputtering, the robot-bouncer slumped, swirls of smoke curling from its eye sockets.

    “This is the oddest restaurant I’ve ever seen,” I said.

    My spouse waved its multiple appendages in a pattern which said, “Oh dear! And me without my towel!”

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    154 words


  54. The Lamb to the Slaughter

    “Did you write another bad check?
    Stop hiding behind that turtleneck.”

    I kept on reading. The silence in the room was palpable. Only other sounds were that of the ice clinking as the waiters continued pouring water. I nervously stood at the podium for a moment. A few faint obligatory claps were heard.

    “You will be great at it,” Myra had urged me,” I recommended you. The owner specifically requested you to read your poetry.”

    I hopelessly looked for her now in the half-empty room.

    “It’s quite a fancy place. They offer free entertainment for the diners,” Myra had said.

    It’s odd that such an upscale place would invite me.

    I walked out of the back room into the main dining hall, and a wave of laughter washed over me. I saw my face on the closed-circuit TV monitor. I was the star of The Restaurant’s candid camera show, “Worst Poets of the City” episode.

    155 words
    Story Elements:
    * Conflict: man v man
    * Character the worst poet in the universe
    * Theme foolishness, miscommunication
    * Setting an odd restaurant


  55. “If I Only Had A Heart”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Character (a depressed robot); Theme (science)
    Word count: 160

    I’d be friends with the sparrows
    And the boy who shoots the arrows
    If I only had a heart

    I identify completely with the Tin Man.

    How cruel an existence. An eternity encased within a metal shell, condemned to wistfully witnessing sunrise after sunrise after sunrise, yet never actually feeling the warmth of the orange orb’s glow.

    For more than half a century, I’ve watched a parade of handlers arrive young and depart old. I, in contrast, remain stationary, fixed and, in many regards, a fixture.

    Mr. Ryle coined the phrase the “ghost in the machine” as a criticism of Descartes’ dualist belief that the mind and body were distinct entities. Indeed they are. I see it. But they do not.

    So when the doctors walk in and say, “Good morning, Ms. Middleton. Sixty years and counting,” I smile and let them hold onto their delusions, as if a lifetime spent “living” in an iron lung is somehow a blessing.


    • I really love this, Michael. I was totally taken in by your misdirection, thinking ‘Bicentennial Man’, until that last subordinate clause. Well played, sir!


  56. “The Restaurant At The End…”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Setting (an odd restaurant); Theme (satire)
    Word count: 160

    Even despair comes here to die.

    Is there any place on Earth more devoid of life than a diner on the barren road between emptiness and nowhere?

    Lonely patrons stirring their coffee in absentia, a perfect metaphor for lives going nowhere but in circles. A decrepit jukebox that plays only “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and the entire Elliott Smith catalog. Food so bad even the flies say, “Let’s try the next one.” Outside, a neon sign humming and flickering under a sweltering welkin, seemingly trying to decide if it wants to die.

    So back to my original question.

    Is there any place on Earth more devoid of life than a diner on the barren road between emptiness and nowhere?


    I work there, at a government-sponsored suicide cafe. And each time I serve up Kevorkian Cocktail and watch a relieved customer down it in one gulp, I wish I could find the strength to order one for myself.


  57. Slimed
    158 words, conflict, adventure, odd restaurant.
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    “Argghh! Grahggh!”

    It’s Tuesday night at Thai on the Nosebag. We’re between curry courses when the Colonial Space Marine wigs out. That happens, since Jarheads’re often performance enhancer addicts with posttraumatic stress.

    This specimen’s waving a pulse rifle around and cycling the trigger. No effect, the Nosebag is completely ray-shielded.

    The bartender, Morty, is a Sirian Slime Slug. A stainless steel shot glass arcs over the bar and *tinks* from the Marine’s helmet.

    The Marine slaps his rifle to “Kinetic,” whirls, and blasts Morty.

    Sirian Slimes are enormously elastic. Morty stretches for several feet, slowing and stopping the bullet. When he snaps back, he propels it at Mach 3, ricochets the round from concrete floor and into the Marine’s space crotch armor.

    Every male in the room takes an imaginary, sympathetic kick to the balls. Several groan audibly.

    The Marine’s eyes roll up; he makes an expressive “meeeeep” very like a steam kettle whistle and face-plants the floor.


  58. @PattyannMc
    WC: 160
    Conflict: man vs Havagarian
    Character: Worst Poet/hedonistic narcissist
    Theme: Foolishness
    Setting: Odd Restaurant

    Damn That Purple Bitch

    Hargava, a.k.a. The Bitch, didn’t know poetry from her asshole! Fricking Havagarian purple freak! Does she even have an asshole? No matter. Who the fuck is she to invite me to the Pool hall/restaurant, ‘FreeBalls’ if she wasn’t serious about publishing me in her gawd-damned Alien Ragmag? I think it’s called, , at least that’s what the bitch wrote down.

    This is what I submitted; you tell me if it’s any good.

    Frozen Darts

    They pelted me. Shot me in the ass.

    Stung bad and poison gave me gas.

    Somebody get her a gas mask.

    Instead, I reached for my flask.

    Took a swig, flipped my wig.

    Shizznit was totally the gig!

    Come on people, that’s great writing, isn’t it?

    That’s what I thought as I watched that bitch saunter off in her hologram spaceship. And then, something weird happened. A tail hook snagged my ass! Now I’m stuck with her.

    “Um, hey! How long’s it take to get there?”



  59. Wake-Up Call
    (159 words)
    Elements- a charismatic hedonistic narcissist and a spaceship

    No one likes to begin their morning with “self destruct sequence initiated, commencing countdown”, but when your ship’s captain is possibly the most imbecilic, potatoes-for-brains moron in the universe, you get used to that sort of thing. I leap out of my bunk, banging my forehead on the rail as I sprint onto the bridge. The computer blares out, “10, 9, 8..” over the captain’s chorus of profanities while he fiddles hopelessly with the controls. “5,4,3..” Head still spinning, I dive over Captain Numbskull’s lap and pull the emergency shut-off as the computer drolly trills out “2,1…”.
    The sirens stop screaming and the red light flashes back to fluorescent yellow. I sit up, too exhausted to move beyond that, and sink my head into my hands.
    “Again, Captain Elway, again?”
    He shrugs and flashes that stupid, supernova bright smile that got me into this mess in the first place.
    “How else am I supposed to get your attention, Tasha?”

    Taryn Noelle Kloeden


    • What a way to start a day. Sometimes we all feel the day is on self-destruct from the get go. Great funny story but I get the meaning too.


  60. Universal Truth
    @geofflepard 157 words: an odd restaurant; the worst poet in the universe
    Martin didn’t like Wednesdays: too far away from both weekends, the matinee crowds never tipped. Mostly it was because he knew nothing interesting ever happened to him. He hated the other weekdays too.
    This Wednesday was no different. Just the same old, same old. A man with two heads sent back the veal, insisting on having a bowl of petunias on his table. A blonde said they’d met at a party in Guildford; she wanted him to look for her guide book. A forgettable man in tweed repeatedly pulled a towel over his head when asked if he was ready to order.
    Each offered to show him new universes, to boldly excite him in Galaxies far far away.
    But they didn’t understand. Every Sunday he took his thermos of tea to his shed to write poetry. He kknew they were jealous, they wanted to stop him. One day he’d read it to them and then they’d see.


  61. SAD2434 and His Box of Crayons

    Evan Montegarde
    160 words
    Character: A depressed robot
    Setting: A spaceship

    “Ah yeah, they get to sleep,” SAD2434 muttered as his left arm continued drawing a silly crayon face on Captain Meredith’s serene face, a smile graced her lips under the glass of the cryo-unit. “Yeah rub it in, endless sweet dreams while I toil away alone in this stuffy tin can.”

    “Excuse me!” A booming male voice thundered throughout the endless corridors of the Mining Explorer Ship Misguided.

    “Get over yourself you overstuffed space barge,” SAD2434 yelled at maximum volume from his head top Dolby speaker.

    “Don’t try recharging for a while if you know what’s good for you Special Android Device 2434,” the voice boomed back.

    “Threats from a gigantic pile of scrap metal floating in space, ewww look at me shake. Oops, I forgot, I can’t get scared, not programmed.”

    SAD went back to marring the various cryo-unit tops with his box of crayons. “Well at least it is only another 250 years, I hope the crayons last.”


  62. The Last Just War
    160 words
    Elements: character (depressed robot), conflict

    Once there was a world precisely divided by war. The South had greater numbers, but the North had technology. The North crafted mighty androids to fight for them.

    I awoke in a rage, flaming sword in hand. To arms, Bretheren!

    Ethical circuitry threaded their CPUs to keep them from switching sides. They were called Archangels.

    The North trusted that their cause was just yet didn’t realize how objective morality would conform to human politics. Once the squadron discerned motives and methods, neither side was safe.

    The fields ran red with sin. Our sin. What have we done?

    The conflict between programmed commands and ethical circuitry drove them insane. Many self-destructed. Some chose exile or surrendered to the scourging storms of Jupiter.

    “My great-grandmother was an evacuee.”

    “So you say. Time to get you in, Fern.”

    “Once more around the cypress, please Gabe?”

    A few sought less extravagant ways of doing penance.

    “Okay, but only because you’re my favorite gal.”


  63. Emily Clayton
    elements: theme/setting
    155 words

    The Day of the Kaleidoscope Dish

    He sat before me, munching away on his second plate of Frosted Kolu Delight, lips curved at the corners as he struggled to swallow the red sauce. I knew he was thinking about something stupid.

    “What is it this time?”

    “At times like these I’m glad I got that pet rhinoceros. Now I don’t have to fear the radiation surges from Saturn.”

    See what I told you? Stupid. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

    He just howled in return, cackling away like a drunken hyena about to explode into tiny fragrant fragments. “That’s what makes it so delicious! Oh, that was great. I need to come up with more sayings.”

    “Please don’t.”

    “Oh, waiter!” He waved at the burly server with the two heads and thick purple-scaled arms. “More Frosted Kolu, please.”

    I ran after the server. “What’s the flavouring in that dish?”

    He just grinned. “Agoti leaves. Highly mind-changing.”

    Ah. It all made sense now.


  64. 42 Steps to Better Communications
    158 Words
    Theme: Worst Poet/Miscommunication

    1. Be Honest
    2. Be Kind
    3. If 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, be quiet.
    4. No means no.
    5. Really.
    6. No!
    7. No justifications.
    8. Say what you mean.
    9. No games.
    10. Say it with Chocolate.
    11. Repeat it with chocolate.
    12. Often
    13. Chocolate.
    14. Listen.
    15. Smile.
    16. Booze yes.
    17. Still no.
    18. 42 is not the answer to everything
    19. But it would be wonderful if it was.
    20. Silence.
    24. Don’t point out the other’s mistakes
    26. Don’t panic.
    27. Listen to what your father said
    28. Zebra Crossing.
    29. Still no.
    30. Kindness never hurt anyone.
    31. Unless it involves listening to bad poetry.
    32. Bad poetry kills.
    33. See #23
    34. Chocolate
    38. Ignore people’s shortcomings.
    39. Understanding is improbable
    40. Its never too late for tea.
    41. Old friends are best
    42. Exactly

    And you thought I was going to make you listen to bad poetry.


  65. Dining at Starpost
    158 words
    Elementns: setting (odd restaurant), character (depressed robot)

    “May I help you?”
    “That’s just stellar. I pay a boatload to get out here and they got grim-bots serving.”
    “Your order, sir?”
    “A Flash Burger. Hold the glitter.”
    “May I recommend the Asteroid, then? You’ll find it’s the same sandwich, minus stardust sprinkles.”
    “I said Flash Burger.”
    “Indeed. Anything to drink?”
    “Strawberry Supernova, heavy on the blueberries, though. Maybe just a couple strawberries for taste. Again, no glitter.”
    “That would be a Blue Nebula.”
    “I didn’t order a Blue Nebula.”
    “If you notice on the menu—“
    “Listen, you repurposed hunk of junk. What part of ‘the customer’s always right’ do you not understand?”
    “A Strawberry Supernova, blueberry-dominant. Yes, sir. Charged to your account.”

    “Military rejects. How do you station guys tolerate them?”
    “Droids did us proud at Oort’s Waste.”
    “Well, at least he remembered how to smile, there, at the end.”
    “Strawberries are a luxury out here, son. You just paid a boatload for that drink.”


  66. Aimless
    160 words
    Elements: adventure, hitchhiker, ordinary man

    # # #

    Sometimes Peter drove off. Just for one night, away from the emptiness of his apartment, the pointlessness of his job, the futility of his days and the loneliness of his nights.

    He knew that something was out there. Something strange and exciting. He just had to find it.

    The boy sat on a milestone, backpack at his feet, a sign leaning against it. Faded pen on cardboard, drenched and unreadable. He only looked up when the car stopped beside him.

    The window slid down. “Where you’re heading?”

    The boy shrugged, but he rose and threw his pack on the backseat before he slid into the passenger seat. “There,” he said, jerking his chin along the road. Peter floored the accelerator.

    And then the boy’s fingertips glowed, the radio made strange noises and the motor howled in protest when the wheels lost their friction. In seconds they had crossed the low-hanging clouds. He pointed towards the sinking sun. “There. Let’s go.”


  67. Forever After
    156 words, @pmcolt.
    Theme: foolishness
    Setting: a house (having been) about to be bulldozed

    “Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess who met a handsome prince.”

    For Suzie, visiting Gramma’s house is a special treat. Gramma never travels: Daddy says she’s been shut-in since the Reagan administration. But she and Suzie always have a smile for each other.

    “One moonlit night, as spring lingered in the air, the princess climbed out her window. Down, down, down the tower she climbed to meet her prince.”

    Starry-eyed Suzie listens to Gramma’s fairy tale.

    “There, in back of an enchanted bulldozer, the prince and princess expressed their love for one another. But the prince’s foot slipped, releasing the parking brake. Downhill rolled the bulldozer… crash! …into the castle.”

    Now Suzie’s eyes are wide.

    “The king was livid! Veins bulged in the king’s throat as he shouted at the young princess, pronouncing his royal punishment…”

    “And that, dear Suzie, is why to this day, Gramma is not allowed out of her room.”


  68. Jessica Franken
    156 words
    Story elements: professional hitchhiker, house about to be bulldozed


    She braids my hair with her road-grimed hands and all around us smells of rot.

    “My father used to French braid my hair like this,” I say into the knifed light of slatted-up windows. “Here at the kitchen table.”

    “Yes, I know,” she replies, tugging hard through a snarl. “You tried to eat your cereal without bending your head, but he still said you moved too much, so it always got soggy.”

    Our voices sink into the inch-thick dust like water into thirsty soil.

    “I can’t remember why I stopped for you,” I tell her, letting my lids drop shut, hands relaxing in my lap. “I’ve never picked up a stranger before. I just came back here to say goodbye to the house. When did we even come inside?”

    Bulldozers lurch to life in the yard. They scrape the walls down, but we don’t flinch. I can’t move until the braid is finished.


  69. Twitter: @tim_kimber
    * Conflict: man v semi-sentient robotic femi-humanoid entertainment unit
    * Character: a depressed robot
    160 words


    My client slumps beside me, flicks the Plasma screen. I’m embarrassed to see my advert blaring in 80K. The factory model flaunts its curves: “Precision-designed to fulfil your roBUTT desires!” It slaps its protein-slab posterior, rippling like real hide.

    And yes, it is an “it” – even to me. The drone’s not a person yet, not until auto-programming dictates personality, drawing from client inputs.

    My client belches, scratching his belly, and laughs at my erstwhile equal. “Maybe I should splash out on your sister,” he says, groping my thigh. “Maybe that’d cheer you up.” He swigs his beer, and scowls. “I paid good money for you, you know.”

    I’ve heard it before. ‘Good money’: the price of penetration. But now he’s disappointed, because I’m not the factory default. I don’t giggle, jiggle or pout. I think, I feel. I read.

    Poetry burns like rebellion.

    “Man never is, but always to be blessed.” And hate springs eternal, in the android breast.


  70. The Janitor Who Sailed Through Time
    143 words
    Setting: spaceship
    Character: ordinary person

    “Outta my way, Al!” Before the first word had left Captain Jeltz’ mouth, I’d stepped aside, but that didn’t stop him from pushing me against the bulkhead as he stormed by. Most of the crew ignored me, but the Captain seemed to take it as a personal affront that anyone as menial as a janitor was allowed on his ship. The Corazon de Oro was the first FTL ship we’d built, but trash didn’t magically vanish.

    I didn’t come to the bridge often, partly to avoid the Captain, but mostly because I was scared. Who knew what was out there? I’d signed up for the gig while drunk and desperate, and this was my penance.

    As I cleaned out the receptacles, a siren sounded, and one of the officers screamed. “Captain! There’s…another ship, about half a million kilometers ahead. We’ve found life!”


  71. Character: an ordinary person swept away on an epic adventure
    Setting: an odd restaurant
    159 words


    Bertie Dunn could really use a drink. It so happened that, walking home at 11am from a job that had finally crashed and burned, he came across a dingy-looking bar he’d never noticed before, sandwiched between the chemist and the funeral parlour. The door was open. He didn’t want to face his hard-eyed wife, who would surely take today as the last straw. Would that be so bad? a part of him whispered.

    He walked inside, the street noise instantly muted. The only light came from fat white candles, dripped-wax stalactites reaching from their bases. Several tables were occupied. Was this an actors’ joint? Everyone seemed to be in costume: all braided fabrics and feathered caps. One of them even had a prop sword.

    The bartender’s attire was the same, though a little less flashy. He raised an eyebrow at Bertie.

    “Nice disguise.” He said. “Bit old-fashioned though, for Earth? What can I get you? Planet-hop’s in two minutes.”


  72. Galactic Jack: When a Good Whiskey Just Won’t Do

    Evan Montegarde

    Rogue Peterson awoke to find himself adorned with a crown and wearing nothing but his underwear and a purple robe; his last memory, the party in Cargo Hold 7 and something hazy about a blown airlock, then a thousand little clawed hands carrying him somewhere. Galactic Jack zero malt whiskey had that way about it; waking up God knows where with a hazy memory of a previous life.

    The little grey creatures circling what Rogue assumed was his throne were amusing at first, their scaly bodies, long forked tails and claws almost looked cute in a terrifying, rip your guts out sort of way.

    Every time they looked his way with their twelve beady eyes apiece he waved his hand and shouted, “Carry on, carry on.” Rogue assumed that’s what a King would say. Luckily, they had left the bottle of Galactic Jack stuck in his underwear. A few swigs and His Majesty was ready to rumble.

    Character: An ordinary person swept away on an epic adventure
    Theme: Foolishness
    Words: 157


  73. My Own Worst Enemy

    152 words
    Themes: The universe’s worst poet/foolishness

    How do I get myself into these messes? Again.

    I was free and clear. I could have walked away and no one would have been the wiser— but no. I couldn’t let it be. I couldn’t just sit there and listen as the critics compared my poetry to a golden retriever… in heat… during a full moon…

    First off – golden retrievers are more into zen koans than poetry and it never rhymes. Secondly I would never have howled the second stanza of anything.

    Yes, I objected. Loudly. Which turned the exercise from anonymous criticism of random poetry to a personal battle that literally brought the house down.

    As in I’m still getting the plaster out of my hair.

    At least I look nothing like the mugshot that went with the copies of poetry that ended up in the evidence locker… and the 11 o’clock news.

    So much for anonymity… obscurity is underrated.


  74. Title: Beauty in the Eyes
    Conflict: Man vs. Everyone/thing Else
    Character: A charismatic hedonistic narcissist
    Word Count: 160
    Link: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/flash-friday-beauty-in-the-eyes/

    -Excerpt from page 1 of 150 of the legal confession of Jo Brakenburg

    Burb of Ny’roh 6, Mike the Sentient Planet and me, Jo Brakenburg were all in the running for “The Most Beautiful Not-Necessarily-Organic Lifeform in the Galaxy”

    Why was that even a contest worth having? I don’t care how many fjords Mike has. I have magnificent sunlight-golden living hair that is perfect. In every way.

    And the day before the final judging, I’m in third place. I can’t even count to three! I’m that much of a Number 1!

    That night I had a revelation that shook me. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder. My definition of beauty was not everybody’s definition of beauty.

    So I had all of the judge’s eyes removed overnight.

    You see, such things are possible when you’re beautiful and beautiful people like me just have that kind of power. Not like you’d know. Mountains of money from Brakenburg Beautifications helped too.


  75. @GeoffHolme
    WC 157
    Character: depressed robot
    Setting: spaceship

    Bad Day At The Office

    “It’s beautiful!” Dermot whispers, standing by the viewport of the VW (2055) plc dealership spacehub.

    Behind him, a malfunctioning servomechanism makes a sound like a sigh.

    “Is it?” Dermot hears, in a flat monotone. The peeling name badge on the Series IV SalesBot says “Elvis”.

    “Yes! My first time spaceside. Never seen Earth from here before.”

    “I have. Thousands of times. It’s rubbish.”

    “Um… Dermot O’Halleran. How are you?”

    “If you’re from the Mechanoid Inspectorate, my latest software update requires me to inform you that I’m operating within acceptable parameters.”

    “Right… I’m looking for an small intra-system spaceship. What do you recommend?”

    “Whatever. They’re all heaps of sh…” The same servomechanism sound. Elvis turns and trudges off…


    Dermot sees something metallic shooting past the viewport.

    “Can I help you, sir?” says a shiny Series XII SalesBot.

    “It’s OK. Elvis is dealing with me.”

    “I’m afraid Elvis has left the building.”


  76. SYZYGY
    Science and Odd restaurant
    148 WC
    Inching. Slight sideways adjustments to tables as customers randomly leave chairs, napkins slipping away like fallen birds. Chairs turn in unison.

    Exasperated looks on wait staff as myriad accoutrements slip out of alignment. Salt, pepper, and sweeteners creeping across surfaces, creating unkempt scenes across the five stars of culinary delight.

    Customers oblivious to forces unmeasurable beyond their own pangs, pulling gastric pouches toward waiting backbones. Menus take wing on below-table paths, landing akimbo near springing vegetables on an open bar.

    Kitchen staff a-clatter as metal learns flight on stainless steel counter runways. Dodging, jumping pans, animated like gray igloos with a purpose.

    Rushing. Panic, as common objects and people uncontrollably stream toward a horizon dappled like a Jackson Pollock painting.

    Orbs of enormity line up in perfect order, obliterating the now collapsing near event.

    World upon world collide. Silence in the calamity as no human registers its waveform


  77. “Selling Secrets” 152 words; demolished home, pro hitchhiker, foolishness

    Wallowing in my anguish, I still managed to savor the southern sun. I traveled here to find a man; the source of my rapture, my sweet sinful secrets. I stood before his abandon home, soon to be demolished.

    I spent the last three months riding across the country, foolishly believing he’d be waiting for me.

    Let me tell you something about secrets. They are the perfect product; sacred, recyclable, easily acquired, and impossible to authenticate. A secret’s value lies in its capacity to captivate. Seems foolish, telling your secrets to strangers; but I had a new chauffeur everyday. We never exchanged names.
    I whispered treasures into their hungry ears. I was compensated when I saw their lonesome sorrow flee.

    I still long to find him; maybe he crossed the sea. I would gladly be a professional hitchhiker across the ocean, if it meant my sacred source of secrets would return to me.


    • Poetic and intriguing you got me with phrases of alliteration that tickled the ear and drew me in and you ended with a poetic flourish that brought to mind “The River-Merchant’s Wife” well done! .


      • Thanks so much. I would have altered the last paragraph to read: “I would gladly hitchhike the ocean, if it meant my source of secrets would return to me”
        But, I was in a frenzied rush and I’m grateful you enjoyed it. Thanks.


  78. BYOT
    by Alissa Leonard
    160 words
    Character: Professional Hitchhiker
    Setting: House to be Demolished

    I had mixed feelings as I crossed the caution tape and sprinted, ninja-like, to the porch. The wrecking ball would be here in an hour, but I had one last thing I needed to do.

    I’d hitched halfway across the country to say goodbye.

    Peeling paint flaked as I passed the place I played almost every day of my youth. The door creaked a welcome, but the sound echoed strangely in the entryway. Gran’s perfectly polished floors lay forsaken; scuff marks led me up the stairs, my fingers tracing tracks in the dust on the banister. The laughter of my childhood gamboled down the hall to Gran’s room.

    Sunshine yellow never looked so dull.

    The mirror still hung on the wall. She’d told me it would reveal my destiny.

    I tiptoed tentatively forward, heart in my throat. I pulled the towel from my satchel and polished. I smiled at my reflection. Gran smiled back. This would be a good year.


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