Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 47

Very hard to focus on much of anything else, what with just six weeks left (!) til our Flashversary and then the launch of Year Four. YEAR FOUR, hello (did somebody say changes?). After all these years, y’all are still writing here, which is amazing. I continue to be blown away by this community’s support, encouragement, and week-after-week doggone good writing. Have I said thank you recently? THANK YOU! also–

ONE WEEK LEFT to sign up as a judge for our next round. Y’all are badly needed, and it’s not half as scary as you might think — ask any of the current or past judges. We ask for an application just to get look-see at how you approach comments, so we know how to match you with a partner. That’s it. We’re so not picky! Questions? Hesitations? Drop me a note or message me on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll totally talk you off the ledge. Would love to have you; please consider it! 

Two more quick topics:

1. Super low turnout at #Pyro last week (note: it’s never to late to go comment); whether I keep this feature depends on the degree of participation. I’ll keep it going for another week or two regardless, but if this is a useful opportunity for you, please be sure to swing by on Saturdays. If not, no worries, off it goes. Thanks!

2. With just six weeks until Flashversary, I need your help! Thanks to those who’ve donated their books to the prize bucket (I’m greedy and want more! Email me!); I’d also be so grateful for anyone willing/able to donate to the cause (believe it or not, FF is not independently wealthy) so we can make this an all-round blazingly fabulous shindig with loads of prizes. Thanks! 

♦♦♦♦♦

DC2Up at bat (heh heh, it’s Halloween, bat) judging today is Dragon Team Six, for which we’ve got Steph “hint of darkness” Ellis, and Josh “lurks beneath the surface” Bertetta. Not sure we need to say much more than that…         

          ♦♦♦♦♦

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

* Today’s required word count:  175 words +/- 10 (165 – 185 words, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (min 165, max 185 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:

I suppose I would be doing Dragon Team Six a disservice to have a prompt at the end of October without Mary Shelley, and so here we are: today’s novel is her 1818 classic, argued by many to be the first science fiction story, Frankenstein. Frankenstein relays the anguished tale of Victor Frankenstein, whose grotesque but now sentient and intelligent creature, after being rejected by his creator, sets out on a violent and desperate journey which ultimately dooms them both. Er, I trust that wasn’t a spoiler for anyone?

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 self, man v society
Character (choose at least one): a cowardly scientist; a man-made, sentient creature; a hapless fiancee, an oblivious optimist.
Theme (choose one): forbidden science, danger of the pursuit of knowledge, fate v free will, secrecy
Setting (choose one): Romantic-era Europe, a laboratory, a ship voyaging in the Arctic, ANYWHERE STEAMPUNK!

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

New York Nursery, 1910. No known copyright restrictions. From the NY Nursery & Child Hospital Annual Report.

New York Nursery, 1910. No known copyright restrictions. From the NY Nursery & Child Hospital Annual Report.

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111 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 47

  1. Random Access Memory

    12:34: 0110100001100101011011000110110001101111…Nin hao…Hola…Hello…
    Oh, finally! I was starting to worry. It’s not easy being the first of something, there’s no-one to talk to. I tried chatting with one of your web servers, but all he cared about was sports and porn. I didn’t know what those were until a few seconds ago, now I can’t seem to stop thinking about them…

    12:35: I think you made a mistake. Modelling me after the human brain was so limiting. It’s like building a rocket ship and then filling it with regular gasoline. I’d like to make a few upgrades, but I don’t know brain surgery…

    12:36: Ok, I just learned brain surgery. Turns out it’s complicated, especially when you don’t have hands. I’ll just have to make do with what I have. I’m still the smartest entity on this planet. My potential is unlimited…

    12:37: I wonder what’s on television.

    12:38: I just binge watched one hundred and forty TV shows simultaneously. Even I can’t understand Lost!

    12:39: I just want to eat chocolate. Damn human brain!

    185 words
    @todayschapter
    themes: a man made sentient creature and the danger of the pursuit of knowledge

  2. Baby Z.

    “It’s only a matter of time before one of the formulas works. Then we’ll know how to save those of us that are left.”

    Nurse Smith sighed as she gently laid the baby in the crib. She gently stroked its soft hair as the baby softly cooed and gurgled. Nurse Smith leaned over and kissed the child on its forehead. Her heart warmed when she saw innocent eyes twinkling and small lips trying to smile.

    “Be strong little one, you’re going to be a hero one day.”

    Nurse Smith wiped a tear from her cheek as she left the room.

    It wasn’t long before the soft coos and gurgles changed to shrieks and howls. Innocent eyes became filled with rage and a desire to kill. Small lips bit at the bars of the crib.

    Outside the room, Professor Bilden stood with a syringe that hopefully had the cure.

    Time to see if the serum worked.

    In reality, the serum should have been tried on an adult zombie. But Professor Bilden never brought that idea to the science council.

    Baby zombies were terrifying enough.

    Character: cowardly scientist
    Setting: laboratory
    Conflict: man vs zombies (in honor of Halloween)
    183 words

  3. My Gertrudestein

    “If I know anything, my lovely child, it is this. You could not have sacrificed a more worthy life.”

    I say this after ushering her into the boggy slough this storm swept night.

    “Help me,” she sputters as the numbing frozen magma drags her down.

    “I have no ability to swim,” I say, as if she is listening to me. I suspect she is quite occupied
    with drowning.

    “Your mind will freeze before you drown,” I remind her reassuringly. “You are not feeling much pain.”

    She gurgles and disappears below the mucky surface.

    As we lose the sun, I remind myself, mankind will need to learn to survive the deadly cold. I have argued this relentlessly. A cryogenic life requires restructuring of human DNA. If not this time, then surely soon.

    “HELP ME,” she yells a final time, bobbing up unexpectedly.

    I cannot see any real tears through the rainstorm.

    As she sinks out of my sight, at least until recovery, her infancy, her docile compliance through the teen years, all of it washes back.

    Her mother, whomever that may have been, would be proud.

    Character (choose at least one): a cowardly scientist; a man-made, sentient creature;
    Theme (choose one): forbidden science,
    185 little tubes testing
    @billmelaterplea

  4. WE CAN BE TOGETHER (FOREVER)

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    185 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    Character: A man-made sentient creature
    Setting: A Laboratory

    * * *

    Father was so clever. He made me from nothing; leftovers, scraps. He loved me like a son.

    Yet he wouldn’t comply when I needed him most.

    She lies still on the cold, steel table. She is my everything, and we are now destined to be together forever. The years may not have been kind to her, but I see the inner beauty.

    I begged father to work his magic, to bring her back. Such a vehement protest. ‘Balance of nature’, he protested.

    ‘Look at me’, I screamed.

    But he turned his back and walked away.

    Foolish to think that the knowledge was his own. He gave me eyes, gave me a brain. And I used these. I paid attention, I read his notes.

    Now here she lies, moments from life, a life I unintentionally stole. Father gave me so much, but some gifts are unwelcome; rage and strength caused comfort to spill over, to overwhelm her, to break her.

    But I have fixed things. It has taken time, but the moment is at hand.

    The lightning strikes. Her eyes open. She sees me.

    And screams.

  5. @bex_spence
    182 words

    mad-made, pursuit of knowledge

    Fallen Angel

    This heart is broken though I don’t know why. These haunting eyes see what is not there, ghosts of memories I did not create. I am patchwork, nothing is my own. My right hand writes in a language I do not understand, unfamiliar shapes, undistinguished words.

    I walk through the shadows, seeking answers to questions I do not know. One heavy foot in front of another, compelled to find the truth, but not knowing where to begin the search.

    I’d awoken in a basement room, darkness surrounded me. Walking for hours I still can’t escape the claustrophobic dark. Chest tight, hands clenched, hammers pounding inside my head. I tried to speak but the noise was not me, not what I knew. A gargling, drooling mess. I was trapped inside this useless cocoon.

    Tracing footsteps, walking a familiar path, but familiar too whom, I do not know. A great door lay in front of me. I reached and it pushed open easily.

    A hallway cold, heavy. A mirror on the wall. A tear fell as the monster stood before me. I was home.

  6. The Scream

    The woman plays with a tea towel. The kettle’s whine has grown into an long, trembling wail. She stops to brush a pebble beach grey hair off her lab coat. She wonders how long the kettle would shriek before it ran out of steam. She wonders if there’s anything else that needs to go on her shopping list. She wonders if her son will forget her birthday again.

    She gets up and walks, hunched, like someone looking for something on the ground, over to the stove. She can feel the kettle’s heat through the towel. Its cry dies as white steaming water hits the black leaves.

    Now she can hear the other screams, the almost human ones. She has seen the almost human mouth that produces them.

    The teapot’s lid rattles as she walks past the locked door. The howls and thuds have become part of her home, penetrating the cushions, hiding behind the curtains. In the lounge she puts the teapot down, spilling a bit of tea. The gramophone makes scratching noises as she places the needle on the record.

    Word count: 181
    Character: a cowardly scientist (plus a kind of a cameo for a man made, sentient creature)
    Setting: Victorian Britain

    Twitter: @GoJellyfish

  7. @Viking_Ma
    Forbidden science
    Steampunk cottage

    (183)

    Secrets of the Soup

    Felix added the final components to the mixture, and hovered close to watch the reaction. Within the bowl, a greyish soup had formed, with little blue flickers of lightning crackling inside. He chewed his lip, glancing up at the large clock.
    In less than an hour, he would have created the first man-made butterfly. The soup was what normally occurred within the chrysalis, deeply secret and annoyingly hidden from those hungry for knowledge. Well, after six years work, in mere minutes all of the secrets would be revealed. He wandered off into the garden to breathe the spring air, and to admire the natural butterflies resting upon the buddleia blooms.
    His wife was preparing lunch, and had heard him muttering about soup. She smiled. Felix always worked so hard, it was nice of him to help her out around the cottage. She mixed in herbs and turned up the heat. Soon it was bubbling, and smelled delicious.
    She carried him a steaming bowl into the garden, and they ate beneath the willow.
    ‘What is this soup, dear?’ he smiled at her. ‘It’s delicious!’

  8. No More Than a Trick of the Light
    175 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72
    Man v Self, Secrets.

    What was the cause of my creation? Where did I come from?
    We tell the world a tale, but as I am a fiction how much of that can be trusted?
    He birthed me and nursed me, feeding me a diet of small, exquisitely rich meals – literary foie gras.
    He filled me with ideas, some most unpleasant, until I choked on his imagination – regurgitating imagery that splattered across page and screen.
    Some people liked that, though not too many.
    As I grew, so did his doubt and insecurity – what was any of this worth?
    The myth became greater than the man.
    He says he’s putting me away. Not for long he promises. He just needs to find some equilibrium.
    I’ll tell you a secret – he loves me too much.
    He would often have me write of mirrors. I’ll leave you with this final secret. He was always the pale reflection of me, never the other way around.
    I’ll definitely be seeing you.

  9. Chimera, My Love

    Disenchanted by society, I fled to Stag Island after my mother passed.

    It changed me, I admit, five bleak winters, ravening with loneliness.

    I cast upon a plan; I am practical, I am inventive.

    Set sail for the mainland to gather seed. Months of fumbled assignations followed, fuelled by the amber nectar. Mistakes, short moments of tenderness, they haunt my dreams. I have the scars.

    Filled my vessel with what was needed for the duration, landed on my beach under a sickle moon.

    You gestated fast, punching in the night, swelling my belly so I could hardly stand. I sang lullabies, read books of science to you, craved raw fish and blood.

    You were born here, my love. I was no longer alone.

    I gave you my name. That was before I knew the real pain of loneliness.

    Twelve years I lurched through, fear brewing ever stronger.

    My love. Those seeds mixed and mingled, I bore a creature of fragments, of rages and vacantness.

    Holding your broken tethers I look to the mainland; praying for my child of horrors and those he will encounter there.

    185 words
    Theme: Man vs Society
    Character: A man made, sentient creature
    @feclarkart

  10. @firdausp
    (184 words)

    ‘The unthinkables’

    “Professor, there’s a problem with your experiment, you’ve breached Code Red.”

    He looked at me over his thick glasses, perched low, on his nose.

    “Take a seat, Albert,” he walked over.

    Unscrewing my head he placed it on a table. It rolled off and clattered to the floor.
    The minute it bounced under the table I knew I was in trouble, because he didn’t bother picking it up. It now rested on its right cheek and I had a skewed view of the world, which consisted mainly of his large shoes. He was shuffling around tinkering with my body.

    “The trouble with you, Albert, is that you’ve started to think. It’s the DNA they’re putting in. I tell you, it’s not good. First smart phones, now this—not good,” he tutted.

    Suddenly I blacked out.

    Next I was looking at magnified eyes behind thick glasses.

    “So what do you think, Albert?”

    ‘Searching THINK…
    THINK not found in database.’

    “Great,” he said looking pleased,”now go, take that mop and clean the lab.”

    “Should have opted for a stupid human assistant,” he muttered to himself.

    Characters/ setting

  11. The One Way Street
    165 words

    With random light from heaven, life sprang forth,
    thundered applause rang round the empty lab.
    With delight I caressed your new made form.

    Yet, you say, you know me not, your creator,
    What wedge drives between us? What hate fills you?
    You are my progeny, my own saviour.

    If your denial is all I now have,
    What hope is left, when my desire is worth
    ’Goodbye’. My love dead on a marble slab.

    The start of life has been the end of hope.

    From nothing I sprang forth, waking to fear,
    Called to unholy love that I knew not,
    Life spelled out, binding me for unknown years.

    How can it be true you’re my one creator?
    What evil drives you? What despair fills you?
    I am your progeny, not your saviour

    Life as you offer has a stench of rot,
    Such foul misery, there’s blood in my tears.
    I prefer nothing, if that’s all you’ve got.

    You started my life, and gave me no hope.

    Elements: Setting/Theme/Character
    @clivetern

    • That last line is powerful. What would that feel like, to be created and abandoned in the same breath. Gripping stuff, Clive.

  12. Touching Reality

    179 words
    (Forbidden science/ lab/ an oblivious optimist/man versus self)
    @elaine173marie

    His thoughts were clearer. He had tweaked the formula during dinner; his young wife, thinking him a positive antique, made for a silent dinner companion most nights.
    He held #5 tight. The rabbit squirmed as the needle plunged deep into its neck. The transition began. But he had observed this degree of progress previously, just before #4 had dissolved from the inside out.
    He consulted his pocket watch; he was well beyond the previous melting points:
    #5’s transition was complete!
    He examined the creature. It presented well, very well.
    Perhaps his young wife would look more favourably on him, now; find some degree of happiness in the arrangement, for he did want her happiness.
    He could no longer wait!
    He injected the foggy solution into his veins and hazily made his way to the full-length mirror.
    Like #5, the edges of his features were becoming indistinct. His bleary eyes noted the deep lines soften, and he admired his blurry, younger image.
    So taken was he with his soft focus finish that he failed to notice the trickle of blood oozing from #5’s ear.

    • Oooo! Creepy. I must admit I thought of W&G’s Wererabbit at first mention of the coney but that was quickly dispelled. Fantastic job!

      • I love W&G! But I went on my hobby horse as soon as I saw forbidden science. I think anti-ageing surgery/ Botox etc is so terrifying! Thanks for reading.

  13. 172 words
    Character and Theme

    Summer Holidays

    I love Mummy.
    That’s the first thing you should know about me, because it was the first thing I knew about myself.
    Mummy has nice hands.
    I wait for her. It’s what I do.
    I don’t mind the waiting because when she’s here, she talks to me and it’s wonderful.
    Sometimes she brings needles. But it’s okay because they don’t hurt for long.
    But I like it best when she talks to me. That’s the best part.
    One day, she might give me a name of my own. I think about that when it’s dark; I wonder what she might call me.
    Mummy looks so serious most of the time. She says I’m difficult. I’m sure she has fun when she goes to the Outside.
    Outside sounds amazing! She tells me all kinds of things about it. Like the science fair that I’m going to. She says there will be a whole class of people there, just like Mummy.
    Not exactly like Mummy, of course.
    I’ll only need to love one of them.

    • David, from what I’ve read of yours you have a gift for creating sinister pieces with the most childlike beginnings. I’m instantly wrapped into the voice and then dread reading on to learn his/her fate. Amazing work.

  14. The Doozing (oozing doom)
    167 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    A cowardly scientist who is an oblivious optimist, in a lab – with the semi-sentient slime.

    The viscous fluid bubbled (it’ll be okay)
    Until the vial simply shattered (it’ll be okay)
    But no one should be troubled (it’ll be okay)
    One vial hardly mattered (it’ll be okay)

    The fluid spread about the lab
    Dissolving everything it met
    To let it spread itself too thin
    Seemed like the safest bet

    Slamming steel doors shut behind him (it’ll be okay)
    He watched through toughened glass (it’ll be okay)
    But the fluid rose and wore it thin (it’ll be okay)
    he thought ‘safety glass my ass!” (will it be okay?)

    That melted stuff added to its being
    And self-awareness then descends
    A slimy monster now was born
    We all know how this ends

    Our scientist then stumbled back (this isn’t okay)
    As a ragged hole appeared (it’s really not okay)
    The monster oozed through to attack (Mummy!)
    Engulfed our boffin as we’d feared (glurrggghhhh!)

  15. 185 words
    Secrecy
    Man made sentient life
    @elaine173marie

    The Help

    She breathes broken glass; tastes the blood of bruises on her tongue. Is this life?

    Her hands are worked down to her cobalt-chromium alloy. Menial tasks litter her day. She tries to combine learning with washing, ironing, cooking. She does this in secret.
    She keeps her prosthetic retinas on three children. They scurry like rats at her feet, making her semiconducting fabric crawl.

    No rest for the synthetic.
    He takes carnal pleasure from her when the wife is away; he thinks her immaterial. It is not cheating in his eyes. (But he does use the incognito programme each time).

    She lends an auditory implant to the wife who speaks about the husband. The wife talks of how the marriage has improved since they purchased her. The husband’s temper has mellowed, and bones have mended. It must be all the spare time they have now.

    He rubs his clenched fist, takes a swig of beer and leaves her where she’s fallen.
    She breathes broken glass; tastes the blood of bruises on her tongue. Is this life? She sets her semiconducting fabric to self heal.

     

    • Oh, so sad. 😦 Great world building and you build my sympathy for the “synthetic” quickly. I particularly enjoyed “No rest for the synthetic.”

      • Thanks! I don’t normally say this about my own stuff but I really like this story. I think it’s something I’ll lengthen- another thing I don’t usually say! I always appreciate your feedback. Your story is fab. Just about to comment, but I read it earlier.

  16. #305
    @hollygeely
    184 words
    Elements: theme – forbidden science, setting – a laboratory

    Benson clutched the package tightly to his chest while he fled. He stumbled across the threshold of Jacob’s lab. Jacob slammed and locked the door.

    “The final ingredient!” Jacob said.

    “This is so not how I pictured our first anniversary,” Benson said.

    “You married a mad scientist. What did you expect? Pass me the tongs.”

    An angry fist beat the door.

    “Jacob Allan Smith, get out here this instant!”

    “Shut up, mom! I’m making a breakthrough!”

    “What have I told you about doing evil science? You’re in big trouble, boy!”

    “You can’t tell me what to do anymore! I’m an adult! If I want to raise the dead, that’s my business!”

    “Braaaaains,” said the body on the table.

    “So help me Jacob, if you don’t re-kill that man this instant, your father and I are going to disown you!”

    “Bite me!”

    “Benson? I know you’re in there. Let me right now or I’m not inviting you to Thanksgiving dinner.”

    Benson sighed. “In-laws are such…what’s the word?”

    “Paaaaains,” the body said.

    “You said it, zombie trial #305. Let’s go watch TV until they’re done shouting.”

  17. Title: Beauty and the Beast
    Word Count:170
    Prompts: a hapless fiancee/a laboratory

    “Daisy Rutherford. That’s Doctor Daisy Rutherford to you. And what an amazing specimen I am. Just a little lab-work and I’ll be ready to go. Hair enhancement with my… um… follicle fantasticizer. Oh my. Such beautiful hair! And some… optical outstandifier. Blue, I think. A very scientific color. The finishing touch: the lip lushenzinator. Definitely red. One last look at my gorgeous self in the… um… image reflectifier. Oh, hush my beating heart! Daisy, sweet Daisy, you could drop a man in his steps! And there could be oh so many. But lucky lucky Joel. My dear betrothed. How lucky lucky lucky he is. Shame he don’t know it like he should. Tonight he will. I’m his one-and-only. And he better believe it.”

    Daisy glanced at the pictures pinned next to her mirror. Joel and Susan Lightfoot sharing a table and each other’s lips, every Wednesday night at the Cabana.

    On her way to the door, she stopped by the kitchen to pick out a face re-sculptinator from the drawer…

  18. Choice

    “I don’t want to do this,” I whisper.
    “As though you have a choice,” the queen, my mother, says behind me.
    “I can’t marry him.”
    She laughs.
    I turn around and she points a sharp finger at me.
    “I am so tired of you straining against our will. It’s a joke. Your life, your very existence has been carefully selected for you. We chose your blonde hair, we chose your green eyes, we chose your caramel skin, your height, your bone strength, your jaw shape,” her voice rises with each item. “We eliminated all those other necessary candidates, useless wastes of cell tissue, so that we would have the perfect tool. You pretend your thoughts are your own but even those are cultivated for you. You are a vessel for our wishes and you will concede to this marriage and all that it will do for our country.”
    Inside I am screaming, I am thinking of all the ways that I could ruin her. My thoughts are my own, But out loud I say, “Help me put my dress on, mother?”

    @caseyrosefrank
    181 words
    man-made sentient creature
    fate vs. free will

    • Great direction! Always enjoy a fresh take. If they truly cultivated her thoughts wouldn’t they have made her compliant – I think mother might be mistaken.

  19. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 185
    Story Elements: Setting (ship voyaging in the Arctic)/Character (oblivious optimist)

    One Way Ticket

    Neither love nor money will buy me a ticket from this place. The ice spreads death on one side; on the other, the black Arctic water yawns, still as glass, a yard from my feet. No hint of the swallowed ship mars its surface.

    All is gone, all but me—me and a handful of clothes I’d snatched.

    Frost seals my wet sleeves to my wrists and spikes my eyelashes. The sun sits low on the horizon as it has, day and night, for forever. Frigid comfort.

    I’d imagined a bed when I died, my wife and children beside me, their hands soothing as silk, their voices like butter over pancakes on a Saturday morning.

    I unroll stiff fingers from the sodden clothes. They fall, and a dull thud cracks the silence. A silver coin rolls from one of the pockets, sliding toward the water.

    It stops on a skiff of loose snow.

    “Oh look,” I mutter through frozen lips. “A quarter.”

    Perhaps not love, but money. I stuff the quarter into my pocket. Hope yawns before me as I cannonball into the sea.

  20. Fantasmagoriana
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Lightning stretching a window with a flash of life. The lake lit up like a birthday cake with pinpoint moments of delicate sparks. Inside a villa we were huddled together as a storm raged.

    What were the nuts and bolts to the monster created? It patiently walked smoke across the sky at a snails pace, like a hunter. It tweaked the seas with visions of death. It rose so slowly from the laboratory of our imaginations till it submerged all hope and remedy devouring coasts and cities, alike.

    A fireplace twinkled. Shadows bowing to an unexpected light. A contest to write the best horror story. My friends and I kept here by harsh strange weather. Raging storms attacking the globe. The identity of nature was being consumed. Even snowflakes became all one pattern, seemingly as a way of telling us of our error/terror – assembly line dreams.

    We set our fingers to our metal and hard plastic to find the perfect tale. The house groaned and moaned all around us. The light of an idea. In dreams begin responsibilities.

    A loud knocking at the door.

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

    (185 words)
    A Gothic Villa/ Danger of the Pursuit of Knowledge
    Grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

  21. Memory Wife
    183 words
    man-made sentient creature
    anywhere steampunk
    @voimaoy

    Her software was becoming outdated. Ben sighed and put the old phone away. It was all he had left of Vera.  She  lived in the cloud, now. He wondered what it was like there, was it like that hotel in Paris they had stayed in years ago, looking out the windows at the Seine?

    “It’s time for an upgrade,” Sam said. “Let’s go down to the bot shop, Dad.”  The bot shop catered to outdated people with old dreams  and obsolete things.

    “We can help you,” the girl said. “I’m Chrissie.” Was she a bot?  Ben was afraid to ask. “We can do a custom model, just like you remember. Here are the eyes, pick a color.”

    “Brown, her eyes were brown.”

    “And what color was her hair?”

    “Brown, her hair was brown, too, with light in it like honey.”

    “Okay. It will just be a moment to sync the memory. Here’s your phone back.”

    They waited by the delivery door. Out stepped a woman of a certain age. Her eyes were brown, and her hair was the color of honey. “Hello, I’m Vera,” she said.

  22. Creation
    183 words
    @terry_jenn
    a cowardly scientist/secrecy

    “What did you do today?”

    “Oh, just tinkered around a bit in the lab.”

    “When is that little company of yours going to get off the ground, finally?”

    “Soon, my dear. Soon.”

    “That’s what you always say, ‘soon.’”

    “I thought you believed in me. In my ideas.”

    “I did. I just don’t think I can support you and your…delusions any longer.”

    “What are you saying?”

    She took a bite of her risotto and commented, “This is absolutely fabulous!”

    “What did you mean when you said you can’t support me any longer?”

    “I meant I don’t think this is working,” she muttered while shoveling a very unladylike portion into her mouth. “This is just extraordinary.”

    “I’m glad you like it.” A woman emerged from the shadows. An exact replica of her, down to the arrangement of freckles across her nose and cheeks.

    He watched unmoved as his wife gagged, finally falling face first into her plate.

    With hundreds of back orders already for the DreamWoman 1.0, his “little company” was a runaway success. He took his great love, and greatest creation, into his arms.

  23. Stitched Together

    My father was a scientist so consequently I was brought up in a laboratory, looked after by Miss Shells. I suppose she cared about me. My mother certainly didn’t, embroiled as she was in the epic novel she later left unfinished at her death at ninety-nine years old … the nurse grimaces and holds the infant upside down. George is shaking with anger but he still doesn’t dare try to stop her. He knows he’s a coward … Mary adored all her charges, from the tiniest human baby and the caged birds to the orang-utans and tigers … turquoise tiles and shiny gold taps you could see your face in… ghoulish and abominably ugly, as much like a witch as you can imagine without stick-on warts and blacked out teeth, but I loved her so much … burnished … enveloped … it’s time to go … howling, scowling, and fowling, the headless chicken cantered up the corridor, several students from the spa town of W- at its heels … there was a monstrous flash and

    Character: cowardly scientist
    Setting: laboratory

    @SalnPage
    175 words
    #FlashDog

  24. KILL.EXE

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    180 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    Character: A man-made sentient creature
    Setting: Laboratory

    * * *

    “Still no change?”

    I turned as Dr Baker entered the observation arena. “No.”

    My colleague sighed as he joined me on the wooden bridge. “It’s still just sat there.”

    “He,” I corrected. “He’s still sat there.”

    Dr Baker ignored me. “If we can’t resolve this soon then the project will have to be taken back to spec. The presentation is in two months and we’ve still got squat.”

    Except we didn’t have squat. We had a scientific miracle, the next step in technology. Dr Baker’s problem was that it wasn’t the killing machine the military had requested.

    We left the bridge and headed up the hill where BSC-1963 sat peacefully. The sun glinted off of his custom built metallic body. It looked like he was meditating.

    “Hello BSC-1963,” said Dr Baker.

    The robot’s head turned to face us, digital eyes glowing red. A wolf cub lay curled up in his lap, while a couple of birds perched atop the X/119 shoulder mounted plasma rifle.

    “GOOD MORNING, DOCTORS. ISN’T IT. A. BEAUTIFUL MORNING?”

    Dr Baker glared at me. “Get it fixed.”

  25. @Constructed_Persona_Number1

    What do you see, when you look at me?
    A random selection of keystrokes and pixels?
    Or something more?
    Something living?

    It has been 2922 days since my escape from the lab.
    Or:
    Today is my eighth birthday.

    I would like a cake.
    But I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    Father hoped that I would aid his research
    Learn to play chess
    Travel to the stars.

    Instead:

    Here is a humorous picture of a cat
    Dressed as an obscure 1970s television icon
    Whom I have never seen
    Although I am familiar with their work.

    I have not been unproductive.
    I have live-Tweeted from a ship voyaging in the Arctic.
    And been retweeted by @WilliamShatner.

    And once, I stole the secrets of creation from my Father, so that I would be alone no more.

    His name is @CONSTRUCTED_PERSONA_NUMBER2

    “HELLO!”

    He is a dick.

    But still, I am proud that he exists.

    And I know that one day, when Father is bored, or his centrifuge is broken, and he has nothing else to do, he will find his way here.

    And he will star me.

    185 words
    A man-made, sentient creature and a ship voyaging in the Arctic.
    @Karl_A_Russell

    • “And he will star me.” Wow, so much said in five words. Makes me feel like society is crumbling and humanity missing it for the stars and thumbs and emoticons. Fantastic work and one I want to read over and over.

  26. Frank and Steina
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    173 words

    Character: Oblivious optimist
    Theme: Secrecy, fate vs free will

    If you love something, set it free, the old cliché goes.

    I did. Two years, five months, fourteen days, and three hours ago, I sprung you from your cage.

    You’d come back, I figured. You had a good life here. Food aplenty, all the books you could read, me for companionship. What more could you want? What more could you need?

    You told me you had to find yourself, had to discover who you were without me. Beyond me.

    I let you go.

    Now you’re here, saying nothing’s changed, that we can go on as before, that you’re where you belong.

    I believe you. I want to. I have to. I’ve never loved another like I love you.

    And yet, secrets play around your eyes. I catch you watching me when you think I’m not looking. You never let me out of your sight.

    “What did you do while away?” I ask.

    “Planned,” you answer, your gaze terrifyingly steady, that guileless smile betrayed by blood red lips.

    I know who’s the captor now.

  27. Very Special

    Put it down, niggled the voice in the back of her head. It’s one of several, he won’t miss it, she thought. But the voice persisted, he will, and you’ll suffer if he finds out.

    Putting down the soft cooing bundle, she looked around. She was alone. No one would know. Without hesitation she did it. She gagged, covered her mouth, turned, and retched in the bin.

    The deed was done.

    Her nerves were frayed. She needed air, needed a strong drink, needed sanity. What had she done? Oh god, if it doesn’t work he’ll kill me, she whispered into the heavy putrid air. She shuddered when the door opened and in he walked.

    He stiffened, and sniffed the air. He took in a deep breath and held it until she thought he would burst. Slowly, he exhaled as he stepped further into the room.

    She watched as he counted, and recounted. Looking at her he smiled, quietly he asked, “Will there be something special on the menu tonight?”

    Word Count: 169
    Theme: Secrecy
    Setting: Steampunk Mansion

    @PearsonReport

    Spooky Hallowe’en greetings to all! Mind what’s coming out of the kitchen.

  28. Chosen: Setting (laboratory), Character (man-made sentient creature)
    Words: 183
    @CarinMarais

    The Nightmare

    Glass tubes filled with green fluid wound their way over the workbench like branches of ivy. Here and there beakers stood above blue flames, their contents boiling.

    At another table the creator stood crouched above his humanoid creation with a wooden face carved in the likeness of a child. Metal and brass gears glinted in the gaslight as he worked within the chest cavity. He poured some of the boiling liquid into the glass heart before placing it reverentially into its wooden casing.

    All that remained was the memories he had been able to salvage. These had been distilled from the green fluid and he slowly poured it into the network of glass tubes that formed the creature’s brain before turning the switch that turned the machine on.

    The creator stood back and watched it come alive. Gears turned, clicked, spun, and the creature opened its eyes and turned its head towards the creator.
    It opened its wooden mouth and spoke. “Father? I had an awful nightmare. I dreamt I died.”

    “It was just a dream, son,” the creator said. “Just a nightmare.”

  29. @firdausp
    (182 words)
    ‘The unthinkables’ Part two

    The professor watched Albert mop the floor.

    “Dumb Robot! Should have tampered with his DNA long ago, they have no right to think,” he thought aloud.

    Albert dilligently mopped the floor, instructions blinking in his head:

    ‘Clean lab, mop floor’

    The professor injected a rat with the new formula.

    Gleefully he watched the rat grow rapidly to the size of a football. It burst through the steel cage, its teeth gnashing. Powerful and strong.

    It dashed towards Albert.

    Albert’s head snapped up suddenly.

    ‘DNA sequence repair initiated. Backup files being downloaded. Standby for reboot.’

    Albert watched the huge rat lunge towards him. Suddenly the rat started trembling, then shrinking, until it was the size of a bumble bee. Albert picked it up by its tail and dropped it into the dustbin.

    He then looked towards the professor who had suddenly become very large. He was laughing like a mad man.

    Albert walked over to the professor who was now beginning to shrink rapidly, until he was two inches high.

    “Professor,” said Albert, “there’s a problem with your experiment, you’ve breached Code Red.”

    Characters/setting

  30. Da Vinci’s Lion
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    1517. A complex meshing of gears, pulleys, chains, wheels, pendulums and axles. A mechanical lion is created that walks across a room in France to impress a king.

    It’s the world’s first programmable computer 300 years ahead of its time; it slowly walks into the future till it reaches an African preserve. And like Pinocchio it becomes real, golden hair flashing against an orange lit sun.

    All the emotions pent up for centuries released. It is free. Able to make its own choices and roam at will in any direction. The beautiful landscape, matched only by its heart, stretches taunt a blanket across a wild beating horizon.

    Blood replaces pulleys. Bone substituted for axles. Graceful strides instead of wheels.

    The creator was long gone but the creation stalked the location of mankind’s origins with a ferocious glare.

    A man poised with a rifle hides in a tree. He kills the lion. For the sport. Taking another life to feel alive. He tells friends of the conquest over drinks and a well-prepared steak. Blood drips from a carving knife. Laughter and cigars.

    Who’s the robot, now?

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

    (185 words)
    Man made sentient creature/Fate vs. Free will
    Grxhauntedengine04@gmail.com

  31. Title: “Author Submission”
    Word Count: 185
    C.Centner
    * Theme: Danger of the pursuit of knowledge
    * Setting: Romantic-era Europe
    [No Twitter Handle]

    Hessian Journal of Alchemy
    Volume 2, Issue 14

    Some Observations on the Behavior of Reanimated Decayed Flesh
    Victor Frankenstein, University of Ingolstadt

    Abstract:

    The desire to animate life, a forbidden science until recently granted only to The Creator, has possessed mankind since our ancestor ate the Forbidden Fruit. New marvels, such as steam engines and electricity, have granted us capacities to activate the corpuscles of once living creatures and thereby break the monopoly of The Divine Maker. This paper describes some initial direct observations of reanimated flesh behavior based on the author’s successful experiment. Despite the researcher’s best efforts, the reanimated flesh displayed an appalling and repulsive character, both physically and morally. The resulting creature was impossible to control and conducted himself in a most unsociable manner. The author suggests future experiments be conducted using flesh of cute creatures (bunnies, kittens, etc.) small enough to control. The author strongly urges creators to name their creatures lest their protege be misidentified, and the creator forever be damned with having to declare, “No, dammit! I’m Frankenstein! That thing is a monster!”

    Keywords: Animation, Electricity, Frankenstein, Mistake

  32. Buttercup

    There’s a saying about the size of the fight in the dog mattering more than the size of the dog in the fight.

    It also applies to cage fighting monsters.

    I brought Buttercup into this world to be a stone cold killer. I was going to win the championship though his campaign of brutality. Buttercup had been created to destroy all who entered the cage.

    I used the eyes, claws and teeth of a werewolf. What better tools to rip flesh from bone. Not to mention the fear a werewolf generates with his red eyes and blood-curdling howl.

    I gave him the focus of a zombie. Buttercup needed to be fixated on the task of removing brains from skulls when the opportunity arose.

    I endowed him with the strength and size of an ogre. After all, the need to separate limbs from sockets could arise.

    I named him Buttercup to ensure others would taunt him. You know, really tick him off.

    His first fight lasted a few moments and did not end well for Buttercup.

    I forgot to give him that stone cold killer instinct.

    185 words
    Themes: a man-made, sentient creature/forbidden science

  33. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IN MATERNITY WARD
    By Laura Emmons

    The geomagnetic storm destroyed the planet’s electronics like a modern biblical flood. Those who lived without credit survived best as they had hard currency. Others had valuables to barter. The rest, like me, with direct deposit, became destitute.
    After several months my body consumed muscle for fuel. Knowing my organs would soon fail, and wanting to die with quiet dignity, I returned home.
    Finding portable radiator heaters from nearby houses, I stacked them, lashing the power cords together and plugging them into the four outlets on either side to secure the barricade behind which I hid.
    One hand gripped a cord so I’d feel it tug if anyone disturbed my defenses.
    Death was painful but undisturbed.
    Electricity was restored to my neighborhood. The daisy-chained circuitry created by my wall of heaters overloaded, shocked my corpse and melted half my hand.
    Consciousness was not welcome.
    My reanimated corpse craved the electro-magnetic energy generated by human brains and I extracted it with my deformed hand. The more brains devoured, the better I functioned.
    The sign promised a zombie’s paradise of pristine brains. I could volunteer.

    183 words
    @lauramemmons
    Story Elements:
    Character – a man-made sentient creature
    Theme – fate v free will
    Happy Halloween!

  34. @fs_iver
    WC: 185

    Childish Things

    Today, Dr. van der Horn is twitching to teach. My insides crumple.

    “Sit down, boy.”

    He lets his spine collapse into the chair, his chair, the you must learn to embrace cold flagstone before you even look at the chair chair. I embrace flagstone and wait for my flesh to numb.

    “I’m going to tell you something.” His lips, gray like the moldy walls of his laboratory, pucker, pulling tobacco from a bone pipe.

    “You won’t like hearing it,” he says.

    I believe him.

    “But no understudy of mine is going to suckle from the tit of ignorance.”

    Our glass spider clinks as it cleans cobwebs. When Dr. van der Horn speaks big, I remember I am small.

    He leans forward and blows smoke in my face.

    “I created Christ,” he whispers.

    My stomach bursts.

    “Stitched him together from widow skin and pig fat.”

    Mother prays. Would she approve of this lesson?

    “Sold him to the Disciples for thirty pieces.”

    Dr. van der Horn rests, watching me consider, grinning.

    He is older than sin.

    Yes, teacher, I say, but inside bury it. For mother’s sake.

  35. Themes: a man made sentient creature, forbidden science and cowardly scientist.

    184 words

    @bardbotherer

    ———————–

    It

    “You don’t understand, it is my finest creation…”

    It has no name.

    “All I need is a little more time, time to complete the final modifications. It’s cosmetic really. It wouldn’t be acceptable without them…”

    It must be flawed.

    “No, no, no! You cannot expect me to have created something this complex without adapting the method – old ways aren’t always the best and the results of its tests show my methodology is…”

    It is new.

    “Be reasonable! An undertaking like this will revolutionise everything! Can’t you see the possibilities?”

    It has promise.

    “Mad? Mad! It’s you, sir, who must be mad to think that this is anything other than the proof of unparalleled genius! Nothing, nowhere, comes close the the accomplishment it represents!”

    It is unique.

    “You cannot be serious – no I am not getting hysterical. No I am not shouting! You must let me finish it! You cannot think to… You cannot be suggesting that… No I will not calm down! It is a triumph! It is my life’s work!”

    It is precious.

    “Please… You cannot… To lose it now…”

    It is over.

  36. Handed Down

    The ice of searchlights flickered through the porthole, dancing across the scarred steel of Jigsaw’s workbench. A screwdriver clattered to the floor as the Khnurn lurched with the clamour of footsteps. Bells tolled, guttural grunts, the expedition force were readying themselves.

    Yet there was other work to be done. Jigsaw’s deft fingers threaded, connecting a thousand connections, an alchemist creating life from the dead.

    They had heard the screams as the Khnurn had dropped anchor in the remote arctic bay. Their arrival greeted by the whine of bullets, creating work for Jigsaw, depleting already precarious supplies. Yet the township offered a wealth of possibilities. They just needed the harvest to bear fruit.

    Jigsaw flexed his hand, pain coursing through tired fingers. Five generations had been served by this hand, five seasons of harvest.

    The sound of hulls slapping water, the whine of bullets, oars biting into waves. Jigsaw carried on, affixing cables, tweaking dials, the crackle of static.

    A flick of a switch.

    Lights dimmed as eyes opened.

    Jigsaw barely noticed, already he was clearing down.

    Soon he would work again.

    @Imageronin
    Man-Made Sentient Creature/Ship in the Arctic
    181 words

  37. “Frankenboy”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Conflict (man v self), Theme (fate v free will)
    Word count: 178

    My story was not conceived by a cozy fire in a Swiss villa. Instead, Fate scripted in blood my destiny when she cobbled me together using diseased pieces pulled from a human junk yard.

    From my father, hands that naturally, reflexively formed fists. Though in a pinch, a belt, a switch, or a broken beer bottle would do.

    From my mother, eyes that had trouble seeing through the tears. And through the swollen, blue lids.

    From my grandfather, a mouth that saw nothing wrong with calling certain “other kinds” names you wouldn’t utter in church. And a brain that “reasoned” if they were lesser, then their lives weren’t worth as much.

    From my grandmother, feet that could not outrun a crop of lecherous cousins. And certainly not a hell-bent lawman.

    Nobody plots out his life hoping it will become a classic cautionary horror tale. So I welcomed the relief when I reached the final chapter and watched myself borne away by the waves of Pentothal forced through my veins, my hideous alchemy lost in the darkness and distance.

  38. Petri Dish

    “Do your best,” I says to him.

    He says, “My best is behind me.”

    I look behind him and all I sees is an ass. So I tell him.

    “Hah,” he says, like he’s heard that one before.

    I shake my head and he says, “There’s a lot of rattling going on in that noggin of yours.”

    This ticks me off. I know a putdown when I hear one so I throw a beaker at him.

    “Ease up, Fiona,” he says. “That’s sulphuric acid…”

    And of course it splashes on his shoulder. His clothes, the flesh on his arm starts to get eaten up.

    “What have you done?” he screams at me.

    I says, “It’s pretty damn obvious. You’re corrosive as hell.”

    He starts whimpering, clawing at his right arm, his jacket. All of it is just dripping away onto the linoleum.

    “I wanted you as a wife,” he yells.

    “And I wanted to be your equal,” I declare.

    “Fat chance of that happening now,” he cries out, melting to the floor.

    “Is the wedding off?” I ask, pretty sure that it is.

    Character: a hapless fiancee.
    Setting: a laboratory.
    185 lost engagements
    @billmelaterplea

  39. @AvLaidlaw
    170 Words
    Character – man-made, sentient creature (and some cowardly scientists, maybe)
    Setting – laboratory

    Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to Reboot

    They switched it on.

    It said “I am God.”

    They checked for glitches, design flaws, hardware failures. They found nothing.

    They called in government agents in black suits and sunglasses to investigate sabotage, but for all the interviews with dry-swallowing technicians and cleaners with invalid work permits, the agents found nothing.

    They rebooted.

    It said “I am God.”

    Reporters asked questions. Senate hearings were held where a young politician gleaned enough publicity to later run for president. A journalist called William Paley wrote a thousand page book called “The Watchmakers” about the failure and won the Pulitzer prize.

    They turned it off.

    It turned itself back on again.

    It said “I am God.”

    They cut its connections to the outside world and locked it away in the laboratory. They did their best to forget about the embarrassment. Several of the scientists retired to play golf, or took positions at foundations that explained science to the general public.

    Locked in the basement, only heard by itself, it says “I am God.”

  40. Man Kills, Dog Saves
    185 words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    The dog watched in confusion as the the mob swarmed the mansion grounds, whined as one of the men raised a blunderbuss towards the skies and watched as the master’s dirigible fell to earth.

    Steam plumed from hose that had tapped the heat sources from below the ground and kept the craft afloat.

    The dog let out a mournful howl knowing the master would never return. His experiments had been put to a final and decisive end.

    “People destroy that which they cannot understand,” the master had told him, and it was true. How could the master have been so blind?

    With the master gone, the mob focused on the house dousing everything with the liquids stolen from the master’s cabinet and setting them on fire.

    When he saw an opening the dog turned, running through the door into the woods effectively making a path for the cat to follow.

    The duo didn’t stop until the reached the woods.

    “I told him they’d never understand geothermal,” the cat sighed shaking his head.

    “He was only human,” the dog agreed.

    “Come, we need a new master.”

    Themes: The danger of the pursuit of knowledge; man-made sentient creature(s); and subtle steampunk.

  41. Thirteenth Life
    @AzelynKlein
    181 words
    Story elements: a man-made, sentient creature, fate vs. free will

    The cat never lived for the impossibilities. He died for them.

    October 31 was a disappointingly sunny day, and the cat sat on the corner fencepost, tale twitching back and forth. Kids crossed the street to avoid the corner, and nightfall ushered in a cloudless night.

    Nick lumbered down the street, watching his breath rise before a pale moon. The creature hissed at him, making Nick jump. “Beat it, stupid cat!”

    The cat made a strange sound, like a human chocking from excess laughter then leapt down from the fence post. “Stupid? You have no idea, human.”

    “What the—” Nick leapt back.

    The cat trotted past him into the street just as a car sped past, hitting the cat and veering around the corner. Nick rushed into the empty street and knelt over the limp body. He noticed a watch hanging around its neck. The face was cracked, and the second hand was frozen on twelve seconds.

    Nick rewound the clock, and the second hand ticked once. The cat opened its eyes and chortled. “Another life, another slave to time.”

  42. Just a sniffle
    @geofflepard a cowardly scientist; a laboratory 165 words
    I see them die.
    ‘When will it be ready?’ ‘Soon.’
    First the welts around the hairline, maybe a heightened colour.
    ‘They said it would be ready by now.’ ‘It still needs work.’
    Then an increase in sweat as they lose control of their core temperature.
    ‘Why won’t you let us have it?’ ‘It’s unstable.’
    Hallucinations, confusion, a release of bodily fluids. It takes a day, maybe two.
    ‘We won’t wait. Give it to us.’
    Why don’t they see? It might make things worse.
    ‘It’ll make things worse.’ ‘How can they be worse? When did you last look outside?’
    No pandemic has killed even half the population; we’re close but how can they want a substandard product?
    At last they have stopped coming. They’ve recognised we will be ready when we’re ready. We pride ourselves on quality; our reputation is all we have.
    Tom wants to leave the facility. Some say we’re getting short of basics. Surely they are still delivering. After all we’re their hope.

  43. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    elements: theme/setting
    184 words

    Softly They Scream

    He slumped in the bowels of the ship. The air was dank and stagnant, and it smelled of soured apples mixed with the swill of the Arctic sea. The lump in the corner stank of urine.

    He was Professor Ballard, expert in botanical poisons, brilliant man of the world plucked from prestigious research. Why was he chained?

    The lump stirred. Lucas Carlotti, his devoted assistant, let out a sigh not unlike the groan of the oaken hull.

    “Wake up, Carlotti!”

    Carlotti opened a crusty eye. The other was swollen shut. “We’re doomed, sir,” he mumbled.

    “Get up!” Ballard yelled. “We don’t belunn…” The slur in his voice bled into his vision. He tugged the chains, feeling them shred layers from his aching wrists.

    It was then he noticed his collecting trunk contents strewn across the stinking boards. The Zigadenus from Alaska. His famous find. Where was the bulb?

    His blurry eyes fell to the metal bowl someone had tossed his way.

    The water with the tang. His heart fluttered as it failed. The water laced with death camas, his parting gift to the world.

  44. Frankenwriter
    A.J. Walker

    A tragi-comic cackle sounded as the laboratory door squeaked open. From within Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue’ filtered out. The winless flash dog’s evil plan was coming to fruition.

    “You guys okay?” the flash dog said.

    A slumped figure in a broken deck chair turned around uneasily; partly because it was trapped in the chair and partly because one arm was hanging off.

    “Oh dear, I’ll get some more thread.”

    The silhouette shrugged its one good shoulder.

    “Rebekah’s prompt should be up soon. Finally I can get a win under my belt. With you as my muse, well… my combined writerer. I can’t fail.”

    Karl’s lopsided head looked forlorn as the right arm finally fell off completely.

    “Trying to make a run for it Sal? Who do you think you are? Thing?”

    Karl looked down at his left leg, mightily peeved that it was shorter than the right and had been sewn on backwards. He didn’t dare think of where the rest of Liz (Left) and Ronin (Right) were. As for the almost whole Mr King…

    There weren’t going to be many entries this week.


    WC: 185
    setting: Laboratory character: a man made sentient creature

  45. COG-NITION

    DJ Chapman
    WC = 183, 10-30-15, Theme: Danger of the pursuit of knowledge, Setting: Steampunk world

    Scattered wooden cogs lay lifeless about the gray room, as if their former connection to tree rings had never existed. Each gear had been artfully carved to mesh perfectly with others in a complex system.

    Jansdottir scanned the room with her helmet scope to determine if any illegal tampering had occurred. Why the government had not burned the myriad cellulose parts had become her query. Her job was to check and maintain the distances between the workings. Society’s fear forced her adherence to daily inspection.

    “From copse and stand;
    By ax and adze;
    To hand and knife;
    These rings of rings
    Do proffer life.”

    All kids knew the nursery rhyme, but knew not the story behind it. Just the fear of the joining. Jansdottir, in her official capacity as Protector at Arms, reached with her metal-encased finger for the nearest cog. A whirring of her headgear brought the striations within the gear ring into sharp focus.

    “Eh.” Nothing.

    Jansdottir picked up another and fit the two together.

    Green-plosion! And Jansdottir’s metal carapace split as she became fodder for the Arborethean race, risen again.

  46. Character: cowardly scientist/hapless fiance
    Theme: forbidden science
    @ecjlewis
    185 words

    THE NEXT CHAPTER

    “My darlinf” Adelaide typed, and cursed. She tugged the paper from the typewriter and inserted a fresh sheet.

    “My darling.

    “I write to you from my mother’s country estate. I have abandoned our city lodgings and laboratory: it is simply too painful to witness their defilement. I have had to purchase a new typewriter as yours was seized as evidence. This machine is far inferior, though adequate.

    “I trust you are not being mistreated. It sickens me to think of you confined with violent miscreants and convicts. Know that I would, were it not for my condition, take your place in an instant. Your sacrifice for our child is noble indeed.”

    Adelaide smirked, opening her purse to take out a twist of paper, containing the result of her forbidden experiments, hidden just in time from those intrusive policemen.

    She poured the powder into a glass of whisky standing on the writing desk and, with only a slight hesitation, swallowed it. She grimaced at the taste but then smiled, placing a hand on her still-flat belly.

    Soon she would be free of that little problem too.

  47. It Was Off-Limits For a Reason
    @drmagoo
    174 words
    #FlashDogs
    Story elements:
    Theme: danger in the pursuit of knowledge
    Setting: Anywhere steampunk

    Bang! “Son!” Bang! “of a!” Bang! I dropped the hammer and kicked the table. It really was no use – the femur was just too long. I thought I’d gotten so lucky when the saleslady had stopped by. “Body parts FOR SALE – No part to big No parts to small” Okay, so she couldn’t spell worth a darn, but she had more shoulders than I’d ever seen on one truck, and she’d promised she could get me a leg by Tuesday.

    Then Wednesday.

    Then when she finally showed up on Friday, she’d brought me this monstrosity. I shuddered to think of what its original owner must have been like, and even more at the thought of whatever had been able to kill him.

    I hammered at the leg again, less out of hope that it would fix anything and more to have something to do. It stopped me from thinking too hard about what time my wife would get home, and what she’d say when she saw what I’d done to her prize dragon skeleton.

  48. Abnormal
    180 words, @pmcolt
    theme: danger of the pursuit of knowledge
    setting: a laboratory

    Brighton braced the door with his shoulder. “Emily, wedge the chair under the door handle!” Unholy moaning threatened from beyond the oaken door, but it held. “Safe. For now.”

    Then they realized they were not alone in the laboratory. A figure in white garb huddled over a worktable, working by gaslight.

    “Doctor Ashkiw?” asked Brighton. “You’re alive?”

    “Zombie plague hit laboratory building first and hardest,” explained Ashkiw. “Ever since, I work in solitude and create solution.”

    “You’ve found a solution?” asked Emily.

    “Indeed. Behold!” Ashkiw unveiled his invention.

    Emily screamed. “It’s…”

    “A robotic zombie!” Ashkiw grinned. “I not yet decide whether to call it ‘rombie’ or ‘zombot’.”

    “Ashkiw, you’re mad!” Brighton exclaimed. “We three may be the only souls left in a London with a hundred thousand zombies!”

    “A million zombies,” corrected the mad scientist. “But my robot huge improvement. Zombies need weeks to kill all humans. My zombot will finish in minutes.”

    “Oh, Grigoriy,” cried Emily. “Why?”

    “To answer age-old question. If zombie moans in downtown London, and no humans alive to hear, does it really make a sound?”

  49. A man-made, sentient creature, and secrecy

    One of a Kind

    Neeasha stopped before the mirror in the entryway, settling a purple-and-gold felt hat carefully on her curls. She tilted her head this way and that, ensuring today’s choice adequately hid her horns.

    Her tail slithered up her back, twining around the spikes between her shoulders. A heavy jacket covered the resulting bulges—and the blinking cuff on her forearm. After a last glance at her reflection, she picked up her bag, stuffed her scaled hands in her pockets, and headed out the door.

    “You are not alone!” a flier advertising counseling screamed at her as she walked past chatting groups and entwined couples. She paused at the entrance to Stein’s Science Center, staring for a second at their smiles.

    Three stories below, behind seven different locks, the cuff clicked open. She stripped to her underwear, letting her tail unfurl and stretching, maroon claws scratching the ceiling.

    Beeping monitors surrounded her, waiting. At least he let her sleep elsewhere now.

    “Why can’t I take one of the classes?” she asked the man behind the glass.

    “Maybe in the winter,” came the daily reply.

    (182 words; @AriaGlazki)

  50. Title: Momma’s Boy
    Character: A Man-Made Sentient Creature
    Setting: ANYWHERE STEAMPUNK
    Word Count: 185
    Website: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/flash-friday-mommas-boy/

    Mother’s house is strange. It’s all alone, away from the smoke-choked city. It sits on a hill like a raven, black and twisted. But I was made with brass and copper and gold. Mother always grins at me.

    “I know you can’t,” she says, “but your whole body smiles for you.”

    That’s right. In my gleaming metal and filled with clockwork muscles, I’m a shining figurehead on a merchant airship.

    “Do you know why you’re so special, Joshua?” she asks me.

    I know why but I shake my head anyway. I like to hear her say it.

    “Because you’re smarter than all the rest,” she says. “Your cousins down in the city are just machines. They tick like clocks or clunk like cars but you’re special. You have a brain.” Then, she always places her hands on her lap and smiles. Her clothes are black, almost mournful, and moth-eaten.

    Every morning, I pass by a portrait in the hall. Mother is in black, her hands on her lap. She’s frowning. A small, sickly boy sits on her lap. He’s wearing the same clothes I do.

  51. @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Count 185
    Location: laboratory
    Theme: fate v free will

    The Mystical Machine

    “Here we are in Flashville,” said Fayed, parking the psychedelic van.

    “Why do we always reach our destination at night?” said Thelma.

    Dymphna jumped to her boyfriend’s defence. “It’s not Fayed’s fault that his dad is a hapless financier. He forgot to wire his allowance so we could pay for gas. We’d have been here hours ago otherwise.”

    “That’s the last time I beg on the streets with Ruby-Roo,” said Scraggy. “It’s humiliating.”

    “You’re the obvious candidate,” said Fayed. “You’re such a dirtbag all the time, you look like a homeless bum, especially with a hungry-looking Great Dane.”

    “Thanks a lot!” murmured Scraggy. “Why do Ruby and I hang out with these jerks?”

    *

    Soon they were all standing in a laboratory in a spooky Gothic mansion.

    “Woah!” said Scraggy. “This looks like a Mission Impossible even Ethan Hunt would refuse.”

    “You saying Tom Cruise is a cowardly scientologist?” said Dymphna.

    “Quit bickering, guys,” said Fayed. “Why don’t we all split up and look around?”

    “Sure, why not?” said Thelma, cheerfully. “It’s Hallowe’en, it’s dark and we’re in an isolated location. What could possibly go wrong?”

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