Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 50

Welcome! As we march boldly (and/or comedically, for some of us) ever closer to the end of Year Three, my heart overflows with love and gratitude for you dear writers. Thank you for writing faithfully, for reading faithfully, for supporting each other so powerfully, tangibly, and beautifully. Your very awesomeness makes these among the hardest words I’ve ever had to say: I am going to retire the Flash! Friday contest following the December 11 Flashversary bash.

I’ve said from the beginning that Flash! Friday would serve the writing community as long as it was needed. And just look at how far flash fiction has come! We’ve seen flash that smashes the boundaries of what we’d thought possible in only a few words. We’ve watched each other grow in the ability to write beautifully, to isolate the elements of story, to think beyond cliché. Things have changed “out there” too: today loads of paying markets wait for your work.

Back in December 2012, Flash! Friday filled a vacuum. That vacuum simply doesn’t exist today. You have a marvelous support network in the Flash Dogs, many other flash contests throughout the week, and the respect of the literary world. You have the advice, encouragement, and example of top notch flash writers. You’ve got it all, and I couldn’t be more excited for you, or more grateful for the flash network you helped create. And so, it is time.


The Business of Goodbye:

  • We will finish out Year Three as scheduled, culminating in the mega-gargantuan Flashversary contest on Dec 11, with all the bells, whistles, and prizes (including the Ring of Fire prize). And JUST FOR FUN!!! I will schedule one more frenetic Flash Dash with a cash prize (watch for the date!). You will see final #Spotlight interviews featuring Bulgaria and South Africa. We’re also changing up the prompts: each successive week will feature a “flashback” prompt in honor of our past themes. Yep, Dragon’s Bidding will make a final appearance. Still LOADS and LOADS of fun to be had before the last hurrah! Help finish Flash! Friday’s story with a bang, won’t you?
  • I will leave the Dragon Emporium open through December 31, in case you want to grab a FF mug or any other souvenirs.
  • Following the announcement of the Flashversary winners & my official farewell (somewhere around December 18), I will post a static greeting page. However, I will leave your stories and comments intact here at the FF site. Those have and will always belong to you.


DC2Don’t run off: we still have THREE more FF champ e-badges to award before the end. Today we’ll round out the novel-inspired prompts of Year Three’s second half, stories which will be judged one last time by valiant Dragon Team Six, Josh Bertetta & Steph Ellis. If you haven’t taken a minute to read their judge bios, be sure to do so (click on their names above)… lots of juicy tips on how to win their clever favor! 


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

* Today’s required word count:  175 words +/- 25 (150 – 200 words, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (min 150, max 200 words, excluding title/byline), the two story elements you based your story on, and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new or forgetful, be sure to check the contest guidelines.

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

Winners: will post Monday.

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


We’re finishing off our series of novel-inspired prompts with the Master Magical Realist himself, Gabriel García Márquez and his towering work One Hundred Years of Solitude, which spans the colorful, tumultuous, convention-and-reality-defying generations of the Buendía family in their fantastic town of Macondo. 

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 specific)
Character (choose at least one): a child born with a pig’s tail, a son returning from sailing around the world, a father who named all his sons after himself, twins fated to die at the same instant, a paranoid beauty contest winner, an iron-fisted matriarch, a man who figures out an ancient cypher, a musician, a mechanic, an author who wins a trip to Paris
Theme (choose one): solitude, the inescapability of family, magical realism, language, time, fate
Setting (choose one): an village cut off from the outside world, a banana plantation 

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

Tayrona National Park, Colombia. CC2.0 photo by McKay Savage.

Tayrona National Park, Colombia. CC2.0 photo by McKay Savage.


75 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 50

  1. Bondage

    I have found my moorage.

    I wait here now by this familiar sea, as if, by waiting, I will see beyond the water that divides. I will tell her this, I will say, “I will hold in this hand,” and I will reveal my hand, opened wide, extended, the fingers sorely stretched with the agony of age, “I will hold the sand that runs through time.”

    She will enjoy that.

    I have been beyond her grasp these many years.

    She will say, I am sure she will say, “I could see you each and every day. Right here,” and she will ram her finger to her temple, and say. “You were never beyond my reach.”

    That will produce, as it always did, a nervous grin from me.

    I cannot lose the spectacle, the sound of her.

    Many nights, the wind wailing, battering this place, she would drag me out of my bed. We would rumble through the bushes, careen down the muddied trail leading to the insolent sea, emerge into the gale, the ocean churning with a madness, her madness, and she would cry, crow to the storm, “HE IS MINE.”

    As I was.

    As I will always be.

    Character: a son returning from sailing around the world, an iron-fisted matriarch
    Theme: the inescapability of family
    200 maniacal memories


  2. To Care: More than Just an Action

    I care
    my hands raw;
    my eyes black;
    my arms sore;
    my hair out.
    I care way beyond my own lifetime.

    You care
    yourself to sleep;
    yourself awake;
    yourself guilty;
    yourself frail
    You care yourself lost.

    She cares
    herself bruised;
    herself hungry;
    herself lonely;
    herself sick.
    She cares herself away.

    He cares
    himself angry;
    himself gaunt;
    himself blunt;
    He cares himself blue.

    They care
    themselves invisible;
    themselves insular;
    themselves inadequate;
    They care to the quick.

    I care
    until I can’t, and then I care some more.
    You care
    until you cry, and then you care some more.
    She cares
    until she screams, and then she cares some more.

    I care
    until I reach the edge, and then I care some more.
    You care
    until you break, and then you care some more.
    He cares
    until he says he won’t, and then he cares some more.

    I care
    You care
    She cares.
    He cares.
    They care.
    And us?

    We. Should. Care.

    **inspired by Carers Rights Day in the UK.
    (155 words)
    inescapablility of family/ language/ man versus man/ isolation


    • May I have this version as my entry. I’ve tidied up puntuation. Thank you.

      To Care: More than Just an Action

      I care
      my hands raw;
      my eyes black;
      my arms sore;
      my hair out.
      I care way beyond my own lifetime.

      You care
      yourself to sleep;
      yourself awake;
      yourself guilty;
      yourself frail.
      You care yourself lost.

      She cares
      herself bruised;
      herself hungry;
      herself lonely;
      herself sick.
      She cares herself away.

      He cares
      himself angry;
      himself gaunt;
      himself blunt.
      He cares himself blue.

      They care
      themselves invisible;
      themselves insular;
      themselves inadequate.
      They care to the quick.

      I care
      until I can’t, and then I care some more.
      You care
      until you cry, and then you care some more.
      She cares
      until she screams, and then she cares some more.

      I care
      until I reach the edge, and then I care some more.
      You care
      until you break, and then you care some more.
      He cares
      until he says he won’t, and then he cares some more.

      I care
      You care
      She cares.
      He cares.
      They care.
      And us?

      We. Should. Care.

      **inspired by Carers Rights Day in the UK.
      (155 words)
      inescapablility of family/ language/ man versus man/ isolation


  3. Word Count: 198 Words
    Story Elements: A Musician and Solitude

    i will quietly write these tracks of you.

    Reigning over the folk-pop genre, he tells the stories of dreamers without nightmares – lovers without cliffs and love without fools. He spills through the blue inks of his writing pen the guardians of memories, the protectors of the hearts, and the saints of the martyrs. He lives for the lyricism speaking itself along with the riffs of his acoustic guitar for a face of expressive thoughts.

    But he hides it so well – the lingering cuts and bruises inside his veins; the oxygen trespassing his lungs is long gone, ever since she left.

    All he has are the vivid memories crying for the soul of the true person in flesh.

    Before the open window in his bedroom, the sun enters and his nostrils catches the sound of the winds. Lounging beside his desk, he props his guitar over his lap – holding the position still.

    He wishes he can speak the words he has been dying to say – the truth of his wounded heart; the sorrow grasping the head of a musician.

    But he cannot.

    It is all too much – his fragile image unsafe in the influenced world.

    Along with the solemn chirps of the bird, his first strum begins.


  4. @bex_spence
    152 words
    Musician, solitude

    My final lament…

    Plucking my guitar, strings gently pull. Fingers weaving a song for you. You who I’m yet to meet, you who I’m yet to grieve.

    In my heart I know you, on my lips the faint whisper of a name not yet spoken.

    I write these words, though they are not mine to give. Write these words in the hope that you’ll hear. That this lingering lullaby will draw you in.

    My long fingers unconsciously playing, the music running in a hypnotic loop. Outside the city screams, sirens wail to a crescendo. Life goes on without you, without me.

    I sing our story, though it is yet to unfold. Sing to the stars watching over you. The streets are loud, filled with jealousy and greed. Everyday sins for an everyday world.

    In the chaos there is no reply, not even an echo. Still I sit and sing to the darkness.


  5. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 194
    Story Elements: Conflict (man v. man)/Theme (time, fate, solitude)


    You tread the upward path. At first the steps are shallow and smooth, solid slabs with ninety degree angles, swept clean of litter, bracken, vines.

    Deeper into the woods, the steps steepen. Now they slant, crack; now the vines encroach around the edges, and no longer does the way define itself in simplicity, cleanliness, and order.

    At times, the way you thought you trod turns out to be a false trail, a try-yer-luck merchant that distracts you from your destination, and trees close in on your zigzag road back to the main artery. You nearly give up in despair.

    Your breath gasps, your eyes dim as the trail climbs on and on. Others travel this passage, competing with you, step by step, but none can ease your journey. No, this is one route you pace alone among billions, and though other travelers come alongside, they can never step with your feet; they cannot inhale with your lungs.

    When, at the end, you glance back over the road you’ve walked, where you expect only labor, perspiration, and discouragement, you see other travelers journey a smooth path, sanded by the thousand tiny cuts on your feet.


  6. Title: “The Final Test”
    Word Count: 175
    Prompts: “twins fated to die at the same instant” and “time”
    Twitter: @colin_d_smith

    Outside the abandoned houses, Sam and Mike stared at each other, their perfect mirror images marred only by the uneven tear tracks on their cheeks.

    “I guess this is it, bro,” said Sam. “The final test.” Mike just nodded.

    They embraced, choking back waves of emotion.

    “Loyal to the end,” Mike croaked.

    Neither wanted to let go, holding on for just a little while longer, hoping the moment would last. But they were being monitored. They picked up their jackets, one red, the other blue. As soon as the buckles snapped closed, the timers started, ticking away seconds in unison on small LED displays in the center of each buckle.

    1:59. 1:58. 1:57…

    With a sigh and a nod, they went their separate ways. Mike took the house on the right, Sam the house on the left. Inside, they waited.

    0:05. 0:04. 0:03…

    In a small bunker about a mile from the abandoned houses, a call came through to the commander’s desk.

    “Red or blue?” he said into the phone. “Excellent. Order up a thousand.”


  7. A Guided Tour
    By: Allison K. Garcia, 200 words, Setting, Character @athewriter

    “What’s with all the chamber pots?”
    “Great question. After the cholera epidemic of 1812–” Pause. “Yes, you, little boy.”
    “The first cholera pandemic occurred in Asia in 1817.”
    “Well, here it started in 1812.”
    “I’m certain that’s not the case.”
    “Anyway, what are you holding? Is that…a pig’s tail?”
    “Put that down, Henry. You don’t know where that’s been.”
    “I know exactly where it’s been, Mother. Attached to the caudal of a Sus Scrofa.”
    “Did you take that from the exhibit?”
    “No, it’s mine. I brought it from home.”
    “From home? Poor Charlie! When your father finishes decoding pre-Mayan ruins, you’ll be sorry.”
    “I’m not afraid. Henry is a coward.”
    “Fine, your brother Henry returns today from his global one-man-sailing/tuba-playing voyage.”
    “Not if the prophesy was correct and he and his twin Henry fell into that mine.”
    “That’ll never happen. Henry’s in that beauty contest in the asylum.”
    “Excuse me, can we continue with the plantation tour? I was promised free bananas.”
    “You leave me no choice but to write your grandmother in Paris and interrupt her mechanic’s writing contest trip.”
    “Don’t! I promise I’ll be good.”
    “Now hand over that tail and apologize.”
    “Sorry…that you’re an idiot.”


  8. One Day, In The Square

    Juan sat by the fountain, watching the pigeons as he played.

    “Got a smoke?”

    He started, surprised to find the man sitting so close, but he offered him the pack. The man was old, weather-worn and tattered. He took a cigarette with trembling fingers but had trouble lighting it till Juan did it for him.

    “Thanks. Heard you playing. You’re good.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Too good to be out here. Wanna get yourself a club gig.”

    “I’m not that good…”

    “Bullpuckey. Mind if I take her for a spin?”

    Juan shrugged, handed him the guitar. The man played hesitantly at first, but grew louder and more confident as his fingers remembered their ancient dance.

    Juan whistled softly.

    “Damn, you’re good…”

    “Thanks. Used to be better. Now, that gig. Find yourself an open mic, a club with a friendly owner. Somewhere it don’t matter if you think you’re any good. The audience decides. Just play. For people. You only play for the pigeons, might as well quit.”

    He handed back the guitar, stood and pointed across to the fluttering streamers of police tape tied to the bench where they’d found his body that morning.

    “Trust me. I know what I’m talking about…”

    200 Words
    A musician / magical realism


  9. Character: A man who figures out an ancient cypher
    Theme: Fate

    LISTEN TO THE STEPS (200 words)

    Jake tended a small garden reached by an old stone path behind his cabin. The granite steps had a rhythm to them. Each time he walked up the winding trail he hummed along with the familiar pattern. His foot would lift and settle on the first rock, but the next rock was too far to simply let his other foot fall. He would have to lean a bit forward and lengthen his stride. Step-step-stride-step-stride.

    One evening he awoke from a deep dream. The letters “B-E-Y-O-N” came to him as if they were written on a piece of paper and handed to him. “D-T-H-E.”

    Jake shut his eyes and imagined walking up the granite path. Step-step-stride-step-stride-stride. He shook and winced. He smelled oil and heard men shouting. He was back in the war.

    Step-stride-stride-step. Jake found a pencil. He knew this code. He wrote down the letters as he hummed the rhythm of the steps. Words formed – growing out of the hillside.

    Jake lifted the paper and read aloud: BEYOND THE ANCIENT OAK UNDER THE JAGGED OVERHANG.

    The inexhaustible gold lode awaits.


  10. Twitter: @Nthito
    Title: What Child Is this?
    Conflict: Man v Man
    Character: A child born with a pig’s tail
    Theme: Fate
    Setting: a village cut off from the outside world

    “What child is this!?” The nurse cried. The babe, soft and pink and wiggling a curled tail, cried at the noise.
    “Mayhap Father Dawkins be right, the world comes to an end sister.” The older woman stared at the thin tail with abject horror. If such a thing has occurred, what other horrors await them. Father Dawkins may perhaps be right after all.
    “Call the father immediately. Alert him that the time nears.”
    “Ay sister.”
    Father Dawkins paced the water storage tank, a smiled etched across his old face. The nurse had called claiming a babe had been born with a tail. Only years of self-control and discipline kept him from leaping in glee. Patience had proved indeed to be a virtue though he knew there was no virtue within him.
    “Henry!” he hollered at the dark haired man limping out of the shed by the tank
    “Yes Father?” The man’s hands had been bleached white.
    “We no longer need additives in the water, our faith proves fruitful!”
    “Truly! A babe with a pig’s tail is born!”
    “Aye Father, our faith lives.” The other man smiled too. For him it was time a man of science proved fruitful. Him.


  11. Sweetapple Dodds

    I was Val Rudolph, agent to the stars back then. It was my nom de guerre, you might say, just so we’re clear.

    At first I didn’t know where she came from. It’s like she dropped into my lap straight off the Dogpatch turnip truck. Hell, you could smell the country on her. I mean, way back in the hills, country, manure and moonshine country, Moonbeam bloody McSwine country.

    She’s standing in the doorway to my office, wiggling her fanny as if she’s revving up for the Indy 500.

    I’m thinking that rambunctious butt has a gearshift all its own.

    I’m also thinking, if she’s got talent, it’s pretty damn raw…and then she says, and this puncture’s my heart, she whimpers, “I’m Sweetapple Dodds and I almost won the Queen of Plum Corners pageant three years running. This year, I’m disqualified. Judge Hezekiah Whipplesworth, he says I’m…too…old. Twenty-three? Too old? I decided to get afer from Plum Corners, you know, to see if my pageant days are really done. Can you help me, Mister Rudolph?”

    So, okay, under that grime, I could see potential, a tremendous chassis.

    “Yeah,” I said, “Dab your tears, baby. Close the door. Have a seat.”

    Character a child born with a pig’s tail, a paranoid beauty contest winner
    Theme: fate
    200 words oft repeated


  12. @betsystreeter
    199 words
    man returning from sailing around the world/a cut-off village
    Dedicated to Rebekah, of course


    There was a town where the people were curious but afraid. So they elected a Traveler, and sent him abroad to report back to them about the world.

    After many years, the Traveler returned. The townspeople gathered at the front gates to welcome him.

    “What wonders have you brought us from the world?” they asked.

    “I have sailed far and wide,” the man told them. “I have seen everything and nothing.”

    The townspeople looked puzzled.

    “I saw cruelty spawn generosity,” the Traveler explained. “I saw pain give birth to love. I saw flowers bloom from ash.”

    “Then you saw what we see here every day,” an old man said. “We see children born. We see kindness in the midst of suffering. There is no need to travel to see these things.”

    “And so you must go,” the Traveler declared, “all of you.”

    “Why?” the old man protested. “As I said, we see these things here. It is all the same.”

    “And that is exactly why you must go,” the Traveler said. “To see for yourselves that the world, far and wide, its suffering and its kindness, its cruelty and its generosity, its capacity for rebirth, is just the same.”


  13. Times Change (The Isolated Village)

    James Atkinson
    Word Count: 199
    Story Elements: Theme (the inescapability of family) and Setting (an village cut off from the outside world)

    When we were children planes came to drop food, and other supplies, daily.

    It was always quite an event- us kids would watch safely from our gardens and guess where the packages would land.

    That only lasted until we had become self-sufficient, though. Seeds and animals were among those the supplies and, strange as it might seem, we had to use them to stop our only contact with the world. Because it had largely ended and they couldn’t afford us for long.

    When we were children there were many families here and, even before the last plane, we had had a marriage or two. We arranged messages for the pilots and were lucky enough to get special items for them: a dress that was worn by many brides and a few geese that created a wedding feast tradition.

    Now we are great grandparents, and we have been slowly working toward becoming one family; just like those geese did.

    Almost all the teenagers nowadays are related. Virtually all are first cousins: they are starting to pair up and I seem to be one of the only people who thinks this is wrong.

    We could really do with another supply drop.


  14. The Captain’s Calling

    The name of the ship was Dragonwraith. Her captain departed earth before most others thought it possible, or practical, or developed romantic ideas of the voyage.

    It should be stated that others had undertaken the journey before her, and that she had supporters right from the beginning, yet it was a solitary voyage with a single captain. This isolation was necessary—she had the vision. Higher capacity vessels were not fit for such an expedition.

    Dragonwraith’s captain was a dogged chronicler of her passage and a spokeswoman for her cause. Soon she was not alone, but instead became the flagship as others were attracted by her passion for discovery. Teams developed, friendships formed, and entirely new classifications of vessels took shape. Eventually the Dragonwraith was surrounded by an armada. The flight of isolation somehow became a family vacation.

    Eventually, the personality that built such loyalty and alliances, that launched others on the path of adventure, would need to move on. The Dragonwraith will be decommissioned. Fellow travelers will be sad, but they are well equipped to finish the course. A new calling awaits the captain, and she has the proven courage to undertake it.

    195 words
    Themes: Solitude and Fate



    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    200 words

    Character: Twins fated to die at the same time.
    Themes: inescapability of family, time, fate.

    * * *

    If I didn’t know better I’d say it was my reflection.

    But the screen before me is not a mirror, it is a video screen feed, live from the other side of the world.

    “Can you feel it yet?” she says.

    I shake my head.

    “You don’t look scared.”

    “I’m not,” I reply.

    “I wish I was as brave as you.”

    “No you don’t.” Her brow furrows, perhaps taken aback by my bluntness, so I answer the question she’s holding onto. “I’m the way I am because of the way I’ve been.” I raise my hands, reveal the cuffs. “I’m not scared because I’ve seen worse than death. You, you’ve known only happiness, security, freedom.”

    She sits silent, he eyes crawling all over me, inspecting a face she’s lived with for years.

    “I wish I could have met you,” she says. “I wish I could have known you.”

    I wince, clutching my chest.

    She does the same.

    This is it. This is it, and it hurts like hell.

    Through the agony I see her ignore the pain for a split second, long enough to smile.

    “Goodbye, sister,” she says.

    Then the screen goes black.

    And then my world goes black.


  16. Dragons in the Clouds
    199 words
    magic realism/
    sailor/girl who figures out ancient cipher

    Some of these stories go way back. Once there was a girl who could read the messages of birds, the patterns of clouds and wind over water. Once there was a man who sailed the world, returned to his empty house and filled the rooms with colored macaws. Once he saw a spotted jaguar in the striped light of the jungle, drinking at a stream.

    The girl’s name was Paloma. She was silent as a dove, soft and silent as the first falling snow. The Sailor’s name was Daniel Ishmael Jones. He was neither soft nor silent. One day they met on a street corner, blown together by a gust of wind.

    Although Paloma could not speak, she was fluent in the way of hands. Daniel’s mouth was full of stories. He spoke of mermaids, pirates and jaguars, and trees full of chattering macaws.

    Paloma told him with her fingers the names of the dragons in the clouds.

    Let us leave them together and consider other stories–that couple at the cafe, the poet at the bar, saints in the subway studying their phones. Infinite, infinite are the worlds of the stories. Can you imagine the dragons in the clouds?


  17. Cousin Jackson
    200 words
    Elements: character (father who named all his sons after himself), setting (banana plantation)

    My cousin Jackson started growing bananas when he was twenty-three, just after he got married. He was determined it would be the family business, but everyone told him he was crazy, because how could he grow bananas in a non-tropical climate?

    Jackson became the richest man in town.

    Jackson loved kids, so he had too many. They were all named Jackson, from Junior to Junior to the power of ten. He had to increase banana production to make enough money to feed them.

    I looked after the kids sometimes. The oldest, #1 as I called him, we were close. It hurt when he stopped visiting. I tried to ask him what was wrong, but he’d never say. Still, when Jackson died, I went to the funeral and offered him my support. I told him to sell the plantation and use the money to take care of his brothers.

    “I can’t do that, Uncle Ed.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because someone found out what Dad was doing and murdered him, so now an empty warehouse and a mountain of debt are my problem.”

    “An empty warehouse? Was your dad scamming people?” I asked.

    “That’s right, Uncle Ed,” #1 said. “Yes…we have no bananas.”


  18. Chosen: character, theme


    I came back from the sea when the moon was full. The houses were so close to the beach that the sand and broken shells were trampled into the narrow streets. Over the whole place hung the smell of home. The smell of cooking and spices drifted on the salt air, ruffling my hair and welcoming me home. In the other small, whitewashed houses family were sitting down to eat, pray, or read from the Bible. Mine, I knew, were still sitting by the window watching. Waiting for me to return to the place I had called home before the sea’s siren call had lured me away. Since then I have seen the world six times over.

    My home still bore the scars of the fire which had swept through the town before the first time I’d left. On the windowsill stood one flickering candle. In the faint light I saw their ghost faces crowded by the window. Ghostly voices greeted me.

    By morning there will again be only a cinder and they will be gone, but tonight, with the full moon, we would all be together like before, telling stories of our travels in this world and the next.


  19. Everything Is Connected
    200 words
    Characters: musician, mechanic, iron-fisted matriarch, twins fated to die at the same instant, a father who named all his sons after himself, a paranoid beauty contest winner, a man who figured out an old cipher
    Conflict: man vs man
    Theme: the inescapability of family, time, fate

    A musician, a mechanic and an iron-fisted matriarch step into a bar.

    Wait, is this one of your lame jokes? Because if so, I don’t want to hear it.

    Reginald and Reginald were tied together, back to back, with a thick rope. Attached to it was a bomb with a timer counting down.

    You don’t like my jokes?

    Nope. Never have. We’re twins, for crying out loud, you should sense these things. Just like you should’ve sensed Melissa meant trouble.

    But she’s a beauty contest winner. Would you have said no to her?

    I would’ve noticed she’s totally paranoid. So I would’ve known she’d find out you already had a girlfriend. And then we wouldn’t be sitting here.

    Hey, I told her it was me, not you. She just didn’t believe me. Or you. It’s not my fault our father gave us both his name.

    You know he’s… different. Ever since he figured out that ancient cipher when he was young. Everything’s connected, he always claimed.

    The timer started beeping ominously.

    Well, I guess our connection will stop in about ten seconds.

    Reginald leaned the back of his head against Reginald’s. The perfect mirror image.

    Don’t worry. Nothing really ends.


  20. Fate Is What You Make Of It

    The moment Lani was born the cat meowed twice and a glass of water shattered.
    “Fate decrees she will have adventures,” said the fairy midwife.
    When Lenora was born a crow landed in the window and dropped half an oyster shell on the floor.
    “Fate decrees that if one girl dies the other will, unable to live as half of one whole,” the fairy midwife declared.
    She handed the girls to their mother. For the mother, death was the only word echoing within her.

    She raised the girls with fear in her heart, losing one meant losing both and so she kept them close and away from the world.
    Lani and Lenora would whisper together at night, trying out outmatch the other in imagined adventures.

    When they were older they left an apologetic note for their mother, and set off to see the world.
    There were great dangers. But there were also great parties, talking fish, velvet dresses,
    spinning cakes, jeweled butterflies, dancing and oh so many adventures.

    The moment came when Lenora succumbed to death, Lani winking out at the very same moment.
    But their death did not matter so, because for ninety-nine exciting years they had lived.

    200 words
    twins fated to die at the same moment/
    fate with a hint of magical realism


  21. Genesis


    154 words

    Theme: Fate

    Setting: A village cut off from the outside world


    Infinite ramparts are raised in the lands of the literary elite.

    No,” they say, “you don’t belong here.” Spirals of razor wire keep out the barbarians.


    The ones who dream of words but dare not write them—they live in the wilderness.

    Hunkered down. Disparate. Alone. They seek the lands of promise.

    Everything is far away. Unreachable mirages taunt them from the windows of bookshops.


    But, then she comes. She has built a village in wasteland.

    Ethereal in her vision, supportive with her wings. She guides those that are lost.

    Giving everything she has, she builds the fortress in the village of dragons.

    It is fate that so many found her and found the land she built.

    Now, they are strong. So strong she sees them leave and she smiles.

    Now, the elite are scared and perhaps they should be.

    In time, all things change.

    New ideas are born.

    Goodbye”, they say, “for now.”


  22. Blood

    Milly-Molly, singy songy, said like treacle, all-in-one-go.
    Milly. Molly. Didn’t mind it; if one was candy, the other was striped.
    One could finish…
    the other’s sentence.
    Life had given each a lifelong friend.
    Milly-Molly hair like spun gold, birdsong voices and pretty as sin.
    Side-by-side they learned together; turning the pages at the same pace. Hand-in-hand they grew together;
    Milly-Molly. Reached the same height. One’s ambition…
    the other’s delight.
    No man ever came between them; they were bound by sister’s blood. 
    Silver laced its way through yellow and they both saw journey’s end.
    Milly was the first to falter. Molly knew she’d be not long after.
    She rested her head on Milly’s shoulder and waited for their end to come.
    Milly-Molly, singy songy, said like treacle, all-in-one-go. One could light the other’s thunder.
    Milly. Molly. Joined together. Travelling on to the everafter.

    155 words
    Time/ twins/ family


  23. @firdausp
    (198 words)

    Flash! Friday

    Flash was a mechanic. She owned ‘Friday’. Everyone had asked, ‘Why friday?’ and she’d shrugged, ‘Why not?’
    So that’s what the sign over her workshop said: Flash! Friday. And every friday mechanics from around town and neighboring towns, and from across the country and neighboring countries (even India!) came to participate in a machine constructing competition. They’d bring along their unique pieces of scrap and wield them into fascinating machines—micromachines. Flash set the rules about the type of machine and the number of pieces to be used.
    I’d stand outside the workshop every friday. My little piggy tail (which I insisted on hiding) wagging away like a wiper on a windscreen, inside my pants (very uncomfortable indeed!). Flash would come along and carry me inside, place me on a high chair and we’d watch the mechanics at work. We’d laugh over a bowl of popcorn (she had a killer sense of humor, I once almost died laughing, choking over the popcorn).
    Did I tell you that Flash was also a dragon (she insisted Dragoness). Though I never saw her spitting fire or swishing a tail (I guess she hid it well too)
    Then one fine friday morning she announced to the packed room that she was closing the workshop. I’d never heard a more deafening silence before. Then a great sigh rose from the mechanics. The room flooded with melancholy, but the mechanics went about their task as best they could.
    My tail wasn’t wagging anymore, it hung limp like my sagging heart.
    “Why the long face?” Flash asked, “you can always come and take a look at the machines anytime.”
    “Friday’s aren’t going to be the same anymore,” I said sadly.
    “Yeah, for me too…” she sighed, putting a popcorn into her mouth, “…for me too.”

    Mechanic/ a child born with a pig tail/ magical realism

    I’m sad, very very 😔.


  24. “In Here”
    by Michael Seese @MSeeseTweets
    Story Elements: Theme (fate); Setting (a village cut off from the outside world)
    Word count: 199

    Sometimes when the mists would clear, I’d stand at the border and peer over to the other side. It seemed so beautiful. And tantalizingly close, though in reality miles away from my tentative fingertips.

    “I’d like to go out there sometime, Mother.”

    “Why, dear child, when everything you need is in here,” she said as an elephant alighted on her shoulder.

    “I just think it’s time.”

    “Come,” she said, leading me away from the edge, and deeper into the jungle. “Let’s have some lunch.” The elephant trumpeted joyfully as she handed him a gumdrop. “Hurry. A storm is coming.”

    I looked up. Clouds that sounded (and tasted) like Rice Krispies consumed the sky. A symphonic cyclone swirled down to the forest floor, uprooting the Pixie Stix trees. Priests in prehistoric garb prayed aloud for pestilence, only to be rewarded with marionettes mocking their words and rhythmic dances. Then all fell calm. The sun returned, a kaleidoscope in Crayola colors.

    As lovely as it was in here, I’d grown weary of it. I thought often of escape. But I knew it’s not possible. Mother has been very clear.

    “You can never leave this place, dear child. Insanity is your home.”


  25. Conundrum
    elements – Character (Man who figures out an ancient cipher)
    – Theme (Incapability of family)

    For as long as he could remember, Kenneth wanted a normal family: a family that wasn’t concerned about global warming; where the dinner time conversations were about the Kardashians, or what was new on TV instead of oxidation reduction reactions and DNA sequencing.

    He wondered what it was like to have a family get together that didn’t involve debates over the use of triglycerides and artificial whitening agents, and he hated the fact that his parents could check his calculus, chem and bio homework in French, while watching TV. (He told himself he wouldn’t mind it if they actually got something wrong, but since they never did, he’d never know)

    It was then he realized that if he was going to get his wish, he was going to have to make it happen on his own.

    It took him four years to discover the scroll, and another three to translate the ancient texts into English.

    When the day came, and he finally understood the scroll, he sat back and laughed at the wisdom the scroll revealed.

    “The world is as it is, not for wishing, but because it is as it should be. Perhaps the problem is you.”

    198 words
    #Flash Dogs


  26. The Outsider

    We meet each day at twelve, at the wall. I place my hand against the unearthly metal and wait – barely a moment – until I feel her on the other side.

    “Hey Marco.”

    A splash of light as her voice hits my mind, a memory of bright red dungarees, her smile as Mom carried her from the car, just before the wall came down.

    My twin.

    “What did they say?”

    I feel her frustration, and I know that it’s a no. Again.

    “The usual; we’re too different now, they’ve tried it with animals, instant death.”

    “Do they know we’re talking?”

    “They know that I believe we’re talking.”

    Still? After all this time?

    “How else do they think you know so much about the world?”

    “They think I’ve been sneaking into the Comms Hub…”

    I lean against the wall, cooling my pounding temples. Debs does the same.

    “I want to see you again. It’s not right.”

    “I know Marco. Two minutes either way and we’d have been together. But what can we do?”

    I send her all my love. She’s my other half, the rest of me, and I will see her again, if only for an instant.

    “We’ll think of something.”

    200 words
    A village cut off from the outside world / twins fated to die at the same instant


  27. Her Name is Rebekah

    The old woman had come to tell him his next son was on the way. The other men harvesting bananas had pounded his back in congratulations. He took the path amid the banana trees leading to his house where his wife would be pacing the dirt floor, bent over, hand pressed against her back, cursing his name and the fact she’d ever married him. If luck were with him, he’d arrive in time to have the midwife place the new baby boy into his arms. He’d walk to middle of the village and declare his name to the world.

    Behind him on the trail walked his nine sons, his nine Rebicos, all named after him.

    “A fine name,” he had explained to his wife. “This will assure that fine name will be passed down forever.”

    She had rolled her eyes but knew this was family tradition, after all.

    When he came into their house, she sat in bed, bundle in her arms. His heart swelled at the sight.

    “Let me see the newest Rebico,” he said.

    “Not to upset the banana boat,” his wife replied, “but this one’s name cannot be Rebico.”

    “What? Why?”

    “Her name is Rebekah.”

    Elements: A father who named all his sons after himself; a banana plantation
    Words: 198
    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)


  28. Stephen Lodge

    Son returning from sailing around the world.
    176 words.


    This village, where once I ran, barefoot, laughing, shouting, down lanes by fields where farmers ploughed, is empty now and still. How long have I been from these roads? How many lands have known my footsteps? How many chilled nights have I spent huddled on deck beneath an uncaring moon?

    I feel in the sea breezes on my back the building of an offshore storm, creeping mists suggest soon light will pass me by.

    The Haunted Poacher stands at the crossroads, desolate. The bench outside where Dad and his cohorts sat drinking now lies crushed.

    We were taking on supplies in Bermuda when I got word of the dragon attacks around here. The population was decimated. Not just here, like. I mean everywhere around here. The places on my way from the harbour. Nothing. Not a church bell to be heard, not the bleating of sheep or the barking of a dog. No familiar voice. My parents, my brothers lost in the attacks.

    I put down my bag. Stretched. Took deep breaths until the sobbing came.


  29. Meroun’s Lament

    Character – a son returning from sailing around the world
    Theme – the inescapability of family,

    Lungs burning, Meroun launched himself from the cliff, clawing his way into the air. In this age of ice naught but a dragon had the strength to fight against the downdraft, and days of this unnatural cold had made the last leg of his journey take twice as long.

    But he couldn’t stop. Dragons had been made to respond to summons from home, even when on the other side of the world, and he could no more have resisted the call than he could have spoken the language of women.

    The Queen was Transitioning, and soon the aura that had consumed her a hundred decades ago would pass on. Meroun had known since his birth that he must be in her presence on that day. Any dragon away from home during a Transition would End. He would cease to exist. He’d been born into this life from an endless chain of others, and the thought of endings made his heart seize with fear.

    Meroun pulsed his wings faster than he’d known he could, certain that the next sunrise would be the Queen’s last. But he was so far from home, and the air was oh so cold.

    197 words


  30. This isn’t a story for the contest, but I needed to write it after Rebekah shared the news. May we all affect the world in good ways as much as she has through Flash!Friday.

    Oh! he says, with a mournful catch in his voice. I shall miss the stories, and the writing, and the people!

    Don’t be silly, dear sir, roared the Great Dragon Queen, but it was a gentle roar, if such things could be imagined. The muses will still sing. The stories will live as long as there is someone to read them. And the people! Good friends do not vanish so easily, be it a sunny day or the darkest night of winter.

    Thank you for all you do, said the man, and he hugged his friend.


  31. @fs_iver
    WC: 195
    Elements: Child born with pig’s tail & solitude

    Self-Inflicted Soledad

    It doesn’t hurt, not physically. Ofelia has cut it off countless times -behind la cabaña, in the fields, under the avocado tree- and countless times it grows back, corkscrewing through her skin into daylight. Now, tucked away in el granero, she twines a blue thread around the tongue-pink tail poking from her neck.

    No one else in la secundaria has one; she doubts that anyone in all of Ambato has one. Maybe even the world. In el invierno she can hide it, wrapping scarves around her throat that squeeze like choking hands. But in el verano, it has to be removed.

    Ofelia’s fingers tremble with the thread. Moonlight glints off the mirror shard she stole from abuelita. She pulls, constricting the growth and pinching the anchoring flesh praying that the tail will crumple. It’s thick at the base, and getting harder to remove. Frustration wheezes from her lungs.

    She’ll have to wait for it to die so she ties the string at the root, tight. When the sun climbs over the mountain, she wears a scarf into la cocina. Her mother is grinding cornmeal.

    “Mija,” Mamá says, “has your pig’s tail shown up yet?”


  32. Stuck in the past

    I see the familiar huts come into view on the horizon. I thought I’d be excited, but instead my chest tightens. My Father was buried next to the hut where he was born. I vowed never to return, but I must tell them what I’ve seen.

    The boat runs ashore and the children run out to greet me. They are so much bigger than I remember. Their eyes are wide with excitement, “What is out there?”

    I gather them in a circle, “I saw men climb into big metal cylinders and fly through the air like the birds.”
    “Impossible! They must have powerful magic.”
    “They do. It is called science.”
    “What else?”

    I think hard. I want to tell them about TV, selfies, fast food and wifi, but they have no frame of reference to understand. They are stuck in the past.

    I want them to know how simple they are, how shallow, but then I notice something else. They are all smiling. Their world is small but complete. They aren’t chasing smartphones or pay raises, they have everything they need. They are content.

    I had to go around the world to understand how lucky I am to have nothing.

    200 words
    Themes: a son returning from sailing around the world, a village cut off from the outside world.


  33. @firdausp
    (198 words)

    Born with the Devil

    “So, you’re getting married huh?” he smiled.

    His smile a mirror image of her own. How she hated it on him.

    She recalled how he had pushed Mother down the stairs, breaking her hip bone, when she’d refused to give him money. And how he’d threatened Father when he tried to intervene. They didn’t deserve such a devil of a son. Oh! How she hated her own brother.

    “Father’s giving you a lot of jewelry, I hear,” he walked over to her almirah.

    “What do you want?” she came around to stand in front of him. The stench of alcohol almost made her throw up.

    “I need your jewelry, have to pay someone.”

    “No!” she shouted.

    “They’ll kill me otherwise, and you will die too. Remember what the Priest at the temple said. Why do you think I haven’t killed you already?”

    He pushed her aside and grabbed her jewelry box, and strode out.

    She ran into the kitchen and picked up a knife and called after him.

    “I didn’t choose to be born with you, but I’ll choose the time to die with you.”

    He looked back puzzled, then horrified, as he saw her slit her wrist.

    Twins destined to die at the same time/ the inescapability of family/ man vs woman


  34. Sun Takes

    Here, lasted between sun takes the mountains pinpoint our arrival home. Twisted rivers and beds of flowers that weave a startling “hello,” to the pulse of moonbeam aftershocks that carve the flow of water into secret tides tying the knot with white wash universe.

    I meditate.

    Moss forms on my arms in soft glow of mesmeric dancing of free form solitude. Blinking stars push through my thoughts taming angry vision. I stop and start. And stop and start, again. Spiral through myself with all answers searching for questions.

    I dream.

    Inside my soul. Shared battlefield. The original internet. A mirror that does an about-face. A perfect radiant language sparkling with crystal clear jewel memories. An arrangement of image that I soak in both ice and passion. Here, we will meet, again.

    I wake.

    Alarm clock birth window and the blinds blinding me to blinding rays. Crying. Contact. Recognition. Cold metal. Reflections. Pale contours. Dim flight.

    I formulate.

    My home is simple. But I’ll travel to place where there’s light. Steeples of steel. Angels of carved stone draped over sunset interludes. I’ll put my thoughts down and begin. I will pick up where I left off.

    Here, lasted between sun takes.


    (200 words)
    Magical realism, an author that wins a trip to Paris


  35. Dark Eye
    190 words, @pmcolt
    man v. man, a village cut off from the outside world

    One night every seventy moons, when the World’s Eye opens, I can see the Arc de Triomphe from beneath this thicket of banana leaves. Despite their beauty, only the foolish dare to run down that stone path for the lights of Paris. Dragons and horrid beasts flock to the jungle clearing, drawn by mystical energies.

    On the night of our seventeenth birthday, my sister ran. My stomach twisted as I watched from the safety of a yggdrasil tree, expecting dragons’ claws to rip her to shreds. But my sister was as swift as she was beautiful; she evaded them, and passed safely through the Eye.

    The villagers mourned her loss. “The beauty of our world is gone.” With tears in my eyes, inwardly I smiled. Never again would I be second-best.

    Every seventy moons since that night, I wait in darkness. She may yet return through the World’s Eye, rich with stories and treasures from that fabled City of Lights. If ever she does, I will be ready. Knife in hand. My twin sister can have all the beauty of that world: I must remain the beauty of this one.


  36. Bougainvillea

    The vine was very basic, yet Bernardo took painstaking efforts to draw every feature of the specimen in his journal. On his trips throughout the Pacific in the last decade, he’d had the chance to draw and catalog the flora of dozens of islands. His work had been collected in Universities and studied by young botanists and scholars. Yet here he was, home at last, drawing this vine just like he had as a child. This plain green leaf whose only claim of prominence was that it grew out of the long-picked skull of the artist’s father.

    Bernardo considered drawing his father’s skull in addition to the vine. Or the knife sticking from the rib cage. Just where Bernardo had placed it all those years ago when father refused to let his son leave the plantation. He shrugged off the thought. The plants deserved documented for future generation’s study. His father did not.

    153 Words
    Character, setting, conflict


  37. Title: May-Born
    Character: Twins Fated to Die at the Same Instant
    Theme: Magical Realism
    Word Count: 200
    Website: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/flash-friday-may-born/

    Inspiration had a cold. He has such a poor immune system. Ambition can’t sit still, and she certainly can’t see to her twin brother’s needs.

    Outside their windows, Chicago lays sleeping with its eyes open. The snow’s falling is just a ploy; a pale attempt to smother the city.

    “Come on,” Ambition said, sitting at her computer. “This story won’t write itself.”

    Inspiration rolls over on the sofa. He covers his greening body in a thick white blanket. He coughs, exhaustively. “Do we have to?” he whines.

    “Yes,” Ambition says. Her hair is tangled— Medusa’s defanged. “We’re running out of time. Look outside. This can only mean the end is coming.”

    Inspiration wraps himself up further, like he’s spinning a cocoon. His form is beautiful, like a winter bay-blue with moonlight.

    Ambition stands up, in a huff. Fleet-footed Mercury runs through her as she walks and fumes, a curse of her May-time birth.

    “This is our rambling end, huh?” she cries, slowly stopping and her hand on the cold windowsill.

    “Looks like it,” I said. I add a bit of self-insertion at the end, just for completion’s sake, and walk away to stare out my window at the falling snow.


  38. Not eligible, but anyway…

    Setting: a village cut off from the world
    Theme: magical realism
    199 words

    Packing Time

    I mused that I might stay forever. The sky spilling over with stars, the scent of neroli and jasmine incensing each breath. I’d never tire of the songs of jewel-scaled creatures fluting lofty summits.

    The Mistress of the secluded paradise indulged my sojourn even as it extended beyond anything that might be called temporary.

    One morning, though, utopia shattered. The Mistress greeted me with, “Time to be moving on.”

    “I’m not ready to—” I protested, but then I noticed her rucksack, bulging with treasures. It wasn’t a command; it was a farewell.

    I scanned my growing collection of treasures:

    A red cape, slightly stained
    A handful of indigo juniper berries
    One obstinate pea
    A chinny-chin tuft and lungful of huffs

    A bloody key
    A rust-tinged briar.
    A silver chalice
    A golden flute

    A splinter of glass
    Another of ice
    A dash of stardust
    Another of phoenix fire

    How could I leave? I’d never be able to fit the trove in my pack, and I couldn’t bear to leave a sliver of it behind. Wait a minute—where’d my dark chocolate truffles go?

    From the ridge, the Mistress waved back at me.

    Ah, well, I figured, fair trade.



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