Fire&Ice: Sol 12/19

§ Foy says: If you could peek into the Ice Dragon lair, you would find—with less than 24 hours ’til Halloween in the United States—bats freshly taped to the walls, the glue still oozing from behind their misaligned googly eyes, pumpkins in perfectly good health, guts unspilled, faces uncarved, and only a single, solitary bag of candy to somehow safely feed the roving legions that may (or may not!) show up. I could try and blame this on a global pandemic but the truth is I am The World’s Worst Party Planning Parent™. (One day it’ll just come easily, right? Maybe after a level up??). Failings aside the little dragons are unreasonably cute in their costumes and there will be a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies to liven our leaky, but cozy lair. Whether you’re celebrating or abstaining this ghoulish holiday, thank you for sharing the last dregs of October with us here at Fire&Ice. ❤

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.


Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.


JUDGES: Today’s judges are Karl Russell and Betsy Streeter. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.



Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 12/19


Changing role patterns. Haarlem, The Netherlands. CC photo by Nationaal Archief. Find the description here

Fire & Ice PromptRequired elements:

Fire dragon option: Include a dollmaker


Ice dragon option: Include a fugitive

Today’s word count: Less than 200 (no minimum)

98 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 12/19

  1. Molly’s Place

    Eben didn’t think a whole lot about his childhood.

    It was just suddenly there.

    HE was just suddenly there.

    It must have been magic.

    He wondered where he had previously been.

    One day he asked his mother.

    “Hell if I know,” she stated, a pitch of anger in her tone. “Ask your father. “

    “Who?” Eben asked.

    “Exactly, my little man. It’s a question I’ve asked myself any number of times. Mikey, keep an eye on my kid, will you. I’ve got a deadline on that transmission.”

    “You’re covered, Molly,” Mikey, their new house guest said as his mother went out back to the garage she owned and operated.

    Mikey was cooking dinner and it smelled good.

    Eben stood up from playing with stupid Sally Sawdust and stuck his nose near the stove.

    “My speciality, Eben. Can’t beat a slab of beef roasting away with spuds, carrots, and onions.”

    Mikey had shown up a week earlier.

    His mother had screamed, ”No, not again.”

    Mikey, slim, slick, smelling of the road, said, “Two weeks, Mollykins, then I’m history.”

    Mikey was the latest. There had been so many others.

    Eben loved them all.

    They made his world sharp, snappy, and alive.

    Ice Dragon option: a fugitive
    199 words

    Liked by 9 people

  2. Backwards and forwards

    Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. The door swung in the wind, banging out its anxiety each time it sought its frame. Someone would come and close it soon. Agnes was sure of that. She looked at the golden clock on the dresser. Almost lunchtime. They’d be here soon. She’d show them what she’d done. She was proud of the doll she’d made. It swung the past back into the present.

    Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. They passed the doll between them, admiring Agnes’s work. The delicate face. The tiny hands. The shiny costume. Each one in turn looked. Each one in turn frowned as they lifted up the costume to reveal the two withered legs, sewn together. Agnes looked at the golden clock. They’d be leaving soon. Lunchtime was almost over. The last one out clicked the door carefully. There was no more banging. No more outside coming in.

    Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Agnes’s mind jumped more these days. The present was too difficult to hold onto. The past was here.

    175 words
    Fire dragon: A dollmaker

    Liked by 11 people

  3. Replacement

    She couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. Stared at the boy. Their baby, boy. His laughter a crack that whipped. He’d done this. She was sure. Their parents hadn’t even noticed. They never noticed her anymore. She wanted to scream, to cry, to reach out and punch his stupid baby head. Her eyes blank. Her limbs still. She wept. But the tears wouldn’t fall. The pain wouldn’t fade. She watched them carry on. Carry on without her.

    75 words
    A dollmaker

    Liked by 15 people


    The high-pitched whine of an electric saw screamed from the lit barn as Shelley rapped on the door of the farmhouse. She wiped away the rainwater which had trickled down a lock of hair, and wrapped her arms around her shuddering body.

    ‘I’m sorry to bother you so late,’ she said to the face of the woman who stood in the warm light.

    Shelley looked towards the dark hill. ‘My tent… it’s torn to shreds. I was hoping you might know of a B&B?’

    The woman stood back, a large pair of scissors in her hand. ‘Come in. We’ve plenty of room. Stay with us for the night.’

    Behind her was a small table where she had been cutting a newspaper.

    ‘You’re up late –’ Shelley began to the children sitting on the floor, then gasped at their dead-eyed stare and leathery faces: dolls.

    In a blast of air, the man came in, powdered white. He nodded at her, then stood close to his wife, whispering into her ear.

    ‘I’ll show you upstairs.’

    More dolls.

    ‘Who are all these photographs of?’


    Woken during the night by scissors chomping through her hair, Shelley understood about their dedication to realism.

    Word Count: 199
    Fire Dragon Prompt: Dollmaker

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Famsimile

    “Anything in the paper?” the dollmaker asks as pots simmer, their small kitchen filled with savoury steam. Vapour condenses on his little one’s plastic head, runs down her immobile face. Blink, the dollmaker wills, blink! She remains impassive, though droplets fall like tears onto the cards she’s playing with her raggedy sister.
    “You’ll need to put that paper down,” the dollmaker tells his wife, “it’s time to eat.” She doesn’t move, stares fixedly at the same article.
    “Tidy up now.”
    His older daughter’s padded hand rests on the box but she makes no move. Her button eyes placidly watch the teardrops of her plastic sibling.
    “Come on you two,” he gently berates, “show Mummy what good girls you are.”
    Inside, anger boils but the dollmaker will never let it show—not now, not anymore. They wouldn’t take his girls again.
    His wife whimpers.
    “What’s that, my love?”
    She cannot answer—the dollmaker’s twine binds her bloodied lips, the sedative not yet fully worn off. An article in the newspaper swims in her vision. Something about abductions, the suspect still at large.
    “We’ll show them this time, my love.” says the dollmaker. “We’ll show them we can be a real family.”

    198 words
    David Shakes
    A (fugitive) dollmaker – (ice)fire

    Liked by 12 people

  6. The overwhelming thought pounding her mind while her husband cooked their tea was, where could her sister be. A doll had been made by her husband to keep their child happy and give them a little space to work but it ought not be an issue as he never asked that many questions while absorbed in a game anyway. She pretended to read the paper but was thinking about the cryptic note now burned in the fireplace. 

    ‘Have to go away in hiding for a while, because of work. Try not to worry, please only tell mum i will see her soon. I  love you all.’

    Sharing a look they realised there had always been a secretive side to her sister’s daily activities and they would just have to try to do as she asked.

    Ice (with a hint of fire misdirection!) @lindorfan 135 words.

    Liked by 11 people

  7. The Original Fugitive of Suburbia


    Sophia’s escape is superheroes and comics.

    Her family live the suburban dream—at least to those that see their Ikea-Vogue façade.

    Hidden by walls, Mum is bathed in the glow of the screen, trolling other members of the PTA under her fake social media accounts.

    Dad’s dinner comes from a shrink-wrapped package, punctured with holes, and accompanied by a siren call, bleep-bleep-bleep, tempting the unwary sailors of suburbia to the rocky shores of MSG and mother-earth-nuking palm oil.

    Sophia, is a fugitive inside herself, an outsider, often called a freak, in this world—even in this perfectly perfect suburban home.

    Sophia itches her arm as she pushes the processed peas. She methodically separates the sweetcorn from the mechanically-reformed meat and gelatinous gravy.

    She sees things that others cannot see. Light switches, door handles, bannister railings. She sees dangers in plug sockets, boiling pans, knives in easy reach of little brother.

    They call her condition a disorder.

    But it is






    But, the world has changed with the pandemic.

    Everyone else must now adapt.

    This is her world.

    She is a hero. Her powers were simply lying dormant.

    Her condition is now a super power.



    194 manually counted words


    Liked by 12 people

  8. ‘Shut up Freddie! My ears are bleeding with all your racket!’
    ‘Well shut him up before he cries his big fat baby tears all over that doll!’
    ‘Can’t you see I’m busy reading? You do it and be quick about it. Dolls don’t grow on trees!’
    ‘I am cooking a ‘cording blue’ feast. Get off your lazy bottom and shut him up!’
    ‘SHUT UP FREDDIE!’ They both yell.

    ‘Lil! Lucie!

    Throwing down the dolls; clattering downstairs with excited squeaks they are soon buttoned up and enveloped in the darkness of ‘All Hallows’ Eve.’

    Upstairs. Lying still. Plastic eyes stare into the gloom. The floor creaks. Shadows chase slivers of light that dart in and out of the windows of the dolls house. Next to the miniature oven sits the raggedy doll. As smoke fills the little room she doesn’t blink away her sooty tears. She is waiting for them—as she does each year. Somewhere in the house a clock chimes. A baby cries. Feet clattering on the stairs.

    ‘Shut up Freddie!’

    Wordcount: 172 words
    Fire Dragon: Dollmaker

    Liked by 10 people

  9. Good company

    He’s always been good with his hands. Everyone admires the bookshelves. And my keepsake box, made of alder wood. He’s an artist, really.

    No, he’s not much good at fixing things. That’s why I learned how to unclog the kitchen sink and change the furnace filter. I’m the one who takes out the trash. But we get along. We’re happy.

    Now he has a new project. Home improvements, he says. Good company. A girl with a blonde braid just for me. A boy with freckles to go fishing with him.

    Yes, they are almost human.

    95 words
    fire dragon–dollmaker

    Liked by 15 people

  10. Always been a fugitive from my real love, cooking. Growing up with conservative parents made it more difficult, all I really wanted to do was stay at home and cook. Papa was a big man with a bigger ego, he bullied us all and couldn’t stand any contrary views. He ruled the house with iron fists, just like his brothers did theirs.
    Their wives were practically slaves, sentenced to cook, keep the homes, bear and rear children, they talked only when spoken to and that was it!
    Papa and his brothers acted like feudal Lords over their homes, drank too much beer, were gluttonous, eating all the good food up, not caring for the kids. They had multiple lovers, beat their wives up if they as much as whimpered over their philandering.
    Got beatings for spending too much time with the women in the kitchen, prefering to work on their vegetable patches instead of more manly pursuits. He had crippling fears over my lack of masculinity.
    Grew up, became a lawyer to please him, married Sola who hated cooking and with that twist of fate, was given a free ticket to hoard the kitchen to myself for life.

    Papa, at 55 divorced Mama, moving in with Henry, who was twenty years his junior, left everyone shocked, except me. For me, the exaggerated fear of my masculinity explained it all. He was fearful of his real self.
    Words 200
    Fire Dragon Fugitive.

    Liked by 11 people

  11. Plasticity

    You could make humans do anything. Bend her knee. Tuck his elbow. Open his eyes in amazement. Switch positions. One day, make him flip through the newspaper, and after cleaning off the ink stains, make her do it.

    The dolls went wild for it at Christmas peak season. Big boxes of humans couldn’t be restocked on the shelves fast enough. A rich doll was known by the big box shadows in the front windows of their dollhouses – a status symbol more than the tree. The best boxes came with the accessories: sandals, telephones, cabinets, pots, and pans.

    Nuclear families were best sellers. But some tried to be more realistic, with one of the humans missing, like an empty crib after the baby died of SIDS. All to keep peak season interesting, to keep the dolls buying.

    Suellen liked to play with the little humans more her size and easier to maneuver. But unlike her friends, she grew bored of humans and their mundane tasks.

    So, she began plucking their eyes to see if they were buttons, too. And ripping at their skin to see if they had cotton stuffing underneath, too.

    And searching to see where their tags were.

    Word Count: 199 words.
    Element: Fire.

    Liked by 12 people

  12. From Father to Son

    George hated his job. It showed in the faces of the dolls he carved, sullen and at best sad. His mother sat mostly with her back to him trying not to show her disappointment. She knew he wanted to be out of this tiny room, out of this town, out of this country. Flying south like the birds. Freedom!

    He wondered if it would be easier to kill his mother. It would have to be painless. He couldn’t bare it if she suffered. It wasn’t her fault his father had died and all the wood had to be paid for. It was her that thought the talent would pass from father to son but no! His father loved the wood, tracing the grain with his fingers like he was caressing a woman. To George the wood was manacles, tightening their grip each day until he felt drained of spirit.

    For a second he thought about raising the chisel and plunging it into the back of his mother but she turned and asked about Joy. He smiled. Life on the run without his mother and Joy would be pointless like a blunt chisel.

    192 words
    Element: Fire and Ice

    Liked by 11 people

  13. Together and Apart

    It seemed the perfect way to hide. A botched robbery, ending in multiple deaths, led us there. They seemed so genuine.

    I could only ever see in one fixed direction and could do nothing else but silently think.

    They would pose us and play with us, leave us as if we were children sitting and playing. We were completely at their mercy. Alive and yet unalive.

    As their collection grew, my hope died, my mind kept alive only by plans for revenge and by catching glimpses of her…


    eventually they died and we were scattered. Then I fell away from this world.

    Decades wandering the rooms in my mind, memories and dreams re-lived, re-played, wound and bound together until I barely knew myself.

    Sometimes I wonder if this was the best prison.

    One day I was suddenly seized, returned, carefully revived and locked away for my crimes.

    My love is still lost. I gave a description but she was cloth, less hard wearing than me. And I can’t go help find her. This incarceration is better than the first, really, but sometimes I’m not entirely sure. At least we had been together in that house of horrors.

    198 Words
    Include a fugitive

    Liked by 9 people

  14. The Changeling

    Stealing in through the nursery window, the baby monitor let out a scream of static and showed snow on the monitor. But it only took a moment for the dollmaker to place the life-like doll in the cradle, pick up the sleeping child, and climb out the window. She scurried down the fire escape to the door of Faerie where the doctor was waiting.

    “The hair’s the wrong shade,” the waiting doctor told her, his haunted eyes gaunt in his face. He showed her the form the parents had completed, with tick marks next to the attributes they’d wanted their child to have.
    She knew her face showed him the disdain she felt.
    “They’ll be furious once they realise it’s not their baby. But who knows what else went wrong.” He stared at the form again. “They paid for an athlete… but the tests now show…” The doctor turned and walked away, still staring at the form.
    She shivered. She knew what some did to her dolls. Better the dolls, she thought. Too many children were called Changelings these days. Too many didn’t conform to the recipe their parents had chosen.
    She stepped through the doorway into Faerie.

    Words: 198
    Fire dragon option chosen – include a dollmaker

    Liked by 9 people

  15. Georgie

    It was early morning. Ben was cooking eggs and bacon. Linda indulged in latest news. In the background radio played Christmas music. It was that time again.

    “Can you turn it off?” Linda said not raising her head.
    “It is little Georgie’s favorite song, am I right Georgie?” Ben loomed above his son.

    Georgie was a silent child. Gave no trouble to his parents. Always curious about his father’s job. Despite what neighbors talked behind their backs, little Georgie was a perfect child.

    A whiff of rot danced with eggs and bacon.

    “He stinks again.” Linda said.
    “I thought I got the mixture right this time.” Ben turned the bacon stripes over. Knelt to Georgie. “What I got wrong, Georgie?”

    Wax was dripping on the kitchen floor. Ben poked Georgie’s arm. Soft tissue met his finger. “Georgie, Georgie why you give us trouble?” Ben sighed. “Will you put him back in a freezer?”

    “He is your son.” Linda said louder than she intended.
    “I’m making breakfast.”

    Georgie silently fell on the floor.

    172 words
    Fire dragon

    Liked by 9 people

  16. ~The Boy Who Wasn’t a Doll~

    Chapter 1 : He and She

    In the beginning, the great Dollmaker created two.

    He, and She.

    The Dollmaker created them in his image, endowing the best of qualities in He and She, giving He more physical strength than She but giving She more endurance than He.

    The Dollmaker also built a beautiful Dollhouse and left He and She to enjoy its riches and tend to it.

    He and She did a commendable job, and life in the lovely Dollhouse was wonderful, until one day, everything changed.

    Chapter 2 : Into the Pink Room

    “Do anything you want, but do not enter the Pink Room” the Dollmaker had said, before letting them into the Dollhouse.

    But that is precisely what happened.

    He and She, unable to resist temptation, entered the Pink Room, and in an act they couldn’t fathom immediately, the Boy was conceived.

    Chapter 3 : But I’m Not a Doll

    The Boy was entirely like He and She but also entirely unlike them. But one thing The Boy certainly wasn’t, was a Doll.

    “I’m not a Doll” The Boy would say to He and She, “The Dollmaker made you in his image. You are Dolls. But I.. I am made in your image. I am just a boy”

    All He, She and the Dollmaker could do, was smile.


    199 Words (excluding Title and Chapter Headings)
    Dollmaker Element

    Liked by 8 people

  17. At Home With The Dollmakers

    Roland Dollmaker hit the gas tap. ‘Bloody thing,’ he dropped the lighter and kicked it across the floor. ‘Reality TV sucks.’
    ‘It pays, sweetness.’ Puella Dollmaker marked Bring It On as a possible for the 4.30 at Kempton. ‘You wanted another series.’
    ‘Oh sure. And you wanted to get a real job.’ Roland cracked open a beer. ‘We need a theme for the next episode. Any ideas?’
    ‘You could melt Thomas. Burning Dorothy in effigy seemed to go down well.’
    ‘If I could get this wretched stove to light that might not be a bad idea. Really though haven’t we overdone the children as sacrifice schtick?’
    Puella laid the paper on the floor. ‘You could do another cookery episode. The last one was the third most popular of all, even though the soup was a disappointment.’
    ‘It took me a month to get my strength back.’
    ‘I told you two pints from one vein was overdoing it.’
    ‘The first pint clotted before I’d added the harisa paste.’ Roland paused. ‘The director suggested we try something radical, a bit avant garde.’
    ‘Oh yes? ‘
    ‘He thought we might watch the TV. Together.’
    Puella shrugged. ‘It’ll be R rated…’

    Fire: dollmaker


    196 words

    Liked by 5 people

  18. A song my mother used to sing
    as she played surgeon to Red Coat—
    one for sorrow, one for joy.
    She was hoping for a boy.
    Buttons for eyes, and new hands,
    and in his belly, now there’s straw.
    My father would have done a better job—
    after all, he’d made that monkey and more,
    but I loved Red Coat the most.
    For Dean there would be no toys—
    my mother named him for a ghost.
    She shouldn’t have made the monkey’s paw—
    She came home with a belly of straw.
    One for sorrow, one for joy.
    Years later, she’d tell me it was a boy.

    106 words
    Fire Dragon: include a dollmaker

    Liked by 8 people

  19. Title: No Time to Stop Running

    “They won’t look for a family,” I said, and he agreed.

    A quick trip through a thrift store, and we had our family: Marsha aged six; Bentley, aged fourteen months.

    And we ran.

    Don’t ask how we managed to leave behind Bentley’s dirty diapers at the myriad hotel rooms we used. Or how we changed their clothes so they wouldn’t be in the same outfits day after day; how we carried them into hotel rooms only at night, so no one would notice they couldn’t walk; how we staged delightful family scenes like birthday parties with homemade cake. We were never anywhere long enough for someone to notice Marsha and Bentley didn’t grow.

    We changed our names often; Marsha became Alice became Ann became Stacy became… Bentley became Charles became Wallace became Nathan became… I kept track of which names we’d used where, in case we happened to return to a town we’d been to before, but it’s a big country.

    More than once I reflected on how I took better care of this family than our original one. You know, the real Marsha and Bentley, asleep in their shallow graves.

    That’s why I had to run.

    Ice dragon element
    WC: 197

    Liked by 10 people

  20. “Planting the Seeds”

    Hot water hissed on the coils, and I leapt to get it. Billy had distracted me by drawing on the wall with red crayon and I’d been too busy beating his ass to catch the pasta before it boiled over. I’d told Molly that she shouldn’t have been playing in front of the stove, and now she knew why as a cascade of water scalded her from her scalp down to her stomach. “That’ll teach ya,” I laughed, and then I kicked her over for good measure.

    I heard heavy footfalls on the floor above and raced over to pick up the ball and mitt I’d left on the floor. I was tossing the ball into the air when Dad tromped down the stairs. His voice was slurred, but I understood him well enough.

    “You weren’t playing with your sister’s dolls, were ya boy?”

    I shook my head as to indicate the thought had never crossed my mind.

    “You know she made those, before the flu. I catch you playing with them, and you’re getting your ass beat.”

    I nodded.

    He swung a kick at me, more out of habit than any particular anger. “That’ll teach ya.”

    And he laughed.

    200 words
    Fire Dragon

    Liked by 7 people

  21. Pingback: #FireIceFlash, week 12/19 – Project Gemini


    It doesn’t matter which sex is the breadwinner when there is no bread to be won.

    Anke stares glumly at the newspaper. There are no jobs, because of lockdown. She is wearing her dungarees anyway, so that she can leap into action should somebody suddenly need emergency wallpapering.

    Johan is making dinner. The ingredients are a swede and a jar of mayonnaise. It will not be tasty.

    Their bottle-opener dangles, a taunting reminder of a time when they could afford beer.

    They have sold most of their furniture. They have sold all of their best shoes.

    The apartment has no heat, and the mess in front of Lotte is what happens when you try to open a tin of Pringles while wearing mittens.

    Lotte picks at the Pringles while playing with her doll. Johan made it for her, and she loves it more than any Barbie.

    They will get through this. They have each other.

    155 words
    Fire dragon option

    Liked by 7 people


    She loved the toys her father had made for her. They’d taken him a full year and were so ‘otherworldly’ that they made her giggle , just as he had hoped they would .
    Imagine having a face that showed everything you were thinking and didn’t mask when you were happy or sad . Real life would be impossible if your face was such a reflection of your hopes and dreams. Much better to have no emotions or expressions. No one could be offended or disappointed that way .
    Even so, the older male doll was really useful because her father had programmed it to make her breakfast. And even better, it presented it to her with a smile and a new joke each day. She laughed inwardly.
    And the boy puppet was improving with every game. She’d even fiddled with the settings so it could win once in a while .
    But the female one was useless. She wasn’t listening to instructions and wouldn’t do even the most basic of menial tasks.
    A closer look at the doll’s controls would have immediately highlighted the issue .
    Her ‘self esteem’ button was stuck on ‘high’.

    196 words
    Fire Dragon option: Dollmaker

    Liked by 6 people

    • Intriguing idea! This has interesting implications for the future of AI. If we program AIs with high self-esteem, they won’t automatically default to doing what humans want them to do.


  24. TITLE: Sharing is Caring

    Circles inside circles,
    Me inside you

    Me and Sissy put shapes in their special places.

    I make this one spin
    I make you spin too.

    I get a tummy tickle when we play Mummy & Daddy.

    Hexagon, hexagon, hex!

    Even though Sissy’s playing Daddy she says, I’m cooking,

    No fair! I was gonna cook nutella pancakes with grape jelly. Let me be Daddy then!

    I need this one, she says, for special stew. Stay here. She heads for the shed.

    I babysit the skin-clothes. Sissy’s is ragdoll soft. Mine’s stiff and broken. My real legs don’t work so good coz first Daddy pushed me into the empty swimming pool. I don’t remember, but Sissy does. She figured out the game. She also found new Daddy after the first one left.

    Instead of burger, Sissy chops up bloody chunks.
    It’ll be good.

    I take the newspaper. The picture looks like new Daddy. I read ‘police looking for’ and something that starts with ‘fug-‘. I say, hmm, like it’s adult-serious.

    The stew is good. The chunks are super juicy.

    I can’t wait for my turn with new Daddy. He’s not as fat as first Daddy. Bet he can even do handstands.

    199 words
    Element: Both fire and ice

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Sentinel

    You do love me don’t you? He busies himself making me a cup of tea. Outside trees sway gently against a perfect sky.

    I nod, the tea offered, sweet and hot. He stands waiting obediently. The children scurry past the open window, giggling joyfully. In the afternoon light he’s almost perfect, maybe stubble and shorter hair, and I prefer him in a blue shirt, slightly unbuttoned.

    Code alters, his hair shortening, a five-day shadow blooming across his youthful cheeks. His top alters to a dark blue oxford.

    Desire burns deep within me.

    Kiss me, I tell him.

    Booting out, Fenix is stood at my watch station, fingers twisting his mop anxiously.

    “For fucks sake Tabs, you promised. If you get found out …”

    He slinks away from my glare, retreating into the labyrinth of archival servers emanating away beneath me. I run a quick loop-code, my D011F4C3-HACK remaining undetected within the AI log.

    01:00, five hours till the dayshift arrive and I can stop babysitting the dead.

    I activate the viewer, scanning the residents. Lingering on #23A451V stood by an open window. Trees hang limp under a slate sky, children nonexistent.


    Yet looking perfect in blue.

    198 words
    Fire: Dollmaker

    Liked by 7 people

    • Oh this take has vast and intriguing world building implications–why do the dead need a sentinel? What are the consequences for altering the dreams of the dead? So much to explore here!

      Liked by 2 people

  26. Sol 12/19

    Silence (Title)

    ”We’re just like mommy and daddy”
    “We are nothing like mommy and daddy”


    “They can’t hear you”
    “They’re too busy”
    “Just look up”


    “Such a baby”



    “You OK? “
    “Just sad”
    “Don’t they love us?”
    “I don’t think so”
    “Think they forgot about us. When they forgot about each other.”


    “Hold my hand. We have each other still.”


    Fire Dragon: Dollmaker
    Word Count is 66

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Bunny needs a brother, my wife announces. She’s been at it all week.
    Bunny’s sitting on the floor, a permanent smile on her face.
    She seems happy on her own, I say.
    Don’t you hear her screaming at night, my wife accuses, her voice shrill, she needs a companion, her nightmares—
    Okay, I gently interrupt sensing her rising anxiety.
    I’ll put her to bed then, she beams grabbing Bunny from the floor. Say goodnight to daddy Bunny.
    I kiss my daughter’s yellow wool hair.

    Do you have a baby boy Dan? I speak into my phone.
    Jeez man! You’ve started sounding like her.
    Do you Dan?
    No, just lots of Bunny.
    I want a son Dan.
    Okay, there’s one plastic boy, he can talk.

    I carry my stiff son to Bunny’s room. My wife has fallen asleep beside Bunny who’s staring at the ceiling.
    Surprise, I say loudly. My wife stirs. I push a button. My son starts laughing.
    My wife raises her head, the constant glassy look in her eyes melting. I push the button again.
    I love you mummy, I love you daddy, my son repeats.
    I watch tears slide from her eyes seeping into Bunny’s face.

    Words: 200/ dollmaker

    Liked by 6 people

  28. Hoops

    I got the only ever interview with Simon – yes, THE Simon: animatronics genius. It was for a piece in a business magazine. Looking back I’ve no idea why they wanted to do the interview. All geniuses are a little skewwhiff, but Simon was off the scale.

    He made me spaghetti hoops on toast whilst shouting at his ‘kids’ about Pringles spoiling their appetite. Every time I see a doll now I think of that afternoon. Everyone knows Simon started making them as a child to create his own friends. These days as one of the richest people on the planet he could definitely find some.

    I regret only taking one photo. There were the first three generations of his creations: Emily, the floppy daughter with golden bangs and bog-eyes; then little shiny Peter, who was more of a traditional doll – and quite scary; and Sarah. God, Sarah freaked me out. She looked like she was picking horses out of the sports pages of the paper. When I’d walked in I’d said, ‘Hello’ – I thought she was his girlfriend.

    Looking back. Maybe she was.

    I’d stared at her enormous feet. She turned and asked me what I was looking at.

    WC: 199
    Ice: doll maker

    Liked by 7 people

    • This is perfectly bizarre and sad and funny all at once. It’s one of those stories that improves on second read, too! (I missed the quotes around “kids” the first time).

      Liked by 1 person

  29. How quick, a child becomes grown.

    Flashes of memory now nestle away, in sepia and grayscale, of times of ease and comfort. The bark of dogs, short tales told with endings near forgotten, home-cooking, home-making, home.

    These are the lights that guide the lost, the children grown displaced, the parents with their bundles held fast. The hope, perhaps, these bundles may one day grow to know them too.

    One such figure runs, in darkness, panting, stumbling, haggard.

    A crack, that thunder stays with the bundle, a darkness hanging over.

    Decades pass, that bundle now a trundling little old thing. They never knew from whence they came, nor that their parents ran. All they have of that, a crack, that thunders in their mind.

    Aside from that? The stain, residing?

    Memories, in sepia and grayscale, of times of ease and comfort. The bark of dogs, short tales told, with endings near forgotten, home-cooking, home-making, home.

    For life prevails. Love prevails. To fugitive comes refuge.

    The darkness takes us all sometimes, and sometimes light goes out, though for as long as fuel may burn, the fire remains devout.

    That trundling little old thing knew that.

    Still does, and proudly touts.

    198 Words
    A Fugitive

    Liked by 8 people

  30. 🔁

    Bacon sizzled on the stove.

    Noelle sat playing the crossword.

    “How do you want your eggs?” Hugh asked.

    “Same as ever. ‘Studious apartment.’ Starts with E.”

    Hugh looked around the tiny apartment. “Efficiency? Breakfast is ready.”

    They ate bacon, eggs, and burnt toast, straddling the rickety card table with their knees.

    “Can you pick up Addy and Mark from school this afternoon?” she asked. “I picked up an extra shift at work.”

    Hugh cleared the table as Noelle adjusted her overalls in the mirror. “You know things will change,” Hugh told her. “Once my business takes off, we’ll have new clothes, fancy breakfast foods…”

    “A house with walls?” Noelle smiled, oblivious to the gray in Hugh’s hair, the years of wrinkles on his face. Their eyes met. “I love–”

    Suddenly Hugh stood alone in an empty black space.

    “Your simulation time has expired,” a voice announced.

    “Already? Two thousand doesn’t buy what it used to.” He frowned. “Restart the simulation.”

    “Mister, out of all possible simulations, why do you keep reliving this old memory?”

    “Because I can, and I want to. Restart the simulation.”

    Bacon sizzled on the stove.

    189 words, a dollmaker

    Liked by 10 people

    • Such craft! Enjoyed this the first time reading, love it more the second time: realizing that the old man’s business probably DID take off (he can afford playing the simulation over and over for $2k a pop), understanding that his life before his success contains his favorite memory, the tidbit that she’s oblivious to his age could be read as she loves him for who he is AND acts as a hint that this is a memory simulation.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I love what you’ve left for the reader to fill in–excellent use of subtext. And the commentary on what’s worth re-living is thought-provoking.


  31. The curator’s request seemed simple enough.

    “Make them lifelike.”

    To the layman, it might sound straightforward. But delve into the specifics…

    The skin has to mix flexibility and resilience. It needs to be thick enough to withstand the slings and arrows the battles of life hurls at it, yet respond kindly to the touch of a loved one.

    The eyes must be able to focus, laser-like, on the task at hand, yet have the foresight to gaze into the distance, searching the horizon for unseen traces of the future.

    Now let’s talk about the gut for a minute. The gut needs to digest both critical nutrients and the truth, all the while serving as the ultimate arbiter of life’s greatest decisions.

    And the heart. It has to remain a closed loop, efficiently delivering blood to the critical organs, yet be open enough to allow entrance to all who need a piece of it.

    Quite the challenge.

    In the end, I just decided it would be easier to just “borrow” a few of the specimens from our last foray to Earth, encase them in acrylic, and put them on display.

    Liked by 6 people

  32. Help Wanted

    OK, how about this one? Wanted: craftsman for seller of home furnishings and accessories. Candidate should have a minimum of 5 years of experience and samples of previous work.

    They both looked at his “previous work,” then looked at each other.

    Well, you are a craftsman. Anyone can see your skill very clearly in your work.

    That’s OK. I don’t really want to build home furnishings and accessories anyway.

    Yes, but it’s been three months since the doll factory closed.

    We’re fine! We have plenty of savings and no debt. There’s no need to hurry into just anything. And now I have time to cook and do things around the house. And we can spend all day together!

    Right. No rush at all …

    124 words
    doll maker

    Liked by 7 people

    • Re-reading the title after the final line made me laugh. I love how you create a dialogue that tells the reader very clearly that “spending all day together” is not what one of the partners considers a benefit, while leaving the other partner blithely oblivious.

      Liked by 1 person


    Merle makes them for everyone in the apartment complex.

    “For motivation,” she says to Sumyya, the young climate systems engineer (practically a child herself), before tucking it tenderly on the towering stack of work-dragged-home in Sumyya’s arms.

    “Think of it as a reverse haunting,” she tells Kai the doorkeeper, “a talisman of sorts. To ward off evil.” With a bared-teeth grin, they take it in two gloved fingers.

    “Things may turn around—best to be prepared!” she says to Marcus, the Nurse Practitioner in the apartment above hers. He closes the door and tosses it to June.

    “Here, in case planet-wide sterility ‘turns around’.”

    “Hush,” June says, “If it makes her happy.”

    “I guess one wasn’t enough?”

    June shrugs, and arranges the new child by her sibling.

    “Plastic this time. Odd.”

    She leans down and kisses the smooth head.

    WC: 138 ineligible words

    Liked by 6 people

  34. “The twist will be,” said Dmitrei, mixing the dough and sending whiffs of steaming hot honey and ginger skittering, “that we’ve chopped up our nemesis and added them to the very stew we’re serving.”

    Oksana laughed. “Not much of a twist,” she said. “It’s been done a thousand times.”

    “Exactly!” said her husband. “That’s why nobody will suspect us. The geriatric bakers.”

    “Also, we don’t have a nemesis.”

    “One thing at a time,” said Dmitrei with a wink. “Here, taste.”

    Frowning, Oksana took the spoon. “Why don’t we have a nemesis? Ohhh, this batch’s perfect. Move, and I’ll roll it out. -We’re certainly old enough.”

    “Our rotten luck, only knowing lovely people all these years.”

    His wife grinned. “We’ll just have to endure retirement without a nemesis, I guess. -Oh, take my tray out of the oven, would you? I made a special cookie for us.”

    Dmitrei’s cry of alarm made Oksana jump.

    RUN, RUN, AS FAST AS YOU CAN, UGLY DOUGH-BALLS, growled a voice.

    “Well!” gasped Dmitrei, watching the cookie dart out the door.

    “Well!” said Oksana, gaping.

    They stood in silence for a moment. And then:

    “Stew, eh?” said Oksana.

    “Stew!” said Dmitrei. His eyes were fire.

    199 ineligible, belated, fire/ice words

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Pingback: At Home With The Dollmakers #flash!friday #flashfiction | TanGental

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