Yep, my prompts are just for fun. Flash me daily if you got it in ya. It's all good, I have a strong stomach.
Poll for March is on the way. My computer is causing a glitch of some sort with the polling feature where the category and publicity features have vanished, and it won't allow me to create the poll without them...
Working on it.
Anyway, it is really hard to pick. I even went up to seven this time. Still, only 3,200 words total for seven stories.
There is one story I really, really wanted to include, Hetch Litman's, if it had been revised and edited. Hetch, I think if you rewrote that and reworked it a bit, it could be a transgressive gem. Is it in the workshop? I would like to take a stab at it.
So I will post these as soon as I figure out what is going on.
Eye of the Storm
“Stand by for Fire and EMS dispatch,” The radio tone boop-beeps into my ear.
“Rescue Five and EMS Station Three, Rescue Five and EMS Station Three, Albertson's grocery store at 500 Kittridge for a 4 year old male actively seizing, unresponsive, unconscious, 500 Kittridge for unconscious unresponsive seizing child.”
Dispatch will assign a Police unit to go, next. I’m up in the call rotation. Don’t fucking send me, I don’t want to go. I’m not a medic, I don’t need to see a dead kid today.
“Go ahead,” I say, when what I really mean is Fuck.
“Yessir, need you to make Albertson's at 500 Kittridge, assist EMS with a 4 year old unconscious unresponsive, having a seizure.”
Damn you dispatch, is what I mean when I say, “Ten four.”
I’m actually in the grocery store parking lot when it comes out. But I don’t need to see a kid die today. I'm in the parking lot because another officer pulled somebody over, and is arresting the driver for something. An unpaid ticket, or whatever. Who cares, I could go back him up and dodge the EMS call.
But I go anyway.
“Bravo-3, I’m out.” Someone has to.
“Please help” she says, and I don’t know what to do. “Do something,” she says, but I’m not a fucking medic. She shoves a little blonde boy in my arms, and I hold his dead weight close to me, but he can’t feel my warmth through my body armor, can’t feel my heart trying to beat through.
I can hear the ambulance and rescue truck. The wail of their sirens over the wail of this mother, pleading with me to save her little boy. Maybe if I just act like I know what I’m doing it will be enough. I can make it look good, at least. Sometimes all there is to do is be the calm little eye of the storm.
“He’s not breathing,” she says. “He’s turning blue.” And damned if he doesn’t match my uniform. I’ve never seen anyone turn blue like that.
Think, what did they teach us in the police academy?
The ABC’s of first aid are Airway, Bleeding, and C-something . I lay the boy across the trunk of a car, I don’t want to hold a kid while he dies. I don’t need that kind of baggage.
I don’t even know CPR or mouth to mouth, and you can really fuck someone up by doing it wrong. But, I can make it look good ‘till the ambulance gets here. I tilt the boys head back, and the ABC’s are Airway...
I open his mouth and his tongue is sucked back in his throat. Airway, so I stick my bare finger in his mouth, thinking of all the worst things that could happen. This is my trigger finger after all, I wouldn’t want to lose it. Nor get a face full of anything that may come flying out from behind his tongue.
I depress his tongue. He sucks air in. His chest rises balloon big then falls in exhale. His cheeks flush red with oxygenated blood. He looks more like a boy, and less like a corpse.
The ambulance is here now, so I pick him up and hold him close to me. I can’t feel his warmth through my armor , his bigger then smaller chest, his beating heart. I open the back of the bus, not waiting for the EMT’s.
I’m hoping one of the two cute female medics is working. They’re mirror images of each other, 100 lbs in their gear, blonde . I can’t tell them apart when they’re wearing sunglasses, I have to read their nametags.
But no, it’s a sausage fest.
I tell the Paramedics, who are indignant that some cop dared open their doors and planted this little boy on their gurney, "He’s unconscious, responding to me. He swallowed his tongue, but he’s breathing now."
I’m outta here, I don’t need this.
Did I save his life? I don't know, I'm not a medic.
Piano Concerto #45
I walked passed the big brute at the door. He sneered at me and I nodded in reply. We were old friends.
Inside the club loomed a flickering silence, with the sound of piano play drifting in and out.
Ol' Mike was at the black instrument, tapping on white keys. No one seemed to notice him, or his music. He wasn't even playing, just tap-tap-tapping away. A sullen expression covered his face as he hunched over. The tie, which wrapped loosely around his collar, slumped on the keys.
From here I could see his broken fingers. They looked clumsy and distorted. Some mobster had stomped on them, but I was skeptical on rumors.
I shoved my hands in my pockets and took a seat. With a bandaged hand I produced a pre-made cigarette and brought it to my lips. My hand ached, so I gripped it tighter until I adjusted to the pain again. Then I grabbed a table lighter and lit up.
Through the plumes I could see eyes glaring at me. All the eyes of unsavory men, with contempt in their souls.
I smacked the table with a fat fist and said:
“I need me a whiskey!”
As I said that I heard someone behind me say:
“Yes, sir.” said a female's voice.
“Come on round darlin', don't be scared,” I said.
She rounded the table, her curvaceous body swinging left to right.
“You said a-a-a whiskey?”
“Yea, bring it quick, I got the thirst.”
“Yes, sir,” she said.
The girl came back five minutes later. She seemed either eighteen or nineteen, but it made no difference to me. I thanked her and watched that pendulum cushion of hers swing away from me.
With a deep sigh I took a couple slugs of whiskey. The poison traveled down like acid, but it was clean whiskey. It wasn't the watered down piss they sell in other bars.
I sat back and let the warmth take its route. The room began to shift and contort, it looked like a fun-house. A fun-house filled with criminals and devils. I could feel their eyes watching me still.
A few moments had passed until I heard clapping, which woke me from an unwanted nap.
Up on the stage I saw Ol' Mike perk up, he looked lively, for once. Then the applause became louder as Jazzy, short for Jasmine, appeared. She looked radiant tonight, as always. Her presence brought life to the room, which took away the perpetual gloom.
She wasn't an attractive woman. Even calling her plain was a compliment. It was just something in her that made men submit to her. Jazzy had brilliant green eyes, crooked teeth, too much meat for taste, and a nasty history. She was toxic inside and out.
Jazzy had slept with enough men to make Cleopatra look like a prude. I had the privilege of having her for a night, she was a one-of-a-kind-only-one-night nympho.
I remember her deep green eyes piercing through me. My defensive walls crumbling as she gyrated on top of me. She moaned different names, and I felt like crying. Something about her made me feel helpless, and I can't remember ever crying before that night. Jazzy stared straight at me, never blinking, as she thrust herself back and forth. Her pale skin illuminated by moonlight. She used men up after a night and never went back to them. It was her nastiness that made me love her.
Everyone quieted down as the music began to play. Jazzy's eyes glimmered and she began to sway. Her red lips opened and the goddess in her came out.
Grizzled men turned to mud and I closed my eyes, losing myself in her lyrics.
I was in a trance when I heard something clatter then wet my thigh. My eyes opened and I saw the young girl next to me, her mouth open. I looked down and realized she dropped a drink on me. My teeth began to grit and with a hand I slapped the girl.
“Ya can't even do your job-”
“Who told you to stop!” said a man in the crowd.
I ignored the weeping girl and focused my attention on Jazzy. She stood frozen, looking at the man, then at me. Her green eyes hovering into me once again.
The man walked up to the stage in a fury. He grabbed Jazzy and slapped her to the ground.
“Who told you to stop!' he yelled again.
Ol' Mike watched in fright as the man kept hitting Jazzy.
This pitiful man was about to slap her again when a gun fired. His fingers flew right off and he turned his head to study them. It took him awhile to realize he was missing them.
I stood up quickly and yelled:
“I got this boys!”
With heavy footsteps I stomped up to the stage, and pulled out my barrel. I clicked the hammer back, aimed with a pained steady hand, and fired. Half of the man's face burst backwards and onto Ol'Mike. Ol'Mike looked like someone tossed a bucket of tomato sauce on him. From behind me I heard applause.
I looked at Jazzy and said:
“Keep singin' hun', we all got lives to live.”
That's the spirit, misters Dave and Panda. Nice work.
Wow two good stories already! I'm going to post something, but when I got ready to send it was well over 1,000 words. Back to the chopping board and will hopefully have something later tonight. Don't know if it will match the two already posted though.
Sorry if this has been addressed before, but shouldn't these threads with stories posted in them be private so that the stories aren't considered published?
I have never really considered any kind of forum thread to be a publishing venture. Though I suppose if we are being pedants then they are public, therefore they are published.
Gotta be a real dickhead of an editor that turns a story down because it was posted on a forum though. I wouldn't ever submit to them again if they tried to feed me that crap.
That said, you are probably right, Howie. Maybe it would be better safe than sorry. It would be a shame if someone did get a story turned down for that reason. The question is though, can Chester privatise the thread now it's seven pages long? Or does that need to be done at the beginning?
Also, surely everyone who submits flash here is hoping to make it into Chester's planned antho? Presumably the winning stories will be in there at very least. Probably some of the other finalists too I'd have thought. No need to worry about subbing elsewhere if you are waiting on that one.
But yeah, reluctantly, I have to agree with you.
Edit - p.s. I didn't mean that to sound like I was being confrontational with you, Mister Howie. Hope it didn't come over that way. It's the idea of asshat editors that would reject a story for such reasons that piss me off.
I think the person can just take it down later if they want.
Also, @ Covewriter - I look forward to reading it. Sometimes you have to be brutal with those edits, take an axe and make the piece work in 1000 words. Show it no mercy.
I haven't posted in the flash me threads based entirely on the idea that posting on an open forum is considered by some to be 'publishing'. There's another anthology being worked on? Shit, I want in.
Also, Wicked, I didn't think you were being confrontational with me. We're buddies.
Dead Life Friday Night
Dennis Porter McKay March 16
Hey, what's going on? How's it been? Nice new pic. I see you've got a new girlfriend. She's hot, dude! Helluva way to break the dry spell. You deserve it. But I gotta tell you, if she wanted me to, I'd bang her. Not because I don't like you. She's that hot. Way hotter than whats-her-name. How did you do it? Not that you shouldn't have such a hot girlfriend. I mean we all should, right?
Anyway, I'm hanging in there. Still looking for work. Not much action there. Or anywhere. You have to spend gas to look for jobs and spend money to get gas to look for jobs. Half the stuff you see online are scams or prostitutes. Bullshit. Not like you don't know. You've got the kids and all. I don't have to tell you what it's like to be an adult. LOL
Also I was hoping to get back that stuff I let you borrow. Three books and four CDs. I finally remembered what the last CD was (I told you I would.) The Gutter Twins. It's been like a year. If I was a jerk I'd say I don't care if you liked any of that stuff, I just want my shit back. Really it's more like I thought you'd like the stuff but, like I told you when I gave it to you, it's all stuff I like enough to want back, and now I do. Besides, I'm sure you're too busy boning your new hot girlfriend to read anyway. LOL
This is kinda long for a facebook message, but I've got nothing to do. Feel free to read this whenever you have the time.
I'm not doing much with music these days. I keep in practice but I'm not really pursuing anything. I talk to somebody about it every now and then, maybe we could jam sometime, yeah yeah, blah blah blah, and it never happens. Bands in this town suck anyway, even the really “passionate” ones. Passionate about sucking. Sucking passionately. Not your band though, I'm sure.
About the other day, when we ran into each other, I actually did want to check out your new studio space but you never got back to me. I mean, it was your idea for us to get up there, it's not like I was looking for you or anything, and I like your art but I don't sit around and wonder what you're into now or anything, but then you never wrote or called back. Don't know what that's about, but whatever. If you don't want me to see your new stuff, it's cool.
So, this might not be appropriate, especially not because of the joke up top (which I'm leaving in) but you know, back when we lived together, I never fucked your girlfriend while she was staying there. You might not think any of this is a big deal, but I know you were paranoid about it back then whether you want to admit it or not. There were a couple of times I think I could have. Maybe I should have said something about it. If I had, maybe it would've have made you mad but saved you some worry in the long run. But I didn't do it and I didn't tell you about her coming on to me.
Now that I think about it, I think you did think I fucked her and just never said anything about it. Not directly, anyway. You could be kind of passive-aggressive sometimes. You were just holding stuff against me without ever knowing if I did those things or not. I know it's weird to put this in an email, but whatever. I'm on a jag and it's better said here than nowhere at all. Go ahead and show this shit to all your friends and relatives. LOL
Truth is, I mainly just want my books and music back. The main reason I started this message was so I could eventually ask for my stuff, so I'm going to end it that way. You can drop it off in the mailbox for all I care. Or on the doorstep. If someone steals it I won't be any worse off than I am now. If you actually want to talk sometime or hang out, that's cool. Otherwise, just give back me my shit.
^ that was pretty damn awesome.
What are you Doing?
When he bought the assault rifle he had promised her he wouldn't use it. You couldn't hunt with the thing, but you wear it around the streets, nobody stops a man with an assault rifle to ask him the time.
He kept it loaded, but the safety was also perpetually engaged. It might as well not be loaded.
The job situation was the real problem, where to find one. The apartment was subsidized, but she always acted like she needed more. She pestered him about "the fine things," that she desired. And so he told her he spent his days looking for work and he toted his gun from one bar to the next, revelling in unsteady glances.
But on this day Ivan returned home early, only to find the door deadbolted, "Что ты делаешь?" he asked into the room, but got no response.
He hammered against his door, "Что ты делаешь?"
Then, out the window, on his balcony, a man. Dressed in nothing but his underwear, Ivan spat a curse as he pushed the window open.
"Что ты делаешь?" Ivan points his assault rifle at the man on the balcony just as Ayn burst out with the man's pants in her hand.
Ivan clicks the safety off;
Dedicated to Matt.Attack.
J. Y. & Nick keep the ball going, nice work guys!
Here's another prompt. Number 2 (the picture). Feel free to use it or ignore at will.
Nothing is easy they say, and that’s a lie. The more you love someone, the easier it is for them to hurt you. The easier it becomes for them to utterly destroy you. These days no one expects a happily ever after, but breaking even once in a while wouldn’t go amiss.
Sarah stands taller than me in her designer six inch heels, another cascade of sweet lies tumbling from sticky candy glossed lips.
Such as, “I’m sorry,” and, “You know I love you.”
The thing about punching above your weight is the recoil. And call me naive, but until 8 hours ago, I didn’t see this coming.
Stepping towards me with let’s pretend open arms and sympathetic eyes, her voice is coated with the kind of sweetness that always brings flies from the shit.
As if a hug’s going to make this right.
“You cheated on me.” I say.
This is nothing new, just a rerun of a rerun. Twice already she’s pulled this shit, it’s not like I don’t know this script off by heart now. It’s easier to remember than it is to forget, wounds not old enough to scar are torn anew.
Only this time the emptiness fits perfectly where the love used to go.
“For God’s sake Brian,” with her arms folded she can quick-check her manicure inconspicuously, “I was drunk. It was practically nothing. It wasn’t love or anything.”
And maybe it was nothing, a minute, a second, a passing fucking heartbeat.
But it was everything to me.
Sarah’s eyes, the same dirty brown as mixed up Plasticine, watch me, waiting for me to speak my line in this game of two halves.
“Fuck you.” I’m ad-libbing here.
It’s hard to tell if she’s frowning through the Botox plateau of her forehead, as she sticks to her script, “I’m going to go stay with my sister for a while. I need time to think about all of this, what it means for us.”
These days everyone’s a comedian.
This is less about love and more a power struggle for control. Her Royal Highness, Queen of the Ho-bags, wants to make all the decisions, to dangle me by the balls, while I beg her not to leave.
We’ve reached the part where I’m supposed to cry, but boo-fucking-hoo, the scripts gone out the window. I’m tired this tragic bit-part in the epic life story of Sarah-cum-bucket-Richards. This time the spotlight is mine.
Two steps and we’re close enough to hug. My arms encircling cling film skin on bones, breathing in her dead air. Holding her as though she’s my everything, as though I could never let her go.
Face to face, through my best consolation-prize smile I say, “You were always just a make-do to me, Sarah.”
Her satisfaction crumbles.
This is nothing new, just a rerun of a rerun
This is nothing new, just a rerun of a rerun
Love this line, voodoo. Nicely done!
^ Thank you :)
My first ever attempt at flash fiction.
Soooo, ever start work on a piece of flash and halfway through writing it realize you could burn 3,000 words on it? Yep, that's where I'm at right now.
Victims (1,100 words). My flash fiction.
I think Howie just single-handedly came up with a brilliant solution to our posting dilemma. Thanks Howie, I have been trying to figure that out.
Also, it encourages workshop participation. I like this. By no means feel obligated to take this route people, but if you wish to do what Howie just did, go for it.
And keep the flashes comin'!
Good Job Moderating Martin!
Submit a story 1000 words or less
Submit a story 1000 words or less
Except that the thread might have just lost a lot of interest for non-workshop members...
I'm not especially keen on using the workshop for flash me stories. There are pros and the are cons, and for me the cons are heavier.
It's a good way of solving the "does this now count as published?" dilemma.
It encourages more workshop activity.
Plenty of people that enjoy this thread are not workshop members.
It suggests that the submission is not final, or finished, therefore I'd say it should not be being judged amongst other pieces that are.
It's a pain in the ass flicking back and forth pages and downloading files for flash fiction stories that might only be a few hundred words.
It doesn't quite gel with the ethos of Flash Me! (in my opinion, obviously, this is Chesters car I am driving right now and his opinion counts for more than mine) For me, Flash Me! is supposed to be quicker and dirtier than that. You write a piece of flash, you flash it, you move on. You don't worry about people thinking it's now published because you wrote it with this thread in mind and would like it to be chosen for the vote or possibly even win.
I don't like the thought that Chester would come to put a collection together one day only to look back through the pages only to realsie that every second submission was either a workshop sub that as been taken down or a thread submission that has been editted out because the authors have been sending them elsewhere and they don't want this thread to undermine their chances. After all, Chester is sending out real prizes for the votes, presumably paying real money to send them out, so he deserves first pick on these stories.
My offer for a Solarcide slot for this months story would not require the story be disqualified from the thread, it is simply a bonus. I find it SO very strange that editors of websites are so stringent on demanding exclusive material all the time. This is the internet. Nothing is exclusive to anyone anymore.
SSSOOO, my personal conclusion is as follows ---> if you want to be sending the piece to other places, and you are worried about the whole "is it published now?" angle, then your story is not right for Flash Me.
That is only my opinion and does not reflect the policies of the establishment. Ha. Anyways, I've grumbled enough.
As you may have noticed I posted Satisfaction Crumbles in this thread as my entry, but I also posted it in workshop. It's my first ever attempt at Flash fiction and I really wanted to know if I was doing okay. Just so you know, when I did this I had no plans to alter my original thread entry, (because that felt a little like cheating) I just wanted the kind of indepth feedback you get in workshop.
Not a problem. That workshop feedback can be golden. And there's nothing to say that more than one version of a story can't exist. Maybe the workshopped version will end up longer, turn into something different entirely. I am not trying to discourage people from workshopping, not at all. What I am trying to discourage is people seeing Flash Me as a lesser place to be posting stuff, it shouldn't be a place to test the waters before sending stuff elsewhere.
The version in the thread is the one I will consider to be the submission for the poll.
wicked--thank you, very well said.
My opinion (and no disrespect to the flash market, there are some fine small zines out there): but if you're publishing to be read, you're as likely to get more eyes here. If you're publishing to get paid, don't bother with flash, (but you could win a book here with 500 words; that's potentially 3-4 cents a word, making this possibly the only professional paying flash market around). If you're looking for that first publication credit, or just getting the ball rolling/confidence up, then don't put it here, send it out by all means. But there should come a time when your targets narrow, and sometimes it's fun to just write something "quick and dirty," enjoy the process and have some one say they dig it, and just let that be enough. This is as good a place to spill it as any...
@ Matt - I agree with just about all of that.
However, I should also point out that there is no reason why miscellaneous flash-related stuff can't also be posted here. Re-posts of stuff that has gone up elsewhere, snippets and extracts from longer works that make for a nice little read, all of this stuff should be welcome, just clearly marked that it is just for reading and entertainment value.
Like Howie's workshop piece. It's cool that he linked it here, because Howie is a badass and his writing kicks all kinds of arse, but because he's workshopping it and (I assume) looking for feedback, and because it is over 1000 words, I probably wouldn't call that a submission for the poll this month.
The Pawns (868 words)
Quiet. Settle down. Let me tell you a story. Don't worry, it won't take too long. Have you ever heard of two men who were known as Nil and Apostle? No? I'm not surprised. Nil is just a codename... given to those who have no name, no history, and no future. Apostle is a codename as well, given to the 12 deadliest agents within a secret company. What is this company you ask? Well to everyone it's just a local pawn shop on the corner, but to a certain few it's a home and to others its hell on earth. The stories I've heard... Anyway, back to Nil and Apostle.
Now I'm sure you're wondering if all of the 12 Apostles are called Apostle. It's hard to differentiate them all but they all gave themselves numbers as well. This Apostle's number is 626. Nil was an assassin for this company, we will call the company Pawn for now... So Nil was an assassin for Pawn. He was a master of his art. Every killing was precise and clean. In and out just like that. But one night he was given a hit that he received in his local P.O. Box. The target was a young woman named Clara Morsi. What Nil didn't know is that Apostle 626 had been keeping Clara in his safe house. 626 had been caring for Clara since a previous job he had done. But that's a story for another time...
Nil was trained not to feel emotions or question judgement or orders. He was as human as a machine. A perfect robot. Nil prepared for the mission and looked forward to it's success. Cleaning his weapons was his favorite past time. Apostle was deadly but he was more human than Nil. Nil's existence was unknown to all of the employees of Pawn except for the Director who we will call King. Night overtook the day and it was time. The wind blew slightly but not enough to affect a bullet. Clara was in the sniper scope. Apostle and Clara were sitting in the living room playing a board game, an activity that they regularly do on Saturday nights.
Tonight was Mouse Trap.
Breathing in the cold air steeled Nil's heart and lungs.The weight of the rifle didn't phase him as he kept his focus. But something was wrong. Apostle looked out the window, Nil didn't believe that he saw him.
He saw him.
Apostle got up to close the curtains and moved Clara to her bedroom for safety. He retreated to his bedroom staying out of the sniper's sight. After retrieving his custom made pistol that made a Desert Eagle look like a Walther PPK.
Who would come after Clara?, he thought.
He kept his eyes on the last position of the sniper with a small mirror from his desk.
Nil saw the shine of the mirror as it reflected in the moonlight.
Foolish, he thought.
He fired a shot at the mirror breaking it. His shot silenced by the long silencer at the end of the barrel.
Apostle quickly got out of cover and took aim at the sniper. The sniper followed suit.
Two shots fired. Two hits. No deaths. Both wounded each other but didn't kill. Clara screamed in the other room after hearing the shots.
Nil ran away dropping the sniper rifle on the roof. It didn't have prints or anything on it that would link it to him anyway. Blood dripped from his left bicep. Medical supplies were located in his getaway car. The stairs annoyed him as blood continued to drip onto the floor. He applied more pressure on his wound as he picked up the pace toward the car. Within several feet of the car it blew up sending Nil flying into a wall behind him.
Apostle heard the explosion and assumed that the sniper had been screwed over. Saved him from having to hunt the assassin down. He had been wounded in the right thigh. Clara helped him apply a bandage. She had always wanted to be a nurse since she could remember. She wasn't afraid of the wound or all the blood. Apostle eventually fell asleep after the bleeding stopped. He slept well knowing that no one would be after him or Clara. But he pondered who would want either of them dead. He'd have to find out tomorrow...
Nil got up brushing off the dirt from him and didn't recognize anything around him. The burning car confused him even more but every part of his body hurt. A small hole in his arm made him panic. He didn't know what was going on. He ran off into the night to the nearest place for medical help. He reached a gas station where Melanie Veloa had been closing up. He begged her to help him, she was scared at first that he would hurt her. He looked like the suspicious type of people you hear about on TV. For once, she took a chance and helped him. When she asked him who he was, all he could say was:
I don't know...
What happens after that? Well, that's a story for another time I'm afraid.
Nobody has tried the picture prompt? Alright, I'll give it a shot. Oh, and I love not having to workshop these. I may develop this one further, but I could care less if this is the only place this tale sees the light of day.
Angel (990 words)
“What’s the matter, girl? Don’t want to play?”
Danny looked to the tennis ball that had rolled to a stop and back to his disinterested dog. Angel huffed breath in response and turned over on her side, her ear resting on the worn blue carpet of the family room. Danny rubbed her exposed stomach, looked up at his father and said, “Dad! Angel’s acting strange. She’s not playing fetch.”
Head stuck the New York Times, Dad remained still. Just a voice from the backside of the financial section.
“Angel’s going to be 32 next month. She’s old, Danny.”
Danny took a long look at Angel, still prone in a sideways position. Her dark eyes gazed towards an unseen target, her chest inflated with a shallow breath. Rivers of grey streaked her once white beard, her pink tongue lapped against black lips. Danny gave her a pat on her backside. Her bushy tail returned a halfhearted wiggle, punctuated with a sharp creak.
“Daaaaad. Her tail is squeaking again.”
Dad folded his paper and looked down at dog and son. Danny had grown exponentially over the last three years but the dog had only withered, becoming grayer with each passing turn of the calendar. The dog looked homeless but the boy didn’t care. His fingers caressed her fur with a loving touch. The more he rubbed, the more she panted, her squeaky tail playing a high pitched cadence.
“Alright, Danny. I’ll take a look.”
Both dog and Danny looked up at Dad as he crossed through the living room and into the kitchen. To Danny, his dad looked giant, impossibly tall. A moment passed before Dad returned to the family room and sat down at Angel’s rear. From the kitchen, Dad retrieved a screwdriver and a small cardboard box.
“Just made this over the weekend.”
Dad opened the box and removed a cylindrical rod covered in white fur. The staff was eight inches long that came to a point at the end. Dad handed the rod to Danny and grabbed the Phillips head screwdriver. Danny bent the object forward and back, making it wiggle like the dog would do.
“Can I install her tail, Dad? Can I??”
Dad looked down at Danny and smirked. The kid was young but he had already done a fair share of work on Angel. Replacing a wheel here, changing her batteries there, standard maintenance. But this involved internal work, going beneath the cybernetic endoskeleton and connecting the tail’s nanotranslator to an actual nerve. It looked easy, but one wrong move could send intense electrical signals to the dog’s cerebellum, damaging tens of thousands of neurons. In theory, he could short out Angel’s brain.
Dad thought back to his first experience with cybernetics, the first time his grandfather put a pair of pliers in his hand and let him rewire Nathan, the family daschund. Wasn’t much older than Danny was now. Might as well take the training wheels off, he thought.
Dad handed Danny the screwdriver and said, “Sure thing. Just be careful.”
Danny snatched the pliers from Dad’s hand with a devilish grin. Dad scooted to the side as Danny hovered over Angel’s broken tail and brushed aside her butt fur, exposing a ring of bright silver screws. Danny looked at the fasteners stuck deep in Angel’s skin and crinkled his brow.
Danny looked up at his father and said, “Will this hurt her?”
“Just be careful.”
Angel looked back at the impromptu surgery and flared her nostrils as Danny removed each screw with care. With each screw undone, Angel gave the slightest of whimpers and with every whimper, Danny cringed. When all were removed, Danny grabbed the tail by the hilt and with a slightly shaking hand, pulled the tail up and out.
The tail popped off with the sound of a can of Pringles opening. Danny put the tail to the side and grabbed the replacement from his father’s outstretched hand. He peered into the open cavity and saw a red mass of muscle and tissue. In the center of the mass, he could see a small metallic square with a hole in the middle.
“Careful, now. Insert the tip of the nano into the port and press down hard. Just don’t let anything touch the sides until it’s firmly in.”
Beads of sweat started to form on Danny’s forehead as he leaned over the hole. His hands were steady but his heart was pounding. Angel looked back again and in a mimic of Danny’s expression, stuck her tongue out. The tip hovered over the hole as Danny, stared, thought and thrust the tail down.
Angel’s head snapped forward with a start. Her eyes bulged from their sockets as a scratching throat sound escaped her locked open jaw. Dad darted to Angel’s front, grabbed a pair of needle nose pliers and with one quick motion, jammed the tip into Angel’s neck. The tail, still in Danny’s hands, thrashed back and forth. Hydraulic fluid and dark blood oozed from the tail base as Danny’s throat pushed soundless air through his gaping mouth. Two turns and a push from Dad and Angel’s neck released its hold on her head as it slumped downward. Her eyes returned to her sockets as smoke streamed from her neck, filling the family room with the smell of burning truck tires.
Hands still gripping her tail, Danny’s breath punched out in heaves, a braying sob knocking from his chest, eyes bright red and wide. He could barely feel Dad’s strong hands pry him from the tail, take the screwdriver from Angel’s blood stained back and refasten the screws on the tail base.
As the shock melted away, Danny rushed to Angels’ snout, held her motionless head in his trembling hands and kissed her. Long smooch on a still snout. Danny’s heart pleaded for mercy as his lips moistened Angel’s bone dry nose.
Angel, after moment framed in forever, licked him back.
Great, I am glad the above discussion is finally happening. It gives me something to go on.
And Martin, you are doing a great job of driving this Flashy thing--and I think I am going to do a flip-flop on what I said earlier about the workshop idea--or at least amend it.
I think I like the ideas Martin touched on above. They are in keeping with the original idea of the thread. A place to just post something quick and dirty and have an immediate feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes a block-breaking sense of accomplishment. Sometimes a bigger story starter. And an immediate audience. Now waiting required.
Fast. That is Flash. Fast and Furious.
Now, if you want to workshop something, workshop it. Then post it up. But feel free to provide a link here like Howie did, if you want help from other Flashers--but only if you intend to post the final here.
And I can't make any promises, because as we all know things like this come and go, but I would like this to become something bigger. Will it happen? Maybe. In other words, like MattF said, this could become a venue, just as reputable as anything else. What would happen if a Flash Me! Anthology was put together for the One Year LitReactor Anniversary?
Oops, and one more thing.
Personally, I am not against people editing their posts, just so long as it doesn't get out of hand. If you really want to go nuts doing that, get your ass over in the Workshop.
But I am an edit my posts addict. I edit all of my posts.
he's workshopping it and (I assume) looking for feedback, and because it is over 1000 words, I probably wouldn't call that a submission for the poll this month.
he's workshopping it and (I assume) looking for feedback, and because it is over 1000 words, I probably wouldn't call that a submission for the poll this month.
Yes. I don't consider it a submission for the contest. It is more of a way to advertise that I have a flash piece in the workshop and get all these great flash writers who know what they are doing to critique it. It also helps support the 'flash threads', which I LOVE.
@ Chester - that sounds splendid.
@ Howie - thought so. Yeah, this should definitely be a good place to draw eyes to flash-style workshop submissions. If you edit it down under a thousands words, or if you write something else suitable, then you should still consider posting it here in the regular fashion. A flash from the Howie can probably make most folk faint.
@ Rogan and Bill - Excellent. Great work guys. This is starting to heat up now, a few more subs and I'll have a real tough choice on my hands at the end of the month.
@wicked - I was by no means trying to discourage anything being posted here; quite the opposite, I think it should be posted and there should be no sense of lost opportunity to the writer. And by all means workshop your stories.
But as Chester touched on above, final drafts (or an early draft) need to appear here. For non workshoppers (and I'm sure there are plenty of lurkers), if there were half a dozen secret stories every month, conversations about things we have no access to, links to dead ends, or what I'd imagined as the possibility of competing with stories I wasn't allowed to read (and think of the embedded message of not putting something here), the desire to visit/participate would fade fast. This forum has a bad habit of devouring itself in weird ways, and I'd like to fend that off here.
As a non-workshopper, I agree with MattF.
Also, as a non-workshopper, I realize my opinion probably doesn't mean a great deal.
It's cool to be able to read some people's stuff even though I don't have a subscription.
Hoppy, your opinion does count. Plus everyone reading this realize that at some point a year's subscription to the workshop and a LR Mug filled with fingernail clippings might be a prize.
The prizes are going to grow.
Perhaps they will only be fingernail clippings, but that is DNA right? And how valuable is DNA going to become?
Hmmm. Why try to bait people with a book offer and mug. This thread is amazing on it's on.
But I guess the thought of a free membership would make me work harder. Maybe stop watching internet porn to work on flash fiction haha.
Uncle Carl could drink his beers, and he could be hardheaded when he did, but he was never mean-spirited. That’s why we all sided with Uncle Carl, when, after about four of those beers and a shouting match with Rory, he picked up his shotgun and pumped a load of buckshot into Rory’s skinny ass just as Rory reached for the door of his yellow corvette.
Rory hopped around in the dirt like a sick chicken, while me and Aunt Polly stood on the porch watching with our mouths open as big as baby robins about to be fed.
We knew Carl did it for Rory’s own good. I don’t think he would have shot me. He figured Rory is a boy and a boy can take the pain. That’s the way Uncle Carl thinks. It’s old-fashioned, but you can’t change Carl. He needed to stop Rory from doing what he was going to do, and a shotgun was the only way. It worked too.
Rory hollered out a string of cuss words, holding his left buttock with both hands and staggering back toward the porch. Uncle Carl stared him in the face so close they saw the whites of each other’s eyes.
“I’ll kill you for this old man,” Rory hissed.
Carl just leaned his shotgun against the porch, walked inside and called 911.
“We got us a little accident down on Meek’s Road,” he told 911. “My nephew's got some buckshot in him.” A long silence follows. “ Naw his not in big danger but somebody ought to look at it…”
Several minutes later the ambulance men arrive, and put Rory in. He’s still cussing a storm, neck veins bulging, yelling for Uncle Carl to be arrested for murder. That made me and Carl laugh.. Murder! If Carl wanted to kill Rory he sure could have… a few feet higher and more to the center would have done it. Carl didn’t want to kill Rory, just teach him a lesson.
“You oughten to have done that Carl,” Aunt Polly offered. She always was the calm voice of reason around the farm. “ You can’t just go shooting people to get them to listen to you”
Aunt Polly had eased into the living room from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, when Carl and Rory started arguing. She was cooking chicken for dinner, and turned the stove off as the commotion started.
On TV they were just getting ready to announce the 60 Minutes segments, which me and Carl like. Polly walked in and saw the whole shouting match, same as me.
Rory wanted some money. Uncle Carl said “no.” His billfold was right on the table by his chair, and both of them were eying it. But Rory is young and got to it quicker. He grabbed the billfold and left, calling Uncle Carl an old fool and some other things. He knew Uncle Carl had traded cattle today and the wallet was fat.
It had been a good year for cattle trading. Carl was getting rich by farm standards. Hee said he owed it all to the Republicans. He loved Mr. Reagan, and now George H. Bush. Polly was a democrate, but she kept quiet about it because but she liked the cattle money too.
If Carl could have been one second quicker that night and grabbed Rory, my brother would have been down on his knees in the grips of Carl’s pressure point thumb defense. Nobody can get out of that one. It twists your arm around and you are on both knees begging him to let you up.
But Carl is in his 60s now, no match for the wirey Rory, who sprung down those porch steps with the wallet like he was hot stuff. Then his ass got hot. I’ve never seen Rory so mad and surprised at the same time. I’ve never seen Carl so steely and cool.
“I had to do that Polly,” he said once the ambulance left and the farm went back to it’s natural quiet sounds of cows mooing far away and crickets ticking.
I walked down the porch steps and picked up the leather wallet, laying ther in the dirt like a black rock, all fat with money, and handed it to Carl. He dusted it off and tucked it in his front overall pocket.
“He was after drug money, Polly. I can’t let him do that no more.”
“ I’ve been listening to Mr.Bush," Carl said. "I know," Polly said. "We are in a war on drugs." We all nodded, and turned to go inside, catch the last of 60 Minutes and wait for the chicken to fry.
First attempt at a genre I am unfamiliar with. 135 words.
What She Saw:
Her feet in red sandals on the green lawn. The green lawn flowing down to the red brick path. The sky and grass and path weaving and looping as she turned cart wheels.
Her small hand pressed on the red bricks. Strands of brown hair stuck in her eyes, forcing her upright. The blue sky as she threw her head back in exhaustion and exhaltation.
A blond flicker of movement that drew her eyes to the old coal shed.
Her brother’s blond head and hunched body in front of the blackened shed.
His eyes, cold, startled, looking back at her.
A brick. A limp cat’s tail. A spray of blood.
Her world in reverse. Red bricks, green grass, blue sky blurred by tears as she stumbled, fumbled, fled from what she saw.
Question: Can you submit more than one story a month? Just in case inspiration strikes again!
"Oh, shit.", I say under my breath and try to detach the fifteen poud freeweight from Tom's skull. This was an accident. We were toning triceps, stood opposite each other, just out of arm's reach and at the peak of my extension, when my mozorella-stringy muscles couldnt take it any more, the handles covered in a thin, oily film of sweat, and pain dashed across my tongue like a shot of whiskey,my fingers let go. One, two, three, four. A nice little arpeggio of pain. The dumbell liberated itself from my grasp and in horrific slow motion, revolved once and buried itself in the orbit of his right eye. If I was looking from the side, I'd have seen the way his face crumpled, a car crashing into a wall. His eye hammered backwards and his nose shoved sideways and upwards, into that of a deformed pig. He gurgled softly and caved to his knees. What looked like angel delight trickled from his lips. As I kneel by him and hold his hand, and call the emergency services, he motions for me to come closer. I do, and my ear is just over his mouth. Tom whispers to me, "You idiot, you're supposed to stop after twelve reps."
^^I'm very super proud of that.
@ Soup & typewriter, Nice, good to see some shorter stuff too, nice to have a mixture of styles to choose from.
@ covewriter, that seems a pretty good match for the Litreactor crowd to me. Deep south ugly, a few of the writers here dig that kind of stuff.
@ Bill, submit as many as you like. I probably wont put two by the same writer into the poll though.
oops, double post.
I'd love to see more flash fiction in the workshop. These shorter stories would have comments on every line. It could be really helpful. I know it helped my story a lot.
Having a free month+ of memebership as a prize every month will get a lot of new blood into the workshop. I hope that's a prize every month.
I think the problem is wasting points. You have to review like five different stories to get enough points to post one, why would you waste it on a flash?