This week’s prompt was not exactly concrete or inspiring. It was an idea that took me down a rabbit hole, and even though several writers commented on its difficulty they still followed me down that hole. We emerged with a “wonderland” of submissions and several great blog reflections (if a title is highlighted, the flash is part of a blog post elsewhere and you are encouraged to hop over and read the full posts).
May 14, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that begins with a twist. How did the character get there? Are there more twists?
Squeezed by Paula Moyer
How could they do that? There it was – her father’s handwriting, which Jean would recognize anywhere. Her name, forged on the form acceptance letter enclosed with the private college’s scholarship offer. Her own check mark on the rejection line crossed out.
The offer had come two days before – several months too late. Jean had decided. She would go to the same college as Charlie, a state school nearby.
“You have to accept this scholarship,” her mother had said. “We can’t afford college otherwise.”
The secret? Jean had tried to leave Charlie earlier. “You can’t,” he said. “I’ll kill myself.”
Flash Fiction by Pete
Headlights sweep the yard. Then the glow of brakes. I try to hold my breath but I can’t stop wheezing through my nose. What the hell just happened? I’m still wet from my shower. Just as I came out to see what the banging and yelling was about when boom!—the shots still ring in my ear.
A growling Dodge Charger chugs along. A forearm hangs out the door and a big burly head scans the yard. It’s definitely them. What the hell? How did moving out of Mom’s house turn into thugs storming the apartment with guns drawn?
Socks by Charli Mills
Yesterday bullets buzzed my ears like summer honey-bees. No longer do I farm Papa’s land. I’m a Union soldier. Today, my life is socks. Precious wool socks. I was issued one pair.
Silence shrouds camp though fires crackle outside our dog-tents. I pretend the smell of boiling socks is coffee brewing; a commodity we lost before winning this bloody ridge. In bare feet I wring water out of each sock. Mama would have bashed socks heartily on the rocks along Greene Creek, as if waging her own war. Hers was against dirt.
I no longer know what mine’s about.
Empty Promises by Geoff Le Pard
The banana skin was empty. “Is this a trick? Did you do this?”’
“You have to eat something.” He grabbed an orange.
She shrugged again.
He dug at the peel and met no resistance. He was angry now; he tried the mango, then the apple and the pear. Nothing. Just space inside.
“Toast?” He didn’t wait for her reply. The bread knife went through the crust and met a void. “You can’t live on air, for heaven’s sake.”
The girl lifted her t-shirt; he saw through her stomach to the fridge behind her. “It’s easy,” she said.
The Coroner by Ellen Mulholland
Dan Fields leapt out of the coroner’s van and searched his pockets for a cigarette. He’d seen plenty of dead bodies in his time to know they weren’t supposed to breathe.
“This is a problem,” he told himself. He realized he had another problem: he’d quit smoking last week after Carol left. He shoved a stale stick of gum in his mouth and flicked the foil wrapper into the street.
He heard a thud against the van wall. No, a pounding. No, a thumping. The whole van shook. This wasn’t good.
Dan worked alone.
Yep, this was a problem.
The Last Hurrah by Larry LaForge
He definitely looks the part — properly equipped, impeccably dressed, and seemingly calm.
That only makes it worse for him.
“Not again,” he moans as onlookers snicker at his latest misfire.
He looks out to the left but sees only trees. The embarrassment is palpable.
Then it happens.
He hears a distant clunk, and then sees the object of his wrath rolling downhill from the left side. Jeers turn to mock cheers as the little white ball rolls into the hole.
He smiles and pumps his fists, concealing what he just resolved.
He will never play this frustrating game again.
The Surrogate by A. J. Prince
The newborn’s wails ripped a hole inside me as I watched her new mommy sooth her.
I wanted to scream mine! But she wasn’t. She never was, not even from the beginning.
I thought I was giving a gift, and I had, willingly. Nine months of painful nausea, twelve hours of excruciating labor, a lifetime of parenthood.
What I hadn’t expected was this feeling of loss and anger as I watched their love fill the room. I asked to be alone as I nursed the ache in my heart.
Sometimes being best friends for life came at a price.
The Weather Man and The Bullet by Dan Collins
A water pistol saved his life.
He’d been faced with a real firearm in the hands of a killer. The gunshot echoed loudly, but he was prepared. The Weather Man anticipated everything with impeccable precision otherwise he’d be dead. But you don’t get to be a superhero with poor reflexes. Using his control over liquids, he pushed his water pistol toward the bullet, deflecting the projectile just enough that it missed him.
Impact with the bullet caused water to explode outward. He swept his arms toward the bad guy, bringing the shrapnel laced fluid right at the criminal.
Last Night by Sarah Brentyn
Caught between backing toward the door and reaching for the phone, Cassie stood rooted to the threadbare rust-colored carpet. How had she not noticed a foot sticking out from under the motel bed?
What the hell was a body doing there? How long had it been there?
Cassie took a deep breath and stepped toward the phone. Tripping over the shoe she had dropped swatting roaches, she steadied herself on the edge of the bed. Cocking her head, she stared at the shoe. It wasn’t hers.
The foot was inching out from under the bed.
Country-House Flash by Anne Goodwin
The Belgian hadn’t summoned us to the library for cucumber sandwiches. Too late for tea and too early for cocktails; besides, who would serve them? The diminutive detective insisted on everyone’s attendance so, as the houseguests lounged on upholstered chairs, the staff lined the bookshelves, dismayed at their idle hands. Daisy blushed when she saw me, as well she might. My groin tingled, his pompous homily receding to a gentle droning, as I envisaged a repeat performance tonight. Until the words, Sir Alfred, directed every face to mine. The bulge in my trousers. I grabbed the pistol and fired.
New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications. All writers welcome!
[…] Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, May 27 to be included in the compilation. Last week resulted in a wide variety of genres and perspectives; it will be exciting to see where surprises takes us. My example is based on my ongoing exploration […]
What a great collection of stories, Charli; such a variety! It is wonderful to see the different ways in which writers responded to your prompt. It stretches my thinking about ways to begin stories, or episodes, as there is such a variety of style, perspective and purpose represented here. Sarah has continued on with her frightening theme. It gets more gruesome by the moment. The humour and surprise, not to mention twists, in other pieces makes your post just like a box of assorted chocolates each with its own flavour, delight and surprise, some just a bit nuttier than others; and I mean that in the nicest possible way! Thanks for collating them for our pleasure.
Box of chocolates! That’s brilliant. Yes, that’s exactly what these flash collections are like. I love reading everyone’s wildly different takes on the prompt every week.
Sorry about the gruesome. I know I said this already but I don’t write horror. These two just slipped out. (Like his foot from the shoe…) 😉
I agree, Sarah! Don’t apologize for gruesome–you write it well. I once saw Stephen King in a television interview back when his kids (and mine) were young and he spoke of the frustration of being interrupted in his writing and how that added to the tension in his horror writing. With three toddlers I could relate! Maybe horror is cathartic to the writer? So…a “surprise” might be to swap genres with your horror and continue the scene as comedy or romance or sci-fi…:-)
I think you do a great horror! But I do like Charli’s suggestion to add surprise with a comedy twist. I can just see it already. But maybe not the way you do! I look forward to your new installment, whatever it be!
Having just savored (devoured) a box of Mother’s Day chocolates, I agree with your delicious description! As you say, some are nutty, some dark and some smooth, but each is tasty. I’m glad you find them as pleasurable to read as I do.
It’s a delight!
Like the idea of the chocolates at the bottom of the rabbit hole – thanks for leading us down there, Charli.
You might want to add the link to my country house flash – not showing up in my version http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/the-big-house-in-literary-fiction-black-lake-by-johanna-lane