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Beyond the End
November 8, 2016 was an end. To what? Perhaps the cliche of “life as we know it” suffices. No matter one’s standing, a post-Trump election ends how we perceive ourselves as a nation, and how the world perceives us. The change an ending brings is already in motion. Some rejoice. Some want to normalize it without process. Some seek meaning. Some protest.
It’s fitting that writers explored what the end means. While we might want satisfactory endings, the end can also surprise us or shake us. This week we explore the possibilities of the end we didn’t see coming.
The following are based on the November 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending.
Communal Shower by Anne Goodwin
Undoing the buttons down the back of Esther’s dress, I remember the Rosenbergs. What fools we thought them to abandon their friends, their factory, their fine collection of avant-garde art. The Chancellor could not be serious and, if he were, our neighbours would form a wall between us and his henchmen. And if even they turned against us, our intellect would keep safe.
At thirteen, my daughter is shy to undress among strangers. Shamed by her newly shaven head. But won’t it be lovely, I tell her, after days of travelling, to be finally allowed to take a shower?
Caldwell by Bill Engelson
Heat from Aggie’s Spenser blistered her hands. A fusillade of bullets plundered the air. Half of Caldwell’s raiders had fallen after the first sortie.
The rest kept coming.
A squander of lives.
She glanced over to the rooftop opposite. Henry Taylor caught her eye, and nodded. He then levelled a volley, ending the miserable existence of two more marauders.
She quickly looked below. Dobbs was covered in gun smoke.
Behind him, a tall, hefty specter with flowing red hair appeared, yelled, “Times, up, Dobbs,” and fired.
Clancy Dobbs fell to the dust.
Aggie twirled, snapped off a lethal round.
the End by Elliott Lyngreen
It is thee enduring absence of faith which encumbers. Which changed such imperceptive adaptations; similar to the curved gunmetal swarming on ancestral earth. Hovered, surrounded, grim countenances across sub-railway small inhabited towns; down curbless sideroads and long-suffering unexplored drives form the atmosphere and once infinite expositions; slight, actually adjusting in slow centrifugal motion only keen to the sightless observers, thee overlooked visions of divinity… Now suspended, the torrent raised, smothers this perennial parade, and the uninformed simultaneous rows of edge to edge strangers (as they collapse together); perhaps no longer swelled in that umbrella of skepticism or aware… #cuzastheyfacethesuntheycastnoshadows
THE END by Neel Anil Panicker
Inside the hall the lady in white held ground.
Above her, the shimmering white dome reflected a sea of eyes, all glistening with unbridled joy, reflecting faces that screamed victory with a capital V.
The venue was a personal choice.
‘It’s would be a landslide… …they are all rooting for you…the coast is clear…the heartland is also yours…he has no chance, madam’
Her moment had come.
Then the roar came. Outside shooting flames lit the skyline.
Above her the glass had shattered. She couldn’t break the glass ceiling.
She had just become the most powerless person on this Earth.
Pretty Princess by Norah Colvin
Once upon a time there was a princess, pretty in pink and smothered in cottonwool. In constant preparation for the life arranged for her, there were few opportunities to think outside her royal expectations and obligations: Stand straight. Point your toes. Smile sweetly; and on, and on.
But think she did: Why does the moon shine? What makes the rain fall? How does the grass grow? Why can’t I: play outside? straighten my hair? eat with my fingers? go to school with other kids?
One day she said, “That’s it. I’m going.”
And she did. The end.
The Booth by Larry LaForge
Ed entered the booth, drawing the curtain closed behind him. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath as he tried to collect his thoughts.
Ed wiped the sweat from his forehead as he contemplated the seriousness of what he was about to do. His mind wandered back over the past several months. He softly whispered the words as he recollected recent events and confrontations: Dishonesty. Deceit. Braggadocio. Narcissism.
Was he being too harsh?
Finally, Ed finished his business and paused for a moment.
“Say five rosaries and ten Hail Marys,” the priest instructed from behind the screen.
The Deplorable Double Wide by Mr. Macrum
Roscoe opened his eyes. Disoriented, he took stock of his surroundings. He was seated at a wooden table in the kitchen of a deplorable double wide.
Where he was now was not the location of his last waking moment. He was sure it was tipping shots and slapping backs with his Wall Street buds in lower Manhattan. On the big screen, their guy was kicking ass.
“Uh, Where am I?”
A pudgy hand with no wrist dropped a plate of Spam and eggs in front of him.
“Home, you dumass. You got shitfaced last night cuz your man won.”
The End by Arjun Shivaram
Sher Khan was a successful robber. How much wealth he and his 99 apprentices had amassed over the years is upto the imagination of greedy minds.
One night, while robbing the house of the Inspector General’s secret mistress, a serendipitous mistake committed landed him in prison.
But his pride and feeling of importance were unsurpassed by even plump tomatoes. While in prison, he made a call – not to a lawyer, though he could have hired the most expensive of black gowns.
Following this call, the Inspector General was handed divorce papers and dragged to court for a lofty alimony.
An Ending by Irene Waters
The door slammed behind her lover. Maeve lay back on the bed spent, almost too tired to care that yet another man had walked out on her. ‘Oh bugger!’ She rolled onto her side. ‘They come and they go. What was it she did wrong? Why didn’t any of them stay?Maybe I try too hard. Perhaps they’d stay if they thought I wanted them to go.’ She propped herself in order to see her reflection in the mirror. Smiling, ‘well it’s not that I’m horrible to look at.’
A door banged shut. “How about a croissant and tea?”
She Wants, He Wants by Joe Owens
Jenny sat with her arms crossed tightly over her chest. She only plied her arms apart long enough to keep the evenly flowing tears wiped away so she could see Aaron’s expression as she talked. She was silent now after almost a half hour of presenting her case of how much she wanted to be Aaron’s only love.
He sat on an opposite couch with his lips tight for what seemed like an eternity to Jenny. She waited for the words her heart knew were coming.
“Thing is Jenny, I don’t want that with you. You’re not my person!”
December Conversation by Drew Sheldon
On a winter evening in the December of their lives, they reflected on how they had gotten there. They had been born many miles apart and were now many miles from those places.
Their lives hadn’t been fairy tales before, and they never exactly wrote one together. Would they do so now?
The conversation began to die down, and that question would no longer wait.
“Why didn’t you ever marry me?”
“You wouldn’t let me.”
“Will you marry me now?”
The question lingered in the air. After so many years, the answer would have to wait a little longer.
Hickok’s Ending (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Sarah knew this was the end. She sat in her cabin, hands folded and quivering. Several times she stood to draw the curtain only to realize she already had. Twice now. When the scrape of boots thundered across the porch, Sarah startled like a sparrow in the willows. Hickok stood in the doorway. Had she forgotten to close the door? Or were his boots so loud, she failed to hear him enter.
“Why are your boots so loud,” is all she could think to say.
“It’s over. I done it. I’m riding to turn myself in on self-defense.”
Undermined Diamond? by Jules Paige
Privet’s Farm, isolated from other farms sat exposed to the
elements. How could Craig even think of bringing Grace to
here, thought Albert?
Albert boohooed Craig’s delicate effervescent fake ‘Grace’,
heiress ingenue. Jiggling kinetically loose morals, not overtly
protective quips registered sour.Tequila undermined vanity
which xeroxed yesterday’s zeugmas.
Albert would have to rescue Craig again. Grace, looking for
a sugar-daddy,did not count on Craig having Albert to disrobe
her so easily. Hopefully the tart would harbor no ill will when
her sails were deflated.
No albatross, like the Hesperus – Grace, with half-baked
dreams, had lost her bearings.
The End by Michael
The clocked ticked towards the end of the day. The heat was insufferable. He counted down the final seconds and got up to leave. Grabbing his bag, he made for the lift, the carpark, his car, the trip home, freedom from drudgery.
The lift moved. Then stopped. “Oh no,” he thought. Not now. Suddenly it plunged. Down it went. Around him were the faces of terror. Was this the end?
Then it slowed, he breathed again, the woman beside him spewed, the man opposite covered his wet pants. The lift doors opened.
Where had all the sand come from?
Memories, Where Life Doesn’t End by Geoff Le Pard
Penny looked thoughtful when she returned from school. ‘Dolly said they sprinkled her grandpa’s ashes at his favourite place.’ She looked tearfully at her mother. ‘She said it gave them a memory of him. Mum,’ the tears began to flow, ‘I can’t remember him. He’s gone.’
Mary hugged Penny. ‘He hasn’t.’
Penny frowned. ‘Come on.’ Mary pulled out a box. Penny smiled. ‘It’s grandpa’s scent.’
‘I kept some things, reminders. You take something and keep it in your room. When you see it you’ll remember him.’
Later Mary looked in Penny’s room; a scarf sat draped around the mirror.
The Legacy by Ann Edall-Robson
He found her at the barn. He knew she would go to the one place she and the old man had called their second home. He stood in the open door watching his wife brush the sorrel horse. The old cow dog at her feet scrutinizing her every move.
He could barely hear her as she talked to the animals. Her quiet voice mixed with sniffing. She leaned into the horses neck. Her shoulders shaking with grief over the unexpected loss of the man who had mentored her all her life.
Together, her Grandfather’s legacy would be kept alive.
Until the Bitter End by Kerry E.B. Black
Candy grew into her name, sweet and eager to please.
She was young when she married a widower and took his children into her heart. She lavished attention and care, sacrificing for her family and believing in happily-ever-after. No treats for herself. Instead, she provided trinkets to please them. She attended and applauded their school performances. She encouraged their every success.
Neighbors whispered and pointed, accusing Candy of neglect and abuse. Her stepchildren portrayed her as negligent, and others somehow believed them.
Candy grew bitter and withdrawn. When was she cast as the evil stepmother in the fairy tale?
Blue Moon by Sherri Matthews
Tragically beautiful as expected, the moon shimmered like a magnificent, white diamond show-cased on a black velvet sky.
Jan shivered. “Remember that film about the moon crashing into earth?”
“Yeah, the end of the world…” whispered Tom.
“It couldn’t really happen…could it?” Jan’s words formed into icy breath. She tried to shield her eyes from the burning white light. “But it’s getting much closer and bigger, look!” She screamed.
“Are you okay Mum?” called Zac from the bedroom window.
“I’m fine darling…just practicing my lines for the play! Come down and look at the moon with us, it’s massive…”
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
‘It’s so DULL,’ Greta said. ‘I want something with more zing, something more dramatic.’
‘Sorry Doll, it doesn’t work that way.’
‘ But I want to stand out, I want to be remembered!’
‘Look Babe, that’s the way it is. Company cut backs and all that. We already have the final frame.’
‘Stuff your final frame! This is my story, my life!’
‘That’s Hollywood for you, Sweetcheeks. At least they read the screenplay.’
‘Can’t we punctuate it with a question mark?’
‘Great idea, Toots. That’ll leave it open for a sequel.’
‘ Oh and it’s Greta by the way, surname Garbo.’
Safe Space by Pete Fanning
Kim liked to say that his palm matched her own, even if his hand did not. Darnell envied how his wife lived without fear. How her daring blue eyes took on lingering stares, at the park or out shopping.
It was her idea to join the march against injustice. Palm in palm, the couple took to Tenth Street, where a college-age girl was handing out signs. The girl’s eyes lingered. Her sign read END RACISM. She spoke only to Darnell.
“This protest is for people of color only.”
Kim gasped, clutching her belly.
A person of color was kicking.
To Begin a New End by Ellen Best
Thousands gathered, some rode, others walked to the stones. Drawn some say by forces, maybe magnetic, psychic or coincidence. Either way we all gravitated here and more arrived daily, with scraps of lives some in rags.Escaping the turmoil, that destroyed life as we knew it.
In a flash, unease spread tempers began to flare. Before long gangs tore people limb from limb they burned and ate the bodies in that once sacred place. Until the ‘Hum’… the light, In a suck of a vacuum a gigantic slurp all evil was gone. We clung together as one; to begin a new end.
Dryads by Sarah Brentyn
The trees remember.
They think about when their sisters covered the valley, standing tall and proud.
Glossy, green foliage waving in summer breezes. Bare trunks frosted in winter snow. Branches reaching out, grasping hands, dancing in moonlight.
Now the few who remain nod to each other across empty fields studded with stumps of their sisters.
Their shadows stretch along barren land, soil cracked and dry.
Tufts of brown-tinged grass pretend they are a lush carpet of healthy green, turning from the truth.
The trees know better.
They are wise and no longer hold on to hope for the earth.
Busted! (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane tucks her hands inside her sleeves. Why is the math lab always freezing?
Dendrite, she writes, but draws a blank. She moves on. Axon. Vesicle. She writes the definitions neatly. The biopsychology final is tomorrow; she’s never felt stupider.
Alarm twinges as the math professor heads her way. Is she going to be reprimanded, maybe lose her lab credits, for working on not-math? The signs are posted everywhere. She shifts some calculus notes to cover the open textbook.
“Jane,” smiles Rosalie. “Do you have a minute? A tutor position has come open. I thought you might be interested.”
Not Over Yet (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Christmas decorations sparkled from every corner of the cabin. Danni strung evergreens and LED lights across the porch eaves, and bedecked the pine she cut down. Ike would laugh at her waggling path where she’d harnessed three of the dogs to pull the tree home. He was finally coming home. Of course, Danni would act mad at first, chewing him out for his lack of calls while he travelled. She barely heard the knock at the door, but the dogs barked, including Nana.
It wasn’t Ike. It was Sandwater Security on official business. Ike would not be coming home.
Never Give Up by Lady Lee Manila
Is it the end of life as we know it?
When perversity wins and we accept?
When equality loses and we bow?
And the king of the throne is such a twit?
The response was somewhat a tat for tit
Make the most of it or see how it goes
Frustrating perhaps but give it a chance
We’re all in it together, so don’t quit
We let it happen, we have to admit
Let’s not lose hope, we have to keep trying
There’s always light at the end of tunnel
In the end, it’s all for our benefit