Last week’s prompt over at Flash Friday tasked us to write a 200ish word story that took place in a kitchen based on this photo prompt:
I hope you enjoy my offering, which received a special mention for the “best bait”.
Everything seems louder in the dark.
Especially the screams.
My body catapults out of bed, and before my sluggish neocortex can catch up with the more primal layers of my brain tissue, I’m in the kitchen. Holding a butcher knife. As if that would help.
I take in the scenery as my heart recedes to a more sustainable rhythm. Stainless steel appliances, a swiffer leaning beside the granite-ish counters. No doubt this is my twenty-first century apartment. But when I close my eyes they are still there. Prisoners proclaiming their innocence until their throats run dry and hoarse. Guards wearing their uniforms like a sultan’s robes, gliding through the halls with absolute power over life and death, mercy and suffering.
I should have never let my friends drag me on their so-called ‘paranormal investigation’. Glorified trespassing, more like. But we hadn’t just trespassed on government property, we’d crossed a far more sinister line. I could remember every moment of the doomed adventure, the warning spikes of the electromagnetic field detector, the cold chills, running for the exit. But there was one thing I couldn’t remember: Leaving.
I stare desperately at the kitchen, my home. I am here. I got out.
I had a lot of fun with last week’s flash friday. I wanted to juxtapose sci-fi and typical office politics in order to tackle the prompt of “blunder” and a man running down a sand dune. This piece came in at second runner up! I’d love to hear what you think.
A Bad Day at the Office
Trusting Calloway, that was my first mistake.
But, Lord help me, it hadn’t been my last.
From not packing an extra suit to botching the landing, this entire mission had been a haphazard series of blunders that had damn near killed me. But hey, the day wasn’t over yet. It still could.
Smug, pug-nosed Calloway was probably sitting in our commander’s office right then, outlining why she should have my job. Criminally inept. That’s what Scott said she called me the moment after I set out on the mission she promised would “make my career”. Yeah, make it crash and burn anyway.
But hey, I’m an optimist. Even sprinting down the dunes, microscopic shards of silicon berating my unprotected skin, I had a chance. If I could just recover the artifact, complete the mission, and not suffocate, then Calloway’s sadistic little sabotage would fail.
I had about 7 more seconds until the extraction team would be forced to teleport me back to the ship, lest my lungs explode. I could see the strange cube peeking out from the sand at the bottom of the dune. All I had to do was reach out and grab it.
Which totally would’ve worked, if I hadn’t tripped and fallen on my face
I was pretty excited by this past week’s flash friday. The picture below combined with the prompt of friendship served as inspiration. I hope you will enjoy my take that examines a specific kind of friendship, that between a brother and sister.
They’d always looked so much alike. When the family awoke to find Eric gone, stolen away into the promise of life, when it had seemed their humiliation complete, it had been easy to slip into the stiff white coat he’d left behind.
To the appointed place, fingers gripping a pistol they’d never been trained to handle. But victory mattered not. Indeed it would mean a loss far more unendurable than death.
Even Frederick was too frenzied to spot the differences- hair a tinge lighter, lips ever so fuller. Not daring to speak, the contestant in white nodded when asked if prepared.
Ten paces, a solitary shot, and a white coat drenched red.
“My god.” The doctor dropped the corpse’s too delicate wrist.
“No!” Frederick’s knees betrayed him. He knew those lips.
“It seems the reason for this feud has ended it.”
“She may have loved you, Lord Elworth, but she loved her brother more.”
The inspiration for the fourth of July edition of flash friday was the festive image below along with the prompt “include a woman”. I couldn’t resist having a little fun with this one, if you couldn’t tell from the title!
This week’s prompt over at flash friday was “friendship” along with the picture below. Hope you enjoy my take on it!
There was a time, mama says, when people feared that nothing would ever grow again. A decade of winter. Soil burned and poisoned. The inescapable mantle of ash strangling even the hardiest of green life. Most of the people died with them. Starvation, disease, or maybe just heartbreak. They did not realize it til it was gone, but this planet is the first and truest friend we’ll ever have.
It started slow, mama says, around the time I was born. As I fought for life, brave little chutes were fighting too. They battled toxins, and faced down darkness til at last they pierced the surface. Blades of grass, then wildflowers, even berries. Tiny, shrunken things at first, more grit than fruit. But miracles nonetheless.
Now the berry patches are vast, the fruit tart but meaty. There’s so many I dare to harvest two whole crates full. But we’ll make sure to plant the seeds, this time nothing goes to waste.
This week over at flash friday we had to write a story that included a fire based on the picture below. Hope you enjoy my piece!
The Old Ones
At first, the whispering came only at night. As I sunk beneath the shroud of sleep, the sylvan terrors gripped me with antediluvian power- and I was lost to Their will. The draught the surgeon prescribed helped, sending me to an oblivion even the Old Ones could not reach. But either it lost its efficacy or They grew in boldness, for it was not long until They called again.
With each passing age, human achievements multiplied- fire, bronze, masonry, farming. Gone were the days where we lived in fearful reverence of the creatures that came before. I don’t know why They chose me to remind my fellow men of the creeping, gnarled gods lurking just beyond the firelight.
I try to resist, but a cowardly heart poisons my resolve. First, the belltower my family has stewarded these many years. The whispers guide me- awaken the flames, lock the doors, relish the screams. I turn toward the village, torch in hand.
I was extremely excited by this past week’s flash friday. I had been hoping to write some sci-fi and here was the perfect prompt, this picture along with the idea of “an unpaid bill”. My piece, “Bounty” was given an honorable mention this week! According to the judge, “This one entertained my world-building mind so much…. it made me laugh and filled me with so many questions.” Not bad considering I wrote, cut-down, and posted it in about 30 minutes in order to make the deadline… Hope you enjoy!
Taryn Noelle Kloeden
“WANTED DEAD, ALIVE, OR IN STASIS:
Interstellar fugitive Gorilaxis”
I glance up from the screen implanted in my wrist and into the yellow dwarf this planet called a sun. 110 degrees was considered hot here. My biosensors ping as soon as I cross the threshold of “Eddie’s”. Humans were voluntarily ingesting ethyl alcohol. Talk about a primitive planet.
I approach the female serving “refreshments”. My cloaker must’ve been working, because she didn’t scream.
“You seen this…man?” I slide her the picture.
“Clancy? With prosthetics, takes pictures with tourists for 50 bucks a pop? He’s got a double-wide by Medlin’s place. 10 miles down the highway.”
“Thank you.” I consider incinerating the place. Might give me an edge on the competition. But probably not worth the fine for killing a Class D species.
“Would you remind him he “forgot” to settle up his tab.”
I make a note to add petty theft to his list of offenses.
Here is my submission to this past week’s Flash Friday contest. The theme/idea to include was “comeuppance” and the image prompt is pictured below. This week, I was given a “special mention” for language!
The wind pounds against my ears, like hundreds of desperate fists once had on bank doors. What were bloody knuckles when your future had been traded and drained to nothing?
How far away the days before the crash seemed. 1929. Back when shoes shined and flowers bloomed. When my wife smiled so wide I thought her face might freeze. But that was before I lost her family’s money to a Tuesday blacker than any mourner’s garb. They say money isn’t everything, but it sure seems important when you can’t afford a loaf of bread.
I could have stopped, I could have kept something, anything, out of the market. But my greed outfoxed my moderation and my wits. I did not understand then what I do now: that the higher you climb, the farther you have to fall.
I will not repeat that sin. I have climbed high enough, and this time I do not fall. I jump.
Hello! So I occasionally participate in a weekly “microfiction” contest called Flash Friday. Each week we are given a visual prompt and a concept on which to base our stories. This week’s concept was “coming of age” and the image was Past and Present No 2, by Augustust Leopold Egg, 1858. This week my story was given an “honorable mention”!
The moon glowed, a jealous re-telling of the sun’s daily journey. How many nights had Cassandra spent in its company alone, unable to quiet her mind long enough to find the sweet oblivion of sleep? And how many of those nights had Marianne snored and dreamed the time away?
But tonight was different.
Marianne wailed and bawled and screeched. Her breath came and went in frantic huffs as she threw herself over Cassandra’s legs. For the first time, she had to endure the harshness of reality.
“How could anyone be so cruel, sister?”
Cassandra did not answer.
“To be murdered in the street like some common criminal! When h-he had- we had everything to live for! And now… what do I have?”
Cassandra’s gaze did not break from the moon’s gleam. She recalled how the whites of his eyes had flashed in the dark, wide with disbelief, shining in pain.