Welcome back to the home of Paranormal & Dauntless Romance. Woohoo! We’ve made it to the end of our 9th year of weekly prompts! Holy cow, we’ve been going a long time. Now we start the tenth, but first, we CELEBRATE! This is Week 468 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together. Want to keep up each week? Check out the #ThursThreads #flashfiction group on Facebook and the Group on MeWe.
So here’s how this week’s challenge is going to work.
Need the rules? Read on.
Here’s how it works:
- The prompt is a line from the previous week’s winning tale.
- The prompt can appear ANYWHERE in your story and is included in your word count.
- The prompt must be used as is. It can be split, but no intervening words can be inserted or tenses changed.
Rules to the Game:
- This is a Flash Fiction challenge, which means your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 250.
- The story must be new writing, not a snippet from something published elsewhere with the prompt added.
- Incorporate the prompt anywhere into your story (included in your word count).
- Post your story in the comments section of this post
- Include your word count in the post (or be excluded from judging)
- Include your Twitter handle or email in the post (so we don’t have to look for you)
- The challenge is open 7 AM to 8 PM Mountain Time
- The winner will be announced on Friday, depending on how early the judge gets up.
How it benefits you:
- You get a nifty cool badge to display on your blog or site (because we’re all about promotion – you know you are!)
- You get instant recognition of your writing prowess on this blog!
- Your writing colleagues shall announce and proclaim your greatness on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Google Plus, etc.
Our Judge for Week 468:
Renaissance Woman, Newfie mom, and Romance Author, Silver James. And the winner of the most #ThursThreads challenges over the last 9 years!
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |
For this event, there will be winners chosen for “Most Romantic”, “Best LGBTQ+”, “Best Sci-Fi” and “Best Suspense” as well as overall Winner and Honorable Mention, so keep that in mind.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“It takes me back.”
All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Comments do not represent the views of the host and the host reserves the right to remove any content. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!
22 Replies to “#ThursThreads – 9th Anniversary – Week 468”
The green glow from the train windows mocked us. Green stood for growth and renewal, not hiding and loss. “I can’t get on it,” I vowed. “It takes me back to Chicago, back to being in the closet.” At twenty-seven, I still hid the full me from my work and family.
Jesse’s thumbs, calloused from his guitar, brushed away my tears. “Then don’t. You can stay. Money will be tight until you find a new job here, but we’ll make it work. I’ve got my summer job as a minstrel again, so you’ll have weekends for quiet time, or you can come ogle me in my tights and doublet.”
We hadn’t meant to fall in love after meeting at the Bristol RenFaire. The moment I heard him serenading a guest, I was enamored. When he gave me a rose that had his number scribbled on a piece of paper wound about the stem, I was intrigued. As we kissed that night at the Danse Macabre drum jam, I was alive for the first time.
“Nick, these two weeks of vacation together have been amazing. We’ve had two years of secret weekend rendezvous and daily video calls. If you aren’t ready to come out to your family, I’ll wait for you to be ready. I’m not doubting it’ll take effort when it’s living together for real, but I’m ready to try.”
The train pulled away, leaving us standing together—growing together—in a patch of green grass.
Word Count: 246
“Seeing you sitting there, it takes me back.”
Winston leaned back in the metal chair and took a long drag on his fat cigar. I didn’t want to hear what he was about to say. I didn’t need to hear his tales or know what he would do if I didn’t manage to get out of this.
I continued to work the plastic ties. People thought you couldn’t get out of them, but you could if you knew the trick, and I did. Clearly Winston didn’t, or the guy he was busy reminiscing over. He took his time detailing the torture methods he’d used on him.
I felt the tie give. Yes, I was almost there. I could do this; I could get out of this. I eyed his cigar; it would make the perfect weapon.
I waited for him to lean forward again and tell me the next gruesome thing he’d done, then I snatched the cigar out of his mouth and thrust it into his eye before he had a chance to react.
It worked and he fell back screaming, enabling me to exit the room via the window. His gorillas would be here in no time, but shimmying down drainpipes was my thing, even from the 28th floor. Being small and wiry had its advantages, both with plastic ties and impossible escapes – although I’d have to escape the country too if I wanted to stay alive. I wouldn’t get another chance if he caught me again.
Word count: 249
I fidget in place, shifting my weight between feet. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Niklaus. At one point, I tried to convince myself I’d stopped counting the days since he left.
Of course, I’m not really fooling anyone. Least of all myself.
I know exactly how long it’s been. Rehearsed the tongue lashing I intend to give him for the unending silence a million times, maybe more. Not a single word in five years, and he just shows up expecting to resume our betrothal? Even if I wanted to let go of my frustration, I don’t think I could.
When the door opens, the words are ready on the tip of my tongue, but they fall away in seconds. He crosses the room with his superhuman speed and pulls me into his arms. His embrace’s effect is immediate. It takes me back to that moment on my balcony, his good-bye the night before he and his sister went into hiding. Our first and only kiss.
“Ariella…” My name sounds like a prayer in his voice, soft, pleading. It sends a longing ache through me, as if maybe – just maybe – he missed me just as much as I missed him.
I pull back just enough to see his face, the forest green eyes I once knew so well. But they’ve changed. Emerald now, there’s something cold about them, at odds with his touch.
“I thought vampires couldn’t change. Your eyes are different.”
“It’s nice to see you too, angel.”
250 words for an old WIP hanging out in rewrite hell
LOL “hanging out in rewrite hell”. Oh I know those words so well. 😀
“Past is Prologue”
Before the door slides fully open, the memories flood in. The smell is the trigger – it takes me back, and in an instant I’m 12 again. Lonely and afraid, on a world that wasn’t my own. Home wasn’t safe, so I ran to the first escape hatch. In my case, it was the cargo spaceport with lax security.
The same instinct that made me run was my shield in my new life. I knew which predators would just take what they wanted and leave and which would demand more than I could give. I knew who in the “ask no questions” labor market would give me tools to climb the ladder and who would kick me when I was down.
It turned out the skills I built in this dark place were exactly the ones I needed for a life in politics. After all, the mob and the Senate were pretty much the same thing. Not that I stopped at something as prosaic as having a seat at the table. Soon, I had the only seat.
I was running again now, but this time there’d be no escape hatch. I’d done too much to too many people. My instincts kicked in before the assassins showed up, and I had just enough friends left to get me back here.
The place I’d hid when I first arrived was still here, though I no longer fit in such a small space. I curled up outside and fell asleep, dreaming of home.
Smoking Under the Carrot Sun
It occurred to me that I might not be reading Glitch Henderson all that well. Clearly, he had a complex relationship with Henry Samuels. From what he had disclosed, Henry had stayed in the Henderson home after his mother died. For years. That made them almost brothers. And it sounded like it wasn’t the Marx Brothers, though who knows what their interpersonal hijinks had been. Given Groucho’s name, I had to assume he had a few cranky moments.
Likely Henderson and Samuels were more akin to Cain and Able. Cain and Able lite. Somewhere in between, maybe. In any case, I decided to put my best foot, the one that sometimes found its way into my mouth, forward.
“Could we go inside and chat, Henderson? It’s a little too public out here.”
“Why the hell not,” he said, and I followed him into his shop.
For an automotive business, it looked barren.
“It’ll perk up later. Coffee?”
It was a good sign that he was attempting his version of a social grace, so I nodded yes.
He poured two cups.
“Let sit out back.”
We went through the shop and outside. Two old recliners were nudged up against the rear wall. A small overhang offered rain protection.
Not a problem today.
He lit up a smoke.
I followed suit.
“My mother’s chairs,” he said. “Sitting in them, well…it takes me back.”
“Memory Lane,” I said. “Always easier when your ass’s comfortable.”
Laurie never noticed. He was too busy losing the family fortune to gambling and loan sharks. I didn’t have a clue at the time. I only realized something was really wrong with our financial situation when one of the loan sharks sent some goons after me as a way to persuade my husband to pay them back faster.
A wicked grin crossed my face as I jogged to the top of the ridge and stopped, breathing hard. Two things happened that day that changed my life forever.
I’m not sure it’s good that it takes me back to those memories.
But it was the beginning of the stronger me, and that was always good to remember. The first thing was my training kicked in and the goons, while heavier and bigger, never saw my defense coming. I beat the living shit out of them while avoiding the worst of their blows.
The second thing was Karma returned just when I needed her and gave me the option to leave my life forever and join the Concrete Angels as one of their members. A full member, not someone’s old lady. I could leave Aeryn Straton behind and become Viper, the bad ass bitch who didn’t tolerate strange men, and reminded them with force if necessary.
I was free of my old life, history, fears. I was the new, better me.
Then Paul Whitmore, my lost love, joined the Concrete Angels, and brought the past with him.
248 ineligible #ConcreteAngelsMC words
“It’s really quite simple,” the Doc said, leading me toward his laboratory. “I press the button once; it takes me back an hour. Two presses, two hours; three presses for four. Each additional press doubles the length of the jump. The longest jump I’ve done yet was eight hours: that was the last one I did.”
“So, how does it work? How do you get back each time?” I was already thinking of ways I could use his device. Gambling was the obvious one. A few weeks of playing the lottery, and I’d be made for life. After that, I’d be able to do anything I wanted. You can throw away the rulebook when you’re rich.
“Well, that’s the problem.” The Doc pressed his eye against the sensor, opening the security door. The device was inside, hidden away from anyone who might abuse it.
The laboratory was mostly empty, its free space surrounding a large wire cube floating in mid-air. There was a red button on a box attached to a plinth nearby, the button enclosed in a Perspex case with a lock. There was also a sign hanging from the plinth, its text reading ‘DO NOT USE’ in bold type.
“I’d like to introduce you to someone,” the Doc said, raising his hand to wave to the man climbing from the cube. “And if you feel a little surprised by how much we look alike, you just wait another hour because there’ll be another five of me appearing then.”
250 words ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com
“Look at her,” Aron said. “She can’t even milk a cow.”
“She’s a city girl,” Catarina scowled at her brother. “Give her a break.” Catarina stifled a laugh. Ana’s face and apron were covered with cow’s milk.
“City girl? You mean aristocrat.” Aron was convinced of it, despite Catarina’s denials.
“I’m leaving, Aron. I’m going to help her get to the port of St. Petersburg where she can get passage out of Russia.”
“Bad idea, Catarina.”
“She’s my friend. And she needs my help.”
Aron grabbed her arm as she started to walk away. “Bolsheviks are looking for her. You won’t get far.”
“The Bolsheviks murdered her family. Bloodthirsty bastards.”
“We are Bolsheviks, too, Catarina. Would you betray the revolution?”
“I can’t betray a friend, Aron.” Catarina pointed a finger at her brother. “Will you betray us? Would you betray your own sister?”
Both young women took their satchels and loaded the wagon. “It takes me back to our childhood games, Catarina. When we pretended to be soldiers. Remember?”
“This isn’t a game, Aron.” Her heart sank when she saw his frown. “Yes, I remember.”
The next day, they managed to evade the guards at checkpoints surrounding the port. Catarina knew one of them. Olga was the one who convinced her to join the revolution, to become a Bolshevik.
“Your friend, Ana, is Anastasia Romanov. The Grand Duchess Anastasia. They are looking for her all over the city.”
“What will you do, Olga?” Catarina said.
“Follow me. Quickly.”
250 Words (from my YA historical fiction WIP)
“It takes me back.”
Milia gave a yank on the shackles securing her to the floor in the circle, glaring at the shadowy form that stood against the wall. The light behind him bright and making him a shadow. “What takes you back?”
“That you don’t remember your training. I thought the Raven Mother made sure all her worshipers were fighters.”
“Take these off and I’ll show you how I can fight.” Another yank on the cold metal. Red welts covered her skin from where they touched. “Why did you take the kids if you were looking for a fight? Is that all you can fight against? Kids?”
“Merely bait. I’m merely put off that you were the only one to arrive.” A sigh as the robed figured moved. “Perhaps we will have to take extreme measures to get better attention. I’m sure she won’t mind the loss of a young one or two. The little brats are easily replaced.”
Milia clenched her teeth and she attempted to stand up, the shackles putting pressure on her wrists. “You touch any of them and I will personally tear out your heart and feed it to pigs.” The dark tattoos that ran down her forearms burned, her vision blurring as she heard the beating of wings. “I would destroy everything you’ve touched and wipe your name from history until you aren’t even a mention.”
His footsteps took her closer until he leaned over. “Nice of you to join us, Raven Mother.”
The streets were always swarming with traffic. Honking horns, racing engines, screaming tires, and all the rest. No one walked. Walking got you killed. Yet, there I was, walking. One block this way, three blocks that way, then a block back on the other side of the street.
It was all I could do to find her, the one who was calling for help. I didn’t have a name, or a description. Didn’t know her size, race, hair color. I didn’t know anything, except she was one of the hidden.
The only way I had to find her was to sleep, and hope I found her in a dream, or to walk everywhere, and hope I wound up where she needed me to be. It was the same way I’d found Deborah, and so many others. Some strange, hidden ability to know where to be, where to go, to help someone who needed help.
“It takes me back to think about it.” And it did. Back to my past, like the first time I wound up somewhere I needed to be. I didn’t know it was a gift, then. Didn’t know I was one of the hidden. I’d done what felt right, followed my instincts, let my emotions guide me. And I wound up finding someone who’d been shot, and dumped in an alley, hidden from sight, and left there to die.
That was the first time I’d helped someone.
Natura’s hanging garden was beautiful as ever, but something was different. No, not different. The same. Everything seemed identical to the last time Duellum visited. Had ennui made it this far?
“Will the mother be joining us?” The soldier broke the silence softly. “I thought that was the purpose of meeting here.”
Amare shrugged from her seat by the pond without taking her eyes from the sphere at the water’s center. Lux remained completely engrossed in documents spread over a garden table they had managed to find somewhere. Duellum dourly joined Amare at the water’s edge. The image on the sphere was of the world below. Specifically, a golden-haired girl. Judging a human’s maturity was difficult, but this one appeared of age.
“It takes me back,” Amare sighed sensually. “Do you remember the first one I brought up here?”
“Who could forget?!”
“I can’t believe he left. What kind of mortal leaves a goddess?”
Duellum elected not to acknowledge Amare’s question. Lux stacked their documents and chimed in.
“A better question would be, can this mortal wield the weapon?”
Lux was right as usual. A captain’s ship took on a certain amount of their character. Time seemed to stop for most of them after becoming stranded here. Only Natura’s garden had remained dynamically alive. Even if no one had seen her in a millennium, her garden’s wild growth had provided a small comfort.
Were they running out of time? And would this girl bring salvation? Or distraction?
249 Cat’s The Pajamas words
Bone against thick steel sends a shiver down my spine. The constant clack, clack, clack, as he waits for me to make up my mind grates on my ears. One step forward, into the living tunnel, and it takes me back to Iowa and normal life. Stay and I make unlimited money breaking people’s hearts.
It’s a helluva decision to make on the fly.
I cross people over into the afterlife five nights a week. It pays well and the ability to walk into another Plane as easily as I walk into a store is kind of neat, too. But even though the families don’t see me when I show up, I see them. And most of the time, all I see is anguish and heart break. If there was a way to get therapy for this job, I’d be all over it.
“Leave now and your service to Death ends immediately. You will receive any due pay in two business days and never hear from me again. You will never be able to work for Death again. That is the deal.”
I sigh, turning toward the tunnel. No more pretty, white flying horse. No more cool powers to control the weather. No more beyond living wage. And no more emotional distress. Something pulls me back, makes me want to stay. As if he knows my answer already, his cloaked head, eyes burning blue, nods once, and he retreats to his office, the door whispering shut on centuries old hinges.
I close my eyes and step into the backyard hardly believing that this was now mine again. Breathing deeply, I smell the lilacs in the house that was once my grandmothers and it takes me back to all the family gatherings, we had every summer as a child. My cousins and I gathered around the wooden table Uncle John made from old barn doors. I’d had everything lovingly restored when I bought it from my Uncle John’s estate.
I stepped into the house and I could smell the potato salad and the peach pie that grandma had made once upon a time. I stepped into the parlour and saw the settee covered in plastic. Surprised I decided to sit on it just for fun and the room started spinning.
I closed my eyes and then I heard a voice yell, ”Land’s sake child. How many times does your grandmother have to tell you that is for company, not family!”
I opened my eyes and there she stood my five-foot nothing grandmother. I blinked and looked again she was see through but she was there.
“I know I’m a ghost, but someone has to look after you and this house. I’m here to stay so get used to it.”
So, I did. Grandma has chased away a few unsuitable men she insists she staying around until she gets me settled. Things are looking up since she stalled George’s tractor outside our house. She really approves of him and so do I.
The wind picked up as if on command, filling the sails, pulling the caravel along. Judith felt it the moment the sea released the hull and the boat swept forward. She tilted her face up and closed her eyes, enjoying the flush of freedom getting underway always gave her.
“I’ll not save you this time,” a rough voice said.
Judith whirled to find Captain Ila Rosemont standing too close behind her, the woman’s stern face achingly familiar. “You won’t need to,” Judith assured her with forced lightness.
Ila frowned with a sniff but said nothing.
Judith frowned back. She had expected peevishness, not this icy greeting. “How is your father?” she asked politely.
“Fine,” Ila replied.
Judith’s voice dropped to a whisper. ”And you? How are you?”
“You know how I am,” Ila replied stiffly.
“Still angry?” Judith challenged.
“No,” Ila snapped. “But seeing you in your father’s uniform … does bring back memories.” Ila’s dark eyes swept her from head to toe, making Judith shiver.
Judith wanted to reach out and smooth that stern brow like she used to. Her gaze dropped to the lips she’d kissed only once.
“It takes me back, too,” she murmured, and placed a light hand on Ila’s arm.
Ila pulled away. “Why are you here, Judith? What do you want? As I recall you never wanted to see me again.”
“I was young, stupid,” Judith stammered, wanting to explain.
Ila turned away. “We both were, but I’ve grown up.”
“Seeing you again—it takes me back.” Justin’s dark eyes moved over him, cataloguing the changes two years’ time had wrought.
“To better times?” Mateo struggled to meet Justin’s intense stare.
“Better?” Justin pushed one eloquently noisy eyebrow skyward. “How so?”
“You know.” Mateo rolled his eyes. “Before the war.”
Before you had to kill.
Before you had to see me again.
“If you mean before they took you from me, then yes.”
Butterflies. Those were butterflies churning to panicked life in Mateo’s gut.
“Those paper pushers in charge of your cadet assessment couldn’t measure talent with two hands and the most powerful computers in the galaxy.” Justin came close enough to be a threat, but—but he felt like home. “They told me you’d never graduate. That—”
Justin fumbled for words, his hand spiraling through the air.
“That you’d never be mine.”
“I was never yours at all.”
“Because of a stars-forsaken test, Teo.”
“So? You found another partner.”
“I accepted to get closer to you.”
“I’m serious.” Justin caught him by the shoulders, hands squeezing enough to warn. If Mateo tried to run, Justin would follow. “They told me you weren’t coming back.”
“I get it.”
“And I was only getting out on their terms.” Justin pulled him into a warm embrace. “With half a galaxy between us to bridge—yeah. I took their deal.”
“Was it worth it?”
“Are you in my arms?”
“Yeah,” Mateo sighed. “I guess I am.”
“Then there’s your answer.”
249 spacy lovesick words
Gorgeous words, as always
As I escape into the indigo, my afterburners trace my path and I can breathe again. I don’t belong on the ground. Some people need the greens of growing things, the browns of fertile earth, the green people, the grounders.
Its funny how we can look at the same thing and see something very different. People have claimed colors for their causes and used them to draw political lines but for me, the colors we choose are the colors of our worlds.
The blue people like the oceans and the skies, the greensmen like the growing world of earth, the gray and gold are drawn to the cities, that grow up between the blue and the green worlds. Worlds between worlds within worlds
Worlds of sand and snow. Worlds of fire and cool winds. They are beautiful, but I am bound to the indigo of space. Alone I chart my course, traveling to worlds of ice, and chemical mixes that would eat the paint off of their ivory towers. They call me a pariah because I can’t live in their world. I don’t belong there any more than they belong in mine. But I will always welcome them.
The call of space is in my veins and I was born with stardust in my eyes. Stars are born and die out here, and no matter how many times I leave, it takes me back, as it always does.
They say I’m just a pilot, but I am so much more.
250 words not including title
#ThursThreads Week 468 9th Anniversary Edition is now CLOSED. My glory, I’m so glad to see so many of you here this week and all the folks that helped me start this. Thank you for coming back and I hope to see y’all again.