Welcome back to the home of Paranormal & Dauntless Romance.
I’m amazed and delighted to welcome y’all to the 10th ANNIVERSARY of #ThursThreads. Ten full years of writing each week, tying on tales connected with the thread of a line from the previous winning story. Talk about a long line of history.
When I started this challenge, flash fiction was a relatively new phenomenon online and I never thought I’d still be hosting my challenge for ten years. Today is Week 520, marking a complete decade of Thursdays where folks come to my blog to write (and this is the third blog I’ve had!)
While the rules remain the same, this week there’s some extra special goodies you can win in celebration for all the years writing. This is Week 520 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together. As always if you’d like to keep up each week, check out the #ThursThreads #flashfiction group on Facebook and the Group on MeWe.
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 520:
Renaissance Woman, Newfie mom, and Romance Author, Silver James.
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“Play the long game.”
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.
In addition to the badges, there’s a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card from Nellie Batz, two $5 Eden Books gift cards from Abigail Sharpe, a workbook on (winner’s choice) writing a novel, novella, short story, or world-building from Mary Decker, a First Three Chapters critique from Louisa Bacio, a grouping of tea, a micro puzzle, some inspiration magnets and a little wooden sign about friendship from Veronica Roxby Jorden, and a Siobhan Muir mug from me.
Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!
20 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together for 10 Years!!”
I hadn’t seen Maguire in at least ten years. Back then, he had been deep into the hustle, managing the Long Game Casino on the territory beyond our city boundaries. Always hungry for flash in those days, he was forever decked out in gold silk suits, driving a rotation of Italian sports cars, adoring women barnacled onto his grabby arms.
Back then he was a sight to behold.
My gambling losses paid for some of that ostentation.
I didn’t hold too much of a grudge.
Then one day he was gone—no sign of him remained.
The world was brighter somehow.
So when he showed up in my office this morning, you can see why I was gobsmacked.
No silk, no gold, just an off-the-rack suit that looked slept in.
We’d never been close if you hadn’t guessed.
But he had my attention.
“You’re still a crummy dick,” he said.
“You too, I see.”
He laughed. “Sorry. Slow and steady. That’s always the way you seemed to me to be.”
I nodded. He was dead on.
That’s where my cashola went.
Slow and steady into his pockets.
We were silent for a few minutes.
This was his gambol, and I didn’t much care.
I like to play the long game.
Finally, he broke. “You gonna ask me why I’m here?”
“Are you here? I barely see you.”
“That’s fair,” he agreed. “I got nothin’ but an apology.”
He was repairing his larcenous soul.
It’d never work.
A Logical Operation
“A damaged valve. You need to have it repaired.” No equivocation from the doctor, who informed him in no uncertain terms that he needed to quit his sweet-eating habit and to exercise more – but to do so carefully. “Exercise, but exercise caution. Play the long game. This is very serious.”
He had never been much of an athlete. When it came to sports, he had done little in his youth. He preferred reading and food.
The memory of his mother handing him a whisk when he was no more than three years of age so that he could lick the delicious cream filling which she had concocted for her sponge cakes in whatever rural backwater they had been living at the time, trying to earn some extra money selling confectionery and now he’d have a damn operation to repair his faulty heart and he could hear his pulse in his ears like a knell, like thumps interrupting waves against the sands of a beach, as the doctor explained to him the details of a procedure he would need to research later via the internet, because he couldn’t focus on the doctor’s voice right now.
“I’m scared, doctor,” he said then, breaking the cardiologist’s verbal flow.
The doctor stared into space for a few moments contemplatively.
“Do you believe in God?” the doctor asked him finally.
“No. I think once you’re gone, you’re gone, to nothing,” he answered.
“Well then…why fear nothing, when there’s nothing to fear?”
250 words @ragtaggiggagon
Marshall fastened the chain across the hotel room door before opening the suitcase.
He stacked the money on the bed, a range of bills amounting to millions of dollars, amassed from a lifetime of miserly behavior. He had micro-managed all expenditures, applied every ounce of intelligence to accumulating inordinate wealth—as yet, no one figured out he had slain his partner in the process. And they would never know—deciding to play the long game, Marshall had employed a macabre method of concealment, destroying the body and all evidence of his involvement.
The knock on the door startled Marshall out of his reverie.
“Hold on! Give me a sec,” he yelled through the portal.
He took the extra blanket from the foot of the bed and unfurled it over the stacks of money on the comforter, approving of the results. He crossed the room and opened the door slightly, as wide as the security mechanism would allow, and peered through the gap to see uniformed officers and a flash of brass.
“Mr. Flannery? Mr. Marshall Flannery? We need to speak with you please.”
Leaning over the front porch of his home, he analyzed the Missouri sky. Sunlight disappeared behind black, rolling clouds. Wind erupted in a violent wave that sent dust flying. Lowering his head, he watched the sullied air denude leaves and petals from his blood rose, roiling and scattering them across the yard. Turning his back on the wind, he sipped coffee, whose label boasted, “Strong enough to kill the faint of heart.”
The murderer drained what was left in the cup over the dandelion growing beside the stairs and re-entered his home. Donning surgical clothes, he drove the hospital route by memory. After all, he was in to play the long game. While tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, he nodded when his marked spot sat vacant.
Four sheriff’s cars and a truck belonging to the sheriff’s son crowded near the ER entrance. Wonder where the sheriff is?
After showing identification, he passed an officer he knew and purposefully proceeded toward the back hallway. The killer knew he blended in. When he stood at an entrance marked EMPLOYEES ONLY, he pushed into the Emergency Room and stood expectantly.
The whining voice of the town’s fool guided him to a curtained bed. “I was only tryin’ ta make her wait fer the sheriff.”
Glancing through the slit in the curtain, the killer’s eyes focused on the patient. He mumbled, “Libby!” He backed away. “No… no… Libby’s dead. I killed her.”
He turned and tried to escape the way he had come.
“Wearing bikinis, sarongs, flip-flops, and sunglasses. The only good thing about the sarongs was the ability to hide knives.”
“Surely they kept you cool.” Chester grinned.
Hermione snorted. “No one stayed cool. It was a tropical island in the summer. But at least we weren’t humping sixty-pound packs and body armor in the tropical jungle. Although I missed my pack for the gear I could carry. I had to make do with a duffel bag.
“The asset was a teenager who’d graduated from MIT at the age of fifteen. Smart cookie was putting it mildly, but she was there for her father’s wedding to wife number three. She was under eighteen so she couldn’t just refuse to go, but she was working the surly teenager gig pretty hard.” Hermione grinned. “I liked her first thing.”
Chester laughed. “Your kind of girl?”
“Hell yeah. If she was old enough, I would’ve recruited her to be part of the team. She made me feel mentally slow.” She let her smile mellow a little. “We thought this would be easy. Cozy up to her guards—yeah, her daddy had her under guard—get them to think we were just some beach bunnies, take the girl shopping, and be outta there.
“But the guards were annoyingly sharp, even the horny ones, and we had to play the long game of being simpering party girls for most of the weeklong celebrations. At least I got to work on my tan.” She rolled her eyes.
249 ineligible #Sirens words
Play the long game, they always say. Keep your cards tight to your chest and I had I really had. Only the choice hadn’t been mine I shouldn’t have snuck into my parent’s closet while they weren’t home and opened the locked box but I was curious.
I found an adoption certificate with my father’s name as the adoptive parent and I stopped reading. My real mother’s name was Zilla Margarite something my father, George Alexander something.
“Now you know ,”my mother said from the door.
“Know what? That you are not my mother?”
“You didn’t read everything.”
“No, I didn’t Marge.”
“I am your mother my name is Zilla Margarite Sinclair- Paget. I married the King of Zenda who was assassinated and fled with you where I met your father and married him.”
“His not my father,”
“He raised you loved and protected you, managed to find someone who could allow him to adopt you officially and still hide or identity. He’s your father!!”
I was angry and I lashed out, ”Why didn’t you both tell me?”
“You were in danger. Next week is your eighteenth birthday, you have decision to make. Do you want the throne to protect and serve the people saving them from the dictatorship that killed your birth father or do you want to continue to be Zoe?”
My life would be in danger; but I had a duty to the people of Zenda, I would take my position and be the leader they needed.
The baby-making machine belched a cloud that smelled like hot cheese snacks and warm beer.
“Graaaay-cious!” Mackie waved her hand in front of her face. “Is that supposed to be foreplay or something?”
“Got more of that if it turns you on.” He laughed, palm resting on his jiggling stomach.
If he was the last man on earth, she wouldn’t marry him now. The idea triggered memories of sitting on the beach, watching the high tide sweep closer and closer to their feet and the magical feeling of his pinky and ring finger brushing against hers, so hesitant.
Each one of them had been looking for something more and they found it in each other. How did they come to this moment?
No way she’d survive the past few years of quarantine and lockdowns and worldwide chaos without him. Despite all the insanity, he made her laugh and kept them both safe. If she needed TP or double chocolate-chip ice cream, he’d forage the empty shelves and not return empty handed.
He baked bread and ate her feta pasta TicTok recreations, and hopefully they’d be celebrating an environmentally conscious gender reveal soon.
“Ready to play the long game?” he rubbed his growing crotch and lifted his hips.
Sometimes he was too much, but when it came down to it, he was her too much. She settled over his lap and he gripped her ass exactly the way she liked it.
“Yep. I’m in it for the long haul.”
The Raven Queen and Nowhere King
“Are you sure you want to do this?” The gravely voice rumbled behind her.
Seraphina stared at the force at rest outside the walls of her city. “I am between a rock and a hard place. The so called nobles are hiding in their own homes, leaving everyone else to their devices and hoping I’m going to fall. So I’m going to play the long game and they can either fall in line or just fall.”
“What about the people in the city?”
“Pull them into the inner wall. We have the resources, yes?” She looked over her shoulder at the old guardsman.
His lips tightened and he straightened up. “Not as much as we should. It seems that they took a large amount for themselves. I apologize, Your Majesty. I should have been more alert to what they would do.”
“It is my fault. I knew that they were cowards. Perhaps the Nowhere King will be amendable to talking.” Her lips twitched. “That would really cause them some worry.”
“And if he would decide to use you as a pawn?”
“Sir Gernhart, I’ve been used as a pawn for far too long, from my family to my thankfully dead husband.” She turned and smiled at him. “The Queen is the most powerful piece on a chessboard. It’s time I played the way I should have.”
226 #CampNaNo words
It’s a miracle when I finally get my sister alone for more than thirty seconds. She’s in the gardens, taking her usual morning walk, though this time her wife is nowhere to be seen.
“No Kieran today?”
“Sadly, no.” Celeste looks up from a bed of flowers, offering me a smile. “Important meeting with her father’s advisors. I opted out.” Her curious eyes scan the space behind me. “And Nolan?”
“Part of that meeting, probably.” Relieved that she brought him up first, I hurry closer, whispering. “I was hoping to talk to you about him, actually.”
“Don’t get excited.” Unsure of how to word my thoughts, I just let them spill out. “There’s something…off about him. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t shake the feeling.”
“He’s Kieran’s oldest friend – watched over her since she was a child.” Celeste plucks some flowers before sitting on a nearby bench. “And you think he’s untrustworthy?”
“I don’t know what I think. But something isn’t right. I can feel it.”
“If he wanted to do something, he’s had ample opportunity, Nora.” She hands me a flower, her words dismissive.
“Maybe he’s trying to play the long game?” The bloody crimson of the flower feels ominous, almost prophetic. “My gut has never been wrong before.”
“I think he’s just gotten under your skin and you don’t know how to cope.” Celeste chuckles, elbowing me as if to dispel my nerves.
“I can cope just fine.” But it’s clear she won’t listen.
250 untitled fantasy WIP words
The dead woman sat down on the sofa. Since she wasn’t there – not really – she didn’t sink down into the cushions. But it still felt good.
“I always did love this room.”
Katie could still remember the day she and Emily walked into this house along with their realtor. It needed a lot of love, but love was something the two of them had in excess, and they thought they had time to play the long game of transformation. They’d transformed themselves, after all, finding each other in the dark, each having fled somewhere that didn’t deserve them, and creating their own light.
The house became their sanctuary, their fortress against the anger and the hate and the voices that told them they didn’t belong. Each room got the attention it needed, transforming from a paean to mid-20th century banality into a new thing unto itself, something that never would have existed without her and Emily.
But this room – the library – was her favorite. A fireplace, cozy blankets, a sofa that was comfortable to sit or lay on, alone or with Emily, and shelf after shelf of books.
The books were packed away after Emily died. She’d hung on to the books for years after the gunman took Katie, but there was no sense in keeping the books locked up when the readers were gone.
Katie sensed a presence next to her on the sofa and reached out to put her hand in Emily’s. “I always loved this room too.”
You may be wondering why you’re here. You might be feeling afraid.
You could be considering trying to find a way to escape.
Please don’t. It wouldn’t end well for you.
I presume you’ve already realised you’re in space. The stars are a big clue, of course. And the fact that there isn’t a planet beneath your feet is another one – I’m guessing you noticed that too.
You’d be surprised how many people just panic. Close their eyes. Try to will everything away – not that there’s much here to wish from existence.
Go on. Try it. Just humour me a moment.
I’ll be here when you’ve finished. I can promise you that much.
You may also have noticed you can’t scream. At least not in an effective way. The man who wrote the movie tagline got that right, although many other details in that film were incorrect.
Who’d have thought the Easter Bunny was a xenomorph? The man was deranged. Seriously damaged in the head. You’d be better off trying to second guess the ineffable.
That brings me around to who I am.
What I’m doing.
And why I’ve brought you here today.
Let me introduce myself – I’m the Great Green Arkleseisure.
I’m a deity. The creator of everything you can see.
You may be thinking you can wait until my back is turned.
Play the long game.
Bide your time.
But to try that, you would have needed a supply of oxygen.
250 words – twothirdzrasta.blogspot.com
I really hate those two words. Perseverance and patience. Standing here looking in the mirror, seeing the emptiness, the soullessness that looks back at me, from where so many pieces of me are gone.
“Play the long game, right Doc?” That’s what my doctor taught me. Take a walk, put on my music, mow the lawn, weed the garden beds. Keep moving. Get a shower, have a glass of water, or tea. Eat three meals a day. Keep a schedule. Go down the list, and check things off as you do them.
One step at a time.
One day at a time.
“Play the long game.”
Staring at my eyes in the mirror, I wonder if what’s gone ever comes back. Maybe it stays a barren landscape, nothing but bare dirt, and cold, hard rock, with no life at all. Maybe it sits between me, and whatever hides on the other side of that desolation I can see in the mirror.
I don’t know.
I put my earphones in my ears, set my music player to play randomly. One song after another. Endlessly. I look at those empty eyes again. Straight into the barren, desolate landscape I know is there.
While the music plays, I see wildflowers growing there. A clear blue sky, with no dust storms in it. Wispy white clouds floating in that sky.
“Maybe…” I start into those lifeless eyes again, “Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do. Fill that emptiness myself.”
She married him for his money. That’s what everyone says. She’s a gold-digger. She doesn’t love him. That’s what everyone says, so it must be true. She’s in it to play the long game and bilk him for every cent she can. It must be true.
She hears the whispers at the charity fundraisers. Sees the speculative looks cast her way at social functions. Feels the tension tighten when she walks into a crowded room. None of those people say anything to her. Ever. Not even fake social small talk. Maybe they’re afraid her pariah will spread to them.
Another party. She lifts her head and throws her shoulders back before entering the room. Why does she even bother? She gave a soft chuff. She does it because she must. He wants her there and she has to keep him happy.
Reaching out, she grabs his proffered arm and plasters on a smile as they work the room. God, does he know everyone in this city? She smiles and nods as he converses. He doesn’t acknowledge her presence except the occasional pat to her elbow-grasping hand.
When she is in the bathroom, away from him, her smile slips. She washes her hands and endures the incriminating glares from other partygoers. As she starts out of the room she hears it, “gold-digger.”
Her shoulders tighten. She wants to yell it at all of them, but she dares not, “I’m no gold-digger! He’s my puppeteer. I just do what he commands.”
249 anniversary words
Underground mudwrestler and hired muscle Pamela “Pigita” Armstrong didn’t usually wear her costume around the city. Today was different; today, she was looking for a fight. So far, everyone was giving her extra space.
It was harder running into a hero than you’d think, given their knack for always showing up in the nick of time. If you didn’t hit one right away, it could be hell trying to draw one out. That suited other villains fine.
Other villains liked to play the long game. Not Pigita. She didn’t like delaying gratification more than a minute or two.
A stooped senior citizen engrossed in their own foot placements started to go around Pigita before noticing her attire. Shoving the old timer on their ass, Pigita laughed at their pitiful pained cry. That got the crowd talking. But still no superheroes.
Growling from her throat through her nose, Pigita latched her arms low around a lamppost. She put her back into twisting the streetlight down to block traffic and smash several vehicles.
“Come on! Ain’t one of y’all got a way to call a superhero? I’ll fight all y’all if I have to, but ain’t nobody want that!”
“Stop right there!” A spandexed blonde skated up the street like it was greased.
Pigita cracked her neck and settled into a fighting stance.
“That’s more like it!”
“I don’t know who you are or what you want, but I won’t let you hurt these people!”
“You’re new, ain’t’cha?”
246 PRUDENT words
“We’re live at St Michael’s,” the reporter continued. “Where a man is holding 37 first graders hostage, demanding that the governor veto the state’s new heartbeat law, and threatening to start creating vacancies for the new babies to fill if she doesn’t.”
Detective Lucy Miller slammed her fist on her desk, “God damn it.”
“Miller, check your emotions or go home…” The chief responded. “We don’t win this by going off half-cocked.”
“More like we don’t win this,” Lucy snarled.
The chief stared at her, “Miller, give me your badge and your gun, you’re on leave…pending an admin hearing…”
“Fucks sake, for what?” Lucy said irately.
“Insubordination, for one,” the Chief answered.
To keep things contained, the chief needed to get this loose cannon off the street before she took the law into her own hands.
“Rushing in doesn’t get those kids back,” the chief added. “We need to do this the right way. We need to play the long game.”
“Gods, you’re such a coward,” Miller growled, slamming her service weapon and badge on the desk, adding her backup piece for good measure. “You’d rather let one of those kids die than risk some bad press, you’re such a god-damn politician.”
“And you’d get them all killed by going’ in guns blazing. If the governor just hadn’t signed that damn bill in the first place, those kids wouldn’t be in this mess.” The chief answered icily.
“She got them into this, she can get them out.”
How to Build an Empire Without Even Trying
Krzysztof Calvo watched over Madame Leveau as she cast the bones and let her breath out with a sigh.
He knew better than to rush the woman he’d come to see as his mistress and protector— thought when he’d come to New Orleans, he’d thought it the other way around.
It bothered him that outsiders had come to the city and were running out the people who had made the city what it was, labeling them as ‘undesirables.’
These men used their contacts with the bankers and the politicians to get what they wanted and history meant nothing to them.
Kris had nothing but history with Madame Leveau and he knew that New Orleans would have been very different without their kin
“We have the money to buy them out,” he pointed out. “Why you let a couyon like that run you out?”
Kris felt the hair on the back of his neck rise as Marie Laveau’s smile took on a decidedly predatory gleam. “My dear, dear bebette, who says he’s running me off?”
Her laughter echoed through the old victorian home. “He thinks he’s won and for now, he has. But think about it— what has he won?”
“He has a swamp and a license to build an empire,” Kris answered.
“So, if I play the short game— he’s won. But you and I both know I have nothing but time – play the long game, he builds what I want, and then I take what is mine.”
248 Words (not including title)
#ThursThreads 10th Anniversary Week 520 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who came to write and help celebrate a full decade of flash fiction. See y’all in the new year!