Welcome back to the home of Weird, Wild, & Wicked Tales. Today is Thursday and that means it’s time to start flashing. We’ve reached our Seventh year of weekly prompts! This is Week 375 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.
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 375:
Grandmother, corgi mama, and YouTube sensation, Angela Roe.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“I don’t need you.”
All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!
15 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 375”
Her voice clouds my mind. I don’t know how I know, but deep inside I can feel it’s Mara. Across the chasm, Arius keeps calling out to me, but it’s faint.
‘Do as you’re told. Take the book and go. You’ll never get home otherwise.’
Home. I haven’t thought about home in a long time. How long has this little adventure with Death taken, anyway? Weeks, months, years? It’s impossible to tell, but the thought doesn’t bring as much panic as it would have at the start.
“I don’t need you to get home. Arius will take me.” I’m not sure why I speak to Mara. Something tells me acknowledging the old entity’s presence will only make her stronger. Still, I can’t help it. “He promised.”
‘And what have his promises been so far, if not lies?’ Her voice has a quiet menace to it, but she makes a point. My dealings with Death should have ended with the first task he set for me. I was never supposed to accompany him this far.
This trip hadn’t been part of our deal.
Anger claws at my chest, but I’m not sure where it comes from, or that it’s entirely mine. When I look toward Arius, he’s nothing but a speck in the distance.
‘He’ll move on and find another human, just as expendable, to help him.’
“I’m not expendable.” The etchings on my hand begin to glow as I reach for the book. They burn, but that doesn’t stop me.
250 WIP words
There He Goes Again
As I clump my creaky body onto the bar stool, I’m thinking, ‘Hellofaway to spend another night. Love it!’
I’m all about routine, ya see. Even like to say its my routine d’etre, if ya get my drift. If it ain’t been done before, then it don’t need doin’.
I like being regular. In my watering holes and all things, you know, bodily.
Drives the old lady nuts.
Get this, she expects me to help around the house. Me! Brings it up every bloody moment. Like tonight, we’re sitting there, finishing up the chops and spuds she’s cooked…took her ten minutes, max, eh…she’s sipping her after dinner brewski, number four if I’m not mistaking, so a little pie-eyed, and she comes up with, ‘could you clear the table…for once…I’m bushed?”
Well, there I am, belly full, weighing me down, digesting peacefully, but I can see stormy weather ahead, so I come back at her with, “I don’t need…”
“You don’t need what?” she fires back, and I say, “I don’t need the aggravation.”
Well, this sets her off like a roman candle. “You ain’t seen aggravation yet, Lover,” but by then I’ve grabbed my hat and am out the door.
Anyways, this here’s my favorite stool at the Tap Worm. Draught beer, a little piece and quiet. Heaven, eh!
‘Course, the service is a little slow.
The barkeep always needs a reminder.
“Gimme another, Charlie. Snap it up. Chop chop!”
What a great life, eh!
Jessica popped the lid off from the crate. Inside, it was filled with those foam pieces manufacturers always use for packaging, the item protected further by a polystyrene cradle and an anti-scratch sleeve.
“You can go home now,” she said to me, looking over her shoulder. “I don’t need you anymore.” She began to burrow deeper into the box, dropping the front panel so the foam shells cascaded out in a drift onto the floor. The manservant who’d replace me was visible now, its head and shoulders draped with a cloth.
I settled myself back into the chair. I’d no intention of moving. “How about I stay a while longer,” I offered, picking up the advice note and the manual which had dropped out with the packaging. I began to flip through; the instructions were written in eleven languages and were badly translated into English, the diagrams and the icons making more sense than the text. Jessica ignored me, digging deeper into the crate, finally finding the controller needed to configure its brain.
A few minutes later we were both knee-deep in the foam shapes, and I’d logged onto the manufacturer’s website, seeking advice. I’d read the delivery manifest number to the servadroid and her expression had gone blank as she searched for the order. Eventually, the servadroid blinked and her smile returned. “Customer Jessica,” she said, her eyes fathomless and grey. “If I might make a suggestion: have you tried turning the droid off and back on again?”
249 AA batteries not included ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com
Suzie nodded. “But with two years left in your tour, you have time to decide if you need to retire and what you’ll do. It’s good you’re thinking about it now, but the decision doesn’t have to be made tomorrow.”
He nodded, but he grimaced. “Yeah, I know. I guess I started to wonder what I could do after, if I’m not badly injured, and if there’d be anyone one waiting for me.”
He realized what he’d implied the moment the words left his mouth, and he swallowed hard before meeting her gaze. What the hell is she thinking? She sat silently on her horse, the paint standing relaxed with one hind foot cocked, but her whole body had gone still. Damn, I think I’ve stepped my foot in it.
“What are you saying, Enrique?”
Time to man-up or ring out.. “I don’t want to be alone when I make this decision. A SEAL’s only as strong as his team and I want you to be part of my team when it’s all said and done.” He held up a hand, though she hadn’t said anything. “I don’t need you to promise anything, I just want to know we have a chance at more than a recovery fling.” He took a deep breath and met her gaze. “I’m saying I’m in this for the long haul and I hope you are too.”
Again she said nothing for a long time and he thought his heart would shrivel.
247 ineligible #CheyenneCowboy words
Touching the scar on my elbow, I let my finger trace the line.
The diner reeks of nostalgia, the linoleum is worn, but the coffee in the battered cream-colored cup is hot and strong. I sip, watching the two uniforms place their order and adjust their stools at the counter.
The glass door opens, the bell tinkles merrily, and he walks toward me, pausing, he towers over me, but I stand my ground. He sits in the booth. The table separated us, and he leans forward, reaching for my hands. I pull back, plaster my spine against the vinyl seat, ramrod straight, and drop my fists into my lap. But I won’t look away.
I had forgotten his eyes were blue. If I could forget that, perhaps I can leave behind the rest. Memories flash, slashing red and deep. Tear-stained faces, broken promises, and outright lies will forever live encased by walls.
He says he loves me, and he needs me. He can’t go on without me. The begging begins with words so often repeated that I no longer require the script. I have heard it all before.
“I don’t hate you, it’s just… I don’t need you anymore,” my voice sounds distant, flat and cold.
He speaks from far away, and my ears grow deaf.
“There’s nothing left to say. I won’t go back.”
My bill is paid, the time is now, and I rise. The uniforms nod as I stroll by, and I step through the open door.
I stared at my reflection, something I didn’t often do. I know what I look like. Not even a fun-house mirror could change my size or my face. I wasn’t pretty. With a lot of effort, I could look attractive. As for my body? I heard my mother’s voice in my head.
You’re just big boned, Jennifer, and you’ll lose the baby fat when you grow up.
Except I never did. Oh, I used all the tricks to camouflage my curves. Smiled when sales people described me as lush. Or Rubinesque.
I blinked. My mirror image blinked back. I wet my lips. Cleared my throat. Practiced a few faces, found an expression that conveyed surety with a tinge of regret. Smile, but not too big, brows lifted slightly. I lifted my shoulders and keeping that expression on my face, tilted my head just a smidgen to the right.
“I don’t need you.”
Those words tasted like bitter ash on my tongue, and all the pain my expression so carefully hid was evident in my voice. Closing my eyes, I tried again.
“I don’t need you.”
“I. Don’t. Need. You.”
“I don’t need…you.”
Didn’t matter how I said it. It was a lie. I opened my eyes. Wiz stood in the bathroom doorway. He knew it was a lie too.
“Wanna tell me what’s going on, babe?”
I really didn’t. I watched him through the mirror. Time to face reality.
Wiz spoke first. “Because I need you.”
250 NIGHT WISH #WIP words
Millie sits alone on the park bench, head down, shoulders shaking as she tries not to sob. Feeling someone standing nearby, she pulls herself together and looks into a stranger’s eyes. The kindness she sees in those eyes is her undoing and the tears begin to flow again.
“Hi, I’m Hip. Mind if I sit down?”
“Hip? What kind of name is that?”
The inability to hold her tongue is Millie’s worst feature. As soon as the words slip out, her hand flies to her mouth.
“I’m sorry. That was rude!”
Smiling, Hip responds, “It’s just what I’m called. Anyway, are you okay?”
Millie can’t help but answer his smile with one of her own.
“It’s just that . . . I know I’m being ridiculous, but . . . my baby started kindergarten today and I really wanted to talk to my mom about it but I can’t talk to my mom because she died over four years ago and now I’m sitting on a park bench crying because my little girl is in kindergarten and my mom’s not here but you’re here instead and I don’t need you to patronize me or think I’m silly I just need someone to listen.”
Hip waits with patience, letting the words tumble out as Millie finally stops to take a breath.
She gives him a sheepish look, “That’s all.”
“Would you . . . like a cup of coffee?” Hip’s words were hesitant.
Nodding, Millie answers, “Yes, I think I would.”
The guards’ grips were bruisingly tight hauling Rika from the barren cell where she had been allowed neither sleep nor food since the previous evening. She wasn’t so soft as the other girls. She was a dancer. But this beaten and worn, even Rika was just running on spite.
A heavy knot formed in her empty stomach as she was dragged past Lucretius’ throne room toward his crone’s dungeon! No amount of desperate twisting or thrashing could free the weakened Rika from either guard, let alone both.
“No! Let me go!”
Her shrieking was no more effective than her flailing. She was slammed on the stone table, deeply discolored from past rites, and her limbs spread and bound. Lucretius himself stepped out of the shadows. The corpulent tyrant, slick with stinking sweat and oil, sneered down at his prisoner. Rika drew strength from the sight of his right eye, more swollen and discolored than when she kicked it in her escape attempt the evening before.
“Now you’ll see what your willfulness has bought you.”
Lucretius beckoned his crone to his side. She came bearing a brilliant red crystal between knobby thumb and forefinger, and a macabre grin on her face.
“I’ve long wondered what effect the control gems Keres uses in her golems would have on a living person.” Lucretius continued. “The side effects could be debilitating. But I don’t need you to do anything other than obey.”
The pain of the arcane crystal pressed into Rika’s forehead was excruciating.
250 Cat’s The Pajamas words
Firelight flickers shadows across the ground. Your face dances among them. “I don’t need you.”
It took me a long time to realize that, longer even to truly believe it. I was so wrapped up in what we shared as friends, best friends, that you left a gaping hole in me that threatened to swallow me whole from the inside out again when you left. But that’s my real problem, isn’t it? I get sucked into people too much, so that one could never tell where one of us began and the other ended. I needed them to complete me because I’ve never known who I really am.
Outcast. Loner. Black sheep.
Unwanted. Forgotten. Worthless.
And all the other dehumanizing labels of a nobody.
I was never somebody. It took you and every other person I clung to before you to realize I was only the sum of those that accepted me. Until now.
You were the final nail in that coffin. The final “I promise” broken. The final abandonment. The final blow of self worth. I don’t need you, or anyone else, to make me whole. I am already whole. I am already a somebody. I am already me.
My shears cut the last cord, dropping it into the flames. They curl, smolder, reach toward the skies. Toward freedom, toward authenticity. Now I rise from those ashes, spreading my phoenix wings.
“I am,” I whisper to the wind as it carries the ashes away.
245 self revelation words
“That damn vine is attacking all my plants,” I stated.
“You make it sound like a catastrophe,” Terry exclaimed.
“It is the more I pull it out the more it seems to come back.”
“You know I’m trying to put together an ironclad case against that fraudster. I don’t need you to tell me about landscape disasters. Just handle it okay.”
The next day I used a vacation day to pull out some more vine and felt convinced I had succeeded that was until I went out to cut the grass and fond the vine winding itself under the neighbour’s fence and over to my evergreen. How had it grown so fast? I complained to Terry and she said that I was insinuating it was an alien invasion and to get some psychiatric help.
I took another vacation day and rented a blowtorch that could burn out the sucker. Two hours later my lawn looked like crap, but the vine seemed was gone.
I awoke up sometime in the night suffocating, vine encompassing me and Terry. The alien invasion had begun and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
From far away I heard, “I knew he was under a lot of stress in his government job; but I never thought he’d lose his mind.”
Those aliens couldn’t fool me I knew they were using Terry’s voice box I’d seen Independence Day. I’d continue to fight back the alien vine wouldn’t win; I still had that blowtorch somewhere.
“Are you going to need any of my help?” Milton asked. Nils could see Milt’s image on the screen frown slightly. “I mean I could drive back down there in no time.”
“No, I’ve got this one.” Nils answered, glancing out of the crawler window at the Mare Frigoris moonscape. “I don’t need you.”
“Volk has you chasing shadows, I’m sure.” Milt commented about the job.
“I don’t know,” Nils answered, manually driving his crawler toward the pickup location for the medicine. His instructions were simple, pick up a package at the medicine delivery point and move it to the coordinates found on the package. Seems easy enough.
“What the hell could he want moved?”
“No telling. Remember, we were asked not to ask any questions.” Nils chuckled to himself remembering how the cook had said in her heavily accented voice ‘there will be no questions for the cargo’.
“I think it’s still dangerous,” Milt said.
“You didn’t think that when we made a deal with them for medicine.”
“What can I say? We needed it.”
“You had no objections then,” Nels said.
“I still don’t have any.”
“Then what is this about?”
“This game of pick-up and deliver the unknown package seems odd, even if we’re on the Moon.” Milton countered.
“Yeah, it does.”
“So, I’m offering my help.”
“I don’t need it,” Nils said making the turn toward the pickup location.
234 words WIP
-Dinner Is Served-
It’s just stir fry. How hard can it be?
1. Fry Chicken
2. Fry Veggies
But about the chicken. How do you know it’s fried? Like, good and done.
And about the veggies. How do you chop them? Like, in nice uniform bite size pieces.
And the stirring. How often. Like, in which direction?
Hao Mei sighs. ‘Easy Stir Fry’ my pretty little ass.
He glances down the hall. One shout, one text, one curse and he’d be rescued from kitchen duty. But he dutifully returns his gaze to the recipe. I don’t need you. I’m a grown man. I can make dinner once a week.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok over high heat.
Okay: wok + flame + oil.
Wonder how long it takes to heat – “Damn it!”
His roommate hustles into the kitchen. “Let me see.”
Hao Mei turns up his palm to display a poppy red welt.
Xing Chen flips on the faucet and puts Hao Mei’s hand under the cold water. “Stay here. I’ll finish dinner.”
5. Add sauce
Hao Mei sighs. “No, I’ll keep my word. I’ll cook. But you’d better keep an eye on me.”
“Hmmm,” KO grunts. “When do I not?”
“Now, show me how you stir the pot,” says Hao Mei, smiling impishly.
Xing Chen steps behind him, hips tucked close to Hao Mei’s ass, arm around his waist, pinning him to the counter. “Slowly. Like this.”
6. Serve and enjoy
@everaddams / 245 words
“You’re right.” Jung dragged a heavy hand through his hair, the dark strands standing in every which direction after. “I don’t need you. And I sure as hell don’t need the trouble dogging your heels.”
This was it, then.
Time to go.
A bottomless pit opened in my stomach, and my heart dropped straight through. One unsteady breath became two. Became a full body shudder.
Keep it together. Make it to the door.
I’d just walk out. Never look back. Disappear.
I’d done it before, I could—
“But.” The lone word stopped me in my tracks. “If this matters to you at all—if I matter to you—I want you. You and your troubles. So much so, I can’t think straight half the time. Do you hear me?”
The warmth of him aligned against my back, not quite touching. His words whispered past my ear.
“I want you safe. I want you by my side. In my arms.” Those arms wrapped around me, tugged me back against his chest. He rested his chin on my shoulder. “In my bed. In my life.”
“I’ll only mess it up.”
“Then mess me up, baby,” he murmured. He turned me around, dipping his head to brand his words against my jaw. “My bed. My life. All of me.”
My rational brain skipped, stuttered, went blank as he slowly dragged his lips up and along mine.
“You shouldn’t want me.”
“That’s my choice,” he said. “The question is, am I yours?”
250 WIP words
#ThursThreads Week 375 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.