#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 378

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 378 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 378:

Mother, and mystery/Steampunk author, Liv T. Dalin.

Goodreads

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“He’s barely alive.”

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!

18 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 378”

  1. “He’s barely alive.” I studied the mass of leather and buckles covering his chest, blood from the gaping puncture entirely too close to his heart staining the hide. “I need to see what I’m dealing with. What the hell is he wearing here? Armor? Taewoon, help me get him out of this.”

    Every vital spot was protected, which—great, safety first, awesome—but I couldn’t get to his pulse, couldn’t assess the wound. We peeled away the leather with unpracticed hands, precious seconds lost releasing all the buckles, trying not to move him too much. The only constant came in the rattle of his breathing, too slow to be of much comfort.

    “He’s not breathing enough, is he?” Tae asked.

    “Respiration definitely seems on the low side.”

    “You can save him, though.”

    Not here, in the middle of a firebombed field, in a world I doubted had hospitals. Definitely had no ambulances. But I aimed a quick smile at Tae anyway.

    “Hang in there.” The words spilled out of me, aimed at both the man dying on the ground and the boy helping me. Tae took his knife and carefully sliced through the clothing beneath the armor. “Almost there. Everybody just keep breathing.”

    I heard Tae suck in a deep breath.

    “Good job. Now another.”

    Tae followed my words, a way to cope as I revealed the wound, something dark buried in the torn flesh.

    “Noona?” Tae’s hands shook. “What the fuck is that?”

    “I—I think it’s a claw.”

    @caramichaels
    250 #TeamRPG words

  2. I stood next to the open mahogany coffin that gleamed as if freshly polished. Therein rested the man I’d called father—his body hardened by the embalming fluid, and thick makeup covered the damage from the car accident.

    I leaned over him, and kissed his forehead whispering the holy incantation. This was the only way.
    Raising my right hand holding the stake, I swung my arm back and stabbed him in the chest.

    A loud noise like that of a balloon releasing its air filled the room.

    All sobbing stopped, instead turning into a shrilling chorus. The organ ceased its solemn playing. Commotion erupted around me, but I stayed focused on my spell.

    Then with a loud whoosh, my lineman brother tackled me like I was a quarterback. The holy stake clattered to the floor.

    “Get off me,” I yelled. I pushed at my brother’s shoulders, kicking my feet.

    “Hold her down,” I heard my mother order.

    My fight left me with the sound of an unearthly moan coming from my dad’s casket.

    I sobbed. “He’s barely alive.”

    The sound of a gun being cocked cut through me. I turned to see my mother holding her favorite firearm.

    “No,” I screamed.

    But it was too late.

    Like in slow motion, I watched her pull the trigger.

    The father I’d just awakened collapsed back into his casket, knocking it to the floor where it splintered.

    “Shit, now how am I supposed to wake him back up?”

    #WIP #ZeroHour

    245 words
    @TinaGlasneck

  3. He’s Barely Alive, 199 words, by Terry Brewer, @Stories2121

    They didn’t know he could hear them. Night after night they’d sit in the kitchen and talk about him. “What’s wrong with him?” “He just sits around all day dreaming.” “He’s barely alive.”

    He was sick of overhearing. He was sick of the worried looks and the forced smiles they gave him when he walked into the kitchen to get a glass of milk or a snack. He knew they’d be shaking their heads when he was gone.

    He tried so hard to be what they wanted him to be and he failed. He was not the athlete his father envisioned. Nor did he have an artistic streak her mother pined for. He was just him. Not the overachiever his parents, two overachievers themselves, expected would come from his mother’s womb.

    They never asked “what is it you’re dreaming of son?” Which was probably for the best; he didn’t know.

    Until he did. He stayed closeted in his room as before. His parents didn’t realize it, but he was more alive than he had ever been. Numbers. He saw numbers. Each morning he awoke with a brain full of numbers and calculations. His world suddenly made sense. His world.

  4. Dahlia almost reached out to stroke the monster. I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. The giggle had to be her hysteria after a traumatic kidnapping and attempted rape. I’m seeing things. I’m asleep and this is a dream. Mythical creatures didn’t exist in the real world, and if this beast didn’t exist, it couldn’t hurt her.

    Right?

    Except something had yanked Sitwell off her because he wasn’t in the cave anymore.

    The great water dragon nuzzled her one more time before rumbling with what sounded like a “give me a minute” utterance. She had no idea why she knew that, but it backed out of the cave and disappeared into the water without so much as a splash. Dahlia blinked and rolled onto her knees, peering out into the rainy gloom.

    To her surprise, someone heaved themselves into the cave from the lake and she scrambled backwards, afraid Sitwell had returned. But the moment the person looked up, she recognized Connor’s dark hair and green-gold eyes, and she gave a relieved whimper.

    “Connor…” Tears started cascading down her face

    “Hey now, it’s all right, lassie. He’s gone, I promise.” He settled beside her, gathering her against his chest. “I’m here and I’m sorry it took me so long to find ye.”

    “Where’s Sitwell? Did he get away?”

    “No, love. He’s ne’er comin’ back. He canna hurt ye anymore.”

    Dahlia pulled back. “Are you sure he’s gone?”

    “Aye, it’s no’ like he’s barely alive. They’re no’ likely to even find the body.”

    250 ineligible #ElementalHearts words
    @SiobhanMuir

  5. A Fine Pox on Your Zombie Lips

    “The boy’s finally looking pale,” I overhear my mother say. I am out on the porch, waiting for Luci.
    They don’t like me eavesdropping. The way I figure it, they shouldn’t be talking about me. ‘Bout anything. really. If they’re gonna talk, then they gotta expect to be heard by someone.

    Truth is, our kind are not known for being conversationalists.

    “Not pasty enough,” the old man snarls. “Don’t know what it is. Your side of the family, probably.”

    “Pshah, you old hunk of rotting flesh. He’s barely alive.”

    “What’s taking him so long?” my father whimpers. “When I was his age, I decomposed…”

    And so, it goes.

    Like a broken record.

    Like death warmed over.

    And they go silent. They’ll sit there in their rancidian rage all through the night: her on her patchy old sofa, him resting his fecal festered ass on the mouldy lazy-boy he never leaves.

    Not me.

    Not tonight.

    Big things planned. Me and Luci, well, you know what I’m talking about.

    “Yoo hoo! Luke?” Luci has arrived. She’s on time.

    I love her voice. My fingernails-scratching-a-blackboard beauty.

    Her voice is like scrambling on gravel.

    Music to what’s left of my ears.

    Her paisley dress hangs loose on her thin frame. Skin and bones, she is. Dangling they are.

    “I’m waiting for you, Luke,“ she calls.

    Under the streetlight, she wobbles to and fro, gracelessly awkward, her festered lips pukered, waiting for mine.

    The night will be ours.

    250 words
    @billmelaterplea

  6. “My God, Charlene… He’s barely alive.” Contempt tainted Haley’s voice.

    I didn’t respond. She dug in her tool bag, grabbed a long silver instrument, then she peeled back her palm, revealing the gaping hole in his chest.

    I watched her frantic movements, letting the gun spin in my hands. She clamped lines, sopped ooze, trying to save him. I began to question my decision to call Haley. She was the best in her field. Maybe too good. I mean, what would happen if he lived?

    “Charlene, will you give me a hand?”

    I could tell by her tone, she wasn’t asking. She expected me to jump and do her bidding. She was my friend, but her only concern was saving him, not helping me.

    “Charlene?”

    “Doesn’t he deserve to die?”

    “I can fix him,” she offered, almost pleading.

    “Like you did last time?” My voice sounded harsh even to me.

    “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

    “I’ve heard that before. I’d be a fool to help.”

    A scenario flickered, then exploded in my mind.

    “It’s been you all along, hasn’t it? You’re in love with your creation, your darling automaton. His devotion to me is killing you. You’re programming him to kill me.”

    Haley’s face crinkled and felt her simmering hate.

    “Yes, when you’re dead, he will love me.”

    I saw his processor flicker, and his right hand grabbed her throat. He didn’t let go.

    “I’m sorry,” were his last words, as I placed the gun in Haley’s lifeless hand.

    250 Words
    @JoHawktheWriter

  7. “What do you mean he’s okay, Stacie, he’s barely alive!

    I stroked the blonde fur of the motionless Golden cradled in my arms and shook my head. “No, he’s okay, it looks much worse than it is.”

    I pointed towards our car idling in the distance and told him to get the blanket from the backseat. I didn’t really need it, but I needed him gone for a few minutes.

    Michael glanced at me, a slight glare of suspicion gleaming in his hazel eyes then headed toward our Prius, muttering beneath his breath.

    I placed my hand on the chest of the beast, closed my eyes and whispered the healing spell into the soft fur of his ear, words brought forth from generations before me.

    Warmth spread around us as the dog groaned gently and opened his soft brown eyes. I heard his name plainly inside my head as if someone had whispered it in my ear.

    “Shakespeare?” He wagged his tail, thumping it against the asphalt. I scratched his ears and hugged him to me. “Don’t worry, Shakespeare, you have a home now.”

    He tried to stand but I told him to stay. No sense in shocking Mike with a miraculous recovery. Not yet anyway.

    Michael wouldn’t be thrilled of course. Not with the Magic or with the fact that we had a new family member suddenly.

    There would probably be hell to pay once we returned home that afternoon but then again, there was always hell to pay.

    250 Words
    @AuthorCAKeane

  8. The sunlight shines too-bright in my eyes. The moron who wheeled me out here thinks she’s doing me a favor by leaving me here to bake in the sun. What she doesn’t know is, even though I can’t do anything, I understand every word she says. And she says a lot.

    Like right now. She’s talkin’ up her buddy from tech. Tellin’ ‘im how she steals our meds.

    “I’ve got vicodin, xanax and dilaudid. Do you think you can help me sell it?”

    “Shhhh. He might hear you.”

    “Him?” She points at me. “He’s barely alive. He ain’t sayin’ nothin’.”

    She’s right, I’m not saying anything. Ever since my stroke a while back, I can’t move. Can’t talk. Her secrets are safe with me.

    When she does decide to haul me back to my room, she’s still prattlin’ on about how nice it is outside and didn’t I enjoy getting’ some sunshine. No, dammit, I didn’t enjoy it. You left me sittin’ there with the sun shining in my eyes.

    She moves me to an out-of-the-way corner of the room, then I watch as she rifles through my stuff. There’s not much there, but I try to tell her she needs to keep her paws out of it.

    Her head whips around toward me. “You tryin’ to talk now? You gotta do better than ‘unnhh.’ But don’t get any ideas about tellin’ no-one about me.” She nails me with an ice-cold stare. “That wouldn’t be a good idea, ya hear?”

    @TeresaMEccles
    250 words

  9. “For example: Banville’s The Sea – a very literary novel if I could be so bold – has a mute kid in it, and it’s set in 1950s Ireland, and the parents communicate with the kid through their bespoke sign language. The kid isn’t deaf. So I kinda thought that was silly. Particularly in 1950s Ireland, where children would have been seen and not heard. You wouldn’t entertain a kid like that. You’d just tell him: ‘Tidy your room.’ You know? I found it odd anyway. But that’s the sort of error I’d expect to see in a really literary work, if you can call it an error. The description of the interactions is really wonderful.”
    “He’s barely alive. What are you talking about?”
    “I’d be okay with that kind of higher brow error being critiqued in my own work.”
    “Yes. He’s in a coma though.”
    Ignoring her, the author leaned forward.
    “Listen to me: Listen. Your own criticisms are highly wrought and thorough. But you shouldn’t have attacked my work like that.”
    “Shhhh. There could be nurses outside listening.”
    “I don’t care. He needs to know that he can’t mess with me.”
    “He already knows.” Her voice reduced to a whisper. “You beat him over the head with a hammer for a bad review. And if he doesn’t know, it’s because you’ve knocked the sense out of him. You’ve probably done permanent damage.”
    They sat back and watched the unconscious journalist breathe through a ventilator.
    “We’ll come back tomorrow.”
    250 words @ragtaggiggagon

  10. I pulled up on the scene and cut the engine. The car tilted crazily on the side of the road, one headlight shooting like a laser beam across the midnight dark road. The other spotlighted the grisly scene. A woman, blood and tears streaking her dirty face, hunched over a limp body. A man towered above her, his face a mask of anger as he cussed her. Neither of them heard my Harley—or me.

    “This is all your fucking fault,” the asshole yelled.

    The woman ignored his tirade as her eyes landed on me. “Can you do something?” she pleaded. “He’s barely alive.”

    The jerkwad swung a foot toward the woman. I caught his arm and jerked him off his feet. He went down hard, still cussing. Then he got a look at me and the leaping wolf on my Nightrider cut.

    “Stay fucking put,” I ordered. The fight went out of him in a hurry. I’m built like the bastard child of a MMA fighter and a tank.

    I hunkered down beside the woman, noticed she wasn’t wearing any jewelry of the wedding ring variety. Good to know because sweet women were my Kryptonite. Her voice hitched as she whispered an explanation. “He was just standing there in the middle of the road. Jerry didn’t even try to stop.”

    “I got this.” I scooped up the body.

    “I’m coming with you,” the woman insisted.

    The injured wolf licked my hand. He knew a brother when he saw one.
    ****
    250 random Nightrider MC words
    @SilverJames_

  11. The nurse’s mouth twisted. “He’s barely alive,” she said. She readied a needle, driving in the plunger to push the air back into the vial.

    “Do it.” McAndrew waited, his attention on the monitor. She injected the serum into the volunteer’s heart, using the full length of the needle to pierce his chest.

    The cardiac rhythm faltered, becoming irregular. It spiked momentarily and then failed. Its tone became continuous, the visual trace flattening until there was no evidence of electrical activity.

    “Time of death…” McAndrew checked his watch. “Eight forty-five am. You can finish, Nurse Watson. Make sure the cadaver goes immediately to the refrigerated store, then send the effects to disposal. If there’s anything that’s worth keeping, feel free to help yourself. He might have had rich parents or a wealthy benefactor.”

    He shrugged, distancing himself from the tableau; the body lying limp on the bed, its eyes open but sightless. The sealable container on the night-table held the usual paraphernalia; a watch, a phone, two sets of keys. There was also a wallet, which would be populated with a variety of debit cards; the impersonal artefacts which are worth so much, especially when they’re delivered to the wrong hands. Identity theft was Watson’s main source of income, providing her with almost everything she needed. She was an even more dreadful parasite than he was. At least the materials he traded in were mostly unidentifiable, the non-organic remains having little value, other than to the donors who provided them.

    250 pieces of silver ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com

  12. “Ye’ll be wanting to see this.” Captain beckoned with a finger.

    “We never should have sailed so close to The Devil’s Reef.” I watched the black rock island off the port side mistrustfully.

    “That’s why we be leaving The Pajamas anchored.”

    With that, Captain launched herself overboard. I dragged a meaty hand down my light burnt face and over my salt crusted beard. I was going to regret this. I hobbled over the rail after the captain. Even whistling the wind to bear me down, I landed ankle deep in the northern sands.

    “I enjoy a good sand walk as much as the next dwarf,” I grumbled. “But walking the deep sands is for orcs!”

    Captain paid no mind and set out for the island. Her mystic tattoo lets her float as our ship does. Mine don’t. Sand walking’s about timing and placing, so the displaced sand carries rather than consumes. It’s tiring, and the island’s too damn far.

    I made shore exhausted and dreading the return trip. Captain waited for me over the cut and burned body of a man dragged from the sands. He were tall and muscled enough to be an orc.

    “He’s barely alive.” Captain watched the shallow rise and fall of his chest intently.

    I were more concerned with his head. The head of a hellish black serpent, not any kind of a person. We never should have come so close to the Devil’s Reef.

    “We’re going to save him.” Captain beckoned with a finger.

    250 Cat’s The Pajamas words
    @DavidALudwig

  13. One breath every minute. One breath every two minutes. He’s barely alive, fading fast. It is at this point I question my choice. Letting him go means he’s at peace, in theory. But it also means I’m alone in the world. A widower. No longer part of a pair. Ten years of marriage and it all boils down to this: he’s going to die and I’m going to be alone.

    The breaths are further part now. The chest rises and falls. Pauses. I stroke his thumb, memories of our time together running through my mind. Meeting him during nurses training, two of only four men in our class. Dating in secret because we were two guys and being out wasn’t quite as okay as it is now. Getting married the moment it was legal. We never had kids but we run a kitten rescue and a Trap, Neuter, Release program in our hometown.

    Five minutes now since the last breath. I check his pulse. His breath doesn’t ghost my hand. He heaves one final sigh and that’s it, cancer takes him away forever. I gently kiss his forehead and look out the glass door. The curtain parts and two nurses make the call. They leave quietly, closing the curtain once again. I sit down, take his hand, and sigh. Ten years wasn’t nearly long enough.

    @Aightball
    225 words

  14. “This is not an easy thing to look at,” admitted Annice. “Going into a cold-sleep is one of the hardest things to watch.”

    “He’s barely alive,” observed her father. “I’d worry that he’ll not make it.”

    “Oh, he’s perfect,” she marveled. “His heart rate is down to about two beats per minute, but the cryo-fluid is flowing easily in his veins supplying everything with enough oxygen. With the fluid, we can drop his temperature to nearly that of liquid nitrogen. He’ll live decades in that state. Isn’t it wonderful? I can go to the stars.”

    “I still don’t like it.” he shook his head. “Annice, I don’t want you to do that.”

    “But Dad, you’ve seen how this works. I won’t be dead. I’ll be very much alive.”

    “Then you must do it alone.”

    “Wha–?” Annice stammered. “You won’t wish me off?”

    “I won’t do it. I can’t do it.”

    “Dad!”

    “I will not watch you do this,” he insisted.

    “I’ll be okay.”

    “I won’t have the last memory of my daughter to be her drowning in cryo-fluid, even if she will be alive and well arriving on a new planet circling some distant star a hundred years from now.”

    “Please,” she whimpered.

    He turned, leaving the lab. “I watched your mother die. I won’t do the same with you.”

    233 words
    @torn_MacAlester

  15. Dr. Diva bent over the colonist who’d answered an ad for prospective husbands. His craft crashed, and inside his interstellar apparatus, he was near death.
    “Scribe!”
    “Yes, m’lady.”
    “Artificial Intelligence indicates he can breathe our air. I must get this apparatus off to see his injuries. Photograph every step.”
    “M’lady.”
    She began the long, arduous process. Finally, she removed his briefs.
    He lay exposed. Gorgeous!
    She’d never seen real men before. They were textbook myths on Luna.
    “He’s lost consciousness due to a lack of oxygen. He’s barely alive. I need to test his reflexes.”
    She clinically brushed hair from his eyes. Her fingers barely traced his alluring face. She let them linger over his lips and felt air slowly moving in and out of his lungs. Nothing else mattered now but to keep him alive.
    “Scribe, go process the pictures.”
    After the girl left, Diva let her fingers slide down his body. At his loins, she saw a flicker of movement. Minutes later, she had a full response.
    What she’d read was true. She glanced at the door and hurried. “We’ve only minutes.”
    He groaned in pleasure.
    “You like this?”
    “Hmmm.”
    He gasped for air.
    “That’s it. Breathe deeply.”
    His body convulsed before he opened his eyes “Is this heaven?”
    “Hospital. We almost lost you, so you’ll need a few days under my care.”
    The colonist’s blue eyes widened. “Next time, you’ll be under my care.”
    “Promise?”
    “Darlin’, you can count on it.”
    ##
    244 words
    pattyknowles@embarqmail.com

  16. “He’s barely alive.” reported Dr. Samogyi.

    He spoke in quiet tones describing her loved one’s condition.

    “Is there any chance that he will recover?” asked the wife.

    “We can keep him alive, breathing for him and with artificial nutrition, but the extent of his injuries is so severe . . . “

    “He wouldn’t have wanted to live like this. Can we turn off the machines and let him die peacefully, the way he wanted to?” she said struggling to hold back her tears

    “It’s not quite that simple but what we can do is remove the breathing tube, while making sure that we keep him comfortable. I suspect he would then pass quietly without anymore
    suffering.” replied the doctor.

    “Yes, let’s do that as soon as possible. I don’t want him to suffer like this. Do I need to sign anything?”

    “No, you are his designated decision maker in this situation so I will go ahead and give the order to the nursing staff.”

    Seven years later, Dr. Samogyi carefully inserted the organoid tissue into the robot’s skull like, control center, where it would
    receive blood and oxygen and begin to pulse in wave like rhythms, eerily similar to the patterns originally recorded from the dying man’s brain, those many years ago.

    “Shall I initiate the stimulus?”

    “Yes, of course! Do it now! We mustn’t wait any longer. We have sacrificed so much for so long and planned and dreamed so long for this moment. Do it for us, now!” she implored.

    @taforu
    word count: 250

  17. Old School

    Sam surveyed the wreckage that had been her police SUV a mere ten minutes ago.

    “Phips!?” she yelled over the howling winds. She could barely see beyond the wreckage, but there was something moving. As she watched two bulky forms emerged from the swirling snow. Two very large forms, with elongated arms and legs and very nasty looking teeth. They stared at her a moment roaring to be heard over the snow, and Sam roared in kind.

    “Right, now that that’s over,” the larger of the two yetis said, his accent a mix of Brooklyn and German. “What are you two idiots doing out here in his weather?”

    Sam growled slightly before moving closer. “Looking for you,” she said angrily.

    “Well, you found us, now what?” The smaller yeti asked, her accent softer but the same odd combination of accents.

    “I honestly don’t know. I need to get Phips somewhere warm.”

    “He’s barely alive,” the first Yeti commented.

    “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Sam snarked, rolling her eyes.

    “No, Corporal,” the female corrected. “Captain is his father.”

    “Is he here too?”

    The whole conversation was surreal.

    “No, just the two of us. We’re the advanced scouts.”

    “Us too,” Sam sighed.

    “So… what do we do?” the female yeti asked.

    “These days, we fight strong man wins, old school, we posture a little then work together to survive and sort things out in the morning.”

    “Which do you prefer?”

    Sam shrugged. “I”m an old fashioned girl.”

    “Got any cards?”

    @mishmhem
    248 words

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