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 382 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 382:
Dark fantasy author, archer, and horsewoman, Daelyn Morgana.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“I block out the screams.”
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!
20 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 382”
Soft footsteps on the hardwood floor woke me. No clue how long we’d actually slept, but the room was full dark now. I didn’t move from the couch as Pandora’s uneven steps came closer. Maybe she needed to use the bathroom. Maybe she just wanted a glass of water. Maybe she wasn’t really approaching me at all.
“Davis?” Pandora’s voice sounded so small and uncertain. “Are you awake?”
I sat up, sucking in a breath at the blue glow of her eyes in the darkness.
“I’m here, Trouble.” Another vision? Gods damn it all. I scrambled to my feet, turning on the lamp beside the couch, banishing the darkness, but not whatever was happening in Pandora’s head. “What do you see?”
“It’s so dark. There’s just so many—” She shuddered, swiping clumsily at her ears. “So many screams.”
“Look at me, Pandora.”
“They won’t stop screaming.” The hands at her ears began to claw.
“Don’t.” I covered the distance to her in three steps, pulling her hands down. “Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Block out the screams. Listen to my voice, okay? C’mon, Trouble.” I laid my hands along her cheeks, tipped her face up. “You can do this.”
Her trembling hands gripped my wrists.
“Follow my voice.”
“It hurts.” She whined, tried to press in against me.
“I’ll hold you,” I promised. “Just follow my voice. Come back to me.”
“Davis.” The glow started to recede.
“I’m here.” I pulled her into my arms. “I’m right here, baby.”
250 gods & monsters WIP words
“In your own words.”
Easy for you to say, officer. You weren’t there. But, its his job. Get the details. The truth. And I’m the witness. How stupid can a guy get. I shoulda just…
“Mr. Walker, maybe you need a few minutes. Can I get you a coffee?”
A coffee. Yeah. Coffee. What kind of coffee do they have in Podunk? Instant. Christ, that ain’t even coffee. What time is it, I wonder? Must have left my watch in the tent. The sun’s barely up. I wonder if they have found her yet. Sweet kid. “Oh, I just needed a break from school,” she’d said. A weekend in the mountains.”
So, she pitched her tent a hundred yards down from me. Right where the river forks. A good spot. Told her so.
Later, I could glimpse her fire. She was singing. An oldie. I mean, a real oldie…’I’m gonna lay down my sword…’
Satchmo. You can’t go wrong with him.
I was bushed and packed her in.
Later, I woke with a start.
It was like a thousand cats has climbed into my skull.
I prayed I was still asleep.
Even here, in this copshop, I block out the screams.
But they won’t stop.
“Mr. Walker. Coffee?”
More time to think.
I don’t know why I can’t stop shaking.
Stop hearing her shrieking.
Gotta pull it together.
And my hands.
Why is there so much blood on my hands?
“Good morning, sunshine!” My best friend Joslyn didn’t do anything quiet, particularly mornings.
I cracked my eyes open to find the clock and tried to make sense of the digital numbers. Was it really ten thirty? I never slept that late. I scrubbed my face with my hands and sat up, belatedly remembering I was naked as the covers fell to my waist. I hastily grabbed them as my nipples beaded in the cool air and I immediately looked around for Flint.
My badass biker lover had disappeared, but a folded note with my name written in an elegant cursive scrawl sat beside my phone on the side table. Before I had time to grab it, Joslyn strode into my room.
“Why are you still in bed? We have to go over the big holiday promo drive and wildlife benefit auction stuff.” Joslyn frowned. “You look different. Your aura is all over the place. Shitty night last night?”
I nodded with a grimace. “You could say that. Earl Creighton’s thugs tried to throw me off a cliff.”
She gasped and sat down on the bed. “Holy fuck! Did you call the cops?”
“How could I? He owns them. So I block out the screams of frustration and focus on my goal.”
“Shield Fort Collins from that Mudfucker.”
“Oh, something simple then.” Joslyn grimaced. “I thought you went out with Tammy and Barb.”
“I did. They found the hunky Santa on the train and the thugs found me.”
249 ineligible #ConcreteAngelsMC words
Eighteen pounds of black and white fluff stares at me from the entryway. One paw bwaps my ankle. Ignoring the demanding feline, I hurry into the bathroom. Hamlet sits on the tub, demanding chin scritches as I try to wake up.
“You’re not going to die if you don’t get fed right away,” I remind him, rubbing his head. He starts chewing on my hand. “No, don’t bite.”
“I’m hungry,” he reminds me, open mouth still trying to capture my hand. “That diet leaves me starbings to deaths.”
Rolling my eyes, I start the shower. It takes a minute for the water to get warm, so I put a small scoop of kibble in Hamlet’s dish. While he scarfs down breakfast, I finish getting ready, finally sitting down with breakfast. Hamlet saunters over, looking at me with his head cocked.
“Your shoes are out, hooman. You’re transporting the dead today?”
I nod, swallowing the last cheesy bite, then glance at the clock. “Yes, and I’d better get going.”
Hamlet helps me tie my shoes by playing with the strings and trying to bite me. I win and head for the door, double checking I have everything I need. Finally, I turn to him.
“All right, buddy. Be good, I love you. I’ll see you around one for my break, okay?”
“You’re leaving me, hooman?”
I pat him on the head, smiling. “If I don’t work, you don’t eat.”
I block out the screams as I head out the door.
The Screams, by Terry Brewer, @stories2121 165 words.
“How do you handle it?”
“You get used to it.”
“I block out the screams.”
“But doesn’t it upset you.”
“That it’s not me? Sometimes.”
“Have you met them?”
“Yeah. We live next door you know. When I see them they’re both very polite. Both lawyers I think.”
“Is he, like, much bigger than she is?”
“Only a few inches. He is in good shape though. They were newlyweds when they moved in and I guess the honeymoon’s not quite over.”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t handle sitting here and doing nothing.”
“Who says I do nothing?”
“Perv. Whoa. Did she just?”
“She did. Hold on. Five, four, three, two, one. Thar she blows.”
“You are sick and perverted.”
“And you want to be my roommate right?”
“I wouldn’t say that. But I’m afraid something’s, um, come up. I need to get home quickly.”
“Come back anytime.”
“Any particular time?”
“Saturdays and Wednesdays. At about 9.”
Concentrate on the happy things they said.
But I don’t have happy things.
Nothing major. Something small that makes you smile. They bored me.
Jeremy was much more pragmatic. He was still a pain in my ass, and entirely too optimistic, for his own good. But there were the occasions when he was tired, or distracted, and I caught an edge of cynicism in his tone. I could work on him.
In the cafeteria, they served a strong, black, bitter coffee in thin, brown paper cups. Most drowned it with packets of sweetener and milk, disguising its true nature. That was the problem, we are all hiding the truth. I sipped, repressing my grimace.
I didn’t have to wait long, Jeremy, with his armload of green files and sporting his usual white coat soon joined me at my table.
“How are we this morning?”
“We are happy.”
“Is that so?” Jeremy lifted an eyebrow, “And why is that?”
I raised the flimsy coffee cup, my silent toast to my worthy adversary. I took a sip.
“I see,” he said, retrieving a cheap, disposable ballpoint from his jacket pocket. “And the new medication?”
He flipped open my chart and began taking notes. I waited. When he looked at me, I regaled him with the fruit of my practice and smiled.
“How is it we are so happy today?”
“It’s easy. I block out the screams.”
Jeremy patted my hand.
“Sounds like we are making progress.”
Jeremy had no idea.
250 October Words
His apology triggers a knot in my throat, and I choke on it as I try to speak. Before I can get any words out, though, the wind picks up, quickly becoming a violent, ear-shattering gale. He pulls me in, trying to shield me from it, but the screams riding on the wind pierce through us.
Those things from the forest found us.
“You need to go.”
“What?” I block out the screams – or try to. Still, I can barely hear him.
“I’m sending you home.” He takes the book – I forgot I still had it – and takes a small step back.
“Wait, don’t-” My hair is everywhere, and I struggle to tame it, to see him clearly.
Arius’ hand slides to my cheek, and he pulls me toward him once more. Our lips meet, this kiss just as brief as the first. His hand grows warm against my skin, the sensation spreading down my neck and in every direction. I look at my hands in time to see Mara’s marks beginning to fade.
Death takes my hand and brings it to his lips. He murmurs something, but I can’t hear him. When our eyes meet again, there’s sorrow in his despite his smile.
I blink, and it’s like a door shuts in my face. There’s a blank wall in front of me, and I’m alone in the hall. The silence is deafening. Outside, it’s nearly dawn.
Arius’ bracelet hangs cold and dead on my wrist, our connection broken.
250 angsty AF words
Promises Are Made to be Broken
I promised to love you, but…
Each day is a grave and I never agreed to that. Swimming pools and music lessons and grocery shopping. Nursery school. Kindergarten. Vacuum life of lifeless void. No me, no meaning.
I need to know what there is to know, and right now I only know I know I don’t exist. I am suffocating in jello and canned vegetable soup and your back pocket.
I block out the screams. Let me out! Let me go!
If you could understand how it is with me, I wouldn’t have to leave. But you don’t. I can’t understand it myself–my confusion or loneliness. My pain. My anger. My anguish.
So I have to go.
Step out. Feet move. One foot in front of one foot. Footsteps stepping. Driveway. Drive away. Going away. Don’t look back, don’t think, don’t feel. Go. Step on the gas. Highway. Open road. Slick black roadway. Going going gone. Life in an urban-suburban sewer. Winter 1974. Destination unknown, destiny unknown. Bye Bye–Goodbye I’ll never write. It’s only right. I have my rights, and it’s not right here. Not right. I don’t know why. I can’t make it work. I can’t make it. I don’t work right. Too many windows, nobody living inside. I don’t know where I’m going but I know I’m on my way. My way. One way. One-way streets. One-way signs. One way to go.
I block out the screams.
The night is dank, fog making everything slick and my activities that much more dangerous. I block out the screams – both those coming from inside my head, telling me to go back, to give up, and those coming from the miasma around me, telling me that if I didn’t hurry, the ghosts would win.
Summoning my familiar required an acrobatic dance that was tricky in the best of circumstances and essentially impossible in these. I had to hope that she mostly made me go through these machinations for her amusement and that she’d still show up if my feet weren’t pointed just so every tenth step. My pounding heart counted out the time in a staccato melody, accompanied by that macabre harmony of screams. She’d either come in her own time or not at all, I knew, and there was nothing to do but wait.
“Julien.” Her voice touched me from afar, but the relief that flooded through me almost buckled my knees.
“Is it time?” She was too far from me to speak in response, so I just nodded. She’d understand me.
“Is it too late?” I shrugged. I hoped not. This was the soonest I was able to act, but I had cut it close.
“Then I will feed.” A roar carried through the fog, and I knew that at least some would survive this night. Not the ghosts, though. I thanked fate for giving me a dragon familiar and ran towards the roar.
When I saw Elizabeth hobble through the door, my breath solidified, choking me. We were both the same age – it’s a twin thing, as you’d expect – but I’d not been prepared for this. The woman entering the room looked like she was a hundred, crouching over the walker frame as though it was all that was holding her up.
“I’m so sorry,” the surgeon intoned, his voice solemn. “I know it must be hard for you, but we couldn’t do a thing before we received those samples you provided. Even now it’s going to be close. Another day’s delay and it would have been too late.”
The med-tech helped her up onto the table, pulling at the ties securing her gown. The hospital greens fell to the floor and she was naked; her body wasted, her features barely recognisable. Another orderly led in the clone which had been grown from my DNA, its gene sequences tweaked to revise its gender. It had been aged until it was fully mature, this making the transference of their consciousnesses almost routine. There would still be some trauma, but my sister was already suffering; there would be a single quick spike of pain and then it would be over. She could start over again with a new body, all her memories intact.
The replicant stiffened, its eyes widening. It recognised itself, realisation flooding into its brain.
I walk away quickly, and I block out the screams.
It didn’t take long.
248 words ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com
Times are tough for the exorcists.
Things really changed since Hell became a one-way street. We don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe the place is full up. Maybe some vital doorway just closed off. Maybe the big guy — upstairs or downstairs, ultimately what’s the difference? — changed the rules. Wouldn’t be the first time the male species made life harder without explanation and left us all to cope.
The upshot being, when the demons take a body that’s not theirs and we have to drive them back out, there’s nowhere to send them back to. Either they go free, undoubtedly to strike again somewhere else, or we do what we must.
We hold on to them. Ourselves. Keep them locked inside.
There are some good jokes about what old hands exorcists are about bottling up their emotions, and trust me, we’ve heard them. Keeping a demon down is no different. An angry, impotent voice squalls at you all day and night, urging you to wanton acts of destruction, promising riches and doom in equal measure. Just like being in rush hour traffic.
So how do I keep them down? That’s easy.
I show kindness.
Pet a puppy. Buy a hungry person a meal. Give to charity. I block out the screams and do something nice for somebody. And they have to watch, jealous and helpless and anguished. The screams become a balm, the infantile demands transmute into just desserts, sweet as table sugar.
Sometimes this job has its perks.
248 words / @daniel_swensen
I’m forgetting the feel of the sun and the smell of the sea. I still remember my name. I figure that puts us at a week in this hell hold. Give or take. When the fiends aren’t working on me, I have time to think just how good they are at their business. It makes things worse when my turn comes up again.
I block out the screams. I don’t know which are worse; the pitiful wails of professional toughs I called my mates, or the soul anguishing howls of the little girl who never should have been on our ship to begin with. Truth is, I can’t listen to either anymore.
I should’ve turned my blade on myself when they attacked. Fractions of a minute I wasted fighting back could have spared me all this. Ten of us were taken; the unlucky third who didn’t die immediately.
The gaunt tar black fiends hurriedly throw Caitlin back in our cage. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I tried to comfort the trembling little ball of pain. Too long, probably. I’m a selfish no good pirate after all. Our captors hurry above deck just before I hear the cannon fire. Then silence. I guess we get a reprieve while The Babau brings on fresher meat.
“Time to go.”
I’m surprised to hear Caitlin’s voice, calm and steady. Her silver and gold eyes meet mine seriously. She uncurls from around the jailer’s key ring and rises shakily to her feet.
250 Cat’s The Pajamas words
Sade glanced at the man, noticing his clinched jaw, lips pressed so tightly white lines surrounded his mouth. He squinted, surveying their surroundings.. Before them, a long hallway stretched in a seemingly endless array of doorways. Some were closed, many more were dark maws daring any to enter upon pain of death. She fought the urge to turn and run. She was an FBI agent. She laughed at danger. The scrawny dude standing beside her? Yeah, he looked ready to bolt.
“You don’t have to do this.”
The man ignored her. Sade shrugged. Coming here hadn’t been her idea.
“So many,” he muttered. “They’re everywhere.” He groped for her in the murky dark and snagged her hand. “One of them is attached to you.” His eyes were the size of half dollars and showing white as he gazed up at her. “Dark. So dark.” He shuddered dramatically. “It wants you. Wants to eat you.”
She glanced over the top of his head taking in the tall, dark vampire leaning against the wall, and smirked. Sinjen smirked back.
The man gasped, jerking up his hands—including the one clutching hers—to cover his ears. “They’re all yelling. So loud. It hurts.”
Curiosity got the better of her and Sade asked before she thought better of it. “How do you handle it?”
He sucked in air. “I block out the screams.”
Sade kept her mouth shut. Growing up surrounded by Magicks, she wasn’t about to look a gift psychic in the mouth.
249 Penumbra Papers #WIP words
Howling in pain the man’s face didn’t move as they tortured him to illicit some kind of pain or reaction. Only I seemed to hear him and feel the same pain he felt. I tell myself I block out the screams but this time I couldn’t. Centering myself, pushing the pain away and reaching out with my special sense, seeing every place between here and the man. Gathering my gun, some knives and matches, hair spray, my stun gun, a hack saw and my special invention a key card that opened every door I decided to save him. I tasered two men guarding him and I sawed through the chains with the hacksaw.
“I knew you’d come, Melissa,” the man said.
“Do I know you?”
“Intimately, the name is Xavier Windom. We need to leave before they are alerted.”
Xavier explained that the government knew his family had extraordinary abilities and wanted him to use his for them. He refused thus the torture. I asked why he hadn’t freed himself he said the chains bound his abilities. He then claimed that he was my soulmate.
“My ability is to hear other’s cries and help if I can,” I insisted, “Don’t use your abilities to call me again.”
He didn’t listen and he was kind to me. Maybe he was right; but frankly I didn’t believe in soulmates, so I take him for a spin and see how this played out I decided. All would work out as it should.
It was another day at work, just like the thousands that had preceded it, and most likely the thousands that would follow. I looked at the wall of computers, mostly laptops, but some desktops and all-in-ones.
Computer 7 on the bench had the usual data backup, and repair, paperwork. “Copy the data on the computer to an external hard disk, and then fix the computer.” I’d lost count years ago of how many times I’d had to do that. Plug in the repair system flash drive, boot the computer to it, and not to Windows (or what was left of Windows), and use the repair environment to copy the data.
I wasn’t surprised at all when I brought up the data copying program, and it told me there was nothing on the hard disk. I sighed, and automatically closed the copying program and started the Seagate Data Recovery program, to see if it could find any deleted data on the computer.
After three minutes of trying, the Seagate program popped up it’s message, “Drive to damaged. Can’t recover.”
I told the other repair technician, “They ran the computer until it stopped.”
“And they never backed up anything.”
“They just lost all the pictures of their grand-babies.”
“They’ll scream. And cry. And get all emotional, won’t they.”
“I block out the screams, you know.”
“So do I. Now. Call them with the good news.”
I grimaced, and picked up the phone.
Five minutes of hell
“It’s a hard life. You have to be consistent and you can’t let what happens around you stop you from doing your job.”
I hate to tell the new guy but it’s as much a hell for us as it is for our guests. Our punishment is just more subtle, like me, giving the new guy the tour.
“What kind of health plan do you have?”
Did he really just ask that? Well… he asked.
“Every Physical need is taken care of,” I assure him, and it is. The after life plan is just that— after life.
Mental needs are… well, that’s the punishment isn’t it?
“It’s not that bad, we do get a few moments here and there of sanity- it makes the cruelty that much more sublime.”
“Do you ever get used to it?”
I snort. Such questions. The boss is going to have fun with him.
“I block out the screams.”
154 words not including titel
#ThursThreads Week 382 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.