#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 425

Welcome back to the home of Weird, Wild, & Wicked Tales. Today is Thursday and that means it’s time to start flashing. We’re at the beginning of our ninth year of weekly prompts. It’s amazing we’ve gone this long! This is Week 425 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 425:

Husband and Father of 2 Autistic Children, Lover of Magic the Gathering, D&D and Good Stories, Joel Sandersen.

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And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“Can’t or won’t?”

All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Comments do not represent the views of the host and the host reserves the right to remove any content. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!

15 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 425”

  1. “How about you call Andre while I go pack a bag and I’ll help you lock up on my way out to take the deposit to the bank?”

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa back there, girl. What do you mean ‘pack a bag’?” Joslyn’s brows knitted. “What kind of plans you got goin’ on tonight?”

    I shrugged. “I can’t tell you that.”

    “Can’t or won’t? And all this after hounding me to call Andre.”

    “I actually can’t tell you. Flint invited me out tonight and told me to pack a bag. I guess we’re going somewhere far enough that we’ll stay overnight.”

    Joslyn lost her smile. “This is the same guy from the Concrete Angels?” She bit her lip. “You be careful with him, okay? They don’t have a good rep.”

    I dropped my smirk. “I know their rep, but my gut says he’s a good guy.” And not entirely human. “I haven’t gotten any Goddess Messages about him, but I have gotten messages about this place burning down, so packing a bag serves a double purpose.”

    “Wait, stop. Did you just say this place, our shop, is going to burn down?”

    Shit. I hadn’t meant to tell her the content of the Goddess Message.

    “Is that why we packed up so much of your stuff to the storage unit and you’ve been giving me merchandise for friends and family?” She came over to me and grasped my arms. “Sweet glory, Rochelle, is there going to be a fire here?”

    248 #ConcreteAngelsMC words
    @SiobhanMuir

  2. I stared at my knuckles. The tree bark had shredded my skin and blood oozed through swollen flesh. The deliberate snap of a dry branch brought my head up even though I didn’t meet the gaze of the man now standing beside me.

    “What were you thinking?” Hardass growled. “Oh, wait. You weren’t.”

    He was wrong. I’d been thinking too hard, with too much shit floating around in my head.

    “You gonna say anything?”

    “About what?”

    “Why the fuck you’re out here beating up a tree.”

    I shrugged. Not much to say.

    “Geneva.”

    “What about her?” Now I was defensive. Shit. Hardy’d see right through that.

    “Walk away from her.”

    I shook my head. “I can’t.”

    “You can’t or won’t?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “Stupid fucker,” Hardy groused.

    Pushing me down, he squatted beside me, opening his med kit. Hardy had been an army combat medic and served as the MC’s first line of medical care. If he couldn’t fix us, with the help of our Wolf genes, then he called in Doc.

    He poured saline solution over my battered hands, then hit me with the hydrogen peroxide. He wasn’t gentle, not that I expected such treatment.

    “Where is she?” His gaze remained on my hands.

    “Gone.”

    “You really are a stupid fucker.”

    “Probably.”

    “She’s your mate.”

    “Not anymore.”

    He shook his head. “We don’t get to choose, Wizard. No matter how hard we wish it were different.”

    She’d die if I claimed her so I walked away. End of story.
    ****
    250 Night Wish WIP words
    @SilverJames_

  3. “Can’t or won’t?”
    “I can’t put words on the page.”
    “Writers block?”
    “I didn’t think it would happen to me, but it has.”
    “Have you done any exercises?”
    “That never occurred to me,” I replied sarcastically.
    “What will get you back on track? We’ve spent the advance, haven’t we?”
    “We still have the salary from your job.”
    “Maybe it’s time we take a vacation. I found one we can afford. It’s a cruise ship.”
    “With old people who want to travel?”
    “You’re such a cynic. It could be fun and they travel through some interesting countries and we could visit some museums and other historic sights,”
    “Okay let’s do it what could go wrong?”
    I shouldn’t have asked. Two weeks went by and it was time to board the cruise. Then we heard the news the borders were closed and we were in lockdown and the cruise line wouldn’t refund our money. The good news all this bad news and spurred my creativity. It seemed it took terrible events to spur my muse and escape in the world of writing.
    I felt bad though profiting from a pandemic. My husband said not to worry your muse loves this and we could use the dough. I got down to work.
    My book would be finished before the deadline but would anyone be reading it? It seems that people needed escapism, my book sold well and I was able to write what I really wanted to write the next best thriller.
    249 words
    @SweetSheil

  4. Who Was That Unmasked Maniac?

    “I ain’t gonna do it, Harry. Just ain’t in me.”

    “You’re a handsome fella, Donnie. If I were that fetching, I would hold my ground, tell those fanatical pro-maskers to go to blazes.”

    “Ah, Harry. It ain’t my beautiful visage that’s guiding me.”

    “Huh! It ain’t? What is it then? You some anti-government anarchist type? I thought you worked as a Postie.”

    “Got it right on both counts. I do deliver the mail. Snow! Hail! Hell, all that weather crapola stuff. Now we got this Corona thingamabob. I lay my life on the postal line everyday. But I also come from a people that has always stood up for freedom. My great-grand-pappy was an anti-masker back in nineteen and eighteen. San Francisco.”

    “No kidding! They had a movement back then.”

    “You bet your booties they did. Even won some battles. Got the mask mandate lifted at least a couple of times.”

    “But it kept on getting reimposed?”

    “Yeah, according to grand-daddy, the flu kept on coming back.”

    “They say the same about Covid.”

    “It’s a bull tweed power thing. These public health mongers get paid to say stuff like that. You can’t believe everything that comes out of their mouths.”

    “Can’t or won’t?”

    “Both. Anyways, me, I’m gonna follow in Great grand-daddy’s shoes. He was a hero in my book.”

    “Whatever happened to him?”

    “The worst damn luck. Got the flu. Kicked the bucket. Young man, too.”

    “Life sure ain’t fair.”

    “You said a snootful.”

    250 words
    @billmelaterplea

  5. “Can’t or won’t?” The Reaper stared Harley down, menacingly tightening his grip around the scythe’s handle.

    “I take it you’re not used to no.” Harley refused to move a muscle, not even to do his job and clean up the shards from the museum exhibit the angry Reaper smashed on its way out of the 13th-century plague doctor mask.

    “Look, I’ve been trapped in that mask for—what century did you say it was?”

    “21st.” Harley stared at the animated skeleton, whose robes shook with ferocity.

    “Beelzebub on toast, for more than seven hundred years,” the Reaper exclaimed. “I mean, you can’t reap souls if you’re stuck in a blasted, creepy mask. That’s why the witch put me there.”

    All tales like this started with a wicked witch, Harley assumed. He just wanted to finish up the night’s duty and get home to his beloved. “You sure don’t talk like you’re from the 1300s.”

    “I shall henceforth speaketh the kings English so that thou shall not refuse my plea. Imprisoned in that bloody thing, I could still see and hear all around me. Now, on to what I need you to do.”

    “Uh, no.”

    “Come on now. It’s not much. You don’t even have to wear the robes.” The Reaper sniffed the air. “You already have that smell of death on you, Eau de mortem., mixed with golden desperation.” The Reaper stretched out his hand, and therein rested a pouch overflowing with golden coins. “So, what do you say?”

    #WIP #SureAsHell
    249 words
    @TinaGlasneck

  6. “Tell me where he is,” I said.

    “I can’t. You’re a homicide detective?”

    Apparently she was only slowly registering what I was saying. “Can’t or won’t?”

    “I don’t know where he is.” My partner Angela and I, were following up on a tip. We were looking for a guy known as the Three Rivers killer.

    “But you have an idea?”

    Before she could answer, there was a gun shot. I ran outside where Angela had been waiting while I questioned the woman inside.

    “Get to cover, Jess.” The woman from the house was running around back. I lost sight of her but I couldn’t worry about it.

    Two other detectives drove up as someone emerged from the alley. One of the other detectives fired his weapon.

    (Two weeks later.)

    “Jess? You okay?” Angela said when I came out of the interrogation room.

    “I’m suing the city for wrongful termination. You think they give a shit? They need someone to take the fall.”

    “You weren’t the one that fired her weapon,” Angela said. “What the fuck do they think they’re doing?”

    “How do I know? Maybe I don’t have the right connections.”

    One bottle of wine later I was on my couch when my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail. It was the woman I questioned in the house weeks before.

    “The man that was shot … he’s not the Three Rivers killer. I am.”

    I grabbed my phone. “Where are you?” I said, but she hung up.

    Catherine Derham
    @cathducourau
    250 Words

  7. The Oracle towered over us. He was ten feet tall, made from burnished bronze and had eyes that could penetrate steel. When in his prime, he could divine the thoughts of an army in an instant, divide them into their individual groups within seconds and he’d been able to do that twenty-four hours a day, day after day, never once taking a break.

    And he’d never been wrong.

    At least, that was what the promotional poster said.

    Today, he was on the back of a truck with his eyes dimmed and the joints in his arms seized into immobility. His legs had supposedly been salvaged years ago, plundered for use during the Galaxy wars, their metal transmuted into shielding for ships’ reactor cores or some other military application.

    “So, what is it you want to ask him?” The woman was obviously a shill, working the queue, getting information she could pass on to the machine’s operator. I’d decided I’d mess with her, throw out something random. The poster had also mentioned a prize for any question the Oracle couldn’t answer. It had never been claimed, so it was said.

    Maybe I’d be the first.

    “I can’t think of anything,” I said. “Something will come to me.”

    “Can’t…or won’t?” The woman looked anxious, tapping at her phone. “Surely, you’ve an idea. Fifty credits for three answers isn’t cheap?”

    I shook my head. I’d already decided what my first question would be. And after I won the lottery, I’d be back again.

    250 words ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com

  8. This jumped-up little prick behind me in the line refuses to practice the social distancing.
    Can’t or won’t, I hear you ask? Maybe he needs some companionship. I’d hesitate to ask him that. It might get physical and not in a lovey-dovey way.
    I turn and glare at him. He just stands there, arms crossed, resolute as Churchill with none of the wisdom. Breathing down my neck.
    The woman in front of us asks the shop assistant for Evian water, clearly under the mistaken impression that she’s a Kardashian.
    -No Evian, he says. We have Volvic?
    -Okay.
    He has to go and fetch the water for her. The fridge isn’t too far from the counter. I sigh audibly – I may as well have told her to get it herself aloud – and now it’s the Kardashian’s turn to turn around and glare. I look down at my feet and sigh again.
    I want to kill the little bastard behind me. I can hear him breathing. Doesn’t sound healthy although he can’t be more than 20.
    Finally it’s my turn. I pick up a large bar of chocolate from the shelf under the cash register and flash my card over the scanner.
    BLEEP.
    I could have turned around and cursed then.
    -Fuck you, you ignorant shit, I should have said to the young man.
    But there was only one bleep.
    228 words @ragtaggiggagon

  9. I don’t know what his problem is, but George is insistent.
    GET ME WATERMELON! he demands, barking his head off.
    Uhhh, no. Seriously? For real?
    YES! Me want WATERMELON!
    We just had this discussion yesterday, and I can’t do it again.
    Can’t or won’t?? It’s not so much a question as a rude remark.
    What does it matter, can’t or won’t? It’s all the same—the end result is, No Watermelon!
    NOT Acceptable!
    Look G, I said what I said, and I meant what I said. Not arguing with you…
    Not even if I sleep in my own spot tonight? And not bother you?
    Wellll…maybe in that case. But you have to PROMISE, ok? No going back on your word. You stay on your side and leave me be. No sneaking over, no slinking up, no crawling into my space. You hear?
    I can’t do that.
    Can’t what? Promise, or stay on your side?
    Either. Neither.
    Can’t or won’t??
    It’s all the same—the end result is, I sleep right next to you. Right. Next.
    Okaay, okay. Watermelon. That’s it? That’s all?
    I wouldn’t mind if you got some franfurters too, but I’ll settle for watermelon.
    Take your pick—one or the other. Can’t have both.
    Can’t or won’t?
    Arrrgh! Stop!
    Okay—then…WATERMELON!!
    Will you at least say “please”?
    NO! Can’t!
    Can’t or won’t?
    EXACTLY!
    I hate dogs!
    229 words @rrats1231

  10. Hunter Lee waded from waves onto white sand while his West Sea crocodile rolled happily in the surf behind him. He had called in more favors than he had to find this place, and sold everything he could to get the purse of gold he hoped was enough.

    The light bleached hut standing alone on this stretch of beach didn’t look like much, but Hunter’s heart raced like on his first ruin raid. His blunt grin was even broader than normal. Rescuing and raising his crocodile changed his life completely. With any luck, another such change waited on the other side of this indigo blanket covered doorway. Hunter poured seawater from his hat and shook himself off as best he could before letting himself in.

    “G’day! Is this the home of the tattooist, Madame Yagami?”

    A stern looking silver haired half elf waited for Hunter to spot her in the shadows of her otherworldly domain.

    “It is. You seek ink?”

    “That’s right,” Hunter thunked his bag of gold on a table. “I hope this is ‘nuff.”

    “Are you thinking of a full sleeve or torso?”

    “How evah much it takes,” Hunter shed his leather vest and turned his back to Madame Yagami. “On me back. But I need a Mystic one, strong as ya gave Cat N. Kinnery.”

    “I can’t.”

    “Or won’t?”

    Hunter glanced between the artist and the most money he’d ever raised in his entire life.

    “Can’t. A Mystic Tattoo’s strength comes from the subject, not the artist.”

    250 Cat’s The Pajamas words
    @DavidALudwig

  11. Arms crossed. Pout in full force. Eyes hard. Attitude on full display. Time to go into battle. The plate of carrots slides dangerously close to the edge of the table. I slide it back, my eyes imploring the girl to eat the mushy orange sticks.

    “No. I can’t.”

    Matching her gaze, I mentally count to ten. “Can’t or won’t?”

    She shrugs, four-year-old shoulders suddenly full with the weight of the world. Why I agreed to have my niece stay for a couple of days is beyond me. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but the food battles are too much for this single gal.

    “Well, then I can’t give you dessert.”

    We made a cake this morning and I let her help decorate it. Somewhere under six pounds of sprinkles is a vanilla cake with blue frosting. For a split second, her gaze wavers.

    “Can’t or won’t?”

    She sounds like my brother. All steel and resolve but inside, she’s crumbling. Her sweet tooth is as big as mine and I’m not above eating in front of her. In answer to her question, I shrug, my forty-year-old shoulders heavier than usual.

    A moment passes. Two. Three. Then, as if the carrots will bite, she spears one on a fork. Eyes squeezed shut, she chokes both of them down. Satisfied, I bring the cake to the table.

    “You’re mean,” she says.

    “You got cake, right?”

    Blue frosting and sprinkles already smeared on her face, she gives me a fierce eye roll.

    @Aightball
    250 words

  12. My head swims with agony, and it’s like I can feel the life draining out of me with each beat of my heart. Valmong continues to carry me through the darkness, and I try to focus on the sound of his heartbeat against my ear. Every inch of me is lead, weighed down by the pain so much I can hardly breathe.

    “We can’t just keep running!” Nevari seems to struggle keeping up with Valmong’s pace. Worry laces her words. “You know where we need to go. Who we need to ask for help.”

    Even through my disorientation, I can tell Valmong’s silence is heavy. Pointed.

    “Val-“

    “I can’t.”

    “Can’t or won’t?” Nevari gets in front of him, cutting him off and forcing him to jolt to a stop. The suddenness jostles me, but all I can do is groan. “Look at her. She’s dying. My amulet can only do so much. There’s no where else to turn.”

    “We don’t even know that she’ll help.” His grip on me tightens just so as he pulls me closer.

    “But we need to try, right?”

    Valmong’s sigh of resignation comes across as more of a grunt, but he mutters his agreement. “Fine.”

    200 #TeamRPG words
    @katheryn_avila

  13. Pep talk

    “You can’t just sit there and expect things to go your way,” I told the woman behind the wheel. “You have to look around you have to see what’s going on and you have to pay attention.”

    I saw the defiance in her eyes when she met my gaze and shook my head. I don’t know if it was resignation or just acceptance but I recanted a little- I knew a fight was coming and I’d learned a long time that you chose your fights. You didn’t start a fight you couldn’t finish, and I knew I couldn’t finish this one.

    “Don’t you look at me like that,” I looked into her eyes as she spoke.“I’m not giving you the satisfaction.”

    I’m not asking for much and we both know it, but she just won’t stop fighting me.

    “You can’t expect me to do this,” she gasps and for the first time I see the hurt and the fear in her eyes.

    “Can’t or won’t, it’s all the same.”

    I stare in disbelief now. Those words have haunted me so many times. “Get out of the car.”

    I let my breath out slowly, see the fear flicker in her eyes before she goes for defiance.

    I push the mirror away, I don’t want to see her eyes anymore. I growl as I get out of the car and head towards the boss’ office. This time I will get a raise, and he won’t see how scared I am.

    250 words (not including title)
    @mishmhem

  14. #ThursThreads Week 425 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week. 🙂

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