#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 456

Welcome back to the home of Paranormal & Dauntless Romance. 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 456 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 456:

Bill Engleson in front of a bookshelf

Slightly past-it Canuck and word chucker, Bill Engleson.

Facebook | Twitter

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“These are the words you must unlearn.”

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!

12 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 456”

  1. The musician strummed his guitar, hummed, then made a few notations in his notebook. He raised his head to look directly at Sade. In a voice so sweet her heart shed tears, he sang for her ears alone.

    “Heroes sleep beneath the ancient stones,
    Stirring to the piper’s tune.
    Ghosts from the past occupy the throne
    And stare into your soul.
    A voice through the mists of time
    Whispers not a lullaby
    But a battle cry.
    I would see her dead,
    See her dead.
    See her dead.”

    Sade glanced around the pub. No one stirred. For all intents and purposes, she and the bard were the only ones alive. He set aside his guitar and stared deeply into her eyes. A shiver coursed through her. She wondered if he was one of the ghosts of which he sang and what he saw inside her soul. The chorus’s words echoed in her heart.

    “These are the words you must unlearn.”

    “Who are you?” she asked.

    “No one important.” He offered a slight shrug topped by a smile that was smug and sad in equal parts.

    “Let me be the judge of that. Why are you here?”

    That bought a glimpse of a dazzling grin. “I am neither here nor there. And my reasons for being either are my own.”

    Sade glowered. “If I didn’t know better, I’d name you Puck.”

    A quick laugh then, “Not that one. Guess again.”


    A shadow moved. Sinjen. Was he there to see her dead?
    250 Penumbra Papers WIP words

  2. De-constructive Criticism

    Martha took a deep breath as she finished handing out the student’s papers, it had taken them twenty minutes to completely undermine everything she had tried to teach them. If she could have, she would have failed the lot of them but she was grading on a curve.

    She began pacing in at the front of the class.

    “We are going to go over this again,” she said firmly.

    “These are the words you must unlearn: Irregardless – Ir, meaning not- it negates the word and unlike math, you cannot add a negative to a negative and make a bigger negative. English does not work that way. You are literally saying ‘not without regard’ while meaning ‘without regard.’

    The students shifted in their seats.

    “Mr. Evans,” she said turning to one of her students. “Do you know the difference between literally and figuratively?”

    “Miss Roberts?” One of the students called raising her hand.

    “Yes, Carrie?”

    “Merriam-Webster added Irregardless to the dictionary last year.”

    “That doesn’t make it right.”

    “Irregardless of what you say, it literally does.”

    “Carrie, dear, only in linguistics – in English class it is wrong and unless I missed something on the schedule, I am teaching English. If you want to play all loose and free with a language, I suggest you switch your major and report to the Sociology Department. If, however you want to study English— you need to practice what I teach.”

    “Irregardlessly, that is literally how I ended up in Anthropology.”

    146 words not including title

  3. Phinn snorted. “Yeah, the thing is, being in the Fae Court was never something I wanted. That would’ve worked on my elder brother Tiberius who wanted a lordship, but not me.”

    “Maybe they mistook you for your brother?” Kendra grimaced. “Though that doesn’t seem very likely. It’s not like you look the same or do the same things. And he’s in the Summer Court, right?”

    “Yeah, both my brothers are there. Or were, until Darius married your friend Sabrina.”

    “Yeah, they seem happy.”

    “Yes, they do. I know my brother is.”

    They both lapsed into their own thoughts and Phinn kept coming back to his father. This was the court he was from, that was how they’d gotten the surname Winterbourne. But his parents had never mentioned his father’s rank in the Winter Court. He wasn’t convinced his mother even knew his father’s parentage or house, and he and his brothers had never been given any favoritism based on that parentage. Especially after dear old Dad had left.

    Why was he thinking about his father? These are words you must unlearn. Or at least let go of. He should’ve let go of his absent sperm donor decades ago, but of course, every kid pined after the absent parent. Even Darius had mentioned wishing their father had come back, if only to ask him why he’d gone in the first place.

    But that’s the same as wishing for a unicorn to appear in the human realm.

    245 ineligible #CloudburstColorado words

  4. Xendal ran a hand over the brittle pages, smoothing them gently. The ink was fading, the words the last connection to her life before the fall.


    Terran’s voice interrupted her melancholy thoughts. A tear trickled down Xendal’s cheek. She swiped it away and tucked the book back into her worn leather bag, hiding it from prying eyes.

    “Menna is looking for you,” Terran said.

    Xendal compressed her lips and met her partner’s eyes, concern swirled in the dark brown depths. She pushed off the wooden bench and stood. “What’s new?”

    He grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips before placing it on his chest. “You know what she’d do if she saw you with that—” His gaze darted to the shut door. He leaned in and whispered against her lips, a pseudo-kiss to cover their conversation, “It’s forbidden.”

    “I know. All of the past must be left behind.”

    “These are the words you must unlearn.” Their breath mingled as they spoke Menna’s mantra in unison.

    She tucked her head against his chest and inhaled his comforting scent. Some days, his embrace was the only thing that kept her sane living in the rabbit warren of tunnels. Terran and her were lucky. Only a handful were allowed out. Menna kept a tight grip on their little group. She claimed to be keeping them safe, but Xendal often wondered.

    The door swung open. Menna swept in.

    “Terran, let her go. She must be reeducated.”


    “Step away, Terran.”

    250 words

    Marci Baun

  5. The images strobed before his eyes. There was a pigeon, a smoothing iron, a pair of high heels. Every time the picture changed, he described what he saw. The test had begun more than an hour ago and the images were still coming, the pauses getting shorter as the timer wound down.

    “You’re getting better,” Optima said. “But there’s still room for improvement.”

    Micah nodded. He felt like his brain was on fire. This was his third day of tests; three days with a wire in his head. He’d been one of a thousand on day one, their responses echoed back to an AI. The machines had been moderating alone in the earliest phases, every wrong answer triggering a corrective pulse. Too many pulses and the current increased, burning away any inappropriate thoughts.

    But some candidates were beyond the limits of correction. A stronger pulse dealt with them.

    Day two introduced the handlers. Micah saw his first woman that day. There’d been a pair of them, both taller than any of the drones, their faces partially hidden. If there’d been any expressions manifested behind the lenses they wore, he was still too inexperienced to make them out. He was still a little wet from the vat he’d been grown in, his senses unformed and dulled.

    The test resumed. Optima took his hand. A gun. A man. A tracked vehicle belching smoke. His brain began to burn. “These are the words you must unlearn,” she said, her mouth a savage line.

    twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com ~ 250 corrections

  6. “Kenaz!” Fire leapt into being before the apprentice, and he shielded his eyes from the tower of flames. It was larger than he’d expected, and Meahdwin grabbed a bucket to douse the flames.

    “What in the ever blazing—”

    He hadn’t been fast enough. “I didn’t mean to.”

    The wizard grabbed him by the ear and tugged him deeper into the cave. “‘I didn’t mean to.’ These are the words you must unlearn. Magic is cast with intent or not at all. You moon-brained imbecile. We’re being tracked by the Raven Lord at night, and here you are lighting a bonfire! Of all the fools I had to get assigned.”

    “I’m sorry, Master Willow.”

    His teacher groused and bid him a good night.

    Meahdwin sulked his way to the back of the cavern and curled up on the bedroll his parents had sent with him. He had to learn magic. He’d failed every other mentorship the village elders had sent him on. With war coming, they needed every trainable wizard they could get.

    Sleep came but was fitful at best, and he woke to a splatter of wet on his face, a man’s hand on his mouth, and something sharp at his throat. A gurgle sounded above him, and Meahdwin could just make out a lit candle and the sight of his eviscerated teacher hanging upside down from the ceiling.

    “Take the boy. He’s got the spark. If he won’t cast for us, we’ll drain his magic.”

    Word Count: 247
    Twitter: @miya_kressin

  7. The free ancestry results provided limited details and were practically useless. The information was written for experts in the field, not novices. Deciphering all the meaningless hieroglyphics was impossible.
    I need more particulars. Specific details to help me sort it out.
    Time was of the essence.
    She looked online for websites offering more complete research about her heritage. Several places listed their services, but the free ones came with restrictions; what she wanted required buying a subscription plan, but the cost was astronomical. What little she did discover indicated that yes, she was of European extraction—ancient forefathers hailed from modern-day Germany or Austria. She was a direct descendent of either a werewolf, a vampire, a robot, or even a prefabricated monster, a la Frankenstein.
    That notion was terrifying—she needed to erase the image.
    These are the words you need to unlearn. Forget them, totally. Eradicate them from your mind. Remove them from your vocabulary. They are irrelevant to you, do not define you, have nothing to do with you. Your past is in the past. Move on; reinvent yourself. From now on, you are Stella Hartwing, and you can be anything you want to be; there is nothing you can’t do.
    To accomplish her new role in life, changed everything—hairstyle, wardrobe, bought books on self-improvement.
    You can do this! You are not bound by the past. Your ancestry has no hold over you.
    But when the full moon rose and the wolves howled, genetics won out.
    249 words

  8. “What is your favorite lullaby?”

    Maester Sforzando smiled at Melody. The five-year-old knew the answer to that one; but considered it seriously just the same.

    “I like the Winter Wind Lullaby!” She declared.

    “That is a good one!” her teacher laughed.

    His smile was so pretty, and he was different from the priests. Sometimes Melody thought he must be an angel.

    “I would like to teach you a different way of singing it.” He continued, laying three scrolls flat on top of one another where the light from all the candles collected in the center of their table. “These are the words. You must unlearn the primacy of vocalizations. The most powerful sounds in our world are the ones we can’t hear.”

    Melody scrunched her face at the marks on the scrolls. They didn’t look like words to her, and she was Mother Josephine’s best reader!

    “I will demonstrate. Try to experience the song with your whole being. Not just your ears.”

    Melody rocked back on her heels as Maester Sforzando began singing. Listening to his rich deep voice was her favorite thing about their singing lessons. At first the lullaby lyrics seemed the same as always, and Melody didn’t see anything different about how Sforzando was singing. Then she closed her eyes and felt something she couldn’t describe under the music. Like in the songs she made up by herself!

    “Did you feel it? The Song Magic?”

    Melody nodded emphatically.

    “Are you ready to try?”

    Another nod.

    248 Cat’s The Pajamas words

  9. They looked like a couple mid breakup to anyone half watching. Greg nursed a full, cold coffee with its pasty skin of milk and Helen was sucking on a chocolate milkshake like an overgrown kid. They were indeed arguing about a breakup. But not theirs.

    Helen moved the emptying glass to one side, wary that she may knock it over if the argument erupted. She valued her jumper too much to risk a chocolate stain: especially for this argument.

    ‘Come on, Greg. How many times have we sat in this cafe with this problem of yours?’

    Greg appeared interested in the carpet by his feet.

    ‘I mean come on. This is beyond ridiculous. You loved this girl. What’s her name?’


    ‘What I thought that was the last one?’

    ‘No. That was Jenny.’

    ‘Ah, my bad. Anyway so you know her name now. But not last night. Again.’

    ‘I know. Same old story. She threw me out when we’d finished.’

    ‘What! She let you finish? That’s not the norm.’

    ‘Well we were pretty close. I guess she thought she may as well.’

    ‘Fair enough, I can see that.’

    Helen felt the conversation was calming down and risked another slurp.

    ‘But every time. Every bloody time you’ve got to shout out “Clara” in your throes. It’s ridiculous. How many years? Especially with the rest of that damn phrase. These are the words you must unlearn, Greg – or forever be alone.’

    ‘Either that or find another Clara.’

    ‘Oh yeah. That’s an option.’

    WC: 250
    Twitter: @zevonesque

  10. “These are the words you must unlearn.” These words from my shrink should have echoed through my brain; instead, all I heard was “it should have been you.”
    I was devastated, broken those words haunted me day and night for twenty-eight years until last week when I tried to end it all. I was now a long term impatient and the doctor was trying as hard as he could; but it was hard when she haunted me everyday.
    “Tell me again, why you’re here?” the doctor asked.
    “I wish I could change things even if it meant that I had changed places with Ann. I arrived too late Ann and Susan the superintendent were outside the apartment; but I was held up at work. Just before I arrived a car lost control and strike Ann and Susan. When I arrived, Ann was dying and the ambulance hadn’t arrived. Ann died in my arms but not before she said, ”It should have been you.”
    “Ann can’t take you haunting her anymore Harry. You need to go into the light.”
    “But I’m not dead,” I protested.
    “But you are you died twenty -eight years ago today saving Ann from that car.”
    As he said this my reality shifted, I was dead, I’d saved Ann and what she really said was, ”It shouldn’t have been you.”
    Ann was unhappy; because I stuck around, it was time to move on. a light shone and I followed. Peace enveloped me.

  11. Let me just call someone. These are the words you must unlearn.

    It’s something I’ve never said before, but in this moment, it seems wise. A young woman stands before me, eyes red-rimmed, realizing for the first time that picking up the phone doesn’t work.
    It’s not that she’s orphaned, not exactly. Her mom’s gone, but her dad’s still here. It’s just that her dad’s gotten older and can’t do some of the things he used to. And maybe asking him isn’t the best advice because of that, but also because of the times. He’s wise, he knows the answers to almost everything like most dads, but sometimes a search engine is easier these days.

    She doesn’t know I’m here, doesn’t know I’ve popped in to check on her. I helped her mom get to the afterlife a couple days ago and of course she’s in the midst of grief and planning. Not the easiest time for advice, but I whispered it to her nonetheless. If she heard me, it will come to her when the time is right. Probably when she’s standing in the tool aisle, trying to remember what size socket she needs to change that bulb on her taillight.

    202 words

  12. #ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.

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