#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 464

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 464 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 464:

David Ludwigbeard

Fantasy Author, and Holder of Several Stories, David Ludwig.

Facebook | Twitter

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“And I can’t do that.”

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!

31 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 464”

  1. The hallway outside sat empty, but Hermione listened for a few seconds to be sure no one was coming.

    “Okay. Let’s move out. Head for the elevator bay as quietly as possible. Bentley, you cover our backs.”

    “Copy that, ma’am.”

    She nodded and darted into the hallway, checking her watch. Fifteen minutes had elapsed since she’d talked to her team, but that was fifteen minutes for Louderhorn and his thugs to reconverge on Building Four. Her heart settled into a steady, focused rhythm as she moved to the door to the stairs, listening for intruders.

    The doctors and techs behind her sounded like a herd of horses, but at least they weren’t speaking. She wanted to keep an eye on Miller, but she had enough to occupy her attention. She reached the door to the stairs and cracked it open as the others gathered behind her.

    Take Martell and go. Just leave the rest of these people here to fend for themselves. The efficiency expert in the back of her head made a compelling argument. Could she even get them all to safety? She shot a look back at Tessa the guard held up between two people. She’d be signing Tessa’s death warrant. And I can’t do that to her. Hell, she couldn’t do that to any of them. Not after the mission that left the children dead.

    “Everyone ready? I’m gonna scout the top floor to be sure we’re clear. Then we’ll move. Copy?”

    Everyone nodded.

    “Back in three.”

    250 ineligible #Sirens words
    @SiobhanMuir

    1. The balance of internal and external conflict really traps me in the scene! As much as I appreciate efficiency, it’s a scary thing to think about with stakes that high–and what happened on the mission with the children?

  2. The battlefield was quiet now.

    Storm clouds drew forth, and the heavens rumbled as if recognizing my pain. Staring into the ravaging sea, waves crashed on the black rocks below. The wind whipped my blood-soaked hair all about, and I longed to rest.

    I ignored the warmth spreading from the wound to my side.

    Banshees danced on the wind’s violent breeze. Their screams mixed with the wind. “Jump, and —” they taunted.

    “And I can’t do that.” I shook my head.

    My breath came out in dying spurts—each whacking thud in my chest a part of my prophetic pain. I’d fought the good fight. Clenching my bruised fist, my sword fell to the ground.

    “But you must, princess. The ships are coming to take you back to Lugh’s court to stand trial for treason.”

    She said Lugh’s court, but I knew my patron by another name. His betrayal spiked my bloodstream like adrenaline.

    “They will never let me survive the trip, let alone be able to stand in Lugh’s court.” The court I’d betrayed willingly for a pyrite prize.

    I wobbled, dropped to my knees, unable to hold my weight.

    Runes puckered my skin as if branded. My blood dripped to the ground, pooling, causing a large sigil to form around me. It flashed to life with a roll of thunder.

    Hearing chains rattle behind me, I turned. There, I saw my heart’s betrayal holding iron chains, ready.
    “Hello, pet,” he said.

    It was too late. Chaos summoned me.

    250 Words
    @TinaGlasneck
    #TheIsleWIP

    1. It started by you forgetting things. I had been noticing it for a while. Little things at first—the way into town— “Remind me. Where are we going again?” The dog’s gender—you kept calling him a “she.” Our son’s name— “Who’s that standing over there?” I took notes, watching helplessly as the disease took you further and further away…
      “Time to see the doctor,” I surmised, but the nearest one was an hour away and two months out. Still, I made the appointment. When they called to confirm, you answered the phone and canceled. I rescheduled, only now another three weeks off. Then it happened again—you answered the phone and canceled. This happened two more times, so I finally called the doctor and told them not to listen to you.
      On the day of the meeting, you refuse: “There’s nothing wrong with me!” I lied and said insurance had ordered it. In the office, you smiled and did all the tests, disarming the staff. The neurologist was unsure, then he read my notes. I nodded helplessly when the diagnosis confirmed my suspicions: Alzheimer’s.
      The doctor said, “It will only get worse from here. The deterioration will continue. You will have to be strong.”
      “And I can’t do that,” I replied. “Can’t watch him slip away.”
      But I did: months of the disease’s relentless cruelty dragged on, the struggle finally culminating in the sadness of death.
      I wished it had been me instead.
      244 words
      @rrats1231

      1. Poignant and helpless, as a bad patient myself, it strikes me how trying not to cause a fuss can cause the biggest fuss of all.

  3. Into the Liar’s Den

    To prep the search for professional lothario and recently converted drug dealer, Henry Samuels, I called a friend in Vice, Vic Abrams, and asked him to share anything he could on Samuels or his employer/landlord, Skitch Henderson.

    “Anything I need to worry about, buddy?”

    “Not from me. Simple case of a lost daddy…with grungy overtones.”

    “Well, you know there’s a Quid Pro Quota at play here. You’re already deep in the hole.”

    I had to admit, at least to myself, that Vic had given more than he had gotten from me.

    So, I nodded.

    “Can’t hear you?”

    “That’s the point.”

    “Right, anyways, Samuels doesn’t ring a bell. I’ll check around. Skitch the Snitch, however, he’s got a lengthy sheet, and more.”

    “Sounds like he’s a C.I.”

    Jolly old Vic roared a good one with that. “In-joke, buddy. We keep hoping someone will roll over on Skitch. Nasty piece of work. Lotta dark shit going on. What’s got him in your sights?”

    “Nothing major…”

    “Come on. Give. Who’s your client? Give me something.”

    “You’d do better to ask for one of my kidneys.”

    “I’m flush. Come on!”

    “And I can’t do that. You know that.”

    “Sure, just yanking your ethical chain.”

    “Right…catch you later.”

    “That’s a copper’s line…”

    I rang off. What I thought was a low-level drug enterprise gone slightly out of sort’s case with maybe a dash of pedophilia thrown in for good measure might just be a little riskier.

    My self-preservation antennae were humming.

    250 WIP
    @billmelaterplea

    1. Your dialogue always delivers, and the hint of something more than our detective thought he was in for is classic enough to pique my interest.

  4. Sunny poked at her organic cranberry pineapple blueberry yogurt smoothie with the paper straw. Which collapsed. She really did try to be environmentally responsible but she feared plastic straws were just a fact of life—especially since she always forgot to stash her reusable metal straw in her purse. She winced, not wanting to think about the resources and energy it took to make the stainless steel one.

    “So what’chu gonna do ’bout him?”

    She glanced up. “Him who?” She batted long lashes at the silver-painted man leaning against the wrought-iron fence surrounding Jackson Square.

    “Don’t make big eyes at me, girl. Your Cajun cop, that’s who.” Dontrell made his money posing and miming for tourists by day and by night he strutted his stuff in a drag queen review on Bourbon Street. “You can’t keep stringin’ him along, doll baby.”

    “I’m not stringing him along.”

    “You tell ’im the truth yet?”

    She reached over and snatched the plastic straw from his drink and jammed it in her own. Slurping a big swallow, she stalled.

    “Don’t make me use your whole name, girl.”

    “No,” Sunny mumbled.

    “He needs to know. In case somethin’ happens.

    “Nothing’s going to happen.”

    “Sunshine, you know I love you but you gotta stop bein’ an ostrich.”

    “I am not sticking my head in the sand.”

    “Big ol’ hunky cop of a man sniffin’ round you, boo. And you gotta tell him.”

    “And I can’t do that.”

    “Can’t do what?” said the hunky cop standing behind her.
    ****
    250 Cajun Cop WIP words
    @SilverJames_

  5. It started as a clicking noise in his head. Click. Click. Click. Then it developed – at least in his thoughts – into clucking. Calling him out.
    Cluck!
    Cluck!
    Cluck…
    Cluck-AWWWWWK!
    Calling him “chicken” for not seeking help about whatever this very noise was. It wasn’t external. It came from inside him. His friends couldn’t hear it.
    “Shhhh! Do you hear that?”
    “What?”
    Cluck! Cluck! Cluck…Cluck-AWWWWWK!
    “That…clucking.”
    “You want me to…like…we…just discussed this yesterday. I can’t tell you you’re imagining things, but I’m not hearing what you’re hearing. And I can’t do that either. As your friend, I’m saying to get checked out.”
    He never went to the doctor. He didn’t trust medical professionals.
    One morning, three months later – after three months of near constant Cluck! Cluck! Cluck…Cluck-AWWWWWK!ing – his beard, which he had grown out during the pandemic – sprouted a small white feather. It emerged from his chin. Seeing it in the bathroom mirror, he plucked it out, wondering where it had come from. His pillows were made of foam. The plucking caused him to wince, and there was a little blood. And the next morning, three more feathers had sprouted in its place. It wasn’t long – just days in fact – before his entire head was feathered.
    As he lived alone and had stocked up on groceries for the week, no one saw him in that time. His friend phoned.
    “Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!” He answered the phone. “Cluck-AWWWWWK!”
    “Oh,” his friend said, “I hear it now.”
    250 words @ragtaggiggagon

    1. I love the words you committed to the full repetition of the noise, and how you played with its formatting.

  6. The door at the end of the corridor was armoured. It had inch-diameter bars in the window at the top and three locks securing it. The woman on the bench inside the cell was gaunt, her eyes sunk into her head.

    “Don’t worry,” Amis said, peering in. “We’ll soon have you out. Just stand away from the door.”

    Walker lit the torch, directing an electric arc across the locking bars. The metal glowed red for a moment and then fell apart.

    “You’ll either feel lucky or like you’ve been cursed.” Amis forced the door open with a breaker’s bar, its hinges squealing as it moved. “I don’t know why there was only you left. All the other people we found were dead. Most of them for a long time, it seems.”

    The woman rose to her feet. Her eyes, which were a milky white, stared into his, blank and unreadable.

    “You’re free now,” Walker said. “All you have to do is follow us.”

    The rescuers retraced their steps through the wards, climbing the stairs to the ground floor. All the beds were still occupied, most of the bodies skeletal shapes draped loosely in surgical gowns.

    “I don’t know how you survived,” Amis said, his hand on her shoulder. “Even the rats were all dead. They must have starved.”

    The woman nodded, taking a tight hold of his hand.

    “You’re asking me to reveal a secret, and I can’t do that. But I think you’ll find it out for yourself, soon.”

    250 words ~ twothirdsrasta.blogspot.com

    1. This one has the elements of magic and mystery I love in your work, and I think Amis and Walker are in trouble.

  7. “Where is she?”

    Anatoly stood at the door to the stable where Catarina stored her horse and wagon.

    “Where is who?” Catarina said.

    She slowly backed up to distract him from searching the storage room where Ana was hiding.

    “The girl,” Anatoly said. “The aristocrat. I know you’re hiding her, Catarina.”

    “That’s crazy. Why would I hide an aristocrat? I despise the aristocrats.”

    “Spoken like a true Bolshevik.” Anatoly stood in front of her looking feral. “Do you know who she is?”

    “I don’t have time for games, Anatoly.”

    He started to leave. “They say the Czar’s youngest daughter is the only Romanov to have escaped.”

    Catarina froze until Anatoly left the stable and she absorbed the implication of what he had said.

    Ana stepped out of the storage room white as a ghost.

    “You heard Anatoly?” Catarina asked her. “You are the one they are looking for, aren’t you?”

    “I don’t know what you mean.”

    “I can’t protect you unless you tell me the truth.”

    “But I’m afraid,” Ana said, her eyes filling with tears.

    “You have to trust me.”

    Ana started to say something, but a sudden sound startled them both.

    “Hide,” Catarina ordered her. Ana ran to the storage room.

    “Aron? It’s you?” Catarina embraced her brother.

    “Anatoly told me where to find you. He also told me you’re protecting a Romanov. You have to turn her over to the Bolsheviks, Catarina.”

    “You’re asking me to betray my friend, Aron. And I can’t do that.”

    Catherine Verdier
    @CatheVerdier
    250 Words (from my YA WIP)

    1. The tension of where each character’s loyalties lie interweaved with history and myth is a compelling construct.

  8. “Why can’t you just do what your asked for once?”
    “It’s not something that I’m comfortable with.”
    “Suck it up buttercup,” father said
    “And I can’t do that!” I continued protesting, “I don’t know how to do this either.”
    “If that’s all that’s holding you back, I’ll give you a few lessons.”
    The front door entered and he came in. He didn’t look scary like dad claimed. I was terrified and my first instinct was to hide but then he spoke in a calm voice and said, “You can come out I won’t harm you.”
    Something about his voice seemed familiar and I moved closer to look at him.
    “Sajan?”
    “Analise? You are here.”
    “I called you John.”
    “Yes, and I called you Annie.”
    “Your name means beloved.”
    “Yes, I was your beloved; but it’s time to move on dear heart.”
    “But I’m not dead and daddy is here.”
    “You and your father died a year ago in a car accident.”
    “Just get rid of him,” my father shouted.
    It was then that I knew Sajan told the truth. A bright tunnel opened up and I took my father’s hand and tried to drag him with me; but something sucked him down and down into a spiral of outreached hands and I heard his screams. As for me I am one of many shiny lights in which I feel nothing but love and yet I still yearn for Sajan. Someday when Sajan’s time is done my beloved will join me.
    250 words
    @SweetSheil

    1. I love the mix of characters and circumstances you fit into this intriguing exorcism scenario!

  9. Daisuke took a proud breath of spring air as he turned his wakizashi in morning light before his eyes. The folded steel was heavier than he expected. Having a real sword in his hands felt powerful. No more was he a simple island boy; now he had his first proof of the warrior he had sworn to become.

    “It’s a good blade.”

    Daisuke’s master interrupted the apprentice’s admiration. Returning his unadorned blade to its unfinished wood scabbard, Daisuke bowed deeply to the scarred old elf.

    “Yes, Master! Thank you, Master! Now I can defend the village alongside you!”

    The world-worn master looked far over the field behind Daisuke’s village where he had spent long days training the youth after the villagers found the old warrior and bound his wounds some years ago.

    “Master?”

    “I’m glad the village will still have a protector when I’m gone.”

    Daisuke’s brown eyes widened, though he managed to mute the concern in his voice.

    “Are you going somewhere, Master?”

    The old elf sighed, and the chatter of the birds and insects seemed to fade into the distance.

    “The attacks are becoming bigger and more frequent, and I’m getting older. One of these times, I won’t survive.”

    “Could we get help from the capitol? Perhaps from your lord?”

    Daisuke’s master shook his head.

    “We would need to convince them that it was their problem. You and I can’t do that.”

    “But the cult wants to destroy the whole world!”

    “The ministers don’t believe they can.”

    249 Ineligible Cat’s The Pajamas words
    @DavidALudwig

  10. Rain slick stones tumbled down the cliff as I tried to climb to the cave entrance. Melisande had pulled herself over the edge five minutes before, and I’d used nearly all my magic to boost her there. It was too slippery. “Melly, the witch lights were maybe a half mile behind us. Get hidden.” Even my telepathy was going; I could barely hear myself in my own head. Saving her was going to cost me everything.
    “Get up here!” she whispered down at me.
    My hands trembled, fighting to keep ahold even a minute more. Melisande had to stay safe; she was the crown princess. I was just the guard assigned to her, brother or not.
    “I don’t think I can,” I admitted as my arms burned.
    “Then let me come down. We can hide somewhere else.”
    Steeling myself for what was to come, I sadly shook my head. “And I can’t do that, princess. Father or his guard will come for you at dawn. I just have to buy them time until then. Seris!” I pulled the magic that made me, that which formed my bones, and pushed it into the stones, locking my sister inside the mountain.
    My fingers lost shape without bones inside them, and I vaguely felt myself falling. “Protect her,” I willed the grasses beneath as I landed. There was no pain without bones to impact. “Long live the Elven Empire,” I thought as my body began to—

    243 words
    To Save an Empire
    @miya_kressin

  11. Deborah was true to her word, like always. After I banged on my piano keys for a while, my head started to clear, and I started doing the math about what happened. “Maybe it wasn’t an electromagnetic field.”

    “It wasn’t,” she sat in her chair, next to my piano, with my dinner on a tray in her lap. “It was one of us. One of the hidden.”

    I didn’t say anything, I didn’t need to. She was an empath, a complete empath, one of the hidden herself. She knew everything I felt, and used that to piece together a lot of what I thought. She handed me the tray of food.

    After I half emptied the can of soda she’d got me, I picked up the sandwich, looked at it, then at her. “One of us, huh?”

    She nodded, “I felt so afraid. So desperate.”

    “We need to find them, don’t we. Stop them before they do this again, and maybe kill someone.”

    “No. You need to,” I could count, on one hand, how many times she’d said no to me, and have fingers left. “She needs help. And I can’t do that.”

    “She?”

    Deborah had one of those looks that said, “Yes,” and at the same time told me she was done talking about it. “How did you know which building to be in?”

    She knew I couldn’t answer, that it was hidden, even from me. Something I felt, but never understood. “She’s calling for help, isn’t she.”

    “Yes.”

    250 Words
    @mysoulstears

    1. Deborah and the narrator’s relationship really makes this one for me, especially the precise delivery of “I could count, on one hand, how many times she’d said no to me, and have fingers left.”

  12. A tornado forms over my boss’s desk. Papers and folders, soaked with rain, slap against the walls. Hail dents the desk but there he sits, boney fingers steepled, robes dripping, that damn breeze still making them billow. His chair rolls back an inch, then two, and he pushes him up. At seven feet tall, he scares the piss out of most people, but anymore, I don’t care.

    “You are upset Carla,” he says, voice flat. “Do calm down.”

    The hail is the size of golf balls and the tornado widens. Papers and folders slide wetly to the floor. A bolt of lightning sets Horace on fire, but he puts it out without lifting a hand. Finally, the weather calms, his office dries, and the papers handily rearrange themselves.

    “Now,” he says, waving me into a hard wooden chair. “We will talk.”

    I have no choice: I can’t stand up. God damn his magic being stronger than mine.

    “What?” I growl, willing another storm, but he’s put on his dampening field.

    “It is fine to reverse the occasional crossover, but you cannot prevent everyone from dying. And tonight, you will be crossing those people over.”

    “And I can’t do that.”

    When he’s in his skeleton form, there’s no way to know what he’s thinking. He makes no move, but I’m on my horse, list in hand, flying to the first crossover. The names are in red; no matter their age, tonight, they die.

    @Aightball
    242 words

    1. I always love seeing your characters and world, and the details of a magic duel focused around a desk of paperwork especially captivated me this time!

  13. Crossroads

    “Your choice is simple, I do not see the issue. You have proven yourself worthy – leave this place. Leave the others to their fate and accept your place among the cosmos.”

    I sighed. They still didn’t get it, “that isn’t who I am.”

    “You want peace, you want to travel the universe and understand what it is all about— that is what we offer you.”

    “I know,” I answered trying to find the words that would explain. They were offering me everything I ever wanted… hell, they’d even gift wrapped it.

    “I do not understand. You would refuse this gift?”

    I nodded.

    “Please explain.”

    How do you explain to someone from a race that has evolved so far beyond your point of reference, that they have moved past the very reason you cannot move on?

    “The cost is too high.”

    “There is no cost, you simply step into the future.”

    “And leave the rest of my people to their own devices. Leave them to their fates.”

    “And?”

    “And I can’t do that.”

    I can break the rules for the greater good – but not helping? That’s not in me.

    @mishmhem
    188 words not including title

    1. An intriguing scenario of choosing to stay behind for the sake of others, when offered an opportunity by those past having to make such sacrifices.

  14. #ThursThreads Week 464 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week. 🙂

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