Welcome back to the home of Paranormal & Dauntless Romance. Wow. Year 10. A whole decade. I’m astounded.
Today is Thursday and that means it’s time to start flashing, like we have for 10 whole years. It’s amazing we’ve gone this long! This is Week 530 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 530:
Fantasy Author, and Holder of Several Stories, David Ludwig.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“It’s a long way down.”
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!
33 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 530”
I’ve never projected a vision for someone else before. Never needed to. And now that I’m about to show Nolan why I don’t trust him, my hands won’t stop shaking.
“Just take a breath, and relax.” Though my nerves are permanently on edge around him now, his hands over mine are a calming weight. It’s a frustrating feeling, this confusion. My body’s conflicting reactions to him make everything infinitely worse.
With a steadying breath, I’m able to still my hands long enough to let the warmth of my magic flow from them, and up our arms as it engulfs us both. The vision – the recurring dream I’ve struggled against for the past week – begins as it always does.
We’re on an unfamiliar balcony together. Nolan holds his head as if in pain, and I crouch over him. The vision changes, and instead of watching both of us, the scene is from his point of view. His mask falls as he lights a fireball in one hand, and the other reaches for my throat. Eyes wide with shock, I don’t react fast enough, trapped in his grip as he holds me over the edge of the balcony. It’s a long way down, a sure death if he drops me.
Everything cuts to black, and I release his hands, heaving a breath as if coming out of the water.
“Nora…I would never-”
“My visions have never been wrong.” I can’t look at him, too worried about what he’ll see in my eyes.
250 untitled fantasy WIP words
This leaves me eager to know more about Nora and Nolan!
The Marriage Man
It had been a long day. I’d been hired to follow a very dull fellow. Lance Lassiter. His first stop, after he’d picked up some litter strewn on his lawn, was to his barber shop, The Cut-Rate But Right.
Old school pole out front.
I loitered for half an hour.
Not as inconspicuously as I would have liked.
Afterward, Lance decided to go for a stroll along the lake.
His town’s on a lake.
He seemed aimless but what did I care? I was being paid a pretty penny to follow him. Mitzy Baker was engaged to Lance and was worried that something was off. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but he had been avoiding work of late.
They were lawyers in the same small firm.
She handled criminal cases.
Lance handled divorces.
“He used to love his work,” Mitzy explained. “The creativity of extracting people from the holy hell of their marriages. Now…he’s letting things slide.”
I’d nodded my head. Even before I had started tailing the divorce lawyer, I‘d started to hypothesize.
I do that in most cases.
I’m batting about 500.
After his lake stroll, Lance wandered off into a neighborhood close to the hills back of the town.
To a certain house.
Mitzi had given me a list of Lance’s clients.
Their names and addresses.
He entered the home of Mrs. Maxine Sugarman.
When divorce lawyers fall for a client, it’s a long way down.
And usually, there’s no coming back.
Details like the name of the barbershop are just right for bringing the setting to life.
“Twenty dollars,” the man said. He didn’t look like a pusher. Nice suit, perfectly coiffed hair, manicured fingernails. He pushed the little notebook across the table. Compact, smaller than a cahier notebook, with a leather cover.
Derek eyed it cautiously. “That seems awfully low.”
The man shrugged.
“How does it work again?”
“You write what you want on the paper. Tear it out. Eat it. Then you’ll experience what you wished for. It lasts about an hour in real time. About twelve in your fantasy of choice.”
“And then what?”
“You wake up and go back to your life. Or not, if you prefer.” The man’s smile was both gentle and cold.
Derek touched the little notebook, turned it over in his hands. “Anything I wish for?”
“Anything. A harem of beautiful women. A career as an astronaut. Permission to murder without consequence. The paper doesn’t judge.”
Derek swallowed hard. His thoughts were already flowing. “Is it addictive?”
The man folded his hands. “Not physically. No deleterious effects. The paper can sting a little going down, but no permanent damage. However…”
Derek looked up, locking eyes with the man. “However, what?”
That cold and gentle smile again. “Psychologically, it can be very compelling. There’s a certain continuity to the fantasies. You may find yourself wanting to live in them forever. And that can be dangerous. if you get hooked.” The man chuckled. “It’s a long way down.”
“And I can find you if I need more?”
Derek slid a twenty across the table.
249 words / @mxdshipwreck
How open the seller is about the whole situation is nicely unsettling.
Meg stared down the twisting trail. Wet, cold, forlorn. She was so tired. A little hand tugged on her and she automatically curled her fingers around the girl’s. “I’m an idiot,” she muttered. “What goes up, must come down. And it’s a long way down.”
“Aye, lass. It’tis.” Did Kin have to agree with her so readily? He gave her an arm bump. “But the good news is, once we’re off this moutain, we’ll be at the border. There will be help once we cross over.”
“Terrific.” She didn’t hide the sarcasm.
“Terrific!” Galyna agreed.
Unsure whether she was going to laugh or cry at the sweet girl’s conviction, Meg squeezed her hand. Ah, to be a cockeyed optimist.
“Head ’em up and move ’em out,” Dalton called out.
The kids started moving without protest. Like a golden retriever puppy, Dalton bounced down the trail. “I am less than impressed by his enthusiasm.”
“Dalton!” Galyna released Meg’s hand and charged after the man. He halted and waited for her to catch up. When she did, he took her hand and they set off down the path.
“Not many have greater patience than he does,” Kin mused.
“I think she has a bit of a crush on him.”
“He’s mindful of that and of her.”
“I’m not worried.”
“Do you have a bit of a crush on the lad? You used to watch him, back in the beginning.”
“Nope. Not now and not then.”
248 Hard Target: Crossfire WIP words
Galyna is a particularly charming counterpoint to somber circumstances.
I tried to look at life in a brand new way
But I couldn’t escape the things of that day.
When everything was simple and everything fine
Suddenly those memories were no longer mine.
There was a day I stood on the abyss’s edge
My knees shook at the top of that ledge.
“It’s a long way down,” said a voice from my past
And when I turned, it had gone way too fast.
Yes it was deep and dark with no floor
Just one step, I wouldn’t care any more.
“It’s a long way down,” that voice repeated to me.
“Please don’t take it, it won’t make you free.”
I stepped back, I knew what I heard.
I knew the meaning of every last word.
I stepped back. I never would dive
Memories return only if I’m still alive.
140 Words, Joseph P. Garland @JPGarlandAuthor
Beautiful articulation of a serious subject.
The granite block they were pressed against was sheer and featureless, the cliff looming above them like a fallen planet. The view ahead was equally distressing; the track dropped away less than two feet to their right, turned a corner and then disappeared into the gloom. Their route back was strictly non-negotiable: the cart Seamus was strapped onto could no more turn around than fly, the mule pulling it fixed as though on rails.
They should have taken the road most travelled when they’d had the option.
“It’s a long way down.” Watts flattened himself against the rock, trying to spread himself molecule thin. The mule was grazing on a marigold. It seemed as content here as it had in the village: if it could find food, it was happy.
“At least you’re in control,” Seamus said. “If this cart hits a rut, I’m history.”
The mule continued chewing. It reached forward, looking for another flower. It had already eaten the best shoots but was still hungry, as always. If they could coax it away, they could start moving again.
“I’ve some beef jerky – would that help?” Watts inched back toward the animal, pushing one hand back inside his jacket. He kept his upper arm against the rock face, shoulders back, his eyes always raised.
“Of course, we could have had that earlier. I distinctly remember asking if you’d got anything left.”
“I was keeping it for an emergency – you never know when you might need a bribe.”
250 words – twothirdzrasta.blogspot.com
In this intriguing scene, I particularly like saving beef jerky to bribe the mule.
Standing alone at the precipice, Reese stared into the valley below. Sweat ran down her scalp, pooling at the base of her neck. The climb to the peak was arduous.
“It’s a long way down.”
She spoke the words aloud, finding reassurance in the sound of her own voice.
When she’d set out on this journey, it was to prove to everyone in her small village that her invention worked. Though it took two days to hike to the mountain and another day to climb to the top, the labor would be worth it when the others realized she wasn’t crazy.
She gave herself a pep talk.
“Okay, Reese, you’ve got this. If you don’t trust in yourself and your invention, who will?”
She gathered her frayed nerves, took a deep breath, lifted her arms out to her side, closed her eyes. And then she jumped. The wind lifted her as it caught beneath her extended wings and she began to laugh. Exhilarated, she followed the air currents towards the village.
Circling above the village like a hawk, she waited for someone to notice her. At the first drops of rain, she remained circling with the current, thinking surely someone would see her.
When the rain began in earnest, she began a swift downward spiral. No one saw her drift towards the earth. No one saw her when the lightning struck. They only saw her later.
“Stupid girl,” the man gave her a rough kick, “she thought she could fly.”
Getting caught in the rain and killed by lightning waiting for someone to notice Reese’s success was an impressive emotional gut punch.
Night mist lingered stubbornly. Only one path was illuminated from the main castle gate to its central keep.
Lord Akinobu Saionji’s bodyguard, Sen, had insisted on bringing six of their samurai with them. Sen herself was pinning each shifting shadow with her piercing gaze as if anticipating an enemy attack. But no enemies had occupied this castle in nearly three millennia.
The compound was cold, and the mist swallowed their footsteps. The guards of this undesired assignment were using real fire for light, but Lord Saionji felt no warmth from the torches. It was a shame to see such a magnificent old castle ravaged by superstition.
“Lord Saionji!? What brings your lordship to Kurojo?”
The central keep guards snapped to surprised attention when Lord Saionji and his retainers appeared from the mist.
“I am here to see the new prisoners.”
“Your lordship wishes… To go below?”
“I am aware of the risks,” Lord Saionji indicated his armed and armored accompaniment.
Lord Saionji’s party was escorted through the keep to the massive crystal cylinder at the heart of its lowest level.
“Lord Akinobu Saionji wishes to go below.”
Their escort informed the operator seated next to the cylinder. The operator rose with a smile and a bow. He opened a door on the cylinder with a touch.
“Is it my lord’s first visit?”
Saionji nodded that it was. The operator ushered the visitors into the elevator with strangely comfortable ease for one posted at Kurojo.
“It’s a long way down.”
249 INELIGIBLE Cat’s The Pajamas words
‘The Club’ for the very elite, was an exclusive number of women were invited to the return of the university. Rumor was that the young rich crème de la crème were debauchers and lured young women to their sex parties where they drugged and well you get the picture. They worshipped the devil, did ritual spells selling their souls to the devil in their first year of high school.
I believe in equality justice and all that but most of I believe in karma and their karma was overdue so I went there.
“It’s a long way down,” Seth said.
In the dungeon room, I saw black candles, and the inscriptions incantations they’d written calling for demons to act on their behalf
I was handed a drink. I drank deeply tasting the drug that I knew wouldn’t work on me. Pretending it did, I did not fight as they bound me as a sacrifice in their circle.
They chanted and called forth the devil. That is when I answered,” You rang?” as I unbound myself and sprung forth.
They all looked shocked you’d think they hadn’t seen me in one of my other forms before. I pulled out their contracts and said “Time to pay up, boys!”
They sputtered tried to get away. They don’t like replaying their worst fears over and over again; but that’s my job, so, this repeats over and over again for an eternity with my double. I love my job, so, much fun providing Karma!
A satisfying supernatural story of revenge delivered by a proper badass.
“You haven’t been back to Alaska for a decade. Neither have I, to be honest. It’s a long way. Down here in the lower forty-eight, it’s easier to get to things. No puddle-jumper flights.” Corbin shuddered. He hated those little planes. Made the turbulence seem like a ping-pong match between the clouds. “You don’t remember that? Do you remember your mom at all?”
Martin slowly shook his head. “Did she die?”
Corbin reached for Martin’s arm, but pulled back before he touched him. “No, nothing like that. She divorced your dad and married Robert Barr, federal senator to Montana. She lives in Washington DC most of the time.”
Martin ran a hand over his face. “I don’t…Where am I now?”
“You’re at the Coronado Medical Center, being treated for a Traumatic Brain Injury from your last mission.”
“My last mission?” His eyes widened and he looked bewildered. “What kind of mission? What kind of work did I do? What’s going on?”
“Whoa!” Corbin leaned forward, bracing his hands on Martin’s shoulders to keep him in the bed. “Martin, big man, listen to me. You gotta calm down. You’re safe and everyone here’s trying to help you, but you gotta mellow out before you hurt someone, okay?” He met Martin’s frightened gaze. “Okay? You still with me? You gotta calm down. Hear me?”
“I don’t know why I’m here or how I got here.” Martin’s voice sounded angry, but under the anger Corbin could hear panic.
245 ineligible #StainlessSteelSEALs words
An apparently dangerous badass with traumatic brain injury induced amnesia is a compellingly tense situation. I especially love how you broke up the prompt. Even I didn’t do that this week but I always love seeing it.
The eyes in the copy of myself in the mirror looked back at me. They had an emptiness to them, like a glass that’s run out of water and ice.They were still eyes. They still worked. But they had nothing to do.
I took a deep breath, just like I’d learned to do in all the years of therapy. One deep breath, hold it a moment, slowly let it out. Repeat if needed. It didn’t fill the empty eyes, but it did slow me down, slow my pulse rate down, and made me pause for a moment.
I stared into those empty eyes in the mirror, and I knew it was that time of year for me. When the days of summer are almost gone, and the sun sets a minute earlier every night. That time when I feel like the ground I walked on every day, dropped away, and kept falling, and I don’t know where it is, other than down there, somewhere.
That seasonal affective disorder feature of my life, that happened every year. When August neared its end, and the momentum of the summer kept me moving long after the ground disappeared. Until I finally ran out of steam, and gravity caught up with me.
And I fell off a cliff into my depression.
“It’s a long way down.” I looked at my eyes in the mirror. “Why does it always have to hurt to hit the ground?”
A well-paced and resonant expression of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The crisp apple tanged against her tongue, and she sucked in her cheeks at the slightly sour bite. She waited, letting her tastebuds adjust to the onslaught and finished the slice. The second wedge she dredged through a dollop of peanut butter, and it helped take off the edge.
Their fight last night echoed through her memory. It was stupid, childish and still left her hurting. If he didn’t understand where she was coming from, then she didn’t need him, or anyone else.
She was done. She’d been alone before. Spent most of her adult life alone. So what if her heart knew the difference now between happiness and loneliness?
A tear slipped down her cheek, catching on her lip. She brushed it off, angry at the emotions. Crying never did her any good. She vowed a long time ago that no one would make her that attached. She’d let him in and look what good it did.
“You’re not down,” Katarina talked to herself. “You’re going to be all right.”
A gust of wind rattled the tree above her, sending a waterfall of leaves. She lifted her arms, welcoming the seasonal cascade of yellow, orange and red. She picked a leaf off the table, turning it to see the veins crisscrossing the surface, and let it go. It swayed side to side, gliding on the current, until settling on the ground.
Life lessons: “It’s a long way down, but eventually you’ll land where you belong.”
Great use of sensory details, especially opening with taste!
Politics, Cajun Style
Cal shut his eyes and started to drift off, but he could feel his companion’s tension start to rise. He turned, opening one eye to study the younger man.
“Go ahead, I promised you answers and it’s a long way down from New Jersey to New Orleans.”
Jasper nodded. “Just – I don’t want to be a burden, and that means knowing what’s the right side of things, and what’s considered the wrong side of the tracks.”
“It depends. Depends on which side of the world you talkin’ about, and which tracks you talkin’ about. New Orleans has a lot of tracks – it got trolleys, and trains, and loaders… it’s not like there’s a right side or a wrong side. It’s more a case of what you’re lookin’ for.
“It’s like one of dem butcher diagrams. You got folks, dey only want de prime cuts. Dey want filet et tederloin. You got folks dey eat high off the hog, you got folks who like ham hocks an’ bacon, fatback, pork belly, pork rinds, and you got folk who spit roast de whole pig, or put him in a BBQ pit, it’s all good.
“So the more powerful, they go for the prime cuts?”
“More or less – some of dem’ll go for other cuts. If they don’t think nobody’s lookin’ just about ever’body go for jumbaliah.
“An I, don’t know nobody from our neck of the da woods gonna say no to a good crawfish boil.”
246 words (not including title)
I loved the accent and the food metaphors, which made me hungry.
It’s a long way down to rock bottom, and there’s no way to know how far it is until you get there.
I thought I’d gotten there when I was scrounging for coins in the car to pay for gas to go to work, but then I didn’t have a car, and then I didn’t have a job.
I thought I’d gotten there when I was sleeping on a couch in my friend’s basement and eating her food, but then I found myself looking through her jewelry box and wondering what I could get for the stuff I’d never seen her wear. Then for the necklace her grandmother had given her.
I thought I’d gotten there when I agreed to carry a package across the border for a guy with teardrop tattoos on his face, but then I was blowing him after I got back because I’d used too much of the product while I traveled.
I thought I’d gotten there when I broke into my former friend’s house and she caught me carrying the TV, but then I was on top of her with my dick wet and my hands around her throat.
I’d hoped I’d gotten there, at least, leaving her gasping and bloody while I staggered into the dark and tried to believe I knew how to run for my life.
I wish that had been rock bottom, but like I said, it’s a long way down, and you don’t know how far until you get there.
I was holding my breath through this whole downward spiral!
Many people have awaited their fate in this bland office, lacking even one knickknack. Stan sits behind a green metal desk, in a black pleather office chair. I wait in a hard wooden chair, the arms worn where people have gripped it over the years.
“All right. Need a last name and date of death, please.”
“Date of death August 3rd, 2019. Edna’s last name is…” I look at the note in my hand. “Applebaum. From Sibley, Iowa.”
Stan types, then leans forward. “Not sure why she got routed to me. Seems like a lovely lady on paper.”
“She had a trainee that night. I think she has an acquaintance down here?”
Stan frowns. “Yeah. How’d she raise ten kids and get one that turned out awful? That explains all the praying she’s done since she arrived a few days ago. Sit tight!”
Fifteen minutes later Edna walks through the door, eyes wide, wrinkled hands trembling. Her guide, a young man with dark hair and pale skin, pushes her forward.
“Callum!” Stan says. “It’s a long way down to level four if you do that again!”
Callum snarls and leaves. Edna shrinks into the wall.
“Edna, this is Carla. You’ve led a remarkably good life, and this was a clerical error, I’m afraid. Terribly sorry.”
I take Edna’s hand and we land back on Earth. A door opens and a worried man runs out, grabbing Edna in a hug. I hope God had counseling, because she’s going to need it.
250 words (at last!)
Being mistakenly damned, for any length of time, sounds horrific!
#ThursThreads Week 520 is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.