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 551 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 551:
Book promoter and fantastic beta reader, Heidi Rundle.
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“As far as I can tell.”
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!
13 Replies to “#ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 551”
A Bout of Doubt
She was late again. It was getting to be a habit. Charles Landings appreciated habits. He had a considerable number. He was a secret smoker. Outdoors. Always outdoors these days. He considered himself a dedicated environmentalist, so this particular habit was Top Secret. Especially a secret kept from Claire.
They’d met at a protest more than twenty years earlier.
The passion was unexpected.
The notion of marriage popped up within weeks of their meeting.
Previously they had both condemned the institution. “Love is love,” he had said to her within days of meeting. “Marriage…is a business arrangement.”
That notion was history.
True, but history.
He’d proposed on their third date and second protest. “As far as I can tell, “ he’d awkwardly begun, placard in hand demanding that the viewer SAVE THE EARTH, “We belong to each other. Any chance we can get hitched?”
She’d laughed. He thought the moment was lost. Then she said, giggling, “Well, if you put it that way, what’s a girl to do.”
And that was that.
Now, twenty years later, it had all unraveled the way he had imagined the threads of marriage would. He was still in theory, in favor of saving the earth. What choice did he have but to argue the point? But that was where it ended for him. He had wearied of the futility.
Claire was still rabid.
And saddened by his weariness.
And possibly seeking comfort elsewhere.
He stepped outside to have a smoke.
His expression hardened. “You haven’t been here. You don’t know how things work now.”
“As far as I can tell, you haven’t been here, either, except to sit up here in your ivory tower and let someone else do your work.” Diana shook her head. “But now you’re saying I must be watched and guarded because there are problems that you’ve done nothing but assign to a committee. What exactly is your ruling style, Lord Regent?”
“I find it more productive and helpful to delegate as I cannot be everywhere at once. And as the new Keeper, you must be protected from any and all dangers.” Anger filled his expression despite the calmness of his voice. “Until such a time where there is no threats against you, the guards will remain.”
“No, I want no guards. They may remain the public spaces, but in my private moments, I wish to be alone.” Diana held her hand up. “That’s my deal, Lord Regent.”
His jaw clenched before he let a benign smile slide over his features. “You’re overwrought. Perhaps you need some rest before we tackle more pressing matters?”
“Sounds to me the one who’s overwrought is the one not getting his way without pushback.” Two could play the benign patronizing smile thing. “Perhaps I should let you go back to your delegation while I get started on ruling for real among the people. And the guards can go with you. Dismissed.”
241 ineligible #Sapphic words
Two large male wolves—one wild, one formerly human—faced off in the cave. Meg looked at the Wolf still in human form. This was bad. Kin and Boss, the sanctuary alpha, fighting? No! She wouldn’t let that happen.
Loch squatted on his heels as he and Kin both focused on Boss. Were they holding a conversation? Somehow, that didn’t surprise Meg.
She watched while this conclave went on. Fascinated, Meg couldn’t keep her eyes off the interaction. The body language, the vocalizations, the whole idea that humans could truly communicate with wild wolves made her all giddy inside. Too bad her head continued to pound and she found her focus drifting.
Suddenly, Kin—still in wolf form—was nosing her and she realized she’d slumped over. “Hey, big guy. I’m okay. As far as I can tell anyway. Probably a mild concussion or something.” She put her arms around his neck and leveraged back mostly upright, though she continued to lean against him for support. “Can we go home now?”
“I’ve got her, Kin. You need to stay in wolf form for a bit longer, mate, yeah?”
Kin yowled and Meg wanted to laugh but her head still throbbed. He sounded downright indignant.
“Loch has clothes on, big guy. You’d be naked and I, in all my girlish innocence, would likely swoon at the sight of all your manly manliness.”
Her Wolf growled and she did laugh before pressing her palms against her temples. “Oww. Don’t make me laugh.”
250 CROSSFIRE WIP words
The Magistrate banged his gavel, bringing the court to attention. Aoife kicked the back of the bench directly in front, giving Ryan the prompt they’d agreed upon at their last briefing. The defendant rose to his feet and casually surveyed the masses gathered today to see him condemned.
It was going to be a day they’d all remember.
The Magistrate glowered at Ryan. It wasn’t his first appearance before this court. The last time his case had been dismissed on a technicality, the evidence having gone missing minutes before it had been required by the Constable assigned to present it to the jury.
That wouldn’t happen again today.
“Good morning, Mr McCalley,” the Magistrate said, feigning a civility no one here believed genuine. “I hope you slept soundly in our high-security Municipal penthouse. I’ve heard that TripAdvisor gives it the highest of ratings.”
Ryan nodded thoughtfully, considering his reply. “As far as I can tell, it’s not quite what it used to be. The Constable here was clearly deficient in his duties, forgetting to pay me a visit and tuck me in before the lights were turned out. And the warder was too early giving my wake-up call. I don’t usually get up until at least half past nine.”
The Magistrate glowered, the vein in his forehead beginning to throb. He raised his gavel again, considering whether to use it against his sounding block or throw it at Ryan instead.
And then the flying monkeys burst through the court’s window.
250 words – twothirdzrasta.blogspot.com
“How do you plan to save the humans?”
“By undoing what humans did to themselves.”
Sunshine almost laughed. “What did they do to themselves?”
The machines projected holograms of DNA in the air before her. “They learned to manipulate DNA. This was a great triumph. It meant they could correct genetic defects that caused illnesses.”
“How did that hurt them?”
“They decided to take control of their entire genetic structure. They removed unwanted features. The enhanced wanted features. They removed diseases. They removed any changes in their genetics. Change became impossible. They stopped evolving, and became static. Unchanging.”
Sunshine thought she understood, “They all became alike?”
“Identical copies of each other,” the machines answered. “When the planets they inhabited started to change, the humans couldn’t.”
“What happened here, on Cylinders?”
The holograms played out the formation of cities. The cities grew for a time. “When the genetic dead end was reached, this happened.” The cities collapsed. “They were not able to figure out the cause of the collapse.” The cities became empty, lifeless.
“There were no children?”
“For centuries.” The machines showed cities with no children. She watched the people grow old, then die. “The humans became unable to have children. They lost the will to live. They started dying out.”
“As far as I can tell, they all died.” Sunshine knew of no one like the people in the holograms.
“No. Everyone on Cylinders is a human descendant. Fairies, Dragons, and Angels. We have diversified their DNA.”
Alone and spelunking I entered the centre of the cave, diving into a deep dark pool, I sunk, suddenly I was forcibly drug out. Keeping my eyes tightly closed, I heard, “As far as I can tell, she’s alive, but where she came from, I don’t know.”
“Spelunking is not for dames, en wat heeft ze aan, isn’t even decent undergarments,” the other voice in a German/ Dutch accent.
“Now, father, we don’t know what’s happened,” a man dressed like an old fashion miner answered.
“What is your name? the father asked.
“I’m Elizabeth Walker,” I answered when I caught my breath.
“Ik heb haar nog niet eerder gezien,”
They must be Mennonites that explained their old- fashion clothing.
The younger man around my age of twenty -two took off his shirt and his jacket and since I was so short it fit me like a dress.
“Het is nog steeds onfatsoenlijk,”
“Her clothing will do. We will take her home to Ruth.”
“I’ll just go home. “
“No, my sister will look after you until your better.”
I allowed myself to be brought outside where we got into a horse and buggy.
I was sure I was just going to a Mennonite community, in Allentown, Pennsylvania; but looking around, I saw something that startled me.
“What year is this? I asked.
“Did you hit your head, too? It’s 1870.”
I closed my eyes and laid back somehow, I fell asleep hoping to wake up back in 2023.
“She’s alone, as far as I can tell,” the barkeep mutters under his mustache.
The swordsman nods and turns toward our table. We can’t be in trouble already! Big cities are supposed to be more metropolitan than this!
The swordsman tromps over the tiled floor to us. I lay my ears flat and fluff up.
“You’re a little young to be by yourself. Where’re your parents, little girl?”
Spooky looks up at him, wide eyes and pigtails glowing like sunshine.
“I don’t know. I’m trying to find my mommy. Have you seen her?”
His sword hand twitches! Shit! Someone actually has seen that witch?
“Pink hair? Skin like yours?”
His narrow eyes are locked on Spooky. I mrowl to warn him to watch his actions.
“Yes! Do you know where she is?”
Our first solid lead in three years of searching. Five since Malain left the kid with me. Of course, Spooky’s hair and eyes are blazing a happy orange.
“Don’t try anything!”
His hand latches onto his sword hilt! I hiss, prepared to end the offending hand at the first glint of steel.
Spooky’s hair and eyes shift to a confused teal.
“Is something wrong, mister?” She cocks her head.
“Your mother and her crew did more than enough damage to our city already. Don’t think I’ll hesitate to kill a child! Especially a subhuman one like you!”
“I understand,” Spooky’s hair and eyes fade to a sad luminescent blue. “Tell us which way she went, and we’ll leave.”
Thomas and I followed the overgrown path towards the pond.
“I can’t believe you graduate this year. Do you know which college you’d like to visit first?”
I knew we should have started our campus visits months ago, but he’d wanted to spend the summer at the lake with his cousins. I didn’t have the heart to tell him no. This would probably be the last summer they’d all be together as kids.
Once we drew closer to the pond, he ran ahead of me like the little boy he once was, picking up a smooth round rock at the water’s edge.
“How far do you think you can skip it?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “As far as I can?”
“Tell me about your classes this year.”
There was a time- yesterday or years ago- that he couldn’t wait to tell me everything about his day. Now getting information from him was like pulling teeth, but I’d asked the question and waited patiently, watching him skip stone after stone across the water.
As the fifth stone bounced across the top of the pond-one, two, three, four hops- he answered.
“I don’t know. Laura’s in my English class.”
“Was that awkward?”
Laura was his girlfriend. They broke up over the summer.
“Yeah, kinda. But it’s okay.”
He offered a few more tidbits about his day before we turned to leave.
As he walked a few steps ahead of me, I could only see the little boy from yesterday.
**A day in the life of a man who never knew his mother**
He washes his luxury automobile in the morning. Then he drives to a bookstore and browses sections like Philosophy or Art & Architecture.
He smiles at the clerk and asks, “Are you new here?”
He asks, “Has my copy of The Innovators Dilemma arrived?’ He slides his card across the counter and says, “Call me when it does.” He adds, “That’s my personal number.”
He asks if she can break one of his hundreds.
He posts his purchases on social media.
He drives out to a little café across town to meet up with Adrienne or Liza or Marie.
He arrives an hour early and looks for a chair across from a woman who’s reading. If that’s not an option, he sits across from a woman who’s at a table with a friend or friends.
He walks by the woman on his way to get his espresso, and he thinks about his posture and makes sure his toes aren’t pointed too far in or too far out.
Adrienne or Liza or Marie arrives and sits down and says, “Are you hungry?”
He looks over her shoulder and says, “As far as I can tell.”
“As far as I can tell her trace leads this way,” Matt said, standing up from a crouch. His sword clanking against his hip as her gazed with a furrowed brow down the gloom-filled path ahead. “Right into The Null… Shit.”
“It could be a trap.”
He turned to the middle-aged Councilmen, an equally grim expression on his face. “Knowing Zira, it is a trap. At the same time, why would she be leading us on a wild hunt only to end up at the one swampland forest that is a leech of magick? She’s more powerful, why take that advantage away?”
Eammon rubbed thoughtfully at this chin. “Perhaps…it is less about the advantage, and more about the circumstances of the place itself.”
Confusion swept across his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“We hold onto the hope that there is still a part of the woman we know behind that foul, twisted magick. Perhaps this is a rare opportunity to reach her, or a plea for help.”
“Doesn’t explain why she couldn’t do so on any other day facing us.”
“Maybe she physically cannot voice it otherwise,” Eammon theorized softly.
Matt glanced from him then on down the path, trying to quell the blooming seed in his gut. It’d been seven months with barely a flicker of that woman he knew. There was no point holding his breath yet.
“We can only hope,” Eammon continued as he went onwards, “and keep trying.”
“Or die trying.”
“Yes… Or die trying.”
Exercise in futility
“Look, you’re the third tech I’ve talked to. Each time we go… Gracie Fernel. Purchase number 222-33-A”
Alec could hear the tension and annoyance in his housemate’s voice as she repeated herself for the new support representative. “Just break it,” he suggested, knowing how things would end.
Gracie stayed on the phone
His other housemate, Bubba, had already made popcorn and sat down on the couch as the cycle was repeated.
“You should just break it,” Alec offered.
“It’s a matter of principle.”
“It’s futile,” he corrected.
“Dude, it’s entertainment,” Bubba said nudging his friend’s elbow with the popcorn bowl. “Sit back and watch the show.”
The hold music blaring on the phone cut off as another tech picked up, and asked for Gracie’s name, address, and issue. “According to our system, you got your order.”
“I’m not arguing that,” Gracie answered. “But they left it in the anti-theft box. Look, I’m trying to do you a…”
Alec sat back and took a handful of popcorn.
A moment later the tech was back online.
“Your order has been refunded.”
“Have a nice day.”
Gracie stared at the phone in disbelief as the dial tone echoed through the room.
“What’s the problem?”
“As far as I can tell, they would rather ignore their error, lose thirty dollars, and have me break an anti-theft lock box because they don’t have a code for ‘we made a mistake’.”
Gracie looked at the bowl, and then the lockbox.
250 words not including title
#ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to catch you next week.