Thursday, September 26, 2013

#ThursThreads - The Challenge That Ties Tales Together - Week 89


Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. Is it fall yet? It's Thursday again, so what should you be doing? Writing #FlashFiction, that's what! Welcome to Week 88 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together. 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.
Rules to the Game:
  • This is a Flash Fiction challenge, which means your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 250.
  • 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 (or be excluded from judging)
  • Include your Twitter handle or email (so we know how to find you)
  • The challenge is open 7 AM to 7 PM Pacific 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, and Google Plus

Our Judge for Week 89:


  Vampire lover, and sultry-voiced corset wearing urban fantasy author, C.J. Ellisson.



And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“Then I can help you.”

All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!

32 comments:

  1. The Fairy

    by @carilynn72

    246 words

    He walked into the playroom, and Courtney looked up from her collection of Monster High dolls, who were preparing to rumble with the Barbies. The man wore shiny shoes and a dark suit. His hair was slicked back and he raised one eyebrow while he scanned the colored pictures on her walls and the hopscotch rug on the floor.

    “Who are you?” Courtney asked.

    “I’m your guy,” he said. “Didn’t you call me? About the bedtime situation?”

    “Oh!” Courtney frowned and slid her Monster High dolls to the side. “I thought you’d look different.”

    “What did you think I’d look like?”

    “Like a fairy godmother,” the child said.

    “Well, I am, sort of. I’m a lobbyist. How old are you?”

    “Eight.”

    “Super. Tell me what you’ve done so far.”

    She got up from the floor and looked up at him. “Are you sure?”

    “Do you want to avoid your bedtime or don’t you?”

    “I do.”

    “Then I can help you.”

    Courtney chronicled what she had done to avoid the ritual. The tantrums, the begging, the promises, the defiance. Nothing worked, so she did what any kid would do. She conjured a fairy.

    “We’re going to filibuster,” he said.

    “What’s that?”

    The man smiled. “Do you like to talk? Do you really like to talk?”

    Courtney shrugged. “I guess.”

    “Then you’ll be fine. The goal here is to eliminate your parents’ ability to get you to bed.”

    “How?”

    “Watch. And learn. And bring me all your books.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well done! I enjoyed the imagery and the witty dialogue. Really loved that her wish brought her a lobbyist!

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    2. Thank you, C.J.! It's amazing the inspiration you'll get when cleaning up your daughter's bedroom and fuming about the political issues of the day!!

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  2. Oh, I love this! I can just see Abby, Operetta and their ghoul friends facing off against Barbie and her minions. Never mind conjuring the fairy to avoid bedtime. Little Courtney is a very clever girl! Good job really bringing your characters to life.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! My favorite Monster High character is Cleo de Nile. I've been trying to replicate her hair style, but end up looking more like Dora the Explorer. Oh well.

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    2. Oh that's hilarious! I can just imagine. :) My girls want to dress up as two of those dolls for Halloween. God knows what they'll actually look like when I'm done. :D

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  3. Jonathan had not touched the clay he loved so much in years. Every time he thought of his clays, he saw his beloved Daphne, and their daughter Chelsea, and his hands went cold, and his world turned black.

    Everyone lied. “Give it time. You will get over it.” But the magic was gone.

    He sat at his table. His tools to his left, a block of clay before him, and wondered if he could ever touch clay again, or if all his dreams had died with them.

    He watched his hands shake, then closed his eyes. “Just remember to breathe. Remember to breathe.”

    I floated close to him, and whispered in his ear, “Listen to your heart.” Jonathan sat, motionless, as the hands of the clock on the wall moved. “Listen to the words it speaks to you.”

    His hands touched the clay, and slowly began tearing chunks away. Then they reached for his tools and began carefully carving fine lines, curves, surfaces. Placing fine detail in. Bringing the clay to life.

    For three days, he left the table only for another can of soda, or to answer the call of nature. When he finished, he studied his work.

    A Valentine’s heart, torn in half, jagged edges unable to heal. Two tombstones, one on each side of his heart. A river of tears flowing from the heart to the ground.

    I whispered in his hear. “When you listen to your heartsong, then I can help you.”

    246 Words
    @LurchMunster

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    Replies
    1. Nice! And very touching. I wasn't quite sure who was initially whispering in his ear, but the last lines obviously cleared it up. Excellent job.

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  4. Moira couldn’t help her smile and some of her tension lifted off her shoulders. It’s okay to just enjoy Aiden's company, right? She could do a friendship with him without the attachment, right?

    “So where are you staying while in town?”

    “Last night I stayed at the Waterwheel Inn because I got in so late, but I was planning on staying with my mom if she has room.” He spoke in a mild voice, but his expression said he’d rather chew broken glass.

    “Not looking forward to that?”

    Aiden grimaced. “I love my mom, but she’ll mother-hen me to death. She’ll worry I’m not eating enough or I’m not getting enough sleep.” He sighed. “Eighteen years in her car was plenty for me. I don’t really want to stay with her more now that I can choose something else.”

    A spark of hope and irrational excitement bloomed in Moira’s chest. “You know, I have an extra bedroom. You’re welcome to stay there if it doesn’t work out with your mom.”

    Aiden’s brilliant blue gaze slammed into her and she stumbled a little as they walked. “I’d like that a lot, actually. Thanks.”

    “Anything for a friend.” She waved her hand to hide her irrational thrill. “I just need to clean up the guest room a little.”

    “Friends, right.” A sultry smile curled his lips. “Let’s get my truck unstuck then I can help you with anything you need, Moira.”

    Does that include relieving my sexual frustrations?

    248 ineligible #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

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    Replies
    1. LOL! Nice! I could picture the scene and the eventual tension that would happen down the line when she shared her space with Aiden. Bravo!

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    2. Love this, and I love the name "Waterwheel Inn." I can just picture the place!

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  5. Her heart wasn’t just broken; it was shattered into sharp splinters of bitterness, puncturing all her memories with a thick, black slick of revenge. Molly had shed no more tears after finding Daniel tangled up with a mystery brunette. No more swollen, red face, no more wallowing on the sofa with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in her Disney pjs.

    A passing comment had given her a new direction, a new focus, a new zeal for life. Meeting ‘H’ for the third time, Molly took extra care with her makeup, new hair and a more modern, sophisticated wardrobe that celebrated her figure. Her time was now spent pondering ‘H’ and what it stood for as well as how her friend knew him in the first place. He wasn’t one for giving information as he sat and listened to Molly’s tale, nodding occasionally before declaring, “then I can help you,” once Molly handed over the manila envelope across the sticky pub table. His large, tattooed hand reached out, not checking the contents before sliding it inside his deep leather pocket. It unnerved Molly.

    “You won’t see me again, you won’t try to find me,” he said gruffly as he stood, towering above her.

    “How will I know it’s done?” Molly’s ruby lips trembled.

    “You’ll know.” He opened the battered pub door before turning back, “A word of advice; get rid of the gangster’s moll lippy; you’re supposed to be heartbroken, not putting out a hit.”


    245
    @Lizzie_Koch

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    Replies
    1. Well done! We can all relate to a tale of revenge.

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  6. The stench of sweat wafted up her nostrils, as Michelle's eyes adjusted to the dim lighting of the dusty gym. She didn't belong there. Her conclusion was confirmed by the suspicious looks shot in her direction.

    Averting her gaze to the floor, she turned to make a quick get away only to smash into a hard mass of muscle. "Whoa. Where ya going?" She panicked as hands locked around her forearms.

    "Please..."

    "Michelle, it's me." The grip loosened and a warm hand cradled her chin, lifting her face upward.

    Her gaze flicked up to meet familiar eyes the color of dark chocolate. "Why did you ask me to meet you here?" she whispered.

    "I want to help you get past whatever demons are controlling your life. I think this will help." He squeezed her forearm lightly.

    She shook her head. "Those demons, as you say, have been with me a long, long time, Hunter. I doubt whacking a punching bag will get rid of them." She wiggled out of his grasp and headed toward the door.

    "Hey."

    Michelle spun around. "What?"

    "Give me a chance." Hunter held out his hand. "Please."

    She choked back a sob. "Don't you think I've tried everything to forget? Do you think I want to lead my life in fear?"

    "Look, sweetheart. The past is the past. That was then. I can help you, if you'll let me. You're stronger than you think."

    She blinked back tears as she reached for his hand.

    248 WIP words
    @sandrabunino

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    Replies
    1. Great scene and good dialogue -- I like it!

      Delete
  7. Pond Man

    He lived plainly. Small pond, overgrown brush and a smattering of tall hardwoods and pines leading to a dilapidated shack, maybe even a barn perhaps. No hint of electricity. His clothing woven out of animal hides and feathers. Simple moccasin shoes, although he often walked on his own bare feet. He seemed to spend his days endlessly staring into the greenish waters of the pond, following the movements of birds and the various wildlife which surrounded him at all times.

    He never left the vicinity of the pond. As though a witch’s spell held him there. Folks in town swore he’d been there since before their parents’ parents were born. Still old, even back then. Mack Garrison at the old mill even had a 1920’s photo posted on his wall of someone who looked exactly like him. Same dry worn-out skin, expressionless face, soulful eyes. The legend had spread throughout the county.

    No one knew his name, where he came from before he became “Pond Man.” And it seemed so remarkable, that he could live so long, alone like that, accompanied by so many wild, dangerous animals, which never once attacked him.

    He’d never spoken to anyone, anyone at all.

    Which is why it was so shocking to hear him say, “as long as you promise to tell NO ONE, then I can help you.”

    When I awoke, my fingers were reattached, my vision restored, my wounds completely healed. Inside his crumbling shack, no tools anywhere.

    Who was this man??

    250 WIP words
    @ducknado

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    Replies
    1. Lots of set up and background, with an unclear POV until the end. I enjoyed the concept and the imagery, good job!

      Delete
  8. Lightning


    “Record on: Processing Facility 963 on Planet Cromb. Captives usually struggle,” Sandra said aloud. “Subject 1586 seems to enjoy captivity. Standard integration methods have failed. Record off.”

    Just breathe.

    He could be the one.

    She could save him.

    He could save the world.

    Quickly, she checked her office closet. Her bolt bag was there - ready with everything she needed to escape. Grabbing it, she did a mental check: Data securely encrypted elsewhere - check. Boots for running – check. Weapons – check. Super-secret energy shield that protected two people and would deflect a nuke – check. Food, medic packs, blood stores, ID cards, money, and sundries packed away in a hundred different safe houses – check. Good breakfast and washroom trip – check.

    Bag in tow, she went to the cells. She nodded to the well-bribed guards as they left for an “authorized” break. She had five minutes.

    Just breathe.

    “Hello, Dr. McCombs.” The soft voice from the shadows tickled her ears.

    “I know what you are, that you were hurt. You came here on purpose – to heal.”

    “What do you want, Sandra? A tame demon for your war?” Blue orbs glowed in the dark.

    “No,” she whispered, “A free Lightning Elemental to destroy all who oppose him.”

    Silence.

    “Your offer?”

    “Me: body and blood - for the duration.”

    He snorted.

    “I’m fertile – only woman in over six thousand kliks,” she said shivering. “You’ll have progeny.”

    “Then, I can help you,” she heard.

    Static electricity crawled cross her skin as the lights went out.

    250 words without title
    @theresabreaux

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    Replies
    1. Very well done! I really liked the instant set up and the intrigue. I'd suggest if you expand this to shorten her initial check list with a serial listing of items divided by commas and then one "check" to save on words -- like you did in the last line of the paragraph.

      Delete
  9. Caldwell Keller took a last drag from his cigarette before flicking the butt away. He turned his attention to the massive acidic glob diffusing the reek of the treatment bed at the edge closest to him.

    “So, I don’t even know if you’re sentient, let alone if you can understand me…”

    Caldwell’s shadow danced irritably around the thing, which for its part still hadn’t moved in the hour since Caldwell had ducked into the sewage plant. It had been moving when he arrived, oozing around eating the crap in the sludge pit.

    “You could have attacked me, and haven’t. That’s good. But my guess is you’re hungry, and ain’t too picky about what you eat. Am I right?”

    The blob quivered in what Caldwell took to be an agreeable fashion—prompting the drifter’s shadow to leap away from it and back onto the wall where it should have been.

    “Then I can help you. See, there’s this girl’s been after me for some time. I gave her the slip back in town, but I’d appreciate if this were her last stop.”

    This elicited a full mass quiver from top to bottom and back again in the thing by the sludge.

    “Oh, you like that do you? Good. I should warn you, she’s one of those magical girl types. Not sure if you know them, but the point is she’s going to fight back. Ought to be worth the struggle for something like you though, if there’s any truth in television.”


    250 words
    @DavidALudwig

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    Replies
    1. Nice! I was a little confused at the initial shadow reference, trying to figure out if you were building the scene with visuals or if the shadow was indeed its own entity. I'd cut "at the edge closest to him" from the second sentence, it hampers flow and made me re-read it several times to get what you were trying to describe.

      The TV reference at the end had me wondering -- if this is a futuristic time frame/alternative world with magic, should I, as a reader, make the assumption that the character's reference is from MY pop culture history or does it mean something else entirely?

      Delete
  10. "Help me."

    Fatima shook her clothed head, peered at him through the borders of another world, through a narrow slit in her facial veil, through a wall of bulletproof glass. Seeing her large eyes, infinite, beyond all borders, he could tell she had an edge. The small speaker above him amplified her voice, her impatience.

    "Let's review. You are in jail, awaiting trial for murder."

    "Yes."

    "You know this country finds itself hostile to Americans at the moment. And to spies in particular."

    "Yes."

    "I am here to get you out of this mess."

    "Yes."

    "I have a precondition. Tell me the truth about everything. You reject it."

    He took a deep breath. "I could go to jail for that."

    "You're already in jail, fool."

    She waited. Thelonius said nothing, but didn't break eye contact either.

    "Would you rather take your chances on this jail, where you die, probably before Ramadan, or the jail the Feds might send you to? Which they won't do, by the way. You will be a hero and I will keep your confidences. If you have doubts about me, overmaster them now. Two questions determine whether I do this. Did you kill that boy and his father?"

    Thelonius dove into those endless eyes again and heard himself say: "Yes."

    He heard her sharp intake of air, as through nostrils. An exhale as through her mouth.

    "Second question: How do you feel about that?"

    "I feel like somebody I don't know."

    "Then I can help you."

    250 WIP words
    @bytoropov

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    Replies
    1. Well done! I had to re-read the opening a few times to determine POV and who was speaking and when. I'm intrigued to hear what happens next.

      Delete
  11. Seething, Sade demanded, “Where is he?”

    The werewolf alpha scratched his chin. “Don’t know.”

    “When did you last see him?”

    “Couple days ago.”

    She wanted to scream. Or beat the crap out of the shifter. Neither was likely to happen. Warning growls from the pack trailed off and the cool desert night dropped a few degrees. Sinjen. Here. She could feel him. But how? Why? He was supposed to be in Chicago.

    “Come, Sade. They can do nothing.”

    His voice washed over her, touched lonely places she’d dammed up since leaving him. “I have to find Caleb.”

    “I know.”

    She whirled, fists clenched ready for battle. The look on his face undid her. Like air seeping from a balloon, her tension deflated. His full lips curled into a knowing smile.

    “Come with me.” He held out his hand and she took it without thought. With a curt nod to the pack, he led her away.

    Inside her SUV, Sinjen cupped her cheek and traced her lips with his thumb. “I’ve missed you.”

    “Me too you. Caleb’s in trouble, Sinjen.”

    “Then I can help you. The monster under this bed is unlike any you’ve faced before.”

    “I’ll figure out a way to kill it.”

    “And I will figure out a way to protect you.”

    “Nice to know you have my back.”

    “And your front.”

    “No time to play, Sinjen.”

    “There’s always time for this.” The vampire kissed her, his lips branding her mouth. “There. That’s better. Now let’s go wolf hunting.”

    250 words on the next WIP

    @SilverJames_

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  12. Sales Pitch

    Everybody has those moments in life when they need a helping hand …a bit of a boost. If it happens to be you and you come looking for me, I gotta let you know I have a…unique skill set and I’m probably not the guy you need.

    Yeah, I am a private investigator and yeah I usually don’t have enough work to pay my bills, but let me break it down for you. If your partner swindled you out of your half of the invention that will forever change humanity …I’m not your guy. If you’re a homebody who has learned the love of your life is not as committed to a monogamous relationship as you and you need dirt on them…not my gig. If however, you are vexed, bedeviled or beleaguered by a being normally thought to be mythical, imaginary or non-existent…then I can help you.

    My name is Telemicus Maximiliano Wu and I’m a paranormal PI. Don’t worry if you Google’d me and got no hits. Don’t worry if I don’t offer you any verifiable references. Don’t worry if you have no idea how I have the chutzpah to claim to be a paranormal private eye. None of that really matters, dude.

    What does matter is that if everyone else has sent you packing, if nobody else believes a word you say and if nothing else seems to make any sense…then I can help you. Now have a seat, a coffee, a Danish and let’s discuss your case.

    250 words @klingorengi

    ReplyDelete
  13. I tweeted you about this, so if this isn't allowed, no problem

    Re-posting to make a correction:

    I nervously shifted on my feet. I’d tied my dress shoes too tight and they were cutting into my feet. My neck sweated under my starched white collar. And I think my tie is choking me.

    “You know the policy, Jacoby.”

    “Yes sir. But I think an exception is warranted.”

    Edwin Allistar, CEO of Creighton University Hospitals and Clinics, ran a hand through his jet-black hair.

    “Why should I make an exception?”

    Folding my hands, I took a moment before I spoke. “Jimmy’s supervisor at the halfway house says he’s keeping up his studies. He’s also performed solidly at his part time job. He’s never missed a day of work and he’s passed every drug test. He’ll be off probation by graduation and he deserves a chance to put his degree to use.”

    Allistar nodded. “I see. I called the college today; they speak very highly of him. You do understand that, should I decide to hire him, your job is on the line. If he messes up, I’ll fire you both. Are you prepared to take on that responsibility?”

    I thought about it for a split second. “Yes, sir.” I fidgeted underneath the CEOs intense stare.

    “Then I can help you. I’ll hire him for four weeks. If those four weeks go well, I’ll hire him on a supervised basis for six months. Any problems and you’re both gone.”

    “Thank you, sir.” We shook on it and I walked from his office. I just hope I don’t regret this.

    @Aightball
    250 words

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done! I liked the descriptions and the premise. You switch a little back and worth with tenses in the opening, but overall the delivery is solid.

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    2. "forth"

      yeah… I should proof my replies better! LOL!

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  14. #ThursThreads is CLOSED. Thank you to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to see you next seek. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I took a while to pick a winner, and I apologize for the delay. I wanted to give each piece a chance to simmer in my brain and see which one stuck with me the most after a good night's sleep. Siobhan didn't prepare me for how difficult choosing a winner would be! Every single entry has positive points and I'm honored to have been asked to read them.

    Honorable mentions first:

    Brandon Yusuf Toropov: I was really intrigued with the premise and setting and would LOVE to hear why he killed the father and son.

    Jeffrey Hollar's Sales Pitch: Perhaps it's because I was in commission sales for over a decade, but the idea of a negative (but truthful) pitch for a supernatural PI really got me smiling. The concept reminds me a little of the Dresden Files, which I adore.

    And the winner of this week's Flash Fiction is Theresa Breaux. In 250 words she clearly established genre, setting, premise, and feel for the characters and their situation. The reader instantly wants to know what lead to this piece and what will come after it. The resulting story promises action, adventure, intrigue, sexual tension, and possibly an epic battle of good over evil. Bravo!

    Well done, Ms. Breaux!

    Thanks for having me, Siobhan! And may I say, if I was allowed to pick more people I would have. Truly excellent work from all participants!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are on moderation, so they'll become visible once I've read them. Words, words, words. I love them. Have you a few to lend?

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