Thursday, January 16, 2014

#ThursThreads - The Challenge That Ties Tales Together - 2nd Anniversary Week 104

Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. Holy cow, this challenge has been going on for TWO WHOLE YEARS this week! Whoa.

Let's just take a moment to comprehend that... Okay, that's good. :D It's Thursday today, so what should you be doing? Writing #FlashFiction, that's what! Welcome to Week 104 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 104:

Sci-fi adventurist, Typo Sniper, and the woman who started it all, Cara Michaels.

In celebration of our 2nd Anniversary of this challenge, I'm giving away a $5.00 gift card to the winner. And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“You need to focus.”

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!


  1. "This is going to hurt, but you need to focus." The driver held out his hands, palms down, and nodded, his mouth drawn down into a pre-emptive grimace, eyes narrowed to slits.

    Mara glanced around to make sure nobody was paying any attention to them - two shabby travelers taking a rest beside a wagon that had clearly seen too many bad roads - and slapped at his cuffs with a tightly-wound spiral spline of magic, releasing the coil as it slipped between his wrists and the bonds around them.

    He didn't make any sound as the spell snapped the cuffs free, but he jumped back as if his horse had kicked him in the chin, jumping back and forth from foot to foot and rubbing his wrists as if they were burned or frostbitten or bound with nettles. His breath hissed between his teeth, and Mara smiled.

    "Not bad."

    "Oh? Maybe next time, you'd like to wear them, then?"

    "Don't flatter yourself. I'm not into that."


    1. Haha.. Very cute! I love the way the spell was cast and the effect!

    2. Cute! Makes me wonder about the surrounding story.

    3. Love your cheeky tale entwined with the magic. x

  2. It had been the first test of Beamer’s particle beam. Use the beam to sever the atomic bonds in a concrete post, turning it into a pile of dust. The test worked. The post was a pile of dust. But, so were the table behind that, and the three computers on the table, the twelve bookcases along the south wall, and the entire south wall too.

    A three-foot thick, steel reinforced concrete wall turned to a pile of dust.

    Bobby replayed the video on his tablet, and watched the countdown. At 6, Beamer had begun to glow, a pale yellow that grew rapidly into a blinding white. At 0, Beamer fired the beam. And everything turned to dust.

    Beamer was a prototype search and rescue robot. Send it into a disaster area to find and rescue survivors. Its particle beam severed the atomic bonds between the atoms in the debris. Any gases, like Helium, floated away. Everything else turned to dust.

    Bobby walked to Beamer 1, where it stood in the middle of the room. “Buddy. Good to see you’re OK.”

    The robot replied with a soulless voice. “Oops.”

    “It’s OK, Beamer.” He looked at the outdoors, where the wall once was.

    Beamer responded, “I seem to have miscalculated.”

    Bobby did laugh. “Remember what I always tell you?”


    “You need to focus, right?”

    “Right.” Beamer’s mechanical vision system pointed downward. “I’ll pay better attention next time.”

    235 Words

    1. I love the downcast robot - even though it doesn't feel emotions, it manifests the correct behavior. Good job!

    2. Seemed to miscalculate is an understatement! More focus indeed if he's to go out in the big yonder to rescue people. Liking the humanisation of the robot too (oops). Cute. x

  3. “You were in bed when I arrived. Your appointments must not be very important.”

    “What I do with my time is none of your concern.”

    Katherine had no interest in arguing with him. She wanted him out of her father’s house and her life, but at the moment, she needed the disgusting worm. “Fair enough, but as the inheritor of my father’s estate, where you live and with what funds is my concern.”

    Henry’s red rimmed eyes bulged at the not-so-subtle threat. “You wouldn’t dare.”

    “Wouldn’t I?” She leaned her elbows on the desk. “The King may be sending his regent, Nicolas Whatever-It-Was to lay claim to everything my father left me, but until he arrives, I hold the purse strings. And you know what they say about that, don’t you, dear Henry?” Her lips curled into a cruel smile. “He, or in this case, she who holds the purse strings, makes the rules.”

    “I’d be paying close attention here, lad.” Charlie interjected. “If there’s one thing I learned about Katherine in all the years I’ve known her, its when she gets the stormy look in her eyes she has right now, you’d better watch out.”

    Katherine gave Charlie a scathing glance. “Don’t help.” She swung her attention back to her paling cousin. “You need to focus, Henry. What I need you to do should be as simple as getting drunk, and we both know you excel at that.”

    Henry’s furry brow notched upward. “What do I have to do?”

    250 WIP Words

    1. I like a woman who knows her strengths!

    2. She's a feisty, calculating one. Henry better watch out. x

  4. Apocalypse Options

    When the feces make contact with the rotating oscillator and you’re up to your armpits in undead annoyances, your options are somewhat…limited. You can’t run away screaming like a little girl. Well, okay, you can but that’s not gonna work. Sure, the bastards are pretty damned slow; that’s not the issue. The problem comes in where do you run to and what do you do when you get there? If you head back to the base camp and the best story you got is everybody got killed and you didn’t have any choice…that may just work.

    More likely than not, though, just about the time you get a cold shower and some colder food inside you, things will get real interesting. One of the guys you threw to the metaphorical wolves will come stumbling back in, covered in gore and screaming out what a punk you were to abandon them. If that’s how things go down, trust me, you’d have been better off to have just stayed out there, plopped down with an apple in your mouth, and let the walkers serve you up as a tasty entrĂ©e. That’s not a real appealing option either, by the way.

    No, what happens is you knuckle down and fight like a sumbitch. You need to focus on making every shot count and making sure you always keep one in reserve in case…aww, let’s face it, for when things get terminal. Life…it’s a game nobody wins anyway, so good luck with that, eh?

    250 words @klingorengi

    1. Not good when your options are fire until you have just one round left - to take out yourself. I wish your character luck.

  5. ~~~~~

    All he ever heard as a child was,

    “You need to focus.”

    It wasn’t like he hadn’t tried his absolute best. He had.

    But when he sat down to study, the lines in the book used to swim together in front of his eyes, until their meaning disappeared all together.

    How could he focus when it all was a blur?

    His father’s voice was still ringing inside his head, as he, sixteen years later, was writing his fourth bestseller and something finally snapped inside him.

    “I’ve got this,” he thought, turning over the golden Nobel in his hand.

    “Fuck dyslexia.”


    Word count: 100 on the nose
    Twitter handle: @AnnaLund2011

    1. Hurray! I'm always impressed by anyone overcoming challenges like this with such success. Way to go 'him'.

  6. Melanie stared hard at the tiny baby girl in the bassinet.

    “I can’t do this.”
    “Melanie you need to focus on the good this will do, not your own pain.” the social worker insisted, “See that couple out there? Kellan Roberts is a pediatrician and his wife Paula is a pillar of society.”
    “But are they gentle people? Will they treat her kindly and love her?”
    “Yes. “
    “But she’ll never know me as her mother,” Melanie whispered through tears.
    “No, she won’t.”
    Melanie then picked up her baby and held her close taking in the sweet smell like she could never get enough of it gave the baby one last kiss and laid her back down saying, “I’ll sign the papers now. Goodbye Michelle.”
    The parents then took the baby away. Some years later Melanie sat in the audience as Michelle graduated first high school then university and then watched with pride as she was awarded the Nobel Prize for her cancer research. She’d made the best choice for Michelle even if her heart still ached to know her daughter. She smiled before she snuck out of the auditorium. and bumped into Michelle.

    “Thank- you,Melanie,” Michelle said.
    “How did you know?”
    “Mother told me before she died. I’d like to know you too, but Paula will always be my mother.”
    “Of course she will and I’d like to know you too.”
    Melanie smiled life had come full circle her daughter was back in her life.
    247 words

    1. How sweet! It was good of Paula to tell her daughter so that Melanie and Michelle could develop a relationship later.

  7. "It’s good to have her brother's blessing, but it’s not required. To be honest, it’s not really up to any of them.”

    “Don’t just write them off, Aiden.” Mazie headed back down the stairs into the store and set an electric kettle on to boil. “You need to be aware of their influence when it comes to her.”

    “And they need to be aware of her autonomy.” Anger simmered in his chest from the idiocy of the Callahans dictating who Moira could see.

    Mazie barked a laugh as she handed him a mug with a bag of peppermint draped in it. “These are her parents. They don’t see her as autonomous. They see her as their little girl—their only girl.”

    “What does being a girl have to do with it?” Aiden hated gender stereotypes. “She’s strong, beautiful, smart, and a business woman with her own shop. Like you. Having breasts doesn’t mean she’s weak or incapable of making decisions about her heart or life. She’s a person, not just a girl.”

    Mazie studied him for a few moments, a small smile curling her lips. “Well, haven’t you just grown up?”

    Aiden snorted as the kettle pinged its readiness. “Society likes to judge based on appearances, not capabilities, even after they’ve been proven.”

    “Yes, but you need to focus on what you can do about it. You won’t change them. You can only change how you deal with it.”

    240 ineligible #WIP500 words from Cloudburst #3

  8. Justin couldn’t believe he’d actually found it.

    Could it actually be in there? he wondered. A room that will show me how to make my own oranges?

    He was almost drooling as he remembered the sweet, tangy juice of his first orange. It wasn’t hard to do. It had been just yesterday.

    His blue eyes stared nervously at the green death that surrounded the door. He needed to find the upside-down teardrop carved into the structure’s wall, but there was only one way to do that.

    All his life, he’d been warned about green death. According to the old ones, the spaces between enclaves were once filled with people. Green death had taken them all.

    He licked his lips. He really wanted those oranges.

    “You need to focus,” he told himself out loud.

    Taking a deep breath, he lunged forward, his hands groping the wall underneath the green death.

    It isn’t killing me!

    The planes of green rustled against each other, sounding like whispered laughter. Justin actually felt the corners of his mouth lift in an unfamiliar smile.

    Finally, he found it, his fingers tracing a shape that he now recognized as a replica of the flat planes of green death that hid it.

    Leaf. The word floated to his awareness. It was not a word he remembered, but he knew immediately what it was.

    With a low whooshing sound, the door split down the middle and pulled back into the walls on either side. He’d found the teaching room!

    250 words exactly

  9. “You need to focus.”

    Each word sliced her sharp as any razor. Her skin pulled back from the cuts, blood beading up before spilling like mourner’s tears. Four wounds on her left arm—the arm closest to her heart. Four rivers of blood representing life. Birth. Death. Infinity. But what was the fourth word?

    Savannah lifted her gaze to meet his. Her lungs collapsed beneath the hatred in his eyes. Why was he doing this? Why was he hurting her? He’d promised. So very long ago when her soul had first taken flight on the wings of a baby’s cry.

    “Tell me the last word, witch, and the pain will stop.”

    No. He was wrong. The pain would never stop. It would follow her into the death he promised just as surely as the blazing heat of his hatred blistered her skin. She wanted to close her eyes, shutter her soul from his seeking but she couldn’t. She was too weak. He was too strong. Nothing would save her. Nothing but the last word.

    Her blood flowed into the Crucible, a slow fountain of death. What little strength she had waned as her soul fluttered free, hovering near the ceiling, looking down, judging. Her body failed. Her heart failed. But her soul was free. Free to live again. Love again.

    Her head lolled on the body of a rag doll without stuffing as he shook her. “The last word!”

    Her soul knew. Love. “Roman.” They were the same.

    250 words on the book after next

  10. Of all the times for grocery shopping to pop into Chloe’s head, now wasn’t the greatest. What was it her boss said, always said with gritted teeth?
    “You need to focus, Chloe. It’s the only thing that’s letting you down but it’s a biggy. Mind on the target or find yourself another agency.”
    Chloe inhaled deeply. She emptied her head of all that was important to her and focused her mind on the job in hand; that was all that mattered now in this world. Targets. And accuracy.

    Candles, pink icing.

    Shaking her head, Chloe tried to remove all thoughts of her daughter’s upcoming 8th birthday celebrations which under normal circumstances would be a priority. But this was work. It didn’t help that her hand ached; maybe she could claim for repetitive strain injury. That would sort out the bill for the new kitchen. There she was again, going off on a tangent. Sipping her water, she abruptly stopped.
    Alert and focused.
    Adrenalin pumping.
    On the target.
    Lining up her sight.
    Finger on the trigger.
    Right between the eyes.
    And pulled.

    Filled with apathy, she watched as the target’s head exploded into fragments looking like confetti as he slumped to the ground, crimson quickly pooling around him.
    By the time passers-by ran to his aide, Chloe was in her car, heading towards the supermarket after a job well done and with the bonus of finishing earlier than expected.
    Now there was plenty of time for candles and pink icing.



    Weasel grabbed my elbow and leaned in. “You need to focus. I know it’s hard with that smoking hot corpse eyeing you up and down like a buffet but you got to try. Shit, girl. What in the hell were you thinking when you dug him up?”

    I jammed my elbow into the soft spot under his ribs. “I was thinking he was the only one with enough brains and balls to put a lid on this war.”

    “I’m going to help you, okay, but promise me you’ll never again reference his tender bits. I might have one leg in the casket on account of running unsanctioned fluids but that don’t mean I’m ready to consider the consequences death will have on my pride and joy.”

    I grinned. “I’ve seen your pride and joy and it’s nothing to be proud about.”

    “Damn, darlin’. That hurts. Excuse me if I can’t measure up to the Corpse King.”

    I pinched his cheek. “To be fair, there was a sandy beach and cold water involved so your jiggly bits weren’t at their best.”

    Val’s voice carried across the room. “There’s a morgue full of hungry vampires waiting, Elvis, and I’m about out of patience.”

    I gave Weasel a shove. “We’ll wait for you to change but make it quick.”

    He frowned. “Why would I change?”

    I glanced at his powder blue and sequined suit. Considering the shit I’d done in the last hour, who was I to judge? “Okay then, let’s go.”

    - - - - -
    249 words (added to a WIP) / @bullishink

  12. The last thing I remember thinking is that’s an earth-shattering kaboom…the next thing I know, Jacoby is looking over me, his face drawn, his eyes red and dark-ringed.

    “What-what-what happened?” I stutter. A vague sense of discomfort boarding on pain tickles the edge of my senses but I'm comfortably numb at the same time. “And where am I-I?”

    Jacoby's mouth curves into a frown, his lower lip starts to tremble, his eyes water, his face pales; he starts to cry. I try to raise my arms and hug him, but they’re lead weights.

    “Don’t cry honey." I start crying, too.

    Jacoby shakes his head, finger to his lips and I fall quiet. He walks out of my line of sight. When he comes back, he has tissues. And a nurse. Wait a second…nurse?

    “Hey Jim.”

    I nod. Or, I try. But my body's on strike. The nurse looks at me with a poker face.

    “You’re at Creighton in ICU.”


    “You were in an accident.”

    Accident? What accident?

    “You were on as flight nurse a week ago,” she continues.

    Jacoby walks away. You need to focus, I tell myself.

    “You, Paul, Megan and Ben survived the crash. Emily and Charles didn't. Paul, Megan, and Ben are down here, too.”

    Emily and Charles are…were…two of my best medics. I gulp in air between sobs as Jacoby comes back. He gives me a hug, trying to comfort me. But there isn’t a hug in the world that will bring back my friends.

    250 words

  13. Pretty Women

    1. Movie Night

    "She's so pretty," I whispered.

    "And she knows it," my sister said, dragging an afghan over her daughter, concealing slim legs and new curves.

    "I say she has to focus on school. I do my best to ugly her up--wrong clothes, bad haircut. All that pretty keeps punching through."

    I punched the button on the DVD player, slid Pretty Woman into its envelope.

    "It'll be okay," I said.

    Neither of us believed it.

    2. Candle in the Wind

    "It's too pretty out," my sister said.

    It was. Funerals deserve a rainy day.

    She leaned into me.

    She didn't ask why. We knew why.

    I asked, "How?"

    She was shaking her head as if denial could change results. "She ran off. Some guy gonna make her a star. You know?"

    I did.

    We held hands. Her nails dug crescents into my palm as dirt showered the pretty coffin.

    3. A Star is Born

    My sister visited the hospital. My new daughter wailed, but I couldn't touch her.

    "What's this about?" Sissy said, bustling over to tend the baby. She froze mid-reach.

    My heart fell from hope to hell, tumbled like a star. "You see it too?"

    Her hands went to fists. "She looks like Arielle."

    She gathered me in her arms. We rocked each other. "This time will be different," she promised.

    I wanted to believe.

    217 words

  14. Nathan took another step closer. His gaze never left hers as he maneuvered around the table.

    “I don’t think you should come any closer.” A tingle of static danced up her spine. Jocelyn straightened her stance, not wanting to cower from her new husband.

    “After what we’ve experienced, nothing could keep me from you.”

    A burn of need raced through her core and her fingers itched to touch and explore her way around his body. She forced her arms down and still her palms reached for him. A flash of light twisted to life.

    He reached for her hand. The glow spread, wrapping them in her power.

    “What is this?” She held her breath in a sad attempt to slow her raging heart. The beams separated and swirled.

    “I’ve heard the tales, but nothing could have prepared me.” His eyes darkened and the ball of light grew, knocking her back. He caught her and pulled her body close.

    “Thank you.” A wave of bliss rolled over each point of contact. She wrapped her arms around his neck and sucked in her breath when another wave of pleasure hit.

    “I’ll always catch you.” He caressed her cheek. “Wish we could play but you need to focus.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Oh my darling, Jocelyn, you don’t know?” He pulled back. “You’re the source.”

    “What?” She pushed away from him. “Let me go.” All the light in the room blinked out.

    239 words

  15. “You’re not getting it done.”

    Regan grimaced as the gravelly voice behind her. Of the people to be sent to watch her, it had to be him. “It’s not exactly the easiest thing to do. I do this better on my own.”

    “Into the solo thing, are you?” Amusement oozed into his words.

    She took in a slow breath and let it out. If she was braver, she would kick him in the groin. But that would be a very bad thing.

    “You need to focus.”

    OH MY GOD! She finally spun around, pointing a finger at the man leaning a shoulder against the brick of the building. He blew out a stream of smoke as he stared at her .

    “You need to shut up and let me concentrate. I can’t do this if the peanut gallery is going to keep commenting.”

    He smirked again. The cigarette was flicked away as he sauntered over.

    Regan gave a small ‘yipe’, yanking her hand back. The last person who pointed a finger at him lost it. Her head tilted back as he moved up into her space.

    “Do the damn job, Princess. Or you might not have a job to worry about.”

    Smoke and the smell of Wild Turkey teased her nose. Regan backed up from him and turned around. She bit her lip and stared at a car across the street. Flames appeared and licked the inside of it.

    He gave her a smack on the ass. “Good job.”

    249 words

  16. I've always looked up to my big sister. From the first time I saw her use air bending abilities to blow out a candle, I wanted to be just like her. Over the years, she taught me everything she knew.

    “Okay, Crystal. You need to focus,” she'd say. “Clear your mind of everything. Close your eyes against the sun. Tune out the cars passing on the road in front of our house. Let the smell of fresh cut grass fade, and the taste of homemade ice cream melt away. Don't concentrate on the dirt at your feet. Feel the air around you, focus on the air as it enters and leaves your body. Focus on air.”

    For a long time, I didn't understand how it was hard for her. My abilities developed so much faster than hers. She continued to teach me until my eighteenth birthday. I became the teacher after that. I'll never forget the look on her face the first time she saw me fly.

    Learning to Fly
    168 Words
    plus a 46 word dedication
    by Jessica P. West

    For my sister. I've always tried to be a good role model, though I've often fallen shy of the mark. Now that she's grown, I stand amazed, and watch her fly. I couldn't be more proud. Happy (Early) Birthday, Crystal! I love you, always - CaCa

  17. "No, no Jehan, you're doing it all wrong."

    The old Mage's frustration was turning to annoyance or disappointment which made Jehan wince for the fourth or fifth time this morning. The lesson was not going smoothly at all and Alira was not known for her patience.

    "You need to focus, child."

    "I'm trying, Alira. Something must be dampening the magic."

    "Your lack of concentration is the problem, Jehan. Your mind is somewhere else. On that boy, I would guess." Jehan started to protest, but Alira put up her hand, a gesture that said more than all her words.

    "You're not ready, Jehan."

    She knew what the Mage meant but was not saying.

    Alira and the other Mages had warned her repeatedly that attempting to engage the boy in magical combat would prove fatal for her. She was not fully trained and lacked experience as well.

    "Jossen killed my parents, Alira, and he will pay."

    "It will be you who pays with your life, Jehan, if you go up against a dark Mage. Jossen is far more skilled than you."

    "Then teach me, please, Lady Alira."

    When the lesson resumed an uninvited observer lay hidden behind the large cedars a distance away. Jossen would prefer not to kill this beautiful girl, but loyalty takes precedence over all else, including lust.

    Jehan stretched out her arm pointing at a shrub and a slender thread of magic caused the surrounding air to shimmer, devouring the shrub in magical fire.

    "Impressive," Jossen said out loud.

    Cate Derham
    Word count: 249

  18. #ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to see you next week. Happy Anniversary, everyone! :)


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