Thursday, February 19, 2015

#ThursThreads - Tying Tales Together - THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. Today is a very special Thursday so get your flash ready to celebrate THREE YEARS flashing! Can you believe it's been going strong for three whole years? This is Week 156 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together.

This week we have a very special event. There are prizes to be won for both the participants and the readers. After the winner and the honorable mentions choose their prizes, the remainder of the goodies will be given to randomly selected folks who Tweet the hashtag #ThursThreads during our event today. Want to keep up each week? Check out the #ThursThreads #flashfiction group on Facebook.

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 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, and Google Plus
Prize List for #ThursThreads #Year3
  • eARC of The Ivory Road: A Walk in the Sand by Siobhan Muir.
  • Digital or paper copy of one of Silver James' backlist.
  • Digital copy of one of Cara Michaels' backlist.
  • Tree of Life made from wrapped wires and minerals from George Varhalmi.
  • Free beta read or 15K content edit from First Page Last Page.
  • The Dark Bokor and Philip's Watcher by Dianne Hartsock.
  • "Words Lost in Time 4" image printed on 11x14 metallic paper by Clary Carey.
  • Custom written story of 1000 words or less on any theme by Eric Martell.

Our Judge for Week 156:

  The woman who started it all, Typo Sniper, cover designer, and science fiction author, Cara Michaels.

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

"If they stay, I stay.”

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. Visiting my husband in ICU happened when I’d lose him to the streets and the call of cocaine. This time was worse than before. The only reason I stayed home last night was because my mother forced me.

    Mom and I walked onto the dimly lit unit, a quiet heaviness descending upon us. My first stop was the nurse’s station.

    “How’d he do?”

    The charge nurse looked up from her chart. “Better. He didn’t code at all last night.”

    That was a relief. Mom and I walked into Jimmy’s room and stopped in the doorway. A tall, heavy-set man sat by Jimmy’s bed, holding his hand.

    “You need to leave.”

    Jimmy’s street boyfriend, Aaron, glanced at me.

    “I have as much right as you.”

    I turned when I heard footsteps behind me. Jimmy’s doctor glanced between me and Aaron, then looked down at Jimmy’s chart.

    “Only immediate family can be here during the exam,” he said pointedly to Aaron.

    “If they stay, I stay,” Aaron said.

    The doctor pointed to the door. Aaron stood. The doctor moved between me and Aaron.

    “You need to leave before I call security.”

    Aaron leaned down and kissed Jimmy’s forehead, then turned toward me. “Good luck keeping me way, asshole.”

    He walked past me, glaring. I growled.

    “Stay away from my husband,” I told him.

    He flipped me off then walked out of the unit. I shook myself. It was time to focus on Jimmy. And get another restraining order against Aaron.

    249 words

  2. “Wait!” The word is out of my mouth before I can stop myself.

    He turns around slowly, and when he does, his eyes search mine.

    “Why?” His voice sounds scratchy with emotion.

    “I can’t do this without you. I need you with me.”

    He doesn’t hesitate before walking up to me and taking my hand.

    Unbidden tears fall from my eyes at his touch.

    He wipes away my tears and then brushes a kiss on my forehead. “Shh, love. I’m not leaving you. I’m gonna be right here with you.”

    “You promise?” I ask him in a small voice.

    My mother huffs from beside my bed at that. “Oh for God’s sake! He’s the boy who is about to make you an unmarried mother, Isabella. You think you’ll ever have a happy family now?”

    My aunt starts to nod from beside her, but one glare from him silences them.

    He turns his head back to me and touches my cheek lovingly. “Baby, I love you, and I’m staying right here. I’m not going to miss the birth of our baby boy.”

    My eyes dart toward the duo standing behind him with matching frowns on their faces.

    He seems to understand it without my saying. Leaning down, he kisses me and says, “If they stay, I stay. I’ll not leave you, love. And when our boy is here, I’ll do everything I can to make that happy family with you.”

    His words make me smile because with him, I have everything.

    Word Count: 250
    Twitter Handle: @TwiAddictAnne

  3. "If they stay, I stay." Moixa stepped around the workbench slowly and put a cautionary hand on my shoulder, and I reached out with my free hand to grab Lucy's tail. She'd already gotten one claw in Twitch's braid and another was quietly scrabbling for purchase on one of the D rings on her belt.

    Erzebet looked deeply unimpressed by our show of solidarity. "What do you expect me to say? Should I call you a sentimental fool? Should I threaten to buy you out and shut you down and sell these assholes for scrap or have their cores wiped by whoever I install in your place?" She laughed. "I don't monologue."

    I let go of Lucy's tail rather than have her tear my arm off catching the grenade and flinging it into the incinerator almost before it left Erzebet's hand.

    "Close enough," Twitch said, and grabbed her.


  4. Darkest Hour

    Flaming trees lit up the sky from far horizons, while the stars stared down through the glow of burning blood. Taalar knew his enemy had delivered war to his doorstep, but with too few boats and the waves of the River Styx behind him, there was nowhere to hide. This place is where they would make their final stand.
    “Zebbix! Get the elders into the boat with the children and send them afloat with the strongest women rowing with every ounce of determination they have. If they die from exertion it may still not be enough to win them their lives in the end.” Taalar growled with spit and grit between his gnarled teeth.
    Zebbix took his orders without question and hurried into the darkness. Taalar marched through the chaos to kneel before his King still perched upon his ancestral throne. “Sire. There is a seat within the lead boat I urge you to take. We will battle down to the last light of our souls to keep you safe, but every second lost now is a second lost in the hour ahead. Please. Go.”
    In slow unexcited words, the King replied, “You see those warriors over there? They are your best men... And they will die. I was once one of them, so, if they stay, I stay. I cannot abandon them in our darkest hour.”
    “Then I will stand in front of you, Sire.”
    The King shook his head. “We will stand together, Taalar. You are not alone.”

    Greg Nance
    250 Words

  5. ~~~~~

    There she goes off on a sour rant again, I swear his old mother will be the end of me. “Please take this man out of my son’s room.”

    She treats me like I am not his family. Like I haven’t cared for him every single day since the accident.

    I have been the one to make sure only the best care’s been given.
    “If they stay, I stay,” I tell the doctors, pointing to my in-laws. “I have a right to hear what is happening.”

    “But you’re not family.”

    “But we’re married.”

    “Your ‘marriage’ isn’t valid in this state.”


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

  6. I looked at the child lying in the cot, my heart filling with love as I stroked her hair. I had thought someone not of my blood and of a different race, could never be a grandchild of my heart, but I was wrong. I heard the machine push air into Sofie’s lungs and my heart turned over in fear. I wanted to cry and scream but I couldn’t my family needed me. We couldn’t lose her to this sudden illness. How could what we thought was a simple cold turn into pneumonia?
    The doctor said to me, “Would you like to come back tomorrow? I’m sure your daughter could update you.”
    “If they stay, I stay.” I answered, “My daughter, her husband and my grandchild need me.”
    At some point during the night my daughter fell asleep, her head in my lap. Hours dragged on and morning dawned. The doctor walked towards us and I tensed waking my daughter.
    “Is Sofie alright?” my daughter asked.
    “She’s turned a corner and breathes easier,” the doctor answered.

    I thought how this child had first grabbed my fingers, grasping my heart. We’ve had many adventures since then making and baking cookies, paper valentines and me pushing Sofie at the park. Sofie felt a part of my flesh and blood, an extended appendage of myself through my daughter. Being a grandmother is a role I feel born to play and thank God gave me the opportunity to continue to do so with Sofie.
    250 words

  7. Drake opened his mouth to refuse, but stopped himself. The rule of thumb among the Elder Races stated if the Morukai shaman in town had advice, it was best to shut up and listen. “Yes, of course, Kate.”

    “All right. Here it is. Let go of the past actions, because they’re in the past. You can’t change them and you’ve more than made up for them.” Kate waited for him to nod before continuing. “Look at what you have now, what you’ve done now, and take what you’re being offered. Aliandra can’t change the past any more than you can, but she’s let it go. She wants you, right here, right now. Your past might be interesting for old stories, but that’s all it is. Old stories. It got you to who you are, but it isn’t who you are.”

    Kate grasped his hand and squeezed, meeting his gaze. Drake swallowed hard at the deep intensity in her eyes.

    “Do you know why the Elder Races stay in this town?”

    He blinked. “They stay because of you, Kate.”

    “Right. And if they stay, I stay to help them—to help you—find a clearer path to great things.” She shot him a cheeky grin. “The Goddess is all about healing, Drake, and you’ve done a lot to repair the damage of your former life as Vlad Drakul. But the most important person is still suffering.”

    He nodded and dropped his gaze. “Aliandra.”

    “No, you dope. You.”

    246 ineligible #WIP500 words

  8. I am trapped by her impassable logic, so I tell her how that feels, that it is like I am in an old duster, me and the good guys have ridden into a box canyon and are slaughtered by her mangy gang of black hats.

    “Will you stop with the stupid movie metaphors, “she fires back, winging me in my favourite grammatical tool.

    “All I’m saying,” I start to scramble, looking for anything I can dredge up to counter her viciously accurate attack on my cinematic contrivances, “is that I should come first.”

    With that, I am starting to get my balance and know I need more Gatling gun-like ammunition. Momentarily I have the high ground while her back is turned to me as she butters her toast. “I’ve become a nervous wreck,” I plead. “I NEED MY SLEEP!”

    There it is. I have hurled down the gauntlet. There is no going back.

    She turns on slippered heels, munching on buttered toast, enhanced by the last of my treasured homemade blackberry jam, and lets me have it with both barrels.

    “Will you just grow up, Kenny! Take a sleeping pill. Try the hot milk at bedtime thing. Sleep on the couch. I don’t care. My bed is their bed!”

    On cue, the three cats jump up on the table and grin in sinister unison.

    I am whipped. “If they stay, I stay,” I counter mindlessly, trying, as if anyone here gives a fig, to retrieve a kibble of pride.

    Word Count: 249

    Twitter Handle: @billmelaterplea

  9. Susan slammed her worn backpack onto the bed and began to fill it with stories she kept in an old shoe box.

    Tears streamed down her face as she scooped them up, one at a time, and placed them with love into her open bag. Once, the lid of the shoebox slid off and a few of the stories fluttered about the room until she caught them, careful not to damage their ornate, delicate wings.

    "You can't take them all."

    Susan looked up and saw Jake leaning up against the open door, arms crossed, his eyes filled with sadness, and a slight smile on his lips.

    "They're mine and I'll do what I want with them."

    One of the loose stories flapped towards the open door and Jake snatched it out of the air. He handed it to Susan.

    "They're mine too. We made them together."

    Susan took the fluttering story from Jake. She stroked it until it calmed then placed it in the backpack with the others. She sat on the bed and held the shoe box on her lap, watching it and listening to the stories bang around inside, desperate to escape.

    "Three years and this is all I have."

    Susan stared at the box while Jake took it from her.

    "This is all WE have. I'm keeping these."

    Susan looked up from the box and held Jake's gaze.

    "If they stay, I stay."

    Jake smiled and opened the box, letting the unwritten stories fly free.

    248 words

  10. The cavern crawled with blue lightning. Pillars of stone shrugged dust into the dwindling air.

    The company was closing the hyperspace shunt. Its pale oval flickered, a hundred meters high. The financial rulers of a planet light-years away had heard the cries of a thousand colonists and turned its face away in shame.

    “Ora, we’re leaving.” Thain slung his rifle, glaring at the milling crowd on the wrong side of the portal. The marines had formed a perimeter to keep them in. No need; they huddled, terrified, wailing for all that was about to be lost.

    Ora looked at her hands. Red with dirt. Dirty with blood. She knew too much of these people.

    “If they stay, I stay.”

    “To what end? You can’t help them.”

    She tapped the glossy curve of the learning chip behind her ear. Worth more than this colony and everyone in it. The company would be furious -- and very far away. “With what I know? Yes, I can.”

    He gripped her arm. “Ora, they’ll kill you. They’ll come to resent you and they’ll kill you for being one of us.”

    “I want them to know we haven’t abandoned them to die here.”

    “That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Thain whispered. “You can’t just give up--”

    “Giving up is exactly what I’m not doing.” Ora unclipped her company badge and pressed it into his grubby palm. “Tell them I died here.”

    She turned and walked away, listening for the final crack of the closing portal.

    250 words / @surlymuse

  11. The ruddy morning skyline reflected the fires burning throughout the city. It’d been days since anyone else had retreated from the mangled remains of the once thriving metropolis. Refugees huddled together in makeshift shelters despite the sweltering summer day, watching ash and soot float by on the breeze like butterflies. Few spoke, what was there left to say? The world had ended, at least as far as they knew with all communications down.

    Speculation run rampant as to what had caused the explosions: terrorists, a meteor, aliens, gas pockets. First one then another and another explosion, taking down high rises then later entire city blocks.

    “If they stay, I stay. I’m not leaving the group.” Brandon grumbled from where he crouched.

    Katie stared at the top of her brother’s head. His dark hair had turned gray with the ash fall.

    “We need to search for survivors,” she persisted, keeping her voice low. Several people slept on the ground nearby. “We haven’t heard anymore explosions since yesterday.”

    Brandon shook his head, and leveled a firm look on her face. “It’s too dangerous, you’re staying here, Katherine.”

    She cringed, his tone sounded too much like their father. She lifted her chin. “I can’t, I’m firefighter.”

    “You’re in school to be a firefighter,” her brother shot back. He looked old in that moment. So very old and tired.

    “I’ll be back in a day or two.” With determination, she set out towards the city, her shoes crunching the dried grass. Straight toward hell.

    250 words

  12. Designation 'U'.

    David Shakes
    250 words

    Johnson ran system checks again, working out precisely how little time remained. Opening the comms, he immediately heard the same excited babble he'd been hearing all day.
    "Helen, it's critical we leave, now!"
    "Do you really not understand what we have here Dan?"
    "I understand this planet has been designated 'U' by The Company and the orbital platform's primed."
    "Surely The Company will change their minds when they realise the wealth of knowledge we could gather... "
    "There's no wealth in knowledge Helen, only resources."
    "Spoken like a true Company man Dan. Try telling that to these archaeologists."
    "Helen, you're Company too. You know what 'U' means. Those poor saps only tag along because of some legislation The Company can't easily alter."
    "Dan, they won't leave. This is career defining for them, for us! You have to tell The Company what we've found."
    "Helen... I already did."
    "Helen, you've instructions to leave them behind."
    Silence, then:
    "If they stay, I stay."
    "Please Helen, they're going to fire the nukes. We've got to go."
    "You'll persuade them Dan. If you truly love me, you'll persuade them."
    She cut the comms. Johnson hit thrusters opened a fresh channel.
    "Clear of atmosphere, proceed. "
    He dropped his visor as the first explosions bloomed bright below.
    A common held belief within The Company was 'U' designated a planet 'unprofitable'. It didn't. It meant 'undesirable'.
    Alien artefacts would challenge the status quo. Existential crisis was always bad for business. Johnson had shares.
    "Goodbye Helen."

  13. "Time for bed!"
    A sigh left his lips as he climbed the stairs. Yet another long day and not enough time in the day! Tim knew he had a busy day tomorrow but honestly did dragon riders never get to play? Snuggled on his bed he propped himself up at the window and gazed out towards the gates where Ryluth lay in her burrow!
    A muttered hasty whisper caught his attention just then. Leaning as far out as he could to catch he conversationalists mutterings he almost fell down on top of them before throwing himself backwards hastily. However he had heard what he thought was enough and laid still as a mouse and waited. He was not disappointed.
    Meanwhile below the window a small group were pressed against the wall also being silent. Tom had had enough and so he beckoned to the three youngest.
    "Go back, we've been heard "
    "If they stay, I stay" pouted Stacy defiantly.
    "No go back we shouldn't have involved you anyway, it's too dangerous"
    "For crying out loud Richard was the one to make the noise and I get penalised. At this rate you deserve to fail!"
    Tom stalked off dragging Stacy away with him and without their group leader the others gave it up!
    Tim chuckled to himself. Tom was always up to tricks and setting traps. It looked like another one gone awry. Tomorrow's protection flyover would go as smoothly as ever.

  14. Spanish Fly on the Wall
    249 words

    Everett squirmed, part of him wishing the couch would swallow him whole— while the other part wished he was a less obvious fly on the wall.

    Nina only seemed to smile more when she noticed his discomfort.

    When she had announced that it was girls night, and gestured for the men to leave, he had almost gone. That was until he noticed that George and Connor, call me ‘Connie’, were staying. Little did he know what he was getting himself into.

    Even now, he wasn’t entirely sure, but he refused to leave – it was a matter of principal.

    And so, he sat there, discovering just how bad women could get—and George and Connie were the worst of the lot.

    After three hours, the conversation petered out and the guests left leaving him relatively in peace. As Nina began cleaning up, he got off the couch and pitched in.

    Nina smiled. “Thanks, Ev. I know this really wasn’t your thing, but I appreciate you sticking around.”

    He smiled. “I have to admit… I was… “ He paused. What was he? Territorial? Jealous?”

    “It was Georgie and Connie wasn’t it?” She asked knowingly.

    Everett nodded. “I… when you said… girls… and they were… They’re more girl than you are,” he blurted out.

    Nina laughed. “And you thought they were going to get naughty.”

    Everett chuckled. They had gotten downright raunchy, but not the way he’d expected.

    He sighed. “Next time I say ‘if they stay, I stay,’ just… hit me.”

  15. Her plan was laced with envy and lust. A bed of passion and sharpened daggers awaiting her prey.

    Jonna studied her face in the mirror. Her expression did little to betray her designs even as her anticipation grew.

    The phone's ringer startled her.

    "Jonna, I'm at the front door."

    Jonna looked over the balcony railing at the stylishly dressed visitor. Isabel was right on time. Jonna liked that about her. She did just what Jonna instructed her to do.

    She reapplied her lipstick as Isabel made her way up the spiral staircase.

    "Have you spoken to Charles?" Jonna asked.

    "Yes, he will be here at eight."

    "Wonderful. That gives us time to go over it one more time." Jonna handed her a vodka Martini.


    "I'm pleased you're confident, Isabel."

    Isabel sipped her drink, her eyes following Jonna as she crossed the marble floor to the large elegant sofa.

    Going over their plan step by step, Jonna grinned, pleased with Isabel. Leaning close, she placed her hand on Isabel's knee and kissed her.

    Isabel barely moved, surprised by the kiss.

    "I hope you don't mind that I let myself in, Jonna." Both women turned to see Charles standing at the entrance to the living room. "Good evening, Isabel."

    "So nice to see you, Charles."

    "I told my design team if they stay, I stay, so I did."

    "No worries, darling."

    Jonna walked out onto the balcony joining Charles and Isabel. Bringing the dagger around, she lunged.

    "Cut!" the director yelled.

    Cate Derham
    250 Words

  16. Bevan the physician knelt between the wounded men. Northmen, two of the vikingr from over the sea. She knew of them. Her father had been from Nordweg, though he had made his home with her mother, Aislinn, on √Čire.

    “Where does it hurt?” the blond woman asked the dark-bearded man on her right. She spoke in Norse and hoped that was good enough.

    The man groaned and opened his eyes. The pale gray of the clouds, his eyes reminded her of Charis, her grand-dam, of the ever-living.

    Crossing herself, Bevan drew in a breath and brushed her fingers over his bare chest. “I have tended to your outer wounds. Do you have others?”

    On her other side, the blond man made a motion with his left hand. It was bloodied but not broken. “I do. Can’t. Breathe.”

    Bevan introduced herself in Norse, saying that her grandsire was Geirmundr Kingson.

    “The berserker?” the darker man whispered.

    Ja.” The affirmative came from Bevan’s older brother, Dow. He switched to Gaeilge. “Bevan. The king’s nephews need you. Come.”

    “If they stay, I stay,” she countered, indicating her patients with both hands. “Can our mother not…?”

    He shook his head as if pained. She closed her eyes and bowed her head. Then, swallowing hard, she returned to work on the blond Viking. “He can’t breathe. I have to help him.”

    Her fingers tingled where they met his skin. She blushed, but then she got to work. The tingles would wait.
    = = =
    249 Words for a possible future notion with Vikings
    Sandi Layne

  17. "If they stay, I stay." Kilsa glared at the whisp handler. His bulky frame blocked her from moving toward the tiny creatures. "I won't let you kill them for their dust." If he wouldn't move, she'd invade his bubble and hope her elven aura had enough power to make him move.

    " Kilsa... Step 'way or I'll be forced to handle ya as needed." The handler walked toward her. Kilsa stood her ground. The whisps had saved her a full moon ago, she intended to repay the favor.

    "You. Step. Away." Kilsa let her outrage boil over. Her skin took on the red shade of her anger expanding her aura beyond her body, and crashed into his, knocking the brute of an elf on his ass.

    His eyes bulged and his mouth fell open. Kilsa stared down on him as she stepped between his legs. "Give me the key." She held out her hand.

    The handler closed his mouth and his grey eyes took on an icy look. Her skin chilled shooting goosebumps running over her flesh. His auro...he could do the same magic. Kilsa blinked, her teeth chattering uncontrollably.

    "I think not li'l female." The handler stood dusting himself off. Kilsa frozen in place. "I'm damn sorry to do this to ya. But ya lef' me no choice." His large hand touched her cheek and his eyes softened.

    Kilsa frowned. He had no right to touch her unless...

    "They're for our weeddin', love."

    Decadent Kane
    words: 244

  18. Chanting echoed around him, but he couldn’t tell how many voices repeated the foreign words over and over. Was it a thousand, or two? The oubliette of darkness gave him no answers. With eyes wide, and arms stretched in front of him, he crept forward. The warm, smooth surface arced up. Though the soles of his feet were rough with calluses, it was not enough to give him a grip, and he slipped backward to the place he had started. He tried again with his hands rubbing across the smooth surface, looking for someplace to catch hold, but in seconds he slid back to his starting place. He screamed with frustration, adding another voice to the redundant chant, and slumped to the floor. Exhausted from his failed attempts to scale the curved wall, he fell asleep, and dreamed his final exchange with her.

    “You need to leave,” Patricia said, her dark eyes bore into him. “It’s no longer safe. They are hunting you, and will sacrifice you so they can sleep at night.”

    He forced himself to return her gaze, pulling his eyes from the monitors. His experiments were not finished. There was so much more he needed to know.

    “If they stay, I stay,” he replied, motioning to the cages. “I can’t leave, especially now. I’ve almost—“

    The explosion interrupted his words, and blew her body over the table to slam into him. Her last breath escaped her mouth as consciousness deserted him, giving him up to darkness.

    250 Words

  19. Sebastian carefully pulled out a vintage Chateau Latour from the rack. He stepped back as he smoothed out his tuxedo, and gazed upon the immense wall of wine before him. It was a testament to his taste and wealth. The floor shuddered, and thousands of bottles clinked together.


    Sebastian did not turn around. He already knew who it was.

    Hector had his hand against the jamb, his chest heaved. His oily hair stuck out in all directions.

    “What are you doing, for heaven's sake?” Hector said. He sounded shocked, more shocked than what was happening beyond the door.

    “I'm just remembering what I had to pay for this bottle of wine,” Sebastian said, “Did you know only four exist in the whole world?”

    “Fascinating!” Hector growled. “Now come on. The life boats won't wait forever. This ship is falling apart!”

    Sebastian looked to his side and listened, as though he was unaware of the tragedy just outside his sanctuary.

    “Are you sure you don't have any room for my beauties?” Sebastian asked as he pulled a corkscrew from his pocket.

    “Are you insane?” Hector said. The ceiling above his head split loudly. “It's now or never, you stubborn snob!”

    Sebastian pulled out the cork and sniffed it once. “If they stay, I stay.”

    Hector did not need to be told twice. He was gone.

    Sebastian poured a glass and held it up to the flickering lights. He took a long sip as his wine rained down.

    247 Words
    Jason Lefthand

  20. Innocence Lost

    There are two types of people in the world. Raiders. Survivors. If you don’t fit in either, you’re a Biter. This was Casey’s world now. Gone were the books, revision for exams. Now, she helped ration food and cook for the small community.

    The camp was good. Crops grew. Biters were few. No Raiders for ten days now until throbbing engines could be heard in the distance. There wasn’t panic as everyone knew their role. As Casey ran to hide, counting the children in, her father came running up. He handed guns to Jack and AJ; boys Casey’s age.
    “We need you. You up for the job?” he asked. The boys nodded vigorously, itching for the opportunity to show they were now men, and get their hands on the guns.
    “What about me?” Casey asked.
    “Go inside.”
    “If they stay, I stay.”
    “I don’t want you to see this Casey. I’ve got to protect you.”
    Casey stood before her father, laying a hand on his rifle. “You can’t shield me from my responsibilities. This is my world now Dad. I gotta get used to it. I gotta start fighting for it. You’ve got to let me fight.” She saw pain in his eyes as he loosened his grip on the rifle. “I’ll be fine, I promise.”
    “I know,” he whispered as he watched his child run to the boundary, shedding her innocence with every step. “That’s what worries me.”

    239 (excluding title)

  21. “If they stay, I stay,” I glanced over at Jonas and his cronies. The detective nodded and his colleague released me. I folded my arms and leaned against the living room wall as they ripped through my flat. I couldn’t believe he’d called the feds on me.

    I glared at Jonas while they did their sweep, and he glared back. I had enough dirt to bury him, although he didn’t know it. I had it stashed in a lock-up that Stacy had arranged years ago. She might be gone, having paid the ultimate price at the end of a gun when one of his deals went bad, but her legacy wasn’t. I had continued to stockpile data and his time was drawing near. She’d rest in peace soon enough.

    Meantime, they’d moved into the bedroom, and I kept my palms tight under my armpits, so no one could see the sweat breaking out. I also keep my eyes on Jonas even though his had shifted to the bedroom. There was only the sound of shuffling for a few seconds before one of them came out. He shook his head at the guy on the door, and I thought my knees were going to buckle in relief.

    They filed out; no word of apology at the mess they were leaving. Last came Jonas with his new best friend the detective. We stared at each other as he passed, then he shouted, “Getting off easy this time, Hanson, getting off easy.”

    249 Words

  22. Rowan was jolted awake by the distant peals of the village alarm bell. His work as a lumberjack kept him far from the village proper, but the ringing of the large bell could travel for nearly a league. The woodsman raced to the woods’ edge facing the village. Smoke plumes clawed at the sky, rising from the eastern section of the village.

    “Orcs,” he growled, sprinting back to his camp.

    Rowan retrieved his heavy axe and his hunting knife, and then whistled a short, melodic tune. An elk, larger than any warhorse circled the fire and pressed its nose to Rowan’s shoulder. He offered a quick head scratch, then hauled himself astride the great beast.

    “To the village, Arrow,” he told his mount, “with all haste.”

    Rowan entered the village from the south, avoiding villagers fleeing in panic. As he neared the village square, Rowan found the captain of the militia trying to organize a dozen conscripts into a proper defensive force.

    “Go back to your woods, Rowan,” the captain sighed. “There is little hope of stopping these creatures.”

    “I was a ranger, “ the lumberjack replied, “and I’ve seen more battle than any of these farmers you’ve gathered. If they stay, I stay.”

    The captain nodded solemnly, as the first monster entered the square.

    “Death or glory!” Rowan shouted. “Teach these creatures to never return!”

    A cheer rose from the others, and as one, they charged.

    237 words

  23. “We need a planning session with Captain Harjo and Delta team.”

    Mac watched traffic beyond the hotel window. “No. Just us.” He glanced toward Hannah. “C’mon, babe. I’ll take you to our room so you can rest.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “We need to make contingency plans.”

    “We do, yes.”

    “Not you. Us.” Mac indicated the other Wolves in the room with a sweep of his eyes.

    “Oh?” Her tone had everyone but Mac edging toward the door.

    “Hon, you’re pregnant. You need to rest.”

    “Did you just fucking go there? Seriously? The hell with you, Sergeant Major. I outrank you.”

    “Dammit. We aren’t having this fight again.”

    “No, we aren’t. You can’t do a damn thing about this situation. I can. Because I’m the fucking major and you’re just a pissant Sergeant Major.”

    “Now, Hannah—”

    “Don’t you fucking dare, Ian McIntire.” She flicked her right hand. “If they stay, I stay.” She muttered a string of curse words of which only “fuckwit” was recognizable. “You don’t fucking get it, Mac. I’ve been working to get the Sixty-ninth disbanded. I’m this gawddamned close.” She hit his chest hard enough he stumbled back half a step. “But I wasn’t fast enough and Charlie team is dead because of it.” Tears glistened on her cheeks and she dashed them away with the back of her hand. “Fucking hormones. It’s my job to keep you safe. All of you. Let me do my job.”

    “Fine. Just…fine.”

    “Good. Now get out of my way.”
    250 words
    Happy 3rd anniversary, Siobhan! Here’s to many more!!! <3

  24. The sun radiated against his back. He towered over Marci, casting her in shadow. She shifted to the right, moving away from his radius, and glared up at him, using her hand to shield her eyes.

    “Why do you need to act so damn intimidating all the time?” she asked.

    Her fury emanated in violet waves he saw flowing around her body. Like each word threw a dagger of emotion—aimed straight at him.

    “It’s not me,” he said, opening his hands, and showing he wasn’t hiding anything. “It’s them.”

    “Them? You and this ‘them.’ You like to blame someone else.” She poked him in the chest. “But I know it’s you.”

    “You don’t understand.”

    “Try me. I have all night.” She folded her arms across her ample chest.

    He explained how the scavengers followed Death, hoping to feed off the pieces of humanity left behind, or those who escaped, and lived.

    “If I come, they come. If they stay, I stay.” Everyone personified Death. Few thought about what might hitchhike during his soul-catching excursions.

    “You may see me, but they fuel the fear and dread you feel. I get the bad rep.”

    “How do you get them to stop?” she asked. “To go away?”

    With purpose, he stepped closer, until mere inches remained between them. He tilted her chin up, staring into her fiery green eyes and brushed his lips against hers—a mere whisper of a kiss, promising so much more.


    244 words

    Congratulations & Lots of Thanks!

    1. Thank you very much, Louisa. You're welcome for the challenge. I'm so grateful you keep coming to write for it. :)


    Jinx hit bottom three days ago. It was one week after getting a couple hours alone with her mother, a woman Jinx had been searching for her whole pubescent life. In hindsight, I could have guessed what would happen if the two sat down and talked.

    I’m not saying I know Malain well, I doubt anybody does, but I did know she was trouble—and probably insane. Honestly, abandoning Jinx at birth was maybe the best thing Malain ever did for the girl. I won’t go so far as to say I should have kept them from talking, only because I recognize that was never an option.

    If it wasn’t for her electric blue hair, even I would have trouble seeing Jinx huddled in the corner of the dark room. She locked me out the same day she locked herself in, but there are few places I can’t get into when I set my mind to it. The poor girl wanted desperately for her mother to teach her how to control her hunger. Malain didn’t believe in control. So of course it’s up to me to pick up the pieces. Again.

    Hopping into Jinx’s lap I begin purring and trying to work my head under her arm.

    “Go away, Blackie!” she hurls me to the floor roughly.

    Sighing, I sit down to wait for another opening. In the darkness my eyes fix on the gloves that keep Jinx from being able to feed. If they stay, I stay.

    248 words
    Wow! Three years! What a milestone!

    1. I know, David, it's incredible, isn't it? And so many of you have been with me since the beginning. :)

  26. “If they stay, I stay,” Aurora said to the officer at the lifeboat, standing firm in front of the family of three.

    “Ma’am, please get in the boat. The boys can’t get on and the mother refuses to leave them,” he began but Aurora cut him off.

    “Of course she refuses! Those are her children!”

    “Please go, Miss,” the mother said. “We’ll be alright, really.”

    “Of course you won’t be,” Aurora snapped. “No matter how often they bleat about it being unsinkable, this ship will sink and I’m not letting stupidity bring about the death of innocent children.”

    “This boat is leaving now. Get in.” The man grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the boat. Aurora let her fire flare briefly, burning the man’s hand. He let go with a sharp gasp, waving his hand to cool it. “Stay then and may the sea have mercy on you.”

    “Oh, Miss, please go,” the woman begged.

    “No, we’ll find another boat. One that’s not being manned by idiot’s,” she shouted over the rail. “Come on, we’ve got to hurry.”

    Aurora ushered the family along the rail scanning ahead, looking for any sign of a remaining boat. She closed her eyes in brief prayer when they didn’t find one. “No matter what happens, stay with me. Don’t let go and I promise you’ll make it.”

    The ship gave a mighty lurch and they were hurled to the side. The woman’s hand slipped out of Aurora's as she hit the icy water.

    *250 words
    for upcoming short story

    Congrats on three years Siobhan!

  27. Violet sat on the edge of the stone wall, staring at the laughing group in the gazebo. The remainder of the decorations fluttered in the breeze.

    “You need to come with me, young lady.”

    She gave a heavy sigh. The old man would not stop following her around. “I don’t need to go anywhere with you. I don’t know you.” She looked over her shoulder.

    He stood there, looking like he just came up from Flordia. The loud Hawaiian shirt and the beige shorts and white socks pulled up to his knees. He had been following her and she was getting tired of the creeper.

    “Don’t you have a Bingo game to go to with all the other old folks?” She was supposed to be enjoying the party with the rest of them but she never got the invitation. It had just been luck that she walked by the place.

    “You don’t belong here.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Those are – WERE – my friends. If they stay, I stay.”

    “This isn’t your place to stay anymore.”

    “No. NO! STOP FOLLOWING ME!” She jumped off the wall. “Go play shuffle board or whatever, old man.”

    He gave a sigh. “Don’t make me chase after you. I took this image to make it easy on you. Apparently it’s not working.” He snapped his fingers. The panama hat and bad vacationing outfit disappeared into a dark cloak and bony fingers holding the sickle.

    “You don’t belong to this world anymore, Violet.”

    250 words

  28. Posting for Ruth Long


    “It don’t work like that, bud,” says the muscle at the door. He repeats the five words for the third time. “If they stay, I stay.”

    “Nah, man. This ain’t no welcome mat. It’s a delivery door. Hand them over and hit the road.”

    Gunfire echoes down the street. He shoves through the door, shielding his two small charges and the uncooperative muscle.

    A pair of humans peer into the corridor, the male staying safely in the door frame.

    The female is less cautious, approaches with her palm resting on the butt of the gun strapped to her hip. “The entrance scanner reports you as some type of hybrid, mechanical merits unknown. Since you brought refugees to us, may I count you as an ally?”

    He keeps his body between the children and the door. “In-so-far-as you don't try to separate me from my charges.”

    She crouches over the fallen muscle. “Just needs stitches. Patterson can take care of that. I’m more concerned with feeding the children and examining your framework.”

    His mouth turns up at the corners, softening the angles of his dirty face. "We haven't formally decided whether we're staying."

    The youngest child tugs on his pants. "If you stay, we stay." He chuckles. "Looks like you're going to get your hands on my framework after all, ma'am."

    @bullishink / 220 words

  29. #ThursThreads #Year3 is now CLOSED. Great thanks to everyone who wrote this week. Thank you for making this celebration so wonderful. I hope to see you all next week as we start year 4! :)


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