Thursday, May 17, 2012

#ThursThreads - The Challenge That Ties Tales Together - Week 23

Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. Right now it's Thursday, so what should you be doing? Writing #FlashFiction, that's what! Welcome to Week 23 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 23:

The homesteading, organic gardening, #flashfiction host and fiction author, Madison Woods.

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:
"It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded."

Away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThread. Good luck! :)


  1. Fine Wine
    Raymond C. Morris

    With a growl, Kalen tore off the ragged glove from his right hand, revealing skin wrinkled and spotted, a testament of his age. The girl’s screams echoed along the emptying road, ricocheting off the front of wooden buildings, causing the glass in the old saloon’s grand window to quiver.

    Kalen pushed up from the rocking chair, his dusty boots grinding into the dirt and sand on the planks at his feet. He could feel his blood, normally so slow that it barely moved at all, begin to race through his veins as it hadn’t in forty years.

    The men dragged the girl toward their stingers, a new form of the ATV’s he’d used in his prime. These had a place on the front to tie their would-be victims. He counted four of them, just as last time, and the time before that.

    He couldn’t explain to himself why he chose now to reveal his nature, what he had once been. His kind was thought to be burnt out, eradicated. Once he would have been champion of this town, its Deamon, but for so long he had simply been its drunk.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. He brought his bare palm to his mouth and sunk brittle, but sharp, teeth into his flesh. Hot blood oozed where it would have once gushed.

    In the air before him he painted ancient and arcane symbols, feeling that old rush of power pulse just beneath his skin.

  2. Abby stared down at the headstone and then glanced up at her mother, her brother, and her two younger sisters. The only one who genuinely looked sad was her mother, but she’d expected that just like she expected none of them to make any eye contact with her. Petty conversation and a chaste hug, sure, but never eye contact. She didn’t blame them. After all, it was very hard to look into the face of a convicted killer. That thought alone chilled her. She was a killer. She had killed their father and if she was ever given the chance she’d do it all over again and in the same fashion.

    “Albert Faire-Beloved Husband and Father.” She wanted to bash the large stone into a million pieces with her bare hands. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded and neither would the scars. It was her mother’s fault. Her mother, the woman who never lifted a finger as the man she’d blindly loved beat and raped his children; not even sparing her younger brother Johnny from his parental, perverse and turgid erection. Abby looked at Johnny. He stood with his head down, pretending to look at the tombstone when he really had his eyes closed, counting under his breath until their mother decided she’d tortured them enough and let them leave.

    Abby looked up at the clear, sunny sky and frowned. She didn’t like how nice the day was. Her father would never deserve anything this nice.

    250 words

  3. Once and Future
    By Wakefield Mahon
    Four passengers floated on a raft through cool mists across the lake. The woman with fiery red curls, and green eyes that burned just as brightly, jumped off first to moor the raft, offering her hand to her half-brother.
    "I'm not invalid anymore. I can get off the raft myself."
    He immediately caught himself. "I'm sorry. I know you mean well. I thank you for the care you've given me during my recovery."
    She simply smiled. "Are you ready to go back home?"
    It was so long ago, but the memories had not faded. Of all the battles he fought and won, the war within him had cost the most. Time had healed the physical scars but he still remembered the betrayal of his best friend and his wife and worse yet of his own son.
    "I've learned from my mistakes. I will not let pride nor jealousy distract me from serving my people."
    "I need to prepare you. Things are not the way you remember them."
    "I don't care if I face a horde of demons on winged dragons. I will fight to defend my kingdom."
    "That's good to hear, because your people need you now more than ever. Moreover, this world has wonders even Merlin could not imagine. Oh and we'll have to disguise Excalibur."
    Morgana waved her hand and the mist faded. Arthur and his three companions stepped through a door into the bustling crowd of Heathrow Interplanetary Spaceport.

    242 words

  4. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. Her long brown hair, flowing and smelling of lavender constantly. Those gorgeous, brown, puppy-dog eyes that begged for my gaze and affection. Those dimples in her cheeks, so pronounced when she smiled. I loved her with all of my heart, and I thought I’d never find another like her.

    When our time together ended, I was the one who refused to let go. She’d moved on, met other people, packed her bags and moved a thousand miles away. We still talked occasionally, and once while she was visiting her family back home, we’d reconnected for a few brief nights of passion. I’d hoped that those trysts would last forever, that she’d reconsider and move back to me, but it never happened. She’d met someone new, married him, and within weeks I’d learned she was pregnant with his child.

    Still I never lost hope. Every time she’d send me a message online, my spine would tingle. She’d begun having marital problems, and she’d used me as her sounding board. And then, abruptly, our online conversations ceased.

    Weeks went by until I’d finally learned the truth: that she’d passed away in her sleep, the victim of a brain tumor.

    I’ve moved on with my life. I married a beautiful woman, and the two of us created a little angel together. I love my family dearly and would never hope for anything else.

    But the memories of that girl have never faded.

    249 words

  5. Immortality By Design

    The circumstances that led to the end of their species were neither unexpected nor especially traumatic. They were, after all, both a highly evolved and wondrously enlightened people.

    They understood it was in the nature of all things to experience both a beginning and an end. They did not bemoan their fate. They accepted it with the stoic grace expected of those who truly understood themselves.

    This is not to say they were either ambivalent or apathetic to their situation. They grieved, each in their own quiet way, but with no artificial pretense or excessive histrionics.

    There is none to say which voice first spoke the words. That knowledge was not preserved for it, ultimately, was of no consequence. That the thoughts of one became the salvation of all is the salient point.

    Why, that lone subject queried, must this be so? Why couldn’t their history, culture, arts and sciences, technologies and wonders be preserved inviolate for any and all to know of?

    Their greatest minds turned themselves to the task, knowing full well nothing but success was an acceptable outcome. The entirety of their world had entrusted them with nothing less than their immortality. To fail was, simply, not an option. Succeed they did.

    To all corners of space were launched the sleek crystalline craft, each one the repository of the priceless memories of a world. Their sole responsibility to ensure it would be known that it was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded and never would.

    250 words @klingorengi

  6. Drab buildings with tin roofs were leaned together with even less care for aesthetic than for their occupants. The bleak street stank of trash and refuse, reeked of failure. In a moment of panic, Alex tried to remember how to make his heart beat—before realizing with relief it hadn’t actually stopped. Given the bright comfort he was accustomed to, the existence of so dismal a heap seemed an affront to the world. How could anyone live like this?

    Double checking the address in his planner, Alex found himself unable to approach the door. The young hero took a deep breath, and quickly regretted doing so. Stumbling to the buzzer, he regained his composure and tried to think of what he was going to say. Too soon the door opened, and he saw the face he had not seen in years.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. Memories of bright eyes lifted by easy smiles, now vacant and shadowed with dark circles. Memories of her toned body and lavender fresh hair, now gaunt and matted.

    Memories of the emotional knife to his heart when she left him, now twisted to greater pain by how differently their lives had turned out.

    She had said she was holding him back—but all he’d ever wanted was to protect her.

    “Hey, Alex.”

    “Hey, Noelle.”

    225 words


    Lafae followed her foster mother into the empty council room.

    "You see?" Twigentradendron asked, approaching the figure in the middle of the room. The stone creature in the middle of the room. The animal had four long necks, each extended to place four chins on the ground. They approached from the North, the beak of the Gryphon head rested on the floor before them. Circling, Lafae found a lion, snake, and unicorn head on each of the other sides. In the center, held in a circle of stone, was a human head. The features were fine with no indication of gender.

    "Normally, the ascendant head cranes, looking to the ceiling. The center had never been seen before I sent Cob to Cytersaucanther. Since then, the chimera hasn't moved and no immortal has been born."

    Lafae took hold of one chin and tried to life it. "Please!" she begged. "Stop them." It had been several years since humans had killed her immortal foster father, half her lifetime. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded. She would never admnit to being human. She refused to be human. Kestrelandel had saved her before, perhaps she would again.

    After heaving on each head, Twigentradendron shaking her head the whole while, Lafae stormed out of the hall to the west and the unicorns. She would be immortal if she could.

    218 words
    Four Winds

  8. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded. I hoped to see him at the high school reunion in Vegas but seeing him was a revelation. I knew he was older by sixty years, but he still looked the same to me. In my mind’s eye I saw the eighteen year old man who I first fell in love with. Why had I listen to my father?
    Father was wrong Bryan had been successful. He owned his own company. I had hurt Bryan and he had moved away. I did too. I had married a man, who gave me, two daughters. But he wasn’t Bryan; we divorced after ten years of marriage. I had tried to be happy all these years, but a part of me still missed Bryan. Time had gone by and yet my feelings were still there. Were Bryan’s feelings the same? I was being a foolish old woman of sixty six. I should just walk away. He probably hated me. He turned and smiled at me. Before I even knew what was happening, the years peeled back and I was sheltered in his arms.Bryan kissed me liked he’d never let me go.
    “I knew you’d be here and you were single. I came to the reunion for you Melanie. We’ll you marry me now?”
    I nodded yes and we were married that day. Tomorrow we will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Yes, it seems like yesterday the memories haven’t faded.
    246 words

  9. My heart quickened at the sight of him.

    I stood, frozen like a deer in the headlights, squeezing my daughter’s hand as I struggled to will myself into action. He hadn’t noticed us yet. I still had time to get away, if only I could get my traitor legs to start moving.

    “Mummy,” Maddison said. “You’re hurting me.”

    Her voice broke through my shock and I could breathe once more. I looked down at the beautiful child who stood beside me, looking up with those bright blue eyes. Eyes that had always been a comfort to me, a sweet reminder of that one incredible night, eyes that looked so much like his.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded.

    122 words

    This short piece was inspired by a song... can you guess which one?

    1. Heart's "All I Want to Do is Make Love to You", right? :)

  10. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded. I still want revenge and it looks as though I will finally get my wish. Sure, I ended up with everything that I desired, but that does not change the fact of what they did to me; beaten and stripped down, they left me at the side of the road alone in the moonlight.

    After the nuptial ceremony, they disappeared with not as much as a farewell or good luck. That has not stopped me looking. I’ve sent men out across the country, scouring the landscape without a hint of them. How is it possible that I should find them on my own at the end of my voyage across the sea? Maybe they paid off my men and vowed them to secrecy, doubtful but always a possibility.

    They cower in my presence, now. They know they deserve what they receive for all the torture they set upon me. I look down at them. The fear exudes from them. Their eyes implore my leniency. I cannot do what I thought of for so long, I step over them and begin to walk away.

    “Told you she wouldn’t do anything,” one snickered.

    “Cinderella get me some wine,” the other yelled.

    I freeze. My skin crawls. I shudder. I have no choice. I turn to them sitting on the ground. Swiftly, the broadsword is freed from my skirts and in a single slash both of their heads bounce on the cobbled street.

    250 Words

  11. Different.

    “I’m left-handed, you know.” My doctor didn’t say a word. He just nodded his head. So I continued. “You remember what it was like to be left-handed in the 60s and 70s?” He still said nothing. So I kept going. “I can remember having to stand at the blackboard. After school. And write. 100 times. Right handed. I will not write left-handed.” Still, my doctor said nothing. “I’m 53 now. I was in 3nd grade then. That happened 45 years ago.”

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. I could still see the 3rd grade teacher, sitting at her desk. Watching me write. Every so often, she’d get up, and correct some technical mistake in how I held the chalk, or formed letters. I filled the entire blackboard. Column after column of words. All saying, “I will not write left-handed.” My right arm ached. My right fingers ached. My right wrist felt like someone was hammering a nail through it.

    When it was over, I remembered the words my teacher said to me. “We’ll teach you to be normal, yet. We’ll fix what’s wrong with you, so you’ll be like everyone else. Normal.”

    That night I cried. Silently. In my room. In my bed. It was the first time I understood how people treat those that aren’t like them.

    237 words

  12. I’d run my steed into the ground during my flight, leaving me to wind my way on foot through the perilous mire of the swamps. Still, in the distance I sensed my relentless pursuer.

    Onward I trekked, braving the forest where goblin cannibals stalked me. I had no time for their culinary oddities; the nameless beast was still on my trail.

    It seemed that for half my life I’d preyed. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded. All I knew was to keep on the move, ignoring my fatigue.

    Finally I reached my mountain home, climbing on my hands and knees, praying the foul demon that remained glued to my scent dropped in exhaustion.

    Poor judgment that had me scaling the wrong bluff. Before me stood a hundred foot drop, emptying into nothing but jagged rock.

    My choices we simple, take my own life or face the hellspawn that stalked me. I drew my sword and stood square, my legs braced. Through the shadowy mist, the cloaked figure approached, close enough that I could smell its brimstone breath.

    It dropped its hood as fire red eyes cut through me. It reached inside its cloak and held a stone tablet as a voice from the very depth of hell burbled from a terrible void. “I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time, but in the coming magical uprising, do you favor Glorthog the Omnipotent or the almighty Valdimesh?”

    I thrust myself from the ledge.

    248 words

  13. The day is bright, but my mind is foggy as stout women dressed in white push me from room to room “for entertainment,” so they say.

    Confusion rules my days: decisions unable to be born, desires unable to be defined, thoughts that slither away just out of reach.

    I wonder sometimes if life was always thus. But then, I think of you. I think of us.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded yet. Strangely they crystallized like flashing gems of ruby and emerald and sapphire in the miasma of my aging mind, beckoning me to return to you.

    And so, I do. Young worried faces chatter about my stupor, the stare that should tell them I’m visiting you: running along the sandy vacation beaches, dancing to music long out of style, and gazing at you across the bowed heads of our children in the pew on Sunday.

    I can’t remember when you left, or how. That's lost somewhere in between the gems and fog – a blessing in disguise, I suspect. I do know you didn’t choose to go. That was and will always be my heart’s North Star, your faithful love. And even the creeping dementia cannot steal that away.

    204 words

  14. He sat sipping coffee at a little outdoor shop overlooking the Puget Sound. It was a clear sunny day and he could see the Olympic mountains, all blue and white, stretched along the horizon. His cup paused for just a moment as he caught sight of a young woman crossing the street. It was her.

    Just a glimpse but he knew instantly. He could see her deep brown eyes and soft cheeks, remembered what it was like to stroke her hair and kiss her lips. He remembered how she smelled and the soft timbre of her voice. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded. No amount of time can erase some memories.

    He always expected it to take years to find her, but it never did. Searching for her wasn't the curse. He had seen her face a thousand times but never found the woman he fell in love with so long ago. She was out there, somewhere, she had to be. He had met so many others from the past, but never her. Just her face.

    He went to find and talk to the young woman, but didn't have much hope. Finding her face over and over but never finding the woman he fell in love with, that was his curse. Ten thousand lifetimes and he was still searching. Still, he had to go talk to the young woman and make sure, then he could return to his sacred cave and wait for the next lifetime.

    250 words

  15. Lilac Wine

    It was three o'clock in the morning and Vasquez' wedding was over.
    My best friend Vasquez, resplendent in his topcoat and bermuda shorts, and Luisa, the bride, stunning in a white sarong, married barefoot on the beach with three hundred of their nearest and dearest.
    Annette and I were by the fountain outside the hotel bar.
    I thought back to the night six years ago when Vasquez and I met her at our favorite Alphabet City dive bar.
    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded.
    Not one bit.

    It had been one hell of a wedding, happy and sappy, and I danced all the slow numbers with Annette. I promised her I would.
    I held her close and pretended not to notice the way she looked at Vasquez when she thought no one could see.
    I knew those looks well. They still stung.
    Annette put a damned good face on it, smiled and laughed through the whole day.
    She was still smiling as she waded around in the fountain.
    We could hear the music from the bar. A Nina Simone ballad.
    She put her hands out and stepped out of the fountain so we could dance.
    She shuddered against me and her face felt hot through my shirt.
    “I fooled them all, didn't I, Jake?” she whispered through tears.
    I bit my lip and held it until I tasted blood.
    “Yeah, baby,” I said. “You fooled us all.”

    244 words (246 including title)

  16. Battle Scars
    Samantha O'Brien

    The dreadnought flew aloft, riding the clouds like Sylphs splitting the skies, the stars a guiding light through the velvet blackness. It was brisk tonight, waking old injuries and causing new creaks in his joints, not so unlike his ship. He smiled at the thought.

    “Clear night, Captain.” Mr. Thaddeus Skinner, First mate to the battleship Ares, sidled next to his Captain, watching the lush green treetops rushing below them through the cracks in the mist. Captain Blackmere nodded, retrieving his brass spyglass, tension evident in the setting of his shoulders. Months of battles just to have the winds die down now seemed—odd.

    The whir of wings broke the silence. Thaddeus followed his Captain's eyes to the War Airship Hammer just ahead. “Man your stations, gents!” Captain Blackmere bellowed, sending men on deck scattering. Thaddeus fixed his goggles against eyes when the first whine of cannon fire burst through the bow. Ares lurched on impact, sending him and his Captain to their knees. The sting of shrapnel carving channels through the crew drew screams and panic. Another blast took out the turbine engine, plunging Ares out of range. “Make ready the long guns,” Thaddeus roared over the wind rushing in his ears. His Captain lay flayed by the twisted metal. He had to get them to safety.

    “Grandpa?” a small voice whispered “It’s only fireworks outside, ” she smiled

    Thaddeus returned her smile, still hearing the screams.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded.

    248 Words

  17. He herded me through the store, smiling just enough to make me really nervous. I kept backing away until I ran into a wall. His hands came down on either side of me, a blatantly sensual trap that made my heartbeat bounce like a Mexican jumping bean.

    “What are doing?” My attempt at gruff sounded as weak in the knees as I felt.

    “It’s our first kiss,” he murmured, leaning in so the words warmed my lips. His hands slipped up into my hair. “I want to do this right.”

    “I can safely say you’re definitely not doing it wrong,” I rasped.

    His laugh burst across my parted lips, and the barest mouth to mouth touch deepened. Just one touch and I knew. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. Every moment of my last first kiss flooded me, melting into this moment, this kiss, until I couldn’t distinguish between the two.

    I know you. The thought whispered through my mind, got lost in a soft moan as he wrapped around me. My hands found the back pockets of his jeans and pulled him closer.

    I know your mouth, your taste.

    “Don’t leave me again,” he sighed.

    Panic ripped through me and I shoved him away.

    “What the hell? I’ve never left you.” I said the words like I meant them. “So I can’t leave you again.”

    He caught me as I turned away.

    “Kiss me again and then tell me if you still believe that.”

    249 #WIP500 words

  18. I went back every fall to see the place where she died. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded, at least not for me.

    The water was low this year and I could see the rocks at the bottom of the stream bed. Sharp, gashing rocks where she had bled to death.

    My throat closed up and I started shaking as flashes of the scene rushed in. The auburn hair, half matted with blood and yet still floating in a cloud around her unblemished face, the wound hidden beneath. Her schoolbag laying on the ground along with her flute case, as if she’d stopped for a moment to look at something.

    I grimaced and unclenched my hand. The rose and the few bits of my blood it had claimed arced out of my hand and were soon carried away by the swift current. Fitting that our blood should be forever mingled that way. After all, she’d died instead of me.

    Ever the big sister, Mary Jean had offered to talk to my boyfriend for me. Help him see that we should break up. They couldn’t prove he’d killed her but I’d known and after fifteen years I’d finally gotten our revenge.

    “You can rest in peace now. Car accident. At least that’s what the police report said.”

    220 words

  19. (let's try this again, yeah? That's what I get for rushing.)

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. Some days they ran wild in his head, taking over so he couldn’t think of anything else; leaving his mind feeling foggy the scar on his chest throbbing. He wondered if he would ever be able to completely move past that experience; if he would ever be able to hear a car backfire or a screen door crash without his heart racing.

    There was one memory from that time that wasn’t entirely horrible: her face looking down at him. He still had her, thank God – and he did, every day.

    100 words

  20. Greener Indeed

    As a child, I dreamt of being a millionaire; wielding power solely due to the size of my checking account. I fantasized about the good I could do with the money I made, as well as the lives I could change with the proceeds. It was so long ago, but the memories hadn't faded, they were invaded by reality.

    When I won the lottery five years ago, I thought fifty million would be enough to last a lifetime, but Murphy seems to rule my life as much as Newton.

    Grim reality shined a light on a dismal life of extortion and blackmail; finally peaking with the untimely death of my wife due to uncertain circumstances, but I know it was suicide. The happy life we once enjoyed lay silent in the tomb of broken dreams, suffocated by the dirty talk of money and the dark desires of the masses to pick away the meat of the body of my estate, stealing away all that I had cherished with my wife.

    Fate is due her turn. Five chambers empty and a quick spin. I’m sure with Murphy in the passenger’s seat this will all be over soon.

    196 Words - @acenance

  21. Rebekah PostupakMay 17, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. No; they hung out on the line, even in full sun, their stupid canary and daisy yellows as garish as the day she’d hung them there.

    She’d tried washing them first, of course. The blunt force of the machine dashing them violently against the barrel, cycle after cycle, had done nothing. Nor had bleach, or a hundred rounds in the dryer, or scrubbing them for hours against the washboard until her knuckles ran red.

    The memories stayed bright as ever, glinting even in the rain, until she thought she might go blind from their obscene brilliance.

    Blind might be better. She thought this sometimes at night, when the memories’ glare burned through the windows and kept her from sleeping, kept her from looking somewhere safe, somewhere peaceful, somewhere other than the empty cradle resting silently against the wall.

    Yes, blind might be better. Deaf might be better. Anything, anything might be better than the cursed, bright, beautiful, nightmare of her memories.

    171 words

  22. "Untouched"

    Faded, blue crib. Dusty sea creatures mobile. Peeling ducky wallpaper. He ran his hand across the back of a still rocking chair, so still—like the crib, like the room, like the house.

    He pulled his hand away, rubbed it on his jeans. The dust gave him the chills. It seemed like he had just bought that rocking chair. And Sienna had almost started crying, just sitting in it with her hands on her stomach. She had glanced around the room, nodding. It was exactly what she had dreamed. Exactly what she had wanted. And he was the one to give it to her.

    He had felt so happy he thought he felt the slightly sting in his eyes.

    Later that sting that turned to a burn. Then, there was fire. And him on his knees, retching with the misery that permeated every room of the house. The emptiness grew larger every day until he had to leave it. Eventually he’d pieced something like a life back together, but the house remained untouched. He closed the nursery door.

    It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded.

    @J.M. Blackman

  23. #ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thank you to everyone who wrote today and we'll see you next week! :)


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