Thursday, September 6, 2012

#ThursThreads - The Challenge That Ties Tales Together - Week 37

Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. It's Thursday again, so what should you be doing? Writing #FlashFiction, that's what! Welcome to Week 37 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 37:

The ever gorgeous, color coordinated, Sci-Fi Sensualist, Cara Michaels.

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
The Prompt:

“He just stared out the window.”

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. He just stared out the window, waiting. Didn't look like much - thinning hair, weak chin, too many fingers, pale skin and watery eyes. He'd blink occasionally when someone would glance his way as they walked past, and maybe his fingers would twitch, just a little bit, or he'd show a hint of some horribly uneven teeth.

    Until Janice walked up, that is, and he leapt from his stool and pounded the glass until his minders pulled him back by the collar and cuffs, and he wouldn't stop howling until they'd hit him with the tazer repeatedly.

    As we walked away, I could hear her singing softly, "How much is that psycho in the window; the one with the deranged little tale?"


  2. Cari Oleskewicz

    190 words

    We knew that his name was Joseph, and we knew that he was homeless. When we offered him an apple, we also found out that he had no teeth.

    Father Stan told us that Joseph needs human contact. Father Stan says Joseph needs someone to ask him where he slept last night. He needs someone to touch him on the shoulder.

    So, holding my mother’s hand on the way to school, we stopped and said good morning to Joseph. He sat on the bench. He just stared out the window. He huddled against the sturdy, scratched up plastic that framed the bus stop and watched the traffic.

    Joseph and his grocery cart full of treasures sit at the bus stops on Manhattan Avenue during the day. He crosses the busy street with his heavy cart several times throughout the day, operating on a schedule only he understands. Maybe it has something to do with the flow of traffic, or the way the sun reaches the bus stop shelters on each side of the street.

    We always say hello. We’ve started bringing applesauce. And now, I touch him on the shoulder.

  3. She was trying. Emerging from the bathroom, Carol trembled slightly in anticipation. The red lace didn’t mold to her skin but fit her nicely, emphasizing her curves while masking some of the fat. It had been twenty years since she married Richard and two since he’d looked at her with fire in his eyes.

    She was trying. She’d actually bought herself a vibrator, which she kept in the bathroom, just so she would be ready if tonight was the night. The last five nights hadn’t been.

    She was trying. Even if it had taken her an embarrassing three months to realize just how long they’d gone without sex, and many more month to drum up the courage to do something.

    She was trying, but he just stared out the window.

    “Richard?” she asked, disappointment wiping away her tremble. “What’s wrong?”

    “Hmm? Nothing. Work stuff.” He didn’t turn, staring at the moon. What was he looking for? Was he thinking of someone else? Wishing he were somewhere else? She could pretend to be someone else, whatever he wanted.

    She needed her husband. He still loved her, still cared when she had a bad day, still gave her a hand when the house or the kids were too much. His devotion was one of the reason it had taken her so long to notice the problem in their bedroom.

    “Ready for bed?” He cut off abruptly and a small smile played on his lips. “That’s a nice nightie.”

    Carol started to hope.

    250 words

    1. So glad you put some hope at the end of that! I loved it!

  4. Brotherly Love

    When Robert got up that morning, he went to check on his brother. He limped into Bartholo’s bedroom quietly, not wanting to awaken him if he were sleeping, but the man’s eyes were open.

    “Morning, Bart. Did you sleep well?” Robert didn’t expect an answer, but he always talked to his brother anyway. Ever since the accident that had given him his limp and paralyzed Bartholo, the man didn’t speak. Robert kept hoping for an answer, but in five years, it hadn’t happened yet. He cleaned and dressed his brother, and got him into his wheelchair, pushing him over to the window. As usual, he just stared out the window, his light blue eyes blank. Robert didn’t know what or if he saw anything, but maybe something outside would eventually trigger a reaction.

    Glancing at the sky, Robert frowned. A dark cloud covered the sun that had been shining brightly a few minutes ago. “I didn’t think it was supposed to storm today. I better grab the paper before the rain comes. I’ll be right back.” Using his cane to help him, he made his way to the front door and stepped outside, stooping to get the paper. The screams stopped him, and he looked around.

    The front yard was infused with an eerie glow, and a figure stepped into view out of nowhere, grabbing him, and pulled him off the porch. As Robert was dragged away, he looked back to where his brother sat. Bartholo was smiling.

    250 words {with title}

  5. "We've got to get out of here," Simmons said as he jabbed at the ship's controls. Outside the viewport, he could see the endless graveyard of ships; an abyss of tumbling wreckage, decks pried open to vacuum by some unimaginable malevolence. The swirling masses he'd thought were debris were eddies of frozen corpses, pirouetting in the gravitational pull of whatever cosmic abattoir they were stuck in.

    Simmons dumped the navstat data to his board. Their jump coordinates read correctly, but they were in the wrong place. Very wrong.

    Simmons yanked the harness across his torso. "Jones, light off the pulse engines and get us turned around to oh-one-six-five. We're getting out of here, now."

    Silence answered. He checked the console. Jones' board showed active, but the navigator wasn't answering.

    Hissing every curse he knew, he unbuckled his harness again, trying not to look out at the carnage outside. He thought he saw a shadow block out the stars. Something impossibly huge. He kicked off his console and floated across the cockpit to the navigator's station.

    Jones sat at his board, strapped in, hands on the controls. He wasn't moving. He just stared out the window.

    "Jones! Wake the hell up--"

    Simmons grabbed Jones' shoulder, hauled him around, shook him. Saw the milky cataracts of his eyes, the blank stare.

    He'd been talking to a corpse.

    Panic snapped his resolve. "Come on, Jones, wake up, please--"

    He was still pleading with the dead when the bridge lights went out.

    248 words / @surlymuse

  6. “You worked in that nursing home that was on the news?” Marla asked.
    “Yes, it all started with this man Henry. He was old...”
    “Isn’t everyone there old?”
    “Don’t interrupt. His limbs were withered and bowed. His hair was grey and sparse. His eyes, sapphire blue and cloudy, didn’t seem to register anyone though we knew he could see. He sat in a wheelchair most days; he just stared out the window waiting for something.”
    “What happened that night?”
    “I was working the night shift, and I found him sitting by the window, as he did in the day. I scooted the bed to reach him, when a blue light came through the window and immobilized me. The light got bigger, a huge light came through the closed window. The light shimmered and shone turning into a woman with wings . She touched Henry and he became young again. He stood tall his eyes clear and his hair brown and flowing like a young man’s.
    “She said “Come Henry, you’ve suffered long enough, it’s time to see your eternal reward.”
    “They walked through the window and disappeared into two balls of light that shot up to the skies. “There was no more Henry he was gone, just the shell that held him remained. That is when the fire that remained began to burn down the home.”
    “So it had nothing to do with you?”
    Doctor Marla Terrain then wrote on the chart delusional and psychotic and left the room.
    250 words

  7. Vision Quest

    She’d been the most constant, enduring presence in his life. He loved her above all else or had until she opposed his single abiding dream…to see.

    The ocular implant trial offered the promise of a world no longer filled with unseen hazards and perplexing mysteries.

    He felt, of all people, she’d understand and, thus, could scarce understand her vehement objections. It would be unnatural…in opposition to God’s will, she maintained. If, she insisted, he pursued this, she’d not be there when he returned.

    He’d lost his temper, stormed out on her but was back, now, to set things right. It took him little time to realize she’d made good on her promise. The absence of the sound, the scent, the feel of her told him long before his implants confirmed it.

    All that remained was a note and a picture. With trembling hands, he read:

    Did you never wonder in all the years why I never let you “see” my face with your hands? The photograph will explain why and why you will never see me with your wondrous new eyes.
    Yours once but never now

    The woman in the photo might have been pretty enough had she been born with ears and a nose. To some, she must seem a freakish monster, but to him? No, never to him.

    He stood for a very long time and he just stared out the window, convinced, with vision, it would be so much easier to find her and bring her home.

    250 words @klingorengi

  8. Safe

    No one remembers when it actually started. It was too gradual, too subtle to be noticed. Reporters spoke of crime waves and riots. Curfews appeared. We stayed inside when we could. The world was dangerous. We learned to hide from it.

    Pathogen, virus, pandemic. The words made us afraid. But we were already isolated, secure in our homes. We counted ourselves fortunate and busied ourselves duct-taping plastic to the windows and boarding up doors, sealing ourselves off in the name of safety.

    Supplies had been set aside long ago. Food, water, blankets and candles, we had it all. We’d been taught to be prepared. Emergency planning. Disaster preparedness. The names were different, the lessons were the same. Be safe.

    The city went quiet, except for the trucks. Military machines, grey and green, full of military men. They had guns and wore complicated masks that hid their faces. We started to watch for them from the living room window. They would appear, and when they left people we once knew would leave with them. Sometimes quietly, sometimes not. Sound travels much further when the streets are empty. The news said the military was taking the infected for treatment. We watched them go.

    One day I heard the trucks and came to the living room to see who they had come for. My father was there, watching. His face was pale and he didn’t move, he just stared out the window. I saw tears on his cheeks. We weren’t safe after all.

    250 words @capricia13

  9. As One Who on a Lonesome Road...

    He just stared out the window and waited. They would come.
    He peered into the uncertain twilight and the patchy gloom of vandalised streetlights at the quiet backstreet and waited.
    There! A movement resolved into a staggering figure, stumbling towards the building.
    He tapped on the window, the noise finally penetrating addled senses.
    The figure looked up, swaying as if negotiating stormy seas, frowning as the source of the tapping eluded him.
    “Over here. Help me!”
    “What’s the problem Kid?”
    “It’s my dog.”
    “I’ll call the cops. They’ll help.”
    “No. You can do it. You can get in through the side door, it’s open. It’ll only take a minute, please Mister.”
    He waited until he heard a grumbling monologue accompanied by the man’s footsteps on the wooden floor.
    “Up here.”
    Creaking risers brought the footsteps nearer. A ruddy face preceded a puffing sweaty body.
    “Thanks Mister.”
    “Damn, Kid. What you doing in here? All this estate is scheduled for demolition, you were lucky I came by... a shortcut see?”
    “I guess we were both lucky.”
    “Me and my dog.”
    “Oh sure. OK. Now where is he? Is he stuck or something?”
    “No, he’s just hungry. So many mouths to feed”
    “What? You on drugs or something? Damn punk. Waste my time on... Hungry eh? Shit! Get him some food yourself.”
    “It’s OK Mister. I just did. Dinner Cerberus!”
    “What the...? Aghhh!
    He just stared out the window and waited.

    241 words

  10. He just stared out the window. What else was he to do but wait? How long had it been? She said she would only be gone for a few minutes. It seemed much longer than that. He got up and paced in front of the door. Where was she?

    He returned to the window. He cocked his head from side to side looking down the sidewalk but she was still nowhere to be seen. He sat in the chair and watched. Birds flew by the window but they could not distract him from watching for her.

    Click, click at the door. Quickly, he lay down and closed his eyes.

    “Kitty, I’m home.”

    Drowsily, he blinked his eyes open and lifted his head.

    “Meow,” he said softly.

    “You haven’t moved an inch since I left. lazy cat.”

    136 words

  11. A life in Ruins

    The cell was a mere eight feet by eight feet and yet it felt so much smaller. His world had broken apart, not slowly and surely, but in one spectacular explosion of false accusations sending shrapnel into every single aspect of his life.

    He just stared out the window wondering what came next. His good name had been smeared through the mud by the media. He lovingly loyal wife was now shooing the media away from her doorstep, trying her best to shield their child from the libel being slung in their direction.

    Instead of being by her side and protecting her like a husband should, he was stuck in the county jail, waiting to be seen by the judge. Waiting for the fates to determine whether or not there was enough evidence to prove him innocent. For he knew even though the law said innocent before proven guilty, his neighbors and co-workers believed otherwise. It didn’t really matter what the jury decided, his life was ruined either way.

    169 words

  12. She was going nineteen to the dozen; on and on. Cheryl could see her mouth moving, jaw going up and down, but she couldn’t make out all the words as the woman was keeping her voice low. It sounded like an upset rant. He just stared out the window, rocking gently with the movement of the train.

    For a moment Cheryl wondered if they were together; maybe the woman was talking into a hidden microphone - or even to herself. But then she sat forward and flicked her hand against his leg in annoyance, making him jump. He drew back from her touch as though it was something vile, giving her a filthy look. The woman sat back, her eyes betraying the hurt. Cheryl could see she was trying to stay composed, but a stray tear denied it.

    He resumed his view of the passing countryside.

    Cheryl was about to do the same, but a quick movement caught her peripheral vision, followed by an ascending scream.

    He looked as shocked as Cheryl, and the expression remained on his face, even as the light faded in his eyes.

    Everyone in the carriage stopped and looked; attracted by the scream. Then aghast by the spectacle, but no one dared move or speak.

    With her scream spent the woman just sat back down again. This time it was her turn to stare out of the window, while he stared down at the umbrella handle sticking out of his chest.

    246 Words (Title: Pushing it too far)


  13. The depth of his acrimony for them was unending.

    With their suave looks, crowded parties, and easy camaraderie, they had no idea what it meant to survive day by day, how much it hurt to be a loser. Friendless. Mocked. Hated for no reason.

    Yesterday a group of them hid his clothes while he was in the shower. His face burned as he tiptoed up the hall in search of a teacher. Jerry Steiner popped out of an alcove and slammed him against the lockers, pressing beefy fingers against his narrow chest, while someone else whipped away his only cover. When the bell rang, they’d shoved him in the middle of the floor, lily white and naked.

    The hall filled with the cacophony of students shuffling out of classrooms, chatting as they rushed on to their next class.

    And then everything came to a crashing halt when Rebecca Dunphy shrieked, “Eeeww! He’s naked!”

    Stares. Whistles. Catcalls. Laughter.

    His worst moment came when his crush, Katie Janus, offered him her hoodie to cover himself with. She was one of them, and yet she wasn’t. Katie’s face turned scarlet, and she glared at everyone. “Freaks!”

    Shaking off the memory, he drummed his fingers on the desk.

    Katie was in the nurse’s office with an ice pack on her ankle after he’d tripped her “by accident.” Just returning the favor.

    He skipped gym today.

    They wouldn’t have time to be sorry they didn’t.

    He just stared out the window.

    249 #WIP words

    1. This one really packs a punch for so few words, but since they're your words, I'm not surprised. Well done!

  14. I know that haunted look, as tears trickle down his face.


    The sky burst orange as the sun started to rise. We’d have to leave for work soon. It was our first day back after two weeks of bereavement leave following the stillbirth of our daughter. The surrogate went into labor early and there was nothing to be done. He shrugged but kept his attention on the sunrise.

    “We have to get going hon.”

    He stood robotically and followed me to the kitchen. Returning to work seemed cruel. But here we stood, in our EMT uniforms, ready for work. I got our coffees ready and briefed our babysitter, who would watch our oldest daughter. We each grabbed a banana and were out the door.

    “I can’t do this,” he mumbled, turning back for the house. I followed him and turned him back for my truck. “I can’t go back, Jacoby. Penny’s dead. Her twin is fighting for life in the NICU. And they expect me to go out and save lives?! I can’t fucking do this!”

    I held him; Sean would understand if we were late. We cried together, devastated parents wondering why our daughter was the one to go; there was something cruel about it.

    On the way to work, he just stared out the window. Maybe we could save a life today.

    225 words

  15. He just stared out the window at the falling leaves unable to bring himself to do anything but brood. The menacing gray sky above him was filled with pregnant purpose. Dark, heavy clouds were sweeping in, bringing a chill to the last remnants of their Indian summer. Perhaps those rains would wash away the torment he felt as he’d watched Hank walk away, knowing it would be the last time he’d see the man.

    Their relationship had been as tumultuous as the summer storm the night they’d met, lightning and fire erupting as they’d clashed in a heated embrace on the dance floor. Sweat coated masses had encircled them, the scents of sunscreen and sand mingling through the crowd. He’d felt young again, the summer fling reminding him he was still alive.

    As the first leaves had changed, Cal had felt Hank slipping away, their time all too brief.

    Cal’s gaze locked on a maple leaf as it spun in the air, floating along in its final dance before it was laid to rest. His mind grew numb as he felt the swamp of emotion flood him. A knock on the door sounded as the first crash of thunder shook the house, making him startle. He moved slowly to the door, a sense of foreboding filling him.

    “A night much like the night we met, hmm? Perhaps that’s a good sign.”

    Cal looked over wind roughened Hank, a smile forming on his lips. “A storm’s coming, you’d better get inside.”

    @AlexBowman8 (yes, I went and got a Twitter account just for you, Meg.)
    250 words

    1. Woohoo! Yay! :D So glad you did, Alex. Now I can tweet the heck outta you. ;)

    2. Hopefully I remember to

  16. He just stared out the window, almost catatonic from horror, sorrow, shock, fear and bewilderment. He did have thoughts, but they assailed him from many directions, bombarding his faculties and rendering him incapable of action. The strongest impulse - to run - found itself powerless against his absolute immobility.

    This was really just the final stage of something that had overcome him earlier, but he couldn't remember what, right now.

    Blue. Blue. Blue. Blue. Something outside was flashing blue.

    There were noises, too, but he couldn't sort through them all. Some were loud and pulsating. Some sounded human. Some were sharp, sudden and destructive.

    After hearing a few more human sounds, he felt pressure upon his wrists. Metal. It felt like metal.

    All at once, clear consciousness returned to him as a wave, driving him to his knees in a tsunami of tears.

    "Allan Cochran, you are a under arrest for the murders of Elizabeth Cochran and Russell Adams. You have the right to remain silent..."

    Yes, that was it: his discovery of his wife and her lover in the bed that had been sacred for 15 years; his complete and sudden break with reality; the simultaneously sweet yet sickening resistance and yielding of their bodies to the knife he got from the kitchen; the blood - oh, the endless spewing forth and comingling of their blood.

    What had they done? What had HE done?

    As the officers put him into the back of the police car, he just stared out the window.

    250 words

  17. Losing the man I loved was the hardest thing that ever happened to me. Saying goodbye should have been quick and painless but he wasn't going to get away so easily.

    There were good days and bad days, of course. Sometimes Sean would have a small smile on his face if I sang our song or whistled a familiar tune but more often than not, he just stared out of the window; at the bars that kept him here. There was no chance of escape but I admired his tenaciousness; a skill he should have used when it came to salvaging what was left of our relationship.

    "What happened to the girl I married?"

    "I"m right here, loving you."

    "You call this love?" he screamed, waving a shackled fist in anger. "My Lisa wouldn't do this, she never wished anyone harm. Please, come back to me"

    The demon chuckled at such a heartfelt request. It never understood the concept of goodness and love but chose this woman because she had so much to live for, the most to lose. It would continue to exist even if she died.

    "Lisa's gone. You have me now so get used to it!"

    199 words

  18. Maximus had competed in three triathlons before he turned twenty-two, had served three years in the army after that, and, when he was thirty-five, became the first man to walk on Mars. Now he just stared out the window. It wasn’t even a particularly good view, just a concrete wall caked in reddish dust. Years ago, the building had grown like a fungus until it completely obscured that mountainous landscape. Max knew he was to blame. Him, and others like him were the soul of this place. The colonists would say the construction was automated, but that wasn’t so. Instead it was molded from the thoughts of select few. Maximus had imagined the wall.

    He wasn’t like the others. He was an adventurer, not an intellectual. Max wanted to travel to the next world, to the next star. He wanted to run as far away as he could get. He wanted to fly. The collective consciousness gave the others a sense of well-being. Max felt their peace, though he did not share it. Often he wished for death, one last great adventure. He wished the machines that had kept him alive over the centuries would finally crumble to dust. Being a disembodied head was dreadfully dull.

    206 words

  19. "Alien Affairs"

    She didn’t say anything. What could she say? There were no words for times like these. No—language was useless to describe the volcanic void starting to consumer her chest, and she assumed it would absorb her mind and soul eventually.

    “An alien?” she finally croaked. “I just…don’t understand.”

    “I’m not sure if I can say it more clearly,” he said slowly, in that measured way he had. She’d always thought him inhumanly calm, a reborn Buddhist or something like that. But an alien?

    “From where?”

    He smiled and lifted his hand as if he’d touch her, then let it fall back into his lap when he saw her inevitable flinch and recoil. The smile changed. It didn’t wilt or disappear or melt. It simply changed into something else, something she could understand even less. “Would it even matter if I told you where I came from? You wouldn’t know where it was. Wouldn’t be able to even pronounce it.”

    With her heel, she tapped a staccato thump that had no rhythm. “Is that even what you really look like?”

    Again, that same smile. “I knew you were prejudiced, but this? Even beyond what I anticipated.”

    “What do you expect me to say? Thanks for being honest?”

    He leaned forward quicker than she could blink and she squeaked, drawing back. “Yes,” he whispered.

    “Well, I can’t,” she nearly sobbed. “So, what should we do?”

    He sat back in his chair and didn’t answer. Instead, he just stared out the window.


  20. He just stared out the window.

    That's all, just staring out at nothing as memories assaulted him.

    They day they lounged on the beach with a checkered blanket, bottle of wine and picnic basket; the drive along the coast with no destination in mind. There were other memories as well – a normal, quiet night on the couch in front of the TV while they shared a bowl of pop corn and watched a bad sci-fi movie; kissing her goodbye in the morning before they left for work and hello when she arrived home.

    Countless memories... all he had left now.

    100 words

  21. #ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and hope to see you next week! :)

  22. Ghosts

    He just stared out the window, through the lace of first frost.
    Moonlight dappled the streets below. He could get glimpses of the shadows of people moving like a silent river. One translucent young woman was turbulence. She turned one way, hesitated, turned around, stumbled a few steps, stopped, looked up. He imagined he could see her tears; a trick of the moonlight. He considered going out, doing something to help her--but what? She couldn't see through his blank dark window, nor hear any word he said. So he silently observed. Eventually she was carried away on the tide of moving souls, and he lost her.
    There were others out there, with the passions of their life showing strongly enough that he could pick them out of the masses. The cop, outraged and drunk. The woman having loveless sex with strangers out of desperate loneliness. Those four men, cheering their team, shabby but laughing. The teenage girl glowing with first love. The warrior, eyes dark and wary. The new pilot, exultant with first flight. The unhappy pretty woman in a slave collar. The single mother too proud to ask for help. All of them beyond his ability to touch, to hear, to reach.
    He realized, suddenly, that it was he himself who was the ghost.

    laserlight at verizon dot net


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