Thursday, September 27, 2012

#ThursThreads - The Challenge That Ties Tales Together - Week 40

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 40 *GASP!* 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 40:

The fashion designer, erotic romance author, and lean, mean Scrabble player, Karla Doyle.

And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.

The Prompt:

“Silly to feel anything at all after so long.”

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. "Do you feel that?" She ran the knife along his arm, scraping away the sulphurous crust of his trip back from oblivion. Beneath, his flesh was like oiled wood, warm and smoking.

    His first breath rattled like pebbles in a bowl. His leap across the void had not been easy.

    "Yes," he said. A chorus of miniscule creaks as he flexed his hand. "It seems silly to feel anything at all after so long. How long was I gone?”

    She set the knife on the tray beside the bed, turning away to hide her regret. "Too long. I did the best I could -- it was difficult."

    His hand found her cheek, turned her head back toward his. Inhuman fingers traced the newfound lines of age along her cheeks. "You did well. I knew you wouldn't forget me."

    She tilted her head into his touch. "So what do we do now?"

    He cracked a mannequin's smile, eyes gleaming in a bronze death-mask. His fingers closed around her throat, and she shivered with delight, caressing his wrist with her hand.

    "We find the ones who did this," he said. "And we make sure they never feel anything again."

    197 words / @surlymuse

  2. Destiny
    By Lisa McCourt Hollar

    The storm raged around the ship, each wave threatening to capsize the once mighty boat. Now, most of the crew gone, the Skipper remained steadfastly at the helm, refusing to abandon the old gal. Titus pulled on his Captain’s arm, not wanting to desert him, but not wanting to die either.

    “Come on Cap’n, no one expects you to go down with the ship.”

    “Be gone,” Captain Marsh bellowed.

    Titus looked over his shoulder at the last lifeboat, where Rand waited to let it drop. He shrugged his shoulders… no one could make Frank Marsh do anything he didn’t want to do. Another wave crashed across the deck, nearly knocking the First Mate off his feet.

    “Frank,” he tried again, but something in the old man’s eyes told him he was wasting his breath. Titus turned running for the smaller boat. Their chances of survival were slim to none, but better than if they remained on the splintering ship. In the distance a beacon shone across the water… if they could reach it, there would be salvation.

    An image of his wife flashed before Frank’s eyes, just before the last big wave washed over him. She was standing on a beach, waving to him. She looked as beautiful as she had the day they met. He felt an odd stirring, a longing he hadn’t felt since she had died all those years ago.

    “Silly to feel anything at all after so long,” he thought, then steered the boat towards Destiny.

    Word Count: 250

  3. The Ties That Bind

    “Why are you here? Now, all these years after you...”
    “Because you want me to, in your heart.”
    “You think you know my heart? You didn’t then, you don’t now.“
    “I said I would return. Find you.”
    “They all say that. Right before...”
    “But I was a danger to you. If I’d stayed I’d have destroyed you.”
    “You think I wasn’t prepared to take that risk? I saw the darkness in you, and I stayed with you despite everything.”
    “I had to leave. We weren’t the same, you and I.”
    “You think I didn’t know that? You think you hid your secrets from me? Skulking in the darkness, shunning the light of day...I did all these things with you... for you. Together forever, isn’t that what you promised me?”
    “I couldn’t take your life... and give so little in return. You were better off without me.”
    “So you took that decision alone?”
    “I had done dreadful things, shameful things, and I knew I would carry on... But I never forgot you. I looked you up, thought I might...”
    “...and you found me.”
    “And look at you, as beautiful as the first day I saw you...”
    “Add flattery to faithlessness and desertion. I am old.”
    “Old? You are...”
    “I know what I am.”
    “So do I - now. Drain me now, if you feel anything for me.”
    “Feel? For you? Silly. To feel anything at all - after so long! Live, for a short while – then suffer a mortal’s death.”

    249 words

  4. Revenge

    Silly to feel anything at all after so long, but she does. Every time it happens, she feels the horror that comes with his presence. She knows she should be used to him after all these years, but she knows she never will be.

    It always starts the same way. Freezing air filling the room, turning her blood to ice, her body to stone. If lights are on, they snap off. The darkness seems key for him to enter. Suddenly, the glowing form will appear in front of her, long fingers reaching for her, forcing her warm mouth to his. Like a vampire, he drinks from her, taking not blood, but bits of her very soul. She can’t scream, can’t fight back, can only allow the vengeful spirit to take what he wants.

    Each time, when he is done, he waits and she begs his forgiveness, pleading for him to let the past be just that. His laughter is always cruel, and sometimes he takes what he wants again after she is through, leaving her drained of all strength.

    When she allows herself to think about it, she realizes that if she could accept his presence, the terror would go away, and perhaps he would as well. She loved him more than life itself. The car accident wasn’t her fault, but all he knows is he was made to suffer and die at her hand. Forgiveness will never be an option.

    It begins again.

    245 words {including title}

  5. C.I.S.C.O. Rides

    Crashing through the dense jungle, covering the distance to the extraction point with ground-eating strides, Cybernetic Infantry Soldier Covert Operations (C.I.S.C.O) keyed in a diagnostic subroutine to evaluate potential damage incurred during the operation he was currently exfiltrating from.

    He knew he’d taken multiple hits from heavy machine gun fire and other antipersonnel weapons in the course of the mission. He was little concerned about the damage to his biological component. Though he could see no less than four fist-sized exit wounds in his chest, he knew the meat portion of him was largely superfluous and would, in any event, regenerate to full combat readiness within two hours.

    He couldn’t shake the feeling, though, that one or more of his primary cybernetic systems were damaged. His first indication of damage was the fact he was experiencing a feeling. His mechanical parts functioned solely by means of sophisticated nano-computers and heuristic algorithms. In simplest terms, he was incapable of experiencing feelings in those parts of him.

    He realized it was strange to feel anything at all after so long and devoted 7.23 seconds of mission time to indulgence of such before activating a redundant bypass circuit and clamping the sensation down to a level calculated as unlikely to significantly hamper the unit’s operational effectiveness.

    Upon completion of his current task and subsequent debriefing would he deactivate the bypass and further indulge this…feeling. It was the only sort of human concession former PFC Francisco Duncan Renaldo, now designated C.I.S.C.O, allowed himself anymore.

    250 words @klingorengi

    1. C.I.S.C.O. needs his own Eighties TV series, is all I'm saying.

  6. oops...only after posting this did I realize I substituted the word "strange" for "silly" when I used the prompt phrase. Hopefully, this doesn't sink me entirely from consideration.

  7. Jonathan woke in the middle of the night. Screaming. Coated in sweat. I shook him gently. Put my hand on his shoulder to ground him in reality. To bring him back. ”Nightmare. You had a nightmare.”

    He tossed the covers off and swung his feet around, placing them on the floor as he sat up. ”I need to take a walk.”

    ”Need company?”

    ”No. You get some sleep.”

    He got up, got dressed, and left. I knew he’d be back eventually. Sometime after sunrise. He was just going for a walk. A long walk.

    Most people wouldn’t understand. They’d just belt out, “God. You’re damn silly to feel anything at all after so long." And they’d follow it with the inevitable, “Don’t you think it’s time to move on?"

    I looked at my right wrist. My hand was long gone. If I close my eyes, I can still remember everything. Some things, you don’t ever forget. Being a hostage in the war. You don’t ever forget that. Watching as they cut your fingers off, one bone at a time. All the way to your wrist. And don’t let you die. Don’t let you sleep. Always wake you up for the next bone.

    They did the same thing to Jonathan. He had every right to have nightmares. Wake up screaming. Sweating. Afraid to close your eyes. Afraid to sleep. Hell. People that can’t understand that are just damn silly.

    250 Words

  8. Instincts

    John sat in far the corner, facing the room. Even now he couldn't turn his back on a door or a crowd. Instincts honed over a lifetime were impossible to ignore. His eyes scanned the room from time to time. Marking faces, judging their reasons for being here. He was a creature of habit, even now.

    He knew it was silly to feel anything at all after so long, he’d been retired for years. Too old to do the only work he’d ever been good at, too damned stubborn to die. He took a sip of the local brew, wrinkling his lip at the bitter aftertaste. He was old enough to remember when beer came in bottles or served in tall glasses, perfectly frosted. A long time ago, and the memories of those times were as weak and bitter as his drink.

    The door opened and another customer entered. John’s skin itched at the sight of him and he recognized him right away. Not the face, but the purpose. The new arrival was a killer, as sleek and confident as one of those tigers John had once seen at a zoo. This baby-faced assassin was too young to have ever seen such an animal, but the similarity was there just the same.

    The killer prowled across the room, and John tightened his grip on his gun, disengaging the safety with a practiced flick of a finger. His instincts were still good, and he was still too damned stubborn to die.

    250 words

  9. Silly to feel anything at all after so long, but here I was and there she was--the love of my life in front of me. Her blue eyes shimmered and sparkled, like a song on my heart. Drawn to her I ventured closer to see her crying. Who was the cretin who had made her cry? I would make them pay.
    “Grandfather, how are you are so young?” she exclaimed.
    Grandfather? Then this wasn’t Helen but Susan my granddaughter. How could I have forgotten? Had I been away?
    “Why do you cry Susan?” I asked.
    “Grandmother has died. Haven’t you seen her?”
    It was then I heard a whisper and I turned to behold my Helen;first as she last appeared to me- her hair gray and her face lined, then as she once was, young and beautiful like Susan.
    “Grandfather you fade. Have you seen grandmother?”
    “We are together now Susan. Do you not see her?"
    “No,” Susan answered then she smiled, “I can see you both now. Goodbye Grandma and Grandpa, I love you.”
    Goodbye Susan. We love you. Do not weep for us, for we are happy, “I answered as I took Helen’s hand.” I cried happily.
    I’m sorry I took so long Caleb,” Helen responded.
    A light shone in front of us and a door appeared. I took Helen’s hand and we stepped through disappearing into glorious light. Encompassed by peace and love, we surrender our love for all eternity has begun.
    246 words

  10. She stood there in the golden-cool September afternoon. She knew it was silly to feel anything at all after so long. He had been gone for eight years. Yet she always found herself here, where he’d died , every year. It was something in the air, she’d decided—something about the first tinges of fall that crisped the air, sunglow on yellow heart-shaped cottonwood leaves.
    The first time he’d kissed her was after a football game, senior year, in a pile of leaves. She’d worn his leather jacket home. For the first year, he brought a red rose every time he visited. She fell harder than she thought possible.
    Three Septembers later, they were engaged. Then it happened—he told her. He’d cheated on her. Not only that—the girl was sixteen. And pregnant.
    He still wanted to be with her. She still wanted him—that was what pissed her off. There was only one way to handle it. She told him he had to go visit the girl, tell her it was over. He agreed.
    It was a sunny September afternoon. No reason for his brakes to fail, but they did. He took the curve by the bridge too fast, jumped the rail, plummeted into the water right below where she stood now. The water churned below her, blue-gray and blameless.
    She’d cried real tears at the funeral. No one ever suspected a thing.
    She threw a red rose off the bridge, walked away, thinking of other Septembers.

    249 words
    Meredith Smith-Lane

  11. In His Hands
    By Wakefield Mahon

    “I realize it’s silly to feel anything at all after so long”
    “I swear Tyrell, why can’t you have a normal mid-life crisis? Write an autobiography, buy an old-fashioned sports car. Hell, have an affair, I don’t care.”
    Tyrell raised his eyebrow.
    “Okay, you’re right; I wouldn’t go along with that one. I’m just saying, of all of the fixations you could have you chose that one?”
    “Hey, I was really good when I was a kid; one of the best Springfield had ever seen. I can’t help that I miss it so much.”
    “There are a hundred Springfields with a thousand Tyrells, besides that was a theoretical kid’s hobby, a game. The real thing is far more expensive.”
    “Babe, you’re making light, but I know you’re worried about what happened to Zeke.”
    “He blew up half the neighborhood, Tyrell.”
    “Yeah it was a heck of a big bang, but he was using a short-cut, tried to do the whole thing in one day. I’m going to take six days and do one step at a time.”
    Tyrell’s wife shook he head and sighed. “Just be careful and make sure you rest afterward.”
    Tyrell waved her off. “I know, I will. Let me get started now.”
    “What are you calling this little creation of yours?”
    “Don’t know yet but I’m thinking of making a little garden and itty bitty people who look like us.”
    “Well, at least name the garden after your long-suffering wife.” Eden chuckled as she walked away.

    250 Words

  12. HEROIC

    The light preceding the thunder threw chaotic shadows through the den. Job Nathanson recoiled, cursing his own meekness. He saw enough he didn’t feel like reaching for the light switch.

    “Dylan? Is that you?” The magnate felt as choked as he sounded.

    The groan from next to the fireplace confirmed Job’s suspicions. His best friend was bleeding all over the carpet inches from the entrance to the secret sanctum. Praying not to faint this time, Job hurried to Dylan’s side.

    “Geez! What happened to you?”

    Dylan Summers had managed to prop his back against the wall. His body armor was torn to shit and half his cowl was gone. In better light anyone could identify him.

    “They took Virginia. It was a trap…”

    Job had to get Dylan down to the sanctum’s medical bay. Step one; ignore all the blood, then hope his friend was coherent enough to fix himself up once there.

    “I-I’m going, to try to move you…” Job talked for his own benefit as much as Dylan’s.

    Fortunately the hero still had strength to move once the billionaire was acting as his crutch. Job released the catch and the fireplace slid aside to reveal the sanctum stairs.

    “I got emotional. Careless. It was silly to feel anything at all after so long.”

    “No, it wasn’t,” Job grit his teeth, “After so long, it’s about time you felt something again.”

    The hero grinned at his sponsor’s sideways grimace at his wounds.

    “You should have seen the other guy.”

    250 words

  13. Graeae was silly to feel anything at all after so long.
    His father had died without claiming him as his son. His secret tryst with the castle maid couldn’t have come out without shaming the queen. Once King Garros had learned the truth, he had continued to meet his mother and him in private, brief encounters where he’d only seen a small glimpse of the man the king was. He’d grown up practically fatherless, unsure of how a man was supposed to lead a family. Yet he’d known he would lay down his life for those he loved, not hide them away from the world.

    He’d befriended his two brothers before he’d known them to be family. They still didn’t know the truth but didn’t care about his low birth. Graeae should have been jealous of the time Elia and Ios had had with their father but he couldn’t bring himself to feel the emotion. Numbness had engulfed him years ago, never allowing him to feel anything with regards to his father.

    Even when the king had elevated him to Captain of the Guard, against the Queen’s wishes, he couldn’t feel any satisfaction. He’d worked hard for years, squiring under several fine knights and had fought at the walls himself, protecting his city. There’d been no nepotism. He’d deserved the role and had been wounded when the queen had fought his appointment.

    He was sure she knew he was the king’s bastard. She knew and she hated Graeae for it.

    250 words

  14. "Arctic Drift"

    Ten hours trapped in the ice. Waiting. Half in, half out.

    The residual golden glow of the setting sun halos the mountain ridges but offers no warmth. The frigid wind kicks up into a ghostly howl, biting into my dried out eyes and frostbitten skin. I lost my scarf earlier, my numbed reflexes no match for the Arctic bluster that whisked it away. I tracked its progress with the helpless intensity of a child who let go of the string of a beloved balloon until it was a mere speck on the horizon.

    The guide went for help after discovering his radio was dead. Maybe he made it back, maybe not, but my time is at an end. So much for my bucket list.

    The lower half of me disappeared hours ago, and now my fingers no longer find purchase as I slip gently beneath the ice. It’s more peaceful than I expected, but at the last, I regret the look on my ex’s face when I walked out ten years ago.

    Silly to feel anything at all after so long.

    As my last breath of air is expelled in a stream of tiny bubbles, I think I see a shadow above the icy crust. But, no, it’s just the ghosts come to welcome me home.

    216 WIP Words

  15. Charlie took down the picture of herself and her husband breaking ground at the newspaper office, their baby, which they had conceived together. He wasn't coming back. No one ever comes back here, not unless they have something worth staying for in this one stoplight town. He wouldn't stay for her, let alone the paper he'd built from a document on a computer to a real circulation. But a year ago, he found new new love with one of his high school students and when graduation came, they both left. Everyone from the kid bagging her groceries to the ladies at the senior center had an opinion on what she should do, and what she she should feel. People sliced their eyes at her, pitying looks she hated. She didn't need their pity, she needed a way to fall out of love. Silly to feel anything at all after so long.
    word count: 151

  16. Locking my office door, I took a box from a hidden shelf in the closet and sighed, popping the lid. It’s strange the things you remember sometimes. I remember the exact day I bought this particular pair of tennis shoes, the exact store and exactly how much I paid for them. But what’s clearest in my mind is what’s in this box.

    Extracting a wedding photo I sighed. Her dressed was so perfectly white. It was in the popular style of the times, 1996, puffy, silky, and plenty of sequins had been sewn onto the bodice. She’d worn a gauzy white veil attached to a beautiful diamond tiara.

    I was happy then. Marissa and I thought we were in love. But two years later, all we did was fight. I had a good job and was thinking about going back to school for another level of EMT or maybe even my paramedic certificate. But then I realized that I was gay and she didn’t appreciate being married to me anymore.

    Now, as I sit in my office, waiting for my husband to get home from work, I look at this picture: a happy couple, about to start their new life together. Really, it’s silly to feel anything at all after so long. She’s married to another man, I’m married to a man. But here I sit, pining for that which I lost, wondering why I still feel some little spark of love for her.

    244 words

  17. “Thank you for watching over her.”

    “Not a problem.” Jim cleared his throat. “Well, I should probably give you two some time alone.”

    Todd tightened his grip on Jim’s hand. “Stay. Chris and I want to talk to you.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes.” Todd grinned as they spoke at the same time.

    Jim settled back into his chair, but he still looked like a flight risk. “Okay.”

    Chris held her hand out and Jim dropped Todd’s to take hers. “I still want you, Jim. I love you as much as I love Todd, just for your qualities rather than his. Does that make any sense? Todd and I agreed, sex isn't enough for us without you. We – I – need more and I need you to give it to me.”

    Jim raised his eyebrow and glanced at Todd. “You okay with her saying that?”

    “What, that she needs more?” Todd nodded. “Yeah, I could feel it, too. It wasn’t that we weren’t good enough for each other. No way.” He winked at Chris. “But it felt like something – someone – was missing.”

    “Isn’t it silly to feel anything at all after so long?” Jim scowled as he glanced away to hide his thoughts.

    “It hasn’t been that long,” Todd remarked. “And did you just use the word ‘silly’?”

    “Shut up.” Jim fought his smile.

    “It’s been six months, that’s long enough.” Chris squeezed Jim’s hand. “I don’t want to waste another minute. Please say you’ll give it a chance.”

    249 ineligible #WIP500 words

  18. Sebastian leaned back in the chair, staring at the man in front of him. “And why should I change my mind. I have no reason to really care about the people there. No reason to help.” Pale fingers tapped a slow tattoo on the chair arm. “You keep dragging me into your petty squabbles.”

    Thomas pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a slow breath. “I’m only asking because of the fact that I know that you have the knowledge and the ability to do so. Please, this is the last favor that I ask of you.”

    Pale green eyes stared at the man before he languidly reached over, flipping over some papers on his desk. “I will see what I can arrange. This is the last time or else I would extra something more personal for doing you a ‘favor’.” He glanced up to catch the start of a grimace. “My kind has no need to interfere with humans. Some may play with yours as they are so easy to manipulate but I have no need to. I make my own decisions to stay out of the mess that you make of your lives. If you don’t want to make the payment, perhaps your sister should be made to. After all, you are doing this for her.”

    Thomas scowled. “Leave her out of this.”

    “Mm…perhaps. It is silly to feel anything at all after so long. You said you were estranged yourself.”

    “Things change.”

    “Yes, they do.”

    250 words

  19. #ThursThreads is now CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who wrote and I hope to see you next week. :)

  20. Thanks for inviting me to judge #ThursThreads this week, Siobhan. :) Lots of very intriguing entries to choose from!


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