Showing posts from May, 2012

The End

And that's it, fellow flash-fictioneers, the end of the the deluge, the end of this issue of FlashFlood and the end of the first ever National Flash-Fiction Day.
Things will continue, with more competitions on their way and other events still to come, so don't worry, this isn't the end of everything, just the day.
Thanks for reading the stories and for all your comments. We all hope you enjoyed them.
Keep writing your flashes, we hope to have more issues of FlashFlood through the year, and roll on NFFD2013!
All the best, Calum, Susi, Shirley, Nettie, Caroline, Susan and Cassandra.
The FlashFlood Editors.

'All He Ever Wanted' by Whitney Court

Ten years had passed between the last time Jeremy talked to Nina and the very random, very terse email he’d suddenly received from her. He wished he could say he’d forgotten her or that her message had made him close his eyes and jog his memory to place her, but of course, he couldn’t. She was the cause of nearly every effect in his life. His high school sweetheart, the woman he imagined having children with, growing old with and she was ultimately the woman who broke his heart at 18. He’d never seen it coming, the sudden announcement that she was not going to college with him after all. Instead, she’d applied to a school in California, she’d been accepted, and she was leaving everything behind-the small town, the small dreams, and Jeremy himself. Shattered, Jeremy was faced with rethinking the whole life he’d had planned out. His brother, already in the army, had encouraged him to follow suit. Jeremy considered it, briefly, but finally ended up in school after all. Ten years later, he…

'Ever After' by Meg McNulty

Easy to think you're in love.  
When your blood is fierce with adventure and your heart is racing like a hawk on the wind, when your skin stinks of dragon breath and every muscle in your body aches and you see her lying there like an slice of perfection, all silk skin and ambrosia and lips that a fairy godmother couldn't make up.  
Those lips.  Damn, just thinking about those lips could get him hot again like that first time.  Leaning over, tasting her breath.   His gorgeous, golden prize.  A piece of royal booty worth slaying dragons for.
Easy to think you're in love then. 
Happy endings right? That's what it all was all about.  You slay the dragon, you get the girl. 
He stared up at the rising sun painted on the ceiling.  He'd commissioned that for her - a romantic gesture.  She said it was off centre.  She got annoyed by things like that, stuff being out of place.  Couldn't bear to look at it every day.  
She got annoyed by way he laughed when the ma…

'The Scent of a Memory' by Lucy Oliver

A flash of bright white light in her eyes. The red skirt tight against her legs. She pulled it high and danced the jitterbug. Whistles made her jump - loud shrill sounds that disturbed her mind.
Cigarette smoke hung in the air, the exhaled white tendrils twisting towards her like spirit fingers. She forced them into her lungs. The sharp smell reminded her of the bed sheets after he returned to his corvette ship. She would rest her face against the warm pillow to trap his scent in her mind.
After he sailed, she haunted the cinema, watching the newsreels. Dozed through most of it, until she heard the word, ‘Atlantic’. Then she would jerk awake, eyes wide and staring. 
The crash of waves on the screen scared her. He could not swim.
Now, she stood still, remembering him, the touch of his stubble on her face, the look in his eyes as he gazed at her. 
 A jive started and she danced again, alone beside the couples. Ferociously twisting, slamming her heels against the floor, sweat sliding down her…

'Flat Taste of Success' by John F King

You wrote major, I said minor. You might as well face it: you wouldn’t have had the hit without me. I don’t want it to go to the suits, man. We were never about that. It just makes me feel so flat. All this conflict, discord sowed when there was such sweet harmony. I said sort it and get back to me, don’t need those ‘see you in court’  blues.  I’m not asking for everything, not even a half. Twist and shout, in at 10%.  Fair dues. I acknowledge you wrote the song, the concept, but without that crucial chord change it wouldn’t have had the impact. You know  that  as well as I do.   It’s why we stopped making music together. Why  you stopped speaking to me though I sat by the phone for 20 years. So 20 years in the charts, let’s call it 9% , respect all those years on the road, humming the right kind of bars.

'Tyrants' by Valerie Sirr

Tyrants You make your father lie down on the floor. You lie flat on your tummy on your father’s back and your little sister lies flat on yours. You are the ham. They are the bread. You feel his heat and the weight of your sister. Your parents’ and sister’s laughs go inside you and join with yours until you grow so huge you fill up the room as if you were an Egyptian king. Roaring Boy bawls and you begin to shrink. Your mother gathers him up and his mouth bites her breast. You want to play ‘sandwich’ again, but your parents are going out. You pick your favourite story from your bible. You tell your babysitter about Pharaoh: “Pharaoh was in charge. He made the Children of Israel be his slaves.” She ruffles your hair. You push your head into her softness. Her voice goes inside you with the beats of her heart...You wear a golden headdress and a white tunic. You grip the ankh in your hand. You allow your parents and sister to live. “Why is Pharaoh mean?” your sister says. She knows you know…

'Josie' by Stella Turner

It was the only photograph of me as a child. Standing on my parents’ side board for over forty years, its silver frame ritually polished every week. I was dressed like a girl but my mother said in those days children were always dressed alike! My parents were hidden behind a woman who was holding me like a cherished possession. She looked so impressed with me that I kept asking who she was. My mother would sigh and turn away with a shrug. My father saying only her name was Josie. He spoke the name as if it was magical and it hung in the air tantalising and distressing my mother.

The auctioneer turns the frame over and says “twenty pounds, maybe a bit more”. I feel a tinge of regret, slipping the photo into my jacket pocket, but I need the money. My mother wouldn’t notice it was missing. She now lives in a care home. My father, long gone, is living with some young girl in Bexhill. He says she is his carer but she speaks with an accent and looks like she knows a good opportunity when sh…

'Crows' by Stan Smith

Crows!  Hurtling down the steep plunging path, I shout at the birds pecking at my backpack.  Those evil beaks and eyes ignore me and their claws remain sharp on the bag’s top compartment. 
We had left the backpacks briefly in the gulley to hike up Cathedral Peak, no one was around.  However we hadn’t thought about these scavengers, they know we have food in there.  Returning from the summit the adrenaline of the triumph instantly vanished once we could just make out that there was movement by our tiny pile of backpacks.  The pile was under attack.  It’s ok, the food inside is safe behind thick canvas, birds beaks can’t open zips …can they?...they can!  Stop thaaat!  My screams are just air and the rummagers pull the guts out of my bag.  Plastic bags are blown away by wind and the burglars drop t-shirts like trash.   
My friends behind me up the hillside laugh as I scarecrow towards the gulley.  The crows just peck and pull, they know I’m harmless.

'A Confession (Postscript)' by Jo Bromilow

It is with great regret that I have been forced to classify my experiment as a failure. 
My challenge was simple - I am a medical man, a clinical person and possessed of an incredibly inquisitive and curious mind, and in an age where man feels he can overcome any challenges, I was intrigued to pit the parasiticly resilient human spirit against the sheer overwhelming terror of modern existence that occupies us.  My subjects (there were five in total - two male, three female, ranging in age from 17 to 89, one regrettably a mother of young children), sadly, all succumbed to the phantom illness which I planted in them - a dual illness combined of despair and hope. Between them they selected varying methods to bring about their demise, from the benign and delicate (sleeping pills) to the Bronteian (exposure to the elements) to the not entirely surprising old age. But die they all did. 
Frustratingly, I feel the youngest may have survived - I interpreted that wild, animalistic run that unfo…

'Cure-all' by Oonah V Joslin

Bill Turner was not the father of English Botany but the name opened doors; in particular that of Lady Tansy Bistort. “Tincture of Irish Moss for relief of  bitter flux, Hawthorne pills; for strengthening the organ of the heart, Patent Powder to wage war on fleas and lice and nothing will do so well for lightening the hair as this preparation, Madam,” he assured, “bottled by my own hand.” That was true. He’d squeezed the contents of the plastic tube into a glass jar moments before setting off in his time machine. The colour proved most becoming and -- she was worth it. “I trust I find you well, Madam?” “Tolerably Sir, though...” a stray blond tress escaped beneath her cap, “your cure for sagging breasts tastes a tad bitter.” “The broth was meant for unction, Madam. But, I have something better. Pray be so good as to try on this garment.” The lady retired, emerging moments later. “How you tease me Sir,” she said. “Is levity then your cure for gravity?” The pure silk, red bra with black…

'Nobody's Home' by C Kirby

It was over, just like that.  I, personally, never thought it would happen.  It was them - our enemy.  The whole thing reeked of their thirst for violence, their lust for blood that turned brother against brother, state against state.  As the war progressed, it claimed just about everyone I held dear and that was when I started to learn how to hate.  Quite a trade, really.  We gave them literature, music, art and they gave us war, hate, and killing. Expecting destruction and desolation, the scouts reported worse.  Ruins, everything was gone, all the sculptures, paintings by our great masters, all our art, literature, the very essence of our culture lay strewn about, like some giant jigsaw puzzle. I was studying some plans for several emergency housing projects when Hans came scurrying in ‑ all legs, as usual.  He was so agitated that it took a drink and several minutes before he could explain himself and then I needed a drink.  His scouting party had found someone alive, as incredible a…

'Damson Tree' by Cathy Lennon

When we first bought this house, one April, we watched with delight in the weeks that followed as the fruit trees in our back garden blossomed foaming white. At summer’s end the tallest, a damson, dangled blue-tinged fruit from every twig. With ladders and buckets we harvested them. In the steaming, shabby kitchen I hummed along to a contented tune of bubbling jam pans. I gathered jars and pots to warm and fill. I labelled them proudly, kept some, gave more away. That tree was showing us the joy of putting down roots, blessing the fruitfulness of our new life together.One bright Sunday morning, two Septembers later, visitors arrived to find our house still sleeping with curtains drawn. Unhurried, murmuring peacefully, they wandered into the waiting garden. Tempted by those overladen boughs they filled carrier bags to bursting with plump, bittersweet fruit and left them by the back door as they tiptoed away. All the while, across town, I sweated and swayed, moaned and panted, bore down…

'Flood' by Chris Cole

The flood came and went in one night so to many of the townsfolk the wet carpets and two metre tide marks were treated in personal isolation. It was often only when they attempted to call the office, some grateful for the excuse not to work, that they found the lines down and they began to suspect that they were part of a broader picture. The assistant mayor muttered and swore as he fished his favourite tie from out of the basement laundry room. He would have no answers for the angry public. His young boy stood naked in the front room, smiling broadly as he looked out of the French windows. In the middle of the lawn were many balls, all different sizes and all thought lost to the garden next door.

'The Right Way to Do Things' by Matthew Adams

“So we need to convince this guy we’re going to kill him, right.” said Vinnie, pushing the cheap trilby low over his eyes. Lawson sighed. “But we’re not,” said Lawson, “Remember that Si…..Sorry, Vinnie. We’re. Just. After. The effin’. Money.” “For fucks sake…” snapped Vinnie, spinning round. Lawson raised an eyebrow. "OK OK…..Right,” sighed Vinnie, turning back and pouting as he reached up to knock on the door. He paused. “Wait,” he said. Now what, thought Lawson, sighing again. Effin’ perishin’ out here. Vinnie crouched, placing his ‘baccy tin on the floor, sheltering behind his long coat as he made a rollie. “Got to do things right,” muttered Vinnie as half a pack of papers blew away. Too much Tony Soprano, thought Lawson shaking his head. Not the right way to do things, all this dress-up and menaces. The credit-card companies had it right these days. Warm offices. Tea on tap. All recorded messages, automatically telephoning people,                twenty-thirty times a day. 24 hours a day,…

'Simple Brown Vase' by Antony Barkworth-Knight

“But you know what she likes, right?”
Dave looked at me exasperated, he'd been through this a thousand times before and still I got no better at understanding.
“Just get her what she wants, what she'll love you for.”
He was right. I picked up the car and headed to the out of town shopping mall, into the large department store, up the escalators to the second floor and within two minutes I had it in my hand, a simple brown vase.
I wrapped it that night in cream paper and placed it in the center of the coffee table. Under the diffuse light of the dimmers it blended perfectly into the room. A sickness came over me. If someone could show all this to my twenty year old self he'd be suitably enraged. I held my head in my hands and rubbed my eyes; the midlife crisis wasn't going to happen, not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever. I closed the door on my teenage self and went to bed.
When she opened it the next morning she cried. Small tears bouncing off the surface of the vase.
“How do…

'A Chance in Life' by Gillian Brown

He doesn’t look back, he isn’t ashamed or afraid like I am. He reaches out to hold my hand. I take one glance over my shoulder and wish I hadn’t.
‘What will happen?’ I ask.
‘Don’t worry. We did the right thing,’ he says.
I grasp his hand. My throat is as dry as sandpaper and my head throbs as if someone is hammering nails inside. Every muscle in my body is tense. I fear if I let go I won’t be able to stop the torrent of tears backed up behind my eyes. I must get to the exit. Away from this place. Into the anonymity of the street.
I repeat the words. ‘A nice home. Loving parents. Plenty to eat. A good education.’ All the things I yearned for myself and never got. A chance in life.
‘That’s right,’ he says.
Hanging onto his words, I focus my eyes on the rectangle of door at the end of the corridor. I start to run. The echo of our footsteps accelerates like a drum roll towards a finale. I clutch my throat. ‘If I don’t get out of here soon…’ I yank his hand, unsure if I want him to stop an…

'Geraldine' by Angela King

She arrived in late spring, just as the desert heat begins to drive sand into every fibre of the city and mother announced she couldn’t cope. Hardly more than an adolescent bag of bones Geraldine was meant to provide an inclusive remedy for mother’s woes. My sister and I loved her from that first day.

    Father had chosen Geraldine because she was the only applicant with any English. He arranged her flights and collected her at immigration. He’d never been so embarrassed. She arrived in a cherry-red cardigan which drooped to her ankles and obviously started life on someone ten times bigger, no shoes on her feet, nor any form of luggage. Father was convinced immigration suspected him of trafficking but all her papers were in perfect order. Despite appearances Geraldine was extremely proficient.

    Although English was hardly her first language she’d received an elementary education from one of the last outposts of the Missionary Society. She took the view that God’s word should be utt…