Showing posts from 2015

It Looks Like It's Letting Up.

Time to remove the galoshes and shake your literary umbrellas: the flood is over for another issue. 
While the summer may have been a little disappointing so far, we have been nothing short of impressed by the variety and quality of flash fiction sent to us over the past week or so. We’ve had comedy, tragedy and horror - and that’s just from the editors who had their work cut out for them, whittling down the hundreds of submissions to just 144.
Our thanks go to everyone who took the time to submit to us. We do read each and every one and if you weren’t successful this time, please don’t let that put you off submitting to the next edition. A rejection doesn’t mean your story was bad. In many cases we just had too many vampire/ghost/FSOG stories and didn’t have a fit for yours this time. 
We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all who have helped promote the Flash Flood Journal and National Flash Fiction day. Without all the Facebook shares and Tweets we’d not have had the ‘problem’ of a …

"Giraffe" by Jo Derrick

He was tall enough to reach the juiciest, lush leaves at the top of the tree. His camouflage protecting him from predators. His long legs were perfect for dancing. His hooves delicate enough to point and flick.  As a child he’d been raised on bread and dripping. There was never any money and he’d been teased for being as thin as a lathe. He’d been called Twiggy, Beanpole and Sticks, amongst other things. He was a gangly, clumsy teenager and had lost count of the clips round the ear from his gran for breaking various pieces of her best china. But it was different now. People paid to watch him dance with beautiful women, who whispered in his ear about running their fingers across his smooth, hard chest. The fact that his skin was the colour of treacle toffee only made them want him more. Terry never knew his mother, but she’d been as pale as a snowdrop, his gran told him. He had never known his father, and Gran never mentioned the colour of his skin. She didn’t have to. His dad was a sailo…

'The Dancing Girl' by Paul Heatley

I stand in shadows at my bedroom window, and I watch. There is a girl in the building opposite. She leaves her curtains open and she dances in the middle of her front room, her bare feet apart, her eyes closed, her arms wrapped around herself as she sways slowly from side to side as if embraced by an invisible lover. I don’t know what music she listens to though I often wonder. Her hair is brown and cut below her ears, and she wears a cream jumper and a black skirt that ends at her knees. Always she wears these clothes, a uniform, as if she cannot dance in anything else. Her walls are bare and the room is minimally furnished, the sofa and chairs arranged around the space in the centre where she dances, like she’s expecting an audience. 
Sometimes we pass each other on the street. These moments are not manufactured. Sometimes we will be in the same café or the same coffee shop, and she will order drinks with soy instead of milk. Sometimes I will try to catch her eye, to smile at her, …

'Poking the Beast with a Stick' by Emmaleene Leahy

Where time was measured by season and crop rotation, the turning of months in a year, the meaning of hands revolving around numbers is replaced by a serrated metal blade to tear open cans. Now, time is measured out in tins of soup and beans and pineapple slices. The sun glints from his corrugated roof.  Alone in our galvanised existence, I haven’t seen movement for a while now. The shimmering air vibrates with forgotten ghosts, apple trees, acorns, bluebell, buttercup, cowslip, dandelion, heather and ivy. Rich fertile land now a barren desert. Whole village wiped out, only us two left. All my fault; my blunder in the nuclear waste plant. He was my boss; a bit grumpy now irreversibly venomous. I know not to knock on his door. He’d shoot me with his old blunderbuss, leave me walking around with guts in my hands like dirty washing. Need to check if he’s alive. After relentless unrest, nail-biting, pacing, I risk it. Sand swirls on the wind, howling gusts whirl, whip, trudging crunch of sand b…

'Liquid Nights' by Chris Milam

The bartender with the plastic smile asked what I wanted. A glass of Her. Can you pour me a second chance? Told him I wanted something dangerous, a drink that would singe. The India Pale Ale with its ABV of 7.5% arrived and I drank. Hard. Dylan was crooning about a rolling stone from the jukebox. Guys in white tank tops and loose jeans tried to impress their girls with a trick shot on the beat-up felt. I suppressed a primal scream. The bartender wiped off the polished wood with a practiced swipe. Could he pull that maneuver within my mind? A lazy stroke and all those memories of Her are cleansed. Can I borrow your rag, man? Emptied the glass. Didn’t find any solutions at the bottom, just backwash and a thirst unquenched. Rapped my knuckles on the bar: Bring me another round of bitterness. He obliged. The lady with a tattoo of a fractured, black heart on her neck drank shots and blew smoke rings. “What’s your name?” “Andrew. You?” “Rita. You married?” “The documents tell me I’m divorced. You?” …

"Astronomical Odds" by Vesna McMaster

There was something really wrong with my father. Apart from his absence. He didn’t just leave an emptiness. It was more like the pulsing radio waves of a neutron star or the gravity of a Black Hole, sucking in peripheral unwary strands of information and conversation. No-one would talk about him. At all. Aunt Jenny simply shook her head and made her jowls wobble, sometimes lifting her finger in silence if I asked. I knew better than to ask my mother. Most of the others pretended not to hear and changed the subject. I’d never seen him, of course.
Just once, when Aunt Jenny’s nose was tinged pink with a glass of New Year’s champagne and her eyes had that crinkly blue-mist haze, she forgot herself for a second. “He had ideas, my love.” Then the haze lifted all of a sudden and she extricated her hips from the armchair with a violent pull of suction. She ran to the kitchen and turned the tap on, even though all the dishes were done.
I was studying for my Uni entrance exams, window wide to le…

"Preppers" by Sonya Oldwin

When we prepared for the apocalypse, up in the mountains, people laughed.

Tonight, from the comfort of our cabins, we’re watching civilisation burn.

You could say we’ve earned the last laugh. But we are not that cruel.

'The Hitman' by Allan McDonough

The world rotates at 1037 miles per hour, and as I come to, my head spins with it. Oh shit where am I? The unmistakeable scent of chloroform burns my nostrils. I've used it a thousand times, no more, but I never cared much about its effects, until now. My brain is crushed against the top of my skull. Oh fuck, I'm upside down. With each heartbeat more blood gushes in. It might burst if I don't get down.

My eyes won't fucking open. Corse thread scratches my eyeballs as they roll about in the sockets. That sick bastard actually did it. He's fucking sewn them shut. Tears trickle up my forehead. I'm not sure if it's blood. What's in my mouth? What ever it is, I can't spit it out. My mouth won't open. Something scuttles past my head. Tiny claws on wood. Then another set, and another. A squeak here, a scratch there. The pestilent stench of flee-ridden, sewer rats. I fucking hate rats.

What the fuck happened? It was supposed to be a routine hit. Fifty gra…

'Psychology' by Rupert Blunkett

In between fragments of twisted metal, amongst the shards of broken glass, embedded in man-made materials, is your husband.
In between the crumpled mess of wires, amongst the wreckage of the car, entombed in synthetic fabrics, is the man you cherished.
That is, what’s left of him; a spaghetti of bones and blood, ligaments and limbs. You’re grief-stricken. Desolate. Anguished. Heartbroken.
Everyone knew how much you adored him; you spoke of little else.
Although he really died four years, two months, eighteen days and five hours ago when your relentless and merciless psychological bullying broke his spirit.

Finally he’s happy.

"Qualification" by O. Westin

Once upon a time, when Odin was away travelling in Midgard, the other gods had a
feast. Late in the evening, when countless barrels of mead had been drunk, and
the gods still were, they came to talk about what ifs.
"What if Thor could be quiet," Frigg asked, and then continued with a seer's
certainty: "No, I can not see that happening."
"What if Loki could be trusted," Sigyn sighed, and all the gods laughed, for
they could not imagine such a thing either.
"What if Odin did not return," Loki said, firelight reflecting in his eyes. "Who
would be fit to rule?"
This made all the gods pause and ponder.
"I would not want to," Njord said. "I would have to leave the sea."
"I am the strongest," Thor said.
"I rule the war host," said Tyr.
One by one the gods declined, or gave a reason they would be the most fit to
rule, and there was much debate about the merits of each claim, but no agreement
could be found.

'Hunted' by Penelope Jones

I can hear him getting closer, his heavy footsteps echoing on the wooden floorboards as he ransacks the house. I am the last, I heard the screams of my friends and family as he found them, I hoped I had been overlooked but he is still out there searching for me.

It’s dusty where I have hidden in the cupboard, the space small and tight, I can feel my legs cramping beneath me, I consider running, shifting my position to a more comfortable one I lean forward slightly, the boards beneath my weight creaking ominously. Did he hear it? His footsteps so far away move closer, I hold my breath, praying he can’t hear the thumping of my heart in my chest. The light that seeps beneath the cupboard doorway is broken by his shadow, the line of light at the side of the door growing wider as he reaches in towards me. I close my eyes, hoping that if I can’t see him he won’t be able to see me.

“Got you!” he screams in triumph, reaching out to grab me “You’re it”

I cover my eyes “One, Two, Three, Four….”

'Flash' by Ben Tideway

Call me Slim, call me Sly, it is I who flickers in the snake smoke and you ask why. Call me Shimmer if you like for I’m what glitters in your night.I’m the serpent of awesome thoughts. I’m slicker than mercury on a black plate.I’m the butterfly you can’t pin down in your beastly box of butterflies. I’m the glimmer you pursue. You are the shadow I elude.Shadow I fear, of darkness I despair for I’m the lightest thing you’ve ever seen. You saw me once but stayed in the shade, your place of shelter in the sudden squall of seeing it all. I am the whisp of enlightenment hiding in your head. You seek me there but I’m everywhere. I’m an echo in the mind you left behind so long ago. Let me slip slyly. I’m the illumination that turns to doubt when the light’s snuffed out. I dance in the moonshine of your sleep and through your dreams I step in silver slippers. I hold the lantern of light.There is no darkness until there’s something bright.

"Tank" by Tara White

To do: Buy avocadoes Eat them Drink water. Dehydration causes 99% of lunacy. Maybe your kidneys can talk sense into your adrenals them if you ask them nicely Remember – more –
Remember wanting more? You are in a tank, your friends are talking but not to you, towards you. It is normal. You live here. There is always more. It’s just further away than ever, and you can’t prove it’s not one of those desert things you used to know the word for.
What not to do –   Ask why    How is even worse   Pretend   Be yourself   Talk to people   Consume ANY psychoactive substance   Read philosophy of ANY DENOMINATION*   Expect to be understood. Tank admits one. *This is a survival game. Do not fuck with this. High thought could kill you right now. This is evolution at work. You owe it to the gene pool. You are floating in it. One false move and you’re a dodo. Kierkegaard don’t care.
Things you can do:   Small things   Sleep   Shower   Drink some water in the shower
Remember –   Things that stop you from shaking
      You are …

"Needed Encounters" by Stephen J Regan

Office life in South Yorkshire, dull as it sounds, relentlessly so today. He toils though his lunch hour, stops at 3pm. Needs wine. Jamie’s brought to work a microwaveable lunch, risotto with chorizo. Must be taken with red wine. Fuck tea. Fuck the office staffroom. No wine at work, but a crap hotel bar nearby. So he nukes the risotto, hides the steaming pot in a big brown envelope, then walks to the hotel with it. There’s no point eating any of the food served in this hotel restaurant. It’s over-priced and shouldn’t, in any case, be taken internally. He enters the bar area – there’s no barkeep. He yells ‘medical emergency in the bar!’ through to the back via a staff doorway. No response. Louder – ‘medical emergency in bar!’ – a scowling barmaid appears. He recognises her. Debs. Bless. He loves her face. It betrays a life of sorrow, reminding him of a framed picture of Our Lady which hung in his grandma’s parlour in Sheffield in the ‘seventies. Debs is annoyed – but only momentarily. She …

'Womannequin' by Jane Roberts

False eyelashes, then hair extensions. A caking of teak varnish all over her body, like a park bench. Tattooed eyebrows – lop-sided, too dark. Incongruous porcelain dish teeth waiting – in vain – to be dirtied by traces of food. Fillers for sagging cheeks and silicon in Everest tits, peaks always pointing North West. She talks out of her arse-implanted, suckerfish mouth. She dresses in combinations from catalogue advertisements. She’s forgotten who she is. You’ve never seen her.

'Wifely Wisdom' by Catherine Connolly

All Hallows Eve was the night Will lost his head.  Literally.  Fortunately, his wife had some insight, being versed in witchcraft, as she was.
“Not to worry, darling,” she said, as the body crawled over the threshold, “though you might want to wait there for a minute whilst we work something out – the blood’s staining the floors and I don’t want to have to worry about castings on top of this one.  We need the energies.”  The stump assented, as far as Cara could tell.  At least, it was dipping and swaying the right way.
“D’we know where and when you lost it?” she asked.  “A point in the general direction would save time in the searching, that’s all.”  Will’s finger hit the air aimlessly.  “I’ll take that as no,” Cara surmised.  “Guess that’s not so surprising, considering.”
Cara sighed.  “You know we’ll have to work quickly, given we don’t know where to look yet?”  Her husband’s neck waggled at her.  “No need to get tetchy!” Cara exclaimed.  “I’m not the one who got careless with my bodil…

'Yarn' by Michelle Bromley

I snip the cords as soon as I see them. They grow back, stubble poking out of my skin, ends sliced across. The skin around each strand is red and sore. Split.
“Why don’t you want this?” My mother asks. “It’s an honour. A real honour.”
“You do it, then.” I look away, look down at my shin. My fingertips catch on raised welts as I run them along my flesh. I can never cut them close enough.
“It doesn’t work like that,” my mother says. “You know that.”
Yes. I know that. I know cutting the cords is useless, that they will only grow back and tangle me up. Still, I cut them.
“You’re going to have to accept it,” she says.
I don’t believe she means to be cruel.
“Not today.”
She leaves me, leaves me to curl up and stroke my hand across my legs, my stomach, my throat. Braille bumps lie under my skin, pushing up in pebbles: fresh cords ready to break through. So far, they’ve only grown in on my legs, and I keep them short. Just about. I’ll lose this fight once they break out all over my body.
It was a Satu…

'The Space Between' by Dr Lorraine Wilson

There was a regal, awful magnificence to the old paper; faded from years of sunlight and duty, and still ugly. It had to go. So they scattered around themselves the paraphernalia of intent, and scraped and steamed through the long, bright morning.
By lunchtime the floor was a sea of curlicues, and their arms ached contentedly. There was only one patch left to strip, around the doorway through to the empty hall. She made sandwiches, and he made tea, and they sat with books of colours. There was nothing there, in that metamorphosing room, nothing but their drifting words and their future.
He left her, when her mug was refilled. A purely male mission for some engineered thing, something that would serve them better than a simple brush and pot. She smiled and pushed hair from her face with the backs of her hands, lifting the steamer with the resolution of the near-finished. It came away cleanly, satisfyingly, that last long strip down the left side of the door. As if, she thought with her e…

Oysters by Joy Manné

I thought the oysters would do it. Widow’s Holes, no less, from the Peconic River. Osinski delivers them every Thursday during the season. I’d been sixteen, he was fifty. I was a cliché, poor, pretty and with potential. He pygmalioned me. I was willing. He had success and money. No children together. He’d had a pair he didn’t like. I was the child, taken on grown up, sex included. My first sex, he thought. I’d bluffed others. The beginning was fun. Hollywood. Parties. Celebrities who fucked me ‘cos I was his. He never found out. Too vain. Too self-centred. Too satisfied. I was the good child at his beck and call and invisible when ordered practising yoga and mastering the latest culinary fashion. Children should be seen and not heard. All he cared about was his films and novels and none were about us. Lolita without a Nabokov. And before you could fart twice – I’ll be as vulgar as I like – he was sixty and stented. Bad heart. Weak dick. Fucking me sore with Viagra. And then colon cancer w…

"Playing Nurses" by Amanda Saint

We wanted to be nurses. What a wonderful past-time it seemed to be; not like a job at all. When mum was in her uniform, ready to go to work, we coveted her upside down watch. We wanted one too, so that we could count heartbeats. Our visions were of hospital wards that were more like boudoirs: soft feather pillows, gossamer curtains and muted lights. Beds filled with glamorous, lounging patients lifting subtly scented wrists to learn the patterns of their pulses.
We made our own upside down watches with cardboard and pens, fastened them to our t-shirts with sticky tape. We pressed our fingers into each other’s wrists, sometimes so hard that it left red marks. Counting heartbeats endlessly. There were no doctors – it wasn’t that sort of game.
Occasionally our teddies and dolls joined in but it wasn’t the same. We liked the feeling that human wrists gave – that faint rhythmic pulsing pushing gently against our fingertips. We saw a TV programme once where a man was checking for heartbeats o…

'The Note' by John Holland

Harlan T. Spank III, aged 10, round, red-haired, putty-faced looked like a difficult child. Was a difficult child.  He was cruel, selfish and argumentative, traits he inherited from his parents. His mother Marcie and his father Harlan T. Spank II had not wanted a child and tended to gratify young Harlan’s wants rather than satisfy his needs. His father was a multi-millionaire property developer, although some said he had links with the underworld that went back at least one generation, and that he made his money in less than legitimate ways.
The note from the kidnappers read- For the kid, leave $1 million in used notes in the big burnt out oak tree by the crossroads at 2 am on Tuesday.
At 2 am on Tuesday, the kidnappers went to the tree and found only a note from his parents.  It read- Did you mean this tree?  There’s another burnt out tree just across the meadow.  Which tree is it?  We will pay no more than $500,000.
The next note from the kidnappers read- Of course that tree.  It’s an oak…

'Send Help' by Danielle Matthews

Although not to be found in modern history books, there has been a civil war raging for decades up north. North beyond the official border of the Chin (the Neck having separated seven years into the conflict). There may be continuing conflict in the long reaches of the South, but communication is minimal and news arrives already out of date.
Lazy Eye recalled the years of relative peace the Whole had enjoyed, but he was frequently ignored, having long been shunned as defective. And defective he was, but he still had a voice, and he was determined to be heard.
To that effect, Lazy Eye finally connected through to the current leader of Rebel Brain after four days of urgent signals.
“What have you seen, Lazy Eye?” the words were spat out like bullets, jittering through the signal network in a flood.
“I'm not calling to report, boss,” he replied with some trepidation. “I'd like to petition on behalf of the Whole for a cessation in -”
“The Whole!” Rebel Brain burst indignantly. “All we …