Saturday, 18 April 2015

Thank you!

Well, that's it for another issue.

We hope you enjoy the tsunami of words, the torrent of tales, the... the... what's the word?
FlashFlood!

A huge thank you to everyone who submitted a story. This time around we had to expand beyond our normal 144 story limit (that's one every 10 minutes for 24 hours) and squeeze in an extra few, because there were just too many stories we liked. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you weren't included, don't be disheartened, chances are it was because we were getting a slew of stories on the same subject (a lot of death this time; and vampires) so it may have been just that we had fulfilled our quota of your topic. And we will be back with another journal later in the year, so you can always try again (when the main topics will probably be something random like stoats, or maybe okapi).

And, don't forget, today we have announced the launch of this year's Micro-Fiction Competition and also the opening of submissions for our Anthology, so that's two more opportunities for you to send us your work. (Full details below).

Thanks must also go to the veritable hordes of people who have blogged, tweeted, shared and otherwise spread the word both during the submission period and over the last 24 hours. The waves of support were nearly enough to wash our Flood away. So, thank you all.

And finally, thanks to all the editors - Susan, Susi, Cassandra, Annette and Caroline - and to Tino Prinzi who helped out with some of the logistics. They, like me, do this for no reward other than the joy of sharing flash-fictions. So give them a big hand!

For me, well, it's off to start gearing up for National Flash-Fiction Day (27th June) so no doubt you'll be hearing from me again soon.

Thank you all, and until next time, keep flashing!
Calum Kerr
FlashFlood Editor and Director of National Flash-Fiction Day






2015 Micro-Fiction Competition
Closing Date: Midnight, May 15th, 2015

The National Flash-Fiction Day 100 Word Flash Competition selects the very best from contemporary micro-fiction from all over the world. This year is no different, with the ten winners published in the 2015 NFFD Anthology as well as prizes of books from both NFFD and our sponsors.

To enter, get writing and submit your 100 word flash-fictions and send them to us before midnight on the 15th May.
Full submission guidelines at http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/comp.html.


2015 Anthology Call for Submissions
Closing Date: Midnight, May 15th, 2015

Once again we are delighted to open ourselves up to submissions for the annual NFFD anthology. This year, our topic is Geography and you should feel free to interpret that however you like. It doesn't have to be set in a classroom, it could be about any place - about a mountain, a valley, a river, a desert, or you could even talk about terminal moraine or drumlins. As long as something geographical is at the heart of your story, we'll be happy

However you care to work with our theme, we want to read your stories. The word limit is 500 words, and you can submit up to 3 stories. Please include them in the email, not as attachments, and follow all the guidelines.

All writers who have a story selected for the anthology will receive a free print copy of the book upon publication.

This year's editors will be the Director of National Flash-Fiction Day, Calum Kerr, and renowned flash-fiction writer, Angi Holden.

To enter, get writing and submit your 500 word flash-fictions on the subject of 'Geography' and send them to us before midnight on the 15th May.
Full submission guidelines at http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/anth.html



Friday, 17 April 2015

'Murder On a Death Bed' by Bart Van Goethem

She bowed her head towards his mouth and, barely audible, he said, Honey, I... I need to confess something.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'Supreme Dragon' by Holly Geely

Spring meant that the humans would be imitating his form, donning a fabric carcass created in his image. Every year he was outraged by their presumptuousness. They had his looks right, leftover from a time when humans gave him due respect, but they did not know him. They did not know how he moved.

He was Dragon.

They would dance the night away, light their firecrackers, perform their rituals. None of them would look to him. They no longer believed.

He was Supreme. He was beyond their mortal ways.

But if he was completely honest, he was bummed that they hadn’t invited him to the festival.




FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'Rose Petals' by Susan Shipp



She lays there, my other identical self, older than I by twenty minutes.  Her eyes are closed, and her breath laboured.  She clings tenuously to life – fighting to stay with me.  She will lose.  I knew that in my heart, long before the monitors told me so.

            A warm breeze filters through the open window of her hospital room, carrying the heady scent of rose; her favourite flower.  Letting go of her hand, I ease up from the chair by her bed and move to the window, arriving in time to see a rose-petal fall softly to the moist, warm earth.

            For a moment, I smile, and the years tumble away and we are children once more …

            ‘Hurry up Jude.  We must get them before they turn brown.’
            ‘Let me finish this page.’
            ‘No, you must help me now.’
            As usual, I put my book down and follow my sister’s instruction.  She will not stop until I do.
            ‘Go and get a dish: the one with the pink roses.  I’ll start collecting.’ She dips her head back to the task, safe in the knowledge I will do as she bids.
            As I run into the kitchen, Mum is smiling.  She hands me the old ceramic pink rose-patterned bowl, and a jug of water.  ‘Best take the water now, or she’ll send you back.’
            Crouching down beside my sister, I hand her the bowl.
            ‘Did Mum see you?
            Starting to collect rose petals, I shake my head.
            ‘Good.  It’s a surprise.’

In the warmth of the hospital room, I look back at my sister.  Still, no movement.  No sign she can smell the scent she so loves.  But as sure as I am in my heart of losing her, I know there is time for one more rose-petal collection.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

"The Long Flight" by Rhoda Greaves

They ask if you have anything to say. You look up towards us in the gallery, and I hope you can feel me there with you, holding you. I think you’re going to speak, just for me. And I’m trembling. I want you to. But I don’t want to be recognised. Not that I’d deny you. Not even here. My aunt and uncle lent me the money for the flight, even though they thought I was crazy to come. I spent it drinking mini wines and trying not to tell the nice man in the smart grey suit next to me, why I was travelling to the States alone. My parents gave me the money last time. But made me pay it back when they found out why I’d gone.

You shake your head, and my heart settles its rhythm. The journalists take out their pads and scribble, and to my right she flops into her hands, weeping. An older man props an arm awkwardly around her shoulders, but instead of it soothing her, she just gets louder.

‘My babies,’ she wails. And as she pulls her hand from her mouth, tendrils of snot contaminate the arms of her long black jacket: she clutches herself in a hug. Pushing her silver-threaded hair back from her face, she looks towards you, her cheeks streaked with sticky black makeup. And I can’t understand what you ever saw in her. ‘Why aren’t you sorry?’ she shouts at you. It comes out a slur.
‘Evil son of a bitch,’ the old man says, like he’s just taken a gulp of raw sewage. 

Evil? I just know you as you: letter writer, cat lover, lover. You’d said that if you’d been granted one final wish, it would have been to spend half an hour alone with me, so we could be like the Bible says; as one. Your face remains impassive. You can’t hear them. But if you could?

Another woman, a younger, better kept version of her, kneels at her side and offers a tissue, which she blows so hard I almost tell her to shush. 

You stand. You walk proudly like you told me you would. And I want to tell all of them: ‘That’s my husband, you murderers.’ 

Do you think Tilly is missing you? Or already wrapped around the legs of some other poor soul, creating a stink for a saucer of milk? I look away. You’d warned me it would take longer than I’d think to make the pronouncement. More than just the flick of a switch to turn the body off. There are some like her, weeping for their own loss. And others. Men, whose blood-baying eyes shine in the falsely bright lights. I wrap my scarf a little tighter to better hide my face, then glance at my watch, and wait. For their cheers. 



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'Girl' by Claire Whatley

She’s here again.  With that same vacuous stare. She perches on the edge of her cafĂ© chair, smiling at some private joke. I see her everywhere. Today she’s in jodhpurs. I would say they flattered her legs but her legs are perfect already. I read the other day that a woman’s thighs should never touch. I imagine her standing, and envisage the gap for a clear passage of air to waft straight through her legs, right up to the top.

The shirt that hugs her tiny waist is the same virgin-blue as those inscrutable eyes. Her blonde hair is scooped into a firework, sparking and tumbling in graceful disarray. For a moment I think her head turns, and unblinking, she glances my way. Her secret smile widens just a touch. I look down at my own lumpen form, and, finishing my frappuccino, I stand. Katy scoops a last finger of milkshake froth and hops down from her chair. I take her hand and we leave. The eyes of the young woman catch mine one last time before she disappears from view. 

I stride through the park, enjoying the dazzle of copper-and-gold above me, my scuff-and-crunch below. Katy had been lagging but now she runs on ahead. Clouds block the sun and I huddle into my coat. A sudden rustle of autumn leaves sends a shudder down my spine. I spin around and it’s her. She’s poised on a bench, legs outstretched in her long brown boots. The arch of her feet in those killer heels defies nature. Her coat falls open over a red wool dress, skimming the smooth lines of her taut body. She’s close enough for me to appreciate her flawless skin; close enough for me to slap her. I’d like to knock her off that bench, send her flailing into the mud. Her mouth is fixed in that eternal smile and her eyes are taunting me. I increase my pace. 
*

It’s dark now. At the bottom of the garden, I sink into the ancient parka that hides my bulges beneath. I eat another hotdog. The bonfire smells of childhood when I was such a skinny thing. Kids wield sparklers as they await our annual display. 

Behind me the house looks so cosy, but then I catch sight of a figure that shouldn’t be there. The hotdog falls from my fingers: I must be mistaken. I move closer and even from here I can see she’s naked beneath her negligee. She’s sitting on the patio table, leaning back as though soaking up the summer sun. Her lustrous hair cascades and glints in the moonlight. I march over and grab her by the arm; carry her down to the blaze.

Yes! I consign her body to the flames. She flies; she falls! The negligee is gobbled up before she lands; her nylon hair, devoured. The fire hisses and spits. I watch her plastic face melt and her impossible body shrivel into molten blobs.


Goodbye, Barbie.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

"The Right Recipe" by Diane Simmons

I decline the slice of cake Michael offers. I do this every week, but he always tries to bully me into eating one. John, as usual, grabs the largest piece and they both giggle. I hate those giggles – the Sunday afternoons lost.

John and I have only lived together for two months, but he obviously relishes Michael’s non-stop invitations.

I thought I’d be enough.

‘I’m getting tickets for Glastonbury. Do you want some?’ Michael asks.

I’d planned on Florence, but John doesn’t hesitate, looks thrilled to be asked, seems to follow Michael’s lead no matter what.

I can bake too, know exactly what I need to put in the cake I take round to Michael’s. It’s good to be friendly to neighbours, John says.

And it seems only polite, if Michael’s so keen on cakes stuffed with drugs, for me to oblige, to provide the hit of all hits.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'The Mutton and the Lamb' by Debbie Young

The sequins spelling out “Justin Bieber” across the woman’s crop top were in a shade of silver that exactly matched her hair. But  this dubious fashion statement was lost on the two teenage girls who were staring at her from within the cosy confines of the bus shelter. Their gaze was transfixed by her bare, white, blue-veined thighs. Combined with the scarlet mini skirt,  the effect was that the components of the Union Jack were waiting to be properly assembled.
Stumbling on too-tight wedge-heeled red sandals, this spectacle approached the bus stop. The darker of the girls pulled a tasteful lavender cashmere wrap more closely about her shoulders, although it was not cold that had made her shudder.

The woman juddered to a halt before them, as if she’d inadvertently put her shoes into neutral.  From behind bifocals, she flashed a smirk at the cashmered girl.

“So, darling, now you know how it feels when someone borrows your favourite clothes without asking.”

Glancing sideways, the teenager clocked her companion’s dropped jaw. Then she sighed and peeled off the lavender wrap.

“Ok, Mum, I get the message. Now for God’s sake, go home and put your own clothes on.”





Previously published in Quick Change



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?

More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'The Lovers' by Oli Morriss

They had been rushed into hospital, their faces wrapped in bandages already turning a deep red.

They had been placed on beds next to each other under the watchful eyes of the next of kin.

The next of kin had put a photograph beside their beds for when they awoke.

They had been pulled into surgery and the surgeons had pulled off the bandages.

The people in the room had tried to stay conscious.

The surgeons operated, aware at all times of the next of kin watching from the observation room.

They had skin removed and replaced – they had metal placed in bone.

They had their faces wrapped back up.

They were taken back to their room.

The next of kin looked over them, then left.

They woke a week later, surrounded by drips and doctors and a photo on a table.

The bandages had been removed and they looked at each other unseeing.

The faces on the photo were blank.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'Ice Bear' by Nina H B Jorgensen

I’m melting.

The bear looks at me. I look at the bear. We’re the same colour. We have that much in common at least. We’re both a sort of white with a hint of muddy grey like a concrete wall where damp has seeped through and left a birth mark the shape of some far away continent. When the snow comes it paints over the ugly patch, the part that has grown old. For a while the wall looks white again and the sky puts the paint back in its cupboard and the bear turns its head away.

The bear can’t save me. I can’t save the bear. The birth mark won’t rub off despite our attempts to lick it clean. Last year we were both bigger versions of ourselves. We have that in common too. We were fatter then on cold winds and seal blubber and we stood tall like light-houses flashing our own beams of existence across the night. But now the sea is nibbling at us like hungry fish and the bear has to watch its step and tiptoe or we’ll both go under.

If the bear could speak it would ask me: “why are you disappearing?” I would ask it: “why do you need me?” All this time I thought it could crush and drink me alive. Its eyes used to pierce through me like drills cracking open the seabed to find out what’s hidden beneath. I thought I was the vulnerable one to be walked across to a better side. Now the bear is clinging on to my edges, rubbing them smooth, and I’m the life raft except I’m not shatter-proof and I’m melting.
Soon I’ll be all at sea and the bear will be on dry land. I am sorry for the bear. The bear is sorry for me. But there’s nothing more I can do. It’s time to saddle up the white horses, hold on tightly to their manes and let them take me to the far away continent that is my destiny.

So I bid farewell to the bear and the bear bids farewell to me.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

"Through wooden bone and slate skin" by Lynn Love

A boy lives in the roof. He smells of slate and warm pigeon breasts on crisp winter mornings.
   Stolen feathers prick his scalp instead of hair. A flightless fledgling, he’s pressed under roof tiles, body bulging between the slats.
   Hunched under the low roof, my limbs become a geometry lesson of angles. My foot scuffs the Christmas box- it tinkles, showing off its boa of fairy lights. The boy’s there, tickling my cheek with his musty down. He asks me to stay and I’m willing-unwilling but I sink to the floor anyway and listen, the thick, soft dust a cushion under my knees.
   He whispers of the stars, the drift of a million suns that wink and shimmer, filling the sky with inky purple shadows. He bellows of the storms that have shuddered through his eaves, shaking plaster dust from his joists, threatening to tear his wooden skeleton from his slate skin. He drones of the bees, their waxy hexagons that tunnelled through him until his hollows shook with waggle dances and sung with the hive mind. Disturbed, honey drips and falls into my eyes.
   He asks to take my hand and instinctively I reach for him. I yearn to count the stars as friends, to feel myself expand under the sun’s rays. He creaks, timbers groaning like a battered mast for love of me.
   ‘I love you more than the dawn,’ he chitters. ‘More than the bees. I’d extinguish a thousand constellations for you.’
   Then I smell his breath‒wind-dried skin and bone, cement ground to powder by damp and time‒ and I kiss him once and stumble away. The Christmas box tips and falls, wreathing the boards with unlit bulbs.
   There’s a boy in the cupboard. I run to him as the roof shakes and groans, as brick dust salts my hair and gums my tongue. The boy’s door opens with a sigh. I burrow into him, rip through layers of wallpaper‒ floral, stripe, floral‒ and dig my fingertips into his plaster, searching for his heart. I follow the pulse and thump until I find it, lay my palm over the beats that come faster for the touch of me.
  The boy in the cupboard never begs me to stay, promises nothing as I curl in his darkness, my hand on his mineral chest. Soon I’m as cold as he is warm.
   The boy in the floor stares through knots and gaps between boards, with his woodlouse eyes, his cable lips and tied-up tongue, tangled with balls of hair and shredded newspaper.
   I never talk to him.  



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

'Flask' by Mandy Huggins

Josie walked past the shelter where the tramp always sat. He was there even in the bitter cold. As always, she pretended not to see him, but as she climbed the icy path an idea came to her. She could bring him some of the homemade soup that was left over from last night.
When she came back out with her flask, snow was falling again. She could hear the soft sigh of the waves below, and through the trees she glimpsed the distant lights from fishing boats, marking the invisible horizon.
She grasped the frosty railing as she descended the slope, the wool of her glove sticking to the metal. For a moment she thought the tramp had gone, and part of her was relieved. But he was still there, huddled in the corner.
As she crossed the path she lost her footing, the flask crashed to the ground with her, and when she unscrewed the lid, the soup was a mess of glass. She considered turning round without saying anything. After all, it made no difference now.
But he called out to her, and asked if she was ok.
"I made you soup," she said helplessly.
"Josie, isn’t it?" he said. "Don’t worry, I don’t expect you’ll remember me."
She shook her head. Maybe he knew her from the library.
The shelter was dank; names gouged into the bench. He had cardboard stuffed inside his coat, and a green hat pulled low over his ears. He held up a bottle of whisky, and laughed. "This’ll keep me warmer.”
She peered at him, trying to recognise a human face through beard and dirt. His eyes were dark. She had seen those eyes before, in another time.
"Here," he said, offering the bottle, "pour some into your flask cup." He talked quietly, his voice raspy. There was something in the lilt that was almost familiar, perhaps altered beyond recognition by the roll-ups and the whisky. 
As he lifted the bottle to his lips again, she noticed the tattoo on his hand. A faded rose at the base of his thumb. Her heart lurched, but she said nothing. Dave. Dave Noble.
She saw his tanned chest, his arm flung above his head on the grass, his dark eyelashes resting on his cheek. Gently sleeping. She was only sixteen; he was only seventeen. She could smell the hot motorcycle engine, and see the shimmering road stretching ahead through that long summer. Her cowboy. 
She handed him the flask cup. "Keep it," she said. "I’ve got to go.”
Had she been just one girl amongst many? Did Dave Noble even know that Josie had once loved him with all the madness in her teenage heart? She suddenly needed him to know, more than she needed to breathe. She walked over and kissed him. His lips tasted sweet and his eyes burned dangerously bright. As she climbed the path, she didn’t turn round, but they both knew she would be back.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

"The Party's Over" by Tracey Walsh

She'd have done anything to be picked as Lord Lloyd-Webber's Nancy. Queued for hours to get into the auditions but was rejected as too young. Same thing with Maria, and too old for Dorothy or the dozens of Matildas that came along later. Frustrated, she restricted her singing to the occasional karaoke competition just to remind herself that she did have a talent. 
Long after she swore she'd never join the cattle market that was the X Factor auditions, she was scrolling through her Facebook updates and there it was, her dream job:
Promoted by Princess Parties: Can you sing like a Disney Princess? Do you love kids and want to earn a second income? Click here!
She sailed through the audition and turned up for Princess Practice that weekend. It was all quite straightforward - parents with more money than patience booked a 'Disney Princess' to entertain at their kid's party. Singing talent was a bonus but mainly it was crowd control. 
Home exhausted after her first booking she snapped. She just wanted to make some money from her talent and, yes, get some recognition. How had it come to this? She didn't sleep that night. By morning she'd come up with her action plan.
The next party would be her swan song and to make sure people remembered her name she was going to take everyone with her. It shouldn't take the investigators long to spot the method. Just a slight change to the plot of Sleeping Beauty - all the little darlings joining her to take a special sleeping potion, but the twist is they'll never wake up. 
Tiny twinge of conscience about the distraught parents. Anyone's little one off to a party this weekend? It could be you.



FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.