Showing posts from 2013

Thanks for Reading

And that, I'm afraid to say, is the end of the Flood. We have restored the defences, piled up the sandbags and stemmed the flow at the end of another issue.

We hope you enjoyed all of these wonderful stores. They, as with previous issues, will stay up here so you can continue to enjoy them in a more leisurely way; to read, enjoy, comment and share.

FlashFlood is building up to be quite an amazing flash resource, with nearly 500 stories now on our site. Thank you to all the writers who have made this, and every previous issue such a success.

And thank you, of course, to all the editors who do such an amazing job behind the scenes!

By wrapping this issue, we're also wrapping up National Flash-Fiction Day 2013. Hope you had a good day and enjoyed some wonderful flash!

We will be back with  another issue, later in the year. So, get writing now and we'll look forward to reading your new stories.

Until then, happy flashing!
Calum Kerr
Editor, FlashFlood and Director, National Flas…

'Love, Virtually' by Elaine Miles

On Monday, we met in a chat room.  All formalities dispensed with, we quickly became close.  I was thrilled when you wanted my email address, but relieved you didn’t want webcam. On Tuesday, you wanted my mobile number.  The intimacy of your texts excited me. But on Wednesday you wrote on my Wall that you were afraid of commitment. Humiliated, I hid my profile.  Switched off my phone.  I couldn’t even tweet. On Thursday, you unfriended me.  You even unfollowed me on Twitter. By Friday, your Facebook profile declared you single. Which was heartbreaking, as I’d been in love. Well, virtually, anyway.

'Misty At The Range' by Will Barrington

Misty can smell crazy, it's why she took over the range when Pops retired. Her older brother Dale too bold, too careless; too proud to acknowledge the snub.

Since breaking off with Orin, Misty got bored. Most likely it was Orin that made her bored. Dependable Orin, regular as a repeating rifle.

There's this guy at the range who lingers at the kiosk, buys more ammo than he needs. Don't seem the full clip, but he looks at her with hungry eyes, and she kinda wants to see what he looks like when that hunger's sated.

'Wish-list' by Becky Talbott

She despises what she sees in the mirror. She takes out her pen and makes a list: 
Hair- Shinier, longer, blonde (or any colour except ginger) Eyes- bigger, brighter, blue (or any colour except green)  Lips- fuller, redder Teeth- whiter, straighter Arms- less hairy, less flabby Tummy- flatter, defined abs Legs –longer, less hairy…
She is nowhere near finished but already its time to go. She quickly writes her name and age at the bottom of the page and puts it in the envelope “To Santa”. She hurries down for her tea.
She asks her mum what she wants for Christmas.

'The Bench' by Gary Tippings

It was the same wait every day. Arthur would arrive first, he liked to make sure he got his favoured side of the bench, and Tom would shuffle towards him after ten minutes or so. Lifting his stick as he entered the park to let Arthur know it was him, a semaphore signal of only their understanding.             And Arthur still liked to arrive early. If it wasn’t raining he’d be there. His newspaper served as a mat if the bench was still wet. It was only falling rain that kept them away. The bench was their social club, their doctor’s waiting room, their table in the restaurant, their bar without beer. It was about the right height and position for a view over the valley of Clackheaton. It took the sun at twelve and held it till three. It did the listening when one or the other nodded off and the story needed finishing.             Tom had been taking longer and longer to arrive once inside the park gate. Even the wave of the stick had begun to falter recently. He blamed his hip for his l…

'The Reality of Nightmares' by Katie Foster

­­­­­­I pull my duvet cover up to my neck, and close my eyes. Feeling my delicate eyelashes tickle my skin, my nose twitches, before I allow my entire body to succumb to darkness.

Footsteps. Echoing. Hauntingly mirroring the beating of my heart. Downstairs. Yes, that’s where they are originating from. Downstairs in the kitchen. The hammering of bulky trainers on the freezing cold concrete tiles, leaving behind dirty, encompassing footprints imprinted on the glossy surface. Silence. The opening of a cupboard. The soft clinking of glasses kissing each other at the rim, and then the running of the tap. A jet of water, followed by the trickling of stray liquidised particles upon the floor. Rushed gulping. Sharp breaths. The placing of a glass upon the scratched, grey-toned granite worktop. Footsteps. Again. Out of the kitchen. Into the lounge. A zip scratching against the sofa. The irritating tear of embroidered threads. A churlish curse muttered from the mouth. Over to the window. Curtai…

'The Danger of Cake Crumbs' by Anouska Huggins

The key is where Erin expects it to be: Blu-tacked to the bottom of the highest rockery stone. Old habits. She unlocks the squeaky back door, stepping into the kitchen.

The sink shines. Three tea towels hang on the oven door, pristinely folded. Scarlet: like Clara’s favourite coat. The room smells of lavender and rosemary, as it always does. Erin runs her fingers along the cool counter, swallowing. If Clara catches her here.
The chrome mixer stands silent, empty. Ceramic mixing bowls are on the shelf in descending size. Erin remembers the clatter of the wooden spoons against their sides. The afternoon sun glints off the glass dome. She lifts the lid. Nothing. Beside it, the three-tiered stand gleams white.
Erin opens the fridge. A lone diet ready-meal. Clara never did eat her own cooking. Always watching her waistline. Could pile on three pounds while her sticky lemon cake rose in the oven, she always said. Not like Erin. Clara didn’t know where she put it. At one time, anyway. Try th…

'The Super-man' by Jonathan O'Brien

Glass and steel rise before me. A monolith in the modern style. I must climb each of its Art Deco steps.  One by one. Step by step.
My heart is pounding. I might have an attack before the end. But I keep going. Mustn't stop till I make it to the top. Step by step.
The roof is quiet. The city is sleeping. The neon lights fade as the sun rises over the steel horizon.  Step by step.
Then I fly.


'Map to the Stars' by Kristen Bailey

Harry has never slept alone.

Every night his mother curls herself around his body and lies with him.  She closes her eyes and pretends to be asleep but secretly she’s making shopping lists and thinking about the TV schedule.  Tonight, Harry takes
his finger and traces the freckles that outline the curve of her cheek.  He stops at the mole on her jaw line.

‘What do these dots mean, Mama?’

‘It’s a map,’ she says, her eyes still closed.  ‘Go to sleep.’

‘A map to where?’

‘The stars.’

‘Then why is it on your face?  Maps should be on paper, in books.’ She remembers they need laundry powder.  And salt. ‘Because I’m special, a chosen one.’ He pauses.  ‘But one day your face will get old and wrinkly and the map won’t look right anymore.  And you’ll die and they won’t be able to keep your face.’

She opens her eyes.  He traces his fingers along her eyebrows and smiles.  'Good night.’  He finally goes to sleep.  He dreams about this special map, and how it leads his baked bean tin spaceship to a plan…

'Earthbound' by Sinead O'Hart

Out of hundreds of thousands, they’d selected him for trials. Once there, he’d passed every test. His coordination, balance and physical condition were top notch, and his IQ was passable, if not brilliant. Most importantly, he was among the few who took to the Untethering process - in fact, he’d been a perfect test case. For him, Earth would soon be a fading, painless memory. When they broke the news, he tried to act surprised. ‘Congratulations, Shane. You’re going into space, son. You’ve made it.’ ‘Sir, I…’ he gasped, jumping to his feet to shake the Commander’s hand. ‘I mean…’ ‘I know, son. I know.’ The older man smiled as he watched the eager waves swell and crest in the eyes of his newest recruit. ‘The honour is too huge to put into words, right?’ ‘I can’t tell you how grateful I am, Commander…’ Shane began. ‘Grateful’s got nothing to do with it, son! We’re not doing you a favour. We’re not sending you on the first manned mission to Mars because we think you’re a nice guy. You’ve…

'The Road to Trowville' by Darren Seeley

We saw them on the road between Old Bridge Creek and Trowville. At first,  it was just part of a foot, the heel slipping between the trees back into the forest, but then a little further along the road where the apron of grassland widened in front of the treeline, we saw a whole one.

Whether it was the headlights or the noise of us approaching that first drew its attention wasn't obvious, but we stopped the car on a verge at the side of the road and cut the engine.  Looking up through the windscreen, we saw it looking right back down at us.  

Despite the night, an almost full moon illuminated its skin to a curiously familiar bluish rocky grey. If you wanted to paint a picture of one from your imagination, it's exactly the colour you would use.

It examined us fairly nonchalantly in that disappointing way that wild things do, though we did see it was clasping food in its hand; there was the odd leg sticking out between the fingers.    It kept smelling the food, almost obsessiv…

'Support Services' by Anne Lauppe-Dunbar

Don’t let apparently negative comments get you down. Take the ones that help, and forget the rest. Does the introduction beguile the reader? It might after all, not be important for us to know the Dai was drinking Guinness. And who the fuck is Dai? Showing and telling Errors of diction Not ‘enamoured with’ but ‘enamoured if’ Not ‘but he didn’t like it though’ but either ‘but he didn’t like it’ or ‘he didn’t like it though’. Put this in italics ♫ Solidus or slash Ø There’ll be camels en route and kif and jellabahs May your night be sleepless Your aim should be not fog and tricks but accuracy and magic.

Smokers' by Orjan Westin

It started with a nod, a noncommittal acknowledgment of another's existence.  It became part of his morning routine: get up, put on a robe, make a cup of instant coffee, light a cigarette, and nod to her.

On the day she first spoke to him, she couldn't get her lighter to work.  He watched, not sure whether he should offer her his own or if that would be intrusive.  It's one thing to offer a light to a stranger on the street, or to ask for it from one, but a neighbour? That's different, he thought, that's someone you see every day, and keeping it on a nod-only level made it nicely uncomplicated.

"Uh, excuse me?" she said. "Can I borrow your lighter?"

"Yes, of course."

They met at the low wall of her front garden, and he handed her his lighter.  She lit her cigarette and gave the lighter back.

"Thank you." She smiled.

"Don't mention it."

He gave her another nod and half a smile, stubbed out his finished cigarette, and we…

'The Visitor' by Maeve Heneghan

Opening my eyes, I know I must have slept for quite a few hours. Sleep, when it comes is precious. 
I'm starting to adapt more to my routine, welcome it even. I never did wear a watch, too busy living in the moment. Mum always called me the flaky one. Said I needed to start taking more responsibility and grow up.
I stiffen slightly as he opens the door. His face is still covered. He puts dry toast and tea on the floor. He turns, bolts the door again and rattles a key in the lock. 
It must be morning.

'The Path of Least Resistance' by Rachael Dunlop

Under the lightless twilight sky, the street glowed, its luminescence stolen from the sun in the heat of the day that had passed.
He sat very still on the bench, hands tucked under his legs, back curled to make himself small. People hurried by, glanced, carried on. Earlier, they might have stopped, checked to see if he was okay, asked if he had been in that building, the one with the fire. But now they just wanted to get home while they still could.
He should go home too. Water was lapping around his feet. No, not lapping – there was no push-pull, in-out, just a creeping roll, rising bit by tiny bit. How long before all of downtown was flooded?
He could still smell the smoke, taste it too. Water from the first sea-surge had got into the basement of his office building, shorted the electrics. Strange how water could make fire.
Water will always find a way, his father had told him when he was a boy. Water always takes the path of least resistance, he had said as the two of them stared up at…

'Tennis Season' by Emma Shaw

Every year, at the start of Wimbledon fortnight, mum used to tune in and not tune out until she'd watched every stroke. She even had a green carpet in the living room, stretching from her favourite chair to the TV screen like the pristine grass of Centre Court on the first day. I was sure she would mark it up with tramlines but maybe dad thought this was a step too far.
My sister and I were banished to the garden, or to our room to play, but no chance of catching up with our usual after-school programmes. Even rain didn't stop play because thanks to the good old BBC we got endless repeats of matches already played and, in the case of really severe weather, an action re-play of last years' final. So no respite for us.
When Wimbledon was announced my little sister would wail 'Oh no, cold food' which made us all laugh but didn't deter mum from her course. So, cold food it was. But we didn't mind. It was nice to see mum so happy and we got to eat strawberries …


All the stuff that had happened to me had happened, all the stuff that was going to happen hadn’t. Time was as still as the afternoon; May, like all memories become. The Clash were asking ‘should I stay or should I go?’ from Hugh’s mono speaker, notes dropping down from the first floor windows onto the quad.
10 men sauntered past, whites camouflaged for blossom. Their leader cupped his hands around some words, intoned  them into a request  directed at Hugh’s room. I couldn’t make it out above the second verse. Answer was there none.
The man looked back at his team blankly then saw me for the first time. ‘You’ll do,’ he said. I was all in grey but he overlooked it.
Minutes later the red dot was hurtling towards me.
All the stuff that had happened to me had happened, all the stuff that was going to happen hadn’t.

'Present Time' by Oscar Windsor-Smith

'Not Lost One Yet' by Ed Broom

I'm giving the baby boy pushchair wheelies and he's gurgling away and the girlies are racing ahead on their bikes and the sun's reflecting off the reservoir and isn't this all top family fun with just Dad and the kids?

Ahead lies a stretch of squishy mud.

I carry Laura then squelch back and carry Daisy then squelch back and carry both bikes then squelch back and drag the pushchair backwards with the baby boy still gurgling and my boots and ankles are caked.

Daisy says she's tired of biking. Laura agrees.

I balance Daisy's bike complete with stabilisers on one pushchair handle and hang the saddle of Laura's bike on the other and we all have a drink and a biscuit and the girlies are OK to walk 'cos this next bit is downhill.

Our path seems to double back around a swampy inlet.

It's fast approaching the baby boy's tea-time and I've brought no baby food and it smells like he needs a change and we're at best halfway round and the car's a distan…

'This one mindful life' by Alison Wells

Why does everything boil down to goldfish?

In their short life the goldfish experienced everything that a single, intense, life in a moment might offer. Love: that boy on the outside of them through the swish swosh of the water, his face familiar over and over. Imagine love at first sight, again and again and again. It was like that.

They cast no remark over this clear, bright, remarkable life. A stage set where they looked out. The woman arranging flowers in a vase; she placed them close, that waving palette, that sharp fantastic. The woman’s face: Smudgy, everything rubbed out at the edges in the lamplight. They flicked their tails like mermaids, splashed like children aged under seven with their raw happiness.

Sometimes the boy and his mother were beside each other in the evenings, the man not as often. Oh seeing the boy and his mother it was a great, light, swishy tail feeling. With the man it was different but still fabulous, they dreamed in one fast shut eye moment of being elec…

'Elevator' by Amanda Oosthuizen

Gail was a hydraulics engineer specialising in elevators; rupture valves to be precise. And I can tell you, Gail did like to be precise. In the event of a catastrophic failure, her rupture valves would mechanically stop the outlet flow of hydraulic fluid, thus stopping the piston and the car in the down direction.
Gail was intent on preventing the down direction. For twenty years I’ve known Chicken Provençale on Thursdays, tagliatelle on Tuesdays, that we’d spend an hour and a half walking our three Patterdale terriers along the same paths before work each morning and forty minutes on our return home, that we’d be dutifully intimate on Wednesdays and Fridays, that we’d holiday in a gîte in the Garonne, and that Gail would eat exactly three squares of Montezuma’s orange and geranium chocolate every night whilst viewing an innocuous episode of a vintage sit com. And she never offered me a single square. And I never laughed. And she didn’t notice.
Gail would be pleased to know that an anti…

'A Taste for Shoes' by Anne Summerfield

Emma eases her feet into the snug linings and feels stiletto heels tilt her above ground. The green leather is the colour of the tops of leeks, intended for short steps out of taxis, spotlessly swept up-town streets, the carpeted lobbies of hotels. Cinderella shoes. Emma buys them with the  petrol money her mother gives her as if she’s still a student.      Even without donations, she’s faithful enough daughter to make regular trips back but sly tricks of forgetfulness prove she’s full-grown. Each time she returns her parents present her with gifts of home-grown veg. Mud-caked carrots, onions fat as teapots, apples wrapped in pages from the Daily Mail. The car fills with an organic stink of wet soil and vegetation. The leeks are overpowering on warm days.      Back in the flat she unpacks into fridge and cupboard. She’ll use what she can but her life of prick and ping affords little chance for country cooking. Confined to smoked plastic coffins at the base of the fridge, lettuces soften…

Hazard Lights by Al Kratz

One of the most dangerous places to be, when I was a teenager, was inside a place called Mother’s Imagination.I always found trouble there, always came home late, but it does take a long time to get a car out of a ditch, change flat tires, or outrun the police. It wasn't just me, around every corner were strangers trying to give me free drugs or lure me into their cars to do things far too horrible to be said out loud in that place. Unchecked, I would’ve stayed “her little boy” there forever, but all places have some rules and it was forced to face that I was becoming a man. Oh shit, the places I’d go!
I’d often jet over to a neighboring place called Dad’s View.It seemed much safer there, although too quiet. Most of the people there liked me; they’d say stuff like I was a chip off the old block. The men at the barber shop weren’t so sure. I overheard them arguing about where I came from, but agreeing it was somewhere far away. We never got into trouble that really mattered in the V…