Flash Frenzy, round 33


The last time he’d been here, Stan had to strain to see over the ledge, his little legs as much pudge as muscle, but his dad hadn’t helped him up. The other kids pulled themselves onto the carved stone all by themselves, and Stan was held to no less a standard, son of a Colonel or no. The water portal had been new then, and the bridge to another world was a temptation no four year old could resist.

Now, of course, the fountain was filled with ordinary water. The Great Emigration, The Invasion, and The War, all locked into the past, as unreachable as the Caithan’s world, a number of light years away that was large enough to make Stan’s head spin. Despite the prohibitions, the bottom of the fountain was scattered with remembrances – dog tags, a rosary, a cameo of a lover, lost forever when the portal had been abruptly closed.

But there was nothing in the water to commemorate Stan’s father. Stan himself only came here under heavy secrecy and with a new face. He loved his father, but it had finally become too dangerous to maintain any public connection to the Butcher of Caithan.

When President Rodgers had announced the closing of the portal and the end of the war, she had said that the decision was irreversible – that the mechanism used to sever the connection made re-establishing the link impossible. She’d even had some physics guy standing behind her with projections and charts, so that it made no sense to anyone. It had come out in the trial that she’d hoped to avoid impeachment, even though there were millions who’d never come home again, but that attempt had failed, and her name was as much of a curse as Stan’s father’s.

Of course, as with all things said by politicians, it was a lie. Nothing one person did was truly irreversible, if another worked hard enough. Stan fingered the transmitter in his pocket and smiled. It hadn’t been easy, figuring this out, but now he had the power to reopen the portal. And humanity had unfinished business on the other end.


Flash! Friday, Vol 2, week 38


“From the Frying Pan…”

“Coop. Coop! Come in Coop.” The radio was more static than signal, the result of the battle that had caused our ship to have trouble in the first place, but that wasn’t why I hadn’t heard Willie G’s first call. I eased my thumb over to the mic control as smoothly as I could.

“I’m here. Standby.”

“Standby? We’re in deep out here, if you didn’t know. We have to figure out how to get home pronto, and without guidance. Oh, and why the hell are you whispering? Houston got nuked, and it’s just us on the circuit, buddy.” I didn’t respond – it wasn’t safe. Not yet. The ship was in its thermal roll to keep from baking in the sun, and Willie wouldn’t be able to see what I could see for another thirty seconds.

But he at least had guns.

I hoped the thing that didn’t need a spacesuit and had twelve arms would wait that long.


VisDare 76: Resolve


Her hand didn’t fit quite as well into mine as it had once upon a time, and it took a while for us to remember how to walk together, alone. The railroad ties were snow-covered, but not slippery, and we headed away from the cabin at a steady pace. With each step, I fought against letting them back in, the pieces of a life that intruded even into the most private places. If it wasn’t the kids, it was work. If it wasn’t work, it was the house. Or the car. Or family. Or friends. Pieces of a life filled with wonder, and tragedy, and love, beginnings and endings forming a maelstrom wrapping me in an ever-present cocoon. Once upon a time, although things never really were as we remember them in our dreams, it was her and me and a wide world of possibilities. They’d be expecting us back, I knew, before it got dark, but she and I had talked about it. Tonight was for us. We weren’t leaving, but we’d walk along this track, crunching our feet into the snow and breathing clouds into the air, step by step, until the cocoon fell away behind us like so many shards of ice. We’d walk until our arms swung in the smooth steady beat of our youth and we once again found ourselves alone. Together.


Finish That Thought, 2-8


“I’m sorry, sir, but I believe that’s your briefcase.” I looked up from my phone to see a blur of grey carrying what, indeed, was my briefcase. Taking a moment to consider what the thief had with them, I shrugged and went back to playing 2048.

“But sir, aren’t you worried? That man stole your stuff!” The valet was just trying to be helpful, I knew, and really, most people would have been panicking right about now, of course. But I wasn’t most people, because I knew something they didn’t. I pushed the button to turn off the screen on my phone and motioned for the man – Rick, his name tag read – to sit down next to me.

“The truth is, Rick, there’s nothing in that briefcase.”

“But…why would you be carrying an empty briefcase?” Rick was a young man, and despite my knowledge that he’d never live to be as old as I was, I still felt the compulsion to pass on wisdom to the next generation.

“Some men might say habit. You get used to carrying something like that for as many years as I have, it’s hard to put down. But that’s not me – I hated that damned thing, filled with folders and files and pens and business cards. The detritus of a life on the road.” I paused, looking out over the lobby. Lainie would have loved this hotel, had this been one of the trips she came on with me. There were too few of those, to be sure, what with the kids and all. My eyes misted over a bit, and I wiped them with the back of my hand.

“No, Rick, it wasn’t habit.” My voice had gotten rough, and time was short. “The briefcase was empty because I failed. I had a job, and I didn’t do it, and so I didn’t get to pick up what was coming to me.”

“Was…was it important?” Rick’s voice cracked. Maybe he was even younger than I’d originally thought – a college kid on a summer job. Aw, hell.

“You could say that.”

“But why did that man steal it? I mean, if nothing was in there. Did he know that?”

“If that was who I think it was, no. He assumed that I’d done my job, because I always had before. He’ll get to his safe place, open it up, and find out the truth. Maybe. Maybe not.” I pushed the button and checked the time on my phone. There might be just enough time for a miracle.

“Do you need to be somewhere, Rick? I mean, other than working?”

“No. Not today. My mom will be working late herself.”

“Well, if you’re up to it, what do you say to heading over to your boss and asking for the rest of the day off? I’ve got a hankering for some lobster, and I hate eating alone. And I can tell you what was supposed to be in that briefcase, if you’re up to it.”


Flash! Friday 2:37


The tide crept out slowly, pulled on by the heavens in a dance as old as the planet itself. One step up, one step back. I stared at the spot where the water had been, the beach cleansed anew, leaving no trace of what had gone before. I’d been a fool to think that she would change, that I could make someone like her love me. Night would come soon, and with it fog, and it would be time to head back to the dreary thing I called a life. Out on the sand, we’d danced, sipped champagne, made love, I’d said my goodbyes. Up there was a wife and a kid and a job where I moved papers from one box to another seven hours and twenty-five minutes a day. Maybe I should stay here, near the water, in the fog. One day they’d find me, but they’d never find her. The tide had taken care of that.


VisDare 75


Mommy’s strength was almost gone, but she found the will to hug little Ulie once more. “I know you’re sad, sweetie, but this isn’t goodbye. I’ll be with you everywhere you go.”

She wasn’t with Daddy. He was sad all the time, and took to drinking more of ‘Daddy’s special juice’ every night and falling asleep on the couch.

Janie said she still saw Mommy, but Ulie knew she meant the family photos on the phone that never left her hand.

So Ulie learned not to tell her family when Mommy appeared to her. She felt Mommy’s arms around her in bed at night. She heard Mommy singing her favorite songs whenever Ulie was sad. And when Daddy came home from work at the end of the day, Ulie would run out and kneel down in front of the chrome wheels of his car. Mommy got a welcome-home kiss too.


Finish That Thought 2-7


Two vials lay before me, the fate of dinner in my hands. It wasn’t that the stew was bad, but it sure wasn’t special. And it needed to be special, what with my fiancée’s boss coming over for dinner. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t know that Callie had entered the kitchen until I felt her wrap her arms around me and kiss the back of my neck.

“She’s going to love it.” I just grunted and continued staring at the vials. Of course she’d say that, it was her job in times like this to keep me from flying off the wall. Callie stepped back, grabbing my arm, using the leverage to turn me around. “Okay, what’s the problem? Does it need salt?”

I shook my head. “No. You know I’ve got a sixth sense for that kind of thing.”

“Oregano? Thyme? Fresh parsley? No? What is it, then?”

Tears came to my eyes. “I don’t know if I can do this, Callie.”

“Oh, Mark. I know you can.” She wiped a tear from my cheek and kissed away the salt. “We’ve been planning this for so long, and we can only make it work together. You’re my guy.”

I swallowed and closed my eyes. This time when Callie spoke, there was a hint of steel in her voice. “Don’t go soft on me now, Mark. My whole career is going to be affected by how this evening goes. If you couldn’t handle this, you should have told me a lot sooner. It’s way too late to back out now. Buddy, if I could dig a grave without cracking a nail, you can finish this meal. You’re not getting squeamish and thinking of doing anything stupid, I assume.”

“No, sweetie, that’s not it. I’ve just never intentionally killed anyone with my cooking before.”

“So? Why does it matter if it’s a bullet or a stew?”

This time it was my turn to hone the edge in my voice. “Because it does. Because I’m not a marksman, or a trained sniper. I am, however, a James Beard award winning chef.”

“Are you worried that she won’t like it? She’ll be dead. Who cares?”

“I care. I want her last thought to be ‘I’m going to die, but this was the best food I’ve ever eaten.’”

Callie stepped back and smiled. “I do love you, you know.”

“I know.”

“So, how can I help?”

“Here’s the thing. I know how every herb, every condiment, every spice tastes. I know how to weave them together to create masterpieces. But I just don’t know what arsenic or strychnine tastes like, and I can’t decide which one would really complement the other flavors.”


VisDare 74: Normalcy


This one’s too long, but I blame Angela. She gave us a great photo, plus a line in the introduction about a tribute to Robin Williams.

Irony Deficient

Ali gasped. Someone was rubbing his lamp! Who could it be? A young boy, with dreams of being king? A fair young maiden, willing to ease his lonely nights? Ralph?

Ralph? “Oh, no, not you! What are you doing rubbing my lamp anyway?”

“No one hides in lamps anymore. It’s the fifties.”

“That’s not the point, and you know it.”

Ralph sighed. “I need help. My lamp got crushed by a garbage truck, and I can’t think of any way to get a new home that doesn’t involve wishes.”

“Wishes?” Ali sputtered. “But you’re a genie! Grant your own wishes.”

“I…I can’t, okay?” Ralph blushed, turning a nice shade of chartreuse. “There was an incident, and I’m on suspension.”

“What kind of incident? Did you do that thing with the dragons again?”

“No! Of course not. They won’t answer me anymore.”

“Then what? War? Famine? Pestilence?”

“I granted a boy the power to be funny.”


“I cursed him. I drove demons into his mind, demons that would cause him to struggle to ever be happy.”

Ali guffawed. “We’ve all done that. There was this one time…”

Ralph interrupted him. “No, you don’t understand.”

“You dared call them forth?” Ali’s voice dropped to a whisper. “They have been forbidden since the first days.”

“I know. I thought if I made him funny enough, I’d get away with it.”

“You’re going to pay a long time for this. Some things were just meant to stay hidden.”

“I know that now.” Ralph paused. “So, can you help me?”

“I kind of have to. It’s in the contract. What do you need?”

“A home. And not some stupid lamp – something modern, and everyday.”

“Okay, a home.”

“And make it roomy – I don’t want to be cooped up for a million years as the powerless genie.”

“Can do. What’s the third thing?”

“Can I have a hug?”


Flash! Friday 2:36

drmagoo on August 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm
He Whom the Gods Would Destroy
160 words

Tag groped along the slick granite, searching for the handhold he knew had to be there. His fingertips were numb from the cold rain, and he’d already missed one hole, dangling precipitously from while the wind buffeted him against the rocks. A timely lightning flash had saved him, as he’d seen that his hand was just an inch or two from its target.

He’d thought of letting go, but didn’t want to give Mai the satisfaction. Her laugh as he’d found her in bed with Kal echoed in his mind, louder than the ranting of the thunder gods, and he knew it would be a long time before he would sleep without hearing that in his dreams.

It would be longer before he didn’t hear her begging for mercy, he thought, or the sound of Kal’s head cracking open on the floor. Tag climbed on towards home, the driving rain cleansing the rock of blood. The gods were indeed generous.