Monday, April 20, 2015


Welcome back! I'm so glad you could join us for another romp around the flash fiction gardens! Or, if you're like me and suffer from seasonal allergies, perhaps a garden romp doesn't sound so appealing? It's so disappointing to have absolutely gorgeous weather, but the moment you go outside it seems that every gland in your face both swells and leaks, not to mention the sneezes. Ah well, perhaps a romp in the office will suffice, BUT ROMP WE WILL! A LITTLE POLLEN WILL NOT STOP US! So onward friends! Write some wonderful romps! Have at you!

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Clive Tern. Read his winning tale from last week here! Clive writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories from a secret redoubt in rural Perthshire, Scotland. When not writing, reading, educating (his two oldest children are home educated), or caring (various health issues in the family, from Epilepsy to autism to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), he likes to plan a menu, don his chefs jacket, and pretend to be the next Masterchef. He’s currently working on two projects, both collections of short stories. the first is to be a cycle of fifty stories, one for each US state - a challenge for someone who has never been there. The other is a collection of tales set on a non-earth world with a vague steampunk ethic - a challenge for someone who has never been there. Follow him on twitter @clivetern, and spot his occasional gripes about how hard writing is at

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-42 is:

When we hit the [county/state/whatever] line we cheered.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a description where the main character is compared to a fruit.



  1. Truckin’
    498 words

    When we hit the state line I cheered. Ricky glared at me, out of the corner of his eyes. We hadn’t spoken since Texas.

    “Are you sure you want to go on this trip with him?” Mom had asked. “Who names their kid Richard when their last name is Head? Is there any truth to it?”

    “Mom, we’re in love.”

    Famous last words. First, we’d had a flat tire. When I complained about standing in the hot sun, Ricky had called me a sour grape. I mean, who compares a person to a rotten fruit? I was ticked at him, but we were following the Dead around the country—what could be better than that? Plus, Ricky had great eyes. The kind of eyes that make you pull out the dictionary and look up unique ways to describe the word “blue.”

    Now the only way I could describe Ricky’s eyes were as cold and uncaring. I didn’t care if I ever saw him again. I folded my arms over my chest, tapping my feet against the dashboard as I counted down the minutes until I arrived safely back at my parents’ house.

    Ricky pushed a cassette into the player, and “Truckin’” blared from the speakers. I thought about the blown out tire on the first day. The sunburn on my face so bad that people at the first concert asked me if I was a leper. One state after another, and there were some good sets. Even selling grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot wasn’t bad. Ricky and I had a good laugh over some people who thought we were Smurfs—high on Lord knows what.

    It was the last week, when Ricky had picked up the hitchhiker after I had told not to. And we drove fifty miles in the wrong direction before the guy pulled a knife on us and told us to empty our pockets. We had. We’d rather have our skins than the money in our pockets. In some po-dunk Texas town, my Mom had to Western Union money to us, and I told Ricky I never wanted to see him again. In hindsight, I should have waited to speak those words when I arrived home.

    I decided Ricky Head might have been right about me on the first day of the trip. Maybe I was sour grapes. And maybe he really did live up to his name. All I cared about was getting home into my Momma’s arms.

    “I gotta take a leak,” Ricky said, pulling into the rest area. “You gotta go?”

    I shook my head without looking at him, and picked at my fingernails. I followed his back with my eyes, and when he was in the rest area, I hopped into the driver’s seat.

    He’d left the keys in the ignition. I threw the car into reverse as fast as I could. From the rearview, Ricky’s arm flailed trying to get someone to stop me. So long Dick Head!

    1. I forgot to include that I accepted the special challenge.

  2. Served Cold
    Word Count 356
    Special challenge accepted

    When we hit the publication line we cheered. Another edition exactly on time no quibbles over my reaching deadlines this month. Yet in he storms and it’s not the time or the place for his antics. Verbal emotional acrobatics ensue as he ducks and dives in full histrionic drama queen mode. He didn’t, she did, and wait till I tell you jumping through hoops like no-ones business. It would be comical if it didn’t happen on a week in week out basis.

    I don’t know how he manages working on such a high level of stress constantly. As Fashion Advisor to the stars I suppose his column requires a certain amount of urgency to get in before everyone else with the latest style. He has often told me as a humble typist of his much admired work and lacking in all sense of personal style I would not have an understanding of such matters. I didn’t remind him that in a poll of people who’s fashion advice you should and must follow he has come last three years in a row, I’m not stooping to his snivelling diatribe.

    I bow and pander to his ever growing needs smugly content in the knowledge that when I find my much coveted job as a serious journalist which is in the pipeline, I have photographs of the most unforgiving outfits of his that he thinks have been destroyed. He is a total apple shape all round and miniscule legs but insists on dressing like a pear. They somehow will accidentally find a way into my last column a printing error or such like. This time he will find it harder to rise again like the proverbial phoenix.

    Ah my naughtiness and happiness gauge will reach a new high that day. My angel on my good side is sighing and despairing but as per usual the little devil wins. I feel no shame I am after all part of the fashion industry which is a notoriously bitchy arena. I can hear him now asking to speak to the organ grinder not the monkey, his comeuppance is nigh. I can’t wait.

  3. Raisin Brain
    346 words
    Special challenge accepted

    When we hit the dotted line we cheered.

    Ma said I'd never amount to anything. When I was a kid she called me Melon Head (and it's round but only slightly melon shaped) until that got old, then for the rest of her life she called me Raisin Brain and that was much worse. "Your brain's as big as a raisin," she'd say, and she'd pinch her fingers together to show me how tiny that was.

    If only Ma could have seen us that day signing for the house. I know she'd have been furious, and that warms my heart.

    We were so happy we celebrated too hard too fast. Last night Jenny and I drank way too much in the empty living room. I don't remember too much of it, except I'm pretty sure I shouted "Suck it, Ma!" at some point because Jenny thought that was hilarious. Ma never liked Jenny, always said she was "pretentious" as if she wasn't a snob herself. "Don't call me Ma," she always said, "It sounds so common."

    So I always called her Ma and she kept calling me Raisin Brain.

    This morning when Jenny and I woke up we checked the house. We should have done it sooner because there's mold in the basement and the plumbing might be done wrong. It's going to cost a fortune to fix, but hey, we saved money on the building inspection…ugh. Why didn't we get a building inspection?

    I can hear Ma now; "I told you so, Raisin Brain."

    I hate it when Ma's right, especially now that she's gone and I can't fight her about it. I miss her. She'd like it here once she got over herself.

    "Don’t worry, Melon Head," Jenny says, putting her arm around me. I should never have told her about my nicknames. I can't hate her for using it, though. I love her too much.

    "I always worry," I say.

    "We'll fix this place up and we'll be happy here," she says. "I love you."

    And she really does, raisin-sized brain and all.

  4. The secret in the cellar

    @geofflepard 489 words

    When we hit the base line we cheered. Digging out a basement had been a labour of love. Patrick wanted the space. For his writing room and his wine cellar; I thought we needed somewhere when children came along. If they came along.
    Patrick was handy; he thought so anyway. More to the point he didn’t trust paid for workmen to do a ‘proper’ job. The dig would take fourteen weeks. It actually took two years.
    Patrick accepted specialists should do their jobs but one by one they fell by the wayside. Bizarre illnesses – the electrician caught dengue fever even though he’d never left England; unaccountable injuries – the plumber’s right arm just snapped buying a paper, the plasterer sneezed and the pen he was holding went into his eye.
    Eventually Patrick did all the work. While he toiled I began to do some research about our house. We knew it had been wrongly sited – someone said the land had been old non-conformist cemetery but I really didn’t expect to find anything.
    As Patrick laboured to finish everything, rarely leaving the basement and turning a sick yellow colour from the lack of light and ingesting the dust, I became absorbed reading about a local sect run by Josiah Oldbourne who had been hung for blasphemy and sedition.
    It was a Thursday when I found a map showing where Josiah’s grave had been, just outside the walls of the churchyard next to our house. I drew a copy, my hands shaking. It was already clear to me his grave was in the centre of our basement.
    Some noise, like a key in a lock distracted me. I picked up my things and hurried home. I needed to check the measurements. It was gloomy despite being near mid-day but there were no lights on. When I climbed down into the basement, Patrick was standing dead centre, his beard touching his chest.
    His eyes were blazing, more intense than I had ever seen. He didn’t say anything but I ran to him and we made love right there. When we finished he climbed the steps and left me exhausted.
    I have no memory of the next twelve hours. The electric fire, the fire brigade and ambulance, the time in hospital. Patrick was dead and I was pregnant.
    I cannot believe how intense my pregnancy has been. I suppose the need to be there for my son is the reason I have barely grieved for Patrick or our dream home. The local authority have condemned the site – it seems Patrick’s digging revealed a sink hole into which the house would have eventually fallen but for the fire.
    I’m due to give birth any day; the paediatrician says the baby is perfect. Everything is perfect. Everything except the coroner’s report that I saw just today. I couldn’t go to the inquest. When he died, overcome by smoke, it says Patrick was holding a human skull.

  5. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 493


    When we hit the Event Line we cheered. Not a happy cheer. The kind of cheer that you force because you’re gonna die anyway so you might as well get excited about having THE most epic death in the history of human transience. Maybe that’s morose. But it’s life. If you asked, every single one of us could recite Dr. Siegfried’s thesis on Event Horizons and the Metaphysical Plane so getting sucked into a black hole almost felt like self-realization. Can you blame us?

    Our mission had begun weeks earlier as a simple supply run. Omni’s astro-engineers out in the Hyades star cluster were running a week overdue on food, water, and…well, let’s call it “companionship.” (It’s not easy when all you’ve got to stare at is your grape-headed crewmates for months on end.) We made contact fine, married the ships’ skyhooks, and boarded all without comms from the stationed vessel. Flannigan could land a Terra Station on a meteorite if she were inclined so lack of direction from the vessel wasn’t worrisome. It did violate Omni’s conduct laws; however, and if we found crew members alive and kickin’, we’d have to mark them up for noncompliance. We found crew members but only one was alive and about all he could do was kick. Convulse, really.

    Despite being contained in a ship with reasonable oxygen levels, the bodies were stuffed inside their exo-suits, bloated like road kill you’d see Earthside. Their visors did nothing to hide their asphyxiated stares, faces more like prunes than flesh. I puked, thankfully, hitting an emesis bag. Lepley wasn’t so thoughtful; bits of blow bobbing around the cabin. We checked the logs and found no sign of forced entry or distress calls sent out. Whatever hit them appeared to be internal and rapid. We popped our own visors on, hoping to reduce contamination. We didn’t know it but it was a little late for precautionary steps.

    Protocol dictated that we document our findings, call it in to Omni, then pick up and go.“Take nothing. Touch nothing.” We were about halfway home when Lepley started turning puce. She was out of her headspace by the time we got her bundled into her exo-suit and quarantined to the hull. (more for our safety than anything). Garcia was next, followed by Sampson, then Flannigan, and me. With all of us down, we didn’t have any delusions. This was where we got off.

    I think it was Sampson’s idea to adjust our heading and make for the black hole on the outskirts of sector 8. He’s pretty noble. Into that whole save the universe shite. And the rest of us were too sick to object. With everything going on inside me, I knew how a watermelon felt.

    “It’s like they say, right?” he said sweat coming off his dark skin like Victoria Falls. “Steer into the curve.”

    Here we are.

    Just past the Event Horizon and waiting for that black sunrise.

  6. Audrey Gran Weinberg
    494 word count - special challenge accepted

    Info Desk Delight

    When we hit that information desk line, an hour before the flight departed, we cheered!

    Two days earlier, my mother had accidentally left her mobile phone in the bathroom at the airport.

    She didn't realize it was missing until we were home. The next morning, she informed me quite calmly that it was gone.

    We searched our suitcases and duty free bags. Our anxiety began to rise. Suddenly my teenage daughter yelled down to us from her bedroom:

    "Read the whatapp family chat, Mom!"
    "It's been found!"
    "Grandma's phone."

    A shower of relief spread through me.
    "So, where is the Lost and Found?" mom asked.

    The website only had a form. I filled it in, reluctantly.

    After a few minutes we got an email: “Your email has been received, here is the reference number, please do not contact us, we will contact you within 7 days!”

    I’m a patient person, so I waited about 15 minutes. Then I called.

    “Goededag. This is Schiphol Services, Jan van den Jaap speaking, how may I be of assistance?”
    “Hi there, do you mind if I speak in English?”
    “Not at all,” replied Jan.
    “We would like to come pick up my mom’s phone. When can we come pick it up?”
    “What is your reference number?” I told him.
    “One minute please, can you hold?”

    A few tense minutes passed. We were sure we’d swing by the airport on the way to view the tulips at Keukenhof.

    “Thank you for waiting. There is no phone by that description in the Lost and Found.”
    “Um, sorry, how is that possible?”
    “There are many objects retrieved and brought to lost and found. Your phone has not yet been registered or it has not yet been brought here.”
    “But it was found.”
    “But that was by the police.”
    “At Schiphol”
    “Correct, at Schiphol. There are 1300 employees so I cannot know who brought it. We will look for it and let you know if and when we find it.”
    “We need it urgently, as my mom is leaving tomorrow morning.”
    “We will do our best.”

    There was no phone. But it had been found, and was lost again. This time not by us.

    We were on the phone all day. Customer service ranged from polite to irritated.

    We went to bed without the phone.

    Wednesday morning we called Schiphol again. This time, we got Diederik.
    “I heard your story. Can you please hold?”

    I had time to brush my teeth, put on coffee and dress.

    "I am sorry for keeping you on hold for so long.
    We have located your phone - it's at the Information Desk. You can pick it up now."

    Just before my mom checked in her bags for her flight, we ran to the information desk, hopping up and down like the Duracell Bunnies. “Where’s our phone? Do you have it?” And when they handed it to my mom, we cheered!