Monday, October 20, 2014


Welcome back! I'm on vacation (or, as you're reading this, probably on my way home from vacation), so I'm going to make this short. Go read the prompt. Have fun. Can't wait to read the amazing stories you come up with! :)

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.
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 Nancy Chenier, also known as @rowdy_phantom. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week hereNancy stumbled into flash fiction when the squidlet was born, as writing time has to be carved out of sporadic nap times and sane bedtimes. When not writing, she's probably doing something outdoors. She's eternally grateful for contests like FTT and the incredible flash community (shout out to #flashdogs) for providing such a supportive venue for writers. 

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-16 is:

[It] showed up [on my porch] at the most [inopportune] time.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Use at least THREE of the following:
egret, contrail, butterfly net, hedgehog, teapot, petrichor, spiral



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Let's try this again!) 412 words! Challenge accepted! Enjoy!

    An Egretful Morning

    The egret showed up on my porch at the oddest of times. I laughed at the thought, as egrets on the porch are a rather abnormal event. Perhaps the dampness brought him inland, I considered as the petrichor of the morning shower wafted over me. He seemed to be captivated by the teapot, turning his head to the left and the right curiously. Then he tapped at the lid. I was surprised to hear a tap back. Slowly, the lid lifted and there it sat. Extraordinary! A tiny hedgehog had curled up into the floral, ceramic pot. What would occur next?

    The hedgehog stretched and then rolled out of its makeshift bed like a roly poly and found its feet. The egret nudged it with his beak and the hedgehog responded to this intrusion by turning his back full of tiny quills his direction. The egret tilted his head one last time, curiosity satisfied, took an odd hop before taking to the air. He spiraled above for a moment before following the contrail back to his wetlands. The hedgehog, however, seemed less concerned with outer spaces as he become quite interested in a pile of treasures left by my nephew.

    He attempted to climb into the bed of the small, yellow dump truck but it tilted up landing him on his back. With some chubby kicks of his little legs, he flipped back over and backed up to reconsider the pile. Something else caught his eye and he picked his way through the pile.

    I laid my book down and reached for my glass of lemonade when I heard a WHAP! A scraping and a struggle pulled my attention back to the pile where I saw that the poor creature was indeed in trouble. The butterfly net had tumbled over the top of him and the quills were finding themselves wrapped into the threads. “You've gotten yourself into a bit of a pickle, haven’t you, little mister?”

    Scooping up the net, I gave it a couple of stern shakes. The hedgehog came free and tumbled the short distance to the floor. He seemed stunned at first. Then, backing away from the pile, he decided his visit had been enough adventure. Seeking escape, he slipped through a small hole at the edge of the porch. Perhaps I will leave the teapot outside more often. It certainly shook away the lonely strings of my morning.

  3. The Wisdom of Spindles the Hedgehog
    494 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted!

    The postal worker showed up on Harry’s porch at the most inopportune time.

    There is a law of the universe that dictates that one shall only receive important packages when one has just entered the shower and soaped up. Harry had just worked up a proper lather when the doorbell rang.

    He was so surprised that he slipped and landed on his backside in the tub. His pride was the most severely injured, but he also pulled an old running injury (in the groin, naturally). He almost slipped again when he stood up, but managed to maintain his balance. That is, until he set his foot down on his hedgehog.

    Spindles squeaked in terror and Harry screamed in reply. He jumped several feet in the air and stumbled into his kitchen. He grabbed onto something for support and realized he was clutching his mother’s antique teapot. He didn’t clutch it for long, as it slipped out of his grasp and shattered to a bazilliion pieces on the floor.

    “This is not my day,” Harry said. The doorbell rang once more and Harry yanked open the front door.

    The postal worker was just filling out the pick-up form. He nodded once and handed Harry the electronic signature device.

    “Bit chilly out this morning, isn’t it?” he asked.

    Harry looked down. His towel was long gone.

    Stay calm, Harry, he told himself. Play it cool, like you meant to be naked. He almost struck a pose but decided it was best just to take his mail and shut the door.

    “Well, Spindles, it’s finally here,” Harry said. He went and put on some pants before he grabbed a knife. There was another universal law about sharp things and nudity and he didn’t want to tempt fate further.

    He tore into the package. Styrofoam peanuts flew left and right. He held aloft the contents so that he might see it better in the light.

    It was a butterfly net.

    Harry liked butterflies and was not opposed to a good frolic in the outdoors, but he’d been expecting a part to fix the motor of his supposed-to-be award-winning invention for the competition that evening. He checked the address on the box and saw that it was for two doors down.

    “What am I going to do, Spindles?” Harry moaned.

    The hedgehog had no good advice to give. You see, the last important law of the universe is that hedgehogs don’t speak English. Harry was going to have to figure this out on his own.

    His robotic butterfly net did not win a prize, but it did catch the attention of a rather handsome spectator, who just so happened to enjoy dinner, and would he like to have dinner with Harry later that evening? Why, yes, he would.

    “I guess all’s well that ends well,” Harry said, quoting his favourite law of the universe. The universe gave him the thumbs up, and back at home Spindles the hedgehog smiled.

  4. Tamara Shoemakers
    Word Count: 436
    Four elements included from special challenge

    Promises Broken, Promises Kept

    The ring showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time, its silver circlet nestled against white velvet. The box was tied to my door handle, the meaning resounding through the still air around us.

    I'd managed to put him behind me—Oberon, king of the fairies, he'd claimed to be in hidden whispers behind the hedges. Titania was my name, spoken to the tempo of the trail of kisses he attached to my jawline. He'd caught me in his butterfly net, stringing me along on a path of promises and warm revelry, his scent as provocative as spring's first petrichor. Before a month was out, my emotions tossed like loose banners in a brisk wind, spiraling out of control into the canyons of feeling that had no bottom or sides.

    And then, he'd left, and my bitterness was a gulf, a yawning chasm that took months, even years to mend.

    Diggory was the first one, the only one, to set up an ongoing onslaught against my battered heart. When my castle walls shattered his spears, he retreated to the trebuchets. When the trebuchets failed to divot my defenses, he climbed the ladders. We fought every square inch of the cobblestone courtyard, and he steadily approached the keep where my flag flew at half mast.

    When he encroached the inner wall, I raised the white flag of surrender. He gave me no other option.

    Months passed in which he proved to me that he was no Oberon, no betrayer of promises. Diggory didn't whisper words of love and then forget them in the next breath. Diggory didn't spin a contrail of hidden hopes through the sky, only to have the wind scatter them to the seven seas.

    And now, as Diggory and I dandled along the pathway to my porch, our fingers lacing a web together, our laughter tickling our senses, I saw the box. My feet stopped at the same time as my heart. My stomach dropped at the same time as my hand from Diggory's.

    There was a note attached. In sprawling handwriting, it said. “I'm sorry, Titania. Marry me. Please.”

    The first time, it had been so easy. I was a fruit, ripe for picking, dangling from a tree for eager fingers to pluck.

    But now.

    But now, I was the Rock of Cashel. My drawbridge was shut, my portcullis down, my moat full. I turned my back on the ring, faced the one knight who had bridged my defenses, and pulled his head down for a lingering kiss.

    It's really not that hard, Oberon. Promises broken, promises kept.

    Trust trumps betrayal.

  5. Superman showed up on my doorstep at a most inopportune time. Another torn Cape and laddered tights. 'Tuesday,' he said. 'I need them by Tuesday.'
    It's not that I begrudge the work. Playing a small part keeping our Superheroes working is great, but they have no sense of priorities. In truth, it's all a bit me me me with all of them. And they don't try and avoid damage. Sometimes I think they deliberately try and snag something or test its fire resistance.
    That Silver Surfer is the worst. You don't mix sea water with meshed aluminium/Lycra panelling. It is not a good combo. I suggested the new alloyed plasticised linen, but he said it looked grey in sunlight. Picky. That's his trouble. It's not like you care if he's a dull silver when your life's being saved, is it?
    Now Superman is considerate compared to some. Apologetic. You want to hug him. But, see, today I had those awful Incredibles - so middle class - and their new outfits. A rebranding. Bloody Marvel; it's all marketing and image. Still, I'd be out of business if I ignored what Marvel wanted.
    Yes, Superman is my favourite. He's why I'm in this business in the first place.
    One minute I'm at my loom, slogging through the last year of my Textile degree wondering if I'll end up in fashion or furnishings; next there's this explosion and we're surrounded by fire. Well, you can imagine. All that material. And us, on the top floor - we're above the height of the tallest ladder - in the old days we'd have been toast.
    These days you hope for something like that, don't you? Ever since they taxed the bankers to pay for our own coterie of Superheroes everyone wants a life threatening disaster so they can be saved by a hunky piece of the supernatural. Some say that there are those who start these fires deliberately. Dreadful. I'm sure this was an accident. There were ten of us, waiting to see who they'd send. Maureen, she's that snooty cow from Knitwear, she said she didn't want Superman because he was 'past it'. Ok, they aren't in the full flush of youth - their peak was in the 50s we know that - but they're not mercenaries, you know taking a large pay cheque before retiring to some planet where they've sorted out their universal health and safety. No, they are doing this, using their experience, to do good. They're running a youth programme, aren't they? That must mean something.
    It was Superman who came. While he's carrying me to safety I see this tear. It's only polite to offer to fix it. He's sceptical; they use some tough fabrics but I know my stuff. Well, long story short, I fix it and that was the first commission.
    Now it's all of them. I'll fit him in. Of course I will. I just wish they'd take a bit more care. But they do like showing off, don't they?

    1. I love this perspective, the Superhero seamstress. So creative, and the stream-of-consciousness pattern carries it off so well. Great job! :)

  6. @stellakateT
    357 words
    Special challenge accepted

    The Artist within Us All

    Ian showed up on my porch at the most ridiculous time, 2am. He said he was jet lagged but as he’d caught the last bus from London and slept the entire journey I was certain he hadn’t crossed any international time zones before entering Wales.

    He’d woke me by ringing on the house phone because he said banging on the front door would have sent me into arterial fibrillation or some serious medical condition and he wasn’t insured to carry out any form of resuscitation. He did a good mouth to mouth technique when I finally let him into the flat. He was doing a temporary filing job at the local hospital and that gave him extensive medical knowledge!

    I prayed the old biddy downstairs wasn’t woken up by the persistent phone ringing else I’d be punished with glum looks and severe sighs for the next few months, might even have to suffer a few trips to the supermarket to get cat food for her pet hedgehog.

    The teapot Ian had bought me for our fourth anniversary had come all the way from Kathmandu, made by Buddhists monks, he was always travelling. It was now full of Yorkshire tea made by me. I was never going anywhere, no invites for this girl.

    Spirals of steam rose from my designer mug. I’d given Ian the old chipped one that reminded him of home. The slogan on it was ‘Spurs Greatest Fan’ giving Ian sidewise glances I realised love was blind. Had I never noticed the lines around his eyes, his thin lips that were a sign of meanness or so my old Granny used to say, his far from clean clothes and the faint odour of unwashed body.

    Looking at me with those deep blue eyes he started to tell me about the contrails he’d seen in the sky over New York and the petrichor of central park. How he’d met a girl called Destiny and was hoping to meet up with her again in San Francisco. I began to think about arranging his entrails in a heart shape above the mantelpiece. Damien Hirst eat your heart out.

  7. Longing

    It showed up on my porch at the most unwelcome time.
    It might have been mistaken for a walnut, the brown paper was folded again and again upon itself until it became small and vaguely spherical.
    Unfolding it tested my patience but just receiving it rattled my nerves.
    As I unfolded its secrets the scent of my old world, juniper, pine, the petrichor from the middle of summer, the crisp water scent of a sleeping earth lost beneath the snow. This paper carries a magic meant to make me remember.
    But I was not in a mood for remembrance. Here I am a teacher, I break down words for children and help them learn to remold them for their own desires. I walk to the store, a singular place and buy food of every shape and color; spiced meats, tangy citrus, bittersweet chocolate, cheeses from every corner of the world. At home my teapot keeps a different brew every evening, I’ve worked my way alphabetically from “Assam” to “Masala”, hoping to end finally on “Winter”. And I read books. I read them every day, I tower them around me, a fortress of knowledge and experience. I can touch their spines and remember traversing through these other lives.
    I taste a vast world in ways I could not before.
    The note was unwelcome because I had finally broken my own rules and let myself believe that “adventure” could melt into “permanence”.
    But I was being called home once again. However I enjoyed living as a human this magic had come with limits and conditions.
    I would return to the forest, my adventure abandoned- concluded my elders would say.
    For all the words I’ve gobbled up, internalized, parsed, and studied, the closest to describe my origins is “will-o’-the-wisp” but it’s only vaguely accurate as the folklore speaks nothing of who we really are and what we want. What they want. I wanted more.
    I watch an egret take flight from my yard and wonder if he was pressed into service to deliver my nut shelled command to return.
    I drop the paper and let the wind take it, and me, and all I can think is how much I’ll miss my books and the hands that held them.

    379 words
    Special challenge accepted

  8. “She / He”
    by Michael Seese
    497 words

    It showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time.

    A baby.

    My baby, apparently.

    I didn’t hear it... him at first. The teapot had just started flirting with me, and the Earl of Grey stood ready for his bath. I turned off the flame. When the whistle died down, a cry came from outside the door. I eased over, and listened. The crying continued. I opened the door a crack, and peeked. There, imprisoned in an infant car seat, was... an infant.

    Next to him sat a piece of card stock, folded tent-style, bearing a single word.


    He looked to be about six months old. Based on the obvious math, the mother could have been only one person.


    She was the first girl... woman I loved. I know I had said it to others before. And I probably thought I meant it. But I had no idea what love was. Until her.

    She was a woman, a woman with her own apartment. An apartment where I could go, and “play house” for entire weekends. We sometimes would spend those two days (three, when Monday was a holiday) naked. (I have to say, more than one pizza delivery guy got an above-average tip.)

    She was the who wrote symphonies in the sky, using the planes’ contrails as staves.

    She was art.

    She was the one who made time stand still.

    Then she left.

    And it stopped cold.

    But she was the one who made me grow up. When she left, I got a job. I got a house. I realized I could never have a woman like her (OK, a close approximation, as no other woman could be like her) if I still lived in my parents’ basement.

    So I did it. I became a man. I soon realized, though, that being a grown up is hard.

    Asshole coworkers.
    Bigger asshole bosses.
    Buying food.

    The latter, I would have to admit, had become far too friendly with me of late.

    Ten years ago, I couldn’t wait to be a “grown up.” I thought it would be the start of an ascent to the pinnacle of life. Instead, I now know that 18 was the apex, with the rest of life being a long, slow (though accelerating) downward spiral. And the guy standing at the bottom, holding the butterfly net which is to save you from going SPLAT, was asleep.

    Yes, life is hard. Too hard. Unbearably hard. And now this.


    He showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time. The teapot had just started flirting with me, and the Earl of Grey stood ready for his bath. I turned off the flame. But I left the gas running. I figured I had just enough time for one last cup of my favorite beverage before permanent sleep overtook me.

    But now, since I am responsible for another life, I probably should shelve any plans of ending mine.

  9. Real Estate Blues

    It showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time. I had just finished showing the house to an interested young hip urban couple when it came steaming and whistling down the path. An enchanted fifty-gallon cloisonné teapot scampered up my steps, perched itself on my porch and perkily began to sing in an high-pitched off-key soprano. "I'm a little teapot, short and stout..."

    The couple paled slightly and gulped.

    "Take no notice of that." I said waving my hand dismissively at the teapot."My neighbor, Doctor Von Brauch has his own lab and likes to tinker, sometimes his creations get away from him, but I assure you that they aren't the least bit dangerous."

    I led the way to their car which they had parked at the curb.

    Just then a hedgehog went trundling down the sidewalk. "Hi folks, how's it going?" He said plodding on steadily.

    They blinked after him in stupefaction.

    "That's my other neighbor Harvey." I chirped brightly.

    "But ... but, he ... he's a hedgehog and he spoke." the woman stammered.

    "Yes he does speak, he's completely harmless, and just think of all of the insects he eats daily." I smiled brightly.

    They had just gotten into their car when "Kaboom!" A sonic boom burst the stillness. A strong gust of wind rocked the car on its tires and a thick white contrail formed above the block.

    "What was that?" The man demanded, while his wife cringed in the car beside him.

    "Oh, that would be Mr. Flannery from across the road. He's a real superhero, always rushing off to save someone in peril. He's in charge of our local neighborhood watch in his spare time. We have a very low crime rate in this area." I confided.

    This final revelation was just too much for them, with a muttered utterance by the man of, "We'll get back to you, it's a big step, we need to think about it some more." He started their economy car and sped away.

    I sighed sadly, realizing that thanks to my crazy neighbors I'd lost yet another potential sale. I cursed under my breath. I really, really hated living in Fantasyland Estates.

    358 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted
    Used: teapot, hedgehog, contrail

  10. “Hello, Mother”

    He showed up on my porch at the most unlikely time. But that was him. It was like the end of a dry spell driving up to the house and seeing him sitting there. Even the petrichor smell of dust being sprinkled with hot rain drops seemed to herald a change in the air that wouldn’t last. Still, you wanted it to. You prayed for it to.

    But today he was on the porch, sitting in the swing letting it go back and forth slowly like a girl on a date. I wanted to stop and watch for the egret by the pond, search out the hedgehog that had a home somewhere on the hill. Anything to avoid going up to the house and ruining the moment. It was a moment of pregnant pause, that gave a rise to my throat and a breathlessness. I wanted it for the last ten years. For forever. To see this boy, this sunshiny boy who let me tousle his hair and taught him to fish and make candle kisses for camping. Now he was back, and for sure I was betting that he would find a way to start another argument before I’d gotten my coat off and put my things away, so I wanted to savor this moment. To stay in the car and watch him there on the porch. To pretend he hadn’t stopped talking to me, writing to me, calling me. That he hadn’t pretended I didn’t exist. The way I had had to pretend so I could get through the day without wondering why he hadn’t said “boo” or “hello, mother” as he did when he was being funny at 14.

    He was the baby. He ran the most. He flew to the moon. He raised cattle and caught them in spidery webs of gossamer thread, then released them and flew to the stars. He could tape stamps together to make a quilt, then finger six strings and make it sing and screech and cry…like the song said, killing her softly.

    Only it was me he was killing, me he was leaving every moment he lived. Me, the womb, the birthplace, the morning sunny pancake breakfasts that only a mother makes, with whipped cream and chocolate chips in a smile and two eyes. A “tasty” breakfast he would say and ask for more. “You’re the best Mommie,” he would say and call me and say, “When can you come see me? Get back to me as soon as you can.”

    Today is a week after his birthday. July 4th was two weeks ago. It’s dry, it’s dusty, even with the little bit of rain that just fell on our roofs and our roads. It’s evaporated, leaving only that stale smell of a promise of rain to come. Maybe tomorrow.

    I want to see him, to hug him. I let the car idle up the lane to the house, and there he is standing now. Watching me.

    497 words
    Special challenge accepted:
    Used: petrichor, egret, hedgehog
    chava812 @ yoohoo (dot) com

  11. Waiting to be King

    The summons showed up on their communicator at the most inopportune time. Another day and they would have made it into the Philistial territories. Apparently, The Davidicus, was not stealthy enough to pass through Saularian space undetected. The summons commanded they stop or they would be destroyed.

    The Davidicus did stop. But not in open space. Instead they made a run for a nearby planet. Their scanner indicated the planet was seismically active. They tucked their vessel into a series of caves left by the volcanic activity. As they passed in and through each passage, they deployed a series of sensors which would inform them if they were followed.

    They were. The readings indicated the Saularian flag ship was behind them.

    They assumed they had been followed, but breathed a sigh of relief when the Big Ship and its host of escorts stopped. They began transferring fuel, and dumping waste, activities which made them vulnerable to attack. The crew of The Davidicus realized the truth, they were not followed, the enemy had come in to hide. They made themselves helpless right under the muzzle of The Davidcus’ guns.

    The war room plotted out a firing resolution, the communication tower planned to send out the announcement that The Davidicus had won the kingdom, but the captain refused to allow his ship to fire.

    One day the Davidicus would rule over this space. Of this they were all confident. But how would the kingdom respect them if they took the throne by treachery. Most of the kingdom already knew them, many already wanted them to rule, but they had earned this respect by behaving nobly.

    The Davidicus sent out a probe. It attached itself to the skin of the Saularian flag ship. The device would send out a signal when it was carried back to their home world. This broadcast would show the whole kingdom how foolish their monarch had been, and how easily the throne could have been claimed.

    328 words

  12. Perfect Timing

    It showed up on my porch at the most inopportune time, weeping and mewing pathetically.

    My sister and I stood staring at it for a while, me, silently, and my sister with the perpetually distracting toothpick in her mouth, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw.

    “You gonna take it in?” she said, gnaw, gnaw.

    “I don’t know.” I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it, nor my ears from her chawing.

    “Can’t just leave it there.”

    “I know.”

    She twirled the toothpick with her tongue, flipping it so she could start at the other side. This particular toothpick was from earlier this afternoon, I think. Her record for a single toothpick was eight hours, but that left her tongue with such splinters, she made it a personal rule to change them out every seven hours whether they needed replacing or not.

    I hadn’t minded it so much when she used to soak the toothpicks in flavored oils. The cinnamon one smelled quite nice, in point of fact, and had I any interest, or teeth for that matter, I might have contemplated trying one out myself. Some of the others weren’t so pleasant. Lemon reminded me too much of furniture polish, or at least what I remembered furniture polish smelling like, back when we cleaned things. Chocolate was just silly; if you’re going to eat chocolate, then for heaven’s sake, eat chocolate. Don’t soak little bits of wood it in and pretend there’s any real sort of pleasure possible from that. But when our bank account ran empty, so did the oils. Now it was nothing but plain old wood, whittled into picks by an obliging neighbor.

    “So, what then? It’s coming on night and the teapot’s not gonna boil itself,” my sister said, chew chew chew, flip, chew chew chew.

    I didn’t answer, instead turning my eyes to the sky where a faint orange contrail from a sky dragon was exploding into tiny blossoms. This used to be my favorite time of day. Sometimes two or three sky dragons would cross at once, and their contrails would spiral like a whirlpool, so beautiful, so graceful. That had been nice.

    Chew, gnaw, chaw, flip.

    “You even know what you’re making for supper?” she asked, chawgnaw.

    I looked again down at the porch, back at my sister, chaw chaw, back at the porch. The little dragon looked up at me hopefully, the growl in its stomach like the comforting rumbles of an approaching thunderstorm.

    Back at my sister, chew chew gnaw, with the toothpick in her mouth.

    Hey, no, wait.

    Not lousy timing.

    Not toothpick.


    431 words
    Yes challenge.