Monday, December 15, 2014


WELCOME to another fun Tuesday writing prompt! I'm so glad you could join us. I'm in and out a lot less with my new job, so if you want to share or retweet for me, that'd be great. Have a great time writing for the new prompt, and I look forward to reading your amazing stories! Go check out the prompt and get to it! :)

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 A.J. Walker. Read his winning tale from last week here!  A.J. Walker (@zevonesque) is a keen flash fiction writer from Liverpool, England. He is involved with The Poised Pen writing group and this year put together their two ebooks. He is proud to be considered one of the #FlashDogs (if you haven't got it already their spanking new anthology is available on Amazon). He also loves real ale, music, walking and footy. When he’s not testing real ale or looking for dragons he occasionally updates his website at

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-24 is:

The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with [the ugly stick], but they had been [blessed] in other ways.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least FOUR of the following:
A pair of binoculars.
A fur coat.
A stencil.
A potted plant.
A painting.
An aromatherapy candle.
A pair of sunglasses.
A Kindle with a copy of FlashDogs Anthology on it. ;-)
A courgette.



  1. Joyful

    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the happy stick, but they had been cursed in other ways. Their annoying laughter precedes them. The mother looks to be twenty, which is impossible considering her six children are walking with her. Their presence has fouled my otherwise quiet neighborhood for the past hour.
    Over the past hour they have knocked on each door in the subdivision, and each time be sent away. But still their laughing and caroling continue.
    Unfortunately, the rejection does nothing to break their spirits.
    The older boy, a big kid with ketchup red hair, pulls a rusted wagon of the wares they are trying to sell. The wagon squeaks along the cobblestone of the street.
    They walk in the street — hello, we have sidewalks.
    Disgusting. Panhandling in this day and age?
    Why are these children not in school? And why are they now singing nursery rhymes?
    No, the wheels on the bus do not go round and round in this town. That's why we voted to not allow bus service.
    The children dance as they sing and walk to the next house.
    I’d call the truancy department if I wasn’t worried that they’d give out my name. I don’t want these unmentionables angry with me.
    Ms. Jones, the retiree across the street, has tears in her face as she slams the door on them.
    The horde shuffles towards me, a fresh chorus of ba ba black sheep precedes them. Here they come up the sidewalk to my door. They pass right by no soliciting sign.
    Figures that anyone this happy would be too stupid to read.
    The Jesus knocker on my door taps. For some reason I had expected a thumping.
    I open the door to find the cute little family, and their migraine-producing smiles.
    “Good Afternoon,” the say in a practiced unison.
    I cross my arms.
    The youngest, a button-cute dimpled girl with loris eyes, says, “We are the Von Maths. May we interest you in wares to make your home better?”
    My mood sours even more. Their pile of junk includes binoculars, a painting of what must be happy trees, sunglasses, potted pants, candles, and piles of squash.
    “I do not need any such things.”
    “Not even a fresh courgette?” an older daughter asks, while holding out a zucchini. She looks nothing like the others. Who would expect that a vagrant’s mother would dally.
    The hand is death pointing. The vegetable its sickle. I feel years of joy siphoned away.
    The family beams brighter.
    “Be gone you wretches.”
    The others turn to leave. The youngest daughter, behind blindingly white teeth, sings, “okay… bye.”
    I close the door and weep against it.
    So leaves the cursed happy family, and the remaining joy that I had.

    462 Words

  2. That was potted plants, though the potted pants makes for an interesting twist.

  3. The Bear Necessities

    His entire family had undoubtedly been hit with bad luck, but they were gifted in other ways.

    This was the conclusion Andrew had come to after reviewing the contents of his lunch box. Most kids in his class carried bright luminous plastic boxes adorned with images of the latest superhero or cartoon dog. Andrew on the other hand, had a cardboard box adorned with a Sunflower his Grandmother had lovingly painted the night before. Whilst most kids were munching into sandwiches and scrunching down juice boxes, Andrew was staring at the courgette his Grandmother had stuffed into the box and yet again wondering, "Why me?"

    His Sister Muriel, of course, was no better off; "At least yours is edible" she scowled, holding up an aromatherapy candle and the plastic stencil their Grandmother had used to brighten Andrew's box. He always was the favourite.

    Muriel threw a packet of crackers over to Andrew; since their parents had died, they had become accustomed to these lunch time atrocities. She beckoned him into the corner of the playground so that they could eat unobserved.

    "This would be easier if she were losing her marbles." Muriel remarked, snapping the courgette in two. “Sometimes I just wish she was normal."

    "You'd hate that." Andrew muttered.

    Just as he was about to bite into the offending vegetable, a tall figure appeared behind them, casting a long, hairy shadow.

    "Darlings!" it screeched.

    "Granny!" Andrew leapt off his seat and into the warm arms of her fur coat.

    The old woman snatched up Andrew's courgette and began gesturing wildly.

    "I saw a programme on the television!" she shouted, "A man, taming a lion, it was marvellous!"

    "Yes Granny." The pair nodded; they knew what was coming.

    "So I thought, the Circus children, we absolutely must go to the Circus!”

    Their Grandmother began whistling the music of the Big Top. The noise, which seemed to block out all others, triggered a chain reaction; at first slight dizziness and the smell of chlorine, then waves of static which caused her fur coat to look like a hairy sea anemone, caught in a storm.

    The children closed their eyes and allowed themselves to be enveloped by a veritable cornucopia of sights and sounds. The celebratory 'rum pum pah' of carnival music danced around them, the scent of freshly popped corn and sickly sweet toffee apples made their mouths water and in the distance they could hear the roar of a lion and the thunder of applause.

    “Mrs Bowman!” a voice cut through the atmosphere and shattered it like glass.

    “Mrs Bowman, the children have to get back to class.”

    “Goodbye children, I’m off to the Jungle!” Their Grandmother sang, skipping away from the frustrations of their teacher.

    The teacher bent down towards the children to speak in hushed tones. “Muriel, is your Grandmother on any medication?”

    “No, just gifted!” Andrew exclaimed, grabbing his Sister’s arm and skipping off towards the direction of the school, whistling ‘The Bear Necessities’ all the way.

    500 words

    Special challenge accepted

    Erin McCabe


  4. Hi never done this here before and have no idea if I'm doing it right apologies in advance if not my name is Susan O'Reilly. I tried to do my twitter account as my user name but it keeps asking for a url bit of a technophobe here so I've had to pick anonymous which i didn't want to lol


    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the pretty stick but they had been hit over the head with it in other ways and as a result were either twisted in personality or had weird tendencies or were just plain bad-minded. Sylvia, the prettiest one escaped all this, her affliction was being too innocent. She was beautiful in every way but the recipient of her sibling’s antics because she never saw it coming. She was innocent to the extreme and couldn’t see the bad in anyone not even with the magnifying part of a pair of binoculars.

    Mother was the epitome of vanity, a fantastically handsome woman, who knew it and revelled in all her family’s beauty. Her most recent acquisition from a secret admirer was a fur coat and she was already auditioning local artists for the privilege of capturing in a painting her wondrous body enveloped in it. Father had no issues with his wife’s wiles as been a fabulous looking member of the male species had admirers of his own. They both pretended to be oblivious to each others playthings.

    George the youngest and absolutely cherubic looking boy had a humour as evil as the devil himself. He revelled in others misery, Sylvia was free from worry at the mo as George and his female counterpart Alicia who was just as naughty were conspiring on how to get rid of the new Nanny who Mother only hired because she was as ugly as sin and likely to show the children that not everyone was as lucky looks-wise as themselves.

    I am the oldest daughter, and beautiful in my own right, but my curse is that I have been giving a brain and have to endure this vain lot until I’m eighteen. I can’t wait to get to college and since I’m the only one that has any interest in going down this route, money shouldn’t be an issue. I watch from my window as George and Alicia are busy overturning potted plants telling poor Sylvia that they are looking for worms but that she must do it in the grass. The one good thing about Sylvia being bullied is that she is always happy and doesn’t seem too mind or notice. I already know who they intend to inflict those worms on, poor Nanny. I’m very fond of Nanny so I decide to reprimand the two demons and rescue Sylvia at the same time.

    I’m unaware that while I’m watching them Mother is watching me in despair. She can’t understand my love of books and my total disinterest in my appearance. “Georgia” she mutters to herself “what am I going to do with you. I’ll never get you married off.” My Father is also watching but with pride “Georgia, my favourite, beautiful inside and out, she’ll save us all.”

    474 words

    1. Hi, Susan! Welcome! You posted just fine. Word count, twitter handle, then just type the words 'special challenge accepted' underneath. That's all!

      As to Anonymous: Usually it'll have a drop down menu with ways to sign in (like a Google + account or a blog of your own - I don't think it takes Twitter), but signing in as Anonymous is fine to as long as you tell us who you are! :) No worries! Join us again!

  5. Me Susan O'Reilly again meant to say I did the extra challenge bit I'm so sorry ye will never let me on hear again please advise me on the correct way to post in future cheers x

  6. You Should Not Be Dancing
    477 Words
    Special challenge accepted (potted plant, sunglasses, fur coat, binoculars)

    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with visible disco fever, but they had been hiding it in other ways.

    Jennifer’s toe was often a-tapping at work, and her body wriggled of its own accord, but she kept the music to a low hum. Her boss never noticed, and some of her coworkers thought she was a bit eccentric, but they didn’t know.

    Mary worked from home while she took care of the baby, so she only had to hide it when she went out. She could spin and point up/point down to her heart’s content, so long as she didn’t toss her infant child into the air. (It only happened once, completely by accident, and afterwards Mary swore not to dance while feeding or changing.)

    For a time, Jennifer and Mary thought they’d hidden their affliction for the world. Alas, it was not to be.

    It exploded into chaos when little Johnny, only eight years old, succumbed to the fever at school. Several arm waves and a hip thrust later, Jennifer and Mary were in the principal’s office while she looked down her nose and waited for an explanation.

    She couldn’t meet the principal’s eye. She stared down at the aloe vera plant, wilting sadly on the desk. Even the plant was disappointed in her as a mother. She glanced quickly at Mary, whose arms were folded defensively.

    “We caught it from my dad,” Jennifer said, before Mary’s temper could get the better of her. “He was dancing, and I asked why, and...he said it was how he’s staying alive.”

    “This is unacceptable,” the principal said. “Such crude behaviour is entirely inappropriate for someone Johnny’s age.”

    “The fever will pass eventually,” Jennifer said. “It has to, right? Disco’s dead.”

    Mary took off her sunglasses and and put them on the desk. She let her stylish fur coat slide off her shoulders onto the chair. Underneath, her glittery one-piece bell-bottom suit gleamed in the office lights.

    “Disco will never die. Our days shall be filled with dancing, our nights filled with boogie, for the rest of our lives,” Mary said. She pointed one finger regally to the sky.

    “You can’t do that in here -” the principal began, but it was too late.

    At least, that’s how the story goes.

    Whatever happened that day, the disco fever spread rapidly and was so severe that the town had to be quarantined. Experts watched with binoculars from a safe distance for weeks, but the boogying and jiving never let up. They sectioned the town off and condemned it – but days later it was up in flames like a fiery inferno of disco. It could have been an accident – but that’s a little too convenient.

    It makes you wonder, what really happened in the 70s? Did disco die because it was terrible...or did someone stop it?

    Maybe we’ll never know.

  7. Love is blind…or is it? By Mark Driskill
    WC 500- without by lines
    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the ugly stick, but they had been blessed in other ways. I was elated when Rose King said yes. When she invited me home to meet her family I was thrilled.
    But nothing could have prepared me for what I would encounter at the gathering.
    The first hand to welcome me was from the patriarch of this curious collection. Fiery red hair swooped up forming a slippery epic wave that slapped from side to side with every wiggle of his perpetually moving head. He was treetop tall and pencil wide. His big toothy grin, displayed an enviable collection of assorted metals. He had eyes like a protruding pair of binoculars, behind a fluorescent pair of sunglasses.
    He grasped my hand, and I swear he had something growing out of his palm. Massaging my throbbing hand, I stammered, “You’ve gotta be Joking!” He replied, “That’s right, Joe King’s the name.”
    Next was Joe’s wife May. May King is antithesis of Joe. She is, shall we say, generous in size. May exists in perpetual creation. As we spoke she stirred batter with her stubby left hand and held her phone with her right, into which she barked orders for some enormous function at the church.
    Her tightly curled black hair was serving as a holder for crochet needles, scissors, and a spatula. Her stress was etched into the deep lines on her intimidating forehead. She waved, and handed me a spoon and motioned for me toward the kitchen, and resumed her conversation.
    Shay King was a quiet girl, who looked quite nervous. She never actually looked directly at me. Her trembling thin frame resembled a drenched cat. Wild brownish yellow eyes racing in multiple directions, played chase with her thoughts. She paced phantomlike, with serpentine fingers wrapped ceremonially around a funky smelling aroma therapy candle.
    Then there was Faye.
    Faye King was a wonder to behold. She was the most accessorized human being I have ever seen. The artificial fur coat wasn’t the only pretense about her. Reaching out her hand for mine she warned me not to hurt the new multicolored, razor sharp nails. She used them a couple of times to adjust the jet black wig that kept creeping down her back when she walked across the room on her prosthetic legs. There were other things that appeared to be just a bit artificial, but let’s not go there. Some people are very sensitive about facial reconstruction.
    I pondered the future considering what awaited me if I went through with this union. I thought about our children. I tried to imagine family gatherings. Could I really be part of this family?
    Then, Rose and I looked knowingly at each other. I wiped a tear from my singular eye, scratched the point on my bald head, and reached out to her, and she to me. As our tentacles intertwined we knew everything would be alright, because they had accepted me as I was.

  8. p.s. challenge accepted: Binoculars, Sun Glasses, Aroma Therapy Candle, and Fur coat.

  9. Foy, d. b.
    Word Count: 496
    Special Challenge Accepted: fur coat, potted plant, a painting, sunglasses


    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with 40 tons of Semi, but they had been fortunate in other ways. Most of the detritus would be recovered and reused, ensuring that the Jones’ were productive members of society to the messy end. At the street’s edge, I balance the arches of my feet on the rounded curb; falling backwards means losing the game, falling forwards, muddying bluchers worth $500 plus. Muscles in my back constrict as the December wind tries to rob warmth from my bones. I pull my mackintosh tighter and let myself fall into the barricaded road. Firemen have pulled out the Jaws of Life and attached it to the Jones’ scarlet Volvo. It crunches contentedly at metal and glass, a giant pair of tweezers or the pincers of an ant with a hydraulic head. The Semi is poised as if it had consumed the front of the Volvo hangrily, and stopped after realizing it tasted like transmission fluid and gear grease. Three feet from my toes, a pair of sunglasses -daffodil yellow- lies on the wet pavement, unscratched. That and the fur coat wrapped around lifeless Mrs. Jones are “nonorganic salvageables.” I’m more interested in the organic variety. I inch closer hoping to avoid stains this time around. Inside the car is straight out of the mind of Picasso. Like a potted plant, knocked over by the cat, and busted on the drawing room floor, Mr. Jones’ head has spilled its “dirt.” Similarly, his wife’s own melon juice mingles with her husband’s, a tender and morbid painting. I lean, trying to take inventory of the back seat. The little ones look intact - two brains at least for The University.
    “Hey, Buddy, back up,” an officer says to me, his girth supporting enough adipose tissue to make at least a few pounds of soap. “Show some respect, will ya?” I raise my hands, withdrawing diplomatically. “I’m just a Salvage Specialist, seeing what we can use.” His left eye swivels toward the wreck, his right lagging behind, involuntarily stuck my direction.
    “I don’t know you’ll get anything from this haul,” he says and lets his full weight rest on one hip. I pull out a small note book and flip to a clean sheet, saying as I scratch words barely legible onto the page, “We can always find something to use. Organs, hair, teeth, eyes…” A shiver starts in the officer’s chin then rolls down his back and arms until he has to shrug it off with a shake of his head.
    “You guys are like vultures,” his body leans away; perhaps afraid I’ll harvest something off of him before his CAD has had a chance to block his vessels completely. “Don’t know I could do that job.” I flip the notebook shut tired of having this conversation with every Recovery Call.
    “I like to think I’m giving them another shot at life.” I say and snap a picture with my phone. “Redeeming them.”

  10. Finding his niche

    @geofflepard. 493 words. Special Challenge accepted.

    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with a genetic joke but they had been blessed in other ways. The Talents were albinos. Nothing was more important to each of them than their sunglasses, though Maggie Talent might have added her fur coat as she hated the cold dimpling her already snow white skin.

    As a child Paul Talent hated being different, railed against his lot until one bleak February day he met Maggie. Maggie shared his lack of pigmentation but gloried in it. She had stencilled 'My blood's white too' on her T shirt and dyed her hair green ('courgette juice' she said). For Maggie it was all about maximising what you had. Paul complained 'I'm not creative' but Maggie said he'd find his niche one day.

    The medics said it was likely but still Paul despaired when Michaela was born, her red eyes and translucent skin confirming Paul's worst fear. But Maggie lay back, exhausted and smiling. 'What will you bring to the party, my little freak?'

    Michaela tried everything, finding a talent in model-making, first mud and then clay and wax. Her aromatherapy candles, naturally scented and carved in wicked parodies of current celebrities gained her quite a following.

    Two more see-through babies, as Paul thought of them appeared. His despair grew though he tried to hide it. 'I can see right through you, Paul Talent' Maggie joked as she hugged his pain away. 'They are unique in many ways, love, not just one.'

    John painted, beautiful yet painful pieces, full of fierce fiery colours, like the subject's soul was being ripped from within. Paul worried what such work revealed of John's inner state but away from his board he was the family joker, always lightening any gloom.

    Celia by contrast liked her own company. From as early as they could remember she watched the clouds, naming each one, seeing portents and warnings in the nimbus formations. Rarely was she without her binoculars scanning the horizon, looking for something. Paul felt sure Celia was most like him, secretly despairing but Maggie laughed. 'She'll find it inside. Give her time.'

    Time. That's what they lacked. When Maggie found the first mole she shrugged. But it was like the first tremor of the approaching earthquake that rocked the family. Her death at forty-four kicked Paul's crutch away and left him incapable of coherent thought. He sat and stared, reading a little. His children took charge, calling on their skills to support and sustain the family. But nothing they did lifted his gloom.

    One Sunday Celia handed him a parcel. A Kindle. 'Easier on your eyes, dad.' She opened it for him and left it on his lap. He swiped the page. FlashDogs Anthology. He read one story. Then another. Increasing his pace he sprinted through the nuggets. And he smiled. He knew Maggie was right. He knew his niche. He was going to tell her story. He was going to be a writer.

  11. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 482
    Special Challenge Accepted: Binoculars, Potted Plant, Painting, Aromatherapy Candle


    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the ugly stick, but they had been blessed in other ways. The father's lightbulb shaped head arched above the rest of the family, his proud eyes sweeping across the crowd. His wife's question-mark posture crouched beside him, and the three children could have been an ellipses, their doughy round forms lining the stage behind their parents.

    I adjusted the focus on the binoculars, straining to see the wife's pinched mouth. Crooked teeth punctured her bottom lip.

    “Do you think they can?”

    “Aye, so says the Cap'n.” My best friend, Riven, knocked his elbow into the potted plant next to him and brushed off his sleeve with a muttered curse. “An' the sooner they clear 'em out, the happier I'll be.”

    I dropped my binoculars back against my chest, eyeing the sun setting behind the city skyline like a fiery painting, turning a deaf ear to the Captain's booming voice. A wave of cheers erupted around me, and I shook my head. “It's going to take more than an aromatherapy candle to rid the city of the stench.”

    Riven sniffed the potted plant next to him. “You'd think we would have gotten used to the smell by now.”

    “I love the smell of onions in the morning,” I muttered. “Smells like victory.”

    “It ain't mornin'. An' there ain't nothin' victorious 'bout onions.”

    As we watched, Daddy Lightbulb bowed to the Captain, then straightened, reaching both hands up and removing his head, holding it lightly in his fingers. Mama Question-mark backstepped to the nearest building and hooked her crooked frame on the closest window. Her feet dangled some distance from the ground. Daddy Lightbulb rolled his head below her feet, completing the question mark, and then the Ellipses children lined up single file along the brick edge of the building.

    “What in . . . ”

    “Blue thunder?” Riven finished for me.

    Slowly, brilliantly, the bodies of the family turned blue, a glowing, neon, abundant blue that grew and bloomed, hazing over the massive crowd that gathered in the square. As the blue reached the alcove where I stood with Riven, the odor also hit, and beside us, the potted plant wilted to a black, stringy mass that hung over the edge of the ceramic container.

    All over the city, in the cracks in the sidewalk, in the window-boxes that lined the buildings, in the gardens and hedges and parks, the onions turned black, melting, dying, decaying before the overwhelming blue scent that permeated the air, that overtook every last particle of oxygen and filled it, changed it, illuminated it.

    I sat down on the sidewalk, the strength gone from my legs, awe blanketing my mind. “Is that what the Captain meant? That the best way to solve a problem is to ask an open-ended question? . . . ”

  12. “Fugly”
    by Michael Seese
    495 words

    The entire family undoubtedly had been hit with the ugly stick. And we’re not talking about a Texas leaguer; they were knocked out of the park.

    But they had been blessed in other ways. They could move things with their minds. Potted plants. Paintings. Even the occasional Rottweiler. How the Flying Duckman family came to possess this singular talent is the interesting part of the story.

    Young Miss Capulet waxed

    What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet

    Our histories are forged by our names. An Eisenhower is destined for military greatness; a Clooney, for dashing good looks and a proclivity to marry a woman 17 years his junior. And if you are a Flying Duckman....

    The Flying Duckman family can trace its ancestry back to a small Bavarian village named Unsinn, renowned as the home of the Yoder Yodeling Academy. (“Frightening Sheep Since The Reformation.”) The Fliegend Dückens, as they were know then, and there, were inventors. One of their most controversial devices was das Fliegend Ding, translated literally as “the Flying Thing.”

    Unsinn also was home to the Scheiße Brücken family. Brücken, you might have guessed, translates as “brick.” As for Scheiße... let us just say it is a word one should use only in the presence of Herr Proktologist, and leave it at that. The Scheiße Brücken family were the wealth behind Unsinn, owing to their ownership of the only brick factory north of the Alps. Many people wondered how the Scheiße component tied in, but were too afraid—or too disgusted—to ask.

    Regardless, the town’s mayor, Bürgermeister Scheiße Brücken, longed to be the first man to soar above the green fields of Unsinn in the Fliegend Dückens’ Fliegend Ding. And seeing as how he personally bankrolled the venture, he had a certain expectation of reciprocation.

    What's in a name? For one named Scheiße Brücken, it’s an aversion to heights, along with the attendant rolls, loops, and dives of a prototypical aircraft. One particular dicey maneuver prompted the good mayor to let go of... a personal Brücken, shall we say.

    Regrettably, the aerial bombardment inadvertently targeted the walkway in front of the home of the village’s witch, Drusilla Malfoy (and before you ask... yes, she is) just at the moment that a young couple, Hansel and Harry had happened upon her cabin of candy, and were about to be lured in to a lurid life of lollipop lechery.

    But the “gift from the sky” frightened the children away, and sullied the witch’s fur coat, a gift from the village’s designated crooner, Liberach. So angry was Drusilla that she cast a spell upon the Fliegend Dückens family, saddling them and their lineage with a “face like a duck, and a nose like a courgette.” But owing to her poor eyesight and poorer command of Bavarian sorcery, instead of concluding the curse with “terrible sneezes,” she uttered “telekinesis.”

    And there you have it.


    And, I'm so sorry for this.

    1. Lol! Well done, Michael, and I feel like I should apologize for mine as well. I don't know what in the world I came up with, but it was rather pathetic. Yours is quite good. :)

  13. Broken World
    By Anna Elizabeth
    wc - 492

    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the ugly stick, but they had been blessed in other ways. Other ways which looked to be their bottomless pit bank account, and the ability to reproduce at the rate of rabbits. I blinked, taking in the sight of the newcomers before me. The father was tall, lanky and completely bald, his teeth were extremely crooked, something which braces could never had fixed. Whereas his wife was short and wearing incredibly high heals to compensate, her face was caked with make up which was completely the wrong shade thus emphasising the point of her nose and her wonky jaw line. A fur coat was clutched around her shoulders, adorned with one of her six offspring. Sunglasses hooked onto her shirt. The chubby toddler seemed to be hanging off the mass of caramel coloured fur, using it to drag himself along the pavement.

    The eldest boy looked like his father, right down to the large ears which stood out at an odd angle on his thin face, the boy however had hair. An unbrushed dirty blonde which dulled his blue eyes and brought out the spattering of spots which dotted his pale face.

    Then there were what looked like twin girls, with the same rounded faces and dark hair like their mothers. They're lips were thin, and their lack of smiles did nothing for their sickly pale skin. They walked in step with each other, trying to mirror the strides of their big brother. Something he didn't look to happy about.

    The youngest, a baby I couldn't tell the gender of from my vantage point on top of the roof, but I could see was wrapped in a blanket the colour of a rotting courgette, was snug in their fathers arms as the family walked towards the gates of the safety camp I now called home.

    Frowning I wrenched the binoculars away from my eyes, I feel sorry for those kids. As refugees like the rest of us, they would have little to nothing left apart from what was on their backs. Like every new family to the camp they would have to be registered, but I like to see them first, think about how they would fit in, make predictions. I opened my book to a new page and made a few notes.

    It looked like they missed home, we all did really, but after the string of natural disasters which wrecked havoc across the earth, home was gone. The crazy events of the past year had brought the human race to its knees. Those in power were trying to gain control over the panic which had spread, those in the public who'd kept their heads had built safe havens for who was left.

    I shut my book with a sigh. A guilty knot built in my stomach. At one point I was just as broken as they are now. It’s wrong to laugh.

    1. One minute over - oops - the page froze just as I pressed publish, that teaches me to leave things like this to the last minute. On the plus side though, my room is partially cleared out, so even if this doesn't qualify, at least that's done. Plus I had a huge amount of fun writing it!

      And I did take the special challenge!

      I seem to be really all over the place today :(

  14. Shifted

    The entire family had undoubtedly been hit with the ugly stick, but they had been blessed in other ways. One blessing (for them) was that their caravan managed to shamble its way into the service station (the only place open for miles) before conking out completely, leaving behind an oily contrail over the slushy snow. Swell. The one day I could usually count on #amreading the shift away.

    The whole wildebeest brood stampeded into the convenience store/gift shop/deli/cafe where I voluntarily double-shifted the solitary cashier position on holidays (hey, time-and-a-half beats out Auntie Gwen’s courgette casserole every time—until now). Their stench thundered in behind them.

    Fecundity apparently another blessing.

    I hastened to light a few jarred candles, but even apple-pumpkin-spice toxicity barely intruded upon the aroma of a kennel’s worth of soggy-dog laced with eau-de-nachos.

    "Looks like we’re doing Christmas Eve right here, folks," announced the polyestered matriarch, hefting a goblin creature on either hip.

    Looks like I might actually have to do the customer-service thing. Drat. I slid my Kindle under the counter, still open to the FlashDogs anthology. Any hope of sneaking in a quick read of Walker’s "Pumpkinhead" evaporated when the sire pointed at the menu above my head. "Order whatever you want!"

    "Sharesies?" asked a tike whose eyes would’ve been called doe-like had they not been in a mongoose-like head.

    "It’s Christmas!" the man bayed through a beard more ramen noodle than facial hair. "Everyone can get their own."

    The clan cheered like the audience at a Bieber concert. My soul wept like the grown-uncle chaperone at that same concert.

    Each kid wanted something different and customized. Merry-effing-Christmas. Hot chocolate with extra sprinkles no the rainbow ones mine with cinnamon and a dollop of strawberry sauce extra hot with just a circle of whipped cream no peak. At least they weren’t snotty about it (well, not figuratively). I handed out extra napkins hoping someone would get the hint. No one did.

    Then sandwiches.

    Getting one’s own sandwich must have been as special as dining with Santa Claus himself. Better. And they didn’t want to squander the opportunity. With all I had to do, I should have been making triple time, with a bonus (never gonna happen: the owner out-humbugs even me).
    You’d think their caravan breaking down was the best thing to happen to them. Life handed them lemons and they made a lemonade franchise and retired early on its quick success.

    Yeah, yeah, you’re all expecting that, by their example, my heart grew three sizes that day. Well, their Christmas spirit took up my entire shift (reading time) to clean up after, so save it for the Charlie Brown’s pathetic little plant.
    The owner stopped by at the end. She leaned over the counter, smirking like a crocodile in a fur coat.

    "Who’re you callin’, Mr. Solo-for-the-Holidays?"

    None of your damn—"Oh, hi, Gwen, it’s me. I was wondering, you know, if it’s not too late… Yeah? Cool. Me too."


    497 words
    challenge accepted

    1. Yeah, make this one just for fun. For some reason this is not liking my wordpress account.