Monday, July 27, 2015


Welcome back! July is going out with a bang for me as GenCon is this weekend. I am SO excited!!! I'll be spending a lot of my time at the Writers Track panels trying to up my game, but I've certainly left space in my schedule to go play some awesome board games. :) Hopefully I can get the winners post up on time, but if it's a little late that will be why. No promises this week...except in your prompt! Go check it out! :)

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 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 #3-4 is:

I promised myself I wouldn't let [external circumstances] affect my [mood] but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a work of art AND an animal (real or imaginary)



  1. Squirrels and Nuts
    494 words, special challenge accepted.
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    I promised myself I wouldn't let that oddness of the job affect my temper but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise. It’s amazing what a man will endure for the promise of a fat paycheck, isn’t it?
    Deliverance is mine: I have arrived. The cabin in the Pennsylvania Appalachians was remote and the only approach was an overgrown and weeded dirt track, but I finally threw the van into park with a feeling of blissful relief.
    I unloaded the crates from the van and had a look around. Chestnut oaks and Virginia pines surrounded us and a mountain loomed over the site to our north, but I couldn’t begin to guess its name.
    Scurrying across the telephone wire toward the cabin roof was… Something, whatever it was.
    It resembled a tree squirrel, but with a shorter tail like a chipmunk. In place of a head, it sprouted a broad neck-trunk that bifurcated and bifurcated again, repeatedly splitting until it terminated in a mass of thousands of hair-thin tentacles. Some tentacles were clearly sense organs; they oriented my direction as it passed over my head. Others served as extra grippers.
    The second squirrel-thing I saw was astride the neck of a white-tailed deer, riding it like a bus driver. Its tentacles wrapped completely around the animal’s neck. The deer stumbled and tripped, weaving from side to side as if driven poorly by an amateur driver.
    I followed the deer, fascinated, as it stumbled into the trees. I became aware of other animals moving in the same direction, each with a squirrel-like jockey riding its neck at the back of its head: a black bear, more deer, and several coyotes.
    Eventually we came to a rocky outcropping with a cave in one side, and the animals circled around. The entire scene froze, for one still moment with a dreamlike quality. Wild animals ridden by their bizarre masters surrounded me, and my only possible exit a hole into the rock.
    More tentasquirrels climbed out of the trees and scampered over the ground, a circle closing in on me slowly with a wordless but obvious threat. No choice, I stepped into the cave.
    Inside was the tapestry, the artwork Dr. Metz hired me to find. “Soulcatcher,” he called it, and he claimed it was older than humanity and woven from carnivorous plants. It depicted a scene of the elder gods, so realistic and horrific that the tentacles writhed and moved, eagerly reaching for me.
    I turned in panic, only to find my exit blocked by dozens of tentasquirrels, and the larger animals outside the cave. Trapped in the cave, the madness was already clawing its way into my mind and reaching hungrily for my soul.
    Damn it, this will be the last time I accept any job offer from Miskatonic University. I drew my hatchet and hacked at the tapestry, and a hundred tentasquirrels and their mounts screamed in anger for their elder gods.

  2. Anything but Tidy
    By Audrey Gran Weinberg
    Special challenge accepted
    Word count: 486

    I promised myself I wouldn’t let external circumstances affect my mood but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise.

    ‘Our house is just opposite the city hall, through the blue gates.’ I read out loud through gritted teeth to Donald.
    “Relax, you’ll live longer.”
    “Fine,” I said. But the description was so precise that I could feel the change coming.

    Our host, Marie-Louise, led us up the staircase, to our room for the night. The curtains, striped, matched the patchwork bedspread, and together with the throw pillows it looked like an Ikea showroom, even worse than staying in a hotel. I could feel my tailbone twitching and stretching.

    “You said it was an artist’s house.” I said.
    “That’s what it said on AirBnB.”
    “What sort of artist lives in a place like this?”
    “You promised to behave.”

    I considered my options, which would include broken glass at the very least and certainly a bad AirBnB review.

    “Donald, don’t unpack, we’ve gotta go.” But it was too late. He was snoring on top of the checkered quilt, having thrown the bedspread onto the floor, probably just to help calm me down.

    I paced up and down for a minute and then lifted up my suitcase and threw it hard against the wall, sending the contents scattering across the floor. I breathed in deeply and sat down on the bed.
    “Hey, Donald, not sure I can promise.”
    “Mmmm…” he said.

    Bathrooms are known for their hidden moldy corners and hair blocked drains, so I hurried across the hall to check this out. At the very least she might have a mess hidden in a drawer.

    But no, not a single item out of place. She must have bought the toilet bowl brush yesterday, before we arrived, just to drive me insane. ARRGGGHHH, I screamed, throwing the decorative soap bottle at the pristine double glazed window. It bounced back and hit me on the forehead.

    I glanced in the mirror to see if I had incurred any damage. A small trickle of crimson dripped from my forehead onto the white porcelain sink. Translucent scales were starting to show around my neck and I had the uncontrollable urge to gorge as my tongue, now pronged, flickered at the blood.

    Half crawling I headed up to the art studio Marie-Louise had mentioned. Surely here it would be chaotic, and I could finally relax? The door creaked open and I sighed in relief at that sound.

    The walls were covered in canvases all painted similarly, with decorative squares and straight lines, all the colors matching. Not a brush stroke too many. The paints blended smoothly into the canvases, the lines never blurred or crossed each other.

    I slithered back down to the kitchen. My jaws unhinged and I swallowed Marie-Louise whole. I curled up next to the radiator where I also discovered a fluff of dust.

    So sorry, Donald.

  3. Special
    Word Count 391
    Special Challenge Accepted.

    I promised myself I wouldn't let her words affect my life but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise. They echo in my mind with every step.

    “We are special.”

    Every family thinks that, right? It doesn’t mean anything; just a simple sentence to make us feel not-so-simple.
    But then it became inescapable.

    Even as I sit in this room, in front of the computer, with my hands on the keyboard. I hear the conversations from next door, I smell the frying lunch meat from down the block. We are special, we are animalis.

    My mother was right.

    I can’t sit here anymore, surrounded by the suffocating scent of human sweat and the blinding modern art that flickers on and off throughout the day. Everyone else sees electric green – I see gamma rays. The door slams shut behind me and even the breath of fresh air turns my stomach.
    After she told me the truth, I had cursed her. I refused to believe, sent her away from me and my family. The last time I saw her was with tears in her eyes, trying so hard to get me to understand.

    Now, she’s gone and it is too late. All I have are questions.

    “Hey!” A stranger’s voice bellows in me ear as I slip onto the busy sidewalk. Downtown is no quieter than my office, no less intense, but at least here I can walk. “Lady, slow down!”

    I ignore him and keep moving forward. His smell trips my steps though, it’s a mix of sandalwood and familiarity. I think about stopping but the warnings against curiosity ring in my mind. Instead, I increase my pace to a light jog.

    The man is faster. At the next block a hand locks around my forearm, pulling me to the side. Some passersby give us an odd glance but I shake them away. He has me now and my curiosity will win.

    Plus, animalis means that my claws can descend at any moment.

    “I was hoping I’d find you,” he says. His eyes hold mine, silent and waiting.
    I watch as his pupils shrink, transforming from a circle to a single line. I know that line, I’ve seen it in the mirror. “You have questions.”

    I nod.

    “We are special.”

    I nod. I’ve accepted it, now.

    “I have answers.”

  4. Lost Love
    440 words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    I promised myself I wouldn’t let Bryan’s death affect my mood, but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise. I stood staring at the painting entitled "Sleeping Cat" by Renoir as I waited for Charles to arrive with my wine. The cat mimicked the same position I’d found Bryan in. Curled up in my bed, but his mouth gaped wide and one eye cocked open staring into oblivion. It had been too late in the day to call Charles and cancel our date. Besides, who would cancel a date with Charles Armada anyway? Loaded with dough and an important art collector, who could ask for anything more in life? Maybe our date could turn into a lifetime of happiness.

    The painting drew me in though, and thoughts of Bryan as a kitten skipped through my mind. A constant companion, he was.

    “I hope Shiraz is okay?”

    I looked down at the warm glass in my hand. I’d been hoping for white.

    “A fan of cats?” Charles asked.


    “I’ve never liked the mangy beasts. My great-grandfather Stephan Armada, purchased this painting for some ungodly sum. I never look at it—just hangs there waiting for something or someone to look at it.” He shifted away from the wall as if he wanted to leave the room.

    To have an original Renoir in your home must be something, but to take it for granted, well that was something else.

    “How much do you want for it?”

    “It’s not for sale.”

    “It reminds me of Bryan.”

    Charles darted his eyes toward me and then away again and then took a sip of his red wine. We stood hip to hip in the gallery of his brownstone house but the space between us felt like it went on for miles. The corners of his lips turned into a grimace.

    “It’s a bit early in the night to be discussing past loves.”

    “Bryan, he was special. Always there when I needed him. Never failed to show up for dinner. The kind of guy you could depend on.”

    “And then why are you here with me when you could be with him?”

    “He died.”

    “Well, I’m awfully sorry to hear that,” he said, leaning from one leg to another. He had chugged his wine while I sipped mine and admired the painting in front of me. A tear sprang to the corner of my eye at the loss of Bryan.

    “This fellow here looks like him,” I said as I collected myself.

    Charles looked at the surrounding landscapes then focused his eyes back to the "Sleeping Cat" and asked, “Bryan’s a cat?”

  5. The Dog's Day
    A.J. Walker
    (500 word, special challenge accepted)

    I promised myself I wouldn't let the insane wedding affect my mood but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise.

    ‘Hey, looking sharp in your suit.’ said David. ‘You scrub up well.’

    ‘Don’t David. He looks fab - as usual.’ said the new Mrs David.

    ‘Thanks. Thanks for the invite it’s been a great day.’ I said, before shaking David’s hand and kissing Whatsername on the cheek.

    ‘Been great man. Everything went to plan. Just hoping the food lives up to the rest of the day.’

    ‘Sure it will.’

    ‘It better. They’re getting my arm and a leg for it.’

    Mrs David winced. She never seemed happy with David’s humour.

    She leant forward conspiratorially and touched me on my shoulder before whispering in my ear.

    ‘Have you seen Patch?’ She looked into my eyes like I was being interrogated. I had visions of the chocolate fountain being used later for chocolate boarding.

    ‘No, not seen him since he ran off at the “You may kiss the bride” moment.’

    ‘Not the best timing. We can’t exactly edit that out of the wedding video can we?’

    ‘S’pose not.’ I said. ‘He can’t have got too far and let’s face it he’s going to be noticed. Don’t expect there can be too many dogs around here wearing a tux.’

    ‘And carrying my tiara.’ said Whatsername. ‘I’ve borrowed that from the art museum it’s a priceless one off piece.’

    ‘Children and animals. What were you thinking?’

    David gave me a shut-thy-mouth look. Whatsername crossed her arms.

    ‘Patch is a big member of our family and we wanted him to be a part of it.’

    I thought better of saying he’d upstaged them.

    ‘Can you go and look for him?’ David asked. ‘Like you say, he can’t have got far.’

    ‘Bloody hell... yeah yeah, sure. Any ideas where he’s gone?’

    ‘Not a clue mate. I’d help but we’ve got the whole meet and greet thing going on. You know how it is.’

    I looked longingly at the free bar and my shoulders slumped. I couldn’t say no.

    ‘Give me a call when you find her, I’ve got the phone on vibrate under my garter. It was my grandmothers.’ Whatsername said.

    I tried not to think about that as I walked dejectedly into the car park past the incoming parties. Those coming in for just the night do. Lucky bastards.

    Twenty minutes later I saw Patch through by the old railway line. I ended up tearing my best suit to get to the little runt. I was not in the best of moods.

    Still, I spotted the old Railway Inn. ‘It would be rude not to.’ I said to the dog.

    We walked into the pub and not a lash was batted at the sight of a bedraggled suited man and a smarter mutt - still carrying a tiara.

    ‘I’ll have a pint of best please mate.’ I said. ‘And a half for my friend.’

    Whatsername could wait and wonder for a while.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 309
    Special Challenge Accepted

    Never Make A Promise You Can't Keep

    "You promised!"

    Myself, I wouldn't let any woman play me like that. But, to my little brother JoJo, Delores Dubois wasn't just any woman. The coquettish tilt of her head, her fluttering, mascaraed lashes and pouty red lips always seemed to have on him a knee-trembling affect.

    "My, oh my, JoJo! I do believe you have it bad for that gal!" I said, after she turned on her heels and stomped off.

    "Ethan, even when she's just looking off into the distance, the smile that plays on her lips is more enigmatic than the Mona Lisa."

    "So what's this promise she reckons you made?"

    JoJo had a sudden urge to examine the dust on his boots. "I asked her to marry me. She said yes... but only if I got her the biggest diamond ring in Weinstein's Jewelry Store."

    "You can't afford that!"

    "I know!"

    "Whaddya gonna do?"

    "Break in and steal it."

    Now, you know, JoJo isn't the sharpest tool in the box, but he's my brother, so I had to help him out.


    We got inside the store easily: too easily. JoJo was so pumped up that he didn't see the red laser beam crossing the room and walked right through it. We both froze, but the expected cacophony of alarm bells did not materialize. Eventually we decided not to ride our luck and get out pronto.

    But JoJo couldn’t remember whether Delores had requested the largest diamond ring, or the most expensive. After what seemed like half a lifetime, he made his choice and pocketed it.

    As we left the store, JoJo was cock-a-hoop, knowing the promised ring was in his possession, but quickly realized he wouldn't be able to keep that promise when he saw a dozen or more deputies pointing their pistols at us, and a German shepherd, snarling and straining at the leash.

    1. Oh dear! Another late night writing session and I seem to have confused 'affect' with 'effect'... Trying to be too clever with the prompt sentence... again!

  8. We All Have Flaws
    Word Count: 463
    Special Challenge Accepted

    I promised myself I wouldn't let my "quirks" affect my job, but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise. There I was, starring the perfect get-away in the face, but I was frozen. My mind was making stuff up, as it always does, keeping me just on the brink of sanity. All I had to do was hit that red button. But I couldn't. The button was "poison" or so my mind made me think.

    'Hit that button and you will burn from the inside out.'

    I was bound to listen to myself. Living in a cage of my own making, I'm compelled to listen to all the ridiculous scenarios I come up with, and believe me, that was not the craziest one. In that brief moment of hesitation, the few seconds of willing myself to ignore the compulsion to refrain, I lost my advantage.

    Alarms buzzed, filling the recycled air with the shrill pitch of failure. I had let my crew down. Through my own negligence, I failed to tell them of my little flaw. They wouldn't have understood anyway. Besides, I had it in check...I DID!

    'Stupid girl! You're scum. You deserve to die.'

    Beaten down by my own self loathing, I had nothing to do but surrender. Hopefully the others made a clean get away. I deserved to be caught. My captors seemed to agree as they dragged me, grinning, to a holding cell. I should have seen this coming. I was way off my game today.

    When the doors slammed behind me I walked around the room six times and sat in the center. My anticipation for retribution grew with each passing moment.

    'Stupid, stupid girl.'

    Alarms filled my ears again. Jumping to my feet I waited, poised for what might happen. After many thuds and grunts the doors opened to a familiar face.


    "Let's go!"

    Without hesitation, I took his hand and ran.


    "You came back for me."

    "Of course we did, you're a part of our crew." He slapped me on the back.

    "But I screwed up."

    "Yeah, you did. Mind telling me what that was all about?"


    "We all have flaws, Raina. Question is, will this happen again?"

    "It could."

    Coran sighed and held out a painting of wild horses, creatures I've only ever seen in pictures.

    "Luckily I was able to salvage our mission. Physical paintings are hard to come by these days."

    "It's beautiful."

    "Speakin' of beautiful, why don't you go change in to somethin' pretty?"

    "Excuse me?"

    "Well, I would banish you to the ship for leavin' us high and dry, but seein' as you're the only girl in this crew, I'm gonna look past it. Now get cleaned up. You have a date with a buyer."