#FlashMobWrites 1×16

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Sixteen

*JuNoWriMo Edition*

Come one, come all! This is an open flash fiction challenge with a musical inspiration, hosted by authors Cara Michaels (formerly of #MenageMonday, #WIPflash, and#RaceTheDate) and Ruth Long (of the wicked fun #LoveBites and #DirtyGoggles challenges).

Mob Rules

  • The challenge begins: Fridays @ Noon EDT (Eastern USA)
  • And ends: Saturday @ Midnight PST (Pacific USA)
  • Word count: 300-500 (no less, no more)
  • We love you and wish to heap praises (and random prizes) on you, so be sure to include your name (no, it doesn’t have to be your real name) and a way for us to get in touch (Twitter handles are encouraged)
  • A prompt choice is offered by each judge. Choose one (or both!) and include it in your story as given.
    • The prompt may be split between sentences, but no order change or dropping words.
    • Words may be added before or after, not in the middle.

The Inspiration

For your musical enjoyment only. You do not need to reference the video or song themes in any way for your story.

The Prompts

Cara Michaels: “I’m not done paying for my crimes”

Ruth Long: “I’m not who I thought I was”

Now pick your prompt(s) and post your story in the comments below!

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80 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×16

  1. Redemption

    Sitting on the sofa wrapped in Bertram’s arms, I felt loved and wanted for the first time in my life. A lifetime of hurts, regrets, and abuse from people who claimed to be family melted away. I felt like I at once belonged to someone who cared. Bertram had rescued me from my cocoon and like a butterfly now blossoming from my chrysalis. Feeling faith and courage, that life could be lived without hopelessness and the chance of a real future with Bertram.

    Bertram knew briefly about my past life. How I had been homeless and did what I needed to do to survive on the streets. Times that I spent locked away in drug-filled hallucinations seeking to escape damages, lost in endless dreams and nightmares seeking hope and redemption and finding none.

    Bertram had saved me from those people and had suffered greatly from it. Six weeks in a hospital battered and broken. Two years waiting to testify against them and now giving up everyone and everything he’d ever know for me.

    I hugged him a little tighter as I realised that he was my redemption.

    “You believe me now you have changed. All your experiences have made you the person you are now. Good loving and kind,” Bertram insisted.
    “Sometimes it feels like I’m not done paying for my crimes that I’m making you pay for my crimes.”
    “You were born and that itself it is not a crime. Your parents and your other family members are criminals. They did not love and nurture you with love and honesty. They used violence and intimidation to control you. They are the offenders.”
    “I’m not who I thought I was.” I admitted, “Unloved and unlovable.”
    “Never unlovable, Becca. Just around broken people who could not reach out in that correct way to you.”
    I patted my stomach, “I shall not fault our child.”
    “We shall not fault our child. But we also will not let those who have harmed you near our child. We’ve moved where they can never find us,” Bertram answered.
    “Witness protection is not easy. Are you mad at me; mad that you gave up everything because my family were mobsters?”
    “Never Becca! I was reborn in your eyes. I became a champion, a lover, a friend and now a father to be. You have given my life purpose. I love you, forever and a day.”
    I nestled closer into his arms feeling one with him.
    “I love you too, Bertram,” I answered.

    I patted my belly again feeling the life within me move again, soon they would be in my arms. Feeling safe, for they would never find me and harm anyone I loved again.

    449 words with title
    @SweetSheil

    Liked by 5 people

  2. TO BE WITH YOU by E.F. Olsson

    James was exhausted as he finally made it into his apartment. Three flights of stairs carrying Chinese take-out and a dozen roses while pulling a large red cooler made him think that the high rises across town may have been the better choice – at least that one had an elevator. But then again, he thought, this one has allowed him to be with Helen.

    The one bedroom apartment was packed with plastic bins and boxes. The move was uneventful but the unpacking has been slow and unsteady. He weaved his way to the short hall carrying the roses. He stopped outside of the bathroom. The bathroom door was cracked. James took a deep breath and pushed it completely open. The room was lit by a dozen or so candles – most were burnt down to the bottom and starting to flicker out. Helen was in the tub hiding in the shadows that the candle light couldn’t reach.

    “I’m home, hon,” James said. “I bought you more candles. And…” James pulled the roses out from behind his back. On the bathroom counter was a glass vase with wilted and dead roses. He replaced those with the fresh bunch. “Can you believe it? One month already?”

    * * *

    James sat alone at the kitchen table slurping down his chicken lo mein. Beside him were new candles and air fresheners.

    * * *

    The candles were placed with the new ones. The room was brighter. James sat beside the tub holding Helen’s hand. He ran his finger softly over the veins on her hand.

    “I’ll never forget coming off the subway. I was lost and got off at the wrong stop. I got spun around and turned bumping into you. It was love at first sight. I knew that I had to have you. Those blue eyes! As I turned to look for you, you were gone. I went back to the same place every day just to watch you. Then I struck up the nerve.”

    He took a sip from his wineglass and regarded the memory.

    “Remember when I followed you home? You knew I was there. That guy you were dating came out and waited for you. That’s when I found this place. A little expensive for my taste, but to be by you, priceless. Now look at us. Together. I never knew I had it in me. I’m not who I thought I was back then. You made me this way.”

    Helen slumped down into the tub.

    “You never screamed. It was like you wanted to come with me. I’m just sad how it turned out.” James stood. “Let me refill this.”

    James pulled the red cooler into the bathroom. He lifted it up into the tub dumping ice in covering Helen’s body. He swiped the tattered brown hair from her face. The ice has slowed the decaying process down but her gray skin has bloated. Her eyes were like green marbles.

    James raised his wineglass to her, “to another month of memories my love.”

    (500 words)
    @EFOlsson

    Liked by 4 people

  3. WOE by Bokerah

    A Gothic cross points at god; it accuses the tumultuous skies.

    Thunder chases the bolt of lightning and reverberates through the crumbling mortar beneath her feet.

    Asylum no more.

    Soot stripes her cheeks, in dark lines through highlights from the street lights and the shadows the city casts across her.

    I am Woe, the tiger angel.

    Below, an empty train runs along its high wire, the windows blink like celluloid frames of a silent film, rhythmic clacking the orchestral accompaniment. Woe glimpses a passenger straddling another, the strangers’ faces twist in something she does not understand.

    Longing curls her toes, weakening her ankles, and she grimaces at the gargoyles as another brilliant flash illuminates her emaciated body. Barely living.

    Woe turns toward the high rise apartments. Someone weeps in the alley, and a siren echoes from faraway like a cry from the condemned, burning at the hypocritical stake. Hundreds of years ago.

    A little girl is in her thoughts, the little redheaded one that saw her and invited her to watch Mary Poppins while her daddy beat her mommy.

    Angels aren’t real. They banished her to a white washed room, to be raped by orderlies.

    Woe feels rain drops on her cheeks.

    I could not catch her – convicted of crazy and sentenced to suicide. What useless wings, the pavement caught her instead.

    Leaping, Woe opens the black feathered pinions in futile benediction over the masses, and she pictures a smiling Mary Poppins floating to the ground beneath a black umbrella. Foolish.

    Bare feet land softly on the fire escape, and she wraps her wings around her. The little dog growls at her until the man sends it to its bed.

    She watches the man through the glass. He has company tonight. I want to feel something more than sorrow.

    Woe steps from the metal landing, weightless for a moment, mid-air. Then she plummets, her eyes closed.

    Does it feel like this?

    She mirrors the expression of the strangers on the train and mimics the whimpers of the two nuns in the church stairwell.

    Will the Father embrace a fallen angel? I’m not who I thought I was.

    357 Words
    @msbbrumley

    Liked by 4 people

  4. “You can crash here tonight.” Jackson opened the top drawer of the tallboy dresser and rummaged. “There’s some stuff—tee shirts, athletic shorts. Leftovers from my gym phase. If you find something that fits, you’re welcome to it.”

    “You had a gym phase?”

    “Scythe was working disaster relief overseas.” She spun a tangerine colored sports bra on her fingers. “The gym got me off the pathetic homebody list.”

    “There’s a list?”

    “Please. Humans classify everything. Tell me about the bite.” Jackson caught the undamaged inside of my wrist and turned my arm, inspecting the wound. “The first hematophage—Mariele? She did this?”

    “Yes.” Despite her careful touch, a fresh wave of pain sent a shiver through me. “She meant to tear my throat out.”

    “She butchered you.” She tsked. “No finesse. The most obvious mark of a neophyte.”

    “I’m sorry her technique disappoints you.” I flopped back on the cushy queen bed. “She spit me out like I tasted bad.”

    Jackson stifled a laugh.

    “She would,” she said. “Because you no doubt do.”

    “What are you saying?”

    “I’m saying that if Mariele had not been in the throes of her first blood rage, she would have known.”

    “Known what?”

    “You aren’t food.” She smiled. Half a century as a hematophage had left indelible trace evidence in her face. Slightly elongated canines. A permanent haze of red around her eyes. She scared the hell out of me when I remembered to be scared of her. “You smell terrible to me, actually. It’s one of the best things about being friends with you. I can just be a girl.”

    “Instead of an apex predator in search of dinner?”

    “Exactly.”

    “I’m not really sure how I feel about smelling bad.” Though I was smart enough to know I should be relieved. “Is that an Iris thing?”

    “No, it’s a you thing. I suppose it might be a full spectrum thing, but I haven’t met the others.”

    “What about Gail?”

    “Oh, Gail.” Jackson rolled her eyes in imagined bliss. “She smells like a B-positive buffet.”

    “You can smell blood type?”

    “How else do you expect us to avoid blood that would poison us?”

    “But Mariele killed indiscriminately.”

    “Again. She was very new. I’m sure if the world kept statistics about such things, they’d find more hematophages die during their first blood rage than survive it. They’re too out of control to distinguish good blood from bad.” Shaking her head, she added, “You’d have killed me in my early years, and you’d have been right to do so.”

    “How did you survive?”

    “I almost didn’t.” She closed her eyes. “I tried to starve the worms. I didn’t know it wouldn’t work. I woke up in Scythe’s morgue. He handed me a mug of O-negative and said, ‘Let’s talk about how to live through this.’”

    “Fifty years later, here you are,” I said. “Nursing patients, helping the police.”

    “It’s called penance, Kelly.” She lay down beside me. “I’m not done paying for my crimes.”

    @caramichaels
    498 WIP words

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Confession by A.R. Draeger

    I wasn’t sure what frightened me more: the blaze orange of his jumpsuit, the clank of the handcuffs on table, or the emptiness behind his eyes.

    I’d grown used to the guns on the belts of the men standing behind him, and the cameras at every corner, but it paralyzed me to see his face staring back at me, a shell of the man I knew.

    “I wanted to tell you on the phone the other day,” he said.

    I cleared my throat. My words were few those days.

    “I’m not going to fight this anymore.” He leaned back.

    I shook my head. “We are going to exhaust every option we can, so help me God.”

    (He’s just scared, is all. It was that lawyer. We need a better one.)

    My hands trembled. I’d been calm this whole time. His words, his newfound defeated behavior, had just touched a nerve I thought I’d burned out a long time ago.

    His face contorted as he watched me, those blue eyes of his tearing up.

    “Mama.” He paused, as though he didn’t want to speak the words he need to say to me. “I’m guilty.”
    Nausea swirled in my stomach as my face flushed hot with anger.

    “Don’t you say that, Jacob.” I looked to the men behind my son, worried about their reaction to his confession. They were stoic, as though he was telling me about the weather or what he’d had to eat.

    Jacob shook his head. “I done told the Sheriff. How I found them, where I raped them. Where I killed them.”

    “No,” I said, shaking my head.

    “And you know it, Mama,” he said. “I know you heard those screams.” He started to sob.

    I tilted my head back as I closed my eyes, refusing to hear him, shaking my head at the ceiling as I squeezed my own hands numb. He was right. I had heard screams that night. They woke me up all night, loud enough to disturb me, never long enough to convince me they were any more than animals in the woods behind us.

    Jacob washed his clothes all day that Sunday. Used up all the hydrogen peroxide to get out the blood from the fish he caught and filleted. I thought I found a crumpled receipt in the trash of his purchase.

    He was my son. How dare the thought even cross my mind that he would be capable of murdering little girls? That wasn’t him.

    (That’s not my son.)

    “There were others, too.” His voice cracked. “I’m not done paying for my crimes, Mama.”

    My legs shook as I stood up. “I’m done here,” I said to the guards.

    Jacob’s body heaved with sobs as the guards lifted him up to return him to his cell.

    “Mama,” he said. “Mama! I’m sorry! Mama, I love you!”

    “You’re not my son. God have mercy on your soul,” I said, as the door closed behind them, leaving me childless, and my son deceased.

    500 words on the dot. 🙂 (not including title)
    @adraeger

    Liked by 5 people

  6. ABSOLUTION

    The sound of rain wakes him early on Saturday morning. Any other teen would have burrowed back into the blankets but not seventeen-year-old Ja Chung. In exchange for volunteering at the local hobby shop on school days, he earns free art lessons every weekend, so he’s up and out in a hurry.

    He rides the ten-speed to the hobby shop run by retired art professor Sol Kim. The window shades are still pulled and the ‘closed’ sign is facing the street, but the store’s front door is swinging open and shut with each gust of wind.

    Ignoring the fear stabbing through his gut, he pushes the bike inside, locks the deadbolt behind him, and walks toward the sales counter, scanning the aisles of the little shop as he goes. Shelves are tumbled over and graffiti is spray painted on the walls but no sign of Mr. Kim. He heads up the stairs to Mr. Kim’s apartment, ands sweating and heart racing.

    The door at the top of the landing is open, the scent of Maoijan tea flutters in the entryway, and Mr. Kim calls to him. “Come in, boy.”

    Ja rounds the corner into the kitchen and stops short upon seeing his mentor’s battered face. “Sir, have you called the police?”

    “There will be time enough for that later. Drink your tea while I explain these documents. Your aunt is on the way and we must have them completed by the time she arrives.”

    “”Shouldn’t Aunt Hyo be the one to sign?”

    “This is about you, Ja. Your signature beside mine will certify you as my beneficiary and provide you and your aunt with enough money to go away and start somewhere new, somewhere the Huangs can’t find you.”

    “Is that who did this? The Huangs? They’re the ones who trashed your shop and beat you? I can’t take your money, Mr. Kim, and my aunt would whip me if I did. It’s time I quit pretending I have a choice and accept that I’m not done paying for my crimes.”

    “Listen to me, Ja. Being born into the wrong neighborhood isn’t a crime. The Huangs don’t own you. The Ts’ao Club doesn’t own you.”

    “What does it matter, Mr. Kim? If I go back to being a runner for the Huangs, you and my aunt will be safe. All this, this bullshit, will be over.”

    “Watch your language, boy. You have a rare gift, a talent for drafting and sculpting. I’ve not seen its equal. Go and use it for something good, Ja.”

    Ja picks up the pen. “Come with us.”

    “My place is here and here I’ll stay. I’ve provided references that will get you into any art school in the country. A year or two under the right tutor and you will be able to command your price. Don’t let a group of thugs steal that opportunity from you.”

    Ja uncaps the pen and signs his name in a smooth clean script, but his hand shakes and his lashes are damp.

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 500 ineligible words

    Liked by 4 people

  7. The Man I Am.

    The soldier hasn’t been dead long, the smell of cordite still hangs in the damp air, but already the flies are creeping across his face. He lies face down on the road with his arms spread out and the rifle lying a few centimetres from his fingertips. His head is turned to one side and his mouth and eyes are open as if he is about to say something. I should close his eyes. That seems the right thing to do.

    I pull myself onto my knees. The soldier fired once before I killed him and my uniform is damp from blood spreading across my belly. I shrug off my backpack and root inside for the the first-aid kit. I should feel pain. It might be a bad sign, that my body is going into shock. The blood drips onto the dirt and congeals into black droplets that shimmer with rainbow colours in the weak sunlight. Black blood. Black and oily and slick to the touch. That is not right.

    I unbutton my uniform and peel back the material to examine my wound. A flap of skin hangs loosely bunt underneath the smear of black blood my fingertips touch warm flesh. I wipe away the blood with a sterile pad. It is white, not flesh, silicon. Silicon for softness woven with carbon fibres for strength.

    There were always rumours whispered through the base about drones, the enemy’s infiltration units, their killing machines made to look human. And even darker rumours that they implanted memories so the drones themselves thought they were human, so they could better pass among the soldiers and civilians they were programmed to kill. The ultimate stealth weapon. They could fool anyone.

    They fooled me.

    In the distance, artillery thuds. The battle has moved on. I sit in the road and think about my daughter. I remember when she was born, holding her as the nurse showed me how to cradle her head with the palm of my hand. I remember her playing lego on the floor as I watched on the television the first cities burn and children pulled from the rubble. I remember vowing to never let that happen to her. Annie. Her name is Annie. I try to remember that but the memories slip away like dust slipping through my fingers.

    I’m not who I thought I was.

    The soldier lies dead and stiff on the road. I wonder if the memories came from him, his mouth open in surprised recognition.

    I’m not a man at all.

    The soldier stares at me with his sightless eyes. He has no memories now, no daughter.

    I am the enemy.

    @AvLaidlaw
    444 Words (ex title)

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Dinner Drinks

    It’s easy enough to fall into ennui. The years do drag on so. Sometimes it hardly seems worth it to get up, go out and have a quick bite. But it’s impossible to resist the hunger. Everyone knows that about us vampires. It’s practically part of the job description.

    We’ve caught a bad rap over the centuries. I admit it doesn’t look good about the drinking human blood thing, but everyone has their foibles. That doesn’t mean that we’re monsters. OK, I guess yes, technically, technically we’re monsters. But what happened to seeing the person within, and not pandering to stereotypes? Bigot.

    When corporations or politicians have image problems such as ours, they call in spin doctors and P.R. firms. We tried that. Never again. You want bloodshed? I’m talking about the real deal here. Wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Old Testament kind of anger? Just ask one of us about Edward Fucking Cullen. He drives us batty.

    Now to be fair, I couldn’t really tell you much about any book or show about vampires, as the portrayal of us always sucks. Bloody hacks. There’s just something about being misquoted and lampooned that just sets your teeth on edge. Stabs you right in the heart, it does. It’d be like taking your sappy emo poetry from your teenage years and showing it to Shakespeare – he’s an elfin changeling by the way, as if A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream wasn’t enough of a clue. On reflection, I guess you lot are fairly simple, so I should cross off the obvious answers.

    Over the centuries we immortals try it all: an altruistic phase, detached cynicism, being an activist, and the ever popular immoral hedonist. I’m fancying a bit of a change myself. These days I’m not who I thought I was. I see the hope in your eyes, thinking I’m going to atone, but no. You’re wrong. Life isn’t some movie, and this “supervillain” spiel of mine isn’t going to be interrupted at the last minute by a change of heart. Do I look like a Disney vampire? Repent? Me? Ha! See? You don’t even quality for a maniacal laugh. I know it’s poor form to play with your food. I can’t help it, I have to break up the monotony somehow. But all this talking is making me thirsty. Let’s have a quick pint, shall we?

    @davejamesashton
    394 words

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The Power of Choice

    “Eva? What are you doing here?”

    Eva blinked and tilted her head. “You brought me here. You’ve asked me to be your guardian, the sentinel for your soul garden, so here I am.”

    Chayse frowned, sifting through his memories, but he couldn’t remember asking her that. “When?”

    Her smile turned kind. “When you gave me your fear and dread. When you submitted to me, and freed yourself. I’m the one who will stand beside you and defend you with all that I am.”

    “Why?”

    “Because I love you, Chayser.”

    He brushed his hands through the fronds of a bracken fern waving gently in the soft breeze. The scent of his mother’s jasmine bush drifted through the tree trunks and shadows danced with the sway of branches overhead.

    “But I’m not who I thought I was. What if my addiction comes back?” His biggest fear made his voice break as if he’d returned to his teenaged years.

    “Peace, Chayse. Your addiction is to a succubus’s energies, but you’re now True Mated to a succubus.” She gave him a big smile. “Any time you need such energy, I’m here for you.”

    “What if another succubus comes? What if she tries to take me away?”

    Eva changed in a blink of an eye from a fresh-faced, happy-go-lucky teenager into the demon she truly was. Gnarled horns rose from her forehead into twisted spires and great leathery wings stretched behind her back. Claws reminiscent of a golden eagle sprouted from her fingertips and her eyes glowed with brilliant fire.

    “No one takes what’s mine and survives. Any succubus who comes after you will deal with me, and I’m the oldest.” She tilted her head and winked. “I’ve been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt, corset, and cravat.” Her form shifted back into the teenager with capris and t-shirt. “It’s all good.”

    “Whoa. You’re really scary when you want to be.”

    She grinned and winked. “Come on and fight like a girl.” But she sobered and folded her legs under her as she rested in the grass. “Being the first succubus has given me a little bit of experience and ability.”

    “Just a little.” Chayse snorted as he sat down and draped his arms over his knees as he fingered a piece of grass. “How did you become the first succubus? Is the story about Adam and the apple the real deal?”

    “It’s not like the stories say, and yet it is.” She shrugged. “There were rules to follow and choices to be made, but the knowledge tree with the apple is just a metaphor. What it came down to is Adam and I chose to have sex with someone other than each other. Demons as it turned out. With that choice, the Goddess cursed us to need sex to survive.”

    “I’m sorry.”

    Eva nodded. “Don’t be. It was a choice, my choice, but though they say I’m not done paying for my “crimes”, I now know how to live with the choice.”

    499 #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    437 words

    Curses in the Night

    Mirror, mirror. Who do you see? An innocent woman looks back at me.

    In this world, you’re born evil. You walk evil. You breathe evil. Those who are not evil are deranged. Good behaviour is wrong, and it can quickly morph an evil youth into a sweet-tempered fiend. Oh the horrors!

    I start my day with a brisk dip in the Pool of Mystical Odours, and I splash my cheeks with angel tears. Angels. Those vile creatures. We hunt them for sport, or else they’d take over this place. Just the other day I actually caught one planting flowers in the road. Horrible! You don’t plant flowers. You pluck them. Shredding the petals until they shrivel and die. Decay is the highlight of our existence.

    The Hour of Regurgitation, the only meal of the day in this place, consists of rotten fruit mashed to a pulp and dried. It is tough, leathery, and nausea inducing. I wash it down with flavourful fermented goat’s milk, the kind that is thick and bursting with mouldy chunks. I heave the contents into my second stomach to allow further fermentation. I regurgitate the meal, savouring the bile. Just what I need to get through the day.

    Society is single minded. Wherever we work, however we occupy our time, we labour with one goal: to eliminate the kindness. You see that metal shard in the Nightmare Park? Throw it at the angels. You see that mouldy bread? Eat it quickly, before someone else partakes of the delectable spores. If we see someone suffering, we prolong the anguish. A kind charity act would go against everything evil and impure, everything that makes us thrive.

    One morning I wake up without the knot in my back. Without the pain. I know something is amiss. I glance in the mirror, and instead of scratches and claw marks, I see the outline of lips on my left cheek. Something — something good — has cursed me.

    I eat the dried rotten delights and vomit profusely. I suck down the fermented chunks and spew my stomach contents across the room. I panic. I race through the house, into the street, seeking — love. Comfort. The thoughts are horrendous. What’s wrong with me? I’m not who I thought I was.

    I’ve become one of them.

    The crowds form. They surround me, brandishing daggers and swinging clubs. A short-lived hunt. As I scream in fear, begging for the life I know I’ve already lost, my eyes observe a trace of sympathy. Gentle eyes near the back of the crowd.

    Kindness, that virus, that incurable disease, is on the move.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Aftercare

    She knelt beside his chair, face angled toward the floor, eyes downcast, hands folded primly on the tops of her thighs. Her ragged breath could come from nerves…or arousal. Sergei griped the arm of his desk chair to keep from touching her when her scent hit him. A combination of both then. Schooling his expression, he waved the others out of his office. This contract, if indeed there was to be one, concerned only him and woman at his feet.

    “Why did you come here?” His voice grated from a mouth gone dry from desire. When he’d freed her, pursuant to their original bargain, he had not anticipated her return, and especially not like this. He could no longer resist the temptation she presented. With a gentle hand, he lifted her face, silently commanding her gaze to meet his. When she did, he dropped his hand to his thigh, fighting the urge to stroke her hair.

    The delicate muscles in her throat worked as she swallowed but something in his expression emboldened her. “I had no choice.”

    Unlike him, most people had choices. “You deceive yourself if you believe that to be true, malinkaya. You, of all people, have many choices.”

    “No,” she insisted with an adamant shake of her head. “I don’t.”

    He watched her, silently, his Wolf senses open to all the nuances of her posture, her scent, the yearning in her eyes. He reined in his own desires and remained stoic.

    Her lips parted on a soft sigh as she leaned closer and rested her cheek against his knee. “I’m not who I thought I was.”

    “Then tell me who you are.” The word he never thought to hear from her mouth whispered across the distance separating them.

    “Yours.”

    A spark of some unrecognized emotion flickered deep inside the darkness of his soul. He wanted this woman, and her sweet submission, more than he wanted his next breath, her presence as necessary as his next heartbeat. But he would not accept her, could not subject her to the shadows of his past. He steeled himself for what he must do, what he had no choice but do, to save them both.

    “Ah, my lovely, would that it could be so.” He pushed the chair back, rose, and stepped away from her. Quickly. He needed distance, separation, or he would do the unforgivable. He would accept her into his care, become her Dom, but he’d never be who she needed, the one she deserved. He was not that man. Not now. Not ever. He paused at the doorway, spoke. “I’m not done paying for my crimes.”

    Before she could respond, he slipped through the door, closing it behind him, haunted by the despair he’d put on her face. As he strode through the Nightriders’ clubroom, he caught Gravedigger’s eye. His enforcer followed him outside. Sergei mounted his Harley and gave the other Wolf a terse order before roaring off into the night.

    “Take care of her.”
    ****

    499 words (from the Russian’s story, whenever I get around to writing it. 😆 )
    @SilverJames_

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Oasis

    In 24 hours, I had formed a tight bond with John Quarry. Our Hail Mary jump out of the box car had cemented that feeling.

    The hike in the broiling desert had taken its toll on me. Quarry, however, still looked like a fancy-assed flower in vase, like Mother Nature’s brutal best couldn’t beat him down.

    If I hadn’t begun to grow fond of him, I’d have hated his guts.

    We stood, slightly drooping, at the beginning of the inviting country lane.

    “Let’s go visit,” I said.

    “We might want to consider that,” he replied, pointing to a large sign nailed to a post.

    PRIVATE PROPERTY TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT, OR WORSE.

    It was an intriguing message, full of possibilities.

    “So, John, what’s worse than being shot?”

    Stroking his bristled chin, he said, “Dying of thirst, I imagine. Which we seem to be doing already.”

    With that, we ignored the property owner’s obtuse directive and headed down the lane.

    Someone had done a bang-up job of turning this country sweat-box into an inviting chunk of real estate. On both sides of the fenced lane shade trees hovered like beach umbrellas.

    “John, before we get shot, or worse…by the way, you ever been shot?”

    “Once!”

    “Overseas?”
    “Nope!”

    “Stateside?”

    “Yeah, Chicago. Before the war.”

    “How?”

    “A cop. I was still a kid…slightly to the left of the law.”

    “Meaning…?”

    “I was a little gangster, a fuckin’ holy terror.”

    He paused, perhaps thinking he was sharing too much.

    We kept walking.

    His story continued. “Woody, the war saved me from my fucked up self. Got me thinking bigger thoughts.”

    The sunshade of trees on either side of the lane offered a sheltering respite from the oven. John’s revelation, on the other hand, was concerning.

    I had been the complete opposite of a juvenile delinquent. My cushy life had only ended when Uncle Sam called me up.

    “So…what happened after you got shot?”

    “Luck happened. On a couple of accounts. It was a minor wound. And I ended up in the Pontiac Reformatory.”

    “How long?”

    “Three years.”

    “And what were these bigger thoughts?”

    “In Pontiac, I discovered I’m not who I thought I was. When you’re locked up, you’ve got nothing but a bucket full of time to ponder. I decided I wasn’t just a tough punk kid.”

    Just as we rounded a curve in the lane, we saw the farmhouse and outbuildings.

    Abruptly, our interesting discussion ended. Two horsemen approached.

    “Turn around boys,” one of them, a heavy-set cowboy who sounded like gravel was his chief dietary source, ordered, “You’re trespassing.”

    The other rider was older. Silent. And he looked familiar. Damn if he didn’t look like the old movie star, Ace Longworth.

    “Can you spare some water?”John pitched.

    The heavy-set rider looked to his companion.

    ”Ace?”

    “Yeah, we can do that, Clint.”

    “You’re the boss. You two bums, follow us in. SLOWLY!”

    499 cactus
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 4 people

  13. On the Road

    Eliza sat up as they passed a sign that read ‘Welcome to Purgatory.’ She shook her head. She should have known their arrival was more than just coincidence.

    She turned to study the driver and realized she’d been foolish to think they’d ever do something just for the hell of it.

    “Let me guess,” she said with a sigh. “Business?”

    “Maybe,” Adrian answered. “Whatever happens… it starts with waffles.”

    She scowled slightly and shook her head. It had taken her almost a year to get used to the man’s cryptic, sometimes deadpan answers.

    He seldom spoke, but whatever he told her she knew was the truth. Suddenly her eyes narrowed as she realized something.

    “You don’t know, do you?”

    He shook his head. “I go where I am drawn, do what I must and move on.”

    “And right now?”

    “Right now? I want waffles.”

    “What about me? Where do I fit in?”

    “Don’t like to eat alone,” he answered.

    That was a sobering thought. He’d saved her from something tantamount to a living hell. He’d spoken up for her when no one else would and he’d done it because… because he didn’t want to eat alone.

    She shook her head. “No one, has ever considered me ‘good company.’”

    “Didn’t say ‘good company,’” he pointed out.

    Before she could ask he gave her one of his odd smiles and answered. “You’re honest company, and with what I do… that’s refreshing.”

    “What exactly do you do?” she asked. She knew it involved violence, it involved choice and she knew it was part of an expanding battle, but she’d never dared ask before now.

    “I eat waffles. Things happen,” he sighed. “I try to eat waffles. More often than not… I don’t get to finish them.”

    She laughed. She’s seen that happen often enough.

    He parked the car and slid out. “You could stay if you want.”

    She smiled and chuckled. “What? And let you eat alone? I may run at the first sight of danger, but dude… waffles.”

    Together they walked into the diner, and the laughter died on Eliza’s lips. She knew trouble was brewing, but she had hoped to at least order and maybe get some coffee in her before everything went to hell.

    “Freeze!” an overweight man in a trench coat warned as he leveled his shotgun at them.

    Without thinking, Eliza closed ranks with Adrian, turning her back to his as he faced down the man who’d been in the process of robbing the diner.

    Adrian turned his head towards her slightly. “You didn’t run…”

    “What can I say? I’m not who I thought I was.”

    “You are learning.”

    “I said, don’t move,” the overweight man growled, interrupting them.

    “No. You said ‘Freeze,” Adrian said gesturing towards the weapon.

    Eliza flinched as the shotgun roared.

    She knew what would happen next, the weapon would misfire, the shooter would fall and then the questions.

    Three hours later they were released.

    “Waffles?” She asked.

    Adrian shook his head. “Chimichangas.”

    499 Words (Not including title)
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Liked by 5 people

  14. The Note

    A relatively healthy (at least until this disease decided to rear its ugly head) woman in her forties should not have to live with this. Actually, no one should. There’s no cure. It can only be managed. It’s a progressive disease. It will only get worse. Of course, you and the others already know all of that. The thing is, I’m not sure I can handle that. I’m barely handling it now.

    I can barely button my shirts. I can barely open a pickle jar. I can barely hold a book. I’m angry about it all. I’m losing control.

    I hate this damn disease. I hate what it’s doing to me. I hate the thoughts that have been creeping into my mind lately.

    But, I know what’s in store for me. I’m not going to get any better, only worse. I’ll become more and more of a burden. I know if I were talking to you right now, you would say that I could never be a burden. We both know better.

    I don’t expect you or anyone else to understand, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I really think it’s the best thing I can do for myself, and for all of you. I’m in pain and if I don’t do this, I always will be. I know my actions today will cause you all pain, albeit a different, temporary kind of pain. For that, I am truly sorry.

    I love you all. Always.
    -J

    I put the pen down and stare at the open bottle of Jack Daniels. I grab the bottle as best I can and take a long swig. It burns a little going down. I take the handful of OxyContin from my robe pocket.

    The tears are staining my cheeks. I’m not who I thought I was. Not anymore.

    @cynthiafbuck
    310 words

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Pingback: #FlashMobWrites 1×16 : Bad Blood | My Soul's Tears

  16. It wasn’t the first night Frank couldn’t sleep. Valerie slept inside their small home, in their small bed. He’d worked hard with her to make that house, to make the things they had.

    Frank stood in their garden. Valerie cared for it, every day he was away. He was away often, with his wolf, bear, eagle, and hawk friends. The animals, all predators, walked through the world with him. They hunted men. Men who saw women at things, possessions, things they used, then disposed of.

    Frank lost count of how many he’d killed. But he remembered them when he slept. Flesh and blood, like him. He saw the faces of the dead, some of them boys being raised by their fathers.

    What they did was wrong, he knew that. Women were people, not animals, not slaves, not sexual objects. They were human beings. Flesh and blood. Like him. He remembered when it started. That long walk to the ruins of a city to find books and tools. Anything they could use. Anything they needed to survive.

    He’d found Kelly on that trip, rescued her. The two of them found others, including Beth.

    Beth’s body healed. But her heart, her soul, were to wounded. Too many nights Frank closed his eyes, and saw her body in the forest, in an ocean of dried blood. Beth killed herself

    And Frank went insane.

    “How many have I killed?” He stared at slivers of the night sky, filled with stars as it peeked through the leaves of the trees. “Before I become like them? Before I lose who I am. Before…”

    His heart ached, his hands shook. He wanted to scream, but had no voice. To cry, but had no tears. He wanted to feel. Anything. Alive.

    All he felt was empty.

    A wolf entered the garden, stood before him. Jessica followed it. “Frank?”

    Frank said nothing.

    “The wolf brought me here. Told me you were here.” She stood beside him.

    Frank said nothing. He wasn’t sure he was breathing. Maybe he’d never breathe again. Maybe he was already dead. Like the men he’d killed.

    Jessica looked into his eyes. “Frank?”

    “I’m not who I thought I was.” He didn’t know where the words came from. “I’m not a hero. Not a good guy.” He couldn’t look at Jessica. She was a hero. He wasn’t. “I’m a killer.”

    Jessica took his hand, “It’s time. Go. Find yourself.”

    Frank looked back at his home. “Valerie?”

    “We’ll take care of her. You know that.”

    Frank looked at the stars through the trees, then walked from the garden, into the woods.

    Jessica cried. The wolf kept her company. She didn’t know if Frank would. She stayed in the garden, waited for sunrise, waited for Valerie. She had to tell Valerie where Frank had gone. When he’d be back.

    And she didn’t know how.

    The wolf spoke, “He’ll return. When he believes he’s paid for the things he’s done.”

    491 Words
    @LurchMunster

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Corn fields flew past me as my parents’ car kicked up dust on the dry gravel road. It was another sultry Iowa summer. The first storm in months rolled in on the northern horizon, dark clouds building into towers and anvils. Lightning zigzagged between clouds, fat rain drops drenched the windshield as Dad pulled up the lane.

    Their two story farm house was white, with black shutters, and a faded white awning over the back door. Mom’s flower beds were in full bloom, a sprinkler situated near the vegetable garden. Dad pulled into the garage and we piled out. My brother went to the trunk and pulled my bag out and slung it over his shoulder.

    “Race ya to the house!” he called. A smirk graced his face.

    “You don’t stand a chance, Edgar!”

    I bolted for the door, tripping up the concrete back steps. Mom shook her head as Edgar held the door open, waiting for dad to come with the key. I inspected my skinned knee and shrugged. I wasn’t in good shape. Drug rehab got me clean; it was up to me to get back into shape.

    I followed my family into the house, happy to be back home. The kitchen had mint green walls, tall cupboards with windowed doors, an old Formica table, and white vinyl chairs with little blue flowers scattered around the seat. The kitchen was where we’d talked so often, fought, and reconciled; it was a wonder the floor hadn’t caved in from the tears and stomped feet.

    “Go on upstairs, Jimmy. We’ll call you for supper,” mom said.

    I nodded. I needed some time to think. My boyfriend would want me to call him and I was privileged to have a phone in my room. I turned to mom, as she got meat down for supper.

    “May I call Jacoby?”

    “Of course. But don’t talk long, since it’s long distance.”

    I went upstairs and settled onto my bed. Edgar had placed my bag on the bed and I unzipped it, looking for my address book. I found Jacoby’s number, then dialed it, hoping he was home.

    “Hello?”

    “Hey.” My cheeks flushed at the sound of his smooth tenor voice. “I’m home.”

    “That’s great! How did it go?”

    “Fine. I’m not done paying for my crimes, since I have some outstanding fines, but my record got sealed since I turned eighteen. You think my mom would let you come for supper?” I needed to see him.

    “I have to work tonight, but see about tomorrow night, okay? I love you.”

    “I love you, too. I’ll see about tomorrow night. I’m really going to try staying clean this time.”

    I could hear the smile in his words. “Good. I’ll be there for you, you know that. Let me know about supper tomorrow night, okay? I have to get ready for work.”

    We hung up and I laid down, grateful to be in my own bed. I was going to stay clean this time.

    @Aightball
    499 words

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Title: Doing what you have to.

    Now she had the gun up against his head her hand was steady. In every scenario she’d run in her head, Amanda had seen herself shaking, barely able to hold the gun. It was why she’d picked the little Taurus 405 model, easy to hold and easy to conceal.

    And when it had played out in her head she had seen him laughing at her. But he wasn’t. He stood stock-still, an edge of fear in his eyes. She liked that. For the first time ever he was taking her seriously, and when she’d cocked the barrel he’d dropped the conch.

    And while she paused, catching her breath, debating whether to go through with it or not – never imagining she’d get this far – he started to beg.

    “Come on Mand, you don’t want to be doing this. You don’t want to go shooting me. You don’t want that on your conscience. I’m not worth jail time. Come on, this isn’t you. You’re better than this. This isn’t you at all.”

    “Maybe I’m not who you think I am, Brandon. I know I’m not who I thought I was. I didn’t think I’d be somebody who’d let a man beat me daily. I mean look at me? Look at the blood trickling down the side of my head. That might be you; it might have been my mother, but it sure as shit isn’t me. And I let you do that Brandon – me, no one else. I let you worm your way in. I trusted you, I believed your sob stories, you excuses, your sorry speeches – ”

    “But I meant them Mand, I really meant them, it’s just –”

    She spat in his face. “You didn’t mean a word of them! Not one … single … word! If I wasn’t holding this gun to your head, you’d still be beating me with that!” Amanda kicked the conch across the kitchen floor. “But I was ready for you this time Brandon, because I realised that you were never gonna stop. And I need you to Brandon, because I need to live. I need to show those two little people upstairs, cowering at this very moment that their mother is worth more than that; that she’s stronger than that; that she’s better than that.”

    “But I can change Mand. I can get help. I can turn this shit around, I promise.”

    “Promise?” Amanda scoffed a half laugh, the gun held firm. “You’re promises aren’t worth shit Brandon and you know it. You won’t do any of that. Once this gun is removed you’ll beat me to death, that’s what you’ll do. That’s the only promise you’ll keep.”

    She felt his body tense under the barrel of the gun. He knew she was right, and she knew she was right too. And in that moment she knew what she had to do. She pulled the trigger, feeling the warm spatter of blood on her face, and his body slump to the floor.

    498 Words
    @PurpleQueenNL

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Pingback: Curses in the Night | Emily Clayton

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