#FlashMobWrites 1×20

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Twenty

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 PDT (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 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

Offspring and I are off for a day of food, fun, and music, capped by tonight’s Imagine Dragons concert. This happens to be my personal favorite from their newest album.

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: “my soul’s not for sale”

Ruth Long: “till they bury me”

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

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47 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×20

  1. I was between a rock and a hard place. I had stumbled and fallen into a trap of my own making. How had I stumbled into this bad place? I hadn’t, I’d lived a life so decadent and spent money like it was water. I’d owed money I didn’t have so I embezzled from my employer. A little here, a little there, not so much that he’d notice it I’d thought and yet he did. The cuffs that bound my wrists chafed them and I became scared when they placed me in the back of the police car but this could easily be explained and I’d only get a slap on the wrist. I relaxed. That was my second mistake I was thrown into a jail cell with a woman who hated other women. After a trip to the infirmary and a new cell I felt better until my lawyer arrived and told me that he should plead me down to ten years. I told him “My soul’s not for sale.”
    Then he told me that the usual sentence was twelve to fifteen years. My child would hate me more than she already did and my husband would never forgive me. Child? She’d be an adult when I got out. I still needed to take my punishment and hope to set a better example for my child.
    “Fifteen years of my life? By the time I’d be out my youth would be gone. I’d be there till they bury me,” I answered.
    “So I plead you down to ten years?” he asked.
    I nodded my head.
    Ten long years have passed, I’ve been beaten a time or two but my injuries healed, my hair has grown gray. From time to time I received letters from my husband and daughter. But I refused to let them visit it was no place for a child.
    Today is the day I begin my new life. They opened my cell. Filled all the papers out and gave me back my things. Then the gates opened with a swish as I went past the guards. I looked around and didn’t see anyone waiting for the bus that would take me to a boarding house. A car pulled up and a hand motioned me to get in.
    “It’s me, mom. Get in with daddy he’s in the back.”
    “Why are you here?” I asked.
    “Because we both love you mom!”
    “You still want me?”
    “Of course we do! You made mistakes but we benefited from that money too. You faced up to your mistakes and you paid your debt. Just come home.”
    I jumped in the car and my husband kissed me on the lips. We have the rest of our lives together but I wish I had never made that mistake. I would never get that time back again, I know I never would again. Money was nice but my family came first I would never put myself or my family in that position again.
    500 words
    @SweetSheil

    Liked by 2 people

  2. @jujitsuelf
    #FDHowl
    487 words

    Proposition

    Sweat and fear mingled in a sour haze, polluting the air and sticking in Jamie’s throat. He was used to it, every boxing arena smelled like this. The dressing rooms always stank; testosterone and raw primitive fear made a lasting brew.

    He flexed his fingers in their wrappings, aware of every bone, every joint, every weakness. Once the gloves were on it was harder to remember how fragile a human hand was, but seeing them in only their basic cotton wraps—he swallowed hard. Broken fingers and weakened wrists were part and parcel of his job.

    Rob, his lifelong friend and sometime promoter, came into the room. Two men in dark suits followed him, their eyes hard and shoes shiny. Something cold sank into Jamie’s stomach.

    “What’s going on?” he asked, deliberately casual.

    Rob didn’t look at him.

    One of the suited men spoke, “We’ve got a proposition for you. There are certain people who would very much like to see your opponent win tonight.”

    Jamie didn’t reply, he was busy watching his hopes crumble before his eyes.

    The man went on, “Now, between you and me, you could beat this idiot without breaking a sweat. You’ve been around a while and you’re a good fighter, you know how to take a punch.” He sucked his teeth and grimaced. “But as good as you are and as much as you deserve it, you can’t win tonight.”

    Rob wiped a hand over his face and leaned against a battered locker. Jamie stared at him.

    “You’re seriously asking me to throw this fight?”

    “He’s not,” the other suited man said. “We are. Or rather, our employer is.”

    “You’ll be compensated,” the first suit said. “Generously.”

    “I don’t care,” Jamie replied, standing up and clenching his fists. “I don’t throw fights, understand? I just don’t.”

    “This time you do,” Rob said. His face was ashen and his hands trembled more than usual. “I’m in trouble, Jay. So do it for me, eh?”

    Revulsion sickened Jamie, both for Rob and his pitiful lack of spine and for himself, because he knew he wouldn’t refuse his best friend.

    “Fine,” he muttered.

    The suits smiled and the first one spoke again, “I knew you were a smart lad. Third round, all right? Make it look good.”

    Jamie nodded, too miserable and heartsick to really listen.

    The door creaked shut as the suits left.

    “I’m sorry, Jay—” Rob began but stopped as Jamie cut in.

    “I always said I wouldn’t cheat because my soul’s not for sale,” he hissed, his forearm somehow finding its way to Rob’s skinny throat. “I just sold my bloody soul for you, mate. Hope you’re happy, you pissy little bastard.”

    He stepped back and Rob collapsed to the floor, gasping. Unable to look at him, Jamie stuffed his hands into his gloves and made his way out of the dressing room. What a bloody, disgusting world he lived in.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Wolf and Mrs. Potatohead

    “Can I help with anything?”

    Aislynn opened her mouth to refuse, but paused and tilted her head in surprise. “Are you sure?”

    “Yeah.” Anything to spend more time with her now that Nik understood who she was to him. “I’m really impressed you do this for the forgotten. I’m happy to help, too.”

    Aislynn blinked then smiled. “All right. That’d be great. Are you sure I’m not trying to buy your soul with this? Your brother would see it as something more sinister.”

    “Hey, my soul’s not for sale, but I’m happy to donate some time and effort.” He winked. And I might sell you my heart if you’re buyin’. “Besides, some of the forgotten are informants of mine, and while that might not make them friends, I’d still like to help them.” And you.

    Warmth filled her smile. “That would be wonderful. You can help me by taking these dirty trays back to the kitchen and bringing out clean ones.”

    Disappointment hit his gut, but he swallowed it and nodded affably. He suspected she tested his sincerity by giving him the most boring job. He took the trays in a large pile in through the back door of the strip club and reminded himself the sign of a true master was knowing when to submit.

    Want to be with Aislynn. His Brother Wolf whined dropped his head.

    I know, buddy. Give it some time. He consoled himself with being efficient and quick without missing anything necessary. He returned to the line with the clean trays and fell into place beside Aislynn while she dished out shredded hashbrowned potatoes. He grinned when she raised an elegant eyebrow and happily handed out English muffins and pats of butter to the folks in line.

    “You really don’t mind doing this?” Aislynn shot him a look of surprise.

    “I really don’t.” Nik nodded then lowered his voice. “And I want to spend more time with you.”
    The surprise changed into wariness. “Why?”

    He wanted to tell her what he’d discovered, what his heart and his Brother Self knew, but it was too intimate for all the people around. And more than likely she won’t believe me. Instead, he leaned close and inhaled theatrically.

    “Because you smell really good.” He added a grin and she laughed.

    “It’s the potatoes.” Aislynn winked.

    He laughed with her and her shoulders relaxed. “Should I start calling you Mrs. Potatohead?”

    “It’s Ms., actually. I’m not married yet.”

    “Well that’s fortunate.” He winked and leaned in close to whisper. “I’m not married yet, either.”

    Aislynn grinned and dished out potatoes to the next person in line. “Somehow, I’m not surprised.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “You strike me as a swinging bachelor, Mr. Wolffe. Not one to settle.” She said it without rancor or malice.

    “That’s probably true.” He shrugged thoughtfully. “And the name’s Nik. After serving food to people, I figure we can be on a first name basis.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Blood and Bones

    So I’m sitting there, the skin on my upper arms and the back of my neck flayed off like it’s a Friday night fish fry, and blood pooling under the bar stool that’s keeping me upright. Tore down like this, I got no fight left, no resistance, no damn dignity.

    Place cleared out about five seconds after the Judge, Jury, and Executioner went to work on Dante. They’re as enthusiastic as coyotes on a corpulent corpse and tidy as toddlers amidst a sugar rush tantrum. Just another day on the Red Crone’s payroll.

    A rough voice jolts me from my cocoon of pain. “Can I buy you a drink, Surla?”

    Course it’s Pretty Boy Floyd. “That’s going to be hard without a bartender.”

    “Guess it’ll be on the house.” His slow steady smile is like the balm of Gilead, sliding into the raw red tissue of my wounds as sweet and tender as a lover’s consoling tongue, lapping up the pain and sorrow.

    I watch him pour, his scarred knuckles pulling the ale tap, his black eyes reflecting the glitter of lights.

    He hands me a tumbler of dark ale. “You sell your soul to the devil?”

    “My soul’s not for sale and even if it was, the devil doesn’t have the balls to possess it.”

    He pours a tumbler for himself. “Why did you come to my fight tonight?”

    “You first,” I say, clinking my tumbler to his and emptying it. “Why did you follow me here?”

    “You know why I followed,” he says, eyeing the landscape of my six-foot tattooed body and waist-length scarlet hair. “What you really want to know is why I stayed once those creatures came off your skin.”

    As though they’ve heard him, the Judge, Jury, and Executioner finish their work and return. The Judge and Jury meld into my skin, resuming their position on my shoulders, their gaunt bodies becoming three-bladed shurikens.

    But the Executioner leans across the bar, draws the nail of his forefinger across Pretty Boy’s jaw until blood trickles, and licks the red ooze off his finger before reassuming his place as a scythe blade across the top of my back.

    Pretty Boy pours us another round. “What did you do to deserve them?”

    “I asked for them, though in hindsight –“

    He slides me a fresh tumbler. “Can you get out of the bargain?”

    “It’s not that simple, not that black and white,” I say, toying with the drink instead of downing it. “There’s a whole lot of red between right and wrong.”

    He comes around the bar and takes the stool next to mine, runs a tentative hand over my newly healed skin and the Jury’s shuiken tattoo on my left shoulder. “I’ll ask you again. Why did you come watch my fight?”

    The three voices under my skin break into a cacophony of warnings but I say, quiet as Sunday morning crickets chastened after a night of friction, “I need –“

    “Whatever it is, you may count on me, my lady of blood and bones,” he says, a finger tracing the scythe, gentle against my skin, firm against the ink.

    The voices quiet and a peace descends, as unfamiliar and unexpected as the man beside me.

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 530 ineligible WIP words

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much to love here… dropped in the middle, there’s so much going on and I just want to read more.

      With lines like: “…as enthusiastic as coyotes on a corpulent corpse and tidy as toddlers amidst a sugar rush tantrum…” there’s some serious poetry in there to boot. I want more!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I want my grandson to go home.” The countess almost looked sincere, but she could just as easily be suffering indigestion.

    “He’s a grown man,” I said. “Capable of making all sorts of decisions for himself.”

    “I understand he’s capable.” Red blossomed above her cavernous cheeks. “Only he’s too busy playing hero to your damsel to see reason.”

    My shoulders stiffened.

    “I’m no damsel.”

    “No,” she agreed. “You’re a killer. A thug. Precisely what LOCI trains its people to be. Why do you think they work so hard to acquire you young?” She waved her hand dismissively. “Go here, do this, kill that. So much easier to brainwash.” She hrumphed, sounding at once delicate and derogatory. “You may dress as a lady, but labels do not hide the truth of you.”

    “I am who I am.” And I’d come more or less to terms with that. She could try undermining my determination to support Graham, but good luck shaking my sense of self. “Till they bury me, anyway.”

    “Which may be sooner than later.”

    “True.”

    “Don’t draw him in, then. Don’t engage his soft heart.” The corner of her mouth drew up in something between a snarl and a sneer. Guess she didn’t much care for feelings. “Not when you’ll only be around long enough to break it.” The antique desk drawer opened with a soft swoosh. “You must agree your—lifestyle choices—are not conducive to a long term relationship.”

    “So what you’re saying is, I’m not your first choice for the next countess of whatever.”

    “Lindhurst,” she hissed. “You mannerless ape.” She slapped her hand on the table, and I didn’t have to be particularly evolved beyond ape-hood to recognize a checkbook. “Name your price.”

    “For what?”

    “To send my grandson home.”

    “You grandson has a name. Graham.”

    “That is his peasant father’s name.” She bared aged, ivory teeth. “He is Lindhurst.”

    “If you believe he’s nothing more than a dusty old title, you don’t know him at all.”

    The slap was not unexpected.

    Catching it before it connected with my cheek? Twisting the delicate wrist until an aging woman gasped in pain? Guess I still had some depths of despicability to plumb.

    “Name your price, damn you. Just send him away.”

    Like hell.

    “No.”

    “Don’t dismiss my offer so easily, Ms. Kelly. I can make you a wealthy woman with a few pen strokes and your cooperation.”

    That she thought for a moment her words would find welcome in me—if I couldn’t see her chromature for myself, I’d question her humanity. I almost wanted her to be something more than a garden variety human monster.

    “We’re done here.” I squared my shoulders and headed for the nearest door. With any luck, I wouldn’t tank my dignity by walking into a closet or bathroom. “Graham can decide his own course, your worship. Whatever he chooses, I’ll do everything within my power to keep him safe. Beyond that? We’ll agree my soul’s not for sale. At any price.”

    @caramichaels
    500 WIP words

    Liked by 2 people

    • HA! Graham’s family can dish some first class attitude and banter to die for! Wow! I look forward to more of these power plays. Love how Kelly holds her ground against Queen B! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Busted Flush
    @lizhedgecock
    487 words

    I licked my dry lips but it made no difference. ‘My soul’s not for sale.’

    My opponent smiled over his hand. ‘Of course not. Who said it was?’ His dirt-rimmed nail flicked at the cards and his mouth twisted in a way that made my guts churn.

    I threw in my hand and pushed the heap of bills towards him. ‘I’m out. I’m not playing.’

    ‘That’s a shame.’ He put his cards down carefully, still in a fan. ‘I’m trying to help, you know.’

    ‘How?’ I was drowning, I was in so far. What else was there to do out here but play cards and drink? I poured another finger and threw it back, welcoming the burn at the back of my throat. At least I could feel something. That was what had drawn me into the endless poker games with this stranger; even the downs of losing were better than emptiness.

    ‘What other chance do you have?’ The fury in his eyes surprised me; despair had smothered my capacity for anger. ‘You’ve frittered away everything you had.’

    One hand of five-card draw. If I won, everything would be returned to me; the money, the equipment, the house.

    ‘And if you win?’

    ‘A soul.’

    ‘I told you…’

    ‘That’s the deal. Walk away, and starve.’

    I looked over his shoulder at the dirt and boulders stretching as far as the eye could see. I had set out so full of hope, and it had crumbled to dust. This was the last outpost; I couldn’t turn back, or go forward, without help. ‘Fine. Deal.’

    Four spades and a heart. My own heart leapt as I slid the red card back for another. The intricate design on its back told me nothing.

    A club. A busted flush.

    He smiled like a wolf and showed a straight flush of red hearts. ‘So.’

    ‘A soul, you said.’ I pushed my cards together until the edges were exactly square.

    ‘Yes.’ He leaned forward.

    Then it hit me. ’You didn’t say it had to be mine.’ I grinned as I realised the looseness of the bargain. ‘Any soul will do.’

    His gaze was very steady. ‘And who do you choose?’

    ‘Well, it could be anyone, couldn’t it?’ My head swam as I stood up, and I held on to the table. He watched, silent. ‘What is a soul, anyway?’ I looked around for inspiration and my eye snagged on the innkeeper’s daughter sweeping dust from the step. ‘Her. I choose her.’ I pointed, even though no-one else was there.

    His eyes glinted. ‘You cannot barter someone else’s soul. That is not the act of a gentleman. And I am a gentleman.’ He stood, and towered over me as he grasped my hand. ‘You will keep the bargain.’

    And as he shook my hand firmly, the warmth of his hand drew every feeling away; all hope, all disappointment, all affection, all despair.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. @AvLaidlaw
    491 Words

    Crossroad Blues

    Late that afternoon, a truck kicked up a plume of dust behind it like a tornado coming down the dirt track. The boy in the ragged t-shirt and converse sneakers all holed and dust smeared stood by the side of the road and watched it through tired eyes. Then he hitched the guitar strap over his shoulder and carried on walking.

    The truck passed him rattling like old bones and its engine choking in the heat. It pulled up a hundred yards further along at the crossroads though there was no traffic around. The boy kept walking. The fields stretched away either side of the road, sunburnt and featureless. There was nowhere to hide.

    The window of the truck rolled down. The radio was tuned to a Christian radio station; he didn’t think much of the music but he felt a little safer. He stopped. A middle aged woman, all earrings, frizzy hair and scarlet lipstick poked her head out. “Want a lift?”

    “Going to keep walking, if it’s all the same.”

    “Getting late. How long you going to keep walking for?”

    “Till they bury me.”

    She laughed a throaty laugh like she smoked too many cigarettes. “I’ll take you to the next town. Go halves on a hotel room if you like.”

    He stepped back from the car and her earrings jangled as she laughed again. “I’m kidding.”

    “Ain’t got money for gas.”

    “Like to pay your way?”

    “Debts have a way of getting paid, don’t they?”

    “Give me a tune on your guitar and we’ll call it quits. I like a little music.” The western sky burned a fierce orange and red, and the shadow of the signpost stretched across the road, its tip touching his chest as if pointing at his heart. She turned off the radio. “Not that crap. I was into it way back, but I guess I’ve seen too much now.”

    “Truth is, I don’t play so well.”

    “But you want to, don’t you Bobby?” The familiar arch of the eyebrow and flicker of tongue against teeth. “You want to be on stage with the girls looking at you all wide eyed. You want a pocketful of bills so you can tell your old man where to go.”

    Bobby ran from the car and across the fields. He didn’t stop until he’d run a mile or so and then he dropped to the dirt and gasped for breath. His shirt was soaked in sweat. He still clutched the neck of his guitar in his white knuckled fist and he wondered why he still held onto it so tightly wherever he went. All those nights when he blistered his fingers trying to play the damn thing, all those nights the devil came to him no matter how fast he ran from it. He held the guitar, his fingers on the strings.

    Down at the crossroads, the truck kept its engine running and waited for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A Gentleman Calls
    385 words
    David Shakes
    @theshakes72

    The gentleman still smiles, the coldest smile he’s ever seen. How does he manage that? Does he have a smile for family and friends that’s somehow different? Does he actually have family and friends? Probably not. Whores and acquaintances were likely more his style.
    The gentleman has been calling on him more frequently, demanding more. The gentleman is not the devil, but he knows him personally. He is a broker, a middleman. Who knew that a deal with the devil would be peppered with beaurocracy?
    The gentleman’s smile is unfaltering, although they’ve been sat there for over an hour as he reads through the latest contract. He’s had his fingers burnt before, rather literally, as a previous contract went up in smoke because he’d failed to follow the minutiae of the impenetrable Ts & Cs.
    “So you see,” says the gentleman patiently, “it is clearly written there in red and white.”
    “I can’t do that,” he says, “it wasn’t there when I signed!”
    “Quite right, but the clause about variable clauses varying at the discretion of…him,” he gestured downwards, “that was there all along.”
    “Alright, I *won’t* do that!” he shouts with indignation.
    The edges of the paper in his hands begin to smoulder.
    “Do we need to draw up yet another contract?”
    “But they’re my children, my children!” he pleads. ____________________________________________________________
    The gentleman continues to smile. He’ll sign, now or later. They always do.
    People do unspeakable things every day and find a way to live with themselves. This specimen is no different to any of the others. It gets quite tedious.
    “My soul’s not for sale,” they always say, missing the point.
    The devil doesn’t want to buy souls, he wants to destroy them. Rub them out incrementally, wearing holes in them with impossible rules and contradictory regulations. Have humans, God’s special creatures, rip apart the one thing that set them apart in the first place, and by their own hand.
    He steps over the man who is curled up sobbing on the floor. He’s still banging on about his poor children with his mouth, but in his thoughts he’s already starting to consider what he’s been asked to do.
    “I’ll see myself out,” says the gentleman. “I’ve plenty more people to call on.”
    “But my children!” replies the man, already sounding unconvincing.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. THE FACTS OF THE CASE

    So there it was. A job, a mystery, no less, something to sink our teeth into. I felt like I should see a dentist. Or a head doctor. Quarry might be comfortable in the murky world of private eyes and missing women. I was made of more brittle stuff. The war had taken all of the stuffing out of me. Apart from riding the rails, sucking up the smells of America, I wasn’t sure I was prepared for serious inquiry.

    Nevertheless, John Quarry seemed like a guy who could bring out the best in you. I didn`t know what the hell was inside of me but I was willing to risk being mined for my best ore.

    Ace and Gabi had left us alone in his office. It was clearly a measure of trust. Or a test. I settled in a deep leather couch and read the file Quarry had already reviewed.

    Missing Persons Report
    Name: Hazel Twigg.
    Age: 47
    D.O.B June 2, 1896
    Description
    Height: 5’ 4”
    Weight: 140 lbs
    Hair: Brown
    Eyes: blue

    Known facts: Hazel Twigg, long time resident of Crowbar City and proprietor of the Crowbar Grill was reported missing on the morning of October 12th, 1943 by her niece, Gabrielle Laird. Both women reside at 27 Goldbrick Lane in the Township of Crowbar in the County of Ives.

    Witnesses
    The last person who reported seeing Hazel Twigg was local business man Hap Granger. Mr. Granger said he’s been out for an evening constitutional the preceding evening and glimpsed Miss Twigg, with whom he has had business dealings and considered a personal friend, exit her diner and get in to a waiting Jeep.
    He neither noticed who the driver might be nor the licence plate.
    After Miss Twigg failed to reappear in the coming days, we ascertained that all military vehicles were accounted for that evening. The World Series game kept all personnel on base.
    There are a number of civilian jeeps in the county but determining if one of them picked up Miss Twigg seems impossible.

    ******************************************************************************
    The balance of the file contained photos of Hazel Twigg, her diner, the spot where Hap Granger supposedly saw her and a picture of her house.

    It was skimpier than my wallet.

    The last notation was made by the Hank Squires, the former sheriff, and mentioned that two and a half years had passed, that there had been no sightings of Hazel Twigg and that the file was being copied and that copy given to Hazel Twigg’s friend, Ace Longworth.

    The file was then closed.

    *******************************************************
    “Jesus, John, there’s not much here,” I said, placing the file on the coffee table.
    “Nope. Less than nothing!”
    “Maybe a fool’s errand?” I suggested.
    “I’ll be a fool till they bury me, Woody. And even then I’m gonna feel a little foolish.”
    “Okay,” I said, “let’s go make fools of ourselves together.”

    500 reports
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Judging by the smile on his face, it’d been a while since someone celebrated his birthday. I’d recently started refinishing an old, depilated farm house, and loved being out in the country. My neighbors up the gravel, Hank and Eleanor Marks, had taken Jimmy under their wing when I brought him to the farm for a visit he was to call Eleanor mom.

    “Happy birthday, dear Jimmy. Happy birthday to you!”

    The party was small, just me and Jimmy, and Hank, Eleanor, and their son Edgar, who was two years younger than Jimmy. His grin nearly split his face as he blew out the candles on his homemade strawberry cake. He was in drug rehab and had earned a day trip to see his family, so he picked his eighteenth birthday to go.

    “After this we’ll open presents,” Eleanor said.

    We walked in the living room when everyone had finished eating. A folding table near the couch was piled high with gifts, some wrapped in shiny paper, others in plain gift bags.

    “A-are those all for me?” Jimmy asked.

    “Of course,” Hank said. “You deserve to be treated specially.”

    Jimmy sank onto the couch, blue eyes wide. There were no birthday parties in rehab, so tonight was extra special. He opened the first gift on the table, which was in a larg box and was from Eleanor.

    “Thank you, mom!” Jimmy said.

    He showed off the new purple CD player she’d gotten him. I didn’t know if he’d be allowed to have it yet, but he’d could keep it at my place until he earned it. Edgar had gotten Jimmy some CDs and some headphones for it as well.

    “Mine isn’t very exciting,” I admitted.

    Jimmy ripped the paper off a plain shoe box and broke the tape. His face lit up when he pulled out three t-shirts and three pair of jeans. He needed more clothes and I made sure to get t-shirts from his favorite band.

    “Thank you,” he said. He smiled. “I need clothes and these are good clothes to get.”

    He also got an assortment of socks and underwear, all important and needed. When all the gifts were open, he smiled.

    “Thank you guys,” he said. “I had a ton of fun tonight.”

    He hugged Hank and Eleanor and then he and I walked down to my house. I hugged him before we went inside.

    “Happy birthday,” I said.

    “Thanks.” He followed me inside and up into the kitchen. “Uhm, I’m glad you stayed by me.”

    I tossed my keys on the counter by the sink, then turned around and smiled. “Hey. I’m going to be here till they bury me. Promise.”

    The blush on his cheeks was cute. He fidgeted a moment, then drew me into a hug. Not just a quick hug, but a long, tight hug. That was most affection I’d had from him since I first met him. I held him tight, rubbing his back. All the kid needed was some love.

    @Aightball
    500 words

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jane drove the blade into the chest of the Formori, giving the blade a twist. The misshapen creature flailed once before stilling, ichor flowing out over the blade and onto the ground, killing any grass that was underneath it.

    She panted, pulling the blade free with a jerk and glanced at the field around them. There was a large population of the Fomori on the field, with bright stars where one of the fae had fallen as well. Their bodies would be taken back while the enemy would be left to rot on the ground, food for the most desperate of creatures that could stomach the grey flesh.

    “It seems that they were right about the Hound of the Courts.” The droll voice made her wish that the speaker was part of the enemy so she would be justified in cutting him in half.

    She glanced over her shoulder at the fae standing there, silver gaze sliding from her to the fomori and back. His own fancy armor was covered in ichor and dented in places where a blow glanced off . “What were they right about?”

    “That you don’t fall down easily for a mere human.”

    “I’ve had help to survive some things. Till they bury me, I’ll keep going.” She used a piece of clothing hanging on underneath her armor to wipe off the blade and resheathed it. “Is there something else that you have need of me, Baron? Once this field has been marked as clear, I am to go back and give a report.”

    His gaze narrowed. “That is a bit of impertinence. I am the one in charge. I will let you know when you can go.”

    Jane pasted on a smile that she most definitely didn’t feel. She never did when it came to the fae and she had a long time before she would be free to make her own decisions again. As it was, she only had fifty years under her belt with them. “I’m afraid that the Queens will disagree with your assessment. I am under no one’s orders, beyond the Queens. And I had been ordered to return back as soon as I wasn’t needed.” She gave a look around. “It seems that your troops now have things under control. If there was even a possibility of a resurgence of the Formori troops, they will ensure that I get to the location as quickly as possible.

    She would never understand how anyone could find the fae beautiful. Granted they had that otherworldly appearance but if they were looked at closely, their features got as ugly as any human being’s face could.

    The Baron’s face tightened and his features seemed to freeze. If he could turn her into a pillar of salt or to ash, she was sure that she would be dead in that instant. They were like little children, never liking to hear the word ‘no’.
    She could do polite though. She made a small bow. “Good day, Baron.”

    500 words
    @solimond

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dance of the damned
    316 words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    We sit discussing tactics, Rosa and me, as we stare out across the expanse of the wasteland. There’s nothing but dust and parched dry earth as far as the eye can see.

    I know what I want to tell her, but I hide behind moves and counter-moves in the battle we predict.

    When the fight comes, we know it won’t matter. The first casualty of war is the battle plan, and still we play this game.

    We both know we’re just killing time, but neither one of us can think of anything better to do with the time.

    It’s not like we know when the enemy will attack, we simply have to settle for the fact that they will and react accordingly.

    The armistice our president signed wasn’t even worth the paper it was printed on, and even she knew it. The world of our enemy is as hollow as their promises. They have stated one truth, and it has always held.

    We plan to see them in Hell, and they plan on taking us there.

    In the end it will come down to Rosa and me, doing what we do, creating a miracle to hold back the emptiness that threatens to consume our very souls.

    I don’t know about Rosa, by my soul’s not for sale. They may come for it, they the will never take it while I live.

    When it comes the attack will be brutal. They will try and drive a wedge through our defenses, separate us, then pluck us off, one by one.

    When others turn and run, this I know: It will be Rosa at my side, and neither one of us will leave. We will fight back to back until all that’s left is parched dry earth, and our secrets are laid bare.

    How can you live with someone like that, and not know that they’re a Capricorn?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. TIPPING THE SCALES
    393
    Bunmi Oke
    @bunmi_oke

    He had never wanted it. She neither. But they needed it, he especially. Fine-looking, too fine-looking for, not hers but their own good, men would naturally never be able to resist making eyes at her. That she entertained at the very faintest, the idea of exploiting that window was to him just as appalling as it was enraging.
    “My soul’s not for sale!”
    Massaging his feet in reassurance, “No one is selling your sole,” the doctor chuckled, amused at the practicality of the expression. Psychiatry is sure an interesting field, he always knew, chuckling. Equally, he knew better than to not ditch his impending laugh on realizing it was his client’s nervous breakdown kicking in again. He had him tranquilized after a sympathetic telling of how much he understood his state.
    But no, only her would understood. She alone would know the man had said and meant ‘soul’, short for ‘soul mate,’ her pet name. He had told her time and again that pressured and stranded as she ever could be, no proposition was worthy of succumbing to, not even on his account though his very life were hanging in the balance. Too bad he yet had no clue how excruciating it was for her presently to convey a seeming counterargument that his life was well worth–and outweighed, really–whatever extent she went to in saving it.
    “I’m sorry, darling,” her face sporting stagnant perspiration, fast-paced tears and sluggish nasal rheum. She deployed all she could to pacify him, blurting out all the suggestion-expressions her brain supplied: clichés, quotes, religious pacifications–yes, the look-on-the-bright-side’s and when-there-is-life-there-is-hope’s of this world.
    Not that he would not ultimately rethink her plea and swallow the hurt however impossible it seemed initially. Not that he would not recuperate and be discharged homeward–he blithe and she, never so ecstatic. Not that things would not return to normal, their lives together as serene as his sanity had now become. Yes, Providence never bestows for no reason; now they had a different take on the gift of her body. Yes, it had tipped the scales in favor of a longer stay alive.
    Yet no, not that four days later, and following a bout of withdrawal, he would not be found dangling ghoulishly from the old, beige-barked tree overlooking the house.
    “Demise, swifter than disgrace,” read his cute suicide note.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I hope you’ll accept this a few minutes late. I had some connectivity and then technical issues with the site.

    Blue Sky and Apples

    425 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call
    @callthewriter
    #FlashDogs

    We meet in the caf. Two kids who can’t even keeps their legs under them. I’m on crutches, so I’d say I’m doing better than he is, but Trav doesn’t let something like limited mobility get him down.

    He has blue eyes. The bluest eyes. Like what I remember the sky looked like.

    Or maybe a dream of what the sky looked like.

    We haven’t seen each other since we were five – when we were first admitted to The Program. We both stood at our parents’ elbows while they filled out paperwork. He had curly black hair. I had gotten a purple sucker. His was green.

    When he saw I wasn’t happy with my flavor, he held his out, still in the wrapper and we traded. Our knuckles brushed and I never forgot how it felt. It was the last time anyone touched me in a friendly way. I waved goodbye to my parents, my tongue curled around the taste of sour apple, thinking I would see them again in a few days. I waved goodbye to Trav too.

    I didn’t even know his name yet.

    For the next twelve years, we became acquainted over virtual chat. Sitting in our separate sterile rooms, we shared thoughts on our teachers, our tests, our levels, and what we thought all of this was. We reported on how our genetic therapy was going. What skills we were developing. What symptoms.

    By the time we realized what was happening, we were too weak to do anything about it.

    Lizzie281: How long do you think you’ll be here?
    Trav46: Till they bury me.

    When subjects turn seventeen, they’re allowed personal visits. Trav and I decided to meet in the caf.

    Neutral ground.

    He’s older, of course. But more like what I would imagine a ghost of the real him would look like. With his shaved head and sunken cheeks. His body folded into the wheelchair. But his smile is real. And I know without knowing that it’s Trav.

    He smiles at me and gestures. He doesn’t need to speak. We developed paraverbal communication years ago.

    I limp over to him and sit on the plastic bench across from his chair. He feet are askew, pointed at one another in the stirrups. I warm, carried by the color in his eyes. I smile back, hoping I’m not too pale.

    Nice to meet you, he smiles. Liz. I brought you something.

    He holds something out as a dot of blood trickles from one nostril.

    It’s a green sucker.

    Our knuckles brush.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And of course I posted the wrong version.

      Here’s the right one.

      Blue Sky and Apples

      425 words
      by Alicia VanNoy Call
      @callthewriter
      #FlashDogs

      We meet in the caf. Two kids who can’t even keeps their legs under them. I’m on crutches, so I’d say I’m doing better than he is, but Trav doesn’t let something like limited mobility get him down.

      He has blue eyes. The bluest eyes. Like what I remember the sky looked like.

      Or maybe a dream of what the sky looked like.

      We haven’t seen each other since we were five – when we were first admitted to The Program. We both stood at our parents’ elbows while they filled out paperwork. He had curly black hair. I had gotten a purple sucker. His was green.

      When he saw I wasn’t happy with my flavor, he held his out, still in the wrapper and we traded. Our knuckles brushed and I never forgot how it felt. It was the last time anyone touched me in a friendly way. I waved goodbye to my parents, my tongue curled around the taste of sour apple, thinking I would see them again in a few days. I waved goodbye to Trav too.

      I didn’t even know his name yet.

      For the next twelve years, we became acquainted over virtual chat. Sitting in our separate sterile rooms, we shared thoughts on our teachers, our tests, our levels, and what we thought all of this was. We reported on how our genetic therapy was going. What skills we were developing. What symptoms.

      By the time we realized what was happening, we were too weak to do anything about it.

      Lizzie281: How long do you think you’ll be here?
      Trav46: Till they bury me.

      When subjects turn seventeen, they’re allowed personal visits. Trav and I decided to meet in the caf.

      Neutral ground.

      He’s older, of course. But more like what I would imagine a ghost of the real him would look like. With his shaved head and sunken cheeks. His body folded into the wheelchair. But his smile is real. And I know without knowing that it’s Trav.

      He smiles at me and gestures. He doesn’t need to speak. We developed paraverbal communication years ago.

      I limp over to him and sit on the plastic bench across from his chair. He feet are askew, pointed at one another in the stirrups. I warm, carried by the color in his eyes. I smile back, hoping I’m not too pale.

      Nice to meet you, he smiles. Liz. I brought you something.

      He holds something out as a dot of blood trickles from one nostril.

      It’s a green sucker.

      Our knuckles brush.

      Like

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