#FlashMobWrites 1×21

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Twenty-One

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

This song, and the awesome Elle King who sings and strums, is pure badassery.

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: “scripture-slinging man”

Ruth Long: “I follow the sorrow”

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


39 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×21

  1. I follow the sorrow
    The scripture-slinging man
    Who slithers from town to town
    Taking money from the pockets
    Of the poor and anxious
    To get the cures which elude them
    Carefully planning out every detail
    In advance, of how this will
    Achieve his ends
    Offers friendship and fellowship
    To the lonely and desperate
    The shut-ins and the ill
    The neglected seniors
    The tents are crammed
    Ripe bodies eager for redemption
    The revivals in full force
    The music fills the rafters
    The preacher captures his audience
    First with anecdotes of funny stories
    He humanizes himself
    As he lists the sins
    Of the audience
    He mimics the emotions
    They want to hear
    For he feels them not
    He pounds the pulpit
    For he is volatile
    Prone to emotional outbursts
    He promises fire and brimstone
    To the false prophets
    The untrue non-following few
    He then promises salvation
    To the faithful
    Who give freely
    Generously to his coffers
    For he claims
    Only the loyal
    The devoted disciples
    Of God’s word shall
    Achieve the kingdom of heaven

    He has distorted
    The word of God
    For his own profit
    Viewing the innocent victims
    As inhuman objects
    To be tormented and violated
    For his amusement
    How he laughs in private
    When he convinces them
    He has cured their woes
    Or their body’s pain
    And sickness
    Only to ask them
    For their life’s savings in return
    Putting those thirty pieces of silver
    Golden chalices passed around
    For he is a greedy dog
    Who can never have enough
    Who preys on shepherds
    That cannot understand
    The evil that he is
    He looks to his own way,
    Every one for gain,
    From every quarter

    The simple truth?
    He is a psychopath
    Sent by the devil
    And I the avenging angel
    Sent to clean up his messes
    The destruction he leaves
    In his wake
    The heartache and the sorrow
    Sown and reaped
    Are mine to take
    The gentle trusting souls
    Of the burden
    I lift their spirts
    And their feet
    Caring them
    To bring light
    Into their lives
    And steer them
    To their local
    Communities’ churches
    Where hope and faith
    Charity are born
    But the greatest of these is love
    For love is shared
    With kindness, friendship
    And fellowship
    For in these
    True humanity is born
    376 Words
    Sheilagh Lee

    Liked by 3 people

  2. @AvLaidlaw
    495 Words (hyphenated as one word)

    A Plague On Your House

    Everybody knew two things about the town of Black River. Firstly, the river was meerly a patch of swampy ground. Secondly, the whole place was run by Big Jake Blake who shot the sheriff and the deputy and hung a sign on the courthouse reading “closed for business”.

    One Easter morning a stagecoach stopped outside the saloon, and a man dressed in black stepped out. “Are you a gun-slinger?” Jake said.

    “A priest. A scripture-slinging man, you might say.” The priest smiled. “But Big Jake, you better get out of town or there’ll be trouble.”

    “Going to work a miracle?”

    The Priest reached inside his jacket. Jake pulled his revolver but stopped when he saw the Priest only held a small Bible. “Let me see, something from Exodus.” The Priest wetted his finger and flicked through the pages. “Yes.” He snapped the Bible shut. “A plague of frogs.”

    Jake laughed, a big booming laugh that rattled the windows. He was still laughing that evening when he told Marie-Lulubel about it as he poured himself a whiskey. “I told him it was bad luck to shoot a priest, but if he…” Jake was about to drink when a small green face with bulbous eyes popped up over the rim of his glass. He dropped the glass and the whiskey bottle on his foot. The frog leapt from the glass, no worse for the whiskey, and hopped out the bedroom.


    “Forget about the frog and come to bed.”

    But even after several minutes of Marie-Lulubel’s expertise, Jake couldn’t manage more than a sigh.

    “Don’t you love your little Lulu?”

    “There’s another damn frog looking at me. A man can’t get his juices flowing when a frog’s staring at him.”

    “I know some tricks… Ewww, there’s something slimy.” She whipped back the sheets. A third frog squatted on Jake’s chest, smirking. It flicked out its tongue and hit him square on the nose then jumped out the window so quick they couldn’t catch him.

    Marie-Lulubel left to find a man less attractive to amphibians as the frogs croaked outside. Jake tried shooting them but it’s well-nigh impossible to hit a frog in the dark. Jake pulled the curtains. He pushed the wardrobe in front of the window. But all night the entire room shook with the noise of the frogs. He found frogs in the wash basin and frogs in the coffee pot, frogs under the bed and frogs in his boots. He found newts in his pockets and one particularly smug and venomous toad perched on his hat.

    The next morning, as the Priest watched a wretched and frog-sick Jake ride out of town, a barefoot boy tugged his arm. The boy held up a pail. “Heard you paid a quarter for a bucket of frogs. Spent all night catching them.”

    “I don’t think we need the frogs anymore.” The Priest flipped the boy a quarter anyway. “But I’ll see you next Sunday.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. @jujitsuelf
    499 words

    Survival is for the Strong

    Joe was six feet five inches of dumb cheerfulness. Tousle-headed whatever the time of day, he ambled through life with a smile on his face. Girls swooned over him because his six feet five inches were made of pure muscle and not a scrap of fat. He had eyes like a summer sky and his grin could put starlight to shame. Always ready with an offer of help to anyone in need be they family or stranger, he was the kind of guy the county adored.

    Joe liked me. I think he loved me in his own quiet way. I never loved him.

    He wasn’t one for words, could never string more than two sentences together except when he drank. It took him a year to ask me on a date and another six months to ask whether I’d go steady with him. I remember I hid behind my hair and blushed in the way I knew boys liked as I said yes. Joe wasn’t a catch in my opinion, but his daddy’s money was.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I ain’t a lady. I was born in a filthy shack, the third of eight squalling kids and nobody ever gave me a break I didn’t hunt down for myself. I grew up knowing survival mattered more than anything, more than family or honor or dignity. Joe was my survival and I wasn’t letting him wriggle off my hook.

    So I blushed and giggled and let him squeeze my waist when he got up the courage. I told him he was strong and clever and that I loved him more than life itself. I was a goddamned liar.

    Joe’s daddy was a hard, scripture-slinging man, harder than Joe and a dozen times smarter. His bible never left his pocket and he had me marked down as a Jezebel the minute he met me. He hated me for who I was and where I’d come from and for the fact his boy was fool enough to love me. If he’d been twenty years younger, what a match I’d have made with him. Ain’t many men been my equal in terms of brains but Joe’s daddy was.

    I married Joe in April 1940 and his daddy watched me walk down the aisle with nothing but hate in his eyes.

    In 1941 Joe joined the Air Force. In January 1942 little Joe Junior was born. He can’t remember his papa. Joe was on bombers, stupid dumb ox got blown out of the sky over Germany in 1943.

    I don’t hold with regret. If I did, I wouldn’t make it out of bed in the morning. But I’ll admit I’m ashamed of lying to Joe. I should’ve loved him, he deserved better than me. Most I can do now is give his son a decent life. Joe Junior will grow up safe and cared for, living well off of his grandpa’s money.

    I hope Joe forgives me, wherever he is.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Provider

    Gabi gave us a lift into Crowbar City. She was driving was a 6 year old Ford Woody. Inside, it was car. Outside, it was art. I had a close personal affection for any car that shared my name.

    “Suspension could do with a little more bounce,” I suggested from the back seat.

    “It’s a hard country, Woody. That’s the first thing to go,” she offered. “This was Hazel’s baby, by the way. Another reason those who loved her…love her… don’t belief she went away willingly.”

    A bumpy 20 minute ride later, we entered downtown Crowbar.

    The previous night, Gabi had offered to loan us the vehicle to make our job about ten times easier.

    “And here I was hoping Ace would saddle up a couple of horses to help us get around,” I had quipped.

    “Easily done, Woody,” Ace had replied.

    “Nope! Happy to go with the loan of the wagon,” I said hastily, avoiding any unflattering discussion about my limited horsemanship.

    We pulled up in front of the closed Crowbar City Grill around 10 A.M.

    “I thought you opened a lot earlier?” John asked.

    “Except Sundays. Local ordinance. Not till noon. It’s a very religious town. At least, that’s what everyone claims, even the ones who don’t go to church.”

    John shook his head. My new friend was not god-fearing, it appeared.

    “Come back in a few hours for lunch. It’ll be on the house.”

    “Will do,” Quarry said. “Any idea where Hap Granger might be?”

    “I know exactly. Hap is half profit-thirsty scallywag and half scripture-slinging man. He covers all the bases. You’ll find the Crowbar Baptist Church two blocks over. His usual Sunday morning haunt.”

    John gave me a look that told me he would prefer to rush a German machine gun nest rather than go to Sunday School.

    “No job is perfect, John,” I said.

    We decided to walk over, save on fuel and familiarize ourselves with Crowbar City.

    Time had stood still here. Stood still or was rolling around in the dirt like the 4 or 5 dogs we encountered along the way. Like the mutts, time in this desert retreat also seemed to be licking its butt. Where there were sidewalks, they were wooden; the roads dusty; dust swirled up with the slightest wind. The heat was a broiler hell.

    The Crowbar Baptist Church could have used a paint job. The whole damn town could use a whitewash.

    We walked up the five steps that led to the open door. Rock of Ages was just ending.
    Inside, we hoped for cool air but a fire was igniting.

    “Brother Granger, take us forward,” a speaker announced.

    “Thank you, Reverend Halop,” said a sizable fellow in a very black suit.

    “Friends, we are at a crossroads. The war was fruitful. That evil tree has withered. God provides; but when he can’t, that is the job of business. We will rise again.”

    “He’s a bunkshooter,” John whispered. “Billy Sunday’s screwed up baby brother.”

    499 sermons

    Liked by 2 people

    • So I’m out to dinner, trying to do everything via phone. What the heck is a bunkshooter? I can’t find a proper explanation of the term. Otherwise, bang up addition to the mystery!

      Liked by 1 person

      • To double check my interest in referencing Billy Sunday, I came across this on the wikipedia site. ” Sunday was a lifelong Republican, and he espoused the mainstream political and social views of his native Midwest: individualism, competitiveness, personal discipline, and opposition to government regulation.[59] Writers such as Sinclair Lewis,[60] Henry M. Tichenor,[61] and John Reed attacked Sunday as a tool of big business, and poet Carl Sandburg called him a “four-flusher” and a “bunkshooter.” One of my favourite words and activities has been “debunker.” I imagine Sandburg used a mix of bunk, debunker and bulls—-er
        to get “bunkshooter.”

        Liked by 2 people


    “Premedi–” what? Nope. Totally not. The prosecution counsel must be seriously mistaken.

    He even alluded at me being probably non compos mentis. What’s with the name-calling? I ain’t mentally incompetent! How else can I convince this court (and you, dear reader) that it—whatever I’m defending myself against—was not done with even a tinge of malicious intent?

    Our height above sea level was a little shy of a thousand feet. Being alone offered this epic, comforting quietude that was a poignant contrast to the surging, raging body of water miles beneath us. A solemn, intimate evening for her and I, the glowing semicircle in the far distance stole glances at us as it retired reluctantly into the horizon. Her zephyr-caressed hair fluttered tenderly as a duo of birds glided across the sky, chirping away with abandon—their echoes reminiscent of a lover strumming his banjo to the tune of an impassioned serenade. What a perfect reconciliation venue it was!

    Relationships have hitches; an occasional bickering is not out of place, she had breathed. She only needed me, she had added, to encourage her more, give her a listening ear more than anything else. If I listened more, and do not judge her needlessly, we’d have fewer issues. I melted, promising to no longer allow her rile me so much I’d begin to take it out on her.
    So please, can any true gentleman, street dude or scripture-slinging man, stay mad at his lady, or deny her wish—any at all—in such sublime, vulnerable atmosphere? Eh? Oh, plenty thanks; I believed you would see it my way too.
    Only that the judge appears to have a hard time being convinced. And at tomorrow morning’s verdict, my sentence or acquittal would depend on it.

    You still are puzzled about what exactly could qualify as “premeditated” in what I had done? Me too.

    We had both agreed, while still on the rock that I would cease making pet peeves out of every little thing she did wrong; sometimes she doesn’t know better. A little understanding, a little more motivation I should offer.

    “Truth is, Darling,” I remember her putting it quite movingly, “it might amaze you that all I really ache for oftentimes, even now, is that you learn to lovingly give me a little push…”

    And with all the love I could muster from within, I had nudged her off the cliff.

    Bunmi Oke
    398 words

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, this made me laugh. 😀 The narrator’s protests of innocence give the tale a hint of black humor throughout, leading up to the oh-so-perfect finish.



    (word count 323 words)

    “I follow the sorrow.”

    Matthias pulled back his cowl, hiding his skeletal face again. He glanced first to the left and then the right, the milky orbs of his eyes searching for prey. And finding nothing.

    “Tell me,” the reporter said. “Why do you do this? What is it you seek from your victims? How does it benefit you?”

    The Renderer blinked once, slowly. “I…” He began and then stopped to cough, heaving up a wad of something alien which he spat quickly onto the ground. The reporter flinched away, fully expecting the next load to land on his feet. Or somewhere worse.

    “I seek emotions,” Matthias continued, his face looking even greyer than before. “I feed from them. They give me sustenance. Energy.” He blinked again, his yellowed eyes disappearing for a long five, ten, fifteen seconds before they reappeared again. “I need them to live.”

    The reporter leaned forward, keen to catch every word. “You feed from them? So you’re like some kind of vampire?”

    Matthias raised his hand again; pale skin pulled tight over bone, tendons visible as his fingers closed on the the hem of the cowl. His face reappeared, as did the wizened neck and those empty holes where the man supposed his ears might have been once.

    “No,” Matthias replied. “I’m a Renderer. Not something… fictional. At least as real as you are. More so, maybe.” He swallowed, a clot of something visibly moving down his throat. “But I do need to eat.”

    “This is going to be such a scoop. Nobody but nobody is ever going to equal this. It’s like making contact with an alien race.” The reporter’s pen danced across the page as he noted the other’s clothes, his manner, even stopping briefly to sketch a rough likeness of the Renderer’s face.

    “No. Not alien.” Matthias reached across, his hand stilling the pen. “I’m human, like you. And like you, I follow the sorrow.”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: #FlashMobWrites 1×21 : Song Of Sorrow | My Soul's Tears

  8. We have been here since the day the first drop of water fell from heaven. We watched as one drop became two, became hundreds, then thousands. We saw the birth of the oceans, the sky, the clouds, even that of life itself. We will be here to see the end. The death of life, the last cloud, the sky fade to black and the last drop of water boil away as the Giver of Life grows old, burns away the sky and sets fire to the Earth. We walk the days of life, each of us follows another in a circle made by the Giver of Life.

    Summer brings heat. Long days filled with light, color, and life. Life grows in Summer’s wake. The newborn become children. Children become the grown. The grown watch the generations who follow them, and wonder if they’ve taught them enough of life.

    Fall follows Summer, when each day grows shorter. Fall warns of what is to follow, stands on the mountain tops, and cries, “Beware! Beware! Prepare! Prepare!” The children cry when the days grow too short, and they can no longer play. The grown gather the things they’ve learned to gather from the generations who have gone before. They know what is to come. They gather wood, cotton, and grain, so they will survive. For they know who follows Fall.

    They know Winter comes, when the days are short, the light is dim, the air is bitter cold. The plants hide in the ground and wait until it’s time for them to grow again. Life sleeps. It curls up in its bed, in its home, where they’ve stored the wood, cotton, and grain, and they sleep, and hope the circle continues, unbroken, once more. It is the old who feel Winter the most. The old who surrender to the cold, as the fire of life in them finally burns out.

    I am Spring and I follow the sorrow Winter brings. As Winter walks away, I begin to grow the days until they thaw the ground, melt the snow and ice. Once the ice is gone, the plants push from the ground, and once more reach for the heat, and the warmth of the Giver of Life. The grown give birth to another generation of the newborn. The colors of the world fade back into existence, replacing the white and grey of the snow and ice. Everything, and everyone awakens from the sleep of Winter.

    Then Summer follows me, and our circle starts again, as it has countless times.

    We have been here since the day the first drop of water fell from heaven. We have seen all of this world. We know all everything about this world. About life, and death, joy and agony, laughter and tears. We have seen life come and go, thrive and fail, rise and fall.

    And we have many stories to share.

    483 words

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I put a plate of spaghetti in front of Jimmy, then sat down with my own. “So, I think I found a church.” I sprinkled parmesan on my pasta, then topped it with a handful of shredded cheese. “I’ve been going to the Methodist church in Mondamin and really like Pastor Nichols. You’re welcome to come.”

    He got up and grabbed a glass, then filled it with milk. “Nah, not my thing. They keep bringing this scripture-slinging man by and he drives me bonkers. He says I’m going to hell because I’m an atheist.”

    “You haven’t said anything to him, have you?”

    Jimmy had a hell of a temper, which he had a terrible time controlling. I’d been on the receiving end once or twice and barely missed getting punched. He slurped a noodle into his mouth, sauce streaking his cheek.

    “I’ve held my tongue. So far.” He wiped his face with a napkin.

    “Do I need to visit with your case worker?”

    “Maybe. She likes you,” he said. I cocked my head, confused. “She asked me when you were picking me up Friday and made sure she was my escort to your car.”

    I laughed. “She’s going to be terribly disappointed if she’s got a crush on me.”

    Laughter sputtered from Jimmy, his blue eyes shining. I had been married to a girl once. She divorced me when I confessed I was gay.

    “That’s what I told her,” he said. “She doesn’t believe me. I told her you were gay, I’m gay, she’s got a crush on a gay man.”

    I took a drink of water, digesting his sudden confession. I looked up at Jimmy, who squirmed in his chair.

    “You’re gay? Really?”

    “Does that bother you?” he snapped.

    “No. I guess you didn’t strike me as gay, that’s all,” I said. He got up and got another glass of milk. “I think it’s great.”

    His shoulders relaxed as he closed the fridge door. “Sorry I snapped. That guy that comes, that preacher? He’s trying to turn me straight. My caseworker doesn’t believe me.”

    I scraped the last of my food off my plate and sighed. “I’ll talk to her. It’s not right to force you to attend something religious when you’re not comfortable there.”

    “Thanks. I’m not going to turn straight and Christian any time soon,” he said. Jimmy finished his food, then gulped the last of his milk.

    I laughed and pulled him into a hug. “Well, I’ll see what I can do about the problem, promise. Now, what do you want to do for the next hour? Don’t forget, we have to leave at three to get you back in time.”

    Jimmy ran water for the dishes. “Can we watch TV? I don’t get a lot of TV privileges at rehab.”

    “Of course.”

    I dried the dishes as he washed them. He was clean, he was getting a family, and in another month would move into the halfway house. I put a plate away and smiled.

    500 words

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sebastian flicked water off the lapel of his jacket, glancing from underneath the brim of his hat at the group. They had been there for an hour now, surrounding the hole in the ground that had been prettied up. Even the men standing in the distance on the other side by the mound of dirt were waiting overly long.

    It wasn’t hard to pick out the widow. There had been at least three men surrounding the woman in the crimson dress. As she was in the front row and now one else has deigned to sit with her, he could only assume that the woman was the widow. All the other funeral goers were sniffing tears, whether fake or real as they whispered behind their hands.

    It was unconventional, wearing something other than black to a funeral. It made the woman stand out from the others. She wore a heavy red laced veil so he couldn’t see if she was crying at all or joyous at a loved one passing. Slowly they walked away as the coffin was lowered down, breaking into smaller groups. Even the trio of men who were waved away.

    Sebastian looked up to the sky before adjusting his hat and making his way over, using the umbrella as a cane. He came to a stop behind the woman as she stood, bright as a cardinal.

    “If you are looking to gain something as well, you can go away.” Her voice was unaffected by choked back tears or emotion. In fact, there was little emotion in the intonation at all.

    “I am not looking to collect, my lady. I follow the sorrow. Nothing more.”

    She turned to face him. He could feel the weight of her gaze on him, giving a small smile.

    “Oh you are one of them.”

    “I object to being referred to as a ‘them’. My name is Sebastian, if you feel the need to address me.” He gave her a bow, tilting the head.

    “It doesn’t matter. You are one of those creatures that sucks the last emotion out of some people.”

    “The only think taken is what is freely given. No one is harmed and there is better emotions once the sorrow is taken away. It raises morals and causes the society to operate in a very functional manner.”

    “Go away. I would rather hang onto it than have it taken away. I know how to deal with it. Tell your masters that coming to a cemetery is rude.”

    The smile faded from his lips. “It is where the sorrow is the strongest. We nip it in the bud so that it doesn’t overwhelm.”

    She whirled and poked him n the chest with a finger. “Having one’s emotions removed is for the weak. I am not weak. Stay away from me. You can’t have it.” She spun back and charged to the last conveyance left behind, leaving him to watch her bemused.

    That was a different reaction to all the others.

    499 words

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m fascinated by the way you turn ‘holding onto one’s sorrow’ into something of a virtue rather than a weakness. Like Cara said, this is a world I’d like to know more about. 🙂


  11. Old Friends
    393 words

    When he’d come to the reunion he hadn’t expected to see anyone he’d known. It was his wife’s 30 year reunion. He had avoided his own for fear of running into any of his old friends.

    It was petty and selfish, but he didn’t want them to know what had happened to him or, more to the point, that his wife had happened to him.

    Eric had left nothing but a string of broken hearts in high school, and for college that matter. He hadn’t cared about them then- it was all about who looked right on his arm.

    That was before Jenny had gotten her hooks into his heart and he’d been so stuck on her he had no choice but to marry her, and by then he was too stubborn to give up.

    Not after she cheated on him on their wedding night, not after she’d cheated on him on their 5th anniversary. If he thought about it, when he thought about it, it always came back to Jenny. He couldn’t live without her and he knew that life with her wasn’t much better.

    He was pulled out of his misery by the vision of Bonnie Edwards… Bonnie Edwards Green, according to her name tag, and the handsome Mr. Green doting on her.

    He hadn’t seen Bonnie in almost 20 years, and all he could say was that the years had been kind to her. There was a radiance in her eyes he hadn’t seen in all the years they’d dated. And when he saw her smile at her husband, he realized what had been missing with Jenny – she never loved him back.

    Part of him wondered if this is what the girls had felt like.

    He tried to avoid running into Bonnie, but it was inevitable. They exchanged pleasantries and as Jenny tried to hit on Mr. Green he apologized.

    “Don’t worry,” Bonnie said softly. “You’re the one she comes home to.”

    “She’s my greatest desire, and my greatest sorrow, he sighed.”

    She nodded. “I know that feeling – but sometimes that’s what we need to find what your greatest joy.”

    He followed her gaze and realized she wasn’t talking about him and Jenny, but about her and her Mr. Green.

    “These days, I follow my joy,” she told him.

    He looked at his wife and thought, “I follow the sorrow.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: #FlashMobWrites 1×23 : Carrion Flowers | My Soul's Tears

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