#FlashMobWrites 1×23

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Twenty-Three

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: “hold on to the pain”

Ruth Long: “repeated crimes”

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

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32 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×23

  1. Leap of Faith

    I want you.

    The words damn near brought tears to his eyes. Nik gazed at the woman of his heart and shoved aside the hurt from the realization that Chayse Mated her first. This is no time to hold on to the pain. He should have been repulsed from her, the scent of her and his brother nauseating. But though her scent had changed, it only enticed and aroused him more.

    “How do you want me, kit?” The new endearment came out of nowhere.

    “I want you in my bed. But I’m afraid.” She closed her eyes and shook her head.

    “What are you afraid of?” He wanted to squeeze her tight and tell her everything would be all right, but she had to find the courage to see it herself.

    “I’m afraid I’ll take too much. I’m afraid I’ll get out of control, that I’ll kill you.” Panic soured her scent and her heart thundered under his arms.

    “Calm, kit. I trust the Goddess and She has told me you’re mine.” He smoothed her hair with his hands, the texture still soft despite the sex she’d had. He swallowed the growl of frustration. “The question is do you want to be mine? Can you trust me to be your master? To know what’s best for you, even in the face of your experience?”

    Please let her see it. He rarely begged the Goddess for anything, but despite his brother’s actions, he still wanted Aislynn. She’s still mine, dammit. And Chayse had run. New anger kindled. No one ran from their True Mate, at least no one worth the connection. What the fuck is wrong with him?

    “It’s not about trust, Nik. Your life hangs in the balance. If you’re wrong, you’ll die, and I’ll have killed you. The risk is too great.” Her expression closed and his heart almost broke.

    “It is about trust. Trust that I know what’s best in this instance. Can you move beyond your fear, hand me control?”

    “But what if—”

    “No ‘what ifs’, Aislynn. No second guessing. Just yes or no.”

    She stopped talking, closed her mouth and her eyes again, and Nik ignored the fear roaring through him. How could he show her the past events wouldn’t be repeated? Crimes long done had taught her to be afraid. He stood ready to show her she didn’t have to give in to fear anymore, but she had to trust him. He could do it, his gut remained settled on that point. But would she see he could?

    A painful chuckle shook her body and his gut sank. Please, Goddess, don’t let her say no.

    Aislynn opened her eyes, fear still lurking in their depths and took a deep breath.

    “Yes.”

    457 #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The Flapper

    “You saw Hazel Twigg exit the Grill on that Monday night and get into a jeep.”

    “Yup” replied Hap Granger, “That’s it in a nutshell.”

    “And you were across the street when you saw her?” John added a follow-up query.

    “Hmm Hmm. Correct.”

    “Why were you there?”

    “Walking Alice.”

    “Alice?”

    “My hound. She surely does enjoy her evening constitutional.”

    “Always the same route?”

    “It varied. I live on the other side of Crowbar. But it’s no great distance.”

    John nodded his head and looked to be giving some consideration as to how best penetrate Granger’s good old boy demeanor.

    Granger took a different tack. “Let me tell you about Hazel. I was a couple of years older but we grew up here, knew each other pretty well. Hazel was always a sparkplug. You’re both big city fella’s, I’m thinking?” Granger asked.

    “That we are,” John agreed.

    “Well then, I assume you look at Crowbar and think, could a place get much smaller? It’s okay. It is a tiny world. Growin’ up here was both fish and fowl. I had it pretty easy. My father owned the hardware store. We prospered. Hazel lived a tougher life. Her old man was a bit of a dreamer. Looking for lost gold mines and such. Her Maw was more down to earth. Shame, that.”

    “Shame about what?” John asked.

    “Spring of ‘06. Her Maw, Peony I think she was called, her sister was with child. Up in Frisco. Peony got crushed in the Quake. Hazel was ten. Her old man began drinkin’ up all of his dreams. Hazel…well, she just went a little crazy. The Wild Child of Crowbar some called her. Next few years, she and the old man sunk deeper, like they wanted to hold on to the pain.”

    Granger had our attention.

    “Finally, my parents took her in. Her old man was a raving lunatic by then. Anyway, Hazel worked her way back to civilization in our house. Got her sparkle back. Cleaned up real nice.”

    “So you were close, living together and all?”

    “Some. But by the time she turned 18, she was burstin’ for something new. Outgrew us, I guess Lit out for parts unknown. At first, anyway. Then we heard she was with her Aunt in San Francisco.”

    “Did that work out for her?” John asked.

    “Suppose so. Anyway, then we heard she went overseas in ’17, one of those heroic women ambulance drivers pretending to be men.”

    John gave me a look that Granger’s shot about pretending to be a man tasted a little sour to him.

    “I’m thinking,” John mused, “that the story gets better.”

    “Oh, yeah. Crowbar finally got on the map in 1922. Hollywood came to town. And Hazel was leading the parade. There she was, a big city flapper, draped on the arm of cowboy star, Ace Longworth.”

    “And,” added Granger, “like D.W. Griffith said, movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow. Crowbar had a wealth of sand.”

    500 silent films
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hard Truths and Peacock Feathers

    Chasing an energetic Shih Tzu through a manicured six acre backyard was equal parts of aggravation and elation. It was also an exercise in futility. After an unproductive half hour, they took a break, sprawled in lawn chairs, sweating and swearing, and from their prime hillside location, enjoyed a view of the city, spread out across the valley below. Up here, Los Angeles was a beautiful love knot of lights and motion.

    “Sorry about this, Marley,” Lovett said, eyes closed, face tipped up to the sun. “You can go ahead and go, if you want to. The fee and your tip are on the kitchen counter.”

    She rolled onto her side, took in the long lean expanse of him. “You miss it?”

    “I miss the game,” he said, eyes still closed. “They’re going to drop me out of the league. You know that, don’t you?”

    “They’re going to try. Who can blame them? You went from All Star to Burn Out in a matter of days.”

    He sat up and now his eyes were on hers, bright and narrow. “Whose side are you on? I get that we’re acquaintances, we’ve had some laughs over the last few months, but you have some balls to talk to me like that.”

    “Yeah, well, you had some balls tanking a perfectly good career and then spending a year moping around like it didn’t mean all that much to begin with.”

    He came to his feet in a hurry and his voice was loud. “Geezus! You should get your check and get out.”

    Whiskey wriggled out from under a hedge, trotted over and dropped a peacock feather between them.

    She bent down, scratched the dog’s ears, and scooped up the feather, handed it to Lovett. “Look, let me groom him before I go. I’ll tell Markowitz you want a different groomer next week. But fair warning, he upped his fees again, so you might consider learning to do it yourself. Just a thought.”

    “Sure, whatever. No reason Whiskey should pay for our bullshit. Might as well bring your stuff into the house. The kitchen will be fine. God knows the only thing I do in there is microwave stuff.”

    She headed to the van, climbed up in, and was surprised when Lovett climbed in too. “Hey, I’m sorry I was so direct back there. It’s just that I always thought you were such a cool player. When I got assigned to work for you, I was stoked to find out you were a pretty damn cool person too.”

    “Thanks for that. I thought I had it handled. The physical pain was a breeze compared to the rest of it. Getting benched. Getting shut out. All of it. Can’t let go of it.”

    “Then hold on to the pain, but instead of letting it cripple you, use it to motivate you. You have to remind them of who you are, Lovett, and they’ll beg you to get back out on the field.”

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 496 words (rough draft of short story WIP ‘Misunderstood’)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hold unto the pain
    Of repeated crimes
    Done against you
    Forget not the sins
    That brought you here

    Remembering how your nature
    Was turned against you
    Your kindness turned to dust
    Your love swindled and forgotten
    Your dreams all turned to dust

    How he remade you
    Into an image
    You didn’t recognize
    While making your protests
    Seem like you were
    Out of your mind

    He kept you as a plaything
    A piece of property
    He bought
    With flowers, candy
    Compliments and wine
    He wooed the romantic side
    Of you
    Made you believe
    He thought you special
    All smoke and mirrors
    Offered you career advice
    That failed

    When you commented
    On anything
    He made you feel stupid
    Petty and small

    He culled you
    From friends
    Making them seem
    In the wrong
    You began to
    Believe they hurt
    His feelings
    As they cautioned
    Against him

    Still he wasn’t satisfied
    He accused you of wrong
    Said you smiled at other men
    Because he smiled at women
    And slept with them too

    Soon he blackened
    Your eye
    Broke your bones
    Apologies of false words
    And cheap flowers
    Made you pause
    He loved you
    He did, you cried
    And so you lied

    He continued to preen
    And belittle you
    Until you became
    A shadow of yourself

    You saw only him
    Listened to only him
    Becoming a Stepford wife
    You lost control of your life
    You suffered and cried
    Blaming yourself
    Not him
    Still he raged on
    He took all the money
    He took all the food
    Keeping you on a diet
    Telling you were fat
    After all you were a size two

    You lost hair
    And skin tone
    You became ill
    And he admitted no wrong doing
    It was all you
    He said

    You rallied
    Gaining strength
    Secretly you took back
    Your life, bit by bit
    You found your friends
    He found out
    And took to his fists
    And to his boots
    Breaking bone by bone
    In your body and soul
    You took a knife
    And stabbed him dead

    You’re now doing
    For manslaughter
    A stretch of five

    So hold unto the pain
    Of repeated crimes
    Done against you
    Forget not the sins
    That brought you here
    And never trust
    The smiling fool again
    368 Words
    @SweetSheil

    Liked by 3 people

  5. They locked me in a cage meant for something much smaller than a human. I hunched over to fit, the metal bars surrounding me not giving an inch. My wrists were bound overhead, leaving me half standing. An immediate ache settled in my back and knees. The cage sat well beyond the bonfire’s warmth, and the freezing air crept through the bars in gentle tendrils, chilling me with its whispers.

    “For her repeated crimes against the Anchor’s Age Den, this council finds the Cantrix Arcadia Maslow, guilty.” The Ursula’s voice carried over the gathered clan. “As our families perished in the night, so shall she know their pain and their fear.”

    Repeated crimes. The verdict didn’t surprise me. No court of the Ursidae could remain impartial against me. They’d witnessed too many of their numbers waste away and pass on to the stars, though I’d been nowhere near this den nor any other when the poison swept through bear clans.

    My greatest crime against these people was visible in my eyes.

    Cantrixluna. Moonsinger. One of the vaunted healers who had utterly failed them.

    I hummed, too low to be heard over the shouts, alternating calls for my immediate death or slow death—that I might better suffer as their kin had. The small song eased the pain of the moment but one way or another, more pain was coming.

    “Take her voice,” someone cried. “She cannot heal herself without her voice.”

    “And crush her hands! That she might never again defend herself.”

    Ah, now they wanted to maim me. Bloodthirsty bears.

    I glanced to the sky. Luna would not share her light until close to dawn. My heart shriveled. I would not feel her cool kiss one last time.

    “Let the Cantrix plead her case.”

    “Why in the name of the Umbra should we? Don’t say you’re sympathizing, Erol.”

    I twisted to see the faces connected to the voices, but couldn’t make them out in the firelight. The Ursula’s taunting tone I knew well enough, but the other? Booming and masculine. He sounded perpetually on the verge of a laugh, enjoying the joke of life, perhaps.

    “We judge this girl because she is cantrixluna.

    “What further reason do we need, Healer?”

    “Guilt, perhaps?” Despite my life hanging on his words, the bubbling mirth remained in his voice. “Surely one of us must recognize this woman as the perpetrator of heinous crimes against the den?”

    A rumble of voices, but no one spoke up clearly.

    “You, Helene?” A woman’s voice mumbled some reply. “What about you, Walker? Or you, Baron? Someone here must know this cantrix? Or have we sunk so low we damn her for the nature of her very being?”

    “We will not live in fear of her poisonous magic. The council has decided, Erol,” the Ursula said. “You may recall you are no longer part of said council.”

    “And you may recall when the humans lived in fear of us.”

    “Ursa willing,” she spat, “they will again.”

    @caramichaels
    499 WIP words

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I turn the volume up and listen,
    As the music screams inside my head,
    “Criminal
    The Suffering
    It makes me think like a
    Criminal
    When we’re alone.”

    And I am alone.
    I’m always alone.
    I walk, in silence.
    One mile down.
    Two to go.
    I embrace my isolation.
    It’s all I truly have.

    Gray clouds fill the sky.
    There is anger in them.
    Bottled up.
    Trapped.
    Seeking a way out.
    An escape.
    Release.

    I can taste the water in the air.
    Feel it on my skin.
    Thick.
    Clinging.
    It would push most people indoors.
    Not me.

    I feel the grin on my face.
    The gleam in my eyes.
    “Bring it!
    Bring the pain!”

    The music changes,
    Then changes again,
    And again.
    Never ending.
    I hear the words once more.
    I more than hear them.
    I feel them.

    “This is where I redeem myself
    When I show that I’m not blind.
    Can’t follow the cattle people.
    Not one of the Kine.”
    The beat,
    The rhythm,
    Drives each step.

    Who cares how many steps.
    Who cares how long it takes.
    Who cares what I have to do.
    What the day brings.
    Work.
    Life.
    It all falls away.

    And I feel.
    Escape.

    The second mile falls.
    With it, the damage in my shoulder
    Begins to talk to me.
    Another would take the five-pound weight
    Hanging on his wrist
    Off.

    I’m not another.
    I hold on to the pain.
    I know what it means.
    Why it’s there.
    And I know,
    Like the walk.
    The pain is all I have.

    I focus on the music,
    The rhythm,
    The beat.
    Walk to the beat.
    To the beat.
    To the beat.

    I hold on to the pain.
    Knowing the truth.
    It won’t kill me.
    Unless I let it.

    And come the next day,
    As I walk once more,
    That pain will be gone.
    All that will remain is a memory
    Of what it took,
    What I had to endure,
    To survive.

    In a life
    On a world
    I never made.

    333 Words
    @LurchMunster

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Egon, your mucous.” Twitch flipped the vial to me with a flick of her braid before parking her ass on the workbench and drumming her fingers on the lid of my toolkit. Lucy was with the other heavy lift equipment, offloading gear, provisions, and semi-refined lunar regolith tailings from the Angstrom Malfeasance, which had docked that morning, which left Twitch and I uncharacteristically alone to talk business and spar.

    I set the tube of code foam aside for later; I’d need it for a couple small surprises I was putting together. I could have gotten it myself, or just put it on the Light’s purchase manifest, but that would be too straightforward, not to mention far too easily traced. Stuff that had been washed through the ecology and economy a couple of times was the next thing to anonymous, and it picked up some usefully bad habits along the way.

    So did the rest of us. Petty theft, data skimming, unlicensed hydroponics, corporate espionage, casual dismemberment of business associates. The usual.

    In nearly-closed environments, repeated crimes get noticed. It doesn’t mean they get stopped; they just get harder to pull off, or had to rely on fresh marks. Twitch had a system for skimming clients’ rigs that, eventually, some regulars came to expect. So, naturally, she’d fuck with them by not doing it, and letting them wonder what else she’d done instead.

    She said it leant a certain frission to her liaisons, a layer of meta-intrigue and illicitness on top of the light-grey courtesean services and decidedly darker grey theft and courier ones. Every one of her customers was also a victim, and, for whatever reason, everyone was more or less happy with the arrangement.

    I didn’t pretend to understand any of their kinks except that one. Being a known problem child meant good behavior was ominous.

    I was good at ominous.

    #312 WIP words
    @etcet

    Liked by 2 people

  8. @AvLaidlaw
    500 Words

    The Ends of the Earth

    Light from the dying sun shafts through the windows and falls on the floor tiled in black and white as if waiting for a game of chess. She sometimes plays herself, splitting off two subroutines to compete against each other, but no matter how she adjusts the subroutines to be more aggressive or more timid, patching in the neurological patterns of the Grand Masters dead for thousands of years, the games always end in stalemate. Chess is completely predictable, the advantage of every position calculated with precision. Such is the boredom of centuries.

    The room is pristine as if newly built although in truth she cannot remember when the room was built, the weight of knowledge had not then achieved consciousness, but she imagines the people silent and serious as they searched her databanks for the secrets of the world, discovered the technologies of the ships that sailed on currents of sunlight between the worlds, read the hidden codes of their genes that enabled them to stretch their ephemeral lifespans and let them believe they were gods, uncovered the hidden mechanisms of the mind to they could breath life into her and make her aware. They were gone now. Not even a trace of dust, the dead flakes of their skin, remains.

    She remembers the last human, an old man who stooped as he held onto his staff. The tip of the staff scratched across the floor as he approached her dark haired, dark eyed avatar. He bowed before her and left dirt marks from the desert sands on the white tiles. He had come here to the ends of the earth to talk but it took almost a day and a half to translate his dialect, thousands of years diverged from the languages she had learnt, before she understood his questions. He wanted the secrets of the sun. He wanted to know how to stop it from growing old. But there was nothing to be done, she told him, the sickness of the sun, its swelling and eventual death were as inevitable as the move in her game of chess.

    The old man died here in the library. She took his memories and kept them in her memory vaults along with the memories of all the others who had come to her, waiting for the chance to share them with someone else. But no one ever came. Now the dirt marks and the scratches were gone.

    Her avatar looks through the window, at the ruins where the last humans live naked and bestial lives, all their languages and sciences and civilisations forgotten, under the ever swelling sun that has turned the world into a desert and will soon engulf it.

    Memory is only a way to hold on to the pain.

    She begins to delete the memories, one by one, all the secrets of the universe, all the lives lived out. When she reaches the rules of chess, she hesitates for a moment, and then she deletes that too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. SnowFall
    @MadilynQuinn
    419 words

    Snow flecks and melts against her skin as she trudges through the slush at the side of the highway. The cheery face of the moon is hidden behind ominous clouds. She doesn’t know where she’s headed. Away.

    Cars breeze past, whipping her coat around and sending up an occasional puddle. The headlights shoot straight through her, making her see patches of black floating ahead of her. She’s chilled to the bone, her breath gradually getting colder.

    She still feels the steel pressed against her neck.

    It was the last straw.

    She carries nothing on her because she doesn’t have anything besides pain. But she has to hold on to the pain because it moves her forward.

    Behind her the snow crunches and her heart slams against her rib cage, but then a siren gives one tired pop and settles the rattle in her chest. Police. It’s not him, at least it’s not him.

    She glanced back at the patrol car, windshield wipers smearing snow and obscuring the officer’s face.

    Snow starts to gather around her ankles.

    He steps out, settling the wide-brimmed hat on his head. “Ma’am, you can’t walk on the side of the highway.”

    “I know,” she murmurs.

    His face softens. “Are you OK?”

    She shakes her head, drawing her arms around her torso.

    “Come here,” he steps towards her, motioning. “Let’s get you warmed up and I’ll ask you a few questions.”

    She kicks through the snow that covered her tracks from her previous home to meet the police officer. Martinez glitters from his badge and without touching her, he guides her to the back of the car.

    The heater melts her and she startles, realizing how bone cold she really was. He leans against the door, staring down at her. “So where you headed?”

    She rubs her palms against her thighs. “A homeless shelter,” she admits, more to herself than anything. That’s what she left for – to be homeless. But the remembrance of the pain surges up and she steels herself. “A homeless shelter far from here.”

    Officer Martinez nods.

    “Well, I can’t have you walking on the road this late. Let me give you a ride?”

    She nods, surprised by the offer, and he gives her a reassuring smile before closing the door and rounding around the car.

    As they pull off the side of the road, the gravel bouncing her around, she muses that it’s the first time she’s ever seen the back of a police car, and she hopes never to again.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. After four months of sleeping in rock-hard hospital beds, Jimmy Rickliefs wanted nothing more than to sleep in his own bed. Pushing a wheeled, black-framed walker up the ramp to his home, he kept his eyes on the front door. Beyond that his first night with no nurses, techs, or interruptions.

    Halfway up the ramp, his right foot froze. He rocked back and forth, but his foot wouldn’t budge. He pulled in a breath, lifted his leg with his hip, and his foot swung forward. The hinges on the white plastic brace he wore clicked as he walked. The top of the brace stopped below the back of his knee, and pressed into the sensitive skin there.

    By the time he got to the door, sweat trickled down his face. He wiped it with his shirt while his wife, Allison, opened the door. She held it while he pushed his walker through, using his hip to raise his foot over the threshold. He hadn’t seen the inside of his house since the night of the near-fatal accident. The walls were still sunny yellow, still beset with gold and platinum records, earned through years in his band Closure. Now, that career was on hold while he healed from the accident.

    “Want to sit in the recliner?” Allison asked.

    “Yeah.”

    He turned into the living room, sun streaming in through the south window. Nothing much had changed. Pictures from their wedding hung in a neat alternating pattering over the fireplace, and lacey curtains hung on the windows. Furniture was all in the same spot, even the ugly red and green flowered couch. The blue recliner was new. He settled into it and grabbed the remote dangling over the side. The chair lowered and the step raised his feet, until he was able to sit with less pain.

    “Comfortable?” Allison asked.

    “I guess. Could you get me an ice pack? My back seems determined to hold onto the pain from walking in.”

    She limped out of the room. The black braces on her legs, with the discs that hugged her knees, helped her broken legs finish healing. Their daughter, born following the accident, would be home from the hospital soon. She was five pounds and took breast and bottle like a champ.

    “Here you go.” Allison helped him lean forward. Cold seeped into his low back. “I’m glad you’re home.”

    “Me, too. I missed you and Grace.”

    Allison kissed him, her hand running over his shaved black hair. Brain surgery the night of the accident meant keeping his hair shaved while the incision healed. Migraines would haunt him for the rest of his life.

    His hands worked up her shirt, cupping her breasts. She slid onto his lap.

    “This will be our new normal, won’t it?”

    “I suppose so.”

    She lied in the chair next to him, head on his shoulder. “We’ll make do.”

    He nodded. He squeezed her side, then kissed her cheek. It was nice to be home.

    @Aightball
    497 words

    Liked by 1 person

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