Tag Archives: #FFC52

The Tunnel, continued

#FFC52

Prompt 42 was to continue any story previously submitted to #FFC52. I spent a lot of time reading all the entries from past. Trifectumblog wrote “The Tunnel” It immediately piqued my interest, but I wanted to keep going, maybe there was some other gem waiting. I ended up comparing each potential story against the possibilities of “The Tunnel.” After going back three months, I finally gave up and continued it. I added 500 words to the original 502.

The original story is in red text.

***

Deeper and deeper he delved into the tunnel with no breath of wind to shift the sweat from his body. He was not discomforted by cobwebs or biting bugs; nothing lives in this passageway. The words adorning the entrance some hours behind him assured him of the morbidity of the place, ‘Momento Mori’ …’remember that you will die’. He did not expect to find life here.

He had long since lost track of his direction in terms of a compass, he knew only forward and backward. at times he felt perhaps he was descending, at others that he was walking on a gradual incline, but he could not be sure.

Time passed strangely in the tunnel, the uniform earthen walls leaving him without a sense of his progress. Had his torch dimmed, had the flames began to shrink as his fuel literally burned away. he could not be sure. The mind is liable to play tricks, he had found.

He had not noticed that the walls were widening, in fact, to him it felt like they where tightening on him, as ribs on an anxious heart. But they were widening, in anticipation of a cavern ahead.

While his feet continued to beat the dirt mechanically his mind raced through a myriad of possibilities. Would the tunnel end in nothing, and he be left to question its purpose or would he find a doorway to some unknown kingdom, or might he find another inscription, what could the inscription say, where could the doorway lead. He walked on.

When he reached the cavern his breath caught in his throat. The cavern was of a high ceiling, and so wide that the failing light of his torch could not reach its edge. He walked, slowly now, into this new unknown. If he had been thinking logically he might have stuck close to the edge of the cavern, so as to maintain some sense of direction and attempt some understanding of its size. Unfortunately, he did not do this.

As he continued into the black pool of the cavern, he became aware of the fatigue in his legs, of the thirst and hunger in his body, and at last when the realization dawned on him that the darkness was dimming his torch, either siphoning its light into the cold black abyss, or dousing his fire with its weight.

Panic began to creep from behind his eyes, and as he looked around, holding his torch above his head to project the light further, he saw nothing, no sign of a bath forwards or backwards, no difference between left or right. His feet, which had carried him so well until now, stopped there procession, his knees hit the ground and he supported his weight with his hands. The torch rolled away from him, causing his shadow to bound and flex, a crouched beast aching for rest or reason, but in the tunnel, they are not found. Only the certainty of death awaited those who explored its depths.
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#FFC52 – 41st Prompt

#FFC52 [433 words] The prompt today didn’t do anything for me. I still wanted to do something, so I got ye olde typewriter out and did stream-of-consciousness writing on it. Maybe someone will name it and continue it on their online space. Click on the image in embiggen:

FFC-41


Stalker

#FFC52

#FFC52 Only 502 words today for Thain in Vain’s fortieth flash fiction prompt. Be sure to visit her webpage and check out this week and past prompts. This story could’ve used another 500 words, but I think it works as it is.

* * *

“Stay away from my girlfriend.”

“Whatever, asshole. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

James grabbed Spencer by the collar and shoved him against a wall. “Don’t test me, Spencer. Stay away.” James released Spencer and dug his hands into his pockets as he made his way back to his car. Spencer watched him get into his car, turn over the engine and peel out of the parking lot.

* * *

“It’s been four months.”

“I know, Lindsay, but he hasn’t done anything illegal.”

“Damn it, James. He’s a stalker. Can’t we call Homeland Security or something?”

“He’s not a terrorist.”

“Not to the whole country, just me.”

“I talked to someone at the police station. There’s no law preventing him from parking his car outside our house. And he hasn’t done anything to get a restraining order.”

“It’s not fair.”

“The world isn’t fair.”

* * *

The caller is not available to take your call. Please leave a message after the beep.

“James! I saw him on the way to work. I drove past the office and just kept driving. I’m by the Starbucks at the mall. Call me as soon as you get this.”

Lindsay tapped the red circle to end the call and started to put her phone into her purse, but was interrupted by a sound behind her.

“Good morning, Lindsay.”
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#FFC52 – Bad PR

#FFC52

“What’re you doing?”

Brian paused and looked up. “I need shoes.”

“I’m afraid I can’t allow you to pillage that body.”

“Pillage?” Brian clicked his tongue against his teeth several times. “I don’t think I’d use that word to describe it.”

“That’s why your mother hired my firm. To think of these things for you.”

“So, Desmond, when would be the proper time to get those shoes?”

Desmond covered his eyes with his hand, sighed and rubbed his hand down his face. “Never, Brian. Never is a good time to take shoes off a corpse.”

Brian stuck his hands in his pockets and lifted his trousers to reveal his shoeless feet. A toe stuck out of one sock and the other was inside-out.

Desmond put his arm around Brian and led him away from the body and the vultures who still called themselves “The Press.” Desmond smiled – when one of them spoke the title, you could practically hear the capital letters.

A flashbulb went off, Brian reached out and snatched a camera. The hapless presser was jerked forward by the strap around his neck.

“Brian,” said Desmond, “please return the camera.”

“But, Desmond, I so very much dislike having my photo taken from that angle.”

Desmond placed his hand tenderly on Brian’s, still clutching the camera. “You could perhaps ask the presser to delete the photo?”

Brian looked down at Desmond’s hand and Desmond immediately withdrew it. “No need, Desmond.” Brian pushed a button on the side of the camera and a card ejected, “I’ll just take this card with me.” He dropped the camera and it was barely rescued from the ground by the strap still around the presser’s neck.

“Sir?”

Desmond shrugged at the presser and followed behind Brian, who was cheerily whistling to himself.

“Perhaps…” Desmond called out while he caught up with Brian, “perhaps we should get you home and into a clean pair of shoes and socks?”

“Perhaps I grow weary of your constant whisperings. You’re like a humming bird fluttering about from flower to flower, never stopping, but always in the way.” Brian stopped mid stride and held out his phone to Desmond. “Call my mother, please. I’ve no use for your services anymore.”

Desmond pushed the phone towards Brian. “Your mother has given me very specific instructions. You should call her personally.”

Brian furrowed his brow and stared at Desmond.

“I’ll wait while you call.” Desmond snapped his fingers. “Put it on speaker.”
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02 – Memento Mori

Bishop

#FFC52 Last night I got a great email from Adan. She was reporting she really liked Body Rentals. I’ll quote her review on amazon: “I read the whole thing in a sitting, riveted to my chair as the tale unfolded.” Since a glitch or houseguests delayed the prompt until this morning, I decided to write a little taste from the Body Rentals universe. Here are 561 words:

* * *

Colonel Lance Bishop worked his wrists back and forth trying to loosen the rope binding his hands. Well, my hands for now, he thought sourly.

Danny Peterson watched from the next room. She was bound the same – tied to an exquisite wooden chair, secured to a radiator under a window. The foyer of the mansion separated the two.

The man in the suit descended an ornate staircase. He turned his back to Danny. “Marilynn is resting comfortably,” he called out to Bishop.

“I’ve taken down bigger fish that you, mister…?”

The man fingered the knight chess piece adorning his tie, walked to just inside the door and replied, “You may call me Mister Knight.”

“Afraid to give me your real name?”

The man took a step towards Bishop. “In war knowledge is power.” He straightened his tie with his hands. “In case you are unaware, Colonel Bishop, this is war.”

“I’ve crushed Doctor Mann’s organization.” Bishop smiled. “Only a few stragglers remain.”

“And remain we do. It’s a shame you won’t be around to see what we accomplish.”

“You aim to kill me?”

Another step forward. “My dear Colonel, you’ve killed yourself. I only need to keep you away from your own body until the tech kills you.”

Bishop shrugged. “Memento mori.”

Knight smiled and leaned forward. “’Remember that you’ll die?’ I think not, Colonel. Allow me to respond in kind. ‘Senza dolore, abbiamo potuto non apprezzare le gioie della nostra vita.’”

“That’s not Latin.”

“Latin is a dead. Italiano is a proper language.”

Bishop stared blankly.
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#FFC52 – Incomplete

#FFC52

#FFC52 This one got away from me. I stopped at 496 words. It’s not really finished, but I knew it would just keep going. How about someone writes another 500 words to continue it?

 

“Where’re the funny pages?”

“Huh?”

“You know, Garfield, Peanuts… The comics, man.”

“From yesterday’s paper?”

“Yeah, man. Yesterday’s paper.”

“Well, to be honest, I threw it away.”

“Darn it, Sam.” Matt wheeled his chair towards the recycle bin. He saw a nearly empty soda cup on top of the pile. The ice had melted and soaked the stack of paper.

“Recyclables only,” hissed Matt as he wheeled himself back to Sam.

“I’m sorry, man. I thought you’d seen them.”

“No worries.” Matt looked out a window before continuing. “Hey, I’m gonna shoot some hoops. You game?”

Sam leaned back in his chair and pushed against the wheels. “I’m gonna pass. I’ve got some work to get done.”

Matt nodded and wheeled himself across the floor.

* * *

“What the…”

“Calm down, son.” Matt heard a pleasant voice.

“What’s going on?”

“Open your eyes, son.”

Son… Thought Matt. I haven’t heard that in a while. He opened his eyes and lost his breath. He couldn’t believe what his eyes saw. “Dad?”

Matt’s eyes teared up when he saw the face of his father. “It’s me, Matt. Are you okay?”

“I think…” He swallowed hard. “My legs…”

The face looking down at him showed concern. “Is something wrong with your legs?”

Matt reached down and his heart raced as he felt below his knees. I have legs! He struggled to sit up.
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Discrimination

#FFC52

I mashed up #FFC52 34 with Naomi Harvey’s inaugural song lyric prompt and the Woegman’s Trope-tastic Thursday #002. It’s heavy for #FFC52, light for song lyric and just right for Trope-tastic Thursday. Here are 958 words:

 

“Miss, you have ten seconds to get your shit together. We’re evacuating this building.”

I looked up at the man outfitted in digital camo, wielding an AR-15 with an odd-looking scope on it.

“It’s a TrackingPoint precision-guided smart weapon.” He said when he noticed me staring at his weapon. “You’re outta time, let’s go.”

As we ran for the exit, I pondered aloud. “What the hell’s a precision-guided smart weapon?”

I must’ve said it too loud because he responded. “I can tap the smart trigger and the scope paints the target. When the shot is perfect, the weapon fires automatically.”

“Bad ass,” I said in wonderment.

“Bad ass,” he declared.

As we cleared the perimeter around the building, the soldier spoke into a microphone. “Unit seven-foxtrot clear.” Time seemed to stretch. The building appeared to vibrate and suddenly it was gone. I suppose my brain couldn’t comprehend what my eyes were seeing, so it interpreted it as vibrating. I admittedly wasn’t an expert in quantum demolition. I suppose they could’ve waited, the building was liable to fall anyway. All that was left was a small cloud of dust. It moved rapidly over the landscape, raining down on the parched earth. The spoiled land was a maze of cracks that ran up to the sea, if there’d been a sea. I’d not seen a body of water and my grandmother had not as well.

* * *

I trudged home. Home was what I called it. I’d heard stories about what a proper home was. Mine certainly wasn’t. I thought as I pulled back my “door.” I had to be careful to not touch the rust. I’d heard rust carried diseases. As I pulled back the corrugated metal, I heard the tell-tale sound of a shotgun cock.

“Vanessa, it’s me,” I called out.

“Sandra? What are you doing here this early?”

She put the shotgun down and I walked to her wheel chair and kissed her. I smiled and whispered, “Shouldn’t my wife have dinner waiting for me?”
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Flashback

#FFC52

 

#FFC52 The first proper noun on page 33 of Champion Standing is Liao. The final edit of CS is done and I was rereading it from cover to cover when you posted the challenge. The final word count for CS after edits was 49,588. I was short of the required 50k to be eligible for the ABNA and Nebula awards. This flash finished at 533 words, so it immediately went into the novel.

Liao forced the world around him to recede into the darkness of the surrounding woods. He closed his eyes and began relaxation exercises he learned as a child. Here and now, the young warrior was alone in the world. He was one with the world. He was the world. Nothing else existed at this time and in this place but himself. He opened his eyes to the gentle songs of the forest. A cricket sang hauntingly at the edge of his clearing. The creatures of the night serenaded him in a majestic cacophony of sound that only creation could compose. As he listened to the otherworldly songs of the night his mind drifted back to another place and another time.

They sat there, just the two of them, in silence for the longest time before either of them spoke, but even before the bearded man sitting in the field by his side said anything, Liao recognized his surroundings. It was a strange sensation, seeing him this way. It was if he was there, a child again, living out the endless eternity of childhood once again, and yet seeing it as an adult observer through the eyes of many years of experience. This man that was his father, and yet not. Together they sat, silently looking at the stars that shone overhead.

Perhaps, Liao thought to himself, the man who was the observer, perhaps that is what has brought this memory to the surface: the similarity of the two nights and the two cloudless, moonless skies. He watched the older man, both as observer and as participant, waited for the older man to speak the words he remembered so well, and yet was about to hear for the first time.

“I’m dying, Liao.”

The warrior who was the child watched as the tears began to well up in the eyes of the child he had been. He watched as his father swallowed the trembling, crying child in his strong but tender arms. “Yes, Liao,” the man gently answered, “I leave you to bring honor to our family.”

The child who would one day be a warrior stiffened slightly in the arms of his father, pulling his head far enough back from the man to look into his eyes. “I will look after mother for you.” He spoke with the frightened voice of a child, yet with the strength and resolution of the man he would become.

His father said nothing. He nodded as if in affirmation of what the child had said, a tear forming in his own eye.

They sat there in silence, the two of them until the first rays of dawn greeted them.

After his father died, life was not easy for Liao or his mother, but they managed to overcome all the obstacles that life threw their way. There would be many nights when Liao would sit, gazing at the stars working out the difficulties of life, but none so poignant as this first one.

Liao looked back fondly at those difficult times, realizing again how great the influence of that gruff old man had been in his life, and seeing for maybe the first time the tenderness that was ever so carefully hidden beneath the gruff exterior of the man he called Father.


Be Cool

#FFC52

I’m combining the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt and Thain’s #FFC52 prompt 32 for this flash. My word processor reports this as 501 words, but there are a few hyphenated words that are counted wrong:

 

John watched four single propeller airplanes perform maneuvers at the end of an air regatta. The four planes banked in formation, white exhaust creating lines in the sky. After about ten minutes, John glanced at his watch.

I’m gonna be late!

He made his way through the crowd. He had a job interview at the airport. He fingered the brim of his hat and pulled it low, hiding his face. He didn’t need the job as a pilot, but the owner of the airline was a friend of his. The inaugural flight was in a month and his friend wanted an ostentatious launch. John smiled at the thought of interviewing for the position. His friend was the founder and CEO, but still answered to the board of directors. John had flown his own Gumman G-II from his Jumbolair airstrip. The flight from Ocala to Orlando-Sanford was uneventful, but he had to leave with plenty of travel time due to the air regatta.

“Mister Travolta?”

John looked up to see a young woman with her hand extended. He grasped her hand firmly and removed his hat. Even though he was a celebrity, today he behaved like a sixty-year-old pilot.

“I’m Jessica, I’ll be conducting your interview today.”

John motioned with the hand holding his hat. Smiling, he replied, “Lead the way, Jessica.”

He followed Jessica into an office with glass walls and waited for her to seat herself behind a desk before sitting himself.

“Mister Travolta, please tell me of your experience with the Boeing seven-oh-seven.”

John cleared his throat. “Well, I’ve flown one as a goodwill ambassador for Qantas.”

Jessica smiled. “The flying Kangaroo?” She looked into his eyes, “You an Aussie?”
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My Own Monster

#FFC52

#FFC52 I typed this up on my phone so hopefully the errors are minimal. 499 words for TiV’s 31st prompt:

“Kitty! Kitty Purry!”

Kathryn looked around her room. Where is that damned cat? She thought to herself.

“Ms. Hudson, it’s time to go.”

“But, Jeff, Kitty Purry is missing!”

Jeff paused. “When did you see your cat last?”

“Last Friday night.”

“Are you sure?”

“Trust in me.”

“Okay. I’ll look around.”

“A cup of coffee.”

Jeff furrowed his brow. “Pardon?”

“I want coffee, but…” Her voice trailed off.

“But what, Ms. Hudson?”

“It takes two.” She said quietly.

Jeff walked to Kathryn’s side. “I can help you, but what about your cat?”

“Roar!”

Jeff smiled. “Cats don’t roar!” He could hardly keep the mirth from his voice.

Kathryn’s lips pressed together tightly. “I used to have a cat.” She looked into Jeff’s eyes. “Her name was Kitty Purry.” She smiled and her eyes lit up while talking about her cat. “I miss her so.”

“What happened to Kitty Purry?”

“She’s the one that got away.” Kathryn sighed and stared at her lap mournfully. “Part of me wonders what to do when there’s nothing left.”

Jeff stood abruptly. “Maybe you should rest for a little while.”

“But.” Kathryn looked out a window. “But, it’s still light out and I’m wide awake.”

“A nap then?”

Kathryn smiled. “Okay, but I’m holding you responsible. I better not find myself waking up in Vegas.”

“Don’t worry, Ms. Hudson.” He helped Kathryn lie on her bed. “I’ll watch over you.”

Kathryn let her eyelids flutter closed as Jeff walked to a door, swiped a card, stepped through and closed it behind him.

***

“I know you have her!”

“Ms. Hudson. I don’t know what you’re talking about! Please come down from there!”
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