Category Archives: Flash Fiction Challenge

Flash Fiction Challenge – There Will Be No Gravy

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It has been a while since I participated in one of these, but since I am between stories right now I thought it would be fun.

TerribleMinds is a blog run by Chuck Wendig – He is smart, talented, and very potty mouthed. But his advice for anyone who writes is superb. If you haven’t checked him out and you don’t mind a few a lot of curse words, then you should. Check him out that is.

Anyways, each week he has a Flash Fiction Challenge – This week it is to write an entire story in 100 words. Not as easy as it sounds. Plus we are supposed to make the reader FEEL something.

I decided to give it a try and my story is below. Hope you enjoy.

 

There Would Be No Gravy

I stared at the empty pan. What was I doing?

My job was turkey and dressing. I never made gravy.

It seems like a simple task, making gravy. But she made the best. I never watched or learned.

Even while cancer ate away at her, I lived in denial. Mom the invincible made the gravy.

In a few minutes, the house would surge with family. I stared at the empty pan. The clock blinked 3:25, it was time.

The knock on the door came, “We’re here, Merry Christmas.”

I crumbled and wept. It wouldn’t be a merry Christmas without gravy.

© Shelly Tennyson Taylor 5-2014

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They Are Watching Me

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Each week Chuck Wendig of Terribleminds has a Flash Fiction Challenge:
This week it is

Down The TVTropes Rabbit Hole….

The goal is to choose a trope from a website called tvtropes.com and write a 1000 word flash fiction piece on that trope.
For mine the random generator picked Conspiracy Theorist……

So with that in mind here is my 922 word piece.

They are watching me.

They are watching me. They sit in their little houses on stilts and pretend to be looking at the great ocean that pounds its way to shore or watching the so-called sunset over the blue waters. But I know the truth. They are watching me.  

It started a long time ago. But it reached a new level a little over a year ago when I walked in to that small side-of-the-road gas station and along with a 6-pack of Budweiser bought a one-dollar lottery ticket. Imagine my surprise when I sat in my hotel room that night on the worn out green quilted sheets and watched in horror as they called my numbers.

Shit. I won the lottery. Now what am I supposed to do?

I had been running for a long time. So long I almost forgot why, but there was a reason. I just had to shake the cobwebs from my head to remember it. When I left, way back then, my wife had told me I was crazy. “There is no need to run.” She said. But I knew the truth and running was the only way to stay ahead of them.

And now, just my damn luck, the ticket I half-assed buy is the winner. Seriously what was I supposed to do now?

Part of me saw it as a sign. I was meant to have this ticket. But another part of me, the one I listened to, knew it was just another trap to try to get me. I mean what are the odds that I would win the lottery. It is not possible. It was them. They did this, to get me to come out of hiding.

My wife would have said, “How were they to know you were going to buy a ticket? Or if they knew you would be there to buy the ticket, why didn’t they just get you then?” But that would have been too easy. They wanted me to believe that something good and something amazing had happened to me.

I knew better. I was no more a winner of the lottery than I was the son of a hornet. Well, my dad was a ornery old man, but he wasn’t a hornet.

I left the “so-called” winning lottery ticket on the dresser and left that shabby hotel room in southern Georgia that night. I drove about seven hours and landed on the beach in St. Petersburg Florida. I wouldn’t make the mistake of buying a lottery ticket here in Florida. There is no way I would give them that satisfaction again.

I bet they were scurrying now. Trying to figure why I hadn’t come to cash in my winning ticket. Well the joke would be on them when the Mexican maid from the motel turned up instead of me.

But somehow they had found me again on the beach. Most days I sit alone on the dock with a fishing pole in my hand. Not really fishing, but watching my surroundings and keeping a look-out. Yesterday a family, mom, dad, and small boy child came down the pier.

“Mommy look that man is fishing,” the small one said as he trotted over to my side. “Hi.”

I eyed him, “Hi, kid.” I didn’t trust him. He had their eyes. He wasn’t a kid anymore than I was a lottery winner. But I had to pretend that I believed their con.

“You catch anything?” the small one asked.

“Not today.”

The woman stepped closer and took her son’s hand. “Honey, leave that nice man alone and let him fish.”

“But mommy,” he whined.

She took hold of him and pulled him away from me. The small one had his head turned around and stared at me as she pulled him away.

He knew. Now I would have to leave the beach too. I loved the beach. But maybe the mountains were the place to be. It would be more secluded and they couldn’t infiltrate as easily.

I had a kid, a daughter. She would probably be close to, let me think, wow I guess she would be eleven by now. I didn’t trust her either. My wife and I had to use In-Vitro. I couldn’t be positive of what had occurred behind closed doors. I suspected that they tried to infiltrate me there, with a plant within my own family.  When she was born I looked in her eyes and I knew. I just knew. That is when I ran. If they could get that close then I wasn’t safe anywhere.

I would keep running until I could run no more. Until my legs gave out or my heart, I had a heart problem, as a kid they told me I may need a pacemaker when I was an adult. I knew better. There was no way they were getting their tracking device aka pacemaker inside of me.

I gathered my belongings in the small backpack, got into the old pinto, and headed down the highway north. Next stop, the foothills of the first mountains I could find. I checked my rearview mirror. There was a cop two car lengths back. That was not what worried me. It was the motorcycle that hovered behind me, with his strategically placed helmet hiding his features so I couldn’t see his eyes. He wasn’t fooling me.

I would lose him at the next rest stop. I rubbed the small knife that I carried in my pocket. He wouldn’t be a problem for long.

Always Have an Exit Strategy

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Each Week Terribleminds has a Flash Fiction Challenge –
The week before last the challenge was “The titles have been chosen” the challenge was to write a story using one of the 13 title options he gave. I chose “Always Have an Exit Strategy”…… I started that story but did not meet the deadline. Lucky for me the challenge this past week was “Five Random Sentences” and the story I started for the previous weeks challenge could be finished in this new challenge.  The Random Sentence I chose was “When Does the Family Document the Thunder?” So for a 2 week combined challenge I give you….

Always Have an Exit Strategy

“Always have an exit strategy.” Those are the words that kept running through my head. Too bad I hadn’t thought of that before I ended up behind a desk in a small corner of a dark room with a killer just a few feet away from me. He hadn’t seen me yet. It was probably hard to see me over the rage in his eyes.

Yesterday I had been your normal everyday teenage girl. I had my prom dress hanging in my closet. It was candy apple red. That was what my granddad had called it. Said he had a T-Bird back in his teenage years that was the same color. Funny how just a few short hours ago my biggest problem in the world was what color shoes to wear with my candy apple red prom dress. Kyle Huggins was taking me. He was a year older than me but in the same grade. He was tall, handsome and on the fast track to be picked up by a baseball scout.

I looked across the room at the crumpled body lying in the floor beneath the killer. Kyle wouldn’t be on the fast track to anything if I didn’t figure out a way out of here so I could get him some help.

Kyle and I had been going together for a few months now and we were ready to take it up a notch. We had been looking for a place to make out when came across a barn in the back of an old farmhouse a few miles out of town. We had seen it a few days earlier and planned our perfect night. I hadn’t wanted to lose my virginity on Prom Night that seemed so ordinary and Kyle and I did not want to be ordinary.

We planned the perfect night and told our parents we were going to a movie in town. It was one we had both already seen so we didn’t worry about being questioned on it. Kyle stole a bottle of wine from his mom’s wine cabinet and we stopped by Tasty Burger and picked up dinner.
We parked down the street from the farmhouse just in case someone came by and noticed Kyle’s car. Armed with all our gear we walked the few blocks to what we thought was an abandoned farmhouse and barn.

It was dark inside as you would expect so Kyle lit up the small battery powered lantern we had brought with us. We spread the blanket out on the cold ground inside the barn and just as we were ready to sit down and eat our dinner we heard a shuffling noise. Thinking it was some kind of animal Kyle grabbed the bottle of wine to use as a weapon and went to look out the small barn window.

He stepped on a bucket to look out. I saw the fear in his face when he turned around and rushed to turn off the small lantern. “Someone is out there,” he told me as he took my hand and led me to the back of the barn and into one of the old horse stalls.

We tripped over something as we were hurrying to the back and when I reached down to touch it I felt the cold clammy skin. I jerked my hand back and tugged on Kyle to make him stop. “I think it is a dead person.” I whispered. Kyle squeezed my hand a little tighter and pulled me back into a corner of the stall. “Stay here.” He said, “No matter what.” He let go of my hand and I watched as his shadow crept back out into the barn.

As Kyle went out he shined the light from his phone on the thing we tripped over. I saw the blue shirt and Khaki pants and knew it was the 2nd boy from the papers. There had been a write up a week after he disappeared saying that they thought the person who took him was the same person who took the boy from the bus stop a few months ago. The name of the article was “When Does the Family Document the Thunder?” It was saying that the initial disappearance was the lightning, the shock of the situation but when there is no body and you have no answers when do feel the thunder that follows or do you ever without closure? It was such a sad article about how family’s of missing children try and cope with the loss.

Before I had time to react I saw the dark figure come out from behind Kyle and smash something over his head. Kyle crumpled to the ground in a pile at the figures feet and he began to drag him out of the barn. I crept quietly behind him being sure to keep out of his sight. When he pulled him into the old farmhouse through the back door, I ran around to the front of the house. There were no cars and no houses nearby. If I left Kyle here alone to go and get help then surely the man would kill him like he had killed the boy in the barn. Instead I opened the front door and stepped inside. I heard shuffling at the back of the house.

I heard the movement coming towards me in the living room and I scrambled to get under a small desk that was setting in the corner. He pulled Kyle into the living room and dropped his crumbled body at his feet.

That is where I sat right now. With no exit strategy and a frightening feeling that we might not make it out alive.

(c) Shelly Tennyson Taylor May 2013

The Secret Door; Facing Fears

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Each Week TerribleMinds Chuck Wendig has a Flash Fiction writing challenge for us.
This week it was a Secret Door Challenge.  Simply to follow the link through the Secret door and it will take you some place. Write about that place in no more than 1,000 words.

The Secret Door: – It took me to a swinging bridge overlooking the Grand Canyon

The Secret Door

The Secret Door is presented by Safestyle UK

My knuckles were turning white and hurting. I was grasping so hard to the wood railing. Knowing, fearing deep inside that at any moment the bridge was going to snap and leave me dangling above the mouth of the roaring river below. There was no one here to save me if it did happen. There was no one here to encourage me to keep going that it would be ok.

I thought about Jake. He would push me. He would encourage me if he could. But right now it was my job to push through my fear. It was the only way that Jake would survive. I had to make it across the bridge and back down to find help. Jake was lying helpless, broken, on a boulder at the base of one of the canyons.

We had spent last night camping out, snuggling under a warm blanket by the campfire and watching the stars as they filled the sky. There were no distractions from lights of the big city out here. When night fell the sky overhead filled with thousands of stars. It was like being in the middle of nowhere.

Right now I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere and alone. The bridge still loomed ahead of me. I was no more than 4 or 5 steps onto it. When we had crossed this bridge yesterday I had held on to Jake’s hand and closed my eyes as he guided me to the other side. He was my hero and I was going to be his wife. He had asked me just last night as we sat and watched the shooting stars across the sky.

Panic coursed through me and caused a tremble that shook the entire bridge. What if he didn’t survive? I had to get to help. I had to get to the other side of this bridge to do that. I slid my hand along the wood railing a few inches, closed my eyes and started to walk slowly. The ground under me shook, rocked actually in the wind and from the movements I was making as I crossed. I kept my eyes closed and put one foot after the next. Step after step, I knew I had to be almost across the bridge so I opened my eyes to find out. I was in the middle, too far to turn around and go back and not close enough to the other side to feel freedom.

A large bird flew down from his perch and landed on the railing a few feet in front of me. Just the landing of the bird caused the bridge to sway. Panic and fear took over and I fell to my knees, my legs too shaky to stand. There were wood planks along the bottom of the bridge and I grabbed onto them as I began to crawl on my hands and knees. One slow crawl after the next. I made the mistake of looking through the plank on the bottom and down into the raging river that ran beneath me. The fear was overwhelming now as I had let the panic take pure hold of me. I sat unmoving for what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes.

I relived our moments last night. The fire was crackling in front of us and we were huddled together fighting off the chill that the canyon brought with it. Jake had acted like he was going to get us a soda out of the cooler but instead he pulled out a wine bottle and two glasses. I had done most of the packing for the trip so I didn’t know how he managed to sneak that in.

He sat the bottle between us and I read the label. It had cursive writing all over it and it was written in multiple languages. The bottle was filled with words but they only said one thing over and over, “I love you Clara, will you marry me?” My heart was filled with Joy. I had never had someone love me as much as Jake loved me. I had never loved someone that much. And now our future was uncertain. If I could not bring myself to cross this bridge and get him help then certainly he would die and my heart and life would die with him.

I could do this for him, for us, for our future. It was time. I took a few deep breaths and opened my eyes. I stood very slowly pulling myself up and steadying myself in the center of the bridge. I kept my eyes open this time. I was pulling my strength from Jake right now I was walking towards our future. Step after step after step I was putting distance between Jake and I but I was bringing us closer to a future.

When my feet finally touched the dirt path on the other side of the bridge I crumbled to my knees in relief. I had made it. I knelt only moments in the dirt before I stood and took off down the canyon for help.

(c) April 2013 – Shelly Tennyson Taylor

Tears of the Son

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TerribleMinds Chuck Wendig has a weekly challenge for us.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Write what you know. The premise:
Take a true life event, twist it, and reimagine it in fiction with a 1,000 word limit.
Here is my attempt!

With morbid curiosity I looked.
I couldn’t stop myself from looking.
I stood on my tiptoes and peeked inside the giant white box that I was hanging onto.

What I saw before me was nearly unrecognizable. I heard them talking and saying how well she looked. She didn’t look well to me. She was so pale. They had put her in her favorite dress and one that I had always loved to see her in. It was a knee length sleeveless purple dress with a cinch waist. I could close my eyes and see her traipsing around the house in that dress the day my older sister graduated from college. She was so nervous that day it took us hours to find her shoes and they were sitting right there on the bed beside dads dress jacket. Dad stood in front of me now with that same dress jacket on. I wondered if they put shoes on mom. I couldn’t see her feet so I didn’t know why they would go to the trouble.

I had to look again.
I reached in first and placed my hand on her small arm. It was so cold. Mom was always so cold. I thought for a second that she needed a blanket but then as quickly as the thought came I was reminded that she didn’t need for anything anymore. I stood as high as I could on my tiptoes so I could see her face. We gave them a picture of what she looked like. She was always so filled with life and alive. Her eyes smiled when she looked at you. I know that sounds cliché but it is true. Her eyes were not smiling now. Her mouth looked all strange as if it was fighting gravity to stay up on her face. They didn’t know how to fix mom’s hair. It was done all fancy and laid so delicate on the pillow behind her head. Mom did not do fancy and even on that graduation day when she wore her purple dress and the infamous hiding shoes she still simply brushed her long blond hair straight back and put a small barrette on the left side. The barrette is as fancy as mom would get.

My dad turned around and asked me if I wanted him to pick me up so I could see better, that is all I wanted to add embarrassment to sorrow. No I told him and ushered him to go ahead that I would be a minute. I watched my father and handful of other mourners walk through the double doors that led out of this small room where my mother was laid out on display.

I was alone with her now.
I looked around the room and saw a small footstool at the end of one of the fancy chairs and drug it over where I could get a better look.
I could see all of her now. She didn’t look much different from what I had seen on my tiptoes but I could see her better. I put my hand back on her small cold arm and rubbed it. I tried to tell myself that she was just asleep that she would wake up at any moment and tell me to do my homework or yell up the stairs that dinner was ready. I wanted the chance to have her come to my college graduation. It wasn’t fair that she got to go to my sisters but not mine. It wasn’t fair that they told us her heart had just stopped beating. How does that happen? She was healthy, active, alive and then her heart just stopped. She didn’t have a heart attack; she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. For no reason. For no reason at all.

I had been so good with not crying but a tear snuck through the gates and rolled down my cheek landing on the spot right above her wrist. I didn’t think anything of it first. But as I stood there with my hand on her arm rubbing her with my thumb it felt like her skin was getting warmer beneath my thumb. I knew it had to be me rubbing so much. I looked down at her arm where the tear had fell, splattered on her wrist. In that spot her skin had lost that pale color and instead had turned a light pink flesh color. When I saw this I burst out in tears and they were rolling down my face and splattering on my mom like raindrops. Everywhere a tear dropped the skin turned flesh color and began to get warm again.

I tried to scream for my father but it was stuck in my throat.
I swallowed again and again trying to get the scream out. Finally it escaped and it was the loudest most deafening scream I have ever yelled. My father and everyone came running into the room, rushing to my side. I stood over mom allowing the tears to flow freely now. I saw his eyes when he looked and saw that where my tears had fell her skin was pink and warm. How could this be happening? I didn’t know how and I didn’t care.

All I knew was that my tears were brining my mother back to life, one drop at a time.

(c) Feb 2013 Shelly Tennyson Taylor