Flash Fiction

Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #23. It was to be 500 words or less and start with the first line "This, to me, represents love."  The special challenge was to include a phobia.

Love in the Time of 2012 

This, to me, represents love: when she takes your hand to help you over the mountain-top and doesn't let go after. This is love: when the case is too big to solve on your own so she gladly helps, afterward giving you all the credit, brilliant detective that you are. This is love in its truest form: when she hands you the last twinkie on earth, wrapped in glimmering, shiny, clear plastic, and plummets off the cliff in your place. 

She sashayed into my office one unseasonably warm December day. She hadn't knocked because there wasn't really a door, but I had seen her coming down the street from my perch on the office's lower branch. 

“Hey,” she said in an affable tone, though I could tell she was trying to allure me with her girly charm. 

“Hiya, toots. What's the haps?” 

“Oh, great. I see you are the P.I. again today.” Leaning against my office's trunk, she sighed, but I could tell she was drawn to my brooding, masculine ways. 

“Baby cakes, I am always a P.I.” I raised my eyebrows in a way I knew would snag her imagination. 

She rolled her eyes, but I figured she was swooning inside. “Well, the name's Lucy; it'd do you good to remember that. So, what big case are you working on today? Or were you just waiting for a hot number like me to waltz in, sobbing like a helpless maiden and desperate for your help?” 

“Blue eyes, I would wait for you to...” 

“Can it, gumshoe.” I dummied up; I was always a sucker for Lucy. 

“Seriously, Francis. Are you working on a case?” 

“Well, I was trying to figure something out.” 

“Lay it on me, Sherlock.” 

“Last month something terrible happened.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Hostess went out of business. I know what you're thinking. Who cares? That was my first reaction. But get this. Hostess makes twinkies!” 

“And... they'll be no more twinkies?” she asked. 

“Yes! No more twinkies!” She wasn't getting it. “Maybe you're not grasping the gravity of this situation, Lucy. I didn't start rationing. I didn't realize it until it was too late. Our twinkies are all gone now. All gone!” My heart was beating uncontrollably. 

“Hmm, I think I see the issue. I would recommend a twelve step program, but since it's not possible for you to fall off the wagon, I'm not sure it's necessary.” 

“Go ahead,” I waved my hand imperiously. “Make fun. But I don't even have one left to set aside for a special occasion. I checked online, but they had all been sold, or were really, really expensive. I've lost all hope.” 

“You know,” she said, dismissing her previous casual manner. “I think I've heard of one lost twinkie, buried deep within a secret cabinet somewhere in the neighborhood. It may be dangerous.” She grabbed my hand, “Care for the adventure?”


Written for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday #50.  It was to be 300 words (+/- 25) and based on this photo prompt.  

Psycho Stalker

I cozied in the mountain crevasse and watched the lone rider. He was steady, that was certain. Each day he rode from slightly after sunrise to slightly before sunset, breaking only to care for the horse and feed himself at midday.
I followed. When I started I was days behind. My charge was clear, though, and I dogged his footsteps. I was a decent enough tracker to hunt a rider who was not intent on hiding signs of his passing, so faithfully I tallied the trail of day old fires and hoof prints marked in mud and snow.

Weeks passed. Though I was on foot and he on saddle, my endurance, patience, quick stride and undying determination to fulfill the overseer's orders shortened the distance. I could soon spot my quarry. From that moment, the watchword was stealth.

The rider had left mountain passes and was traveling the flat plains. Catching him unawares would be difficult, but he wasn't expecting me. My secrets were heavy and lingering; the overseer was known to few but me.

I came to him in the desperate night, when discernment ebbs low and sight betrays. I was upon him as a cat pounces, but he was not so heedless as I thought. As we grappled barehanded, he floundered beneath his mat and flashed a razor-sharpened sword blade. Though orientally curved and ornamented, the sword was prominently marked with the seal of the Illuminati. Our dear rider carried his own impressive secrets.

Ancient steel sliced my forearm muscles and shuddered jaggedly on the bone beneath; I screeched an unmanly howl. Grabbing my wound in pain did not help, the blood slid through my fingers and splashed on the hard-packed earth. Enraged, I brought my knee to bear on his jaw, and he collapsed beneath me.

Still dazed, I bound the rider to his own horse, wrapped my wound tightly, and began the course back to mother.


Written for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday #49.  It was to be 150 words and based on this photo prompt.  (Darn her exact 150 word limit, I wanted to expand this so much.)

A gentle breeze sifted through rock crevasses; cooled Chu Kuo's face; and, drifting idly on this balmy day, belied the seriousness of his duty.

“Stay close, Si,” he reproved. Though this was a tourist destination, the roads were treacherous to an animated, vigorous boy and Kuo did not need to draw attention. The sanctified chasm of Lei Gong was just ahead and its bridge was guarded against their ancient practice.

For two hundred years a sacred bond bound the Chu family to their god, Lei Gong. He had promised Kuo's ancestors a prosperous and favored lineage. His demand was a yearly offering.

But Si was Kuo's only child. The Chu heritage would end here unless Lei Gong would work.

Grasping Si's hand feverishly, Kuo inconspicuously stepped onto the bridge. On the precipice now, a hand drove into his shoulder, a whispery voice in his ear, “Lei Gong has provided.”


Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #18. It was to be 500 words or less and start with the first line "I cared what [she] thought, so when [she] dared me, I knew I was in trouble."  The special challenge was to include an imaginary friend and the word discombobulated.

Winner of the Special Challenge!!!

Boys Will Be Boys

Ebeld cared what Ynone thought, so when she dared him, he knew he was in trouble.

“Just finger,” she articulated. “That all.”

Ebeld crept to the opening, toward the clear delineation between bright sunlight and shadowed cave. The sun was almost directly to the south, causing the lighting distinction to trace the mouth of the cave almost exactly. As he inched closer he became more nervous, biting the inside of his bulbous bottom lip and cracking his thumbs in his swollen fists.

“I's worried,” he stammered.

“No need worry. Do it.”

“Will hurt? Mom said don't. Her said it turn us stony.”

“Don't think it hurt... Maybe.” Turning to him, Ynone challenged, “But you are baby boy? Or you man ogre?”


Ebeld hesitated no longer, pointed with his left index finger and slowly pushed it through the invisible veil and into the warm light of the sun. For a second he felt nothing, then that gentle lap of the sun's rays as they waved over his callused white skin. It felt refreshing, like dipping in a geothermal spring when the cave was especially cold and lonely, but slower.

And then the feeling seeped away. Ebeld realized he could no longer feel his finger at all and he snatched it back. The difference was subtle; the coloration had not changed and the texture was similar. It was clear, though; his finger had turned to stone. It was immobile and weighed his hand down slightly.

“Hurt?” queried Ynone.

“No, just gone.” He knocked it against the stone wall. It made a clunking sound, exactly what you'd expect tapping a rock against a rock.

Ynone cheered. “Now do yours hand!”

“No! Wants keep hand.”

“Do it,” she cooed softly. Ebeld was moved slightly. Ynone was a calm and gentle sight to his eyes. Sometimes she made him feel nervous inside, discombobulated. Most of the time he felt a closer sense of fullness. Or completeness. Something that made him feel replete, done, entire.

And she was very pleasing to the eyes, at least Ebeld thought so, especially now as the sun was dipping beneath the horizon and the red sky seeped slightly into the cave.

“Bad thinking.” he repeated.

“Ebeld. What your saying? Who there?” His mother's overbearing voice echoed across the hollow as she came from further back in the cave.

“Not. Nothing.” He quickly hid his hand behind his back. She wouldn't understand.

Begdla narrowed her heavily browed eyes. She may be an ogre, but she could tell Ebeld wasn't telling her everything. But boys will be boys.

“Not safely being near sun. Come over for your eating now.”

“Mhgg.” Ebeld replied. His mother gave another look around the room, expecting maybe someone else, then turned and left.

Ynone touched his arm, “After eating, daring you. We go Pisa, push over human's tower.”

Ebeld sighed and smiled; that was a dare he'd take.


Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #17. It was to be 500 words or less and start with the first line "What, did you think it was going to be all rainbows and puppies?"  I didn't take the special challenge.

Taking Wing

“What?” she chirped, “Did you think it was going to be all rainbows and puppies?”
The kids said nothing back; but then, they were still too young.
“Well, maybe not puppies, I get that. But rainbows are nice, even if you can never really find your way to them, they're pretty. So, yeah. Rainbows are a nice break. I'll sing for a rainbow. And I'm blabbering on, I know I am. But really, that's okay. It's just you guys. All the best advice says to talk to your babies, it's how you learn to communicate. So, I'm being a great mom to you guys. I've got nothing else to do, you needy screamers are a full-time job.”
Doris sighed and gazed lovingly down at her brood. They were cute. Even when they were going at full-tilt volume, she adored them.
“I do love you guys. You are the best thing that's happened all this annoying year. I know I've got nothing to complain about. Dear old Mrs. Morris up the way a bit just lost her husband in a tragic car accident earlier this spring.” Doris looked out toward the street. “I saw the body in the road with my very own two eyes. What a tragedy! That truck came flying past with no respect for his age. He just didn't have a chance. And now, Madeline is all by herself. Granted, she's been an empty-nester for a while now, but do you think her children are going to come back and make sure she has everything she needs? No, they're all gone for good now.”
She shook her head slowly at the sadness of it all.
“And!,” she reproved her progeny, “don't think I don't know you all aren't going to be just the same. Your father and I will feed you, care for you, teach you the ropes and how to survive on your own. And will we see you the next year? No, you'll all be off and busy with your own families. Which is how it is meant to be, I know it is, but I just can't help pining for the seeming futility of it all. What is the point to it? Living, breeding, scrounging, struggling to not die, then dieing anyway. Who really cares in the end? Would it have made any difference if I had died when I was young?”
“Really, I should just be in this for my own enjoyment. You little ones take up too much of my time, time I could be out there, doing whatever I want, soaring to new heights...”
'And alone,' she didn't admit. All this philosophizing didn't really make any difference, Doris knew this. She would raise these kids. And she knew she would do it again, next year in fact. And with the same man no less, sparrows mate for life. And for all her complaining, Doris was soaring.


Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #16. It was to be 500 words or less and start with the first line "The light flickered, then went out."  The special challenge was to include the following elements: A transformation, a broken window and a note.

Monster's Story

“The light flickered, then went out,” Monster's painted fingernails tapped on the laptop keyboard; he kept them too long. “The darkness inhabited the writer's room like a disease, obfuscating everything and insinuating itself into the tiniest of crevasses and interstices.”

Monster liked the darkness, but not absolute darkness. Some light was necessary to create the shadows that spurred his imagination.

Of course, Monster was not his given name. It was a nom de plume that he used not only for his writings, but also as the identity that his goth alter-ego assumed.

Monster opened a desk drawer and retrieved a fat red candle, relishing this opportunity to light it while he worked.

“Using a wooden match, the writer struck a flame and gazed as it ate wood. He gently lowered the match to the wick, anticipating and savoring that moment when the waxy string caught the incendiary's heat and flared with a boost of light.”

The twittering candle next to his laptop mouse sizzled momentarily and a flash brightened a corner of the note Monster had found wedged through the vent of his locker. 'The arbor in Greatwood Park. Tuesday, the silver hour.'

“He felt a tingle itch his arm. He scratched at it and sat down at his typewriter again, intent on the story he was trying to compose, but worried that the tingle was a harbinger.

“The writer's main character was Ellen, a petite freshman who didn't fit in. She had tried to, but her pathetic attempts only jettisoned her farther from that core of popularity that seemed to draw everyone but the obliviously delirious.

“With the words almost spewing out, the writer reengaged with his ancient equipment and plonked the keys, 'She turned the corner at the huge elm tree and glided down a side path, subconsciously skirting a cluster of kids. Arriving at the gazebo, she glanced nervously around, still unsure if she should do this.

“'Yes, she would. She fingered the scissors she had brought to cut a lock of her hair away. He had said he would need it. He had said once he got that, given a couple days, she would feel it and it would happen.'

“The writer jerked his leg. That feeling, that a bug or something has grazed your calf, gripped him mid-thought and he almost knocked the lit candle into the pile of finished papers he had sitting next to the typewriter.

“When he reached for it, it was gone, a phantom finger-fondling. But the writer knew the change was coming. It was as certain as whneeeee...”

Monster jerked at his laptop. A sensation like a millipede's dozens of tiny legs skittered up the skin over his spine. The feeling was creepy but also shiveringly pleasurable. The tingle spread around his torso and up his neck. It began to take control and his flat palm broke his bedroom window as it jolted uncontrollably. The change had begun.


Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #13. It was to be 500 words or less and start with the first line "It was something she'd never done before."

My Name Is...

It was something Austine had never done before. She nervously tapped her foot on the carpeted theater floor. Her friends said it would be good for her, so she came. She didn't agree. She thought the meeting would be a waste of time, but she secretly hoped it wouldn't.
She surreptitiously scanned the room to see if she recognized anyone, but her newly formed instincts kicked in and she found herself searching for trouble, her fingers itching to reach to her holster or for the stake of rebar at her feet.
“Hi.” Austine jerked around, interrupted. The calloused, hairy hand that was stretched out toward her in a friendly way did not match its owner, who was tall and lanky with a thin face and a crooked nose. He didn't necessarily appear unsavory. He was just rugged, and not rugged in the clean, handsome man-of-the-wilderness way that would make most women swoon. No, he looked like he just had spent two months in the mountains and had not bothered freshening up.
Austine awkwardly rose, but he preempted her ungainly handshake with a meaty bear hug that ended with several firm pats on the back.
“You look like you are new here and I just wanted to let you know how welcome you are,” he said in a voice both gushing and sympathetic. “I'm Sterling.”
'No, sterling is one thing you certainly aren't,' Austine thought. 

“Hi, yeah, this is my first time. I'm Austine.” She paused, confused, “Are we supposed to give our names?”
Sterling's laugh, like his voice, was unexpected, genuine and ungritty. “We're not anonymous. We're just a support group. What we do is hard, unforgiving. I don't need to tell you what a nasty business killing zombies can be. We need a place to unburden ourselves; share our thoughts and feelings in a safe place. Austine, this is a safe place to express your emotions. We understand.”
Austine smiled politely, a bit disarmed by his gracious manner, but unsure of what to say next. She glanced to the side shyly and caught a glimpse of something amiss in her periphery. It let out a low moan and she immediately ducked beneath her seat back, her hand tangling to remove her six-shooter. She had just begun to let her guard down for the first time in heaven knows how long and now she was struggling to shift back on-point.
Sterling, on the other hand, didn't falter a moment. In two swift movements he snaked a knife from beneath his sleeve and snicked it through the air and the zombie's left eye socket. The zombie groaned pitifully and subsided to the theater floor.
That was what Austine had expected out of Sterling, a quick, uncompromising and deadly air that always got the job done; Clint Eastwood at his down and dirtiest. She could get to know this cowboy.
“Whew,” he said congenially, “how did that make you feel? Do you want to talk about it?” 


Written for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday #43.  It was to be 150 words and based on this photo prompt.

“Excuse me? Are you two new? I love the earrings, so... out there! But, since you're new, I can tell you. Those are just not done at this church. I'd take them out before the others notice.”

“Well, we just want to distinguish ourselves from the others. We've got this beautiful cathedral, the best music and programs out the wazoo, if you'll pardon my language. If you can't find God here, you won't find Him anywhere.”

“Oh, you noticed our billboard. Dreadfully tacky, isn't it? But what can you do? I noticed that you don't have children. Thank heavens, right? Their sticky fingers smudge up the pews and I keep finding crude drawings on the communal hymnals. Honestly, I shiver every time one gets close. The less the better, I always say, especially in the church.”

“You do? I'm sorry, I just assumed. God's little blessings, aren't they?”


Written for Alissa Leonard's Finish that Thought #12. It was to be less than 500 words and start with the first line "The sky burned." The bonus challenge was to include a predator/prey relationship.

Winner of the Bonus Challenge!!!

Delia's Dragon, or How Delia Discovered Her Ancient Powers

The sky burned.  

Young Jenny Palmer cowered in her garage, her sweaty hands clutching her violet jeans and her auburn hair whipping in the early evening apocalypse.

Droplets of molten, magmatic poison seared outward from the great beast's rumbling maw and spewed forth chaotically, sprinkling and fizzing downward to the houses of suburban Oklahoma City like the aftermath of a grand firework display.

Catercorner and two houses down, Jenny's sixth-grade schoolmate, Delia Carter, clutched the sill of her second-story bedroom window, scratching it with her newly painted fingernails. (Saturday-Disco-Fever orange)

Chunks of fire-bathed rock and bone collapsed roofs and blazed a trail of carnage through their neighborhood, setting houses ablaze and potholing the streets. The massive dragon sucked air in and let out a roar that set off local seismometers, shaking the earth and felling the unsteady.

The scaly bulk of destructive force glided down and level with the homes and as it passed 5643 Holly Bloom Lane, Jenny let out a massive tween scream and threw out her hands, each finger trembling. The screech truncated as her father yanked her arm and pulled her inside the house. Together they jumbled down the crooked basement steps, seeking some safety.

The dragon's dark blue hues blended with the dusky sky, but his golden tints glimmered with every fire-blasted breath, looking every bit like a swarm of swift fireflies. He slowed; his navigation was receiving mixed signals. He had missed something.

Delia saw the tip of the dragon's tail as it floated gently by her window. Horror stricken, she stumbled off the chair she had been kneeling on and hit the edge of her desk, spilling Material-Girl burgundy on her pajama-ed leg.

She had been sitting at her desk, next to her window at 5652 Holly Bloom, trying to determine what shade best shouted demure, cute and Delia all at once. Burgundy had come close, but just didn't speak up enough. Now she was torn between Geranium and Saturday-Disco-Fever. That doe-eyed jerk, Jenny up the street, had told all the girls in Mrs. Morgan's second period English class that Ricky Ballen had said that she, Delia!, was too plain-Jane compared to Jenny and that was why, if he had a choice, he'd probably go with Jenny.

But Delia, aside from one quick scream of outrage, had controlled herself when her best friend, Morgan Sinclair, had reported the news. Now, in her room, however, she had given full vent to her rage, posting “Some ppl are just so fake” on facebook. She thought about de-friending Jenny, but then she wouldn't see the post, which she would certainly know was about her.

A song came on the radio: “I could start fires with what I feel for you.”

“Darn right,” said Delia as she scrunched her eyes and concentrated on her rage. Deep inside, she felt something respond. A flare of bright light flashed and Delia's own unwitting vengeance was born.


Written for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday #42.  It was to be 300 words and based on this photo prompt. 

Checking In

My hand shook as it fingered the door handle. I couldn't leave now. Surely someone had seen my car gambol down the long and meandering driveway, and now that I was parked outside the main building it would be a coward's move to turn back and beat an unseemly retreat.

The imposing structure glared down at me with eyes that bespoke generations of erosion, the passage of time worn in every brick and overhang. But the day was bright and the ominousness was diminished by a modern parking area and the sunbeam that was approaching from the steps and flashing what must be her biggest smile.

There was definitely no turning back now. I was in it come hell, high water, or the people that I wasn't sure I wanted to encounter once I checked in. I levered the car door open wide and stepped out, leaving it between myself and the approaching welcome as some sort of unconscious security blanket shielding my body from prying eyes.

“Well good morning, you!” the greeter chirped as she strode purposefully toward me and my insecurity. “You must be David. Welcome.”

I had no choice but to shake her forceful hand and allow her to pull me toward the entrance.

“But, my bags,” I stammered, “my towel.”

“Oh, no problem at all, you can come right back and pick those up once I've shown you around and gotten you comfortable. As you can see, most of the building is original, so it looks a little creepy, but it's mostly for the historic building tax cut we get; once we get you past those imposing doors, you'll be delighted how free and open and refreshing everyone inside is.”

“Okay.” I gulped.

“So,” she opened the front door, “is this your first time at a nudist resort?”


This is a flash fiction piece I wrote for Alissa Leonard's "Finish That Thought" contest.  I won!


If I had known He would be here again, I would have sported my crosier. Obviously, He needed a real dose of who was boss up in this club. Which was me, by the way. Not that DJ SheKe7 needs to prove his worth to nobody, but this dude just wasn't recognizing.

See, when I lay down the beats and scratch the albums, I rule this club. I am a turntablist par excellence and I dictate the flow. People come to my club to dance to my sets. My crossfades, my samples and my hooks move the room. I create waves of undulating humanity as I pump my fist from my glittering pedestal. Every jerk and sway is respect for my skills. This is my life and I preside.

So, I obviously did not need this punk steppin' in my house and turning my tables. This hayseed from podunk nowhere in His crocs and goodwill, His decidedly creepy facial hair and this aura like He owns the club. My club.

And then He starts dancing.

Sure, He's been here before, and He's always rubbed me crosswise, but He's never gone this far before. He's chatted a few people up, bought a few drinks and stirred up a little ire with the regulars, but He hasn't set a foot on the dance floor. So, He's been tolerated. Not liked, but everybody has a right to spend their cheddar at my well.

But, this time is different. This time rowdy steps His plastic shoes on my pristine dance floor and starts moving to the beat. But He's not moving to my beat.

You know how a song can come out and it's dope and people like it; but then, someone does a remix that everybody seems to latch onto. It's in commercials or viral videos and it becomes the dominant version. And then the original song plays and everyone wonders who did this new cover.

It's like this guy only knows the original. And even when I skritch out my bass-thumping, booty-popping hybrid, He still hears the archetype. And He dances to those primary rhythms. He doesn't match my beats, but his dancing is still hypnotic. People gawk. They are drawn in by this original, who isn't cutting my rug, but His movements still seem to fit, to coalesce. As if, this is what dancing is supposed to look like.

He's cramping my style. He's drawing the others away from me. So, I grease a bouncer's palm with thirty bucks, and have Him thrown to the curb, perhaps a little too violently. But this is my house.

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