Tag Archives: Flash Friday

Who Can You Trust?

On Friday, everything changed. I was answering the tech support line.

“This is Darrell.”

“Listen, Carol Kryzinski. That’s proof of my identity. You remember what she meant to you.”

It was my own voice on the headset.

“In exactly four minutes, Carol will walk into your office. It will be the first time you’ve seen her in twenty years, right?”

“She’s an evil witch. She’ll destroy our life, family, and career. Use the letter opener, two minutes.”

“You can’t date her, Darrell. Listen, she’s going—”

Click.

“If you’d like to place a call, please hang up and dial again.”

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100 words. For the (final ::sniff cry:: Flashversary bash)

From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee.

“Once there was a time when I believed you all white devils,” explained the old sagomas. “Your people came and took all of the young men, and dragged them in chains to slave in your mines. Then came the years of sickness, entire generations of my people wiped out by the evil poxes you brought.”

The ancient man paced around the tiny marker at the base of the massive, dead Marula tree in the village center.

“Where once a village thrived is now just a destitute ruin, hopeless. Without our youth and their grandchildren, what future could there be?”

The sagomas peeled away the cloth turban covering his eyes with great care.

“Now I see that you aren’t devils at all, you are only the most evil of men. Men, who can be cursed, and made to pay for the injustice their sick culture has brought on this land.”

When the turban fell away, his single malevolent eye blazed forth, spearing each of the urbanized white corporate henchmen with baleful malice.

“You don’t believe in the Evil Eye. Your kind never has. So go back to your families, and take no care to guard against what comes for you now.”

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200 words, inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt (3-41).

 

Expensive Lesson

Once upon a time in a faraway land lived a humble tailor in his humble village. He often struggled to earn enough coppers for his dinner, or silvers for his fabrics. His perseverance slowly gained him a reputation for good, honest workmanship and he thereby earned a few more coins to buy a few more rolls, and was content.

One fine day in May, an attractive Lady entered Konrad’s tailor shop. She asked, “Are you Konrad, he who is known everywhere for his magnificent needlework?”

“Well, I’m Konrad, at any rate. How might I help milady?”

“It’s only a trifle. The tiniest rip in my bodice, right here.” Her manicured nails trailed along the bodice’s edge and lingered in her décolletage.

Konrad experienced sudden difficulties speaking properly. Yet the repair was indeed trivial, and soon completed.

“You do magnificent work,” the Lady cooed. “At the briefest word from me, fine ladies from all over the kingdom will travel to have all their sewing done here. I can easily arrange a surge in your fortunes, Konrad.”

“It will be fine,” Konrad agreed.

~~~

“She didn’t pay you anything, lackwit.”

Konrad’s mother was incensed when he recounted the tale. “How many times do I have to tell you, no free rides?”

“But she’ll make me rich. She’s nice, mother.”

~~~

Over the coming weeks, the Lady returned frequently for more tailoring. Konrad’s Mother continued berating Konrad for an idiot, and Konrad continued insisting Milady was extremely nice. Somehow, the promised surge in business never materialized, and Milady’s repair work grew ever more expensive. The poor house would soon be Konrad’s fate.

“I can’t take her money, mother. She’s much too nice.”

“Fool.” Mother slapped the back of his head, hard. “There’s your problem, you need to learn. Nice is different from Good.”

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300 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt (3-40).

Harbinger

I saw the kid standing in front of the mine elevator.

He was a dirty miner kid, maybe ten years old, and he was just standing there staring solemnly at me. He wore plain clothes, a coal-dust smudged shirt which was clearly too large for him, simple linen pants, and a miner’s hat with an oil-wicked lamp. That kind of mining cap disappeared from this country around 1915.

He just gravely held my gaze and slowly shook his head.

Seven hours later, an earthquake killed thirty West Virginia miners in a coalmine collapse. My crew didn’t go down there today.

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Warmup Wednesday prompt:

Genesis

“Come on then, Jones, it’s your turn to give us a tale, mate.”

Jones had planned his tale during the previous traveler’s story and sat up on his robomule, ready to begin.

“Quite so. My lords and ladies, during my travels I have been many places and seen much. The tale I offer today is tragic, and true. It’s about a lady I met in the Lesser Magellanic who had more than forty thousand children.”

“Protraxilone is a frontier colony, and it would be idyllic if it were located elsewhere. Because it’s in the Cloud and its primary is part of an x-ray binary system, the local background radiation is enormous. Genetic damage is inevitable, and the birth defect rate is nothing short of tragic. For years, the Protraxan mothers had relied on IVF using imported ova, because of the risk.

That is, until Rothchild Zaggerty and his family arrived. Doctor Zaggerty set up a carefully shielded genetics laboratory and took on new patients immediately. He offered a new process, artificial oogenesis, the creation of new and healthy ova using the mother’s natural genes present in any tissue sample. Since the DNA came from healthy cells of the mature mother, he claimed, the new ova were free of damage from ionizing radition and could be stored in shielded containment until needed.

Protraxian mothers were thrilled, naturally. For the next fifteen years, ‘Zaggerty Eggs’ were involved in the majority of all childbirth. Not coincidentally, Doctor Zaggerty’s clinic made him a fortune, until genetic testing eventually revealed the disturbing truth. An entire generation, just about forty thousand children, all had the same mother.

Zaggerty’s process wasn’t anything like what he claimed. He’d actually harvested tens of thousands of immature ovum in the dictyate stage from his own pre-pubescent daughter. These oocytes were thereafter artificially maturated and produced as ‘miraculous Zaggerty Eggs’ whenever necessary. He took an enormous shortcut, completely unethical in every way. Thousands of Protraxan ‘natural’ mothers are unrelated to their children.

Doctor Zaggerty’s eventual fate was, well, ugly.

His youngest daughter Eva turned out to be uninvolved in the conspiracy. Eva is now the all-mother, oddly venerated by Protraxan society, yet has never given birth herself. Not her fault her dad was the most hated man of an entire world.

She enjoys fruity cocktails, you know.”

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385 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt. It’s a Canterbury Tale, of sorts.

(I actually went to sleep last night without an idea, and sat up in bed well after midnight with a dream–so I missed the deadline, but had a story.)

These write-it-before-midnight challenges just don’t seem to work the same way my subconscious does. That’s okay, it’s almost double the desired length anyway.

Nor am I an expert human geneticist. To do this tale right, I’d need to interview one, get the details right, and reproduce this tale at short-story or novella length.

It’s Always the Quiet Ones

“It’s pistachio, your favorite. Happy birthday, Sara!”

As expected, the bait worked beautifully. My ex-wife could never resist ice cream for her birthday.

You’re probably not familiar with plasmids and lateral transfer. A plasmid is a ring of DNA that can live within an existing cell and can replicate independently. The fascinating bit is they can pass genetic information between hosts, even between species, via lateral transfer.

Targeted viral weapon loads, wave of the future. Pick up stock in your favorite genegineer firm today. It would be a wise investment for your portfolio.

Sara now hosts a y-chromosome linked plasmid carrying genetic information from Staphylococcus aureus. It’s probably quite difficult to pass, requiring sexual contact with a male, possibly several such contacts. My ex-wife Sara has a brand new venereal disease. She’s now a twenty-first century Typhoid Mary.

I hope her latest lover enjoys his genital necrotizing fasciitis.

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148 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday competition. Themes: man vs. society, jealous husband, obsession

Tiggers Don’t Like Honey

Lord Mortimer didn’t really know much about the girl who was to marry him. Only that she was barely nineteen and had an A-level diploma with ink that was still wet.

The family curse essentially required that all Lords Mortimer have their marriages pre-arranged, despite the growing difficulty of negotiating one in the twenty-first century. Still, the lawyers found a suitably distant poor relation, negotiations entered, contracts signed and money changed hands.

“You must be Jill,” he said, helping her from her taxi. “I’m Evan.”

She looked relieved. “Oh, thank goodness. You aren’t nearly as terrible as I’d imagined. You’re not warty and seventy at all.”

He chuckled. “I’ve just turned thirty, not a pensioner yet. No warts, but relief might be premature before you’ve seen all of my habits. Welcome to Apis Hall, Jill.”

“Pleasure to be here, Lord Mortimer.”

“Evan. You’re doomed to be a Baroness soon. Believe me; the blush fades from the ‘ooh dearies aren’t we formal then’ rose very quickly.

“Your luggage will be moved upstairs,” he said. “You must come in and meet Mother.”

“Meet the family so soon? I just may faint.”

“It’s a very large family. Take a deep breath.”

A hugely loud droning buzz carried on a blast of febrile heat washed over her when Evan opened the front door. Jill screamed when a hand on the small of her back pushed her into the fetid cavern inside Apis Hall.

“Meet Jill, Mother. Fatten her on royal jelly and she’ll make a fine next Baroness Mortimer.”

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256 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt:

Elements: A lord under a family curse, cunning, isolated country manor, Hound of the Baskervilles.

Lyme Park House & Estate. CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus.

 

Pizza Tonight, Not Chicken

It’s Collin again. Yes, I still schlep pizzas for Cosmic Stan’s Any Time Any Place Pizza and Catering. (Here, have a menu.) We deliver anywhere in space-time, causation is optional.

The problem with tonight’s invoice is the delivery address, which keeps getting lost. Not like “not on file in the computer” lost. The destination is actually unreliable, never in the same place twice.

Mockingbird Lane is the usual place to start looking. I watch sun and moon flickering while my reality-hopper searches up and down the space-timelines. Whoa, got it—the witch’s hut, strolling slowly along on its chicken legs.

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Inspired by the Warmup Wednesday prompt (well, the challenge part anyway, “Include a lost thing or person.”) at Flash! Friday.

A sequel to a previous tale, Cosmic Stan’s.

Confused? Meet Baba Yaga.

Irresistibly Urbane

Of course I am innocent, Constable.

Evelina’s sister, Bronya, was the one who introduced us. I gave a brief lecture on the vital fluid and animal magnetism, which Evelina quite enjoyed. Thereafter, we would often meet for tea and discuss Mesmer’s work.

I believe her husband was away in the war at the time.

Improper? The very suggestion offends me. I am a practitioner of animal charisma; the vital fluid exudes from my pores, as in Mesmer’s theories. I can sometimes fascinate young women, but I am the very soul of discretion and propriety at all times.

Evelina? I know only the basic facts. She awoke early, went down to the train station, and disappeared. They found her clothing scattered somewhere down the track.

What did Bronya say? No, I can’t imagine Evelina distraught. I’m certain that’s just hysteria.

Naturally, I am utterly innocent. Exactly right. Thank you, Constable.

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Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt(s): Anna Karenina, unhappy socialite, the value of family/marriage, Tsarist Russia.

Scene from “Anna Karenina,” 1914 Russian film by Vladimir Gardin. Photo is in the public domain in the United States.

What do you think? Consummate con man, actual hypnotic powers, or credulous Constable?