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Flash Friday 14/07/2017: Having a Blast

During his early years, David wasn’t sure what he was destined to become. He knew he enjoyed dismantling electronics (such as the family radio) and that he was good at operating under stress (such as when his parents yelled at him while he put back the family radio). He wasn’t sure what kind of job would fit such specific skills. Then, one day, his dream career found him.

Some days, he wish it didn’t.

Today was one of those days. He had stripped the ticking bomb of its outer shell, negotiated past the hardware, and took care of every precaution he came across. Now he was down to the final choice; he could either snip the red wire or the blue one.

However, for the life of him, he couldn’t remember which one to cut.

It wasn’t to uncommon for this to happen. After studying a variety of different popular bomb makes, the wire combinations blur in your head like a colourful tornado. This was unfortunate, as the bomb was showing 2 minutes until detonation. Thankfully, this is exactly what squad mates are for.

“Gareth,” David called over his shoulder. “What’s the wire cut on a bomb like this?”

Gareth peered over David at the bomb. “What make?”

David parted the wires with the pliers, looking at the electronics it was feeding. “Looks like we got a…ED-75L model.”

“Alright, cut the red one.”

David nodded and put the wire cutter blades around the red wire.

“No, wait,” Gareth interjected. “It’s the blue one.”

David nodded again and changed to blue.

“Wait, hold on,” said a third voice. The third member of the team, Paul, had just joined. “You do red wires normally, right?”

“Usually,” Gareth said, “but they mixed it up for this model.”

“…I’m pretty sure that was a different model of bomb you’re on about.”

“Can you please decide?” David said. “We don’t have much time left.”

“Look,” Gareth said, pulling out a mobile phone. “I’ll call Sarah, she’ll know what to do.”

“Still think it’s red,” Paul scoffed, as everyone waited for Sarah to pick up.

Finally, Gareth spoke again. “Hello? Yeah, hi Sarah. What’s the correct wire to cut on a…?”

“ED-75L,” David reminded.

“Right, ED-75L. Yeah, I can wait.”

No we can’t,” David reminded again.

“Oh. Yeah, we can’t wait, sorry. Right. Yeah.” Gareth nodded. “Yep, gotcha. Alright, thanks Sarah. Alright, by–what? Yeah, sure. After this I can head on over. Yeah, loads of good movies out recently. We should go see–”

Gareth.

“Right, sorry. Okay, bye.” Gareth hung up.

“Well?” David probed.

“She said she’d ask Peter.”

David gave a frustrated sigh. There was only a minute left.

“Oh!” Paul said. “Remember we got mixed up with these models and made that little mnemonic during our exams?”

“That’s right!” Gareth chirped. “We did, didn’t we? How did that go again?”

“It went something like…’Snip the red, and you’ll be dead. Snip the blue, and death is due’. No, wait.”

David shot an annoyed glance over his shoulder.

“That’s not right,” Gareth said. “Trying to think how it went…”

The two of them pondered on this for a few seconds. Then, Paul snapped his fingers. “Right, that’s it! It was ‘Snip the red and you’re ahead’. I remember now, sorry about that.”

“So I should cut the red wire?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re sure?

“Yeah, cut the red one.”

David positioned the clippers around the red wire.

“No, wait,” Paul said to Gareth. “Was it ‘Snip the blue and you’ll pull through’?”

“Oh, for–” David said, retracting what he was about to say. They had only thirty seconds left and were back to square one.

Gareth’s phone began to ring. “Ah, that’ll be Peter,” he said, about to pick it up.

“Give the phone to me,” David demanded, holding out a hand.

The sudden anger in David’s voice caught Gareth off-guard, but he surrendered the phone regardless. Now in control of the situation, David picked up the phone.

“Hello?” came Peter’s voice on the other side. “You there, Gareth?”

“It’s David. I need a wire cut instruction. We have very little time.”

“Right, so you’ve got the bomb all dismantled, yeah?”

“Yes.”

“And you were sure to dodge all the little mechanisms and whatnot, yeah?”

“Yes, I’m on the wires, just tell me what wire to cut.

“Alright, alright. So, let’s see here…yep…yep…okay, so you have the wires in front of you, yeah?”

Yes!

“Alright.” Peter cleared his throat, and then; “Cut the green wire.”

David’s heart sank. “Peter, there’s no green wire.”

“What? What bomb are you handling?”

“An ED-75L.”

“Well Sarah said it was an ED-125.”

“Well she was wrong. Can I please have the instructions for this bomb?

“Right, right, let me just look in the back…”

Fifteen seconds were left on the bomb.

“Lessee here…yep, here’s the index…ED…seventy fiiiveee…L.”

Twelve seconds.

“And this bomb is ooon…let’s see…oh! It’s in book two. Right.”

Nine seconds.

“Let’s just grab that book…there we go.”

Seven seconds.

“So, page seventy three in book two…so, let’s see…page ten…page twenty…page thirty, almost there…”

David didn’t want to experience the last three seconds of his life listening to someone slowly go through a book. With a few seconds left, David reached out, put the clippers around the blue wire, and cut it.

Everyone froze in fear.

“…ah! Here we go,” Peter’s voice came down the phone, five seconds too late. “Yes, here we are. It says to cut the blue wire.”

“Does it?” David said, still shaking.

“Yep. Did you do that?”

David looked at the severed wire, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Yes, all done.”

“And it’s defused now, yeah?”

David waited for a small moment before replying, just to make sure. “Yeah, seems so.”

“Great. Glad I could be of help, buddy, well, see you!”

“Bye,” David said. He stood up, handed the phone back to Gareth, and walked out without another word.

“See?” Gareth said to Paul with a smug tone. “Told you it was blue.”


1000 words

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Flash Friday 07/07/2017: Thwarting Thieves

Overlord hated rogues. He wasn’t one for sneaking, and he certainly wasn’t one for being robbed of his sword as he walked down a shady woodland road with his companion, Imp. But here he was, without a weapon, glaring down the smug-faced thief who was juggling Overlord’s broadsword as if it were made of paper.

“That’s mine,” Overlord said, in a deep tone. “Give it back.”

“I know it’s yours,” the thief said, with a grin. “Wouldn’t call meself a thief if I went around taking what’s rightfully mine, now, would I?”

“You are making a grave mistake. I am Overlord, ruler of this–”

“Save your breath. I know who you are. Heard stories of how you like to cut people clean in half if they dare pick a fight with you. Well, now that’s out of the way,” he said, as he casually threw the sword into the surrounding shrubbery, “let’s see what you’re really made of.”

“Very well.” Overlord punctuated his point with a few knuckle cracks. “But I’ll have you know that demonic magic is second nature to me. I have no need for weapons; I can bend the Underworld’s power to my will.”

“Ooh,” the thief cooed in a mocking tone. “Big and scary, are we? Let’s see if your precious demons can save you from a dagger to the neck.”

The two stood off from one another.

“Imp,” Overlord muttered, holding out his hand to his smaller friend. “Hand me my Tome of Demonology. I need it for reference.”

Imp blinked. “Uhm, I don’t have it.”

Overlord flashed a glare. “And why not?”

“Because we already returned the book to the library, remember? You said you’d memorize all ‘the important bits’ before we gave it back. I told you that we should have just stolen it.”

“Now Imp, the librarian is a very nice man who lends us his aid when he can. Plus, his late fees are extortionate.”

“But what are we going to do now?

“Don’t fret. I’m sure once the nice thief learns of our predicament, he’ll sympathize with our plight and let us guruguh.

Overlord and Imp had forgotten the number one rule when engaging rogues; never take your eye off of them. The thief, who Overlord thought was being polite and waiting, had managed to sneak behind and wrapped an arm around Overlord’s neck.

After many years of pranks from Imp, it was now Overlord’s second nature to immediately throw anything grabbing him from behind over his shoulder. As such, before the thief’s dagger could perform its coup de grace, the thief found himself being thrown to the ground.

“You know,” Overlord growled, “you’re not being very pleasant about this.”

The thief picked himself up, teeth gritted. His ego looked more injured than his body. “Let’s see if you like me any more after this.”

The thief came back with a flurry of knife swipes, too enraged for anything more intricate. Overlord, who still believed he should be the angry one, dodged the swipes with a look of confusion on his face.

“Imp,” Overlord said, in a tone akin to a teacher telling another to discipline a rowdy child. “You said you’d tear a page out of the book before we gave it back and hoped they wouldn’t notice, correct?”

“Oh! You’re right!” Imp snapped his fingers, and in a burst of fire, a page magically appeared in his hands. “Totally forgot about that. Yes, the spell that summons basic hellfire. Excellent.” Imp cleared his throat, then began to read out loud. “First, channel Kuur energy in right hand.”

Inbetween his dodges and weaves, Overlord held out his right arm, green fire coiling in his hand. “Done.”

“Invoke a sense of anger. Picture an event, happening, or person that makes you feel angry.”

“Oh,” Overlord said, locking eyes with the thief. “I did that a long time ago.”

“Now go for an Um-Rah-Duum chant and disperse the Kuur energy into the ground.”

“Did you say ‘Duum’ or ‘Guum’?”

“Is there a difference?”

“I vaguely remember that one of those two orders a large pepperoni pizza from the nearest devil-run restaurant.”

“D, for ‘Duck’.”

“Or ‘Doesn’t know how to use a dagger’,” Overlord said, smirking at the thief.

The thief went for an anger-driven charge, which Overlord easily countered with a leg trip. This gave him the time to properly execute the chant and slam his right fist into the ground, which cracked with green energy.

“Right,” Overlord said as the thief struggled to his feet. “Any more steps?”

Imp peered at the paper. “Nope, just says ‘If you performed these steps correctly, prepare the virgin sacrifices and gold, as your Lord of the Underworld should arrive shortly for his tribute and will be infuriated if you don’t have one ready’.”

Everyone froze in fear.

“Oh.” Imp said, crestfallen. He turned the page over. “The hellfire spell was on the other page. Oops.”

Overlord and the thief stared in horror at Imp.

“Well,” Imp continued. “I mean, he hasn’t arrived yet, so hopefully you botched the spell or some–”

The cracked ground begin to open up into a large pit, causing everyone to jump back. A huge demon pulled his head up out of the hole, looking around with a sour look on his face.

“I don’t see any tribute,” the demon growled. “Who dared summon me from my realm without proper payment?”

The thief pointed at Overlord. In response, Overlord and Imp pointed back at the thief.

The demon frowned, then gave a colossal shrug. “Eh, two against one.”

The thief managed to get a running headstart before the great demon managed to pull himself up fully and gave chase, but given how quickly the demon stomped after his ‘summoner’, it seemed pretty futile. Still, the thief must have gained some distance, as the stomping and yelling gradually faded into the distance.

“So,” Overlord whimpered. “How about we go back to the library and enquire about loaning it out again?”


1000 words

Starring Overlord an Imp, a reoccurring favourite in my Flash Fridays.

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Flash Friday 17/03/2017: Rough Drafts

Entry #1:

Decided to keep this log to keep track of all my thoughts and processes as I go through this. Creating a living being out of naught but parts from the deceased is going to be a tricky challenge. Should I prove to be successful, I don’t want the greatest scientific discovery known to man to be contained in this sieve of a memory that I have.

Regardless, should I discover anything notable, I shall write it here. Otherwise, I’m off to make myself a legend.

Entry #2:

So it turns out that digging up graves riles up the graveyard keeper. He yelled about going through the bits and pieces from the departed is called ‘grave robbing’. How is it robbing? They’re dead. 

Entry #3:

Had to make do with the bits and pieces that I have. I have the large majority of limbs available, and I have some of the brain, but other organs and important bits are still missing. Will try to make do with animal parts to see how that goes.

Entry #4:

Tried using parts of a bird. Managed to resuscitate the corpse into a living state, but he began frantically flapping his arms and trying to fly. Had to put him back to ‘sleep’ again.

Entry #5:

Managed to acquire the wings of a large bird and attached them to the subjects back. Subject can now fly, but doesn’t want to do anything other than sit atop of statues head and snatch sandwiches from the hands of passer-bys. Had to put him to sleep before people ask too many questions, especially about the now-busted statue in the town statue.

Entry #6:

Tried a bit of dog this time. Subject is permanent happy and very obedient, but cannot have him walk past any trees whatsoever without stopping. Back to the drawing board.

Entry #7:

Testing with cat parts. Subject is more independent-acting, but constantly yells at me for food and sleeps for the majority of the day. Also very standoffish when he’s not trying to climb into my lap while I read my stories. One more try.

Entry #8:

Tried using sloth parts. Unsure whether or not the subject is actually responding to my resuscitation attempts. Thinking of what other animal I could use.

Entry #9:

Sod it, maybe the graveyard keeper is on holiday or something.

Entry #10:

Graveyard keeper was not on holiday, but he was expecting my return, which complicated matters. Thankfully, shovels make for great on-the-spur weapons. I just have to not go back into the town again or he’ll point me out to the police for sure.

More importantly, I managed to score a lot of quite fresh corpses. I can finally stop going through the zoo’s refuse and start making some real progress. There’s a lot of whole, complete brains on offer right now, so I’ll make to testing them out and seeing which one is the best.

Entry #11:

As it turns out, choosing the brain of an executed serial killer is a bad idea.

Entry #12:

Tried a different brain. This one worked much better than the first, but he made cutting remarks about my fashion sense and demanded that he’d be dressed in better clothes than his ‘rags’, as he put it. Once he discovered he was in a stitched-up corpse, he decided that perhaps being dead was for the best. Happily obliged.

Entry #13:

Found a nice guy who didn’t seem to mind to be a walking corpse. Think he’s a keeper. He’s enjoying his second take on life, even if he’s always asking me what the bolts on his neck are for. Tempted to take them out and tell him to shake his head, just so he can discover first hand.

Entry #14:

Subject claims he feels uncomfortable every time we walk past a tree. Perhaps I didn’t get all of the dog out of him after all. Will examine further tonight.

Entry #15:

Subject keeps calling himself Frankenstein, even though I keep telling him that’s my name, and that he’s Frankenstein’s monster. I hope this little nugget of confusion is cleared up soon.

Entry #16:

Subject appears to be in a stable condition, so there’s no further need for this log unless something drastic happens. I swear, if nobody writes a book about me and my scientific successes, I’m going to be livid.


714 words

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Flash Friday 10/03/2017: Don’t Have A Cow

A knock came from Doctor Jarvis’ door.

Doctor Jarvis stood from his leather chair and crossed his office, red room lined with books and old portraits, a fire in one end keeping everything warm. Sometimes, Doctor Jarvis felt the fire was all that kept his aging muscles and bones from locking up forever. He found no trouble, however, making it to the door and opening it.

Behind the door was a meek young man, who looked as if he didn’t quite fit in with the situation.

“Ah,” Doctor Jarvis said, with a smile. “You must be Paul, correct?”

Paul nodded. “Yeah, but you really should have asked me what my superpowers were before inviting me here.”

“Nonsense. Out there are people hunting for budding superheroes such as yourself. If you had even spoken a word about your potential, you’d have villains dangling you over comically-sized pits of acid in no time. This was for your own good.”

“But you’re wasting your ti–”

“No, no, nonsense. Come, take a seat and we’ll talk more about it within…more protected walls.”

Doctor Jarvis sat back within his seat. Paul sat in the chair on the other side of it, looking far less relaxed than Doctor Jarvis was.

Doctor Jarvis took out a shot glass and whiskey from a drawer. He was about to pour himself a glass when he froze. “Oh, how rude of me. Did you want one?”

“No thanks,” Paul said. “I don’t know if whiskey triggers my superpowers, or something like that.”

“Fine by me, but a lot of our superheroes find themselves relieved that a little alcohol never messed with anyone’s powers. Well, there was the instance with Gadgetman taking his stealth jet home after one too many beers, but you can’t say that was the superpowers that got messed up in that scenario. Even though it left a crater within the Institute.

“Regardless, I understand you might want some mental clarity. After all, this is where we talk about your future as a superhero within the Institute of the Gifted. I’m sure a very bright career is ahead of you.”

Paul rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, about that…”

“So let’s get into it. Do you recall any reactant or event that gave you your superpowers?”

“Yeah, it’s hard to forget. Radioactive bite on my right arm, see?”

Paul rolled back his sleeve to reveal quite a large bite mark on his arm. The teeth marks were stained green, with roots of emerald creeping around them like veins.

“Ooh,” Doctor Jarvis said, grimacing a little at the sight of the wound. “Yes, that’s one way people get their superpowers, albeit it’s never the prettiest. So this means you’ve inherited traits from the radioactive animal that bit you?”

“Yes.”

“What animal was it?”

“Cow.”

Doctor Jarvis stopped mid-sip of his whiskey. “Sorry?”

“A cow,” Paul said, a little louder. “I was bitten by a radioactive cow.”

Doctor Jarvis paused in hopes that, somehow, the situation would make more sense the longer he waited. It didn’t. “I didn’t know cows bit people,” he said, putting the shot glass down.

“Me either. I mean, I was investigating a radioactive sewage spill into a small river, and I found a cow drinking from it, and I run up to it to chase it off, and it looks up with me with these big, green glowing eyes, and before I knew it, it’s the one chasing me off. It managed to give me this nasty bite before I managed to run over a cattle grid and leave it for dust. Thank goodness the radiation didn’t give it the power of flight.”

“Yes, well. That’s…definitely one of the most interesting origin stories. What powers did it give you?”

“I…” Paul began, then sighed. “I’m very, very good at eating and digesting grass.”

“…like the four stomachs that a cow has?”

“Yes, except I have just the one. At least, I hope that’s the case. On the plus, I’ll probably never go hungry ever again.”

“I see. So this is why you wanted to tell me earlier. Did you get any other powers?”

Paul looked around the room, as if looking for any eavesdroppers. Then, he locked eyes with Doctor Jarvis, leant across the desk, and muttered, “I haven’t had to buy pints of milk for months.

Doctor Jarvis’ face went slightly white. “Well,” he managed. “I see. Very well. Is that all you wish to declare?”

Paul nodded slowly.

“Very well. You’re very welcome to live within the Institute of the Gifted for protection against villains who…might want you dead, for whatever reason.”

Paul leaned back, with a shrug. “I might make a good steak.”

“True. Best if we don’t let them find out. You’ll find your room in the residential halls, room 45, down the West Hall. The next time the lawns need a trim, we’ll let you know.”

“Thanks,” Paul said, with an uncertain tone. “But I’ll let you know now that I’m leaving the moment I hear the first milkshake joke.”

Doctor Jarvis nodded as Paul stood from his chair. Maybe now wasn’t the best of times to make a joke about his residential hall room being lined by electric fence.


873 words

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Flash Friday 17/02/2017: Time for a Read

The Royal Committee of Time Travellers Newsletter #158

“Because we have all the time in the world.”

Hello, and welcome to another exciting edition of the newsletter.

Lots have gone on since we last wrote; we busted more paradoxes, unlocked new and exciting time periods, and saw new members enter the fold. Please welcome Juliet, the newborn daughter of Dr. Walker, into our community. You can congratulate her via her email, or travel back to time bookmark #17683 to arrive just after Juliet was born.

As usual, we’ve filled these pages with news, community inputs, and funny gags. Enjoy!

~Gerald, Head of RCTT


We’re excited to mention that we managed to pinpoint the exact moment and location of Julius Caesar’s assassination. All travellers who wish to see it in person can do so using time bookmark #17882. For the sakes of keeping time disturbances at a low, please do not walk too far away from the pillar you’ll find yourself standing behind. This is the best hiding spot we could find, and you can see all the action by peering around it. Togas not needed.

~Cathy, Chief Event Hunter


Can whoever it is that is trying to change the etymology of the word ‘father’ to ‘farter’ please stop. We’ve seen the parallel world that arises when this occurs. It’s not funny there, either.

~Paul, Time Regulator


Jacob — managed to track down where your parents went after they left you home alone as a kid on January 4th, 1978. I bookmarked it at #18932, but you may not want to see it. I’ll just say this; drinking and driving is a b***h (no swearing, please! – editor). Never do it, folks. Stay safe and smart.

~Alexander, Event Hunter


Be  careful when bringing back pristine, mint-condition artifacts for museums to have. They’re starting to get suspicious. They’re validating the artifacts as authentic, but now they’re wondering how we managed to get our hands on several perfect quality Egyptian treasures. Please keep it on the low. If the historians discover our sheltered community, they’ll siege our walls until we give up our technology. Just say you found it in an air-tight chest you dug up on a farm or something, I don’t know.

~Patricia, Time Regulator


We regretfully and shamefully have to announce that we have had to put Adolf Hitler on the list of highly protected historical figures.

I was very lenient and patient with you all, and I explained countless times the dangers of trying to subvert World War II. Despite this, I’m still getting reports from our time regulators of avid time tourists still trying to make themselves a hero by nipping the source at the bud.

Due to Adolf Hitler’s elevated protection status, all standard-level time travellers, including event hunters, may not approach within 5 miles of Adolf Hitler or any of his ancestors at any time period. Anyone caught violating this rule will be taken immediately for brainwashing and expulsion from the Royal Committee of Time Travellers.

I’ve had to take away the memories of many a good person because they didn’t believe the rules applied to them. I don’t want to have to do it to any one of you.

~Gerald, Head of RCTT


Go to time bookmark #18772. Look for me in the chair making the sweet-ass shot from across the office into the wastebin. It’s okay to come out and congratulate me for the based god that I am. I knew at the time that I’d boast about it here. Peace.

~Marc, Time Tourist


Q: Why was World War 1 so quick?
A: Because they were Russian.

Q: Why was World War 2 so slow?
A: Because they were Stalin.

~Caroline, Time Regulator


Question: can anyone give me relationship advice on marrying a non-traveller? I have no idea how I’m going to break it to my fiance that I take photographs of dinosaurs as a hobby. He’d probably have me locked up in an asylum. If I keep it a strict secret, what do I tell him when I want to do some travelling? Anyone got a solid alibi?

~Anna, Time Tourist


In reply to Daniel’s question in the last newsletter: I found where you left your keys. You left them at the bar after you staggered home for the night. The bartender found them and placed them in safe storage. I’m sure if you turned up and asked for them, you’ll get them back. Small hint from a friend to a friend: don’t try to belt out ‘It’s Raining Men’ while smashed out of your face at two in the morning. Honestly, it sounded as if you thought you could sing it well, but you really couldn’t.

~Courtney, Event Hunter


Please do not travel back into 15th Century Spain in order to burst into random houses and yell ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’. While incredibly funny, it is, in fact, a disturbance in time. While there is no formal punishment for such a light prank, I cannot say the same for the time regulators that have to fix the disturbance. If you find that some of your old family photos have been photobombed by a member of the time regulators, you’ll know you pissed at least one of them off.

~Gerald, Head of RCTT


You were the beautiful paradox engineer that helped me solve the twist in time I created after I tried to kill my own grandfather to see what would happen. At the time, I was really scared and didn’t think much about it, but after serving my time in confinement learning about the dangers of paradoxes, I realised how gorgeous you were. Blonde hair, green eyes, red dress, told me that I was a ‘buffoon’ and an ‘imbecile’ and that I ‘had a death wish’. Didn’t catch your name. If you want, we can hook up for coffee. Contact me via email. Tell me the name of my grandfather that you saved, so I know it’s really you.

HMU, I think we could really make something work out.

~George, Time Tourist


1000 words

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Flash Friday 27/01/2017: Seek A Freak

Nobody in the group would deny that the Freak Show was one of the best shows they had ever seen. They had already seen such amazing specimens, such as the man with no legs, the woman whose half of her body was rotting from some unknown disease, and the deformed monster who didn’t understand English. The previously-amazing freaks just made the much-advertised, much-hyped ‘Freak of the Century’ even more exciting. The whole group muttered to one another about how bad this freak could be.

“And now!” the showmaster said, stopping the group in front of a cage covered with a cloth. “The freakiest freak of them all! The queen of hideousness! The lady of all that is horrid! I show you…Brittany!”

Brittany, as she believed, wasn’t a freak. In fact, she looked relatively normal in her own time period. The problem, however, with a punk rocker girl being thrown approximately two-hundred years into the past was that you absolutely, definitely were mistaken for a freak. She wasn’t happy with this. She made this apparent with a deadly glare at the crowd from her corner of the cell.

“Heavens!” someone in the crowd said.

“Good lord!”

“What a freak! What an honest-to-God freak!”

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the tour guide called, causing the babbling group to quiet down. “I present to you a human from far-away lands, whose culture is barbaric and brutal. See before your very eyes this amazing specimen, kept safe behind bars. See how strange and coloured her hair is!”

“It’s called a mohawk,” Brittany spat. “It’s fashionable where I’m from.”

“Do you hear that? A ‘mow-hawk’, they call it. I don’t know about you, but it looks nothing like a hawk to me!”

The group tittered and guffawed.

“Witness and marvel at the strange metal that goes through her nose!”

“That’s a piercing,” Brittany added.

“Stare and gaze at the weird tribal paintings etched into her skin!”

“It’s a tattoo.” Brittany rolled up her sleeve to show it. “It’s of a skull with blood coming out of every orifice. Cost me a lot, you know.”

“Who knows what kind of strange and barbaric languages this creature can speak in? Who knows what kind of crude and offensive activities this savage partakes in?”

Brittany let them know with a rude hand gesture. The crowd gasped. One nearly fainted.

“Never fear!” the guide reassured. “Don’t be alarmed. As long as she is behind the bars, she cannot perform any harm to you. She is probably from a cannibalistic race from far away, and can’t be trusted with anything less than containment.”

“What if she knows magic?” a crowd member hesitantly asked.

“What if she knows voodoo magic?” added another, with worry in their voice.

“I assure you that such uncultured tribes know nothing of such thing, don’t you worry. I assure each and every one of you that this dim-witted cretin knows not of magics, or of curses, or even of the Devil himself.”

“The Devil?” Brittany said, perking up. “Yeah, I know of stuff like that. Love that kind of thing.”

The tour guide gave her a worried glance. Brittany smirked.

“Uhm,” the guide managed, as the crowd began to back off. “Don’t be alarmed! She knows not of what she speaks of. Don’t be fooled, as she simply wants to spread the seeds of fear in our hearts. Such is the dastardly tactics of those who are foreign to our–”

A horrible male yell came from within Brittany’s cage. She had obviously gotten bored of being a crowd’s plaything, as she was now blasting heavy metal through her phone’s speakers, smirking as she did.

“Good heavens!” a crowd member said. “She channels the power of Hell itself!”

“Guards! Guards!” another yelled. “A witch! There’s a witch in here!”

The crowd, including the tour guide, suddenly split and ran from the ‘attraction’. Brittany may have bought her way out of the cage, but she might have to fight for it. Still, she managed to punch out three policemen in a bar and still got away with it, so maybe she wasn’t in such dire straits after all.


689 words

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Flash Friday 20/01/2017: Left To Stew

Jacob had never thought of himself as a ranger, especially not in the mountains. After the botched heist in the nearby city of Helmsbrad, however, the guards were on the hunt for him across the land. For Jacob, the mountains were the only place he could go.

Of course, he could take the lives of humans easy, but deer and rams were not so easily snuck-up upon. The only prey he could find that he could actually catch and eat were fruit and berries.

That’s why, when the lingering smell of a cooking stew caught his nose, he threw caution to the wind and immediately gave chase to whatever the source was, regardless to the fact that stew isn’t a native mountain species. The chase led him across jagged rocks, past a mountain river, tumbling down a sudden unexpected drop, and landing in the vicinity of two ogres.

They were ugly. Ogres were never not ugly. With a singular eye that took up the majority of their head, leaving very little room for their mouths and causing their noses to simply be two holes in their face, they didn’t win in diplomacy. At thirty feet tall and the strength of a stampede, they didn’t need it.

Given the hungry eyes (one each) they had as they stood from their stewing pot, it didn’t look like they were keen to try it any time soon, either.

“Oh, lookee!” one of them chirped happily. “More grubs falling from the sky. Likes it when they do that. Saves on huntings.”

“Spindly,” the other one noted. “Maybe a bit stringy. Still, is good meats. We can bung in pot, eats for supper, ‘long with all the goats and stuff.”

“I assure you, attacking me would be a mistake,” Jacob hissed. Of course, he knew attacking him would be the utmost best thing the ogres could do, as all he had to fight them was a dagger the size of a small twig. It would give an ogre a splinter at most. Still, he felt he had to start somewhere.

“Me’s not so sure,” an ogre said. “Eat bears bigger than you.”

“And eat their gubbins,” the other said. “All the gubbins. Put it in pot. Doesn’t matter what. Some gubbins more tastiest than the other bits though.”

“Like the heart. And the eyes. Eyes go bang on teeth. Like little bombs.”

“Tasty bombs.”

“Juicy, gooey, tasty bombs. Think I’ll like havings this man’s eyes. And his feets.”

“Yes! And I’ll make sausages out of his fingers, and gnaw on his arms, and bite on his brain. And then, when I’m done, I’ll eats his heart. Always the best bit.”

“And I’ll have both of his legs, all to meself. Then I’ll nibble on his tongue and chew on his ears then feast on his guts ’til he’s gone. Then when he’s all nearly gone, I’ll take out his heart and roast it good. Heart’s me favourite bit.”

The ogres were now creeping toward Jacob with hungry looks in their individual eyes. Jacob backed toward the cliff wall he had just stumbled down, unsure if he would outrun such giant beasts. Yet, all that he could think about was all the nasty stuff they just said about what they’d do to him. His eyes, his arms, his heart…

Wait a minute. His heart?

“I only have one,” he said.

Both ogres paused. “What?” they said in unison.

“I said, I only have one heart. You both said it was your favourite bit. But I only have one.”

The ogres took an awkwardly long time to mull over what the problem was, exactly. Jacob knew when it clicked, however, because suddenly the pair of them glared at each other with intense fury. “Oi!” one of them yelled, raising fists into a fighting stance. “You said you’s gonna nick the best parts?”

“Me?!” the other said, with matching fists. “I saids I’ll have it first!”

“Well I’s the smarter one, so I have it?”

“Yeah? Wanna know what I think of your ‘smarts’?”

“What of it?”

Jacob knew the moment he heard fist against chin that it was now or never. Dashing past the flurry of punching and kicking ogres, he ran until he was fully sure they would never find him again.

It wasn’t until the next day when the guards of the nearby city came across the pot while scouting the mountainside for Jacob. They never found him, but they did find two bruised and bloody ogres, both of which lay dead on the floor. At that point, they agreed that anyone that could take out two ogres and live was probably not worth chasing after and gave it up. Nobody blamed them, either.


789 words

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Flash Friday 13/01/2017: Welcome A Sword

Stuart was, as far as he was concerned, having a wonderful day.

Everyone else at the hero academy always called him names. ‘Stupid Stu’ was always their favourite one. It definitely got to him at the time, but hearing more and more reports of his hero academy bullies being slain by evil dictators, wizards, and demons, he felt he was the most intelligent simply through outliving everyone else. Even if Stuart’s enemies did call him ‘cute’ or ‘pathetic’ or ‘too idiotic to kill’.

But he was the one laughing now. In fact, he was laughing now, swinging his newly-acquired sword back and forth as he walked the forest path. The sword was entirely jet-black, apart from its hilt, which was blood-red and shaped like bat wings. The sword rippled the air with a black mist as Stuart swung it side to side.

A demonic face on the upper part of the hilt grimaced. “Please stop that, I feel sick.”

Stuart beamed happily at the demonic face. “Well, I have to practice for when I go on my many adventures. Do you know what those many adventures will contain?”

“Please, educate me. I’m so keen to know.”

“Adventure!” Stuart boasted. “And lots of evil slaying. Yes, you and I are going to be the best heroes this land has ever seen! I’ll get lots of ladies, and you’ll get lots of…lady swords. Are there lady swords?”

I have no idea.”

“Well, if there are, you’ll get them!”

“Very nice. Say, while we’re discussing who we are, do you mind if I tell you what I am, exactly?”

“Sure!” Stuart beamed. “I love introductions.”

“That’s good, for I am Bloodbane, and I was forged in the deepest pits of hell to terrorise the puny mortals above. I have corrupted many a mind before you; all those who holt my hilt are driven to insanity, bloodlust, and murder.”

Stuart blinked. “I don’t feel much different.”

“Yes, that’s because you were too stupid for me to take over.”

“Hurray! Stuart saves the day again!”

“But it’s not too late, you know. Just because the clay is unmolded, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. My effects can be used even if I don’t control your puny mind. You could hold me aloft and cry ‘Alomadora’ and a bolt of undeath will strike all in front of you, killing them instantly. Do you not want that sort of power?”

“Do you also know what you can do? Slice bad guys in half. And, if you ask me, that’s a very important feature of a sword.”

“Untold power can be yours!”

“Sure, but I bet you’d make a fuss about me using it for evil and all that nonsense. But you still cut well! That’s a plus!”

“Yes, but if you’d only listen, I can make you–”

A bush by the path rustled. A man, with a cruel face and knife in hand, jumped out of it, pointing his blade at Stuart. “A’right,” the robber said. “Think I’ve ‘eard enough. Your little trinket there sounds jus’ what I’m needin’, so I’m gonna be wantin’ you to hand it over or I’ll open up your neck.”

“Yes!” the sword exclaimed in happiness. It shot forward on its own, desperate to escape Stuart’s grasp and give itself to its new master. “Take me! I’m your sword now! Wield me!”

“No!” Stuart said, pulling back as if he was trying to control a kite in strong winds. “”Bad sword! Bad, naughty sword! No running away!”

“Do it! Take me! I’ll give you untold power! Summoning beasts from the realms of nightmare! Pain and anguish to all your enemies! Just take me already!”

A smirk crept up on the robber’s face as he cautiously approached. “Looks like your own sword isn’t happy with ya,” he said. “Sorry, mate.”

“No! He’s a very good sword and he’s going to help me defeat evil! He just needs to learn how to behave and be swung when he’s told to! I’m sure there’s obedience classes for this sort of thing!”

“You cannot tame me!” the sword spat. “I will not let you swing me! Let me go!”

“Oh, wait a minute. I don’t even need to swing you, do I? What was that word you said that can ‘strike all in front of me’?”

“No!” the sword cried. “Don’t you dare!”

“Oh, yeah! I think I remember the word you said!”

“You’ll regret this!”

“Alomadora!” Stuart cried out.

A black bolt of lightning shot out of the sword, striking the robber in the chest and blasting him backward, his clothes catching on fire instantly. The sound of the air cracking and the robbers yelp drowned out the sword as it cried out in dismay.

Stuart stared into the distance for a while, as if processing what had just happened. Once he had gotten over that, he said, “cor! That was excellent. You’re right, you’re definitely a very lovely sword. I’ll be smiting so much evil with you.”

“But I don’t want to smite evil!” the sword cried, sounding on the brink of tears. “I want to earn havok!

“Well, with an attitude like that, the only thing you’re earning is twenty minutes in the naughty sheath.”

“No! Not the sheath! It smells like–”

The rest of the sword’s words were muffled as Stuart slid the cursed sword into a sheath on his waist. He continued down the path, smiling and humming as he went. Yes, this was going to be a fine sword indeed.


924 words

Inspired by this prompt.

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Flash Friday 06/01/2017: You Wish

Hannah had been told never to open the door to strangers when she was home alone. She always harboured the desire to, though. The grown-ups always got to talk to the interesting people. The postman with the mail. The window cleaner with his toothy grin and charm. Sometimes even an old friend Hannah’s parents hadn’t seen in years. So, when the doorbell rang and Hannah was alone, she went to open it anyway. It might even be the babysitter. She loved the babysitter.

When she opened the door, she at least expected someone she recognised. Instead, the visitor was a man in a clean black and white suit, sunglasses that hid his eyes, and a haircut close to his scalp. In one ear was an earpiece which, on occasion, Hannah could hear a voice talking from, but could never make out what it was saying. Under the man’s right arm was a teddy bear.

As soon as Hannah opened the door, the man gave her a steeled look. “Is this 45 Chancellor’s Street?” he said, in a consistently deadpan tone.

Hannah nodded sheepishly,

“I take it you must be Hannah.” The man took the bear from under his arm and held it out to her. “Good afternoon. I am your Wish Granter for today. This is yours.”

Hannah took the bear. While it was very nice, and she was sure she would love it if it was hers, she had never seen the bear in her life. “This isn’t mine,” she said.

“Management granted this bear to be yours early this morning. All the paperwork has been filed. It is yours now. Please enjoy it. Good day.”

Then the suited man turned and left.

“Wait!” the girl called out, causing the man to pause. “Why are you giving this to me?”

The man turned back toward Hannah, drew a piece of paper from a chest pocket, and unfolded it. “On Thursday 23rd at approximately 11:23 at night,” he read out loud, “Wishing Star #34 logged a wish from this address under the name of ‘Hannah Ruderman’ as it passed by this area. The wish stated, very clearly, for one teddy bear. We processed this wish through management, and the Wishgiver deemed the wish valid and filed the paperwork to have it granted.”

Hannah looked down at her bear again. Now that she knew why it was here, it felt a little more magical than just having been given it by a man in a suit. “So if you make a wish on a shooting star, they come true?”

“Only wishes directed at Wishing Stars owned by Hope Cooperation facilities are logged. We cannot guarantee the logging of any wishes directed toward a competitor product, or an actual shooting star. All wishes are processed through management and the Wishgiver for practicality. We cannot guarantee the fulfillment of every wish. By accepting your wish, you accept that the wish was as you asked, and that your right to a refund from Hope Cooperation is now void. Please enjoy your wish.”

The man turned and left again.

“Wait!” the girl called out. “Can I have a pony?”

“No.”

“What about my own castle?”

“Please enjoy your bear, ma’am.”

As the man walked down the path, a black limo with tinted windows pulled up to the house. More men in black suits climbed out of it, opening the door for Hannah’s Wish Granter.

“How did it go?” one of the other men said.

“Wish was successfully granted. Take me back to HQ ASAP. We need to figure out the logistics of getting Batman to our next client before time runs out.”

The men climbed into the limo and drove off.

Hannah looked back down at her bear. She didn’t realise it before, but it came with a small tag on its side that read ‘Created with love and care at HOPE COOPERATION WISH FACTORY #3. MAY CONTAIN NUTS’.

Hannah gave it a hug. Maybe wishes really do come true, after all.


663 words

Inspired by this prompt.

The Current State of Flash Friday

Hello everyone!

As some of you may have noticed, there was no Flash Friday published on the 30th of December. This wasn’t because I was recovering from the Christmas festivities and preparing for the New Years ones (I wish!) but it was due to an internal issue I’m currently having with my fiction. Previously when I had these, I just sucked it up and kept writing Flash Friday, but this is a large enough shift in change that I can’t just cover it up and keep going as if nothing is happening.

To begin with, I’ll explain what, exactly, is ‘going wrong’ with my current Flash Friday plan:

  1. The Flash Friday community is on the decline. I’ve seen writers comment about it, and the owner mention it, and I can see it reflected on my view counts. 2016 was the first year where I failed to pull more views than the previous year. Instead, it garnered very similar views to 2014, leaving 2015 still my best year for reads.
  2. I’m noticing an internal shift in the way I think up and write stories. When I was just starting out, I was content writing silly stories; parodies, little anecdotes, and observations. I’m beginning to notice, however, that my mindset for writing stores has shifted away from ‘a cute funny idea’ to ‘stories with weight and intrigue to them’. The problem was that I had so many loyal readers who genuinely liked my sillier stories that I felt scared to adapt to my new way of writing stories.

When I first saw that the Flash Friday community was on the decline, I initially felt pretty bad about it; I’m sure anyone else in my position would do, too. But I’ve come to realise that this is a ‘one door closes, another door opens’ situation.

I used to be worried about experimenting with my style, in case I alienated those who liked my silly stories. But now, those people aren’t reading my stories anymore. While definitely saddening to see some great readers and commenters go, it also means that I can start again from square one and turn over a new leaf. I can get rid of the expectation that I’m ‘that writer who writes cute silly stories’ and can now sink my teeth into making stronger, more engaging, more ‘serious’ stories.

So, here’s what to expect from my 2017 Flash Fridays:

  • I’m going to be looking for another way to put out Flash Friday. This may be simply linking the stories to more social feeds to get more attention. This may mean reposting the stories on a website where people can read and comment on stories. The idea is, I want to spread my wings farther than just the Flash Friday group.
  • The stories will shift away from silly anecdotes and will mostly try to develop really awesome characters, settings, and situations. Ideally, I want to make Flash Friday feel like a snapshot of something larger, rather than a one-off throwaway funny idea.
  • The humour will stay! It may be more muted than in past stories, but it’s definitely staying. I’m not jumping into the deep end and writing hard science fiction or grim detective stories. Humour is 80% of why I write stories, and it’s sticking around. Despite this, while my previous stories consisted of thinking of a funny story idea and writing it, my new method will have me thinking of a really interesting story idea and allowing the humour to ‘leak through’ naturally in my writing.
  • The stories will maintain an element of imagination about them. This means lots and lots of fantasy and sci-fi, and if the story takes place in the current day, you can be sure there will be vampires, aliens, and wizards about. I love these sort of fantastical elements to stories, and killing it off in my own stories will be near suicidal.

The truth is, this change isn’t something where I woke up this morning and thought “everything must go”. If you look at my past Flash Fridays, you can see stories where this sort of mindset had a ‘breakthrough’ and manifested as a Flash Friday before going back to the more whimsical ideas. I’ve been scared of making the jump to this new style, but given how the audience has dwindled and people aren’t reading my stories as much anymore, who is there to be afraid of?

If you’re interested, here’s a list of past Flash Fridays which, I believe, embody the new style I’m aiming for. You can see by the publication dates that this style has been around for a long time, and just needed an excuse to break out.

Past stories that definitely capture the style I’m adapting towards:

Flash Friday 23/12/2016: Present Moment

Flash Friday 14/10/2016: A Bone To Pick

Flash Friday 26/08/2016: Found Wanding

Flash Friday 15/07/2016: Swords of Wisdom

Flash Friday 01/07/2016: Singing in Disdain

Flash Friday 17/06/2016: Move Ogre

Flash Friday 17/01/2014: Creature Comforts (a really old one, but I still love it!)

Past stories that are similar or very close to the style I’m adapting towards:

Flash Friday 02/12/2016: Making Magic

Flash Friday 07/10/2016: The Powers That May Be

Flash Friday 11/11/2016: Plenty in Store

Flash Friday 20/05/2016: Tunnel Vision

If you’re saddened by this change, I’m very sorry. Unfortunately, for the sakes of wanting to continue writing fiction, I need to make these cuts so I can better write what I want to write, and not what I think others expect me to write.

If you’re indifferent (or even excited!) for this change, then I’ll see you later in 2017 with this new style. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to jump back on the Flash Friday bandwagon — perhaps weeks, perhaps months, perhaps it’ll be back to normal this coming Friday — but I definitely won’t be giving up.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year.

S.E. Batt

“Once you hit rock bottom, that’s where you perfectly stand; That’s your chance of restarting, but restarting the right way.”
― Justin Kanayurak