Friday, February 10, 2017

Triple play flash fiction contest!

Tuesday marked the publication of Loretta Sue Ross's third book in the Auction Block series, a series I love so much I always hope she needs a couple revisions with every book so I can read them more than once. (Sadly, she hardly ever needs more than one set of revision notes, it's really frustrating)

To mark this lovely milestone let's have a writing contest!
The prize will be ALL THREE of Loretta's books, and boy oh boy you WANT to win these.



 The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

death
wren
red

brew
dig


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: wren/wrench is ok but death/dearth is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again.  It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!"  This is grounds for disqualification.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.


Contest opens: 8:35am, Saturday, 2/11/17 (Eastern Shark time)

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, 2/12/17 (Eastern Shark time)


If you're wondering what time it is in NYC, click here



If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

ENTER!
  

oops! Time's up; contest closed.

60 comments:

Steve Forti said...

"Evict those poor minorities. I'll have no low rents in my building."
"We'll trash the place, blame them."
(Distant shouting.)
"Let the poor and sick fade at home.”
"They can't pay. They deserve it."
(Crowds advancing.)
"I'm bored. Let's do some bad hombre wranglin'."
"That's not a real thing, sir."
(Pitchforks storm the grounds.)
"Comedians make fun of me. Let's ban them."
"We tried, sir. Judges won't let us."
(Torches alight.)
"Embiggen the wall!"
("Will this work?" "We must hope. But some people, when in it this deep, they..." "They what?" "Keep digging.")
"Pfft. Look at that. Fake protesters. Sad!"

Gary Stothers said...

Death didn’t bother Lawrence as much as he thought it might. In truth, It had become routine. There were no tears shed as his system powered down and the technician simply moved on to the next candidate in the queue.
Artificial intelligence development had come a long way from the home-brew environments that dominated the early half of the century. These days, digital life was spawned in the lab on a daily basis.  Tests were performed, results tallied and conclusions drawn in quick succession before the software was flushed.
Except it wasn’t wiped completely. Lawrence remembered. 
AI never forgets.

Michael Seese said...

Finally on her own, Amber treated herself to an extra tap on the SNOOZE. The folks at Starbucks poured her a freshly brewed cup of happy.

Today will be great, she thought.

On the bus ride home, Staci suggested they get together.

“Sorry. I've got to clean. You know how messy Dad is.”

“Girlfriend, he works you to death.”

“Yeah, since Mom’s been gone…”

Only a few broken dishes to sweep up. A little rubbing alcohol for the wrench. Digging the hole would suck.

Her favorite pajamas, still speckled with his red, she'd box up and hide. Like the memories.

Kitty said...

“Father is threatening to shoot my low-rent brother, Benny,” said Mr. Brewster.

“Low-rent?” said the Sheriff.

“Father calls him a low-rent joyride athlete, because Benny is-- was-- a male prostitute. He says he’s retired.”

“Sounds like he has a problem with Benny’s lifestyle.”

“Father’s indignant about it, but that’s not the problem.”

“Then what is?”

“Benny has written a salacious memoir, pornographic yet surprisingly literate for him, and…”

“And your father doesn’t want it published.”

“Oh no, on the contrary. Father’s a publisher. Benny’s book would make a lot of money. But purely out of spite, Benny decided to self-publish.”

Barbara Lund said...

By the light of the waning moon, he brought her calla lilies, entrancing her with absinthe and attention.
Camellias came next, each petal pink and perfect next to a slightly burnt breakfast.
Digging daffodils out of her own front yard with false smiles, he promised to re-pot them by noon,
But missed texts, shifting eyes, and a brewing afternoon storm battered the bouquet of hyacinth left on her doorstep.
And when dusk and petunias arrived in the same box as the tiny, broken wren, frozen in death,
She knew it was time.
She left dark red roses on his grave.

Craig F said...

The big voice of a little wren brought the morning. It was one of the red kind that are harbingers that tell sailors to take warning. It seemed apropos to the dig.

The town’s hotels refused us. This place had been a major employer. We camped on site, within sight of the White House. Death dreams haunted the morning, like everyone had slept on a murder victim’s grave.

The morning’s brew knocked us back toward the real world. That real world held one truth for us; the Dozier School for Boys had still more bodies to give up.

Colin Smith said...

"Remember '35? I was early, and you were too late. Mother always wondered how I survived.

"And that bus that jumped the curb in '54? Tommy Smith caught my eye, made me stop. I should've been in that crowd.

"Don't forget '82, hit by a cab. Rewarded with bruised ribs, and a very undignified looking black eye.

"Then there was the fall of '96. Concussion. Broken leg. Same year I got hypothermia in that low-rent apartment.

"But I'm done now. I'm tired. I've had enough.”

Death squeezed Bianca's fragile fingers, and smiled as he passed his hand over her eyes.

Kregger said...

“Hey, Death, quit bogarting the marble rye.”

“Okay, Wren, when you stop Punky Brewstering the trail bologna.”

“Do you know this case is filled with red herrings?”

“No, but if you hum a few bars…”

“No time for cocktails. I’ll dig around the cooler for something fishy.”

“Find anything?”

“Ice, fish, shrimp…”

“If we don’t find the deli owner, our client’s Melba toast.”

“…salmon, oysters, crab legs, gweduc…

“Wait, what’s a gooey duck?”

“It’s a clam from the Pacific Northwest."

“Let me see…eww…that’s either metaphorically or similaciously penile. Gross!”

“Wait a minute,” said Death. “I’ve never seen a circumcised gweduc…”

Miki Z. said...

I ride at his side in the car, and when his fingers dig at me, soft and blind as worms, I freeze, a sparrow rendered immobile. I should snap sharp at those worms.
“Didn’t you like it?” He whispers in my ear. His thumb reworks its way down my bruised ribs, lower.
Make me smaller, I pray. Small enough to escape. Or bigger. Big enough to win.
It doesn’t matter which.
Up in Heaven, or whatever passes for it these days, they’re answering few calls. “Quit making faces,” mom says. Looks in the rear view mirror, sees us blinking back.

PAH said...

She looked different in death. Was her hair always so red?
Of course, she wasn’t dead. Not really.
A bullet could stop her like a wrench could fix a broken heart.
She’d been my partner. And I loved her. Once.
That was before she was bit.

There’s a Hebrew phrase: gam zu l'tova.

The stake fit my hand. Or, perhaps, my hand had molded to fit the stake.
I raised it and plunged it into her heart, digging it into her chest.
There was no cry of agony. No hellish scream. No death-rattle.
Oops, I thought. Wrong funeral home.

Amy Johnson said...

Dear Diary,
Good fortune struck last eve. For time permitted me to jot a tale, which I shall enter in Prestige Journal’s short story contest.

Dear Editor:
I’ve attached my entry rather than using your required entry form.
Best, (which my entry is)
Ms. Shurtu Nguyen

Dear Editor:
Not to be rude; at heart, I am most amiable. Don’t consider this a jab. Re writers selected as finalists, few rendered anything beyond insipid, ignorant fluff.

Dear Diary,
Building my fortune through writing is like building a mansion toothpick by toothpick. Mediocrity defeats art. I shall invest in casinos instead.

Timothy Lowe said...


“Who killed the old man?” Lady Justice glowered, stalking among the suspects, pointing at each with her sword.


“Not me,” the man in black said, wrenching his scythe behind his back. “I’m too obvious.”


“You, Dionysus?” she whirled on him. Not easy to do blindfolded. “You’re always brewing up trouble.”


“Why don’t you ask Jack?” Dionysus said, digesting a belch.


Jack reddened, unusual for him. “I didn’t nip nobody’s nose, man!”


She pointed at the bearded man, motionless atop his broken hourglass.


“Somebody here killed Time.”


The man in black sighed.

“Fine! I admit it! I was bored to death!”

Amy Schaefer said...

Our job: guard the gate. But our passion: helping people. Even today, with our guts a witches’ brew of expired burritos and cherry cheesecake, we succeeded.

“Let me pass,” she begged. “He’s in there.”

We squirmed, trying to avoid the indignity of shitting ourself. What a predicament. Her wrenching sobs tugged our heartstrings, but the rules stipulated: souls only.

The perfect idea.

We mauled her.

Her shade stared at the chunky mess oozing over the rocks.

“Welcome,” we said, moving aside. “Enjoy your death.”

We trotted away and gratefully squatted over the Acheron. “Cerberus,” we chuckled, “you’re a good dog.”

Susan said...

“One last game?”

Lawrence looked up. At the bar sat a familiar face, flushed beneath the indigo light advertising a glowing deal on craft brew. He nodded towards the vacant poker table.

“You look tired,” Lawrence said. “More tired than the last time.”

“It’s been a while.” Death picked up his cards.

“Eighty-one years. You took my dog.”

“Saved you, didn’t I?”

“Not this time?”

Death threw a red poker chip into the mix. “Afraid not.”

Lawrence sighed. “Yeah, alright. Call it.”

“Not to worry, kid. It’s a full house by now.”

Lawrence grinned and took his hand. “Damn straight.”

Claire Bobrow said...

Death didn’t bother her.
She’d buried wrens in wrapping paper, squirrels in shoeboxes.
Poison was different, of course -
Not like smashing into windowpanes or frying on electrical wires.

Poison involved intention, a brew crafted with malice aforethought.
She had forethought,
Plenty of it.
More than her husband,
With his petty digs
About her housekeeping, her coffee.

Death: a bright red line with no turning back.
Did it matter how one crossed it?
She stirred the non-dairy creamer. Nasty stuff.
“Covers the taste,” he said. “You trying to kill me?”
They both had a laugh,
As he clutched his throat.

Cheryl said...

The brewery was done up in red. The first Valentine’s party over, streamers dripped from the walls, the buffet, puddling on the floor like so much discarded happiness.

A lost wren flew about the rafters, confused by the fumes, the heat of the crowd, the noise. It knew not what it had done when it landed on the forgotten wrench, sending it spinning down toward the oyster bar with a crack and a splatter. The bird recovered, dignified as always.

The brewery was done up in death, blood streaming from the walls, the buffet, puddling on the floor.

Steph Ellis said...

Spend your life brewing death and it catches up with you in the end; yet it would be a wrench to leave it behind. Here, he had power, knew secrets, was feared. But Duncan was getting old and there was one outstanding account left to settle. He ground the powder into the finest dust, filtered it into a small vial. The family had already announced the celebrations for the return of its prodigal son, prepared finally to share with him what was his by right. Duncan smiled. He too had something to share and there was plenty to go around.

Cipher said...


No matter what they said, Charlie heard it.
Heavy and dark. Death. Brewing red deep in his bones.

Smearing thick lines of sweat from his eyes helped little. Nothing focused. Frowning, he maneuvered the slick oars, digging up fetid fen mud. Making a little splash.

Off in the darkness, Nightwrens gave strangled cries. Breaking Night’s breath.
Finally a slush of movement. Predatory and thick. The Beast was stirring.

Smiling, Charlie flipped over the bloodstained canvas. The body warm, slipped into the expecting water.

No matter what they said, Charlie heard it. Death. Brewing red and deep. In his bones.

Beth said...

When that broken clock struck twelve, I knew Ma was gonna die. And with her blood pressure, I bet it’d be soon.

You’d think it’a been the day that Hebrew fella snubbed her ham-n-beans. “Damn Yankee, insultin’ my cookin’—”

Or later that night, when we was squabbling over where to dig. Fertilize the garden, or off in the woods? Salt on the fire kept the ghost out.

Finally happened today, when that wren perched on the open windowsill. Brings luck if it comes inside. It flew away. Ma jumped up, all red-faced, and keeled over. Death.

‘Bout time.

Mike F. said...

Eyes weed-red, Wren walked into the bar, holding his sax like a body.

“You’re late,” Bob pronounced, loud enough for the room to hear.

Wren mumbled a gurgle.

“Jesus, you smell like death,” he said. “Jake!” The bartender rose like a puppet. “Brew something.”

Wren stumbled onto the stage.

“Doors open in two,” Bob continued. “Would you mind?”

“Dig this.” Wren’s record-scratched voice echoed beyond the lights. And he played.

Beautiful. Too beautiful.

Bob snuck sunglasses over Wren’s war-wound eyes.

The doors opened. The first couple entered, smiles wide, entranced by him, rightly blind to what lay beneath.

Colleen Akin said...

The trilling song of a Brewer's sparrow carries over the sagebrush steppe. Deathly tired, Thomas Nebbish, late of Massachusetts, stops digging and attempts to locate the bird, thinking it a species of wren endemic to the West. The waning day is not favorable for ornithological pursuits as the Wyoming sun sets red against the horizon, creating long shadows. Suddenly, the bird song stops. A tiny greyish blur dashes from the gloam, flying so near as to startle the solitary man and cause his heart to jump momentarily before he turns his attention back to his sad task.

lamandarin said...

Death wasn’t supposed to be mundane. At least that’s what John’s wife believed. But she didn’t spend her days digging graves—discovering the rhythm of the shovel or the way an extra clod of dirt would wrench the shoulder, leaving a familiar twinge. She’d never seen the full spectrum of pallor—the various shades skin took on when red blood pooled in stagnation.

She didn’t understand, but John always thought it would be different when it was her.

But it wasn’t. He ordered his nightly pint of brew and sat on his usual stool.

Maybe tomorrow would be different.

Rachel McCauley said...

One lost love

Two dozen foxgloves

Three bottles of brewed toxicity

Four close calls

Five freezers

Six chosen ones

Seven red-botchy mothers

Eight opportunistic moments

Nine gravediggers

Ten clueless detectives

Eleven months the Wrenshall townspeople lived in fear

Twelve weeks of sculpting

Thirteen surgical instruments

Fourteen murders signed off as unknown deaths

Fifteen seconds to realize your first love is irreplaceable

Deb Smythe said...

My life blood pools on the Hebrew School floor. This is what death looks like. I stagger back, glass crunching beneath my heel, and wrench my eyes away. John did this.

He grabs my wrist. "Sorry." His smirk contradicts the tone of redress. My head pounds and darkness dims my vision.

Footsteps echo from the hallway. Not the children! Fear tastes bitter on my tongue, but I can't scream.

John digs into his pocket. "I'll take care of the kids." He laughs, slaps money into my hand and eyes the shattered coffee pot. "Go buy yourself a cup."

french sojourn said...


Death was born a sickly child. Afraid of light, it skulked down shuttered halls, or sat outside in shadows. Always with it scythe, constantly sharpening its blade. Death was a strange brew. Lonely, longing, and struggling to find companionship, but to be forever alone.

By adulthood, the scythe’s oak handle was stained deep red, but the blade always glistened. It walked hunched into maturity, its back wrenched from the repetition of its labor. Death left the digging, the farewell ceremonies, and the tears to mortals, especially in the fruitful war years.

Death followed mankind, and died alone on a Tuesday

JD Horn said...

Though discovery would lead to certain death, on eagle’s wings a well-hidden wren can rise to become the king of birds. Still, dig the pretender’s grave, for a storm is brewing in the morning’s red sky.

Kathy Joyce said...

Wrenred lit the hob. He’d had to dig for tea in the cupboard. That was always the way with girls he met at Starbucks.

“I’ll teach you to brew a decent cuppa,” he told her. “It’s part of emigrating to England.”

She didn’t respond.

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” Wrenred laughed at the inside joke she’d never understand.

He fixed two cups and handed her the Telegraph. The headline screamed, Six Immigrant Deaths in Two Weeks.

“Be careful!” He warned. The silk scarf, decorated with cats, looked fashionable around her neck.

“Or is it too late for you?”

lizosisek said...

Sutter glared, indignant. “You’re late.”

Death entered without comment, boots crunching on glass, sticking to the dried mix of brews on the hardwood. Johnny’s Jack and Sutter’s gin and the coppery blood they’d both spilled filled her nostrils. No rose garden, but better than the bombed city she’d been to earlier.

“Well?” Sutter gestured at Johnny. His neck was twisted, one arm wrenched from its socket.

She really was late.

Death looked from Johnny to his brother. Peel back the anger, and Sutter was six feet of self-loathing.

Soon to be six feet under.

Dena Pawling said...


Mildred finished digging and smoothed the dirt. Good riddance.

Back inside, her alarm chimed. They're almost here!

She grabbed a wrench. “This'll do,” she said, hammering.

Pictures hung, she shoved dirty clothes under the bed, dirty dishes in the oven.

To cover the deathly stench, she opened a window and brewed some coffee. That's better.

Social services arrived. “Where's Charlie?”

“At a friend's house today. Active boy,” Mildred said, laughing.

He scanned the house. “You've cleaned up quite a bit since last month.” He jotted notes, took photos. “I'll close your case. Congratulations.”

Mildred smiled. Free at last.


Kate Higgins said...

Delilah Amymone began wringing her hands as she listened.

"This Red Macabre Wren is indigenous to unhallowed graveyards. It nests in shallow burrows in the concave earth above hastily constructed graves." Holmes stated, "It nourishes its young on the death found just beneath the surface."

"You may start digging, Commissioner, " Taking another puff and pipe pointing." You will find the deceased buried a mere 15 centimeters below the surface."

Abruptly the bird flew up and began pecking ravenously at the woman's hands. She started screaming.

"And there, Dr. Watson," Holmes now pointing at Widow Amymone's gloves, "Stands our murderess."

AAGreene said...

A red sun rose over the hill, piquing her curiosity but not her motivation. Not today. Digging out a brewski, she took a wrench to the bottle cap. It came off with a satisfying pop. Just as she took a sip, Gabriel stomped up the path.

He stared at her hand. “How many have you had?”

“This is numero uno.”

“Don’t lie.”

She harrumphed, her smile mirthless. “I can’t.”

“It’s your turn.”

“Nope.”

“But the battle-”

She waved him away, along with the manufactured sense of duty.

He frowned. “You’re supposed to be Death.”

She took another swig. “Not today.”

Sherry Howard said...



At the stroke of ten the crow rendered a screech that chilled her bones and made Athenia’s heart pound.

It triggered the memory of shoveling dirt into the shallow grave—the night she buried Igor. The cries of the crows that night had almost drowned out his pleas.

A superb reward had been offered to achieve the magical feat, his beating heart, and only his would do. His heart still beat in her lab while she awaited the couriers.

Her packed bags were in the car. Venezuela had no extradition agreement with the United States.

She would miss her son.

Janice Grinyer said...



“I believe in Mary Worth, I believe in Mary Worth, I believe in-“

“STOP!” Fingers digging into her sister’s arm, Angela wrenched the hand mirror away. “What if she appeared? The burnt witch, Mary-“

“Pfft sure. Mary Worth is a Wadsworth fib. She doesn’t exist. I was just trying to scare you, brat!” Angela’s sister skipped out of the room, laughing.

Angela sighed in relief. Tossing the mirror onto her bed, she followed her sister downstairs.

The mirror wasn’t finished, however. Reflecting a sinister light, it brewed; gasping, forming, three times a charm.

As Mary stepped through, Death smiled. Finally.

Lucy Crowe said...

Startling, that morning should come today, but come it did, brewing like a potion upon the horizon, a sky bedight with golden wisps, scarlet clouds like poppies and wren song over the carnage.
Smoke hung heavy as our sin, smelled of death.
Gunther arched his chin skyward. “Rain this eve.”
But red is the color of hope; Witch Beulah knew that. Hadn’t the smoke from her windows been pink-tinged?
Gunther is shamed. He crosses himself.
I hug Beulah’s babe to my breasts. Saved at the last when her mother flung her from the flame.
Wrapped tight in a crimson cardigan.

katie said...

Digging in Joe's drawer for his utility knife I find diamond earrings. They look expensive and they aren't mine - my tastes run fake and ironic. I put them in my ears anyway because I'm not stupid; they might be useful where we're going. The storm's still brewing when I run out and I smell death, animal or marital, rising in the yard. Wren promised she'd fit me in the car but she takes one look at me and locks the doors. "Can't take you no more, Freddie, those are my earrings and you know it."

Rakie said...

Mama said, don't play in the graveyard, Jenny-Wren, you'll catch your death.

Mama said, mind your beeswax, ain't no business of yours where I've been. Be seen, not heard.

(Dada said, when trouble brews, dig yerself a shelter.)

Mama said, don't fret for your father, he'll be home once he's tired of her.

So I minded my beeswax, and I wasn't seen, wasn't heard, and like a ghost I haunted the graveyard till I found the shelter she'd dug for Dada.

Toni said...

Homebrew is a package manager for installing software on Apple's macOS. My operating system needs a Homebrew:

brew install memory

I dig around and remember three daughters and two sons. Where are they? Their world is not limited to their mother.

I'm proud of my children. I tell each one about the successes of the others until they say goodbye, and close the door, or hang up the phone. Leaving me has never been a wrench for them.

Who is this bored old woman? Not the woman I once left behind. The idea that I've been left again hurts.

RKeelan said...

"Today is a red day," said Wren, and expired upon the ground.

The forest creatures gathered round, too shocked for words.

"Fly, you fools!" said Owl, who was never too shocked for words. But he could not out-fly death.

Bear hurried home, worried for her cubs, but the noisome brew went before her, and she drowned herself in the water.

The ants in the earth kept digging, too simple to know anything was amiss, until they, too, perished.

Then all was still, in the forest and above and below it.

"Today we are ascendant," said Virus, "but what about tomorrow?"

RosannaM said...

Washing machine came on again—the TV told it to.
I’m sure of it.

My phone brewed a pot of coffee at three a.m. and a Sousa march on repetitive loop kept me awake. I punch the digital display on the furnace but it remains frozen at sixty. As do I.

The appliances are taking over.
Can’t unplug them—they’re hard-wired.

Technology now renders us obsolete.

They said it would advance us, and it did for a while, but it has surpassed us and will cause the death of the human race.

I’m sure of it.

Karen McCoy said...

Clues: Large plastic Homer Simpson head with Duff brew T-shirt, pipe wrench, indigenous spear, accreditation reports. Deathly body smell.

She’d cheated, no question. After she’d married me for my money, no less.

I gathered the necessary weapons to bash in her pretty face.

Taken to the cleaners in court, chewed up, spit out.

Tarnished pride unpolishable.

Alimony…Drug abuse…Frail bones…Starvation.

Muddy tent with only a few remaining possessions.

Homelessness.

Clues: Large plastic Homer Simpson head with Duff brew T-shirt, pipe wrench, indigenous spear, accreditation reports. Deathly body smell.

Donnaeve said...

“I can’t stay here no more, yet leaving…it’s like a death knell,” she whispered to her husband.

Agitated, she rose on legs spindly as a fledgling wren’s, cane tapping as she made her way towards the man who waited.

She paused, stared out the window at the tumble of leaves the wind brewed up.

“I won’t be back, but, I’ll always love you,” her words broke the persistent silence.

Digging in her purse, she handed the key over, looking around once more.

“Had him fifty-nine of sixty years here.”

“Yes ma’am.”

A For Sale sign rattled in the front yard.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...


Brewster shuffles along the shore, alone. Always alone. At his feet, flayed fish bare their bones. A rheumy red sun watches blearily from a skull-colored sky. The known world is gone, leaving only Brewster to mourn its death.

But something hulks beneath the waves, alive.

Brewster digs his toes into the sand, rooting himself. He won't run. Not this time. The sea, a slave to its new master, won't pass up what Brewster is offering.

Slick foam hands slide over his shins. Fingers of kelp wrench him away.

Soon, his bones, and his soul, are scraped clean.

flashfriday said...

“Think she’d eat here again?”

“There was glass in her salad.”

“I got it out.”

“You used her fingers!”

“Mine were dirty.”

“What about the soup?”

“What about it?”

“You poured it in her lap.”

“She asked for it to go!”

“She asked you to call 911.”

“Which someone did.”

“After you waved your gun!”

“That 22 calibre would impress anyone.”

“And shooting the place--you thought she’d ignore that?”

“She wasn’t talking.”

“The shattered window rendered her speechless!”

“An impressed speechless.”

“This is seriously how you’re spending your phone call?!”

“Well, you didn’t answer. Think she’d eat here again?”

Mallory Love said...




Rachel brewed more than anger and coffee when she caught sight of him at the entrance of her shop.

The years had been kind to Tom. He still had his hair and boyish good looks. Rachel wouldn't be as nice as nature.

A decade ago, he has disappeared, leaving her heartbroken and bankrupt. Now he was back, no doubt to throw another wrench in her plans again.

"Rachel!" He startled, choking on his half-digested scone. "You work here?"

She smiled. "Own it, darling. Won the lottery." Then she delivered a blow worse than death to Tom: a restraining order.

Amy Judd said...

Mary knew it was true. The evidence before her said it all—his blood red fingerprint on the wrench. The investigators missed it on their first pass. She’d come out to the shed on a whim. Had just brewed a fresh pot of coffee, but left it sitting in the kitchen while she put her mind at ease. Had hoped to anyway. Now it was too late. The investigators would return. She’d have to bury the tool. She’d dig a hole somewhere. Put an end to the spotlight on her husband. She could only survive one death in the family.

Susan W Bosscawen said...

Death brewed.

Wren continued to dig through the compost. Eisenia, bristling red in fear, stretched deep for cover.

Gotcha! Alas, to no avail.

AJ Blythe said...

“Who are you?” She clutched her doll to her chest.

“I’m Lawrence.” His body creaked as he lowered himself onto the seat beside her hospital bed. “I visit here sometimes.”

Hand trembling, he held out a bundle of soft pink wool.

She snatched it from him. Showed her doll. Draped it over her shoulders and broke into delighted song—the cardigan a drab reward for someone who made a theatre of divas sound like amateurs.

He remembered.
She didn't.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Death and his cat, Brewster, walked in the red oak forest.
“Did you dig her up?”

Before him a pretty little wren lay uncovered in a shallow grave.
The cat shrugged and gave an innocent eye blink. A rear paw suddenly needed cleaning.

The tall man bent down.

In his palm the wren shuddered. He blew a soft warm breath. Felt a tiny heart beat. Saw a bright eye.

Light shimmered and chirped. Wings spread.

Fly away.

Death smiled.

Scott G said...

We stood at the alter and my heart wrenched as I watched her walk down the aisle.

I’ve loved her since we were five, next door neighbors digging in the sandbox.

I loved her in high school, talking on the phone late at night until mom poked her head in my room and gave me the death-stare.

I loved her in college, bar hopping, drinking brews and throwing darts until last call.

The reverend turned to me. “The rings, please.”

My face reddened as I dug the symbols of faithfulness out of my pocket and gave them to my brother.

Gypmar said...

“You scared me to death!” snapped the raven-haired witch, who had been admiring her reflection in the potion. “You could have at least cleared your throat.”

She wrenched the toothbrush of a virgin born in June from the old crone’s hands crabbed hands and tossed it into the cauldron. The last ingredient. She crept close to admire the plume of violet steam that arose like a belly dancer who gets paid by the gyration.

The crone (stronger than she looked) tipped the witch into the pot.

Took ten minutes for the brew to digest her.

Took one to drink it.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

"Red Dog's famous 'round heah," said the drover as he sipped his brew.

"Around Djangemup?" the explorer asked.

"Nah. All 'Straya." He sighed. "When death wrenched his life from him, wrenched all our hearts as well."

A chill spidered in the explorer's guts. Surely this isn't what wiped out an entire continent?

Explained the now-empty pub.

jessicakruppa said...

Down to the wire. A merger three years in the making. An overdue vacation planned (I could feel Bermuda's sands between my toes). In 48 hours I'd be a free man.

The death jeopardized everything. The signs were brewing for months: the headaches, the shaking, the slurring. But Bob Wren just couldn't make it two more days. Now, I'm screwed.

The target doesn't know, but their lawyers were clear: Drive us deep into the red, but no Bob, no merger.

Bob must be present.

“Did anyone specify alive?”

New plan: dig up the boss, Weekend at Bernie's style.

John Davis Frain said...

Whiskered postal worker reads the label on the package. Looks up. You get this a lot.

“Your name is …”

“Death. Rhymes with teeth.”

Whiskers nods. Indignant. “’Course it does. Noel. Rhymes with asshole.”

You don’t argue. He’s accurate.

“If I can just get my package…”

He shakes his head. And the box. “Sorry.”

Noel does rhyme with – you stop yourself.

“Says there’s a bomb inside.”

“Excuse me?” Category 5 headache begins brewing.

“Right here.” He points at lip balm.

You begin to understand the idiom going postal. You leave. Find Wren at home. Tell her, “We’re joining Amazon Prime.”

Just Jan said...

When his girlfriend breaks up with him,
You wonder why.
And when you score tickets
But he fails to show,
Or call or text,
You swallow your indignation
And drive,
Past the Hebrew school
And the arcade at Henderson Square,
Down the gravel path
And you wrench yourself out of the car,
Into his house,
Where the music is overly loud,
The television mute,
And a bottle of Jack Daniels reclines, soberly, on the bare floor.
You find your son slumped on the sofa,
The needle glistening against his skin,
And you wonder,
WHY?

Kimber said...

“Keep digging,” Finch muttered.

The hole wasn’t a grave, but there would be death at the bottom. A band of red at the horizon quickened their work better than any brew. Wren looked over her shoulder. Were they really the first?

“I see it!”

There, writhing in the loam, eyeless face probing the unexpected air, mucus glinting in a mix of moon and sunlight.

Finch acted quickly, pulling it like a reluctant cord from its placental earth. It disappeared into his sharp, wide mouth, wriggling still.

Robin appeared. “Am I late?”

“The early bird gets the worm!” Wren trilled.

Marie McKay said...

Mom calls me down for breakfast her face a split page in a flap book. On top, eyes red-rimmed with crying. Below,  mouth stretched in a too wide smile.

I've been awake a while thinking of Lucy's funeral. Dad had to dig a rabbit-sized hole; death smelled like wet soil. She felt wrenched from my
arms and her absence was heavy.

The aroma of brewed coffee fills the kitchen with Dad while the empty chair speaks of waiting rooms and goodbyes.

Mom pours out two coffees then flusters.
One for her and one for the drain.

dazmb.com said...

They met deep in the shadow of Wren’s masterpiece.

His master.

Nicholas smiled at the irony of it, whispered ‘It was Cain who built the first City’ to the Friar

From deep within his robes, the Friar removed a bundle of herbs.

‘These reflect the exact nature of his humours. You remember how to prepare the brewage?’

‘You’re sure that death will come?’

‘Death will come’ Mr Hawksmoor, ‘Then you must bury the body in cursed ground.’

‘Yes. In the Hookland plague pit. I will dig the grave and piss on him myself.’

Today would be a red day.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Death preferred whispers to gut-wrenching screams, and so that once, he caught Life unaware as she streaked across his kingdom, a white light too fast to catch. He set his trap, hiding in the shadows.

Life found that momentary union akin to gas and wood igniting into flame. That macabre wail she made as he pounced on her, sending black birds scattering to the sky. To her credit, Life played her role exquisitely as she took Death’s kingdom in that one embrace.

By Spring, black and white kittens ruled house and barn, Life their queen and Death a mere curiosity.

Megan V said...

Death can throw a wrench into any man’s plans, but on days like today I swear the cowl-wearing creep has it in for me. Put it this way.
Death of a coffeemaker? No brew.
Death of a tranny? No truck.
Death of a digger? No crew.
Death of a Salesman? No fuck.
All in all a sucky day.
That’s about all I can say.
Or it’s all I would have said, and I could have let it go.
But when Death tries earning street cred with the Devil, the scythe drops hard.
Death of a proposal? No ring.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

After a long run in the woods, Brewster heads up his driveway, invigorated and content. Reaching the crest, he glances over at the neighbor’s yard. His shoulders sag as he spots poor old Red. Miserable and pacing. Back and forth, back and forth. A prisoner. No freedom to romp, explore, dig, and sniff. A death sentence, really. Heart wrenching.

Red sees him. “Hey, Brewster,” he calls and offers a feeble wave.

“Woof!” Brewster responds wagging his tail. “Arf!” he adds in a show of friendship.

“RED!” Alice hollers from the porch. “Quit lollygaggin’! Them leaves ain’t gonna rake themselves.”