Friday, January 30, 2015

Flash Fiction Contest this weekend!

To celebrate the imminent publication of Loretta Ross's debut novel DEATH AND THE REDHEADED WOMAN, it's time for a flash fiction contest!

Winner receives a copy of the book! Trust me, you WANT this book. I loved Loretta's voice the minute I read her query and I could not be happier that you all will now get to enjoy her work too. 

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The entire word must appear intact if it's part of a longer word:
red/redhead is ok. 
red/ready 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 and then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

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

8. Contest opens: Saturday 1/31/15 at 10am

9. Contest closes: Sunday 2/1/15 at 10am

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
NOT YET! Contest opens on 1/31 at 10am.


RATS! Too late! Contest closed 2/1 at 10am.



Anonymous said...

On Monday, when the blood had turned a dull brown and the body started to spread a smell of death, the curator realized, it was not art. Damn unfortunate, for the opening weekend had soared. The scandalized talk about Roman Oblomov’s stunt had spread like wildfire. Staging his own murder as the centerpiece of his exhibit, imagine that! The body had been arranged so stately in that clean white room, the fresh smears of blood so vividly red, they had to be put up for show. Hundreds of people had shuffled by, ogling, whispering, and irretrievably polluting the crime scene.

Jenz said...

Sam was in a terrible state when I got there. Ants had nibbled away at his corpse for days, leaving wet bones with red scraps clinging to them.

I turned to the officer. “Okay. Show me where the other body is.”

“It’s at the bottom of the basement stairs.” His face was a little green. “Time of death... well it’s been there a while, but not as long as this one. The smell...”

Damn it. I pulled out my handkerchief, covering my nose. Mom’s advice about carrying hankies was good, though she’d never thought I’d use them like this.

Cpoe2Books said...

Terry stared in disgust at the clusters of people standing in the cold; couples huddled close. A sea of red had swallowed the 'Show-Me' state. Everywhere you turned in stores, restaurants, and gas stations the color screamed from all sides. No one could escape.

News feeds, the internet, people on the street, all carried the banner. No one was safe from this nightmare.

Resigned to the pressure of female expectations, he entered the shop and sucked in air saturated with the pungent aroma of roses. "I'll take a dozen."

His entire personality rebelled. 'Valentine's Day. The death of true romance.'

Anonymous said...

Neil and Becky stood in front of a Gothic mansion. Gargoyles’ creepy stares dared them to enter.
“How do you know it’s haunted?” Becky asked.

“Everybody knows it is. They say the place scared Billy Gotts to death when he went in after his cat. He dropped dead not two feet from the door and walks the halls to this day.”

“Prove it.”

“Well, this is Missouri, the “Show-Me” State. Let’s go in.”

Billy hovered above a window, listening. New playmates, he thought happily.

Becky and Neil were never found, just Becky’s red ribbon not two feet from the door.

Michael Seese said...

The energetic six-year-old in the pink dress with red spots wondered when it would be her turn. Bored to death, her mind drifted off to art class, lunch...

"Sara? Did you bring something for show and tell?"

She stood and produced a handgun. "Don't worry," she stated confidently. "It's just a toy."

But Miss Root, who grew up in a place where school was closed the first day of hunting season, knew better. "Of course it is. Just to be safe, please give it to me."

That's funny, Sara thought. Mommy said the same thing right before the loud noise.

french sojourn said...

My master, Kumiko was felled by an enemy archer during the last battle before the era of peace. He was in command of the Edo bakufu, for the Tokugawa state. From his death bed, he spoke to me one last time.

“You are young, Hayato, and have a long road ahead.”

“You have taught me so much.”

“Know this, life is like music… Hayato.

“How so master?”

“Let your soul be showered by it. But appreciate the tempo that’s hidden within.”

“I do not understand Master.”

“As in life…the space between the notes, is as important as the notes themselves.”

Laura Moe said...

My neighbor told me he was flying home for Christmas, to one of those red states. He’d shown me his ticket last week. But I noticed his door hanging ajar, thought I should check it out. “Jim Bob?” I called.
I stepped inside. The room reeked of death.
The wall was splattered like a red and white Jackson Pollock painting. I don’t think he made it home.

Colin Smith said...

"At least it's better than death!"

That's what Hersh said, and I can't argue with that statement. Though death feels close. Breathing at my neck. I smelled him in the cattle train, the reek of seven hundred human sardines jostling through the Polish countryside. That's the closest I've been to another person since I left for the work camp.

Now we stand outside and they order us to strip. Dignity and food—-two things I've totally lost track of. They tell us we're taking a shower. Disinfecting. De-lousing. Nice. I doubt it'll be warm.

At least it's better than death.

[NOTE: statement = state-me-nt--two words for the price of one!]

wolfman141 said...

“Red Garner, you gon’ be the death a me! Open this door right now, hear?”
She come bustin’ in like always, tryin’ a catch me out.
“Looky the state a this room!” Her piggy eyes squinch small. “What you hiding there? Show me right now, ya little pervit!”
I stash the blade. “Nothin’ Maw, I swear!”
“ ‘Nothin’ Maw, I sweaw!’ ” Her face all twisty.
Her snout twitches. Bitch smells my fuckazines. Must be the porno ink. She ain’t even my real maw. That sow’s in the ground. I sneak a smile. Pretty soon she gon’ have company.

Unknown said...

When the needle pierced my neck, I anticipated a deep pain. Being fourteen, my only expectation on tattoos came from a collaboration of people’s stories. But now, as I embrace the smell of rubbing alcohol and scented candles from a back-alley tattoo shop, I get to form my own opinion.

“All done.” The artist stated.

I shot up, “Show me.”

He handed me a mirror and as I viewed the red rose below my ear, I smiled. Because I realized that even in death, I can look at this rose, and know she is with me. I miss you, Mom.

Christine Aurigema said...

All rose when the judge entered, except for Margo. Her relentlessness drove the proceedings to this point. She would keep pushing in other ways if necessary. Red hot with anger, she gripped the table and prayed, "Show me the state can do its job. Show me justice by sentencing that bastard to his imminent death." She wanted to smile today for the first time in four years. The judge rambled nonsense that wasn't good enough. He was still reading the light sentence when Margo pushed a bailiff out of her way and departed with the least grace imaginable.

Megan V said...

People used to say that the only certain things in life were death and taxes. But that was before. Before the state discovered how to keep us all alive. Before the government’s dog and pony show convinced my parents to make me immortal.
The line of dandruff-mottled heads moves forward.
“Peter Echolls.”
“The Red Tax.”
The uniformed woman arches an eyebrow, but she inspects my offering.
“I’m sorry sir. It’s not enough.”
I clench my worn, shaking hands. Blink back tears.
“It never is…”
The only certain thing in life is that I’ll never have enough to die.

Dena Pawling said...

Detective Johnson stood over the body.

“Yep, looks like Red Death.”

“Red Death?” his neighbor, Luke Westfall, asked with one eyebrow raised.

“Has all the telltale signs.”

“Show me.”

“Mangled state, holes here and here.” Johnson pointed with his shoe.

Luke nodded. “Others in the back bedroom have the same holes.”

“There are others?” Johnson followed him to the rear of the house.

“What's going on here?” Luke asked. “I don't understand.”

His Irish Setter appeared in the doorway, dragging another deflated sex doll, and added it to the stack.


Unknown said...

She needed a shower and a drink, maybe not in that order.

Feeling like death warmed over her body was in the process of rejecting her efforts of the previous evening.

It was just a matter of time before she was made to fully appreciate the consequences of her colossal stupidity.

The tequila God’s were going to make her pay – big time.

Upchuck reflexes kicking in Red burst into the bathroom and vomited violently in the sink.

A stranger grinned at her from behind the frayed shower curtain.

I need mental help she thought wondering what State she was in.

Shaunna said...

"You're new here, eh? Want some advice?"

"Yes, please."

First. Your competition can SHOW you how to win. Never take your eyes off them."

"Got it."

"Second. Always go for black over RED."

"You're talking suits."



"Third. Don't overdo the needles."


"Are you listening to ME?"

"Yes, but--"

"Injection infection, permafrown, DEATH by Botox. Whatever you call it, it'll cost you your crown."

"Crown? You mean purse?"


"Isn't this a poker tournament?"

"Poker? Honey, do you realize what STATE you're in? Ain't no poker tournament can hold a candle to a beauty pageant in Texas."

katie said...

This cold! In period two I coughed so hard I spit up something greenish-red, disgusting, right? I tried to tell Mr. Pritzer I felt like death but he wouldn’t even give me Tylenol, just said, “Amelia, get back to Civics now.” Like I really want to dissect the State of the Union again. So I went to the back lot and stuck something under his hood – I know he drives a crappy Subaru. Then I hocked a loogie on his windshield so he would think of me when he smelled the dead squirrel on the way home. You know, subconsciously.

Kitty said...

Mayor Tony "Big T" Turturro was not a big man. He seemed even smaller in death with his pants around his ankles.

"What can y'tell me, Boone?"

"Well, Sheriff, the last show's credits was rollin' when I heard screamin' from the mezzanine. A coupla zit faces was up there neckin' and saw Big T when the lights come up."

"Heart," said Doc.

The Gazette ran the headline MAYOR'S LAST PICTURE SHOW, but Boone had the story.

"I seen him myself, and he sure didn't die in no state of grace. Damned if I could see why he's called Big T."

Laura Rueckert said...

Being color blind, I had no idea what Sabrina's wail of "all that red" could mean, but then a rusty saltiness tickled my nose, one that set my mouth watering. I tore from our stand at the Westchester Dog Show. The scent of death drew me to Easterville's Eowyn Esther. The state of the poodle's plush fur was far from award-worthy now.

Nose to the ground, the smell of Eowyn's blood led me to Rancho Bello's Oh Beautiful Day. Hackles up, I barked. Six fellow bloodhounds trailed one after the other, until every droopy eye was fixed on Day, accusing.

Pharosian said...

A meteor splashed across the predawn sky, marking the death of Los Angeles. That first lone "shooting star" was followed by a shower of fiery rocks and boulders the size of hotels. We watched it happen on live TV, transfixed by a spectacle unrivaled by the most ambitious Hollywood productions.

In the smoky aftermath, the whole world was trapped in a state of shock. Those who were glad their city or country hadn't been hit had yet to realize their lives would never return to normal. For what follows fire of that magnitude is decades of ice and snow.


The crimson mark of death was smeared across her front door. Maddie recoiled, glancing over her shoulder, wrapping the black scarf tight around her head. No witnesses.

She reached for the burnished knob and quietly stepped inside.

An iron tang curled into her nose. She faltered, grasping an armchair nearby. The walls ran red with blood. It seeped from the ceiling like death’s dew.

God help me.

She stilled as footsteps creaked overhead. The state of the house told her one thing – he’d show her no mercy.

She bolted for the door, his footfalls thundering down the stairs behind her.

Andrea said...

Joanna’s diary, Friday, August the 22nd. A simple statement in red ink: death, 10:34 am. At 10:30, security cameras showed Joanna entering the library. Fifteen minutes later, she was found strangled in the memoirs section. Saturday, August the 23rd. A new entry in red ink: Timothy Jones murdered me.

Unknown said...

Bloody snow. That’s a red kind of death. Drowning? That’s a blue death. Passing away gently, in the middle of the night, when the only sounds are the hum of a television and a bus passing by. Show me that, and I’ll show you a white death, lit by the moon.

That’s how Jay went. Silently, as if he was waiting for the world to slow down. On the sofa, in the den, he laid down wearing his shoes and a robe he’d gotten for his birthday.

LynnRodz said...

Death appeared to me one red sky dawn; being from the 'Show Me' state I wanted proof.

"Tonight I'll come for you," He said. "You'll see."

I couldn't die. My life had just begun. There was so much yet to do. Fear crept over me, I was paralyzed, unable to move. Only my brain reacted, what to do?

I headed to the airport. Fly west with the sun and night will elude me. At takeoff, I let out a sigh of relief. The person looking out the window turned and smiled.

"I'm glad you made this easy." Death said.

Kim English said...

Story time with second graders is like a slow death. But as I read The World Revolves Around Me! to them, I imagine that my spectacles are infrared cameras, my orthopedic shoes, stilettos.

“Show us the pictures!”

I lose my train of thought. But when the kids leave, I’m back inside my head where I belong.

The Istanbul authorities want my statement. A painting has been stolen.

The detective says, “You claim are a librarian. What else do you do?”

I toss my hair. “In my spare time I drink scotch and stalk Jack Reacher.”

Mallory Love said...

You died last Wednesday, leaving me the way you always did. Awestruck.

At the Albrights’ party that night, you strolled in wearing that red sequined cocktail dress and a smile. Stunning was an understatement, a stark contrast to your appearance an hour later. But even after death drained your affable demeanor, a pale beauty still showed through.

As I wiped my prints from the revolver, a sadness came over me. I realized it was the last time I would see your dark russet eyes. If only you had kept those eyes on me instead of Sam Albright. If only…

Taramoc said...

"At least two hundred."

"Jesus... Did you discover who threw the party?"

"No, all organized through the internet, invitations included. Rumour was one of the popular kids threw it, but he's dead too. It was a blast until this masked figure started giving away ecstasy. Whoever took it died within two hours."

A younger kid walked by.

"Were you at the party last night?"

"Party? I never get invited-"

"Show me your backpack!"

It contained only books. "Going to the library."

"Ok, move along."

The kid smiled when the state trooper didn't notice "The Masque of the Red Death".

Calorie Bombshell said...

I met Sheila at a John Carpenter horrorthon. She was my Laurie Strode and I was her Snake. We got married on death row in an abandoned state prison.

On our first anniversary, she made me a severed head cake; I sent her a dozen cadaverous roses.

For our second, she filled my showerhead with red dye; I paid an actor to break into our house and tie us both up.

This year I bought her a diamond ring; she left me a note – “having your mother for dinner.“

The blood smudge on the door jamb looked fake.

It wasn’t.

Anonymous said...

“What happens to me?” asked ten year old Jasper.

“It’ll be like sleeping,” said Doctor Hill.

She puzzled over the idea, hair gleaming under fluorescent lights.

“Like a princess,” she whispered.
“Like a princess,” he repeated.

“Will I ever wake up?”

Eyes diverted, he replied, “Of course.”

And so Jasper Sinclair entered the glass capsule, and a state of animated suspension. The desperate search began, but, a male was never found.

Decades passed. Doctor Hill too.

Centuries later, still preserved from death, people peered through the glass at the last known red-haired child, a bizarre show-n-tell, proof they once existed.

Roslyn Reid said...

“Show me a redhead, and I’ll show you an exquisite death by beauty,” said the state senator, beaming up from where he was handcuffed on the bed.

Rolando Gomez said...

As I sat in his car, he looked at me with eyes of death. Scarred from the war, I could only guess his state of mind. I had listened to his stories about the red sea of blood, so I knew he was suffering inside as a man, but now, like a boy at a Sadie Hawkins dance, he showed fear of a different kind; not that of war, but of feeling insecure about this intimate moment—so I leaned over and kissed him first. That’s all it took as his stare of death transformed into the look of love.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Did I tell you I’m from “The Show Me State”? On the western shore of the Lake of the Ozarks, I lived with a tobacco chewer called Red? He had a masters in heartbreaker and a doctorate in asshole. A backwoods Midwest legend, Red had been married 7 times. I was his 8th.
Did I tell you Red owned the biggest boat on the lake? Did I tell you they never found his body? Even though I only graduated high school, I ain’t stupid. Red’s death made me rich.
Did I tell you I have a degree in killin’ bastards?

Karen McCoy said...

Max applied lipstick, the final death of his masculinity. Embracing his true self, but afraid to show it to his state senator wife.

“She won’t understand,” he told his reflection, linking his translucent finger to the glassed woman inside.

“She doesn’t need to,” his reflection responded, skin luminous, feminine. “I am you, and you are me.”

Max sighed at his sagging breasts, contrasted with the perfect doll tits in the mirror. “I wish that were true.”

“It can be. Reunite with me, mind and body.”

So Max stepped in, gelling with the mirror until it shattered red with blood.

Amanda K. said...

“You got my letter?” The wind whispered.
A man in red, lounging against a light post, stared back. That can’t be him. I clenched the paper in my fist, slipping into the shadows of the park.
I dropped onto a bench and smothered my face with my hands.
“You got my letter.” This time it was a statement.
The man in red was back, swinging a cane.
“This was you?” The paper crinkled.
“I’ll show you.”
I caught a glimpse of a robe, a scythe, then nothing.
The letter fluttered to the ground.
There’s no evading me. Yours truly, Death

Cindy C said...

Silence slid into the spaces between words where love and laughter once reigned. We no longer talk, we simply make statements: Dinner is ready. I’m working late.

Work is his refuge. This is mine: steam rising over the shower curtain, water diluting the red drops as it swirls and gurgles down the rusted drain, my hand gripping the razor. When I close my eyes I can see her, tiny features still unformed, her chest still. I scream my throat raw, but the echoes fade into emptiness.

Death beckons, points to my daughter cooing and laughing. Waiting.

Loulymar said...

Death, insistent as flashing red lights burning through crepe-paper thin eyelids, visited my dream-state last night, intent on showing itself to me.

Mourning dove-song revealed the winner, as it caressed the dream-muse inspired solution to my writers block.

Sandra Hutchison said...

His death, when it finally came, took place in Missouri. The "Show Me" state. Apparently it was where they’d spent the last three or four years.
We were a little surprised to actually get news of the service in time to attend. I was more surprised to see that it would be in a church. I was shocked when Mom decided to go.
Jo-Nelle was there, of course. She wore a harlot-red dress, fuck-me heels, a gigantic hat. When she bent over the coffin, she spilled cleavage.
“Really!” muttered the other women, my mother included.
I guess Jo-Nelle showed them.

Nicole Payne said...

Naked I was born.

Born I was innocent.

Innocence was lost.

Now lost is all I am.


Tears mix with the blood running down my wrists.

No one will be devastated. Especially him.

He claimed to love me. And I adored him. Sacrificed everything because he was worth it.

While he enjoyed his worth with another.

Now I’m nothing. Time for my body to become the same.

I shed my clothes and enter the filled tub, the water sloshing over the rims.

I close my eyes and wait for death to show me the way home.

Naked I return.

Matthew Wuertz said...

Paul stood barefoot on the wet sand, watching the reddish sunrise. He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his newly bald head, a mark of his death sentence.

He smiled at his wife, the only other soul on the deserted beach. She managed a weak grin, but the pain showed in her eyes.

They'd traveled across a dozen states to return to where he'd proposed five years ago. He’d acted on the moment, surprising them both with the question. He didn't even have a ring.

“Jen, don’t forget me,” he said.

She gently took his bony hand. “I won’t.”

Giora said...

I entered the elevator to find her famous smiling face.
“Can I tell you my one minute elevator pitch?” I asked.
“My novel is about love and death.”
“Love is overrated and I don’t represent romance,” she said. “Tell me about the crime and who did it.”
And then she shushed a finger to her lips. “Show, don’t tell.”
I handed her a bottle of red poison and when the door opened she put something in my pocket. Outside, I read her card saying, “Email me the first chapter.” I was in a dreamlike state of bliss.

S.D.King said...

“Life or death? Really?

“I know. She’s kinda spooky, but it’s not a show. Stuff she dreams comes true.”

“But to bring a baby to Italy? As if she will really die at noon unless she holds her firstborn grandson!”

“Humor me.”

She reluctantly placed the cooing bundle in the aging woman’s arms.
His bride was in a state, yet his heart melted. He sought the unattainable redhead for years. Then almost a year ago – out of the blue– she called.

A distant bell tower struck twelve. The woman slumped in her chair as the baby tumbled to the floor.

Debra Daugherty said...

I’ve seen death before, but nothing had prepared me for this. The body was twisted like a pretzel covered in red dye; but it wasn’t dye. It was blood.
“Show me the weapon,” I told the lieutenant.
“I’m sorry,” he stated. “None were found.”
I frowned as I eyed the corpse. “The killer had to have left a clue.”
Something caught my eye. A piece of paper was lying on the floor near the dead woman’s shoe. I picked it up. It was a receipt from the pizza parlor across the street.
“I know who the killer is!” I shouted.

Anonymous said...

I state my full name. Again. Christ, it seems I've been here forever. The red glow from the video camera glares at me. On the wall opposite, below the clock, I can see myself. Yeah, they're back there. Watching. Watching my reaction to the glossies they showed me an hour ago. Guess I gotta explain those pictures. They're onto me anyway. Might even get the chair for what I did. Won't matter Ellen was dying. Won't matter she was in pain and we'd had The Talk last year. I had to. I had to, 'cos I loved her to death.

Cipher said...

I remember the day I lost my body.
August 15 1945. My seventeenth birthday.
Sharp and jagged, it’s a day that hangs as devastatingly open in my memory as the raw, ruptured red edge of a freshly cracked bone.
My body would forever be seventeen. It was only too bad, I wouldn’t.
It’s not what you’d think. I didn’t loose it to drugs, or drink, or showgirls, or even—tellingly, to Death. No. I lost it to something far worse. I lost it to the State’s Skyships. Lucky me.
The Fleshtakers had come to call.

Ec said...

He had said this was a statement of love. Hunting every night to find just the right victim was meant to show affection. I could deal with the severed heads with glazed red-spotted eyes, but I wasn’t a fan of constantly redecorating my porch.

To him, the fragile body that was delicately severed was as good as a sonnet. To me, it was just another pointless death. I grabbed the broom and swept the bird off the porch. With any luck, I could save the doormat.

Unknown said...

Death watched Lilith sleep, stroked her cheek. Not yet. He snatched his hand back, clenched his fist. Lilith’s time to go was many years away.

With her crooked nose and wide mouth, Lilith wasn’t a classic beauty. But her hair, wild and the color of an angry sunset, showed passion, mesmerized him.

I won’t wait. Death curled his fingers around her neck.

Lilith woke. “Take me,” she begged.

Death squeezed her throat. Wait. What’s this?

Another life stirred inside her.

Devastated, Death released his grip.

Lilith sobbed, clutched his arm.

Death left her. He’d risk stealing one life, never two.

F. John Sharp said...

News from the Show-Me State

There was that time Jamie took the kids to the Ozarks, before the drinking, before the restraining order. They camped along the Eleven Point river, cooking hot dogs and s'mores, and fishing fruitlessly in the muggy air. The photo he keeps in his wallet still has the blood-red smear from that fish hook.

Yesterday he got a letter from Missouri. Says he still owed. Ten years, he thought he'd paid enough.

He downs a club soda, packs a bag. Tomorrow he'll drive, death grip on the wheel, to see if he can settle the score.

Brian said...

Shock kept me glued to the TV as the evening newscast opened up about the true story of Little Red Riding Hood and her supposed death. After she struck it big with her harrowing tale of survival, she became addicted to the spotlight. When she finally got her chance on Showtime at the Apollo, her racist-laced comedic performance revealed her state of mind, a close-minded bigot. She disappeared after that, leaving everyone to think she died but instead secretly living in Manhattan as a hermit and running a literary agency, rejecting all authors as payback for her failure.

Anonymous said...

Death was such a pretty thing.

All the shades of blood-fresh red. All the sweet blues and greys of breathless flesh.

I’ll show them, Myrna vowed, slicing fillets from Sally Mae’s breasts. Shoulda gave me the crown. This bitch don’t make no proper state pageant queen. Shoulda been me.

She sat back, letting the fatigued muscles of her hand recover before beginning work on Sally Mae’s lovely thighs.

She sobbed. Tears flooded her eyes. Even without the gown, no one would be able to take their eyes off Sally Mae, all sliced and diced.

Death was such a pretty thing.

Unknown said...

Every year on Valentine’s Day Laura drove through five states to reach the coast of Maine. She parked in the driveway of the summer cottage and trudged through the snow to the ocean. An icy wind whipped her red hair around her face. She knelt on the dock and gazed into the water. “Marcus, it’s me,” she whispered. A tear rolled down her cheek and froze before landing on her coat. Others blamed his death on the rough Atlantic, but Laura knew better. “I’m so sorry it had to be this way. If only you’d shown up at the wedding.”

Andrew Lipkin said...

I was through with being whored out. Driven from state to state. Maintained but never cared for. Those ugly, burly men, sweating through their worst shirts, in and out of me. My eventual death was an expected cost of doing business, but I wanted it sooner. My time. My place. Wanted it inconvenient. Expensive. Painful. Show them they were screwed without me.

Waited till we were hundreds of miles from anywhere, deep in the Mojave’s wavy heat and scrubby, blonde dirt. No cell reception.

Then boom. Head gasket. Goodbye.

Who hauls the U-Haul, when the U-Haul won’t haul for thee?

Maurine Schou said...

Tucker Butterfield gripped the muddy bank with his toes, throwing a large, red-stained rock into the creek.

The dog barked and leapt forward at the sight of the boy, showing me the trail had ended in death.

“I’m busy,” Tucker stated, indifferent to the growling animal on point at the water.

“She in there?” I asked before calling the lieutenant.

The boy shrugged. “I s’pose.”

His father ran up behind me, collapsing to his knees, sobbing. “Why, Tucker? Why? She loved you—“

“No, she didn’t.” He wiped his bloody hands on his jeans. “She stopped lovin’ me when the new baby came.”

Amy Schaefer said...

It wasn’t the first time I’d hidden in dirty laundry, but did the target have to be a teenager? His dorm room smelled like curdled camel’s milk. I breathed through my mouth and focused on the calming hum of the CPU fans.

The doorknob clicked. I grabbed him before he touched the lights; I always establish the state of things early. “BloodRedDeath79,” I hissed. His Adam’s apple jumped. “The girls on your ShowMeYourGoods website say thanks for hacking their photos.”

His eyes rolled back to me. I yanked his ziptie cuffs and waved my camera under his nose. “Your turn.”

Anonymous said...

Except for the cities, my state is open space. We grow up as explorers, roaming fields and farmland until dusk. You'd think a teenage girl wouldn't be exploring burned farmhouses, but you can only eat what's on your table. Plus we needed a make out spot.

"Show me." I'm asking about the red-lit room that my boyfriend just rushed out of, shaking like a six-foot varsity linebacker ain't supposed to shake. He just stares, so I shove past. Ten minutes later I'm outside and still puking. That farmhouse might've been abandoned once, but death sure lives in the basement now.

Kate Higgins said...

The Sun finished its showy sunset, casting one last pike of angry red light on tentacled fog that swathed the ancient headstones. An iron turnstile creaked a quiet, eerie sort of welcome. Our estate cemetery didn't frighten me; it felt like family, like home, like death.

In a forgotten corner, a crushed marble cairn stirred my misty memories. I caressed its rough, stony surface, gently allowing a familiar distain to pierce into my soul. I lay down, sighing, laughing, crying – waiting. Then I let go, seeping deeply into cold eternity. I would walk again tomorrow.

Suzanne said...

The reddening of the boy’s lips was a deathly symptom, not as obvious as the creeping pallor spreading from his fingertips to his elbows, but when he showed me his tongue, shriveled as a dried leaf that had fallen between the picket-fence posts of his baby teeth, the diagnosis was unavoidable--his state confirmed, his end certain--and looking at his mother, I knew that she knew already (how could she not?) and it was not naivety I saw in her eyes, but hope, which was far worse, and for which I had no cure or remedy.

Naomi said...

"I state for the record that after my narrow defeat in the sudden death, the reporter asked me and my opponent to twirl. A time-honored sexist tradition to show the panties under our tennis skirts. The red that bespattered the court surprised me as much as anyone else. Valerya must have hit her own neck with the side of her racquet as we spun for the photographers."

So I repeated one more time as I went to my not so sudden death. But another narrow defeat-- one vote short of a stay of execution.

djk said...

"Death's in your future."

I studied her, my eyes quickly roaming over her. How could he want her and not me? She was nothing but a trashy gypsy; a cheap fortune teller.

"Could you be more specific," I stated, face relaxing into a smile.

She gazed into her crystal ball, long fingernails poised over it, and I watched as her face changed. By the time her eyes sought mine the familiar red haze clouded my sight.

"Show me," I whispered, reaching into my big purse and grabbing a fistful of hair.

Her scream died as the knife entered her throat.

Emi PdeS said...

My hands ached, veins showing, bulging. Purple. Obnoxious.

It felt like stale pizza dough in my fist. Stiffer. Like putty, but with pops. Like the bubble wrap me and Ollie fought over as kids, yearning to squeeze every last bleb to its death.

My hand throbbed. White blotches on red, where knuckles met skin.

Then, one final muted pop. Like a Lego crushed under my boot. Like my bladder in the morning, when my prostate interferes with my leak.

I loosened my grip, watched the bruised neck fall from my hand, trachea hopelessly mangled. Ollie would never fight me again.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

The twilight sunbeams shimmered on the silver rails of the bed. My deathbed.

“What can I get you, Mum?” the massive ruby ring sparkled on my daughter’s plump hand, showing radiant against her black skin. Nothing understated about Maia.

She straightened the blankets, smoothed back my hair, studied my face.

Many times I had stood where Maia stood—praying, holding vigil, and lifting up the name of the person lying in the hospital bed, as family gathered, the daunting death rattle in their loved one’s every breath.

Soon it would be my showtime.

“Name a star after me.”

Unknown said...

The red spotlight cut a garish silhouette of the actress against the whit scrim.

"And so death was cheated.” She delivered the statement more as a question. The awkward audience knew something was amiss. This was not the show they expected.

She moved with a welcoming grace to stage left, her arms extended as if to hug a lover close.

The follow spot tracked her toward the wings.

Within seconds, she backed toward center stage, pulling a young man in a wheelchair. “He came back to me,” she declared.

A few claps at a time, the rushing applause started.

Anonymous said...

She was in a state, the redhead. A death wish, a homeless man muttered as she blew past down the dark alley, stumbling in high heels over his empty soup can so it went rolling. “Don’t show me the money!” he hollered, dissolving into laughter then slumping forward. It was too much effort to fish for the can. He was shaking from the cold. All the booze in the world wouldn’t warm him now. It was the kind of cold that made his teeth come loose in their clattering.

He’d give her up in a heartbeat. Whoever came along.

Melodie Beth Harris said...

“This casket is not too fancy for Trevor!” I slammed the lid and glared at my husband. “Just because he was a janitor doesn’t mean your brother deserves a refrigerator box for his final resting place.”

“I’m not spending $5000 for something like this.” My husband stomped off. “Show me in his will where he wants a red velvet casket.” He headed toward the urn display.

Yesterday, he was in a state of denial. He hauled Trevor’s belongings to our home to set up a hospice area. Today, he signed the papers. Death is imminent. Trevor is deprived of fluids.

Maple and Baobab said...

Laughter trickled and stained their chins. Bern swivelled round with repugnance, and sliced the air around them. Pushing his hair, he turned to her with a hoe.
“State where you are?”
“The Red River Valley.”
“What's imminent?”
“A prairie death.” He lingered in her eyes. He expected, 'crops are destroyed.' She revealed his incompetence again, and waited for the empty direction. Camo boots scent marked his territory on stage like a dog.
“Okay. Thomas. Grab her from behind, kiss her neck.” He cringed at his own void. “Show me Bella, show me a prairie death.”
She exited left.

Samara Lo said...

When Death stated he wanted a show, I figured me and the boys would paint the skies red. Two virgins, a cane toad’s leg (fried, because we all need to snack on a job), and an exploding sun should’ve done the trick, but Riley got ahead of himself and felt it was time the boys called him boss instead. Lucky I know a coup before its skinny legs can slip on its own birthing fluid, so I strung that bastard to the sun and let it go supernova on his ass. Death was entertained. He loves a bit of drama.

Gabby said...

“Bring the apostate forward.” The examiner sounds bored, but my captors don’t show the same disinterest.

Rough hands grab my arms and drag me forward. My fettered ankles can’t keep up with my shoulders. I stumble, falling to my knees.

“You are accused of desertion and abandonment of The Principles. How do you plead?”

I bite the inside of my cheek, determined to remain silent. My silence is the only rebellion left to me, and I cling to it.

After a few moments, the examiner sighs in resignation.

“Very well, then. We find the defector guilty. The punishment is death.”

Unknown said...

And they call this The Death Show. Ha! The actors fell in the completely wrong direction for the trajectory of the bullets. The blood was way too bright, totally Hobby Lobby red. They failed to capture the state of mind of death altogether. Yet, these buffoons sitting around me are clapping as if they’d seen real art. Real art is darker. Real blood is darker.
“Ladies and Gentlemen.” Everyone in the auditorium turns toward me. The gun eases from its hiding place beneath my jacket. “Welcome to the real death show.”
One of the dead actors breaks character and screams.

Steve Forti said...

“An accident.”

He’d showered her with false apologies, kissed her bloody whiskers, and passed out. Again. Hank was hitting the port wine cheddar pretty hard lately.

Lucy rubbed her bulging belly. “Don’t worry.” These babies may need three weeks to gestate, but her plan only needed three seconds.

Hank’s shadow appeared in the knothole arch.

“I’m heading out-“


His face filled with terror. Right on cue.

Stealing the catnip had been easy, hiding it in Hank’s pocket was tougher. And Mr. Fluffles loved only one thing more than catnip.

She heard the crunch. “His death for your life.”

David Claude McCoy said...

My frail and failing body lies near death upon a pallet of earthen moss and rotting leaves, the loamy scent of autumns past laboriously drawn with shallow breath as I stare upward through twisted branch and tangled limb of gnarled and stately oak, searching reddened, cloud-strewn skies for one they call Creator. It is He I wait for now.

With trembling hands upon trepid heart, my eyes drift slowly shut as peaceful darkness falls upon me, surrounds me, shrouds me, and shows its truth to me. It is then that my presence slips away, the great unknown, unknown no more.

Unknown said...

Her entrance provoked stares from the jaded eyes in the cop bar. Her red dress barely covered the private bits. It seemed a deliberate show to remind me who was boss. As if she hadn't already shown me that with the phone call.

"The coroner's report shows suspected homicide, not accidental death," she said. My wife knew how to provoke a state of panic in me.

“What else?” I asked. I worried someone would hear.

“They found a knife—with prints.”

Not even possible. My stunned silence seemed to amuse her.

“What a shame for some poor sap,” she said.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I’ve smelled, tasted, and dealt death. It’s no stranger to me. I have two Purple Hearts.

But, today my state is one of dread. The misty jungle refuses to show its secrets.

I enter first. As the scout, the unit depends on me.

At a twinge of movement, I signal the men to stop.

Shots ring out and my shoulder sprays red. Bloody and dizzy, I return fire as all hell breaks loose behind me. I fall, but my adversary is already on the path.

I will have my third Purple Heart. His family will have their memories of him.

Scott G said...

First date. Dinner and a show. We flirt a little. End of the night we bump noses before an awkward goodnight kiss at the front door.


Second date. Dancing at the club. A little too tipsy. Groping and fondling each other on the way home.


Third date. Dinner at my place. Candlelight and a single red rose on the table. Not to overstate the obvious, but . . . I change the sheets.

Lying together in the afterglow.

What? You don’t want to get serious? Story of my life.

No one does that to me buddy.



Anonymous said...

“I am Death.”

She looked up, red-eyed. “You’ve come for me?”

He only smiled in return. Smiled! It was genuine, warm — and, despite everything, her heart stirred. When had she last eaten? Showered? For the first time in months she thought to wonder.

Still smiling, he pulled her to her feet. Her brain whirled. She should call her mother! Check on her sister! Life began leaking from her pores.

“No! I want to live!” Her words burned with panic. Joy.

In confusion he watched her flee, the little statement card falling from his fingers. Please Help. I am Deaf.

Laura said...

There are only three states where it’s acceptable to kill the man who’s made your life miserable. Me? I think it should be all fifty. Although, Hawaii would be a useless state to include. Killing someone in Hawaii would be like putting cockroaches on ice cream. A damn sin. Death was too nice for my lowlife anyway. I wanted to bottle up the last ten years of red, hot hate and drown him in it slowly. Like the murder version of show don’t tell. Actually, I’m pretty sure I could kill him in Hawaii.

Brig said...

Death and a show. A typical Roman Friday night. Usually Felicia was entertained. Tonight she was entertainment.
High above, her head of state and erstwhile lover stood cloaked in red silk and unrestrained glee.
His arm dropped and the gate lifted.
Three huge men appeared, thumping their chests in time with the crowds’ ‘kill’ chant.
Their faces were mangled and scarred. One was missing a nose.
All were missing humanity.
But as they circled her, their eyes softened, until confusion pierced their gazes.
They turned in unison and began climbing the stands.
Like every Friday, a brute will die tonight.

Unknown said...

Nothing gets the high society chicks creaming their jeans like a Death’s Head patch... Nothing. Once they see it under the red and white Hells Angels rocker on the back of my vest, it’s showtime.

They all dream about that day when their father will be chasing us down the interstate with his BMW. He’d be eating our dust while they ride bitch on the back of my harley.

Me, I just want to get this 1% ink lasered off and get out.

Get out before I get dead.

penelope said...

Most marriages take years to die. Not mine.

I stared at the back of my husband's head as he methodically processed the week's mail. He'd used the same system for twenty years. Same time every week, same three junk, file, pay piles.

This afternoon I'd used the shower to steam open the envelope containing the credit card statement.

His body stilled. When his head drooped forward over the page of items covered in my angry red circles, it was time to call it.

Death of a marriage at 7:10 pm.

Unknown said...

They say death is a state of mind. Tell that to the bloke whose head is on the gatepost outside my house: reckon he might disagree with you.

He came in the late afternoon while my sisters were watching their tv shows and I was boiling the jug for tea. Most people don’t expect to find four harpies in the middle of Sydney, but he did.

He came with a ceremonial blade, wicked sharp. Me, I had the tea kettle.

I don’t care if you’re Liam bloody Neeson. Come after my family, and there will be redress. Pass the word.

AnnieColleen said...

The white team has the ball. The players in red fall back, anxious, glancing around.

Amazing seats, her uncle said. You can see everything. Maddie only sees what shows in the gaps between bodies.

There's a flurry, shoes squeaking, and she sees the ball. Arcing, then falling through the net. There's a hush.

Her uncle's friend is laughing, shaking his head. "That's a statement. Tell me how you beat that. This team will execute you to death, you know?"

Maddie doesn't know. She knows what execute means. She knows what death means.

Somewhere above, a buzzer sounds, loud as sirens.

Christina Seine said...

NEW YORK – New York City police acted quickly Tuesday, preventing a riot near a subway station on 28th Street when several people reportedly began throwing snowballs at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limousine. Protesters held signs that said “Take a hike, Gov!” and “STUPID,” and were apparently angry over the governor’s recent decision to close the subway Monday as snow showers from Winter Storm Juno battered the state.

Sources close to the governor said he’d even received death threats following the closure, but would not comment on the record. In an interview, Cuomo said, “Safety mattered most. And ha-ha, you missed me!”

Tribaliz said...

"I'll have the red one” I said, pointing to the scorpion cowering in the farthest corner of the wooden box.

"I'd like you to show me its underside".

She did.

"Yes yes I'll take it" I told her, watching as she wrapped it in a dirty hessian cloth.

Her eyes knew.

Only those seeking death came for the one eyed scorpion inside the State forest hinterlands.

The witch doctor had told me, "Bring me a one eyed scorpion with three black stripes on its underside, rare but not impossible to find”.

Now all I needed to find was elephant's spit.

Lilac said...

"Death is not a joke," Josh stated in a serious tone which made me laugh. Josh was a robot.

"Don't worry," I said and put on my red lipstick. "I'm not afraid."

"But your blood pressure and pulse rate are increasing, and you are perspir--"

"OK. You got me. Promise me that if the mission goes south, you'll show up at Mitch's place and tell him that I love him."

"You have a 45 percent chance of making it."

"Just promise me."


"Great. Now I'll make sure to come back and tell Mitch myself."

AJ Blythe said...

I was in no state to welcome Death when he knocked on the door. I was running late and now Death was early.

Nothing was going to plan.

The cheating low-life slouched on the faded red couch always drank a six-pack of beer before moving onto the whisky. Dinner and a show with my girlfriends would give me the perfect alibi, but only if he drank the whisky after I’d left the house.

The wonky floorboard in the hall creaked. I spun around and found myself staring down the barrel of my husband’s shotgun.

Death took my hand.

Steven D. said...

For the third time, the redheaded stranger scrubbed sweaty palms against his jeans. Johnny law had harassed him to death for his beliefs. He’d just crossed the Colorado state line when they pulled his bus again. One officer interviewed the man with braids while another searched for contraband.

“I thought everything was cool here,” said the stranger. “I just want to get on the road again.”

Waved over to an outside cargo hold, the officer instructed his partner, “Show me.” Moving aside cannabis plants, the cop revealed a cache of soda and cigarettes.

“Afraid you’re coming with us, Mr. Nelson.”

Unknown said...

Her intolerance for staff meetings, a thankless inbox and the oblivion of corporate culture saved her. She had taken to wet work like red lipstick to a hooker, and was an automaton no more. She was death delivered, a promise fulfilled, the final arbiter of hatred for people who only knew her as an offshore account number.

As she put the Show Me State safely in her rear view mirror, the phone rang.

"I've changed my mind."

"A little late for that," she said, and hung up.

That was the beauty of her new life. No more bullshit. Ever.

The Notebook Blogairy said...

Lying in the reddish-brown puddle, she looked composed in death. Her arms were not taut and stiff but seemed to rest comfortably on her abdomen.

The detective refused to show me any sign of how her undressed state affected him. But then again, he didn’t know I was there…watching him.

Rena McClure Taylor said...

Come in from the light.
Part the black velvet curtains.
Sit with me at my table.
Push back the crystal ball, the magic wand—
Tarot cards and tea leaves.
Lean over and stare into the caldron
Where bubbles in the red of patriots’ blood
"Eye of newt, the toe of frog"—
The heart, lungs, and wing of hawk.
Smell the stench of
Broken bodies writhing in pain—
Dissonance pounding, echoing.
Hear the hum of approaching death
For millions who stare—
Blinded by the show.
Whence cometh such a state of horror?
Call it the Super Bowl?

G said...

Death played with the scythe in his hands. So grey, boring, and utterly unfabulous. Small wonder it was the stuff nightmares were made of, provided you had a minimal sense of fashion. Death shivered and threw it away.

He applied a cherry lipstick, got into his fancy red evening gown, and admired his image in the mirror. Today was the day. No more hiding in the closet. It was time to put on a show, be himself for a change. He smiled, sprayed a state of the art Chanel perfume behind his ears, and went out to rip souls.

Anonymous said...

The highest ranking television program of all time is Show Me Your Death. It's state-sponsored and most of the "contestants" are criminals or political dissenters. The more red blood spills, the gorier, the more it's worth and the condemned can bargain credits for their families. Last week a man allowed himself to be slowly tortured to death in exchange for 20,000 credits. I declined the option, meaning they would starve me to death. Somehow word got out I'm immune to bullets. Bets are flying. Ratings are soaring. They'll broadcast my miraculous firing squad survival tomorrow.

Bullets beat starving to death.

CED said...

Brick may have killed for a living, but he had tremendous moral clarity. He chose his jobs carefully. If you were dismembered by Brick, chances are you deserved it.

But now he found himself in a state of confusion. Transported to an enormous cavern filled with those he'd shown death's door to, with no idea how he'd gotten there. Naked as the day he came into the world—no gun, no knife, no shoes.

And the heat. The smell.

Fuck, thought Brick.

He knew his over-developed sense of values was going to get him in trouble one day.

Just Jan said...

"'Death Takes a Holiday'?"

"Already taken," my agent informed me.

"'Death and the Maiden?'"

She yawned. "A string quartet by Franz Schubert."

"'Death and the City'?"

She grimaced. "Choosing a title isn't easy, you know."

"Why don't you show me how it's done?"

"How about 'Red-Blooded Death'? Or 'State of Death'?"

I rolled my eyes. "That's the best you can do?"

She looked at me thoughtfully. "'Death Becomes Her'."

"I like it."

My book was never published after my disappearance, but my agent's award-winning thriller, 'Death and the Writer' made a killing.

TheOneWriting said...

She glared into the mirror. The state of her hair was a travesty, but she didn’t think she had time to do anything about it. The red light coming in through the window had gone from a hint to an overwhelming reality.

She’d have to give a statement on his death, of course, so she really needed to look her best.

That was what was important now.

She kept her eyes locked on her hair in the mirror. Below that, unseen, unacknowledged, the tears flowed freely. He’d been a monster, and a crook, and he’d been hers.

Unknown said...

“I'm in the red, just gimme two weeks to make black.” Pratt the Brat-Cop shuffled feet clad in roughed up dockers. “I just need a tick ‘fore I set things right.”

Nat stared, unmoved. “See, how this whole blackmail thing works is…when I come callin’, you show me the money.”

“But it's over! I ain't gonna be reinstated!”

Nat raised his revolver and fired point blank. Death came to Pratt’s eyes quick, quick as the flash off his barrel.

Nat tapped the hidden camera at his chest, turning it off. He smiled. This’ll get a million hits for sure.