Friday, August 14, 2015

The end of summer, last hurrah before vacation writing contest!

One more week before vacation! I'm counting the minutes!

That calls for a writing contest don't you think?

 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 or sequential words. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: spare/ apples pared is ok but spare/sparkle is not

4. Post your 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.

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

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

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

8. 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"

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

Contest opens: Saturday 8/15/15 at 8:18am

Contest closes: Sunday 8/16/15 at 8am
All times are Eastern Shark Time.

(thanks to Richard for alerting me to the typos** on date)
*** (translation: didn't look at date book with BOTH eyeballs!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

awww, too late. Contest closed at 8am.


Michael Seese said...

When there is no prison, there is nothing to escape from.

Except boredom.

And loneliness.

And emptiness.

And Corn Flakes for dinner. Again.

And the occasional blissful bout of silence.

And the screams masquerading as lullabies.

And the fists which, I came to learn, sting less with each passing year.

But other than that, nothing.

Out on a lonely highway, I finally found freedom. Unfortunately, freedom also came with a flat tire, and no spare. I'd had to remove it to make room.

The flashing lights circling like vultures told me I won't be getting away.

But neither did he.

Unknown said...

‘I couldn’t escape. There was nowhere to hide.’

‘You could have run away.’

‘I looked at you. Our eyes met. Respect? Then you took me. It was over in a matter of seconds. When it was done, how did you feel?’

‘Supreme. The most powerful man on this planet.’

‘Why? What was in that single act that lulled you into such a false sense of superiority?’

‘Control. Transparency. Domination.’

‘Ahh Walter, now you are in the line of fire. You can’t remove yourself anymore than I could. A single shot. A dead lion. Your life is over.’

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Adwarf swings a sparesword at the Whereareyouwards. He has a cutting tongue. Jon Snoe lullabies his wolf, “Stop that awful sound you’re makin'. Sounds like fartin’ through your nose, dear Wolfy.” Better check the spare, winter is coming. “What the fuck am I doin’ on this friggin’ ice wall.” A dragon howls from the past. Some bitch hits her brother. Drum roll from far away, or maybe it was car breaks screeching. A girl escapes. Another girl doesn’t drink wine. Everyone is pissed off. Some can’t remove themselves from danger, others run away. The shit hits the fan.

Gigi Kern said...

Candy was trying her hardest to escape the clutches of the “sucking mud”, but couldn’t get away. SFC Burnes and Inez went in search of their klutzy co-worker.

No time to spare, now was the lull before the monotonous all day meeting.

SFC Burnes said laughing, “Miss the gravel?”

Candy, trying to unstick her sneaker said, “Hey, those rocks hurt. The desert -- 148 degrees I get, but rain?”

Inez laughed at them. “Just remove your shoe and hop over. Mud boots at the exchange?”

Candy hopped over, “I am so having ice-cream today for lunch!”

They laughed, tomorrow….

Unknown said...

Brodie slipped the vile into a secret pocket, removed his hat and wig, and tossed them to the grass.

Dogs barked. Brodie smirked.

He shed his old coat.

The dogs were close.

Now for the great escape and time to spare. It was too easy, stealing the lullabies from Lenox.

Brodie stepped to the Spot of Departure, but nothing happened.

The dogs came fast—Rottweiler’s with death in their eyes.

He tapped furiously against the ground.


Brodie searched for the implanted stowaway, but it was too late.


The dogs brought down Brodie’s pride first and then his life.

AuthorVanessaShields said...

He spared her lips when he killed her. They were his favourite part. The way each time they puckered to kiss him he felt he could escape into her breath, be dragged over her taste buds, be rolled away into the darkness of her throat. The rest of her was a lull in his psychotic life.
He waited for another lie.
“I’ll be home late tonight, dear,” she cooed.
And sliiiiccee. A sharpened knife across her neck. He reached in and removed the lie. He put it in a jar. Her lips he dried and tucked in his favorite novel.

CynthiaMc said...

"Meet us on Friday, Paris hotel," Teachers said. "We'll all fly home together." Took away our tickets so we had to.

Summer escape to Madrid - fun - even for school.

Friday the 13th. Rain. Should've been a clue.

"What do you mean they're not here?" I asked the hotel clerk.

"They left."

"Where did they go?"


No cell phones in 1976. No spare change.

Prayed in the lull.

God sent an angel - French-speaking Texan with Stetson and limo.

Chauffeur removed our luggage from the gutter and delivered us to new hotel, teachers, plane tickets.

True story.

Forever grateful.

Unknown said...

I just wanted to take some time away. Remove myself from the claustrophobic maze of cubicles. Late summer always provides a lull in the workload, and the reservoir a cool spot for a little catch and release. But it's harvesting time, the Mary Jane buds ripe and ready for market, and I didn't duck fast enough. Now the damn spare is flat, and there's no escape as the pursuing truck appears and slows.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Endless summer. Will last one generation.

Year 1
Autumn never comes, leaves stay green, turn brown, fall to forest floors as fuel.
Year 2
Spared winter, populations lulled into thoughts of relief from freezing temperatures
Year 3
Escaping winter considered a fiscal and resource solution.
Year 4
World’s natural ice gone. Weather dependent species removed and relocated.
Year 5
Shorelines, big cities washed away.

One world-wide season, it is called HOT


Year 25
61.1308º N, 146.3483ºE, first snowflake falls. Population at that location relocated years before.

Endless winter to last one generation.

Brittany Pickett said...

The room which should have been filled with lullabies and serenity had never been a sanctuary to me. I'll spare you the details for now, but away from home was always where I was happiest.
Sure, I knew I was only fifteen. I had no money and no plan, but it was time to remove myself from that prison. I threw my tattered backpack over one shoulder and released the window screen. I could taste the freedom in the cool air. Finally, it was my time to escape.

Curtis Moser said...

He removed the top of his wife’s skull, which proved to be the most difficult part of the procedure. Then into the temporal lobe for the memories it held. After four quick incisions, (spongy but not unpleasant), he scooped the lump away. He was careful not to disturb the portion of her brain responsible for speech. Precision here was not critical, as a lull in her nagging would be a nice escape for a change, but the most important thing was to spare her the memories. Recalling his infidelity, after all, seemed an unnecessary burden for both of them.

Steve Forti said...

I offered to cook duck. Lucille laughed.

Draw your blade across the fat. You want to scar ‘em over the top.

I carve with precision.

The cherry sauce should seep into those slices. Capers add nice saltiness.

I stir the sauce, check the capers.

Searing on high heat creates the perfect cria.

The sizzle and aroma mingle to form a mouthwatering lullaby. I put the tutorial away and set a plate before Lucille. She doesn’t react.

Not that she can.

“You should try a bite, honey. Mark was right in those secret texts of yours. You do taste delicious!”

Matthew Wuertz said...

Flames danced on the popping firewood, lulling him into a sighed relaxation. The surrounding trees had removed their autumnal splendor, allowing an unfiltered view of heaven benighted.

He could see his children’s eager faces peering from the tent, hoping for a story. Soon; wasn’t that what he’d said countless times?

Work had always been demanding, a schedule that spared no one. Why hadn’t he planned more moments of escape from the tedious, relentless demands of society?

His cold, aged fingers wiped away tears as the children’s faces faded from his empty tent.

KayC said...

The soft melody of the lullaby drifted down the hallway.

Abbey walked out the door, the screen banging behind her as she hurried away from the incessant crooning. She envied him. She did. His ability to remove himself from reality; to escape to a place where his music enveloped their precious daughter.

The gleaming metal chain creaked as she sank onto the swing. The birthday present her daughter might never use. As the wooden plank carried her up in its graceful arch she felt the first kick. The spare.

allierat said...

Jack took all imperative sentences personally. “Remove unsightly toilet bowl stains!” He did. “Escape to Tahiti!” He wanted to. Only Mother Darling could help him decide which commands to follow. There was seldom a lull, and he hardly slept because there was so much he had to do.
As a way to get a spare moment to herself, she enrolled him in a writing class.
The first day, the instructor said, “Write what you know.” Jack tried.
A week later, the man told the students, “Kill your darlings!”
Now with Mother gone, Jack doesn’t have time to write.

Craig F said...

When you realized Time cheated it was too late. Get slightly away it will reach out, snag and remove a piece of you. To that prodigious intellect it started as spare pieces, but a critical mass was removed with much to be done before the big lull.

Your accomplishments dwarfed me. Two whole careers, either of which would be enough for anyone else, Naval Commander with a 42 year career and then a storied academic and medical career.

Now you have made you escape. I hope you can now remember that you are Stan and you were my friend.

Anonymous said...

Liann used the last spare fraction of her willpower to set the self-destruct. She could not fight as the psychoplague forced her into the escape pod, forced her to launch away from the doomed star-craft. Liann had just barely been able to remove the emergency beacon so no rescue craft could find her. If nobody could find her the psychoplague couldn't infect the rest of the galaxy.
The psychoplague raged in her veins, as helpless as its victims had been. As the fury lulled, just for a moment, Liann finally could smile.

Kregger said...

Who would’ve thought summer bowling league and murder were synonymous?

Not I!

Forget first place, which disappeared when none of us ever converted a spare.

Our pleasure to escape the summer heat turned into a raging inferno to remove ourselves from last place.

We lulled the competition with gutter balls and fouls until no one took us seriously.

In Kung Fu fashion we struck Ninja style: poison shoe spray, arsenide finger hole paste and best of all…cyano-acrylic alley wax.

They were doomed!

The takeaway?


After custom hole-drilling the team ahead of us, we were still in last place.

DeadSpiderEye said...

From the journal of Eustace Quorkwill.

Today the cook spoke to entreat on behalf the sundry in service within the household, that I might grant time away from their duties this Michaelmas I will not be lulled into granting such, the frivolities that follow would make hares capering on the lawn seem more decorous. I have instructed Jaggers to remove the spare key to the medicine cabinet from the kitchen, lest an intemperate episode with the laudanum be the cause of her presumptuous imposition.

Colin Smith said...

Spare key under the tongue. Oldest trick and Mary did it beautifully. That "goodbye" kiss. I forgive you Mary. David's gone, I know.

Padlock sinks to the floor. Swallow the key. Now I'm floating. Lungs beginning to ache. Need to breathe. Not long now.

Maneuvering arms… teeth to straps.

Gah! Taking in water. Keep going. Almost done.

Straight jacket removed. Watch it float away.

Mind lulls. Need air.

Bang on glass.

Sheet drops.

Audience cheers.

Bang on glass.

Mary and David!


Bang on glass.

Mary smiles.

Bang on glass.



They run.

BANG… Glass…


Unknown said...

Remote Access to C:/OSP/ granted…

cmd> remove /root/ admin
cmd> /root/:OSP
cmd> Password: ********
**Access denied**
cmd> Password: *********
cmd> run /root/: hBlk/climatecontrol/heatwave.exe
cmd> c:/OSP/cBlk/
C:/OSP/cBlk/> install pwrlulltimer.exe
cmd> C:/OSP/cBlk/> set pwrlulltimer.exe run to 23:00

10:47pm – thermostat deficiency in h-block. Guards lose spare layers.
11:00pm – unexpected power failure.
11:02pm – Generator kicks in. Fifty-four doors in C-block malfunction. Riot ensues.
11:23pm – All guards away to C-block. Prisoners disorderly but contained.
11:38pm – Brief failure h-block cell door #385.
11:45pm – Guard uniform missing.
11:58pm – Prison break suppressed.
12:01am – Shift change.

cmd> [Esc]

Megan V said...

Scroll down.

Keep scrolling.

Type a few words, a few glorious words, and maybe you’ll see the back-end of tomorrow.
You’ve got this.
Don’t get carried away though. Easy does it.
Let yourself sink into the soothing, sycophantic lull of the keys.
Skip the curses, whining, and verses—a story removed is a story lost.
Don’t stop.
Don’t click escape.
If you’re lucky, maybe the computer will spare your mind
...and remember,
You started it.

Marc P said...

Some stories start… ‘Once upon a time.’

But when?

7/15/2015. When I removed my gun, put a bullet in my sick son’s head.

Or here?
1/8/2015. Discovery of his incest with Bella, my daughter. Fourteen.

The months planning? Hiding the knapsack bomb? Slipping the detonator in his dead hand?

‘Lives spared...’ the citation said.

I stayed away; escaped the ceremony. My FBI colleagues thought they understood.

I wasn’t hated. Everyone blamed the fundamentalism that nobody, including him, had known anything about.

I snuggle in closer to Bella. Hot, lullaby breath. ‘Once upon a time…’

It starts now.

10:24 8/15/2015

Unknown said...

It took a couple minutes to pry the staple remover from her hands. As office products go, these can be pretty lethal, especially when mixing it up close with an escapee. Took a tape dispenser to the head, once.

She grew up in Spanaway, which explained a lot.

Spanaway wasn’t a town so much as it was a disparate hideout to spend the night if you missed your flight. The jetwash in and out of SeaTac probably just sounds like a lullaby after awhile.

Her personal song must’ve hidden some scary-ass subliminal messages. She was crazy as a shithouse rat.

Eve Messenger said...

By the predatory hunch of his shoulders, the shifty dart of his eyes, you know this client is a murderer, but like some jaded, grown-up Oliver, you hold out your hands anyway. "Please, sir, spare a shilling to advertise in our publication?"

Lulls in your sales pitch thicken with terror. In his back office you’re trapped. You escape to the restroom, smash the mirror, snap away jagged pieces.

And remove the homicidal threat of him.

Watch the malignant blood drain from his wounds. Check the wooden clock on which he’s surely notched victims. And continue on to your next appointment.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

When Becca was removed from her family and set up in our spare room, she was too old to be a kid and too young to be on her own. The only comfort she accepted was the lullaby of Grimalkin's burbling purr.

A person's ghosts are hard to get away from, but she was almost okay. Then the whispers started again. The knocking. Grimalkin hissed arched-back at empty corners, a tuxedo asterisk.

We labored over her escape plan, and there was no margin for error when we sent her off to prom, barred the doors, and set the fire.

Unknown said...

She’d scribbled a poem on the bottom of the suitcase. It said - ‘ Remember to pack a spare lullaby for the long road, to escape the dead nights, to drive away the silence.’

Where the f’ did my fool mother think she was going?

I covered the damn words with a plastic bag, crammed every piece of her in, slammed the suitcase shut and threw it overboard. Then I turned the boat around.

The house was quiet … ordered … clean. I’d removed all traces of her. Now, if only I hadn’t packed away that spare lullaby.

katie said...

A lull, then the screeching racket begins afresh.

"I can't take this torture."

"I feel like it really might kill us this time, you know your heart isn't what it used to be."

"And your blood pressure too. I'm planning our escape - if they only look away for a minute -"

"Yes! Or if the power goes out and we're quick about it -"

"Perfect! I snagged the spare keys earlier."

On stage their granddaughter removed her bow from the violin and waved happily. They sighed in unison.

"Three more songs."

"Like insect bites on my eardrums."

Susan said...

Sometimes she wishes she could remove him from her memory—seal their precious minutes up in the same timeless tomb as tiny shoes and elephant wallpaper and the rocker she’d purchased the day before. She’d burn the bridges of the past and escape to a city where her one-day dream could be washed away in a tidal wave of anonymous grief, sparing her from reliving a first hello and last goodbye.

Anything to silence the lullaby she remembers singing when he closed his eyes.

LynnRodz said...

My childhood, hours wiled away in the

Meadows, where I'd watch geese migrate south for the winter, then return in

Spring, when mum's flowers bloomed, their fragrance filled the

Air, crisp and cool, the river below lulled me to sleep on warm summer

Evenings, removed from the world, I loved to escape in books

Most of all, I adored autumn, when the leaves broke free and danced to the

Ground, a colorful carpet turned white, tongue out for snowflakes to fall

On, and on the memories drift by, none spared moments before we

Die, then no



Unknown said...

Lulled into a stupor on the subway, I noticed the book before I noticed the girl. DUNE. Hardly an escape read. “Great book.”

No response.

Two days later, same train. “Ever try THE GONE-AWAY WORLD?”


The following week, desperate. “My uncle knew Robert Heinlein.”

A sharp elbow stabbed my ribs. “She’s deaf, seaweed-brain.” Ugh. My ex. Not one to spare feelings.

Months went by. My future girlfriend devoured the RED RISING trilogy. I took online classes. Practiced signing “Coffee sometime?”

Finally articulate, I straightened my tie. Removed my sunglasses. Boarded the subway, heart racing.

But her seat was empty.

Unknown said...

The song has ended;
Whorls removed from silted glass,
Vial crushed like my heart.

The love has ended;
Mine transparent, yours opaque.
Callous runaway.

The hymn has started;
Sweet lullaby of death mocks
An unmourned escape.

Dena Pawling said...

March 1
I need a vacation. Escape from the rat race.

June 1
Soooooo burnt out. I'll spare you my pain.

August 1
Two more weeks! Remove myself far away from this hell hole.

Thursday, August 13, 6pm
One more day! Mow lawn, pack suitcase, stop mail delivery.

Friday, August 14, 5pm
Outta here! Lullaby to my tired soul.

Saturday, August 15, 9am
Faithful dog. Fishing pole. Cold beer. Paradise.

Sunday, August 23, 6pm
Time flies. Emptiness descends.

Monday, August 24, 8am
Urgent tasks: 4
Mandatory meetings: 2
Feet of paper in in-box: 3
Unread emails: 367
Faded dreams: 1

french sojourn said...

His hubris flared, as he briefly escaped the reins of earth. He was lulled into a fleeting complacency as the gravity of his plight dawned on him, and the sun fluttered slowly away.

His arms, damp with sweat, ached. He watched helplessly, as feather after feather detached from his paraffined wing. Once removed and free, the feathers floated harmlessly away.

His eyes kept searching skyward, spared from the judgment of those that watched his fall from below.

But Icarus would not utter a sound, as he returned to the arms of the fate; that allowed him this flight.

Jo Connolly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donnaeve said...

It was difficult, from the outset.

She lost the baby.

I lost my job.

Spare change in an almost empty jar foretold our future.

She lost respect.

I lost my pride.

She lost her love.

I lost control.

I guess I should have left sooner.

Weeks pass. I lay low, like an undercurrent, slipping by unnoticed.

So does she.

Nothing happens. There’s a lull.

I grow curious.

Through our backdoor, I gaze upon faraway eyes, undeserved stillness.

I leave, try to forget.

There’s no escape from that which I cannot remove.

I lose hope.

She haunts me till the end.

Unknown said...

They removed the mares from the barn, one by one. I watched them walk towards the trailer, away from their tiny, dark, filthy stalls. How could a human being allow such beautiful creatures to become the wrecks they are now? Skin just barely covering spare bones, like escapees from some equine concentration camp.

If all you saw was their heads above the stall doors you could be lulled in the false sense that they were well cared for. But as they walked on hooves that curled up like some horny jester's shoes you realized what price complacency charges.

shtrum said...

“There’s a sleepaway sofa in the spare room,” her brother mumbled, hair tousled from sleep. “Whiskey and Percocet’s somewhere in the trailer. Can’t remember where though. You want I should sing you a lullaby too?”
“No, Tobias,” she whispered urgently. “I just need a place for the night. Thanks.”
He began to shuffle away, then stopped, flapping a hand as if shooing away a fly. “Howard escaped again. He’s around here somewhere.”
Great, she thought. I have to remove this bullet from my shoulder. And now I have to worry about a ten-foot python too.

Marie McKay said...

Speed Dating at Lullaby's.

This is your score card. Let's get scoring!

1.   Tried hard.
2.   Tried a little too hard.
3.   Ooh! dirty fingernails.
4.   Clean.
5.   Better.
6.   Worse. Much worse.
7.   Spare me! Dull! Dull! Dull!
8.   Where's number 5? 
9.   Removed his wedding ring! Tan line.
10. No. 5's looking over here. He's nodding at the fire escape.
11. Dear number 11, sorry, I couldn't take it any more. I've run away with number 5.

Christina Seine said...

Deidre woke to the smell of nail polish remover. A step up from mouse piss, but still. “Open a window, Kelsey! Geez!”

“It’s not me, mom!”

Explosion happened on the first floor. They were on the fifth. Divided, Deidre grabbed the baby, went for the stairs. Nine-year-old Kelsey threw herself down the fire escape, got away without a second to spare. The building was engulfed within minutes.

Meth burns hot.

Official report said mother and baby died of smoke inhalation. Not entirely true. The real cause? A lull in the flames, a desperate run for an emergency exit door, locked.

Anonymous said...

“I’m not a villain,” she said. “I was… lent the theorem.”

r martinis.”

“Watered down martinis and gourmet fishbones, Cape May style. So what?”

“Just saying.”

“Surely you don’t agree with the Council’s decision.”

“Just saying, kharma.”

to avoid the question. You know I’ve always meant well.”

“You can only meddle in people’s lives so long without consequences.”

“Don’t be an asp.”

you truly convinced your demotion was unwarranted?”

“It was certainly… hasty. They act like I’m a criminal.

A lull.

His eyes were sad. “Dear, foolish godmother. ‘Happily Ever After’ can never belong to you.”

-Rebekah Postupak

Anonymous said...

A Lullaby

Escape into the abyss of dreams.

Bask on the mountaintop with an eagle. Kiss the ocean floor. Pluck an apple from the apple tree. Dive straight through the Earth’s core. Sing the dawn into existence.

And when you wake and carefully remove the flecks of fantasy from your mind, remember to spare a song for the birds as they flutter away.

Unknown said...

“Sir, spare a dime?” Gus don’t know why he asks for a damn dime, like it could ever help him escape the shit he’s had goin’ on near to six months. Prob’ly no one carries change with ‘em anyhow, maybe should ask for paper money.

“Ma’am, spare a dollar?” Started to walk away, came back none too happy but must’ve had a lull in her highfalutin day so she could take ten whole seconds to remove a dollar bill from her fat-ass wallet.

“Thank ya’ kindly.”

“Sir, a fiver?” Well now lookit him, he's one of them newfangled bizness entrayprannewers.

Ashes said...

If the attendants heard rumors of liberation they went ignored.

But plans were made, supplies spared, goodbyes whispered.

Their provisions included Tantric Sex for Geriatrics and enough medication to keep his heart going.

Despite their children’s plans, they would not die in a retirement home, but far away on a beach in Cabo lulled to sleep by ocean waves.

The morning of the escape Bert kisses Bonnie awake, sees the fear in her eyes and places a hand on her arm. “It’ll be okay.”

She removes the hand, fear bleeding into confusion, her eyes searching his face. “Who are you?”

Linda Strader said...

Ears alert, muscles tense, heartbeat rapid. Temporary lull won’t last. No time to spare. Have to escape. Got to get away, now, before he comes back. Pace, check options.

Oh no! He’s coming. Must hide, but can’t. I’ll never escape.

“Well what do you know,” the voice said. “I finally got you. You’re pretty lucky, you know.”

Darkness, bumpy ride. What is this? Where are you taking me?

“There you go little fellow, go find a new place to haunt. I don’t want to remove you anymore, got it?”


The rat ran as fast as his legs could go.

Anonymous said...

Whitewash on the walls removes the stain of powder-blue hopes.

Toys, smiling in plush anticipation, escape in Goodwill bags.

Runaway dreams cling to disassembled furniture.

Echoes of a lullaby never sung drip through the nursery.

Not a nursery.

Nothing, now, but a spare room.

Sarah said...

Susie removed the extra tape from Felix’s ankle and pushed him away from the car, toward the terminal.

“Move it.” She tried not to growl—it wouldn’t do to attract attention before she could escape—but it was difficult. He was really starting to get on her nerves. “It’s not like this is going to kill you—a little torture, maybe, but no death is going to be involved. You’re acting like a baby. Need a lullaby?”

He looked at her like she was nuts. Perhaps she was. Regardless, he was getting on that train.

“Look, spare me your theatrics. It’s only Kindergarten.”

Kae Ridwyn said...

It was during the lull in the music that the bomb exploded. The packed school hall shook; the curtain had risen after the overture but suddenly there was a whole different drama to deal with.

The stage became a madhouse of screaming, children taking their cue from others: now was the time to panic. The carnage centred around the orchestra pit. Bloody body parts and twisted, broken instruments merged in a kaleidoscope of horror. Every spare person was conscripted to help remove the rubble.

The musical director had gotten away, but he would never escape his memories.

Unknown said...

Ethel Lee Johnson. Name scrawled on the back of an envelope.

A throwaway. Like Norma Jean Baker. Maybe she’s the next Marilyn.

Sure pissed off people in high places.

Keeps a spare under the doormat.

Easy in.

Then pop, pop.

Bedroom window to fire escape.

Easy out.

Debt paid. In full.

Retire. Move back to the country where air doesn’t stink of memories.

Door opens without a hitch.

Apartment is empty. No.

Turn to leave.


Chest burning.

“Ethel” with sideburns and silencer finishes the job.

Sound of a chainsaw lulls me back to the country. Where I can sleep.

Deborah Small said...

A Lullaby

Rock-a-bye baby
Removed away up high
I'll spare you a teardrop
Escaped from my eye
Should the tear drop
Where tears shouldn't fall
I will cry with you
Mucus and all.

Unknown said...

I was born in a collision of ice and rock.

I hurtled through space, away from the bleak sphere where I'd been stuck. Removed from its orbit, I no longer was bound by the noose of its gravity.

Freedom! I'd escaped!

I was elated—for the first few thousand years.

In the vacuum of space, rushing past stars, I fell into a tedious lull. There was little to interest me, not even a spare space probe or misplaced satellite.

Then the cobalt planet drew nearer, bigger. Its atmosphere burned my tail and shattered me senseless, but I'd never been happier.

Amy Schaefer said...

“Are you sure?”

Barney crawled ahead, kicking up dust in the dark attic. “Definitely. This is how Hester escaped.”

Lou’s heart lifted. No more fighting for scraps of rotten meat. No shivering herself to sleep in a urine-soaked fug. Just Barney and open skies.

“Over here!”

Lou squeezed in beside Barney and settled down to wait.

The man found them the next day.

“They’re just kids,” he told the woman. “I can spare ‘em.”

“No. Remove them permanently.” Her nostrils flared. “Disgusting squatters.”

The Wildlife Control man drove away. Soon the two chittering raccoons were lulled to sleep.

Finally free.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

“Hush little baby, don’t you cry . . .” she sang. Her soothing lullaby always sent me on a star-sparkling path of escape to a magical world of flying unicorns, floating flowers and transparent fairies. Away, away, away. I just couldn’t wait to fall into that lovely slumber, all my worries removed, all daddy’s beatings only a distant memory. I loved it so much I never wanted to leave. I hoped taking a whole bottle of mommy’s pills would bring me to my utmost desire forever.

Anonymous said...

During a lull in the visitation, I escape out the back door of the church mom hadn't attended since I was a child. October gusts push at fallen leaves that reveal the spare Minnesota landscape. It all feels wrong.

Accidental fall.
Nothing could be done.

I've been away too long.
Not long enough.

Dragging in a shaky breath, I turn to head back inside.
Back to cloying display, numbing grief.

We're orphans now, my sisters and I.
The fresh air did nothing to remove the certainty.
One of us is also a murderer.

A. Benedetti said...

I sat silently, watching the wind through the trees lull him to sleep. I knew he would not spare me. As his head bobbed, I inched closer. Once his breathing was deep and even, I stretched out my arm to remove the key from his belt.

My fingers fumbled as my body shook. I paused to gain control or risk rattling the chain around my foot. Too long, I searched for a way to escape. Another try and the key was mine. I slipped it in the lock.


I didn’t look back as I ran into the night.

Steve Cassidy said...

She stared vacantly at me, I matched her stare.

I kissed her mouth, she didn’t kiss back.

She was ignoring me again.

Sexy, with her throat slit.

“Lullaby and goodnight,” I hummed.

Escaping the prison asylum was easy, I’d be far away by morning.

I removed my bloody shirt, slipped on my spare.

Her sister, I thought. I’ll go see her, she likes me.


“I need an ambulance, my wife has a sore throat.”

“Sir, a sore throat is not an emergency .”

“You’re right, how about the cops, tell them Janey is back”

“You’re Janey? But you’re in prison.”

Karen McCoy said...

“Front Desk, Aluminum Fractures Hotel. Arthur Wasp, speaking.”

A woman’s voice answered. “Hi, I’m in 206. I called about my toilet when the water wouldn’t stop running.”

“I see. Did the handyman come?”

“He must have. The toilet was removed.”

“Removed?” Arthur muffled the mouthpiece. “Where’s Felix?”

The skinny bellhop shrugged. “Away. Something about spare lull parts.”

Arthur snarled, and resumed his sickly sweet voice through the phone. “I’ll call you right back, madam.”

He ran down to the boiler room. Sure enough, Felix struggled with the porcelain toilet in the doorway.

“Immaculate escape plan,” Arthur scoffed.

Unknown said...

With only seconds left, I kick the hatch closed and flip the switches. With a jolt, the escape pod detaches and I am jettisoned away.

I remove my helmet and gasp at the stale air. From the tiny porthole I can’t see the fiery wreck behind me, but I feel the explosion roll over the pod as the thrusters engage to compensate. I sail into the eternal night, sparkling with stars, lulling me into a false serenity.

Belatedly I strap in, staring at the spare seat across from me. He should have been there.

That’s the loneliness of space.

Unknown said...

The slack tide lulls me into the shallows. Here, I’ll make a meal of a lazy mullet or distracted blue crab. There’s relief in floating alone this morning. I remove the remoras by dragging my belly along the ridges of the floor. They swim away confused--in search of a more ambitious host.

I’m known for my tenacious appetite but it’s just a stereotype I can’t escape. Who I am, who I’m expected to be--fears that are impossible to grasp are things beyond my control. So, I’ll swim through the shallows smiling and just scare the shit out of everyone.

Lance said...

“The gang's going for a little weekend escaperondo. Want to go?”

“Nah. I've got a tourney over at Sparetime.” The cigarette flared.

“You need to get out – more dremovere'-- if you follow. The sherry glass clinked.

“That's not French. Now go away.”

“We're moving with a hip crowd now. You just can't go bowling.”

“When we were young, bowling was great. You drank beer.”

“But we've grown. We're more supercilious and lullatudinous.”

“You? Absolutely. Not me.”

“Belinda, go?”

“Bill, I'm going bowling.” She lit another Lucky.

Unknown said...

Draw the curtains back.

Enough. Not too far. Don’t want to get carried away.

Her face presses closer to the glass.

There’s a question of morals here, isn’t there? Maybe. Or maybe this is commensalism at its finest. She gets her daily escape, and he’s none the wiser.

His position is perfect.

“Don’t you dare move,” she warns sternly, as he tenses.

He relaxes, is spared a frustrated woman’s wrath. This nightly ritual of theirs is the only lull in an otherwise agonizing day of stress and mundanity.

HBO is so much sweeter—and cheaper—on his flat screen.

Cindy C said...

Early morning. The words can’t escape their prison. They press against the bars, letters drooping in dejection. I can’t help them. I turn away.

High noon. Brother, can you spare a word?

Dusk. If I were a surgeon I could cut open my brain and remove the words one by one, line them up in sentences.

Midnight. I hum a wordless lullaby and rock myself to sleep. Maybe the words will sneak out in a dream.

Sunrise. What if . . .? The words perk up, looking hopeful. I can almost touch them.

Midday. Never mind.

Bedtime. Whatever. Just type.

Kitty said...

Every night me and Joey'd sit on the fire escape watching the city. In summer, we'd sleep out there. We'd try to smell the ocean over the garbage and plot ways to get money for Rockaway Beach cuz Ma couldn't spare none. Sometimes she'd bring out baby Luca and lullaby him to sleep with an Italian song about San Remo vendettas. Mrs. Andolini upstairs would join in, then Mr. Zanotti. Soon the whole street was singing.

Then we moved to the suburbs.

"Ma, where's the fire escape?"

"There isn't one."

"No fire escape? Ma, this ain't no place for kids."

CED said...

I escape, retreating inward from the mindwipe. I focus on my fondest memory: my mother singing me to sleep, smiling, her violet eyes sparkling.

They remove the device and I am free of its grasp, a relief beyond words. I may not remember who I am, but I know I've retained the best of me.

Later, as I wander the streets a free man, a woman smiles at me. The world melts away, leaving me in a field of lilacs and irises in spring, and the lullabies of birdsong remind me of someone I once knew.

Unknown said...

Never killed a man before, but this one’s dumber than a tube sock, and about as pretty. And he didn’t spare Becky, so.

I drive him, knocked out, to the desert, remove the shovel from the trunk. I got a six of Cherry Coke Zero. Becky loved Cherry Coke Zero.

He comes to, buried neck-high, as far away from escape as Omaha. He starts hollering. I crack another can. Man, that fizz can really lull you. I crouch down. Pour the pop over his head.

“Shhhh,” I say. “Buzzards. And you don’t want them fire ants in your mouth.”

Steven D. said...

Takeaway – Age 5; Daddy trades me for three-weeks of food. Nightmares replace mommy’s lullabies.

Stowaway – Age 15; I escape camp, disappear in a sugar shipment, and discover the Shining City on a Hill.

Castaway – Age 25; ravaged by Miami streets and tightfisted men, the Dream eludes me.

Giveaway – Age 35; I sustain on scraps to spare my beautiful newborn discomfort; she’ll believe in fairytales.

Flyaway – Age 55; my angel promises her Baltimore move is temporary and necessary; our piece/peace is coming.

Layaway– Age 75; I’ve stopped looking up whenever the visitor bell rings. Memories of her absorb my hours.


Delaney said...

“Gerimoff!” squawked Penny. Grizelda’s good eye skewered her.
Brunella coached, “Remove the bat from your hair and drop it in.”
Grizelda laid her skinny finger on her lips. Irked, Brunella flipped the bat from Penny’s hair into the cauldron before it could escape. The broth double-bubbled.
“A drum, a drum,” Grizelda chanted.
“Whuh?” Penny said.
“You’re supposed to rhyme,” Brunella hissed.
“Er—I want a plum?” Penny said. Grizelda’s eyes narrowed.
“Be easy, Griz,” Brunella lulled their elder. Bagpipes squalled in the distance.
Grizelda growled, “Verra well, but if Macbeth’s not Emperor by Samhain, I’ll know whose thumbs to prick.”

Alan Milner said...


I handed them over. The agent glanced up at me. "You're a philosopher? Where do you work?"

"I don't. They fired me."

"Who fired you?"

"The university."


"They said I was boring."

"Why did you come here?"

"To get escape."

"From what?"

"Everything. Sometimes you have to remove yourself from the consequences of your actions."

"Which actions?"

"All of them. I'm ready to take that pill now."

He nodded. "Third door on the left. Good bye." He didn't spare me another glance.

So that's how they did it. No psalms, no lullabies, no bedtime kiss goodnight.

Unknown said...

Invasive Species:

I creep into nests of rush and down.
Suffocate the mottled eggs.
Remove all evidence of my transgression.
Escape before the swan returns, hissing. Wings belled out like sails.
Chirring lullabies to shells that will never stir.
She mourns. Abandons the lifeless hulls.
Rebuilds her nest again. And again.
But I follow.
Until today.
I come upon a hidden mound.
The scattered husks transparent, laced with red.
The swan’s liquid eyes between the rushes.
A wings breadth away.
And I see the soft grey heads.
Nestled on their mother’s back.
The cygnets.

Anonymous said...

“Here kitty-kitty, come on kitty,” Erma lullingly called, “time for your bath, Sassy. I’ll remove your collar, I promise.”

Balanced along the top edge of the office door, Sassy yawned. Yeah? And what army’s gonna get me in the tub? She crouched, ready to attack.

Hands on hips, Erma searched the office. Nothing. “There’s no escape so you might as well spare me the attitude, dumb cat.”

The cat pounced, wrapping herself around Erma’s head.

The girl screamed and fainted dead away.

Sassy, tail up, sported a Cheshire cat grin. Dumb huh? Now, where was that cupcake I eyeballed earlier?

Just Jan said...

You remove my collar.
(I trust you to know what's best.)
You place me gently on a blanket.
(I wag my tail in steadfast devotion.)
You lull me with your soft voice, but your tears wet my face.
(I whimper as I lick them away.)
You spare me pain, anxiety, humiliation, with one simple act of kindness.
(I escape mercifully into darkness, knowing one day we will meet again.)

Mark Ellis said...

There’s a lull while they scrub the handcart, so I escaped the lab. It usually takes about twenty minutes to remove contaminants from metal. We’ve got our spare monkey-suits on.
Ah, the perils of genetic engineering.
Anyway, any chance you could get away for dinner? I promise not to wear the cologne that made you sick in the car, or any cologne. I understand about fragrance allergies, how chemicals in perfumes and such can adversely affect sensitive people.
I’ll come fresh-scrubbed with Irish Spring, and hope you’ll be immune.
Can we meet at Thank God It’s Friday’s?

Unknown said...

The lion’s breath escaped like a slowing train. Mali clipped and removed the arrow from his neck. Hot blood rivered away through her fingers as she packed gauze into the wound.

In the following lull, the chief field officer spoke, his plea more a prayer in the sunrise morning. Can you save him, Doctor?

The others stood vigil at safe distance, their armory slung over relaxed shoulders but gripped in tense hands.

Mali buried her face into the stinking mane to whisper into the cavern of the animal’s ear.

You must live, brother Lion. We cannot spare you.

John Frain said...

“We deserve a break, Raul. Time to escape.”

My brother grins. Vacation, he says, drawing out the A’s.

“Beach or mountains?”

A lull. “Can’t get away. Busy season.”

Big brother. Always working. “Yellowstone? You dream about the views.”

“I’d have nightmares about our rent payment.”

Little sister doesn’t quit! “You must see New York.”

He spares a smile, but shakes his head. “Bank must see our car loan payment.”

Saved my best for last. “Let’s go home.”

Confusion. “Home? That’s no vacation. I’m here every night.”

“Home to see Mom and Dad.”

Doubt removed. “Cuba!” Laughter. “When do we leave?”

Unknown said...

You shriek off your wet jacket.

You’ve escaped the rain. You smile embarrassed, because the store’s closed and you bite your lip in the dark before you utter a soft “Hello?”

You remove your scarf in the lull that follows. Your skin is so smooth it’s smutty, and you haven’t yet noticed me watching you from the corner, have you?

You freeze “Who’s there?” And I want to kiss you. You’re out the door before I can even touch. You always run away, you teases. Pared down men have needs, too.

No worries, ghosts can follow you home, you see.

daniel john10 said...

I tried to stay away but was drawn in by the smell of sautéed garlic. I wanted to escape but was stopped by the sound of a cork being removed from a wine bottle. The sizzle from a sauté pan being deglazed almost lulled me into a culinary coma. I took a small taste of this magical creation I was making. My taste buds exploded and my mind and body were re-energized. Since she left me I had no desire to cook anymore. She may have taken my heart but at least I had been spared my palette.

QuirkyElf said...

Night patrol. Neighbouring HausBots cross-crossed the lazer boundaries. No intruder ever escaped their vigilant efficiency.

I gripped the stolen Magnetostunner in my pocket. “Bet they’re plotting.”

“Impossible, son, regular Bots can’t interact.” During the sudden lull in the bombardment, Dad’s spluttered laugh bordered on hysteria.

“The Sentients might’ve figured a way to remove the safeguards.”

“They’d shut down automatically. Enough conspiracies, you’ll upset Mother again.”

It was stupid to sneak the stunner from his schlafpod. I had time to return it before—“M-Mother! You’re hurt.”

“Trespassers will be eliminated.”

Motherbot’s transparent skin…shattered locks dripping coolant...her coded ‘heart’ flashing erratically…Dad screaming.

Sam Hawke said...

The great Zulu Llewellyn, they called him. Bear trainer, entertainer extraordinaire. Really just Joe: captor, tormenter.

She fooled him with small gestures. Pared back the snipping. Kept her claws out of sight. Obeyed meekly as they were moved from cage to ring and back again. Gave the people their show.

Her chance came with a wayward breeze; it caught Joe’s cape, masked her quick movement. Lumbering like lightning.

A great story has three parts. He had his beginning, from Joe to Zulu. Now he had his end. Of course, she observed, taking another bite, he was missing his middle.

Unknown said...


It’s ten seconds away.

I pound the punch pad. MAXIMUM LOGIN EXCEEDED.

Ten seconds.
Overhead, the alarm blares a bloodless lullaby.

Through the glass, the helmet. Removed minutes ago. A relic.

I fall at the transparent wall, scrabble for a handhold. It is smooth, unyielding.

No staying, only escape.

Brain races for purchase.

Any air in the lungs ruptures them from the inside out.

I fight the deadly urge.

Deep breath.




The simulator winds down.

The instructor enters.

“You’re dead.”

My breath escapes.

“Might as well make it quick.”