Read the rules carefully this time: there are changes!
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Start with this phrase: "And then she saw"
3. End with the phrase: "stunned her."
4. Use these three prompt words: cat hat splat
5. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: cat/catering is fine but hat/heat is not.
6. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
7. 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.
8 International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.
9. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)
10. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.
10a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on a your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail on the post with results ...just leave me out of it.)
11. 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"
12. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")
13. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.
14. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.
Contest opens: 8:47 am Saturday 4/30/16
Contest closes: 9am Sunday 5/1/16
If you're wondering how much time you have before the contest closes
If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/
(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Sorry, contest is now closed.
She saw Sally’s eyes veer up to the left, replaying the memory. She was telling the truth.
“He said you would not mind at all.”
“Wouldn’t mind?! It’s splattered all over the floor!” The mess got worse every time she went out. “And what are those two things?”
“Ex—there are two little dead clowns under the table!” Surrounded by illicit medication, too.
“Friends of his! Not mine.”
She sighed. “Just go get the shovel and lye.”
Nothing was easy since that fucking feline moved in next door.
Worst of all? This no longer stunned her.
“And then she saw Catherine Higgins, Mrs. Platt said, after she hit her with her vehicle,” said the officer.
“Ms. Higgins said nothing’s broken, it was an accident and she won’t press charges,” said the Chief. “Thank God that sweet old lady was driving slow and doesn’t know Arthur is seeing Ms. Higgins.”
Later, Arthur told his wife, “That Buick is simply too big. You can’t see over the steering wheel.”
“I can see just fine.”
“You need a smaller car.”
“Stop seeing Catherine or next time I’ll gun that Buick. This time I only stunned her.”
…and then she sawed her husband in half.
Awaiting the curtain, Catherine dreamed of her second act.
Her first had been full of new tricks. Like the rabbit one, learned from dissecting his playboy bunny. Janice had been his second screaming assistant.
Brenda had been his first. Performing a true disappearing act, Catherine had walled her up alive.
But the magician’s wife turned out to be a better magician than mason.
Late for her own second act, Catherine had to admire Brenda’s conviction. Her magician suit was realistic, but it was the hacksaw that stunned her.
And then she saw Bastet beside her queen.
Bastet was not that Goddess, just a cat.
A dead cat lying beside Cleopatra's still warm corpse.
A devoted, black cat with an asp impaled in her small teeth.
She'd arrived much too late to save Cleopatra.
Her eyes filled, spilled and splattered the shrouds of silk.
Bastet's loyalty to her mistress overwhelmed her.
"Oh cat, you were such a steadfast friend."
Bastet stirred from death's grasp, shook the snake from her mouth
and blinked as if to say, "I know."
It was confusing, it was affirming and it completely stunned her.
And then she saw the inevitable conclusion. Her decisions, her mistakes, all tumbling, as she paced her cell.
Detective Petrov entered, holding the N.Y. Post. Splattered all over the cover were pictures of Justin Beaver with her. She grabbed it. The headline read,
“Justin Arrested in Women’s Bathroom.”
She hated facing the facts, but her scheme to blackmail that dilettante was ruined. The SD card on her cell phone was worthless, and there goes the fucking catamaran in Bora Bora.
“You’re free to go,” Petrov grinned, “you know he walked. Or should I say…she walked,”
Obviously, it hardly stunned her.
And then she saw them enter, tasers ready, three men in lab coats. Sue distracted Nancy with the catalysis results, but watched through the window that divided them from the rest of the lab.
The thugs were clumsy. Crashing glass and an ominous splat alerted Nancy to the strangers, the weapons. She reached for the silent alarm but Sue was faster, pretending to trigger it.
The man who’d enriched Sue’s bank balance had been emphatic that no one would get hurt, but fear chilled her spine as they destroyed Nancy’s research then walked over to Sue and casually stunned her.
And then she saw her life pass her by. Her acerbic side told her
“It is life passing before you eyes when you’re gonna die.”
Then the lovely guy in the hat lunged. He grabbed the cat before it went splat and rolled across her hood while grinning at her.
The time dilation bubble of an imminent traumatic event burst.
In her rear view the guy shrugged and she realized that another she had it right the first time. She put the car in reverse to go back. She saw the smile appear on his face and it stunned her.
And then she saw the hatchet bearing down on her skull. She closed her eyes and waited for the SPLAT or SPLORK or whatever it would be.
The blow never came.
“Well, well,” said a low voice.
Margot peeked. Her deranged ex hung frozen in time. Beside him stood God.
“You haven't spoken to me in 15 years,” He said. “Now you want my help?”
Margot was in no mood for catechesis.
“Seriously?” she fumed. “Drunk pervert father. Abusive husband. I never stopped calling. You didn’t answer. Just go ahead. You've been dying to.”
His Mona Lisa smile stunned her.
And then she saws the Indian right in half with him still alive.
He told her his spirit would haunt her but she laughs, “You won’t voodoo me.”
She sets that saw on his stomach, just above the strap around his hipbones, lets it rest a few seconds with the sharp points pressin’ into his skin. Then in one push that crosscut splits his gut open. Blood splatters onto her chest but she works that saw back and forth with him a caterwauling until…she stops. His face in a fog rises up from his loins. The Comanche stunned her.
And then she saw the email waiting in her inbox and groaned.
Catastrophe summed up her morning, but after a few glasses of wine over lunch she felt the faintest dregs of hope. Maybe her boss didn’t mean what he said. Maybe he didn’t believe that she was a ridiculous idiot when her coffee accidentally splattered on him.
His fashion crime of a tie had soaked up most of the assault. She considered the ugly tie’s destruction a silver lining to the embarrassing episode.
With a bold click, she opened the email. The attached image stunned her.
And then she saw the stop sign.
Then she heard the horn, the squeal of brakes.
She smelled the diesel.
Felt a blow like a giant fist against her door.
She saw shattered glass,
Heard scattered voices.
“Did you get his plates?”
She knew Tom had seen Daniel leave.
Knew Tom had heard the shower, her squeal of delight.
Tom had smelled Daniel’s body spray,
Touched the fluid from her brake cable.
Now she saw only shadows.
She heard only distant thoughts.
Her easy infidelity that angered him.
His merciless rage that stunned her.
And then she sawed at the callouses, avoiding ticklish spots -- always professional.
Time for a cathartic chat.
“It hurts so much sometimes.”
“Big callous here.”
“I don’t get out much.”
“Lotion - peach or lavender?”
“It won’t last.”
“Same time next week?”
“.... No.” She was gone in a jangle.
The tip on the counter wasn’t cash. It was platinum, sparkling.
A scrawled note: “I won’t need it anymore.”
Wide and heavy for her fingers but she could get it sized.
Finally, someone who saw her value. She was stunned.
'And then she saw...'.
'He, it's he, John's a boy'.
'Shorry, ish my lishp'.
'Lishp, ish a speesh impediment'.
'Oh does make concatenation difficult?'.
'Yesh, it alsho meansh that talking is meshy'.
'Oh, you mean that saliva splatter?'.
'Yesh, would you like to borrow a hanky?'.
'So what did she see--er I men he?'.
'Not shaw, though it gave him shush a fright, he bolted and knocked a girl over'.
'Oh I spoke to her'.
'Ish she hurt?'.
'No he just stunned her'.
And then she saw her. The woman who had lain like a question mark between the sheets of her marital bed. The woman who had the power to shatter a 10 year marriage; the power to re-write their lives, their kids' lives.
She felt no match for this woman who was so completely different from her: purring like a cat, make-up sculpted over razor-sharp cheekbones. Sexy.
Yet, this woman still wanted her, had returned for her.
The question mark faded, and her love-splattered heart pounded out its certainty with a message so clear it stunned her.
And then she saw (or more accurately – felt) Janet Reid looming behind her.
The hairs on Dena's neck prickled like a startled cat. Crap.
“You began this story with a conjunction.”
Janet waggled a finger. “No buts. Which by the way is also a conjunction.”
Stupid grammarian. Dena hated this agent. This workshop. Cursing, she visualized Janet splatting from the twentieth floor.
Feeling better, she deleted the beginning of her story.
Several months later, Dena emailed Janet her completed novel.
“When can we talk?” she emailed back.
And then Janet stunned her.
And then she saw the blood splatter, heard hatred in his inhuman growls. This was her first mission after the academy, exploration of an uninhabited planet.
It went wrong.
The red uniform she'd proudly worn was stained now, with dust from the arid dirt, as she frantically searched for a rock, some make-shift weapon.
As he came closer, his knife leaving a gruesome trail over the terrain, her last thought was a fragment of a childhood catechism.
Deliver me from all the power of the devil.
She closed her eyes as he raised a phaser and stunned her.
And then she saw the old lady looking at her.
Why was she looking?
She turned away. She was tired and the cashier was moving like molasses. When she was younger, men would stare. Now all she got were old cat ladies.
She sighed, then glanced again — still staring.
What's so interesting over here? She looked around. Nada.
She rummaged in her purse for her glasses. She needed them all the time now, but nothing wrong with a little vanity. She put them on.
A gasp latched in her throat. That old hag looking back was herself. It stunned her.
And then she saw it. Her jaw dropped in amazement. It was…how could…What was he thinking? He must have known what that would do to their marriage. He left it there on purpose, a final finger to their relationship. Well, the cat was out of the bag now. It didn’t take long. A few carefully placed bags of powder, an incendiary device, explosive plaster splattered around. An anonymous call. Divorcing a convict was easy. She didn’t even have to split the belongings. Hats off to her ex. He had finally done something good for her, and the realization stunned her.
And then she saw the light at the end of the tunnel.(1)
She told herself she deserved that money. She told herself she hated her boss with his platitudes about hard work.(2)
Another day pretending to smile at people she pretended to like would kill her.(3)
She packed the money in her suitcase(4)and left through the back door.
The police taser stunned her.(5)
(1)Metaphorical. Saw an open safe full of money
(2)Rationalizations for her actions
(3)Hyperbole--wouldn’t actually die
(4)She stored suitcase at work just in case she needed it
(5)The owner’s cat triggered alarm; police responded
And then she saw...The Thing.
She went still, heart racing.
With single-minded focus, she studied how It snaked through the bars of her containment cell, the remainder just beyond her reach.
The Thing twitched, innocent looking, yet past experience advised caution.
This had happened before.
She looked to see if They noticed It invading her territory.
No, They were busy emitting noises she didn’t understand.
Her synapses fired.
She scuttled towards The Thing.
A crash, something splattered.
The Thing disappeared.
One of Them shouted, “The cat!”
Despite Their conciliatory noises, she squalled, foiled by another lesson that stunned her.
And then she saw the hole. She’d lost brothers to the streets, and friends, but they were different. She’d never had to ID them.
She was calm when the cops came. Numb the ride over. They said they’d cleaned up the blood, like she should thank them, when there wouldn’t have been any blood if the cops hadn’t shot.
Blood would’ve been better, splattered across her boy’s face, marking the catastrophe for what it was. Instead, there was a hole above his eyes, too small to be the cause of so much pain. The audacity of that hole stunned her.
And then she saw beneath the landslide of magazines a footlocker marked JAMES. Cathy set her roll of garbage bags atop her mountain of garbage bags and unearthed the locker. She twisted the hasp latch, opened the lid.
Just some rat shit.
Her finger remembered his number.
The grandbaby she’d never met hollered in the background.
“I didn’t hate you for leavin.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“I need help.”
Her grandbaby cried louder.
James said, “It’s almost suppertime. You like pastrami still?”
And when she hung up, a feeling of hope stunned her.
And then she saw something dart behind the dumpster. “Ugh, a rat!” Joanna shuddered and veered away. What if the thing scurried out and nipped her?
She heard a faint mew, and looked again. Low-slung, grey, long tail—but not a rat. A little cat, splattered with rain and scrawny. “Hi, there,” Joanna said softly.
The kitten chirruped and walked toward her, tail held high. Joanna scooped it up, sighing, “Okay, Pepperoni. My roommates are gonna kill me.” In answer, the kitten tucked its head under Joanna’s chin and purred like a lawn mower. Its utter trust stunned her.
And then she saw her cat splat on her hat.
Her pink pill box hat.
It upset her so.
She bought a new hat.
A white one with a pink ribbon.
She loved pink.
And then her black cat splat on her new white hat.
While she was wearing it.
She lost her new white hat.
She lost her old black cat.
And her pretty pink dress was covered in splat.
The mess on her dress bummed her.
The mess that was her cat stunned her.
And then she saw Alessandra, across the downtown double highway, setting up the chalkboard menu under the flowering crabapple tree outside their new café. Excited, Erin zipped along, her baby bump brushing the stroller.
At the stoplight, she waited. Cars whizzed by. Erin felt wildly alive. This pregnancy? Easy-peasy. No nausea. No fatigue. The stoplight changed.
Erin hustled. She saw that Alessandra had turned, waved.
The stroller snagged, stopped. Erin’s momentum bumped it, tilted it. Squished her beloved belly. She tried to catch herself.
She and their sleeping toddler splatted. By a pothole. The impact stunned her.
And then she saw this canonical wizard bestow his blessing on thousands. Jumping Jehosaphat, his eyes shone kindness even from here, surely the kindest eyes the Good Lord ever bestowed on any human being.
If only. If only she could get close enough to touch a sleeve. Thousands. She'd traveled thousands of miles. Tired, so tired. She sat and cried. What a catastrophe, her last penny, gone. Everything gone.
She turned and slumped away, back to the hostel, hope splattered like holy water on the streets of Rome. The beggar’s approach startled her, but the eyes stunned her.
And then she saw the exiting claw marks on the window sill. She gasped out loud and catapulted from her chair, halting her charge with her straining arms to peek over the ledge into gravity's graveyard. She didn’t want to see too much, too quickly. One eye at a time, she spied down. Expecting to see a tangle of red fur splattered on the sidewalk below, she was met with meowling, laughing eyes which silently ordered her to come down and open the door. It wasn’t the death defying leap, or the miraculous feet, but the insolence which stunned her.
And then she saw the girl’s familiar.
CATapulting forward, he purred and gave the look I dreaded.
Amber light touched his glossy coat. He dipped a shoulder, cHATtered…
Turning, I burrowed for cover.
Only Mickey stood tall, confusing honor with armor.
You never get over watching a hero’s guts SPLATter the floor.
Seeing him pawed, clawed and jawed.
Lionlike, the familiar bathes in his victory.
Fileted fluff, torn white gloves, shredded shorts and tattered yellow shoes.
Even now, six months later, Mickey’s dismemberment stunned her.
And then she saw her husband naked in bed. Trixie twirled handcuffs around her finger, gazed at hubby, raised her eyebrows in anticipation.
“Headache,” he said, splattering water on her fire. Again.
Infuriated her. That night, her drunk husband sleeping, she pressed the pillow into his face and suffocated him.
Exuberant, she found the guestroom bed and her favorite chatroom to find an agreeable mate.
In the reflection of her computer screen, her naked husband approaching surprised her.
When he cuffed her and grinned, it melted her. Mmmmm.
When he sat on the bed and dialed 911, it stunned her.
And then she saw the rain, rivulets of molten silver etching curvilinear routes over the windowpane.
My hand splayed out feeling the gelid glass, remembering the feel of the shards as they penetrated my face. He had thrown me through this window. As I lay among the scattered shards just a bleeding shattered body I had felt the splatter of the rain.
I faced his new wife. She stood at the window of my quietus. He was behind her oozing an aura of madness. Warn her I must. The outline of my face beside his reflection stunned her.
(A Palindrome – Lines To Be Read Down, Then Up)
And then she saw
A blind beggar with a mottled face,
Sitting on the cobblestone streets
Perplexed in magnetic attraction
At the weight of his words
Her eyes opened wide
As they drew closer
Gripping that cup like a crutch
Still, she couldn’t stop herself from
Where before, there was no purpose in
Now there were no
His fingertips touched her face and she knew
With the power of kings or prophets
And when he spoke
He stunned her
And then she saw the hatter. He flashed a jaunty smile and beckoned her into the dressing room. Heart aflutter, Louise tucked the catalogue under her arm and sashayed to the very back of the shop.
His latest creation perched atop a mannequin in the center of the room. Embroidered all over with fine blond threads and splattered with rhinestones, it was nothing short of perfection.
“We’re going to be rich,” Louise whispered, caressing the threads that came from her best friend’s recently interred corpse. The thought both delighted and stunned her.
And then she saw the world. A cold place, full of despair. A place where children were desensitized to the splatter of their teacher’s blood across the chalkboard. A place dominated by hate.
“Maddy, where are you going?” the teacher’s aide asked.
“To close her eyes, Miss.”
It was more complicated kneeling in front of the classroom. She worried about the blood staining the new dress Daddy bought at the Disney store. But Maddy had to do what was right, what was respectful. She couldn’t let the world stay broken; she would do something about it. And that stunned her.
"And then she saw it was only the cat!" Maggie smiled at the couple who laughed, waved to the mostly oblivious crowd, and was done.
Backstage, Gabe scrubbed out a cigarette on his plate. "Tough room."
Not really. Maggie knew when she wasn't clicking, and she hated it.
Walking to her car, head down, she didn't notice the figure until he stepped from the shadows. Reflex took over; never let a heckler get the upper hand. "Big gun. Sorry about your dick."
"What are you, a comedian?" Over the gunshot she heard him laugh, and her gratitude stunned her.
And then she saw—for the very first time. Colors swam as Gloria’s new eyes swiveled in their unaccustomed sockets.
The doctor clamped the catheter, halting the cisplatin in the plastic tube. The excess dribbled out with a phosphatic sizzle.
“I—I don’t like this…” she said.
The nurse held up a mirror, and she saw her own face. Her heart dropped. Somehow, she knew she wasn’t beautiful.
The scalpel was right there.
The nurse screamed, dropping the mirror. Someone yanked away the knife so she closed her other eye. Blessed darkness again. The enveloping sense of peace stunned her.
And then she saw the cat hit the ground for the eighth time, with a meaty splat, then leap back to life, clawing frantically up the bark toward the fascinating nest in the highest branch. The first fall, she was sure that it was dead. The second, she had been positive, its tongue lolling, limbs askew, but thirty seconds later, up the trunk it had scrambled, as good as new. The ninth time, the cat most definitely did not land on its feet. It remained dead and still. If it got up a tenth it truly would have stunned her.
And then she saw the flashing blue lights, and knew it would be over soon.
Through the crack in the trunk she saw him approach, the moonlight catching the badge on his hat. Her scream trapped behind her shuttered lips.
“Busted tyre. Must have driven over a nail.” He made a ‘splat’ sound. “I’ve got it changed now.”
“Where you headed?”
“Safe travels, now.” Footsteps, moving away this time.
And then she saw the flashing blue lights, and knew it would be over soon.
Really, it had been over the moment he stunned her.
And then she saw
The Duchess of York.
She offered her guest
A bite of pork.
A demanding soul
The good Duchess was,
“I need something else.
Why? Just Because!
Pork is so last year
This just won’t do,”
Cried the Duchess of York
With a small, soft mew.
A book, some tuna,
A take-out bag?
“No, no!” Cried the Duchess.
“I’ve got jet-lag.
I need some rest!”
So, she jumped with a splat
Into a sombrero,
This cat in the hat.
Her hostess’s face
Was filled with wonder
The small orange cat
Had certainly stunned her.
And then she saw her wife kiss another woman. Ruby rewound the video.
The birthday party flew in reverse. Stopped. Moved again. The camera man zoomed past laughing faces, past too-white teeth. Siobhan kissed the woman for a quarter of a second. A dime of a second. Her striped party hat sat crumpled near her feet. The woman’s sweater slinked off a tanned shoulder. Ruby could make out a cat tattoo.
She rewound the video. Watched again. Let it play. She saw a handful of raindrops splatter the lens.
The love Ruby still felt for her wife stunned her.
Don't see anything in the rules against poetry or fanfic, so here goes.
And then she saw the Cat in the Hat go splat.
Who could've hatched this homicidal act?
Red and Blue
Left the scene in a jiffy.
She wasn't sure what that meant,
But it seemed kinda fishy.
As she chased them down,
She ran into Sam.
"Cat's dead? He still owes me
For the green eggs and ham."
(A euphemism, she guessed,
for the meth in his hand.)
"So he fell?" She wondered,
"And drugs involved too?"
"Oh yeah, he was tripping
With Thing One and Thing Two."
"Huh." Her thoughts were asunder.
Knowing Cat, that shouldn't have stunned her.
And then she saw the creature climbs over the shattered window. She’s helpless trapped inside with the thing, because throwing it out the window did little to help. She crawls away, her broken leg dragging on the floor behind her. Alicia pulls out her gun, aiming it between the creature’s hateful eyes. Ichor runs down the creature, staining its pale lifeless skin red with my blood, only to splatter on the floor beneath it. Rushing across the room it catches her and snaps her neck, sending her into the abyss. The ease with which it ended her life stunned her.
“And then she…”
Sawdust tickled Emily’s feet as her mother’s voice was swallowed by sobbing. The crisp lathe gleamed in the dim room and her unfinished toy boat floated on the table between two steaming cups and a tissue sea. Mommy used to lock the workshop door, but she didn’t now.
Emily closed her eyes and wished.
“Arr, here be a princess!”
Her father, the captain, winked as the ship danced against scattered white waves. Emily donned a pirate’s hat, calling out, “Mommy! Goodbye, mommy!”
Cate heard Emily’s voice as her world sailed away, so heartbroken nothing stunned her.
And then she saw stars. Bright spots splattered across her vision. What the hell? Not again.
Their altercation had started civil enough. Just a few verbal spars between exes. Until he threw the figurine.
She crawled up from the floor, moving slowly and cautiously now. Her eyes fixed on his heated glare.
This was why she was leaving. Why she had to. It would never end.
He walked towards her, something in his hand.
The crack of gunfire startled her. The panic in his eyes surprised her. But it was her own grip on the trigger that stunned her.
And then she saw a black cat trot in the front door. He shook rain from his fur, splattering droplets onto her cream rug, and leapt onto her lap.
“Where’ve you been, Romeo?” she said, somewhat annoyed by his muddy paws.
Wait a minute. She hadn’t opened the front door. But Romeo coming in a door she hadn’t opened isn’t what stunned her. Nor did it stun her that she written about his death last year. What did? Romeo was a fictional cat from her latest book. And here he was, sitting in her lap.
Now that stunned her.
And then she saw him step onto the deck, silhouetted in the sunlight. She squinted, smiling blindly up, and felt the words catch in her throat. She had to say them before it was too late.
Her voice flew into the wind as she screamed, “I forgive you! I'm sorry! I cannot live without you!” not knowing the words were broken by a current already in motion.
She lifted her hand to shade her eyes, still smiling, but he was not there. She waited, imagining him running down four flights to her. It was the splat that stunned her.
“And then she saw what I told her – they’d catch us before we reached the ship.”
The judge looked up from the holographic replay. “The life forms?”
“They’ve got a hive mind, you know? They’ll stop as a group when they find food.” She smiled briefly. “Maybe the commander and I shared a thought at that moment, like we had a hive mind. But I had the torque wrench. And I was faster.”
“Did your commander say anything?”
“I heard her gasp. Later, screams. What could she say? I know my actions shocked me, so I’m sure they stunned her.”
And then she saw what she had become.
A lonely woman who was spoken of with fear and disdain.
She'd crushed so many people to get where she was. She'd splattered with darkness so many lives to rise to the top. She'd become the best in her field, yet that accomplishment paled in comparison to the other one.
With time, she'd become a bully even greater than the sum of those who'd plagued her high school years.
She hadn't grown to be the beautiful butterfly she'd thought she was. She'd remained a caterpillar.
And that stung and stunned her.
And then she saw fingers scrabble through the dirt above her. Sylvie stilled, even as her teeth chattered with terror. He was back.
Sylvie's grave was cold and rough, hurried like the man who took her, buried her. She was his bone, his chew toy. Night after night, he unearthed her, tore into her, while she stared at a star-splattered sky.
Now her heart skittered like a caged creature. She palmed the rock, lunged, catching him unaware.
It wasn't his corpse that brought Sylvie to her knees.
It was the photo of his wife, his kids that stunned her.
And then she saw exactly how the trouble had begun, and quite possibly how it would end.
A simple gust of wind.
A hat blown askew.
The red warning light blinking – unseen, unheeded.
The security door ajar.
The isolation room empty.
The white jacketed bodies on the floor.
The outer door open.
The soft splat of the Edward Novitski Prize hitting the wet, sticky floor.
But it was the cat's knowing, angry glare that truly stunned her.
And then she saw diamonds, diamonds everywhere. The deeper she walked into the ancients’ catacomb, the more empowered she became. Her fear of the dead shattered the moment she held one of the shiny gems.
“Blue light– this has gotta be one of the legendary Spirit Stones!”
Its vibrations calmed her soul. Her feet left the ground. She floated toward the main chamber until *splat*, she slammed against an enormous stone carving of Cerberus. The treasure rolled from her hand, hit the statue, and shook. The sight of death's gnarled fingers reaching out from within the gem stunned her.
And then she saw something sway in the dark.
She swallowed hard, her hand hovering over the light switch. Bill remembered after all. She’d been so horrible at breakfast, but he’d just sat there wearing that strange expression. Now their loft was full of guests itching to toot their noisemakers, and his surprise had gone splat.
She pasted on her best smile and flicked the lights.
Her friends, her family, the cat – all hung from the rafters, draped with streamers, party hats askew.
“As if I’d forget your birthday,” hissed Bill as he swung the Mumm and stunned her.
And then she saw heaven...after the truck, head on.
Her mind floated.
This will hurt.
It does not.
I am dead.
So close to being born, did my baby die with me?
No pain, no sound, no light? Only stars, splattered like raindrops on black velvet?
Please God, tell me that my baby did not die with me?
Dive low. Settle on the bottom.
Fight to rise.
The surface finally in reach.
After two weeks in a coma, survival was categorically considered a miracle.
The perfection of a healthy baby, stunned her.
“And then she sawfished him. Right in the kisser. Splat.” Angel thumped the billiards table and grinned.
I sent the snooker catapulting towards the far corner pocket. Not that I made the shot. Damn ship. A landgirl just couldn’t keep legs under her out here. Of course Angel’s mutiny wasn’t helping my nerves none either.
Angel slunk round, auburn hair kissing the velvety green table. She didn’t miss.
“Not that he didn’t deserve it, mind.” She drawled. “Man was skint.”
“You ain’t though.”
I’m pretty sure it’s the ivory-hilted cutlass I flung, and not my dazzling wit, that stunned her.
“And then?” She saw that he didn't want to continue. But Janice needed to know how her husband died and why Joey had been standing over his body with the bloody knife.
“Joey, please tell Mommy what happened." Joey's blood splattered hands shook.
"I --I didn't kill him. I swear, Mommy. It was Cato. Cato strangled Daddy." The boy's imaginary friend?
"But the knife, the blood?" She asked unconvinced.
"The blood is Cato's. I killed him."
Joey pointed to the kitchen, where the body of a young boy laid motionless. His confession stunned her.
And then she saw him. The one who left the bodies on her front porch. He swaggered into her kitchen wearing stripes and an expression that was pure Cheshire.
"The blood splatter is unseemly, you know."
Oh, he knew. He sauntered to the open window.
"Those birds are endangered," She said to her stubbornly silent companion, feeling mad as a hatter. One more death and animal control would take her unrepentant felon to the pound. Alice crouched to place the last-resort shock collar on her furry criminal but he disappeared. Once again, that eccentric cat stunned her.
And then she saw him glance downward at the table they were sharing.
“Timing is everything – you know? Back then things...”
“So it my fault?”
“I’m a catholic. I didn’t want what happened.”
“If that is true, why you sign paper?”
He glanced downward again with his mouth slightly open, his tongue pressed against his cheek.
“Man, this mall food - corporations hath murdered food quality am I right?” He smiled.
“It needs ketchup.”
They then both grabbed the ketchup bottle, and as their fingers made contact, the ketchup splattered out.
Then she cried, the event stunned her.
And then she saw the phone. Problem solved! Anton wanted children; Zoey didn’t. One blast - stun, not kill - in VR, would fix it.
She’d need more than musick to soothe this one! This half-man, half-bull? Too dangerous. She’d adjust the code later. This wasn’t a taxidermists’ parlor!
He’d cornered Zoey and her team. SNAFU. Again. Reminded of that scene from Sleeping Dogs, she dispatched the minotaur (splat!); then swerved to catch Anton’s blast. A flash of light. The shock rendered her mute. And barren.
She’d recovered, hummed ‘That day is done’. Kids? Nope. He’d stunned her.
Always up for a challenge, I decided to go all fangirly with my story. The links are – hopefully! – not needed to understand the gist of this story. But if you have the time, you might like to click through and enjoy the writing. I know I did!
And thank you to KD James for the use (misuse?) of her characters. To read her extremely clever story in its entirety, start here.
And then she saw the cat in the hat go kersplat. This stunned her.
And then she saw the catastrophe for what it was, a food splattered cataclysm.
A barrage of silent cacophony hit her with gale-force understanding. A map
of events, leading to the dreadful end that was the now, dressed the room in
blender-strewn edibles, while droplets of kale-spinach smoothie dripped from
the ceiling. A small kitten lay sleeping next to a puddle of milk, mouth
covered with flecks of green herb.
A note read: “Gave Gossamer something called catnip, it’s green so figured it
was healthy. See ya tomorrow. –Joy.”
A high pitched meow echoed in the silence and stunned her.
And then she saw the scarlet A
(for which the whole town shunned her),
flip, red fish, blue fish, swim away
a mirror through (or under).
To jostle the bustle the Red Queen wore,
A Piscean final blunder,
For with a splat, no place for a hat,
the blade cut him asunder.
Roly-poly, the Cheshire Cat did play.
Toking larva gazed on in wonder.
The letter A may have guled, but it was the LSD that stunned her.
...and then she saw him. He had done the unimaginable, everything that he had promised, removed all of her ailments. But now she fully saw him, and everything that he stood for. Not his charm, his debonair personality, not even his perfect smile, because it was all superficial. She thought she saw his aura with every smile, but it really was pure evil splattering over his personality, dementing his soul, intoxicating everyone around him. It infected her and shamed her honesty and purity. And when he revealed who he really was, it should've stunned her.
And then she saw his face. She memorized the angle of his jaw and the shape of his hat. A fedora, just like all the rest.
The business deal he had with her husband had proven to be a catastrophe. Now, her beloved’s guts splattered the wall and he was coming for her. She had to get to him first.
Sunday came. It would’ve been their anniversary. He entered the confessional, hat off and head bowed. The pistol was heavy in her hand. The realization that she was capable of this, the same crimes as him, stunned her.
And then she saw that her characters had inspired a writer friend to compose fan fiction. And it was amazing.
Wow! This was huge, unprecedented. A career milestone right up there with getting an agent, or fan mail from prison.
She needed to express her appreciation. But she'd depleted her April word allotment and was running low. Still, she had to try.
No, that wasn't right. Think, she thought.
Maybe she should quit while she was ahead.
She sure hoped Kae knew how flattered she was and that, truly, the compliment had stunned her.
"Then she saw Steven with that awful Crystal. They ducked into some LOW bistro. Raining cats and dogs, and Stephen not even in a hat."
Sylvia was too pleased, but nervous, telling Mary every word the manicurist had said to her … and, inevitably, everyone who was anyone. Sylvia acted as if she were confessing some almost delicious sin—not destroying Mary’s life—playing with her bag's clasp, lathered up, teeth baring with every detail.
All this for Jungle Red.
She didn’t want to wear her reaction. But, visibly shaken or not, it had worked. Sylvia had stunned her.
And then she saw I wasn’t listening.
That’s what a meat-sack sounds like when it hits concrete.
Literal explosive-expulsions out both ends on sudden impact.
Teach asked me what was on my mind.
Why wasn’t I paying attention?
“Oh!” she said.
The principal blanched, and said I was an evil Walter Mitty.
Mom asked what I learned at school today.
I stunned her.
And then she saw it wasn’t really about the pendant. She’d been so focused on the unusual design, how it lay against the woman’s pale breast, the possible symbolism. But the pendant wasn’t the key.
It was the broken clasp. Later, she’d understand the catastrophe of that mistake. She’d recognize the abrasion made by wrenching the chain was post-mortem, recall the shock on her partner’s face when she joined him on-scene, realize the fingerprints on the chain were his, remember seeing that same pendant against his wife’s throat.
He pressed his Taser into her. She understood. And it stunned her.
And then she saw the flying monkeys.
“I knew it.” Shade turned on Jezebel. “You confiscated my minions.”
“Now, let’s not lose our heads, Shade. Zombies, possessed robots and those little yellow things are the only minions authorized by law. No monkeys. No feral cats.”
“Law? Have you lost your damn mind?” Shade asked. “Jezebel, we’re villains. We splatter laws for fun.”
An uncorked fifth of Scotch summoned Shade’s favorite minions.
“Shade, you can’t have them.”
“Jezebel, they only obey me. They’re not robots.”
“But they followed me.”
“Yes, as ordered.”
“What?” Jezebel gaped at defeat as realization stunned her.
And then she saw IT.
She called Evan. “It’s here.”
“If they think you’re sick, they’ll take you.”
“I’m telling you I saw it plain. I’m not crazy!”
Fear hatched and started crawling up her spine on cat-claws.
Crack, creak. “Something on the porch. It’s here.”
She dropped the phone and raised her pistol, pushing further into the corner.
A shadow crossed in front of the window.
Splat, crack, thud.
She crept out the door.
Evan lay gasping, blood spreading on his chest. “I’m sorry, Grace.”
The dart hit her even as the sting of betrayal stunned her.
And then she saw the news. Three dead in a murder-suicide at a Manhattan hotel.
And Tom still hadn’t come home.
Not even his secretary could locate him.
Maybe she pushed too hard for marriage. Children.
He never said so, but signs were everywhere.
Receipts for fine jewelry and lingerie.
Women’s panties stashed under the bed.
His platinum wedding ring tossed among spare change on the dresser
All left for her to see?
“Which one is your husband?” The coroner lifts two sheets.
Those piercing blue eyes. Now fixed and vacant and smudged with mascara. I shouldn’t be stunned.
And then she saw why her car engine wouldn't catch: Under the bonnet were skeins of yarn tangled about the broken hulls of toy sailboats, platters broken from Greek weddings, and the remains of some botany experiment. "What the--?" Ernestine-1 swore. How did this get in here? Was there even an engine left?
Ernestine-1 looked up as Ernestine-2, that 'evil twin' of hers from the other side of the mirror who rejoiced in her diabolic mess. "How are you going to get to work now?" Ernestine-2 sneered.
So Ernestine-1 did the only thing she could to deal with her other dimension doppelganger. With her tazer, she stunned her.
And then she saw Joe’s sawed-off shotgun, one of the many things he didn’t take with him. Everything in their world was disposable now.
What would she miss, cat-on-a-tin-roof summers, sad winter hats, hail splattering on a corrugated feed shed?
It wasn’t Joe’s dalliances at the Barn Owl—there were three she knew about--that finally did them in. The hardscrabble living, no.
Separation came in the peculiar madness of a man whose Trump 2016 bumper sticker just now winked over the last low rise before the highway.
In the Buick, in his dust, sunset over Blasted Butte stunned her.
And then she saw what was plated for dinner and it turned her stomach to jelly. The chatter had been true and no amount of iron fortitude – hell, not even a zinc attitude - would let her consume such a meal. As the roiling in her stomach grew more pressing, she happened to glance towards the dessert cart parked beside her. She had thought it couldn't get any worse, but this was horrific. She was frozen in place, mesmerized, unbelieving, as it reached out a long…a long…. tentacle? paw? claw? …and stunned her.
And then she saw the scars.
Although her lips parted, she didn’t scream. Somehow, she understood that no amount of caterwauling could fix the harsh red welts that bubbled up from my skin. She traced the pink-splattered flesh as if it were a newborn’s cheeks.
“I am your angel of music,” I said. “Come with me.”
I spoke too late.
Christine’s gaze shifted away from me, and the mask that spared me from my reflection. In that instant she traded her angel for a nefarious cherub with long golden locks.
I simply sang for her. He stunned her.
And then she saw a dollar. The bill was stuck to the pavement, glued to the concrete by the morning’s rain. She watched it flutter with hungry eyes. It was close, five steps away, curled away from the sky like a cat’s paw showing its claws. She hesitated, watching the people pass, their steps pounding the ground with wet splats. She almost grabbed it. She watched as a child with a pink hat pick it up and offer it to her mother, beaming. The way the mother snatched the bill and threw it in an awaiting trash can stunned her.
And then she saw, too late, a reflection where it shouldn’t be—SPLAT!
“Come to the light,” said the voice.
“But my hatchlings need me.”
“All will be reunited in the wide sky.”
“Not now, later...” She turned away from the light. Pain flooded in. She opened her eyes. Cat, watching, ready to strike. Her wings lifted her clear of the flashing paw.
“Honey, we should get one of those hawk silhouettes for the bay window.”
“I know.” He carried the paper bag out to the patio. “Hey, the bird’s gone! I guess the impact only stunned her.”
And then she saw him trembling behind the curtains. He’d committed a foul. The cue ball was hers. “Scratch,” she said. “Time for a chat.” She purred at the thought of taunting this rotten thief, straight from the gutter. Maybe she’d leave his corpse by the door. A gift, but he was paying.
She sensed his move coming. “Not this time!” she hissed. As she reached to bat away the fabric, the force of the broom splattered her against the wall. “My drapes! Scat!” Her hopes tailed away, as did her kibble. The unfairness of it all stunned her.
And then she saw stars.
Papa said that was the best part. Her sisters timidly agreed.
His fleshy hand engulfed her tiny fingers as he led her to the bedroom for her birthday surprise.
Her sisters didn’t come when the splat splat of flesh on flesh frightened the cat from under the mattress. They came when she shrieked.
Papa flat on his back clapping, while she pushed buttons on the remote for the SkyV Ultra HD. Papa’s gift.
The milky way illusion was fantastic but it was the under the ocean scene and the shark’s belly that stunned her.
And then she saw movement inside the scorched fissure. White. Fleeting.
Kat dismissed it; nothing could survive that impact. She edged toward the craft’s torn fuselage, ignoring the stench of splattered avgas, fingertip flush against the trigger.
Two delicate hands grasped the fissure’s edges, fingernails polished pink. A catatonic girl lurched through the hull breach. Her white gown bore no burns, her silver skin no wounds.
Kat keyed her throat mic. “She’s alive! I say again, she’s—”
The girl’s bulbed eyes rolled back. They glowed like banked embers.
Kat’s scream terminated the instant their twin red beams stunned her.
And then she saw her American Souvlaki recipe called for honey. She remembered touring his hometown’s platia. Such an idiotic argument- he struck not only her but a poor black cat afterwards with their Vespa. What Greek is allergic to honey?
She hid the empty jar in the neighbor’s trash.
He woke up the next morning, humming.
“Markos?” She stammered.
“Good morning my Melissa.”
There was a sticky spoon next to his coffee. Their eyes met.
“I told you NOT meli, skyla. Bees. I am allergic to BEES.”
It was the second blow that really stunned her.
And then she saw who her next patient was.
Fluffy McCreary; lovely cat, owner from hell. Mrs McCreary was way too stupid to own a cat.
'Dr Mia! I hate it when Fluffy's sick. It's her little paws. She's been limping, and on Tuesday when she hopped onto the table - splat! There was blood everywhere.'
'On Tuesday. Today's Friday.'
'Well she's very happy. I've been bathing her tootsies and it looks like some of her claws might be growing right into her pads. You don't think she's in any pain do you?'
Surprisingly, the stupidity still stunned her.
And then she saw it. She raced across the linoleum, but the oatmeal was already splattered all over the microwave. It was scathing hot and clung to her hands like napalm.
She could already picture his tolerant smile.
Why could she never find anything in this kitchen?
Toast? No time.
Cottage cheese? Cancerous yogurt.
Banana! Individually wrapped.
Milk! Pour it in a glass.
She had just enough time left to compose herself.
He lowered his briefcase to the floor. “Mom? What is this?”
She didn’t understand. The dismay on his face stunned her.
“And then she saw Shirley in the park.”
“By the see-saw.”
“Shirley says she’s been shilling for the Cat long enough, she’ll sell shells wherever she wants.”
“Rubbish! I’m calling a meeting. Grab that Betty girl.”
“Best not bother Betty today...”
“Bit bitter ‘bout buying into Chuck’s butter.”
“Ugh! That new guy chucks his wood everywhere!”
“Drama galore, right? Productivity’s gone ker-splat.”
"I miss the old crew."
"Every Who. And Fox! She’d sock Boss for outsourcing!”
“She wasn’t intimidated by the hat?”
“They dated. Once she got past Boss's green eggs, nothing stunned her.”
And then she sawed off the barrels. Less range, but more splatter – plus now it could be concealed under her new Chanel fox collar coat.
Daisy wasn’t particular about temperature, but she believed that revenge is a dish best served with style.
She had her husband, and Jay on the side, but Oliver was the only one she ever truly loved. He was a catch, a keeper. But Connie stole him.
Clifford got the drop on her. In a lifetime of ennui, the realization that a crippled cuckold could outdraw her was the only thing that ever truly stunned her.
And then she saw the bowler hat. Times Square. Holiday shopping. Her failed past returned.
His mewing cat confirmed the hunt. She fumbled her cell and spied his prey.
A little girl hung on Mama’s jacket.
“Don’t pull, Kayla.”
The crowd jostled them apart.
He entered with, “Hold my kitty?”
As he shepherded his prey, she followed. Sirens sounded. The call went through, her old partner kept faith.
Shoving Kayla away, she dropped full weight against him. Splat! Under the cruiser. Against the cruiser, she’s broken.
Kayla and kitty safe. Her last breath left with wonder.
Redemption stunned her.
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