Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge Week 01

Never fear….

The Mid-Week Blues-Buster is here!

This is a flash fiction challenge.  500 words is the target but you can go up to 700.  300 is the minimum.

The challenge runs from whenever I post this until 11:59PM on Thursday 2/21/13.

The prompt comes in the form of a song.  For this inaugural Blues-Buster the chosen tune is;

Freedom by Elayna Boynton & Anthony Hamilton.  Check it out here… http://youtu.be/_bdOTUocn5w

You do not have to reference the tune in any way.  It’s here only to get the ideas flowing.  If the song or video influences you directly that’s bully for you but it’s not a requirement.

I’ll be doing the judging honors this week…

The number of winners will depend on the number of entries we get.  I’ll probably take a few weeks to gauge interest in the challenge before deciding on a firm format for winners.

The prize?  For now, the prize is the satisfaction of creating a tale well-told.

How to enter? Put your story in the comment box below.

Now, off with you!  Write, write, write!

JT

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Posted on February 19, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Here goes: You can take a look on my blog too (there’s a picture!): http://www.thelastkrystallos.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/blues-buster-freedom.html

    For Freedom

    Rosa started down the cliff path to the bay, giving no heed to the wind whipping through her voluminous skirts. She moved swiftly, her heart full of resolve and determination. She pushed damp hair away from her face and gazed down at the beach. Smoke seeped out of the caves below and Rosa cast a hurried look over her shoulder.
    Mournful cries carried across the bay on a gust and she swallowed hard, her fingers moving unconsciously to her pocket and stroking metal. A few more steps and she jumped down onto the dark, wet sand. She glanced up the path once again then headed for the smoking caves.
    Another lonely lament echoed, booming through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the hills and it was matched by a sounding horn up on the cliff.
    It wasn’t her they were missing, surely not, a common kitchen maid would not be noticed, there or not, but she hurried on.
    The horn called again and soldiers reached the cliff edge, weapons glinting in the sun.
    Rosa headed into the gloomy cave and ducked behind a rock, as the smoke cleared she slowly raised her head and as her eyes adjusted to the shade her jaw dropped.
    Restrained in chains was a creature more beautiful than anything she’d ever seen.
    She gasped and the fledgling dragon turned, its scales dancing in streams of sunlight from gaps in the roof. She stood, transfixed by the opalescent greens and pinks playing across the dragon, who reared up on its hind legs and spread its wings.
    Rosa’s breath caught in a lump that threatened to tear her heart out. The young dragon’s wings were laced with wounds and rents, and for a moment she thought all was lost.
    She gripped the key in her pocket and she mustered her courage.
    Soldiers, cascading down the cliff, echoed and she stepped away from the rock and stood before the dragon. She waited, with breath locked deep inside her chest as the creature stared back at her, its eyes black and wild.
    Purple flames licked its maw and small wisps of smoke escaped its nostrils. Rosa refused to breathe as she stepped closer. The dragon tensed and coiled, its tail swinging slowly back and forth.
    Woe grumbled through the cave from outside and the dragon’s attention flickered. Rosa followed the heavy chain from a thick metal post at the rear of the cave, across the sand, to the dragon.
    The tight manacle gripped the dragon’s leg, and Rosa winced at the crusted blood and broken scales beneath the cruel metal.
    She drew the key out of her pocket, resolutely flung a few words to the Gods and strode forward. The dragon reversed, dragging the awful chain, and threw a violet blaze at her. Undeterred she advanced, backing it into a dark corner. The dragon flapped and tried to lift off the sand, but the chain hung heavy and tugged at the bloody mess. Rosa threw herself at the dragon’s feet and grappled with the iron cuff. The creature flapped and screeched and flames flashed through the dark. Rosa unlocked and released the shackle then rose, before the creature, and waved her arms and shouted. Confusion filled the cave as the dragon’s panic, fire and smoke burst forth and her cries could barely be heard above the commotion.
    Outside armour chinked and the whip of arrows filled the air and the dragon was suddenly up and free. Chaos reigned and soldiers fled as the creature tore out of the cave breathing fire and roaring in reply to the dragon call that now echoed across the bay.
    Rosa stumbled out onto the beach, heedless to the burns blistering across her arms and her scorched hair.
    She watched as the young dragon soared, despite damaged wings and escaped into the ocean sky. She wandered forward, in oblivious relief, and blissfully unaware of the singing arrow that lodged between her shoulders. She’d done what she came to do…the caged dragon was free, as now so was she…

    (675 Words inc title)

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  2. (I also posted it to my blog, listened to the song maybe two dozen times while writing this.)

    Most Valuable Thing

    “You are my world.” Clark glanced across the way at the hospital, the rush of traffic and people going about their day. In and out they rushed with unknown certainty, family members nearing the end. Newborns taking their first breaths with a life of love, heartbreak, more ahead of them and it only made the dread build in his stomach and a burning sensation rush through his chest.
    He felt her fingernails dig into his wrist. He glanced down seeing the small dragon tattoo just through the gaps in her fingertips. Clark smiled as his eyes looked to the tattoo on her wrist, they had gotten them together but hers was of a small willow tree. “Are you ready?” His blue eyes now on her green eyes, contacts covering her natural color but he saw past them even though no one else would. There was no dread in her eyes, no hesitation and at least for a moment it quieted the butterflies in his stomach.
    “Life hasn’t been very kind has it?” he faked his own smile as he looked at her lips, a sharp shade of red begging for a kiss.
    “The weight of the world comes crashing down when you think you’re at your lowest, knocking you down further than you believe possible,” she smiled. It was not fake, Caroline could never fake a smile. He had often called it her most beautiful feature over her deadly curves.
    “You make me a better person.” He never understood it and often thought himself crazy but he loved her. Loved her for who she was, the good, the bad, and the often times stubborn.
    “Are you ready, sunshine,” Caroline smiled, white teeth displaying her confidence. He felt her fingers tightly intertwine with his own and he smiled.
    Clark could feel his life in her touch and he smiled knowing it was everything he wanted in life. “I have felt your heart beat with my own and I’m not in the least ready for this.” His smile was lost the moment she pulled her hand free of his and instantly he glanced to the table and the distance between their fingers. Though minimal he could not bring himself to reach for her touch once again. He knew the night before could be the last time they’d be together, the woman he had loved from the moment they met. “I’m not ready to live without you.”
    “We don’t know what the future holds,” Caroline stated with an eerie smile as she stood. Bag on her shoulder she turned not waiting. “Maybe a little more happiness and freedom awaits us, babe.”
    He took a deep breath as he rushed to catch up, pulling the mask from the backpack and gun from the holster as they entered the bank. Gunshots rang out followed by Caroline’s laughter louder than the screams of the customers. Clark stepped over the body of the guard, this was her plan and it all happened so fast. Clark never spoke a word; only Caroline and everyone followed her commands. She had a way about her, bringing a smile to Clark’s face. No one could ever say no to her. And the thought never crossed his mind
    He watched the clerks fill the bags and Caroline as she glanced back with her full smile before he turned taking a moment to look over each hostage on the floor. Lost in the moment, the sound of approaching sirens broke him from his wonderment. He turned and felt the life rush from him. Caroline was gone, with the money. He rushed to the counter, the clerks face down now, he glanced behind him to the police cars outside. He could see them, as they positioned behind their cars, guns raised and ready.
    “My darlin.” He pulled his mask off and tossed it to the floor, it didn’t matter to him anymore. She was gone, and the most valuable thing she had escaped with was his heart.

    (664 Words)

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  3. Mine is also on my blog. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. http://theflashfictionvixen.blogspot.com/2013/02/blues-buster-week-one.html

    JEREMIAH

    They were killers, rapists and abusers. As hard as any men could ever be. But every night they listened to Jeremiah sob quietly into his pillow and it broke their hearts.

    By comparison he had done nothing, that they could see, that warranted him being subjected to the punishment bestowed on them. They deserved it. He was hardly more than a child.

    They talked long into the night and when the guards came with their dogs at 5am, they were tired. But they were always tired. It was the nature of their lives.

    Shackled together, the ten men, with Jeremiah last in line, shuffled out to start a day of hard labour under unforgiving skies.

    What looked like a beautifully choreographed line of men, swinging their pick axes in time to the lament they chanted, was in fact a chain gang, all sentenced to death and waiting their turn.

    When the heat rose Jeremiah was unchained. As he was every day the boy was responsible for trying to quench the thirst of the other prisoners with what little water the guards made available.

    They of course had everything they needed to make the day more bearable and its heat more tolerable.

    The irrigation ditch that the condemned men were digging grew deeper and wider with every stroke.

    For men half starved and with death hanging over their heads they were strong. Strong of body and of will.

    At noon the guards called a break and led the line of bedraggled souls to the shelter of the trees.

    Not out of kindness but to ensure they were able to work another seven hours after this short respite from the midday sun.

    Huddled in a group, threatened with a whipping if they spoke to one another, the offenders tried in vain to nourish themselves on the thin gruel and dried bread.

    But they had no need of words. There plans were made and while the three guards and their dogs feasted on cold chicken and fresh bread, they made their move.

    They had no fear in their hearts or minds because what was there for them to fear? One way or another they would die before the year was out.

    Before the guards could cock their pistols they had risen as one and knocked them to the ground.

    The dogs went berserk and tore at the bare flesh of the chain gang. Muscle and sinew swam in pools of blood as the nine men pinned their captors to the ground.

    No cries penetrated the air. They were determined to see this through and they knew they were suffering nothing other than what they had bestowed on others.

    And when finally a shot rang out from the lookout tower they rolled, those that could, from the bodies of the guards, savaged by their own dogs in the confusion.
    The six that remained, half alive, waited and said silent prayers for their friends who lay with their throats torn out and flies already coming in for the feast.

    The guards were not dead but they would most likely never work again. The dogs could not distinguish one from another when the smell of blood had started to fill the air.

    When the Jeep finally arrived with back-up, the remaining prisoners were executed on the spot. A bullet to each brain ended their lives and they lay on the hard earth, united with their cell mates in death.

    The guards were the first priority of the back-up team. Getting them out of the sun and off to a hospital was top most in their minds.

    And so it was a while before they noticed that there were only nine bodies rotting slowly at the edge of the woods.

    Jeremiah had been given instructions and had run like the wind when the prisoners had pounced.

    His child like legs had carried him far and he only vaguely heard the shots ring out as his saviours had died.

    He cried for them and prayed to God for their deliverance. He owed it to them to grasp this chance of freedom and he would.

    They would not have died in vain.

    694 words

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  4. I apologies if this has come up twice; not sure what happened to my first attempted at adding entry . . sorry. . . . xxxxx

    The thick rope gnawed away at her flesh with every twist, turn and struggle to free herself, tightening its grip; at times numbing the excruciating pain which was a welcome relief but only fleetingly as the pain seared her flesh to the bone. Closing her eyes, Narla, as the Blonde One called her, sort solace in her dreams where life was kind, people cared, she could roam free and be herself without recrimination. Those days were another lifetime now and were becoming folklore and fairy tale to her kind just as her freedom became a lost word without meaning.
    Fat rain drops fell heavily from the summer sky, trickling off palm leaves, evaporating before her eyes; teasing and taunting Narla as she lay, desperately stretching to reach the precious liquid that lay on a leaf but it was just out of reach. If her wounds didn’t end her, thirst would. She prayed it be quick.
    Exhaustion took hold, not even enough energy to stop the wood ants from marching right over her, taking a nibble here, a bite there causing the most agonizing itch that couldn’t be scratched. Rolling over wasn’t an option; the binds just tightened, deeper into her flesh, oozing a flow of crimson. Narla could only watch.
    She wasn’t sure how many hours she had lain but two nights had passed and she was sure there would not be a third. Where was that fair skinned blonde woman with the kind blue eyes, the soft voice and gentle touch? Surely she would come and rescue Narla from her pitiful fate before The Others did. The Others would jeer, poke, torment at their prize possession for that was all Narla was to them; a possession. Not a soul, a spirit, a life. Not the chance to live to a full age, not the chance to wander free ever again. The thoughts depressed her frail body as she sank deeper into the lush vegetation, as soft as a blanket which would end up being her grave if The Others didn’t get there first. . .
    Through the thick canopy, Narla glanced up for one last look at the stars, shining down from a clear sky. They gave her comfort as they watched over her in her hour of need. In Narla’s world, each star was a soul looking down and guiding those in need; Narla was in need and she sighed deeply wanting the pain and loneliness to end. She wished The Others understood her needs and shared her beliefs and wished this now to the stars before her eyes closed.
    A rustling awoke Narla and her eyes widened and her heart beat rapidly. Nearer and nearer it came, footsteps towards her, a familiar smell; the Blonde One. Even in the pitch black of the jungle, Narla knew the Blonde One. But even Narla knew she was too late. But a friendly touch to see her through to the end filled her heart. She heard the Blond One’s strange tongue but recognised the anguish in her voice as her hands tried to release the binds.
    “What have they done to you my Narla?” The Blonde One otherwise known as Carrie, gently bathed the wounds, gave her water that Narla could not drink.
    “I think we’re too late.” Carrie’s tears fell on Narla’s face knowing Jake was right. She stroked Narla’s orange and black fur, still gloriously soft, and thick despite death creeping foreword. Jack sat next to her, the three of them silent in the jungle. No words could make this situation better or change the inevitable but Carrie knew her touch soothed Narla. She would not die alone.
    Narla knew the end was in sight. She raised her head, nuzzled Carrie before letting out one last gut wrenching roar, so powerful, the forest floor shook. A sleeping jungle came to life as if they knew one of their own was gone, singing, howling their mournful song as Narla began a new journey where freedom would be guaranteed; up among the stars as they shone down, listening and offering help where needed and guiding those who deserved it.

    688

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  5. Oh darn, I forgot my blog link to the above story . . .you prob think I’m ditzy now. . . one of those days. sorry. . .
    http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/mid-week-blues-buster-flash-fiction.html
    xxxx

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  6. My first attempt at flash. 🙂

    All She Has

    She had never known that a body could suffer such agony and damage yet still maintain its hold on this world. Blood leaked from her nose and from her vagina. Jolts of pain ripped through her with every breath and she was certain her abdomen was on fire. Please, reaper, come to me.

    Time passed. Fresh blood no longer leaked from her body. The reaper had not come for her. One more betrayal in a long line of betrayals. She began to crawl through the dark alley behind her church. She could not stand up. The muck of the city streets and garbage smeared her exposed flesh. She barely noticed through the haze of pain.

    Inside. Blessed quiet. She sobbed. “Help, please, someone.” More time passed and then a robed figure appeared before her eyes and for a moment a flash of hope bloomed in her chest as she thought perhaps the grim visage above her was the death-bringer finally come to relieve her of this burden. But it was Sister Andrea. No sympathy, eyes hard like flint, filled with judgement. No soft human touch but she was fine with that, never again would be too soon.

    Flashing red and blue lights, followed by clinical white lights and hospital-blue robes, followed by blue uniforms with metallic badges, and then newspaper articles containing words like ‘asked for it’, ‘deserved it’, ‘shame on her for…’, and this was worse than the event itself. Her sisters betrayed her, distanced themselves from her. Even those she loved moved away as if she were a plague.

    She came to believe them. She was too beautiful, her hair too thick, she was too skinny, and she had taken such pride in how she looked. In shame she recalled the delight she felt in the admiring glance of men and the envious glare of women. The goddess had wrought vengeance upon her for it. She gazed into the mirror and felt disgust, and fear. She wished to gouge out those blue eyes, rip out that thick hair, disfigure that olive skin. She never wanted to be beautiful again. Beauty brought suffering.

    Fury unchained within her, her face contorted, she balled up her hands and punched the image staring back at her. Glass shattered and broke littering the sink and the floor. She grabbed handfuls of it and rubbed her face furiously. She felt the release of slicing pain and gleefully watched the spatter of blood against white porcelain.

    Time passed. Summer turned to winter, spring to summer, green came and went in the world. The hard flinty eyes are replaced with pity and the pity is so much better than hostile judgement. But she is unhappy. There is a crime unpunished and she still longs for the oblivion of the last sleep. She needs someone to bring death to her door. She cannot bring it herself.

    Then, one day she see’s him. The one who hurt her, the one who would deliver her. He did not recognize her. Few could see past the scars to recognize the woman she had been. He had a hunger in his eyes and knew this would be easier than she had feared. She resurrected the woman she had been. She smiled, she found clothes from before, she laughed, she touched him, and then she invited him in.

    Before there had been only a chance meeting in a dark alley. But she felt certain he would take what he desired once they were alone. The blue uniforms with glinting metallic badges had come too close last time, he was more careful now. She poured him wine, he went for her and she fought for her life this time, fought to ensure she did not survive it.

    When she felt his hands around her neck her heart sung in happiness. She struggled as the light began to fade around the edges. Struggled and laughed as her lungs began burning for air. And finally… finally, as the light narrowed to a narrow pin prick and the grim features of death hoveed above her, she stopped struggling. She opened her arms, a smile on her face.

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  7. Marcus peppered Simon with questions as they sat in a seedy-looking bar a few blocks away from where they’d met. He was fascinated with Simon’s stories of 2008, and told him that he’d been taking a computer class at the city university. “I already know more than the fuckin’ teacher, but that’s cool. They let me do whatever I want in there. I keep telling ‘em that one day computers are going to run the world, and I guess I’m right. Ha! Man, what I could do if I could get my hands on those machines. That would be sweet.”

    Simon generally glossed over talking about Emily. The pain of leaving her behind was sharp, and too recent, and while he’d begun to think that Marcus wasn’t a bad guy, he wasn’t ready to share that, not with a man he didn’t really know. He hadn’t hidden that he’d traveled with someone for at least some of his journeys, and Marcus got very excited at that thought. He really wanted to join Simon the next time he Flickered, and he made it clear how he thought things should go. “We’d make a hell of a team, don’t you think? Marcus and Simon, the time-travellin’ dudes. You’re a rich white guy, and I’m smart as fuck. Especially if that thing took us to 2008 again – or even further! I’d run things then, that’s for damned sure.”

    Simon mostly nodded and made non-committal noises when Marcus spoke. He’d never been one for fighting, and he was sure that Marcus wouldn’t just go away quietly. He took another sip of some dreadful beer and listened while Marcus talked.

    “I have got to go with you, and that’s that. I’m trapped here, you know? This brain won’t do me much good as long as I’m a poor black dude, not in New York in the 70’s. There ain’t no jobs, anyway. But the future’s got to be different.” He drained his beer and laughed. “Fuck, can’t we just go now? There’s nothing worse than sweating your ass off in August in the city, and you’re going to melt in that stupid suit.”

    “Well, it doesn’t just work that way. I don’t think so, at least. So far, the umbrella has Flickered just when it has – I didn’t do anything.”

    “Give it to me, then! I’ll bet I can make it work better. C’mon, just let me see it for a minute!” Simon was very uneasy about handing the umbrella over. He hadn’t even let Emily hold it, although she’d never asked, and he certainly didn’t want it to Flicker and find himself stranded here, with no chance of finding her again. He was trying to figure out how to turn Marcus down without a fight when he felt the umbrella start to vibrate. He looked down and saw the umbrella start to flicker in and out, just as it had when he’d first found it.

    Marcus noticed it too. “It’s doing it, isn’t it? Fuckin’ A, let’s go!” He grabbed Simon’s arm, and for the second time in a very long day, Simon Flickered, this time bringing Marcus with him.

    This one’s on my blog here: http://projectgemini12.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/mid-week-blues-buster-challenge-week-1/, with links to the rest of the posted parts of Simon’s story.

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  8. Ruth Long (@bullishink)

    BISHOP’S PAWNS

    Kalyn took the steps at a run, kicked open the office door and entered, gun drawn.

    Nouri came through the door behind her, hands in pockets, every hair in place.

    Trapped at his desk, Thomas sat very still, though dozens of images danced behind him on the wall of computer screens. “I didn’t expect to see you until next month.”

    “Thing is, K found her departure file,” Nouri said, settling against a counter. “Allow me to sum up her reaction in one word: irate.”

    Thomas came to his feet, slowly. “I can explain.”

    Kalyn shot a screen an inch above his left shoulder. “Shut up or the next one will hit bone.”

    Reaching for a water bottle, Nouri said, “Better upgrade that to infuriated.”

    She fired at the shelf of water bottles beside Nouri. “You shut up too.”

    Turning to Thomas, she said, “It’s been a year. I’ve had enough. I’m out. I want to go home. Now.”

    “There is no home to go back to, Kalyn . That’s the part you continue to ignore.”

    “No, that’s the part I don’t understand. But then you didn’t ever take the time to explain, did you? You just pulled me into your alternate reality and kept telling me everything was ‘need to know.’ Well I’m telling you that I damn well need to know, right here, right now. So start talking, Thomas.”

    He sat on the edge of his desk. “We came to change the future, not preserve it.”

    She kept the gun sited on him. “I get that you’re some kind of genius, but that doesn’t give you the right to hijack people’s lives.”

    He reached for a keyboard. “Look at the screen to my right. That’s your signature on the departure file, isn’t it? All your consent forms are in order.”

    Nouri came across the room, stopping a couple feet behind Kalyn. “Problem is, she doesn’t remember signing those forms. I think her partner forged them.”

    Thomas shook his head. “Kalyn, trust me. I didn’t hijack your life. I chose you from an ocean of qualified applicants. A dozen engineers, a dozen techs and six dozen peace keepers.”

    “And where are they now, Thomas?”

    He sighed. “Four jumps, two dozen at a time, in one day. Everything went according to plan. Except that you were the only female to survive. I – I don’t know what went wrong.”

    “All that’s left of your magnificent crew is you, me, a pair of engineers and a handful of keepers who can’t get along. Face it, your great mission is a failure.”

    “That’s where you’re wrong,” he said, coming to his feet. “Shoot me if you want to, Kalyn. It doesn’t matter. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. The future is safe. I knew there would be casualties but it was a small price to pay. Truth is, your life now – present and future – is better than the one you left behind.”

    She kicked the desk. “What do you mean? I’m stranded in a world I don’t know, with a genius madman and a rogue keeper who is more enemy than equal as my only real companions.”

    Unruffled, Nouri said, “You know I prefer the term adversary, darling. It has a much nicer connotation than enemy, don’t you think?”

    Kalyn advanced on Thomas. “I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but you’re going to make a transporter and send me back. I’m not leaving here until you do.”

    Nouri stepped forward, gently pressed the needle into the base of her skull and caught her as she collapsed. “The only way she’s going to adapt and bond with me is if you remove yourself from the picture, Bishop. Next time she hunts you down, I’m not going to stop her, so if I were you, I’d clear out and stay gone.”

    Thomas’ voice came from between the metal panels of his desk. “I saved the future! Doesn’t that matter to anyone?”

    Nouri’s retreating footsteps and the slamming office door were his only answers.

    – – – – –
    672 words / @bullishink / posted on my blog here: http://www.bullishink.com/2013/02/21/mid-week-blues-buster-1/

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  1. Pingback: Mid-week Blues Buster Challenge, week 1 « Project Gemini

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