Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 17

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 17.

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s tune comes to us courtesy of The White Stripes.

Image

The song is… “Rag and Bone”.  Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/epHneMeLyis

This week’s Judge is none other than Office Mango denizen and flash fiction wiz… Laura James!

As extra incentive, this week’s 1st place winner gets a copy of Laura’s new book!

So there you have it.

We’re live…. Challenge ends at 4:30 on Friday June  14.

Are you still here?

Go write!!!

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Posted on June 11, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Splintered Heart

    She didn’t care if anyone saw her – in fact she rather hoped someone would.
    She walked up the drive, with fingernails biting her palms and her heart pounding, right up to the front door, and pushed it wide. She stepped calmly over the threshold as the door rebounded behind her.
    She scanned the vast hallway, a sneer developing in the corner of her mouth, and as she walked past the console table her fingers wandered over the telephone, tipping the receiver from its cradle. A tall vase, filled with gaudy, orange gladioli, crashed to the floor, flowers scattering amid the pool of water and broken glass.
    She ran her trembling hand through her hair and swept into the lounge.
    Fury moved through the room, books tumbled from the bookcase, ornaments clinked as they broke, and a pile of old vinyl records crashed into the fireplace tiles, shattering in a delicious explosion of wrath.
    Destruction ran up the stairs, and pictures leaped from the walls, bouncing back down the steps, and she flexed her fingers and growled.
    A clock chimed, its mournful lament echoing throughout the house, and she turned the bedroom’s brass door knob.
    Bile crept up her windpipe and her stomach swirled with acid rage, and she pulled the curtains from their rings. Trinkets flew across the room, bedclothes tore and pillows burst, and feathers flew like tiny, white doves around the frenzied tempest. Her rampage continued, like a tornado caught within a storm’s wild winds, until the room was razed. She slammed the en suite door against the wall and rent the shower curtains, and a bottle of after-shave flew to the mirror, satisfying her livid heart as it disintegrated into shards in the sink.
    Her breath came in shreds, razors of rasping air tearing at her throat as she leaned against the rim of the sink, staring into the last fragile piece of mirror still hanging from its frame.
    Sweat bloomed across her flushed forehead, dripping down her cheeks, saturating her thin t-shirt, and leaving dark stains beneath her armpits. She wiped her head, pushing damp hair off her face and tears mingled with heavy perspiration.
    She seized a mirrored fragment, ran it down her cheek and threw it to the tiled floor. A strangled cry escaped her wretched throat. Blood flowered in the basin, little crimson ink blots decorating the splintered mirror, reflecting her warped face.
    Ire brewed, filling her body with hate, smouldering with fury, boiling into vehemence and burning rage.
    She stalked back into the bedroom, followed by an insistent trail of scarlet beads, and grabbed a frame by the bed. His gaze stared back at her, his round face and hateful grin oozing out of the image. An unrecognisable, guttural cry invaded her ears, crammed with pain and resentment, and hornets stung her blood-shot eyes.
    His cretinous image stained her soul like the stench in an abattoir, and she would never escape. His smug, lying eyes would torment forever, and his deceit would corrupt the very ground she paced.
    She smiled, a raw, distorted grimace, and imagined his arrival.
    The front door scratched by fingernails and the telephone on the floor, the whirlwind-attacked living room and fallen pictures across the stairs. The struggle in the bedroom, the fight in the bathroom…and she carefully tore the neck of her sweat-sodden t-shirt, revealing her heaving breast.
    Her hand lifted, slowly and certainly, the shattered bottle shard glinting in the afternoon sunlight as it poured through the half drawn, half torn down curtains. It only took a movement, one quick and resolute movement, and blood decanted from her throat like a rich, red wine…
    She sank to the floor, a vengeful smile flowering on her lips…for the very last time.

    (625 Words)
    @LastKrystallos

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  2. Locomotion

    Every week Joe drove slowly around the estates of north west London in his rusty flat back wagon. The old speaker on the roof would crackle out with one of four familiar calls, none of which would be discernible if you didn’t know them. His 45 year old face was long and a little thin and his hair greying. Life had made him look older, but it was still a jovial and welcoming face.

    The rag and bone was a throwback to the 19th Century rebranded since the 1990s as ‘recycling’ and he loved the simplicity of it. He just moved crap that was too big for the bins that people couldn’t get down to the tip. More often he was actually just taking stuff that people couldn’t be bothered dealing with. He loved other lazy people.

    Occasionally he would hit pay-dirt of course. People not knowing what they were disposing of, the ignorance of the general public, was his very best friend. Joe hated the proliferation of TV programmes like Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt. Still, each day he would drive his old banger of a wagon back to the yard packed with tat and at the end of his day he would be climbing into his new Merc to drive to his rather handsome home in the suburbs.

    This particular Friday was to be a good day. A young man in a rush to clear his grandmother’s flat was stood by the road with some boxes. ‘Can you take these of my hands mate?’ the man called across to Joe.

    ‘Looks light, is it clothes?’ said Joe trying to sound friendly and slightly uninterested at the same time.

    ‘Yeah, just a few rags I’m afraid mate, a few books,’ the man said, ‘Sorry there’s nothing more interesting. She didn’t have a lot my gran.’

    ‘Pile them on the back then,’ Joe shrugged, ‘I’ll get rid of them for you.’

    He loved ignorant people.

    Back at the yard Joe was on his knees going through the boxes methodically, whilst a mix CD was blasting out classic songs from the 1960s. A smile grew wide across his cracked face. His eyes sparkled too and the years seemed to drop away from him.

    ‘Mary Quant, Ossie Clark. Oh my!’ Joe showed the dresses to Ted, the rather uninterested doberman pinscher, ‘Yves Saint Laurent!’

    These vintage classics would sell for a small fortune on Monday. Better still though, today was Friday and there was one dress in particular which looked stunning.

    ‘His gran must have been a tall lady,’ Joe muttered. Ted emitted a low growl as Joe measured the navy blue dress against his torso.

    Tonight was a big 60s night down the club, and on Friday nights Joe became Jo. He could feel his excitement rising as he closely studied his find. He couldn’t wait to be doing the ‘Locomotion’ in that dress.

    (484 words)
    @zevonesque

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  3. SECOND HAND ROSE

    Haskins got home just before sundown. The house was quiet, living room dark, and kitchen empty. Damn girl hadn’t put his dinner on the table. When she finally got her skinny butt home, he was going to remind her there was a price for shirking chores.

    Lights flickered in the street and he headed for the porch, thinking her friends were dropping her off after a late afternoon at the mall but it turned out it was just some guy who’d been trolling the neighborhood that morning, rummaging through household items set out for charity collection.

    The black truck slowed and the driver waved at him. “Appreciate your hospitality today, friend.”

    Haskins waved back, though he didn’t know why, other than something about the man compelled him to. “Hope you found a use for that old lamp.”

    “I surely did. Made off with a couple more items you had lying around back there and put them to good use too. Say, how about I thank you with dinner? Made camp just outside the city limits. Got a mean shepherd stew on the fire. Always enough for one more at the table.”

    Haskins belly overrode his hesitation and next thing he knew, he was in the truck and chatting about upcycling while they drove towards the edge of town. He saw the spot before they reached it, a big circle of travel trailers lit up with white twinkle lights, the kind tacked on trees and roofs for the holidays.

    As they got out of the truck, the man held out his hand. “Name’s Josiah, but folks here call me ‘King.’”

    Haskins shrugged. “Why’s that?”

    “You ever hear of the Gypsy King? Prince of gutters and alleys? Master of animals? Purveyor of magic?”

    “No. What? Are you telling me you’re this fellow, this Gypsy King?”

    “That I am, friend. That I am,” Josiah said, bowing so low that the edges of his dark duster flared around his feet and his black cockscomb bobbed as though it really was rooster’s feathers.

    Turning, he breached the ring of trailers, led Haskins to a grid of tables laid with food and drink, and handed him a mason jar brimming with a cold liquid. “Here, try a pint of this homemade ale. It’s sure to ease the rumble in your belly.”

    Greedily, Haskins downed the jar, a pale sweet smelling brew that was surprisingly palatable, and dropped onto one of the benches. “How soon ‘til we eat?”

    Josiah clapped his ring-laden hands and trailer doors were thrown open. People filled the campsite, dressed in all manner of garish colors and speaking in great sweeping sentences that left him off kilter, as though his ears were full of cotton.

    But before he could mention it, the assembly fell silent and a beautiful young woman stepped from among them, coming to stand beside Josiah, and his black-lacquered fingertips possessively closed around her soft pink hand. “Sweet little kitten got her mama’s good looks, don’t she, friend?”

    Haskins managed to stammer a few words, though his tongue was thick and dry as bricks in his mouth. “My daughter. That’s my daughter.”

    Josiah fixed his sharp black eyes on Haskins, the smudged eyeliner accentuating his smoky fury. “Strange how folks leave such precious things lying around like yesterday’s rubbish.”

    Haskins belly began to bubble and spittle dotted his lips and chin, but he could no longer speak.

    “Don’t you worry, daddy,” Josiah said, watching Haskins fall off the bench. “I’m going to take real good care of your baby girl.”

    When Haskins tried to scream, the pressure made his eyes bulge and blood seeped into the sclera, clouding his vision. But the poison was cruel enough to let him witness one final horror.

    The Gypsy King let go of the girl’s hand and trailed his fingers along her sweet curves, pausing to squeeze a rounded butt-cheek, fondle an ample breast, and tease a succulent lip. “And now, if you’ll excuse us, friend, my second-hand rose and I have a marriage to consummate.”

    – – – – –
    672 words / @bullishink

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  4. They settled their sleeping bags outside the store in the early hours. Unfortunately they weren’t the first. Mitsy didn’t like that at all; she dished out filthy looks left, right and centre. She wasn’t going to make friends with these people, tomorrow she would be fighting with them.

    They managed to get a place up against the wall. Silvia had squeezed her way in and spread herself out to make room for Mitsy to join her.

    “I’m not ‘appy about this Silv, there’s too many of ‘em.”

    “It’ll be good Mits, you’ll see.”

    Mitsey pulled a face, unconvinced. Silvia pulled out the flask of coffee, and they took turns taking swigs from the little plastic cup. There was no way they were going to sleep, they wanted to be up and ready for those doors to open.

    And they were, along with elbows flying, oblivious of the shrieks of outrage from the other women waiting. They were going to be bloody first and that was the end of it.

    Silvia rushed to one of the bigger tables, the high piled jumble of glitter and sequins working it’s magic on her and drawing her in. She grabbed at handfuls of them trying to look at them all before anyone else got their hands on them.

    Mitsy was on the other side and had already got into a fight with one of the other battle axes, insisting that she had it first. She didn’t even know if it was her size, but that wasn’t the point.

    That was when he jumped up on the table and boomed down the megaphone at her to stop!

    Mitsy leapt back in terror, releasing the garment.

    He was a long thin man, dressed in a pearly suit that glistened off the overhead strip lights. And the top hat lent a quirky, jaunty look that seemed disturbing to her somehow. He kept his eyes on her; tiny dark brown, deep set things that gave her the shivers.

    She rushed round to Silvia and tugged at her arm.

    “Let’s leave it shall we?”

    “What? You’ve gotta be kidding, ain’t ya? No way, I’m just getting started.”

    “He’s giving me the willies he is, I wanna to go.”

    “Who is?”

    “ ‘im up there!” She jabbed her finger upwards, trying not to be seen, but his eyes hadn’t left her.

    Silvia looked round, and frowned at Mitsy. “No clue who you’re talking about; there’s no blokes ‘ere.”

    “Don’t be funny Silv! The pearlie on the table, with the megaphone.”

    Silvia took a side glance at the table, then at Mitsy.

    “You ‘avin one your turns again love? There’s nobody there.”

    Mitsy froze. Silvia lowered the garment she was holding up, and gave Mitsy a sympathetic look.

    “It’s always pearlies int it love?”

    Mitsy’s eyes started to well up and Silvia quickly put her arm round her, pulling her in. Then she whispered, “Has he gone yet?”

    Mitsy nodded, and croaked, “Why does he always do it Silv? Send them. Why don’t he just leave me alone?”

    “He don’t like it Mits, never did. He hated you hunting for bargains, always thought yous were better than that.”

    Mitsy gave a small laugh. “Bit of a joke seeing as he was the rag and bone man!”

    Silvia giggled too. “Yeah he was a funny man, your Bill, miss him.”

    “Me too.” Mitsy was sniffling into her hanky. Silvia chucked down the clothes she had in her hands.

    “Come on love, let’s go down the High Street for a cuppa. There’s not much here anyway.”

    Mitsy nodded as they started to push their way out again.

    604 Words
    @PurpleQueenNL

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  5. Andy Bartalone

    Poor Choices

    Patrick Kelly entered the hotel room and observed the ropes still attached to the bedposts, glanced about the room until he saw Richardson sitting on the toilet seat being attended to. He approached and the EMT stepped out of the bathroom. Patrick closed the door.

    “Do you have any idea how much trouble you are in?” “What were you doing up in here in Northampton?” Richardson tried to start answering but Kelly cut him off “and why were you carrying a weapon, you aren’t authorized to do that at any time?” “You do realize that we have been looking for you for 3 days”

    Richardson sighed. “It’s a bit of a long story and you know how they found me, which might answer where I have been for the last 3 days” he said, slightly blushing.

    Kelly opened the door to the bathroom slightly and looked out, waving the medical and other personnel out of the room. As they cleared, he closed and locked the door, motioned for Richardson to take a chair and said “Tell me your story”

    Richardson started slow;” I was working in the Northampton station for the last year before coming to London and while I was up here I met this Charlotte, and she and I got along all right and I thought I would take my vacation up this way and try to look her up, but I couldn’t find her, but I found her friend Lucy, and she told me that Charlotte had moved away and gotten married, but that she would help me enjoy my holiday, and boy did she help me, she like to drink and liked to shag, we were having a grand time until I woke up 2 days ago tied to that bed with a gag in my mouth”

    Kelly thought to himself, the staff said that he was with a Pikey girl that came through town every couple of months.

    Kelly: “Was this the Pikey girl that the maid described to me”

    Richardson: “It miiiiight have been”

    Kelly: “And she has your watch, wallet, keys, identification and a gun, that you should not be carrying”

    Richardson: “I suspect so, yes”

    Kelly: “Your flat in London is likely empty by now, but you can always find a bit of rag and bone to replace what they took, assuming you can clear yourself of the weapons charges and the girl isn’t underage, which are both in question, hope you enjoyed your holiday”

    Richardson: “It was great until 3 days ago” pausing “Mr. Kelly you can be ass sometimes”

    Kelly:”Sometimes?”

    buffalo@guisarme.net
    432 Words

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  6. Jack stood in front of a ten feet brick wall, with his hands on his waist, and started shouting.

    “Meg, my love, where are you? Dear Meg, oh Lady Meg. Meg my sweet, Meg my lemon angel, we have a customer, my dear.”

    A light breeze rustled Jack’s tailcoat. He held on to his top hat to keep it from blowing away. Beneath his feet and all around him, the shadows started to move.

    They crawled and slithered and glided and they converge on the brick wall. The shadows rippled and swirled and they meshed and they coalesced. Jack lightly scratched the triangular beard snuggled beneath his lower lip as he waited.

    The shadows in front of him started to take form—hair, legs, arms, and head all attached to a slim body of a girl. The shadow girl moved and stepped out of the wall. Eyes, lips, nose, they all appeared on her face.

    Meg smiled and did a curtsey. Jack laughed and applauded.

    Meg was a girl of twenty wearing a chiffon, black dress and a small top hat was pinned to her hair. She walked over to Jack and planted a kiss on his stubbly cheek.

    “Where are we headed, love?” She asked.

    “We’ll follow the scent, dearie,” Jack answered.

    Meg laughed and spun and she leapt inside Jack’s rusty grocery cart.

    “Off we go!” Jack shouted.

    ***

    The mansion at the end of the street was purely made of marble and just a couple of feet away from its doorstep, the pavement was dark with blood.

    Matthew was seated on the ground as if in a trance. He had his knees pulled up to his chest and his hands held a gun that had just recently stolen someone’s life. It felt heavy in Matt’s sweaty hands.

    There were no houses nearby the mansion and no one knew that Matt was there that night so he was safe from being discovered, but this little fact had not entered Matt’s currently discombobulated mind. He didn’t even hear the loud squeaking of the wheels of Jack’s grocery cart.

    “Oh my, my,” Jack said.

    “Oh dear, oh dear,” Meg said.

    “This is a sweet little thing we have discovered, my peach,” Jack said to Meg.

    “This is a delicious, little secret indeed, my cart pushing prince,” Meg replied.

    Matthew seemed oblivious to his uncanny on-lookers. He continued on mumbling to himself with the gun in his hands.

    Meg got off the grocery cart and she skipped her way over to the dead body.

    “Yep, that’s awfully dead to me,” Meg said.

    “Oh don’t touch the dead body, Meg my cherry pie, it’s got all these germs and worms and icky wicky things,” Jack walked over to Matthew’s side. “Now, my friend, what is your story for us?”

    “Is he deaf, my darkling?” Meg whispered to Jack’s ear.

    “Oh I don’t think he is. He’s just all excited, you see, first life he’d ever taken if I’m not wrong, and you know how good I am at guessing things,” Jack replied with a wink.

    Matthew looked up and to see Jack and Meg staring at him with a smile. His eyes grew wide and he started pointing the gun at them. “Who are you?!”

    Meg quickly hid behind Jack and said: “Wowie, he’s crazier than Uncle Philip on a hot, Sunday afternoon, isn’t he?”

    “Hush, Meg,” Jack got on one knee and held out both hands in front of him, “Friend, we’re here to help you.”

    “I—I didn’t mean to do it,” Matthew’s hands shook as he started to cry. “Hel—help how?”
    “We are in the business of…buying stuff. Things with an interesting story, oh how we love stories,” Jack replied.

    “I don’t understand,” Matthew looked at Jack then at Meg.

    “Oh it’s all pretty complicated stuff. One thing you need to know is we can clean up this little mess for you,” Meg walked over behind Matt.

    “All it takes is one. Little. Handshake.” Jack extended his right hand and winked at Matt.
    Matt looked at the hand then at Jack then back at the hand.

    He was utterly clueless as to what was happening. All he knew was he wanted all of it gone—the corpse, the gun, his guilt, all of it. And so he reached out to Jack’s hand and shook it. Jack smiled and Matt wasn’t sure if it was just some trick of the light but he thought he saw Jack’s face…changed for a while. Behind Matt, Meg’s shadow steadily rose from the ground.

    ***

    Jack had a huge grin on his face as he flipped the newly added pages of his book. It told the story of a small time clerk who killed his boss after he found out his wife’s been cheating on him with the guy.

    “Poor Matthew,” Meg said. “We forgot to tell him that he’s part of the story.”

    Jack flipped to the last page and on it was a charcoal drawing of Matthew in mid scream.

    @jblearnstowrite
    839 words
    I know I’m not eligible for the contest but it would still be awesome to read your reactions to my story. 🙂

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  7. Mother-lode

    “No signs of human life, sir.” Analyse twirled her chair. She hated the caravan and was jittery any time they spent more than a few days between show planets.

    “Good. Let’s break the atmosphere and see what we find. And stop fidgeting; you’re making me nervous.” James smiled at the young acrobat.

    “Yeah, yeah,” she replied. But she ceased the movement. She stared sulkily at the monitor in front of her while she absently began flipping a toggle that had been broken for months. She hoped somewhere a Tribal magistrate’s lights were flickering on and off.

    James knew his crew hated deep space scavenging but they needed the extra currency if they wanted to eat this month. Plus, their carnival license had been suspended for lack of proper Tribal payment. They would all be homeless soon if he didn’t sell this haul on the black market for a good turn. So far, the finds had been pretty sparse. Most of the crew had been tasked with sprucing up what little they did carry off of the dead rocks at the edge of Tribal territory. It would be a miracle if they sold enough to pay for a week’s worth of water tablets.

    James shook off his worry and concentrated on maneuvering through the expired world’s atmosphere. He set the scanner for processed metals and bioplastics. Where there was plastic, there’d be the bones of a city. Half an hour later, the scanner squawked to life. James adjusted trajectories and headed toward the location flashing on the screen. The ship crested a mountain range before James could physically see where they were headed. A dark, crumbling city lay nestled in the bowels of two peaks. Structures that had once been called sky scrapers jutted up from the ground.

    “They look like ribs,” Analyse said. She had moved behind his chair so she could see out the shield glass.

    “Yeah, they sort of do; maybe there is a giant sleeping under the mountains,” he teased.

    “There’s only death under those mountains,” the young girl replied. James sighed. Analyse was young but she already knew what hardship felt like. This place hadn’t lasted long, by the looks of it; maybe a decade or so. And probably at the hight of Tribal expansion – before the water shortage.

    “Maybe so. But I’m hoping there’s at least a few things we can salvage,” James replied as he engaged the landing gear. “Go get your suit on. There’s no telling what type of toxins are seeping into the ground here.”

    James and Analyse headed toward the closest large building. The common dwellings wouldn’t contain anything of value; most would have been cleaned out as the inhabitants moved inward to the center of the galaxy. The sky scrapers housed the pay dirt in most cases.

    Analyse stared in awe as they entered the first scraper they could find.

    “What was this place?” She asked.

    “A textile manufacturer I think,” James replied. He studied the bolts of tattered fabric and mounds of decaying thread. “They made cloth; for clothes.” James breathed heavily at Analyse’s perplexed face.

    “Look, before biosuits everything was made out of this stuff,” he explained.

    “But it doesn’t have any type of protective properties. And it decays. How did it gather vitals?” She couldn’t comprehend the dirty rags littering the room.

    “It didn’t do any of that. It just sort of hung on your body. Look, let’s head downstairs and see if we can find the old server room.” James shook his head. “Man, I’m too old for this,” he said under his breath.

    “Yeah, you are,” Analyse taunted as she opened the door to the stairs. As they rounded the landing, they heard a white noise like static on a monitor.

    “What is that?” Analyse asked but James already knew. He rushed to the door. He threw it open in disbelief then sank to his knees. It was the mother-lode of all mother-lodes. There, under a city of rags and bones, was the largest river James had ever seen.

    676 words
    @BrewedBohemian

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