Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 24

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 24.

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.


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 features the late, great Amy Winehouse.


The song is, “You Know I’m No Good”.  Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/b-I2s5zRbHg

This week’s Judge is… Me! I had a judge lined up for this week but what we have here is… failure to communicate. So you guys are stuck with me.

That’s all you need from me.  The challenge is now open & runs through 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday August 2nd.

Go write!!!!!



Posted on July 30, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. It’s back again, the buzzing noise that’s not quite subliminal. No one else says they can hear it, but I know they can. I’ve seen the way they look at me. The way there’s always something more important going on somewhere else, or a text from a sick friend, or a big project at work. They hear me buzzing, and it’s unpleasant. I don’t blame them for leaving. I’d leave if I could, but the buzz isn’t in my ears, and it’s not an insect, winging its way around my head like my own personal Sputnik. I’m the buzz.

    I first noticed it in fourth grade. I was playing by myself at recess, of course, when Ronnie came up to me. We’d been neighbors – friends, I’d thought – once upon a time, but those days were faded, like the bruises he’d left on my shoulders during one too many games of Two For Flinching. We didn’t talk anymore, except when our parents forced us together at a block party or birthday, and even then, his smiles were false and mine were absent. His smile that day wasn’t false, but it wasn’t for me. It was for the group gathered around him, sycophants all, barely suppressing giggles. “Want some lemonade?” he asked. “My mom told me to share with you today.”

    The mind is a powerful machine. It can create its own reality when the one it experiences through your eyes and ears is too much to take. It can make urine taste like lemonade. It can make you buzz.

    The buzz isn’t there all the time, at least not that I notice. For years at a time it grows quiescent, hibernating, waiting for the dark places in my mind to tell it that spring has arrived. But it’s merely dormant, not dead.

    I tried to measure it once, late at night in the science lab. It was particularly strong that year, feeding on the shards of my self-esteem, crushed by a professor whose cynicism was more vital than my future. I sang to myself in the dark, trying to make the buzz play the part of a baritone in the chorus of voices in my mind, but it never worked. I couldn’t sing well enough, and it never stopped. The meters jumped, I thought, but the signal wasn’t really strong enough to overcome the noise in the machine, and eventually I went home to my cage.

    These days it waits for special occasions. Mostly. When I’m making a presentation at work. When I’m trying to make love. When my kids ask me for another glass of water. They hear it, often before I do, and they wince. My counselor said they wince because they’ve been hit too often, and I wish I could find out who did that, who would hurt such beautiful children. The police officers hear the buzz too, but they cover it up by slamming me around the interrogation room.

    The clock on the wall buzzes too, but at just different enough of a frequency that beats echo throughout the room, the syncopation punctuated every sixty seconds by the click of the minute hand. The nurse at my side winces as he prepares the IV, the repulsion on his face clear as he puts on a second pair of gloves, further insulating his flesh from the buzz.
    They were all there, in the audience, when they wheeled me out on stage. The house lights were bright, limning the crowd in halos. Ronnie sat with his arm around my ex-wife, his smile warm and comforting while she cried silently, her reddened eyes never leaving me. My children were there too, their tiny forms sheathed in smoke. They spoke only to each other – even their mother ignored them – but I didn’t.

    “Daddy’s here. It’s going to be okay, little ones. I promise. Daddy promises.”

    The buzzing grew louder, more distinct, rising in pitch until the clock struck midnight. They thought I would cry out then, I know. I did too.

    And then it was over. At least they didn’t ask me to drink urine.

    684 words


  2. Staring back at her was a woman she didn’t recognise; her face was drawn and sallow, dark circles sagged beneath her eyes, her cheeks sucked in of their own accord, deep crevices weaved across her forehead and fine lines emanated from the outer corners of each eye, a puckered smile rested in a permanent droop. When did this happen to her?

    She sighed, releasing a breath of acceptance combined with cigarette smoke, and began to apply the makeup that would make her presentable enough for tonight’s show, but she knew it wouldn’t be enough and that she couldn’t go on without help of some sort. She had options. She chose Jack.

    Pulling the bottle from the back of the dressing table drawer she smiled when she saw it was unopened, she liked to peel of the plastic seal and make that first twist of the cap and smell the whisky as its aroma escaped and snaked up her nostrils. The smell alone was intoxicating to her but not as much as the first drink of the day. Her taste buds long damaged by excess she judged everything by how much it burned going down. This burned. One glass would not be enough, the crowd was large, and they had expectations. They knew she was spiralling but they still wanted their piece of her. Whatever she did they still came and as long as she could still perform then they would still come.

    It took half a bottle these days to steady her hands and stop her from shaking, she would finish the rest during the interval, and she took one last swig from the bottle and screwed the lid tight. She removed her dressing gown. Every time she saw her body reflected she never really recognised it, she never really recognised herself in any way anymore, somehow her identity had been lost and she was flailing without it.

    She threw on a dress that someone had left in the dressing room for her; she slid her feet into blood red stilettos and felt physically repulsed when she saw herself. She was disappointed that Jack wouldn’t be able to help her on his own and grabbed some pills that had been left out for her (her manager was always so helpful) and swallowed them back. Her hair required little effort and she coated it with another layer of hairspray.

    The knock at the door meant she was on, time to shine she told herself, time to live the dream for a moment. The remnants of who she had been walked slowly onto the stage and the audience roared in applause as if she was someone special, as if they didn’t know she was no good. The music began, she felt it ripple through her veins, and she sang. She sang as if she was someone special as if she was someone good.

    (481 words)


  3. She was just one of an endless string of people in my life who never understood why I did what I did. Another in an endless string of people I wounded, disturbed, and left in confusion, tears and pain. That’s who I am. I’m no good.

    She asked me on that Sunday in November, “Why? Why did you un-friend everyone from the church?” I’d expected her to ask. And I knew she’d never understand, never figure it out. Just like I knew I could explain what I’d done a million times, and she still wouldn’t understand.

    But I tried to explain anyway. I’m stupid that way. Or, perhaps, I’m optimistic that way. Yeah. I’m a stupid optimist. That works.

    “I didn’t leave because I don’t like them.”

    “Then why did you leave?”

    “To protect them.”

    “To protect them? Protect them from what?”


    I knew what was coming. I knew what would happen. The same thing that always happened. I’d learn to live a lie, behaving as expected in the group, so no one would be disturbed, or upset, by me. That’s how I cope with people. I figure out what they want me to become, how they want me to behave, and I become that. Because that makes them happy. That shuts them up. That gets them to leave me alone, and not say to me, endlessly, “But, you can’t be that way!” I would rip my heart and soul to ribbons to blend in, and keep them safe.

    And if I decided to not blend in, behaved as me, who I really am, to say what I believe, live like I believe, well. That would leave everyone in her church asking, “What’s wrong with him?” and “Doesn’t he know he can’t be like that?” and “Doesn’t he know that’s wrong?”

    They’d have never accepted my writing, especially when I wrote anything explicit. Men and women having sex is something church people don’t write about. Especially when they’re exploring different aspects of sex, trying things out. That’s disturbing and disruptive to them. Besides, that’s something church people just don’t do, and don’t condone, or accept in others. So, just by exploring things to write, I’d have wound up at odds with every person in her church.

    I’d shut down my writing before. I gave my word to God, to life, I wouldn’t shut it down again.

    Then there were the people I talked to, associated with, on the Internet. Gay rights supporters. Openly homosexual people, bisexual people, transsexual people. People of different races, colors, creeds, religions. Even self-proclaimed witches, pagans, and atheists. I could certainly talk to such people and not hear about it in church, not be criticized in church, not be told, “We’ll pray for you.”

    I tried. I did. I tried to explain everything. Why I left. Why I put myself out of the reach of the people of her church. But she never understood. All she said was what I knew she would say.

    “You can’t be that way.”

    She never understood I am that way, and can’t be any other way. She never understood I’m broken, and no good. And now, she’s one of the endless list of people I’ve hurt, and left wounded, in my life. A list that grows, endlessly. Because no matter how I try, I can’t explain to anyone why I do what I do, why I am how I am. No one ever understands.

    And I can’t live that lie of blending in any more. I can’t tear my heart to ribbons, or crucify my soul. I tried that for three decades. That blending in, and being safe, nearly killed me. Oh, I know. People tell me, “There was nothing wrong with you. You just had your through processes screwed up, that’s all.” They literally can’t understand, my thought processes aren’t screwed up. They’re different.

    I’m different.

    And in their world, I’m broken. And no good.

    660 Words


  4. Games Between Lovers
    By Lisa McCourt Hollar

    The bar was smoky when Andrew stepped inside. The haze stung his eyes and he tried not to breathe too deeply; there was no telling what kind of poison was in the air. All eyes were on him before the door closed, especially the women’s… all that is except for her. She purposely avoided looking in his direction, choosing instead to bend over the pool table and make her move. He felt a pain in his own when the balls shattered against each from the impact of her shot.

    “Maria, come with me,” he said, taking her arm. A big guy who had been watching Maria stood, trying to look threatening. He was dressed like a lumber jack and put Andrew in mind of Paul Bunyan. He towered over Andrew and a lesser man would have backed down… or a smarter one.

    “She’s my wife.”

    The big man smirked. “Looks like she’s lost interest in the marriage. Go home.”

    “Maria?” Andrew turned her towards him, forcing her to look into his eyes.

    She looked briefly and then looked away. “You know I’m no good.”

    “I know that you’re mine. Come on.” He pulled her towards the door while she struggled to get loose from his grip. A hand on his shoulder stopped him.

    “I tried to warn you,” the big man said, and then threw a punch that would knock any man on his ass. Andrew wasn’t any man. He stood there and absorbed the blow while the giant’s face turned from anger to shock.

    “My turn,” Andrew said. He reached for Maria’s would be protector, grabbing for his arm. Then he pulled and twisted, ripping the limb from its socket and tossing it across the room. The arm landed on one of the tables, spilling a couple bottles of beer before anyone had a chance to register what had just happened. The lumberjack fell to his knees, putting him at just the right height for Andrew, who ripped his head off.

    The screaming began then. Andrew picked Maria up and threw her over his shoulder, smacking her on the ass for good measure. He only made it a few feet before another man… this one even taller than the first. This one, a biker, at least had the decency to look scared as he addressed Andrew.

    “You aren’t going anywhere.”

    Chairs scraping against the floor and Andrew looked behind him. He counted seven more men, all looking angry. On the floor, another was bent over the lumberjack. He looked up and Andrew knew this wasn’t over. It never was.

    He set Maria down. “Are you happy now,” he asked her.

    The first ran at him, trying to knock him backwards, but just as before, Andrew didn’t budge. The man however fell backwards. Andrew left him there, turning towards the advancing horde. Blood was everywhere when he was finished, as well as arms, legs and a few severed heads. Everyone else had fled the bar, except for the man on the floor. He was staring at Andrew in terror. Then, realizing he was the only one left, he began backing towards the door. Andrew took hold of his leg and pulled him back to the middle of the room, placing him in front of Maria.

    “Is this what you wanted?” He asked. “More death. You know how jealous I get, why do you push me?”

    Maria didn’t answer, looking between Andrew and the terrified biker. She knew this was all her fault and she felt a thrill, knowing she had such power over him. In the two-hundred plus years they’d been together, she never got tired of making him fight for her. She fell on the floor, covering the man with her body while she drank his blood. Andrew waited patiently. When they got home he would punish her severely. Or she would punish him… He would never admit it, but he loved the games they played.

    Word Count: 657


  5. 24 Weeks
    by Stephanie Fuller

    Six months. Twenty-four weeks. One hundred and sixty-eight days. Four thousand and thirty-two hours. Give or take an hour or two. Then I saw you with her.

    We met on a Friday. Downtown. There was drinking, music, dancing and laughter. You bought me a drink. I hated it, but drank it anyway. We talked. We flirted. We exchanged numbers and a kiss, but you sent me home, alone, in a cab. I thought you were a gentleman.

    You said you would call. It came the next day. You treated me to lunch and we went for a walk. It was sweet. It was innocent. It was amazing.

    We decided to have dinner a few days later. You took me to a fancy restaurant. I took you back to my place for dessert.

    We fell into place so perfectly. Our phone calls became regular. More meals were eaten together. More dessert.

    You said you would love me forever. You said I made you happy. I was happy too. More than I’d ever been in my entire life. I was ready to love you forever.

    Friends warned me to be careful. They warned me not to fall in love. That you were not good for me and could only break my heart. I didn’t listen. I wasn’t careful. I fell in love. I was a fool.

    Denial and Isolation. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. I’m supposed to feel all these things, according to the books. Books are wrong. I feel nothing. Emptiness.

    I’m just a body. A broken shell of what once was me. I try to eat. I try to drink. I try to survive without you. I fail.

    Desperately trying to move forward, but something always sparks my mind. A smile. A wink. I think I hear your laugh. A song on the radio. It all reminds me of you.

    My friends take me out to try and help. I go because I know they mean well. I sit and look around. Not sure if I want to see you or not. With her.

    Hours pass. Days pass. Weeks pass. Months pass. A year arrives.

    I met her on a Saturday. She looked into space as I walked up. Tears stained her face. I’d seen her once before. With you.

    I bought her a drink. We listened to music. We talked. We laughed. We exchanged numbers and a hug or two.

    Apparently, she thought you were a gentleman, but her friends said you were no good for her.

    417 Words


  6. Andy Bartalone

    As the sun started to peek over the horizon and find its way through the sliver of window not covered in heavy curtains. I lay in her bed with my back to her, the steady hum of the unit in the window keeping my mind in a place of questions. How could I have ended up here tonight?

    For the third night in a row, Darla had come into the pub, sat right in front of me and asked me to pour her Grand Marnier on the rocks. She was not a regular; she was attractive in a non-traditional way, her hair was colored magenta and her appearance was from where the fine line between classy and slutty met.

    On each of the previous nights I had told my girlfriend, Michelle about Darla. Michelle gave it no mind the first night, but the second night she jokingly asked if she needed to come down to the pub and protect what was hers. I smiled.

    Darla attracted the attention of a portion of the patrons, both male and female. She flirted with all of them, made conversation and was perfectly charming. Each night she also paid a bit of attention to me, I thought nothing of it.

    As the night got later, the bar emptied out, she asked me to drink with her. I agreed.
    When time came to close up she asked me if she could stay in the bar while she waited for her ride. I told her it was okay. I went about my business of closing up and when I finished she asked me to give her a ride home. As I lay here, I still don’t know why I didn’t put her in a cab. I would like to blame it on the drinkin’, but I would be lying to myself.

    On the trip to her flat I noticed the top of her purple bodice was open, not the whole thing, just the first three clasps. She was stretched out on the seat, giving directions without actually seeing the street.

    I pulled into the alley next to her place and she leaned over and kissed me, engulfing my mouth and stealing the air from my lungs. She took my hand and nudged me out of the car; we walked down a flight of stairs, her glancing back at me at each landing.

    We entered her place and she was disrobing me as the door shut behind me. We walked slowly in a clinch toward the back of her flat and fell onto her bed with her on top of me and that is the last thing I clearly remember. We had sex, a lot of sex, but I don’t remember the details of any of it.

    I got up and walked to the bathroom, used it for its stated purpose and looked in the mirror. That’s when I saw it, just above my right collarbone; she marked me, two little pinholes. I walked back to her bedroom to find her sitting up in bed and smiling. The curtains were back in place.

    516 Words


  7. “My name is Isabel and I’m”. . . . . . . no good. My mouth is suddenly filled with cement. I need a glass of water or a hammer and chisel. Water is offered, lukewarm, tastes of plastic from the beaker. One sip, thankfully, is enough to moisten my tongue. I look around the mismatched group. I know what they’re already thinking.

    “Water not good enough Princess?” a man wearing a beanie hat asks, grinning as he receives craved for admiration.

    “Champagne for the Sloane Ranger,” chips in a girl with a nose ring. I’m right; the girl with the clipped accent and loaded, no right at all to be sitting in the same room as them. Maybe they’re right? I’m not worthy of anyone.

    “You’re in the wrong class. Shopaholics anonymous is down the hall,” offered Beanie Hat. I was being criticised for my clothes; nothing changes.

    “Yes, Becky Bloomwood, off you trot,” Nose Ring replied, dripping with sarcasm.

    “You don’t even know who Becky Bloomwood is do you?” asked a mousy haired girl. “You’re more Pride and Prejudice that shopaholic.”Is it a crime to wear chic clothes? Why are they being so rude and stereotypical about me? I didn’t even want to come to this dilapidated building and sit and be judged. I’d been judged all my life. I knew it was a mistake. These people were no better than the one who put me here. Like these people would ever understand. I don’t even understand how my father, how any father, could be so cruel to their own flesh and blood just because she was a she and not a he. What on earth could I possibly do to the family inheritance that a boy wouldn’t? Did he miss the female Prime Minister and the fact we have a Queen? I ignored the trickles of sweat running down my back, too long being scared and made to feel useless. I didn’t want to justify myself to anyone. I want to get up but my feet are glued to the stained lino floor.
    “We are all here for the same reason. Differences are left at the door!” a woman reminded the group. She must be the leader, the head of the circle, if you can have a head in a circle. But she smiled sweetly at me; not out of pity or sympathy, but a warm smile of encouragement. “Why don’t you tell the group why you’re here Isabel?” I had to take another sip of the lukewarm water, hoping for courage. These people were just like me otherwise they wouldn’t be here. So what if I had money! Fat lot of good it did me! I had no friends to spend it with; they were all married now with babies. My family despised me. I was alone which is why I ended up here. And for my troubles, all I was getting was ‘poor little rich girl’ which was fine if it came with understanding. Judging eyes stared back; a few of the girls lustfully eyeing up my Stella McCartney boots. Maybe the shopaholic tag was warranted.
    “My name is Isabel . . . . . . and I have. . . . . . . . no self esteem. . . . . . . . . I was bullied by my father,” I can’t say it. They’re all going to hate me. I know I shouldn’t care but I want to be accepted.
    “Go on Isabel,” the leader says softly.
    “I pay for people to be my friends . . . . . . . I pay. . . . for . . . . company.”
    “Do you mean men like as in sex?” Beanie Hat asks.
    “I pay for sex! I pay for strangers to be my friends to take to family weddings, when I’m invited! I pay because I have no one! I’m no good! All I want is acceptance for being me and not have to lie, cheat and feel so worthless!” I stop now as my emotions are running high. I don’t want to be labelled a lunatic as well. Faces stare back. Beanie Hat smiles. Nose Ring nods with empathy.
    “This is the place to find that self worth Babe . . . and true friends,” Beanie Hat says, offering his hand. “Paul. Nice to meet you Isabel.” Grey, empty eyes stared back, mirroring my own.

    693 @Lizzie_Loodles


  8. oops; I’ve lost all the italics in the above piece. . . .there’s loads. . . if you’re reading it, please go to
    http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/i-did-week-one.html where you can get the full benefit of them. xxx


  9. These Walls
    by A J Walker

    I built these walls for a purpose. Using big thick slabs. Granite. Limestone. An impenetrable fortress.
    You are not getting past these walls.
    Through to me.
    I’ll bite your head off. If you so much as try.

    You say you’ve heard of someone finding a way in.
    There is no secret passage. No hidden door. The walls are on deep foundations, towering to the sky.
    You are not getting in.
    You say you’ve met me truly once. A beautiful aberration. A delicate wonderful butterfly, or was it a flower?

    It’s a lie, that never happened. The walls are impenetrable. I’ve told you. They’ve stood always.

    Step away. Walk on past there’s nothing to see. I’ll take the drink.
    As much as you’ll get from me.

    You’re a nice guy. Gentle. Intelligent. Good looking.
    In another world I’d give you every chance. I may even have chased you myself.
    Here and now though these walls are protecting you as much as me. Probably more. There are other people here. People you know. Fuck off and spoil their night.

    There’s no way in. If these walls ever fell the world would regret it. That would be you first, dickhead!
    Another drink.
    ‘Bottoms up!’
    ‘Haven’t seen you about for an age,’ he said, ‘Where you been?’
    Think I answered; his face suggested I did.
    Something innocuous. I don’t do conversation. You are not going to find me. These walls, you know.

    I built them for a purpose. There was indeed a time when people could get in. There were doors. Locked, but there was a key. They could be a way through.
    But I became more damaged. A quantum menace. Simultaneously a rose frozen with dry ice and a humungous bomb on a hair trigger.
    Dry ice. Rocks.

    You can do better. What can I give you, but headaches and heartaches?
    If there was a door. Just say, there was. If there was a door, what would happen?
    You’d smash the rose into a million pieces with a simple touch. That could happen. Or I could explode and scatter you and me throughout the hemisphere.

    Either way I’d be broken.
    I’m damaged goods. I’ve become a bio-hazard. A chemical hazard. Bubbling away on the edge of oblivion.

    I don’t do people. Not any more. The only damage I’m going to suffer will be self inflicted.
    ‘Cheers big ears!’

    There is no way in. The walls are solid to the sky. On deep deep foundations.
    You were feeling for the door. A secret way in. Did you find it? No. It’s not there.

    You’re safe. I’m safe. The walls have held.

    Now fuck off.

    (444 words)


  10. I saw it as he swung you back on the dance floor. Not many would have, but I was looking. It was just above your elbow and it brought an image I wasn’t proud of.

    As he swung you again I took a closer look; it had scabbed over. So what was it, a couple of days old?

    It wasn’t there earlier in the week, I knew that. I’d kissed every inch of you, like I always did.

    You smiled at the guy as he spun you round, and I saw it then; you, him, on his lounge carpet. You on your elbows straddling him. Maybe you bent to kiss him and slipped, or was it the movement? Rabbits came to mind.

    You threw you head back and laughed when he dipped you, but when you saw me your smile faltered. I picked up my pint and took a sip, not taking my eyes off you.

    The song finished and you came straight over to me. Leaning down to kiss me I took the back of your head and made it a deep one, giving you a wink as we broke off. And you smiled that smile that was just for me.

    I glanced over to see the guy looking. I looked back, murder in my eyes. He knew the score.

    You went off again this time to chat up the girls, and I relaxed, letting you have your time and enjoying a chat with the lads. Time shifted. I saw you dancing with him again. Okay, correction, he was dancing with you and the girls. Still, I didn’t like it. He was too close.

    He saw me looking and just looked back. I wasn’t happy.

    I glanced over at the lads and checked they’d seen it. They had. He had no idea what he was doing. But I wasn’t worried about him, I was worried about you.

    You glanced over too and I winked again. You smiled. I was okay with that. So I moved to the bar and got us some drinks. I took them to the dance floor and cut in, stepping right in front of him, giving you, your drink, and dancing with you for a couple of seconds. I whispered in your ear and you flicked your tongue across mine. I kissed your neck and left you to it.

    When the slow songs started you were across the room with the girls. I saw you look round for me and I laughed beckoning you. But as you walked to me he was there again, pulling at you to go with him. You glanced at me and I waited. What were you going to do?

    And I saw it then, that look; that indecision, and I knew then as I had always known, that scab was no accident.

    I moved quickly and reached you in a couple of strides, my hand wrapping round your arm, covering that scab.

    “She’s coming home with me mate.”

    He puffed his chest at me and glanced at you. You gave him a sympathetic smile and nodded. He didn’t argue, walking to the door with the rest of the departing club goers.

    As the lads passed me they patted me on the shoulder reassuring me that the job would be done.

    I led you out, my hands never leaving you. And in the back of the taxi I took your elbow, turned it over, and kissed the scab. As my head came up, our eyes met. The sadness in mine palpable, letting you know I knew. Your eyes were wide, but you turned them to gaze out the window as we pulled out of the parking lot.

    I put my hand on your leg and you covered mine with yours as a tear rolled down your cheek. I pulled your hand over to my leg and put my arm round you, pulling you into me and kissing the top of your head.

    Some would say you were no good for me, but it was me that was no good for you; I let do whatever you want, but I love you, so what can I do?

    695 Words


  11. The cabin was miles away from the nearest neighbor, just the way Derrick liked it. It was his place to escape the hassle of being the county sheriff. He tossed small logs onto the fire; it was the only source of heat to fight the cold night’s air. He could hear the storm grow fiercer outside on the tin rooftop. The loud crack of thunder sent chills up his back, the storm had set in and it would be hours before it broke. The knock came as loud as the thunder. He crossed the small distance to the door taking the pistol from the small table by the door and putting it in the back of his jeans. He cracked the door open enough to see his visitor before opening it further but there was no room for anyone to squeeze past him. “I’m not letting you in here, Devon.”

    “Come on, sugah,” her smile was wicked and cut sharper than any knife. “It’s raining and I’m soaked.”

    “I can see that,” the sun dress hung to every curve, “doesn’t mean I have to let you in here again.”

    She ran a finger across her lips; eyes shifted out to the pouring rain and then back to Derrick. Of course he was going to let her in. He shifted from the door allowing her to pass. She never stopped until she reached the warmth of the hearth. He placed his pistol back inside the chest with his badge.

    “I’ll get you a towel.”

    “Making a mistake Derrick, her husband finds her here again he isn’t so stupid to believe some fairytale this time.” He grabbed the towel from the shelf before heading back into the living room, he saw her dress laid out across the counter and his heart beat faster. She was trouble. He came into the room expecting to see her naked but instead she sat on a blanket by the fire wearing one of his oversized shirts.

    “I hope you don’t mind,” she smiled.

    “I do,” he replied. “I told you last time, no more.”

    “Please,” she stood crossing the small expanse between them, her hand resting on his stomach. “We both know you didn’t mean it.”

    “You’re making a fool out of a lot of people,” Derrick stated watching her bite on her lower lip.

    “You’re no fool,” he ran his hand down the side of her face seeing the small reminder of a bruise on her cheek healed weeks past. “I’m not asking you to be my hero.” He smiled. She replied with a smile of her own. Her smile was the definition of wicked, enough to bring any many to his knees.

    “You need to leave,” he started to pull away but found himself falling into the couch. She positioned herself on his lap and he looked away avoiding eyes contact.

    “No one knows I am here,” she replied. “This cabin in the woods, it is such a perfect place to escape from the rest of the world. I understand why you love it here.” He felt his heart race as he looked into her eyes.

    “You are trouble.”

    “Mama always said it shoulda been my middle name.” She leaned in for a kiss and Derrick obliged, her lips tasted of cherry chapstick. He shifted her weight standing and carrying her across the room softly laying her down on the floor in front of the fireplace. He brushed the red hair from her face feeling her legs wrap tightly around his waist as she smiled.

    “Your husband catches you here…”

    “You don’t have any worries when it comes to my husband, baby,” she smiled leaning up for another kiss.

    Derrick leaned up removing his shirt throwing it to the floor. It was then he saw the flashing lights as they danced through the curtains, blue lights waltzed into the cabin grabbing every shadow as he looked down at her. “What did you do?”

    She smirked. There was a confidence hidden in her devilish eyes and he knew now why she had come to him.

    @ashviper (680 Words)


  12. Home again. After missing the hat peg twice, he tossed it on the Formica counter. Shouldering the curtain divider aside, he shuffled into the living room, almost tripping over his wife. “Hell!”

    Laura perched on the couch in an immaculate white sheath dress, navy dotted swiss overlay. She always dressed innocent when she was up to no good.

    She’d been to the salon. He smelled the whiff of bleach, the sweetish conditioner massaged in to cover the sharp chemicals. Her nails were always painted “Passion Pink”, the lightest whitest pink they had. In her hands, she held a hand-written page filled with closely scribbled lines.

    All the curtains were wide open and the early morning light limned her hair with a bright halo. He was hardly able to look at her. “What are you doing up so early?”

    When he dropped his coat on the chair, she looked up from her letter with calm expectation. “Go ahead and fix your drink. I know you want it.”

    He grimaced, wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. It came away tasting of too many cigarettes and the quick swig of Listerine to mask the telltale vapors of yesterday’s “business lunch” and after-dinner drinks. He noticed his lipstick-collared dress shirt was draped atop the overflowing laundry basket.

    “How’s Gladys?” she asked idly, flipping the paper over to read the back.

    He paused in pouring his drink, the slick cubes slipping to kiss the golden whisky. “I told you, I went over to John’s office. We were up half the night working on the Masterson account.”

    After adding the smallest tap of soda water, he swirled it together, trying to read her unfurrowed brow. “What’s that?” he asked her, running a hand through his hair. It needed to be cut. He’d told her he had it cut last week and met up with Gladys instead.

    “It’s a love letter.”

    He froze, straining to remember if Gladys had written down any of that blathering nonsense. He lit a cigarette to cover his confusion.

    Laura reread one particular line, her lips moving. Her cheeks were flushed, the color too
    high on her cheekbones to be rouge. “I didn’t say it was for you.” She recrossed her legs, the pointed toe of her pump bopping gently with the radio, a bluesy thread faint in the background.

    His laughter was a surprised bark, careening off the wall to bounce back at him.

    The placid pale blue of her eyes studied his rumpled trousers, “You might want to get those cleaned.”

    He noticed the iron wasn’t even plugged in. There was a sudden bitter taste at the back of his throat. He stubbed the cigarette out in the bubbled glass ashtray with impatient precision.

    She was dressed to go out, even with her handbag waiting on the prickly wool of the couch. He had promised her to get that couch reupholstered in leather, he remembered with a start.

    He picked his way to the tweed recliner. Penny’s toys were scattered everywhere. He stepped on her Francie doll and swore, kicking it away.

    Laura opened her bag and dropped the letter in. Coolly, she drew out a cigarette and lit it, snapping the clasp shut with a decided click.

    The palms of his hands burst into sweat. “Since when do you smoke?”

    “Since when do I anything I prefer?”

    The sun bounced off the pitiless diamond on her finger, momentarily dazzling him.
    Standing, she drew on her gloves.

    “Where are you going?” he croaked.

    Kindly, absently, she patted his shoulder, “You should tell Gladys that a beehive really isn’t flattering for her face shape.”

    Her heels clicked on the way out, a staccato record of his life walking out the door.

    @ruanna3 – 622 words


  13. Run

    Dad’s days had turned into marathon internet searches and desperate attempts to scroll through his wife’s social media, page after page, looking for clues. Hours of reading online blogs and lengthy research into the reasons why women run. His fingers ran through his unwashed hair and his three-day-old shirt creased like his forehead.
    Meg perched on the edge of the sofa debating lunch, which was, as she stared at the clock, rapidly turning into dinner. She shook her head, even if she made food, he’d just refuse it. She glanced at Dad, her eyes roving across the room, taking in the photographs on the mantle, happy family pictures, smiling at the world. Her hands clenched in her lap, and she fought the tears that welled behind her eyes. Her heart thudded and her bottom lip wobbled.
    “Am I like Mum?” Meg released her question.
    Dad turned to her. “Why do you ask?”
    “Because she’s broken, and I might be too…are we both no good?”
    Dad slumped at his computer, and Meg spoke anxiously rising from the sofa, “Dad?” Her words no more than a whisper but filled with a hopeful plea of desperation. “Dad, if I ever run away, will you come and find me?”
    Tears illuminated his red, swollen eyes and a quivering sigh escaped his lips as he swung his chair round and took Meg in his arms. He crushed his daughter to his broken heart. “Sweetheart, if you ever run away and you want me to find you, no matter how far or how long it takes I will find you, I’ll walk every road and sail every sea until you’re back in my arms, I will find you, I’ll always find you.”
    She tightened her arms around him, there was no need to worry, no matter how much she wanted to run, to run until her feet were sore, until her legs could barely carry her, she would never hurt her father.
    She was not her mother.

    (331 Words)



  14. Urban Chess

    None of us knew her real name, but I don’t guess it really mattered much. She went by Morgan. As near as I know that was a reference to Captain Morgan since, like that distilled Heaven, she was dark, spicy and really not much good for you in excess. Seemed fitting whether it had any basis in reality or not.

    If there had been a poster girl for the ‘Don’t Hate the Player. Hate the Game” subculture, Morgan would have been right there. To Morgan, life was nothing more than oversized game of chess and, on this gritty urban board, she was the queen. The men, and sometimes women, who moved about and around her were little more than pawns to be maneuvered, manipulated, and ultimately sacrificed as need be for her benefit. To Morgan, as long as the queen was protected, the fate of the other game pieces was immaterial.

    Morgan held court from a back corner table of Ballerz, one of those bars that, defiantly, refused to fit into any sort of niche but never lacked for clientele. It was a loud, smoky, ill-lit bastion of debauchery punctuated by the odors of spilled beer, stale piss and a disturbing miasma of scents most-often associated with illicit drugs of one sort or another. While the members of her court changed often and regularly, Morgan never sat alone.

    In retrospect, I guess we should have realized it was going to be one of those “shit-hits-the-fan” moments when Pino came in looking for her. But, in all fairness, Ballerz wasn’t the kind of place where the odor of shit was immediately noticeable or particularly uncommon.

    She’d been running Pino for a couple of months now and had yet to come out on the down side of the game. The ragtop Caddy in the lot we all knew was hers had been bought on Pino’s dime. Her wardrobe, her bling and, most likely, just about all of her not-inconsiderable needs were being met by the sweat of that poor bastard’s brow. For her part, we all figured she must have had some sort of feelings for him since the way they interacted made it pretty clear there was something more than simple greed and usury at work.

    Morgan’s biggest, and most enduring, shortcoming was her singularly inability to leave well enough alone. No matter what fish she had on the line or how deep the hook was set, the bitch was always looking to trade up. Her latest contender for the position of king was Tommy “Thunderball” Jones. We didn’t know a whole lot about T-Ball and most of us were content to leave it that way. While his…affiliations were unconfirmed it was pretty damned straight to see by his muscles and his scars he was a guy accustomed to coming out ahead.

    While Pino may not have been the brightest bulb on the tree…well, okay he was a freakin’ brick, it didn’t take him all that long to figure out something was up. So, when he came in that rainy, Saturday night we all did our best to find a vantage place well out of the coming shitstorm but still close enough to see what went down.

    As close as we could get and as much as we like to think of ourselves as street-wise, nobody was ever really able to tell the cops exactly what went down next. When the lights went up, for maybe the first time in Ballerz checkered history, there were about half a dozen folks either bleeding out their last or already gone. Morgan took three rounds, I could see, and the shiv in her back made a nice exclamation point to the tale of her demise.

    They buried her somewhere over on the west side and none of us I know of went to any kind of memorial service. Maybe one day, for old time’s sake, I’ll go try and figure out where they put here. If nothing else, to figure out what Morgan‘s real name was. I don’t guess we’ll ever know who she really was deep down inside, but I don’t guess that matters all that much either. She’s still just as dead.

    700 words @klingorengi


    By J. Whitworth Hazzard

    I want to be good.
    I desperately want to believe that my work will end someday. A bright day, before I die, so that I have time to be redeemed. But until that day comes, the necessary darkness lives inside me, shoved down into the corner I keep hidden from her.
    “Where were you last night?” Allison looked nervous. Her little black dress complimented the monochromatic palette of the restaurant. Candlelight, roses, and wine made a romantic shell for her serious agenda. She didn’t want to ask, and she certainly didn’t want the answer. “I thought we had a date.”
    I pushed the pristine-white plate of pasta away and grabbed my wine glass. One gulp and the scarlet liquid was gone, met with three glasses of anxiety reduction from earlier in the date.
    “I had to work.”
    The same explanation used to work. Six months ago, when love was in bloom, her heart didn’t care what I did for a living; what I did in the middle of the night when no one else was around. She’d never met my victims and never would.
    Do you ever read the obituaries?
    My standard third-date question when everything was out in the open for discussion. After a couple drinks and laughs, they didn’t even remember that I’d asked it from the dozens of inane topics I scrolled through. But the answer to the question mattered to me. No one that says yes ever got a fourth date. I’d made that mistake once. Only once.
    The love of my life, a younger, more hopeful life, started to watch the obituaries after my nights of work. Time of death: 3:00 AM.
    It was the calling card of someone who collects souls for a living.
    Soon after, my employers directed me to call on her in the middle of the night. “Tie up the loose ends,” they said.
    Allison’s voice was sad again. “Would you ever quit? I mean… if you won the lottery and didn’t need any money.”
    “No. It’s not the money that keeps me working,” I said. I was told never to explain exactly how I do what I do. Never explain the rush, the pure addiction of sifting through the memories and experiences of the taken. The ritual was horrifying but the high was worth it. “I have a knack, you know. A calling for it.”
    “Would you quit if I asked you to?” Allison’s eyes were locked on mine.
    I thought for a long time before answering, “I would hope you would never ask that.”
    “Would you collect my soul if they asked you too?” Her eyes misted over as she tried to hide her quivering lip with her blood-red napkin.
    The question itself was an indication that she knew. Which meant she suspected the answer as well. She knew I was no good for her. Her love couldn’t save me, and it wouldn’t save her from me if I came calling. Some things ran deeper; into darker, stronger waters than a good woman’s love.
    “I don’t want to hurt you, Allison. But as long as you love me, you’ll never be safe.”

    527 words


  16. Josh stood over the body wondering where he’d gone wrong. Serena was gone and it was his doing. He admired his handy work while he tried to remember where things had turned bad. He had wanted a cohort; an adventurous soul to share his life. At first, he’d thought Serena would be that companion. Beautiful, witty, and rebellious, Serena appeared to be perfect in every way. And during the first few weeks she had been flawless in his eyes. Her skimpy tops and dark eyeliner had turned him on. Her ability to drink an entire bottle of whiskey without passing out amused him. Her mutinous spirit thrilled his sense of authority bucking. Of course, her best feature by far had been her mouth. Serena’s luscious lips had caressed him in a way no woman had ever managed. The way she worked her tongue was magic.

    He had been in love; or lust at the very least. She was everything he wanted and she had eyes for him alone. In truth it may have started out that way but it hadn’t lasted long. Their first date should have been his signal to start over. She had been so flirtatious with the bartender the guy had actually comped their drink ticket. Then after dinner, he had waited thirty minutes outside the ladies room to see her emerge with the blond waitress from two tables over. The blonde had been buttoning her shirt; Serena had licked those beautiful lips just so; he should have known then.

    As he looked over her soft skin laying on the floor in a heap he couldn’t keep his fingers from reaching to caress her. He still loved Serena even in this state. He pulled the screwdriver from his back pocket. Remnants of her fluids from the initial tear down shimmered in the dim light. He wiped the tip across his jeans and stuck the tool into her eye socket. Maybe if he adjusted her neural connectors, he wouldn’t have to completely rewriter her code. A total rewrite would take him at least a week and he had an office party in forty-eight hours. Maybe he could at least keep her from hitting on the boss…

    368 words


  17. Cat & Mouse

    When he regained consciousness and found himself zip-tied to a chair in the middle of an empty warehouse office, it was hard to say which chafed more: his bound wrists or ravaged pride.

    The answer arrived in a black leather pantsuit and thigh-high boots. Yeah, that was definitely his pride kicking him in the ass.

    She took advantage of his position and straddled him, sliding her lean thighs over the top of his until their bodies were fitted together almost as intimately as they had been an hour ago. “I was going to say ‘no hard feelings’, Nicolas, but your body says otherwise.”

    His cold black eyes fastened on her deadly red mouth. “Yeah, biology is a bitch.”

    “I believe you mean ‘anatomy’ but I don’t want to waste our last moments together quibbling,” she said, pressing a lacquered nail against his pulse point a moment longer than was comfortable.

    Securely restrained in their plastic shackles, his useless hands balled into fists. “Who did you sell me to this time, Sabine?”

    She trailed a nail down his chest. “Can’t a girl tie up her lover without being accused of something untoward?”

    He shifted his hips beneath her, testing his weight, hoping to feel the reassuring cool steel of his glock against his spine, and cursing when he didn’t. “You’re going to make me pay for that night in Paris the rest of my life, aren’t you?”

    Her tongue traced the inside of his ear. “Mmmm, yes, that’s the plan.”

    The sound of a vehicle outside ended the chit-chat.

    Sabine stood, smoothed her hair, and waited.

    Moments later, a pair of thugs came through a side door, one of them carrying a briefcase, the other toting a semi-automatic.

    The fellow with the briefcase grinned. “Would you look at that?! Epiphany put Mad Dog on a leash.”

    Sabine lit a cigarette. “Nobody calls me by that name except my friends and you’re not one of them.”

    The fellow with the gun said, “Shut up, pay the scary lady, and let’s get out of here.”

    “No. For once, I’m going to enjoy the moment. God knows we paid enough for it.”

    She flicked the ash and ground it into the cement with the toes of her boot. “I’m on a schedule, boys, so poke the dog on your own time.”

    Nicolas strained against the zip-tied cuffs. If things went south, and they were going to because the briefcase kid was an arrogant jackass, he was defenseless.

    “Hand me the briefcase before it’s too late,” Sabine said, closing in on the kid.

    He grinned. “Too late for what, beautiful?”

    “To live,” she said, bending to draw a knife from her boot, rising to slide it across his throat, and wiping it clean on his shirt as he fell to the floor.

    The other man turned his gun to her. “I don’t want no trouble. Take the case and go.”

    She made a little clucking sound. “Let’s face it, sidekicks are always looking for ways to usurp your position. So you see, I just saved you a boatload of trouble. Too bad you won’t have time to appreciate it.”

    His forehead furrowed as he pondered her meaning and then it sank in, to the hilt, severing an artery.

    Nicolas quit fussing with the cuffs and accepted that he was entirely at her mercy.

    She retrieved her knife and returned it to her boot. “I’m all out of time, but we can continue this discussion in Brussels next month.”

    He slammed the chair against the floor. “You know I’ll keep coming after you until you sign the damn papers, Epiphany!”

    She smiled. “Love’s a bitch, isn’t it, Mad Dog? But to salve your pride, I’ll leave you the briefcase. That ought to make a nice nest egg from which to fund my alimony checks, if I ever sign your damn papers. Now be a smart boy and duck.”

    He caught the flash of steel and ducked just as the blade pierced the back of the chair. As her footsteps receded and he worked on freeing himself, he struggled to convince himself that becoming a widower was far more plausible than being granted a divorce.

    697 words / @bullishink


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