Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 34

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 34.

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 song prompt comes to us courtesy of a little-known British rock group knon as… Led Zeppelin.

The tune is… “Gallows Pole”.  Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/XMW2lbNVaXY

This week’s Judge is… the Brewed Bohemian herself… Jenn Monty!

The challenge opens as soon as you read this post and remains open until 4:30PM PACIFIC on Friday October 11th.
Now go write!!!

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Posted on October 8, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. A Beautiful Morning

    A thin mist was drifting slowly across the low Cotswold hills giving them an ethereal quality. The watery grey sky was transitioning ever quicker through blues as the sun rose above the eastern hills and began to kill the mist. The sky was dotted with the large black flecks of jackdaws as their harsh calls were punctuating the quiet dawn. In short it was a stunning morning – one of those days which made you just happy to be alive.

    “Beautiful isn’t it?” the man said.

    “Stunning,” Daniel said, “Feel privileged to see it.”

    “Indeed, sir,” the man said following the flight of a jackdaw across the sky.

    Daniel could feel the sun begin to warm up the October morning, but it was still very cold and he couldn’t help a shiver.

    “That’s Raven Wood over there isn’t it?” Daniel said nodding over towards the copse at the base of the hill.

    “No sir, that be Hangman’s Copse,” he said, “Don’t know of any Raven Wood around here.”

    “Hangman’s Copse! Of course it is,” said Daniel.

    “Sorry sir,” the man said – looking like he wasn’t sorry at all.

    “There is a distinct lack of my brother in the landscape,” Daniel said scanning the horizon.

    “Yes, I’m sure you must be getting a little troubled by now sir,” said the man as he fondled the rope, “but we did say 8.30am so there’s still some time sir.”

    Close to the copse Daniel could see a river sparkling with little sun’s – it made him think again of the cut glass goblet he had stupidly stolen. He’d never seen such a thing of beauty and it had been a stupid spur of the moment mistake trying to capture it. So now he found himself on this beautiful morning awaiting the hangman’s noose.

    Daniel’s beloved Jenny had gone to get his brother – and the payoff for the hangman – twelve hours ago. Christopher only lived an hour away and alarm bells were now beginning to ring.

    As Daniel’s hope deflated a single magpie hopped along the track towards him and then flew up on to the nearby gatepost. It seem to look directly into his eyes and then from somewhere he thought he heard someone say sorry.

    (371 words)
    @zevonesque

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  2. A Western Tragedy

    Sheriff Otis Claghorne settled his considerable bulk into the chair behind his desk, grimacing at the creak the wood emitted. Mopping his greasy forehead, he glanced up at the clock. Barely ten o’clock of the morning and already hotter than inside Satan’s bunghole. Twerern’t gonna be no good kinda day for a hangin’ but a hangin’ there would be. High noon, on the mark, to be exact.

    Sighing with anticipation of the dust and smell that would already be strong on the streets, he supposed he best drag his lazy ass to the saloon and round up his deputies. He’d likely need all three of them before the day was out.
    Abel Carson weren’t much of a criminal menace but the judge had sentenced him to die and it were up to Claghorne to see it over and done. For a two-bit grifter and scoundrel, the fool had sure enough had him enough visitors.

    Claghorne had been the sheriff of Clayton Corners for nigh on twenty years and realized his reputation must have been more known than he’d expected.

    It weren’t exactly as if he turned a blind eye to the law, but he had, on occasion, exercised his discretion and…commuted a sentence. He chuckled at his mind’s settlin’ on the word commuted. In plain talk, he’dd taken him some compensations over the last two decades. Sheriffin’ didn’t pay none too good and a feller had him a right to safeguard his future, didn’t he?

    He weren’t any too sure what the Sweeney brothers had thought they was up to. How the hell you gonna bribe a man when you ain’t got a shaved copper penny to yer name? It amused him to see the resignation on Carson’s homely face when they informed their friend they had no solace to offer. That alone was worth lettin’ the pair in to see the prisoner.

    Things had taken a turn for the better when Josiah Carson had shown up late that evening. Without words, he slid a leather pouch across the sheriff’s desk. Claghorne spilled the coins out into his grubby hand and nodded. Seven dollars weren’t gonna buy no house on the hill, but it were somethin’. Though he’d yet to make up his mind while Josiah was still there, he played his role well and let the brothers think the matter settled.

    Well, either he weren’t so good an actor as he imagined or the younger Carson brother had a devious mind too and had decided to sweeten the pot a bit with some additional…offerings.

    Early yesterday morning, Abby Carson had slunk into the office barely meeting the sheriff’s questioning gaze. In a low voice that dripped with sadness, she allowed as how, if he were willin’, she might yield up her womanly favors in exchange for him allowin’ her brother to live as a free man. Truth be told, she weren’t really Claghorne’s type of woman…all angles and bones and her tits weren’t no bigger’n a coupla old winter apples but who was he to turn away a bit of leisure, eh?

    He’d availed himself of her far more vigorously than he’d original intended and felt he’d gotten a purty fair bit of enjoyment for his trouble. It was a durned good thing there wouldn’t be no sittin’ places in the town square as he seriously doubted himself young Abby would be doin’ much restin’ on that backside after the way he’d had at it.

    It did make it a certainty she’d not be in no position to protest much when she realized her brother wasn’t about to be leavin’ town any way but for the town graveyard. Oh yeah, he’d thunk on it considerable and had arrived at the conclusion there was an election comin’ and he couldn’t afford to be seen as goin’ light on a lawbreaker. And hell, if the Carsons wanted to ruffle any feathers, well it wasn’t as if they had them no witnesses to any…transactions betwixt them and himself. Naw, they’d just have to make their way along without their shiftless brother.

    Hearing the clock chime the half hour, he struggled up to his feet and headed towards the saloon. Business called.

    700 words @klingorengi

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  3. Death of a Good Man

    The rope snapped taught; the vertebrae snapped loose.

    His awareness continued for some portion of a second. In that brief interminable moment was a final earthly crescendo of pain and grief.

    Then he was out of his body. For a moment looking down, he studied his corpse swinging lifeless upon the rope, soldiers standing around laughing. How could he feel so neutral about such a sight?

    Then he was pulled away. It was like being sucked into a dark tunnel with light quickly shutting off behind him. He turned to face the other side and was drawn into isolation.

    He waited. The time frame was factually a couple of hundred years. No sleep. No food. These were no longer issues. Just waiting. But there was pain, a burning aching sense of loss. Something he had always had was now missing. He didn’t know what it was, but he didn’t think it was as simple as life itself.

    Eventually he was drawn out of isolation. He was placed before God’s throne. There would be a sentencing. Not exactly a trial. His whole life had been a trial, a trial where he had judged against himself.

    When he stood before God he tried to defend himself. After all he had tried to make earth a better place. He had risked his life to end a war. He was even hanged as a spy, a martyr of sorts. Didn’t these things matter? Hadn’t he been better than most?

    While arguing his own case he caught on. His entire life he fought for good things in order to avoid the best thing. He had given his life to noble purposes in order to avoid his real reason for existing. He had trusted in his own goodness, his ability to change the world, but he should have trusted in God. What had been missing since his death was God’s presence. In his lifetime he had chosen against God’s presence. Now he would have to endure his choice.

    He looked up at God and realized what an opportunity he had neglected. He could have done so much more, so much better, with God. Anger and bitterness overwhelmed him. Mad at God; mad at himself. He wanted to believe it had all been unfair. But it was a ruse he could not maintain. He knew God had been fair with him, he had misused his freedom.

    He was cast into something called the lake of fire. He hoped he would be destroyed. But instead it was a lake of souls, eternally burning with regret. They chose to be without God.

    @CharlesWShort
    433 words

    I wasn’t going to post this week, but hated that there were so few entries. So here goes.

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  4. The Gallows Mine

    Cottonwood seeds float down from the tree above and land on Victor’s nose, tickling a sneeze from the bound man. The moonlight shines off of his bald head as he wakes up. Confused, he looks down from on horseback, first at Katie, still arranging her skirt and hair. Then he notices Walter, shotgun cradled across his arm and anger in his eyes.

    “Whas going on, honey?” he slurred from an injured jaw. “Thought you wanted some more fun.”

    “You went back on our deal.” Katie snarled.

    Feeling the weight of the rope on his shoulders, Victor’s eyes widened with fear.

    “You made our brother dance. Now it’s your turn, after we take back what’s ours.” Walter said, hefting a bag of silver.

    “At least, what we can.” Katie added, looking at the ground in shame.

    Walter slaps the horse, sending Victor’s soul off into the night. They watch until the struggling stops, leaving Victor’s bowed head finally still to catch the cottonwood seeds.

    Several hours later boots crunch the dust as the moon hangs lower, tired from a long night. Candles flicker in the breeze, as a silhouette steps around them, arranging things into a very specific order. Murmurs carry on the wind, but only the impatient coyotes seem to notice as they wait for an easy meal. Through efficient steps, a circle of exotic shrines to death grow up around a bound body hanging from a tree. Finally, a small fire springs to life from the dust between a figure in a long coat and the corpse. The murmurs become a loud chant, in a tongue from a land far away, and the fire burns green as the body starts to move.

    “Victor! Come back, Victor! I call you back, and so you shall be mine!” a cold female voice calls to the body.

    Pale eyes open, and his head snaps up sharply. He tries to draw in a deep breath, but starts gasping and struggling against his bonds once again.

    “Victor! Don’t struggle. It won’t do you any good at all. You see this? This little bobble holds your soul here. It burns, you die again. I own it, so I own you. Clear?”

    Victor nods, fearfully and confused. He hadn’t been a brilliant man in life, and coming back from the dead was something he was having trouble taking in.

    “I will cut you down. You will do what I say, until I tire of you and send you on to whichever hell I pulled you out of.” The figure steps forward and cuts the bonds on his hands, and then the rope tied to the trunk, dumping Victor gracelessly onto the ground.

    He rolls and begins to reach for the long coat flowing behind each step she takes, but is seized with spasms enough to break a strong man’s back. Thrashing on the ground, he can’t notice the object in her hand glowing with a light the color of putrefied flesh.

    “Oh, and you can’t hurt me, either. Now get up, there’s a mine to work.”

    510 words, @BryantheTinker

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  5. The fire crackled, the popping noises highlighting how quiet it was in the house. The kids were asleep, and my wife was pointedly ignoring me, as she’d done since I’d gotten home. I’d been married to Arra long enough that I knew when I’d done something wrong, but I had no idea what it was this time. I’d re-thatched the roof week before last, and we’d been eating fresh meat all winter long. I gave up trying to guess and decided to take my punishment so that I could sleep.

    “Are you going to tell me, or do I need to drag you off to the gallows to get you to talk?”

    Her icy stare made it clear that humor wasn’t going to help.

    “Oh, I’d never want to bother you at work. I know how busy you are.” The amount of vitriol embedded in the word ‘busy’ would have scarred most men, but I’ve been cursed at by men and women ever since my pa had brought me on as an executioner’s apprentice, and I knew that words could never hurt me.

    Arra could make my life awfully uncomfortable, however. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Well, it was busy last month – that was why it took me to get so long to get to the roof. The campaign in the north didn’t go well, and the king had a number of object lessons he wanted to make. But the last week or so has been pretty quiet – only so many people do something he’ll be upset about enough to order them hung.”

    “It’s not the executions, dear. I was talking to Marianne, and she said you’ve been getting visitors at the keep. And they bring you gifts.”

    Oh no. Not this again. “You know I do, Arra. Those bribes are what paid for this land, and that brooch you like so much, and will get Michael a place as a squire instead of being a killer’s son. But I tell the king about all of them, and the doomed swing at daybreak no matter what. We both know what would happen if I tried to do something else, something noble.”

    “Marianne said that some of the visitors were women. Young women. Young poor desperate women.”

    I sighed. “Yes. They’re the ones married to the damned fool soldiers who thought they could desert as soon as the fighting got tough.”

    “That’s not what I mean, and you know it. They don’t have money to bribe you with, but I know what they do.” She was hissing now, spitting the words at me.

    “Arra!” I’m not naturally a violent man, though I live surrounded by death, but I do get flares of temper. “You have no idea what they do. You’re a good woman, better than most. You don’t want to know what these women do – what they’re willing to do, to try to save someone who can’t be saved.”

    “And you let them, don’t you? You let them throw themselves at you like you don’t have a wife, you don’t have kids.”

    “I do. It’s the only hope those women have, and it keeps them from trying something even stupider to try to save their husbands. You know how my Pa died.”

    “The riots.”

    “The riots that killed a hundred good men. So the king ordered me to do what I had to – whatever I had to – to keep that from happening again.”

    Arra had tears in her eyes. “But Norman, what about your vows? Made in front of God and the king?”

    “I’ve never dishonored those vows.”

    “But you said – the king’s orders?”

    “I’ve followed them, every time. But I’ve never done what you’re thinking. You have to trust me. You do not want to know everything about my job.”

    Arra’s fears aside, she knew we had a good marriage. She also knew that there were secrets in a good marriage. I took her to bed and made sure she felt my love, my passion for her. And I tried not to think of the women, so desperate, so needy, so willing to fulfill any man’s desires. And the cellar floor that needed refinishing so often.

    699 words
    @drmagoo

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  6. MISTRESS OF STYX

    She skims the key off the peg, slides onto the black tuck-and-roll bench seat, and fires up all three hundred and twenty horses.

    Isn’t often she heads topside, least not during winter, but this is one bounty she’s hell bent on collecting herself.

    The penitentiary looms on the horizon like a concrete kiss against the cold October sky and a raven caws in greeting as she pulls through the chain gate and parks the forty-three hundred pound black beast sideways in the parking lot.

    Though his eyes never leave the ample curves of her sprayed-on black latex pantsuit, the grizzled guard at the tower buzzes her into the office complex. She doesn’t need his cooperation but she enjoys putting that fear in his eyes.

    Makes her grin to see the trustees tripping over themselves to catch her attention but she has an agenda and toying with riff-raff isn’t on it no matter how delicious their frantic little hearts smell.

    It had taken years to access this darker part of her nature but her husband had been patient as a saint. Pity he’d gotten such a bad rap because he was truly a brilliant visionary. A formidable lover too and so fetching in that black cape, his thick tattooed arms all greased up and buffed out.

    But back to the rats in their little metal and cement trap.

    Striding into the first observation room on the left, she locks the door behind her and smiles at the guard. “Mr. Blanchard. Just the man I’m looking for. And this must be the Hayward family.”

    Blanchard stands up straight, crooked jaw set, thick chest forward. “Who the hell are you?”

    Hard to contain the excitement rushing through her now. “You can call me Judgment Day.”

    He sniggers and glances at the two people seated in front of the window, said, “Some belated entertainment for your benefit, folks. Sit tight while I get this sorted out.”

    She moves further into the room. “Nothing left to sort out, Blanchard. You made a devil of a deal and I’m here to complete the transaction.”

    A bullet erupts from Blanchard’s gun, ricochets off her hip, and hits him in the kneecap, dropping him to the floor.

    She puts her heavy boot on his injured kneecap. “You took someone that didn’t belong to you.”

    He grunts against the pain. “So what?”

    “Abductions are of great interest to me,” she says, grinding her boot against the wound.

    “That don’t give you the right to interfere.”

    Her laughter is a cold front. “Oh, but it does. You see, in one hand I hold Death and in the other, Life. You know them by other names, but you’re a small man so I chose small words in hopes that your cockroach brain could comprehend your dire straits.”

    Yanking open the curtain, she crooks a finger at the corpse on the gurney and when it sits up, she says, “Welcome back, Mr. Hayward.”

    Blanchard empties his bladder and the room fills with the cloying stench of warm urine.

    She bends over him. “You took the boy’s money and the girl’s virtue without any intention of saving their brother’s life, and as Queen of the Shades, I’ve chosen to exercise my right to exact justice. See you in hell, Mr. Blanchard.”

    In a blink, Blanchard’s cold dead body appears on the gurney and Hayward’s warm live body stands beside his siblings.

    Turning to the stunned and fearful Haywards, she says, “Do not make me regret this kindness, my pets. Now, let’s quit this squalid establishment for I’ve subjects to terrorize and a husband to entertain.”

    In another blink, the four of them are standing in the parking lot, the Haywards safe and sound as lambs in a stable and she content as sixes in cups.

    She fishes the keys from her pocket, waves goodbye, and drives back into the cement chasm from which she came, the tailpipe of the black 1965 Lincoln Continental smoking like hell below a license plate that reads: MRS HADES.

    – – – – –
    671 words / @bullishink

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  1. Pingback: Mid Week Blues Buster 34 | Project Gemini

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