Friday, July 22, 2016

Flash Fiction Contest #17

Happy day after my birthday! Oh, you didn't hear? Well, it's the day after my birthday. This was one of those that ended in a 5, so sort of significant but not really. Let's just not talk about it. Birthdays aren't as fun the older you get.

Rules for our flash contest can be found here.

Flash Fiction Prompt For Friday, July 22, 2016

When posting, remember to include your name and your Twitter handle.

Have fun and come back Sunday night to find out the winner!


  1. The subway doors opened with a hiss, as a wave of summer heat rolled along the floor, crept up my legs. The bell chimed twice, a muffled voice overhead that warned to stay clear. Then the doors closed once more. The air returned to the cool even temperature it had been just a minute prior. I crossed my legs with a sigh. The commute home from work dragged on to the next stop.

    A man, no taller than four and a half feet, eyed me, as he pushed onto the seat to my right. I kept my gaze on my book, despite the fact that he continued to stare. My thumb fingered the edge of the page.

    Flip. Flip. He still stared.

    “Happy birthday.”

    I blinked. Then turned to glance at the man. He was perfectly ordinary, when it came to men on a subway. Longish curled hair that matched his muddy brown eyes. He held a cane in one hand. A fancy suit with wing-tipped shoes. Wing-tipped shoes in teal and white. Hadn’t seen something like that in forever. A deep scar cut right through one eyebrow and I got the notion that he was missing a few teeth, even though he didn’t smile. Just stared.

    Flip. I got back to my reading.

    “Happy birthday.”

    “Excuse me?” My hands feel to my lap, the book forgotten. Why on earth did this man think it was my birthday?

    “Happy birthday. It’s today.”

    “No, it isn’t. You must have me confused with someone else.” I picked up my book.

    “Yes it is. You’re Lily Beamer and today is your birthday.”

    Air stuck in my throat. This was weird. “How do you know my name?” My eyes narrowed but he didn’t flinch.

    “Oh, I know all about you, Lily Beamer. First and foremost, that today is your birthday.”

    My mouth opened but he cut me off.

    “There are many kinds of birthdays, you know. There are earthly births and spiritual births. And other kinds of births, too. A birth day signifies a change in life, a shift in the world around you that sets you apart. Makes you different.” He leaned a few inches closer. “Today is your birthday, Lily Beamer.”

    He lifted his cane, dropped it down hard. Then, he vanished.

    I gasped with a glance around. Had anyone else seen? The man beside me just disappeared into thin air! How could no one have noticed?

    My heart raced and I dropped my book. It skidded across the floor. I swallowed and my hands shook.

    Hands. My hands… A spark. Electricity passed between them. Eyes wide, I stifled a cry. Flash, another jump of spark.

    I jumped to my feet, panic in my bones.

    The train stopped. Everyone around stopped. Not a soul breathed, not a single thing moved. A piece of paper that fell to the floor beside me had stopped moving mid-air.

    Time had stopped.

    I had stopped time.

    The little man was right. Today was my birthday.

    Laura L. Zimmerman @lauralzimm

    1. Great story! Love the idea that there are different types of birthdays. Good one!

    2. Thanks! :) Somehow my stories always wrap around to the supernatural. Can't seem to break away from fantasy. ;)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. “Surprise!” Slithering hordes of malformed creatures screamed, howled, gurgled and chittered at the hoary being.

    “Surprise, what?” The Ancient’s voice boomed, frowning at the interruption of his thoughts. The slobbering horde shrank away into dark shadows and the Ancient turned back away in concentration. Only one brave creature, a flaming imp, stepped forward, standing as tall as it could. He cleared his throat.

    “Isn’t it…” The creature gulped. “Isn’t it…”

    “Isn’t it what?” The Ancient asked.

    “Well…your birthday. It’s your birthday today!”

    “Is it?” The Ancient turned away, uninterested.

    “How old are you?” The creature’s fear gave way to curiosity. It moved closer to the imposing figure of the Ancient.

    “Hmm. How old indeed?” The Ancient stroked his chin and seemed lost in thought, but did not answer the creature.

    “Well?” The horde gathered further back from the lone creature, acutely aware of the wrath of the vengeful being. The Ancient turned his intimidating gaze to the creature and glared at it. Finally he answered.

    “I really don’t know. I’m as old as mankind. Something like two and a half million years. Give or take a few.” The creature’s eyes flared and he creeped closer to the being. The shadowed beasts behind him whispered and jibbered, anxious for the bold imp.

    “That old? Did you create them? Mankind, that is.”

    The Ancient snorted. “No. I did not. Mankind was created from the stars, and when they are gone, they will become stars again.” He sighed heavily and his pained face relaxed. He rubbed his eyes and stretched his arms up so high that his hands were lost in the darkness above.

    “I did not create them,” he started again. “They created me.”

    “Created you? Certainly not, my lord! Those base creatures can barely create fire must less something as magnificent as you!” The creature huffed, smoke curling out of it’s flaming mouth, and it shuffled up very close to the being defiantly. The horde hissed anticipating violence.

    The Ancient merely chuckled to himself quietly. “Yes. I formed from the fears of man. The first time humans saw lightning and wondered where it came from. The first time they rode on the angry sea that threatened to gobble them up. The first time one killed another for looking different. Those were my birthdays.”

    “And today? How do you feel on your birthday?” The creature touched the Ancient’s leg; a dog sniffing it’s master.

    “Today? Today, I feel old. Old and very, very strong.” He closed his eyes and smiled contentedly.

    “And when the humans are gone?” The fiery imp asked, looking up at the massive being.

    “Then, no more birthdays.” He bent his neck and looked down at the the spark of a being. The Ancient pursed his lips and blew a gust of breath at the creature whose flame flickered and went black. Only a handful of ashes and a wisp of smoke remained where the imp had stood. The Ancient made a wish.

    1. Forget my twitter handle... @codexier_erik

  4. Beatrice called out, “Mom, you guys in the kitchen?”

    “In here, Bebe!”

    Maggie squealed at the sound of her grandmother’s voice and sprinted for the kitchen.

    Beatrice steadied the box of cupcakes cradled in the nook of her arm and rounded the corner. Her mom already had Maggie swept up in her arms planting noisy kisses on her cheeks.

    “And, how was your day?” Beatrice’s mom asked. Her eyes were bloodshot and rimmed with dark circles, but the smile for her granddaughter was full of love.

    Maggie squirmed out of her Gran’s arms and darted away. “Papa, where are you?”

    When Maggie disappeared out the back door, Beatrice asked, “How is he?”

    Margret took the box of cupcakes from her daughter and busied herself at the kitchen counter.

    “He didn’t sleep well.” She sighed. “And, he’s been crying off and on. Oh, Bebe. He’s so confused. That’s why I called. I thought Maggie might cheer him up.” Margret’s sloped shoulders moved back and forth with her hurried motions as she prepared a tray to take outside.

    Beatrice absorbed the news like a punch to the gut. “I’m sorry, mom.” She swallowed, powerless against the war raging inside in her father’s mind. A war he couldn’t win.

    Margret patted her arm and brushed past her. “Come on. Get the door for me.”

    Beatrice’s dad, Charlie, sat tall and straight every inch her hero. Maggie bounced on the seat cushions next to him, red curls flying around her with each leap into the air, wild and so young next to her father.

    Charlie looked up when they cleared the doorway, “Clara! What a surprise. How are you?”

    Beatrice’s stutter-stepped as she absorbed another blow. He thought she was his sister, Clara. He didn’t recognize her. Beatrice pulled the corners of her mouth into what she hoped mimicked a smile and pretended to be Clara, an aunt she never met. “Charlie, it’s good to see you!”

    He struggled off the deep cushions and gathered Beatrice into a bear hug. She held on until he let go, wanting more. Charlie pointed to Maggie, “Here’s Bebe. Hasn’t she grown?”

    Maggie glanced at her mom. Beatrice winked at her. “Bebe’s lovely. How old are you? No, wait. Let me guess.” Beatrice placed her finger to her lips. “Hmmm. You must be two.”

    Maggie giggled at her mom. “No silly. I’m three.” She held up three fingers, triumphant to have finally mastered the feat.

    Margret placed the tray of cupcakes on the glass table, and Charlie wandered over, hands clasped behind his back.

    He turned to Margret, “Is it my birthday?”

    Margret patted her husband’s hand, “Yes dear. It’s your birthday.”

    Maggie bounced off the bench. “Yeah. Can we sing?”

    Beatrice nodded at her daughter, and she began.

    Charlie snagged some icing and popped it into his mouth. He closed his eyes, and a smile spread across his face.

    Beatrice hugged Maggie close and whispered into her mom’s ear, “Same time tomorrow? I’ll bring the cupcakes.”


  5. Judy lay in her bed even though it was the middle of the afternoon, watching dust particles dance in dappled sunlight streaming through the window. Tiny bits traveled on air currents created by the overhead fan. Mesmerized by their random movements, she didn’t hear her phone ringing right away, then not caring because she’d have to get out of bed. The machine picked up.

    “Judy! This is your mother. Where are you? I’ve been waiting for an hour. Where are you? Are you going to take me to the grocery or not? Call me back. I’m waiting.”

    “Oh great! Great, Mom!” She totally forgot she was supposed to take her mother to buy groceries today and it seems her mother forgot it was her birthday.

    She sat up, settling her feet on the floor. Her head still pounded and her legs felt like lead. Her whole body felt heavy and she just wanted to lay back down. But, she knew she needed to call her mom.

    “Hello?” her mom’s voice string tight and thin.

    “Hi, Mom. I’m sorry, I…”

    “You forgot, didn’t you? You forgot me, again,” her voice trailing in wounded disappointment.

    Judy took in the well-measured dose of guilt, noting there was still no mention of her birthday, not that it really mattered, she rationalized. It’s not like she was a child. It was her 47th birthday.

    “No. Mom. No. Well, I mean, yes. Yes, I did forget about shopping today, but not about you,” Judy tried to reassure her. “I’m not well today. “

    “What do you mean, not well?”

    “I don’t know. I’ve had a terrible stomach ache all night and my head is pounding. I thought if I stayed in bed it would get better. I was thinking about my pain and not groceries.”

    “I see. I suppose it’s hard for you to understand what it feels like to sit all day and wait on your child, since you’re not a mother yourself.”

    “You know what, Mom? You know what? You’re right? I’ll never know. Oh, oh, oh lord! Mom!” she doubled over and then slid off the bed to the floor.

    “Judy! Judy, honey! What is it!” her mother screamed in full panic.

    “Call 911! Oh, god, please hurry!” She lost control of her bladder as she passed out.

    Judy awoke in an ambulance on the way to Hillcrest Hospital. She was in terrible pain.

    “Looks like it’s someone’s birthday today,” said the EMT. In her fog and confusion, Judy wondered how he knew it was her birthday.

    “What?” Then an overwhelming urge to bear down embraced her, unstoppable.

    “Your baby, ma’am. Ok, give me a big push

    “My what?” Realization setting in. “I didn’t know.”

    “It’s a girl! Happy birthday, Mom.”

    Mary Tucker @mrytckr

  6. 35 days.

    If my etchings on the wall are accurate, today is her birthday. It's hard to tell how much time has passed in space, when days can't be measured by a rising sun and time isn't told by the cycles of a moon.

    My world has shrunken to this tin box, while out there somewhere, in one of the millions of known galaxies, the Mariner floats on. She floats on. Does she think of me still? When she gets out of the shower and rubs a circle in the condensation on the mirror, does she look at herself and remember when I told her that her eyes were the color of the stars? When she sees someone walking away from her in the corridor with my black hair, does she think, for just a minute, that it's me?

    “He'll kill you,” she warned me, her arms around my waist, her head against my chest. We had broken into the observation tower. I want to see the stars, she had said. I want to know we're not alone. I was nothing if not obliging. Her birthday party raged on in the bowels of the ship. It seemed like the whole population had come to celebrate her, though that was impossible. The Mariner was the size of an old Earth city. The population was dense, packed into every corner. There was one ruler, and he had one princess - this girl standing in the arms of a lowly mechanic.

    “I'm not afraid,” I said. I should have been. Just not of her father.

    For 325 days, I was happier than I had ever been. I had learned to cherish the feeling of her hand in mine, the stolen glances across crowded halls, the embraces in hidden alcoves. Then one morning, in my small bunk, she sat with her back to me on the cot, yelling into her Comm: You can't do this! You can't take everything away from me!

    “My father,” she had said. “Empty threats.” I kissed away the tears in her eyes.

    Five days later, I was repairing a Scouter and looked up to find her standing in the bay. I smiled to see her there, raven-haired and red-lipped, but then the door slid into place between us, and I noticed her hand on the external controls, the hardness in her eyes. I put my hand to the glass separating us and she raised hers.

    “He's going to take it all,” she said, “if I don't give him you.”

    And then the Scouter had engaged, the airlock opened, and I was gone, flung into space, her hand sweating against the porthole the last piece of another human being I would ever see.

    35 days drifting in space in a broken Scouter, still stocked from its last mission. 35 days for her to make it up to her father. She had proven herself to him, and today, on her eighteenth birthday, the galaxy would become hers.

    - @Cassidy_Writes


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