Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge #1

Welcome to the very first Potato Chip Math / Tales of Whoa flash fiction challenge!

The rules are very simple: we give you a prompt and you write 500 words or less (including the prompt).

You can write in any style that you wish; just be sure to use the prompt exactly as it is shown, keep it under 500 words, write it in English, and ensure it's completely made up (this is a flash fiction challenge after all).

Next week Gordon and I will post links to the pieces we liked the best and will probably do a shout out on Twitter to those folks if they so desire. After a few months we'll compile a list of our favourites and we'll get the Internet to vote. The winner will win stuff (to be determined, but we're sure they'll love it).

Now, without further ado we present this week's prompt:

"I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming."

Use the comments below to submit your work. You can submit anonymously, but if you don't leave us an email address or something you can't win.

Have fun!

~ Andrew & Gordon

8 comments:

  1. I'll flash for you. Here's something I'm not entirely happy with that got darker than I might have thought.

    There were no dark alleys anymore thanks to the eternal twilight of Tesla Power, a steady glow that filled the night. Some found the hum reassuring, a sound of industry that had gone unheard for too long. Free electricity for anyone with a receiver, the power to push back the dark, to heat up your food, and from the tang of ozone and cooked pork in the alley, the power to kill. The bluish light cast soft shadows on victim's cauterized internals, exposed at the blackened edges of the hole his chest. The Justiciar knelt next to the body and did her best to quiet the feelings of guilt. The victim. Not Rand Cooley, barroom financier, leg-breaker, and occasional birthday clown. She could say they'd grown up together, but they'd merely grown up at the same time, in the same place. He had lingered on the edges of her life. She should feel something, but in the end Rand Cooley was just a job, a punishment to be meted out.

    This wasn't the sort of thing she'd expect to waste her time with, a nobody from the bottom end of the Park. People died all the time. The devils came with the dark, attracted by the glow of the city, the scent of humanity. But Rand hadn't met his end through talon or sorcery, the whole crime scene stank of science, a lightning gun or Tesla pack. Kill someone with a brick and you merited a detective. It was a mystery. Kill someone with tech, with magic, and you wound up on her desk. A judgment.

    She shouldered past the crime scene techs and leapt off the Park. Artificial sinew snapped tight as she caught herself on the ancient concrete of the lower levels, heaving her weight over the edge. If Malcolm hadn't pulled the trigger then he'd certainly provided the weapon. His shop stank of cooked flesh and guilt, and she let the electricity in the air fill her receptors as she tore the steel door open. He didn't bother to hide it, lunging for his homemade lightning gun as she charged across the room, knocking aside rusted toasters and radio parts to close her fingers around his throat. His eyes were desperate, searching hers for any bit of recognition or humanity, the girl from the Park so long ago. There was none to be found. He was just an offender, someone who thought he'd never be caught. Just like the rest.

    He choked out a few words, an excuse. "I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming."

    "They'll say the same about you."

    Her fingers met with a sound of popping vertebrae.

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  2. "I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming."

    Alice flinched. She didn't like the idea that Terry was being talked about this way. He'd worked hard at the company for some years; indeed, many of his ideas and suggestions had been implemented successfully, increasing revenue by at least $50 million over the past 2 years alone. Who else at Fletcher Harrison could have done that?

    "That's enough Peter" she snapped, turning towards a tall, balding man, the owner of the words just spoken. "I know that you and Terry Marshall never got along and that you weren't always for his ideas, but saying that he 'had it coming' is a bit rich. You and all the others here have profited handsomely from his work after all".

    Alice realized the others in the boardroom were looking at her. No doubt because she and Peter had been good working partners, many of them were now wondering if there was more to their professional relationship than they had supposed. "Well f**k them" she thought. Fletcher Harrison was a prestigious technology firm and it had taken a great deal of hard work and effort to get a job there. Terry Marshall had been the only one who rooted for her to succeed in what was, 15 years earlier, a male-dominated company. He had, in effect, become her mentor and without him, she wouldn't be a partner today. Peter Lighthouse had always seemed a bit jealous of the attention she'd received and yet he was the Technical Architect of the company's best-selling RoundTuit software, widely-known and acclaimed in his own right. Both men had their enemies so it was possible that what had happened to Terry could equally have happened to Peter. Alice thought Peter was at least correct about one thing: it hadn't been necessary at all to boot Terry out, without an investigation, and then to unceremoniously remove his last name from the company's title. It was as if he had been completely erased, never existed.

    Getting up from the boardroom table, Alice felt the blood rush to her face. She had never enjoyed speaking publicly, but she felt she couldn't be silent about Terry. It might mean the end of her career with Fletcher Harrison but she almost didn't care.

    She looked slowly around the table at the other 5 people in the room. "Someone, somewhere, orchestrated this whole incident” she said, in a calm but slightly menacing voice, “and, believe me, I plan to find out and make them pay".

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  3. “What Goes Around Comes Around”

    By, Sara Cahanin


    The sad truth was that I really liked Tom. He seemed like such a good guy: smart, funny, eager to please. Maybe that was part of the problem. He was “too good”.

    I met Tom at a club. He was a SHE then, dressed as a drag queen, beautiful as all get out. It was an event to raise funds for the AIDS Ride. She bumped into me after I grabbed my beer from the bar and it spilled all over the front of her dress. Was she PISSED OFF! I said to her, “Jeez girl it’s just a beer.” That’s when she became Tom again and in a deep male voice said, “That’ll cost you my dear.” Then she walked off, glanced back at me, and smiled with a wink. From that point on, we became the best of friends.

    When anyone was sick or under the weather, Tom was there, often as “Sharon The Drag Queen”. It was his way of cheering us all up. Everyone loved Tom back.

    One day, out of the blue, Tom got a little less like himself. He didn’t smile as much. Always seemed down in the dumps. None of us could get Tom to shake out of it. He talked less too. Seems as if we only made things worse.

    At a line dancing party, one night at the club, we were all doing our fancy moves and out of the blue Tom blurts out, “I can’t take it anymore!” Then he stomped out of the club and drove off in his car. We haven’t seen him since. That was like two months ago. Just gone. No word. Nothing.

    Then one day, a guy showed up in our queer part of town. He had a picture of Tom. His name was Detective Wallis and he was asking us all kinds of questions about Tom. Mostly he wanted to know where we thought he’d gone and the last movements we knew that Tom may have made.

    Seems good old Tom was an informant planted by the GOP to see who we were and if we were really subversives (admittedly we are, but to be infiltrated in such a way was, in a word, just plain weird.) Tom took the role of a gay man that liked the drag queen scene. All we could fathom was that he started to feel guilty about what he was doing to us and he actually started to feel connected to the community.

    Detective Wallis left our little slice of life without a bit of information. We as a group decided to accept Tom as one of our own at that point. We weren’t about to snitch on him.

    “I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there’s a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming.” said Beau, the club bouncer. We managed to track down Tom and threw him the biggest welcome back drag queen show ever.

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  4. The Camping Trip

    “I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming.” Bob folded his arms across his chest.

    “Dude! You ate him.” Fred looked around. “A lineup of people?”

    “Uh. I guess they left.”

    “Left?”

    “It did get a bit gnarly there for a minute.”

    Fred pointed at the burger sack on the roof of his station wagon. “You couldn’t wait five more minutes?” Exasperated, he marched to the car and pulled open the bag. “Here.” He tossed a box at Bob who ate the box and contents in two bites.

    Fred nibbled on an onion ring. “You know you’ve messed up the camping trip?”

    Bob flopped down onto a fallen branch. “Sorry.”

    “I liked Al. Plus, I loaned him my chainsaw a few months ago and it’ll be weird going over and asking his wife for it back. She might feel I’m responsible for this…mess.”

    Bob nodded, “You did invite me.”

    “Yeah.” Fred ate another onion ring. “I did.” He unwrapped a burger of his own and took a bite, staring up into the night sky. The stars sparkled joyously in the depths of space and the moon cast its baleful gaze on the forest. Branches snapped in the distance as the rest of the group continued to flee.

    “Delia called Al an asshole. The others were angry too. They told him he was spoiling the trip.”

    “Okay, in future, you need to not eat people, no matter how assholey they are.”

    “Sure.”

    “It’s not really how we do things on this planet.”

    “I get that. To be honest I’m a little embarrassed by the whole thing now.”

    Fred walked over to his friend and gave him a pat on the shoulder, “It’s okay. What’s done is done, although now our friends are running through the forest and they’ll probably tell everyone what you did.”

    “Oh. Yes, I didn’t expect all the screaming and crying. I really did think they’d back me up on this.”

    “I know, and I think nine times out of ten, when you don’t eat someone, people will totally back you up.”

    “It’s the eating thing.”

    “Yes. Entirely.”

    “Good to know.”

    “I should’ve been clearer from the start.”

    “Don’t blame yourself. The Flirge of my group kept telling me not to act like a dumb tourist.”

    Fred heard a shout from deep within the forest. “Of course, now we have to do something about Don, Ernie, Delia and Cass. I mean, their story will sound a little far-fetched, but…”

    Bob nodded, “If the military find out, I’ll end up in Nevada again.”

    “Right,” said Fred as he walked back to his station wagon. He leaned inside and pulled out a metal box. “I brought this in case of bears.”

    Bob stood up. “So what’s the plan?”

    Fred waved his revolver at the trees, “We chase down the others and, well, are you in the mood for a little dessert?”

    500 words @Spartagus

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  5. We lined up and waited for the man to unlock the door. Most of us try to get there before sunrise, and at that time of day during this time of year, the cold bites with bitter intent. We moved restlessly to keep our blood circulating into hands and feet, but no amount of stomping is going to warm the toes of sockless feet inside ragged shoes.

    The cops crept up on us, coming from behind, no lights, no sirens, as if they wanted to catch us unaware.

    “They’re here,” said the tall fellow in front of me. He hunched into himself, shrinking a bit. Most of us watched the cop cars stop in the street, but we didn’t scatter like the vermin they thought we were. We always waited to be driven out instead of going away on our own, peacefully, respectfully. We have our pride, or what’s left of it.

    Down the line behind me, ten or eleven back, a little kid started to cry. He was too young to be there. His mama made comforting noises, but comfort is in short supply for an empty stomach on an icy morning.

    The metallic rattle of keys in the lock brought a rush of hope. The door opened an hour early. Hap Dunston, the owner, smiled at us.

    “Come in,” he said. “Hurry, before the law causes trouble.”

    He gently herded us into his diner until we crowded every table, booth, and seat at the counter. The warm smell of coffee and frying bacon wrapped around us, as comforting as the heat.

    “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this, folks,” Hap said. “You know city council passed an ordinance day yesterday. Feeding the homeless in this town is a crime. They’ve closed down the shelter, they run you out of the park and other public places …” He shook his head. “But today, you’re here. Get warm; we’ll have the food ready soon.”

    The next Saturday, the line formed, and police cars showed up. Cops got out and walked toward us. Hap unlocked the door but the cops blocked it.

    A large, prosperous looking fellow in a tailored wool overcoat stepped into the light.

    “Mr. Cowan, sir,” one of the officers said to him. Cowan owned the town.

    The cops moved aside as the man approached. He reached Hap. He gave the man a long, hard look, then reached into his coat pocket and handed over a paper.

    “That’s a promissory note bearing my signature. These folks are my guests as long as you feed them.” He turned his stony glare to the cops. “A guest is a guest and cannot be denied a meal.” Then he shook Hap’s hand.

    We filed inside, past cops, past Cowan, past Hap who stared open-mouthed at the signed note.

    I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Relations

    “This can’t be happening. How couldja just….do him, man. Just like that? In fronna ever’body?”

    "I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming."

    “Not sure it was entirely necessary? You took his entire face, Nicky. A little his friggin nose’s all that’s left. He’s a mushface.”

    “Do you see anybody looking around, Kid?”

    “Shit! Hear that? It’s the police, man. How the hell’re we getting outta this one?”

    “If you get back in line and act like everybody else, you’ll have nothing to worry about, Kid”

    “You got blood on your hands, Nicky.”

    “There, see, no blood. Handkerchief took care of it. Look, the line’s moving. We’ll be inside before the black-n-whites even get here.”

    “You think we’re gonna be safe ‘cause we’re inside?”

    “Wait and see. You’re nervous, Kid. I get that, but you have to become a whole lot better at this if you’re going to work with my family. You know, I’m taking care of you like I am because I promised your old man I would. Hey, kid, you listening to me? I have to tell you, right now you’re not looking so good.”

    “Sorry, Nicky. But, man, I ain’t never seen nothing like this before. Scuffles, okay. Seen my share-a-those but this…all he was doin’ was stepping outta the line, man, for a minute. He didn’t mean nothin’.”

    “It meant something to me. You see that now, right?”

    “Sure, sure. Okay, okay. But whadda ‘bout the others?”

    “Others? What others?”

    “All the people who’re in this line, man, who saw ya do it, Nicky.”

    “You see them stepping out or see them moving ahead? Ask them, if you want to. Go ahead. Ask them if they saw anything or if they’re going to a movie.”

    “Okay, okay, I’m getting ya, Nicky.”

    “What the hell you looking around for, Kid. Do I have to spell this out for you too? I guess I do. Outta line means….”

    It’s then that Nicky Hargitay, not looking to the left or right, pulls a COP 357 Derringer out of his pocket, shoots the kid in the eye, jerks a curtain down from a rod in an alcove, wraps the Kid in it before he hits the ground and carries him over his shoulder to an exit up front, down some steps and out a back door. When he emerges again, the film has started and several policemen are swaying their flashlights back and forth down the aisles. Nicky waves to a lieutenant who walks over to an archway where he’s standing, waiting for him.

    “Tricky Nicky.”

    “Mick the Dick.”

    “Take cara the mushface out on the walk?”

    “A-course. Had it coming. So where’s the Kid?”

    “Where he can be easily found.”

    “Gotcha. I’ll notify his family.”

    “You can if you want, but I think I just did.”


    Cly Boehs
    clyboehs@gmail.com
    488 words










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  7. "I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but I can guarantee you there's a lineup of people behind me that will tell you he had it coming." Walter paused for a moment to take a drink from his glass. “I’m glad you came to me Johnny,” he reached inside his coat pocket and fumbled for a cigarette. “It was a pleasure to take care of that sumbitch. And the look on his face when I emptied to slugs into his chest was worth the gas money it took to get there.” Johnny noticed that Walter seemed nervous. “Walter, are you okay? Please tell me there weren’t any problems, I want you to look at me and tell me that everything worked out.” Johnny asked. If Walter had been spotted by the neighbors or stopped on the way back by the police this small little job had the potential to escalate into a full blown cluster fuck. “No! No! I did just like you said Johnny; I waited until the bastard got home at ten. I parked my car down the block and walked to his place. He was sitting down in his recliner eating when I picked the lock and strolled in. You should have seen how this guy was living—there were empty liquor bottles everywhere, empty bags of fast food, and it smelled terrible... almost like someone had pissed on the carpet.” Walter was sweating.
    “Walter, I came to you with this job because I recommended your services to the Boss. I vouched for you Walter, and because I vouched for you… if you somehow managed to fuck this up it will be both or asses? The Boss did not take kindly to your little fuck up a few months ago; you brought a lot of heat down on him and to be honest he was ready to take you out until I managed to calm him down.” Johnny said as he reached for his drink, extremely uneasy by Walter’s behavior. “I know I fucked up before Johnny. And I appreciate the fact you stuck your neck out for me. Maybe I should have shot just once, or maybe just strangled the bum, but with everyone chomping at the bit to take this guy out I just wanted to be sure he was dead… so that’s why I plugged him twice. And maybe, just maybe he was still breathing when I left in a hurry.” Walter couldn’t even look Johnny in the face. “What are talking about Walter? What the fuck are you talking about?” Johnny’s hand was shaking. His stomach dropped.
    “When I shot him the second time… somebody was in the hallway. They heard the shots. Before I could figure out what to do I jumped out the apartment window and on to the fire escape.” Walter said, his hands barely holding on to his glass. “Fuck me Walter.” Johnny replied. Then as if on cue Johnny’s cell phone started to ring.
    It was the Boss.

    Joseph "Sugar Balls" Schmidt
    shaolnmnk81@yahoo.com
    500 Words

    ReplyDelete
  8. Excerpt from a work in progress short story, Carcinoma. 497 words. I glanced over at my friend who was too busy stuffing his face with wings and beer to pay any attention.

    Kyle opened his mouth to speak until I shunned him for speaking with his mouth full. I had to retain some form of manners. I wasn’t that far gone.

    “Sorry,” he mumbled as a piece of chicken from the wing in his hand fell from his mouth. “Anyway, as I was saying, you just need to be strong about everything and don’t let it get you down, just... move on.”

    I shook my head and brought my foaming beer up to my mouth. It tasted just as horrible as the last. “You don’t understand. This isn’t about simply moving on. Kyle, this is lung cancer we’re talking about, for Christ’s sake.”

    “You’ve got to just look beyond that.” he continued. “Like your mom said before, it’s such a spiritual experience, there’s so much more you’ll get to experience in your life. This is nothing but a simple obstacle. It’s a stepping stone to eternal happiness.”

    “My mom thinks spreading butter on toast is a spiritual experience.” I said. I wasn’t so quick to accept the meaning of what my eternal happiness was from a person who smoked large amounts of weed just to sleep at night. “This is an obstacle that eventually I may not have the strength to overcome. It doesn’t matter how strong I am, everything relies on how well the treatments go. Every day now is just.. terrible. I always feel drained of any emotion, I’m never truly happy or depressed. I’m... just... here. I’m just here, apathetically looking at my odds with barely any motivation left to try anymore. All I’m doing anymore is dragging myself along for the people around me. In the end, I’m beginning to not care what will happen to me.”

    “Hold on a sec,” he said, raising his hand and yelling to the nearest waitress. “Could I get another beer and another basket of wings. Yeah, a 12 piece. No, make it 16, actually.”

    “Maybe you should slow down on the wings. Look, this isn’t helping anymore than if I was at home alone.” I said.

    “Slow down? I’m just getting started. Anyway, I think you’re actually depressed, but you just don’t realize what life will bring.” he said. Kyle moved his beer and empty wing basket aside for the waitress to set down his order. “The depression is a coping mechanism, it’s nothing a night out with your buddy can’t fix.”

    “Yeah, it’s working as well as the medication is. Talking about things isn’t helping as much as I thought it would. I’m going to head home, it’s almost time I take my medication.” I said. I stood up and put on my coat.

    “Come on, you can stay for a bit longer, can’t you? You just got here - don’t go!” he begged.

    “I’ll see you tomorrow, Kyle.” I mumbled and walked out of the pub.

    By Kody Gedge
    kodygedge@live.com
    kodygedge.co.nr

    ReplyDelete

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