Beth has been trying her hand at flash fiction for the past few months, and not surprisingly, she’s won some laurels. This week she was asked to judge the contest held over at The Angry Hourglass. They post a prompt picture on Saturday, and you turn in a story of 360 words by Sunday evening. I have never participated, mainly because the pictures I’ve looked at never inspired any particular thoughts. And 360 words? I like words, and I don’t like limits.
However, this week I trolled over to The Angry Hourglass just to see what kind of prompt the stories Beth would be judging would have. Naturally, it was this:
Yep. A row of bicycles. One of my recurring writing themes is the bicycle. I loved the image. A snippet of story immediately sprang into my head, and I charged to MS Word to get it down. I managed to write something resembling a “story” in less than 360 words. Of course, since Beth was the judge, I couldn’t enter my story in the weekly contest—as she put it, she would be “swayed by the awesome.” So I’m posting it here for you to read.
Also, stay tuned for information about LCP’s Summer of Super Short Stories Flash Fiction Contest starting in June. You too can try your hand at stories with limits!
I shuffled along the long line of stationary bicycles. Another day on the chain gang. A guard caught my handcuffed hands, wrenching my shoulders as he pushed me against a bike. He leered as he unlocked the fetters.
Same old story.
“Saddle up,” the guard taunted, squeezing my breast before releasing me. I clambered onto the bike.
“Snap in!” cried the other guard, some fifty feet down the line. All the women obeyed, latching our shoes into the pedals. “…And pedal!” Down the long row we began to move—we had ten hours of riding in place to generate electricity for the grid. I’d been sentenced to fifty days on the chain for being caught biking after curfew.
The two guards chatted at the end of the line, uniforms stretched across paunchy bellies.
Inmate Twelve leaned towards me. “Pssst! You, Eleven, with the mismatched eyes. Any guard coming up your side?”
I shook my head.
“Wanna make a run for it? Ditch these assholes and their energy quotas?”
I blinked and checked my shoulder again, worried a guard might have heard her crazy talk.
Twelve fiddled with the knob near her front wheel. “C’mon. It’ll work better if there are two of us. We can split ‘em when they give chase. Two guards, two of us. You can ride, can’t ya?”
Of course I could ride—who couldn’t? No petrol rations since 2075 meant a bicycle was the only way to get around The City. And I was a messenger, so I was fast. “Aren’t these stationary bikes?”
Twelve snorted. “It’s a regular bike on a trainer, numbskull.”
She released her knob. Her bike sprang free. “You got about a minute and a half to decide.”
I sucked a breath. The two guards continued to converse at the end of the row. I twisted my own knob with sweaty fingers.
“Go, go!” Twelve hissed. We sprinted, tearing past the other inmates pedaling dumbly in their traces.
“Hey! Hey!” Shouts from the guards echoed behind us. “Stop!”
“Get past the gate and you’re home free,” Twelve called.
My damp hands almost slipped from the handlebars. I surged. The gate approached.