Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three

Welcome to week three of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! This week your judge is Emily June Street.

You have until 6 pm (PST) on Saturday to submit a 500-word story based on the prompt picture below. Post your story in the comments section; include your name, a title, the word count (not including title), and your Twitter handle if applicable. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. LCP is on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Photo courtesy of Emily June Street

Photo courtesy of Melissa Thornhill

9 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three

  1. Tony (@AllTimeThrones)

    Tony Caruso
    The Easily Distracted Doohickey
    Word Count: 499
    @AllTimeThrones

    What the hell am I? I’m not an electronic device, I know that. My frame has no screen, no batteries, no aggravatingly small chord to plug into a wall. For some reason, I keep imagining myself as a casket. Any corpse would re-kill itself just to lay down on me, that’s for sure. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much HBO.
    Am I a jungle gym for toddlers? I guess that would lead to an enjoyable existence. Except I hate children. And cats, while I’m at it. Who’s this feline staring at me? Who does she think she is? Hey cat, find another room to occupy, those yellow eyes are sending chills down my panels. Cats are useless; all they do is hiss at people and lick themselves. And after eating all that cat food, I can’t imagine how hygienic that tongue could be. Maybe I’m a cleaner! Maybe I clean…wash things? No, that doesn’t make sense. I doubt water would do my paint coat any favors.
    The thing I really don’t understand about myself is that there’s no place for anyone to sit around me, to do whatever I’m made to do. Unless I’m a chair! That could be the case, let’s not forget my cushion over here. All right, so let’s say someone is sitting on me…and they rest their legs on my back panels? That sounds uncomfortable. What if they face the other direction? No, that doesn’t work. The panels would have no use then. Who painted these walls? White is such a bland color, and with all the cat fur spilling over the place, the mess is even more visible. Don’t even try to convince me that Mrs. Norris over here sheds outside. I’d sooner believe she’s banging Crooshanks and sharing a nightcap with Mr. Ed. Is it just me, or are all cats female, and all dogs male? Is that an actual fact or just something overly used in kid’s movies? I mean, bulls and cows are the same creature, with just different genders. Can’t it be the same with cats and dogs?
    What if I’m a clothing rack? How pathetic would that be? Some new age hippie probably went overboard while designing my frame and now I’m having an identity crisis all because my simple purpose became overshadowed by art. Why aren’t there any paintings on these walls? With a color like white, you need paintings! What am I supposed to look at all day besides the self-cleaning Mrs. Norris? I mean, there’s a window, but whoever drilled that hole in the wall clearly botched it up. I can’t see a thing through it from this angle, and now they’re going to have to fill in that hole and make a new one. People are stupid. So are cats.
    Could I be a mantel? Or that piece of furniture people kneel on to pray? God, that cat’s really distracting me. Lick your balls somewhere else! Wait, it’s a male. Aw, crap.

    Reply
  2. Karl A Russell

    The Workout

    They kissed deeply, months of longing exploding in a frenzy of grasping hands and hungry lips as they fell into the exercise studio. Rose stumbled and John caught her, laughed, pulled her in again for another blissful reunion.

    The cat slid past them, hissing at the interlopers. John elbowed the door closed behind the animal.

    “No witnesses, thank you.”

    They giggled like children, like gleeful drunks, but they were both stone sober, intoxicated only by each other. Rose had packed the kids off to school just minutes before the doorbell finally rang, and they hadn’t wasted time on drinks and small talk before heading upstairs.

    Glancing over her shoulder, his gaze fell upon the curious wooden contraption which dominated the room and he paused.

    “What in the hell is that?”

    She took his hand and lead him towards it.

    “You like it? It’s a ladder barrel. You lean back against the mat here. That’s it, far as you can.”

    He lay against the cushioned foam, arching his back as she pressed against his chest. A thought struck her and she smiled.

    “Trust me?”

    He looked at her, standing in the sunlight in her workout gear, a thin sheen of sweat on her bronzed skin. He wasn’t sure if he trusted that ghost of a smile, but he no longer cared.

    “Sure.”

    The ghost blossomed into a wicked grin and she pushed him further up the barrel.

    “Here, reach back for the bars. Now hold on tight.”

    She ducked behind the barrel and he felt her wrapping a cord around his wrists, entwining it with the smooth wooden bar, knotting it firmly.

    Standing before him once more she stretched lazily and he craned his neck to watch her, straining at his bonds.

    “I’ll show you how I can use it later…”

    She pressed herself against him, kissed him hungrily, then dropped from view once more. He gripped the bars in readiness…

    Then froze.

    A door slammed downstairs.

    Rose stood, heart pounding, all passion lost.

    “Someone’s here!”

    John pulled at his ropes, but she shook her head and slipped from the room, locking the door behind her, pulling the key from the lock.

    She crept down the stairs, until she saw a pink Adventure Time backpack tossed in the doorway, and the chaos in her chest began to subside.

    “Molly?”

    “Hey! Is that dad’s car?”

    “Yes, he’s home early.”

    Her daughter appeared in the hallway, untangling a rat’s nest of wires.

    “Can I say hi?”

    “He’s, um, in the shower. We’re going to the Bistro for lunch. What d’you forget this time?”

    “Charger. Say hi for me?”

    “Will do.”

    Molly grabbed her backpack, blew her mother a kiss and skipped out, slamming the door behind her.

    Rose stood on the stairs, waiting for her heart to settle, smiling as she fingered the key from her waistband. John hadn’t mentioned lunch, but she was sure he’d agree to the idea, if he wanted to be untied.

    But that was a conversation for later…

    500 words (plus countless apologies to any Pilates fans who may read it…)

    @Karl_A_Russell

    Reply
  3. Russell Magellan

    Treasure Chest

    “It was your mother’s. I have no clue what it is,” Jeff let his hand slip from the covered unit of the contraption and left the room.

    “Do you know?” Ross asked the cat. Still blacker than the ace of spades, he hadn’t aged a day in the three years since Laura had disappeared.

    Ross crossed to the strange contraption and stepped into it, reached his hands up towards the wooden dowels, and let them hover there. The wood rotated at the lightest touch, as if the heat of his fingertips was enough to make the machine respond and breathe back. At least, Ross thought it might be some kind of machine.

    Ross took a breath and grabbed the second dowel from the top. Instantly a puff of steam came out from the tip of the spirals on either side of the covered arch, a light scratching came from within. Ross whipped his hand back as if burnt, even though a foot away, and the steam stopped.

    A steam machine seemed a bit strange, but this thing did look kind of old. And what about that scratching? It didn’t really sound like gears turning…

    He steeled himself and grabbed the third dowel down. Steam came out stronger, this time tinged with red. The scratching resumed. The dowel began to warm under his fingers. Ross released it. With growing curiosity he grasped each dowel moving down. Each had its own degree of heat, each a different color steam. The sixth had made him tingle all over, thru his arms and shoulders to the base of his skull, feeling faint from the sensation before he’d let go. He pressed on, feeling slightly weaker each time. With each steam burst came that scratching from inside, almost the sound of nails on bone.

    Ross pulled back, sweating and shaking on his knees by the bottommost dowel. That one had burnt like ice against his palms and been the color on the outside of a boiled egg yolk.

    His mother had kept a pretty steam machine? That couldn’t have been right. Something wasn’t finished. She must have been using it to work on something, but what? He reached his left hand to the top dowel to pull himself up.

    Instantly Ross felt a jolt, a shock. No breath. No steam. The scratching became animal, frantic, lost all its previous rhythm. He tried to let go and couldn’t. His right hand stretched behind him desperately, grasping at the covered unit.

    It popped open at his touch and the dowel released him. He closed his eyes out of instinct, his body hovering and ready for what was to come.

    Inside on a bed of white stones was a book, a seven inch stick in a green velvet box, and a neatly closed letter. Ross reached for the letter first.

    “If you are reading this, your magic is ready. The altar only responds to you. Start with the book. Love, Mom.”

    The cat was purring against his ankles.

    (500 words)

    Reply
  4. Voima Oy

    The Strange Machine
    @voimaoy
    496 words

    And then, one day, the numbers changed. Pi became a pattern, repeating. Then, things got really strange.

    Before that, Emi was a model, a face in trendy magazines. In real life, she was fond of red fingernails, black cats and black dresses. She had just bought a rehabbed loft in the warehouse district. She loved the white and empty space, the light from the floor to ceiling windows.

    Many artist types lived in the neighborhood, and that’s how Emi met the diLunas, Vasco and Rae. Emi could tell they would become good friends. Rae was charming and talkative. Vasco was more quiet, but she liked him, too.

    One evening, they invited her over to their place. They lived just down the street, in an older, less-improved building. They had cats, and lots of room to work in. They made all kinds of unique and useful things.

    The space was filled with their eccentric objects. Suspended from the high ceiling was what looked like a skeleton of some strange creature in flight.

    “I have to ask,” Emi said. “What is it, a bird, a dragon, a whale? ”

    “Yes!” Rae smiled in delight. “It is also a light fixture. I am so glad you enjoy it.”

    “Oh, I love your work!” Emi danced from piece to piece. Wood, steel, polished bones. She was imagining these creations in her own new place. She had never seen anything like them. “Do you sell these things?”

    “Of course. We do commissions, too.” Rae said, whirling around the room.

    “Whatever you would imagine.” Vasco added, his arms outspread, as if he were about to take flight.

    “Could you?” Emi said. “Why don’t you surprise me!”

    So, that’s how it started, anyway, pleasantly enough. In no time, the three of them were inseparable, doing everything together.

    Then, one day, Vasco and Rae delivered Emi’s commission. She had no idea what it was. A towel rack? A time machine?

    “Yes, and it is based on numbers,” Emi explained. “Fibonacci ratio. Triangles. And Pi.”

    “It is also a light fixture,” Vasco said. “Here are the instructions.”

    She should have read the instructions, Emi thought later, after it was too late to change the settings back to the way they had been. She turned the knobs this way and that, again, and again and again. Colors began flashing, repeating, flickering like fireflies.

    Vasco, standing in the white room, his arms outspread, as if he were about to take flight. Rae, whirling in the white room, dancing.

    Hadn’t this happened before? Now, the numbers had changed.

    Patterns began repeating.

    Then, things got really strange.

    Outside the windows, everything was swirling, like a hurricane or the arms of a spiral galaxy, a vortex of spinning colors. In the center, an eye was forming, a green eye with a black slit, like the eye of a cat. The winds began to howl.

    Emi was alone in the white room at the center of the world.

    Then, everything went black.

    Reply
  5. C Connolly

    In Loving Memory

    Calder will depart for the afterlife a hero. They have ensured it is so, after his return from the raids to them, scarred, otherwise unscathed. They have no wish for him to revisit, reformed as revenant or draugr, to torment them, though Astrid has volunteered to wield the sword to remove his head if necessary. Brenna favours a stake through the corpse if the eventuality arises. They observe the requirements carefully, conscious of their need for perfection. The body is placed into a temporary grave, covered, whilst they sew, creating the clothes to accompany him on his journey. Brenna sings, strong and true, as they sit, imbibing the drinks proffered to her by Selby, one after another. They will help her see her way when the time comes. “Farið vel og með góðum tíma,” Selby says with each. Brenna nods, accepting the liquor filling the bowl to the brim, fingers touching Selby’s briefly, as the vessel passes back and forth again. There is no guard for this, their private ceremony. They are family now.

    With a glance between them, they raise Brenna aloft, moving her towards the door frame, to lift her on their palms, once, twice, thrice. Now, she sees out and beyond, into the other realms. They lower her carefully, to stand on her own feet. She is ready and they are one in their task.

    The women walk together to the water’s edge where the narrow longship waits for them, pre weighted with Calder’s battle worn weapons and armour, sail hoisted aloft. The dragon at its head points seaward, pre-seeking the eventual destination from which there is no return. Brenna climbs aboard carefully, placing cushions onto the wood to create the bed on which Calder’s body will rest. She accepts no helping hand as she clambers in and then out.

    “Far-wanderer – there is the line of my people, where the brave may life forever,” Brenna says, standing at a slight distance from the bronze prow. They all nod, before clutching hold of one another closely, then breaking apart, standing together this last time. Slowly, Brenna removes the bracelets on her wrists, transferring them into Selby’s outstretched hands. She removes the finger rings enclosing three of her fingers; places them into Astrid’s palm. Once done, she turns from the assembled women, walking towards the vessel where Calder lies waiting for her to join him.

    Brenna sits beside Calder’s cushioned body as his remaining relatives take their flame lit torches from the villagers who have joined them. She makes no sound as they set them to the oak and drive the boat out into the water. Burning arrows mark their progress as the ship sets sail in earnest. Brenna takes her secrets with her as she performs her final service for her family. Though Calder sets sail for Valhalla, she will chart their true course. Calder departs, presumed hero. She must ensure he faces his gods armed only with the truth. They will decide where he ends up.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (500 words)

    Reply
  6. Casey Rose Frank

    For Sale
    @CaseyCaseRose
    497 Words

    Craigslist >
    Exercise Equipment For Sale

    New Pilates Ladder Barrel for sale.
    In excellent condition, only being sold because previous owner has passed.
    Originally purchased for $1,500, asking for $1,000.
    Please reply to listing email to arrange purchase and pick up- no delivery available.

    Re: Exercise Equipment For Sale
    From: ESR@email.com

    Hello!
    So sorry to hear of your loved one’s passing. They didn’t die using the equipment, right? I mean, I don’t think that equipment can become haunted the way that a couch or a chair could, but why take the chance! Plus, if they did die on it, then I’d have to be worried about it killing me too, right? Was the person new to pilates? I mean, I’ve only taken a few pilates classes at the Y, and we do everything on the floor. I’ve been invited to no longer attend class there as I apparently talk too much during class, and one of the ladies thought I was being lewd when I barked during downward dog, but I was just trying to lighten the mood! You see how that’s funny, right? But seriously, I want to get better at pilates, but only if the machine wasn’t the cause of death.

    Thanks!
    Eric

    Re: Exercise Equipment For Sale
    From: craigslist456183992

    Dear Eric,

    I would like to assume that you are legitimately interested in purchasing the equipment and not having a go. With that in mind, no, the passing of my friend was unrelated to the barrel or Pilates in general.
    If you are serious about the purchase please be prepared to pay in cash, and to arrange a day for pickup, next Saturday being preferred.

    Best,
    Amy

    Re: Exercise Equipment For Sale
    From: ESR@email.com

    Thanks, Amy!
    Just a couple quick questions before we schedule the pick up- Does the cat come with it? Or, I mean, you probably want to keep the cat, right? (Is it a real cat?) I just mean, do I need to get a cat for the machine to work right? Or for me to use it correctly? Does it have to be black? I’ve never had a cat before, but it could be good for me!
    Also, I don’t have access to a truck, but my car roof is really strong, I’ve stood on it and I’m like 160 lbs, so we could strap it to the top of the car, right? I have two bungee cords, that plus maybe some packing tape should work, right?

    Thanks!
    Eric

    Re: Exercise Equipment For Sale
    From: craigslist456183992

    Dear Eric,

    Are you for real? If this is some kind of joke, I’m not amused. No, you do not need a cat to use the machine. After you pay me for the machine transportation is your issue. Though in good conscience I must tell you that your method seems inadequate and doomed to fail.
    Please do not contact again.

    Amy

    Re: Exercise Equipment For Sale
    From: ESR@email.com

    Wait, what?

    Reply
  7. Jacki Donnellan

    Fully Equipped
    @Donnellanjacki
    366 words

    Can he climb, like everyone else, Mrs Smith? Step by step, rung by rung? Shall we see? Shall we watch?

    Oh…I see.

    Can you clamber up onto here, then, Josh? Can you sit astride? Atop? Askance?

    Ah, well…

    Can you slide back down joyfully while giggling, Josh, the way other children do? Can you look up at your mummy and laugh, and beg at least twice to do it again- well, even once would be perfectly acceptable-? Josh?

    Hey, Josh! Can you count the bars? Describe the bars? Can you tell me what those bars look like, Josh, to you? To me? To everyone else?

    No, Mrs Smith, I do understand, I assure you; I understand him perfectly well. For I, after all, am qualified. An authority in therapies, a prodigy in remedies. A virtuoso in my field, and an expert on your child. My floor is sprung, my manner is professional, and my rooms are fully equipped. (Yes- the cat is supposed to be here, it is meant to reassure. My apologies, re his allergies.)

    So. Can you stretch, Josh? Can you reach out? No, not like that, Josh, not up for the sky, but like this, the way that I’m showing you to. Look, Josh-this is how you must bend, if you’re going to fit in. See, Josh-this is where you must fold, if you’re going to mix.

    Hmmm…yes, I see. Yes, just as I thought.

    O yes, Mrs Smith, I’m sure, I didn’t need long to reach my conclusions. The patterns are clear, you see, the criteria, met; all the bullet points, ticked.

    What was that, Mrs Smith? I can’t quite make out…The struggle up the ladder, you say? The twists against the grain? The spiralling inwards, the unexpected and unusual shape of things to come? What about your son’s future, is that what you mean, Mrs Smith?

    Well…if you step over to the equipment, I suppose there is something that we can show you that may be of help. Though I suspect that it’s something you may have mastered already.

    So, Mrs Smith. Just how far can you bend over backwards to help your son?

    Shall we see?

    Shall we watch?

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Sixty Seconds VI with: Karl A. Russell | Flash! Friday

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