Which story meets the brief and reads the best?

Mister Ferret, To You
An Unexpected Response
Shawn's Ride to the Sea
The Woodchopper's Ball
An Oaf in Tow

Author Topic: Voting Flash Fiction #57 -- 6 stories  (Read 1136 times)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Voting Flash Fiction #57 -- 6 stories
« on: December 11, 2012, 03:18:31 PM »
This was the brief:

The challenge is to see how well you can incorporate interaction with your scene ‘props’. Please could you write a story, any genre/style using no more than 500 words and include at least:
1 item of furniture
1 ornament
1 flooring mention
1 doorway/opening
1 ferret or pheasant

The items in the list cannot be description only but must be ‘used’ by the character/involve an action.

You have 2 votes to determine the winner. Voting will last a week. Here are the entries:

1. Mister Ferret, To You

It was that damned odd tree ornament that started it all. I thought it looked strange for a holiday decoration, right from the first. I saw it at the bottom of the old cardboard box the Christmas ornaments were stored in, hidden under some wadded pieces of newspaper. I didn’t remember ever having seen it, and certainly hadn’t packed it away last year. It was too ugly to keep. Most of it was a sickly pea green and its rough textured surface was dull, instead of shiny, mottled with odd lumps that looked like dark cancerous warts. It was repulsive to touch.

I glanced across the plywood flooring of the attic, looking for something to throw the little monstrosity into, when it began to grow warm in my hand. It heated fast, quickly becoming very hot. Just before I tossed it into the corner to be rid of it, I would have sworn it had started to buzz.

It hit the plywood floor and bounced hard into one of the rafter supports. I expected it to shatter, but it didn’t. Instead, an impossible shadow lengthened from the floor where it had struck and formed a tall, dark rectangle. I looked at the single light bulb behind me, and wondered what it could be that was causing such an odd shadow. When I looked back, the shadow had become a door.

My first thought was panic. This sort of thing happened in storybooks, not real life. Still, I couldn’t make myself flee. My heart raced as I took a hesitant step toward the dark doorway and paused to pick up Aunt Maude’s old makeup chair. It was what we had always called the wire-framed old stool with a low back that she had used in front of her makeup mirror. In my mind I could still see Aunt Maude, hunched forward on that chair, her face inches from the mirror’s surface, trying to fill all the crevices in her face with rouge and powder.

I picked up that chair now as a weapon, and thrust it before me into the dark opening. When nothing happened, I thrust it into the shadow again and again, until I began to feel more foolish than afraid. I finally sat it down again on the floor, whispering to myself, “Sorry, Aunt Maude.”

I took a deep breath and exhaled, loudly it seemed in the silence. I resolved to step into that chimerical doorway, just to see what was on the other side, when a movement near the floor caught my eye. At first I thought it was a mouse or a rat, but it was too big for either. It was a ferret and it walked on two legs out of the stored attic boxes right up to the door.

“Excuse me,” the ferret said, “I think that’s for me.”

I don’t remember sitting on the floor, but that’s where I was when the ferret walked through the opening, saluted, and disappeared inside the shadow.

2. An Unexpected Response

John picked up the stuffed ferret off the mantelpiece. He contemplated throwing it at the next person who walked into the study, then reconsidered. Slick leather shoes, and polished marble tiles meant that he was much more likely to fall flat on his face than actually hit what he was aiming at. He replaced the ferret, then glanced around the room.

The narwhal horn crossed by the swordfish beak caught his eye-one or the other could make a splendid offensive weapon, were they not mounted 20 feet off the floor. Other hunting trophies, like the lion's head, or majestic moose antlers might do the same job, but again, without a bench or chair, they were out of reach.

He contemplated his drink-mostly water now-and wondered about summoning Jeeves for a refill. The bell pull was right there, next to the giant stuffed grizzly bear. He walked over and patted the bear on the arm. "Oswald, my boy, we are both stuck." He yanked the bell pull, and a muted chime indicated his signal had been sent.

He slid across the tile slightly, moving to the red leather chair. Seating himself, he brooded for a moment over the unfairness his situation, then sighed. He was well and truly trapped, and could see no way out of his dilemma.

Noise behind him indicated this study door had opened and closed. Holding up his glass, he said, "A refill here, Jeeves."

Martha took the glass from his hand, and poured it over his head. "I think you had quite enough, John."

3. Shawn's Ride to the Sea

I slammed the door in anger, and went around the back of the car. Shawn looked out at me mournfully through the fogged glass, his eyes bloodshot from crying the entire way up here. Streaks of green mucous hung from his nose, while rage boiled in my throat.

“Dammit Shawn, I don’t know what you expect me to do about this,” I belted at him as I started the wheezing old Ford. His eyes met mine in the rear-view mirror, and I looked away quickly. I glanced at my watch, the diamonds glinting and sparkling in the morning sun. Half past nine already. Shit. “If you hadn’t agreed to take Jim’s ferret, we would never have had to put the damn thing to sleep.”

I pressed the accelerator, and the car lazily responded, pulling out of the veterinarian’s office parking lot, and on to the highway. We took the exit for Beaver Road, which headed for the coast through fifty miles of rolling, brown prairie. The soft suspension of the old car floated us toward the sea, the sun, squinting my eyes.

An hour later, we pulled up to the boardwalk and went inside the little shack connecting the pier. I wrestled Shawn out and flopped him in his wheelchair, the old fabric squeaking and creaking softly. The front of his pants were wet, and the pathetic look in his eyes told me he had pissed himself. “Shawn, I’m so sorry,” I said, trying to calm him.

I wheeled him up the curb and through the door of the shack, where the bearded Dock master eyed me. His gruff eyes questioned me before his mouth opened. “What can I do for you?” I stammered “We want to go out on the pier, sir.” He sat back in the ornate cherry-wood captain’s chair, took a pull off his cigar, and rasped “You got any money?” I pulled a crumpled ten-dollar bill from my pocket, handed it to him. I noticed my hand shaking slightly, and felt the familiar shame of being the weaker man.

The Dock master let us out through the rear sliding door, which screeched terribly at being wrested open.

Along the pier we rolled, with Shawn’s wheelchair catching here and there on rogue nails, and the warped, weathered old boards moved slightly, underfoot. I felt as though I was a child again, sneaking down to the kitchen after my mother was asleep, to steal cookies off the stove. The creaking floorboards betrayed my careful footfall, but my mother never awoke.

We reached the end of the pier, the open ocean, blue, endless, undulating. I turned to Shawn, taking his hand. “Son, I want you to be brave. We have come a long way together, and you’ve been a good boy.”

Shawn’s screams were lost to the sea as I pushed him off the pier, his wheelchair providing a moment’s buoyancy before sinking under the surface with resignation. Shawn’s arms flailed, but their strength wouldn’t keep him afloat.

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Voting Flash Fiction #57 -- 6 stories
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2012, 03:22:27 PM »
4. Untitled

I came to, gradually. When the room stopped spinning I noticed I was lying on an operating table - of sorts. It was long and smelled of plastic. There was a chemical smell that vaguely seemed familiar? I cautiously sat up and looked about me.

What did they hit me with? Ooh, my head was thumping! I swung my legs round and stood up gingerly. The floor looked like it had been buffed up to a polished sheen.

I stood up, wobbled a bit, then got my balance under control. Looking round the room, I could see it was quite Spartan in its decor. There was a table and chair, a lamp in the corner. The light which thankfully provided a subtle illumination, rather than the glaring overhead fluorescents would have, I was really thankful for that.

A dresser of sorts stood along the furthest wall, with a stuffed animal sitting on it. I tottered over and when I got my eyes focussed enough by blinking a few times, I saw it was a stuffed ferret poised-forever in a permanent leap! Weird? Who lived here? I wondered.

By now my equilibrium had fully returned as I made my way to the only door in the room. Just as I reached it, the handle turned and the door started to open slowly.

A man stepped into the room with one quick decisive step. It was Stanger! I knew it! I knew there was only one man capable of pulling off a caper like this! Stanger! The one man in the World I wanted to kill with my bare hands, and he was here right in front of me and I was as weak as a kitten!

I had to get myself under control. I had to be calm. I couldn't risk giving in to the hatred I felt or I'd blow my chances. I might not get another opportunity. I slowed my breathing right down, my heart rate grew easy as I slowly got myself under control.

"Well, I see you've returned to the land of the living!" he taunted. I kept quiet, I didn't want my voice giving away any clues to him of how I was really feeling! I had to lull him into a feeling of trust if I was to make any headway. I had to get my strength back fully if I was going to get my revenge! He hadn't changed much over the years since we last shared a room together. Except he had gotten fatter, and his skin was as pock-marked as ever.

We shared a cell in Lincoln Prison for a spell. I was there because of a misunderstanding, which isn't relevant here now. He was in Prison because he deserved to be, and he'd still be there now if I hadn't helped him to escape! He owed me and instead of thanking me, he betrayed me! Oh, I hated him so much! Because of him I lost another two valuable years of my life.

5. The Woodchopper's Ball

Dickie Foreshaw had chauffeured us here in his Landrover and I'd been rather put out, but my complaints fell on deaf ears. In the back seat Beatrice MacPherson and her younger brother, Freddie, were too busy canoodling to notice the lingering smell of wet dog and diesel fumes.

Snow had been forecast and the skeletal trees funnelling the driveway to 'Blairwhinnie Hall' were already frosted with early tinsel. Mother had been Assistant Forester here until, on a whim, she decided that conifers were no longer de rigueur. The dowager widow never forgave her for the devastation she wreaked with her Mita chain-saw and lopper.

Hence my disguise. I was wearing shades, my black Halloween wig and mother's red dress shoes. Yet cousin Fiona still recognised me as soon as we met at the main entrance.

'Clarissa, how's St Andrews?'

Only my second month in college but I'd managed to avoid disgracing myself in public so far. Mother threatening to blackmail the Dean with Polaroids from their own college days if he even suggested sequestration. Photographs from '69 of him wielding an ornamental phallus inside the bishop's bed chamber.

'Still a hoot. When does your old man get out of Barlinnie?'

Uncle Angus was doing time for dealing in designer drugs - the 'Scourge of Strathspey High Society' according to the Highland Free Press. His face had been on every front page.

'Sometime next month. The duchess is laying on a 'Get out of Jail Free' party at the Manse. Says she's already feeling horny as fuck. Fancy dress as you might have guessed. Of course, none of his Freemason buddies have rsvp'd so far but I bet they'll show up once they realise there's free malt on offer.'

Inside the grand hall there was the usual chinless crowd, chattering away about the following day's pheasant shoot, nibbling oatmeal crackers while strobe lighting induced epileptic seizures on the square of polished pine flooring adjacent to the bar.

Me... someone else... me... someone else... me...

Someone sniffed.


Jasper Menzies, the heir to Blairwhinnie's twelve thousand hectares, wearing his hereditary sneer. Dickie hovering at my shoulder.

'Springer, actually. Why do you ask?'

'Just curious, old man. Wondering which of the dogs you'd brought along tonight.'

There was a momentary pause then Dickie's fist connected with Jasper's nose. He collapsed against the Chippendale sideboard, scattering oatcakes in all directions as his dress shirt blossomed spectacularly.

Red... black... red... black... red...

Bradlock, the butler, returned Dickie's scarf and gloves then escorted us four miscreants outside. Drat. The snow was already over my ankles.

Beatrice's gaze seemed to be transfixed upon the glittering lights inside. I could hear the muted tones of the Woody Herman Orchestra as we waited for someone to bring the Landrover from the courtyard at the back.

'Nice one, Dickster.'

Freddie chewed a cigarette and tried to slide his hand inside his sister's Burberry cullottes.

'Cold fingers, Freddie!'

No one commented on the state of mother's shoes.

6. An Oaf in Tow

At the back of the tavern, hidden from sight in a private booth, Thealden studied the map and made notes. When told, he though it odd he was to take Crowshaw so deep into the training dungeon. Ordinarily such areas were restricted to aspiring thieves at least able to comb their hair without risk of injury.

The syndicate knew Thealden preferred to work alone, so someone had it in for him. He suspected the pot-bellied Spy-Master Skriven. The little ferret-shit never accepted Thealden due to his lineage and no doubt had shackled him with this imbecile.

It took the threat of a bloody nose to drag Crowshaw’s attention away from his supper. The boy, too fat and stupid to be a thief, had proven a worthless apprentice and a liability.

“Oh, sod it,” Thealden shrugged, growing bored, “no sense in letting it get cold. Anyway, the assignment tomorrow shouldn’t be too taxing for you.”

“Really?” The boy looked up from his bowl, his fleshy, gravy streaked chin wobbled. “What we doing?”

Thealden’s almond shaped Elven eyes widened, “you are jesting?” holding up a hand, he ignored the reply and tucked into his supper.


Light from a ceiling grill filtered through the blanket of silken webs, barely illuminating the small room. The smooth, even floor lay hidden under a thick layer of dust. Across the chamber stood an identical door to the one Crowshaw had just burgled, breaking a dozen lock picks in the process. Pleased with himself and without looking, he waddled into the room, kicking up dust as he went.
“Fool,” Thealden barked, grinning as the boy winced. “Stay perfectly still.”
“The stone beneath your right foot, you feel it? It’s a pressure pad.”

“How, how did you know?” replied Crowshaw, his fingers squirming like chubby pink worms.

“I heard it.”

“But, that, you…oh come on, you’re an Elf,” huffed the youth, “that’s not fair.”

“I’m a half Elf, you idiot,” Thealden’s cheeks flushed, “and what’s not fair is me being lumbered with you…you moron. For forty years I’ve picked locks and burgled without peer and in all that time I’ve never encountered anyone like you. Boy, you befuddle my brain with your infectious stupidity. Teaching you to become a thief will be the end of me. Look at yourself. Stand up straight.” He pointed at the hunched figure. “You slouch like broken-backed hag.” Without thinking, Thealden stepped into the room. “Your technique is appalling. Did you not think you to look before you tread—”


“I heard that.” Clapping his hands together, Crowshaw grinned, his face wrinkled like the wrong end of a dog.

Thealden closed his eyes. Beyond the range of his human counterpart’s ears, he heard movement from beneath the floor, ceiling and walls. Taking a deep breath he readied himself. Crowshaw was sure to die, but not Thealden. He’d survived many an attempt on his life and Skriven must pay for his treachery.