Poll

Which was the best of the stories?

Remarkable Pyrus
3 (23.1%)
Pure OCD
4 (30.8%)
Casualty of War
1 (7.7%)
Karline Explains Things
3 (23.1%)
Keeping Up Disappearances
2 (15.4%)

Total Members Voted: 12

Voting closed: July 28, 2014, 12:43:20 PM

Author Topic: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!  (Read 3856 times)

Offline Femshep

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« on: July 20, 2014, 12:43:20 PM »
Apologies for this being late up, life got in the way!

So here are the entries for the Flash Fiction Challenge! The requirements were 750 words, and must include a character with mental illness and a pear that is in some way significant to the character or story.

REMARKABLE PYRUS

Professor Archibald stared at the pyriform object on the velvet cloth. His Assistant, Johnson, had just unwrapped it and placed it on the table.

“Remarkable. Quite remarkable,” said the Professor.

Johnson squirmed with glee, “I thought you would find it so. Note the blush of red coloring the base.”

“Of course, Johnson. No need to treat me as if I were a fool, a Callahan. I noted that, and more. For instance, you no doubt missed the well-dimpled stem insertion.”

Johnson decided to cut his losses. The Professor was a cranky man and one crossed him at their peril.

“Indeed, Professor, I missed that.”

A field investigation team, working deep in the Amazon jungle, had sent in the pear. Its journey to the Professors desk at Cambridge would have made an epic poem of Odyssian scope: hand carried through miles of pathless jungle, then hundreds of miles of rough water by native canoe to the port city of Quano, then swathed in wool waste and shipped across the sea.

Now the Professor’s eyes roved over it as lustily as they had once roved over Miss Lucille Farnsworth’s body.

“By God, Johnson, this is a noteworthy find. I will begin immediately on a paper for the Journal. Here, we must photograph it and then secure it so that bastard Callahan will not see it. He would try to claim it or horn in on the credit. He’s quite mad, you know.”

Johnson did indeed know of Professor Callahan’s madness. He served as Assistant to both Professors, and by a substantial margin, Callahan was loonier than Archibald. He often wished them both ill so he could produce papers and get credit himself.

“I will have it well hidden by the time they let him out.”

Archibald said, “Secure it in my office in the safe. Callahan has no access to that.”

“Certainly, Sir.”

Johnson rewrapped the fruit and carried it away to the photo lab.

The Professor sat and threw his dainty feet up onto the table where the pear had rested, and mused.

“An unknown species of pyrus. This will make the Society notice. Of course, I will have to give some credit to the team that discovered it. Too bad they were eaten by cannibal headhunters after they returned to the jungle.”

Unbeknownst to Archibald, at that very moment, Professor Callahan was walking out of the suite of rooms where the University locked him except during lectures. One of his students, hoping for an improved grade, set him free. The University had taken this extraordinary action after Callahan’s latest outburst threatened to bring lawsuits.

Callahan was, in fact, demented. He was near ninety and for several years, had been losing his connection to the real world. Nevertheless, his reputation was so formidable they did not want to retire him. Therefore, they tried to keep him doped up and manageable.

Callahan went straight away to Archibald’s office. Somehow in the murky depths of what passed for thought, he blamed the younger Professor for his problems. He threw open the door just in time to see Johnson placing a wrapped object into the safe. With no hesitation, he picked up Archibald’s paperweight and clubbed the Assistant to the ground.

He unwrapped the object, openly cackling now. He saw it was a luscious pear, which he ate.

He was still there, rocking cross-legged on the floor, when Archibald found him clutching the core of the pear.

*************************************

Pure OCD

It can’t be seen so it isn’t there. That’s what Moira told herself. The thought comforted her as much as chocolate. Hidden inside her head were fantasies she daren’t share. Denial was a good friend to her. Another piece of silky Galaxy melted on her tongue. She sighed and wondered if it compared to Lindt D’Or, snapped a new square and popped it in her in mouth. Me? Stressed? She sniggered and made her shoulders shake up and down.

Eyes closed, a beatific smile kinked her lips as if she had entered a state of grace. Heaven.

But the blessed place remained far away. Here and now she thought she lived in hell. She’d read about pure OCD and despite the horror of the condition, the syndrome, whatever the damned thing was, it labelled the beast. She wasn’t mad. She wasn’t abnormal. And the horrible things had never happened. Deep breaths.

At last she’d found something which explained the terrors and obsessions. Until then, she had been unsure if they were repressed memories. Oprah did a show on them once. Moira shuddered, repulsed by the erotic reveries or ‘recreated reality’ the experts called it. It wasn’t imagined though. It felt so real.  And how could she have invented the disgusting scenarios? She resisted the urge to pull at her hair, what little was left. Abusive, incestuous activities were possible if not entirely plausible given the players. She knew her brothers and her father could never do such abominable things to her.  When she realised the timescale couldn’t match the perceived perversion the relief it brought made her breathless. Her brothers left home when she was seven. The ‘memories’ she lived were from her teenage years, puberty. And as a late developer she’d never been sexually precocious. Still, she wondered why her mind entertained such a filthy distressing diversion.

It came and went. Why it happened or what the trigger was, she never knew. The guilt never appeared until long after the event. And then it felt bad. These days, she felt no guilt at all now she understood where the deviance sprang from. Everything was consensual and she couldn’t help being ‘good at it’. Still, it had to stop. But she was good. Very good.

Moira reached for Food for Lovers and flicked the pages, drooling at the pictures. Food porn, definitely, but safe and just as satisfying in her mind. She stared at a photograph of a chocolate drizzled pear. Poached in red wine, the flesh blushed under its sweet adornment. She knew how it felt and bizarre thoughts lent themselves to the secret life of fruit. Did they know what they did – well, if fruit could think. Did they realise how they aroused people with their promise of succulence, sweetness and bite. Coupled with exquisite visual presentation, the offer of tactile, temperature and aromatic experience along with taste just made it so appealing. Ooh, and served with chilled, Chantilly cream.

The afternoon bled into evening and Moira realised she needed to get ready. Inspired by the pear, she dressed in brown. The light jersey fabric draped her pale skin and clung to curves in a deliciously daring manner. Her make-up accentuated her eyes, giving subtle depth. The berry stain applied to her lips reminded her of the black cherry garnish on the dish. Kissable. Edible. Scrumptious.

As she checked her appearance in the mirror, Moira wondered how she should complete the outfit. Aha! Chantilly cream. She rummaged through the wardrobe until she found the box she wanted.  Blue and brown and red netted bags sat in neat bundles. She ignored them and fished out a platinum creation. “You’ll do, Marilyn.” Moira fitted the blonde wig over her patchy scalp and teased a few curls into place. A squirt or two of Jo Malone’s English Pear and Freesia Cologne gave the finishing touch. Fresh, clean, sweet. She nodded at herself, pouted and blew a kiss. Then she smiled.

The phone rang. Moira answered. She frowned and slammed down the handset. “Well, sod you. I’m dressed up and I’ll find some place to go. Without you. Bastard!”

She snatched her purse and left to cruise for prey. Familiar feelings stirred.

*******************************************

Casualty of War

Nobody knows how much abuse I suffered in that orphanage. They all think that I must be making it up, so I don't tell anybody any more. Instead, I'll tell you how I ended up there.

*****

Albert Baker was a good man, happy to be called up for National Service. The Germans and Japanese were as evil a pair of enemies as any nation had been called upon to face, and he was proud to be asked to do his bit in the defence of freedom.

Before he went to war, he got a special licence and got hitched to Ethel, the girl he'd been intending for years to marry. By the time I was born, nine months after their four-day honeymoon in the romantic back bedroom of my grandmother's house, Albert was half a world away, fighting in the forgotten army.

Times were tough for Ethel, left with a new-born, without a husband and - exactly a week after I was born - without any parents. It was one of the first of the doodle-bug raids that caught Grandma in Walthamstow market, buying fruit for the new mother. Ethel had spent most of the last six months craving a pear, and they were finally back in season. She got over her craving.

It was over a year later that Albert returned, very quiet about his war. It wasn't until we had a visit from his lieutenant - trying to fix him up with a job now that he'd been demobbed - that Ethel found out what her husband had endured.

He'd suffered several bouts of malaria, marched miles through a jungle full of strange and deadly animals, seen his mates get shot and blown up by the Japanese, and cowered in impotent terror when our own air support had got their co-ordinates wrong and created one of the earliest friendly fire incidents.

Things seemed to return to normal. Albert was quieter, now, than before he'd gone to war, but we were muddling through as a family. Probably much the same as a lot of families at that time. Ethel was making an effort, just pleased that her man was home, and she was taking responsibility for us all pulling together. It was Christmas day when normal became a spectre that no longer lived in our house.

Ethel had got up early. Still in her teens, she loved the festivities. She got me fed and dressed, and she was stoking me up with what an exciting day it was going to be. My second Christmas - the first that I was aware of - so I was just following her lead.

"Come on, let's take Daddy a cup of tea so that he can join in the fun!"

"Dad-dad-dad!" I'd mastered that only a week or so before.

We burst into the bedroom, with me doing my new trick at the top of my voice, and Albert was awake in a second.

His hands went around Ethel's throat, the tea went everywhere, and it all went very still.

They say that you don't remember anything from before about the age of three, but I reckon that doesn't count watching your father kill your mother.

They didn't have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder back then. What they did have was the death penalty for those convicted of murder.

*****

There's a genetic link in PTSD – I googled it - which means that, since my father didn't have it when he killed my mother, I haven't got it either, and I'm just whining 'poor me'. Like I said, nobody believes I got abused in that orphanage.


******************************************

Karline explains things

   Today was weird. It started with the corpse by the window. I couldn’t tell if it was real. I figured I was hallucinating again, like the doc said I did. Because what would a corpse be doing at a donut shop?

   The busboy paid it no mind. He wiped the table clean and fixed up new silverware without batting an eye. I was either seeing things again, or that busboy had a seriously intense life.

   Karline didn’t seem perturbed either. She was reading the funnies again. The same ones she’d read yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. Big sis did funny things like that lately. But she was okay. Okay . . .

   Except for the shotgun. She carried that a lot lately . . . kept it snuggled under her arm every time we sat down. Every now and then, a dog would bark outside and she’d peek over the corner of the newspaper. Whenever that happened, she’d hug the gun a little tighter. When I asked her about it, she claimed it wasn’t a gun. That it was just an umbrella, and I was imagining things. That made sense. Then she’d mess up my hair and get back to the funnies.

   The corpse was still weird, though. It was slightly rotted, and had a knife sticking out of its eye. I was seeing them a lot lately. They were even weirder than the mobs last week. Or what I thought were mobs. Karline insisted it was just a really big rave the city was having, but it looked like half the city was shooting the other half, and the half being shot at kept trying to bite the shooters. Far be it of me to criticize how grown-ups party, but that looked like the worst rave ever. Karline must’ve thought the same, because she shoved me in the car that day and drove us out of the city the same night. A bit excessive, I thought, but big sis had always been impulsive.

   That was also the night she started carrying the umbrella everywhere. Seemed like a waste of money. It was always sunny anyway. I wanted to point that out to her, but that’s when I saw it. Just a second after the dogs did. Another corpse. Standing there outside the window, peering at us with bloodshot eyes, mouth drooling like a waterfall.

   Things got really weird then.

   Apparently, the busboy could see this corpse, because he took one look at it and scrambled away so fast he slipped and decked himself on a table. Karline said a funny word, pumped the umbrella that wasn’t a shotgun, and blew the corpse’s face right off. Then she hurried over to the busboy and slapped him awake. Both of them seemed real worried suddenly, and the dogs were barking up a storm. I just sat there, drinking my coffee.

   “Every one of those things a mile around will have heard that,” Karline said.
   
   The busboy staggered over to the register and disappeared under the counter for a moment. When he came back up, he had one of those weird umbrellas too, and his lips were quivering. “M-my parents s-still aren’t back yet,” he stammered.

   “They’re probably not coming back,” Karline told him.

   “You don’t know that,” the busboy said angrily. “They . . . they must’ve just gotten lost . . .”

   Karline pointed an angry finger at the corpse by the window. “See that? Your parents left for supplies two days ago. That” – she jutted her finger at the corpse – “is probably what your parents are by now. They’re not coming back. You wanna stay here, cleaning tables, serving coffee, pretending everything’s still fine . . . Go ahead. Do it. Get eaten for all I care. But we’re leaving.” She pumped the umbrella again, shoved the newspaper in her backpack, and dragged me to the door in a huff.

   “T-they said it was a pear,” the busboy said suddenly. He sounded desperate. Karline spared him a moment. “A-a whole plantation. J-just . . . infected, or s-something. That’s why . . .” He gestured weakly at the corpses.

   Karline let out a weary sigh. She looked like she was really thinking something over. “My little brother and me . . .” She squeezed my hand tighter. “We’re leaving.”

   The busboy almost said something again, but we were gone. On our way to the car, Karline blasted another corpse on the face.

   I couldn’t wait to hear how Karline explained this one.


******************************

Keeping up Disappearances

“You’d tell me if I’m going mad, wouldn’t you?”

Cassie nodded her head, her large brown eyes fixed sympathetically on mine.

“You see, the problem is, nobody else seems to be aware of these disappearances. I mean, you read about these South American countries where people get ‘disappeared’. Where the secret police just pick them up and you never see them again. Well, it’s happening here.”

Cassie inclined her head, as if she doubted me.

“It’s happening to people that I know.”

She crossed over to the fruit bowl and pointed at it. I shook my head, she took a pear. She was always eating pears.

“I can remember when it started happening. It was just before I met you, I think. Jane was the first to go. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and then, when I went to the café, she wasn’t there. I asked the new girls there, and they’d never heard of her. The manager ended up throwing me out when I called him a liar for saying he’d never heard of her either.

“My mother was next. My own mother. She used to call me nearly every day, saying how ill she was. She stopped calling. When I went round there was a stranger living there.” I just sat there for a moment. It got me upset thinking about how my mother had disappeared out of my life. With the hand that held the pear, Cassie gestured me to carry on.

“I don’t remember when it happened with Pete. He might have been the first. I know that I talked to Jane about him, so perhaps he was. Jane said he asked her why I’d been so horrible to him. I can’t recall who it was who said he’d gone to Carlisle, but I know that was a lie, I mean, why would he go to Carlisle?

“Then you came along.” I could feel tears welling up and it took me a while to get myself under control. “You’ve been the only friend I’ve had these past few months. You’ve always been there to listen to me. I know I’ve said some horrid things to you, but you’ve always understood, you’ve always come back. You’re like my guardian angel.”

Cassie waved her hands deprecatingly, her mouth too full of pear to reply.

“I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without you, without knowing that I could always count on you.” I got up and walked over to look out of the window to hide my tears, but I could feel them coming, feel my shoulders heaving with how hard I was crying, and I could feel her gently put her hands around me.

“And now, you tell me that they’ve made you redundant and you won’t be coming to see me any more.” I turned around to stare at her, to glare at her until she admitted that it was a lie. That she just didn’t want to come around again. And all that I saw was an empty room.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 06:52:35 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »

Offline Skylan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4458
  • -
Re: Sticky: Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 01:14:27 PM »
I just noticed the last story says "Keeping up Appearances" in the poll, but "Keeping up Disappearances" in the actual post.

Offline Skylan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4458
  • -
Re: Sticky: Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2014, 05:27:17 PM »
My word, things are close this time.

Offline Femshep

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Sticky: Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2014, 02:38:16 PM »
And the winner is:

(drumroll please...)


510bhan

Congratulations, and well done to all who entered; really close on the votes!

Offline Skylan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4458
  • -
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2014, 03:00:26 PM »
Congrats 510bhan! ;D

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 03:24:46 PM »
Gosh! :o Must have been some last-minute voters -- thank you. ;D

Yep -- really close and all so different, very hard to choose.

Well done everyone, I shall have the next challenge up soon.

Offline Mrs N

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2319
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2014, 05:04:03 PM »
Congrats, Sio.  :D

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2014, 05:30:21 PM »
Thank you, Mrs N. :)

Thanks to you too, Skylan. ;)

The new challenge is up! :o

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2014, 05:34:19 PM »
Congratulations Sio.  ;D

Looking forward to the challenge you come up with.
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2014, 05:35:34 PM »
Thank you, Alice. :)

Offline Kowboy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1674
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 05:42:31 PM »
Gosh! :o Must have been some last-minute voters -- thank you. ;D


You're welcome.

Offline Laura H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34448
Re: Sticky: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2014, 05:48:05 PM »
Congratulations, Sio  :)
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2014, 07:45:12 PM »
Well done, poppet. xbx
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline The Dude Abides

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 362
  • terrancebramblett.wordpress.com
Re: Winner Announced . . . Flash Fiction Challenge #87 Poll!
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2014, 08:46:35 PM »
Good story. Congratulations.
"Little red wagon
Little red bike
I ain’t no monkey but I know what I like"
                 Buckets of Rain, Bob Dylan