flash fiction

Pit Stop (Sentence to Story #17)

It had been a long drive with plenty of time and solitude in which to contemplate his next course of action.  

The two lane road seemed to go on forever.  As soon as Tom would speed up, another small town would appear, bringing him back to a crawl, and then back to full speed again.  He was low on gas and
needed to stop, but even the small town stations had too many eyes.  Passer byers impatiently pumping gas and locals sitting on newsstands talking about last night’s football game.

Last night.  

Thirteen hours and six hundred plus miles later and it already seemed like forever ago.  No sleep, no food, and not a clue what to do next.  It was time to stop.

Pulling into the mom and pop, one pump store, dust filled the air behind him.  He opened the door to see the corn fields sprawled out on the other side of the street.

A clerk looked out of the window and waved.  Tom ignored him, uncapped the tank and put the hose in the hole.  The clerk tapped the window and pointed to the pump.  Tom turned and looked at the pump: ‘Must pay before pumping.’

He sighed, left the hose in the car, and slowly walked into the store.

Howdy stranger,” the middle-aged man behind the counter said.  “For a while I didn’t know if I was going to get any business today.”

Tom smiled at him and headed to the snack aisle.

Just shutup and let me get my stuff and leave.

“Been pretty weather we’ve had lately.  Usually we have more travelers on a Saturday.”

Tom ignored him, grabbing a bag of chips and a soft drink.  He took a deep breath and reached inside the jacket he was wearing for the wallet.

“How much gas you need today?” the clerk asked as Tom opened the wallet.  

No cash.  Dammit.

“Uh, I guess about thirty bucks worth,” Tom said, fumbling in the wallet, looking for a credit card, trying to hide his hands and wrists as much as possible.

The clerk nodded, rang up the gas, chips and soda.  “That’ll be thirty-three thirty-three.  Huh, that’s pretty funny,” he said, with a slight chuckle.

Tom tensed.  “What’s so funny?”

“The numbers,” the clerk said pointing, “they came up the same at the front and the back.”    Tom took another deep breath and leaned in to hand the credit card over.  When he did, the light shining through the front door glared off the metal on his wrist, into the clerks eyes.

The clerk squinted and raised his hands to block it.  “That’s some bracelet you got there, jeesh.”  Tom dropped the card on the counter and quickly put his hands in his pocket.  

“Sorry about that,” Tom said.

The clerk took the card and ran it.  


The clerk pulled it through the machine again.


The clerk looked at the card and back at Tom.  “I’m sorry Mr. Wayne Nelson, but it’s declining your card for some reason.  You got another one I can use.”

I need something to eat.  I need gas to keep driving.  I need something to go my way.

Tom tried to smile it off and thought for a minute, considering the options.

“Look, I’m really sorry mister, it happens sometimes.”  

I’m not going back to prison.

There was only one option left.  Tom reached into the inside of his jacket, slowly.  “I think I might have another card or some money, just one second.”


“Oh, wait,” the clerk said, peering down at the card machine.  A strand of yellow paper spit out of the top.  “Huh, it worked, how about that.  Must be running slow.”

Tom grabbed the food and the card quickly.  When he did, the handcuffs that had been cut in half were exposed on his wrist, just briefly.  He looked up at the clerk, who was still shaking his head, amazed at the credit card machine.

“Man, it’s never waited that long to run a card.  Must be your lucky day, mister.”

“No, it’s yours,” Tom said, and left.

First sentence of this story submitted by Toni S.  

Tough Sell (Sentence to Story #16)

“Give me the remote, honey,” Will said to his young daughter.  She did not hear him over the drowning noise of cartoons a foot from her face glaring off the television.

“Gracie…Gracie,” he said, sitting down on the couch.

She turned around.

“I said hand me the remote please.”

Her face fell.  “Oh please daddy, don’t change it.”

“You’ve had all morning to watch cartoons.  It’s time to turn on the parade,” he said, motioning for her to bring him the remote.

“The what?” she asked, crawling to him with the remote.

“The Thanksgiving day parade.  It started a few minutes ago.”  The television flickered through the channels and finally landed on the right station.  Gracie looked at it curiously.  “Daddy, what’s a parade?”

“What?” he said with a chuckle of disbelief.

She looked back at him.  “What’s a parade?  Is it fun to watch?”

Is it fun to watch?

His mind quickly raced to Thanksgiving’s passed.  Did it matter if it was fun?  It was part of Thanksgiving.  As much a part of the holiday as turkey, or football, or leaves.  It was tradition.   Did it really matter if it was fun?  It was the Thanksgiving day parade!

Looking at his daughter he tried to assess the best way to approach it.  Listening to the two broadcasters talking about the lineup for the day’s events, he realized it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Come here, Gracie,” he said, pulling her up into his lap.  “You don’t remember watching this last Thanksgiving?”

She shook her head.

“Okay, well…a parade is a bunch of people that get together on floats and they dress them up with neat stuff and they go down the street and…”

He could tell he had already lost her.

“Um…” He kept thinking, trying to figure out how to explain it and then finally it came.  A wide smile of satisfaction came across his face.

“I know, Gracie.  A parade is just like a cartoon.  It has silly things in it and lots of colors and different characters.  Sometimes it even has music or songs.  But only it’s a cartoon that has real people in it.”

She looked at the screen and then back to him.  “Will you watch it with me?”

He gave her a nice, big hug.  “I certainly will.”

On The Line (Sentence to Story #15)

The man paid the taxi driver, closed the door behind him, and walked directly into the incoming traffic.

“What do you want me to do now?” the man yelled into his cell phone, holding up the briefcase in his free hand to try and slow the oncoming cars.  Brakes squealed and drivers cursed out of their windows while the man stood in the middle of the road.

“Nothing,” came the reply on the phone.  “You will stand there and make sure everyone sees you.  Open the briefcase.”

“What?” the man yelled, horns honking and commotion building all around him.

“Open the briefcase. Inside there is a gun.  Put it to your head and pretend like you are going to shoot yourself.  Do not let anybody near you until I tell you to?”

The man in the street reached down to open the briefcase, sweat dripping from his forehead.  Then he paused.  “What are you going to do with…I need to know that my wife is safe?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Jake…Jake,” came a female voice on the phone.  “Oh, please, God, Jake, come and get me, please don’t let me…”



The original voice on the phone came back on.  “Your wife is fine.  If you do what we ask, we will not harm her.  We only need you to make a scene for a short while in that area and we will be done with our business. Time is running thin, though.  Take out the gun and put it to your head, now.”

Jake fell to his knees and fumbled with the briefcase until it opened.  The crowd had grown larger around him.  He looked up and saw the frustration and confusion on their faces.  Then he heard sirens.

He pulled the gun out and the crowd started to scatter, screaming as they ran.  He didn’t say anything, only put it to his head.  A couple of cop cars squeezed through on the side of traffic, stopped, and the doors opened with officers ready.

“Sir, drop your gun and get down on the ground, now!”

“You stay right where you are,” the voice on the phone commanded.

Jake looked at the officers and shook his head.  “I can’t go anywhere.”

Hard to Digest (Sentence to Story #14)

“You ate how many hot dogs?”

Jeannie answered, “Twelve.”

The boys sitting around her at the lunch table stared with a mixture of disbelief and awe.

“There’s no way,” Brady said, looking Jeannie up and down.  “You couldn’t hold down that many hot dogs.”  Monty and Pete shook their heads in agreement.  Brady started again, “There is no way you ate twelve, real size, on the bun, hot dogs in…”

“I’m telling you,” Jeannie interrupted, eyes wide open to drive home the point, “I ate twelve, real size, on the bun, in front of people, hot dogs in five minutes.”

Week after week, lunch break upon lunch break, all Jeannie had heard about was how many mayonnaise packets Monty had downed or how many goldfish crackers Pete had crammed in his mouth.  Boys and their stupid dares.

“Prove it!” Brady said, folding his arms.  The other two smirked, assuming victory.

Jeannie smiled and pulled out her phone.  She took her time, letting the boys wonder for a few seconds.

“Just in case you needed more proof,” she said, turning the phone around.  The boys clamored for it.

“No way?!” Monty screamed.

“Well get out of way, lard butt, and let me see,” Pete said, trying to push his way in.  Brady stood next to them, peering over their shoulder.

Jeannie flipped her hair back over her shoulder.  No girl at Rosemont Middle had ever – ever – felt the pride she felt as the boys in front of her ogled over the picture of her, standing in front of Vinny’s Famous Hot Dogs and Fries.  The shirt she had on in the picture was neon green and had printed, ‘Winner – Junior Division.’  The hand written sign she was holding read:

Total Dogs = 12
Total Time = 4 minutes and 58 seconds

All three of the boys looked up from the picture in unison.  Brady held the phone loosely in his hand, which Jeannie gently reached over and took back.

“I would have wore the shirt in person, but I didn’t want to rub it in,” she said, turning to walk away.

First sentence of this story submitted by Gavin T. It received the second most votes for sentences submitted the week of October 8, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!

Over Easy (Sentence to Story #13)

Although his morning had begun like any other day, as he stared at his plate of scrambled eggs something told him this was not to be just another day.

It was too quiet, maybe?
No, that wasn’t it.  Buster, the neighbor’s golden retriever next door, was barking away as usual.
Was he running late?
He checked his watch.  7:23am.  Still plenty of time to finish eating, finish the paper and be on the road in time to get to work.
Why am I so nervous?

He got up, still holding his coffee, but leaving the plate on the table.   With his black, nylon socks sliding across the hardwood floor, he walked over to the kitchen window.  The blue sky had only a few clouds scattered around.  The grass seed he planted in the spring had taken root and was now lush and vibrant.  Even Miss Tolliver’s daisy’s across the yard were coming in bright white with dot after dot of beautiful yellow.
Laughing at himself, he took one last sip from his mug and then poured the rest of his coffee in the sink.
Today is going to be a great day!

With his head still bent over the sink, he noticed a shadow falling over him.  He looked out of the window.  The few clouds that were there before were still trickling by, but not enough to cause a shadow.  Yet the light was gone; almost black.
Sliding over to the front door, he opened it and stepped out onto the porch.  Neighbors had noticed the sudden change too and were starting to venture outside.  Everyone was looking up, for something; some reason there was a gray cast where the sun had been shining brightly.
Then he saw it.  He assumed everyone saw it, but was in such a trance, a state of shock, he didn’t turn his head to look.  The massive fireball hurtling toward him.  It just kept getting bigger and bigger.
All around he heard screams and yells, people praying, Buster barking; yet as he stood in his nylon socks the only thing he could think of before it hit was that he was still hungry.
I always finish my breakfast.

First sentence of this story submitted by Dalynne D. It received the most votes for sentences submitted the week of October 8, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!

Another Day (Sentence to Story #12)

She could feel his presence all around her and wished she could hear his voice, just one more time, assuring her that everything was going to be okay.

The old feelings came back.  They would come every so often.  As much as she hated herself for having them, especially after so many years, Rebekah welcomed them.  She welcomed any real feeling.

Moving over in bed, her nose closer to his pillow, she breathed, deep.  Hoping.


Grabbing the pillow she pulled it close and wrapped herself around it.

“Daniel,” she said, tears coming.  “I miss you, Daniel.”

The ceiling fan massaged the air as the morning light made shadows dance around the ceiling.  The dawning of each day and the eve of every night she lay, watching, hoping.


Wiping her eyes she pushed his pillow away, back into place.  A couple of deep breaths and she rolled her legs over the side and her feet onto the floor.  Her back ached and she waited for the blood to find it’s way to her toes.

Time.  Age.  She never used to mind them.  Facts of life.  Now they were the things she was fighting.  Each day trying to hang on, finding a reason; knowing that she still had too long to go.

She shook her head.  She used to know that Daniel had too long.

Rebekah stood and stretched.  All she would try to worry about is today.  That’s the best she could do.

First sentence of this story submitted by Cathy S. It received the third most votes for sentences submitted the week of October 1, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!

No More Monkey Business (Sentence to Story #11)

Preface – My son, Michael, is celebrating his 11th birthday today, so I let him pick the sentence to start.  Thanks so much to Jim B. for his willingness to trade out his submission for another time.

Mario arrived in Kongo Jungle to capture Donkey Kong’s banana stash, ready to deal with Diddy Kong.   As soon as Mario’s feet touched the shore, even before he could take off his tanooki suit, barrel’s were raging toward him.  Diddy stood on top of the bank, gleeful, hurling one after the other.

Dodging and jumping over the barrel’s, Mario carefully made his way up the sand, closer to Diddy.

Stupid little wanna-be monkey.

Mario’s last attempt had been a complete failure, thanks to Diddy, and Mario was not going home to the Mushroom Kingdom empty handed this time.

Diddy jumped and flipped with excitement, watching Mario struggle up the hill.  Mario let him have his moment of glory.  Last time Mario only came with his hammer, but this time he was ready.

As the next barrel came rumbling toward Mario, he jumped and simultaneously pulled a shell out from his backpack.  Before he landed, he lobbed it at Diddy.

Diddy stood, the next barrel high above his head, ready to throw.  The sadistic joy in his face turned to shock, then terror, as the shell made it’s way up the hill and plowed right through him.  Diddy flew into the air, barrel’s cascading around him, and then landed on his head.

As Diddy lay, unable to move, stars swirling around him, Mario ran past and said, “Woohoo!”

I love you Michael.  Happy Birthday!

Trying to Stay Positive (Sentence to Story #10)

When I was young, I thought I truly had it all figured out.  Life and I were pretty tight.  Anytime I wanted something, life was there, with exactly what I needed.  It seemed it would always be that way.  Unfortunately, when you’re dead, life kind of shrugs its shoulders and says, “Sorry, wish I could help.”

Well, dead is a relative term.  What would you call it if you still feel like you are walking around, interacting with the world, but you have no control over what you do?   Is that living?   If I used to have a soul, is it gone now, somewhere else, and my brain is still stuck in this body, watching me do what I do day in and day out?

I don’t know.  Like I said, dead is a relative term.

Do I agree with the things I do?  Certainly not!  But if you don’t have any control over what you do, does it matter?  Mostly I’ve gotten to the point where I just try to ignore it, and keep my thoughts occupied with different things.  Positive things.   All the wonderful memories I had when I was young and thought I had it all figured out.  It’s amazing how real a memory can feel when you need it too.

Every now and then I’ll see somebody that is still like I used to be.  If only I could communicate.  Oh well, the best I can hope for is that something changes and my mind takes control of my body again, or, more likely, somebody puts a bullet in my head.

I’m assuming a bullet to the head will actually finish me off.  But who knows, I also never assumed that I would ever be walking around, making animal noises, eating human flesh.

Like I said, life and I used to be pretty tight.

Used to be.

First sentence of this story submitted by Trey G. It received the most votes for sentences submitted the week of October 1, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!

The Stuff of Legends (Sentence to Story #9)

About to enter the gates of Urquhart Castle, Rupert hobbles up to the entrance trying to adjust his headset for the tour, and yells out, “How do ye turn it down a bit?” 

The tour guide grabbed the control box from Rupert and adjusted the volume.

“Is that better?” she asked, smiling.

Rupert saw her mouth the words, but couldn’t hear a thing over static in his ear coming from the audio.  Lifting one side of the headset, he gave her a puzzled look, and asked, “Huh?”

“Can you hear it now?” she asked, louder.

He gave a disgruntled nod.

“Come on dad, we need to catch up,” his daughter said, putting her hand around his shoulder.

Catch up.  He knew he was going to be playing catch up all day.  His whole life he had waited for the time when he could come to Loch Ness.  Now that he was here, he was going to have to fight his body, and this boring tour, to get to what he really wanted.


“I’m coming!” he said gruffly, trying to get his legs going.

At every stop in the castle, Rupert made his impatience known with a heavy sigh or a loud, “When are we going to see Nessie?”  Rupert didn’t have time for all the ‘old castle’ shtick.  His daughter just rolled her eyes and smiled, apologetically, to the other group members.

Finally, at the end of the tour, they were standing on the shore of the great lake.

“The first account of the Loch Ness Monster dates back to 1933, when…” the guide started.

Rupert took his headphones off and gazed out over the lake.  All these years, waiting, he was finally here.  He handed the headphones to his daughter, who didn’t seem to mind taking them.  She never really understood why he wanted to come anyway.

He slowly walked away from the group and onto a small dock leading out into the lake, the group turning their attention from the tour, to him.

“I’m sorry sir, you’ll need to come back to the group.  You need to be off the dock, please,” the guide said, a look of concern on her face.

Rupert ignored her.  At the end of the dock, he pulled an old necklace out from inside his shirt.  On the end of it was a whistle.  He put it to his mouth, smiled and blew long and hard.

There was no audible sound.

“Dad,” his daughter called out, exchanging looks with the guide.  “Dad, come on back up here.”

“I’m home,” Rupert said, quietly to himself, before jumping in.

Screams echoed off the shore of the lake, right beside Urquhart Castle, nestled in the Scottish Highlands.

First sentence of this story submitted by Becky W. It received the third most votes for sentences submitted the week of September 24, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!

An Unforgettable Presentation (Sentence to Story #8)

She knew the story so well she could actually quote most of it, but for some reason, this time, it sounded totally different to her.

The students in the class were staring, looking at her oddly. Something wasn’t right.

“Are you okay, Beth?” the teacher asked, starting to rise.

Beth wanted to speak, she could feel the words inside her, but she couldn’t say anything.  She nodded and wiped the sweat from her forehead.

“Well,” the teacher said, hesitantly, “why don’t you start again?”

Taking a deep breath, Beth lifted the poster board and started to recite her story, again.

“When he was little, his name was Malcolm Little.  But then he got bigger and got…different…and then there were sheets and shotguns and…”

The room started spinning and she wanted to puke.  The last thing Beth saw before she hit the floor was the teacher and a couple of students on the front row running over, trying to catch her.

On the floor, she felt like she was dreaming, hearing the conversations around her.

“Call the school nurse, quick!”

“Look at how pale she is!”

“Somebody get me a jacket or a shirt for her head!”

“What’s wrong with her eyes?”

While Beth’s eyes rolled into the back of her head, her body started convulsing, violently.  The students and teacher backed away as she lay shaking, not knowing what to do.  Gentle sobbing started among some of the students at the brutal site.

Then it stopped.

Beth’s body lay, peaceful, eyes closed, as if she were sleeping.  The group around here, breathing heavy and uncertain, started moving closer to see if she was okay.

Beth’s eyes opened suddenly and the group flinched.

Then she screamed, loud and piercing, everyone in the room covering their ears.

When her body started rising off the floor, floating, those who were slowly backing away started to run out of the classroom, screaming.  Other students fled from their chairs past Beth, now hanging in the air as if suspended by a string, had and feet dangling, still omitting a piercing scream.

The teacher backed up to her desk, dread and fright in her eyes.  The few students that remained seemed paralyzed, unable to move.

In an instance Beth’s eyes closed and her screaming stopped.  Her body fell hard to floor, but before it touched the laminate, it disappeared.

All that was left in the room were random bursts of terror and tears, piercing through a dreaded silence.  The teacher walked over to where Beth’s body had been.

It was not there.

She looked at the students.  They looked back, blank.

The assistant principal appeared in the hallway, out of breath.

“What is going on in here?”

The teacher turned to him, “She just…disappeared.”

First sentence of this story submitted by Toni S. It received the second most votes for sentences submitted the week of September 24, 2012.  

Please leave comments below on if you liked the direction I took the story, or if you would have personally went a different way.  I would love to know!