Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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20-Nov-2020

Welcome to today’s Holiday Flash Fiction!

I pretty much hate Salli, who put Aspic salad on her list of Christmas foods. I can’t unsee it, and I can’t get the horrible, imagined taste of it out of my mouth.

Scroll to the end for a picture…

Traditions are basically torture from dead people.

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
Picking out a Christmas Tree
An Old Nutcracker
and
Aspic Salad

“Trista, bring the nutcracker over here!”

I flinched at my dad’s over-enthusiastic tone, and the way it carried through the entire Christmas tree lot.

“Yeah, Trista, bring the nutcracker over here,” my sister, Erin said in a high-pitched voice.

“At least I’m not wearing that ridiculous scarf.”

Erin glared at me with her green eyes and started to shove the scarf into her coat.

“Dad!” I shouted.

“Stop,” Erin hissed. I took a great deal of smug satisfaction as she pulled the hand-knitted, bright red and green complete with sequin snowflakes and four inch fringe hanging off the ends scarf back out. Even from here I could smell the old on it.

“This thing belongs in a museum,” Erin muttered as she wrinkled her nose.

“So does this.” I held up the nutcracker. It resembled a soldier with a red coat, black hat, and what had once been white fuzzy hair. The colors had faded in its hundred-year existence, and most of the hair had fallen out or clumped together.

“Trista?” That was our mom’s voice. She sounded almost as excited as dad.

“Come on,” I said. “They’re going to keep yelling until we find a tree.” I pushed past Erin, along with a couple who had a trail of little kids behind them, and went toward our parent’s voices.

“I’m still not clear how this scarf and that nutcracker are supposed to help us find the perfect tree,” Erin said.

“You and me both.”

A gasp sounded, and I stopped. The frozen ground crunched beneath my boots, and my breath made clouds of white before me. The gasp had sounded familiar. I turned my head to the side and glared through the row of Christmas trees.

Of course Melinda would be here, along with her pack of mean girls. Her bright eyes sparkled, and her perfect lips curled into a cruel smile. “Nice nutcracker, Trista,” Melinda said with a sneer in her voice.

Before I could decide between a nonchalant response and a sarcastic retort, Erin walked into my, throwing me off balance and onto the ground. My hands flew out to catch me, and the nutcracker hit the dirt with a crunch.

What new torture would our parents unleash on us if it was broken? I scooped it up and jumped to my feet.

Melinda was laughing.

Erin shrugged. “Sorry.”

My hands shook from anger and embarrassment. “Watch where you’re going.” Without looking at Melinda, her minions, or my sister, I turned and started again for our parents. A quick inspection of the nutcracker showed a chip taken out of the base. Nothing a little putty and paint couldn’t handle. I wrapped my fingers around the spot to conceal it and gritted my teeth as Erin ran to catch up.

She said nothing.

I said nothing.

If our parents caught us fighting they’d make us say ten nice things about one another. I’d run out of sincere things to say on Thanksgiving. December was going to be a long month.

“There you are!” My dad threw his arms out in welcome when we turned onto the row where he waited.

“Why didn’t we burn that coat last year?” Erin asked.

“Put it on the list this year,” I said. The over-sized Santa coat had seen almost as many years as the nutcracker. At least it didn’t smell as bad as the scarf.

Mom stood next to dad, a knowing smile on her face.

What were they up to?

“I think we found it.” Dad pointed at tall blue spruce. “Test it.” His smile got wider.

Did he love doing this every year, or was he just out to get me?

“Test it, test it,” mom chanted.

Other people gave us a wide berth. I pulled the collar of my coat up higher and held the nutcracker out. If I ever had kids, I would not force them to do this. I tilted the nutcracker to the side, then back, as if he were judging the tree’s worthiness.

“Well?” Mom asked.

I really wanted to say, “It’s good.” However, if I did that we’d be here all night. So I used the lever behind the nutcracker to move his mouth. “It is good and straight and true. The color is blue. It is the right tree for you.”

Erin snorted.

My dad beamed as if I’d just learned to ride a bike and clapped his hands together. Then he pointed at Erin. “Anoint the tree!”

She rolled her eyes, but quickly removed the scarf from her neck and wrapped it around the tree. Like me, she looked as if she would rather be finished, but also like me, she played along. “We anoint this tree to be our Christmas tree. May it bring pine scent, many needles, and perhaps a squirrel into our home.”

Mom clapped this time.

“We go!” Dad cried as he picked up the tree and started to haul it toward the cashier. “Tonight as we entrench this tree into our home, we will feast up on the Aspic salad!”

Erin moved up next to me. “What’s Aspic salad?”

“Googling now,” I said. After two tries—how did you spell Aspic—I brought up a picture.

“Why?” Erin asked.

I gagged.

“Is that tomato jello? Is that what mom was making earlier?”

“And shrimp,” I said.

“Our parents hate us.”

I glanced ahead. They were talking to one another. Ignoring us. I looked at Erin. “Apparently. Ideas for getting out of this?”

“That don’t involve getting in trouble for fighting?”

I nodded.

“No. You?”

I shook my head and steeled myself against the Christmas cheer to come.

***

This is tomato and shrimp aspic salad…no, just no…
Google if you want more gag reflex inducing images.

Holiday Flash Fiction Categories!

Tradition:

  1. Decorating cookies
  2. Picking out a Christmas Tree
  3. Driving around looking at lights
  4. Staying up until midnight to hear the church bells ring
  5. Going into the woods to cut down your own tree
  6. Watching favorite holiday films
  7. Taking one of the men playing around with the deep fryer (while trying to cook an additional “better” turkey) to the ER for 2nd and 3rd degree burn
  8. PJ pictures on or near the stairs of all the kids Christmas morning
  9. The family sleeping around the Christmas tree the Friday before Christmas
  10. Christmas stockings made by grandma

Object:

  1. A Rabid Snowman
  2. Reindeer
  3. An old nutcracker
  4. Grandma’s crotched snowflakes
  5. Advent Calendar
  6. Krampus’ switch
  7. The heirloom tatted ornament that has been dunked in sugar water, starched, , and modge podged so many times it’s hard to tell what it originally was…(resembles an oblong Easter egg that’s been scrambled) but it’s been out for every Christmas since the oldest family member remembers, it’s tradition
  8. Wooden Christmas signs bought at Ensign
  9. Christmas village on the fireplace
  10. Death Star tree-topper

Food:

  1. Gluten Free Gingerbread
  2. Fruitcake
  3. Cranberry Jell-o Salad
  4. Homemade divinity
  5. Christmas crack chocolate
  6. Christmas Kibble (a cookie that looks like kibble)
  7. Aspic Salad
  8. Wild Rice
  9. Raspberry cream cheese desert
  10. Christmas sugar cookies

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13-Nov-2020

Today marks the first installment of my Holiday Flash Fiction!

This one isn’t as…light as you might imagine. I blame Kim, who put Krampus’ Switch on the list, as well as the hubby, who came up with the fruitcake idea.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
Christmas stockings made by grandma
Krampus’ Switch
and
Fruitcake

“Did you get it?” Gunner asked.

I nodded and pulled the hunk of sticky fruitcake from my beneath my coat. I immediately pulled my coat closed against the frigid wind.

“What about you?” Gunner asked Britta.

Britta unfurled a knitted stocking in white, green, and red. I repressed a groan. She was supposed to bring something sacred.

“What’s that?” Gunner asked.

“Christmas stockings.” Britta narrowed her blue eyed.

“We’re trying to kill Krampus. How are Christmas stockings supposed to help?”

Britta opened her mouth to answer, but Gunner walked to her and put a hand on her shoulder. I flinched. I knew he liked her. I also knew that I liked her.

She glared, the freckles on her forehead scrunching together. “My grandmother made these. With love. She loved me. Krampus can’t abide love.”

Gunner reached out and tore the fruitcake from my hand and waggled it at her. “Krampus can’t abide fruitcake.”

“You don’t know that,” she spat back.

I raised a hand, wincing at the squelching sound that accompanied me separating my fingers. I should have wrapped the stupid fruitcake in a towel. “We don’t have time to argue.” To accentuate my point, a single dong came from the clock tower in town square, indicating only thirty minutes to midnight.

Gunner nodded his blond head, as if he’d been the one to notice. “Come one.”

Britta shot me a glare, and I gave her a smile. Her expression did not soften. A little thrill ran through me when she walked next to me instead of Gunner as he led us to the blacksmith shop. “This isn’t going to work,” she muttered.

For a moment my breath caught in my throat. She’d bumped my shoulder with hers. I had to swallow before I could talk. “What choice do we have after what we did?”

Britta’s eyes swiveled to the ground. “I know.”

Our feet crunched in the snow. Our breath made dense clouds as we walked. The wind brought the smell of fires from homes, and the horse stables nearby.

The three of us had spent the better part of four months trying to find Krampus’ weakness. Children had been taken from our village before, and some of them had tried to fight back, but no one had won. However, one old man—who now ranted and raved all day in the town square begging for money—claimed he’d gotten away from Krampus.

I thought back to the smell of the alehouse and the man’s sour breath as we’d bought him a drink so he would tell us the story.

He’d pushed his sister down during a disagreement when they had been little. She’d broken her arm. It had never gotten better, and had died a few years later.

The first Christmas after the incident Krampus had come to collect the man.

I didn’t know if I really believed in Krampus, especially after the man’s description of a demon with the legs of a deer, the body of a man, and horns like a ram, but I knew if Krampus was real,  he would be coming for us.

He came for all naughty children. Especially those who were unkind to others.

As we had been.

“Come on.” Gunner waved us around the back of the blacksmith shop where he’d started apprenticing in the summer. He’d left the back door ajar, and we slipped into the coal-black building. It somehow felt colder.

Britta stepped closer to me and reached for my hand. I almost jumped out of my skin. I did jump away from her, then cursed myself for doing so. Before I could move back, a spark flew from Gunner’s flint to a torch. A moment later orange light reached from the torch, touching the edges of Britta’s fair hair, and my gray coat.

“Let’s go over the plan,” Gunner said as he dragged a tall, roughly man-shaped, sculpture made of old wood, rusted metal, and scraps of cloth into the center of the dirt floor. It even held a birch switch in a clawed hand.

Britta rolled her eyes. “We each take some fruitcake.” She said it with disdain. “And whomever he grabs first, the rest of us try to get the fruitcake into his mouth.”

The old man from the square had said that he’d ridden in Krampus’ bag with other crying children for hours. Then, Krampus had dropped them. He’d been closest to the top, so he’d pulled the drawstring and scrambled out. Krampus had been on the floor, gagging. The old man had run for the door, and just before he got there Krampus had coughed up a piece of fruitcake. The old man had run into the night and not looked back.

I figured anyone could choke on fruitcake. It didn’t make it his weakness.

“Good,” Gunner said. Then he walked to Britta and tore the stockings from her hand. “Then we tie these around his mouth so he can’t spit it out.”

“No!” Britta reached for the stockings.

Gunner kept them away from her with his long arms. “You said they were sacred. They should burn his skin.”

Tears pricked at Britta’s eyes. She squeezed them shut and shook her head, but said nothing.

Gunner handed me one of the stockings. “Jakob?”

I took the stocking, imagining the warmth on it was still from Britta’s skin, and gave her a reassuring smile.

She looked away.

I couldn’t blame her. She’d started teasing Greta in the first place, so she got to be the bait.

That’s what Gunner had said.

I scrunched the stocking up in my fist and looked at the representation of Krampus. “Let’s go over it,” I said.

Gunner nodded. “Britta, you stand there.”

She got into place. I could see her trembling.

“We’ll be hiding,” Gunner said as he and I got into our places. “Remember, don’t scream. Just cry.”

Britta wiped a tear from her cheek.

“Are you going to chicken out?” Gunner asked.

“No.” She took a breath. “I’m not.”

Holiday Flash Fiction Categories!
We’ll only use 7 or 8 of each.

Tradition:

  1. Decorating cookies
  2. Picking out a Christmas Tree
  3. Driving around looking at lights
  4. Staying up until midnight to hear the church bells ring
  5. Going into the woods to cut down your own tree
  6. Watching favorite holiday films
  7. Taking one of the men playing around with the deep fryer (while trying to cook an additional “better” turkey) to the ER for 2nd and 3rd degree burn
  8. PJ pictures on or near the stairs of all the kids Christmas morning
  9. The family sleeping around the Christmas tree the Friday before Christmas
  10. Christmas stockings made by grandma

Object:

  1. A Rabid Snowman
  2. Reindeer
  3. An old nutcracker
  4. Grandma’s crotched snowflakes
  5. Advent Calendar
  6. Krampus’ switch
  7. The heirloom tatted ornament that has been dunked in sugar water, starched, , and modge podged so many times it’s hard to tell what it originally was…(resembles an oblong Easter egg that’s been scrambled) but it’s been out for every Christmas since the oldest family member remembers, it’s tradition
  8. Wooden Christmas signs bought at Ensign
  9. Christmas village on the fireplace
  10. Death Star tree-topper

Food:

  1. Gluten Free Gingerbread
  2. Fruitcake
  3. Cranberry Jell-o Salad
  4. Homemade divinity
  5. Christmas crack chocolate
  6. Christmas Kibble (a cookie that looks like kibble)
  7. Aspic Salad
  8. Wild Rice
  9. Raspberry cream cheese desert

Christmas sugar cookies


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6-Nov-2020

No dice this time. Just writing whatever.

Jack and I sat perched on the top of a chain link fence. Below us, a group of cute, high school, girls walked by. I took in every detail. The way they held their books in their arms, they way they leaned closer to someone when they wanted to tell them a secret, and the way they walked without looking over their shoulder to see if anything was following them.

“You’re making the face again, Val” Jack said.

“So?” I tore my eyes away from the girls and glared at him. “We’re out here on watch duty in the most boring spot in the whole city because you decided blowing up the hot dog stand at the fair was more important than keeping a low profile.”

Jack glared right back and jabbed his thumb at his chest. “If I hadn’t stopped them, those two Dominants would have followed those kids home.”

I sniffed. “Maybe, but you could have gone with my plan and trapped them in one of the gaming booths.”

“And risk them slipping away?” He looked incredulous.

“And keeping us from stupid guard duty.”

Jack’s voice grew quiet. “Is this about the boy you saw change last week?”

Now it was my turn to glare. “No.”

He held my gaze. He knew me way too well. I looked away, noting the next group of kids to walk by us. These wore dark clothes with dark makeup and did their very best to create a dark aura around them.

If only they knew what darkness really was. They still smiled. I didn’t remember the last time I’d seen any of our people smile.

For once Jack left me to my thoughts. My brooding. I turned my attention to the school and the surrounding sports fields. There hadn’t been a Dominant attack in broad daylight in months, but Soll had heard rumblings about this location, so two of us had been watching it for the past few weeks.

I almost longed for a Domi to show up. My fingers flexed, and my skin warmed.

“Calm it down, Val. I can’t contain your powers and keep us invisible.”

He was also allowing us to sit on the fence with no discomfort. I took a breath and let it out slowly. A couple walked by, oblivious to the world around them as they kissed.

“Impressive,” Jack said. “I’ve never seen anyone kiss and walk at the same time that smoothly before.”

“Looking for pointers?” I asked with a smirk. Jack had been trying to get Lucy to notice him. Unfortunately, she preferred the quiet type, not the guy who blew stuff up.

“Shut up.” Jack faked a pout.

I grinned. At least a few of us could still dredge up some humor.

A group of three boys walked by, all crowded around one phone. They were listening to a podcast report of what had happened the night before.

“These Glories, as they call themselves, are a menace.”

“And the Domi’s?”

“Same. Anyone who’s changed needs to get help instead of tearing up the world.”

One of the boys commented. “I still say they’re making all of this up, and no one really has powers.”

“I want powers,” one of the other boys said.

“What would you be, the master of math?”

The boys laughed.

My grin faded.

“Idiots,” Jack said.

“At least they’re ignorant idiots,” I said.

“I’d rather know.”

I considered. “You don’t want to be normal again?”

Jack shrugged. “Not really.”

“But you had lots of friends. You were popular.”

“And now I have powers that will eventually make me crazy. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

I knew he was right.

“What’s this obsession with being normal again?” Jack asked. He’d never been so forward about it before.

“I—I feel like I missed out on so much. School. Dating. Prom. Football games. Instead of wondering if anyone is going to ask me to homecoming, I’m wondering when the next time I’ll put my life on the line to save people who don’t even believe in us.”

Jack arched an eyebrow. “If you could be normal for one day, what would you do?”

That was easy. I’d thought about this a lot. “See my family. Then go ice skating.”

“Ice skating?”

I waved a hand, and a small flame surrounded it for a moment before it went out. “Even with the suppression fields I’m too hot to stand on ice. I melt through it in less than a minute.”

Jack regarded me. “Is there someone special you’d like to go ice skating with?”

“My friends.” Peter. I swallowed. Peter had been killed when the Domi’s had found out about my powers and tried to snatch me away. I’d only had powers for a few days, and I’d honestly thought I’d had the flu.

Wrong.

A scream sounded.

Jack and I both stood and looked toward the noise.

The goth kids were running away from the couple that had walked by. A green glow surrounded the couple, who were still kissing.

“Call it in,” Jack said as he jumped down to the ground. His field took me there too, and as soon as my feet hit the grass I clicked on my radio.

“Soll, this is Val, we’ve got Domi’s at the school. Two of them. Kissing and glowing green.” I didn’t wait for an answer as I dashed after Jack. He might be able to contain them, or I might have to turn them to human slag.

Just another day in the life of a Glory.

Just another step toward the day when I’d become a Domi.


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30-Oct-2020

This is my last Spooky Flash Fiction.

I hope you enjoyed them!

Death is Only the Beginning

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
An Old Native American Shaman
A Raven or a Crow
and
A Bat Screeching in the Night Air

The eastern sky glowed with the onset of morning. A bat screeched and flapped over my head in the opposite direction I was going, speeding for its morning solace.

I walked down the middle of the broken road, keeping half an eye on the murder of crows perched in the skeletal trees. Emaciated grass crackled in the breeze, which brought with it the undeniable stench of the dead.

There had been a town just over the next rise. Hope had driven me here. Hope that this place had survived. When I reached the top of the small hill I stopped and stared.

Roofs had been torn off. Initially unstable buildings leaned to one side, some with a wall flapping in the wind. Metal groaned. Wood slapped.

Flies buzzed around bodies in the streets.

I pulled my bandana up over my mouth and nose and moved closer. Gravel crunched beneath my boots. I shook a small rock out from a hole in the sole.

The reason I had come was likely dead. Normally I wouldn’t go near a gone town, but this hadn’t happened more than a few days before. There could still be good supplies

I stopped just outside the first ring of houses, not too far from the nearest body, and waited.

The flies either didn’t notice me or they didn’t care. A couple of crows swooped over my head and landed beyond my field of vision. Probably feasting on a corpse.

No tingle ran up my spine. No wariness that came from the things of the other world. The feet of the man lying ahead were close to the same size as mine. I didn’t see any holes. With one last look around, I crept to the house and peered inside the gaping maw of a door.

Light streamed through a sizable hole in the roof, illuminating a single room with a stove in one corner and a bed in the other. Two figures lay on the bed. Several pots sat on the stove. A flat board on the ground indicated a space under the soil.

I went through the door, careful not to make any noise, and waiting for the eerie pressure that came from the other world.

Nothing.

A quick search afforded me a few strips of dried meat, a pair of socks, a knife, and a small rag doll. I gathered the items. I avoided looking at the bed. They were dead, there was nothing I could do.

I stepped to the board and nudged it aside with my foot. It slid easily, revealing a hole just big enough to put a small child. A bundle of clothes lay inside. I reached toward it, and it moved.

I jumped back, withdrawing my hand. My heart raced.

Had someone survived? Were they still human?

A squeak sounded. The clothing stirred again.

I turned to run out the door, but a small rat scurried past me. This time I cried out, and bolted outside.

It had been a while since I’d been afraid like this. I may as well be a little kid with how fast I was breathing and my sweating palms. The rat ran around the side of the house and behind a body.

Moisture beaded on my brow, and I wiped it away. I needed air, and the mask wasn’t helping. Breathing my own hot breath only added to my trepidation.

A crunch sounded behind me.

I whirled, drawing the knife I’d just acquired.

A dirty boy of about ten stood before me. Dark hair fell to his shoulders, and he wore only a pair of ragged shorts. He looked harmless, but I knew better than to trust my eyes. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Are you here to see my grandpa?”

I was here to see someone, but I truly doubted that anything human was left. “Who is your grandpa?”

“The Shaman.”

My sweat turned cold. “How are you alive?”

“We stayed in our house.” He studied me. “You’re here to see him.”

This kid seemed human, and he was right about the Shaman. What the hell, if he was one of them, I was probably dead anyway. I nodded.

“Follow me.” He turned and walked toward the center of the town.

“Don’t get too close to them.” He indicated a woman lying in the middle of the road. “My grandpa says they’re not clean.”

That was obvious to me, but maybe the Shaman meant something different.

We wove a complicated path through the destruction, and I noticed small blue rocks every ten feet or so. Was there a trail? When the kid stopped, he stood in front of the only undamaged structure I’d seen. Barely a hovel, corners of wood held the mis-matched metal walls together, and the roof was made of branches.

The kids pulled a ratty gray blanket aside, revealing the cramped interior. Barely enough room for an adult to lay down or stand.

An old man sat cross legged in one corner. His skin hung in leathery wrinkles, and he wore less than the kid. Except that a dozen or more necklaces made of bone, wood, and stone hung around his neck. Milky white eyes peered at me.

“Welcome, stranger. Enter. We have much to discuss.”

Again, I felt nothing from the other world. Nothing that said I was about to suffer a fate worse than death. So I walked past the boy, who indicated that I should sit in front of the old man. I did so, then waited.

I expected him to ask why I had come. He did not. “Your wife cannot be saved.”

I swallowed. I believed him. “And my daughter?”

His eyes narrowed. “Only a fool would try to get a child back.”

I leaned forward. “Then call me a fool.”


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