[NOTE: Due to some technical difficulties, I’m hosting a “late” edition of my friend Siobhan Muir’s flash fiction contest. I often participate, have won a few times, gotten my share of honorable mentions, and way more scenes to incorporate into my on-going WIPs. Today, y’all get to sample some interesting writing from some very talented authors.]
Welcome back to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked. Today is Thursday and we’re into our fourth year flashing! This is Week 161 of #ThursThreads, the challenge that ties tales together. Want to keep up each week? Check out the #ThursThreads #flashfiction group on Facebook.
Need the rules? Read on.
Here’s how it works:
• The prompt is a line from the previous week’s winning tale.
• The prompt can appear ANYWHERE in your story and is included in your word count.
Rules to the Game:
• This is a Flash Fiction challenge, which means your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 250.
• Incorporate the prompt anywhere into your story (included in your word count).
• Post your story in the comments section of this post
• Include your word count (or be excluded from judging)
• Include your Twitter handle or email (so we know how to find you)
• The challenge is open 7 AM to 8 PM Mountain Time
• The winner will be announced on Friday, depending on how early the judge gets up.
How it benefits you:
• You get a nifty cool badge to display on your blog or site (because we’re all about promotion – you know you are!)
• You get instant recognition of your writing prowess on this blog!
• Your writing colleagues shall announce and proclaim your greatness on Facebook, Twitter, Tsu.co, and Google Plus, etc.
Our Judge for Week 161:
PMP, dancer, and erotic romance author, S.J. Maylee.
S.J. on Facebook
S.J. on Twitter
S.J. on Goodreads
S.J. on Google Plus
And now your #ThursThreads Challenge, tying tales together.
“Let them work or starve.”
All stories written herein are the property (both intellectual and physical) of the authors. Now, away with you, Flash Fiction Fanatics, and show us your #ThursThreads. Good luck!
Posting for Mark Ethridge @LurchMunster
What caused the fall?” I shook my head. “What caused the grand old party to implode? To become irrelevant?”
Everyone in the classroom nodded. “No, Mr. Limbaugh,” Mitt belted out, “Why did we become irrelevant?”
Sometimes, I wondered why I chose to teach our party’s history. It was such a sad tale, with such a violent end.
I took a deep breath, “You read the assignment, didn’t you?”
Sarah belted out, “Of course not! Reading’s dangerous! Fills your head with all sorts of nasty ideas!”
Ted joined in, “I asked Reverend Ronald what he thought.”
Of course none of them had read anything, so, I turned to the board, and drew another cartoon strip. They liked cartoons.
I started with the mass firings caused by automation. Then, I showed our ancestors and their big houses, cars, swimming pools, and all the other things we once had. Next, I showed the peasants outside our fenced off, protected world. Then, I showed the starvation burial grounds. It’s what happened when people couldn’t work. They starved.
I showed Sir Mitch, standing before the board of directors, “If they’re starving, let them find work. It’s not our job to take care of them.” The next frame was of the poster, “Let them work or starve”. The final frame, the rebellion, where the party fell.
Sarah couldn’t help herself, and belted out, “Because people stole all our stuff, and took all the food we’d earned!”
It was good when someone understood.
246 Words @LurchMunster
by Cari Oleskewicz
In the Laterno district, there were grumblings. Talk of revolt, of uprisings. Plans were made and then scrapped and then re-imagined and then doubted. No time was right, no weapons were found and no bargains could be made with the ruthless Company that kept them bound to labor and paucity.
The trees had been burned and the water had been stolen. Nothing was left, nothing. They were not permitted to speak of solutions, not allowed to utter words of hope. There was only the toil of building and building and building.
“We could strike,” Benicia suggested, her face stained by the copper of the earth and her lips cracked. “Like they once did. We could lay down our tools until we are better provided for. Until we have houses instead of hovels. And dignity instead of occupation.”
“It won’t work,” said Jepsem the Elder. “I have witnessed the strikes. The miners and the drivers. The conscious sweepers. Their big intentions and lofty ambitions ended them. Do you know what they’ll say? They’ll say ‘let them work or starve.’ And that will be the end of the negotiations. That will be the end of everything.”
Benicia’s face fell and she traced circles in the gravel under her sandals.
“Do not be shamed,” Jepsem the Elder smiled. “You are bright and bold, and that will serve you well in the future. But now is not the time. Patience, child. Your time is coming and your power will be great.”
“Extermination would be far simpler,” the Arkhani prince murmured, his opinion lost under the swish of the door that closed behind the ship’s commander.
“What do you mean?” I blurted, forgetting my place, though the dangling chains on my wrists should have reminded me. In Arkhana, even the storytellers were slaves.”
The prince’s black eyes bored into mine for a moment before I dropped my gaze. He took a step closer and I trembled. Had my insolence finally pushed him too far?
“Training Srinja wildlings is costly.” Luckily, his voice held tolerant amusement. “They are hopelessly backward.”
“There is always hope, my lord,” I murmured unable to quell my compassion for victims of Arkhani aggression.
Though he’d never been cruel, I cringed as long dark fingers brushed my chin. Timidly, I met his curious stare. “True bards never look reality in the eye, do they?” Something primal swam in his angular smile making my heart skip. “But you have won, my songbird. I shall let them.”
“Or starve. As they choose.” He glanced down at my fettered wrists, then said. “You know this has nothing to do with you.”
Surprise softened his voice. “How could it? You do not work and…” His thumb caressed my cheek. “I would never let you starve.” The yearning that smoldered in his eyes was unmistakable and far more terrifying than any whip.
For a slave to love their master was expected, but a master’s love could be deadly.
Word count: 248
She hovered on the edges of the crowd, ignored. All eyes focused on the Governor.
“I say we stand up to them. They’re no better than we are. Let them work or starve, just like the rest of us.”
Instinct jerked her attention toward gathering shadows. She faded back further, prepared to run. Lightning struck. And thunder. Then everything turned red. Blood. So much blood. She fled, only to run into a tree, or so it seemed. From the ground, she stared up at a man. He crouched over her and his eyes flared with dark starlight in their depths. Hunter. She evaded his grasp, scrambled away. Ran.
Cheyenne awoke, a scream choking off her breath. Her fists connected with solid muscle and she opened her eyes, only to fall into whirling stars. “You.” Recognition. She saw it on his face. “You let me escape. All those years ago.”
He cupped her breast, thumb idly teasing the nipple. “You were a child. And I knew. Wild, you could grow to be this.”
Need seared her blood and she rubbed against him, smiling at his awakening arousal. “What do you mean?”
Pax lowered his head, kissed her. “Mine.”
Pressing her against the bed, he covered her, slid inside her welcoming heat, caught her gasp and swallowed it. “If you had not been caught, I would have hunted you when the time came.”
“To mate. I claim you. Now. Always.”
“And I claim you.”
Hunter and human. Together.
250 words ineligible words since this is my blog. 🙂 (And it was fun to revisit the SciFi story simmering in the nether regions of my imagination.)
Juggernaut Jones, chief cook and bottle-washer for the Government of New Caledonia, had hoped for a few moments of quiet. On most days, he expected at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted peace. That was his daily goal; not often achieved.
As he sat at his desk, he stretched his short but powerful legs and felt the strength of them. Most of his government peers were flabby men and women. They spoiled themselves with the assumed perks of power.
Not he. He was in the power game for the long haul. That would take stamina.
“Governor Jones?” his aide de camp and principal policy wonk, Steinem Crisp, burst in. “I have just received a report of an escape from a Transport Truck.”
“A few are bound to flee from time to time,” he replied, just a little too incautiously.
“Yes,” she conceded, “perhaps a few. But this fugitive is…one of the Identified. Locust Riel!”
“A woman!” he exclaimed, immediately regretting his tone.
“Yes sir. One who actually thinks! She scored amongst the highest in the Identifiers testing for Dissident Thoughts.”
Jones reflected. Perhaps they had pushed the envelope too far. With the ever increasing global shortages of water and farmland, the creation of dust bowls everywhere, wars erupting in every prefecture, his government’s imposition of the stark but essential economic policy, Let Them Work or Starve, intended to weed out the inept, the fragile, and the cerebral had begun to backfire.
“Your recommendation is…?”
“Hunt her down, sir. Hunt her down.”
“You’re without honor and therefore, not worthy of my company.”
“Without honor.” The princess snorted and raised an eyebrow. “This coming from a man who sneaks up behind people and slits their throats? I don’t believe you have room to talk.”
“I didn’t ask for your input or opinions, princess.” Quinn returned his gaze to the dryad Keeper’s face. “As I said, Keeper, I shall take my chances with the mob.”
“Yeah, well, that ship has sailed.” She didn’t smile. “I have a job I need done and you have the need of safe passage through the forest. Princess Maia can locate who we’re looking for, and you can get her there. Plus you’ll be able to avoid the mob. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.”
Anger kindled in his chest, but he kept his expression impassive. “Are you threatening me, Keeper?”
“No, just making sure the consequences of your choices are very clear.” The Keeper tilted her head. “You have a problem with past actions done by this king. The princesses can make it up to you if you let them.”
“Work or starve. Is that my choice?”
The Keeper shrugged. “It doesn’t have to be that way. We’d probably feed you, but you wouldn’t be getting out any time soon. Hell, you might get the luxurious digs of being a lamp along a stream.” She narrowed her eyes. “Although, I think you’d make a much better weapons locker given the array of arms you have on you.”
250 ineligible #WIP500 words
I control an empire in Omaha, Nebraska. Entire neighborhoods are quietly mine, the cops ignorant of the activities under their noses.
Only my best customers are allowed to join my empire. My motto is “Let them work or starve.” One of my best customers whom I taught everything I knew, started working with the cops and nearly brought my empire to its knees. In his place is a new, younger man, Nate. He was a runaway at fourteen, in training with me by sixteen, now a member of my empire at the age of eighteen. The same age I brought in—well. He isn’t with me anymore and it’s time to move on. I don’t keep people around who snitch to the cops.
But Jimmy. I miss him. Even though he ratted us out to the cops. We shared a life I was ready to make permanent. But he got arrested. His husband found him. The schooling I paid for almost fell through, because he was a felon. He said, the last time we talked, that he appreciated everything, but he wanted to be a paramedic. To do that, he had to clear his record. I told him he could have a better life with me, but he said no. I told him I had my ways and I could have him killed.
So, I dumped him. And now I have Nate. But Nate isn’t Jimmy. Nate doesn’t do things right. Nate isn’t going to work. He’s going to starve.
The Dark Sheep of Darklan
The royal assembly falls silent as three prisoners of war are ushered down the aisle
The attending guard says, “What say you, my King?”
“Let them work or starve,” Darslay says with a dismissive wave.
Darslan steps from her place among the commoners. “They are of noble birth, brother. Will you refuse them royal exemption?”
“I will,” he replies picking lint off his coat. “I soiled my favorite gloves and lost fifty men in their pursuit.”
She gathers her skirts and bows. “Very well. Then I shall take them –“
Darslay laughs, a harsh sound that startles the assembly. “Take them to the devil for all I care. They’re welcome to starve in your father’s sheep pens. And while you’re there, give my mother my regards, faithless whore that she is.”
Darslan beckons to the three children and leads them outside.
The youngest child reaches for Darslan’s hand. “My lady, is it true that you are the sheepherder’s get?”
She crouches beside the child. “It is, little one. But in spite of my humble means, it is within my power to restore your birthright – and to claim mine.”
“We’re going to be such great friends, aren’t we? And friends tell each other secrets, don’t they?”
“Indeed they do.”
“Then I shall tell you where my big brother, the Crown Prince, is gathering his allies.”
Darslan’s cheeks flush. “If we are very wise, poppet, we shall be more than friends. We shall be sisters.”
@bullishink / 249 words
“Let them work or starve!” My beloved’s shrill voice sliced through the grim and darkness of the mine.
Three of my brothers succumbed today, dropping our numbers to seven. But at least they were free.
Free to dance, marry and sing. Free to dream. Free to live. Free to love.
I shuddered at that notion, as my pickaxe hacked into the rock, mining for gems, and desiring so much more than what she gave me.
Maybe the witch was right. Maybe all she needed was something different, something to make her remember the life above ground, with its nature and bounty.
The whistle sounded, and I couldn’t help but reach into my pocket to once again touch the smooth red apple hidden away.
Today, she’ll awaken to my love.
In line, I tapped my foot and waited with the others to show my gem-crusted harvest.
Finally, it was my turn.
She cast a scathing glance at the gems in the metal bucket, but came alive at the sight of my apple.
I watched her palm its firmness. Bringing it to her mouth, her pout puckered, and as juice dripped from the corners of her lips, she beamed.
For one brief moment, I could only imagine her response belonging to me, as well as her fleeting touch.
Before I could utter words about her striking beauty, I watched her limbs stiffen, her eyes roll. Her breathing stop.
A smile curved my lips.
Dwarves work hard, but love even harder.
#ThursThreads is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week and I hope to see you next week on my regular blog.
Ah, I figured I was cutting it too close this week. Oh well. Nice work to those who entered!