Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 4

We had SEVEN entries last week, guys. How cool is that? Let's see if we can top that this week.

Judges This Week: Si and Mars

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


The cat stared at him.

Just for inspiration.
(And it amuses us.)


  1. The Road Behind, The Road Ahead.
    300 words.
    David Shakes.

    The road was wet like his eyes, reflecting lights and further obscuring his vision as he sobbed. Older tears dried on his cheeks, snot on the shirt sleeve he'd wiped across his face.
    *Her face withered, her eyes confused. Her body barely raising the blankets from the mattress beneath.*
    Something darted from the hedgerows and froze in the road ahead. Shaken from his thoughts, he jammed the brakes on but skidded further than expected on the slick road. There was a sickening crunch beneath the near-side tyres.
    *Her hand in his. An irrational fear that if he holds it too long, the sickness will seep into him. Shame at the recognition of his revulsion in her milky eyes.*
    He stepped into the damp air, oblivious to the cold. Breath fogged before him as he knelt down by the wheels where a bundle of fur lay motionless. The cat's eyes were closed but it was breathing, its rib cage rising and falling in time to the blink of his hazards.
    *Her breathing shallow, laboured. They're sorry, there's nothing else they can do, there's only time now. How much? Hard to say.*
    The cat opened its eyes, trying to protest as he scooped it up and went round to the passenger side. He lay it on the seat , noticing a smear of blood on his snot covered shirt sleeve as he returned to the driver's seat.
    *She'd whispered to him, dusty words through cracked lips. "Do something."*
    The cat stared at him, its eyes beginning to film over. He Googled veterinary centres on his cell, clicked on maps. If he could save this cat, then maybe...
    He shook his head. Bloody stupid thoughts. She was going, could be gone already.
    He'd do his best for the cat anyway, hospital could wait.

    1. 'Do something'. He couldn't for her, unless perhaps saving the cat brings some sort of karma to the situation. Sad story.

  2. @AvLaidlaw
    300 Words


    The cat stared at her for a few moments then licked its paws again. It was midnight black with green eyes that stared with the same stern ferocity as her grandmother.

    "You're only a cat," Elsie said.

    The cat belonged to her grandmother but her grandmother was dead and Elsie was unsure how she felt about that. When her mother had told her, Elsie replied with a simple "oh". No more Sunday afternoons forced into a stiff summer dress to sit in this house full of shadows and musty smells, every move watched by her grandmother sitting in the high backed chair, wrinkled as if the essence of her were shrinking inside her body. Elsie's father had called the old woman a witch once, and in her heart Elsie agreed with him. She wondered if this coldness meant there was something wrong with her.

    The cat jumped on the windowsill and mewed loudly until Elsie opened the window. It jumped out into the sunlit garden. She wondered who would look after the cat now. Her parents wouldn't have it.

    Unconcerned the cat trotted across the lawn, its tail held high and wavering. In the cold room Elsie felt the warmth on her arms and could hear the birdsong in the garden and could smell of the herbs by the greenhouse. Feverfew for migraines. St John's Wort for stings and cuts. How did she known that? She knew nothing about herbs. The cat leapt onto a water butt and looked up at the sky. Elsie knew it was looking at the moon, full and pale in the afternoon sky, although she could not see the moon from the window. The cat glanced back at her and Elsie knew the cat did not belong to her, but she belonged to the cat.

    1. She's definitely inherited something from her grandmother! And you get bonus points for using my mum's name :)

  3. The Family Room

    296 words

    The cat stared at him. Dead eyes reflecting back the emptiness of the house. Others surrounded him, mounted on the walls as trophies or exhibited behind glass. Except the cat. It lay there on the work bench. Waiting.

    Charles shuddered. If his father had been around perhaps he could’ve explained what sort of man his late grandfather was.

    “Family,” his father had once said in happier times. “Is everything.”

    But he had lied. He had abandoned Charles as a boy, leaving this side of the family ever shrouded in mystery.

    Now the air hung heavy, lifeless. A result of the house’s closure when his grandfather had been taken into hospital, stubbornly refusing to see his long-lost grandson. Something which had made Charles’ inheritance all the more surprising.

    Charles could endure the cat’s gaze no longer. He returned to the hallway, debating his next step. The house, isolated and alone, depressed him. In property terms it was worth a lot of money, something which had made his wife’s eyes glitter avariciously.

    He turned on a light, its feeble glow doing little to push back the dark. A small library held bibles of taxidermy, mummification, death. Another door caught his eye, its gold plaque declaring it The Family Room. It was locked. Charles took down the key that hung to one side. It turned easily and he smiled, relieved at last to find a sign of normality. A family room meant games, perhaps a pool table, meant the heart of the house. He pushed open the door. Dead eyes reflected back at him. A dog curled up by a cold fireplace; a cat on an old woman’s lap. A man reading a yellowing newspaper, a man who resembled his father …

    Family, said the exhibit notice, is everything.

  4. @jujitsuelf
    297 words


    “Stop it!” Kavanagh shrieked, throwing his hands over his eyes. “Stop it, leave me alone, please, God, leave me alone. Stop looking at me!”

    His screams trailed off into choking gurgles as attendants injected a fast-acting sedative into his long-abused veins. After a few minutes he was deeply asleep, twitching and muttering but at least no longer the ranting lunatic of before.

    Anna clutched at her pea green shawl. Jesus, what a place to end up in.

    “Cats again,” the doctor beside her muttered, thumbing through a chart. “This is what he wrote today.”

    ‘The cat stared at him, stared and never blinked. No blinks. No movement, just stares. The cat wants him, wants him to do it, wants him to do it for the greater good. The cat stared at him, eyes of ripe pea green. A beautiful pea green—’

    The scrawl slid off the page before the sentence ended.

    “So it’s the cats that are looking at him,” Anna said, biting her lip and thinking. “I think it’s working, he’s responding to the treatment. Give him another dose in the morning and make sure there are cat pictures in his room. Green eyed ones, preferably.”

    The doctor nodded. “I think he’ll be our best once he’s past the psychosis. He’ll be ready for—”

    “Shut up,” Anna hissed. “That’s classified. Your job’s to make him ready, not babble about the Initiative, understand?”

    Nodding again, the doctor hurried away.

    Anna smiled as Kavanagh moaned. Yes, he was responding well. Soon he’d lose all memory of who and what he’d been before, all that would remain would be ready and willing to accept the Initiative’s every command. World domination began with one man, how desperately easy.

    She stroked her shawl and walked away from Kavanagh’s door.

  5. A Day at the Races
    237 words

    He should have known better, but the call of the wild had been something too strong to resist.

    As soon as the gate was open, he was off and running. He could hear the others at his heels as he chased the lure, and then he saw the cat.

    He stopped running and stared at the cat. The cat stared at him. For three seconds nothing happened, and then the cat’s haunches twitched and the chase was on.

    The pack left Max in their dust as they continued the race, but Maximilian’s Joy had better prey to chase. He bounded after the cat and suddenly the spectators were unwilling participants in a battled that had been waged for eons: claws and cunning against strength and drive, and no one was safe.

    A man with a taco was bowled over as Max pursued the cat. One of the other dogs who’d joined the chase pounced on the prize, while another began licking the man’s face.

    The cat tore through a box where a woman with a floppy hat screamed. The hat fell in shreds in his wake, and Max was hard on his heels. By the time the chase ended they had set a new record: 4 beers, a taco, five hot dogs and a pizza.

    Max licked the cat when it head butted him in the chest. They knew they’d have to behave… until the next time.

    1. Ha! Definitely a different day at the races. Great fun.

  6. Josh Bertetta
    299 Words

    The cat stared at him.

    The only way he knew it was a cat because of the tapetum lucidum. Good thing cats gave themselves away like that; otherwise there’d be no way to discern their presence in a dark such as this.

    The fire cracked beside him and he said, hand outstretched, “Here kitty kitty.” He plucked a piece of moist chicken from the bone and tossed it a few feet in front of him. “Here kitty kitty kitty.”

    But the cat, beyond the safety of the firelight, remained, as it were, uninterested in anything but him. He averted his eyes but for a second as he dug into his chicken leg and the cat was gone, vanished into the night.

    A branch snapped behind him.

    He jerked around and smiled, “Oh there you are. You’re a sneaky little fellow aren’t you? You sure you don’t want some chicken? I’ve got more than enough for the both of us.”

    He tossed another morsel the cat’s way.

    It meowed as cats should and he could have sworn he heard a voice from somewhere say “Soon.”

    He looked over both shoulders but the firelight’s radius provided him a consolatory comfort.

    Then another pair of appeared, substantially higher than the other and he convinced himself his second guest perched on a low tree branch. “Does your friend want some chicken too?” He tossed it a little further into the dark, listened to the rustling of the brush, and watched (admittedly with relief) that second pair of eyes, more phosphorescent than the first, disappear.

    Then that voice again, saying “Soon.”

    Chance stood and took from the fire a long branch, less than half of it a bright orange smoldering mix of ember and flame.

    There was laughter then, and a thousand yellow eyes.

    1. So dark, and a wonderfully chilling last line. Great work.