|IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE|
Welcome to the fourth month of CFFC! We're excited to still be up and running and gaining awareness in the flash-fiction community, and we love all the AWESOME people that have been submitting stories.
We can't wait to read your story!
Edit: I TOTALLY MISSED THAT TODAY IS TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY. Have another photo.
Take a looksy through the full rules if you haven't already!
Judges This Week: Rin and Si
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. (You also do not have to include the photo prompt(s). They just amuse us.)
Word Count: 290
"Take a step back and look," Allen grabbed her hand. She brushed him off, again.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Charlotte said through clenched teeth.
Allen heard the same noise from before – a creaking that was indistinguishable to human ears.
“Charlotte, please. Trust me.”
The sunlight filtered through the window, lighting up the floating dust that danced throughout the abandoned building. Charlotte watched it, transfixed.
“This building is going to collapse,” Allen warned.
Charlotte laughed. “This building has been here my entire life. I wanted to show it to you and here you are ruining it.”
Allen watched as Charlotte pressed her lips together, eyes looking everywhere but him. His stomach tightened at her words, at the glimpse of vulnerability she rarely let slip.
The creaking made itself known, again. He knew Charlotte still wouldn’t hear it.
“My parents were married in this church,” Charlotte told the floor. “They stood under that stain glass and said their vows.”
A gust of wind came off the mountainside; Allen held his breath and waited for it to be the final straw. As it passed, the building still stood for now.
Charlotte walked down the aisle between the pews. She was walking too far away, he couldn’t monitor the creaking from there. He couldn’t ensure her safety.
Another step. A louder crack. The wood under her feet split into two and Charlotte’s scream cut across the abandoned building.
After all the hiding, after centuries of secrets – he was in front of Charlotte before her scream could end. Lifting her higher and higher. Her head turned towards him, familiar eyes squinting in fear.
“Please, trust me,” he said, again. Only this time the words were lost amongst the rush of air.
“Take a step back and look.”
Tessa did as Rafe said. The wooden structure in front of them had begun to sink into the black mud. Nature had started reclaiming her own. Soon only the ghost of the wood would remain, buried somewhere beneath the soggy ground.
“No, there.” Rafe pointed in front of their feet where the wood had started to break up. “It looks like an arm.”
Tessa looked down at the protruding hand. How did the builders miss the grave? She asked as much, but was ignored while the words “something like a bog body” was thrown around along with jokes about cursed graveyards.
“The find of a lifetime!” Jerome said.
“No, it’s disgusting,” Tessa said.
“Dude, there’s a watch on the arm.” Jerome turned to the group. “Own up. Who planted this?”
Tessa looked down. That was just sick. They even used a watch just like hers. It was bad enough no-one talked to her except Rafe. And that was only when they were alone.
Rafe wiped the mud from the strange - yet familiar - watch and looked up at Tessa.
“I think I know who this is. I think we found Tessa Richards. The first time traveller.”
“But she died. They said they got the calculations wrong and she vanished or something. Lots of physics talk, in any case.”
“She volunteered; she knew about the dangers,” another chimed in.
“Perhaps she just ended up in the wrong place.”
Tessa looked down at her mud-encrusted hand - and remembered.
“It’s cruel to talk to ghosts like they’re still alive,” Tessa said. Rafe didn’t answer.
“I think they didn’t know this building was here when they sent her.” He shook his head. “Let’s get you home, Tessa.”
Take a step back and look. Really look. Notice how the lines have become a little deeper, the flesh a little looser, the eyes a little weaker. Now tell me you are happy with that, that you wouldn’t change a thing.
Once, such comments would have distressed her but this time the voice was hers, her own thoughts, in her own head. His voice no longer spoke clearly.
“You know me too well,” she chuckled. “There’s always something you can change.”
She reached out and tightened the chains. The body assumed the position of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, arms and legs spread-eagled. Flesh strained against its bindings, new lines appeared on the face, carved from shock and pain, eyes wider as consciousness returned to fresh horror.
He groaned, a parody of the sounds she had endured through thirty years of marriage. He had controlled so much of her life that at first she had worried she would not be able to cope once he was gone but she had found it surprisingly easy. And he wasn’t really gone, not yet. She was enjoying the feeling of power too much and was reluctant to give it up. He had always kept her on a tight leash and now the roles were reversed. Besides he had only himself to blame, he’d read that damn book, bought the chains.
She pulled the links a little tighter, he groaned even louder, his skin taking on a darker shade of grey. She giggled. He had said not to worry, that it would be fun … and he was right.
There was still a little life left in their marriage yet.
'Take a step back and look.' Maria told herself again, this time watching the lips of her reflection mouth the words. 'One more step, just to be sure.'
She hadn't even meant to look in the mirror, not this morning, not when she was already late for work and those papers she needed were still in their folder beside her bed. She'd rushed into the bedroom to fetch them, her phone in her hands as she looked at the time for the third instance in as many minutes, not even realising the room's lone canvas chair was in her path until her foot caught one of its legs and it toppled to the carpet.
She bent briefly to return the chair to its upright position, and as she did so she caught her reflection in the full length mirror fixed to the wardrobe. Her image stood as she did, dressed for work, the phone and its inexorable minutes clutched in one hand. Exactly the same, except her other hand, the one without the phone, rested lightly upon the back of the canvas chair.
In the mirror, impossibly, the chair was behind her.
She voiced a tiny squeak of surprise rather than fright and took an instinctive step back.
Her reflection took a pace forward.
Maria froze, her fingers suddenly numb. She didn't know what she was seeing, but she knew that it couldn't be real. All the same, though, she found herself insisting that she take another step back and look, just to be certain. She lifted her heel from the carpet, no more than an inch, and watched her reflection do the same. Just one more step.
She promised herself that she'd look, but when she took her step and heard the shatter of glass, her eyes were closed.
Bibi Nafeeza Yusuf
“Take a step back and look.”
George Fernandez squeezes his eyes shut, a chill creeping onto his skin. He dares not disobey that deceptively calm voice – especially given the situation – and yet he dares not look for that precise reason. He already knows what he’ll see. The image is affixed onto the inside of his eyelids as if it was painted there; his life crisis.
“You’re not going to look?”
George shakes his head, sweat trickling down his spine. He knows he’s courting death with his disobedience but there’s nothing else to do given the circumstances. Death is already breathing down his neck anyways.
“You dare disobey me still?”
The tone of voice does not change. It remains calm. There’s no shouting. Yet, the temperature around him begins to drop at a steady pace – the cold seeping into his bones and George beings to tremble, not so much from the cold but from fear that his head is going to fly soon.
George drops to the ground and begs,
“F-forgive me Ma-master. I was ju-just practicing my teleportation magic like yo-you instructed. I didn’t mean to d-drop his Highness’s palace onto M-master’s cabin. Please don’t take my he-head!”
He bows his head at his master’s feet in repentance, sweating and freezing. He digs his fingers into the muddy ground and awaits the proverbial ax to fall – and perhaps an actual one as well.
The silence is deafening and nerve wrecking. George swallows and hears his Adam apple move.
His master is a terrifying man in this way. While most burn hot when they’re angry, his master becomes cold – a living, walking iceberg. George often likens this to his master’s Ice Element magic.
“Since you’re so sincere George, if you can endure my Ice Coffin for one week, I’ll forgive you.”
Word Count: 33
Take a step back and look
Open your eyes
Behold what's in front of you
Before it fades into monotony
Slowing down moving time
Until it stops altogether
And you cease to exist
“Take a step back and look! Really look, my friend. It’s freaky. You know, I’ve heard this place is haunted, I’m beginning to believe it.”
“Look at what, Evgeni? All I see is a dilapidated farmhouse, the spires falling and its roof collapsing. What else is there to see?” Pyotr asked.
“Tell me that you did not see the largest spire moving? It was leaning almost all the way over, and now, it’s more upright!”
“All right, I tell you. I didn’t see it moving.”
“You’re full of shit, Pyotr. It moved, I tell you. I saw it!”
“Bullshit. How much Vodka did you have today, my old friend?”
The sun began to sink behind the Ural Mountains, golden-orange fire spilled down the slopes while the pair stood in the field arguing whether or not the spire moved.
The inhabitants of the house were rebuilding. Abandoned for decades since the inferno that killed the last of the Lyzlov family, the farmhouse gained notoriety for being haunted. Grown men have come running out of there screaming, swearing someone tried to kill them.
“Look,” Evgeni said, “I don’t want to be here when the sun goes down. People say scary shit happens after dark.”
“Like wh . . . Whoa! Evgeni, what was that?”
“What is it?”
“I could swear I saw someone pass by the window there,” he pointed.
Evgeni turned to look. “Don’t joke with me, my . . .”
They gasped in disbelief. The largest spire was standing upright. Someone stood in the window motioning for them to come closer.
The two men turned tail, running flat-out through the fields heading for their truck. They never made it. After running for hours, they finally stopped and found themselves standing in front of the farmhouse again, all the spires upright and someone motioning from the window.
I don’t know about you, but “Take a step back and look,” is not the first thing that runs through my mind when I see a haunted house. “Take a step back and run like a madwoman,” sure I can see that one, but just… look?
Trust me: haunted house and calm reflection do not belong in the same sentence. If you think they do, please seek professional help immediately.
No, really. Trust me on this. I’ve been in this sort of situation before. The calm one is always the one to be nowhere near when the Weird Shit (tm) starts. Stand next to the track star and take your cues from him.
As soon as he says “I don’t know about this,” grab your things and book. If you aren’t currently holding your things leave them. Trust me your purse and your tablet are not going to help you when you’re sucked into an alternate dimension.
If you’re ever invited to a haunted house, just say, “Yeah…no,” on your way out the door. Don’t look back. Don’t even think about looking back.
It is perfectly all right to take out life insurance on those going in, but trust me you do not want to actually be there.
I just wished I hadn’t learned this information the hard way. You can’t believe the selfies I’ve taken on my tablet but, alas… no WiFi.
Taking the plunge
"Take a step back...no a little to your right...okay. And now look" he removed his hand from over her eyes.
She looked and her breath caught in her throat. The view was mesmerising. On this clear beautiful day she could see for miles and miles.
She stood so close to the edge of the doorway of the small aircraft. They were so high she could hardly make out the ground.
He'd been teaching her to skydive and here they were. She, nervous and he , excited.
"Do you love me?"
"Do you trust me?"
"More than I trust myself"
"Then will you take the plunge with me?" He whispered in her ear from behind.
"Are you sure you want to take the plunge?" She laughed, teasing him.
"Yes, if you are," he nuzzled her neck.
The next instance he had jumped.
She took a deep breath closed her eyes and let go.
The rush was exhilerating. She flew free as a bird until she had to finally open her parachut. Slowly descending she saw him a little way off until he was right under her.
That's when she saw it. On his parachut in bold letters he had written—
MARRY ME PLEASE
Sorry was running out of time so did a rush job. Still 3 min late.Delete
“Take a step back and have a good look,” Sandy suggested.
“What am I looking for?”
“This painting is from 1890, by a landscape artist named Schaeffer. Do you recognize the building?”
“I should. That’s my house.”
“Your home wasn’t built in the nineteenth century, Bob. It might look like your house, but it can’t be.”
By taking a much longer look at the old painting, Bob could identify the differences. The building in the old oil painting was much older and more dilapidated, with loose siding and missing shingles. The belfry canted at a shallow angle, not vertical—possibly due to a bad foundation, settling slightly at one corner.
“It’s uncanny. This could be my house, except how did this painter capture clear back it in the Mauve Decade?” The little hairs on Bob’s arms were racing, playing goose bump tag.
“And why is the Mauve House, or Bob’s House or whatever, clearly falling apart a hundred years or so before it’s even built?”
“Maybe my house is a time traveler. Maybe I’ve moved into a TARDIS?”
“So your house traveled back in time, say, 200 years and then aged and weathered, and then this Schaeffer guy painted it in 1890?”
Bob just rolled his eyes. “Clearly, we’re dealing with two different buildings. It’s just some kind of wild coincidence that they’re so similar. This whole thing is just skeeving me out.”
Sandy just eyed the painting thoughtfully. Something about that year was tugging at her subconscious, 1890…
“Bob. Is this painting for sale?”
“Yeah it is. This Shaeffer guy wasn’t famous or anything, it’s not expensive.”
“You’ve got to buy it Bob. Buy it for insurance.”
“Think 1890’s. Oscar Wilde. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’ This painting might be keeping your house from ever aging.”