Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 34

Happy After-Good-Friday Day and Easter Eve! I don't think it's a holiday, but every Saturday's a holiday to us judges, and we're excited to see what this not-one-but-totally-a-holiday Saturday turns out!

Judges This Week: Rin 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!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must  begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


"This is incredibly disturbing to me."


  1. Stranger in the Mirror

    300 words


    This is incredibly disturbing to me. The person in the mirror is a stranger. Well, not quite a stranger … I have seen him before, glimpsed him in a darkened windowpane, in the ebony sheen of a moonlit pool and I have shuddered. I cannot bear to look him full in the face, there is an ugliness there, an evil that seeks to contaminate all who come into contact with him. But more and more he has become my companion as I haunt the waste grounds seeking out those who would give me relief. Occasionally he has spoken and forced me to listen, his words dripping in a violence that is completely repugnant, his accent and tone a mocking parody of mine.

    And tonight he is in my house, looking straight at me.

    “How did you get in?” I asked.

    His mouth moved in reply but I could not make out his answer.

    “What right do you have to torment me so?” I tried.

    Again he would not reply.

    “If that’s how you want it,” I said, determined now to end all this. “You leave me no other option.”

    The razor blade was lying on the bathroom shelf, waiting. My hand reached out quietly, secretively, as all the while I kept my gaze fixed on the silent intruder. He stared back at me, matching me in his defiance. I hated him then. Was infuriated at his audacity. How dare he? How dare he come into my home and take over my life? And who was he anyway? He was nothing, a mere face in the mirror, an image that could be smeared away, wiped out.

    I picked up the blade and raised it to his eyes, those sneering, loathsome eyes, and started to cut … and cut … and cut.

    1. Wow. I thought he was going to cut his wrists while staring in the mirror. The eyes were a surprise. Nice job!

    2. Steph! Can you please add a suffix to your titles (like a cinema film classification) to warn readers of a nervous disposition, if you are going to do this sort of thing?

      The story had a "Jekyll & Hyde" feel, and I expected a throat being cut, but your ending brought back all the stomach-churning horror of the opening to Luis Bunuel's surrealist film "Un Chien Andalou", where a young woman has her eyeball slit open by a cut-throat razor... I saw it as an undergraduate, now I'm scarred for life!

      Great story!

    3. I agree with Geoff. Bloody hell Steph I'll be preparing for nightmares a good way of course. Nicely gory!

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. I meant to say that I hope this dark tale doesn't mirror reality, Steph.

  2. Misfire
    299 words

    "This is incredibly disturbing to me," the auditor pressed his gloved finger into the steel flake embedded in Avi's thigh. The same one she'd pushed just moments before in an attempt to commit suicide.  The micro-injector implanted near her femoral vein, filled with enough etorphine to kill her instantly... didn't kill her. Avi stood there punching her thigh, not even trying to be sly about it because it wouldn't matter once she crumpled to the ground. That bolt of pain was supposed to be her last experience on earth.

    It never came.

    The auditor pressed her leg over and over with each word: "This... (push) is... (push) disturbing... (hard push). The Lieutenant tries to leave us and is thwarted by technology- again! What are the odds? Just like the C-line malfunctioning, right Lieutenant?"

    Avi thought she might wretch. She didn't want to die, but she was supposed to be dead. And now they would hook her up to T-95, a mixture of sodium thiopental and a classified element. T-95 had a 100% success rate at garnering truth from any subject. She couldn't let them put that into her.

    Right where she sat, the attendants began strapping her arms to the chair, and a man wearing a white lab coat entered the room.

    "This is incredibly disturbing to me," Avi said, and she stuck her tongue out at the auditor. He smiled, thinking her a brazen captive, her insolence, alluring. When the blood began pouring out of Avi's mouth, he understood.

    "Call the surgeon!" He shouted and flew at her, pulling her jaw apart, his hand slipping on her blood. Again he pried her open and wedged his arm in her mouth. She gagged. He could see his reflection in Avi's wide eyes, feel her trembling beneath him like an earthquake.

    1. *retch, not wretch. I was just schooled on homonyms. Humble pie... yum. I wonder if I'll get points off for that? ;)

  3. The Golden Years

    “This is incredibly disturbing to me.”

    “Not to me.”

    “Well, okay, I can tell that you aren’t upset by it. But I sure bloody well am.”

    “You need to simmer down. Admit we’ve had a good run. You can’t say that we haven’t. Think back. We had the time of our lives back in the ‘60’s. If we wanted to work, there were jobs a plenty. If we wanted to slack off, put our feet up and rest a while, well, the State looked after us. And travel. You remember that first trip to Spain. Sitges. Gawd, I shiver with the delight of it all. And… need I remind you about the…the nookie?”

    “Sure, I’ll give you all that. It was a great time to be young. We had it soft. But neither of us are as spry as we once were. None of that matters now. Now, we need coddling.”

    “Right!!! Codger coddling. It ain’t gonna happen, Hortense. We’re passé. All we’ve got to look forward to is looking backwards…”

    “But this is so tiring. My knees aren’t what they used to be. The left one is a partial and the right is a full replacement. And I should've tried to get a new hip.”

    “They’re not gonna invest in that for you now. It’d be a waste of money. Spin your arthritic wheels all you want…they don’t care.”

    “Maybe. But this endless Ferris wheeling. It was never in my wheelhouse. Never.”

    “Yeah, it’s a grind. That’s the world now. Everyone’s off the damn grid. We wasted it all. The only power left is human power. The grains gotta be ground somehow.”

    “I’m not a bloody hamster. I’m an old man.”

    “We both are. Old and pretty much useless. So keep walking…moving this cage. Coffee break’s in ten.”

    300 reasons to stay young

    1. Sounds horrifically possible. But do tea drinkers have it easier?

    2. A great wee tale Bill. A nice change from all the blood and guts

  4. “This is incredibly disturbing to me,” said Pooh as he turned to Piglet that morning. Both felt lazy under the comforter and they should have felt better. By all rights they should have. It had been a long night, both had had plenty of elderberry wine, and their argument had ended with happy reconciliation.
    And yet, there it was: the truth. The Hundred Acre Woods now rang with the sound of hammers and saws; it would never be the same. Why had the city council allowed more development? When they had asked Owl he had no comment other than “It’s progress, get used to it.” Owl had grown up and Pooh hated it.
    “We could, of course, do something,” said Piglet, getting up and tossing on a scarf. “We could move outside the book, live in Wonderland or Narnia.”
    Pooh sighed. “Nah, not with that nosy Alice and I’m afraid for your sake. Not that they would bother me, but I really don’t trust Aslan. He is after all, a lion.”
    They ate their breakfast of Irish oatmeal and blueberries in silence. Piglet brewed espressos which they carried onto the porch. They watched the birds flicker past and listened to the crash of trees falling as the tractors pushed closer to their little haven.
    “What if,” said Pooh, “we just strike out on the road and see where it takes us?”
    “Deal,” said Piglet. They packed a bag and headed down the Yellow Brick Road that had always gone past their house though they had never really noticed it before. Pooh thought “Things will always be disturbing to me, but I shall choose them now.” Piglet thought “He’ll be over this by nightfall and we can go back home.” Piglet laughed. “I love you Pooh.”
    "What Happened Next," 295 words, Laura Kennelly

    1. Ok... Jedi Master Laura. *hangs head* So if I keep this up for five more years, I too will be able to spin a yarn that effortlessly? :)

  5. so im not much one to follow the rules, so i thought id just write a poem that brotherly relates to the prompt =-D, if that chill?; i will assume so, if not hopefully it was pleasing

    90 words

    That frivolous piece of paper you clutch as if it's equal your soul; where true fully it will devour it; a parasitic attribute that consumes its host; diminished by a mere piece of shimmering paper, o but it won't stop there, it won’t rest until every drop of your blood is spilled, every emotion has been depleted, every recognizable sign of humanity has shriveled up and ceased to be, needless to say you wear it like a veil to somehow sustain your integrate, confining yourself to a life desperation solitude.

  6. Careful What You Select For
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    298 words.
    “This is incredibly disturbing to me.”

    “Why’s that?”

    “Leo, this hamster has genetic modifications for climbing?”

    “Generation 34 included some minor modifications to paw structure, yes. It’s got a lateral ‘finger’ including some primate gene sequences, and the latest generations have a limited opposable thumb.”

    “It’s better at gripping.”

    “Better at climbing too, as you can see, Sam. Genetropia is apparently selecting for some arboreal survival advantages. Climbers avoid predators and can reach more food sources.”

    “Genetropia is selecting these gene modifications without intervention. Leo, you must be able to see how dangerous that is. It’s selecting freely from 200000 library animal genomes, and you have no idea what the expert system might consider ‘advantageous’ in the next generation.”

    “Nonsense, the system will automatically discard any result that produces a disadvantageous mutation. Genetropia will only select for better, more survivable animals. We’ll end up with super-rodentia, eventually.”

    Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 65.

    “For the recent litters, Genetropia seems to be selecting for traits common to Cricetidae, possibly Rattus rattus. Our hamsteroids have developed longer tails and have been steadily gaining in size for generations.”

    Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 85.

    Dipodomys elator, I believe, kangaroo rats may be the source of their overdeveloped hind legs. I’m not sure how much of the original hamster DNA remains, but our modified rodents appear to draw mostly from other species now. Up to five or six pounds, it’s big and it can make tremendous leaps. I’ve had to upgrade the cages several times already.”

    Dr. Leo Fazzino’s Genetropia project lab notes, Generation 113.

    “The modified rats are gone; apparently they’ve learned to work latches. Down into the basement, they’ve made it in the sewers. I only pray they aren’t as intelligent as I suspect.”

    1. A great story Dave that builds nicely to a great conclusion. I enjoyed reading it

  7. The Big Bad Wolf
    by Stephen Shirres @The_Red_Fleece
    Word Count = 289

    “That is incredibly disturbing.” Jacob covered the crime scene photo with the folder they had come in. The images of half eaten pig meat mixed with sticks wouldn’t leave his mind. He could almost smell the blood.
    “I told you rookie. You have to be tough to handle the pigs’ case.” Thompson was unmoved by the pictures. Jacob couldn’t tell if it was strength or experience. He hoped the latter didn’t take long to get.
    “Do we have any leads?”
    Thompson took a mouthful of tea. “We are fairly sure it is The Big Bad Wolf but all the evidence is circumstantial at the best. He’s been sighted around Mrs Hood’s cottage so she’s our lead.”
    “Red Riding Hood?” Jacob had gone to school with her.
    “Her Gran.” Thompson finished her tea. “Let’s go.”

    The sun was setting behind the pine trees that surround Mrs Hood’s cottage as Thompson and Jacob arrived. The scent powerful enough to force the pictures from Jacob’s mind. Thompson knocked on the cottage door, far softer than her muscles suggested she could.
    “Coming, coming.” The voice frail, cracking up on the second word. The door opened to reveal an old lady balancing on two sticks. “Oh, officers everything ok?”
    “Yes Mrs Hood.” Thompson continued to show her softer side. “We have some questions about Big Bad Wolf.”
    Jacob noticed Mrs Hood’s left arm started to shake. “Is everything ok Mrs Hood?”
    “Yes dear, just old and tired. Can this wait till tomorrow dears?”
    “Certainly Mrs Hood.” Thompson ushered Jacob away. “Good night Mrs Hood.”

    The police car drove away as the sun finally set bring darkness to the trees. Inside her cottage, Mrs Hood threw back her head and howled at the full moon.

  8. Where Gargoyles Watch
    Maggie Akhurst
    298 Words

    “This is incredibly disturbing to me,” Cass told him, glancing at the strange book he held under his arm.

    “Relax, Cass.” Nathan nudged her with his elbow. “Stick close to me and you’ll be fine.”

    “I never trust you when you say that,” she said flatly. “Every time you try to reassure me with that line, we always end up in some sort of trouble.”

    He rolled his eyes at her. “You’re exaggerating.”

    Cass sighed. “I wish I was.” She eyed the thick, leather-bound book. He was trying to be casual about carrying it, which made her even more suspicious. Coupled with the fact that they were currently sneaking down a dark, stone corridor in the dead of night, she was pretty sure they were headed for trouble, but he refused to tell her anything.

    “We’re here.” Nathan stopped, holding the lantern high to illuminate the area.

    Cass yelped in shock as two granite gargoyles appeared out of the gloom, standing either side of a blank stone wall. Heart racing, she punched Nathan’s arm. “Warn me next time!”

    He chuckled. “Hold the light for me.” Passing her the lantern, he flicked to a page in the mysterious book that was filled with looping script, and began reading the words.

    Cass stared as a red glow began to seep through the cracks in the stone wall. It was as if a fierce blaze was burning behind the wall and getting brighter. One by one, the stone bricks began to crumble away until there was only a swirling red portal where the wall had once been.

    Nathan snapped the book shut. “Perfect.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Oh, consider this your warning. Not even I know what’s on the other side…” He shoved her into the portal.

  9. Racist Roses
    By Sara Codair
    299 words (I apologize if the grammar is terrible. I've been cleaning all day and don't have patience for proofreading tonight.)

    "This is incredibly disturbing to me," I said, gaping at the rose bouquet. To the normal eye, they looked like ordinary roses: green thorny vines crowned with blood-red blossoms. However, I did not have ordinary sight. I was one of the few humans gifted with the ability to see through illusions woven by the Fair Folk.

    “So, I’m guessing they’re not real roses?” asked Detective MacGregor.

    “They’re roses, just not the normal kind. The stems are black with barbed, poisonous thorns and the petals are the color of feverish Irish kid’s skin. Like, pale reddish peach with little brown spots,” I said.

    “So this was a murder.” MacGregor glanced at the corpse. It was a female with ebony skin, blood red lips and poof of black frizz crowning her head.

    “A hate crime, I suspect. Last time I was at the dark market, people were using racial slurs to order dark roses.”

    “Since when are the Folk racist? Last time I checked, white was the minority in their neck of the woods.”

    “It still is. They don’t give a shit about human life regardless of what color someone’s skin is. What they value is amusement. To them, watching a bunch of humans fight over the color of one's skin is entertainment; race riots to them are the Star Battle franchise to us.”

    “That’s more disturbing than the roses.”

    “No shit.”

    “So is the killer Folk or human?”

    “Human,” I said with utmost certainty. The Folk would never dirty their hands with murder and risk breaking the accords. It was much easier to sell humans the tools of death then sit back and watch the show. “Dig into her life and canvas the market. Odds are if someone she knew was shopping there, then he or she is the killer.”

  10. Frank’s Big Dreams
    WC 240

    “This is incredibly disturbing to me, Frank.”

    “I don’t know Hank; I think his bonnet is very stylish.”

    “Frank, Chihuahuas don’t need bonnets.”

    “It keeps the sun out of his eyes. I wonder if they make hamster-sized bonnets. What do ya think, Hank? I think I would look lovely in an Easter bonnet.”

    “Frank, you are not going to be out in the sun and you would look like an idiot in a bonnet.”

    “Why are you so judgmental? Is it because I would look better in a bonnet than you? Maybe the humans would take me out in the sun if I had a bonnet.”

    “You are ridiculous! Quit fantasizing and accept reality! Frank, we are hamsters, and not just any hamsters, cute little teddy bear hamsters with chubby faces that will never see the sun because these human captors prefer Chihuahuas in bonnets and keeping us behind glass!”

    “Hank, stop being a negative Nancy! You have such a gloomy outlook on life. One day I will be invited to the tea party with Larry the Chihuahua and Sandy the Sphinx and you will be jealous. We will wear our bonnets and drink tea and chat about fashion!”

    “Oh my god, just shut up Frank! Just shut up!”

    “Hey, Hank do you think they make hamster-sized bunny ears?”

    “Oh my god Frank! Why don’t you ask Janet the rabbit next time you two get together to do your nails!?”


  11. 133 words

    Conversation on a Saturday Afternoon

    Incredibly disturbing to me this is.


    Stop what?

    You know I hate it when you talk like that.

    Like what?

    You know like what.

    No. Tell me.

    Dammit. I should’ve stayed home.

    Don’t be like that. I’m sorry.

    You always do this.

    Don’t be dramatic.

    Well, you do. Every time. It’s stupid and it pisses me off.

    No need for name calling.

    It’s stupid. I said, “It’s” not “you”.

    We both know what you meant.

    It’s. It’s. It’s.

    Stop it.

    Stop what?

    You know what.

    See? How do you like it? Not so fun is it? It’s. It’s. It’s.

    Knock it off.

    Okay. Sorry. What do you want to do?

    I don’t know. We could watch a movie. Running a Star Wars movie marathon the local T.V. station is.

    I’m going home.

  12. 24.984 Centimeters and Counting
    By M.T. Decker
    285 Words

    “This is… incredibly disturbing.”

    To me the statement was an understatement to the Nth degree but I knew what Abe was getting at. I mean, what can you say about someone who had dolls’ heads mounted on pikes around the their room?

    But that wasn’t even the most disturbing part. No, the pikes were evenly distributed around the room, 25.4cm apart. Every single one of them. The math involved in figuring out the spacing was… breath taking, and again… disturbing.

    “I’m sure there’s a reasonable…” I began, then let the sentence trail off when I noticed the dollhouse in the corner.

    It was an exact replica of the house we were investigating— and in the room that corresponded to the one we were standing in… had miniature doll’s heads… evenly spaced around the room… and two small dolls, one looked as if he was giving a lecture and the other was staring into the corner - a terrified look in his eyes.

    I felt a cold sweat on the back of my neck and grabbed Abe as I headed for the door. I frog-marched him out of the room and kept going until we were out of the house and on the other side of the police tape.

    When Abe asked me why, I looked at him, wiping the sweat from my neck. As Abe turned into a flock of‘Abes’ swimming around me, I realized it wasn’t sweat on the back of my neck. I had missed becoming part of a rather disturbing scene of my own.

    As Abe helped me to the curb, something told me that the spacing of the pikes in the room had changed— making room for one more.