Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 37


Read Thy Commandments

Judges This Week: Mars and Rin

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)).


"Seriously? You expect me to go in there?"


  1. Words:299

    The Garden Where the Gnomes Are Alive

    “Seriously? You expect me to go in there?”
    “You threw the ball in there, you can go and get it out of her garden.”
    “They say the gnomes in the garden are alive,” the taller one said.
    “I heard that the old woman hunts at night to feed,” the fatter one said with all the authority of a nine-year-old.
    “What does she hunt?” the youngest asked. The tips of red gnome hats could be seen sticking up through the tall grass.
    “My mum says naughty boys,” the tallest said. “And then she feeds the leftovers to the gnomes!”
    “But what does she need the toys for?”

    The woman stared at the three boys from behind a white lace curtain.
    “To attract the nightmares, isn’t that right,” the woman said to the cat on her lap. She could not go outside now. In the daylight people were always scared of her scarred face and arms and her limp. Simple people, surely, but they still needed a bogey monster hunter.

    The moon was high when she stole out of her door and picked up the discarded cricket ball. She could feel the nightmares clinging to it through her fingertips and walked in the direction of the boy’s house.
    The monster was at the window when she arrived. It lunged at her, but she sent an arrow through its heart and it fell without a cry. She dragged it back to her house where the gnomes were already waiting.

    At his bedroom window the youngest boy sat with a mouth open in surprise and horror and the tingle of adventure.

    The next day her gnomes brought the woman a note that had been left at the gate. On it a child had scribbled ‘thank you’, accompanied by a few kisses.

  2. The Cleaner

    “Seriously? You expect me to go in there?”

    Even from the front porch, the fetid fragrance of death and decomposition hangs in the air like a lynching victim dangling in the broiling sun in some distant orchard.

    Scooter Praxis, the lead cleaner at Waste Knot, Want Knot, is the veteran of 150 crime and trauma scene scrubbings. Under his tutelage, I have just about completed my very intense training.

    This is the acid test. My first actual, non-theoretical, fluids and guts all over the bloody place, down to the wire, do I have the jam for it, moment.

    “Yeah, Billy boy, this is it. Your big moment.” As I am, he is fully suited up in bio-hazard gear.

    Scooter is a wiry fellow, one aging year beyond fifty, lines of despair etched in his bony face as if life clawed him as a child and left deep-rutted gouges. He has come by this career in the most horribly honest way possible. A fire-fighter twenty years earlier, he had returned home after one long shift and found his wife and child slaughtered in their beds.

    It took him two years to regroup. He understands more than most that the aftermath of such a vicious violation of home and family needs a tender, thorough, caring and complete sanitation before any real healing can begin.

    Even though I know this about him, his tragic professional origin, I am not made of such stern stuff. I only seek a secure career.

    Murder is forever. Murder never ends.

    I am ready. I am trained.

    I recall Scooter's words. “Nothing will ever make the dreadfulness of death go away, Billy. Nothing! But the Crime and Trauma Scene Cleaner: We cleanse the wound until it is raw. Then, it can heal.”

    We cross over the portal.


    300 moments of maturity

  3. Suit by Jeff Rowlands
    260 Words

    ‘Seriously? You expect me to go in there?’ His boss held up the gorilla costume. He looked at the idiot aghast, open mouthed. Exactly the thing that would remind people that they want an ice cream on a hot summer day. His boss shrugged ‘You do what I say if you want to keep your job. This is how it works with me.’ He handed him the costume and told him to stand outside the café with a wad of flyers.

    He put on the suit, adding on separate extensions for his feet, hands and head. He was sweating, sweltering within minutes of being out in the heat. This was going to be a day to remember but not with fondness. He sighed inwardly.

    The adults generally just walked by but the tenth punch to his stomach by a little brat was the last straw. His dignity could not take any more. He could find another job. Stuff this.

    He tugged at his gloves but they would not budge. His feet remained wedged on. However much he twisted the head it would not budge. The sun sizzled, the suit melted into his skin until they became one. He was desperate for water, he grabbed a bottle from a nearby table. He could squeeze just enough liquid through the mouth to sate him just a little bit.

    He was overcame with a craving for fruit. He let out a primal scream, and started a low slung knuckle grazing saunter through the town looking to satisfy his hunger and find some shade.

  4. Ghost Hunter
    By Liana Challender
    300 words

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there? That’s not happening.” Mark leaned over and peeked through the paint-chipped, white door. An antique, iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling flickered a dim, gold glow. His friend Jason’s laugh echoed through the empty room. “Shut up, you idiot! You go in there.”

    Jason laughed nervously. “Hell naw.” He tipped his bottle of Bud Light back and moved to the side. “This is your room, bruh. You know what the rules said.” He looked in the room and saw what they were looking for. He whispered to Mark, “Go! Now, man. I see it.”

    Mark stepped in the door and eyed the target--the shadow in the corner. He needed the money. The ad on Craigslist said Want to make a quick buck? Help find my daughter. They left out it was a ploy for an amateur ghost hunter scavenger hunt. Bring a friend they said. Oh, and It’s for a reality TV show, sign this release. Mark signed on. Now the last clue led to this house, this room. After four envelopes, four failed locations, four scared shitless escapes to safety, this house was last. But they planned that.

    The dust was stifling, so was the coldness of the room. What to do, what to do. How do you catch a shadow, a ghost? Mark knew he wasn’t a ghostbuster. Bill Murray, he wasn’t. He finally decided Whatever and ran towards the shadow. It moved and slid along the long length of the wall towards the door. Mark chased it, out of breath, scared out of his mind.

    Bright lights came on abruptly. Mark stopped shook in his tracks panting. “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” a man walked out, the shadow disappeared. “Thanks.” He shook Mark’s hand and handed him $1,000 cash.

  5. Scoop

    273 words


    “Seriously? You expect me to go in there?” He put his eye to the peephole again, saw the pile of bodies lying on the floor, the blood on the walls, the occasional movement as a rat moved from one feast to another.

    “Look, it’s a scoop, the copper’s busy trying to get help down here – fat chance with the riots – and no one else is around.”

    Dan knew she was right. He had recognised one of the staring faces. The photo would be worth a fortune and he would finally make his name.

    “Alright then.” He moved to open the door and then paused. “You not coming?”

    “No, I’ll keep watch out here.”

    “Oh, okay. Right. Here goes.” The stench hit him immediately. The bodies visible through the spyhole were fresher than those which lurked in the corners. He tried not to think about who was responsible. He had no time for that now – perhaps later.

    The room darkened as day turned to night causing him to fumble his camera, triggering the flash. Scarlet splatters danced in front of his eyes and he waited for a moment for them to die down and his eyes to readjust but the flashes continued. Drops landed on his hand, warm and sticky. He turned to call Sophie. She had proved a useful informant, had led him to many a story. Somehow she had always known where to find the bodies.

    Another drop. Sophie at the doorway, a man covered in blood with his arms around her.

    As he rushed over to help, she raised her face to him, her teeth glinting strangely in the gloom.


  6. 298 Words

    Swamp Slain
    By Sara Codair

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there?" Alfred pointed at the swap.

    Haley removed her dress and jumped in. “Come on!”

    Alfred frowned. The water was murky, but Haley was gliding through it like a bald otter. If it was safe for her to skinny dip in, then…

    “Then its probably safe enough for you since you have less orifices.”

    “Its creepy when you read my mind.” He removed his shirt and pants, but kept his boxers on. The water was warm enough, but it smelled stale and moldy.

    “It’s a swamp. Dead things are decaying on the bottom.”

    “That’s gross.”

    “That’s life. Stop being a pussy and jump in.”

    “What about cyanobacteria? Or Giardiasis?”

    “You don’t have to worry about that here.”

    He wasn’t convinced.

    “Just keep your mouth closed.” Haley rose out of the water, dark skin shining in the moonlight, beckoning Alfred to touch it.

    “Alright, but I’m not going under.”

    She grinned. “Everything will be fine once you get in.”

    He waded in up to his waist while Haley floated out further, taunting him as she went. The water was warm, and not nearly as slimy as he expected. He lost sight of her at the same time his feet lost contact with the bottom.

    “Haley?” He swam out further, but saw no sign of her. A cloud drifted across the sky and its shadow caused him to loose sight of shore. “Haley?”

    “I’m right here,” she laughed popping up in front of him with pondweed in her hair. She wrapped her arms around him at the same time that slimy tentacles twined around his ankles. She pushed and they pulled until he was on the bottom. Teeth sunk into his flesh. He screamed. His lungs filled with water until was no more.

  7. @firdausp
    (300 words)
    Some cracked prompts and a crazy story.

    "Seriously? You want me to go in there?"

    "I know it's a bad plan," I replied calmly, "but curse it, if there's one thing I'm good at, it's making a bad plan work. We'll be safe."

    "I'm not sure we have the same definition of 'safe'," Blake said anxiously.

    Just then a trap door in the floor across the room opened. I quickly pulled him inside the tiny wardrobe with me.

    "I told you they had a dungeon," Blake whispered.

    Through a crack we watched as a little angry Elf entered the room complaining, "How many times do I have to get shot before you're happy?"

    Our neighbour entered with a toy gun. She aimed it at the Elf's foot and shot a plastic pellet. He ran around screaming.

    "She's a witch," I whispered.

    Her face was painted gold and her eyes were hard and dark as coal.

    She smiled at the Elf and whacked him on the head. He winced.

    "Smiling at me every few days is not the same as telling me you're not going to kill me," he cried.

    She laughed then growled, "Get the kid!"

    "Uh-oh, we have the wrong kid," the Elf said looking into a sack.

    A little fat boy scrambled out and bolted down the hallway.

    Blake screamed.

    The wardrobe was yanked open.

    "Ah! Two sneaky kids!" Elf exclaimed.

    "This will be fun, take them outside," the witch said gleefully.

    "Why does he have a pound of superglue," Blake asked terrified.

    We sat outside, glued to the floor; chocolate cake stuffed into our mouths, so we wouldn't scream.

    The firework display was spectacular.

    "Don't worry you won't remember a thing in the morning," Elf chuckled.

    I started to feel drowsy. Then I heard whispers all around me and they were getting closer.

    1. Thankyou. I so wanted to use all the 37 prompts but I ran short of words. It was fun :)

  8. Game Six
    300 words
    by: Ted Prokash
    Twitter: @joylesshouse

    “Seriously? You expect me to go in there?”

    “Young Pennyfeather . . . is it not obvious that the way has lead us to make libations at this esteemed temple? Clearly, we have been drawn here inevitably, as if magnetically, eh Pennyfeather?”

    Regibald Smellington III was dressed in a white bed sheet, worn toga style. His only other article of adornment was an eight-inch, flesh-colored dildo hanging on a string around his neck. His few wisps of grey hair struck out wildly from about his temples, making a freak’s halo in the streetlights’ halogen glow.

    The “esteemed temple” in question was MacGipper’s Sports Pub. Gathered inside, both men knew, was the entire East Coast sales team of Gruebenstien & Schnell, watching game six of the ALCS.

    As if reading the younger man’s thoughts, Regibald began to expound: “Pennyfeather, my good man. Providence has guided us here. Clearly it is our noble charge to enlighten these poor conformist slaves!”

    Sheldon Pennyworth had done a double take when he spotted the VP of sales among the crowd at the Rainbow Room. The imposing, somber man with the bald crown had recognized Sheldon immediately. He walked right up to the young copywriter. “Pennyfeather,” he asserted with such conviction that Sheldon didn’t dare correct him. “Hold out your hand.” Into Sheldon’s stunned, upturned palm, Regibald dropped two little, blue pills. Two hours later, here they were: standing outside Brooklyn’s toughest sports bar, poised to commit double-career suicide.

    “But, sir . . .”

    “Call me Reggie.”

    “Reggie . . . sir, we can’t go in there like this. My makeup, your toga . . .”

    Regibald put his index finger over Sheldon’t lips. “Hush, young Pennyfeather. Remember: the way demands great courage of its followers. Now freshen up your lipstick and let’s go talk to the boys.”

  9. Sam Lauren
    299 Words

    Problem Solving

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there?"

    Maybe my mother thought her voice would not carry into my hospital room. Maybe she thought her words would cling to the billowy cotton door between us like dust did on the curtains at home. Each syllable could cling to its own newborn-blue fiber, thickening until the room darkened with grime. Then the maid could shake them out onto the balcony and we would pretend they never existed at all. That our house was always pristine, spotless. Happy.

    "You're not going to see your daughter?" That's typical. My father is always some shade of bewildered when mother and I fight. Sometimes confused, sometimes annoyed. Never in the room long.

    "Not when I am this pissed. What would I say to her?"

    Mother and I say very little to each other on a regular basis. We have our daily school and weather updates but I would not call that talking. The last time we discussed anything real was when I got suspended for dyeing my hair in the girls' locker room. I was starting to miss her.

    "Something comforting."


    Mother made it around the curtain and stood at the front of the bed. Her gaze was as cold as a compress and just as satisfying. It soothed the bruises seatbelted across my chest, eased the swelling around my broken bones. Her eyes found mine and for a while she stared at me. When she spoke, it was too loud for a hospital.

    "You stole our car. What were you thinking?" Mother went on and on, reminding me that I don't know how to drive. I grinned and she yelled at me for mocking her. I didn't tell her it was genuine.

    This is as close to her as I can get.

  10. Not Without Risk
    by Shae Moloney
    299 Words
    Twitter @ShaeShaee

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there?"

    "Someone needs to," Dr. Mattson said, nervously drumming her hands against the side of the computer console. "And out of the two of us, only I know how to operate the controls."

    "What if it doesn't work?" Peter asked. He was desperately trying not to cross the line into cowardice, but he was having severe misgivings about this whole project.

    "Honestly?" Dr. Mattson said, "I'd be more concerned about what would happen if it does."

    For a moment he considered running right out the door, but knew he'd regret it the moment he walked from the lab. With a resigned sigh, Peter walked up to it and stepped inside. The machine was little more than a large box with an opening on one side and stainless steel plating on the outside, but its success could change the world.

    Feels more like a roomy coffin, Peter thought to himself as he slid the door shut in front of him. There was room enough to turn around, but only barely.

    "Go ahead!" He shouted, clenching his fists in an attempt to stop the shaking.

    "Just breathe," he muttered, eyes closed, "Just keep breathing."

    Through the walls he heard the muffled sounds of Dr. Mattson's precise hands skating over the controls. There was a bright flash and a sound like a siren rang out sharply, assaulting his ears, painful but over before he had the time to wince.

    The door jerked open in front of him and he stumbled out.

    "Did it work?” Peter asked, words excitedly tumbling from him as he turned to face her, “Am I any younger?"

    Dr. Mattson stood stock-still, eyes wide, turning very pale.

    “Well?” Peter spat. “What happened?”

    Her lips trembled as she opened her mouth to scream.

  11. Reconciliation
    WC 300

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there?" Sarah asked. “Your mother hates me!”

    “No, she doesn’t.” He assured her. “She is just a bit particular about things.”

    Sarah frowned, feeling defeated.

    “She asked for you. Under the circumstances, you should consider obliging her,” John said. “Don’t forget to cut the crust off the bread.” He reminded her.

    “Okay,” she mumbled in surrender. She felt bad about his mother’s poor health, even if she despised her.

    Sarah cut the edges off her mother-in-law’s watercress, goat cheese sandwich and made hot tea as she requested with one sugar, a dash of milk, and a cinnamon stick.

    Her anxiety grew.

    While preparing the meal, she imagined Jane, a fire-breathing dragon incinerating her. She supposed Jane wasn’t that bad, they just never got along. She was competition for John’s attention, and Sarah was never good enough.

    Sarah carried a tray upstairs.

    She stood outside the door listening for her to stir, envisioning Jane’s wrinkled face melting to reveal a green, wart-covered scowl that turned into a toothless grin. What was funny, Sarah thought? She felt herself shrinking to the size of a bug. Jane swatted her tiny form.

    Sarah shook her head clearing the nonsense, sighed and opened the door.

    Jane was awake, waiting.

    “Hello.” She croaked.

    “I have your lunch,” Sarah said.

    “Thank you. May we talk?” Jane asked.

    Sarah was ashamed of her earlier imaginings. “Sure.”

    Jane spoke with breathy pauses. “We've had our differences. I know my John loves you, and you love him. My time is soon. It will be difficult. I am glad he has someone strong for support.”

    Sarah’s guilt was heavy.

    Jane continued, “Thank you.”

    “I will be here for him,” Sarah promised.

    Jane raised a hand and motioned her away. This time, Sarah wasn’t offended.

    Leara Morris-Clark

  12. T.O. Davis
    295 Words

    The Building

    "Seriously? You expect me to go in there?"
    “If you want to join our club,” Chad said.
    I turned back toward the old Jones’s residence. It was more a tool shed than residence. They had owned the property on Clifton Street for what seemed like eons. Now it was a vacant lot surrounded by red clay hills, kudzu and factories, and even the factories were now empty. I nudged my toes into the red mud, felt it squish and give against my foot; there was honeysuckle in the air, and I savored it for as long as I could.
    “You going or are you yellow?” Josephine asked.
    I picked up a dirt clod and flung it at Josephine. Her freckled face went white before she ducked. The clod sailed past her and exploded in a patch of tall grass. A fly buzzed, and I thought I could see its wings move one by one.
    I took a step closer to the rusted, metal shed. There were no windows, so I would get no sneak peaks. The sun glinted off the tin roof burning my tired eyes. The wind rattled hot and fast stirring up dust and old leaves. I looked back and it seemed like miles were between us, as though the earth had opened up and deliberately separated us. I turned back to the building. Its grey door moved back and forth as if it were breathing; waiting for me to open its door and swallow me like all the others. I reached up, my sweaty, dirt-caked hand shaking, knowing this was all superstition but hoping I was somehow stretching through time, and also hoping, as my arm touched the door, I would feel a smaller hand reach in and grab hold of mine.