Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 7!

Si hath returned! I hope you're all happy with that announcement, cause I'll be judging CFFC for ALL OF AUGUST. I have total power!


ANYWAY I have been inspired by finally seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens (yes it took me this long shut up!) AND also by that awesome Rogue One trailer, so all your Optionally Inspirational Pictures shall be space themed! (Remember, IDC if you use these pictures or not in your story, it's your choice! I just like space.) Now get your pens, keyboards, and smoke signals ready, because here comes CFFC Y2W7!

Judge This Week: 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!). 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)).


"Next time we meet, one of us will be dead."


  1. Words: 295

    The Short Straw

    “Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.” He lifted the cup of poison-laced whiskey and gulped it down before a swift death claimed him.
    His friend closed his staring eyes before leaving the room. Those who had drawn the long straws were waiting in the parlour.
    “Is it done?” one woman asked, a lace handkerchief pressed to her nose and muffling her voice.
    “He is dead.”
    “And now we wait,” an elderly gentleman said before adding, “I wonder for how long.”
    Outside rain started to fall.
    “I still cannot condone what happened here tonight,” the police inspector in the corner said.
    “It was suicide, plain and simple. That is all your report need to say. And no one else will say anything else,” he said, eyes filled with a strange fire. “We all want to know if there is an afterlife, after all.” His expression dared anyone to say different.
    “It’s not as if he can go to court and say otherwise,” the woman said, the lace handkerchief visibly trembling.
    “You wanted him to be chosen,” an overweight man wearing rich clothes said. “If anyone is going down for this, it’s you. You wanted the money, not us. Definitely not me.”
    “No one is ‘going down’ for this,” the police inspector said. “No one will ever know. No one will suspect anything. And you won’t say anything, will you, Judge?”
    “Not as long as I get my cut of the money,” the judge grinned.
    “There is no money,” a thin voice came from the centre of the room before the ghost of the man appeared. The grey figure laughed and cold hung in the room. “Tell me, Judge, how many times have a ghost turned up at their own murder trial?”

  2. Move Along
    By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    262 words

    ‘Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.’

    It was hard not to roll my eyes at Billy’s melodramatic statement. He glared at me and marched out of the room; his silver suit making streaks in the light.

    ‘That was fun,’ Allie said softly as she materialised next to me.

    ‘You don’t know half of it,’ I muttered as I watched the schematics of the new moon.

    ‘Are you sure we have to turn it habitable?’

    I ignored her as the orb turned to reveal the newest scans of the celestial real estate outside the ship.


    My teeth ached as I clenched my jaw not to snap. I hated the silly name I was given.

    ‘It’s my job to know these things,’ I finally answered.

    ‘But the cost…’

    Narrowing my eyes, I could see through the light-schematics that she wasn’t nearly as composed as she would like to pretend. Despite her youth, she knew exactly what has to be done; what had been done countless times; what would surely be done again in the future. Only sacrificing life could life be given. And to serve our masters… It was time to move along.

    Cold hands shaking, I pressed the button.

    Perhaps Billy hadn’t been entirely overreacting: the ship and everyone on it will cease to be in a matter of minutes.

    As the white light took my consciousness away from the vessel I’d inhabited, a fleeting wisp of regret coiled around me. Who knew how long any of us will be in limbo until new bodies could be commandeered?

  3. Told You So - 300 Words
    by Nicolette Stephens

    “Next time we meet, one of us will be dead…”

    Georgia raised an eyebrow. “That’s stupid.”

    “Isn’t!” Mike glared at his sister.

    “Is too! How can we meet if one of us is dead, stupid?”

    “Don’t call your brother stupid, Georgia.” Their mother spoke from behind the wheel of the car.

    “But Mo-om! He’s doing that creepy prophecy thing again.” She reached over to smack her brother on the arm, but he hunched away from her, turning to stare out of the window. The dark night rolled silently past, only the silhouettes of trees briefly visible, ghostly sentinels guarding the road.

    “Guys, please. We’ve been on the road for eight hours! We’re almost there. Just be quiet and let me concentrate.”

    “Sorry, Mom.” Georgia was instantly contrite. Mike rolled his eyes, but said nothing. He craned his head back, tilting it at an awkward angle to peer into the sky without opening the window. This far out in the country, the stars were bright, shining without competition from the city lights. He shivered as he watched a distant shooting star disappear.

    “Do you think Dad’s going to be happy to find out about us after 13 years, Mom?” Georgia sat forward in her seat.

    “I’m not really sure, sweety. I hope so.”

    “Why do we have to come so far out of town to meet him?”

    “It’s easier for us to come out here. Your father, well, it’s difficult for him to visit.”

    The car slowed as they turned off the road into a field. The twins leaned forward to peer out the windscreen while they came to a stop. Their mother was out of the car and running towards the smoking wreckage before they realised the buckled silver object was a spaceship.

    “I told you so, stupid.” Mike said.

  4. Slough Off the Dead
    Sian Brighal
    299 words

    Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.

    A shawled woman in a ridiculous tent had caught Amy's hand a lifetime ago, stared into her skeptical eyes and uttered those odd, suitably morbid words. Her boyfriend had smiled stiffly, hauling her to her feet. But while he crushed her bicep—his silent imperative—she'd inhaled the curling smoke and looked into the rheumy eyes set deep in that dark walnut of a face and felt something twist in her chest, as though the truth of it were taking root. But she'd laughed it off: the cards, cloying incense and jangling coins had been trickery.

    But now, in this lifetime, she sees that woman—so much older now—shuffling down the road, her tattered shawl pulled taut, and shaking a paper cup, a universal plea for spare change. And the memory explodes in her chest like a fungus expelling spores, collateral damage racing beneath the skin, crushing her lungs and lacerating her guts. Her feet stumble and it seems as though she's just left that tent.

    She idly rubs her arm, wondering what she should do. So much has happened between then and now, but she can almost smell that tent, feel the gaze that had seemed so sure of her future, and she can't just laugh this time. When the woman gets close, she drops in a bundle of notes, and the old woman looks up. Those eyes flash immediate recognition and her wrinkled hand smothers her own in a warm and strong grip, so gentle to the ones she'd once grown to accept as the norm.

    "She's dead and he's gone," she rasps.

    She nods. "I'm Elizabeth now."

  5. Bedside Manner
    Jeff Rowlands
    296 Words

    “Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.” The doctor give a prim little smile and said “and we both know who that will be? Still no time to linger, other patients await”. He trotted off down the ward, clipboard in hand, impatiently striding as if late for a meeting.

    She stared at his vanishing back, mouth agape. He had to give the facts of course but his bedside manner certainly left a lot to be desired! So cold. She shuddered. A nausea overcame her both alien and horribly familiar. She put her head in her hands. Closed her eyes for what seemed an age, trying to stop her mind racing, her eyes flooded with tears. Long forgotten moments came racing back, washed over her.

    When she opened her eyes again, the diminutive figure of the doctor was back, smirking. “I knew you would fall for it!” He chuckled pointing at her blotchy face “just my little joke to relax you. Everything looks much better actually. A quick blood test and if that shows improvement off you go.” He chuckled again, walked off humming. “Gets them every time” he said to the nurse on duty as he passed.

    She fished her handbag out of her bedside cabinet, grabbed her phone. Called her husband. She could hear the strain in his voice. “How are you babe? I have thought of nothing but you today.” She thought of prolonging his agony, momentarily enjoying the power she had over him. She chased the cruel thought away.

    “Fine, results are good, hopefully I can come home today”, she saw the doctor heading back in her direction, must be to take the blood sample. “I just have to put up with one little prick then I can come home.”

  6. Did You Ever Have One of Those Sparkling Moments In Time That Turned To Rat Shit?

    “Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.”

    I don’t know why she always said that. A simple, “see ya when I see ya” would have done.

    But Cherise Gibson was wired differently from anyone I’d ever met.

    Before or since.

    That first day in the Quad, she stood out the way a boulder in the middle of a busy highway sort of grabs your attention.

    I came from a small town west of humdrum. I was still getting use out of the oversized orange and white striped cardigan my mother had bought for me from the Sears Catalogue when I was fourteen. “It’s a little bigger than you need but…you’ll grow into it,” she’d predicted.

    In the registration line that September morn, when I landed my country boy eyeballs on Cherise, it still hung on me like a neon sackcloth.

    Cherise, on the other hand, was wrapped tightly in form-fitting black.

    This was pre-Goth; Beat and cool.

    I was shell-shocked.

    She could have ignored me. I expected that. Instead, she wandered over to my line, planted her beautifully gloomy essence into my space and said “Who dresses you? A comedian?”

    I froze. I had no comeback. It was a cruel jibe but she burst out into a Florida sunshine smile and then said, “Kidding! My baby brother has that same sweater.”

    Later, she hunted me down and we had coffee.

    The next week she took me shopping.

    For the following four years, until Graduation, we were inseparable.

    Then a complete darkness overtook her.

    Late august in ‘69, she was restless.

    We went out for a walk.

    We stopped mid-span on the Crooked Moon Bridge.

    Out of nowhere, she suddenly trilled, “Sorry, lover! Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.”

    She then flung herself over.

    300 sudden departures

  7. Stasis
    Marj Crockett
    185 words

    "Next time we meet, one of us will be dead."

    The holograph spluttered into silence for the last time. I touched the screen, willing it back to life.

    My dead wife’s features faded into black.

    I could feel my tears start. Tears that had already flowed for millennia. Tears that matched the screams I heard in my head. Screams, begging for mercy: her screams. Punishing me for my crimes. Punishing me for pushing the button. The one that let the escape pod eject just before we hit the black hole.

    How was I to know that she would follow me to haunt me? She on one side, me on the other, tied together for eternity.

    The pill to end it all appeared in my hand, as it had many times before. Again, I could not move it into my mouth. Blessed relief denied. The will to die overcome by the desire to live.

    I listened to the hiss of the compressor keeping me alive in stasis. Knowing that I would hear that phrase over and over again. Forever in my dreams and in my reality.

  8. Paradoxically apart
    294 words

    "Next time we meet, one of us will be dead. You know what old’ Darwin said – may the fittest survive. Or should I be quoting Einstein now?”, Jack said it with confidence. He was always the cynical one, but a trained observer could trace emotion in his voice.

    His twin could. “Hey, you know who has the odds in their favor, right?”

    They only had moments now before departure. The Parker twins, as they will be remembered in history, had signed up to prove the impossible – prove the “twin paradox”. While there had been other twin couples that had undergone exercises, theirs would be the first in which the travelling twin would reach the speed of light in order to accurately test the theory. So while Jack would stay on Earth, Jason would travel to Mars to see if he would age as well or not. However, as far as the theory went, one of them would stay “forever young”, while the other would age with 30 Earth years. Identical twins, they grew up very close and stayed so all their lives. When Jason, the oldest of the two by 6.2 minutes, announced he wanted to become an astronaut, it didn’t take long for Jack to follow suit.

    “A lot can happen in 30 years”, Jason voiced his thoughts aloud. No one at NASA could guarantee the mission a success. Actually, they had made it quite clear by asking him to sign medical consent forms that they would be happy with his body back, live or dead. The space shift was self-operating.

    “Yeah… Mom could actually learn how to cook turkey”, the other one smiled. Jokes were the best way they communicated in.

    “Hey, Jason?”


    “You know, I’ll finally catch up with you”

  9. The Console Room

    Nod Ghosh

    "Next time we meet, one of us will be dead."
    Bevan has an air of authority. I look around the circle, moving my eyes, though my head is an immobile rock. I catch Rhonda's gaze. Her face belies the terror I feel. Hezbaan picks at his scalp, and examines what he finds in his fingernails. Lota pushes a strand of hair from her eye, corporeal actions that have little meaning in Limbo.

    One. Only one. How can that be?

    No one says anything. Mahmood is the first to break away from the circle. We follow him into the console room in silence. Each of us connects with their subject. There is a whirr of activity as we begin our hauntings.

    Today, my subject is Hanan. She is broken by the effort of keeping four children from death. She has stripped leaves from a tree in the compound. She boils them in a pot. The firewood has come from a bombed out ruin. Hanan adds salt. I detect her reticence at using those precious pink-white grains. I do the shiver-down-the-spine thing, and try to channel her dead husband from my bank of new souls.

    It's tiring work. By the end of my shift, I've seen three others in Aleppo, one in Dhaka, and a New York psychiatrist who was about to slit his own wrists. Rhonda is disconnecting from her console, and I realise reckoning time has arrived.

    Bevan's grave expression tells me it's bad news. Very bad for Hezbaan, Lota and two others. They're being sent back. The rest of us sit in silence.

    "I've heard from upstairs," he says, shuffles cards in his hands like a gambler.

    When he calls Rhonda's name, her relief is palpable.

    The rest of us hope death will come soon.

    1. Oh man, I love the details in this bit:

      "Hezbaan picks at his scalp, and examines what he finds in his fingernails."

      And this sets the whole thing up:

      "Lota pushes a strand of hair from her eye, corporeal actions that have little meaning in Limbo. "

      Great dark tones in this piece. I'm a sucker for the darker sides of imagination.

  10. Dave Novak

    Title: Next Time We Meet
    Word Count: 299

    “Next time we meet, one of us will be dead.”

    I smile. “On the bright side, at least that’ll cut down on the all the small talk.”

    “Oh. Sure. Go ahead. Laugh it up. It won’t be you that’s dead.”

    “Well, technically…”

    “You know what I mean.” He crosses his arms and sinks his head down towards his chest, like he’s trying to hug himself. It’s what he does when he gets stressed out. I know his mannerisms so well, I’m beginning to pick them up myself.

    Which is a mild annoyance.

    “You’re making this out to be my fault,” I say. “Which it is. Technically. But you’re the one who signed up for this. You paid for this.”

    “Worthless,” he scoffs. “Just like us.”

    “Jesus. Tell me I won’t be so crotchety when I’m your age.”

    “You know you will be.”

    I sigh, and nestle deeper into the couch. He can’t leave soon enough, as far as I’m concerned. “At this point, I’m looking forward to coming to our funeral.”

    He throws his hands up. “That’s it. I hate myself. It’s official.”

    I stand up. “What’d you think was going to happen? You were going to go all Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come and scare me into becoming a better person? Deep down, you must’ve known that wasn’t going to work.”

    “But you’re so alone,” he says. “We’re so alone.”

    “I’ve met people before. Didn’t care for it.”

    “Just know that you don’t have to become me. You can change into someone better.” He holds up the Time Modulator. Punches in the coordinates back to his timeline. “Nobody’s going to be at our funeral, you know.”

    And with that, he’s gone.


    I sit back down. Turn on the TV.

    And suddenly, I start to feel very fucking alone.


  11. Dying

    By TipTim


    298 words

    Next time we meet, one of us will be dead." Andy said with a chuckle.

    "D... Don't... don't count me out just... yet" I replied with a weak smile, my words half muffled by the respiratory mask over my face. Inwardly though, his words stung. I didn't even want to bring up the insensitivity of it, it would have been superfluous. Even if I did, it wouldn't have gotten through the departing back of my dense ex's thick skull.
    As he shut the door to my hospital room, I attempted to raise a hand to flick a finger in his direction, but each were way to heavy. I could not even twitch a thumb.
    The least he could do was pretend not to be thrilled at this. Maybe I did deserve this for the way I treated him and ended our marriage. Karma, I guess. He would also get the custody of the kids. I wonder how he would handle that.

    He loved me once, I thought with a tear. He was once like my double, my soulmate. There was a time...

    My reverie of happier times was blasted into smithereens as I felt a sharp pain rack my body and the alarm of the monitor raised pandemonium.

    "She's going into shock!" I heard from far away as I lost consciousness.

    When I came to, I was told of the battle that followed after for my survival, how I was kept alive on life support. Then of the surgery that occurred after the suicide of Andy, his heart donated to me in replacement of my failing one. His note lay next to the tub of ice he was found in, after having called the cops.

    I cried for days. The dolt!

    Oh Andy! I still had his heart.

  12. 300 words

    The Heart Wants

    Next time we meet one of use will be dead. Normally, there's nothing unusual about this statement. It's the way fruit flies both greet each other and say goodbye. Sort of like saying "Aloha" in Hawaii. But this time Jill heard something in Jacob's voice. Something that worried her. Jill couldn't place the feeling, but she couldn’t shake it either.

    She and Jacob had been lovers once. They were a happy couple. Really happy. They did everything together. They went to operas, baseball games, window shopping at the outdoor mall. When they were together, it really didn't matter what they did, only that they were together when they did it. But the wife swapping incident had changed all that.

    She wasn't sure why they'd decided to do it. Was it his idea or hers? She couldn't remember. Perhaps it was the knowledge that life was so very short. That time was fleeting. That you had to live life to its fullest.

    She liked to think it was some deep philosophical yearning that drove them to the sexual experiment. But it wasn’t.

    The afternoon of the incident they'd flown to the meadow to check out the cows. While buzzing around, Jacob discovered a soggy kumquat under a loose hay bale, no doubt left behind weeks before by a human farm hand.

    They drank fermented kumquat nectar and felt tipsy almost immediately. Then they spent several happy, dizzy minutes flying in circles chasing each other. Exhausted, they lit on the ridged vertebrae of a brown Holstein. That's when they ran into Gary and Marcy.

    Jill hadn't meant to fall in love with Gary and him her, but it happened. In a perfect world, Jacob and Marcy would've fallen in love too, but they didn’t.

    Jill wasn’t looking forward to meeting Jacob again.

  13. Heat
    Wiebo Grobler
    300 words

    "Next time we meet, one of us will be dead…Change your ways darlin’…" The sound of the radio drifted across the sand like ghostly whispers in the wind.
    The heat was relentless. The horizon stretched out in the distance and danced to the beat of cicada songs.
    Tiny black beetles scampered across the red dirt, their passage marked by a crisscross highway of tracks.
    “I fucking hate the desert. It’s like time stands still in this place. It never changes and the heat...” Mark pulled on his cigarette.
    Gary straightened and stretched his back. Sweat trickled down the side of his face and neck. High above an airliner made its way across the sky, white contrails marking its progress against a backdrop of blue.
    Gary grunted in response and resumed digging.
    “This is going to kill him when he finds out.”
    “He won’t find out. We’ve done this before,” Gary said.
    “Why does he keep doing this?”
    “Love’s a drug. The most dangerous kind.”
    “This is the third one in five years.”
    “Trust me. She’s the lucky one. Her pain will soon be over.”
    “He’s always been like this, tryin’ to fix things that’s beyond broke. Then it all goes to shit-”
    “And we’re left to clear up the mess.” Gary climbed out of the hole.
    “He’s our brother.”
    “He’s an idiot.”
    “He’s our idiot.” Mark flicked his cigarette into the hole.
    They walked to the car and Mark opened the rear door. He switched off the radio and Gary gently took the girl by her shoulders, careful to avoid the needle tracks on her arms. Her head lolled forward, matted blonde hair covering, sunken eyes.
    Gary steered her towards the hole and sat her down. Her legs dangled into the space. The bullet created a flower of crimson mist.