FlashFeeD 1.2

Welcome to week 2 of the new platform.

You may have seen some technical difficulties last week. This was outside our control and we’re hopeful it won’t happen again, but there are still risks of outages or technical hitches as there are with any website. If something similar happens again then I’ll review the project and the website hosting.

Anyway, a massive thank you to all those that joined in last week and a very warm welcome to newcomers.

Full rules here:

The picture prompt this week:


Story must focus on the fiction element of : Setting.

Stories will be limited to 2000 characters* (about 300 words), including the title.

*(The field itself will allow for 2050 characters, but this extra 50 characters is only to be used as contingency and it won't be increased).

Use the comment field to post stories, include your story title. Use the reply button on a particular story to provide positive feedback. Press the ‘like’ icon if you like a story.

A reminder on DogTreats:

If you’re registered, then you will be awarded DogTreats (community participation points) for posting stories, commenting etc.

The DogTreats will include badges for specific tasks or achievements (we may also award badges for special events, projects or previous achievements (such as FD anthology appearances)).

The DogTreats will also include ranks or levels. After certain milestones have been reached, you will achieve a new level. These are ranked by dog breeds, with small cute dogs to start and larger dogs (with bigger teeth) near the top of the ranks.

You’re all winners, so we won’t be providing judging. If you choose to take your ‘likes’ and comments as rewards, then we’re fine with that.

We hope this eases the workload on the competition and demystifies the murky and inconsistent world of judging.

We have tried to make this as easy as possible by enabling WordPress, Facebook and Twitter log-ins. If you use one of these methods it’s probably best to try to stick with it as we can’t guarantee the system will recognise your points using a different method.

Of course, you don’t have to register. We warmly welcome everyone that wants to participate in a friendly and positive community. If you do not register you will still be asked for your e-mail address and the first comment you make is likely to be held for moderation (to check for spam and content compliance). After this, your comments should be approved automatically. You won’t gain DogTreats by using this method.



73 Replies to “FlashFeeD 1.2”

  1. Tram number 8 is the best. It starts up on the Hill, and you can see the sea in the distance as it sweeps down towards the park. Number 6 continues straight ahead, but 8 takes the bend into the old Park Lane. Some drivers will wait until the last possible moment to brake, making your stomach flutter and perhaps allowing your heart to sing.

    The Park Lane has been there since the city was founded, they say, though most probably it was just an old cart road that grew larger with time. The Park must have been a forest back then. Today, number 8 merrily slithers downhill while you can enjoy the trees and birds, the smell of grass, the sunshine and the sea breeze.

    Some people don’t like the Bell District after the Park, but the fact remains that it’s the liveliest borough in town. All the stores are there, and if you’re the type who likes people you’ll inevitably enjoy it there. It’s noisy and merry.

    And right after all the shops come the cafés and restaurants. This is called a cosmopolitan city, which means that the delicious flavours wafting from them will transport you to places far away.

    Tram 8 then visits the sea. The bay is small; the modest port can only hold so many boats, but the crews clang their bells when the tram passes by. There are still a few old fishermen that exchange stories of their time on the seas, sitting on the waterfront benches while they stare out at their beloved ocean.

    Number 8 then reaches terminus and turns around, clanking back uphill.

    On Sunday mornings I like to board tram 8 up on the Hill, and enjoy a round trip. Every week I go through all the buroughs in my head, as we pass them and their different smells hit me. Sam stays by my side, and I’ve come to think he also enjoys our tour.

    Though he very much prefers it when he notices me unfolding my stick when we reach the first Park stop.


    1. Oh this is like a personal guided tour of the tramline’s route! I love its detail, the personal touches, the feelings I get as the tram rolls through each district. This is very special, Vicente.


    2. I loved all the little details sprinkled throughout, especially the focus on noises and smells. It all paints such a vivid picture 🙂


  2. Miles Away in Forty Minutes

    It’s always here, even as here moves away. This is the place where she can finally let it all slip from her shoulders. The wooden seats are firm friends, taking the weight of heavy days and the windows gift her cool reflections of a world momenrtarily passing and moving without her, making her a passenger…an observer. It soothes to sit and watch. For the next forty minutes everything is done, set, requires no thought, no demands for choices, no pressure. Once the fare is paid, she can sit and slip away from a world that’s always asking, begging, telling, yelling, dragging and pulling. It’s always here: the peace, the quiet, the withdraw.

    No one questions as they hide behind newspapers, within their own heads, or on mobile phones or distracted by the sights drifting by. People crammed closer than in offices, streets, shops or elevators, yet as far away from each other as one could get.

    It’s Monday; the car has been recently cleaned. The scent of polish and wax lingers in the air; the grooves in the floor scoured of their week’s worth of droppings. The windows dazzle, a generous compromise, smothering the too clear world in reflected light. By Friday, a multitude of fingers, hands and breaths will have smudged the world, taking the edge off a hard week.

    The tram rolls smoothly along straight lines and round soft curves; it makes her think of caresses, when she had someone to love. A bell rings for stops where a gentle pressure pushes her deeper into her seat, reassuring her: this is not your stop. Hush and rest. It is a moment where she is just for herself, and the world does not press itself upon her, and she can escape while sitting still.


  3. His retirement years should have been full of those wonderful memories of 55 years driving his beloved Linnea. He nicknamed her during his first year, a rookie, with his own line. Things were different then. He knew all the passengers by name, knew their families, their special events, their sadness and elation. He shared their lives, took them on their journey across town while they journeyed elsewhere in their minds.

    Steady hand on the wheel, other hand on the control stick, the smooth tickity-tick of the rails under him, the smell of polished wood, meticulously maintained by Else and her crew back at the yard where Linnea retired for the night, Erik was happy.

    She emerged from the bakery, its bright blue door closing behind her. He watched her as he always did, same time every day, her greying hair tossing in the wind, her multi-coloured layers of clothing swishing about her as she walked.

    He loved, secretly, quietly, passionately inside. She boarded Linnea, smiled at Erik and took her seat by the window, first brushing off the seat with her hand as if to discard the previous passenger’s tale. This was her journey.

    This was her stop. His heart jolted a fraction as she pulled her scarf tight against the wind battling her as she stepped from Linnea. He waved. She turned, leaving a smile on his step and an extra thump in his chest. Distracted, he didn’t see the skoter. No time to clang his overhead bell, no time to pull her back, no time to reverse the moment.

    Her name was Ebba. No-one knew what instigated his retirement. No-one but Erik knew the love he carried on his Linnea every day until Ebba stepped away from him for the last time.


  4. Honeyed wood glowed warm and welcoming as she took her usual seat. Others crowded in around her but none glanced in her direction, too busy with their cell phones and their iPods, faces glued to screens or gazing determinedly past each other. To acknowledge another’s presence, even if their elbow was digging in your ribs or they were practically sat in your lap because of the crush, was not done. Look into another’s eyes and they thought you were crazy. Ruth sighed. At least it was better than in the past.

    At first she had loved this journey, knowing her grandmother would be waiting at the other end with a huge slab of Apfelkuchen to fill her empty stomach. The cinnamon memory shone in her mind like the wood around her—and then things had started to change. The yellow star stitched onto her coat by her silent mother had meant she could only sit at the front of the tram, had rendered her invisible as a human. Then even that mode of travel had been denied her, forcing her to walk to her grandmother’s on foot. And eventually there was no Apfelkuchen, no grandma. How times had changed, she thought, looking at her fellow travellers, all creeds, all races, all mixed. But still she would sit in her old seat—even though there were now no restrictions—wrapped up in her coat with its faded star, swinging her ten-year-old legs. And still no one saw her.


    1. Whoa. I’m trying to catch up with past FlashFeeds and I’m awfully sorry I missed this story. It’s just… a brutal punch to the gut. Really powerful.


  5. Magic Bus

    Mr. Shankar ran the bodega on the corner with the help of his son Salman and son-in law, Amir. It was a busy place, with lively music and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. In fact, people would make a special stop for Mr.Shankar’s coffee, and to pet the spotted cat who guarded the newspapers.

    The cat had been found under the dumpster behind the bodega. Mr. Shankar named him Orion, for the pattern of black spots on his white back. Orion was magic, Amir said. It was because of the cat that he had walked into the bodega and asked for a job.

    Yes, magic, Mr.Shankar agreed. He makes the mice disappear.

    Today, Mr. Shankar made the coffee extra strong because he was on a mission. He would take the bus downtown to City Hall, armed with a petition protesting a complaint against animals in food service establishments.

    It was a long story. The lady said she was allergic to cats. No amount of charm or outrage could dissuade her.

    So, armed with a folder of documents, including the petition, his citizenship papers and the license for the bodega, Mr. Shankar got on the bus, amid cheers from customers and protests from his son and son-in-law. He insisted on going alone.

    At the next stop, a girl and boy got on. The girl had a low-back top, with wings tattooed on her shoulders. The colors shimmered in the sun.

    I know where you’re going, the girl said. The bus became a golden carriage filled with light. The boy became a spotted cat. With her many arms, the girl enfolded Mr. Shankar. Your mission will be successful, she said.


    1. Oh I love the magic weaving through this tale. I can see the bodega, feel the carriage fill with light and revel in the anticipated ending! Love it, Voima.


  6. Mine’s the most famous butt in the city. Everyone says so; I hear their clumsy whispers behind me on the trolley.

    “Is that it?”

    “Yep. Isn’t it something?”

    “It looks just like a regular butt to me.”


    “I mean, it’s nice enough, I guess, but hardly the stuff of legends.”

    “Just wait.”

    “Why? Does it turn into gold? Sing? Dance the tango?”

    “Be patient.”

    And then it’s the same, it’s always the same: derision fades, replaced by accelerating panic.


    A knowing, smirking chortle. “Told ya.”


    “Don’t worry. You won’t die.”

    “But I can’t—”



    “Not a chance, try as hard as you want.”


    “Not on your life. But she’ll still let us off at our stop, I promise.”

    Silence. If it’s their first time, maybe also sniffles, or confused weeping.

    Sure enough, when they pull the bell cord, I oblige, cruising slow, slow, slower, until the trolley stops. I shove a lever, which releases the door in a long sigh. Pale-faced passengers tumble out, not talking, barely breathing, until their feet safely stand on sidewalk. And then words tumble out after them in an explosion of relief.

    “So it’s true!”


    “People’s eyes freeze on her butt every time?”


    “And you can’t look away, ever?”

    “Not til you’re off the trolley.”

    “Man. Just—man.”

    I don’t mind, not really. My days are peaceful, sparkling sea in the distance, wheels rumbling on pavement, passengers on, passengers off. The fear in their voices rolls like waves against my back: but at least it rolls, and recedes, and they live to ride again. It’s refreshing, in a way. Even soothing.

    Once in a while a reckless rider shouts for me to turn around. But my hands grip the wheel like serpents, and my resolve is stone-firm. If and when I turn, it’ll be because I want to, not because some fool runs his mouth.

    After all, I’ve got the most famous butt in the city.


      1. Thank you! of course, I realized too late about “setting”–so let’s just imagine the setting is our Lovely Gorgon’s hindquarters, k???? 😀


    1. Fantastic story. Shame such crowd control doesn’t really exist for public transport. Still, it is a bittersweet ending to a beautiful read.


  7. Ride in Time

    Bill closed his eyes, feeling the smooth wood beneath his boney arthritic hands. He could hear the familiar noise of the doors rattling close and the brass bell ring as it prepared to leave the stop. The ancient tram had been lovingly restored and it looked better than new. It was taking him downtown to the modern art museum. It was just luck that it was this tram that had arrived and it took him back in time.

    Back in the day the tram had never been that clean and the air had been thick with smoke of homes and businesses. Today it was so clean and perfect, it seemed not quite right.

    Around him were tourists and commuters heading to work all bright clothes with their heads facing phones or cameras. He remembered Enid. They’d met on a tram like this. He’d sat next to her even though there had been free seats elsewhere. When she met his eyes the deal was done; love at first sight. He never tired of telling friends that they had to believe in it.

    He thought back that it must have been fifty years since they met, but he didn’t want to dwell on the math. He closed his eyes again and imagined the body against him was not the sharp suited banker or accountant it was, but was Enid. He almost went out to touch his hand, but knew the illusion would disappear if he did.

    Bill counted the bells and felt each stuttering start, he knew exactly the number of stops he was on for. He didn’t want to miss it but he couldn’t open his eyes without breaking the spell. He was taking Enid as far as the gallery and then they’d part again. She’d never liked modern art anyway.


    1. Bittersweet story. I love the ending which means it doesn’t ever have to end, and they can get the tram back home and tomorrow and tomorrow.


  8. Back on track

    My old colleagues would laugh if they could see me now. Not that any of them would be caught dead on a tram. I used to be just like them, a big shot, on my way to the top. Private jets and box seats, holiday homes and limos. That was before the incident.

    HR did what they do best, they protected the company. My golden handshake was more than generous. That’s probably why my wife filed for divorce so quickly, before I could spend it. We both knew it was coming. The money was the only thing keeping us together. She was basically a prostitute, but with a joint bank account and a lot less sex.

    I needed to get away from my life, to find myself again. I saw the job advert and applied on a whim. I didn’t think they’d actually hire me. My ‘office’ is just as pretentious as it was before, all polished brass and mahogany, but the view is ever changing. My passengers are mostly tourists, filled with wonder at all I took for granted. Through their eyes I am seeing my city anew.

    It’s a fresh start, a new perspective. My life is back on track, but I’m not aiming for the top anymore. I’m happy just going in circles.


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