FlashFeeD 1.14

Sorry about any post confusion last week.

Some incredible stories – well done to all!

New story prompt below. It’s the sort of place that might be in Grind Spark the amazing debut novel from FlashDogs artistic director, Tam Rogers. If you didn’t get a copy already, I highly recommend it. A perfect tale for the times we face at the moment.

I’m loving the leader-board, the ranks, points and awards. Let me know every time you leave a book review for a member of the community (either a participant here or #vss365 or someone you know is part of the extended FlashDogs family) and I’ll start adding special badges to your collection.

Back to the prompt. Have fun.

Full rules here:

Please focus on setting this week.





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.



28 Replies to “FlashFeeD 1.14”


    A warm summer breeze caresses my bare skin. I inhale scents of baked earth and freshly-baled hay. Sip icy beer on the patio. My head is spinning, but not from alcohol or heat exhaustion.

    I feel like I’m in a Van Gogh painting. It’s so surreal. A midnight sky full of stars. Prairie grasses whisper secrets about the Universe. Coyotes sing about a moonlight rendezvous. Its all enough to make my neurons oscillate wildly.

    Even more exciting, inside the astronomical observatory, with our giant telescopes and high-tech radio receivers, we are trying to learn the Universe’s language and decipher the star’s secrets.

    High-energy, fast radio bursts have been picked up by our radio receivers over the last few years. They originated billions of light years from Earth.

    We believe most pulses are from magnetars – extremely powerful neutron stars. Never before have they been so strong.

    What is truly exciting to us astrophysicists in residence here is the effect of their magnetic power on a handful of people like me with magnetoreception abilities.

    Due to a higher-than-normal level of magnetite in the brain, we strongly sense magnetic fields. Just like the way bats, birds, turtles and such creatures can navigate and orient themselves.

    I’ve discovered, however, that these particular FRBs are not coming from magnetars. Or from nearby black holes.

    The pulses are so strong. They are palpable to me. It’s like an electric shock. An incredible magnetism. I can almost visualize their trajectory from an undiscovered spiral galaxy billions of light years away.

    Message received. I sense the urgency of the extraterrestrial RSVP.

    We must prepare for their arrival.



  2. Fire in the Night

    He’d never liked to go too near the church. It creeped him out: sometimes a lamp shining to break the monotony of the prairie but mostly just dark and ominous. He’d never crossed the bridge that would take him there; he wasn’t sure he could, he didn’t think he had the right stuff for church-going. He asked too many questions.

    Since his ninth birthday, since Aunt Mary had given him that book and his obsession with the stars had begun, he’d come out to the field whenever the weather let him, just to lie and look up, to identify what constellations he could and to invent names for those he hadn’t learned. He knew them all now, and all their stars, but he still liked to call Hercules ‘The Dog’. He liked the idea of being out in the field with his Dog. He wasn’t lonely, not really, but some nights it would have been nice to talk. To have someone listen.

    Tonight the heavens were dominated by Virgo, as were his thoughts: boys who watched stars didn’t make friends easily, not with girls especially. Girls didn’t want to lie in the long grass remembering numbers and Latin names for distant points of light; they did other things in the fields, with other boys. A girl would have seen the meteor shower and called them stars, wished on them, probably, then let one of the other boys make his wish a reality.

    Maybe one day he’d cross the bridge, but it would be with gas and matches. For one glorious night the church would truly be a beacon, a bright ball of flame showing the way to his own redemption. The roof would go easy but the blackened stones would stay; maybe it’d be fixed up, maybe the building would be abandoned. It was near abandoned anyway. He’d like to watch it crumble as the constellations marched over its bones. He wanted his view clear, just once.

    But not tonight. Tonight he was as far from redemption as he was from Cassiopeia.

    “The Queen.”

    He whispered it, the sound lost in the grass. He’d do chores tomorrow, get a few bucks from Mom. Buy gas.


  3. Teddy’s Widescreen

    Lying back in the long grass Teddy looked up at the star-filled sky which somehow made him feel both insignificant and a giant simultaneously. Scale was proving a problem; Teddy versus the Universe. Something twisted and suddenly he felt he was looking down on it like he was a God.

    He’d heard from someone at school that in the city there are so many lights that even on the clearest night people are lucky if they can count fifty stars, that they never see the full majesty of the Milky Way. He wasn’t sure that was true. Surely the people would demand the lights be turned off at least sometimes so that they could see where they lived. It would be in the news. A travesty!

    The wind shifted direction and he heard the TV from the house; mom and dad watching some fly on the wall nonsense probably. It was mad how they watched the mainstream TV fodder yet chose to live out beyond nowhere. Teddy preferred the sky to the TV. Nothing beat a clear night.

    He let his imagination go. He was on a star cruiser heading on a mission between rarely visited planets. He wouldn’t be the Captain, they were always too busy with issues and fighting and falling in love with aliens and things. He’d have some second or third level job, something that gave him lots of time to look at the universe. He’d look back towards earth and see what the sky looked like from another direction. That would be too cool for school.

    A bright shooting star headed right over the house. Perhaps this one would land. He’d love to find a meteorite especially if it was one he saw fall. A star falling to earth; he knew it wasn’t but romance was okay when it was about the universe.

    He heard a door creak open and waited for mom’s inevitable call. Time to get back in and go to bed. There was school in the morning. Blah blah.

    The planets would wait. Maybe tomorrow he’d find the meteorite or, better still, one of those worm-holes that can take you somewhere else. Everything was possible. He’d read that somewhere.


  4. Frank Giles was sitting on his porch when he saw the white light cut across the night sky. He dismissed it as a falling star until a loud bang from the corn field shook his windows and sent him running for his shotgun.

    The crater he found in the midst of smoldering grass was much larger than the object that had made it. Frank approached the edge gingerly, his shotgun at his shoulder aimed at what looked like a large lump of fiery rock. He climbed down for a closer look.

    He could feel the heat on his face intensify the closer he got. Then a clicking noise stopped him in his tracks. His heart pounded as he raised his shotgun. The top of the rock flipped open. Frank waited, gun poised, ready for whatever might jump out.

    Nothing happened for almost two minutes, so he crept as close to the opened object as he could without burning. There was a sign on the inside of the lid inscribed in English:

    Occupant of Sol-3:

    Greetings. Our planet faces certain destruction. The child within this vessel will be the sole survivor of our race. We ask that you raise him as your own. One day he will learn of his people from the artifacts enclosed. Please keep them safe until he is ready.

    Thank you.

    The lower half of the pod contained a large pile of ash, and the smoking, charred remains of a humanoid form, wisps of smoke rising from its fused limbs. Frank shook his head.

    “Alien intelligence my ass,” he said as he climbed out of the crater.


  5. Magpie trails

    Shindral called it the silver river and spent as many hours between moons counting the drops as he forgot the number he had got to.

    Across the bridge Toxa called for magpies while throwing silverleaf into the river. Silver tied to her long blond hair . She caught as many as escaped.

    An old man deliberately creaked his chair on the porch so the bird both left his saucer alone and dropped the message in it’s beak.

    He was tired and rocked against the railing tapping the post with his pipe. The messages rolled in the wind to and from him. Liquid in the saucer caught the cosmos and the slice of another bolt

    Another magpie lost looking for Shindral


      1. The Milky Way : a silver river. It’s one of my favourite metaphors . I discovered in oriental work but it’s not unique to it.


  6. I’m back.

    Everything looks the same, but it is not.

    The meadow greets me, the weeds reminding me of the unruly beard I never imagined I’d wear.

    The creek splits the meadow in two, but it no longer carries any water. I could just wade through if I wanted to. Instead, I cross the wooden bridge.

    The planks creak louder than I remembered. I stop midway and look around. One day I won’t be able to come back. Sooner than later, I’m afraid.

    The house looms before me, three large blocks growing in height that end in pointed roofs. There are fewer shingles and more holes in them. The windows remain walled. I hope the gate is still blocked, but I don’t feel like checking myself. After all, it doesn’t matter. Not any longer.

    Only one thing remains the same.

    The sky.

    The stars blink in greeting. There’s no Moon, and Jupiter and Saturn are visible tonight, to the East and West, shining steadily, guides in the night.

    My night vision has already become good enough that I can even see the Milky Way above.

    I know it’s an illusion. I know the light I see left those stars thousands or even millions of years ago. I know many of those stars will be dead by now, but we just don’t know yet. I know what a fiery, dangerous galaxy this is.

    But oh, how I despise being down here. How I miss travelling among the stars.


  7. Defrosted

    Little Peterman had to get home in time for Christmas. Presents waiting, wind snowing, kitchen puffing. He could feel the heat on his face, fingers thaw out. He dreamed about it every day, all year, as the hours built up. He lost count, forgot even how many they’d sentenced him to. In the cold, frozen Gulag of his mind, the bars kept time, tuning
    minutes into an endless stream of misery. There would be no Christmas again this year, today, tomorrow. His lawyer wrote letters but Little Peterman no longer signed them: they froze between his fingers, fluttered away, unopened, overexposed.
    And then, suddenly, like a dream, a fairy godmother, a Christmas Reindeer, Santa existed. Little Peterman’s jailor unlocked the cage, snow melted to water, tasty, unleaded, spiky icicles glowed hot into t-bone steaks, juicy, lip running, mouth watering as he squealed in delight. The poster on the wall blurred into his wife, soft, tender as the night, hot as the sun he hadn’t seen for years. Little Peterman was in heaven. Christmas had come. He was a believer.
    “You’ve got friends in high places,” the warden remarked.
    He had. That’s what had brought him here.
    “Don’t worry,” his wife said, “I’ve taken care of them.”
    She had.
    Christmas came, reindeer and all, presents for the kids: they looked at Little Peterman and wondered who he was.
    She was too busy for Christmas. Too busy saving their future.
    Little Peterman didn’t care how many, he just wondered how often. How often would his wife would have to sell her soul to buy them another day; her body to pay for a another week.
    Friends. He badly needed enemies.
    “Darling, I’m home.”


  8. Insignificant

    Most think the chapel was built for the faithful but I know it was built for the desperate because I was its founder. Out here on the prairie beneath the overwhelming heavens, I made it the cocoon in which man could wrap himself, regain his sense of being. Too long out there beneath those blinding stars, listening to nothing but the rush of grass and the howling of the wilderness, and you feel yourself shrink until you are no more than an ant, a virus, a microscopic dot. A virus? The term sounds bitter, a word implying a single-mindedness of death and destruction, an infection rife across the face of the earth. Another truth which we must all admit to and one which my haven can cleanse from the soul, should the carrier of this corruption cross my threshold.

    See, I even built a bridge so the weary traveller did not have to wade across the river in a forced baptism. It stands there now, rusted and aged, but still the path for my sinners to walk even though the river has long gone, drowned beneath a relentless sea of weeds and scrub.

    My chapel is the Church of Isolation, as is my ministry. It was built on a foundation of loss and despair, its walls shored up by divine light, the roof blessed in a meteor’s blaze. It was my home and my hearth and became my lonely tomb. Here beneath the majesty of the universe, I became nothing. I became small and insignificant. I disappeared.


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