FlashFeeD 1.17


While #vss365 continues its ascent towards world domination (TM-Image Ronin), we have attracted a small but very persistent number of hash-tag abusers (not a real thing, but it’s the easiest way to describe it). This has caused some mild annoyance to a few people and I’ve tried really hard, in various ways, to stem this flow. All attempts have been exhausted now, so I ask that if this is an issue for you that you consider different types of filters to help de-junk your #vss365 search. I know many of you do this already.

I tried, but it’s a rare failure, sorry.

In new news, an active community FlashDog member, Avalina, is very passionate about VR and sees it as a way of connecting members and enabling greater interaction. You don’t need a VR headset apparently. If you are interested send a Tweet to @flashdogs and we’ll put you in touch.

Now, to the main business…

FlashFeeD numbers seem to go down with happy prompts – so I’ll give you something darker this week.

New prompt below. Have fun.

Full rules here:

Focus on genre this week – ummm, mystery, if you can.

Love this pic – so much to work with

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.



13 Replies to “FlashFeeD 1.17”

  1. ‘Hot as Hell’

    She’d been an inspector for twenty years: could go to a scene, sniff the air, scan the scorch marks and say how it started. She wouldn’t need that experience this time.
    The old man’s mansion had lit up two days ago. They’d called her while they were still fighting the blaze: it had been obvious, from the colour and ferocity of the flames, it was kerosene. Arson, no question. It took six hours to get it under control and another day for it to cool enough for her to do her thing.
    She counted sixteen warped, blackened barrels on the ground floor. The lab would probably tell her they’d contained jet fuel; low flash-point avgas. Open barrels, a house full of vapour: one spark would have been enough.
    She hadn’t found an ignition point yet. That meant going upstairs and extra care: it was an old house, well-built, but it had burned for hours then been soaked in water to cool the shell. She used a ladder to access a top-floor window and saw confirmation of her assumption: a shrunken, blackened corpse, handcuffed to a pipe.
    She picked her way across the floor, ignoring the body: she’d seen worse. The first time, she’d thrown up. She didn’t contaminate crime scenes any more: bodies were just objects, they were for the cops. If it was kids, that still hurt, but others could worry about the dead. She only cared what caused the spark.
    She wasn’t entirely single-minded: she was in the home of one of the world’s richest men and his antique safe hadn’t withstood the jet age. The door had warped in the heat and then the cooling; it hung open. She allowed herself a moment’s unprofessional curiosity.
    She was disappointed: no gold, no gems, just a photo album. Smoke-stained, heat-damaged, but unburnt. It must have been precious; family, maybe. She opened it, took a second to process the discoloured photos. Kids. Somebody’s family, once. She turned away and contaminated the crime scene.
    Later, conferring with the cops, she filed her report: act of god, no further action.


  2. “It’s amazin’,” said Darrin as he shifted the heavy tubes on his arm while keeping the foam gun pointed straight ahead. “How come them trees burn without burnin’ up?”

    “Simple,” Florian replied. “There’s a naturally-occurring brachial membrane covering the limbs that secretes a noxious yet flammable mucus which causes simultaneous conflagration and thermic insulation.”

    Darrin turned. “Wha?”

    Florian thought for a moment. “It’s magic.”

    “Oh,” said Darrin. “And this foamy stuff…?”

    “The chemical compound is an agent that causes a reaction when it comes into contact with said brachial membrane, producing liquid aurelum, which, when collected, cooled, and sold, is of considerable pecuniary value.”

    “So… the foamy stuff makes the trees bleed the liquid stuff that falls into the tube and we collect in the tank?” He nodded to the large metal cylinder behind them.

    “Yes,” Florian nodded.

    “That big black tube on the ground that I carried and nearly got burned pushin’ into the trees?”

    “That’s the one. And that’s why you’re here, for the heavy lifting. Don’t worry. It’ll be worth it. We’ll make lots and lots of money for us both.”

    Darrin swung around, catching Florian with the spray.

    “Watch where you’re pointing that, you idiot!”

    “Here’s what I’ve been thinkin’,” Darrin said, ignoring his partner. Florian’s feet began to slide precariously closer to the flaming trees. “I been wond’rin’, how close do you have to be to the trees for these suits to burn? I like a puzzle.” He grinned.

    Darrin inched the spray closer to the forest. Florian shouted, skidding along with the foam, but Darrin turned off the com device in his helmet.

    “Then I thought, wouldn’t one person get more of that peculiarly value from the aurelium than two people?”

    Florian slipped soundlessly into the flames.

    “And what if that one person was me?”


  3. Spiders and Snakes

    Serpents roiled at their feet, snaking their way from the split in the rock, followed by a fire whose strength would put the flames of Hell to shame. It hissed and spluttered under the assault of the water cannon but did not die. If anything, it only came back stronger. Burning tongues flicking at those who would fight it.
    Jim and Leo donned their protective clothing and made their way to their unlikely smallholding, the breeding ground for the reptiles now running away from them. There would certainly be a dent in their takings this month if they didn’t put the fire out quickly.

    “What d’you reckon started it?” asked Jim, watching their livestock slither away.

    “Not what, who,” said Leo. “Your Jean’s been against this business from the start.”

    Jim looked at Leo. “You mean … nah … she wouldn’t, would she? This pays our bills, pays for all those bloody handbags of hers …” His wife liked her accessories. Perhaps he should’ve been suspicious when she started sporting snakeskin belts and purses, paid more attention to her fashion statement.

    “Well … last night’s prank dropping that spider down her dress … and you know she doesn’t like spiders,” said Leo. “She don’t like snakes either. And then there’s May, and Annabelle, and … well, you know what they say.” Leo stared at the fire again. “Hell hath no fury like a woman …”

    Jim nodded. He turned his attention back to the fire, smiling as he continued in his feeble attempts to dowse the flames. Both his business and his marriage had gone up in flames, literally. Jean’s disappearance would remain a mystery but the insurance money was a small consolation.


  4. “Origin?” the fire brigade Captain asked.

    “Somewhere within warehouse 3, but beyond that, we’re not sure, ma’am!” the factory manager answered.

    “Alright, we’ll assume an electrical fire. No water, guys!”

    “Aye, ma’am!”

    The Captain pointed at the map on her tablet.

    “I want chemical hose brigades here, here and here. Full protection for hose handlers. No heroics, the factory has already been evacuated. All we have to do is hold the fire until the air support is here. ETA is… twenty-three minutes now. Move move move!”

    The men and women scattered. Some picked equipment and ran towards the closest entrance; others boarded two fire trucks that sped away.

    The captain stared at the fire.

    There was something strange, her instinct told her so. She checked her instruments: temperature, wind, humidity. What was wrong? What was off? It was consuming her, but she couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

    She considered using the chopper: it was within her mission parameters, and vision from the air could help. Yet she had the nagging feeling it wouldn’t work.

    “Damn,” she said. “Vikram, I need to go in.”

    Vikram just nodded. Protocol was that no firefighter ever worked alone.


    Fully clad in composite fireproof suits, Vikram held the chemical hose while his Captain handled the nozzle. They sprayed the flames once and again.

    “It’s not working!” she shouted. “Look at the flames! They look straight from a Hollywood movie! It’s unreal!”

    They tried again.

    “I’m going to try and protect that black cable!”

    She directed the spray towards a black rubbery tube that lied on the ground directly in front of them.

    She discovered what was wrong with the fire when the tube started moving. Knowing that she had been right was no consolation.


  5. Alva Holland

    The Red Line

    No-one knew what started it, but arson was suspected.

    The Hazmat crew in their canary yellow clogs and gloves, silver suits and snaking pipes were dispatched to keep the fire away from the boundary.

    ‘If it reaches that borderline, we’re all dead, that’ll be the end of humanity as we know it’ they heard, as manic instructions bellowed through the system to the firefighters.

    Firefighter No. 1 had three children at home. As he watched the clouds of toxic ash rise from the flames he pictured the lungs of his three-year-old gasping for breath, saw the skin of his 10-year-old pucker and burn, and the beautiful hair of his 12-year-old disappear without trace.

    He stood, transfixed, three feet from the borderline, grateful for his partner behind him.

    Firefighter No. 2 was glad the uniform he was wearing hid the arsonist responsible.


  6. Airborne

    The virus was airborne, we knew that much. People died from it, we knew that, too. How many, we didn’t know. Would it have made any difference? There was still work to be done, bills to pay. Those who could leave, left before the quarantine. Those of us who stayed went about our days with the haunted eyes of martyrs and dead men. We all knew the symptoms. They were so trivial at first– a tormenting itch around the eyes, sudden fits of sneezing. The virus progressed rapidly, to sniffling and red-rimmed eyes. In the final stages, people cast aside their inhibitions, wandering blind and naked in the streets, their eyes like cracked marbles gazing at the sky. There were stories– a man torn apart for sneezing in an elevator. But as I said, we had to go on living. What else was there to do?

    I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train. The sky was sharp and blue. Everyone was bundled up against the subzero wind chill. A girl next to me was sniffling, holding a baby in a hand-knit blanket. I admired the colors, and we traded tentative smiles. Then, the baby started sneezing. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” the mother kept repeating. The train was crowded, but we pushed our way in. How warm it was! Just as the doors were about to close, two men rushed inside. Why were they dressed like that? Why were they carrying spray guns? “Everybody stay calm,” one of them said. “Just breathe deeply, in and out, that’s it.” Then, the fog began to fill the train car. I could see above our red rimmed eyes, a square of window. The sky was impossibly blue.


  7. Workplace Health & Safety Issues

    The fires of hell raged in front of Cameron and Ulysses slashing the sky with a scarlet neither of the firemen had seen before. Ulysses had fought fires in chemical works and waste storage facilities, he’d seen explosions from unknown gases and liquids pulsing and changing colour like a psychedelic show but he’d never seen anything like this.

    Cameron shouted through the mic surprised that they could hear each other with the tumult outside. ‘What is it burning Uly?’ He checked the latest readout, which indicated the fire was burning at beyond 1600C. It had been burning now for 3 hours.

    ‘No idea Cameron just keep aiming the foam toward the base. We’ll have to swop with Indigo in five.’

    Cameron and Ulysses stood their ground in the face of the onslaught, both having the same thoughts; it must be some sort of chemical fire, they knew no raw materials that burned with this rage or this colour and why was it not burning itself out? Something was feeding the fire.

    The indicator lights flashed green on the hose. The foam was running out. Team Indigo would be tag-teaming in within the next 90 seconds.

    A wall of heat broke on the men like a tsunami forcing them back it was getting out of control. Nothing the firefighters had tried had worked. They were barely keeping it within the confines of this sector of the site and no-one knew what lay beyond that hangar and storage depot; Sergeant Floyd had told them about the fuel lines and the oil storage area beyond the next hangar and there were limited cleaning and disinfecting fluids and powders all with the propensity to burn or explode, but nothing on this scale.

    Then again they all knew there were unfathomable risks when assigned to Area 51.

    In an unexpected instant, with an emerald flash, the fire disappeared and the men of Team Hawaii and Indigo, with nothing now to brace against, fell over like children playing tug-of-war.

    ‘Right, O’Malley’s tonight and I’m buying,’ said Ulysses.


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