FlashFeeD 1.18


Welcome to FlashFeeD week 18.

Participation is dropping, which is sad. As much as it’s about quality (which we have in abundance) rather than quantity, I’ll need to look at the numbers over the coming weeks to see if its worth continuing.

A massive thank you to those that contribute have done so with such gusto over the last 17 weeks.


As always, write a story within the character limit, based on the prompt, below.

Keep liking, commenting and contributing and you get points (DogTreats). The more you are involved the more you get awarded. There are badges, ranks and leaderboards that showcase your participation.

No special instructions this week.

Full rules here:

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 1.18”

  1. Doctor Strange

    “No special instructions, Mister Green, just remain still.”

    Sure, ‘just’ remain still. Like I could simply dismiss the fear and stop trembling, just relax and let him tear my face off.

    He was the best. Everyone knew. He’d spent his life obsessed by medicine, now he’d single-mindedly perfected this procedure. He was a celebrity but he didn’t know it, famous for his complete disregard of popular culture as much as his surgical skills. If you wanted maxillofacial removal and replacement – and so many of us did since the virus – then you went to him. So I went to him.

    I saved, I stole, I borrowed and I booked an appointment. I’d emailed him pre-virus photos, he’d built my replacement face and it was finally happening. Without anaesthetic, because he can’t make the right nerve connections if the nerves aren’t firing.

    I remained still. I couldn’t even scream.

    Have you ever stepped on a lego in your bare feet? You know how much that hurts? Imagine that, but imagine it on every part of your face, all at the same time. Got it? Choose that instead of face replacement. Trust me on this. But I remained still. I wanted a face people would recognise.

    I remained still while the virus face came off; I remained still while the new one went on. Six seconds to peel away the old one, nearly six agonizing hours to put my real face back on. Six hours, rigidly enduring him probing my raw flesh for nerve endings. Six hours of pain. Pain I paid for, pain I wanted, pain that would show the world the real me.

    It was another six days before the bandages came off. I looked, just once. I couldn’t be sure but I thought I recognised my face. I didn’t look again until I though the swelling and bruising had gone. This time I was certain. I was ready to face the world. A month after the surgery, I finally left my apartment. It took less than a minute for someone to confirm that I’d made the right choice.

    “Oh my god, are you Benedict Cumberbatch?”


  2. Mikela put the finishing touches to Andreus’s face. A thick black mark below the hairline, down past the ears, following the curve of his jaw. A bold border to the white paint that covered his cheeks, chin, brow, and nose. Her brush tickled slightly, but Andreus could see the effect in the mirror behind her, and was willing to put up with the slight annoyance.

    She pulled back to admire her work. The dark eyes and lines on his lips, a creepy allusion to a skull face. The design was not life-like, but was all the more chilling for the suggestion.

    Most importantly, no-one would be able to tell it was Andreus.

    “Very good,” she said, the “r” rippling through her lips like a drum roll. “You look just the part, my boy.”

    He wore a dark one-piece costume that wouldn’t have been out of place on a gymnast, but with white gloves and plain white slip-on shoes. He pinched and stretched the material to make sure no skin was visible. That would spoil the illusion.

    “Now, we don’t you to be late for the party,” Mikela said.

    “No, Maegistra,” said Andreus. “Have you my treats?”

    Mikela handed him a small black cloth bag, tied at the top with a crimson ribbon.

    “Don’t use them all at once,” she said.

    “No, Maegistra.”

    “And remember, be careful. Only give to the deserving.”

    “Yes, Maegistra.”

    “We look after our friends, do we not?”

    “Yes, Maegistra. But our enemies—”

    “Our enemies we treat.”

    Andreus smiled.


  3. “love me” you said
    “swing from stars and make me feel in between the spaces”
    and then you turned away. left me hollowed eyed and where, once, metal salts conjured flowers in the dark, now, white tracks of crashing rockets fail against the black

    “do you still, love, where you are”
    it’s a promise that I still feel in my hand as I did then across sheets stitched property of St. Someone. Elegiac then or the recall of the singing welsh diction comes now

    changing words on the radio. death faces in photographs almost want to wave as if their absence of the nitrates that made colour were the intention

    as I look at your grandson .painted like star trails on a moonless sky and your death is animate in it. seen only in black and white is all I can dare or … bear


  4. Black and white.

    Black and white.

    White for the bone, black for the background.

    The colours of the warrior.

    His gaze serious, concentrated.

    He doesn’t know what he will be facing. But he’s ready. I’ve been training him to be ready ever since he was born.

    Like my father did, and my father’s father did.

    I still can feel the warpaint on my face. The hands of my mother applying it. The pride in her eyes.

    I remember the scorching sun, the biting wind, the freezing hales, the unforgiving soil.

    I survived.

    I returned.

    He will prevail.

    I see it in his eyes.


  5. Alva Holland


    ‘Dad! Where’s the picture?’

    ‘What picture? Stop yelling!’

    ‘The one you took of Mom painting my face. It’s gone.’

    ‘it can’t be gone, I left it right there on your dresser. Did you check behind it, under the bed?’

    Yes! It’s not here, Dad. Dad! It’s not here, it’s gone. No! I won’t calm down. Her hand is on my head and the other hand painted so carefully. She knew exactly what I wanted, and it was perfect, and I never said thank you and now she’s gone, and, and …’

    ‘Look, son, it’s ok, she knew you were happy, she loved you with all her heart, that’s all that matters. Let’s look for the picture. It has to be here.’

    As the boy sobbed, his Dad found the picture jammed behind the dresser, caught on the bedside lamp cable.

    He lifted the boy’s pillow and placed the photo underneath, wrapped the duvet around his grieving son and wondered how on earth he would rear this boy alone.


  6. The Reprieve of the Painted Husk
    A.J. Walker

    Ink blacker than thought was sloshed on thick around the young boy’s eyes as Zambezi, the facial artist, worked on him. The lad was unchallenging, maleable; moving with each gentle push or pull as he created the skull face. His lips apparently sewn shut with painted red thread like worms; not that he spoke. The chalk white dust of the face looked like it would blow off in a gentle breeze. The boy was so malnourished he’d blow away too. But the boy would not feel a breeze again. The room next door, hot with the mass of people and the wood fire, was as far as he’d go.

    Preparations in the hall were being finalised and the artist could hear the general hubbub rising as the time approached and he could feel the heat coming through the slightly ajar door.

    Sometimes the boys would have an inkling of what was going to happen. Then nature would take over: fight or flight – though they never got away. This boy looked past caring. It should make it easier, Zambezi thought, but it didn’t. It seemed less humane. Also he began to worry that the sacrifice this year wouldn’t work. How could you offer the life of this young boy when his life seemed already to have been abstracted?

    He turned to Claire, his wife and assistant. ‘Should we try the other boy? This husk seems used up.’

    Claire looked at the tiny child, feeling it too. ‘I’ll go and get him. Clean this one up and I’ll take him back to where we found him later or shall we use him as a kitchen boy.’

    Zambezi shook his head thinking he wouldn’t have the energy to fill a kettle. ‘Maybe one of the others can find some use for him. We’ll ask after the ceremony.’

    Claire rushed upstairs. The tumult from the hall was rising. The makeup on the next boy would have to be hurried.


  7. The Man in the Mirror

    The face in the mirror is not my own, even though there is no one else in the room. I look around just to make sure but I am right, I am alone. My reflection continues to show me a stranger, a death head, lips stitched to prevent speech. It tells me who I am today. I take my silence out onto the streets, nod at neighbourly ‘hellos’ yet keep my words to myself. I have no words for today.

    The man in the mirror is directing my steps to the dockside. I haven’t been down there for years although before that I was a regular visitor. This was where my father worked and as a boy I would often sit on the quay and watch him. I knew most of the stevedores by name, we were family. Now they are all different. Only the heavy chains, the vicious hook from the crane remain the same. The chains, blood-rust coated, vein the ground, carry the oxygen of trade, lift the cargo from ship to shore. So heavy. I remember that. Trying to lift the chain. I failed and the family was gone.

    He remains though. The manager. The inquest revealed the corners he had cut. Health and Safety out the window, at the bottom of the sea, where it took my father and the others. The chain pulling them down in one swift serpentine movement, the crane hook swinging them from land in a dismissive arc.
    I sit and wait for the sun to go down, the workers to go home. Only the manager remains, working late. The man in the mirror is walking into his office. My father’s boss does not recognise me. But he sees the chain. I still remain silent and soon, so does he. I wrap the chains around him, bloodied, not rusted and let the crane take him. What was good enough for my father, is good enough for him.

    I walk home with a lighter step, eager to see my reflection again, wondering who I will be tomorrow.


  8. The Value of Friends


    Royce currently had a skull for a face. It covered up the physical scars left by the house fire from four weeks ago. He had spent most of his recovery on the burn ward of St Vincent’s. That was where he first met Mark. Mark was a freelance artist that volunteered his time visiting with patients at the hospital. Royce recalled the day Mark changed his outlook on life.

    “How about you let me paint your portrait today?” Mark asked for the hundredth time.

    Royce just grunted and kept his gaze out the window.

    “Okay… well how about we try something different then.”

    Mark pulled out his paints and brushes and began to apply the colors to Royce’s head. Royce made no move to stop him as he left the artist to his work. Mark moved his brush with a practiced hand back and forth and switched colors often. Royce was the perfect blank skin canvas. Mark finished with a flourish and a declaration of, “Finito!”

    The mirror in the bathroom was able to be removed quite easily. Mark held the reflective surface up to Royce and held his breath. Royce turned his gaze from the window to the mirror and it held it there for a long minute. Royce broke into laughter and tears. Mark watched the macabre scene with anxiety in his stomach.

    “My hair was never red. I look ridiculous,” Royce said between gasping breaths.

    Mark slowly lowered the mirror and Royce continued to laugh.

    “Thanks. I needed that,” Royce said.

    “No problem man. Whatever you need. Glad I could help.” Mark smiled.

    “I got a better idea. Do you know anything about skulls?”


  9. Family Business

    “It can’t be easy, being death… I mean people are bored to death, they court death, they fight to the death and they hate it just about as much as taxes.

    “If you think about it, Death must be pretty busy. When Death takes a holiday, does its work pile up so that when they get back they end up having to double-time it to catch up? Or is it like a busman’s holiday. You can’t take a break without someone dying, and then its nothing but work, work, work… “

    Michael looked up from his cell phone. “What was that, popi?”

    His father smiled and let out a slight chuckle. There would be time for teaching his son the family trade, but for now… it was Halloween, and Michael had more important things to do.

    “Nothing. I hope you have fun tonight.”


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