So, after a short Easter break, we’re back. And we couldn’t wait to see what you fabulous flash-fiction fiends cooked up for us today.
Legs, it turns out. You cooked up legs.
We should have known, really.
To recap, that scenic little shot up there was our prompt, and we asked for 250 word stories inspired by it. Here are our winners:
RUNNER-UP: Michael Conley
That morning, the wrecked ship stood awkwardly at the shore, beached and immobile, like an old man who’d forgotten why he’d come into the kitchen. Thick scribbles of smoke belched from its engines, the only blight on the otherwise cloudless sky of the blue bay. Even from this distance, we could see the holes the rocks had torn into its hull. The captain was already in jail, sleeping off his hangover.
Most of the cargo, five hundred mannequins ordered by the island’s only department store, had by now been accounted for. The boxes had either remained intact belowdecks or slipped out to drift down to the seabed, unopened. Only one had been damaged, spilling its contents across the bay in a bobbing melange of lifelike plastic arms, heads, legs and torsos. The coastguard, irritable at having been woken early, had collected most of them with his speedboat within a few hours.
I found the last two while I was walking the dog. Bruno saw them first, bounding up to them and then stopping with a high whine. He ran back to me, tail between his legs.
I stood over them and looked down at their vacant faces, the wide eyes staring past me into the searing dawn sun. The tide moved their chests up and down, up and down, giving the illusion of breath. They were both smiling, revealing slightly yellowing, ultra-realistic teeth. Bruno yelped louder and pulled, hard, on the lead, in the opposite direction.
WINNER: Tim Roberts
Flotsam and Jetsam
“Two more Pa,” the girl shouts. She leans against a rock and waits for him to come out of the darkness.
“What are they?” His voice is behind her, but she knows these caves are full of tricks like that.
“One of each,” she says.
“Did you take anything from them?”
“Never Pa. Just like you told me, I took nothing.”
He appears from the back of the cave and steps towards her like a new born foal; it seems a miracle that his legs support him. When he reaches her, he stretches out a gaunt arm and strokes her cheek. Each breath he takes whistles as though he had a reed caught in his chest. “You’re a good girl,” he says.
“Why do they come here, Pa? Why won’t they leave us alone?”
“They come for our air,” he says, looking beyond her to the sky. He sees the signs of a coming storm. “I’ll build a raft and strap the bodies to it,” he whispers. “By tomorrow they will be gone.”
She nods and smiles at him.
He brushes her hair behind her ears. He has no tears left for her. Someday soon he’ll have to show her how to carve the meat from the bone; how to cook it well so you can’t taste the diseased flesh. And on that day, he will reveal all he has kept from her: the lies he told himself so that they might survive.
Congratulations Michael and Tim! How many wins is that now, Tim??
And thanks so much to everyone who sent stories. It’s absolutely marvellous to be back.