Lunch Gone Wrong

After arriving at your favorite lunch destination and eating your favorite meal, your waitress rushes to your table. She looks panicked. She grabs you and looks into your eyes, but doesn’t say anything. Finally, she turns toward the wait staff, who is all gathered just outside the kitchen, and yells, “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” Write this scene from your perspective.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.


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185 thoughts on “Lunch Gone Wrong

  1. johncamm

    Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I went to the Lakeside Diner for the food or for Carla. While the food was good I only seemed to myself there days I knew she was working. I always sat in her section and by the off chance she wasn’t my waitress I would request her but I still don’t think she knew of my feelings for her.

    I had been coming here a few times a week after work since I started my job nearly 8 months ago; every night I tell myself “tonight I’m going to ask her out”. But I always end up chickening out. Tonight seemed to be no different. After my fish salad I grabbed my check and proceeded to the checkout counter to pay.

    As I sat in my both staring at the check I imagined her writting her number inside the big heart where she always signs her name, of course that wasn’t the case. As I stood up Carla came running out of the back towards me.

    “Jack! Oh my God, Jack wait” she yelled.

    My heart began to beat faster. “What’s the matter Carla?” I asked but I got no response. She grabbed my face with both hands and just looked into my eyes.

    “Someone call an ambulance, he only has 6 minutes to live” she hollered towards the back. The crowd erupted in the loudest whispers imaginable.

    I let out a giggle “Carla what are you talking about?” I asked.

    “Oh Jack I’m so sorry, the health inspector came today and told us that the fish stock was poisoned. We ordered a new batch from Millbrook but the cook got mixed up. I’m guessing you’ve got maybe 5 minutes now unless we get you an antidote”

    My heart sank. Not because of what she was saying but because of the hurt in her eyes. “Carla, are you sure?” I asked. She wiped the tears off her creeks while confirming with a nod.

    “Okay just relax, it can’t be that bad. I feel fine” I reassured her.

    4 minutes

    “Jack I’m so sorry” she began. “I don’t know how this could have happened”.

    She was interrupted my an old woman. “I called for an ambulance young man, they said they will be here in about ten minutes”.

    “That’s not enough time” Carla whept out again as if she was just hearing the news for the first time.

    3 minutes

    “Carla, listen to me” I grabbed her hand. “It’s okay. I feel okay. I think I’ll make it till they arrive” she was starting to finally catch her breath as we shared a moment just looking into each other’s eyes.

    2 minutes

    “Carla, look” I was hesitant, “if I really did eat some kind of poisons fish and there is a chance I’m sick I want to tell you something” I started to confess. “I… I ummm….” I couldn’t believe it, I was still so nervous.

    1 minute

    Carla cut me off “what Jack, what?” She asked nervously, “are you okay, can you speak?”

    “I love you Carla” it felt like a weight off my shoulders. “I come here all the time just to see you”. She looked absolutely stunned. The seconds following that statement felt like an eternity.

    “Really” she asked?


    “Why did you wait til now to tell me” she followed up?

    “I don’t know Carla, I was so nervous”.

    From behind the counter a man in a suit rounded the corner. He was a big guy, Italian. He was holding a microphone and followed by another man with a video camera. News? I didn’t want to die on national television.

    “Hi, I’m John Quiñones and you’re on the hit TV show ‘What Would You Do'” the man began as he looked into the camera. I was stunned…

    And that’s the story how Carla and I first started dating.

  2. AnonPepe420

    I was partway through my third basket of chicken tendies when my head was grasped firmly by the waitress. “Reeeeeeeeeee!!!” I scream as her nails bite into my skin. She stares directly into my eyes for a minute or so and I am about to unsheathe my katana before she gasps, letting go of me and sprinting into the kitchen screaming, “He only has 6 minutes! We have to save him!” I let go of my katana and grumble to myself, turning back to my chicken tendies, I spent a lot of good boy points on these tendies and I will not let them go to waste.
    I am still eating my tendies when a group of restaurant personnel arrive at my table. They are arguing amongst themselves and I hear snippets of their conversation.
    “…How long has he been eating Chicken Tenders?” one of them asks.
    “I think his entire life… how is he still alive?”
    “The amount of toxic build-up… I just- can’t believe it.”
    As a reach for another tendie, one of the waiters slaps my hand away. I screech in anger and glare at him while showing him my katana. Instead of instilling fear in the offender, he takes my basket of tendies and hands it to another lady. “Take this away from him,” he tells her.
    I watch my tendies as they are carried into the kitchen. The lady dumps them into a trash can and my vision clouds with red.
    I roar, spittle and pieces of partially chewed up tendies flying from my mouth. I stand up from the booth and with a colossal screech, I grasp the table and tear it from the floor. They gasp, the table had previously been bolted to the ground but no longer. I scream and hurl the table through the window before unsheathing my katana.
    “GIMME GIMME CHICKEN TENDIES!” I holler at them.
    The entire restaurant is staring at me in shock before they panic. Everyone is screaming and running away.
    I scream my clan’s battle cry and decapitate the nearest waitress. “Reeeeeeeeeeeeee!” I scream and every window and glass in the restaurant shatters.
    I grab a cook close to me by the throat and drag him with my through the stampeding crowds of panicking people. I kick open the door to the kitchen and throw the cook at one of the deep fryers. I hold my katana to his throat, the blade draws blood.
    “Chicken tendies, now,” I command him and with a jerky nod, he begins cooking up some tendies.
    Four hours later, I waddle out of the restaurant with a whole bunch of chicken tendies in my tummy. The nice cook even gave me the tendies for free so I still have good boy points to use at home!

  3. SkyFox

    He seemed so darned happy.
    Coffee in hand.
    Chatting with the pretty waitress.
    Young and full of life.
    It seemed to spill from him, rolling off him in waves.
    I was going to end it.
    Snuff out his light.
    I hated doing it.
    I had to do it. I had no other choice.
    It was who I was. Engraved in me, bent and folded into my soul.
    You can’t run from your own soul.
    I longed for it all to end.
    I longed to be down there, with the little humans.
    Maybe I could chat to a pretty waitress.
    Maybe I could find someone who could love me.
    With my dark soul and all.
    That’s why I did it.
    I gave the young man a chance.
    As I peered down I could see the pretty waitress shaking his shoulders.
    “You only have 6 minutes until you die! We need to save you.”
    His frown covered his face as he stood up slowly, smiling at the waitress patiently.
    “Lady, I think you’ve just confused. Would you like m-.”
    “You don’t understand! I need to save you.”
    “Madam please, I don’t thin-.”
    “Hurry! You don’t have much time. If you ju-.”
    He shook his head and gently took her hands off his shoulders.
    “Thank you very much for the coffee.”
    He placed a bill down on the rusty table and nodded to the kitchen staff.
    They all stared at him with horror as he opened to door, stepping out onto that cold street.
    Reached into his pockets and pulled out his phone.
    And stepped out into the street.
    Directly into the path of the truck.
    A horrible screeching of brakes.
    His face was white, and his expression vaguely reminded me of a deer caught in headlights.
    The truck plowed into him.
    His body was flung, bones snapping with a horrible crack.
    He was dead before he hit the ground.
    Neck bent at a strange angle.
    A burst of light as his soul floated up to me.
    I caught it, wrapping it in my hand.
    I snuffed out his light.
    Swallowed it into my darkness.
    My heart broke for him.
    Just like everyone that had come before.

  4. Smileyface256

    “We only have six minutes until she dies! We need to save her.”
    So that’s why the orange chicken tasted different, I think as the restaurant staff gather round my table. They must have switched their recipe to include coconut oil. It suddenly takes all my energy just to breath as my throat begins to close up. I had left my purse in my car, thinking I wouldn’t need my epipen in this restaurant.
    My own labored breathing becomes the only sound I can hear. I’m dimly aware of being dragged from the booth. Is this it? Is this the day my allergies become the death of me? I feel a prick in my thigh; my throat stops swelling. Ah, they must have had something in the first aid kit. Looks like I won’t die after all…
    Next thing I know I’m surrounded by four white walls with an IV in my arm. My mom is there; of course she is. She hugs me and sheds a few tears, I tell her it’s okay. I guess I won’t be eating out again.

  5. Robin3486

    I had seen this waitress hundreds of times, why didn’t I know her name? She waited on me almost every Sunday morning. She has always been polite and knows my usual yet, I realized, I knew absolutely nothing about her.

    Now she holds on to me as if I am a life raft. Her blue eyes burn into mine. “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” She yells.

    I am paralyzed. I look around the diner for help and notice the time on the clock above the swinging kitchen doors, 10:02 a.m. I note. The entire staff is standing under the clock whispering to each other. “A breakdown” I hear one say. “The poor dear, she’s been working so hard” a plump woman in a chef’s coat croons.

    I look back to the waitress, Mary, I think finally noticing her nametag. I look down into her eyes again. “Mary, it’s ok. Nobody is going to die” I say softly, hoping to calm her. Her eyes brim with tears and she seems to relax. I place her gently on to the booth and within seconds she is asleep.

    A large man I recognize as the Manager ambles over. “I am so sorry sir. I am not quite sure what got into her. Mary has been out of sorts lately.”

    Looking back down at the waitress in the booth I can’t believe that I never noticed how pretty she is. She is lying on her side with her arms folded up like in prayer, so peaceful. Her long eyelashes silhouetted against her clear, ivory skin. Little breaths come through parted lips. I suddenly wanted nothing more than to hold her.

    “Sir” the manager interrupts. “She is fine, and again, I apologize for your inconvenience. You go on. I will take care of the check.”

    “Ok” I say, like waking from a dream. “Ok, please let Mary know that I was concerned for her. If she needs anything at all, she can contact me. Here, give her this. It’s my business card. Let her know please to call me anytime.”

    “Sure” says the manager, looking at me strangely. “She will be fine you know. These things happen. You wouldn’t believe how stressful it is to be a waitress. Many people underestimate that, you know.”

    “Yes” I said, thinking about how little I have paid attention.

    As I walked out onto the sidewalk I am dumbstruck by my own emotions. Here I am a forty two year-old investment banker who has never had an interest in anything other than my career. Sure, I have had the occasional swing but love? No, never had the time.

    As I continue on towards the crosswalk I am daydreaming about a woman I have never said more than a few words to. “Coffee this morning” she would ask, smiling shyly. How did I never see it?

    I must be an idiot I thought, with a big goofy smile on my face as I stepped right in front of a delivery truck. 10:08 am.

  6. danqye

    At the corner of 6th and Madison sits a tiny, stingy, and crowded restaurant, Rage. In Texuous, everybody knows rage, but no one knows it like I do.
    Dickson, the main chef has a bad temper which prevents him from coping with anyone, but like other geniuses he gets away with almost anything including his temper. He is always yelling. ‘Common, did you left your head when you went bathroom this morning?’
    Bob comes to the restaurant once a week usually on Wednesdays. When he comes, he sits next to the Bar and watch people. After 5 years eating at Rage, Bob and I became close friends.
    Sarah is my favorite waitress, so whenever I dine here, Bod made sure she serves me. I like the perfume she wears, it reminds me of my first love.

    It is very strange today. I had a fight with my colleague at work. We had a heated discussion trying to convince each other whether we should have released the product that failed so badly in the market. When I finally arrived at the restaurant, I was 30 minutes late than usual. I sat down as Sarah came to me . She grabbed my sleeves and starred at me. ‘What’s up Sarah, you didn’t wear perfume today.’ I smell as I talk to her. She turned around as I was asking the question as if she did not hear me. ‘We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.’ She yelled to the kitchen staff outside of the restaurant.

    Wait a minute. What was she talking about? I only have 6 minutes to live? Where is this coming from? Is this a prank?

    I felt obnoxious going through a situation like this. I wanted to throw up. Sarah and the rest of the kitchen staff came close to me. They started to sing this really weird song with language that I do not understand. During the song, they dance and stripping off their cloth as if they are performing a ritual ceremony. Their voice gets louder and louder until I cannot hear anything anymore. I passed out.

    The minute when I woke up I start to search for Sarah, but she was not there. I felt disappointed. Then I realize maybe I was in love with her, but I didn’t know. Now I wish she knew, because if she does she will want to lay in my arm like Jessica used to do. Oh, Jessica the only girl I ever loved.

    However, I don’t see any of the kitchen staff. They all disappeared. The only people left there was Bob and Dickson. Bob was siting at the bar sipping his Martini one sip after another. Dickson on the other hand simply cannot stop yelling, ‘You, son of the xxx!’ he shouted.

    Oh my god, they are repeating themselves. This feeling of extreme fear start to fill my heart. Deep down I was screaming for help. Suddenly, my phone started to ring. When my ring tone stopped. Dickson and Bob both stopped and turned their head towards me.

  7. mnj1193

    Well, I thought, this is it.
    It all comes down to six minutes.
    That thought doused my mind as I sipped the last of my Jack and Coke and savored the slow burn.
    That waitress. Hounding me. She is ALWAYS hounding me.
    “SIR! Helooooo” she beckoned.
    I was numb. Could feel nothing except a dampness start to form on my hairline.
    Her fingers snapped three rapid fire clicks. It brought me somewhat back and I turned my blank stare to her.
    “You have six minutes, you understand?”
    I was gone again. The room was dark and filled with the muffled sounds of life moving on without me.
    My breath stepped up in pace, but still shortened. My chest began heaving quick pulses. The sweat migrated south to my lip and my face burned, heated by an internal flame like a jack-o-lantern.
    “Hey Buddy”
    She was back. Hounding me. ALWAYS hounding me.
    “You’re down to three” She informed me.
    “You gonna settle that check?”
    My head turned again, the blank stare now back in her direction.
    I reached down, fumbled in my pocket, and let a twenty dollar bill fall to the table.
    “Gee, thanks Buffett” she smirked.
    Then to gloat, “By the way, you’ve just wasted another two minutes.”
    Then there was a hush in the room, a quieting that was brief and replaced by a dull static.
    My heart thumping.
    This was it, I could feel it.
    My time was here.
    I could see the light. So bright, shining right in my eyes. Blinding.
    And the voice. Loud and voluminous. Booming, it called to me.
    “And now, let’s welcome our next comic to the stage….”

  8. danqye

    I know everyone in this tiny stingy restaurant. Dickson, the main chef, always have a bad temper. Most people cannot cope with him, but as a genius chef he get away with almost anything. ‘Common, did you left your head when you went bathroom this morning? Justin!’, Dickson yelled. Bob is the owner, he only comes to the restaurant once a week. Wednesday is the day. Most of the time, when he comes he sits besides the Bar and watch people. Like most of the people born with fortune, he does not care a whole lot about money. Sarah is my favorite waitress, so whenever I dine here, she serves me. I like the perfume she uses, it reminds me of my first love and the old days when I was still an innocent boy.
    Today is a strange day. I had a fight with my colleague at work, which I never did except for today. When I cam to the restaurant I am 30 minutes late than usual. I sat down at my usual spot. Sarah came to me in panic. She grabbed my sleeves and starred at me. ‘What’s up Sarah, you didn’t wear perfume today.’ I said to her. She turned around when I was asking the question as if she did not hear me. ‘We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.’She yelled to the kitchen staff outside of the restaurant. Wait a minute. What was she talking about. I only have 6 minutes to live? Where is this coming from? Is this a prank?
    Just as I was analyzing the situation. I felt obnoxious. I wanted to throw up. Sarah and the rest of the kitchen staff came close to me. They started to sing this really weird song. I cannot recognize their language. As they sing they start to take off their cloth as if they are following a ritual ceremony. Their voice gets louder and louder until I cannot hear anything anymore. I passed out.
    The minute when I woke up I start to search for Sarah, but she was not there. I felt disappointed. Then I realize maybe I was in love with her, but I didn’t know. Now I wish she knew, because if she does she will want to lay in my arm like Jessica used to do. Jessica the only girl I ever loved. None of the kitchen staff was there. They all disappeared. I was scared until I see Bob and Dickson. Bob was there. He sat at the bar sipping his Martini one sip after another. Dickson was also at the restaurant he is still yelling , ‘You, son of the xxx!’ he shouted.

    Oh my god, they were repeating themselves. This feeling of extreme fear was driving me nuts. Somebody help me I screamed in my heart. Suddenly, my phone started to ring. Dickson and Bob stopped repeating themselves. They turned their head and looked at me.

  9. cosi van tutte

    This one doesn’t follow the prompt at all, but I just had to post it:


    I saw her every time I went to the Pizza Crème Palace: a chestnut-haired vision with a shattered heart. Her name was Renee.

    She was a waitress, but she was never mine.
    I saw her move around the restaurant taking orders, smiling politely.

    But her heart ached.
    She longed to scream out her anguish for six whole minutes.

    I longed to comfort her.
    I wanted to be there for her, but she never came to me.

    She moved around the restaurant taking orders, smiling politely.
    She never took mine.

    I wanted to go to her, but what could I say?
    Could I interrupt a customer’s order and tell her that I see the hurt in her heart?

    So, I did not.
    I sat in my seat.

    And she moved around the restaurant taking orders, smiling politely.
    She never came to me.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks, j,

        I was going to add more to it after that last line to make it fit the prompt, but nope. I knew that last line was the logical end. If I tried to fit the prompt in there, it would have messed up the whole tone and/or felt tacked on.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          What you’ve written is a perfect example of unrequited love. Nothing ventured , nothing gained. Unrequited means the love is perfect from the lover but untested because the receiver is unaware of the passion. A great example, I wanted to slap the crap out of him and tell him to get real. Or is it her?

  10. XChen

    When The Botanists opened at the corner of Second Avenue and St. Marks Place three years ago, I thought it was just one of those restaurants riding on a new fad of vegan food. It was by total chance that two summers ago, I walked into it with a meat-loving friend, who was willing to give up everything for strong air conditioning that day.

    That was also the day I met Gertie. She was professional but also acted a bit out of place, or out of balance to be precise, when she walked towards us with two heavy dishes bouncing up and down in her arms, as if they were riding a poorly designed seesaw. It was her quirkiness that I fell in love with.

    She was kind, shy, and even a bit naïve, which were not the kind of qualities typically found in waiters in New York City. Her ignorance and childlike nature were refreshing to me and enabled me to see my stale urban life in a completely new lens. I was almost a changed man with all my senses not only wake up but also magnify to a higher level. I started to fall into these deep sleeps whenever I was with her, better than any sleeps I had ever had in my 44 years of existence. My dreams were vivid and sometimes filled with wild imaginations of mystical creatures in foreign landscapes. One time, I saw the most spectacular volcano erupt right in front of my eyes. The lava came out forming different shapes before covering the entire land. It felt so real that I could still smell burnt soil mixed with rotten eggs in my room when I woke up.

    I picked up a bouquet of white lilies on my way to The Botanists that day, as Gertie had been acting stressed all week. I had begged her to share what was bothering her, but all she wanted was a good night’s sleep.

    As soon as I walked in, Gertie rushed to me with panic in her eyes. She looked deep into my eyes for a long time, in a way that almost made me feel she had looked through my soul and grabbed it tight.

    “What are you doing, Gertie? What’s wrong?” I had goose bumps all over my body and tried to turn my eyes away from her.

    She turned and yelled, “We only have 6 minutes until he dies. We need to save him now!” For some odd reason, all the staff in the restaurant gathered outside of the kitchen, waiting for her order. Two busboys I knew grabbed me and lifted me up over their shoulders as if I weighed nothing. Before I even attempted to escape, I lost consciousness.

    I woke up in my bed and in my own apartment. I did not have any dream. There was a short note by the pillow, from Gertie –

    “Goodbye. The Botanists have returned all of our bodies to the morgues where they belonged. My brother Elliot was the only one who was able to survive in a living human being and he lasted for 766 earth days. I will miss him and you for eternity.”

    1. jhowe

      This was really good and well written. You sprinkle bits of description and information effortlessly into the narrative and it works well. I’m left wondering at the end but that’s ok, it gives me something to think about. Gertie being a corpse does explain her quirky jerky ways.

  11. CherriBlossom

    Dinner Disaster
    By Isobel S

    After arriving at The Hungry Horse and eating a Monster Yorkshire Pudding, your waitress speeds to your table. She looks panicked. She grabs you and looks into your eyes, but doesn’t say anything. Finally, she turns toward the staff, who are all gathered just outside the kitchen, and yells, “We only have 6 customers left! Take this one for granted!”

    The 16 cooks scramble into the kitchen knocking multiple forks, spoons and knives off as they go, wanting the customers not to leave. You watch them panic in the kitchen, and that’s because your favourite chef, Donnie, isn’t there today, Everyone counts on him to organize the kitchen, but he wasn’t here today. Nobody knows of his current location, but that is at the back of their minds, they are all thinking of serving the BubbleGum Blitz to you.. The chefs are all bursting to serve you your Ice-Cream, but everyone is fighting over who gets the tip of serving it to you.
    The Ice-Cream topples to the ground and the glass cup it is in smashes into a million shards. Shirley, the one who dropped it, is now in tears. She knows she will get fired, and lose her wees pay that was due today. She sprints out of the restaurant in a flood of tears and rips her apron off. To this day, nobod associated with that restaurant knows where she is.

    Except him.

  12. Kerry Charlton




    [PARTS 1 -3 are on my blog if you missed them]

    As the four Range Rovers left the airport runway, some reporters jumped in their

    cars and tried to follow. But while the gates of the runway area allowed the four FBI

    vehicles to slip through, they snapped shut entrapping the gaggle of reporters trying to

    give chase. Destination Wichita, McConnell AFB, a hundred and five miles southwest

    of Kansas City, seemed safe enough for Natasha and Vince to regain their bearings.

    A network of Russian spies who had broken the FBI intelligence system nation

    wide, felt otherwise. Twenty miles west of Kansas City, tucked away in a non-descript

    large barn, ancient in appearance, a stolen Bell Super Cobra twin engine attack

    helicopter had left at the same time as Natasha and Vince’s caravan cleared the airport.

    Forty miles out of Kansas City, the helicopter took up position above the highway

    to Wichita, approximately 400 feet above ground, waiting for its prey. Armed with 5 inch

    Zuni rockets and a 20 mm M197 Gatling gun, the Cobra took full use of the moonlight

    and dropped down to firing range. .

    Inside the third Range Rover,

    “What kind of weapons does this British beast carry?” Vince said

    The driver answered,

    “Mounted to an arm that extends from the rear of the Range Rover, we carry a

    M240 machine gun. Are you familiar with it?”

    “Yes, Yes.” Vince and Natasha both answered.

    “My name’s Robert,” the driver said, are you worried about an attack?”

    “I’m always cautious,” Vince said.

    “I am trained as a killing machine,” Natasha answered. “How quickly can the

    M240 be operative?”

    The driver turned to Vince, “About 45 seconds, are you both former Seals?”

    “Might as well think that.” Vince hugged Natasha around her shoulder.:

    The highway opened up to wheat fields on both sides, the light from a full moon,

    gleamed off the black Range Rovers. Vince leaned up and talked to the driver,

    “We’re the third vehicle in this caravan, we need to be last, signal behind you and

    have him move up.”

    Vince somehow either heard the helicopter above them or sensed danger. Either

    way, the caravan changed places..

    “Now drop back another hundred feet.”

    “Can you tell me why?”

    “Never mind, do it.”

    With the last sentence, the noise of the attacking Cobra became louder. The third

    vehicle in the caravan disappeared in an instant h a fury of fire from a direct hit of two

    Zuni rockets. Vince climbed over the back seat,

    “Move it, I’m going to take the wheel. He swerved off the highway nd looked for

    cover in the wheat field. The other two vehicles went in opposite directions. Vince

    realized a second Range Rover was dead meat and prayed it wasn‘t his. They screeched

    to a halt and deployed the .M240.

    “Do you want the first round, Natasha?”

    . “No, I’ll feed, you fire.”

    The sound of the Super Cobra increased and Vice with a range of 880 yards had

    only a moment to save a second Range Rover. He saw the copter hover for a few

    seconds to fire two more Zuni’s. At that moment Vince fired about three hundred rounds

    at the Cobra. They had made a fatal decision to hover and fire. The copter exploded in a

    mass ball of fire. The Zuni’s plowed through an acre of wheat and exploded about two

    hundred feet from one of the Rovers.

    Out of his peripheral vision, Vince saw the pilot miraculously ,leap from the

    copter and hit the ground a safe distance away. He was still on fire and managed to roll

    through the wheat and put the fire out. Natasha sprinted across the field to see what

    information she might squeeze out of the dying pilot.

    Natasha drew closer, the pilot managed to pull his pistol out. Instead of firing at

    Natasha, he placed his own gun to his ear and pulled the trigger. So much for

    information. He was burned so badly, she hesitated to be sure he was dead and then

    walked back to Vince. The other Rovers circled Vince and Natasha as the FBI chief,

    Brian McCloud stepped out,

    “The two of you saved all of us from certain death. Will you escort to Mc

    Connell, we’ll follow.”


    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, just when I think I’ve got your writing all figured out, you do this, a total departure from your romantic, nostalgic pieces. You referenced James Bond, but I see more Matt Helm. Great job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, more thrillers to come but don’t think there won’t be romantic moments in this.
        Uncle has also asked me to continue with this weeks prompt, Casablanca 1940. So I’m going to try it. :Look for both on[‘ first day of school’] prompt.

  13. UnclePizza

    Nearly doubled the word count again, but at least this one gives a nod and a wink to the prompt:

    Of Sins and Ash – Part 9: Chosen

    The hare bounded across the hot sand and stopped behind a small saltbush. It stood in the shadow, motionless other than flaring its nostrils as it sniffed the dry air. A small stone flew past its head and it bolted once again, this time disappearing over the edge of a small arroyo. A young woman rose from behind a large clump of sage and followed.

    The hare led the woman through the arroyo until it opened into a large, flat patch of sand. There, it sprinted into the open plain and disappeared safely out of sight. Discouraged, the young woman scanned the desert for more prey, her sling hanging empty at her side as she began walking slowly toward the scrubland where she might find smaller, slower prey.

    Soon she was walking amongst flowering sage and wolfberry, and as she scanned for prey she thought she saw a stone dwelling standing in a nearby clearing. Hungry, tired, and still hallucinating, she walked toward the dwelling, hoping to find her first food since leaving the pueblo two days ago.

    She had not meant to stray so far from home; she had only meant to learn what the men saw when they had their peyote visions. They had never allowed her to join them in their ceremonial camp, telling her that her own sacred place was with the women in the menstrual lodge. Then, one month as she was walking from the pueblo to the lodge, she noticed a clump of the small button-shaped cacti growing near the path. She had always let her curiosity make her decisions for her, so she quickly cut the tops off of three of the cacti, and hid them in her small leather pouch.

    As luck would have it, she was alone at the lodge that evening, which she took as a sign that she should eat the peyote. She was disappointed when at first nothing happened, and even more so when her stomach emptied itself of its bitter contents in the middle of the night. Soon after vomiting, though, the visions came: the shadows that the fire threw on the lodge walls became a colorful mix of intricate patterns, and when she stepped outside the stars in the sky became alive with color and moved in ways that she had never imagined.

    Soon, the stars began forming animals instead of just patterns, and the animals began to speak to her. At first she could not understand the words, but then a bright raven formed in the center of the sky and clearly commanded the young woman to follow. The raven grew quickly, soon taking up the entire sky, before exploding into a million separate pieces of bright light. The pieces reformed into dozens of coyotes which ran haphazardly in all directions across the sky. Which way do I follow, the girl shouted at the sky. As if on command, the light-coyotes gathered at the center of the sky and began to run as a pack toward the north.

    The woman ran after the coyotes, following them through the desert until dawn when the sky grew light and the coyotes faded into the clouds. She continued to walk north, still not knowing where she was going, only that she must respect the visions that still danced behind her eyes. At night she finally rested by a small spring where she drank and filled her small water skin.

    Now, with her water skin as empty as her stomach, the young woman tentatively approached the stone dwelling. She was not entirely certain that it was real – she had been fooled by the visions twice the day before – but when a raven called from atop the chimney she knew that she had reached her destination.

    Stepping through the low doorway into the cool room, the woman watched as the visions reappeared faintly in the dim light. Curious, she took another step into the room but stopped suddenly when she heard the rattle. The menacing sound came from her right, so she stepped to her left, only to hear another rattle. Then she felt the bite. And then another.

    She fell to the floor, pain shooting up each leg, and gazed helplessly at the ceiling. Why was I called here just to die, she wondered. All I wanted was to know…

    Suddenly, the raven flew into the room and landed on the woman’s bare chest, claws scratching her breast as it peered deeply into her bloodshot eyes. The large bird flew to the doorway, where the woman thought she saw a pack of coyotes, and began to caw excitedly. Before the woman could decide whether the scene was real or yet another vision, the room was filled with coyotes. She felt their fur as they rubbed against her, felt sand hit her leg as one dug a shallow hole in the earthen floor, and heard a light splash as one of the females urinated in the hole. As she grew faint, the woman thought she saw the raven fly onto the shelves and use its beak to carry clumps of dried herbs to the hole. Odder still, it looked like one of the coyotes was using its paw to mix the herbs and earth with the urine in the hole. Then, two coyotes each took a mouthful of the herb-urine-earthen mud and dropped it on her wounded legs, pressing the poultice into the fang holes with their muzzles while the rest of the pack lay firmly atop her as the seizures began.

    The last vision that the woman saw was the strangest of all: One of the coyotes stood still and let another swiftly rake its flank with its fangs. Then the raven flew to the bloody coyote, took some blood in its beak, and placed three large drops on the woman’s lips. She could feel the blood run over her tongue and into her throat as the world went dark.

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks! I hadn’t planned on coming up with a successor until my daughter read the story to-date and the first thing she asked was “What are the villagers going to do without someone to cleanse their sins now?”

    1. Bushkill

      Think I missed 1-8 cuz I am confused, but you did a powerful job of showing the disorientation and dream state of drug induced misdeeds. Thoroughly good job.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          It is absolutely amazing how you write
          Easy, rhythms like the lyrics of a song or perhaps to the beating of your heart
          What happens to the reader first is fascination, then comfort as he gets used to the rhythm. It is hard for me to find the correct words to describe the sensations one feels like listening to a wise one speak to a yearning child. Of course the story has a lot the rhythm with a result of listening a story.of old. The more I try to analyze it, the farther I get away from the pleasure of listening, not reading.

          1. UnclePizza

            I’m flattered Kerry; you’re going to make me get a swelled head and then you’ll be hearing from my wife! I’m glad you like not just the story but the style as well. I know I say this every time, but I think there’s just two or three more installments to go.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful continuation. Each episode is so dense that I think you have the outline of a full length novel here. I’m trying to imagine how you can pull it all together in two or three installments, lots of characters to bring back. I’m looking forward to more, no matter how long it takes.

  14. Findingmyshoes

    I was mopping up the last of the marsala when Diana pushed through the swinging doors.
    “Can’t stay away from me, can ya? Alright, you can take me home tonight, but I warn ya, it’ll cost ya.” I beamed at her and pinched her backside as she began cleaning the table. She was a large woman, the kind with curves. Her white blouse was buttoned low so you could see the fine layer of sweat across her cleavage. She usually laughed when I grabbed her, but her brow furrowed.
    “Tell Mario the chicken was too tough again.” I threw my napkin on the table, “I don’t know how he makes any money with the kind of food he serves.”
    She glanced up from the plates, her lips pursed. “Enzo, you been coming here every Thursday three years. Maybe you should try something new sometime.” she began walking away without looking at me.
    “You know I was joking. What’s a matter with you?” I grabbed her hand and tried to pull her towards me.
    She pulled away from me and set her hand on her hip. She looked me square in the eye for a second, her tongue moving around the inside of her lips as it does when she’s pissed. She looked at her watch and glanced behind her through the window to the kitchen. Mario must’ve gone out for a cigarette. “You’re going to die in six minutes…” She looked at me pointedly, forming the word carefully, “Paul.”
    My heart leaped into my throat and I began to sweat. There was a door in the back, but I’d have to run around a lot of chairs. I feigned a laugh, but my voice cracked, “What are you talking? You drunk? My names Enzo. I’d think you’d know that.”
    Diana sighed and set down the dishes. “You’re an idiot, you know that? What are you even doing in a place like this? You think they wouldn’t find you? Here? What the Hell is the matter with you?”
    “What do you- How? Who’d? I don’t know…” My heart was beating through my chest. I needed to play cool, but I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breath.
    “Enzo, Paul, whatever. I don’t care. It’s none of my business. You gotta get out of here. They’re leaving the Super 8, and comin’ over here.” she looked at her watch.
    For a moment, we just looked at each other in silence.
    “Why are you doing this?” I tried to speak, but I had no voice.
    She broke my gaze and looked at her watch. “You think this is a joke? They’re coming.”
    “I know it’s not a joke. Why are you doing this? This is only going to be bad for you.”
    She stood silently, her tongue swishing around the inside of her lips.
    “Come with me.” I took a step towards her but she quickly stepped back.
    She straightened. Her eyes flashed at me. “You’re the biggest idiot I ever met.” Then she spun on her heels and into the kitchen.
    “Diana!” I called after her.
    “Four minutes.” she said. She didn’t turn back.
    I ran as fast as I could through the front doors.

  15. AJ_

    I had just finished eating my breakfast sandwich at the best breakfast diner when suddenly the waitress runs towards me and grabs my shoulders. For a moment i think, did i do something wrong? But then she speaks “We only have six minutes until he dies!” She tugs on my arm and I get up. I am then pulled to the back while yelling “What who? Whats going on?Tell me, Tell me now!” We reach the room and i stand there becoming the scared 16 year old I am as i see a young man laying on the floor. I have never once witnessed death. This man whom I don’t even know has froze me. I stand there shaking.

  16. Anxietas

    Lunch Gone Wrong

    There is a storm coming. I can see the dark clouds gathering across the horizon just as the sun is beginning to set. People are hurrying to and from their destinations. It starts to drizzle outside. I turn my attention away from the window and back inside the diner. Suddenly there is a loud clash coming from inside the diner followed by a loud scream. The waitress approaches my booth and in a pannicked voice she says, “Please! We only have 6 minute until he dies! We need to save him.”

    The drizzle becomes a downpour. I stand up from my booth as the waitress takes my arm and leads me through a crowd of people. “Make way! Make way!”, she says as the crowd begins to open a path. I am standing over a boy covered in blood. I kneel down to check his pulse but it is faint. How can I save this boy. I am not a doctor nor medically certified to treat him. “Well? Why are you just sitting there? Save him!” The waitress gives me a terrified glare and begins to yell, “You only have 4 minutes left. What are you doing!”

    I stand up from kneeling over the boy’s body. I can hear the crown beginning to murmur amongst themselves and there eyes are passing judgement over me. I look down at my hands covered in some sort of black substance. The nurse is still yelling, frantically throwing her arms around, “You’re wasting your time! There’s only a minute left! Wake up! Wake up!” I can only hear her voice and it is getting louder and louder with each time she speaks. “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

    In an instant verything goes away and there is nothing but darkness. “Sir? Wake up! You’ve been asleep for an hour now.” My eyes open and everything begins to readjust. I look up and find the waitress in a confused state. I was dreaming. Everything was just a dream. “You know you should really go home and gets some rest.” she says filling up my cup of coffee. Suddenly there is a loud clash.

  17. BookwormTunnel

    There is no color left in the world.
    We are foundlings, rescued from the streets and parents too abusive to be trusted with a child.
    Raised in a gray city, locked in by gray walls. Given names as bland as the color that dominates our lives.
    My name is Foundling 32. I am 17. I have never seen the outside world.
    Here, one offense is enough to get you dead. Or worse, shamed, stripped of your foundling license, to become an ANomaly.
    I missed curfew one night.
    I didn’t think it’d do any harm.
    I walk to the dining pavilion for Morning Feeding, yawning. I stayed up the latest I ever have last night. They spoon out protein grain into our bowls. It tastes like sawdust. Nutritionally beneficial sawdust. I am well into my meal when another foundling rushes over to me. Her name is Foundling 67- but secretly she tells us to call her Hayley. A name she picked up from a study book we read in Foundling School. She’s the only one of us that has a name, albeit unofficial.
    Hayley screams out to the world. ” We only have six mintes until she dies! Somebody, any foundling, please, help!” She leans down and whispers into my ear, breath cool against my skin. ” I was on Cooking Duty, today. You missed curfew, last night. They know. They put deathly poison into your grain.Six minutes. ”
    5 minutes.I guess I don’t care about death. I would gain free escape from this place.
    4 minutes. I whisper back. ” Thank you, Hayley.” She’ll probably meet my fate, or worse, just for this. FOr nothing. I’d die anyway.
    3 minutes. My life is slipping away. I realize something. I don’t want to die.
    2 minutes. I don’t want to die pleasedontletmediepleasedontletmedieplease
    1 minute. I

    1. agnesjack

      This is lovely. The irony of children being “rescued” from abuse and then put into a colorless prison where they have no identity is beautifully portrayed. So sad, and yet, even though she died, the simplicity of the last line made me smile. She’s free. Excellent, BookwormTunnel, and in so few words.

    2. Bushkill

      I’m a little rattled that life can only be saved and color reinstated through death. Which means you did a heck of a job constructing the hopelessness of these people.

      It’s in our world already. With child labor on par with slavery, with human trafficking, with the crushing weight of poverty.

      i need me a quick glance up at the brilliant blue sky for a moment.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        As dismal a condition as anyone could imagine. The only thing I question, if the children are slave like, they are valuable assets to the owner. There seems to me there might be an alternative unless the elimination of one keeps the others in line. On to the present, no one really knows how children are treated across our world. We know about global warming, what the polar bears are up against, but not the imprisoned children. Very thought provoking at best.

  18. Bushkill

    Lunch Gone Wrong

    I finished my lager and wiped the last of the wing sauce off my hands and face.

    Again, my fav did not disappoint. At some point I would need to design an exercise program to deal with my dietary dysfunction, but not today. I flagged the bartender and set up another round, choosing a Belgian this time and settled in to watch baseball game.

    Something fell in the kitchen and I could hear screaming. I couldn’t clarify the problem, though. That changed quickly as the argument boiled over into the bar area.

    “Tell him, Lynette. Tell him now. There isn’t much time.” The chef seemed quite agitated. He had his phone out and stabbed at the keypad frantically.

    Lynette turned to me with pain written all over her face. “I’m so sorry. It shouldn’t have happened like this. That wasn’t Cajun rub on the wings. It was rat poison.” She kept wringing her hands. “You can’t have more than about five minutes.”

    I heard a buzzing in my ears as my pulse quickened. “What? Rat poison?”
    The room swayed as a wave of lightheadedness swept over me. The roaring in my ears got louder and, as I watched, my hand lost its grip on the bar and I slid backward off my stool. Blackness surrounded me and the sensation of floating overwhelmed me.

    “Hello? Anyone out there?” I tried coaxing a response from the darkness. Nothing spoke back to me. Nobody answered. I could smell though, and hear and there were plenty of things toying with both of those senses.

    I could smell sweetness, vanilla, and perhaps a hint of cherry. Tiny metal clinking sounds reverberated through my death-borne shroud of darkness. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream, but the sounds all seemed terribly interesting.

    The sensations continued as I felt my arms and legs being tugged. I couldn’t see anything or anyone.

    I could swear I heard voices, muffled and distant. I kept expecting to see myself floating away from my body. Up or down didn’t seem relevant at the moment.

    I couldn’t believe I died.

    Music started playing in the background. It didn’t have the heavenly ring to it I had hoped. On the flip side, it didn’t sound like death metal either.


    A pungent odor assaulted my system and the black of night ripped away and in its place stood a long table, with place settings for more than a dozen. My wife sat next to me. My kids lined one side and were flanked on the far side by my parents. My brother and law and his wife, my sister, sat next to my wife along with my best friend of forty years and his spouse.

    The center of the table contained a massive cake. Huge! And the smell of the vanilla and cherry icing set my mouth to watering.

    “What the …?”

    The music played in the background and my wife led the chorus, “Happy Birthday to you …”

    I reached for my beer.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I’m with Pete on the descriptive verse. You had me going for a minute and after the birthday scene, you still had me going. Never the less, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

  19. greencoatlouis

    “It’s latkes time, it’s latkes time.” I quietly sang to myself in my favorite corner booth. The roof of my mouth was watering from the thought of piling apple filling and a stack of fried potatoes down my throat. After an evening of grading papers, I decided to treat myself. As the waitress dropped off my order and turned her back, I picked up the first latke and took a bite out of half. Perhaps I was being too gluttonous and should have chewed more or maybe there was less apple filling than I used too eating, but the potato ball became lodged in my throat.

    Unfortunately for me, after his third heart attack, resulting from a lifetime of pastrami sandwich and chocolate milkshake lunches, the owner of*Mortimer’s Delicatessen* had a defibrillator installed in the manager’s office. Mort had a strict policy of making sure that each of his employees was properly trained with the device during their first week. As I fell to the ground grasping for breath the only waitress working the 11 PM shift clearly mistook my symptoms.

    “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him” the waitress yelled to the rest of the staff at the deli, which was only a bus boy.

    The waitress tried to unbutton my shirt but the mayonnaise on her finger tips from cleaning up some coleslaw was making the process too slippery for her. In a panic, she called for the bus boy to toss her a pair of scissors from behind the counter.

    By the look in the busboy’s eye, you could tell he immediately knew he had thrown the scissors much harder than intended. The blood from her palm began to mix with the fresh coat of mayonnaise on my lapel, making it look like the Polo player was riding a sea of Russian dressing. The waitress became too involved in her own injury to realize I giving the international sign of choking.

    The busboy hopped over the counter and ran to the aid of the waitress.

    “Samantha, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to throw them hard. But why did you try to catch them?”

    “DAMN IT, ROBBIE. I can’t use my hand any more. Call 9-11.”

    “I don’t think we have time to call 9-11, the guy on the floor is going to suffocate if we don’t do something soon.”

    Both Robbie and Samantha were too involved in their argument to see that I was nodded my head to Robbie’s point.

    “He’s not choking, he’s HAVING A HEART ATTACK” screamed Samantha

    “It says here on Google that he’s choking” called out a voice from the other side of the restaurant.

    Suddenly, an overweight man rushed to my aid from falling knees first on to my chest. The force of air coming from my lungs unlodged the potato and sent it flying into the air.

    “I told you so” said the busboy.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      GOOD THING GOOGLE WAS AROUND! As I read this, I placed myself into the MC’s choking. What a desperate turn of events. Thank heaven for the fat msn’s help. Beautiful answer in writing to the prompt. I gave up on it and went my own way with it. This is powerful and realistic. That’s what gives you the willies when you read it.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great take on the prompt, the details made the situation almost too real, especially the mayonnaise fingers and the polo player in a sea of dressing.

  20. Pete

    I’m three bites into my enchilada when Ava hurls herself towards me, cartwheeling between and over tables, landing in my lap. Before I can react she’s got my face in her hands. My waitress/dream girl pulls me close, her breaths warm and her dark eyes swimming in mine.

    I attempt to speak when she whips around, to the kitchen guys huddled at the door, mouths open in amused terror, gawking at us like everyone else. “We only have six minutes until he dies!”

    Her voice is more of a shriek. Just minutes ago she was refilling tea, making small talk. This is crazy.

    “What?” I manage. “I’m fine.”

    People are crowding us. Someone suggests the Heimlich. This has to be a prank. Or some lunch theater deal. A hidden camera…I fall to a knee, humiliated. The room is spinning.

    Two powerful smacks, expertly delivered to my face. “Magenta. Hang in there, we’ll get you to base.” This is followed by a blast of ice water to my head. I fumble about as she takes me to the floor. I’m trying to locate words for this situation but Ava hovers over me. Maybe I am sick, floating. I focus on the curve of her neck. My stomach folds.
    Someone lifts me to my feet, ice cubes crunching under our steps as she drags me back to the kitchen where a mariachi band in a tunnel. The world is so far away.

    A shot hits my neck. More slapping. A prayer. We’re outside where it smells like a dumpster. Then I’m gone.

    I wake up in a bed. Shades drawn, but glowing with day. Again the hair, the eyes. The anguish and urgency. My mind is groggy. The silhouette of her face against the light. My favorite waitress. Her face comes into focus. Bags beneath her eyes. She’s still in her waitressing clothes. She smells of food and flowers.

    “You’re alive.”

    “I am. Thanks to you.”

    “Me?” Ava laughs. Her voice is weak and desperate. “I could have killed you.”

    I try to sit up, the room wobbles so I lean back. She rubs warmth into my hand, wakes my heart in my chest. Flashes of lunch return.

    “Back there, at the restaurant, you called me, Agent?”

    A sad smile. “You had food poisoning.” Then, shaking her head. “I’m not a very good waitress.”

    “No, wait. I remember. You called me Magenta. Said I had six minutes…”

    A finger to my lips. “Shh. It’s okay. You should relax.”

    Food poisoning. Magenta. Agent. Base. I’m dizzy with confusion when a nurse comes in to check on me. “Well, everything checks out. We need to get some fluids in you and—”

    Ava hurls her chair at the nurse, leaping over my bed before I can blink. She pins the nurse—a man who must have her by fifty pounds—and pins his hand and the blade behind his back. When she turns back to me, her voice is direct, sharp. “Magenta, go!”


    “There are more, you have to go. Now.”

    I give up lunch for the next month. I lose weight. My dreams of Ava are more nightmares now. Her mental structure, her acrobatics in the hospital. The nurse she pinned to the floor. Those eyes of hers.

    I fall into a funk. I drink. I’m at a club downtown when I see her in the crowd. Dancing. She looks different but no one else moves like that. Shorn hair, tight pants. My mouth goes dry. Sweating. Ice water in my groin. Then she’s gone. Only she isn’t. At the bar she finds me.

    “Magenta. We have to get out of here.”

    “I’m not…this is…” My heart is in a panic. This beautiful nut in the dark. She slides closer, her lips on my ear. She smells of drink and flowers. “Follow me.”

    I should turn around and leave now. But it’s impossible. In her gaze, I’m locked in place. It’s hard to tell who’s crazier, me about her or the demons in her head. I take her hand, pull her close. She tilts her head, her eyes rounding with her smile. Then she kisses me ignorant, the music pounding my ears. I realize that I’ll play whatever game she wants to play. She takes my hand.

    “Okay agent. Let’s move.”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’ll take a loss like this anytime some glamour queen wants to try me on it. Agent, smagent, who cares what we’re called with Ava close. I really enjoyed the hell out of this. Pete. Let’s see if hell will post? You know I could have written this don’t you?

  21. dustymayjane

    “Luke, listen! We have six minutes!” The waitress leaned in and whispered a hot moist hiss into my ear.

    “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a very good steak here?” So much for her tip.

    “You have to come with me.”

    I was incredulous. “I will not!” The very rare Porterhouse was getting cold fast and I was fuming.

    “No time to explain.”

    I attempted to refuse to be bullied but was overpowered by her unusual strength. I was pulled through the swinging doors leading to the kitchen and out the door to the alleyway. A car waited and I was pushed into the back seat as the driver hit the gas.

    As we exited the alleyway, I heard shots fired behind us. I looked out the back window and saw the silhouette of a man with a large weapon. I ducked down and heard the shots hit the car.

    “This car is bullet proof. You’re safe!”

    What the hell was happening? “Do you mind telling me who the gunned man is back there and how did you…?”

    At that moment an explosion of light hit the car and it jutted violently to the right. I was thrown to the left, my head hitting the impenetrable window hard. My head spun and stars blurred my vision. Was I shot? Had the shooter’s bullets managed to penetrate the armor?

    “Hans, engage our shields. I’ll alert the ship, we need to get out of here.”

    Who was Hans? A red haze clouded my sight.

    “You’re bleeding Luke.”

    I felt a pressure on my head before darkness descended. I was out. For how long, I’m unsure.
    I opened my eyes slowly. The waitress sat to my left, concern in her eyes.

    “Luke, it’s me Lea. You’re safe now brother.”

    A rakish looking man spoke from my right. “Tell me what the hell you were doing on twentieth century earth Luke!”

    I couldn’t respond, I was too riveted on the large hairy creature standing at my feet.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I also got all the references. A thought came to mind….. what if he awoke in a movie theatre with Starwars on the screen? I loved the story because I miss Luke.

  22. thejim

    The aftermath of the Fission War seethed on as ashes peppered the newly fallen snow. Those who were left on this god-forsaken planet were outcasts and untouchables.

    “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” Her face was in a panic. I was not sure if her expression was out of concern for whomever she was talking about or of who may hear her, it was always hard to tell with a Barnoobian with those six sets of eyes it was always hard to keep track.

    I grabbed my bag and headed to the kitchen. I passed Officer Thomas Slugg on the way, he did not even look up from his lunch, and he was pre-occupied with making sure the salt cap was securely on the shaker.

    When I entered, the kitchen there was blood everywhere, apparently the owner did not realize that you should not hire the Tamlik from Quadrant 5 and his archenemy the Freznak.

    Rip… Crumple… Toss

    The aftermath of the Fission War seethed on as ashes peppered the newly fallen snow. Those who were left on this god-forsaken planet were outcasts and untouchables.

    “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” Her face was in a panic, or it would have been if she could have expressed emotions. I grabbed my bag and headed to the kitchen.

    I passed Doctor Thomas Stevenson, he did not look up from his lunch I could see he was preoccupied with the last few grains of salt left in the shaker.

    When I entered, the kitchen there was dark fluid everywhere. It looks like the AL-10t-A unit had sliced his main Hydraulic line. It would be only a matter of minutes before his entire system would cease up. I opened my bag and grabbed a pair of crimpers and a blowtorch.

    Rip… Crumple… Toss

    The aftermath of the Fission War seethed on as ashes peppered the newly fallen snow. Those who were left on this god-forsaken planet were outcasts and untouchables.

    “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” Her face was in a panic, I could see in her large eyes the horror. I grabbed my bag and followed her to the kitchen, her quills moved gently as her graceful paws lightly touched the ground.

    I passed Thomas O’Catagian, he did not even look up from his salmon lunch, and he pushed it away in disgust.

    When I entered, the kitchen there was blood everywhere. I had seen this before, poachers! They would take what they wanted from the woodland creatures and sell it to whoever would pay the highest price. This time it was all four legs of the Sous-chef, I knew him well, he made the best carrot cake I have ever eaten. “Hold on Peter, just hold on.”

    Rip… Crumple… Toss

    The aftermath of the Fission War seethed on and ashes peppered the newly fallen snow. Those who left on this god-forsaken planet were outcasts.

    “We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him.” Her aura was bright orange; I knew she was in alarm. We floated by Professor Volttiski and he absorbed some afternoon juice.

    When I entered, the kitchen gamma ray photons flooded the compartment. I could see an Electron on one side of the room and a Positron on the other obviously there must have some sort of collision here. I had to figure out how to absorb the gamma rays before they got out of hand.

    I began to channel the energy source of every being in the room.

    Rip… Crumple… Toss

    The aftermath of the Fission War seethed on as ashes peppered the newly fallen snow. Those who were left on this god-forsaken planet were outcasts and untouchables.

    I hate having a great opening sentence, and nothing to put with it!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It reminds me of Groundhog Day, only stronger. The story keeps revolving in the MC’s mind, leading me to think he might be hovering from life to death, constantly going over his last few minutes, wondering what he did wrong.

      1. thejim

        Which is always fun. Knowing those here write, I try to always add hidden thing too hopefully they don’t go unnoticed- My favorite from this one that may have been passed by. It is the Robot Cook’s name, AL-10t-A if said fast is close to = Al dente

  23. jhowe

    I woke up Saturday morning with an idea. It wasn’t much, a line here and there that I liked and I modified it to fit the prompt. For two days I visited the story, off and on, polishing, adding, taking away. This morning it was ready. I managed to read through it without changing a thing, so I knew I should hit the submit key. Nothing happened. I tried again. I changed things around in an attempt to fool the system. The system won.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        A few weeks ago I couldn’t post, tried everything, finally rewrote one word this way: p##n, and it posted. I didn’t have the “product” just the word.

    1. UnclePizza

      I had one blocked a couple of months ago (I think I was one of the first) but it hasn’t happened since. I even used “asshole” in my story last week and it posted. Not sure what the triggers are – it would be nice if they posted the guidelines.

      Maybe post it to a blog and then post the link here like Kerry did when his was blocked?

      1. UnclePizza

        So this was the second attempt at posting this reply. The first had the S word in it and it didn’t post. I could swear that I’ve used it, or at least seen others use it recently. Again, would be nice to see the “rules”.

  24. Marcel from Smamda


    A squirrel runs into the middle of the street, causing an old pickup truck to stop abruptly. Just as I wait to see what happens, my breath fogs up the window. Raindrops dripping on the outside obscure my little daydream and I return to eating my meal.
    Maybe I am just accustomed to drinking a beer with my bratwurst, but this one just falls too short of my mother’s cooking. The bratwurst barely spits out any juices as I chew it. Plus, they gave me a bit too much sauerkraut.
    As I reach for my glass of water to choke down the food, the glass slips out of my hand and spills all over the table out onto the floor. The waitress starts to run over to me. As she grabs my arm, I begin to prepare a speech in my head about how I am an adult and should be treated accordingly. Just because I have a baby face does not mean I am twelve.
    Her eyes dart backward to the kitchen where two guys are peeking out of the door. She screams in her gravelly voice something in Greek-ish. She grabs my plate and pushes it away from me. “Open!” she says in a thick accent.
    “What? I”
    “Open your mouth!” Immediately, she jams her finger in the back of my throat. I start coughing. That’s bruised now. Suddenly, my stomach turns. I can hear a weird exaggerated growl. I wipe some kind of sweat off my forehead. Grabbing the waitress by her apron, I mutter, “Something’s wrong.” She does not hear me and begins to tell me to open my mouth again. I start to repeat myself, but I projectile vomit all over her apron and jeans. I fall out of the booth and into my own pool of vomit continuing to dry heave. My diaphragm tightens as I keep trying to talk. I cannot vomit anymore, but I keep heaving. I finally start to stand up as I see an ambulance flashing outside. Then a squirrel runs in front of the ambulance, causing an abrupt stop.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is most interesting and creative. I like how it begins and ends with the squirrels. Not too certain what’s going on, but enjoyed reading.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I really liked your descriptive pose and the use of a symbolic to open and close with. the reader is left with all sets of questions. It’s as it should be for a flash story. The fact she stands up, to me, makes me think she will be okay going to the hospital. You followed the prompt well.

  25. Observer Tim


    “We only have six minutes until he dies! We need to save him.”

    My day had gone surreal maybe thirty seconds before. I was three-quarters through my lunch of chicken fettuccine when Tori ran out from the kitchen and grabbed my shoulders. She’d stared into my eyes like she was searching for something, then turned to the other servers standing by the kitchen door and said what I’d just heard.

    Natalie shucked her hair back out of her eyes. “That’s stupid, Tori; she’s not even a guy.”

    “It’s him, Nat! It’s definitely him! She has his eyes!”

    “I don’t think eyes are enough to prove anything.”

    “Quasicomp can’t do eyes properly; it just copies the existing ones. That’s why when simulating real people it just scans and copies the existing eyes.”

    “Well how do you know those are the Professor’s eyes? What did you do Tori, memorize his iris patterns?”

    Tori turns beet red. Meanwhile, Billie adjusts her skirt like it’s uncomfortable; somehow I know she hates skirts.

    “Look Tori, it takes more than eyes to be Professor Intrepid. Can she explain Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in fifteen words or less?”

    Tori turns to me. “Well?”

    “My training is in business management. I don’t know anything about whatever that is.”

    “But can you explain it?”

    “The more you know something’s location, the less you know about where it’s going.” Where on Earth did that come from?

    Billie frowns. “That was a lucky guess. How does antigravity work?”

    “It doesn’t. You can’t negate gravity, just deflect Higgs Bosons to reverse their effective momentum and thereby convert attraction to repulsion.” Okay, that doesn’t even make sense. Why is this stuff coming out of my mouth?

    “Really? I thought you’d use an energy shield.”

    Susan looks at Billie like she’s an idiot.

    “Well, we’ve proved that Mrs. Abrogast here is one of the captured quantum scientists. But we can’t say for sure if she’s Professor Intrepid.”

    “Yes we can!”

    “Shut up, Tori. There’s only one test that will convince me this is Professor Intrepid. Does anyone have a guitar?”

    James, the sous-chef, hands one out from the kitchen. Susan tosses it to me and I somehow manage to catch it despite being a total butterfingers.

    Susan looks me square in the eyes. “Play the bridge from ‘Sultans of Swing.’ If you can do that, you’re Professor Intrepid.”

    “The what from what?”

    Tori nudges me. “Just play it!”

    I twiddle the strings a few times, then somehow launch into a perfect rendition of a pop song from a band that broke up before I turned ten. The waitresses all nod, even Billy. Tori stops me just as I’m starting to get into it.

    “Thank Science, Professor! It really is you. Now come on, we only have three minutes to get you out of this simulated reality so you can disarm the self-destruct mechanism and stop a nuclear explosion from destroying Paris.”

    I smile at Tori.

    “Three minutes? Child’s play; let’s do this.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with John, there isn’t a lost word in your story. It’s filled with tension, suspense, action, desperation, a hero to save everyone, a danger, a solution, everything you need. Would you consider on expanding it or do you think it loses power that way. It is perfection in irself.

  26. cosi van tutte

    Grandpappy Jedidiah grinned, showing off his missing teeth. “This here is sum right fine cookin’, Zasparilla.”

    Zasparilla grinned back. “Aww, Grandpappy. It ain’t every day a guy turns sixty.”

    “Yer’s a good one.” He took a sip of his soup. “Yep. Mind, this don’t rival your Great Auntie Emmajean’s stewed rat soup. But it sure is right sum good.” He wheezed out an old man laugh.

    Grandmam Soosie came into the room, all stiff-backed and sore-faced. “Wha’s that ugly smell? That ain’t stewed rat soup, in’it?”

    Grandpappy and Zasparilla exchanged panicked looks. “Doncha worry, none, Grandmam. Ain’t nothin’ but regular old toadstool soup.”

    “Yep. Sure is sum right fine regular old toadstool soup. Mmm-sure.”

    She stiff-backed her way over to Grandpappy, who panicked and tried to cover the bowl with his hands.
    “Doncha be hidin’ stuffs on me. Lemme see.” She pulled his hands away and sniffed it. “You crazy! That there is stewed rat soup.”

    “Oh? In’it? I thought for sure it were toadstool.”

    “You crazy. Ain’t even lookin’ like toadstool.” She sniffed it again. “Soup smells all bad. What rat did you use?”

    Zasparilla fidgeted. “Don’t be all mad. I used the one that got drownded in the old moonshine jug.”

    “That one? You both crazy then. That rat been there for a whole year now. Ain’t no good makin’ soup with bad rat.” She walked out into the hall. “Josie! Rededetka! Get your medical stuffs over here now. Yer crazy Grandpappy’s gone and ate bad rat.”

    “Ain’t see the harm in it.” said Grandpappy in a sulk. “Rat is rat is good eatin’.”

    “See? That’s why I’m the woman of the house and you ain’t. Girls! Get yourselves o’er here right now or I’mma come after you. Bad rat is toxic. Gonna make your stomach turn up and out and bend all wrong.”

    Grandpappy dropped his spoon. It clattered on the floor.

    Zasparilla’s eyes got all teared up. “Is Grandpappy gonna die?”

    “If those two fool girls don’t get over here right now, he’s gonna drop dead in six minutes.”

    “Six?” chorused the old man and the girl.

    “Yeah. Six. And believe me that’s a whole lot sooner than ten.”

    Two quarterback-looking girls scuffled into the room. They both carried a beaten-up medical kit.

    “Took you two too long. Get to work before he drops over.”

    “Sure thing, Grandmam.”

    1. agnesjack

      I just loved the world you created here, cosi. Very funny and the dialogue was wonderful. I could see and hear this family very clearly. The year-old dead rat soup was also crystal clear, too (YUCK!). Nice job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Good one Cosi, I hope I donen don’t run into them hillbillys today at lunch. If I does, it’s goona be an upchuck. I loved the dialogue. I could see the house, the furniture and unforunately for me, the rat soup Yuck!

  27. StephenRay

    Word Count: 455

    One bite.
    That’s all I wanted. One, lousy bite of the last ham sandwich this side of Spokane; or that side – who knew these days. Besides, in an apocalypse-torn land, location didn’t matter. All sides were this side, and sandwiches were relics.

    “Pardon me?” I said in an aged, hoarse whisper. I licked my dry, sun-cracked lips, noting the miraculous rise of moisture on the roof of my mouth. Brown, crunchy bread, corpse-gray ham and year-old mustard – solidified by time spent inside of a vacu-sealed wrapper, beckoned to me. How long had it been? Years? Decades? My stomach begged me to ignore the woman’s pleas.

    Take a bite. Eat it. You earned it.

    My mouth opened, my eyes widened as the relic inched closer, carefully grasped between grime-stained fingers. Even the texture, as ancient as it seemed, was like Light filling my soul – feeding both memory and hunger.

    “Sir!” the woman cried. I didn’t look, yet saw from my peripherals the staff huddled together, watching as I took what wasn’t mine to own. They had the look of a crowd watching a swimmer drown in the surf, or watching a lion taking down a gazelle (back when there was such a thing): horror and fascination all mixed into one.

    “You don’t understand. He’ll be here in 6 minutes!”

    I grunted and heaved a heavy breath. Before the Great Charring, Sister Carmalita’s Café had been a favorite stop on my travels south. Her pies were famous among the Ramblers like myself, especially the coconut cream. It was to live for, and that had brought me back when I should have stayed away.

    I twisted my head toward the waitress, still grasping the sandwich between my half-gloved hands. The ripped, red vinyl of my chair squeaked in protest as the steel buckles of my black, leather pants slid against the plastic material. She stepped back, her hand snapping up to cover her mouth, as if containing what little lunch still remained in her stomach.

    I was used to it. People often had that reaction when they saw my eyes, or what served for them, anyway. Most Ramblers were malformed, and I was no different. In fact, I found having sunglasses fused to my head rather intimidating. And for a Rambler, that made all of the difference.

    “Six minutes?” I said, as my stomach rumbled in complaint. I grinned, then laughed a slow, staccato chuckle. “I’m counting on it.”

    And with that, I satisfied my desires. I took a bite of the last sandwich this side of Spokane, and as I crunched through the cracker-like staleness of the Wonder Bread, I turned what should have been bait into a lure.

    This sandwich was to die for.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It may have been just that. The story line is good but the descriptive verse is way over the top. I could see the sandwich, for I probably raided my Mother’s fridge and tried to eat something like it. When you labeled food, you put the date on it. ny Mother put the year. We kept an old ham so long, I named it Check and ate it. I’m very familiar with dried out food. You brought a great smile this morning.

  28. agnesjack

    For the first time ever, I am way over the limit, so forgive me the indulgence.

    Rosemary had just delivered my Reuben sandwich, which looked fantastic as usual: perfectly grilled rye bread, thick, juicy slices of corned beef, homemade sauerkraut, gruyere instead of Swiss, Russian dressing, a huge kosher dill pickle on the side accompanied by crispy potato slices. I had been coming to the Manasquan Deli almost every day for lunch for the past three years. For a quarter century, my job in corporate sales had taken me all over the world so I was happy to finally be retired and indolent. I loved the small town life by the Jersey shore.

    “Mm Mm Mm,” I said out loud as I leaned forward and took my first big bite. Suddenly, I felt a stinging sensation in my left shoulder. Almost immediately, I was unable to chew and started to choke. Rosemary, who had been taking the order at the table next to mine, came rushing around and gave me the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged the food. Then I saw her throw a napkin over something on the floor, pick it up gingerly and put it into the pocket of her apron.

    “We’ve only got six minutes!” she screamed at the busboy. “Help me get him upstairs.”

    “But you got the food out,” Arnie said.

    “Come on, Arnie, there isn’t much time!”

    “But, I saw it. You got the food out.”

    Arnie could be a little thick, so she grabbed his arm and said through her teeth, “NOW, Arnie.”

    I had never heard sweet, funny, Rosemary use a tone like that and I became concerned. Especially since I couldn’t seem to move my arms and it was becoming difficult to breath.

    Arnie managed to pick up my shoulders and Rosemary grabbed my feet and they carried me through the kitchen and outside to the ten steps that led up to her apartment. I think my butt was hitting the steps as they struggled up, but I couldn’t feel a thing.

    When they got me on the bed, Rosemary told Arnie, “Go down and boil two gallons of hot water and bring it to me with five rags,” but when Arnie left, she locked the door.

    At this point, I could no longer move my head so I could only see her when she floated in and out of my sightline. I know she carefully took the napkin out of her pocket and put it into a wastebasket, and I heard drawers opening and closing.

    “Where the hell did I put it?” she cursed. “Damnit, Charlie! Where did we put it?”

    Charlie was her late husband. I didn’t know anything about their life before they bought the deli, but I knew Charlie had died suddenly of a stroke while golfing. Rosemary had always been vague about the details.

    “Oh, thank God!” she said and her face came into view.

    “I’m sorry, Fred, but this may hurt. I have to put it into your heart. Okay?”

    I couldn’t answer or nod, so she took a deep breath and said, “Here goes,” and jammed a huge needle into my chest.

    Actually, I didn’t feel a thing and must have passed out, because the next thing I remembered was her face very close to mine.

    “I think it’s okay, Fred,” she said with tears streaming down her face. “I think it is.”

    The story she told me later, when I was fully recovered, could have been from a John le Carré novel. I really didn’t understand most of it: the golden frog poison dart, that was meant for her; the snake saliva from which she and Charlie had created the antitoxin, because the Amazon Fire-bellied snake was immune and could actually eat the golden frog with no ill affects; the many years they had spent in Manasquan, with assumed names, feeling that they were finally safe. That sense of safety had made Charlie go golfing without the antidote. It was all too incredible to believe.

    I hear from Rosemary every now and then. The letters have no return address and she always signs them, “love, the golden girl.” I miss her. The Manasquan Deli just isn’t the same — although the Reuben’s are still to die for.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        As long as the Reubens are the same, I’d eat there. Who’s afraid of the golden frog poison dart? Not if the sauerkraut is perfect. I noticed it missing in your sandwich, I’m sure that what caused all the trouble. Fun story, Nancy. Oh P.S. is the restaurant anywhere near Avalon?

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Extremely creative take on the prompt. One never knows who you could meet in a small town. I was hoping Fred would end up with the golden girl, fugitive she might be.

  29. Kerry Charlton



    The world war was already aflame. In Casablanca the Nazi’s influence was held back by the neutrality still in effect, though crumbling by the day. Nick Vescovo’s gambling den and nightclub drew the people of the city like a poorly lit but fashionable den of iniquity. A crossroad of humanity, the rich, the famous, the downtrodden and meek who would sell themselves if necessary to try to escape the fray.

    Money ruled the city and influence with the Germans who swarmed into the area looking for easy pickings. And yet one man and one man only battled their choking influence with a passion and recklessness rarely seen in humanity. Nick‘s wealth grew in importance not for himself but for the thought of freedom which still existed in the mind of a man who had seen all of life and found most of it deplorable.

    It was late for an ordinary club but six minutes before midnight, the gambling room was full with lost souls who could ill afford to lose their money to the revolving wheel. Dolorous, Nick’s right arm in running his club rushed to his table he sat out with four people of influence.

    “Nick, there’s a woman at the bar, young and beautiful, holding a loaded pistol. She says she is going to kill herself at midnight.”

    “Excuse me,” Nick said, and left immediately,

    “Dee, did she say why?”

    “No, we better hurry Nick.”

    As he drew closer, he noticed her, a girl in her middle twenties, dressed in white, properly who aim her 38 directly at Nick’s chest.”

    “I don’t have any idea who you are but don’t you try to stop me.”

    “I wouldn’t think of it. My name’s Nick, who are you?”

    “Georgia Wellingsley, why does it matter to you? I can tell you don’t care.”

    “Oh but I do Georgia, I was being polite, you asked me not to interfere. I had planned on trying to help.”

    “No one can help me now, I’ve gone to far.”

    “It’s never to late Georgia, have you seen the terrace overlooking Casablanca?”

    “You want to take me sightseeing when I’m going to kill myself?”

    “More or less, hold on to you gun, put it in your purse, if you don’t like the scenery, you can kill yourself and I won’t stop you. Now grab my arm, I’ll lead the way.”

    Georgia gingerly put her hand in the crook of Nick’s arm and walked with him through his club. People tried not to look at the two but Nick stopped at most of the tables and introduced Georgia to his customers. Amazed at the hospitality, she managed a polite smile as they walked through the crowded room to the terrace.

    In the moonlight, the city appeared glamorous, quiet and mysterious to her. Nick felt her grip on his arm relax as she turned toward him in the glimmering moonlight,

    “Don’t you want to know why?”

    “If you’re totally still the night sounds will envelop you. Do you hear?”

    “Oh yes, what could I have been thinking of.?”

    “The whole world is about to try to destroy itself. Does this upset you?”

    “Aren’t you upset.?”

    “Standing next to you in the moonlight, no Georgia, not tonight.”

    “I think I understand. May I kiss you for saving my life?’

    “‘On the cheek if you wish, I’m much too old for you.?”

    “Wanna bet?” She kissed him passionately, and then released him.

    “ Georgia, walk out of my life before…………”

    “Nick, before what?”

    “I could never resist you twice, now go.”

    She kissed him again, slowly untwined her arm from his, turned and walked slowly away. He watched her till she was out of sight and out of his club.

    ‘I think I’ve just seen an angel,’ he mused as he walked back into the bar.



      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Nancy, yeah it is kinda dreamy, didn’t have enough words to have any side adventure but Reatha mnay want me to carry on with the story. She has a good point, I could take them anywhere. However I have Nastasha running around in Kansas fighting the Russians. I don’t know if I havce the time to continue both at the same time, maybe.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, another lovely one. I really liked how you paid homage to the atmosphere of the classic. Might Georgia return? Nick isn’t too old and I think they need each other.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, good point on the continuance of the two, mainly they’re extremely likeable characters caught at the beginning of WWII in Casablanca, a city of intrigue and danger, Maybe, I will. Let’s see get up a half hour early, go to bed a half hour early.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m really tempted to continue with it. Casablanca in 1940, I could go anywhere, especially with the fat man, [Sydney Greensteet ] different name of course, but still the same sleeze.

        1. UnclePizza

          You write it, I’ll read it. Natasha and Vince can have a night off – like you said, they’re tired after a full day anyway. You can then have us peek in on them in the morning after we see where things go with Nick and Georgia!

  30. Witt.Stanton

    I crouched down next to the cooling corpse, the white front of my converse shoes dipping into the growing pool of blood. I leaned forwards. Her skin was pale, eyes open, mouth agape in frozen horror. I lowered my lips onto her neck.

    The pulsing rhythm of time slowed like a river freezing over, washing over me, thick and heavy. I drank my elixir of life. Time passed.

    “You need to stop, newbie,” a voice ordered. Julia. Blood trailed down the corner of my lips as I raised my head, rolling my spine straight. “She’s sick, can’t you smell it? Get off her.”

    Familiar faces formed a loose ring surrounded us, greeting me with folded arms and guarded expressions. Julia stood at my side, her glare weighing upon me. My eyes fluttered closed. I was helpless to resist my unquenchable thirst.

    My lips returned to the cool skin, and again time gathered me in her arms. Then heaven became hell. A spike of pain shot down my spine and took hold in my head, pounding behind my eyes. My vision shook, cold washing over me.

    “Watch yourself,” Julia growled, already bursting into action. A boot connected with my side, sending me off the girl and onto the cobbled street. I opened my eyes.

    She was in my face, crowding me. She scrunched her nose in disgust. “I can smell the sickness on you. Her blood was bad, kid.” A hand pressed onto my chest, pulling open my shirt. Her black eyes met mine. “This might hurt.”

    Jagged fangs pierced my neck and settled into place, adrenaline spiking my system as I felt them suck. My chest went numb, and suddenly hands were holding my legs down.

    I moaned in pain when she pulled out. Blood ran out of my neck and onto the pavement, pooling beside my head. Time stood still. She shakily pulled away after a minute, pressing her hand against the pair of holes on my neck.

    “You’re such an idiot. That was like trying to get drunk on poison, kid.” Her voice sounded worn. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was nauseous. “Let me help you find a better one.”

    I weakly laughed, but she shook her head in disgust. “Right now, let’s go. I need something to wash that down.”

    Julia helped me to my feet and shook out her mane of black hair. I couldn’t help but grin. Silhouetted by the brilliant city lights, we headed back into our plentiful hunting grounds.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A fun evening for the vamps. Never thought about poisoned blood. Your description of a maddening thrist for blood, caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand at attention.

  31. ReathaThomasOakley

    Six Minutes
    (512 words.)

    The soup was no longer steaming and I was certain I could hear lettuce wilting in the sandwich. My favorite meal, vegetable soup and a BLT, would soon be ruined.

    “Why six minutes?” I asked.

    The young man with the revolver spun away from Loretta, my favorite waitress. Favorite meal, favorite diner, favorite waitress, this was annoying.

    “What’d you say? Lady, you the one asking?” One drop of sweat was forming just at his hair line, fluorescent lighting is very revealing. “It’s six minutes ’cause I say six minutes, and you done took up one minute, so now it’s five minutes ’til you die along with this cow and everbody else if one a you don’t tell me where–”

    “I often have difficulty determining if a situation is reality or if I’m napping, I rarely dream at night, only when I nap. I find that strange, don’t you?” A rather oily film was forming on the surface of my soup.

    “Lady, THIS IS REAL! Pistol’s got real bullets–”

    “I believe the more accurate term is revolver. Pistol is rather generic.” He hadn’t answered my question about the time; I hesitated asking again. Perhaps this was real, cooling soup, sweat rolling into his eyebrows, weapon twitching of its own accord, Loretta crying behind the cash register. Such details denote reality.

    “Lady, now we got four minutes, so somebody better tell me where Eddie is.” I had no idea who Eddie might be, but from the look on Loretta’s face, I thought she might.

    “Eddie?” I asked. “Perhaps he’s had car trouble. Are you a friend of his?” Perhaps the soup could be reheated.

    “Friend? Ha! You’re a real jokester, three minutes a dead jokester.” He attempted to wipe his brow with his gun hand, but was unsuccessful because of the twitching. He seemed very nervous.

    “Have you eaten today?” Perhaps he was hypoglycemic. “I recommend the soup.” Suddenly the revolver was pressed against my neck, the metal warm, I would have guessed cold. I smiled, cold steel indeed, too much film nori, or Guy Nori, I laughed at my foolishness.

    “You freaking laughing at me? One minute, one minute, one freaking minute–”

    “Hollis!” Loretta screamed. So she knew this young man. “Eddie’s got the money, I swear, at his sister’s house, got there Tuesday. You know where she lives. This is gotta stop. I ain’t in his life no more, get outta here before you do something stupider than you already done.” He moved the weapon from my neck. “Get out!” Loretta now seemed angry.

    “Well, if Eddie ain’t there I’m coming back here, won’t be no six minutes then,” he leaned down so close I could smell the sweat in his hair. “Lady, I once run a mile in six minutes, biggest rush I ever got. Lot can happen in six minutes.”

    As the door closed behind young Hollis, people at other tables were using their phones.

    “Loretta,” I called. “A fresh bowl of your delicious vegetable soup, please. I am surprised it got so cold in just six minutes.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a cool customer your MC is. I bet she thought she was in a day dream and didn’t care one way or another. I.seriously doubt he would have gone through with his threat. Dialogue was especially good here and very realistic. Do you miss your family of characters?

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Kerry. Perhaps this gal is Annie all grown up. Saturday we met for the first time this year with our Wyoming writing group, yeah Prairie Pens. I read two Annie stories and in the next few days I’m going to try to see the Children’s Librarian here. I’m still not certain of the audience. Thanks, again and as always.

    2. Bushkill

      A good bowl of soup is often overlooked. It can be such a bone deep satisfying kind of meal. Hollis needs to take a load off and pick up a spoon.

      Lovely telling, Reatha

  32. Hiba Gardezi

    I love mushrooms.
    I love mushrooms.
    I just love mushrooms.
    Creamy. Saucy mushrooms. Swimming in this sea of sauce.
    Ooh beautiful. Soft, buttery. Mashed potato.
    I love mushrooms.
    I kiss the mushroom on my fork. It’s been pierced. I’ve cut it.
    “Oh, Darling! How could I?”
    I eat my mushrooms.
    I love- whaat?!
    I spit it into my plate.
    I fix my eyes on the brown shiny thing covered in slime.
    It looks like a mushroom.
    I touch it.
    “Is there a problem, Sir?” The waitress asks, coming over to my table.
    “Is there a problem?” I ask her, looking hurt. Trying to sound like I’m holding back tears. Then I shout. “There’s a fake in my plate!”
    “What, what?” the manager asks.
    Suddenly a random guy gets up and starts to rap.
    “Yo! There’s a fake in the plate ”
    “What” he snaps.
    “What, what?” the manager says, looking very distressed.
    The rapper nods smiling
    “Like a mouse in the house”
    “What?” I ask
    “What, what?” the manager repeats and I think I see a tear glisten on his check. Hmm… must be a bad boss.
    “Mister Manager,” I walk up to his desk. “What is this?”
    “A mushroom.”
    “Pah!” I shout, disgusted.
    “IT’S. A. FAKE. YOU HEAR ME? A FAKE!! LIKE YOU!” I pull at his hair. Unfortunately it’s real.
    And it’s oily.
    I get an idea.
    “Eat it”
    “Eat it”
    “It’s been in your mouth.”
    “But I didn’t make it.”
    “But you’re the manager”
    I tear the ‘manager’ label of his shirt, throw it on the floor and step on it.
    “That’s it” he says firmly.
    “What. That’s your real job?” I point to the janitor who bursts into tears.
    “No. I mean that’s it. I won’t put up with you anymore.”
    “Yo mamas so fat—”a kid starts but then his mama gives him a look.
    “What ya gonna do?” I ask.
    “Rap battle!” The rapper stands up.
    “No.” an old man stands up. “You must fight with your hands.”
    I look at the manager.
    He’s kinda big.
    “No thanks.”
    He comes to us slowly, with his walking stick.
    One step.
    Two steps.
    Uggh he drops his stick and runs to us.
    “Are you a man?” he touches my chin and looks at my face
    “Are you a man?” he asks the manager.
    “No,” I laugh “he’s an Ager! Take the man out of manager. Get it. No one laughs.
    The old man slaps me.
    “You urchin. You must fight. NOW!”
    That’s how a mushroom almost killed me.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This certainly took me on a trip, perhaps the ‘Mad Hatter’ was there but I didn’t notice, Was it’ Ivan the Terrible’? No, I don’t think so. It was the ‘mushroom maker’ that got confused with the ‘snail peeler’. Ah Ha That what it was. Now that you have me totally confused with this, I think I’ll have to sleep on it.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      First, I love the Ager, very clever. Then as everything started veering into another reality right after mushrooms, I was reminded of an evening long ago with a poet and an offer of mushrooms, but, that’s another story for another day.

  33. tward09

    It started in my legs.

    My first thought was that I had been sitting at the table for too long and that I needed to get up and walk around a bit, but the familiar pins-and-needles feeling of limbs falling asleep was growing more and more intense as the seconds went on. When I tried to get up from my chair, I stumbled back down into it, laughing and playing it off as if I was clumsy, drawing giggles from my classmates. On the outside, I was listening to the reminiscing of our trip – the bright Tokyo lights, the bullet trains and how quickly we could explore the unique history of old Japanese towns straight from the center of the city, the food, the culture. On the inside, I was battling the fear steadily growing as my feet and calves began to scream.

    When I heard the kitchen doors slam open, the pain had made its way to my thighs, and my look of agony was now apparent to everyone around me. Looking in the direction of the doors, I watched our waitress sprinting towards our table, weaving between business meetings and first dates, yelling in Japanese and crying in the universal language of panic. She grabbed my face and said something to me. I’m not sure what, but I understood “six.” Our translator’s expression melted, curiosity replaced with despair.

    As the burning reached my groin and began its way into my abdomen, I was able to put the pieces together. Food shows and documentaries have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and when I was given the opportunity to spend a semester in Japan to study abroad, I knew exactly what I was going to try. Pufferfish has a reputation for being the pinnacle of sushi, the Russian-Roulette of fine dining. The thrill of eating something that could kill me would be unlike anything I’d ever done. And now, I can’t feel my chest. But hey, you get what you pay for.

    As my classmates and translator were getting out of their chairs to haul me to the car, I could hear patrons all over the restaurant yelling into their phones, understanding a couple of words like “American” and “ambulance.”

    My classmates were able to lift me out of my chair with a group-wide grunt, and I felt totally useless. I looked back toward the kitchen and saw a chef sitting against the wall, head in his hands, while other members of the staff were consoling him. I felt sympathy for his fatal mistake, wishing I could let him know I didn’t blame him. Accidents happen. Sarah was crying as our translator was explaining what was happening, Chase was sweating and yelling, and Morgan had a blank expression of disbelief. Their genuine concern warmed my heart.

    Unable to use my arms at this point, my panic was replaced with embarrassment, knowing how ridiculous I looked flopping around like a dead, well, fish. I laughed when I realized the irony.

    I heard the door of our van slam while my eyelids lost the ability to stay open. There was no feeling anywhere. In a way, with my hearing now failing, it was quite peaceful. There I was, a limp body rolling around in the seat, though not feeling, devoid of all senses, like being in a deprivation chamber. I was alone with my thoughts. I began to dream – not of terror or death or loneliness, but of light, of warmth, of love. What was once pain, and then paralysis, evolved into comfort like I had never experienced. Up, up, up I traveled, through light and life, through the city, the clouds, through memories of childhood, dreams of adulthood, friends, family, everything. When I came to a stop, I could feel my body, stronger than ever, in total comfort. In front of me stood a gate.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your last paragraph is beautifully composed, making the whole story special. Those who pusk the limit, usually pay in Spades. Quite a powerful and very unusual story, fitting the prompt perfectly.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley


      Great job describing the process. While it’s wonderfully written, I wonder about the attitude of acceptance. Even though it appears your MC is a college student, there is a very mature (old?) soul at work. All very well done.

      1. tward09

        Thanks for reading! I see what you mean about his quick acceptance. That was sort of going through my mind while I was writing as well. I wanted it to end on a triumphant note, but that meant quickly switching from terror of dying to total acceptance, which probably isn’t how many people (including me) would end up taking it lol. I appreciate any and all criticism, and appreciate you pointing it out!

  34. igonzales81

    I don’t want to say he was asking for it, but eating at your jilted ex’s restaurant? Bad decision. And an excellent story. That was really well-written.

  35. Lex Noël

    Word Count: 442

    “I’m sorry, what?” I stare at the waitress, whose complexion is as tomato red as her hair.

    “Six minutes,” she rasps, “six minutes until you die!” Despite my best efforts my laughter clamors through the awkward silence of the restaurant, stunning the waitress.

    “Where is she?” I ask, scanning the room. I know she’s behind this. Annie always was one for dramatics. Price you pay for straying from the marriage bed.

    “If I were you,” the waitress pleas, “I’d be in the next cab to the hospital, mister.” Ignoring her again I stand up walk back through the kitchen towards Annie’s office with the waitress on my heels.

    “I wouldn’t go in there!” She wails, “Seriously, sir, you need to get to a hospital!”

    “Listen, you’re obviously new here,” I warn her as I hold my hand up. “Annie is a close friend of mine. So if you’d be so kind as to get out of my way.” Niceties have never been my strongpoint.

    I push open the office door and there’s Annie, leaning against her desk, looking perfect as usual. Her slender legs go on for miles and her hazel eyes take a man’s breath away. But beneath all that gorgeous perfection is a hailstorm waiting to strike.

    “Enough with the nonsense, Anne,” I say to her. “Your little friend is making a scene and I’d like to eat in peace if that’s alright with you.” Annie smiles exposing two rows of flawlessly straight pearly whites. She laughs her rich sultry laugh and for a minute I’m almost swept up in her storm once more.

    “Ezra Kane,” she says, “what a way to spend your last six minutes. Tell me, how was the milkshake?

    “Annie, I’m tired,” I begin, “it’s been a long day. I thought we agreed to leave well enough alone.” I see her left eyebrow begin to rise like it always does when she’s about hurl a lightening strike.

    “Maybe you should have thought about that before you wasted three years of my life, Mr. Kane,” she hisses at me. “You had it coming.” It’s as if she has said the magic words. A searing pain jabs across my lower abdomen as burning sensations begin to tingle in my hands. My vision begins to blur at a rapid pace and I can feel my heart pounding in my ears.

    “Goodbye, Ezra,” Annie bends down and whispers. Through the pulsing in my ears I can hear Annie’s favorite soundtrack playing on her computer. It’s “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago. Just as my world is going black she sings the words, “You know some guys just can’t hold their arsenic.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well Lex, to all ex’s be careful what and where they dine out. If he’d had a gun on him, he could have evened the score, words sure weren’t about to put her away, So much for Ezra, He sure asked for it. I like the detail on him losing his scenses, it is bone chilling at best.

      1. Lex Noël

        Thanks Kerry! I decided that a guy dumb enough to eat at his exes restaurant would probably lack any form of self defense as well. I imagined hi. To be one of those “I’m invincible” types 🙂 thanks for the kind words!


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