A collaborative short story
First 200 words by murgatroid98: http://murgatroid-98.livejournal.com/2391.html
The Jacksons, Ed and Marnie, had been away for two months and no one in the neighborhood had heard from them. Everyone assumed they were still traveling across the country to celebrate Marnie’s retirement. Lena held her breath as she approached the driveway. She had noticed the stench during her morning walk. Something dead. An animal perhaps, a large one by the smell. Plenty of feral cats lived and died in the area. Coyotes, too. Burying the poor thing, whatever it was, seemed kinder than leaving it to rot and stink.
A glistening wetness oozed from under the door as the odor became almost tangible. She gagged. Maggots. Her stomach roiled as she backed away, stumbling onto the lawn. She bent over and heaved onto the grass, gasping for an untainted breath. As she stood back up, she noticed that the front door was slightly ajar.
Lena moved slowly to the door to peek through the crack and listen. Dim light filtered through the curtains into the living room. She pushed the door open and froze, stench and maggots forgotten. Horror and relief fought for dominance, because what lay on the carpeted floor was not one of the Jacksons.
Next 200 words by LC Hu: http://elsiewho.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/200-words-at-a-time-continued/
It was a dog. A huge dog, a (wolf) husky, maybe, in such a state of decay Lena guessed it must have died around the time the Jacksons had disappeared. Lena strained to remember if the Jacksons had ever had a dog. She didn’t think she’d ever seen one; but she’d never been very close to the Jacksons. They could have kept a dog inside, or in the backyard. Maybe it was—had been—a good dog. A quiet dog.
Lena knew moving closer was a bad idea, but her curiosity refused to take no for an answer. She leaned towards the corpse and immediately had to fight the hot acid rise at the back of her throat. The dog’s belly had been torn open. The ragged wound gaped blackly, more black slime pooling from the wound. Farther back in the dark wound, there was the hint of movement. More maggots.
Staggering back towards the door, Lena sucked in great breaths of fresh air.
She glanced back over her shoulder and immediately regretted it. From the dark interior of the house, the yellowed fangs of the dog smiled back at her, lips drawn back by rot and dehydration.
Third 200 words by Jeremy Podolski (me)
But there was something more, an interesting scrap of fabric impaled on the animal’s right incisor. She almost missed it in an effort to shield her eyes from the gore, but the pattern caught her attention as much as anything else.
She steeled herself for a closer look. The swatch was blue silk, adorned with a repeating design of a samurai locked in battle with a serpent, all in gold. It looked expensive, and it certainly didn’t look like it came from something that the Jacksons – who by all accounts were more likely to frequent the Ripley’s Museum than one of art or natural history – would own.
Lena could tell easily by the frayed edges and jagged outline that the scrap had been torn from something larger: A scarf? A babushka? A kimono? The eviscerated beast had put up a fight, but against what? It was hard to picture the animal locked in combat against a wealthy, well-dressed dowager.
She felt the urge to take the fabric, as if this was her mystery to solve and her clue to commandeer. The thoughts spinning in her mind distracted Lena from her nausea, but they also prevented her from recognizing the presence of another in the foyer.
Fourth 200 words by Meagan Wilson http://burntgraphite.net/fiction3
Lena gasped, and whirled to see a figure emerge from the late afternoon shadows. He was tall, at least by Lena’s standards. His black hair was swept up in a topknot, similar to the samurai that chased a serpent across his blue silk jacket. Sure enough, the jacket, which looked like a short kimono, had a piece torn from the bottom edge. But what really held Lena’s interest, and set her heart thudding, was the sword at the man’s side. A sword he began to unsheathe as he took another step toward her.
ena swallowed, hard. If the wound in the dog’s belly was any indication, the sword was not for show. She should run. Call the police.
But instead, she heard herself ask, “Why did you kill the dog?” as she inched toward the door.
“He was in my way. As are you,” his voice was deep, and hard as the four-foot length of steel in his hand. Uh-oh. She’d read somewhere that a samurai never drew his sword unless he intended to use it. She tore her eyes from the blade, forced herself to meet his dark eyes.
“So you’re going to slaughter me, like the dog?”
Final 200 words by Jeremiah Boydstun http://jeremiahboydstun.com/2013/12/22/200-words-the-final-edition/
“Not you,” he said. In the time it took Lena to fill her lungs with enough air to scream, the man closed the space between them. So quick was the movement that the snap of his silk jacket and the metallic hum of the sword, as it was brought to eye level and driven into the space just to the left of Lena’s temple, seemed but momentary impressions of sight and sound.
The scream had just made it to the back of her throat when she felt the warm burst across her neck and shoulder, smelled the ferrous tang of blood. The man held the sword in an over-under grip at shoulder level. For a moment Lena thought she had been impaled, sliced open. I must be in shock, she thought. But then she heard the thick gurgle just behind her, felt the hot exhalation. The man locked eyes with Lena, his face placid but stern, and gave the sword hollow, crunching twist.
Something large behind Lena fell to the floor with a heavy, wet thump.
“Him.” The man withdrew the blade and nodded to the space behind Lena’s left foot. She turned slowly.
The body of a man lay twitching on the floor. Partly obscured by shadow of the half-open door, a large citrine eye stared up at her. The blood oozed over the black lips and was beginning to pool beneath the muzzle.
This time the scream came.
Ed Jackson had come home.
In response to: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/12/06/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-3/
Part 2 – the second 200 words
First 200 words by R.T. Wilder (http://rtwilder.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/for-flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-one-titled-harriet/)
Harriet’s body blistered from allergic reactions to grass, trees, wool, fur, nickel, dust, mites, mold, wall paint, perfume, cigarettes, wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and antihistamines.
For safety’s sake, she never went to school. She saw a tutor five times a week, and her parents paid the neighborhood children to visit and play with her every once in a while. The kids found detoxifying themselves on her front porch annoying at best, and the cleaning fluids made their eyes sting. When her parents’ financial situation changed and they could no longer pay, most of the kids stopped coming. Paranoid by her sudden unpopularity, she alienated the last few kids who still visited her. Those few never returned.
If Harriet and the children had no choice but to see one another at school or some other activity in neutral territory, they could have talked things through. Harriet could have learned conflict resolution from experience. Experience now taught her that besides her parents, people stayed for a price, or else they left.
To kill time, Harriet made online profiles for her secret friends: Bloody Marty, from the graveyard she saw through binoculars, Crocodile Girl, from an imaginary swamp, and The Owl.
Next 200 words by Jeremy Podolski
The Owl was her favorite. He had a sharp tongue, able to snap off a quick and biting response that turned any insult back on his attackers with twice the force. He picked fights. That was his nature. He would seek out the cyberbullies of nearby schools. They were easy to find. Always public profiles. Always cover photos of a truck sodomizing a sailboat or some other such nonsense.
The posts would be nothing more than a litany of hurled insults detailing which girls were sluts and which boys were still virgins. Which kid’s dad had to work at the BP station because he got laid off from his office job and which kid cut the tags from her clothes so her friends wouldn’t know they were from Walmart.
These teenage tormenters were brazen behind a keyboard, but their attacks reeked of immaturity and insecurity, and The Owl could smell it. Just as he might spill the entrails of a rabbit with his whetted talons, he cut with words into the bellies of the bullies until their fight was gone and they had retreated into the arms of their abusive mothers or alcoholic fathers.
And Harriet loved him for it.
[Kristen Bruce continues this story in Part 3 here: http://benteight.tumblr.com/post/69758310108/part-three-flash-fiction-challenge]In response to: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/11/29/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-two/
Part 1 – the first 200 words
By Jeremy Podolski
Pressed against the horizon, the sun seemed to lacerate the distant treeline, blood-red rays of light spilling in quiet reflection on Lake Montague. My legs hung over the edge of the pier, one foot drawing circles in the water’s surface, like a lazy man’s version of pacing. He was late. Again.
I’m not prone to emotion. I didn’t cry when my companion of 13 years, a loyal black lab I named Georgie, was hit by a Jeep Cherokee in March and died in my front yard. I didn’t turn cartwheels when a well-timed stock tip put me in position to retire at age 50 with enough green on reserve to drive a brand new import every year for the rest of what I hope is a long, gluttonous life. Not much moves the needle for me. I’m not fluent in empathy, and in love, I am a journeyman at best.
In fear, however, I am a master.
I patted the dark blue backpack perched next to me, reassured that it hadn’t vanished into the growing dark. The shape and texture of its contents were puzzling, but I knew of at least two things that could kill me quicker than curiosity.
[hpetterson continues this story in Part 2 here: http://hpetterson.wordpress.com/]
In response to: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/11/22/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-one/
Hi, I’ve added to the story for round four. Here’s the link. http://burntgraphite.net/fiction3
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