April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting


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Post April 22, 2018, 12:00:34 PM

April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

One Breathless Moment
A Fantasy, Science Fiction or Horror Fiction Writing Contest.


General Thoughts:

This segment of the contest is important for both the voters and the commenters. To communicate with thoughtful responses requires focused thinking which develops skills in a person's writing and public speaking.

For the participating writers, the voting and commenting is beneficial for the author, to help them see through the eyes of the readers.

Wormtongue, the Archive Editor wants the stories posted in separate posts so he can link onto them for the archive.


Timeline:

Voting and commenting for "One Breathless Moment" Flash Fiction Contest begins today and will continue through Saturday April 28, 2018.

The results will be posted after the voting has ended.


Commenting:

If you have something unfavorable to say about a story, make it constructive so the author can benefit from your viewpoint and insight.

Never say anything negative about the authors themselves.

Praise and encourage the authors with any element that is worthy of it. Let them know they did good.


To Vote:

Send me a pm (private message) by clicking on my name on this post and then click the words private message on the following screen. Type in the name of the story you liked the best and click submit.

The One Breathless Moment Flash Fiction Contest - voting and commenting begins...now.

____________________

The titles of the 7 stories in this flash contest are:

Stuart Cormie - I Ran
Jolene Wilkerson - The Omega Quadrant
Jim Statton - Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Janet Williams - Bunny Slipper
Twilight Zee - Just One More
Sergio Palumbo - Fully Accessorized...
Robin Lipinski - Dumb Luck
____________________
Last edited by Jim Statton on April 22, 2018, 12:10:14 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:01:50 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

I RAN
by Stuart Cormie

So I was on the last train through the Channel Tunnel before it was flooded by the French. It's not that they waited for us to pass before turning on the taps; their President was on a state visit to Chad or somewhere and so the green light was a little late in coming.

There have been many times since though when I just wish they’d been quicker.

I was at Waterloo running for the 6.32 when the big screens on the concourse flashed with the unbelievable first reports. We stopped, en masse, nervously quiet (reminding me of the afternoon of 9/11 in the office, gathered round a chirruping CNN, while on the rooftops nearby security staff stood and scanned the skies pointlessly because we'd been told London would be next).

I tried to call you but the mobile networks were down. I tried for the next week, left messages. Called the flat, though I knew you wouldn't be there.

And when eventually your phone did ring, there was no answer.

Never has been.

One day, your mobile stopped ringing altogether. Texts and Facebook messages remain unanswered. No response from your boy's school, nor your father or sister.

The 6.32 left without me. But across in the International terminal, I could see a couple of EuroStar trains at the platforms. Brussels was the first one out, almost ready to go. A flash of plastic and my passport and twenty minutes later we were whizzing through Kent as daylight beckoned.

I had no time to think. There was no other way. The moment came; I seized it, and so I'm alive.

As the train neared Folkestone, most of the people I'd been stood with at the station were dead.

I'm sorry I couldn't tell you this before: I ran.

I didn't come to find you, didn't rush to save you or your boy, wasn't there to hold you as we both succumbed. Yes, I ran.

Please don't hate me.

Later that day, in my Belgian hotel, I saw the first pictures out of England on the tv.

People in protective suits torching human piles in Trafalgar Square.

Nose-to-tail vehicles abandoned on the M25. Contorted bodies on the diesel-slick road.

Pathetic columns of the ill or soon-to-be dead traipsing towards the South Coast ports.

Preston ablaze.

They say the fire that consumed the van carrying the toxin caused its container to fail within minutes, it was so fierce. Looks like the driver had swerved to avoid something in the road in the fog – probably a deer – but had then crossed the central reservation and gone head-first into a truck coming the other way….

It was just a bloody deer!

Death floated off with the smoke across the Salisbury Plain … and beyond.

Of course they didn’t know what it really was, back then. They say it had been picked it up from an abandoned site in yet another Middle East conflict zone, and it was only in the UK to be analysed and eventually destroyed at the government lab at Porton Down.

That is what they claimed, anyway.

The blockade was immediate, by international consent. Do you know they've got NATO F-16s patrolling the Channel and North Sea, under orders to destroy anything that moves? Even now, four months on, when they say the poisonous clouds would have long since dissipated, and anyone left alive is going to stay alive. (I've heard rumours there are confirmed pockets of survivors in the Scottish Highlands and parts of Wales. The Celts ultimately won out it would seem.)

We've seen the smoking hulk of a P&O ferry just metres from its Dover berth.

The barbed wire on Brighton beach.

US warships at anchor in Morecambe Bay.

And all I have left of you is the badly framed picture in my wallet, your works do in Basingstoke, your eyes bloodshot and hooded at the end of a long night, a cheesy grin, and that skirt you always hated because it wasn't a pair of trousers.

But it's not enough.

Somone's told me there are boats out of Ireland that can beat the quarantine somehow and get you landed on the Welsh coast.

I know it's too late, I know you're probably gone, but baby, please hang on in there.

I'm coming home.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:02:36 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

The Omega Quadrant
by Jolene Wilkerson

Sweat dripped from the deep ridges of his brow onto the hard earth. Each drop seemed to sizzle on the dirt like a egg dropped into a frying pan. Zy wanted to shake his fist at the entity that stranded him on this forsaken planet, but fear gripped him at the very thought of it.

Zycroft Nash II was handsome with opaque skin and pronounced ridges on his forehead and bridge of his nose. This was a sign of strength and virility on the thriving planet of Aldaron in the Epsilon Quadrant. Zy had achieved the rank of a Two Star Captain in only four years out of Aldaron’s elite West Star Academy. Captain Zy always felt a sense of destiny, and had his sites set on advancement. He hoped to make three star status inside of a year.

As Captain of the Aldaron Space Cruiser IV, Zy sank confidently into the big chair. The crew was pleased to have completed a dangerous, but successful mission delivering vital medical supplies to Elmtar and retrieving refuges, who were seeking asylum from the war torn planet.

“What’s that ahead?” Zy asked his first officer Rand. “Five hundred meters starboard.”

“It looks like a giant crystal,” Rand said with the moon’s light reflecting upon the rare object in space.

“Amazing! Zoom in with magnifiers on full strength,” Zy commanded with a breathless excitement.

Pure light bounced off the glass like object of about twelve by six diameters.

“Rand, what is the space capacity for storage bay one?” Zy asked.

“Storage bay one would hold it sir, but we would need to investigate its properties first as a safety protocol.” Rand said nervously.

“Let’s move in closer, lieutenant,” Zy said. Light from the crystal filled the helm, as the cruiser approached.

“Rand, issue a containment field, storage bay one, immediately!” Zy said, with the vision of his promotion in hand.

“But sir,” Rand hesitated.

“That’s an order,” said Zy. “Before it is out of range.”

The first officer beamed the crystal aboard with a quiet hush of anticipation. Once aboard, the entire vessel filled with a pure light. Zy covered his eyes and gripped the captain’s chair, where he sat comfortably only a moment ago. The vessel began to shake violently as thousand of asteroids and stars whisked by. Moving at an unthinkable speed, Zy tried to keep his eyes open, but the light from inside the vessel made it impossible.
***

After suffering unbarable conditions, without electricity, and only crude tools made from the ships components, Zy knew what he had to do. It would not be long before the crew turned on him and each other. He got up early and washed himself in the stream by the cavern where they slept. He looked up towards the top of the cliff. He had felt the presence of the entity. He knew if he was to ever find passage home and escape the harshness of the desolate planet, that the entity was the key. He had no choice now, but to face it.

He began the long hike up the mountain. With each step, he thought of his weary crew that forged for food by day and huddled by the fire, as electrical storms lit up the night. His boots were covered with dirt, worn and punctured from the rough terrain. His hands dripped with blood, as he pulled himself up, inch by inch, balancing his feet on the jagged rock surface. He climbed in desperation, his heavy guilt upon his back. He felt his former life and his desire for advancement melt away like a ocean wave hitting a castle in the sand. As rocks crumbled under his feet, he tried not to look down. With each gasp, he was more certain that his crew, and the additional nineteen refugees, would not survive. With one final pull, he lunged himself upward and stood on level ground upon the top of the rocky mountain cliff.

He bowed his head in silence and fear. His bones quaked. Zy’s opaque skin burned from the heat of the five suns upon him. His clothes were tattered and his eyes looked as a man at the brink of destruction.

“Tell me why you have brought us here?” Zy cried out to empty sky.

Silence fell over the land.

“What can I do to get my crew home?... Surely you have not brought us here to perish?” Zy cried out with a determined, but weakened voice.

Light began to swirl around him like a storm. Zy felt a presence in the light and his body collapsed. He saw his planet, Aldaron, in a vision; blue and green with vegetation from a distance. His eyes batted back and forth, as he lay prostrate on the ground. But as the vision continued, Zy began to see soldiers marching in lock step through the streets and citizens quaking in fear. He could see miles of land, devastated from storms and quakes, and cities flattened in rubble. Zooming in closer, he was horrified to see all the inhabitants, moving about in a trance, void of soul or spirit in servitude to the state.

Zy began to shutter on the ground, as his vision began to fade.

“My beloved Aldaron, a slave planet? How can this be?" he said, struggling to stand. Deep strands of white hair now highlighted his temples, on the sides of his head.

As he looked out from the cliff to the land below, the wind blew. With it, the trees rippled providing shade below. The land seemed to be looking up, ready to be worked.

“There will be much hardship ahead,” Zy sighed.

But he bent down and cupped the dirt into his hands and sprinkled it onto his face. Drawing it near to his lips, his eyes wet with tears, he kissed it.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:04:05 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Bridge Over Troubled Waters
by Jim Statton

It was an overcast day, the kind of day that beckoned a sleepy head to stay snugly warm wrapped in their comforter until sleep had no power of them. Wouldn't that be something.

My room was a mess. Dirty laundry strewn across my bedroom floor, my dresser and my bed. Not wanting to deal with it made me even more tired.

I had been hitting the snooze button on my alarm without realizing it. When I finally opened my eyes to look at the time, I jumped out of bed and began frantically getting ready. I needed to be in transit for my doctor's appointment in five minutes.

I hate going to those things. Either waiting an insufferable amount of time to be seen by the doctor, or being poked, prodded and examined without the slightest bit of humanity. So I dragged my feet that morning.

I didn't really have time to clean up so I combed my hair and got dressed. That always makes me feel bad, when I'm not at my best.

The car was low on gasoline (of course it was), so I had to wait in line for that. I kept looking at the digital clock on my dashboard every other second, which only served to make me more tense.

I've been late on doctor visits before and I was warned I would have to pay next time even if the doctor couldn't see me due to my tardiness. That wouldn't fit into my budget.

Speeding however was making up the difference as long as I didn't get pulled over. What's the worst that could happen. I pay a fine and be done with it. I could live with that.

And then there was the toll bridge. The blinking lights, the light sounding ding, ding ding as the bridge began to slowly rise. Judging the distance for me to drive over the crack as the bridge rose, I could easily get across due to the slow speed of its movement.

I didn't see any obstacles to impede my path, so I gunned the accelerator. Well, I could actually make it if I didn't have anymore hindrances.

And then, as I was driving fast toward the bridge divide, the speed of the bridge movement became much faster. Oh my God, I couldn't stop now - I had committed myself.

After a couple of seconds had passed, I was airborne. This is not a good thing!

Suddenly, the engineer who mechanically raised the bridge began to lower it at an accelerated speed. The forward end of the bridge caught my car hood and the back half of the bridge caught my bumper and my car began folding into itself like an accordion.

This can't be good!

As the dashboard began to bend towards my chest and I was physically somewhere between the front and back seat, I thought to myself, I'm really going to need that doctor visit today or I'm going to need to cancel it permanently.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:04:59 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Bunny Slipper
by Janet Williams

An Original Fantasy Tale

Horace the Rabbit greeted every sunshiny day with a belch and a happy non chalet disregard for everything that was not him. He traveled about looking for things in the forest to make his home life easier.

There was always the fresh fragrances of the outdoors. And there were always plenty of cute girl bunnies for this fun loving playboy rabbit.

But, he had a reputation for being accident prone. He just didn't pay close attention to the life around him.

Peter Porcupine was traveling in Forrest Town when Horace the Rabbit plucked a quill from his backside, causing him to run throughout the shopping area, sticking every creature in every which direction. During the tormoil, an elephant squashed him.

Later that day, there was a funeral for Peter Porcupine. Many of the woodland wild creatures were there with bandages on their hoohaws. The elephant wasn't happy either with two large bandages on his "weapon of mass destruction" feet.

"Hey, what's the frowny faces for?" Horace the Rabbit asked looking about.

Freddie the Ferret said to Horace the Rabbit jumping and chirping up and down, "You weasel, look at all the damage you've caused!"

"Well, kiss my furry, furry butt! And that goes for all of you!" Horace wasn't doing himself any favors, but you couldn't tell him anything.

A day later, the local wildlife bar (a small cave outside of Woodland Terrace) had their weekly shipment of distilled spirits. Horace sniffed around until he saw cases of his favorite fermented carrot juice. He squealed and began paddling his little feet across the other bottles of vegetable and root liquors, causing them to break and spill onto the peanut shells and wood shavings on the cave's floor.

Just then as Manny Mole began to light his pipe, a fire broke out sending all the creatures out of the cave's entrance. Horace the Rabbit dragged a case of fermented carrot juice outside out of harms way. He rolled over on his back and guzzled the carrot ambrosia liquor.

Later that evening, while perched on his cushy easy chair in his lair, he smelled smoke. He jumped up with a start to look out his window. Marching toward his home was dozens of woodland creatures carrying torches and heading his way.

He scurried over to the back wall of his home, placed his paws around his waist...and peed on himself, twitching his nose in fear.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:05:57 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Just One More
by Twilight Zee

It had been a long hard road, but man was it worth it! Endless hours of study without breaks and far too little rest for one Michael Green.

As Michael came fully awake, all the events of the past week began flooding into his consciousness. This was the day he'd been dreaming of since he was a young teenager. Two long decades of a myriad of special studies had brought Michael to this place, a place of wonder and fascination. He was poised on the verge of taking flight, a flight into the world of emergency room medicine. Being a doctor in this facet of medicine required the ability to make sound, but lightning quick decisions, leaving no room for error. With lives at stake, there was no time for slow, inaccurate choices.

It was the second week in June and the graduation ceremonies were scheduled to take place that afternoon. Having relentlessly pushed through the remainder of all of his course finals, labs and scheduled rotations at the university teaching hospital, Michael's nerves were almost stretched to a breaking point, but for the reward that now lay just within his reach he was able to focus on his goal. The final achievement of walking across that stage in cap and gown was what he was pressing toward.

He could scarcely contain his enthusiasm. In addition to the ceremonies that were to take place, impromptu parties began popping up as the day progressed. Soon after the conclusion of all the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonies, several of his classmates and their girlfriends invited him to the biggest blowout on campus. Taking place at the oldest frat house was a party the likes of which had never been seen. Arriving just after seven, the party already in full swing, Michael and friends had to weave their way through the throngs of people already there.

Exhausted, yet relieved, everyone began settling into the revelry of the evening. Loud music, mountains of food and an open bar were at the center of everyone's focus. Local restaurants and distributing companies had donated all eats and drinks in celebration of the fact that this was the university's 200th graduating class. The amount of indulgences seemed endless.

As the evening wore on, the party began thinning out. Most participants had been going non-stop since early this morning and many of them were beginning to tire. Michael was no exception. As he headed to the closet for his jacket, his best friend Miles stopped him.

"Hey man, where you headed? This night's not over yet. Why don't you stay? Come on man...have one more. Just one more."

"Miles I'm done in. I've had enough for the day. I'm going home."

"You can't leave now. There's still tons of eats and drinks left. Come on, Just one more..."

At his friend's steadfast insistence, Michael threw his coat over the arm of the nearest chair as Miles fixed him another drink. As with many things in life, that "just one more" became "one too many". Gulping down the last of what was more like two drinks in one, Michael grabbed his coat and made his way toward the door. Things started becoming a little wobbly, but like most people that have had one too many, he convinced himself that he could drive without any problem.

He headed toward the entrance ramp to the interstate. Merging with the heavy traffic, he narrowly missed a semi that had failed to give him the right of way. Home began to seem like such a long way off. His eyelids became very heavy and his vision blurry. All he could think about was getting home.

Deep in thought of how to get home and fighting the increasing blurriness of his vision, Michael was suddenly jolted back to reality by the ear shattering blast of an air horn of another semi. As he swerved to miss the back end of the trailer, his front bumper clipped the truck's back bumper, sending his car into a violent, end-over-end roll, coming to rest at the edge of an embankment. Through the fog of pain and too much alcohol, he could smell the faint odor of gas and a growing sensation of heat. Struggling to undo his seat belt, he slipped into unconsciousness.

"Man, what a shame. I know this guy. He used to live next to my parents in the old neighborhood. His mom and dad put him through umpteen years of medical school and look at him now. On the threshold of a future he worked so hard for and what does he do? He drives drunk, has a wreck and loses the use of his legs and arms. No future in medicine for him now..." The paramedics gently lifted the stretcher into the ambulance and closed the doors. Just one more to add to the numbers.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:06:44 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Fully Accessorized...
by Sergio Palumbo

If it’s true that clothes make the man, undoubtedly a spacesuit makes a spaceman. This was what the 48-year-old Harry was thinking as he floated wrapped in his Exo-Suit in ZERO-G, his short chestnut curls dancing about his face, while he drifted around the debris that happened to be all was left from the ejection hatch he had just blown a few moments ago.

Looking back upon what he had been able to accomplish in the five minutes after the alarm started blaring, he might say he was really proud of his actions, because he had taken a much shorter period of time than dictated by the more recent Manual of Procedures. Well, he might say that if everything had gone ok, but the reality was a bit different…and it was that tiny oversight that made all the difference!

The main job of an Exo-Suit like the one he wore was to protect its wearer, of course. During spacewalks, it had to allow for easy movement and maintaining communications with a spacecraft or a spacebase. The outfit had to moderate temperature extremes — the blue sun’s rays could heat an astronaut up to 248 degrees F in that sector while the darkness of space could produce temperatures down to -256 degrees. It also needed to protect the wearer against bombardment by dangerous micrometeorites. His present Exo-Suit had been designed to give all this protection and could easily accomplish those goals.

However, wearing the Exo-Suit itself wasn’t enough

Harry turned his mind again to all the portable objects he had brought with him, equipment that was attached to the spacesuit itself. He had collected all these things before being blown out of the ejection hatch along the New Habitable Section of the destroyed spacebase. At his belt were: two Pistol-Grip Tools with a large information screen, meant to be used by the thick-gloved hands of spacewalkers; a high-speed drill to remove screws during spacewalks, both on the spacesuit itself or on the bulkhead of a spacecraft; a medical kit also with emergency nutrition fluids and the likes; five storage bags; and enough food supplies for a full day.

Fact was that he didn’t have a full day at his disposal, anyway.

Actually, when he had finally distanced himself from the damaged section of the spacebase and had checked all the things he had brought with him, the message alert on the screen on his right arm had attracted his attention, focusing all of his senses.

This wasn’t the right Exo-Suit; it wasn’t his personal Exo-Suit! A mistake had occurred, one not made by him, as he knew he was supposed to wear his own spacesuit - the light-gray one he had always taken great care of. Though, this was someone else’s spacesuit. The fact was that all the Exo-Suits aboard the spacebase had undergone a surface change of logo due to the spacebase being bought by a different company. Recently, there had been many buy-and-sell operations in that area of space mainly due to property changing hands among different space mining companies, which happened frequently, especially under the present depressed economy of that distant solar system orbiting the blue giant. This was why he hadn’t found any personal data on the spacesuit itself when he had headed for the usual slot in the ejection chamber and put it on. However, the lack of personal data on it wasn’t the only mistake that had occurred...

As his unbelieving eyes had discovered when he had first checked the Primary Life Support System, this was Frank’s Exo-Suit. Not only this wasn’t his, sad to say, but it had also been taken out of service for a good reason after Frank’s death had occurred two days ago. So, why was that Exo-Suit in the slot assigned to his personal spacesuit? Most of all, why hadn’t there been any repairs made to the oxygen refill system before it had been placed into the emergency chamber again?

Even sadder, the other performance parameters of the PLSS itself were all satisfactory. The device was currently: providing breathable oxygen removing carbon dioxide, humidity, odors, and contaminants from breathing oxygen; cooling and recirculating oxygen, and water through a Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment or Liquid Cooling Garment; adjusting the two-way voice communication display of suit health parameters telemetry of an indicator of the wearer's immediate health.

Well, his health was good so far. But all of that wasn’t going to help him, given the suit’s lack of enough oxygen!

Behind him, the screen indicated that other explosions were occurring in other sections of the destroyed spacebase. In a matter of minutes, there wouldn’t be much left because of collisions with the unknown objects that had suddenly appeared in the structure’s path today.

With all those tools that he had been able to collect in record time, it was sad to think that, possibly, he would be the first fully accessorized corpse in an ExoSuit that someone would find in the vastness of deep space one day. He had taken everything, supposedly everything, he needed to survive a long journey - except what he really, and primarily, needed most: oxygen.

If only he hadn’t been in such a hurry… He had done all that was expected of an experienced worker in case of an emergency evacuation.

But time was running out, while his free run without end through unending space wasn't. ”Just let me savor my last breath…” he whispered, as his oxygen began to run out. The glass of the helmet became misty, his perception began to fade and the content of his Exo-Suit - his body… – was quickly turning into a lifeless object, not different from the debris that had begun to float into infinity in that area.

Each life is made up of mistakes and learning…’ someone once said. Well, maybe Harry was done with lessons for now. This new-found knowledge would need to be kept for another lifetime, perhaps

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:07:44 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Dumb Luck
by Robin B. Lipinski

“Sir, is it true that a butterfly dipping it’s wing over in Africa will set into motion the actions needed for a cyclone in Hong Kong?” A somewhat strange question asked by many philosophy minded people, in many styles and variations. Strange though, the mention of an insect as beautiful as a butterfly starting such chaos and not an ant, or spider, or dung beetle.

The question by the red haired young man was directed towards the most unlucky man in the world. A man whose life was by definition of the word; absolute (censored). A more politically correct word describing this man’s life would be: Excrement, bowel contents, and even what the dung beetle rolls… Over in Africa.

The teachers name is not mentioned as even his name was unlucky and it brought on dire circumstances every time someone mentioned his name.

Even now, when the student asked the question, he used the name of the professor and just as the teacher was about to answer the question, the school fire alarm went off.

“Okay people. You know the drill. Everyone proceed to the nearest exit in an orderly fashion.” The professor had seen many fire alarms, many fires, many a-lot-of-bad-things, occur when someone mentioned his name.

It was true that the students knew the drill. This was probably the fifth fire alarm the school had had, in just this month. In the last few months, there were terrorist threats, an earthquake, and a lot of rabbits had escaped from their cages in the biology department and scurried around the hallways for days.

“Hey! Look at this!” Excitement bubbled from the red haired young man who recently asked about butterfly’s. “A hundred dollar bill!”

On the way out of school, the young man found the currency nestled under a bush near the door.

“Dude. That is some seriously good luck. Congrats.” His friend smiled as he said it as he too had some really good luck during the last fire alarm. It was during that alarm that he met and fell in love with a young girl that was in a music class in a building across the lawn. Without that alarm he probably would have never met her.

It turned out the fire alarm was based on a real fire. It was also a blessing that there was a fire today as a very tired professor was taking a nap in the teachers rest room when a students smart phone exploded. The lithium battery overheated and started a fire which lead to the alarm (at the same exact time the red haired student asked the butterfly question) and because of the fire, the alarm woke the sleeping professor who would have died in his sleep because he did not have his CPAP machine on for his sleep apnea. His CPAP machine had expired batteries and he had forgotten to plug the cord of the machine into an outlet.

After the small fire was put out, the students did not return to class. All the students went their own ways. The student with red hair went out with his friends to smoke some weed; purchased with the $100 bill he found. His friend who found love in the last event, went out with the woman to do what it is that lovers do. As for the professor, he went back to his classroom.

Sitting at his desk with both hands hold his head, he thought back to the point where all his bad luck began. He was now in his seventies and if it were not for his tenured job here at the University, he would have been out in the streets and probably labeled the most unlucky street person alive.

It had been close to twenty years. Twenty years when he and a group of students were over in Syria studying social philosophy of the locals. It was there he met a very interesting woman. She was lovely and mysterious. Very mysterious. And this woman worked in a shop that was surrounded by fluttering butterfly’s.

One thing lead to another. The professor and the mysterious woman joined minds and bodies. Spiritual could be a word that comes to mean something, but here it was much more. Much, much more.

The time in Syria lasted a month and during this month, the professor made a huge mistake. While he was deeply involved with the butterfly woman, he also had his head turned by a beautiful young Arab boy. It was lust at first sight and it lead to one night of passionate, carnal, lovemaking.

The professor did not think anyone would know or discover his activities. He always had been lucky at love and sex. These moments it was no different.

Just as the professor and his students were set to board the jet and return to the states, he met the mysterious woman one last time. A woman who now had three bright orange butterfly’s fluttering around her head.

“Tell me my love, what is it you desire in life? She asked, her tone soft, as soft as the touch of a butterfly’s wing.

“I have everything in life I need. I’ve been blessed with much luck. I guess I desire to keep my luck…”

“As you wish…” And as softly as she spoke, the two parted. He to his world of academia and lust, and she to the other world, a world of magic. She turned into a butterfly and flew away just as the professor and students flew back to America on a jet.

It was at that moment when the professor became the most unlucky man in the world, his wish granted by a beautiful Djinn. She knew his mistake and in payment he was to be the unluckiest man while others around him would be lucky, indeed.

The End

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Post April 22, 2018, 12:08:36 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

This concludes the stories in this contest.

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Post April 23, 2018, 09:36:50 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

I noticed instantly the difference in stories submitted for this challenge.

Each author took the premise into a particular direction unlike anyone else. This made for a variety of style and,this made it interesting to read and interesting to vote for a favorite.

Not bad and good to see variety of thought.

Now, to cast my vote which is easy for me to see.

Good job for those who took the time to write a story.
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Post April 26, 2018, 07:58:25 AM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

I just voted now...eh,eh :)

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Post April 26, 2018, 12:13:19 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Hello everyone,

Our votes and comments on the stories are low this contest. We have some surprising good stories in this line up. Can you give us some of your time to read and vote?

Thank you.

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Post April 26, 2018, 02:11:23 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Great stories! Sent my vote.

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Post April 27, 2018, 12:39:08 AM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

I voted.

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Post April 27, 2018, 09:41:06 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

You have to tomorrow night to read and cast a vote for one of these 7 stories. Don't miss out on these great reads.

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Post April 29, 2018, 12:51:43 PM

The Voting Results

I want to thank all the authors for providing first rate stories. I was impressed with the consistent quality in these stories and that comment was shared with me by other readers during the voting process.

Also, I want to thank all the long time members who came to our rescue when we were running low on votes towards the beginning of the voting process.

Finally, this is the first time since I have moderated these contests that there has been a distinct first, second and third place winner.

And the votes are as followed.


Total Votes - 14

Stuart Cormie - I Ran - 5
Jolene Wilkerson - The Omega Quadrant - 1
Jim Statton - Bridge Over Troubled Waters - 1
Janet Williams - Bunny Slipper - 2
Twilight Zee - Just One More - 1
Sergio Palumbo - Fully Accessorized... - 1
Robin Lipinski - Dumb Luck - 3

First place winner...Stuart Cormie for the story "I Ran".
Second place winner...Robin Lipinski for the story "Dumb Luck".
Third place winner...Janet Williams for the story "Bunny Slipper".

This was an exciting contest and I sure had fun.

Thanks again to everyone.

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Post April 29, 2018, 12:53:49 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

My comments.

Robin B. Lipinski - Dumb Luck

This was like some ancient Asian world allegory. The fantasy genre gives the writer freedom to create anything that the reader will relate to even beyond their experiences.

The old professor who was visited by a magical spirit asked for luck and got the exact opposite. So let that be a lesson to you - never ask anything from magic - it can't lead to anything good.

Robin's free spirited writing is enjoyable to me, because he is writing thought as he is experiencing it.

A pleasure.

***

Sergio Palumbo - Fully Accessorized...

The title is meant to be ironic, for the state-of-the-art technology spacesuit was not thoroughly checked before service or it would have been discovered that the oxygen level was low.

The technical data for this flash story was extensive and I think the author made it the story versus a large event or action. It was like you see the ending first and then look back on how we got there.

An interesting science fiction piece of writing that personified the contest intent.

Good.

***

Jolene Wilkerson - The Omega Quadrant

I can see a great improvement of scene and character description in this story. Beautiful painting.

The main character, Zycroft Nash II or Zy for short had a goal of advancement, which influenced his hasty decision that took his ship off course.

A crystal like entity took his ship to a far away world, safe from the destruction of his own planet. In time, he accepted his fate.

All of the story points work and are believable. A lot of dialogue for a flash story and it worked well.

I enjoyed this.

***

Stuart Cormie - I Ran

What a professionally written story. Amazing detail, believable and touching. Based on personal fear, the main character recounts the events of the tragedy that he finds himself in. Raw emotion and yet a disciplined retelling.

This felt like it was a part of history. The main character and his love interest were caught up in the events like two people in the grasp of a rip current being pulled out to sea.

Memorable.

***

Twilight Zee - Just One More

I feel like I'm watching an episode of ER. Lot of drama. Details are solid and ordered in a good sequence of events.

How many people have a bright future ahead of them and then throw it all away by getting drunk and suffering an end of their dreams.

The end of the story was expected, but felt right. The writer is a good story developer.

***

Janet Williams - Bunny Slipper

A fable about the self absorbed. I loved it from beginning to end. It was surprising to find such an intelligent approach to a complex life problem in a fairy tale.

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Post April 29, 2018, 10:00:32 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

It was a fun contest and as I stated before, so nice to see the complete diversity of stories.

Great to see the hard work of Jim starting to pay off as more writers/readers/voters, get involved.

Aphelion is a jewel in the web world of creativity.

As for the story I submitted, I 'borrowed' the concept from, "If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all." I think it was a country western song or a quot from some politician that lost an election.

Congrats to all who participated.
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Post April 29, 2018, 10:38:46 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

First, my apologies for having missed the voting. I'll blame it on the full moon, how's that?

Just a couple of quick comments ...

First ... Stuart Cormie put himself ahead of the pack with an emotive and powerful piece of work that didn't feel artificially compressed the way flash often does. He earned the win.

Something I noticed though, was a device that I've more often seen in song lyrics, of naming significant places and connecting the story's emotional impact to those names. This trick seems to work a lot better than one might expect, seeing that a lot of readers may never have been to any of these places and may not even recognize the names. What makes it work is the attachment of a bit of the tragedy to each name; otherwise, it might as well be Tanagra*--the reader lacks motivation to care.

Oddly, sometimes this trick works when it really shouldn't, and in those instances it seems that the reader gets the significance because the writer felt it. I suspect something subconscious at work in those cases.

Fine job.
* a town in Greece ;-)

Second comment ... I thought I noticed a concentric layering going on in Sergio's story: the character had the expected 'breathless moment' when the station's alarms went off, but then ended up quite literally running out of breath. Such a waste, too; the character was rightly pleased with how well he'd responded to the situation. Just goes to show: not everything can be anticipated.

Anyway, this was a good contest.
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Post April 30, 2018, 01:57:38 AM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

Congratulations to the winner, indeed!!! :D

By the way, I voted for "I Ran" story...eh,eh

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Post May 01, 2018, 06:57:19 AM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

A sincere thank you to those who took the trouble to vote for I RAN, and to all the authors and the other voters and readers who have made this month's competition a healthy and positive event all round :) A special thanks to Jim for his organisation and for the great feedback.

As others have already pointed out, this competition has seen a colourful mix of entries, each with a unique charm. I enjoyed reading them all.

The biggest lesson I'll take from this exercise is that I should try harnessing personal emotional experience more often.... Now I'm not for a moment suggesting I've ever been caught up in the middle of a pandemic crisis (!) but, alas, I have known the guilt of being in one country whilst domestic duties and responsibilities go unfulfilled at home in another :(

Cheers for now,

Stuart

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Post May 04, 2018, 03:08:44 PM

Re: April 2018 Flash Contest (Part 2) - The Voting

stuk wrote:A sincere thank you to those who took the trouble to vote for I RAN, and to all the authors and the other voters and readers who have made this month's competition a healthy and positive event all round :) A special thanks to Jim for his organisation and for the great feedback.

As others have already pointed out, this competition has seen a colourful mix of entries, each with a unique charm. I enjoyed reading them all.

The biggest lesson I'll take from this exercise is that I should try harnessing personal emotional experience more often.... Now I'm not for a moment suggesting I've ever been caught up in the middle of a pandemic crisis (!) but, alas, I have known the guilt of being in one country whilst domestic duties and responsibilities go unfulfilled at home in another :(

Cheers for now,

Stuart

We were all very pleased to have you in our contests. I hope you will treat us again to another story in the future.

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