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End of Issue 2

And... that's it, ladies and gentlemen, the end of our second issue.

We hope you enjoyed it. There was certainly a lot of chat and noise on Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of kind comments which have been posted.

Please continue to read through the stories at your leisure and, if you like them, share them with your friends via social media and please, please, leave comments for the authors. We will make sure they all get passed on to them.

We hope to bring you more FlashFloods in the future, so do keep checking back for our next submission window. And if you've liked what you've seen and would like to be kept up to date with events for National Flash-Fiction Day 2013, please drop us a line at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com and we'll add you to our mailing list.

Once again, thanks to the editors, and to the writers, and to you for reading, and we'll see you soon!

Calum Kerr
FlashFlood Editor

'Goodbye' by Thomas Mason

What stood before me was no longer a man I knew, no longer an archaeologist a, colleague, a friend. He was more, and at the same time, much less. He opened his arms to the vastness of the chamber and looked back at me. Behind him something writhed in the darkness, something gargantuan and impossible. I had not been able to move until now, and I did. I turned and ran, ran through the Anatolian archway that housed a three story door, past great columns carved into fantastic patterns and towards that small hole I had originally crawled in through. I dived in to it, clothes and skin tearing alike and I clawed my way towards the outside. I could not progress; I knew I had to pass through it backwards so my shoulders could fit. My heart was beating rapidly and my eyes blurred and stinging from sweat or maybe blood, my feet led the way through the two meter tunnel. But I was forced to look into the darkness, my eyes straining, making out shapes and figures, with my torch off and my body sea…

'Red Carnation' by J Adamthwaite

I look for women who understand flowers.        The little boy didn't notice the red crayon he had dropped under the seat when his mother hurried him off the train, so I picked it up and drew a picture of a carnation on the back of an election flyer. I went over it three times and the petals flaked like old lipstick.        I glanced at her, sitting opposite and reading a second-hand newspaper. She looked up.        I held up the flyer, hoping she would recognise the ruffled petals, the tarragon-leaves.        She smiled, held up her ring finger: married.

'The Tale of The Wind and The Dry Bones' by Mandy Taggart

The crows had taken all the meat off a dead old fox that was lying up on a fairy mound, beside a standing stone. Birds call each other from miles around for fox meat if they can get it, to take revenge for their own kind.
But now all the flesh was off the bones, and the sinews and muscles gone, and her red fur tugged off with beaks and carried away to make nests. All that was left were little dry bones that went click-clack in the breeze. Her family came to bury the bones, as foxes did in the old days.
But the wind hadn’t finished with the bones yet, and on the night when the foxes arrived it was clicking and clacking them, rolling them together on the ground behind the fairy mound, tapping them against the stone to make bone music. And when it saw the foxes, it decided to have more fun still. It swept the bones up into the shape of the old fox’s skeleton and danced them like a puppet around the stone, as if she was still alive without her flesh and fur. It took a bit of work to hol…

Tosca' by Calum Kerr

How did it know? And why this day of all days?
How did this dog which he had never wanted, and to which he begrudged the cost of food and the daily expenditure of energy required just so the damn thing could take a crap, know to bring him here?
Archie looked up at the dark, dirty brick of the bridge, and Tosca looked up with him. The ageing chocolate Labrador had pulled and growled, snarled and barked until Archie had, as usual, relented, and the dog had led him here. The distant streetlights did nothing to illuminate the shape of the bridge, but each approaching car – rare on this cold winter’s evening – transformed the black surface into a geometric shine.
Tosca was a stupid name for a dog, Archie had always thought, but Jack had liked it. Archie had looked it up once, and found that Tosca was an opera. Figured. What really annoyed him, though – more than it should – was that the Tosca in the opera was a female character, and Tosca the dog was male. The dog didn’t care, and Archie gues…

'Melt' by Nicola Belte

"There we go mi babby, yam looking pretty," I say as I run a red lipstick around her lips and strap her in. She looks surprised, but she always looks like that. I reverse out of the driveway, holding her hand as the neighbourhood kids jeer and rap on the glass and make crude comments that no lady should have to hear. "Ignore them, sweetheart," I tell her, turning up the radio to drown them out, propping back my ex-wife's sunhat that's fallen forward over her beautiful face. My wife was nothing like my Babs.  Mean, bitter; always measuring me up against the other husbands, nothing that I did ever good enough.  She'd hate Babs, think that she was stuck-up with her pert breasts and her red curly hair; think her weak, just because she cares. "We'll watch the sunset from the pier," I say, leaning back to check that the thermos isn't leaking, that the sandwiches in our picnic basket aren't being crushed. Her head bobs, and I can tell that sh…

'The Writing Course' by Angi Holden

The evening meal is finished, the dishes cleared away. Only bowls of fruit and dishes of
salted nuts remain, scattered between the glasses and the open bottles of wine. Moving to
the lounge seems too much effort; they agree to share favourite poems and snatches of prose
around the table. The main lamp is turned off and they read by the soft light of candles and
wall-sconced lanterns. Somebody reads an extract from Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure and
heads nod in silent agreement. There are selections of Auden and Larkin, and some more
modern offerings too: Armitage, Polley, Oswald.
The mood lightens with the consumption of alcohol. There is a comic poem about
residential courses, the lecherous tutor making the most of the opportunities offered by his
adoring audience. The participants chuckle; several have been on courses like that, they say.
How fortunate we are to have a female writer-in-residence. One recalls a poetry course spent
in a remote country house, and the difficulty of avoidi…

Boo' by K. A. Laity

It started with the little black cat. “We should take it in,” she said, looking at the damp moggie shivering in the light evening rain.
“Black cats are bad luck,” he said and laughed. He could always find some way to shut her suggestions down. The restaurant was too expensive, the movie too lovey-dovey, the beer wasn’t PBR.
Once she pretended she was confused and bought Schaefer instead. When he remonstrated with her, she used the excuse that she didn’t drink, it all looked the same. Before he finished the case, he made sure she would remember.
Her mother didn’t believe the broken arm had been an accident. “I thought you were better than that.”
“She looks so cold.” Her heart went out to the little critter. It looked up at her through the window as she filled the sink with hot water.
“I got all the pussy I need in here.” He slapped her bottom with a yelp of laughter.
He had already downed a few PBRs so it made him chuckle the rest of the night to repeat his witticism. “Heh! Wait ‘til…

'Bridget and my Geography Field Trip' by Jacquie Wyatt

We went on a coach for the school trip to the Devil’s Punchbowl. The rest of the class were looking forward to it. I was late on and lumbered towards you at the back as the driver set off. The gang’s henchman had taken my seat next to you. I sat down as close as I dared. The gears grouched and the atmosphere was charged with the smell of cheap cheese and onion crisps. It was as if some chemical had been released and the gang’s taunts got louder and more focused.       Frigid Bridget they chorused as if it rhymed. I sat alone on the seat, two in front of you. Thinking of sparrows and how they just turned on one bird and pulled its feathers out, then ten minutes later, it was all forgotten. I was trying to work out if that bald bird ever recovered and to remember what frigid meant.       I couldn’t see but I knew what your face would look like. Your prominent teeth would be biting your lip and you’d be doing that stirring gesture with your fingers. The one you used when things were wors…

'The Privacy of Caravans' by Andrew Green

We were sat back on the long seats of the caravan. It was still cool enough in the evenings to need the gas fire on.
‘I really don’t like him you know’.  Her voice was indignant, about Dick and there was some reproach for me in there too.
We had got back from the bar and waved goodnight to the others. This was our first chance to talk about what had gone on. I had guessed that Lynne would not be all that keen on Dick or his mate. The asbestos stripper from Skem. They were the old hands, the ones who knew the ropes. They had been friendly, helpful in our first couple of weeks in France. That said I knew what Lynne meant  about Dick with his lank mullet, sleazy jokes.
It was the dog thing that I think sealed it for her. Not just his cruelty, but the way he did it. He tempted and teased the dog, then sharply smacked it's nose so it squealed. He did this infront of all of us, made us his accomplices. 
She was angry now, half with him but half with me. She thought I ought of have sa…

Listening to silent tears' by Emmaleene Leahy

Her voice began to get that flutter in it. Her eyes had gone all watery. There was something about the newspaper, the boy knew that. The family meal finished, Mike had cleared away and was already in the other room watching the tv. Sam was at the sink washing up. He was trying to pretend not to notice the change. It was when her voice quivered that he stopped asking questions. He let the silence of the evening half-light take over. He gulped nervously and seemed to swallow what daylight was left. He turned to the window like a plant straining for the light, turning his back on the secret. She didn’t know that he listened to her sobbing in the night. Kneeling up on the chair over the sink, the sorrow that seemed to be plucked from the twilight pulled his gaze towards her. She sat hunched over the newspaper which soaked the tears that fell from her cheeks. He looked again. She had never cried openly in front of him before. It seemed to the boy that she didn’t even know she was crying. The b…

'Star of the Show' by Rebecca Stanley

She cycled down King’s Parade at least three times a day. She’d been doing it from the age of seventeen, since that ‘wouldn’t it be funny if’ conversation with her best friend. It might well mean she was going the long way round occasionally, but what did that matter? She always looked her best and her black, vintage bicycle was always gleaming. In the basket, her much loved satchel peeped over the top. Her expression was pleasant at all times; no furrowed brows, no screwed up eyes. During inclement weather she donned her very tasteful navy mackintosh, the one with the white piping, along with a rather fetching cap to keep the rain and snow off her face. Today she had to visit that same friend who lived nearby. The detour was a long one and she was feeling very tired, but she couldn’t stop herself.  As she pedalled along King’s Parade she smiled left and right, but forgot to look straight ahead where a delivery lorry was turning in the road. As she went under its wheels her life flashe…

'The Closet' by Garry Snaith

I woke afraid. The room was dark and the wind and rain rattled against the window.
I pulled the bedclothes up tight around my neck and shoulders – an almost subconscious move on my part whilst I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark.
A glance at the bedside clock informed me it was only two-thirty in the morning.
As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I began to recognise familiar shapes around me; The desk where I was often found drawing; The basketball I’d left on the floor; pictures of my favourite pop stars on the wall, which I recognised, even though I couldn’t fully see them.
At the bottom of my bed I noticed the walk in closet door was slightly ajar. Had I left it like that before I went to bed? I didn’t think so, but I couldn’t be sure. It was then I noticed a large shape sat on the single chair in the corner of the room.
I was frozen in fear. Part of me wanted to shout for help, part of me wanted to hide under the covers. I could not do the latter, however, as I was sure that a…

Scar' by Angi Holden

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'Baby's Ear' by Rachel Stanley

The sea-weathered glass in her net bag clinks softly as she walks the shoreline.  The day has barely dawned, and she is alone.  Always alone.  She stoops to pick up another shell and examine it, deem it proper enough to treasure.  Half a heart cockle.  Fitting.  Another few feet and she finds a small, white shell with a swirling pattern.  Baby’s ear.  The name floats to the front of her mind and a tear falls down her cheek as she caresses the shell.  Her most recent failure is why she’s alone now.  Always alone.

'The Cabin' by Simon Williams

Deep in the forest surrounding the cabin, though within a stone's throw, eyes burned. They had been fixed on this, the sole building for many miles, since the evening sun bled to darkness.
He thought back to the first time he stood there, in the clearing, and listened. The absolute silence. The sense of freedom. The decision to rent the cabin for the summer was easy. The decision to extend the lease straightforward.
Now a routine had established itself. Up early to fetch water, chop logs and gather provisions. It was no hardship to drive to town for provisions, but foraging kept this small inconvenience to a minimum. A quick wash in the nearby stream, bracing even in midsummer, then breakfast. Mostly, this was finished by eight. He guessed the fresh air, the return to nature, something like that, meant he woke early. Not like life in the city. Then the day stretched out in front, to be filled thinking, writing.
His initial fear of oppression had not been realised. He had never bee…

'Words' by Stella Turner

“Okay so what?” What indeed I thought. Don’t these kids have any shame anymore? In my day I’d be too ashamed to tell my mum what I’d been up to. We kept quiet and prayed no one had seen us. My mum used to say if she’d been misbehaving by the time she got home the news had reached her father and his belt. I could see Chloe’s embarrassment. She twisted her hair and sucked the end like it was best steak. She was never going to make eye contact unless her mum plucked out her eyes and put them on the dining table. “So?” I felt her mum suck in her breath. Felt the tension in her body. Felt her disappointment. I could feel her trying to find the right words, not the angry words that would hurt forever. “Its miss-spelt” yelled my daughter. “What do you think mum?” I looked at Chloe’s tattoo. “Could be worse, if you change the ‘b’ for a ‘u’ now that would be gross” My daughter and grand-daughter looked at me horror stricken. I’d lived long enough to know a few choice words.

'The Brightlingsea Boy' by Daniel Jeffreys

It was an in-joke, an archaeologist who was 'good in his field.' He no longer laughed. That had stopped long ago. An instinct for the dead kept him at it and a desire to clean the mud from cowhide faces. All through the winter rains he searched for the remains of The Brightlingsea Boy, the Anglo-saxon Prince preserved in salt-marsh and samphire among the timbered ruins of his palace.
            ‘I don’t want to hear anymore…’ his wife said, raw and red-eyed from another sleepless night. ‘You can’t bring him back.’             ‘But I can clean him up. Reinstate him in a mock-up of his palace.’             ‘Why don’t you leave him where he is? No matter how many bodies you bring to light it won’t make the slightest difference.’ ‘We can learn from him.’ ‘There’s nothing I want to know. He died. We die. That’s all I need to know.’
The young intern squatted by the burnt post-hole with yellow measuring tape. The Prince was nearby, staring up through the mud. The archaeologi…

'Fashion Victim' by Susan Howe

She spots them from across the road and they hold her gaze while she winds between the cars. Standing in front of the shop window, she can barely breathe as she touches the glass.
     She steps inside and an assistant glides towards her.      She points, her mouth dry. “Those.”      “They’re fives, Madam.” “Perfect.”
     She sinks into a velvet chair with the sense of being on the brink of something unique.
     With exaggerated reverence, the assistant lifts the shoes from their Perspex tree and hands them over. Their beauty brings tears to her eyes as she runs a fingernail down the spiked heel, strokes the scales and the smooth, red sole. “Sensational, aren’t they?” the assistant says. “Handstitched python. Each pair as individual as the animal itself.”
      A faint gasp escapes her lips as she notes the price, but she kicks off her own shoes and forgets she ever liked them.
The assistant kneels to guide her feet into softly upholstered interiors that feel welcoming and alive. A thrill sh…

'A Real Wooden Girl' by Angela Readman

My mother loved me enough to make me flesh. Bitch.
            ‘Nadia. Can it be…? My girl,’ she cried, squeezing hard.
Skin squished under hands. There was a hideous heat in my cheeks I carried to bed, school, then, work. Mother placed towels around women’s necks. I clutched a broom like someone who’d lost an arm. It wasn't easy, being a puppet in the body of a girl.
            ‘Nadia, be good and make Mrs Kulos coffee,’ Mother said.
People always wanted something. They couldn’t sort out their own roots. I looked out at the rain, people rushing towards coffee and buses. Why could they never stand still and open their mouths? I swept cropped curls into a huddle and nicked my thumb on foil coffee filters. Blood made my fingertips look like knots.
I was small for my age. 16 brought a spurt. Growth. Too fast. I couldn’t sand my chest, whittle myself free of bumps. Worse, no one oiled me to prevent every word getting under my skin. There was a boy who delivered pizza who wouldn’t …

'Tattoo' by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh

When I first knew him, Gary had a tattoo. A sleeve of blue, shifting ink, a skinful of waves. In the middle, marooned on a patch of freckled skin, a mole. A fleshy island I trailed fingers towards. When I touched it, the sea retreated, lapped back, and he’d gasp and grab my wrist. Back then I had the power to turn the tide, now he wears long shirts that button at the cuffs.

'Diaphragm Dancer' by David Hartley

The diaphragm dancer breathed her last upon a synapse leap. Teeth crashed together in applause, glands wept, cried encore.
Twisting nerve strings fused in from rib-wings, scooped her small body up, held it aloft. The raptured collective thrashed louder, shuddering alveoli.
Her disintegration began as the cheers softened. It felt perverse to watch.
An organ from above hummed a sonorous peal in eulogy, beckoned for her full consumption back into the body politik.
The nerve-hands obliged, and the gathered allowed a suitable silence to fall. Somewhere, a bone creaked, in mourning perhaps, but it seemed fitting.
And then she was gone, cell-absorbed, queued for reconfiguration. Back now with the mindhead, to manifest as a beautiful thought, they hoped.
An enzyme swept her remnants from the stage, wondering who to give them to.

'Baking Day' by Laura Huntley

Doris kneads the dough, making her arm fat wobble. She sweats as she digs her thumbs in, turns it over and pummels. She likes the way it swells to life under her hands. Her striped cotton apron is dusted in flour, as are her hands, her cheeks and the lino floor. George naps upstairs, he dreams of young ladies in tiny swimsuits: blondes, brunettes, redheads, he’d long stopped being fussy. He smiles as they frolic in the water, cheeky pink nipples popping through shiny fabric. Doris shapes the dough, chubby fingers work briskly to capture the intricate features. She’s making a bread George. Her tongue lolls at the side of her mouth in concentration. The dough’s too sticky; she throws another handful of flour on to the worktop, covering George’s bread face and has to pick out the nooks and crannies of his eyes, nose and mouth again. She doesn’t really like George. Her mother had promised her that she would grow to love him. Well fifty two bloody years later and all she feels is a persisten…

'Stitches' by Kevin Scott

‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What’s happened to you?’
Ma’s standing in the doorway, looking down at me as if she’s just dropped her messages. The blood feels tickly and stingy.
‘I cut masel,’ I say, finally.
An open palm swooshes through the air and heats my ear with a ferocity that makes it buzz.
‘I can see you’ve hurt yersel, yer dripping blood ontae ma clean close. Here…’
She hands me her pinny. I press it against ma temple.
‘Right, what happened?’ she says, still blocking the doorway.
‘Nothing. I fell aff ma bike.’
‘And where’s yer bike now?’
Her tone makes me take a step back.
 ‘It’s doonstairs. Andy’s watching it.’
‘Get in,’ she says, like I’ve passed a test. ‘And God help you if you get blood on ma carpets… kitchen, now… shoes aff… move.’
I kick ma sannies aff and make for the kitchen. As she turns on the cold tap I look oot the windae. Andy’s doon there like a wee ant, guarding ma bike. Good man. Ten bob it’ll cost me, but worth it. I fall intae a chair.
‘C’mere, let me see you.’

'Nests' by Rachael Dunlop

He lies on his hospital bed, beached and bloated. His skin stretched taut with the fluid that pools rather than flows around his body, he is pinned on his back by tubes and needles and nozzles. His heart is failing and he is alone. He is in his hospital bed and he is in the attic of his house. He inhales cool oxygen though a nose-piece, soft but intrusive, and tastes the warm-timber scent of the attic. The last time he was up here, he found row-upon-row of wasps’ nests, each abandoned for the next, only the last occupied. They had chewed the wood from his garden fences, mashed it in their tiny maws, made it into paper, and laid it down, leaf-upon-leaf, to build their nests. He lies on his hospital bed and turns towards the window, unseeing eyes seeing the dormer window in the attic that admits only a slim slot of sunlight. He has put the box in the darkest corner he could find. His wife doesn’t like to come all the way into the attic, scared by its otherness, a space above the house, but…

Always Mine' by Caroline Kelly

Harold fastened the last of the buttons on her nightdress and gently laid her down on the pillow.  He picked up the lipstick and applied it as best he could.

‘Not the best job, Mary, but I know you don’t like to be seen without it,’ Harold whispered, leaning over to kiss her gently on the forehead.  ‘Now, I’ve put your best nightdress on.  I know you wouldn’t want people seeing you in it but I didn’t want to have to struggle with tights and underwear and all that.  All fingers and thumbs, me, you always said.’

Tears pricked at his eyes.  Harold blinked them away as best he could.  Now was not the time to start showing his sensitive side - too late for that.
He looked in the mirror and straightened his tie.

‘It’s not just you who doesn’t like to be seen under dressed in public,’ he smiled, lying down next to her on the bed.  ’37 years - such a long time, well a lifetime really.  I’d be lost without you, Mary.  We’re better together.  I know you don’t believe that but we are…