STORY THREAD; Nov 19 – Dec 2, 2015 Flash Fiction Writing Contest: “The Curse”

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE:

Flash Fiction Contest “The Curse” – With Thanksgiving coming, the usual 1 week contest will be extended to 2, from Nov 19 to Dec 2, 2015, in order for you to spend the holidays with family and friends.

In December the Flash Fiction Family will be taking a Christmas Break from Dec 17th to Jan 4th, 2016.

Any questions, email us at: LIFlashFiction(at)gmail.com

 

The LinkedIn Comment Thread can be found here.

This post is for STORIES related to the writing prompt: “The Curse” (It can be a gypsy’s  curse, a witches curse, or even a curse words). Critiques, comments and feedback are encouraged on the LinkedIn Comment Thread; non story comments here will be deleted.


The point of these friendly contests is to hone our craft and create successful stories within a predefined set of limitations. There is no monetary compensation.

Please Note: comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:

  1. One story per author. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  2. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must be under 1000 words.
  3. Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday). Send your votes via email LIFlashFiction (at) gmail.com. Winner will be announced in the Comment and Story thread. You may vote only once and cannot vote for yourself.
  4. The winner shall name the next week’s writing prompt.
  5. In case of ties, co-winners may be announced and the moderator shall select a winner to name the theme.
  6. The winner has three days after the announcement to contact either Alice Nelson or Carrie Zylka via LIFlashFiction(at)gmail.com with the next theme/items of their choosing.
  7. See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.

 


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13 thoughts on “STORY THREAD; Nov 19 – Dec 2, 2015 Flash Fiction Writing Contest: “The Curse”

  • November 23, 2015 at 9:50 am
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    The Sneer

    Hideous!

    Spontaneously Mack balled his fists and aimed them at the face sneering at him. The other guy brought his fists up at the same time.
    Instinctively Mack took a step back, not wanting to risk taking a beating. That guy sure was ugly and he looked mean. A lopsided sneer, teeth bared and drooped eye suggested the guy was not about to show any mercy.
    Mack dropped his clenched his fists and held his arms stiffly to his sides in an attempt to stop himself from sailing into the guy.
    The other guy dropped his arms to the side in just the same manner but he continued to sneer at Mack.
    Mack felt his anger resurface and he struggled to contain his composure. The guy was taking the mickey out of him.
    What is his game thought Mack. What have I done that he has to get all threatening?

    It was a standoff; the two men stood facing each other off. Mack would eyeball him and the dude would eyeball right back.
    ‘I’m not about to give in to this goon,’ Mack muttered to himself as he glanced at him and could have sworn the other guy mouthed the words back at him.

    ‘What’s with you?’ Mack yelled, dancing on his feet, fists balled, ready to strike.
    Anger made him see red; any ideas of holding back from this guy gone out of the window.
    Mack aimed his right fist for the nose and sprang forward as quick and agile as a puma.

    CRACK!

    Mack fell back; his hand dripped blood and hurt like crazy. He lay on his back nursing the injury with his uninjured left hand; stunned.
    Other than his own exclamations of pain, there was no sound from the goon.

    Mack quickly realised he was a sitting duck for further assaults and sprang into a squat, looked around and realised the goon was still aping him and was in a squat too. Only now there were jagged bars that stood between them and stopped Mack from further attack.

    Puzzled, Mack examined the jagged bars and so did the goon. Everything Mack did the goon copied.
    Mack gingerly reached out with his left hand. The goon did the same, still sneering at Mack.

    What the…? thought Mack.
    Mack reached further forward and his hand touched a cold hard surface.
    It was a mirror, actually a cracked mirror now.
    Mack looked around to see who might have noticed this ridiculous scene.

    The shopping strip was deserted and he could possibly slink away undetected save for any CCTV that may have captured it all and revealed who was responsible for the cracked mirrored glass shopfront.
    He thought he heard an alarm sounding from somewhere within the building. Not really sure but didn’t want to hang around to find out.
    About to turn and flee Mack felt a large hand grip his upper arm in a vice-like grip.
    ‘What do you have to say for yourself?’ boomed the voice of unmistakeable authority.
    Mack raised his head and let his eyes travel up to the face belonging to the hand locked onto his arm.
    It was the expression of someone who has seen and heard it all and was not about to tolerate any nonsense from a young upstart.

    WHACK!

    Mack’s face stung, tears sprang to his eyes and the world became a blur. Mack swayed but he put all the strength he could muster into staying on his feet.

    ‘I asked you a question and all you could do is sneer at me,’ yelled the arm of the law. ‘You will pay for this. No one has ever sneered at me without consequences.’

    The arm of the law had an offsider that had been observing and taking notes. He was much calmer than Mack’s captor nevertheless he allowed Mack to be shoved roughly into the back of the police car.

    Mack kept his head down, stayed quiet and nursed his sore bleeding hand. He noticed a couple of cuts and realised he had copped them from the cracked shop window.

    Once at the station Mack endured more hardship, no sympathy and increased accusations from the hot tempered arm of the law.
    That policeman seemed to take the perceived sneering personal and held a grudge against Mack.

    It went from bad to worse and Mack was unable to attempt any defence of his position without further accusation of sneering and disrespect. Just a couple of uttered words served to cop further punishment.

    As hours dragged on Mack became miserable, hungry and thirsty.
    Defeated, he lost his fighting spirit and slumped down further into the hard seat he was ordered to sit on and endured the onslaught of verbal and sometimes physical abuse from his latest adversary, the long arm of the law.

    Even his posture made the man angry. He was really riled by the time Mack was shoved into an overnight cell to be kept there while the CCTV footage was retrieved and studied.

    It got worse.

    Mack had to endure hearing howls of laughter from the nearby room where staff were hunched over the footage depicting Mack’s fight with his mirrored reflection.

    Next day Mack was released and ordered to attend an arranged visit to a psychologist for assessment of his mental health status.
    The psychologist misinterpreted his facial paralysis as a sneer too and terminated the session far too soon to be able to make a proper clinical diagnosis.

    Life for Mack rolled from one bad incident to another.

    Eventually Mack could not stand it any longer. He retreated into his boarding house room, twisted the cap on a flagon of cheap wine, took a long swig and sat back to ponder the evil that had befallen him since his handsome face was pulled out of shape by the paralysis of Bell’s Palsy.

    Is that sneer going to be a lifelong curse? he wondered and took another long swig of cheap wine.

  • November 25, 2015 at 8:39 pm
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    Demand Of The Soul

    The mourners came into Sammy’s house to pay their respects when they heard that his young English wife had mysteriously passed away in her sleep.

    “It’s the curse,” Sammy’s father sat on the settee and smoked his hookah pipe after he got everybody seated. “I was hoping that the soul of Sammy’s mother won’t follow him in England.” He looked up to his wife whose hands and the tray she was carrying, were shaking as she offered tea to the visitors.
    “My first wife was the latest victim.” He recounted as he exhaled the smoke. The mourners sat hunched up as they listened. “This curse ran in the blood lines of our family.”

    “Why? There must be a reason.” One person was curious to know more.

    “My great great great grandfather was an overseer of the sugarcanes plantation for the French rulers when the British invaded and conquered our island. The grower, a rich, French fellow, made his fortune out of growing sugarcanes and producing raw sugar.” He paused as he puffed away.

    “When he heard that the British had taken over and there was the possibility that he would have to return to France, the Frenchman gathered his treasured belongings and hid them in a hole which he ordered the coolies (Asian labourers) to dig. He then forced one of them to jump into the hole and squat on the box before he shot him. The dead man’s soul was meant to keep his treasures safe whilst he waited for the outcome of his fate. The labourer begged and cursed his employer before he died because he did not want his soul to be trapped in that hole forever. The Frenchman promised him that his soul would be released every five years as long as he found someone else to replace him.” Sammy asked his wife to put the hookah away and to give him a nice hot cup of tea. He sipped the tea and continued with the story of the curse.

    “ That how it was in those days. I’ve heard of many stories like that.” One visitor confirmed the practice.

    “Let me finish. My ancestor, the overseer witnessed what happened. He was not afraid of ghosts or people who have gone into the other World. He bought the plantation plots when the British abolished the slaves trade and pledged that people who worked hard could buy land.” He wiped his forehead as he remembered. “In his dreams, the soul communicated with him, asking him to release him in return to access some of the buried treasures. My old relative pledged that the soul can be replaced by one of our daughter in law’s in every five years.”

    “Is that why Sammy’s wife is dead. My Goodness!” the visitors asked.

    “But, this girl is white, English and away from the island. You would think the curse would be broken.”

    “Throughout the generations the soul has claimed the life of one daughter in law. Sammy’s wife is no exception.”

    “I’m surprised that any girl wished to marry in your family after hearing this tale. I’m sure everybody out there knows about this.” Another person commented.

    “ We arrange our marriages with Indian women. My wives, my mother and other wives before were Indian women. People gossiped that the males in our family marry them because of their generous dowries.” He laughed and joked as he looked at his wife. “You’re safe, my love. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

    People fidgeted in their seats and looked around in case there was the ghost of Sammy’s wife in the room. Some new people turned up at the house and the others found the excuse to leave. They mumbled at each other, looked behind their backs in case of being followed by unearthly beings and shook their head in sympathy for the family as they rushed away.

    Five days later, mourners gathered in the house and outside to wait for the body to be released from the morgue so that the family could carry out the religious rituals before the cremation could take place.
    Instead, two police officers arrived to tell the crowd, “Everyone must disperse. There isn’t a funeral as the body is still going through more tests. A large amount of arsenic, a poisonous chemical, has been found in the body of your wife during the autopsy.” The speaking police officer addressed the last sentence to Sammy. “It’s common practice that the partner and people nearest to the victim are prime suspects, therefore we’re taking you to the station for questioning.”

    “Impossible!” Sammy started to stammer. “How and why would my wife take this substance? She’s not a drug addict. We are happily married with two young children. She would never commit suicide either.” He introduced his father who was pushing his way in.“ My father and step mother are on holiday over here. They don’t speak much English.”

    At the police station, during heavy interrogation, Sammy and his father confessed that they poisoned Sammy’s wife. “In my dreams, the soul of my first wife kept asking to be released because her time was up I thought Sammy could marry an Indian girl, someone like us.
    The law of this country must recognise the demand of both living and dead souls.”

    “I wanted peace for my mother’s soul.” Sammy confessed as his shoulders drooped towards the floor.

    In court, Sammy and his father were sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.

  • November 28, 2015 at 1:20 pm
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    People
    © Sami A.F 2015

    Why were people so intimidating?

    That was usually what went through his mind. Ever since he had been born, to the point where he finally had the chance to venture out on his own.

    Venture? Would Julian really consider this a new adventure for him? No one would think so.

    The curtains were drawn to a close prohibiting any ray of light to peer through. Julian sat on the floor, his back perched up on the wall. He was sweating uncontrollably.

    His shirt, soaking wet, adhered to his skin in an unappealing fashion. Why couldn’t he get over this? It had been years since he moved out on his own to give himself a chance at a new life. A chance at meeting people, not hiding from them.

    Julian stared at his own hands that were trembling. He interlocked his hands to force them to stop, yet he knew it was useless. He took a deep breath, looked towards the ceiling and eyes the ceiling fan that moved quite quickly.

    It was depressing. The room was gloomy from the lack of light, it was spacious from the lack of furniture, and the ceiling fan emitted a high pitched noise every few seconds.

    “Must need some oil,” Julian whispered to himself.

    The door bell rang. Julian jumped up at the sound. He looked towards the door as the doorbell rang once again. A knock. Julian shook his head. Another knock. Julian remained quite and placed his hands over his ears.

    “Stop,” Julian muttered in a low tone.

    The knock came again. The door bell rang again. Julian began to shiver as the person at the door seemed persistant.

    “Go away…” Julian cried, making sure his voice was low.

    Silence.

    Julian removed his hands from his ears and smiled at the sound of nothing. He was alone now, just how he liked it.

    The phone rang, and Julian gave a displeasing expression. The phone was safer than the door bell. Someone at the door meant he had to interact with someone face to face, and that was frightening. A conversation on the phone was easier, yet Julian didn’t want to answer it at this point.

    The machine played the usual phone message, followed by the beep. A womans voice emitted from the phone, “Julian?”

    “Julian, its mom. I know you are at home. Please answer the phone. I came by but you didn’t bother to answer.”

    Julian, regretfully, moved towards the phone. He pressed the speaker button to answer the call, “What?”

    “Julian! Why didn’t you open the door for me?” The woman pressed on.

    “You know why, mom.”

    “You have to get over this. Social anxiety can be treated! Just cooperate with them!”

    “Curses can’t be treated mom.”

  • November 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm
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    DER FLUCH

    Gretchen wasn’t the only one throwing stones at Frau Schwartzekatze’s cottage, but she was the only one that got caught. When the old woman came out onto the porch to see who’d broken her window, Gretchen’s friends ran off through the gate. Gretchen had strayed a little too far into the garden, though, and she judged that the gate might be too far away to reach before she would be cut off by Frau S.

    Gretchen threw herself to the ground and began crawling towards what looked like a hole in the wooden fence that bordered the old woman’s unkempt garden. She was sure that she hadn’t been spotted and made it to the hole, but as she was squeezing through it the end of one of the rotting fence-posts caught on the belt of her red dress and she became stuck.

    Frau S didn’t need to be nimble to catch Gretchen. The young girl was desperately trying to extricate her dress from the fence-post when a shadow fell across her. She turned her head and looked up … into eyes as black as night; the boney-framed Frau S loomed over her like a gnarled old tree in winter.
    Frau Schwartzekatze lived in the countryside, a mile or so outside Gretchen’s village. Little was known of her except that she shunned human contact absolutely, having her provisions delivered to her monthly by wagon. The wagon driver was often asked about her, but he could only explain that he left the provisions at the gate, where the old lady would leave a pouch-full of silver schillings and a list for the following month’s order.

    It hadn’t been Gretchen’s idea to go there and cause a nuisance – it had been her best friend Lotte’s – but she’d been bored that Sunday afternoon and went along with the plan, together with another three girls. Now they were all running back to the village, while Gretchen …

    “Come here.”

    Frau S unhooked Gretchen’s belt from the fence-post and hauled her to her feet with surprising force.

    “What do you think you are doing?”

    Frau S had her face pressed close to the young girl’s, her eyes seeming blacker still.

    “So?”

    Gretchen was terrified but kept her wits about her. She saw that if she could get past the old woman, she could make it to the gate and away; from the same starting point she must certainly be quicker across the garden.

    “I want an–“

    Gretchen didn’t let Frau S finish her sentence; she kicked at her shins and wriggled from her grasp. But the old woman’s reflexes were razor sharp. She span on her toes and grabbed Gretchen’s blonde pony-tail as she made to escape.

    “You … human child. You shall pay for that treachery.”

    Her grip tightened on Gretchen’s hair.

    “Mark my words, pay me heed: come thirteen years thy soul shall bleed.
    Mark my words, pay me heed: come thirteen years thy soul shall bleed.”

    Ice ran down Gretchen’s spine, but then she was free; the old woman’s grip on her hair was gone, as was the old woman herself. Gretchen didn’t wait to wonder how and ran as fast as her young legs could carry her, through the gate, down the lane and back to the village.

    She found Lotte by the fountain. After scolding her friend for leaving her at the cottage, she described what had happened, and what the old woman had said. Lotte laughed and reassured Gretchen.

    “Don’t worry, Liebling. It comes to all us girls – hasn’t anyone told you?”

    No one had, and so Lotte, older than her friend, explained how it happened to girls at different ages, but that it had already happened to her when she’d been 13. Gretchen, who was 12, listened to Lotte’s graphic description with a mixture of disgust and relief; if it came to all females, then it was nothing to be overly frightened about.

    And so the two friends passed the rest of the summer, happily playing their games in and around the village but far from Frau Schwarzekatze’s cottage. They were sunny, idyllic days, and then in September came Gretchen’s birthday.

    The whole village congregated in the church for a service to celebrate the occasion; it was a local custom to mark the symbolic passing of young girls into adulthood. Gretchen stood in front of the simple altar, beautiful in the dress made by her mother, who sat in the front row, looking on proudly.

    The priest had barely begun to read the service when he was interrupted: Gretchen’s mother was screaming her daughter’s name, pointing at her and scrambling to get up from the pew. Some villagers started to rush to the front, while others sat in shock or broke into prayer.

    From Gretchen’s eyes, nose, mouth, even her pores … blood, streaming, a rich scarlet against the virginal white of her dress. Before the young girl crumpled lifeless to the floor, her face, beneath the blood, was a mask of wide-eyed horror and realisation.

    .

  • November 30, 2015 at 1:17 am
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    Bleak Friday
    By Alice Nelson ©2015

    If you had asked me just a few short weeks ago whether or not I’d ever stand in line to take advantage of some Black Friday sale, I would’ve laughed in your face. Yet there I was, doing just that; gathered alongside crazed shoppers, who thought it was worth spending the night outside of their favorite store, in order to be the first beneficiaries of all those great pre-Christmas deals. ‘Oh God,’ I thought, ‘what fresh hell is this?’

    I’ve said a million times to anyone who would listen, that I would never take part in this foolishness —and I meant it. So, then why was I in that godforsaken line? Well, I’m convinced that because of my hubris, a curse had been placed on me by some unseen force trying to teach me a lesson —it’s possible.

    The happenings that led to my odd predicament were just too weird to attribute to mere chance. First my husband Shaw, who’s usually a swell guy, decided to act like a complete asshole just moments after Tabitha, my best friend (who had never, ever mentioned doing the Black Friday thing before), wondered out loud about making the pilgrimage, so she could get the newest shoot the guy in the head video game for that little sociopath son of hers. I was so mad at Shaw that, without thinking, I told Tabitha I would go with her. So, by sleeping outside in 16 degree weather with my friend who just recently lost her mind, plus a whole slew of insane people who appeared to do this kind of thing on a regular basis, I was getting back at my jerk of a husband. Guess I showed him.

    I’ve never been a big believer in curses before, of course there was that unfortunate haircut in 2008, but I’m beginning to re-think my position. It’s amazing how clear your thoughts become when you’re in line behind a guy who had been farting for 45 minutes straight, and the two women in front of us appeared to have been eating rotten flesh, from the smell of things that wafted out of their little tent. What else could this be but a curse?

    We arrived around 11pm, and I marveled at how celebratory people were; it was like a freakin’ New Year’s Eve party. Things finally died down around 2am, and Tabitha shook me awake at 5:45, after a frigid and uneasy night of sleep. I was as stiff as a board and even though I kept my winter boots on, my feet felt like blocks of ice. The rest of the lunatics were rising in anticipation of the unmistakable click of the lock, signifying that the doors would soon be opened.

    Tabitha took my hand and leaned in, “We stay together, no matter what.” That threw me for a loop, why wouldn’t we? Then I saw what she meant.

    As the doors opened, the whole crowd began a collective push toward the entrance, almost knocking us off our feet. Those relatively nice people from the night before, transformed into frothing beasts who began yelling and cursing at each other, all while demanding the line move faster.

    Once inside, that’s when things really got hairy. Tabitha and I were pushed and pulled in every imaginable direction, and we were separated almost immediately after entering the store. I tumbled over a stack of boxes, and was kicked aside by people grabbing for $20 steamers that were now $15. I couldn’t believe a woman had her child with her, she was no more than 5 years old, and her mother had placed one of those all valuable steamers in her tiny little hands. I watched in horror as another woman snatched it from the little girl. This resulted in the mother putting the other woman in a headlock, while her child stood, screaming at the top of her lungs.

    I crawled away, and looked for a clearing where I could stand and search for Tabitha, but she was nowhere in sight. That’s when an old women told me to move my fat ass, so she could grab a handful of designer sunglasses. Oh I backed away alright, until I reached the safety of the pharmacy aisle, where things were far less hectic; guess no one was giving decongestants for Christmas —ooh, two bottles of Mucinex for $10.00, I grabbed four. See how this curse spreads.

    The peace didn’t last long however, the boxes of Mucinex were yanked out of my hands, and I was shoved aside. I simply closed my eyes, and prayed for deliverance. Suddenly someone grabbed my hand and pulled me to safety. I thought it was Tabitha, but when I opened my eyes Shaw was there, smiling down at me.

    “Come on honey, let’s get out of here.” He said, while pulling me toward the exit.

    Whatever caused me to be angry at Shaw, was forgotten. What I did know, this idea to get back at him was foolish.

    “I can’t leave without Tabitha!” I yelled over the screams and cries of shoppers clamoring for the new Adele CD.

    Shaw looked back at me and shouted. “She’s already outside. I saw her running from the store just as I came in to get you!”

    We found Tabitha sitting shell shocked in the front seat of her car, and the three of us watched the madness continue from the relative safety of the parking lot.

    ‘What would happen in a real emergency,’ I wondered, and shuddered to think what people would do if they were starving, instead of just trying to save a few bucks.

    Well, at least Tabitha and I survived the nightmare, but I’m convinced we were cursed. No I can’t prove it, but if you experience it just one time, you’ll see that the idea of a Black Friday curse isn’t silly at all; in fact, it’s a yearly spell that some never escape.

  • November 30, 2015 at 10:50 am
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    Rubiana’s curse

    The three friends strolled the fair grounds picking up a few trinkets and hand knitted jackets. Alaina loved the innocence and simplicity of this place. She wanted to eat candy floss, and everyone was tempted. “It brings your childhood back to you,” Alaina declared.

    Then Rita pointed out at the fortune teller’s tent which announced: Get your fortune read by the world famous Rubiana from Spain. The trio stepped inside. A blue light shone in the tent. The place was decorated in silks and there were mirrors everywhere creating a psychedelic effect.

    Madame Rubiana’s had a regal bearing, and her persona seemed mysterious. She wore a ruby in her headdress, and sharp features on her aged face. Her fingers had as many rings as her hand could hold. Rubiana tapped them impatiently. They sounded as if she was playing a musical drum.

    Aliana and Lynette pushed Rita ahead to get her fortune read. She sat on the chair facing Rubiana whose ruby glittered a mystical hue into the room. She placed her hands on a crystal ball and peered into it. There was smoke emanating from its depths.

    Lynette whispered, “That seems like a trick.”

    Madame Rubiana’s ears perked up at that, but she continued and peered into the ball. “You will receive good news soon; great fortune is on its way,” Rubiana proclaimed to Rita with alacrity.

    Rita took out her ring and stretched out her hand to offer it to her. Suddenly the ring was snatched by Alaina who said, “Are you stupid? It’s such a costly ring and you are giving it away.”

    Suddenly there was a crash; a vase was on the floor and Madame Rubiana looked at Alaina; her eyes ruby red. She screeched at Alaina, “You have insulted me, I curse you that there will be fire and damnation in your life and you will face great hardships.

    Alaina who was desperately wishing for a child was devastated. How could she ask her anything now? They left the place and left for home. Alaina said, “I’m sorry; I thought it was too much to give a gypsy.”

    “But I was giving her of my own free will. Why did you stop me?” asked Rita.

    “You were mesmerized by her.” Alaina said.

    “Yes I think you were; would you do this otherwise?” Lynette reiterated.

    “No, I don’t think so,” Rita said.

    “Definitely not; you’re a prudent person, such squander would be abhorrent to you.” insisted Lynette.
    “Thanks Girls.”

    Alaina reached home and told her husband of her visit to the gypsy. He laughed it off and told her not to believe in such rubbish.

    “C’mon Aliana, you’ve got to stop being a baby. After all, you’re going to be a mother soon.

    “You have been telling me that for years. But the results haven’t been positive.”

    Ross had no answer to that.

    A week later, the phone rang. She picked it up and her face turned deathly white. She crumpled to the ground and cried, “Oh no it has come true. The curse has begun.”

    The maid asked Alaina, “What happened, Madame.”

    “There was a fire at the factory and Ross is badly injured,” she sobbed out, “I must go to him,” she prayed, “Dear God, please save my husband.”

    She drove the car at great speed to the hospital.

    Seeing the doctor, Alaina ran upto him. “Is my husband okay? Is he fine?” She looked at the doctor beseechingly.

    “Mrs Harris, I think you better come to my office. I want you to be calm as I tell you this.”

    “Yes doctor, I will. Just tell me he will walk out of here healthy as he was before.”

    “Madam,” said the doctor patiently, “your husband will be committed to a wheelchair for life.”

    Alaina sobbed in distress. She knew the curse had brought her husband here after the fire in his factory premises. Many of the labourers suffered from minor burns, but since Ross was trying to get everyone out of the factory, he suffered major burns and in the hustle missed a step and hurtled down the stairs.

    A year later:
    It was the Seychelles; where a couple were frolicking on a private island in the blue waters, soft white sands and the palm trees swayed a message to the winds.

    “Darling, I’m so happy to have you by my side. I had lost hope and thought my life would never be happy again.”
    “So tell me again what was that ridiculous thing you did for my safety?”

    “I told you – we went to a gypsy’s grave and said a prayer, throwing angelica in the south direction.”
    “And did it help?” He was laughing hilariously.

    “Of course, I have you hale and hearty.”

    Ross looked at her with melting eyes. Even though he had nearly lost the use of his right leg, the various treatments he had taken had almost healed him. It would be a matter of time, when he would be able to walk again. Alaina had looked after him with so much care and tenderness.

    He said,“I love you Alaina, most woman would have dumped me in this condition, but you stuck with me through thick and thin. The year that we have been through, would have tested the strongest and you were extremely tough.”

    He struggled to get into his chair. She jumped to help him and said, “Darling it’s a matter of a few months, then you will be able to walk again. The stay at the Swedish spa has helped you immensely. The doctors have wrought a miracle.”

    It’s your regular prayers that did the trick. Gypsy curses are passé, how did you get into believing that? Why did you go there, remind me?”

    “Rita wanted to ask her something, and I wanted to ask her whether I would have a child, before she threw a curse at me and you suffered for it.”

    “No, I think, it was just perchance.”

    “But I believe the ritual helped. You won’t understand what I went through. I would have done anything to save you, even take the curse on me.”

    “And how do you feel now? Still going to a gypsy for a child?”

    She smiled, “You’re teasing me. Well, I still want one, and only you can give me that. In fact, astrology says my chances of conceiving are good.” Ross laughed throatily and it echoed into the waves.

    They canoodled, as the gulls watched curiously.

  • November 30, 2015 at 10:09 pm
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    (Warning! Foul Language Alert.)

    The Curse.

    “SHIT! Oh for fucks sake. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!”

    His wife, Jenn, walked into the kitchen at that precise moment. “What’s the matter, dear? You having a problem?”

    He rolled his eyes. “Shit. No. Yes. Am I having a problem? Whatta you fucking think? Yes, I’m having a problem.”

    “Well,” she said reasonably, “what is it?”

    “I cannot—I can’t fucking—this fucking website will not let me fucking log on.” He jabbed at the enter key repeatedly. “See? It doesn’t fucking do anything. I am so fucking… Shit! God damn it! I’m at my wit’s end. SHIT!”

    “What are you trying to do?” She asked, oozing patience.

    Mark’s facial expression was an exaggeration of hers. “I’m trying, to make an appointment, with a new, fucking, DOCTOR!” He stared at her as if it were her fault. “Remember? My new health care provider? My old doctor’s not a part of their frigging network? So I have to…”

    She cut him off. “Oh yeah, I remember you mentioning it,”

    “Well, they gave me a security code that’s supposed to allow me to log onto their goddamned ‘portal.’ Whatever that, whatever the, FUCK, that is, but it’s not working for shit.”

    Jenn tilted her head. “Why don’t you call them?”

    “What? How in hell am I supposed to call them? I don’t have their f-f- phone num…”

    Jenn leaned over and tapped his computer screen. “Yeah you do, it’s right there. See? Just call ‘em, and bypass all this bullshit.” She shook her head and walked over to the kitchen sink and began to rinse some dishes. “You’re such an idiot sometimes.”

    He sighed, and picked up the cordless phone that was sitting on the table just inches from his fingers. He punched in the numbers impatiently and waited.

    “Hello, Family Medical Center. How can we help you?”

    Mark inhaled deeply and said, “This is Mark Stafford. I need to see the Doctor.”

    The receptionist’s voice was cool and reserved. “Do you have an appointment, Mr. Stafford?”

    “No, I do not have an appointment, ma’am. I’m trying, I’m trying to f-f-f—I’m trying to make one.” He put his hand over the phone momentarily. “FUCK.”

    Jenn glanced at him from across the kitchen and frowned.

    The receptionist said, “May I ask you what this is in regard to, Mr. Stafford?”

    “It’s just a checkup ma’am. I just need a fucking checkup, and a refill on my prescriptions.”

    There was a brief silence and then the receptionist said, “There’s no reason for you to take that tone, Mr. Stafford. I can fit you in a week from Thursday, at 11 a.m. Will that work for you?”

    “Yeah sure. Whatever. That’ll be great. I’ll—achh, I’ll see you then.” He punched the ‘end call’ button, and set the phone on the table.

    “See?” Jenn said. “That wasn’t so difficult, was it?”

    “No. No, that was easy. I think I’ll go out and water the yard—the shit, in the yard.”

    Jenn frowned again. “Why don’t you water the backyard, Sweetie. It’s 3 o’clock, the neighbor’s kids will be coming home from school soon.”

    He looked at her blankly for a second and then said, “Yeah, shit, you’re right. Okay.”

    ****************

    A week and a half later he returned from the doctor’s office and sat down at the kitchen table.

    “Well? How did it go with the new doctor, Honey? Do you like him?”

    “Yeah, sure. Only he’s a she, damn it, but look.” He pulled a pill bottle out of a bag and shook it before setting it on the table.

    “What is it?” She said, as she approached him.

    “It’s a new fuckin’ medication, Jenn. It’s experimental, for Tourette’s Syndrome. She said it might fu-fu-fu-FUCK, help me.”

    Jenn sat down and picked up the pill bottle. “Oh, I do hope so, Sweetie.”

  • December 1, 2015 at 5:28 am
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    It was a warm evening and the laughter flowed freely; that was until Julian bumped into the town’s mad Sooth Sayer, We ignored her ramblings. Then Kim, obviously feeling mischievous, went back to her. ’I know what you mean!’, said Kim almost giggling. ’He was a bad boy he should have apologized!’ I walked up. ‘You should punish him!’ I added. She looked at us.’ With your help I can‘, she hissed. ’OK‘, said Kim ’What shall we do?’ ‘Make him thinner,’ I laughed. Samantha moved up. ’How about incessant bad luck!’ she chipped in. I agreed and the old hag muttered some weird words. Julian walked up finally. ‘Hello, what’s going on?’ The old Hag touched his head and slapped me. ’It is done.’ she said and then looked at Kim. Kim produced a five pound note. ’Thank you for this. You were worth every penny.’ she said patronizingly. ’And buy yourself some soap, darling,’ said Julian camply. The woman looked at him, then laughed and disappeared round the corner . ’Well that was fun, let’s get a…’ He stopped. ‘What?’ I asked. He patted his jacket. ’My wallet,it’s gone. I must have left it at your place.’ I rolled my eyes. “Here is a tenner, get a taxi home.’ Just as I handed it to him a gust of wind seemed to grab it out of my fingers and blow it into the air. It floated and Julian made a grab for it. ’Go after it!’ laughed Samantha. He ran after it onto the road and did not even see the car coming. Before we knew what was happening the car ran straight into him and threw him into the air. Samantha screamed and we rushed over to the lifeless body lying on the road. The ten pound note floated onto his back. That and the sound of a car door opening and then closing and the car quickly departing was all we could concentrate on, without noticing that the driver had taken off. We realized Julian was not dead when he called out his fiance’s name. Finally, half an hour later, we called an ambulance as his mobile was flat and the public phones were all suddenly broken. We bought a new mobile just to make one emergency call! At the hospital the news was not good. Apparently, if we had got Julian to the hospital sooner the swelling in his head could have been minimalised. As it was he had a stroke and lost the use of his right arm. Being a writer his job was going to be much harder. In fact it was more than hard. He got depressed and frustrated, mood swings developed and Sam left him due to their constant fighting. A month later he took an overdose of sleeping pills and killed himself. I guess you could say the “Curse” worked.

  • December 1, 2015 at 6:53 am
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    The Cursed Face

    Tara was playing with her four-year old grandson Hemal while Ragini was cooking dinner. The local news was on television in the background.
    “Grandma, look you are on TV,” Hemal shouted.
    Tara looked at the television, it showed a sketch of a lady disciple that looked like her, while the announcer said, “In the past six months, two women have been found dead at different temple complexes poisoned by cyanide. Police suspect they have been murdered by this woman. Please inform the police at the following phone….”
    Tara turned the television off.
    “What happened, mom?” Ragini shouted from the kitchen.
    “I turned it off I have a headache.” Tara said.
    “Grandma was on TV!” Hemal said.
    “What?”
    “He’s just babbling.” Tara waved off her grandson’s comment.
    “Mom, you shouldn’t go to temples so far away to pray. Consider your age, we will go to the doctor tomorrow.” Ragini said.
    “I will be okay; I don’t need a doctor.”

    *******

    Tara was born in an upper-caste family. From childhood, the word “curse” followed her around. When she was five or six, she remembered her mother would often say, “I don’t know my sins, why did god give me this curse? How will we get her married?”
    As a kid Tara thought the term curse was nothing. Her friends in school kept themselves isolated from her. When she turned twelve her father announced, “Tara from tomorrow you will not go to school.”
    “But dad I like to read, please don’t stop my schooling!” she cried.
    “Will you become a collector? Your ultimate place is the kitchen, help your mother so you learn your duties. I don’t know how much I have to spend on your dowry.”
    She watched her brothers go to school as she assisted mom in the kitchen. She was not even allowed to go play with the neighborhood children.
    After she turned sixteen often she wore silk sarees, put on jewelry and sat in front of guests. She knew the guests were there to settle her marriage. All would go well until they noticed her ugly black birthmark on her cheek. The curse would get her rejected every time. She turned nineteen and had still not been chosen by any family.
    Rejected by her community, she met Ballu. He was a trader who sold gold plated jewelry in the fairs and they developed a liking for each other.
    The first time they met Tara uncovered the veil and showed Ballu her face, “Look. For three years, grooms have rejected me. Will you like me after seeing this?”
    “I love you, not your looks.” Ballu replied.
    They embraced each other.
    Tara and Ballu met secretly. Tara knew her father would never accept Ballu because he belonged to a lower cast. Tara eloped with Ballu and they married in a temple. They started their own family in a town miles away. Soon after their daughter Ragini was born. They lived happily, but Tara was quick to apprehend happiness is a passing phase. Ballu fell sick, and the doctors diagnosed him with an advanced stage of leukemia.

    Tara was desperate for a job, but her weak education was of no help. At last she got a job as an assistant in a goldsmith’s factory. Her earnings were not adequate to survive and pay for Ballu’s expensive treatment.
    In desperation, she went to seek help from her father.
    “You were dead the day you married that low caste boy. Get out and never come back!” With that he drove her out of the house.

    After Ballu’s death, Tara’s only aim was bringing up Ragini. She worked tirelessly at the gold factory. She would often get dazzled by the elegant jewelry, but her meager earnings never enabled her to buy an earring for herself. She formed an opinion that the laziest people have all the money, luxury, and jewelry which they have no right to own. Sparkles and extravagance should be seized from them.

    Ragini grew up to become a jewelry designer for a big jewelry workshop.
    “You have worked hard all your life. It is my turn to work and for you to enjoy life and play with your grandson,” Ragini said.
    An idle brain is a devil’s workshop. Tara visited the local temples where she found the dull housewives would do anything for peace and wealth.
    No one knew that her passion for owning jewelry had grown so strong. During a visit to Ragini’s workshop, she stole a small bottle of cyanide. She took care in making her plans. She would make her move far from home and hide her identity with a wig and saffron clothes.
    Her first victim came at night, as instructed, dressed in her marriage clothes and jewelry to perform the secret prayers. She was told to inform no one at home.
    Tara took her to a lonely spot, “Drink this holy water to purify your body for the prayers.”
    She drank the water not knowing it had cyanide. The rest was easy. She took all her jewelry and sneaked off into the dark.
    In two years, she had three victims and took care to hide her identity each time. She wondered how her face had been seen and stayed inside until the case grew cold.

    ********

    Inspector Jacob had a map spread over his table. He studied it while muttering to himself, “I am sure the murderer stays somewhere in between the two temples to remain unidentified.”
    Just then the phone rang, “Inspector Jacob.”
    The voice from the other side could not be heard.
    “Yes, doctor….Yes, yes. Where does she live? ….. Thanks for the information.”
    Jacob’s face shone as he put down the receiver. He called the others into his office.
    “The announcement on the television has paid off. Our criminal is hiding only fifty miles away. I want her alive, so be careful, she had cyanide.”

    *****

    Dressed as social workers looking for donation, a team of women police stormed into Ragini’s house and handcuffed Tara.
    “What’s going on?” Ragini looked puzzled.
    Tara yelled, “Ragini I said I don’t need a doctor.”
    Police searched the house and found all the jewelry hidden under Tara’s bed.

  • December 1, 2015 at 11:59 am
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    The Cursed One

    The first twin died seven days after their mother had haemorrhaged to death in birthing them. The second was left to wail for nearly a day besides her dead sister. Their father had, encouraged by the death of their mother and her moods before she gave birth, taken another younger wife on the pretext of needing someone to look after his new born twins. Alisa was a woman who was keen after Raymond’s loins in many ways, but not its produce sown in the womb of a recently deceased woman. She also enjoyed the comfortable life provided by this older successful businessman. However, she was not yet ready to take on a more maternal role in the life of her new family.
    She had secretly hoped for the death of the second twin which would give any progeny her and her new husband would bring into the world together a better inheritance.
    Rainya the surviving twin fought to survive her awkward start and wailed unceasingly for hours on end. It was said she had the best pair of lungs in the whole country and on a quiet evening you could hear her at least 50 kilometres away. That may have been an exaggeration on the part of relatives who she was boarded with for a few weeks which stretched into six years.
    One morning when she was six years and two days old, the Aunt and Uncle whom Rainya had known as Mamma and Pappa called her into the kitchen. Mumma was frying pancakes made out of yam flour, in oil and sprinkling the thin crisp cakes with brown sugar and cinnamon.
    ‘Rainya. Rainya.’ Mumma repeated her name as she would chant a spell against the evil eye. She rapidly tossed pancakes onto a plate protected from the oil by neat pile of soft tissue paper. Rainya blinked rapidly and listened with one ear, her eyes were focused on the rapidly growing pile of pancakes, her nostrils filled with the sweet smell of melting brown sugar and frying oil, her other ear heard the crackle and sizzle of the frying oil. Pappa was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a letter and having his cup of tea.
    “Rainya, your father has written. Your real father.’ He explained when Rainya looked confused. ‘The husband of your mother who died. My sister.’
    It was just a story to Rainya. She did not remember or if she did; it was lost amongst the laundry of other experiences.
    The oil sizzled and Mamma slapped more batter into the pan.

    INCOMPLETE AND JUST TO LET YOU KNOW I TRIED BUT AM SO TIRED I WILL FINISH IN A LESS ZOMBIE STATE TOMOROROW NIGHT.

  • December 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm
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    The Lucky One
    By: Randall Lemon
    (774 words)

    Everyone always commented on how lucky Robert was. Ever since he had been a young boy, people had been in awe of his good looks. When he was an adolescent, he frequently had to apply salve to his rosy cheeks to ease the pains of being pinched by older ladies. Aunts, cousins, friends and even total stranger would stop him on the street to comment on his angelic appearance and to squeeze his cheeks or even, in some cases, to apply a wet, sloppy kiss to his face.

    Robert found it a little painful but, more than that, he found it extremely embarrassing. He started becoming ill whenever his presence was requested at family get-togethers to avoid such run-ins.

    As Robert moved on to Junior High School, his female classmates seemed drawn to him like iron filings to a magnet. Girls congregated at his locker making it practically impossible to get his books between classes. This resulted in Robert building up quite a record for tardies.

    Robert found himself in frequent detention. Robert would not have minded so much but the teacher’s aide who monitored detention hall was a slightly portly woman who wore glasses. She seemed to pay particular attention to Robert. To him it seemed more than a little creepy that she would find every reason she possibly could to touch him. She would pat his arm or tousle his hair. One time she tried to get Robert to stay after the other kids had been dismissed from detention to “help her carry some items to her car.” Danger lights flashed in Robert’s youthful brain. He did not think that being left alone with her was advisable and he quickly alibied himself out of staying saying his brother awaited to drive him to a dentist’s appointment,

    After that, Robert ditched detention whenever it was assigned for him. Because of that he often found himself suspended from school. With the increased absences from class, came more and more academic problems. His once good grades, plummeted.

    Even though he was hardly qualified, his female guidance counselor worked extra hard to gain him entrance to a small community college and volunteered to serve as his tutor to help him with his classes. She even suggested that they could study better in the quiet of her secluded apartment. Robert tried than exactly once. When he saw the sexy outfit his “tutor” had donned for their study session, he turned quickly around and said he had to cancel their appointment because his uncle was dying. From that moment on, he made do without her help.

    Robert had no idea what he wanted to study in college but a number of classmates pushed him toward drama. He was relatively talented and his good looks insured that he landed many good roles. The intimacy of the theater finally broke down Robert’s reserve and he entertained numerous liaisons with female students and even faculty members.

    Robert was never alone, but often, he wished he could be. He missed the safety of solitude. He spent so much time sleeping in the apartments of numerous amorous women of various ages that he finally gave up the lease on his own room. Why pay for a place he never went?

    After college Robert found his way into community theater. He was quickly discovered by a talent scout (female, of course) who promised to help him get into the movies. In exchange for living at her place and helping her out with a few “chores” whenever she needed them, she soon got him some minor walk-on roles in various TV shows and then the movies.

    He moved up the ladder graduating from tiny roles to larger ones. But it was always apparent to Robert that it was good looks not talent that pushed his career forward. He frequently sought out roles that would require him to wear hideous prosthetics that would hide his good looks but in the end he would always be turned down for these meaty roles and offered instead a part that would make use of his stunning looks.

    Sexy young starlets hung on his arm at frequent award ceremonies. Paparazzi pursued him all over town snapping photos they would sell to the tabloids. His life was not his own, had never been his own, and now he realized it never would be.

    The curse of good looks had given him a career and all the women a man could ever want. He had money and all the perks that go with it. But that was all he would ever have. He was an empty shell, just a very handsome one.

  • December 2, 2015 at 3:52 pm
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    The Rooster
    The merciless hand clamped tight on its throat and all it could do was croak. How undignified! He always prided himself on his musical crowing. Even before the clamp around its throat eased, the rooster found its legs tied tightly and hung upside down by the side of the bicycle. Well, what has the world come to today, it wondered? May be it can catch a catnap while it set itself right.

    It was a handsome rooster – with its myriad coloured plumage and its bright red crest – and always commanded the place of pride at home. What it did not know was that the previous evening, it was sold to the local priest to be sacrificed. A family had approached the priest to help ward off the curse given to them by the resident spirit in their house, according to the priest. Quickly, the priest made arrangements and the rooster was to be sacrificed as an antidote. The priest also had found a perfect spot to do the necessary ritual – a spot where four roads met. And the time of the ritual had to be pre-dawn, the magical moment when it was neither dark nor light.

    So, the rooster rode pillion to the priest, along with a smelly bag hung on to the other side filled with items needed for the ritual. At the appointed time, all congregated at the spot. The rooster, still with its legs tied, was sat unceremoniously next to the priest. Watching everything intently with its beady eyes, the rooster finally figured out that this was probably his last dawn. Amidst the loud chants, hand movements, fervent prayers and great aniticipation of a curse being lifted, the priest picked up the rooster and slowly untied its legs. The momentary relief, for all concerned, was marred by a commotion nearby under the banyan tree. A group of four burly men, their faces covered, had caught hold of a man, it seemed after a hard chase. The four men, who belonged to the village head, had kidnapped the man from his fields where he slept the night before, to make him pay back the money lent to him. The man, seeing the congregation of the family and the priest a little distance away, pushed with all his might and made his way to them. The priest, who realised that this was his one golden chance to establish himself as the authority on righteousness, hurriedly placed the rooster under his towel and stood up. The rooster, taking advantage, quickly hopped, skipped and jumped to the nearest house and pushed his way inside from under the loose wooden fence.

    The commotion, eventually, sorted itself out in sometime. The goons decided to give the priest royal ignore and caught their victim and dragged him away.

    The priest and the cursed family returned their attention to the ritual at hand and were stunned to see that there was no rooster under the towel. Muttering even more curses, the priest shooed the family away asking them to come at a later date, but not before extracting the money for all his efforts.

    The rooster, now sitting under the thick entanglement of cucumber vines, crowed happily. The lady of the house, woken up by its sound, came out rubbing her eyes wondering since when they have owned a rooster. The rooster, oblivious to the inspection, went about pecking the grains near the puddle of water next to the handpump. The lady of the house went inside and brought her husband to check out the beautiful rooster. Burdened by the debts they were facing, the couple for sometime have been thinking of offering a chicken to the nearby temple to deflect the wrath of the local money lender. Since the rooster came to them as a gift from the heavens, they were thankful and decided to trap him. After a long chase, they succeeded and promptly put him under an old cane coop. The husband decided to visit the temple and discuss the necessary arrangements with the priest urgently. The lady of the house went inside to fetch her clothing and as usual, sat near the well inside the premises to take bath before the the village woke up.

    The village rowdy – a rakish youngman in his 30s – has had his eye on her for sometime and knew the exact time when she took her bath in the mornings. As he approached the wooden fence, he could see her back turned towards him with water dripping down the thin layer of the saree. He could barely catch the tune she was humming while she bathed that he was startled to have the rooster crow right next to him from under the coop. The crowing drew her attention and in his haste to hide from her, the youngman picked up the coop and tried to distract her with it. The bathing beauty came running towards him with a stick in hand and lifted it to beat him with it. The rooster, now free, made his escape fast and slipped from under the loose wooden fence on to the road. The lady forgetting her dripping wet state gave a hard chase to both the youngman and the rooster for a distance. The moment she realised she ran back inside the house, bathing abandoned midway.

    Having reached the nearby paddy fields, the rooster dipped its beak to catch a wriggly worm just coming out of the slush near the banks. A loud noise broke its concentration. A young boy with a slinghot in his hands stood a few feet away from the rooster. Within seconds, he aimed a huge mud ball in the rooster’s chest. The second time that fine morning the rooster had let out a croak and then it was all over.

    The cursed rooster was now officially dead.

  • December 2, 2015 at 5:03 pm
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    TIME’S UP!
    Please submit your 1st – 5th place votes (in order) to LIFlashFiction(at)gmail(dot)com.

    Remember:
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    Good luck!

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