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Jan 2018 - Flash 'Splat' challenge and/or 'Anticipation' and 'Reflection'

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aka Anne Chen
Staff member
Happy New Year Folks!

Our first runner up of the December Flash Club, @Katie-Ellen Hazeldine, has suggested a flash 'splat' challenge: "The flash must contain one sentence that absolutely falls and splays and splats."

@Katie-Ellen Hazeldine, please would you elaborate further?

Also, we can have a word prompt of 'Anticipation' and/or 'Reflection' for the two faces of January.

Maximum of 1000 words please.

The Flash Club is open to all Litopians, it's *fun* first and foremost, so don't get caught up or stressed over it. You don't have to contribute, but if you are new to writing, it's a good place to start and get your toes wet. And if you're an experienced writer, flash writing can be an important part of your regular writing practice.

You can make as many contributions as you like.

The winning entry can suggest a prompt for next month's FC.

Happy writing!
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Staff member
An Arresting Tale of One Man’s Fight against the Tyranny of Monarchical Names​


A Rah Eyeter​

So, this geezer, he goes into a pub, whacking great place, all spivvy muppets at the bar with their birds, bloody great chandeliers hanging from the ceiling like Lord bloody Muck’s very own dining room, and this geezer, well, this geezer ponces right up to the bar, lively as you like, brushing off all them snotty looks from the muppets and the birds, sticks his mitt in his dirty little pocket, pulls out a fiver, a frickin’ fiver, mind you, and orders a bottle of Moët. The barman’s dad’s boss during the war had a dog called Philip; or it might have been Dave.

Hey, ask Rich! He started it.

'..or it might have been Dave.'

The idea of the splat is either that the flash contains

an incident of something or someone literally going splat. It need not be terminal


it includes at least one basic, honest sentence utterly devoid in its construction or meaning, of any attempt whatsoever of demonstrated elegance, flow or grace; and no clauses, no semi- colons.

This requires that we be ready to park our writerly dignity at the door.


Staff member
No semicolons? But... but... what about Dave? I worked for hours* on the falling and splaying that led to his splat.

[*okay, not hours, minutes maybe... definitely seconds]
'God preserve us, and if He doesn't sink those Northmen whoresons before they set one foot on this soil, pray God I send them back where they came from,' said Harold Godwinson, hearing the news. Guillaume le Batarde had finally, after months pacing the far shore, thwarted by unlucky tides and mists, set sail, brandishing the lie that he was the rightful heir, dispossessed by the usurper, Harold.

Only it wasn't a lie. Edward had promised Guillaume the throne of England.

Before he had also promised it to Harold, on his deathbed.

The fool.

'And damn that traitorous bastard, Tostig,' said Harold under his breath, mindful of his mother's grief. Tostig, his own brother, bringing the Danes against them, and why? Because Tostig had been ousted from his kingdom of Northumbria, thrown out for his overbearing tyranny, and had come to his brother Harold, King of Wessex, expecting support to get his kingdom back, but Harold wouldn't do it. Tostig had proved himself not fit to rule. Harold was not going to force the Northumbrians to take him back. So what must Tostig do next, but go bleating first to Guillaume for his restoration, and then Hardrada, and of course, there had to be something in it for them, didn't there?

And now Harold, having dealt with Hardrada - and Tostig, who wasn't going to give anyone else any trouble, ever again - had hurried south again, and must make ready for the next wave of invasion.

'Please, my beloved son,' his mother, the princess Gytha begged him. 'You must not take the field too soon. You have men who are fresh, I know, but you are too tired. '

'If I don't find him first, mother, he will find me,' Harold said, gently but grimly. 'Dear God give me strength.'

There came a hoarse cry.

A passing gull.


On Harold's gracious, vexed and undefended head.

A crowning of shit from the Devil himself.
No semicolons? But... but... what about Dave? I worked for hours* on the falling and splaying that led to his splat.

[*okay, not hours, minutes maybe... definitely seconds]
You did the splat, no problems. More than one way to do the splat :) And I enjoyed it very much, @Rich. I rated it funny but I'll change it, to make sure you get it marked up as a judging point. Cause I am not sure if funny gets counted as a vote.


aka Anne Chen
Staff member
All ratings will be counted as a vote, especially a vote for 'funny' as humour can require serious hard work. :)

In a tie-break, the 'love' rating counts higher than 'likes'. Hope that's fair.
Well, this is a pickle. The plane wheeling its lazy arc towards the ground, that bastard Krane freefalling below, and me, without a parachute.

Think, think of your training.

I make myself like a bullet, tucking in arms, head down, aiming, aiming. He’s getting closer, he doesn’t see me. I have the advantage. He thinks I’m dead, and I’m very much not dead. I’m coming for you now Krane. I’m coming for you.

I can see his arm reaching for his cord. I have to get there before he pulls it. Ten feet, eight feet. He fumbles for it, he still doesn’t see me. Why look up? That will be your mistake Krane. Your last mistake. Five feet, four feet. He’s still fumbling. I’ve got you Krane, I’ve got you now. I ready myself for impact, I want to grab him immediately and tightly. A hard, solid blow to the head. Three feet, two feet. Then take his chute. One foot. I’m coming for you.

There is a whoosh as his chute opens and he spins up, just out of my reach. As I hurtle past him I can hear him laughing. Kane, you sly old dog. This isn’t the last of it. I’ll be coming for you.

But now what?

Think again, think of your training. At this height I’ve about ninety seconds. Plenty of time to come up with a solution. I adopt the classic sky diving position, back arched, arms and legs spread, increasing wind resistance, reducing the terminal velocity.

To survive the landing I need to think about where to land. Marshland, snow, something to absorb the impact. Not water, which would be like concrete. I scan the land below. The snowy mountains we flew over ten minutes ago have given way to dry, rocky desert.

Come on, think, think you old fool . . .

The Earth is getting closer.

My chances of survival increase if I ride a piece of wreckage, giving some protection from the impact. Where’s the plane? A plume of smoke in the distance as the plane hits the ground.

Just me versus the ground. For the first time I can hear the wind whipping past my ears. My eyes are watering. 120 mph into the ground. This isn’t how it’s supposed to end. This isn’t how I am supposed to end. I’m a protector of the realm, licenced to kill, years of training, technology aided, the best of the best. There must be something. An aide. A sidekick, someone coming to rescue me at the last minute as I’ve rescued so many others. It has to come.

But I know, as the ground rushes up towards me, I know that no-one is coming. There is no-one left, there is nothing left. I start to grab at the air, to kick my arms and legs, grabbing for something, anything out there which I can hold.

But there’s nothing, there’s nothing.

Finally my training falls away. I realise this is it. I think of Penny. She’ll be sorry. I’m sorry to have left you, I never should have. I should have stayed. Where would we be now?

It’s close now.

I close my eyes to nothing.

When Magda went out to fetch tea for us, I could give all my attention to the Vermeer hanging on the wall behind her chair. A reproduction, but I had come across the original in the museum in Brunswick and it had always enthralled and baffled me. That stealthy northern light creeping across walls, the inlaid tiles, the stained glass colours and fall of starched white linen, light blue in the folds. Vermeer’s beloved Delft, interiors he knew and could play like a chessboard.

I was here to advise the widow Magda Niepke on the purchase of some small bronzes for her home in Amsterdam. Sotheby’s auction house had referred me and all transactions would be done internationally. I had the paperwork in hand. Mrs Niepke, Magda as she preferred to be called, had homes in Holland, Brussels, and Geneva. She was settling some business here in the Cape and had taken a suite of rooms upstairs at the Netherlands Club, good airy rooms so that she could get the morning sea breezes when the shutters were opened. She seemed lonely to me, her determined chin and shrewd gaze masking a certain fatigue and boredom with her own company. She liked to hear about my sailing adventures with the Cape Yacht Club and how I had (brashly) educated myself to appraise art and statuary.

‘You know the Girl and the Wine Glass?’ she asked, setting down the tea tray. She had put on some lipstick that oddly increased her pallor. Darker reds often lent an unfortunate greenish cast to skin. A well-preserved woman all the same in in her dark grey cashmere and expensive heels.

‘This Vermeer has always intrigued me,’ I told her. I put down my cup and gestured as I tried to explain. The seated girl in her florid cherry-red skirt turning a flushed complicit face towards the onlooker, giggling a little as she refuses the wine held out to her by the bowing lecher. His friend or a fellow suitor sulking in one corner. On the wall, a painting within a painting, another gentleman obscured by shadow, looking on. And Dame Temperance with her level and bridle in the lead-tin yellows of the stained glass.

‘The girl thinks that by refusing the wine, she controls the situation,’ I pointed out. ‘No easier then to be a woman than it is now. Slut-shaming, that kind of thing.’

I felt protective of this girl, tempted by some lecherous elders, perhaps family friends delighted to find her alone. Nobody around to show the gentlemen out. Some appeal in that childish face brought out my chivalrous instincts.

Magda’s gaze was cool, even mocking. I stopped explaining, and my ears burned. I felt like a schoolboy tricked into confessing a crush.

‘I disagree,’ she said. ‘The little fool is drunk and just pretending to turn away from the wine glass. Look at the table behind her. You see the empty pewter plate with that slice of lemon? She has eaten all the aphrodisiac oysters and helped herself to her share of wine from the jug.'

Magda frowned at me.

'She isn’t looking away from the suitor into an empty room, either. Four men, not three, are present. Vermeer is standing there with his easel. We can’t see him, we can only see what he sees. She is teasing the painter, flirting with him in her fuddled way. Everyone is charmed by the prospect of seduction whether or not it can be refused, pushed away like a glass of sweet wine. The men know she has no choice, whatever the silly child may think. And at any moment…’

Magda took another mouthful of tea.

‘She is going to tumble off the chair, topple face down. Splat on the floor and all the men will burst out laughing.’

‘Perhaps Jan Vermeer will rush forward and help her to her feet, save his sitter’s virtue.’

“You’re a naïve young man for an art dealer,’ says Magda. ‘Look harder. All Vermeer cares about is the colour ultramarine. This rich blue intrigues him, he slips it in everywhere. Look at the girl’s red skirts, how crisp and subtle that tint is. It leaps out across the canvas as she will leap and fall at any moment. He has painted an underlay of ultramarine, then covered it up, a madder red lake stroked over the blue of lapis lazuli. Bloom over rot.’

The painting had altered as Magda spoke. My painting had faded, to be replaced by something new, unlikeable, but undeniably more vivid. Now I saw what the canny widow saw: this tipsy foolish girl circled by indifferent or lustful men waiting for her to fall flat on her face, rumpled skirts up around her legs. And nobody cared; nobody would step forward to catch her when she tumbled.

I leaned back and closed my eyes. Pride before a fall.

‘Would you care for a small glass of prosecco before you continue?’ asked Magda.

Jan Vermeer
The Girl with the Wine Glass
(Dame en twee heren) c.1659-1660
oil on canvas / 30 3/4 x 26 3/8 in. (78 x 67 cm.)
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick

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Staff member
@MaryA, lovely bit of reframing there. I enjoyed that a lot. :)

Have you seen the documentary Tim's Vermeer? It's about how Vermeer achieved such photorealism in his painting. It's worth a watch if you haven't seen it.


Staff member
Ah! But Wait, wait, wait! With all the changes this month, we've lost our extra emojis – funny and love in this case – which meant that some of my votes had disappeared. I'd given @MaryA a great big heart, so to be fair I think she should be picking up the crown this month, not me!


Staff member
I love the fact that you tossed the crown aside. The action goes very well with your avatar's cigarette and pearls. I'll just stoop down here in the dirt at your feet to retrieve it.

[English humour, do forgive me ;)]
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