Flash Club June Flash Club 2021

Barbara

Full Member
Emeritus
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Location
Cambridgeshire
Happy June, everyone. I hope your writing year is going great.

Last month saw so many fabulous entries. Thank you Emily for your guest hosting last month. It was wonderful to see such varied stories.

This month's Flash Club is now open, and .... we’d be delighted to feature your entries on our new podcast Short Story Hunters podcast, which will give you an additional platform. But if for any reason you don’t want your work featured, simply let me know. So get writing, ladies and gents. Your stories may just become part of the show.

To participate, use the writing prompt as well as the word limit given to write a piece of flash fiction, then post below to make your entry. Please make your entry anonymous by clicking the anonymous button, but if you forget, don't worry, that's okay too. (Note: Guardians can see who posts.) So take a risk and try something new.

To make the Flash Club the special place it is, we need your votes. You can vote by clicking 'like' or 'love'. If a piece grabs you, please hit the 'like' button. If a piece sweeps you off your seat, please hit 'love'. At the end of the month, I will count up the votes. In a tie, 'Love' will trump 'like'. The entry with the most votes will be the winner. Please don't vote for your own. The Flash Club isn't about about winning. It's about trying something new. It's about grabbing readers with words, and gaging the response. Self-votes don't show if the writing works for the reader.

The most generous voter will get a mention. At the end of the month I will announce the most supportive Flash Voter who will get a special shout-out. The prize? Kudos. And please don't just hit every entry to ensure a win. That's not helping the author. The voting is designed to help writers gage the effects of their work.

And please keep to the word count. Writing to a specific brief is good practice. I'll be strict
:face-with-monocle:
when it comes to word count. Those entries over the limit won't be in the running for the top spot. They will be left up, but they can't win. You don't have to use up the full limit. If you want to say something in only 10 words, that's perfectly fine.

The competition is open to all members. Feel free to enter more than one. The main rule here: we ask you not to critique.

This month's wordcount is: 500

Here is this your prompt:

Newspaper Headline
 
News of the Snooze

This crazy thing happened at work today. Derek, he calls us all into his office – there’s me, Daisy, Tarks, Silent Tass, and Granddad Mike. We’re all sitting there, and Derek’s effing and blinding and kicking the wastepaper basket, and he’s screaming at us all, ‘Give me an effing headline!!’ Like, at the top of his voice, and we’re all looking at each other, ‘cause we don’t know what’s going on. So Mike, I mean, he’s old and that, and we don’t know why he’s still there, although Tass thinks he’s got some dirty picks of Derek, but give him his credit, he’s the first to speak up, and he’s like ‘Headline?’

And Derek’s going nuts, he’s all ‘Of course a headline, why d’you think you’re in here? Doughnuts? Blowjobs?!’ And Tarks is sitting there smirking his head off, ‘cause he’s a smug little shit but Daisy, you know she’s really smart, and yes I might have a thing for her, but she’s way out of my league, but she calmly says ‘But Derek, it seems that nothing of note has happened.” Brilliant. Nothing of note has happened.

And Derek’s looking at Daisy and all his veins are purple, and you think he’s gonna climb across the table and throttle her, but Tarks, he’s all like, ‘It’s true sir. Not much has happened. No-one in particular has died. No-one’s been born.’

And Derek’s getting madder and madder, and we can see it, so we all jump in then. It’s like a game we’re playing. Tass is next. ‘There’re no wars. No bombs. No terrorists. Not today.’ And I’m thinking, I have say something here, so I’m like ‘No football, boxing, or horseracing’ – I don’t know why I said all this, ‘cause when does football, boxing or horseracing ever really get a headline? I mean only when some serious shit happens, so I blurt out, ‘No pandemics’.

And Daisy, because she’s smart, she says ‘All our politicians are behaving themselves impeccably. They’re just getting on with the business of running the country with quiet efficiency. Even the Royals are managing to keep themselves to themselves. And as for the celebrities, well, I’ve never seen such a well behaved, socially aware bunch.’

And Mike, he says ‘It’s a no-news day. And you know what they say? No news is good news’. And we’re all chuckling to ourselves about this, but Derek, he’s screaming by this point, and he’s all, ‘You don’t have a headline, I’ll give you an effing headline!!’ And he jumps on the table, runs right along it and then literally, proper literally, throws himself against the window. But it’s special glass and it doesn’t break, and he’s like lying on the floor and there’s blood spurting out of his nose and he’s all screaming and crying like he’s having a proper breakdown.

But we get our headline, or Daisy does, like I said, she’s the smart one. Good with words.

World rejoices as no news snooze causes nose break heartache.
 
Angels forced to Fly!

I look at the utilitarian wooden door opposite and try to compose myself. Inside, raised voices in the Chief Exec’s office show she is not a happy bunny. I take a deep breath and try to compose myself. It is not my fault.

The door opens and a flushed faced deputy head of nursing flees the scene. She avoids eye contact with me, hiding her guilty secrets. Typical. Brenda is great at flinging mud but doesn’t like it when some of it sticks to her metaphorically starched apron.

“Ah Richard.” Chief Executive Rachel Gower, MBA, DipHM, BA Hons, MHSM, is a full five foot one but nobody notices her slight frame and small stature. She didn’t get to be the Chief Exec of the biggest Teaching Hospital in London by feats of physical strength. She got there by making experienced professionals doubt themselves (and the less experienced cry). She was a bully when she was a Sister on the wards and a tyrant as a Matron. But she really discovered her true abilities when she made her step up into General Management. “Thank you for coming so quickly,” she says, as if I ever had a choice.

Stepping into her inner sanctum, she sits at the expensive mahogany meeting table rather than her desk. There are a couple of manilla files. On top of them is a newspaper. The headline blares out above a black and white picture of the front of the A&E entrance to the hospital: “ANGELS FORCED TO FLY!”.

I take the chair opposite Ms Gower. “Well?” she says.

“Waiting lists are up on last month due to pressure on beds from the massive influx of medical patients, though down from the pandemic highs. Orthopaedics are worst, Urology not much better. ENT is catching up after the extra lists we funded…”

“No Richard.” She reaches over to the paper and picks it up. “Disaster at St James’ Teaching Hospital. Surgical wards forced to close as Angel Nurses are forced from their jobs by NHS bosses who question their qualifications.”

“Oh, that.”

“Yes Richard, that. You are a Graduate Trainee. You have a little bit of skill and a tiny bit of intelligence. You know I should have been made aware. Our adversarial medical and nursing colleagues will try to embarrass us at every turn. We are making them work to smaller budgets. They can’t have all the toys they have in the past, so they will try to hurt me. I needed to know. Why did I not know?”

I take a deep breath. “You did. I told you last week. I sat here and tried to explain but all you wanted to hear was missed Gen. Surgery long waiter targets. Staffing levels are really that bad. Nursing staff really are leaving.”

“Yes, Richard, but who told the bloody press?” My eyes involuntarily flick towards the Chief Nurse’s office. “Ah yes, of course. Thank you, Richard.”

“But I didn’t…”

“You may go, Richard.”
 
Science

There was once an irrefutable idea that science would save everything. That those boffins had all the answers. And in truth, they did always seem to just pull it out of the bag at the right moment. Pandemic, disease and plague? Dealt with, by the skin of their teeth at the last reckoning. Millions died, but not enough to make a sizeable dent in the overall population. Climate change? They just managed to come up with the widescale carbon capture system, not to mention the deep sea-cleaning, the reintroduction of crucial flora and fauna, the redress of the balance. It seemed they were on a roll. They were doing what they said that science could do – that we could life reasonably comfortable lives, without giving up too much, and still maintain some sort of natural co-existence with our planet and its other inhabitants.

All hail science. It seemed they’d done it. We could all relax now and go back to our social media (because we’ve learnt that there’s no need to actually meet anyone, unless you want to have sex, and well, science had dealt with that too).

But this wasn't enough, they wanted to go further. Those guys in their labs – China, US, Russia, UK. It doesn’t matter where, a Russian scientist is the same as a US scientist, as is a Chinese one. It’s the universal conglomerate of scientists anyway. They know how to sort things. Well, they did. But then, well, they wanted to make things better. We don’t want you to live your lives as you would like. We don’t just want you to be comfortable. We want you to be better than comfortable. Hyper comfortable, uber comfortable.

So they started tinkering around with something else, something they shouldn’t have been tinkering with. You see all this stuff, they said. This dark matter? Well, we’re going to make it work for us. It will be revolutionary. So they started tinkering around the edges. They started finding it and putting it to use, in our engines, in our houses. It’s energy that will never diminish. It will power not just our world, but the worlds across future generations across all of space and time. This is the next stage, they said, towards our destiny.

The trouble is, this dark matter didn’t like to be tinkered with. Things started going wrong, but every time it did, the scientists fixed things – temporarily it now appears, but with an assurance that this was only a minor hiccup.

Inevitably things started getting worse, until now, the point of imminent catastrophe – the point where they need once last throw of the dice. This will fix things for good, said some of them. It will kill us all, said others.

One last chance for us. Surely, we’ve come too far to be stopped now. It can’t be over can it?

It seems the newspapers have two headlines prepared. World saved! and World doomed!

Which will they run in the morning?
 
Voice Diary in an Elementary World

“Day 129”

“There must be someone around here somewhere.”

“Today I came across a village - deserted like all the others. Not even a body. I guess a good thing about what happened was that people didn’t die where they were sitting. They had time to get themselves to a funeral…well, the relatives did. It makes me wonder who buried the last person to die. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg but in reverse.”

“I scavenged through the cottages and found plenty of tinned food. I love that Corned Beef. I’m trying to get it eaten every time I come across it, because I know that one day, I will no longer find any tins with a good date. I don’t know what I’ll do then – if I make it that far.”

“There was a dog in the village. A Working Cocker. Poor thing was so weak it could hardly growl at me. I wanted to help it, so I left it a load of my prized corned beef on a plate in the kitchen. I didn’t wait. I suspect I would have been its next meal if I’d hung around to watch it get its strength back. There were also three cats outside the cottage, all looking as healthy and happy as they did before the end came. I figure the only thing that’s changed for them is that they’re not coming home to an additional bowl of branded cat food every morning.”

“Day 130”

“My 76-year-old hip is painful today. I know it’s all the walking, but I’m not going to find civilisation by sitting at home. Last night, I sat outside the village, lit a fire, and spent hours twiddling the radio dial hoping to get a signal. “

“Nothing. Then the batteries died. “

“Interestingly, that dog came to visit. It scared the bejeebus out of me. It turns out it was just looking for company. It lay down by the fire and was still there this morning. It’s a female. I’ve called it Jess, after my wife. It’s both surreal and nice to be using that name again…I miss her.”

“Day 131”

“I came across a signpost today - Exeter A303. I’d been following the road for most of the morning. It was deadly quiet, except a herd of deer and the sound of a buzzard surprisingly because I rarely heard them before the end came. “

“There was a Services just off the road. It had been ransacked. I got excited that maybe it was a sign that people were still alive. There was a soggy newspaper in the hedge that caught my eye. I picked it up and flicked off the slugs. It was dated 11th February 2020. The newspaper headline read “WHO names disease caused by new coronavirus”. Guess it was the last disease ever named. I dropped the paper and headed back to the road. Time to start walking again.”

“There must be someone around here somewhere.”
 
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