#LastLineFirst – A #FlashFiction Challenge: Week 2

last line firstHello, and welcome to Week 2 of Last Line First!

In the spirit of flash-fiction, I’m going to keep this brief.

Thank you to everyone who participated last week. It was great to have you aboard for our maiden voyage. I enjoyed all the stories, and I hope you did too. It always amazes me how so many different tales can arise from the same prompt. If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, you can do so here.

This week’s last line prompt is from Time Enough by Voima Oy. I picked it as my favourite because it immediately conjured an image in my mind, and that image is already turning itself into a story.

So without any more waffle from me. Here is this week’s last line prompt.

His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories.

Now … go turn it into a new first line!

As always, you have until midnight (GMT) on Sunday to comment on this post with your ≤200 word flash-fictions. Remember, you can tweak the last line however you see fit. For a full run-down of the rules visit this page.

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35 thoughts on “#LastLineFirst – A #FlashFiction Challenge: Week 2

  1. A World Of Words

    (194 words)

    Murad’s eyes are anticipation – his mouth reconstructing the merest remnants of the stories as he steps beyond Neolexia’s haphazard turrets, piled paper high. Words whisper upon his ears as he walks between a set of shelves; searching beyond their reaches. Half-recollected, half-misremembered – a kaleidoscope of letters drip freely from his lips as he salivates, moving deeper towards the centre of the construct. Vowels and consonants are crisp curlicues winding themselves about his tongue as he moves further in; hoping to hold them in his head. Sharp and sweet by turns, they settle onto the fungiform papillae; a teasing ephemeral tickle – before burrowing beneath. Murad exhales, eyelids fluttering. Casting himself carelessly backwards, he is cushioned amidst sestina, tristich and recueillement, carefully woven and tacked together – held in place by their lines –



    overt ly



    Words work once more upon him.

    Murad stirs as blank spaces begin to form where words once danced and dwelt. Slowly – reluctantly – he raises himself from the hardwood floorboards, blinking. He knows he will return again, though he cannot say why. The words he would search for are elusive; nonextant.

  2. Tell it to the Birds

    The wonders I’ve seen. The dangers I’ve to report.
    Family and friends seemed the natural place to start. I wanted them to be prepared. But I didn’t get through. Some people walked away from me mid-sentence, others turned around to start a conversation with the next person. They’d rather discuss Celebrity Big Brother. Or gossip about those who couldn’t make it (what had they said about me while I was gone?).
    Running up to random people in the street wasn’t my best idea. But it meant I got to talk to the police. The authorities would want to know. They’d make an official announcement, forcing people to listen.
    Well. The police laughed me out of the station.
    I expected initial disbelief, but not complete denial. I’ve underestimated mankind’s inability to accept impending disaster. Yet it’s coming. Hurtling through space, on a collision course with Earth.
    And I have found an audience: birds. They survived the last one, they know what’s at stake. They’re smarter than people think, birds. The crows herd smaller birds my way, then send them away to spread the news.
    Mankind’s doomed. So now’s a good time for me to get used to talking to birds.

  3. The Bravest Man from Dinwiddie (199 words)

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. His skin is wrinkled and spotted, his mouth is curved in a smile. To most he would seem pitiful, pathetic, but she knows the adventure and horror of his 90 years. Every day yields a new tale: the passion of young romance, the gore of war-torn jungles. Fact or fiction, it hardly matters, his conviction in his oral history enchants her.

    Today he relives the epic struggle between his youthful self and a Siberian tiger, “They said I was the bravest man Dinwiddie had ever seen.” Her eyes light up in delight, which reflect in his. He reaches for the newspaper, but today is Sunday, and the weight of the weekly coupons and advertisements weighs it down substantially.

    “Rebecca, could you… give me a hand?” he asks shyly.

    “Of course, Mr. Roberts. But you know it’s almost time for your appointment with Dr. Green.”

    “Is it? Oh, well, yes, of course. I had nearly forgotten.” He forgets most things now.

    Rebecca smiles as she gently hands him the hefty newspaper. It then occurs to her that the bravest man from Dinwiddie had wet the bed.

  4. ‘A story untold’
    191 words

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories.

    The shadows on the castle wall are strong at high noon. He takes the spiral staircase and walks out into the courtyard. Anya will be here soon. The grounds have been swept and the horses fed since the revelry last night. He has a trace of a hangover but the port was expensive and forgiving.

    He picks up his bow and arrow and practises shooting but misses the first time. The second arrow hits the blue circle. The sun glares at his eyes and he rests under a tree.

    “George,” Anya’s voice drifts through the silence. She dismounts her horse, Freeda, who neighs loudly while relieving herself.

    He wakes up and smiles. They embrace and kiss.
    “I have a little something for you.”

    She digs into the pocket of her tunic and gives George a velvet drawstring bag.
    He takes a handful of coins from the bag, inspecting them on the palm of his hand.

    “How did you get these?”
    Anya blushes.
    “Promise you won’t be angry?”
    George waits patiently.
    She takes a deep breath. “Well…”

  5. Nat Newman
    202 words

    The Last of the Battle Queens

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. His ears ring with the sound of screams, his belly calls for courage.

    Oh, if I had but the body of a prince, he thinks, rising to his feet. They will never listen to a tired old queen like me.

    He ascends the stairs, makes his boa straight, and gazes out at the throbbing crowd.

    “Let me tell you a story,” he calls out. “Every girl ought to know.” The bodies in the pit cheer and tangle their limbs around one another. He wants to shield his eyes from the light, the sight of sweat, this sweet dream of liberation. But he is the Battle Queen, the call to arms, and now is not the time for regrets. Now is not the time.

    The music starts and he turns to the crowd and sings. “Young hearts! To yourself be true! Don’t be no fool when love really don’t love you.”

    And as he sings this tune again, for the 100th, the 1000th time, he knows with the patience of years that his song is futile. They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late.

  6. Home front.
    197 words

    Our eyes are full of the things we’ve seen, our mouths are full of stories of brawls. The last one had us fleeing like endangered pests.

    We sat on the couch, watching TV and eating cereals without milk –the last one before resigning to whatever fate hunger had for us. Dad had been out on a drinking spree again, we hadn’t yet figured out how he paid for those. Mum had been out too. She was a broke tailor.

    The rattle on the door jolted us. It was Dad. His eyes were encircled with dark lines and his body smelled of urine. He staggered in, said some inaudible gibberish in response to our greeting and went into his room. Mum came in a little later, a disappointed scowl on her face. She too had a foul mood. She went in.

    Didi and I knew what would happen next, but we waited, staring blankly into our empty bowls, listening. A scream went up, then sounds of shattering glass. Then silence.

    We shuddered in horror as he tottered out with a broken blood-stained glass. As he advanced towards us, we knew better than to wait for fate.

  7. Conquering Hero
    171 words

    His eyes were full of the things he had seen. His mouth, full of stories better passed over than passed down. Memories caught in his craw and woke him sweating cold in the dread of his nights and left him staring into his darkness til Dawn’s early light.

    Well meaning people wearing blue scrubs and white coats did what they could. As it was with so many others, it did not work out. Scarred and broken he was sent back to a homeland that would never be the same. His innocence pooled bloody on too many foreign plains. Feeling forgotten, discarded and alone with his demons, he sought solace in barbiturates, whiskey and gin. He could never forget his role in the pre-meditated chaos of Man killing Man in faraway lands.

    One day he gave up, double hit China White, laid down, and he died. Before his curtain closed, with one final sigh, the untold stories and nightmares at last said goodbye. Our conquering hero had at last found his peace.

  8. Lights of Distant Cities
    200 words

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m not used to this language. It’s been so long since I used it.”

    He’s been gone for years, he tells me. He’s lived many lives since he left. He’s done things I can only imagine.

    He hasn’t been gone that long, to me. Just time enough for the colors to change on the trees. It was spring when he left, now it’s November. Six pages on the calendar, not that
    I counted the days. All his hair is gone, now. He will need a hat for the winter.

    We watch the night city, the lights along the lake. This is home to me. I still can’t believe he’s back.

    In time, he will tell me about the lives he’s lived along the trade routes between the stars. He says it’s like the Silk Road of the old days, and this world is just a rest stop.

    Silence falls between us. Which one will speak first?

    “I never forgot you,” he said. “Next time, we’ll go together.”

    There are so many ways through the Milky Way. The stars are distant cities.

  9. A Living Nightmare
    Word Count: 198

    Her eyes are full of the things she’s seen, her mouth is full of stories. Of course, most of those are too sad to bear. She escaped, with the clothes on her back, gaunt cheeks. She begged for food across the barren land, many people too afraid to take her in for what would become of them. The pus on her leg from where she’d scrambled through a barbed wire fence, escaping the Gestapo, turned green on the night she fell asleep in the barn.

    She woke up to see a wrinkled hand on her head; sweating fever from her body, almost as if she was exorcising a demon. The demons would never leave though: they would come every night in the form of nightmares, reliving days at the camp. The kind old man nursed her back to health. He hid her behind the walls in his house, and he brought her warm soup and bread. She was relieved to see there was still some humanity in the world. She thought she had seen the last of it in her child’s eyes when they had ripped him from her arms and threw him in the shower of death.

  10. Word Count 177

    Guilt By Association

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. Only when he opens his mouth to start telling the first of several shocking stories to the group before him he freezes.

    Looking to the back of the room he espies his father.

    How did he know I would be speaking this evening? He’s never shown an interest, or a like for that matter, in what I have to say. Why tonight?

    He coughs, pulls at his shirt collar and looks down at his notes. It takes all of a moment before he realizes he isn’t a little boy anymore.

    Damn it, I’m an adult, or at least that’s what these folks coming to hear me talk think. So what’s my problem?

    Guilt by association is all he can think of as he walks straight to the back of the room and stops in front of his father.

    “You can’t intimidate me. I hold the cards now. I will keep telling people what I’ve seen until they no longer consume your poison.”

    Hi Natalie,

    I thought I’d give this a whirl. I stayed true to the “last line” as I wanted to see what I could do with it. Staying in present tense was also interesting.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this challenge.

    I write a daily flash fiction piece over at Write Brain Challenge. It’s based on using a photo prompt and free writing for 15 minutes. I’m loving it!

    Cheers, Jenny

  11. Telling
    200 words

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. I pluck the radiant blues out and plunk my mossy browns into his sockets.

    Blinking azure, I glimpse his universe: oceans whose every droplet urgently whispers the intimacy of the drowned, gentle poetry woven from the wild tangle of pulsars. So many glorious stories!

    His tongue goes in like a summer creamsicle. The tales tumble against my teeth like puppies. Playfully rotund are all the sentiments. Discontent has not flattened them into roadkill.

    Audiences will clamor for more. Agents and publishers will fight to represent me. Yet, my lip muscles resist shaping themselves around the unfamiliar expression of unused emotions. My heart hammers and sputters. I need to record it all!

    My feet unaccustomed to the levity leading them, I stumble through the streets. Tourette-bursts of joy explode from my stubborn lips. The teeth gnash against the kaleidoscope.

    I clamber up to my apartment. The words roll out as my fingers fumble over the dictation.

    The tide ebbs and I attach my byline to the vibrant tide of words. At that moment, glory uncoils from each line, one by one, leaving behind only moss-brown detritus.

  12. Come the Revolution (Part Two) – 199 words

    Everyone loses in a revolution. That’s my assessment. When I eventually ventured outside, Sar-Chona was no longer Sar-Chona.
    I made my way through dark and quiet streets, assailed by putrefactions rankness. The water-pump still worked, something I’d worried about. Returning home safely was a relief.
    Over the coming days my outside explorations lengthened. The factory I worked in was a charred ruin. Near the remains of a barricade I met Carra.
    “Where’s Jonas?” I asked.
    Her face was pale beneath the grime. She shook her head. The expected tears never came. She came home with me and, after eating greedily, curled onto the bed and slept. The cat snuggled against her in sympathy.
    Two days later Carra could cry again. She told how Inspectorate forces cut Jonas down as he helped blockade the street, trying to keep back marauders and rioters.
    “I never really believed there’d be a revolution,” she said. “I thought Baz-Baz was spinning yarns. He was full of them.”
    “This one was no story.”
    “No. Where do you think they are?”
    “Somewhere safe, and warm.”
    We sat in silence. Everyone loses in a revolution. I waited to find out what I’d lost.

    I am attempting to do a unified story across three flash challenges this week. This is part 2 – part 1 is on http://alissaleonard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/finish-that-thought-2-30.html and part 3 will be on https://flashfriday.wordpress.com

  13. Horror fills her eyes and spills down her cheeks in a salty cascade; words stick in her throat, choking her, and escape her lips only as moans.

    I don’t ask what she found, because I knew what she’d find before we came. I wrap my arms around her, my chest aching in sympathy. When I whisper, “I’m sorry,” her legs buckle.

    We sit on the ruins of the front steps. I stroke her hair, kiss her head. I want to tell her that they didn’t suffer, but that doesn’t feel like the truth. Instead, I say, “it was over quickly.”

    When the sun starts to dip low, I lift her chin and look into her eyes. “We have to go,” I say in as firm a voice as I can muster. “We’ve been here too long. We have to hide.”

    She sighs. “Why bother?”

    I wonder, too. We haven’t seen another living person in three weeks. We can’t fight against creatures that can rip us apart like so much paper. Why do we keep going on?

    I feel her warmth against me, inhale the scent of her hair, and say, “I just want one more day with you.”

    1. Welcome, Mimi! Lovely adaptation of this week’s last line. I enjoyed your story very much. Sometimes one day is all we can hope for, but it’s that hope that keeps us going. 🙂

  14. The Tortured Soul

    His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth is full of stories. He longs to be able to share them with someone, anyone; instead, he is destined to walk this earth, invisible.

    His world is confined to this place, with its solid stone walls, its barbed wire fencing, its smell of death and decay.

    It’s been days since he’s seen another soul, shuffling from room to room, taking in each detail, squinting into the dimness, shivering at the damp. He wonders whether they are as tortured as he, but they never respond to his cries.

    He recognises them sometimes, not for their previous exchanges, but for the way they left this earth, some of them hanged, others in the chair. He shakes away his own demise, the single shot through his skull; he wipes away the blood that has long since dried.

    A woman appears in the doorway. She approaches him steadily, a look of steely determination in her eyes.

    “Where did you come from?” She asks.

    He flinches. Could she really see him?

    He waits for her to turn away and retreats back to his corner, resolved to his torture, in both life and in death.

  15. His eyes are full of the things he’s seen, his mouth’s full of stories.

    He’s experienced things most people wouldn’t dream of in his attempt to find a safe haven; find more like us… Alive.

    But surly he’s dealt with nothing like this before. These things are everywhere.

    I’ve always trusted him with my life. He’s always come through. But these creatures of the night seem different; the ambush more tactical. Is this the exception?

    Back to back we stand. Guns drawn, we shoot repeatedly, always aiming for the head; it’s the only proper way to eliminate them once and for all.

    Low on ammo, I can’t see how we can get out of this; I keep on shooting anyway.

    He spots an open door. “Follow me” he yells.

    Turning, I see him running up fire stairs, climbing them three at a time.

    “Shouldn’t we be more careful?” I ask.

    Before he answers, we’re on the roof. It’s empty, but the groan of what’s behind us grows in intensity.

    He survey’s the perimeter, peering over the edge.

    As they reach the roof, they form a wall around us, stalking their pray.

    The last thing I hear him say is “Jump… NOW!”

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