#LastLineFirst – A #FlashFiction Challenge: Week 3

last line firstGreetings, and welcome to Week 3 of Last Line First!

This week’s last line prompt is from The Last of the Battle Queens by Nat Newman. I picked it as my favourite because when used as a first line, it begs a question – and that’s a great way to start a story.

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 and easy access to previous challenges and their stories visit this page.

So, here’s your new first line:

They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late.

I’m looking forward to reading what you come up with this week.

Now, my pretties … fly … fly … fly …

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14 thoughts on “#LastLineFirst – A #FlashFiction Challenge: Week 3

  1. The Calm Before the Storm
    ‘We won’t learn that lesson until it’s too late.’
    Kim’s words echo through my mind as I throw a few essential things into my backpack. Sunscreen, hat, t-shirts, shorts, the sundress Kim loved. I don’t bother with a raincoat. If I haven’t reached shelter by the time the storm hits, I’m screwed.
    Kim got it wrong, though. Nobody’s learnt any lessons. Look at them, believing the barrier will keep the worst out, protecting houses with sandbags. They’ll be washed away by the storm surge. Kim died for nothing.
    Outside, the air is still. Won’t be this calm much longer…

  2. Fairground Initiation

    They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late.
    Every week they would arrive, excited, chattering, laughing.
    The new ones, naive, their eyes bright with expectation.
    Others quieter, knowing, their eyes bright with expectation of a different kind.
    They knew the lesson about to be learned, for had they each not learned it themselves?
    At some point this knowledge would tip from mischievous anticipation to friendly concern.
    The ringleaders were there, boys old enough to know better, but somehow never quite learning that lesson.
    Egged on, the new ones took up the challenge.
    Those who had learned both lessons called out gentle warnings but were ignored. The voices of reason drowned out by the rush of adrenalin and the excited shrieks of the uninitiated.
    “Push it! Faster, faster!! Keep going! More! More! More!”
    And, as always, the gradual change, the realisation, and the calls to stop, please, stop, that’s enough.
    Finally it would grind to a halt and they would stagger away, green-faced, disorientated.
    Why did no-one warn them?
    Chastened, now they would listen.
    “We told you not to spin it to fast or you’d be sick. You’ll know better next time”

    195 words

  3. The Lifeboat
    200 words

    “They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late,” Great Aunt Agnes said.

    Those of us in the lifeboat nodded agreement, even though we had heard this speech before.

    We were all here–Great Aunt Agnes, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, their two kids, and me. We clutched our life preservers. We shared our meager provisions. We took turns with the lanterns and flares.

    The black sea offered no sign of rescue. The massive icebergs towered above us. No one had seen them coming, until it was too late.

    The finest in the fleet, they said. Unsinkable. Did we tempt the fates? It seemed we were fated to play the same scene over and over.

    We had lived through this before. Was I the only one who remembered? No, we had made some adjustments. Great Aunt Agnes had brought a thermos of coffee this time. Mr. Lawrence had packed more flares.

    Was I the only one who wondered at the strange beauty of the icebergs? It was a bleak and heartless beauty that made my blood run cold.

    And then, I saw the lights, a ship and figures waving. We climbed aboard, again. Would it be different this time?

  4. Love of Risk, Risk of Love – 199 Words

    They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late.
    They’ll get caught long before they see this through. But when you’re in this deep you’re blind to a lot of things…
    I should know; I used to be like them… young and eager to serve this country, even if it cost me everything!
    They are like children to me. I taught them everything they know; everything they need to survive. But there’s something more going on between them. Something forbidden in this job…
    Love; it clouds their senses, makes them numb. It will be the death of them.
    Sure they are the best of the best. They appear like an ordinary couple to the untrained eye, but their passports tell a different story… They’re well-travelled to the oddest of places in order to protect all of our hopes and dreams from those most dangerous.
    Don’t get me wrong; in this job, there’s always someone with a gun, and a bullet with your name on it. Ordinarily, they seem to have it in check, but there’s something about this mission that’s different; love more risky.
    It’s just a feeling I have; I hope to God I’m wrong.

  5. They will never, ever learn that lesson until it’s too late.
    Who won’t?
    Any of them!
    About what?
    All of it.
    What are you going to do?
    Who, me? Oh nothing, well maybe – maybe I’ll teach them a lesson. I’ll make sure they know that it’s not okay, the way they treat people like me, like us.
    How are you going to do that?
    I’ll show them.
    Show them how?
    Show them who I really am. I’ll let them meet you, too. I’ll let them meet us all.
    That’s nice, but how?
    I won’t take them.
    Take what?
    Those little white pills.
    Good, that’s good. Because you know when you do it makes me feel sad and lost. And I’m only here to help you. You want me to help you, right?
    I can’t help you if you take those pills, because they’ll make me go away.
    I don’t want you to go away.
    No, you don’t.
    She’s coming over.
    The one in white, with the trolley of pills.
    Don’t take them.
    How do I stop it?
    Let me out of here, let me speak with her. I’ll show her, I’ll show them all!

  6. Last Line First #3 – 197 words

    Before Zombies Came

    They never, ever learn their lesson until it is too late. As it was in their past, so it is in this future. Civilizations rise and then they fall. Some lasted only decades, others lasted centuries. But in the end, they always failed, burning out their greatness with self absorbed cockiness.

    In early times, geographical distance insulated one group from another. A society could fail without affecting their neighbors, many thousands of miles away. As time passed and these cultures expanded, the effects of each new collapse had wider ramifications on cultures near and far. Eventually, the planet’s population became so interdependent; a failure on the other side of the globe could and did create death and destruction on this side of the globe.

    “Grand Pa, what was it like before the Zombies came?”

    Grand Pa finally wrestled his ax out of the head of the zombie on his porch. He set the blood drenched ax head down and leaned on the handle. Wiping his brow, he said, “Well I’ll tell ya young Jeremy. It wasn’t so easy telling the good guys from the bad, but at least I did not have to distill my own whiskey.”

  7. The Devil on Your Shoulder (189 words)

    “They will never, ever learn that lesson until it is too late.”

    “But… don’t you feel you’re being too cruel? They probably never even noticed–”

    “No. And, it’s that pathetic sensitivity that got us into this in the first place. They had their chance. It’s time.”

    “You have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Forgive them. Give them a second chance. They’re so innocent, they cannot even understand…”

    “Enough! The decision is made. Punishment is the only way they will learn.”

    “Just wait, please, take a moment to calm down and–”

    The sweet sound of sizzling flesh caressed his ears like a delicate orchestral harmony. He shifted the angle of the glass, and was pleased to see even more burned by his hand. He was certain they would never invade again.

    Innumerable bodies crumpled helplessly on the ground. Their cries had been inaudible, but their panic was sensed by their brethren.

    “Tommy, it’s time for snack!”

    “Kay mom!”
    Tommy left the magnifying glass on the sand by the anthill. The battle would have to continue after snack. Mom had made oatmeal cookies.

    Meanwhile, they plotted their revenge.

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