Soap suds trickled lazily down the glass, their progress slowed by the freezing temperature. Frieda, pausing in her work, saw the post in Mr William’s mail box. She would have to move that before anyone noticed.
“Nice to see people looking out for each other.”
Frieda turned to the passing neighbour, fixed smile. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she said.
Pleasantries, goodbyes. Then she was alone again.
Taking the spare key, she entered Mr William’s house. He didn’t object. Hypothermia had silenced him.
Frieda took the last of the money from beneath his mattress. Soon the thaw would come and she would be gone, no longer a pauper in life’s beggar’s opera.
On either side of the Atlantic and from various points around the globe, there is a growing Flash Fiction community using the #Flashdogs tag. You will find that they all contribute regularly to sites such as Flash! Friday, Micro Bookends, Three Line Thursday, The Angry Hourglass, Finish that Thought to name but a few. Week in, week out, writers compete against each other on some of the most supportive platforms around to produce stories and poems of exceptionally high quality. Now they have come together to produce the latest Flash Dogs anthology for charity. You will find their names listed in the banner photo on this page.
Four photo prompts have produced 143 stories by 51 writers in a variety of genres. When time's too short for a novel, these stories will more than fill the gap.
To find out more about them and their chosen charity, visit www.theflashdogs.com. To become involved in the world of flash, why not visit the sites mentioned and have a go?
Last week saw something that doesn't happen very often, a hat-trick of Honourable mentions at three of my favourite Flash Fiction sites, together with a win at a site I'd never tried before. So to make the most of it, here they are:
Mining for Gold
Fear had carved its portrait on the face of the corpse. Erich tried to avert his eyes but the mouth, silently screaming its echoes of death, held his gaze.
A guard moved up behind him.
“Looked like they missed one, Herr Doktor.”
Gold glinted amongst the grey, a small sun that shone only briefly before the pliers did their work. The tooth did not join its fellows on a nearby pile, instead the kommando slipped it into his pocket.
Erich said nothing. Humanity and compassion were strangers here. And now it was every man for himself as rumours about the approaching Allies started flying.
The seconds had swum past her, a flood of time, enough to drown in for eternity. And Ania waited, even as she drowned. The others were long gone, become the ground upon which only their ghosts now walked. Why she had been allowed to survive, she did not know. Her gaze drifted towards the cliff edge; beyond it she could see the twinkling lights of the remaining settlements. Soon they would come to join her, cross this last Rubicon as they sought a safe haven.
Nature waited silently with her for these remaining humans, they had destroyed so much, there were to be no more chances. She would take them quietly, gently, these errant children, back into her own keeping. But she needed bait. Tendrils reached out from the vine-bound trees towards the prisoner, placing berries on her tongue, dripping water into her mouth. The wind carried Ania’s cries toward the camps.
And so they came.
She heard voices murmuring through the undergrowth, shocked cries echoing at the sight of her. Creepers now gagged her, prevented her from warning them. Instead slithering vines rippled beneath weary feet, pulling them down to pillowed grass, even before they realised what was happening. These were the last. And the world closed its eyes.
The face fell, slinking to the ground with only the night to hear it. The mask scowled up at its former hanging place, a darkened corner, unnoticed and unremarked by those who now occupied the building; a relic handed down to each generation, its story gradually fading as memories died. But no one thought to get rid of it.
The mask glared at its current resting place, an even darker corner where nobody would find it, only the rats who scurried hither and thither during the early hours. A scratching sound indicated one was nearby, moving closer, closer. Perhaps …
The mask sent its voice out into the velvet, a soft caress that drew the creature over to its side where it sniffed and poked at the leather, moving it in such a way that it was visible to anyone who should walk by. The rat did not try to bite it. The voice had advised it would be better not to.
“Hey mum, look at this!” A youth’s hands picked it up and it found itself speeding through the air, towards light, so much light after such a long time in the darkness.
“Ugh, Tommy what have you got there?” The woman reached for the mask but the boy gripped it firmly, grinning at his trophy.
“It’s just the thing for Halloween!”
The woman looked doubtful. “It’s that alright. Just like the rest of this house.” She turned her tired eyes on their dust-laden, wood-rotted surroundings. Moving in had been a condition of her husband receiving his inheritance; however he spent his time commuting with stopovers and hot baths in nice hotels whilst she had to deal with the reality of washing out of a bucket. She had more things to worry about than a bit of leather.
“Just make sure you give it a clean before you wear it,” she said and turned back to the millstone round her neck.
Tommy ran to the kitchen, waited for the water to run clear and then gently sponged the face free from its grimy coat.
“You’ll certainly scare old Misery Guts at school,” chuckled Tommy as he studied the mask, thinking about its effect on his hated French teacher. The mask’s grin seemed to grow wider. Tommy could resist no longer. He put it on and the day vanished.
It was already dark outside. Time had passed quickly as she tackled chore after chore leaving Tommy to his own devices. She had spotted him flitting from room to room now and then, apparently occupied in exploring his new surroundings, his initial disgust about lack of internet and being bored long forgotten.
Footsteps behind her.
An evil face etched in leather grinned at her. But the eyes behind it weren’t Tommy’s, nor was it his voice that spoke. In his hand a silver blade glittered in the candlelight.
“Dinner time,” whispered the stranger.
A writer - I think that says it all.