Wednesday 8 March 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 1

For some time now I have wanted to get back to writing some Flash Fiction, but there aren't the amount of weekly flash fiction competitions there used to be online. I only know of Thursday Threads, hosted by Siobhan Muir running at the moment. (if you know of more, let me know in the comments).

I contemplated starting my own competition, but really I wanted to write for them, not judge them, so I decided to begin a challenge where I write a piece inspired by a photo each week and post it up, and if others want to join in too that would be great. So here goes for the first one.

General Guidelines:
Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How to enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead & write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.

And spread the word. If you are on Twitter, I am @PurpleQueenNL the hashtag is #MidWeekFlash.

Now to the first week's challenge:

This picture was brought to my attention by@noveliciouss on twitter, and interestingly (because I live in Holland) it was taking by a Dutch photographer Hans Wilschut.

Little Boxes

Lying on his back, Jack viewed the rectangle of sky he could see. It was dusky and moody tonight. The glow of the apartment blocks surrounding it lent it a blue hue.

As he ran his eyes over all the lit windows climbing up to the sky, he wondered about the people living in their little boxes, one on top of the other. Did they know each other? Or did they live in their secluded worlds, divided by concrete floors and ceilings, oblivious to those around them?

Jack thought about his own little box and its defining square rooms, identical in layout to all those around it. It might even share the same d├ęcor. But it wouldn’t share its current state. He didn’t think there were many that would have fresh blood spattered walls, and limbs in chest freezers in the utility corner. Although he couldn’t be sure: who knew what went on in other homes? The stories you head about abuses of wives, husbands, and children were rife in the media. Maybe it was more likely than he thought.

He took another deep inhale of the night air and thought about what was ahead of him. He knew he had to go and clean up, but he hated this part. It took so much time. And he had to make sure he got every little bit, every last drop, every micro of blood that splashed; otherwise the next victim he brought back might get suspicious. He didn’t want that, oh no.

Sometimes he liked to spend a bit of time teasing them out of their shell first, getting them worked up, thinking they might get to see the inside of his bedroom. But that rarely happened; it had to be someone special for him to mess up his bedroom for – there had only been one this last year. He remembered it keenly. He’d had to touch that skin all over before separating it. The smell it had given off had been divine.

Jack shifted on the grass, the thoughts inspiring him. Maybe he could find another one like that; maybe one even lived here in one of these little boxes. He smiled. Yes, that would be good. But he knew better than to find one so close to home.

He turned over and pushed himself up to his feet, stretching, the tips of his fingers wiggling as though trying to touch the sky. He was ready to take on the cleaning job now; he was motivated. It was always easier to do when the mind had planning to get lost in. 


  1. Brilliant! I couldn't find any inspiration in that photo at all. Would love to join in another time xxx

    1. Hopefully there will be one that works, would love you to join.

  2. Not sure I’ll have time to write this week/month (I’m commenting surreptitiously from work), but it is an interesting picture! And thanks for at least trying to get a new flash fiction competition going! There used to be so many of these. Now, not so much...

    1. Don't worry, you'll know when you get inspired! And I will look forward to it.

    2. Love to see your writing Kevin!

  3. I did say you would be hearing from me. :) Here. And, Miranda. Thank you.

    1. And wow, what a brilliant entry! Superb! Thanks for writing.

    2. Clickable link to Mark's Story here: My Souls Tears

  4. Thanks for starting this up, so many flash fiction comps have closed recently (I am not good with time, recently could be rather relative). The only ones I know still running are MIcrocosm and flash frenzy

    This is my entry...

    1. Thanks for the heads up on the other comps, and thanks for joining us here.

  5. Here you go, Sunshine: "Boxes"

  6. Sunset

    He hadn't lingered. The lingerers never followed through. Too much time to think their way out, to get talked down, to take in the view ten stories below and realize what hitting the ground meant. He had just run, given into the perfect cocktail of despair and impulse that made it happen.

    Somehow, he'd landed on his back, watching the sunset. Even more amazing was that he was still alive to realize it. He wondered if he'd die in time with the day, of the last colors of the evening would fade into blackness just as he closed his eyes, some kind of poetic send-off from the universe.

    He'd have laughed at himself if he'd had the energy. The blood pooling at the fissure in his skull had taken most of that with it. Blurs of light blended together into a seamless, yellow-white haze as neighbors woke up to investigate. He thought he heard screams, a child crying, maybe sirens.

    His life had flashed before him as he fell, little glimmers of frustrating potential interspersed among decades of tedious melancholy, each flash of hope for escape from the doldrums of routine, each spark of newfound confidence as the realization that, yes, this was finally it, this was his time to matter, his time to fall in love, or get that job, or just feel ok for a while, more crushing than the last when he'd managed to squander it all. It was too bad self-sabotage didn't pay; he'd have been rich by fifteen.

    The shouts grew louder, some seeming almost...professional? Blobs of color seemed to make way for a row of dark blue ones.

    Slowly they lifted him, set him on something soft. The smudges he knew to be his neighbors parted for him. These were paramedics.

    Immediately he tried to thrash, to fight, anything to break free, to push his damaged body to dying. But his brain's frantic commands terminated in impotent sparks. He was paralyzed.

    He felt a needle prick his arm, heard ambulance doors shut behind him as he drifted off to sleep.

    1. Great piece. Poignant. Thanks for entering Zachery, would love to read more of your writing. If you are on twitter let me know, and we can connect.

    2. Zachary Johnson7 April 2017 at 19:30

      Thanks! It was a lovely image to work with. I look forward to doing more! I loved your piece; it was absolutely haunting.

      My Twitter is @zjohnson1020

    3. Great, I've just connected with you over there.