September’s Zeroflash Competition Entries

A Break in the Tide

by Anna Shoenbach

When the tide was low, the reef was dry enough to walk on, from shore to shore. Uborg had to be quick – the tide often turned when it wasn’t supposed to, these days. The magical wars were the cause, but all that really mattered to the young orc were crates, lifted to ships or lifted from ships, day in, day out. And sometimes the night, too, if the foreman asked it of him.
Uborg had made it halfway across, pilfered dwarven mushroom ale tucked under his arm. He listened to the ocean waves that hounded either side of him. Were they closer? He couldn’t tell but he hastened his pace over the unsteady rocks. The island beyond was bare save for a few trees and boulders and a small roost of birds. Once, it had been a beach getaway for the nobles, but the wars had destroyed it. Now it was the only tiny scrap of nature available for lowlifes such as Uborg, and he took what scraps he could get.
Now Uborg was sure that the fetid harbor water was closer and rising, and broke into an
exhilarating run. He laughed as his foot touched dry sand, right as the reef behind him was overcome with a skin of water. The tide lapped behind him as he clambered onto the island rock and took a swig of the alcohol he’d brought with him.
He was stranded here, but that had been his intent. This way at least, he would be on the right side of it for the night. No one could demand anything of him while he was here, all alone. So, Uborg settled in for a night of drink in the cool night air, as the city lights blazed brighter and brighter in the darkening sky.

How you stand up is more important than how you sit down

by Mileva Anastasiadou

Hypothetically speaking, I’d meet him again tomorrow. He’d offer to buy me coffee and I’d accept the invitation. I’d be comfortable and cozy sitting gracefully in the bubble. He’d ask me about the weather and I’d politely reply it’s either too warm or too cold for the season.

Hypothetically speaking, he’d hold my hand, walking me home. He’d then confess his undying love to me. We’d go around exploring that new-found land of bliss, where Icarus never fell, because the sun didn’t burn his wings, Robin Hood didn’t steal, because he didn’t need to, Snow White didn’t get lost, because the Queen wasn’t evil, the wolf didn’t eat Red Riding Hood, because they were friends.

Hypothetically speaking, he’d ask me what sounds I find mostly annoying. ‘Real or imaginary?’ I’d ask. Imaginary he’d say, for imaginary sounds are more disturbing than real ones. You can’t close your ears and avoid them. Centipedes playing guitar, I’d say and he’d agree. Yet bursting bubbles are more annoying, he’d then say and I’d nod.

Hypothetically speaking, we’d never fall from the clouds. It gets tiring, falling from the clouds all the time. I’d be the queen of denial. It’s not denial if you close your eyes, not being aware of what you see. Until that heavy blow that’d bring awareness. That hit that’d force me to look ahead. I’d even feign blindness for a while, but not for long.

Hypothetically speaking, reality would never burst my bubble, a shape-shifting enemy invading my pink colored bubble all the time, this time with his words. Standing up is hard after staying in the bubble for too long. Standing up gracefully proves an impossible task.

Practicing reality is a game I haven’t yet mastered.

The Little Dimension

by Lesley Fisher

            It all started in a beautiful park that all walks of life enjoyed. A young boy named Odin and a young girl named Emma came across something so very odd, yet so very beautiful it was very hard not to look a little closer.

You know when you see a ray of sunshine and sometimes it sparkles from all the dust particles in it? Well, this was a huge ray of light that sparkled, only it was shining in a place where the sun did not shine through the trees. it was always quite dark here as Odin and Emma always had to bring a flashlight with them when they came here.

Upon closer inspection, it was definitely not sunlight, so together both Odin and Emma braved it and placed their hands in the sparkling light, it felt warm and tingling. The next thing they both knew was they were bathed in a glittering sunshine surrounded by trees that were not there own. These trees were tiny, but looked aged. It was a tiny forest that they had to look down upon, as everything seemed in this world to be only inches tall.

As they looked a little closer they could see that not only were they sitting above this beautiful forest but on closer inspection they were also sitting right next to a small forest village with houses made out of mushrooms, acorns, flowers and pinecones. Walking around were tiny people. There was even a tiny black horse.

Only having a few moments to reflect on what it was they were both seeing, the next thing they knew everything went dark and they were back in their own forest. Never to see the other little dimension again. Left to wonder, did what they see really happen?

A Place To Call Home

by Ryan Yarber

@YarberWrites

            Mark made the decision the day after his wife’s funeral. Within two weeks, he had sold the house and everything in it. His friends called a few times. A few even stopped by, but Mark was always out. They only discovered he no longer lived there when the new owners arrived a few weeks later.

Home had been whenever he was with Emma, so giving up the house was easy. Leaving his friends was a different matter. He debated for some time whether or not to let them convince him to stay, but he knew that whatever time he spent with them now would be overshadowed by the loss of Emma. They had all loved her too.

He wouldn’t trouble his children by becoming a dependent in their home. They were all grown and busy building their own families. The closest lived halfway across the country anyhow. He would still visit them from time to time.

This wasn’t some grand gesture, or him losing his mind to grief, though many might see it that way. He briefly troubled himself about how to break it to his friends, but realized that he didn’t have to. They each knew him well enough to know what he was doing. He was making this journey to discover not just new places but new versions of himself. He was no longer a married man. At least, not in this mortal plane.

The Mark who lived happily for 46 years, who created a family with two boys and three girls, and who worked 38 years for the same company was buried with his wife outside St. Paul, Nebraska. The Mark currently flying over the Pacific was someone new. He had no obligations to anyone or anything. He was just searching for his place in the world.

The Shortcut to Oz

by Emily K. Martin

Dorothy led her three male companions around the north corner of the Emerald City Castle, trampling the grass underfoot. She wore a blue plaid shirt with tight blue jeans, sneakers, and a phone shoved in her back pocket. One of the young males carried Dorothy’s red shoes; one held a basket with her dog, Toto, and another carried a long cardboard box with a strange smiley symbol along the side. After they marched up to the entrance door, Dorothy rang the bell and proceeded to threaten the prickly gatekeeper with a lawsuit until he let them inside.

In the Great Room, the green-clad citizens of Oz encircled Dorothy and her friends, mouths agape. As the Wizard stood before the group, inspecting the broomstick he had pulled from the cardboard box, Glinda materialized before Dorothy, wearing her shimmering gown and a concerned expression.

“Have you completed your journey?” Glinda asked Dorothy.

“Yeah,” Dorothy said. “Google Maps said the red brick road saved me twenty minutes compared to the yellow. Plus the yellow one went through some woods, and I’m not into nature hikes.”

“And this broom?” the Wizard of Oz asked. “It belonged to the Wicked Witch?”

“It’s an exact replica. I bought it on Amazon. If you don’t like it, you can return it.”

“Who are your friends?” Glinda asked, eyeing the three young males who stood behind Dorothy.

“Some cute guys I met.” Dorothy winked.

“But what did you learn?”

“So yeah, your talking trees do not like when you try to take selfies with them. Those munchkins are kind of creepy—sorry, not sorry. And your Wi-Fi sucks. Can I go home now?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I learned something, too,” Glinda said.

Dorothy frowned. “What?”

“Bitchy little girls don’t always get what they want.” Glinda smiled sweetly. “Sorry, not sorry.”

The Touring Test

by Enda Scott

Manolo got into the car, started the engine and put the air conditioning on. He knew how hot it would become. Time to plan ahead.

Frustratingly slow, the family followed. Lucia, Jude and Fatima piled into the back, a shower of squeals, elbow attacks and general mayhem. Finally, his wife struggled into the seat beside him, handbag still open, keys falling out, telephone bleeping.

“Are we ready?” Manolo asked, trying not to lose his patience.

“Go Dad Go.”

Dad went. They hit the highway and sailed West.

“I’m hungry.”

“Stop it.”

“Leave your little sister alone.”

“Turn up the music Dad.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.”

“He is.”

“Dad! Slow down!”

Manolo lifted his foot, ground his teeth, stared at his girls in the rear view mirror. Come on, he thought, give me a break. No

“Push over.”

“Why am I always in the middle?”

“Stop it!”.

Manolo tried to crowd them out, bite his tongue, focus on the road.

“Not far to go.” Manolo sounded cheerful, encouraging. Manolo knew he was lying.

“It’s mine.”

“It’s not!”

“Girls. Please!”

“I’m hungry.”

“We’ll stop soon honey. Just let your father concentrate.”

“Are you concentrating Dad?”

They all laughed. They liked making fun of Dad, watching him grow red until the veins on his nose bubbled.

“We love you really Dad.”

“But I’m still hungry.”

“Manolo! Slow down!”

His wife reached a hand across to pat his knee.

“They’re not back there.” His wife sighed. She withdrew her fingers. “They’re gone honey. Slow down.”

Tenderness laced her words, but Manolo was staring into the rear view mirror at the speed cop and flashing lights. Sirens blared. Manolo swerved. She was right. They’d gone.

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