Friday, October 4, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday

The Mighty Jungle 
by Donna L Martin

Today's Flash Fiction Friday is a little bit different. I will be writing Halloween themed Flash Fiction all this month in honor of the holidays but woke up this morning too sick to sit at the computer for very long so I thought I would ask for your help. Here is this week's picture prompt...a bevy of beautiful beasties to spark YOUR writerly creativity. Who will be brave enough to START this week's Flash Fiction Friday? I in turn promise to add to each and every comment I receive...even if I get ten different story beginnings...and since I'm feeling pretty awful right now, NOTHING would make me feel better than to have a Halloween treat basket full of story goodies to sink my teeth into so who's up to today's challenge? ;~)


  1. Hi Donna,

    I hope you feel better soon.

    I decided to take a stab at it. I know this is a lame beginning, but at least it's a beginning...


    Grandma got her camera ready. After sewing for days to make an animal costume for each of her grand children, she wanted a picture of them all together. "Someone help me line the kids up on the couch!" she yelled as they ran here and there. "I want a picture of them before they go out to collect treats."

    1. Grandma, or "Sweet Betty" as all the neighborhood referred to her as, sighed heavily. She caught her image in the mirror above her dresser and wasn't quite sure exactly what to make of the tired and fearful face that stared back at her. Could she handle six young children at 65? All of it came back to her in an instant. The accident, the sirens, the crying, the hospital waiting room....the night she lost her daughter. Catching her breath and leaning on her dresser for support, she pushed those feeling down and put them back into that locked internal box where she kept those skeletons, those memories that should remain in the dark. Pinching her cheeks, she gathered up a quiet resolve and pasted that bright signature smile back on her face. The entire neighborhood and her aging and beloved husband were downstairs all eager to provide these six babies with the best Halloween ever.

      "I found the camera!" Sweet Betty yelled and as she began her trek down the stairs, the warm, infectious laughter of six small children rose and wrapped itself around her strengthening and comforting her tiny frame.

    2. Sweet Betty came down, and she started clicking pictures.
      But no picture was perfect. Betty tried and tried, but sometimes Billy (elephant) was picking his nose, or Baxter (frog) was pinching Bertrude (bunny), or Bethany (horse) was looking the wrong way, or even the oldest, Becky (rhino), had her eyes closed!
      Only Bernard was perfect, mature, probably because of his imperfection - he was born blind. His lion costume suited him, though. Betty (giraffe) would accompany him, while her husband (ostrich) chaperoned the others.

      It would be a good night, full of candies, fun, and laughter. Sweet Betty, Sour Charles (her hubby), and those six, unfortunate children were going to have the night of their lives!

      I hope you feel better, Ms. Martin!

    3. As she chaperoned the kids from door to door, watching their faces light up as kindly folk dished out candy like confetti. Sweet Betty became aware of a presence but just couldn't pin-point where this hidden spectre lurked. Was it malevolent? Counting the children Sweet Betty was horrified to find little Tommy was missing. She should have watched him closer, there was something a little odd about the boy.

      Turn this way and that, a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, Sweet Betty nearly jumped a foot in the air when little Tommy tugged at her plaid skirt. She looked down at the boy who smiled sweetly.
      "Please miss" he said holding his hand out "the girl asked me to give you this"

      In Tommy's hand was a key, Sweet Betty was puzzled.
      "What girl?" she asked perplexed.

      Tommy turned and pointed to a shadowy tree and Betty saw a little girl peeping from behind the tree. The girl waved. 'Blast these glasses' Betty thought as she tried to make out who the girl was. It looked like...... impossible.
      "What did she say Tommy?"
      "She said it's the key to your box, she wants you to open it"

      Sweet Betty looked up but the girl was gone.
      "Did she say anything else?"
      "By shutting out the pain you are losing the joy"
      "Did she tell you her name?" Sweet Betty asked almost fearful of the answer she knew was coming.

      The presence remained with Sweet Betty long after that night but it now felt comforting.

    4. Sweet Betty had taken to carrying that key with her wherever she went. It became an obsession of sorts and, once she shared the key's story with her husband, he too found himself checking with his wife before they left the house simply to make sure Betty had the key. Sweet Betty found this incredibly endearing and smiled each time they got in the car and her husband asked if she had it with her. Their friends may call him "Sour Charles" but truth be told he was the most caring man she had ever met.

      October turned to November and the days grew shorter and colder. Betty guiltily relished the time all six of the kids were at preschool. It gave her time to breathe, to reflect and, yes, to mourn. Feeling melancholy, she sat on the edge of the spare bedroom bed and stared at the chest that held all her memories. Black and white photos of her as a young girl, professional shots from her daughter's wedding, Polaroids from Christmas' fading over the years. There was one scrapbook, in particular, she was looking for. Carefully, Betty pulled it from underneath a pile of loose photos and opened the first page. Her little girl, Cammie, sporting that skirt with the white tule ruffle that would fly out like wings when she spun enthusiastically the way five year old girls do. Long, floppy rabbit ears bent precariously on her wispy blonde hair and an innocent, youthful smile dancing on her lips. Cammie loved that skirt and wore it to the grocery store, to kindergarten, to church - even to sleep in. Betty chuckled as she remembered how it took a strong salesman-like pitch to convince her to take it off long enough for Betty to wash it once a week.

      The adhesive on the old scrapbook was turning yellow and the cellophane covers were starting to tear. She gingerly turned the page when some photos fell from the book. She widened her legs a bit to catch them before they hit the floor and felt a dull stab in her leg. She leaned back on the couch and readjusted the key in her pocket. It was in that moment she realized she had never developed the Halloween pictures.

      Sweet Betty was not one to use an IPhone to take her photographs. She had an old Nikon camera and had been developing her own film for years even fashioning herself a dark room of sorts in a basement closet. Leaving the chest open, she decided to trek downstairs and lose herself in the hobby she had grown to love. As she began separating the paper film from the backing, her shoulders relaxed and she fell comfortably into her own privately, peaceful place.

      Time flew by and before she knew it she was hanging the photos up to dry. It was as if a wrecking ball had been thrust dead on into her stomach and she stopped cold. Her hands began shaking uncontrollably and she gasped feeling as if all the air had been siphoned from the closet. There sat all six costumed babies and behind her on the stairs stood a familiar blonde girl in a white tule skirt.

    5. oops...last line should read:
      There sat all six costumed babies and behind them on the stairs stood a familiar blonde girl in a white tule skirt.

  2. The six young children sat on the couch as they had been told, not knowing why they were dresses up in these cuddly costumes. The oldest called out to their mother. "Mummy what are we doing? I'm getting so warm and the fur is tickling me. Can I take it off?"
    "Just a minute," Mum called back. "I want to take your picture before we go out for trick or treat. But I can't find the camera."
    "Mummy," called the next youngest. "I'm hot and want to take this off. Mummy what are you doing?"
    The youngest crawled down off the couch and crawled into the play room.
    When the mother came back the children had all gotten down and were in the process of taking their costumes off. When the mother saw them she......

  3. Hi Donna - sorry you're sick .. but you've got some wonderful stories here - they are excellent .. loved the way the story turned ... I think I'll leave someone else to say what the mother saw ...

    ... screamed and screamed, then collapsed ....

  4. Hi everyone!

    I really wanted to try and finish this one but what started as a sinus infection rolled into bronchitis and laryngitis with just enough fever to make me wear sunglasses made it home where I am pumping in the antibiotics, fluids and just enough Kleenex to be on a first name basis with Kimberly-Clark...;~)

    Thanks guys for stopping by and come back any time! Now I'm off to rest...

  5. discovered there tiny bodies were covered with a red, angry rash. She never thought it would happen to anyone in her family. All over the news stations of late had been a new epidemic that had afflicted an entire community in Peru. This strange airborne disease was the lead story on every channel showing images of travelers wearing face masks and gloves. Many people who had traveled abroad were now in the hospital fighting for their lives and the CDC luckily was reporting that an antidote was now available.

    Once Marcia regained her composure, she knew she had to get these babies to the hospital fast.

    1. Hi Patti! Interesting twist to this I thought they all had the measles...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

  6. There were just so many babies though, how could she handle them all. They weren't as easy to pitch-fork as straw and stuffing them in and old suit-case was futile, no matter how hard she sat on it Marcia just couldn't get the latch closed. Then she remembered her neighbour's rottweiler.......

    Well it is Halloween

  7. which reminded her of the way that rottweiler barks and pulls against his leash each time his owner's van pulls into the driveway. Flopping the suitcase lid back, she watches as the babies seem to spring back into shape as if they had been placed in one of those "As-seen-on-TV" miracle bags. As if it is some kind of divine intervention, the phone rings and lo and behold it is her dog-owning neighbor.

    Marcia nearly incoherently spurts out the details and her neighbor agrees to let her use the van explaining he will leave the keys in the ignition but will not drive her. Frank is in his 80's and can't afford to be exposed to this potentially dangerous strain. She slaps the baby gate up and grabs three little ones and sprints to the neighbor's van unconcerned with baby seats. She places three on the backseat floor and jets back for the other three forgetting to lock the door or even grab her purse.

    She manages to drive carefully despite her fear knowing that she has six rollie pollie watermelons wobbling around on the van's floor. Pulling her cellphone from her back jean pocket, she calls the hospital to alert them of their arrival. As she pulls into the emergency drop-off area, she is stunned to see workers in hazmat suits and in the distance a Channel 10 news van.

  8. Well done Patti, I was having a mad moment but you pulled it back out of the fire :)