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Flash Fiction Friday

Flash Fiction Friday: The Creative Game

by: James Burr

The Writer continued to stare at the blank screen, as she had done, frustrated, for the previous two hours. Words refused to flow and her ideas remained stillborn, seemingly loath to join her in the cold and damp of her squalid bedsit. It was then that she remembered a way of triggering creativity, an old Surrealist game, where one would cut the words out of an old newspaper then rearrange them at random, the old words and symbols creating something new and improved.

So she dug out an old copy of the local free newspaper and then with an oversized pair of scissors she set about hacking at the news stories, the tales of new gym openings, charity fun runs or disgraced local Councillors just waiting to be made into something fresh. She then took the words and started rearranging them, creating phrases, then sentences then finally new stories, of a sort.

Eventually she sat back, satisfied with her new tales, some nonsensical but all telling new, unusual but undoubtedly refreshed narratives. But her creative satisfaction was short lived as a night train rattled by, shaking the mouldy windows in their frames, drawing her attention back to her bedsit– the damp patches by the ceiling, the soggy wallpaper held up by Blu-Tack, the cigarette-burnt carpet that fell some six inches short of reaching the skirting boards.

And it was then that she realised that the pedestrian mundanity, the sheer mediocrity of her squalid home could also be improved. So gingerly, with some reticence as she had never attempted this before, she took the scissors and started to hack at her room. Firstly, she cut out the television, Casablanca distorting on its screen, as she peeled it away from the void beneath. Then she cut around the edges of her lamp, the bed, the windows, the door, half of her wardrobe….. She continued to hack and cut and then, satisfied, she started to rearrange the pieces into what she hoped would be a new, refreshed whole. She smiled as Mr Tiddles, with Humphrey Bogart’s face endlessly intoning “Play it again….play it again….play it again….” slinked from his litter tray. The top half of her bed now looked out onto the street as rain pelted upwards against the panes, and the door apparently lead up either somewhere into the attic or out into whatever was now outside. One bedroom lamp was embedded in her bedroom wall where the window had once been, the other window replaced by the base of her wardrobe, a plastic fern lying sideways along its top edge, like a hat.

The Writer glanced around her bedsit, content with her new, collage creation.

It was then that she saw her podgy thighs, untoned despite hours of jogging, her pot belly, flabby and round despite the yoga. She paused for a moment, irritated that the unyielding nature of her body should upset the creative harmony of her new work before remembering that her body too could be a work of art, an expression of creativity, if she so willed it.

So she reached for the scissors and started hacking at herself, cutting and slicing, in this last creative game and final act of self improvement.

________

Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton while serving as the US vice president. James Burr is the author of the collection Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is currently putting the finishing touches to his second collection, State of the Nation, and a work of non-fiction which will, he is sure, make him richer than his wildest dreams. When not deluding himself about future success, he can be found at: http://www.james-burr.co.uk/.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Mama’s Boy

by: John Wayne Comunale

“Maybe this isn’t the best time to mention this,” I said just before squeezing the trigger, “but I’m your brother.”

I know he heard me too. I could see the weight of my flippant confession smack his flat forehead and reverberate recognition through his eyes in the brief moment just before the bullet ripped his head apart. The wound opened the back of his head wide and exploded out with the sweetest tasting strawberry jam. It was the same strawberry jam our mother made for us, although separately since neither of us could know the other existed.

For quite some time, mother was successful in keeping up this charade, and while she was always able to keep my brother in the dark, I had figured it out quite some time ago. The thought of having to share mother with someone, especially someone I couldn’t see or interact with in any way, drove me insane with rage. I didn’t realize how intense my wrath could be until after the first incident. The fact that I didn’t even feel bad about it made me realize it wouldn’t stop until he was dead. I had to kill this unknown being bound to me by blood along with anyone who got in the way.

Including her.

Including mother.

The first incident I had no memory of, but it was told back to me with vivid details via eyewitness accounts. Mother had just gone, and I knew she was going to him. She was going to feed him the strawberry jam. She was going to dote on him now. The last thing I remembered was a heightened feeling of anger that rose from my feet to quickly overtake me. That’s when I stopped remembering. That’s where I went blank.

Apparently I was inconsolable.

Apparently I swelled with strength.

Apparently I killed them all.

Mother came home and found us all like this, and she knew the jig was up. Like a boulder hanging by a thread, it was only a matter of time before I snapped and destroyed everything she’d worked so hard to build. She didn’t try to reason with me because I was far beyond the point of reason. I didn’t care about mother’s work or the importance thereof. I just cared about finding this secret brother of mine and destroying him.

I cared so much about killing him that when I killed her, when I killed mother, I didn’t even care. It wasn’t about her anymore. It was about him.

Finding him wasn’t hard since I was led by an unknown force desperately driving me to succeed. Hacking my way through those who surrounded him was just as easy and forgettable as the others. He was confused and cried out for mother with fear in his voice. I delighted in knowing his cries were in vain. He looked like a puny, extra-needy and helpless version of myself. He was despicable and I felt no remorse for what I did, and I still don’t.

________

John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative non-fiction for the theatrical art group, BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, and Aunt Poster as well as writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. You can listen to his podcasts hereJohn Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction at FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Thinking Man’s Bicycle

by: Chris Meekings

It is barely coin o’clock in the morning,
and the bourbon has only just taken the taste of Pepsodent from my mouth
when she walks into my office.
She’s glass and alabaster,
with curves in all the right places,
liquorice nice.
She walks across the room, her heels clicking like a cricket on death row.
I listen.
She tells me she has a problem.
I tell her it will cost her a pretty penny,
She pulls out an ugly penny and I take that instead.
Beggars can’t be choosers, especially with the price of flutes these days.
She says her name is Gia,
which should have told me everything I needed to know about the case,
but I was broke and she was in trouble
and I’m a sucker for a dame.
I offer her a chair.
I pour a drink
even though the sun has barely spat over the horizon.
I try to split my face to hide who I am,
but it doesn’t come off,
and I end up looking like a game-show host with too much time on his hands.
I take out a ruler,
and crack it in two.
I put one half in my bourbon and stir.
Mmmmm, length.
She tells me her husband has vanished,
and her brother is in Sing Sing for a stretch
so she’s turned to me for help.
Lucky me.
Equations danced around her head,
and my abacus strikes attention.
I take her case,
and put it in the closet.
I tell her I’ll be in touch.
I’m a good guy to have around
when the chips go down and the tables go up.
A real white knight.
You shouldn’t drink hard on an empty stomach.
The bar is the kind of dive that charges you extra when the lights go down.
I go to the wood, and order a drink.
It comes with a shovel full of dirt, owl pellets and napkin to wipe the blood away.
I dip my other half of ruler in it,
and survey the scene.
The bar is dark and wearing sunglasses.
Midgets flit from table to table,
asking for green wine and molasses.
Nobody has any.
I crack an egg on the bar.
It sizzles to fried
sunny-side-up.
None of this makes the boot polish blacker,
so I ask some questions.
“How did you get here?”
“Which way to Amarillo?”
“Do you know where the Falcon is?”
The Nazis in the corner “Seig Heil”,
but no one else pays attention.
Outside the bicycle bell rings,
and De Bergerac sniffs the glue.
Of course, someone’s in the know.
I swallow my finger nails,
and wait patiently
for the case to unfold.
It doesn’t take long,
Gia knows who’s to blame,
I rip off my moustache and trench coat,
No one can say I didn’t try to get out.
The fire licks up the side of bar in salacious wafts,
and the bicycle bell rings again,
but the patrons pay it no mind.
They staple down the fire to stop it spreading.
I pull out my revolver
and point it at the drink.
It’s always the ones you suspect the least who hurt you the most.
The bourbon tries to make a break for it,
but my gun sings, and the bourbon has to listen.
It’s transfixed by the music,
distracted, it falls from the bar.
Clatter-tinkle on the floor.
Thank god, I’m wearing my galoshes.
The bicycle bell rings once more,
and I make notes on Mahatma Gandhi’s treatises.
Thank god, it was only a thinking man’s bicycle.

________

Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Chaotic Butterfly

by: James Burr

It was a cold October morning when Eleonora Pinkerton first realised that her actions influenced it all. Like that apocryphal butterfly whose beating wings can cause hurricanes on the other side of the world, Eleonora concluded that her every action influenced Everything: scratching an itch would cause a tsunami in Indonesia, an overly energetic blink could cause a 747 to plummet from the sky over Minnesota, an unguarded burp could result in hurricanes in Guam. So Eleonora did what all rational beings would do in such circumstances and thus resolved to do nothing. Literally nothing. She gingerly, as if her slightest movement could set off a bomb, placed herself in a four lotus position and then sat, unmoving, utterly immobile.

When her boyfriend, Gavin, found her sat on the bed like an anorexic Buddha, he was at first confused, then concerned and then, as the days went by, increasingly grateful. Eleonora would no longer moan and bitch about his coming back from the pub too late at night and full of too much beer. She wouldn’t nag or moan or force him to see her mother or her annoying friends. Instead, she would just sit there, unmoving, while he played Halo or Grand Theft Auto, until such point that, feeling the need for sexual intimacy, he would stand up, drop his tracky bottoms and Calvins, and skull-fuck her until release.

Work had been a little more tricky at first, though, but eventually Gavin worked out that all he had to do was lift Eleonora into a wheelbarrow that he had bought especially for the purpose, and then, after a short trip on the Number 9 bus, wheel her to her desk at the local council offices. There, she would sit immobile in her wheelbarrow for eight hours until Gavin arrived to wheel her home. Her work colleagues were, as you can imagine, somewhat dumbfounded by this somewhat odd change that had come over Eleonora, but her 100% attendance meant that she was soon promoted to senior diversity consultant in the council and her career flourished as her bosses noted that she was one of the few who didn’t have months off with “stress.”

So all in all, Eleonora’s life flourished as first her relationship with Gavin deepened and her career reached new heights. And while Gavin wasn’t the most thoughtful bloke in the world, he did take care to lift her to the shower every morning to wipe away her waste and he did try to give her at least one full meal a day, even if it was just McDonald’s Happy Meals or chicken dhansaks, which he would then feed through a liquidiser so he could spoon it past her rigid lips.

For her part, Eleonora showed a strength of will that even she had no idea she was capable of. There would be times when the pain in her limbs was so great she wanted to just straighten them out and stretch and scream and jump in the air. But then when that urge grew, she would think of the resulting typhoons shredding farmsteads, the satellites knocked from orbit to blaze into the cities below, the concrete overpasses collapsing as a result of her twitching pinky. So, terrified of the chaos that would ensue, her resolve would return and her limbs would remain unmoving, her arms like concrete, her back like steel, so that order could reign and others could live.

And so the years rolled by and there came the patter of tiny Pinkerton feet, the doctors rolling her on her back so they could prise the babies out of her and then later, Gavin devising a clever harness system that meant she could breastfeed as she sat motionless on the bed. Then, later still, they would eat at the dinner table, children shouting and screaming at each other as Eleonora sat in her wheelbarrow, unmoving. Family selfies posted to Facebook showed the children growing, day by day, year by year, as Elonora remained the one constant, the only change being the gradual greying of her hair.

Eventually, the children moved out, and then Eleonora retired from her role as chief executive officer of her local council after decades of exemplary service. And so started the final phase of her life, as she would sit on the bed while Gavin pottered around in the garden. But then, one cold morning, Gavin was in the potting shed when he groaned, clutched his chest, and then slumped to the ground.

They didn’t find Eleonora for several weeks after his death. Neither of her children cared—Molly was living in a squat in Brixton and was constantly full of heroin while Alice was engaged in 24-hour narcissism as an Instagram yogi in Ibiza–so it was that by the time they found Eleonora, she was sitting in her bed, covered in cobwebs, her rigor mortised limbs locked in place, congealed blood weeping from the small toothmarks where vermin had taken bites out of her. The council officers who came to their house to move her body away found it relatively easy to just hook an arm under each armpit before just flinging her into the back of the van for disposal.

And as their van pulled away down the dismal tarmac of the street, shaven-headed children swearing, smoking and playing football, no one thought about Eleonora Pinkerton or her solar-flare triggering twitches and no one considered her tsunami-causing sneezes.

________

James Burr is the author of the collection Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is currently putting the finishing touches to his second collection, State of the Nation, and a work of non-fiction which will, he is sure, make him richer than his wildest dreams. When not deluding himself about future success, he can be found at: http://www.james-burr.co.uk/

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Sun Kissed

by: Austin James

The man managed to find (logistically speaking) the worst possible location in the mud pit; too far from the center to gather any real moisture for rehydration, yet also too far from the edge to avoid getting stuck. I say ‘man’ because whatever it was, it appeared to be male…but I’m not an expert on these things. Mans are intriguing creatures anyway. Historians said they use to be bigshots once, which added to my curiosity. This one, imprisoned in muck and roasting in the sun, happened to be the first I could observe up close.

Resting in the sand just beyond the edges of the mud pit, shading beneath a mature sage and congratulating myself on the decision to divorce Eleanor, I watched the man, sun-bleached and wobbly, come out of the desert seeking water and get lodged in the mud. As a younger lizard I would’ve gotten closer and poked it with a stick, but at my age I found the whole ordeal to be simply fascinating.

I’d been having dreams where I tried to scurry for shade only to find the sand too slick, too deep, and no matter how fast I scuttled I could barely move. Almost as if my thin, green tail weighed as much as a rattlesnake. I presumed the muddy mammal knew exactly how that felt—it would’ve loved to dash around at that particular moment if it could.

Eventually, the man realized that struggling was useless. Its head, with hair the color of beetles; a prickly, bearded face; and an upper limb were the only body parts not suffocating in mud. Its dumb, feral eyes peered out into the desert, darting between the chaotic shapes of layered rock which ranged in color from pale, seasick green to day-old-sunburn (as if a giant once spread multicolored spackle across the desert and left it to dry like a sporadically textured ceiling). Looking into its cactus-green eyes, I suspected it knew that it was dying. Surely mans understood the concept of death—instinctively rather than intellectually, of course.

As the sun slithered across the sky, I watched as the primate’s hairless flesh shrunk and cracked into a thousand peeling pieces.

The man evaporated until it earned the trust of the thirsty dirt, ironically just out its reach.

Studying the creature led to pondering my dreams. Why couldn’t I scamper? What was weighing me down? Given that morning’s events back home, surely the dreams were my subconscious telling me that marriage held me back from experiencing life.

I imagined the man was capable of complex thought and contemplated the landscape’s origin as it died. It wondered if the mountains were all once massive cubes of rock, melting in the desert sun over thousands of years to form the cliffs and arches.

Its throat and tongue were sandstone. They had to be in that heat.

Plump blisters the color of wood ticks peppered the mammal’s skin. I licked the air and swabbed the roof of my mouth for a whiff of smoldering flesh, which kind of reminded me of Eleanor’s cockroach casserole.

After a while, its eyes slowed and relaxed, accepting the fact that it wouldn’t survive. It stared at a dead, shriveled sage brush not far from where I lay as if preparing itself for decay; the bush’s gray withered branches reaching out like tendrils infected with flakes of brittle orange lichen; twisted, fractured metal speckled with rust.

It’d still moan and wiggle a bit on occasion, as if struggling to decide what posture it wanted to become fossilized in. Maybe it thought this to be important, like some kind of final unity with the dust that birthed it?

As the sky changed to milkweed for the setting sun, the primate stopped resisting the mud’s tight embrace altogether. Its breathing became obviously more painful. It made some raspy choking noises and a weak whimper before its squinty eyes closed to unconsciousness.

Once it finally perished, I knew I just witnessed something beautiful and, quite literally, very dirty. In turn, I felt both beautiful and dirty…even my eyes seemed filthy from watching the man’s pre-death cremation.

I tongued my ocular turrets, slurping them clean, and began to dig my burrow beneath the familiar sage.

________

Austin James has caffeine in his blood, gypsy spit in his spinal fluid, and a collection of his writing called Regurgitations. You can read more of his work at Pulp Metal Magazine, Troubadour 21 (mobile only), Twelve Point Collective (print only), and Bartleby Snopes.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Hammer Time

by Christopher Lesko

I saw this asshole pushing a shopping cart filled with groceries down the road, about a mile away from the grocery store. I slowed my car and yelled out the window to him. “Hey! You can’t take that shopping cart home!” He ignored me, kept pushing along, rumbling over gravel and shit. “Yeah, I’m talking to you. That cart doesn’t leave the parking lot.” He flicked me off.

Some people probably wondered why I even bothered to yell at him. It’s not like I work for the grocery store or anything. And even though I was on my way to that same grocery store, I didn’t even plan to use a cart. But I couldn’t stand the fact that this guy thought he could do whatever he wanted. I know for sure he wouldn’t be pushing an empty cart back to the grocery store afterward. The thing he was doing is the kind of stuff that’s wrong with the world. That and legalized marijuana. Yeah. First, you legalize marijuana, then you vote for Donald Trump because you are so high in the voting booth you accidentally voted for the wrong person . . . or didn’t even vote, and now your brain is so doped up you think you can just push a cart out of the grocery store parking lot, go home with it, and leave it there. For what? For it to end up in a ditch behind the apartment building that’s what. That cart will be back there with old tires, dirty diapers, aluminum cans of Miller Lite, broken television sets, and other shit. Then some hobo will eventually set up camp in the woods there, and then there will be a bunch more hobos coming to live there, and then all those hobos will have hobo sex back there, and then one day I might end up living back there with them. I’ll want to sleep but will be too afraid. I’ll have to sleep with one eye open, so they don’t try to lick me. Or … I’ll have to find the biggest hobo in the camp and lick him first. Show them all who’s the boss.

I pull over, get out my car, and jog up to the guy ready to push that fucking cart over if that’s the way I’m going to get him to stop pushing it any further. But before I do any such thing, the guy halts.

“U can’t touch this!” he yells.

“Watch me!” I grasp the side of the cart.

He reaches in one of the bags, pulls out a hammer and throws it down on my hand. He throws it down on my face next, right in my eye socket.

I go down seeing stars. One of those stars is I see is Mr. M.C. Hammer, dancing around in Hammer Pants. He tells me I need to use Command Strips and that I need to pray. Tells me I need to pray just to make it today. And that’s why we pray.

When I come to, I’m lying face down, outside somewhere in the shade, my cheek pressed to the cold, muddy ground. One eye sees happy green trees, and the other eye sees a mix of deep purple and bloody red trees, floating black dots, and that fucking shopping cart flipped over, missing a wheel.

I’m happy to be alive, but I know the hobos are coming … the hobos are coming.

________

Christopher Lesko is the author of The Grlz Like Vodka, Long Live Crazy, That’s My Ghoul, The Electric Lunatic, Fukced Up, and a handful of deranged short stories. You can follow him on Facebook and buy his books on Amazon.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.

 


Flash Fiction Friday: CD-why

by J. Platz-Halter

“This will help you stay warm,” Michael said as he handed Kate a cup of coffee.

She was staring at the log in the fireplace, watching the embers recede into the wood, the light becoming fainter and fainter. “Sorry,” she took a sip, “a lot has happened today, and I, I don’t know how to process it.”

Michael gathered what paper he could find inside the cabin and threw it into the fire. Safety pamphlets, maps of the park, anything that could burn. “It’s rough,” he said. “You try not to think about everything you’ve lost, but…”

“My sister and my mother, I’ll never see them again. And my coworkers, the good ones at least. I don’t even know if my dog is still alive.”

“I didn’t want to believe it,” Michael sat down next to Kate, “but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll most likely never play the Philips CD-i ever again.”

“And everyone I graduated with last year, did any of them make it out of the city? I wish there was some way to contact- wait, you’re worried about some video game thing?”

“Oh sure, it seems like no big deal at first. What reason would the creatures have to destroy my CD-i? But then I realized that if those last emergency broadcasts were true, and the armed forces have disbanded, leaving the major cities unprotected, it’s more than likely that the people who manage the power stations have all been killed or assimilated.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Whether we live or die here, there’s not going to be any electricity back home! I would need to rig up some sort of battery system to power the console, and god dammit! I don’t have the knowledge or skills to do that.” Michael started to cry. “I’m just a regular guy, I wasn’t made for such trying times. I wish I was playing Mutant Rampage: Bodyslam right now.”

Kate walked to the other side of the cabin. “My best friend was ripped in half and then eaten alive in front of me. I watched my little brother shoot himself in the head. I begged him to just get in the car. Get in the car and we’d go somewhere far away, but he couldn’t cope with what he’d seen. So many people died today, but you lived? A loser obsessed with a stupid video game system no one cares about. What a fucking joke.”

“Hey! I get that you’re emotional, and you can take it out on me all you want, but I won’t sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the Philips CD-i! It was an industry innovator when it was released in 1991, pioneering the compact disc format. And I had its entire software collection. Everything from 1995: All the News and Views to Zombie Dinos From Planet Zeltoid. So don’t tell me I didn’t lose anything or that I don’t know your pain! If anything, it’s you who doesn’t understand what it means to lose something you care about.”

The ensuing argument was preempted by the loud thud of bodies mindlessly throwing themselves against the cabin door. The creatures had followed the two of them into the woods, driven by their insatiable lust for human cytoplasm.

Kate was already moving one of the tables. “Help me make a barricade!”

“This is just like the CD-i version of Tetris,” Michael said as he slid the bookshelf across the room, “except we don’t have the soothing, smooth jazz soundtrack by composer Jim Andron to listen to.” He had positioned it in front of the window but inadvertently left a small gap through which one of the creatures forced its slimy, green tentacle into the room. It struck Michael in his left arm and injected him with goo.

When she saw what was happening, Kate immediately stopped piling things against the door and got the cabin’s emergency fire ax. With one good swing, she severed the tentacle, but it was too late. The transformation had begun.

Michael fell to the floor in pain. All along his arm, his skin turned bright yellow and then curled up, tearing itself and exposing the blackening muscles underneath. “I’m fine, really! I don’t need this arm. With the CD-i’s paddle controller, I can play most of the games one-handed. It really was ahead of its time in terms of accessibility!” The goo hijacked his nervous system and mutated his brain to connect him to the creature hive mind.

“I can see what they see.” Michael stood up with the help of the pair of insectile legs that sprouted from his chest. “My mind, our mind is one. They have my CD-i, Kate. Join us. Join the collective, and we’ll play Hotel Mario…”

She slowly backed away, staying out of his reach until she was up against the wall.

“It has a bad reputation because of its low budget animated sequences,” acid poured out of Michael’s mouth and chewed through the floor, “but at its core it’s a fun action puzzle platformer with simple yet addictive gameplay. Join us! Become one with the overmind!”

Kate swung the ax into what was left of Michael’s head. Aside from the hiss of his body rapidly melting, it was quiet. The creatures outside must have moved on. For the moment. Kate removed the ax and took what supplies she could find. She would head north. There were rumors of a remnant human settlement up north. Half a mile up the mountain trail, and she looked back. The fires in the city were still burning, hazy clouds of alien smoke obscuring all but the largest of buildings. It was a scene familiar to her. It looked just like Cyberia for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer.

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J. Platz-Halter is an aspiring author who has done nothing of note. Someday soon, though. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. And here, have a twitter account to pad out this bio: @JPlatzHalter.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.