Lean and Mean Prize- Flash Fiction Challenge 09/09/19

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Thread: Lean and Mean Prize- Flash Fiction Challenge 09/09/19

  1. #1

    Lean and Mean Prize- Flash Fiction Challenge 09/09/19

    *Please read this post entirely before submitting a story to the challenge*

    This week’s contest opens as soon as the clock turns to Monday, US Central Standard Time (12:01 a.m.)

    It closes at the very end of the next Sunday, US Central Standard Time (11:59 p.m.)

    This week’s prompt: A Knock at the Door


    Each week’s winner will receive a $5 Amazon gift voucher, upon providing their email address to Ma'am by (PM) Private Message.


    Contests will run weekly for one year, providing there’s enough interest to keep them going.

    Stories can be up to 1,000 words, not including the title. Any that go over that will be disqualified.


    One entry per person.

    In the interests of fairness this is an anonymous challenge.
    Your entry must be submitted anonymously and therefore should be PMed to me, Ma'am, so that I may post it for you. Please be sure to indicate in your PM on which board you prefer your work posted, PUBLIC or SECURE. I am responsible for linking all entries posted on the secure board to public board.

    Kindly make sure your entry is properly formatted and error free before you PM it to me as you will be unable to edit your work once I have posted it. If your work requires a disclaimer, please inform me in your submission PM.


    Do not post comments in this thread

    If you would like to retain your first publication rights remember to request your entry be posted on the dedicated secure challenge board “Lean and Mean' Prize Flash Fiction.”

    Likes and comments are not allowed on the contest threads until the challenge has closed.However, comments, chit-chat and general banter IS allowed in the Challenge Caf. Please include the appropriate “warnings” with your story title, if appropriate, for language, sex, violence, etc. Erotica, sexually explicit stories (pornography), or fanfic is not allowed.

    As per WF rules:

    Plagiarism: All work entered in the challenge must be your own.

    Obscene Material and Gratuitous Violence:
    Such material is not allowed. What is considered overtly pornographic or otherwise obscene is decided by the staff and is not open to debate. It will be removed immediately. Any description or depiction of child sexual abuse is not only considered obscene, it is a reportable crime in many jurisdictions. Repeat offenders will be permanently banned.

    Strong or explicit language, Mature themes Disclaimers:
    Infrequent and context-appropriate strong language and mature themes are allowed and a warning must be included with the entry.

    Post Titles:
    Post titles must be G rated, which means strong language or descriptions of violence or sexual activities are not permitted.Stories must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. US Central Time on the Sunday night that the week’s contest ends. Entries submitted after this time will disqualified.


    As soon as a weekly contest closes to entries, a poll will be posted and voting begins.

    Voting is open to all WF members.

    Voting for your own story is NOT allowed. Doing so will result in disqualification.

    In the event of a tie, a second vote will be held to determine the winner.


    Please refer to the prompt thread for the full list of prompts.
    Last edited by Ma'am; September 23rd, 2019 at 06:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Last edited by Ma'am; September 23rd, 2019 at 06:26 AM.

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  6. #6

    The Boatman (999 words)

    Tomyris was looking for Hell.

    The wise men of Athens said the road to Hades was open to all and only too easy to follow. But that road led only one way. The Spartans threatened that it was at the end of their spears: she barely escaped intact. The Thebians told of a gate under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, from which the very fires of the underworld are wont to erupt. Travelling to Ionia and preparing to cross the Adrias, Tomyris was told of another gate, not of fire but of water: the river Acheron.

    “But the boatman don’t take the living, you’ll have to find some way past him.” a bug-eyed sailor told her, pointing to where the river dived into a cave mouth.

    She walked down by the rivers side, the darkness deepening as the waters led her further and further below. The burden of the task started to weigh upon her, as if all the land above were upon her shoulders. Her legs shaky, they would have given out from fear already, but a mother’s will drove her onwards. There would have been total blackness now, but for a pallid glow coming from further down the cave. She crept forward, guessing that this was no earthly light.

    The cave opened to a wide lake. The dim light seemed to come from beneath the water, a sickly yellow-green glow that made Tomyris want never to touch it. By the lake shore stood a shroud of bodies, looking out over the still water. She crept closer to them: by their stillness and the dullness in their eyes she knew they were shades and that she was in the right place. Following their distant stare across the lake, she saw a barge slowly approach. Charon, the boatman, who demanded a gold coin from each shade. But Tomyris was prepared for this, had sold all her possessions, had borrowed and begged from everyone she knew, to afford her fare.

    The barge approached slowly, the cloaked figure of Charon at its head. It approached the shore and the boatman beckoned with a twisted hand for the shades to embark, taking a coin from each one. She filed in amongst the dead and held her breath, noticing all the other bodies standing around her drew none.

    “Silver?” screeched Charon, before pushing one poor soul into the lake. There the shade came alive, kicking and screaming, creating a froth around him. Tomyris dared not to think what was in the water to animate him so fiercely. She nearly gasped when she noticed that hands of made water were clawing at the drowning man, pulling him down even as he begged. Silence returned as his head submerged. Not one other shade, not Charon, reacted to the drowning, and they continued to file aboard. Despite her lungs burning, Tomyris kept her eyes vacant and breath still.

    It was her turn to pay. The dim world swam around her hypoxic head. She approached sluggishly as the others had and offered her payment. Even though Charon was directly before her, she stared as if she were looking at something distant, somehow knowing that to meet his eyes would be fatal. From her blurred visage of the boatman’s face, all she could see was utter blackness under the hood. An age seemed to pass. He accepted her payment and she walked past.

    Tomyris stood as far back in the barge as she could as Charon took the prow. There she let out her breath as quietly as she could. Her lungs demanded more, needed to be filled following their starvation. But she kept her breath study, until, in time, it became easier. The barge pushed out and eased over the waters for some time.

    The boatman sniffed the fetid air, his faceless hood slowly turning to the occupants.

    “One amongst you is of the living. Who dares deceive the Boatman of Acheron?” Charon rasped.

    “I smell the warmth from your lungs,” he said, peering into the eyes of the closest soul. “I smell your sweat.” The boat continued to drift. Tomyris need only survive a few minutes more and the barge should make it to the other shore. But already her heart was drumming to the protest of her lungs.

    “Yes, you all paid your fare,” said the Boatman, moving from soul to soul, inspecting each for a few seconds, “but this fare is only for the dead. There are worse Fates than death for those who try to cheat me.”

    He was inching down the boat, ever closer to Tomyris who could only watch him from the peripheries of her vision, daring not to even flicker an eye. Just a little longer, she urged her burning lungs.

    “I have all the time, but you…” he turned his hooded head to look, without eyes, straight at Tomyris, “I see you…”

    Air exploded out of her as she dashed to the edge of the barge. Charon used his punt to separate the crowd. There was no other choice but to try to jump for shore, though it was still many hands distant. Tomyris took as many steps back as she dared, ran and hurled herself over the river. She heard a rasp behind. Felt the end of the punt skim her clothes. She collapsed on hard land, never so glad to feel her ankle twist. She did not know what horrors befell those who drowned in the rivers of Hades, and she was glad to keep it that way.

    The barge approached the shore. Tomyris had no time to plan her next move – deeper into the underworld she ran, for she had a mother’s business in this infernal place.

    The cavern tapered into a crevice, leading to a large bronze door. There was no other passage, nowhere above she might climb, nowhere below she might delve. Only the closed gate. Unsure of what else to do, and fearing Charon’s wrath, she approached it and knocked.
    Last edited by Ma'am; September 16th, 2019 at 12:17 AM.

  7. #7
    This week's challenge is now closed.


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