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2017 FLASH SUITE Contest Winners

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Welcome to defenestrationism reality.

 

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 FLASH SUITE Contest, only on defenestrationism.net .

 

First, the Fan vote:

with 81% of the first place Fan Voting,

Disarticulated Life by William R. Soldan

 

and with 54% of the second place Fan Voting,

Sometimes We Are What We Seem, but Other Times We Are Something Else by Ingrid Jendrzejewski.

 

And the Grand Prize Winner, by four Judge vote plus Fan Voting is

Sometimes We Are What We Seem, but Other Times We Are Something Else by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

 

and the Runner-Up,

Disarticulated Life by William R. Soldan

 

View How the Judges Voted

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Fan Voting, in mere Hours

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year, to one and all.

 

Fan Voting for the 2017 FLASH SUITE Contest will open in mere Hours.

 

So first, read all of

Sometimes We Are What We Seem, But Other Times We Are Something Else

 

TWAS BRILLIG

 

and

Disarticulated Life

 

!We’ll see you later tonight!

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The Lonelies

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

by Richie Shiers Jr

 

loneliness;

“the lonelies”, creepy into your veins

they creep, escape, and repeat: relapse

being so far in your veins; you’d expect a rush

nothing, you expect comfort,

never,

don’t expect a thing when you’re alone

just use the time to further overdose

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Brilliant Betty

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

by D.A. Cairns

Betty stood calmly observing the comings and goings of her friends and others as they ambled from clump to clump, biting and chewing the green grass. Marvelous! Thought Betty to herself. That’s all they do. All day. Apart from swishing flies with their tails and dropping the occasional cow ‘bomb’ on the ground, they just walk around eating grass all day.

Trudging over towards the boundary fence, Betty wondered about the meaning of life. Heavy thinking for a cow, but Betty was no ordinary bovine. Betty was brilliant!

From her birth which had been quick and painless-from her point of view anyway-to her first taste of the heavenly sweetness of her mother’s milk, and her then asking for a bottle of it to take away, Betty had always known she was special.

Her father was a mean and distant bull whom Betty never saw much because he lived in another paddock. Her mother, a placid Jersey with the herd mentality so common in their species. Her life, very uneventful except whenever she decided it should be otherwise. Such a time had arrived.

Turning quickly on her back hooves, Betty trotted over to her mother who was not surprisingly eating grass.

‘Mum, I’m going to visit Dad, okay?’

She knew her daughter was not asking for permission, and she could have chosen to ignore her, because Betty would do as she pleased anyway, but a stirring of motherly concern prompted her to reply.

‘Your father,’ she began, carefully choosing her words, ‘is a busy bull who does not have time for visits from his calves.’

‘But he’ll make time for me, mum. I’m Betty. I’m special.’

‘Betty, you know he lives in another paddock, and fences separate us from them.’

‘I’ll jump over the fence.’

Her mother’s companions snickered in ridicule but Betty ignored them. ‘If I take a long run up, I should be able to build enough speed and momentum to carry me over. Of course I’ll need a strong first push from my back legs but I’m sure that won’t be a problem.’

‘Cows can’t jump, dear’ said her mother patiently, also overlooking the teasing remarks of the other cows.

‘Of course they can, mum. I’ve heard the farmer’s daughter singing about a cow who jumped over the moon.’

Wild laughter met that suggestion.

Betty was hurt and angry, but not with her mother. Those other stupid bovines made her mad. Just because they were too dumb or too scared to do anything except eat grass, go to the toilet and sleep, didn’t mean that she should waste her life doing the same boring things.

She trotted away to the other end of the paddock from where she could see her father in the distance. That brave bull wouldn’t be afraid to jump a fence no matter how high it was.

The sun was falling behind Kembla Grange clothing the paddock in an ever expanding coat of darkness. Betty decided she would wait for the morning to attempt her most daring feat so far in her young life.

Next morning drops of dew shone like crystals on each blade of grass in the field and Betty woke up feeling strong and fast. She warmed up her muscles with a brisk run around the paddock greeting by name all the other calves and cows she passed on the way. Some returned the greeting, other ignored her. Betty didn’t really care either way.

‘Betty! Betty’ called her mother.

She arrived at her side a little out of breath but tried hard not to show it in her voice, ‘Yes mum?’

‘Betty, dear we have a problem.’

Betty blinked her huge eyelids a couple of times and tilted her head to the left.

‘Have you noticed,’ continued her mother, ‘how brown the grass is lately?’

Puzzled, Betty looked around slowly surveying the field.

‘Now that you mention it,’ she said. ‘It is a bit.’

‘Do you remember the last time you saw the Farmer?’

Shuffling uncomfortably, Betty wondered about her line of questioning. She could not remember when she had last seen the Farmer, and that concerned her because she had a very good memory. Something was obviously wrong.

Her mother continued, ‘Can you remember the last time it rained, Betty?’

Tired of her beating around the bush, Betty said, ‘Tell me what’s wrong, mum.’

‘We’ve nearly eaten all the grass in the field, and the Farmer hasn’t been in to give us any extra feed, or to open the gate to let us go into the next field.’

Betty cottoned on. ‘The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.’

Her mother lowered her eyes and then her whole head as she silently allowed Betty to fully comprehend their situation.

‘We’ll just have to jump the fence then, mum. Like I planned to do today anyway, to go see dad.’

She shook her head sadly and slowly, ‘I told you, cows can’t jump.’

‘Cows can jump! They’ve just never tried. This is desperate. We’re going to starve to death if we don’t go aren’t we? Is that what you’re saying?’

Afraid she might say something nasty to her mother, Betty quickly ran away.
Her eyes were all blurry but she didn’t recognise the water in them as tears, she simply felt angry and frustrated. She wasn’t going to die just because she was afraid to try something new. No way!

Taking a few deep breaths to calm herself down, Betty began to sort through the problem in her mind, to pull it apart piece by piece, and then put it back together to hopefully find the solution. Even if she could jump the fence herself, and she certainly still believed she could, what about the other cows? The older ones, the younger ones, the sick ones? She could save herself but could she really be so selfish?

Betty spent the next few days, maybe it was weeks, moping around the field with all the other cows watching their once lush green paddock transform into a dust bowl. There was no sign of the Farmer or of any rain, and the creek was a muddy trickle. Pacing around the edge of the field, Betty tried not to let despair crush her. Everyone was so depressed because they had just about given up all hope of surviving. The paddock had become a waiting room for passage into the next life. Betty stamped at the ground in rage. The next life? Where God supposedly waited to meet them? Where was he now while they suffered?

Suddenly she collapsed against a fence post, exhausted from anger and worry.
It moved! Betty wasn’t sure if she imagined it or not so she stood up and leaned against the fence post. It seemed solid, but Betty pulled away and pushed her shoulder into it. She winced. That hurt! Brilliant Betty applied her grey matter to the situation and decided that although it would be painful, perhaps very painful, she would be able to knock the post over and make a way into the next field.

It proved harder than Betty had anticipated and after several minutes of pounding, the stubborn fence post was still standing. Soon a crowd gathered around to watch Betty, as first one cow noticed then another, and each in turn informed someone else. One of them realised what Betty was doing and began to urge her on. Before long they were all cheering, and Betty was encouraged to keep hammering away at the post despite the pain she felt throbbing through her whole body. Her shoulder was numb and so was her mind but she kept going, like a machine.

She roared, which frightened the others into silence, as she gave one last mighty heave with all her weight against the post, and crashed through the fence, trampling the post underneath her as she struggled to keep on her feet. A victory shout celebrated her victory as she fell to the ground and lay still. Turning her head, Betty could see the cows all standing together on the other side of the hole in the fence she had just made for them. Just standing there! She could hardly believe it but unfortunately she did not have enough strength to call them through so she just stared at them and they stared at her.

Not one of them crossed the broken fence and entered the field. Not one. Sadly, Betty now noticed that the grass on this side was not much better than the grass on the other side. There was more of it, but it would not last long, and anyway if the poor fearful cows refused to move from their old field what good was it to them? Betty the Brilliant had done all she could for them. All that remained was to pray for rain.

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In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 8. Cloris

Monday, January 4th, 2016

8. CLORIS

Hey, Paulie!
There are lots of stars out tonight. They make me feel silly. Like when you and me’d get in the car, go way out into the country, and just lie in some field, listen to the crickets, drink and smoke pot and tickle, and all the rest. Tonight, before we got ready for bed, Mita and me sat on the rocks outside and looked at them. The stars, I mean. They’re really cool, out here. I mean, like there’s no lights, well, except for the ones around the base. But you can see, it’s like a hundred miles across the water, across all the boats — ships, I mean. I still call them boats sometimes, the officers get real p.o.ed. Mita thinks it’s funny. Sure not like the city. Or the county. I never seen this much darkness back home.

I wonder if it’ll be like this, there. They keep showing us pictures, but I can’t tell nothing from pictures. I guess I’m excited about going. I mean, who ever thought I’d get to go somewhere on a different continent, on a plane and all. Some of the girls are scared. I mean, all the stuff you see on TV, that’s in the papers. Mita’s brother tried to talk her out of joining up. He comes here every week, and he always tries to get her to sneak away. What you wanna do this for? he says, you’re gonna get your sorry ass killed. Mita just laughs. Maybe, she says. But I know she doesn’t think she will, get killed I mean.
Me neither. I mean, I know I ain’t the sharpest crayon in the pack, but I been paying attention, real careful attention, to everything. For the life of me I can’t remember that boats are ships. But I do remember the stuff that counts, and I know how to take care of myself. Hell, Paulie, I always took care of myself. War’s just a different way of having to do it. You know. I been banged around. You get good at banging back.

But right now I’m lying here, waiting for them to turn off the lights. Lot of the girls are doing their last minute packing. Mine’s done. The plane leaves at six o’clock — whoops, I mean zero six hundred — and I don’t want to have to get up a minute earlier than I got to. I’m used to it, though, finally, getting up real early, I mean. Last week when I wrote? I was only complaining cause I was sore, from all the marching and stuff. I feel good now, now that we’re about to do it. Finally.
Hey! Before I forget. Thanks for the present. I love it! I am 21 as of yesterday. Mita and a couple of the girls bought me my first legal beer, at the commissary. Mita said she would have took me out for a big celebration but, of course, we can’t leave base. But first leave we get? we’re gonna go paint the town. If there is one. In the pictures, it don’t look like there’s much there at all. Kinda dull. Have to get our excitement from the shooting, is what Mita says.

Hey, Paulie! Just got time for one more thing before lights out. You know I love you. And I know you’re scared for me. Thanks for working at not showing it. Jeez, when you was in, I was only 12, 13 years old! I’m glad there wasn’t no war then. I’d of been scared for you, if I’d known you then, I mean. And thanks for understanding how I had to do this. I loved my Daddy, and he’d be scared for me, and he’d be proud of me, too. And when I come back — and I am coming back, you can bet your ass and mine on that — when I come back we are gonna get married and have us a dozen kids, live happily ever after, cause there ain’t never, never gonna be another war.

Gotta go now. I’ll write you from the plane.

Love, Cloris

 

End

 

 

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The Belvedere: Iquitos

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Iquitos

A boa the color of a fairy tale is dreaming and breathing with its tongue among the tangle of dead and living branches building a roof over the porch. Hikari’s asleep with her back to the room as Tsuneo tries to draw the afternoon rain with charcoal. A bird dressed in the colors of a parrot scares him with its curiosity as it ignores the snake.  

Outside of the village where the soil is less used, there’s a boy who crossed his eyes before the river last flooded. From the corners of his mouth, in a voice close to the listener’s, comes wisdom and the tales of wives married to people he’s never seen. Tsuneo asked him once; he said, “I want the two halves of my brain to share.” Years ago, a Dutch biologist here studying spiders died in a canoe after the baby he made killed a local woman as it was being born. The elders left his books with her family.

The river is brown and still with a swiftness marked by diving birds – nearer the dock the air fills with the stink of burnt diesel and rubber trees while an old man waves his hand in the air to let Tsuneo know the canoe for Iquitos has left. There’s a boy playing with a sloth, as Tsuneo sits and watches them he blinks, keeping the world black a little longer each time until it slows.

 

 

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Voting now open for 2015 !Short Story Contest!

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Voting closes Sept. 6th, so

Vote Early and Vote Often.

 

Poll will ONLY accept three votes at a time,

so choose two Runner-Ups and

one Grand Prize Winner

 

Vote Now

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Meet the Finalists

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SURVIVAL

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

SURVIVAL

William Masters

At sixteen, my older brother Mike was tried as an adult and sentenced to a year in the lock-me-tight for running out of the Scottish fast food joint without paying for his order. After a month’s incarceration, he had gained 14 pounds. For the first time in two years, he no longer went to bed hungry each night.

At eleven, as soon as the cast came off my younger brother Sam’s left arm, he hopped a freight train to St. Louis. After a month, most of his cuts and bruises healed and faded enough so that he could wear a short-sleeved shirt without having to answer questions or attract unwanted attention.

At fourteen, panicked at being left the sole target for my parent’s attentions, I drained the brake fluid from their car on Thursday night. Desperate, and hoping to survive until Friday morning, I locked the door and barricaded myself in the empty pantry.  

The next morning, I heard my parents shout obscenities, blaming each other for the empty coffee canister. I heard one of them throw the canister against the pantry door…then an uncanny silence, during which my body shook as I watched the pantry doorknob move from right to left.

“Oh Steve… come out, come out so I can punch you good-bye,” my father said.

“Oh Sweetie… come out, come out and give mother a kiss good-bye before the house burns down.”

I climbed up on the canning table that stood beneath a port sized window. I waited… and I waited until I saw my parents finally leave the house and climb into the car.

As soon as I saw the car drive away, I released myself from the pantry and rushed through the great room, which reeked of the beer my parents had substituted for the missing coffee, walked out the front door, sat down on the porch swing, and watched the car drive past the first turn.

With sober anticipation, I imagined my father’s surprise as he tried to apply the brakes to the first hair-pin turn as he drove down the steep mountain road. As soon as I heard the explosion, I took a deep breath and exhaled. A few minutes later, too far away to see any flames, I watched a plume of smoke straighten out and rise vertically into the sky. The smoke congealed into a single, dark grey mass, and then split in half into a pair of lighter colored grey clouds floating together along the line of the horizon until the November breeze snuffed them both out.  

It wasn’t until late in the afternoon when two cars arrived, one from the sheriff’s office and one from Child Services. Still hungry, after eating a can of tomato soup and a small packet of saltine crackers, the only food left in the house, I asked the sheriff if he had a candy bar. His deputy pulled a tootsie roll out of his jacket pocket and tossed it to me. I thanked him.

 Child Services looked at both the policemen, then scanned a file folder, and then looked at me. “You don’t want to spoil your dinner with that candy bar, do you… Steven?”  Then it blandly informed me that both my parents had been killed in a car crash that morning.

My body twitched as I concealed my joy in the confirmation.

Then Child Services gave me an empty box with a lid. “You have fifteen minutes to pack one suitcase and fill the box with your belongings before I transport you to a temporary holding area pending your assignment to another location.”

Ten minutes later, I stood silently, holding all my clothes and possessions in my mother’s suitcase. I made a dead stop in the main room and kitchen area. I felt trapped between the empty frying pan on my right, and the sight of Child Services I saw through the window on my left.

As I touched the back pocket of my Levis to make sure I had my tiny address book, I gripped the suitcase and moved to the front door which Child Services had opened for me and headed to the police car. In an act of telepathy, the deputy opened the car’s trunk for my suitcase.

Child Services vigorously protested and waved a paper at the two policemen, demanding that they move my suitcase into its trunk and escort me to the backseat of its car.

Silently I stood my ground. I looked the sheriff in the eye, belligerent and pathetic. The sheriff opened the back door of his car for me and told Child Services, “I’m just following protocol.”

Apparently, though still a minor, I needed to make a formal statement at the station and had the right to make calls to anyone I chose for assistance before Child Services could claim me.

As I sat in the backseat, my muscles relaxed and my respiration returned to normal. Ignoring further protestations from Child Services, the policemen got back into their car. As the deputy started the engine and shifted the car into gear, the Sheriff offered me a bottled water.  

“Here kid, you look like you could use a drink.”  

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Carthage

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Andy Nellis is a writer living and studying in the lusty, dusty streets of Denver. He holds some degrees from some places. When not writing Andy can usually be found throwing pebbles at your kitchen window. His work most recently appeared in The Los Angeles  Review of Los Angeles.

 

 

Carthage

 

The sun finally sets under the Los Angeles ocean and Carthage opens his eyes next to a 50 pound sandbag. It still smells like Becky’s perfume. Carthage kisses the rough fabric and even though he knows it can’t hear, and even though he knows it’s not a person, he whispers: Good morning.

There are several differences between a person and a sandbag. For one thing, it’s very difficult to have sex with a bag of sand. Carthage remembers this and ignores the urge to cut another hole in it. Instead he goes downstairs.

The steps whine as he walks on them, unappreciative of the great honor they’re receiving. These day most things don’t appreciate the honor: carpets, backyards, bathtubs, Becky.

The house phone rings in the kitchen. Carthage waits for it to jingle once, twice, three times, then answers it.

“Hello?” Carthage says into the oily plastic.

“Hello, is Mister Placante available?”

“This is… Carthage.”

“I see, well could you deliver a message to Mister Placante? This is Jules with LA Opera. I just wanted to confirm his appointment for next week-”

But Carthage hangs up. Next week is too soon; Carthage cannot leave then. He cannot leave until things are ready.

The phone stares at him from its mount and any second… another call… and that can’t be allowed. Carthage squeezes his fingers between the receiver and the wall, pushing his meaty pads into the gap. Then he rips the phone from its frame. Drywall puffs from the wrecked hole, and Carthage drops the dead thing on the ground and walks to the bathroom.

The light clicks on as Carthage stands by the sink, looking at an orange pill bottle. He brings his eyes close to it, analyzing. Each tiny line in the cap is in place, all 98 of them, but still, something about it doesn’t feel right.

He thinks of all the days filled with pills, each one a tiny lead weight pulling down his organs, crushing his bones, a burden too heavy for Carthage, too large a load. But not now, not anymore. He drops them into the trash.

Carthage is outside now, standing on the front patio. The weather feels like an old air-conditioner is pumping out cold mist. Cars drive down the road and Carthage follows their lights as they creep over the hill to hide. Then the mailman walks up, late, shuffling.

Carthage watches him. He watches Carthage.

“Mail,” the mailman says, but he doesn’t move or reach into his bag or wave; his wet linen shirt stuck to his chest, his nipples showing through. Mailman nipples.

“Yes,” Carthage says and walks back inside.

It’s time for toast.

They always tell Carthage that he shouldn’t eat toast. They say: ‘Toast is bad. Eat a salad.’ Does Carthage listen? Does Carthage do what they say? Ha! Shit no.

But why? Why doesn’t Carthage eat a salad? Why don’t you ask him, huh? You must be curious. Do it. Ask Carthage, ‘why’.

“Why?”

“NO!”

“Why, Carthage?”

“NO! ONLY CARTHAGE TAAAALKS!” Carthage’s voice is loud and the glasses shake in the cabinet. But then it’s quiet.

Q-u-i-e-t.

Carthage slips spongy bread into the toaster then collects the toast before it starts smoking. He eats it as he walks into the basement.

Crust tastes bad. You know that, everyone knows that. Carthage throws his in the corner with the others.

The pile of stale crust moves. Not because the old toast bits are welcoming their new friend, reaching out to hug him. No. The pile moves because something is in it.

“It’s a rat!” You say. “Or a snake!”

“Shut up!” Carthage says. He takes off his sandal and throws it at the pile like a warrior. Dry bread goes everywhere and a white mouse skitters under the stairs.

Carthage was surprised, that’s all. Carthage wasn’t scared or anything and Carthage wasn’t listening to you because you weren’t talking. No one else talks.

Carthage feels better for having scared the mouse. He tucks his t-shirt into his pants and lifts his sandal out of the pile. Carthage must work now, too much time wasted.

He walks to the table where the machine sits, his beautiful machine. The basement floor is covered in pieces from the 18 toasters and 11 weed-whackers he needed to make it.

Carthage is proud of his work. He looks at what he’s done, and his crotch swells a little but not enough to change his mind about cutting another hole in the sandbag. No, there’s no time for that.

“We must practice singing,” you say, sounding stupid and annoying.

“We do not sing. We build.” Carthage can ignore this.

“What are you doing? You have no idea, do you?”

“Carthage knows what he’s doing! He is the best. Everyone knows that! Carthage is making the machine.”

“Oh yeah? And what does this machine do, exactly?”

Carthage can ignore this. He can ignore your weasel voice.

“What is it?”

Carthage grabs another toaster and starts to work.

1.    Take off the outer cover

2.    Unscrew the metal slats

3.    Harvest the springs

4.    Harvest the coils

5.    Use the hot glue gun on the new pie-

“Fuck!” Hot glue!

“Burn yourself?” You say.

“Carthage doesn’t care!” Carthage says it loud so the walls vibrate.

“You can’t block me out.”

“YEEES!”

“No, you can’t. You know why? Beca…” You talk more but Carthage doesn’t listen. He needs to fix his hand. “You can’t ignore me because I-”

“NO!” Carthage knows what you want to say but… “THERE IS ONLY ONE CARTHAGE!”

“Yeah, I know. And pretty soon…”

“NO!” Carthage runs upstairs, runs to the bathroom hall, to the linen closet where he rips towels off the shelves, searching. Somewhere there are bandages or ointment or— SOMETHING!

Carthage has to finish the machine.

He has to.

But it’s getting heavier. Everything is iron. Little washcloths take two hands to move. The plastic bin that holds pain pills and nasal spray won’t even budge. Carthage feels his organs pulling down, reaching for his feet. Why?

“Why?! But Carthage is stronger now. Carthage can carry the weight! Nothing is too heavy for Carthage… nothing is… hmm.”

A sheet falls from the shelf.

The hallway clock reads 6:40 PM.

It’s Monday.

“I am… Mi… Miles C. Placante.” It feels weird, saying it out loud, but I do anyway.

I walk through the bedroom and kick empty wine bottles across the floor. The cell phone is on the nightstand, thankfully still in one piece. I sit down on the bed and stare at the carpet while my sweat evaporates.

“What happened while I was gone? What did you do?” But the house is silent, empty.

 

 

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