First Place Winner
Flash Fiction Chronicles String-of-10 FOUR Contest — Spring ’12
Jacob, his ladder; Elliot, his rocket. Nearly a year, every wage Elliot made down at Thompson’s Organ Factory was put into his backyard science experiment. He used an old tire for a seat, siding from a broken wagon, metal springs and the rounded edge of a mailbox. Took up half the barn. Not six months ago, two brothers named Wright got a flying machine off the ground. Was 12 seconds.
“I’ll beat that aeroplane,” said Elliot. “I’ll be first to fly over the moon.”
At supper, Elliot claimed he’d launch the next day and our littlest brother, Bobby, started to cry. “When will you be back?”
Silence. Maybe Elliot hadn’t thought of that; just wanted to go. Somewhere without gravity.
Morning came, bitter-cold. Elliot called from the barn, said, “Get Bobby. He ain’t to miss this.”
I found Bobby by the creek, standing on a moss-covered stone, holding a jar. Inside was a mantis creature with wings rainbow and arms cast like shark teeth.
“Let it go,” I said.
“He don’t want go,” Bobby said. “He don’t even know what ‘go’ is.”
“All things want let go,” I said. “There ain’t a price on possessing yourself.”
Then, we heard an explosion, like the time we threw dynamite in a well, when we was kids. Through the sky sang a white cloud, a snake unwinding into thinner and thinner stands. Then, like something we once saw at the fair. Fireworks. Firey rain and sparks.
Bobby dropped the jar and it broke.
Troy Farah is a journalist and photographer born in the desert. His work has appeared in Phoenix New Times and Flag Live. His photos have appeared on VICE.com’s photo blog and a number of books. For fun, Troy likes to jaywalk, collect cartridge video games, binge drink and get beat up in mosh pits. His website is filthfiller.com.
The String-of-10 Contest challenges writers to choose four out of ten prompt words and use them in a story of 250 or fewer words, and an aphorism is provided for inspiration but does not need to be used in the story. The prompt words for String-of-10 FOUR were: JAR — MOSS — GRAVITY — EDGE — CAST — STAND — ORGAN — TIRE — BITTER — WAGE. The aphorism was: “Freedom is a possession of inestimable value.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
This story is sponsored by
Hydra House — Publisher of Pacific Northwest science fiction and fantasy, including K.C. Ball’s collection of scifi shorts “Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities” and Danika Dinsmore’s middle-grade fantasy “The Ruins of Noe,” sequel to “Brigitta of the White Forest.”
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