It’s another Flash Fiction with Friends, and we need your help to decide the winner!
It’s an epic confrontation among writers, a test of skill, fortitude, and shamelessness such as can only happen among good friends and complete goofballs. Who won? You decide!
Edit: Voting for this round closed on May 23, and Courtney was our winner! More Flash Fiction with Friends is on the way in June.
Flash Fiction with Friends is a writing game that boosts creativity and overcomes writer’s block by working within limits. Here’s how to play:
- Gather your friends. Bribe them with root beer floats.
- Pick a writing prompt at random. You can find good prompts at the writing communities on Pinterest or Reddit; this prompt is from the r/writing prompts subreddit.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes – long enough to write a full story, but short enough to keep everyone guessing.
Step 4 is deciding who wrote the best story, and that’s where you come in! After watching the video, you have four ways to vote: comment directly on the YouTube video, leave a comment on this post, Tweet your favorite story (use the ClicktoTweet button below or #FlashFictionTSRP), or comment on our Facebook page. You can vote one time per voting method, and the writer with the most votes by midnight on May 23 will receive bragging rights AND a free cup of coffee, courtesy of The Spare Room Project!
Doug‘s story: The Man in the Corner
The wooden chandelier swung back and forth as the din escalated from a dull roar to a deafening scream. Saliva, blood, perspiration and stench filled the room as the mighty wrestling match raged on. The Spartans had formed a tight ring of defense and faced outwards as Thor and his Norse warriors hurled themselves headfirst at their Greek circle of protection. The Italian mafia swung their brass knuckles at the faces of their ninja adversaries who nimbly evaded their clumsy assaults. Samurai swords clanked off of Roman armor. A good time was had by all.
But in the dimly-lit corner of the crowded, testosterone-laden court of Valhalla, a single man sat, quietly observing the melee. Legs crossed, arms folded over his chest, he gave no indication of distress or unease, though his dumpy khakis, lop-sided tie, and pocket protector made him appear better suited to a cubicle than an epic brawl. Occasionally a KGB member would pause his beating of a Somali pirate just long enough to gesture to the man, inviting him to join the fray, to make his contribution. The man smiled severely and shook his head, waving for the Russian to continue his bludgeoning of the outmatched pirate, who did so with alacrity.
You see the man had no need for such displays of physical dominance. Long ago his place in the mythical fight club known as Valhalla had been cemented. Nowadays he just liked to watch.
Not everyone knew what he could do, the destruction he could bring upon his challengers, and every so often a newcomer to the hallowed court of Valhalla would challenge him. A young boy in a leather jacket, tattered jeans, and slicked-back hair swaggered up to him, whipping out a switchblade.
“Get up, old man.”
He smiled at the boy, holding eye contact, but not saying a word.
“I said get up!” A glob of snot and spit landed with a splat on the man’s cheek. The smile vanished. Without breaking eye contact, the man stood, allowing the loogie to run down his face. The kid’s expression morphed from cocky arrogance to sheer terror. “Who are you?” the boy asked in a hoarse whisper.
“I’m Ted from accounting.”
They were the last words the boy ever heard.
VALHALLA. The sign stood there in bold, black letters above the gun rack, bewildering Ted out of his MIND. The Roman centurion next to him gave a snort of derision and threw a dirty look in his direction. Ted had NOT meant to end up in Valhalla. There was an ornithology meet-up just on the other side of the complex and he must have gotten off track during the tour, and wandered in mistakenly. The centurion selected a fine 17th-century musket and shouldered his way toward the door marked “entertainment.” Ted didn’t even want to think about what might be behind that door. He shuddered and glanced around, looking for any possible indication of an exit.
“Hey, buddy,” a voice rattled from the corner of the Val-Latte Shop, where the world’s most fearsome warriors sipped delicately on the finest brews, supplemented by copious amounts of hard liquor and flavored with a red syrup that Ted didn’t want to ask too many questions about.
“H-h-hi there . . .” stammered Ted, hastily adding a “sir!” when he noticed the hulking 11th century Mongolian cavalry archer who had spoken.
“You look like you’re lost, there,” the muscled Asian ventured.
“I – I – really?” said Ted. “How can you tell?” His feet felt like they were slowly being dipped into a bucket of ice water.
The huge man just laughed and finished his caramel vodka macchiatto, and his face broke into an unexpectedly warm smile as he stood up and pointed down the corridor.
“The Vole Hollow Conference Center is down that way, if I remember right. Now, are you from the bird watcher’s meeting or from that exterminator’s expo . . . sometimes I get the two mixed up.”
Ted was dumbfounded, speechless, and was pretty sure he would have to change into tomorrow’s underwear a little early if he ever found his way back to his room. He managed to utter a strangled sound that he hoped would sound friendly as the warrior’s ham-like hand steered him toward the corridor.
“A few of you guys always seem to find your way back here each week – good thing they keep one of us on duty to send you back,” the girthy monster chortled.
Ted wondered if he would ever venture outside his house again after he crossed the threshold into Vole Hollow.
“Time to go learn about some yellow-bellied sapsuckers,” he muttered to himself, mentally noting the small door that led to the place where his nightmares now lived.
Courtney‘s story: Valhallic Wonderland
He didn’t mean to become a warrior – but most warriors don’t. But now, looking around the shiny halls of Valhalla’s welcome center, he kind of wished he had tried a little bit harder to avoid the limelight. He was completely out of place – no sparkling armor, no flowing locks of hair. Ted was just Ted: balding, beer gut, and his best tie clip. He clutched his briefcase as the tour guide came close.
“Ted!” said the guide. She was cheerful – too cheerful, Ted thought, for a place like this. “Welcome! My name is Val – Valerie Kiery. I’ll be showing you to your condo, should you wish to stay in our lovely Valhallic Wonderland.” Ted grunted in an effort to show assent. It sort of sounded like a half-hearted burp, but Val didn’t notice. She glided ahead of him, chipper and babbling.
“We’ll just exit our welcome center out the back and straight ahead is the pool! Oh, look, there’s Mrs. Goldstein and her goldendoodle – hello Lottie!” Val turned back to whisper under her breath to Ted. “Mrs. Goldstein overthrew an entire army, single-handedly felling an empire. She ended up here after a stray arrow nicked her kidney. Makes a mean peanut brittle.” Ted nodded, staring at the sweet old lady and her dog. Val walked on, pointing out more residents to him.
“That’s Fred. He annoys everyone with his new bagpipe hobby, but he killed 48 men in afternoon so no one bothers him.”
“Oh, hello Boris! Boris’ skill was fire.”
“Mr. Larson over there by the petunias: he almost made it here 17 times before finally settling down.”
They were closing in on some less-habited condos. Ted hadn’t said much on the stroll – mostly he had just nodded and tried to look more formidable. But that was just the thing: these people didn’t seem all that scary. There didn’t look like warriors, not in the way Ted had expected. They looked . . . normal.
“Val, excuse me, sorry.” Ted stopped her. She look at him expectantly. “This might be a silly question, but . . . why do they all look so average?”
Val smiled. She seemed kind. Ted stopped feeling silly.
“Well, I guess – after a life of being everyone’s avenger, being the heroes and the saviors . . . I guess people just want to be . . . themselves.”
Val pointed ahead. “There’s your place.” They went in and looked around.
“So,” Val said. “Whatcha think? You want to stay with us?”
Ted weighed the decision. He looked a Val and smiled.
“You know, I think I will go back for a while. I’m not done being the hero yet. The world still needs the accountant.”
Lucas’ Story: Which No Man Can Fathom
I scanned the crowd looking for a friendly face. Or at least one that I knew; none of us had really ever been friendly, even in life.
“Maximus!” I yelled, and the burly Roman who had been my under-sergeant many years prior waved back at me through the thicket of helmets, spears, and unwashed curls that populated the shining marble hall in which we stood.
“Detritus!” he said, shaking my hand with a loud clank of heavy gauntlets. “Didn’t take you very long, did it?”
“Cursed Greeks held that hill until the last man took a sword to the eye.”
“You were the last man, then?”
“No, I killed the last man. We won the day.”
“Then how did you get here?”
“I carried the broken tip of an Athenian spear beside my heart for another year before it killed me.”
“Praise Zeus, Detritus!” said Maximus, earning himself a disapproving stare from a beefy woman passing on a winged horse. “A mighty death, indeed!”
“But you, Maximus, died many years ago on a Trojan beach, surrounded by scores of your slain. Tell me, where is this place?”
Maximus laughed heartily. “The disagreeable gentleman in the horned helmet tells me that this is Valhalla, where all great warriors are brought who die mighty deaths on the field of honor. Come, let me introduce you.”
And Maximus led me around the great marble hall, introducing me to men of valor such as I had never known: Robert the Bruce, who slew many men to protect his people in the Land of Scot; Alexander, who once held all of Asia in sway and insisted that we call him “the Great;” a smallish man named Lee whom he said was un-equalled in hand-to-hand combat. With all these I shook a sweaty hand and marvelled at their tales of physical prowess.
“Maximus, who is that in the corner?” I said, finally.
“That, Detritus, is Ted from accounting,” Maximus answered reverently.
“I must hear his story,” I said.
Maximus was reluctant, for few dared approach the man from Accounting. But he relented, and we greeted the small tweedy man.
“Tell me, Ted from Accounting, how came you hence to these hallowed halls?”
And Ted told us a mighty tale the likes of which we had never heard, how he had slain the quarterly earnings and the deficits and such.
“’Twas a mighty tale indeed, Maximus,” I said as we took our leave. “But tell me, did you understand it?”
“In truth, Detritus? None of us do. But he must have been a great warrior to have slain such great things which no man can fathom.”