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Reflex Fiction Posts

Change of Seasons

The autumn breeze carried with it the last remnants of the most boring summer of my life.

Classes were a day away. Routine and compliancy would rule my life once more. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to, nor was it something I wanted to run from. It was just life, as I knew it, and I had to accept it.

These were some of the thoughts I had when I met up with my childhood friends in front of our school.

We talked about the same things we usually did: video games, girls and the most recent music concerts we would attend. We all had one thing in common; the irrevocable urge to move to the city. The countryside sure was calm and peaceful but that wasn’t something we valued. We needed to discover new things, experience the rush of life. The city called to us. It promised everything we could possibly desire. We were fifteen and full of dreams.

Everything was always the same here. Even the new seating arrangement and homeroom teacher felt the same. It felt like the adults would create an artificial new environment for us, year after year. I knew for a fact that this would have continued until graduation.

The classes hadn’t even started yet and I could feel myself sinking into my chair. My elbows on the desk, my hands holding up my head. Would I live up to my reputation and fall asleep in class this year?

A strange excitement vibrated amongst all the students, even the teacher seemed more awake than usual.

I caught a few words, here and there.

New kid.

Black hair.

Green eyes.

Moved from the city.

Her name was Emily.

With a Y.

I could feel it; the autumn breeze carrying away with it the last remnants of my boring life.


Flash Fiction by Corine Pelletier
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Caught

Ray could tell they’d been discovered. The artificial odor gave it away: a woman, perfumed and/or deodorized, had penetrated their hideout.

“We’ll have to leave here,” he told his daughter, Laurel. “They’re onto us.”

“Daddy, slow down.” Twelve years old and enjoying the novelty of the feminine scent, Laurel patted her father on the shoulder, crouching beside him next to the coolers. “Remember when you said that last spring? And the summer before that? No one ever came.”

“Look at this.” He pointed to a perfect shoeprint in the cool dirt. “Tracks. Clear as day. Those other times—you’re right—I overreacted. But this evidence you can’t refute. The cops will be here soon; I guarantee it.” Removing a backpack from beneath a tarp, he assumed a military tone. “Get your clothes. Leave everything else. Don’t bother with the food.”

Two cloth bags of just-purchased groceries slumped by the tent’s flapping door, poor sentries.

“It’s late, Dad.” Laurel lay back on her sleeping bag. “All because some woman out running found our tent doesn’t mean we have to leave.”

The scalp beneath Ray’s thinning black hair reddened. “Babe. We’ve talked about this before. They’ll take you away from me—put you in a foster home with a bunch of crazies and won’t let us see each other.” He spoke quickly, his breaths shortening. “I couldn’t bear it.”

Laurel yawned. “I’m so tired. Can we talk about it in the morning, please? I need to sleep.” Laurel closed her eyes and pretended the smell was her mother’s, a woman she barely remembered. A woman who’d been taken away.

“All right. We’ll leave at first light.”


Flash Fiction by Annie Dawid
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Acid

He goes, “I want her left so no-one so much as glances at her again.” I flip the photo. “Jasmine’s the one in the middle,” he taps her face. “Five, yes?”

“Uh-uh. Five up front, five after.”

He lets on to think. Smug fuck. “Okay,” he blows out, finally.

We fix on Thursday. She’ll be getting ready for a night out. He’ll be home—so it couldn’t’ve been him knocking at the door. His idea.

There’s car-batteries dumped the back of the wrecking-yard. Lead-acid, thirty-five percent sulphuric. That’d do some damage. But you only get one shot, you want to be sure. Not hard to up the concentration once you know what you’re about. Safest is carry it in a jar.

All Thursday, I keep looking at that photo. Like I say, you don’t want any fuck-ups. A sister answers the door, see what I’m saying? She’s between a couple of brassers, some club or other. Picture you’ve seen a thousand times. Eyes like a cat, very tasty. Lady, if you knew what was coming . . .

Swanky gaff of course. My thumb’s over the doorbell. Only I don’t press it right away. I could still walk, that’s the point. Rich bastard’s not going to come after me for five grand. Then the door swings open. I don’t even have time to pull up the Jaysus scarf.

Her bare shoulder, pushing a mobile up to her ear. Lynx eyes sparkling at some big joke down the phone. She holds up five fingers, mouths “five”, winks. Thinks I’m her Uber.

My hand circles the jar. It’s decision time. I could just walk . . . Only, you can’t have it said you bottled a job.

Then it seems my words have decided for me. “I’ve something for your husband. Home, is he?”


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Flash Fiction by David Butler
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Ghosts

As a whirl of starched uniforms dance before her, the only still thing that Elise sees is her hand resting upon the arm of her wheelchair. It is an old hand. This is a place for old things. The sun shines an ineffectual yellow light onto the patio where there is a smattering of elderly debris soaking up the thin warmth as part of their afternoon respite.

Elise watches as the other residents talk nonsense to their dismayed relatives. Bent forward in earnest, worried wives and daughters cling to the fragile ghosts of meaning that haunt their conversations.

An unbidden memory of a child holding her finger climbs its way into her thoughts. She has forgotten much and names elude her but she knows this memory. It clamps her heart.

“Has anyone seen my son?” she asks nobody in particular, and nobody answers.

They drift away, the relatives, their faces creased with sad relief. And one by one the nurses help the residents back to their rooms.

She sighs quietly and watches the diminished sun defer to the inevitable night.

“Come on, mum, it’s time to get you back inside.” An alien voice emerges from the murk.

She feels someone take hold of her finger and hold it tight. An elusive fragment of what once was flickers and then dies.

“Has anyone seen my son?” she asks the shadow behind her.

She is answered by a quiet sob as someone once known wheels her back into the darkness.


Flash Fiction by D L Greenwood
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Bad Poet

I kneel, and study the poet’s left eye. Anywhere less liquescent on his magnificent head—that silvered temple, or between those Schnauzer eyebrows—and inevitably the entry wound would have been described as ‘neat’ by busy pathologist or unimaginative crime writer.

Here, it’s a mess.

There is no corresponding exit, no pavement-porridge of bone and brain: a small calibre weapon was used. I imagine its tiny projectile zipping around the fine interior of the poet’s cranium, nonchalantly carving its way through haiku and quatrain, mincing half-remembered juvenilia and rendering rhymes to soup, before halting in the hatchery of the yet-to-be-written stanzas of his twenty-page (to date) free-verse whopper dissecting most of Europe’s post-Renaissance politico-philosophical history and speculating brilliantly (I’ve read some) about the continent’s and, by extension, the planet’s shaky future.

Tragic, irrevocable loss! This was a man whose envious peers found themselves, at unexpected moments—at a bus stop, say, or on the lav—contemplating the mysteries of the organ now irredeemably compromised: its weight, volume, circuitry and surface topography all, surely, more complex and mysterious than their own dull-grey matter. It seemed the poet understood everything; certainly I never knew him to be lost for original perception or impassioned opinion, though his originality was always underpinned by learning, and his passion tempered with wit and keen irony.

After tonight’s reading—packed, as usual—the poet had bought drinks for his admirers: his generosity was as authentic as his genius. And at closing time, en plein air, he entertained the crowd with pastiches of certain rivals’ efforts, spontaneously rendered into hilarious cod-Chaucerian couplets. His killer simply strolled up behind him and tapped his shoulder. Miffed at interruption the poet turned to remonstrate, then smiled in recognition just before the assassin aimed and fired.

The gun was a second-hand Beretta: nondescript, lightweight, and surprisingly cheap.


Flash Fiction by Robert Mason
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Athrú

“So how was the trip?”

It was the first word between us since he’d picked me up from O’Hare. Calls with customers, business associates ate up the lull; everyone had to talk to Dad.

“Fun. It was good to see everybody. Granny’s still sharp as a tack. All the cousins got to meet up.”

“That’s good.” He changes lanes, fast to middle.

“You’ll have to come next time.”

“I know.” His eyes stay fixed on the road. The stubble on his face is a day old, maybe two. It’s not like him to not shave. “It’d be nice to get over there again.”

“Yeah.”

We take the exit off I-80 onto I-88. Almost home.

“Did Kevin get to the airport okay?”

There’s something in his voice, I can’t put my finger on it. “Yeah. He took the bus down to Dublin, no problems. Can’t believe he’s going to London.”

His mouth twitches and the age lines carved into his face darken. “He should be over there to see the family, not going to London.”

“Wouldn’t you like to go to there, see Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, the Tower of London?”

“I don’t think that’s what he’s going to see, Kate.”

We jump off 88 and head to our subdivision. The tall oaks appear on either side of us, old and massive. The leaves haven’t changed yet, despite the chilly air. Great green gobs, hanging above us. Waiting.

“So how was the party?”

He presses on the gas and I get a sinking feeling. “Good,” I say. “Fun.”

“And Kevin?”

“Kevin was fine.”

“I heard Mom was angry with what he was wearing. At the party.” He lifts the turn signal.

“She wasn’t thrilled.”

“Said he was trying to make a statement or something.”

“I don’t know, I didn’t ask him.”

“Right.” He pulls into the driveway and puts the Toyota in park. “How long have you known?”

“A while.”

He mutters something inaudible and gets out of the car. Up in the trees I spot the first leaves that have turned. Beacons of orange, yellow and red within the fluttering green.


Flash Fiction by Brendan Bakala
Picture: Photo by eflon under CC BY 2.0
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Centaur

I dreamt of a man. A man like a centaur. On a horse half naked. A young man, his skin smooth and pale, a polished gleaming fit. He rode his horse hard. The creature rearing up at the edge of the cliff. A mythic scene. He wheeled and turned and again rode him hard at it. Rode him over it. I saw the horse’s four legs flail as the man soared above him. Then whump and splat I heard the crack of head on stone. The horse just bounced and broke. I know?!? But it was a dream and so all made perfect sense. Or non sense. The man’s head rolled off somewhere and the rest of him ricocheted into the river. Along with the horse. The current took them. And rapidly they disappeared.

Then the dream was over and I woke up. I don’t know what it meant. Except maybe, that shock and surprise, although closely related are not the same. You can still be shocked by something completely unsurprising, by something expected even . . . and that you cannot prepare for pain, the surprise of it.


Flash Fiction by Sile Mannion
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