#5MinuteFiction Week Eighteen

This, in case you somehow missed the title of the post, is 5MinuteFiction. You have been assimilated.

And welcome to 5MinuteFiction. That means we write fiction. In five minutes. Shocker, I know.

The Rules

* You get five minutes to write a piece of prose in any style or genre

* You must directly reference today’s prompt: inability

(Note: The prompt is the word. The picture is for decoration/inspiration.)

* Post your entry as a comment to this post.

I’ll close the contest at 1:45. That gives you 5 minutes to write and ten to accommodate the vagaries of relative time, technology, and the fickle internets. If you are confused or just want to whine, feel free to email me.

At the close of the contest, this week’s guest judge, Chris Blanchard, @BlanchardAuthor will nominate five finalists. I’ll put the nominees in the poll on the side of the page, and at 9:30 PM EDT I’ll close the poll and declare the winner.

For updates, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed, or follow me on twitter.

What’s the prize? Well, nothing, obviously. But we’ll all agree to tweet and/or blog about the winner of today’s contest so their fame and fortune will be assured.

A Few Notes:

* In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me sometimes comments go into the suspected spam folder and I have to dig them out.

* I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.

* This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

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26 Responses to #5MinuteFiction Week Eighteen

  1. Richard Wood says:

    They called it a ‘smart virus.’

    A variation of herpes that could target specific DNA types. Read: races.

    Once unleashed, it could wipe out an entire ‘targeted group’ within a generation. Maybe two.

    It was the ultimate biological weapon with a one hundred percent mortality rate.

    “A new sexually transmitted disease,” they said.

    “Abstinence is the best way to avoid contracting the always fatal ‘super bug,” they also said.

    ‘They,’ apparently, were never horny teenagers.

    Condoms were useless. Any sort of sexual contact. Kissing, blow jobs–even hand jobs would spread the virus. It didn’t matter.

    They must have giggled to themselves when they’d first created it. Then screamed in frustration at their inability to control it.

    See, what ‘they’ didn’t realize is that they’d created a real ‘smart bug.’ By smart I mean intelligent. Self-propagating. And self-aware.

    They’d created the fucking Einstein of STDs.

    Then ‘they’ declared war on the uber-herpes. Uber-herpes declared war back.

    In three months it was all over.

    As I look down from the International Space Station as the last surviving member of the human race, I try to find fitting last words. The oxygen is in the red now.

    I think of Neil Armstrong and his “One small step” speech. What bullshit.

    As the last tank goes dry, all I can think to say is “They…were a bunch of assholes.”

  2. Kaolin Fire says:

    The light threaded its way through dust-frocked curtains, photons now-here now-there; observed only by a small man, occasionally looking up from dry-sobbing into the heels of his hands. He moved rarely, afraid to put to any intent. He refused to believe that not moving was a choice as well–if choice paralyzed him then he had none at all. But he wished–how he wished–to go outside.

  3. Leaves swirled in the fading mists of the dawn, the last vestiges of the fog shrouding the graveyard. The solemn gathering of mourners stood with the silence of the trees that towered above them. The silence stayed unbroken, the fine drizzling rain crying for those who did not dare shed their tears.

    Those who mourned mourned more their inability to bring back the dead cast into the earth before them. Their silent vigil the only — the final — gift that they could give to those who had fallen so valiantly in battle so that they might be free.

    When the first rays of the sunlight spilled over the pale gravestones, the mourners scattered into the trees in their silent tribute.

    Only the wind sang the vibrant song of hope as it whistled through the trees as it greeted the dawn.


  4. Ruth says:

    The hardest word to say.

    It was his quiteness that killed us.
    He would fall on his knees and wrap me in a hug, turn his eyes up to me with that cute puppy look.
    But he could never say sorry.
    In the end I had to say it for him and the sad thing is he didn’t realise that every time I uttered the words;
    “I’ll take that as an apology then”
    A little piece of our relationship crumbled from its structure.
    Over the years the light, or was it the dark poured in through the holes in the walls of us and we leaked out.
    Until we were as two puddles drying out in the sunshine, shrinking away to two dried out salt rings.
    Like the tears that dried on my cheeks.
    I could see that he never really understood why the act of him saying it was so important. The fact of him uttering the words, making real his contrition through sound.
    This inability to say sorry.
    One more missing brick in our weak foundations.


  5. janeway says:

    He took her to Disneyworld for a week, just because he knew she loved all the Disney princesses and she was a princess to him. He proposed to her on his knees during the Fourth of July fireworks, because he knew she loved extravagantly romantic gestures. He bought her a large expensive diamond ring, because she needed to be able to show her friends and family that she was valued by someone. He bought her a puppy, even though he already had a dog, because she loved dogs and needed something to lavish her attention on besides him. But he could not say he loved her, had an inability to tell her how he felt with words. And that’s what she needed the most.

  6. @noellepierce

    I’m staring at the prompt. Inability. What I have is an inability to come up with anything for this week’s writing contest.

    This is not going well.

    I fidget. My pants are too tight. My ponytail holder is too loose. I can hear the clock ticking behind me and I make a note to ask my husband to throw the thing in the nearest dumpster at his earliest convenience.

    What the hell am I going to write about?

    I know I’ve already wasted at least two of my five minutes just thinking about it.

    I look away from the keyboard and notice lint on my shirt. Five seconds to pick the miniscule piece of fluff from my shoulder. Ten seconds to decide the previous estimate of time was too much and edit. Ten more seconds to reread and change the word “amount” to “estimate” in the previous sentence.

    Surely another minute has passed by.

    My gaze slides off the computer screen and onto the preschool artwork hung on my wall behind the monitor.

    I smile, thinking about my children.

    A story idea comes to me! I start writing. My fingers fly on the keyboard.

    The online stopwatch buzzer goes off. I’m out of time.

  7. R.C. Murphy says:

    Nico’s inability to follow directions was a serious liability and I told him as much… by introducing my dagger to the empty hole where his heart has once been. Now Nico’s only abilities were sloshing, bubbling, and playing dead. He was so much more useful now.

    “Anyone else want to tell me how to run my fucking business?” Several figures shuffled nervously as I a cut a glare over the group of demi-demons.

    “Nah, boss. We got it.” Trynt said. He would be the one to speak up. “Piss you off, we turn to goo.”

    I cleaned the gold dagger off on Trynt’s pristine white shirt, marring it with the dark brown ooze that just two minutes ago had been Nico. He winced, but like the good little mindless drone I’d made him into, said nothing.

    God I wished the demi’s didn’t make such a mess when they died. At least once a week I had to send someone out to buy me a new pair of shoes. A glance down at the newest pair made me groan.

    There was a bit of Nico’s intestines soaking into my sock.


  8. I think my inability to come up with anything to say right now has to do with the hell of a day I’ve had so far. It’s not every day you get shot at.

    Not that I haven’t before. When you do what I do, you run into guns and bullets tend to run into you more often than the average man. Still, it never quite gets old, that.

    Long day, and it’s not even noon yet. It’s hot as hell out here but I still don’t want to see the sun move an inch. I don’t want this day to end.

    Nevermind that I hurt like all hell, and I’d kill for a drink of water. That poor dead sod over there’s might have water in that knapsack but I can’t bring myself to get over there. Probably only six feet but it might as well be six miles.

    I’m not ready, not yet, to see this day end. No, not yet. Well, I do want to see the sunset. From here I can see a bit of the bay and it’s going to be spectacular, I bet, with those wisps of clouds in the sky, when the sun sinks into the ocean. And the coming evening will be cool, and the birds will start up. And I think, even here with the smell of hot pavement in my nose and the taste of blood in my mouth, it’s gonna sound like it used to when I was just a kid and sitting on gramma’s porch.

    But not yet. Not yet. Cause it won’t be long after that. I know I can hold on that long. I’m sure of it. I’ve seen this often enough. I know how long it takes a man to bleed his life out on the ground. I do wanna see the sunset, and hear the birds. It’s just that they’ll probably be the last things I see and hear.

    And no matter how many times you see men die, it’s strange how different it is when it’s you.

  9. Gone

    “I don’t understand.” She stared out the window, eyes so liquid they mirrored the lake without.
    “Oh come oh, Tina, you know how things are, how we are.” She could follow his steps by sound as his feet brushed aside twisted up balls of failed drafts.
    “No. No I don’t. Explain it to me. Or is that yet another inability you’ll lay at my feet?” His stricken reflection failed to act as the blow he’d expected and she turned, throwing her ring across the room.
    It bounced, with accidental accuracy, off his chest. “Explain it to me, James,” she snarled, her voice something she couldn’t, wouldn’t recognize, as she crossed the room.
    “Tina, it just is, okay?” He stepped back once, then again. And still she advanced.
    “No. It’s not okay. You’re throwing away everything. Explain. It. To. Me.” She punctuated each word with the impact of her finger against his chest. His face darkened, a glower tightening his eyes and her stomach twisted.
    “I want to know why. I want to know how. I want to know why it’s my fault.”
    As her finger jabbed at him once more his hand closed around it, jerked her against him, twisted her arm into the small of her back, lifting her up onto her toes. His eyes bore into hers. Her heart fluttered like a rabbit’s before a wolf.
    His lips pulled back from his teeth in something that should have been a smile but looked much more dangerous.
    “Because you won’t shut up, Tina,” he growled, his lips descending to hers in a vicious kiss that was everything she’d been pushing for and more.


  10. Cyndi Tefft says:

    The boy cradled his iPhone in his hands, his elbows resting on his knees. His sandy blond hair hung in front of his face so I couldn’t see his eyes. We were the only two people in the waiting room and he hadn’t looked at me in the last half hour I’d been sitting there. Waiting. Just like I do every week.

    “Aw shit,” he muttered, but then sat back in the plastic chair with a smile pulling the corners of his mouth. He flicked the hair off his face and our eyes met.

    “Hey,” I said.

    “Hey.” His eyes flicked over me with- what?- pity? I turned away, concentrating on the Good Housekeeping magazine I’d read five times before.

    “What are you in for?” he joked and I snapped my head up to glare at him. “Sorry. It’s not funny, I know,” he said, then shrugged and resumed texting.

    What do I say? Mom has cervival cancer, so I’m here every week? Cervical- it sounded so intimate, so personal. I didn’t want him thinking about my mom’s cervix or anything else. God, I hate this.

    “Cancer,” I whispered, stroking the magazine like it was a lifeline.

    “Yeah, mine, too,” he said. I looked up at him and he smiled, a real smile. My heart stopped.

  11. I first spotted her at the blood pressure machine, left arm cuffed. She wore sweatpants and a tank top. Her hair was unkempt at best. I shouldn’t have given her a second glance.

    But there was something about her. Though I couldn’t even see her eyes, I couldn’t peel mine away. Maybe it was her skin, so smooth, pale, just the suggestion of freckles on the shoulders. I guess I’ll never know.

    I stood, frozen, the cart still empty in front of me. I’d been heading for the pharmacy aisle with the intention of also making a quick trip through produce, but I couldn’t move. I listened, entranced, as the machine click click clicked, the cuff slowly releasing its grasp on her arm.

    Finally, it relaxed, the reading done, and she withdrew her arm, satisfied, I think, with the result. She spotted me immediately and gave a sort of hesitant half-smile. Her face was extraordinary. Porcelain, the disheveled red hair serving to highlight her delicate features.

    “It’s all yours,” she said.

    Puzzled, I simply blinked a couple of times, then, broken from my reverie, realized what she meant.

    “Oh, right,” I said. “Thanks.”

    I had no desire to take my blood pressure – I’d fought hypertension for years and frankly feared the results – but my guilt at being caught staring got the best of me, and I took my seat in the machine.

    She didn’t give me a second glance as she walked toward the front of the store. The cuff was already squeezing my arm, sending tingles into my forearm.

    I cursed, disturbed with my utter inability to initiate even the most rudimentary conversation with her.

    I pushed the button to interrupt the reading, pulled out my arm and, heart racing, rushed to the front door.


  12. Shane Arthur says:

    “I turn the light on?”

    “I turn the light on?”

    “I turn the light on?”

    “No, son. We’re not turning any lights on. You want some juice?”

    “I turn the lights OFF?”

    “Come on, Chris, just take your juice.”

    “I turn the lights off?”

    Fucking lights! Why this obsession with lights?

    “Here. Let’s just go in and eat your breakfast. Take your juice, Bubba.

    Screams erupt.

    “What’s wrong now? Use your words. Remember to use your words.”

    “I don’t,,, wanna,,, eat eggs!”

    “You don’t have to freaking eat your eggs. Just sit with Daddy and Mommy okay? Jesus!”

    I pick my son up and put him on his chair, feeling guilty over my inability to control my tone… feeling sadness regarding his Autism and the way his eyes tear up when I get angry.

    “I’m sorry son. Give me a hug, Bubba… I love you…you know I love you more than anything right? Ohhhhhhhhhh, that’s my boy. I love you soooooooo much. Do you love Daddy?”

    “Chris, do you love Daddy?”

    “I turn the lights off?”


  13. T.L Tyson says:

    It was perfectly sunny. The rays beat down on the children running over the field and the grass whipped their legs as they fled from Brian. Some of the girls threw taunts back over their shoulders.
    “You’re so slow, Brian.”
    “You’ll never catch us.”
    His sisters laughed, their cackles drifting back to his ears. His legs were tired. And the pollen from the flowers caused his eyes to water and itch. Gradually, he slowed down and watched them fade in the distance. Alone, in the middle of the ten acres he’d grown up on, Brian sat down in the knee high grass. He wrapped his arms around his legs, buried his face in his knees and tried to cry.
    They called him a machine. Even his parent had joked about how he was a robot. Maybe he was. Tear wouldn’t come. They never came. No matter how sad they told him he should be. Laying back on the sun-baked earth, Brian stared at the limitless blue sky and thought about his family.
    They told him he should care what happens to them. Like when Little Deanie accidentally pulled the boiling hot soup over on himself. Everyone yelled, and shouted. They swaddled him in wet cloths and rushed him to the emergency room, but Brian sat at the table and finished his soup.
    Not even the sight of Dean’s pink, glossy burned flesh could staunch his appetite. And that wasn’t the only time they stared at him in horror as he remain unaffected by the world around him.
    A vee of birds flew overhead and Brian watched their graceful movement. This type of day was a dream for most kids, they loved this sort of weather, and adored being out of school. It was all the same for him. Sometimes he felt like he was acting, just playing along. Playing along, he thought. He smiled, not because he was happy, or joyus over the sweet smell of apples in the orchard an acre over. No. He smiled as he realized his inability to love.

  14. Dennis says:



    Right on schedule, we stopped by our old watering hole to grab a beer, and to give someone in particular some much needed company.

    There he was sitting at the bar. We had a few drinks with him, watched the end of a basketball game two-thirds of us already knew the outcome of. I watched the other two shoot a game of pool. I used to be pretty good at nine ball, but I’ve gotten rusty. But I’ve definitely gotten better at darts, it seems.

    Most importantly, we kept him talking and his spirits up. 2012 was a really shitty year, and us older two remember it all too well. And the first time this night rolled around, actually, it ended very, very badly.

    We kept him there until it was safe for him to drive home. Then we followed him to the house just for good measure. Once he was safely in the driveway, we drove off.

    “I was a bit of a mess then, huh?” I asked, more rhetorically than anything.

    “What do you mean ‘was'”, my passenger asked, with a gray in his beard I don’t have yet. “You still got some work to do. And so do I, probably. No matter how old we get, we have an amazing inability to see ourselves as we really are.”

  15. Sessha Batto says:

    It wasn’t a concept he liked to consider. All his life he’d been considered a genius. Every obstacle had fallen before his attempts. Every conquest had prostrated themselves at his feet. But, like it or not, this was different.

    He stole a glance at the slumbering form on the other side of the bed, almost afraid his thoughts would leak out and wake his companion. He wasn’t ready to answer questions, not until he came up with a solution.

    Of all the things he thought would trip him up, this wasn’t one he would have imagined. But it was clear that without a solution his cozy life would fall apart. ‘Stupid Grandmother and her stupid will,’ he thought angrily.

    He needed to fulfill the terms she laid out, he was counting on her money to finally quash his competition once and for all. But he never thought she’d put conditions on his inheritance.

    Marriage, no less. He smiled wistfully and ran his fingers through his lover’s hair in an attempt to soothe his nerves. After all they’d been through it was killing him to know this would be their last night together.

    Once again he cursed the backward society he lived in, the inability to marry the man he loved left him with no choice. He took a deep breath and slid quietly out of bed, penning a quick note of explanation and dropping a tender kiss on the tousled mop peeking out of the covers before slipping out of his lover’s house for the last time.


  16. Sessha Batto says:

    and, of course, I forgot my twitter name @SesshaBatto 😉

  17. Raziel Moore says:

    “Please, Jack?”


    “Pleeeease? Pretty Please?”


    I hate it when Din does that. She gets that pout like she’s about to cry and I swear her eyes grow two sizes. I have an utter inability to refuse her when she does that, and she fucking knows it.

    “Just a few quick lines. Just for me”

    Muttering under my breath, I really didn’t have time or inclination for this. But those eyes. And Jesus Christ they were _moistening_.

    “Ok, Ok.”

    I called up the program, the Albatross, scrolled to my place marker and started typing.

    “COMMENT: Variable Xu is the aeroodynamic parameter…
    COMMENT: Function 34 completes the algorithm…

    Five minutes I gave her.

    She beamed. Of course.

    “You’ll have it all documented in no time.”

    I sighed.

    Maybe, with Dinah’s help I’d graduate after all.


  18. Ruby says:


    Keep apart, keep away, don’t touch me and don’t look at me.
    I am flawed.
    I don’t know how to love.
    I can screw and buck, thrust and fuck.
    I can pleasure and measure time and attention in hand slaps and cane strikes.
    But I can’t love.
    Is this the replacement I have found?
    This place of dark pleasures where ecstasy is found in strange kinks.
    Curled and locked as a chain of links.
    Or perhaps I do know how to love?
    Perhaps this is my expression of love and your mis-understanding of it is your failing?
    Perhaps you fail to love when you fail to accept my difference, my divergence from you.


  19. Raziel Moore says:

    (Oh, yes – @_Monocle_)

  20. Lilith Katz says:

    Dear Mom,

    Your inability to see me, hear me, accept me, love me for who I truly am is the deepest wound a daughter can experience; it has torn at the very fabric of who I am, ripped at my soul & picked apart the stitches of my psyche.
    Isn’t it fortunate then that I’ve spent my life learning to be my own seamstress.



  21. Well wasn’t that exciting! I was sure I was going to be unable (see what I did there?) to come up with anything today. My brain is mush this afternoon. That’s what work will do to you. I don’t recommend it.

    Well there are new faces. Yay! Welcome to #5MinuteFiction and hello again everybody who comes here so faithfully for their weekly five minutes of anxiety and stress. 🙂

    OK, I’m off to read the entries. Now Chris gets the frustration, I mean the pleasure, of digging out the five finalists. They’ll be up by 3:00. See you then!

  22. Wendy Strain says:

    The Oil Spot

    It was an inability to see things clearly that drove her away from home. She had spent years it seemed in her room, never invited by the rest of the family to play in their games. Yes, she felt a bit like Rudolph.

    When he came around, all he was interested in was her. It was flattering and upsetting at the same time. She tried to tell her family about how much he had come to mean to her, but, as usual, they weren’t listening. All they kept asking was “what do you really know about him?”

    Instead of embracing him like she had upon his eventual arrival, they held back, watching him, judging him. As he said, “All they want is to find some reason to reject me. You won’t let that happen, will you babe?”

    The babe was what got her. After feeling like the ugly duckling most of her life, she suddenly felt beautiful and wanted.

    “No, nothing is ever going to tear us apart,” she told him.

    And she’d meant it. But now she was living in a cold garage, with cement flooring and a giant oil stain in the place of a living room rug. The fights she’d had with her family were bad enough, but the stories she’d told to the extended family were worse. She’d used all the tricks he’d taught her, without once stopping to think that perhaps they had been used on her. She had deliberately capitalized on their suspicions, purposely blown small things into larger issues and touched off a raging brush fire that she had no idea how to stop once it started.

    Now her family was fragmented, she was in a cold garage and she was all alone. He had left to spend the evening with another girl – a friend, he’d said, who needed some comfort and wouldn’t feel right if she were there, too. They’d only been together a year and she was already aware of at least five other girls he’d ‘comforted’ behind her back.

    Staring at the oil spot on the floor, she remembered the time her car ran out of oil. It had a leak that she’d been aware of, but she’d been so distracted trying to keep up with him that she forgot all about it. Then, one day, the car simply wouldn’t start. He said he was a mechanic, but he had no idea what to do. In less time than it usually took to get from home to work, though, her mom and dad were both there. Her mom soothed her and told her things would be okay. Her dad took a look under the hood and then went into the convenience store to buy oil, which he dumped into a hole and the car started right up. Her evening out with him had been saved even though they really didn’t like the idea that she was dating him.

    She’d been convinced they didn’t love her, but what was love anyway? The oil spot drove her home. .


  23. I just can’t believe he did it, that he actually did it, that he went through with it, even though, you know, he said he would. But, in fairness, I thought he was fucking around, like he always does, like when he says he’s going to kill himself or he wants to take a weekend road trip to…wherever, which never worked out and we always ended up on his couch watching TV, fucking and fighting, not necessarily in that order.

    I mean, that’s fine, I guess, that was just who we were, I suppose, that we liked to sit and watch TV, and I know there’s like a bazillion reasons why I shouldn’t even think about him, but…I can’t stop picturing his face or his muscles or his tattoos. My mom…she told me I had an inability to get over the bad boys, probably because she’s always been attracted to them too (like that asshole Derek she dated for like the blink of an eye, I think he managed a Ruby Tuesday’s or something, I can’t remember). When she told me that I told her she was wrong, that we did have something special, Keith and me. Then she said something like, “Then why did you break up with him” and I was like “Because it was the right thing to do at the time, we needed a break” which I guess is the truth, more or less. I mean, he was cheating, and I was sick of always catching him in his bullshit lies, so I ended it and told him to fuck off forever, to leave me and Claire alone, that I didn’t’ want him coming around us any more and that she’d be better off without a loser dad like him.

    And yeah, I guess I didn’t think he’d take it so seriously and go run off with that girl who works the registers at Marshall’s, Christina, I think her name is. And I saw on Facebook he’s in Miami now, of all places, even though he always told me he hates the sun and we never went to the beach, the jackass. And at times I hate him, I hate him so much for abandoning us, and I know I’m better off without him, really, but then I think about Christina touching him, kissing him, grinding up on him at some bar while they drink and don’t have to worry about a little baby like I do, the social life I don’t have, and I start crying for hours, remembering the good times we did have, especially when we first started dating when he’d surprise me after work with Arby’s or something, a little treat to show me he was thinking about me, and when I told him I was pregnant, even though he was freaked out as hell at first, he eventually got into it and found some of his old baby clothes we could use, even though they were for boys, and I thought that was cute, you know? That he was at least trying.

    And now it’s just me and Claire and my mom (but she’s never here) and I’m living in the same room I grew up in with my six-month old daughter and my mom is fucking some guy she met at the grocery store (seriously) and I’m pretending I can’t hear anything, like none of it matters, that I’m a strong capable woman who can do anything I put my mind to, that I’ll find another job when Claire gets old enough and maybe we can get our own place and I’ll eventually meet a new guy who treats us good and has money and takes me on trips to Italy and France or something, then realize I’m none of these things and I smell Derek’s teeshirt again, the one I’m wearing, the last bit of him I have left, and sink back into the darkness.


  24. Cyndi Tefft says:

    My first #5minutefiction and I got so excited that I forgot to use the prompt word. Sheesh! Oh, and twitter-blog-all-that. Will do better next time. Seriously impressed with the writing posted here, folks. 🙂


    (I should have used “inability to meet his eyes” somewhere in my post. Doh!)

  25. Smart people remember to include the @rebeccablain tag 🙁

  26. Phew, this is some seriously amazing writing. Congratulations everyone and the best of luck to all of you.

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