#5MinuteFiction Week Twenty-Two

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: coal

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

photo by user NIOSH on Flickr

* 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, Tauisha Smith, @shells2003, 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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16 Responses to #5MinuteFiction Week Twenty-Two

  1. Black as coal and deep as…something.

    Or, maybe, eyes the color of coal in the moonlight.

    Umm, yeah. Even I don’t know what that means.

    “I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter.”

    Eh, someone did that already.

    Hmmm, the spaceship burrowed through the coal-washed backdrop of nothingness.


    How about, I’m going to bury my muse in coal until he promises to stop this disappearing shit. (Yes, my muse is male. Although he’s a flaming queen.)


    What kind of idiot chose a prompt like that?

    Who could write anything from something stupid like that.

    Well, actually, probably a lot of people who are about to post below me.

    Mean little fuckers… I MEAN! my friends and talented fellow authors.

  2. I just couldn’t stay away. @blanchardauthor

    Jason looked around him. This place was quiet, almost like a tomb. But at the same time, there was a riot of noise. The heavy machinery, the men hitting rocks with picks, footsteps, conversation. The juxtaposition nearly drove him insane. What was he thinking, anyway, working underground like this?

    Then he reminded himself that his only choice was to stay here, digging coal out of the ground, the hope of one day seeing sunshine again driving him forward, or to rot in a prison. He had taken a life. Not just any life, but the life of a little girl, who had committed no crime except to take candy from a stranger. Oh, he wasn’t one of those perverts that raped little children. Even Jason had standards. But he just had trouble tuning out the voice in his head that commanded the innocent die.

    The guard gave him a stern look, and Jason nodded. He needed to get to work. This was his first day on the Lunar Mining facility. The perfect prison for people like him. Even if he did manage to escape the underground facility, where was he going to go? The surface of the moon was empty, barren. Much like his soul felt, most of the time.

    Once he started digging, however, he felt something new. Purpose. He could loose himself down here, he realized, digging for black rock. It might be good for him, after all. The noise and the silence both drove out the voice in his head.

    Maybe this place wasn’t so bad after all.

  3. That Night

    The strangest things etch into your memory. The smell of burnt plastic, slick oily residue of smoke, the rafters turned to crazed charcoal reaching through the wreckage like grasping fingers.

    All that remained of my life. All that remained of my home.

    Somewhere in the crowd they waited for me; wife and child smudged dark as coal miners. But I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the smoldering pile of ruin. How had it started? I knew they’d tell us tomorrow, tell the insurance inspectors, searching for signs of foul play.

    Didn’t they know I would’ve rather died than harm that house?

    Reduced to detritus now there used to be a century of memories absorbed into those walls. My greatgrandfather’s chisel marks long erased from the beams by fire, my grandfather’s, mother’s, and daughter’s lines on the kitchen doorway, the path of their growth from child to adult, gone.

    I wouldn’t get to watch those marks climb as Serena grew up. Wouldn’t get to mark my grandchildren.

    Would never hand on the legacy of my family.

    All of it lost. Reduced to blackness on a black night in the middle of winter. A night, that night, I knew I would never forget.


  4. kalencap says:

    The Constraints of Her Dreams

    “I can’t let you go into work today, sweetie,” Martha said.

    Arthur shook his head furiously. If it were not for the gag his wife had put in his mouth, he would have cussed her out. Not that cussing would have accomplished anything. She would have simply clucked disapprovingly and gone on about her business.

    Arthur’s wife had been having lurid dreams lately. At first, he’d been interested as she told him about the dreams while she made him breakfast, before he went to work in the coal mines. Then, things she mentioned started happening that day. A flat tire, a burglary on the street, a shooting outside the WalMart. Arthur had told him she had to stop telling him her dreams because the coincidences were freaking him out. And she had for two weeks.

    Then that morning, he awoke gagged and tied up to the bed. She’d told him he couldn’t go to work because she’d had a dream, wouldn’t say what.

    She left the TV on in the bedroom for him while she went about vacuuming. Vacuuming! arthur felt like taking that vacuum and hitting her upside the head. She’d just gone crazy.

    After an hour, a special news bulletin came on the television. There’d been a collapse at the coal mine. Twenty men were missing, and the authorities weren’t hopeful that theere were any survivors.

    Twitter handle: @kalencap

  5. Ruth says:

    The rain fell hard through the night, Jane shivered and closed her mind to the cold and the threat of the city.
    Her heels clicked fast on the pavement, carrying her home, passing through the orange pools of lamp light and the black, coal slick darkness between.

    This was why she hated working late the walk home. The rage she had for her boss speeded her stride, she hated her boss for the uselessness of yet another meeting called merely to boost his ego and the billable hours.
    Maybe she should just turn whistle blower, shop the lot of corrupt bastards to the press, confirm the publics worst stereotypes of fat cat lawyers feasting on the rotten meat of the finance houses.

    She didn’t hear the soft footfall that echoed her step, nor feel the dakness behind her solidify into cloth coat and leather glove. Too late she realised that she had company, a hand grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back and she realised her worst nightmare wasn’t working late, this was.



  6. @noellepierce

    “If you’re bad, you’ll get a lump of coal in your stocking.” His sister’s voice taunted him.

    He knew he was on the verge of greatness. The big time. If only others could see it. But they wouldn’t.

    Oh, his sister would be quick to tattle, so they’d KNOW about it, but knowing is different from seeing. It was the difference between thinking and believing.

    “Go away,” he muttered, scowling at Beverly. She may be three years older, but she acted like she was his mom or something.

    “I’m telling Dad.” She stalked off in search of their father and left him standing on the precipice.

    Good. Then he could wait until they both got back and he could show them. Flexing his arms, he shifted his weight from foot to foot, impatient.

    C’mon, already. Where were they?

    Finally, he heard voices coming around the corner again.

    “Sam! What are you doing?” Dad sounded scared.

    Startled, Sam jumped and his foot slid off the step he was standing on. With a yelp, he fell back and flapped his arms as hard as he could, praying for the cape attached to his back to work.

    He landed hard on the ground and the wind was knocked out of him.

    Beverly was wrong. He didn’t get a lump of coal for Christmas, he got a cast on his arm. And he never tried to fly again.

  7. BronwynK says:

    The smell of burning coal reached my nostrils. This isn’t good. That smell only meant one thing, the demons were behind me again. I thought I lost them in the old warehouse district, but obviously that didn’t happen.

    I really do hate demons. But someone decided that my lot in life was to attract them. Most people do not even realize that they are among us. When they want, demons can take human form. Usually highly attractive humans. Guess it was one way to attract your meals, I though with a small smile.

    I ducked behind a dumpster behind an old pub and started checking my weapons. I pulled Alice from her sheath. Alice was my constant companion, and my most effective weapon against these monsters. They didn’t stand a chance against me and my sword.

  8. R.C. Murphy says:

    “They’re like…” Klara paused. There was no fricken way she was seeing this right.

    The man, creature- whatever, gave that tight lipped smile he’d been giving her since he walked in the restaurant. His large hands stayed perfectly still on his side of the table, as though he sensed one wrong move would send her sprinting out the door.

    At this point if he took a deep breath she was going to bolt.

    “What is it, Klara?” His voice, god that voice. It was deep, warm, a velvet blanket wrapping around her mind.

    “You eyes. They’re so dark.” She fidgeted with her wine glass to escape the sharp look in his eyes. “Like coal.”

    The man gave a chuckle. “It is a family trait. I could change them if would please you.”

    Klara’s head snapped up. His eyes swirled, a whirlpool of jade and onyx. She watched as the green took place of the black and was not at all eased. As a matter of fact, her heart was already jumping out of her chest and taking that tempting run out the door and into the safe embrace of the night.

    “I… uh, tell my mother I appreciate this date and all, but I can’t do this.” She stood so quickly her chair fell back. The loud crack of it’s fall drew eyes their way.

    “As you wish, my lady.”

    The last thing Klara saw was a set of coal black eyes boring into hers. Then the darkness in them swallowed her whole.


  9. The Repentant Enemy

    Ray drove through the back neighborhoods to avoid being recognized. There was a fork in the road by the old gas station and he tried to remember which way to turn to get to Main Street. He thought it was to the right, but he decided to take a left instead.

    He saw the small house almost immediately. It was under a tall oak tree dripping with Spanish moss. The grey paint on the building had flaked off to expose the crumbling wood underneath. An out of control Azalea bush had eaten the shell driveway and the front yard was a wall of tall grass.

    Pulling up to the curb, he rolled down the window to get a better look. Everything smelled of wet leaves and sweet olive.

    When he was five or six years old he began to suffer from horrific nosebleeds. They were vicious outpourings of clotted veins and gushing fluid that nauseated the most stoic of the doctors who tried treating him. Unable to determine the cause, their only suggestion was to hope he would outgrow it.

    A priest even came to their home, first to have dinner with his parents, then later that night to pray over Ray and douse him again and again with cold water from a small vial. He kept bleeding through it all.

    One afternoon his mother and aunt took him for a ride in the family’s old green station wagon. They drove to this house where a short woman with white hair stood in the yard clipping flowers from the bush. When she saw the car pull up she put her hands on her hips and called out.

    “You know you’re not welcome here.”

    Ray stayed in the car with his aunt while his mother walked across the pristine lawn to talk to the other woman. After a few minutes she invited them all inside.

    The women sat at the kitchen table talking while he played in the living room with a coloring book. He put it to the side and looked around the dark room. There were pictures of people everywhere, and paintings of angels and some things that he didn’t know what they were.

    After they finished their coffee, the old woman knelt down beside him. She placed crooked fingers, hard as nails, across his forehead and began rubbing one of his ears with the other hand.

    Sharp words and something that smelled like a car engine burning filled the room. He woke up on the floor, flat on his back. The woman sat him up, hugged him tight and handed him a bloody rag. She made him promise that he would dig a hole in the yard and bury the rag in the middle of the night, when there was no moon in the sky. After kissing him on the top of his head she whispered in his ear that he could not tell anyone where he buried it or the devil would come and steal his feet while he slept.

    “Your mama’s a good woman to let me heap coals of fire on her head for this favor. You honor her now and do like I tell you to.”

    He kept the promise, burying the cloth behind the rusty tin shed at the edge of the yard, and he never had another nose bleed again.

    Ray had stopped believing in God a long time ago because there were no miracles left in the world like the one he had experienced that afternoon. Why were there no old ladies around with magic words and healing cloths who could stop his friends from dying?

    Rolling up the window, he continued his search for Main Street.


  10. Raziel Moore says:

    The featureless grey of Limbo. An expanse so vast and empty a lost soul could travel for millennia and not encounter another.

    This is where we meet. This is where her light, bright as the sun is dimmed enough not to blind me. This is where my coal black wings gain gain a semblance of depth. We can look upon each other, touch in a way where we can both ignore the pain.

    Every spare moment, I spend here, waiting for her. Flying over nothing, under nothing. I go to the sparks of the haunted and the lost, I point them in a direction they might encounter something or someone, and some listen. Some know never to trust a demon, and walk alone. Is what I do a service? Does it change His judgment of me? Is it what she does when she waits for me?

    I never think to ask. When I feel her arrive, or if she is there when I arrive, I fly, fast as I can, thinking of nothing else. Sometimes we never see each other – one of us is called back before we can close the distance.

    But sometimes. Sometimes our hands touch. Sometimes our lips, our bodies, our wings. And we fall into the gray. A limbo of our own choosing.

    Back in the depths, it is the only thing that tells me I have not truly fallen, and I hold it, as I have for aeons, and will.



  11. Paul Freeman says:

    Don’t dig too deep

    It was in a coal mine it first appeared. The greed of man, digging ever deeper, destroying the Earth. Who knew what they would find when they got down there. With their technology, mighty machines that could rip the planet apart without thought to the consequences .

    It had lain dormant, asleep for countless centuries, so long all memory of it had long been forgotten, erased. Sometimes things should not be forgotten.

    The old gods are long dead, killed by science and progress, but they had power
    the only power to fight what was about to be unleashed upon the world. It was they who had imprisoned it deep in the bowels of the Earth in the first place. But now the prison is unlocked, and an awesome evil stretches and rises from slumber.

    What to do? There are no ancient guardians left to fight it, no power exists to contain it, no hero will defeat it. Run, hide. it does not matter, it is coming…coming for us all.

  12. T.L Tyson says:

    The fire burned behind the grate, but the flames danced in her coal coloured eyes. She wrapped her arms around her knees, her grip tight, as if she were holding herself together. In the quiet of the night, she cocked her head, listening for another wounded soul. They travelled alone, and yet, there was a pack of them. Her mittens kept her fingers from freezing off, her scarf protected her throat, but nothing could protect her heart. It had withered a long time ago.

    Extinguished was her faith in humanity.

    Once upon a time, not too long ago, before the scars marred her once ivory skin, she wanted to be a ballerina. Now the only dance she steps to is the waltz of life, trying to stay alive. Rats like her never made it far. But she had a secret to her success, her poisonous bite. Others move in to steal the warmth and she bares her teeth, ready to attack.

    Her matches. Her lighter fluid. Her fire. Simple math, but the people are desperate and they beg her. She shakes her head and they scurry away, if they had tails they would be between their legs. They are afraid of her. They’ve seen her rip peoples’ faces off for using her bar of soap. They’ve watched her stomp someone to death over a breath mint.

    At one point in time, she remembered wearing dresses and laughing. She ran a hand over her cheek and wondered if her face was capable of such emotions anymore. For many years, she waited for help, but no one arrived. Her hand remained outstretched as people passed her by, until she realized no one cared.

    The realization of being alone had walloped her upside the head, but now she wore it proudly, like an invisible cloak. It protected her from being hurt. A screeching sound hurt her ears; she glanced back over her shoulder. On her knees, an elderly woman is begging for someone to help her.

    Lexi snorts. “What makes you think you deserve help?”

    The old woman’s face is horrified by her question.

    “I don’t,” the woman wailed.

    “That’s right,” Lexi said. “None of us do.”


  13. Sarah Olson says:

    His eyes were coal, shedding their darkness over his naked body. His hair oozed across his scalp like tar. His lips were two pieces of charcoal carved into a smirk. He drifted down the sidewalk towards me as I cowered in the corner.

    “Leave me alone,” I whispered, hoping to stop him from touching me.

    “Give me your hand,” he said. With each word, his voice sent violent shivers down my legs. I clamped my hands around my purse, containing the only item keeping him away from me.

    I reached into my bag and removed the locket. I fumbled with the clasp, and in my hasty attempt to unlock it, the necklace broke. I wrapped the gold chain around my neck like a scarf, and repeated his name like a prayer.


    When I looked up, he was gone.


  14. Dennis says:

    I feel like such a fool singing this song.

    I’ve never mined coal. Hell, I’ve never actually ‘worked’ a day in my life. Never had to do manual labor. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a blister or even a callus on my palms.

    I’m just an entertainer. I’m a poseur. When I where this costume and sing this song, I feel like I’m spitting in the face of people who actually live that grueling, back-breaking life.

    You know, when I was little kid, every song I heard on the radio, I thought was autobiographical. I thought not only did the singer actually write the music and the words they were singing, I thought they were telling me about their true lives.

    I probably thought this until I was 10-years-old. Then when I learned the truth, every song I heard seemed ungenuine and fake.

    Which means that now, I too am ungenuine and fake.

    But this is the only thing I’ve ever been good at. This is the only way I can pay my rent.

    So here we go. Cue the music.


  15. Oops! Time’s up.

    Did you have as much hell…I mean fun as I did this week? Geez, that one just left me high and dry. Well, I’ve already seen a few great posts so I’m probably the only one.

    OK, off to finish reading. See you at 3:00 with the finalists and the poll.

  16. Ruth says:

    oh goodness me, remembered twitter handle, misspelt blog url

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