#5MinuteFiction Week 46

What is 5MinuteFiction, you say? It’s an adrenaline-fueled, instant-gratification sort of writing contest. Sound fun? Great!

The Rules

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

* You must directly reference today’s prompt: redeem

(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, Steve Umstead, @SteveUmstead, author of Gabriel’s Redemption, will nominate five finalists. I’ll put the nominees in the poll on the side of the page, and at 9:00 EDT tomorrow 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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19 Responses to #5MinuteFiction Week 46

  1. All I knew was that I had to redeem myself in her opinion and I had no idea how.

    “Chocolate?” Mitch suggested.

    “Don’t be silly.”

    “Well lots of people do chocolate. What girl doesn’t like chocolate?”

    I just glared at him.


    “Do you have any imagination at all?”

    He pouted. “Fine. See if I try to help you any more.”

    “Spouting the list of Hallmark-apologies isn’t exactly going to a lot of effort, dude. Besides, you know she’s not like all those others. The cliche-dump isn’t going to work.”

    “Well how do you know she wouldn’t like chocolate and flowers?”

    “She’s a ghost, Mitch. What exactly is she going to do with them?”
    Leah Petersen recently posted..It’s Make Triptych 1 on Amazon DayMy Profile

  2. Aden says:

    I climbed those blasted stairs three times before I finally rang the bell. Of course it was going to take Stevenson forever to answer the door. That was just going to add the torture, and it gave me a longer time to figure out what I was going to tell him. I figured I had to do something, to say something, I needed to redeem myself. What he saw wasn’t me, I had lost total control. He had never seen me in a full shift, and I didn’t even like myself when I did that.

    He must have seen me through the peep hole, because I had to knock again. This time it was a bit more forceful.

    “I am not leaving until you open the damn door Stevenson.”

    He knew how stubborn I could be, because I heard the tumblers turn as he undid the deadbolt and released the chain the door. Even though he opened it, he made it very clear that I was not allowed inside. The whole doorway was taken up by the mass of him, and his arms were crossed over his chest. What hurt the worst is the fact that he never even looked at me, at least not in the eyes. He was focused on a place just over the top of my head.

    “What do you want Nolan?”

    “I came to apologize. I…”

    I dropped my head, I had no idea what to say past that. I reached the lowest point in my life, and maybe have just lost the one person that could have saved me from everything. Maybe I was beyond redemption, maybe it was too late for me.

    Aden recently posted..15- LeavingMy Profile

  3. Gina stopped outside the kitchen doorway, watching her mother put the cookies on a plate. Another plate, another batch of cookies. How many was she going to bake?

    “Hey, ma, how many you gonna make?” Her brother Frankie had come up behind her and echoed Gina’s thoughts. Their mother did not answer, instead beginning preparations for the next batch of dough.

    “How many do you think we’ll need?” Gina whispered.

    Frankie shrugged. “I dunno. All I know is this is gonna be big, and ma’s been baking since yesterday. Father Mikey said it’ll be a full house.”

    Gina turned and glared at her brother. “I hope you’ve changed your mind.” There was so much more she wanted to say, so much more that simply got caught in her throat. All she could add was, “Please, Frankie, at least tell me you thought about it.”

    Anger arced between the two siblings, the old argument continuing. Finally, Frankie sighed. “Gina, you know I can’t change my mind. I gotta make sure things are done right.”

    Gina knew it was pointless. After the funeral tomorrow her family would gather in the living room of their house. With her father dead, it was time for her brother to step up. It was Frankie who would be in charge.

    “You understand, don’t you?” he begged his sister. “I gotta do this for Pop. I gotta find a way to redeem our family, or else we might as well leave.”

    And she did understand. Gina understand all too well, and knew that sooner or later it would be her turn to bake some cookies.


  4. “You’ll be eaten alive if you go. LITERALLY!”

    “They are humans. They have souls in torment. I have no choice.” Father Maher continued towards the door, finished, with his vestments, and then took one long look back at Monsignor Campo.

    “They were human. They are no longer. All you’re doing is sacrificing yourself. There are so few of us left. You can’t go. I forbid it.”

    “Monsignor, please, you cannot overrule the will of our Lord. What use is there in staying put? Would you have us simply give up our sacred vows because of a temporary plague?”

    “The zombies have been overrunning the Earth for months! We might be the last of humanity here!”

    “That is why I must bring humanity back to them. And their souls.”

    “Then may God have mercy on yours.”

    D. Paul Angel recently posted..FridayFlash Mea CulpaMy Profile

  5. I look down at the body in front of me. He was a man, once, before I got to him. Before I killed him. I don’t seek redemption for this act, that’s not why I tell you this. No, I instead want you to understand. Understand me, understand why I did things to this man that would make a surgeon run away retching.

    And the simple truth is, I did it for pleasure. Strangling him like that, holding his throat as he struggled, feeling his breath fade every second as my fingers tightened around him. There’s no sensation like it. And did you know that the movies have it wrong? It takes more than just making a person pass out to choke someone to death. No, you have to keep strangling them for a very long time, cut off oxygen to the brain, make sure they are dead.

    Besides, I wasn’t trying to kill him with the choking. No, I want to prolong my pleasure. I just wanted him out, so he wouldn’t struggle. Not too much.

    After I was done with that part, I put on my surgical mask, pulled out my black bag full of little sharp surgical knives, and got to work. Just like the strangling, there’s something special in the feel of slicing open flesh, watching it part before my knife as if it were fleeing it, seeing the red blood spurt forth as I open a vein. And it’s even better when I do it barehanded.

    But I am done with him now. This man is dead and can offer me no more pleasure. But you, on the other hand. You I still have hours of pleasure to gain.

    But not now. That’s my cell phone going off, see. That means I’m needed back at work, back at the hospital. A patient needs me to save his life. So, work first, but don’t fret, my pretty. I’ll be back soon. And then you’ll know exactly how pleasurable a knife cut can be.

    Chris Blanchard recently posted..Break’s OverMy Profile

  6. robert b says:

    Arnold was distracted by the whole apocalypse thing. It had interfered with the morning traffic for several days now, and he began to wonder if he would ever get the chance to clean out the little desk in his highly decorated cubicle. Worst of all was the gleaming man in the shiny robes that followed him everywhere.

    “Can you at least tell me what you are doing?”

    From behind the blinding light that was the face of the mysterious man, a smile slipped out. But no answer.

    The conversation went the same for several days, until the walls of hellfire began to encroach on the border of the city. Arnold was nervous. He had never considered buying fire insurance and he was quite attached to his little townhouse in the valley.

    “Are you ready now Arnold?”

    The sound of the robed man’s voice filled Arnold with a bit of fear and a touch of hunger as the scent of exotic incense and curry emanated from his mouth. It reminded him of the month long vacation he had taken in Morocco the summer after he graduated.

    “What, exactly am I supposed to be ready for?”

    “This is it, the end of all things.”

    “Are you here to take me to heaven?”


    “Am I going to hell?”

    “Perhaps. That’s not for me to say. I am merely the emissary to will argue before the powers that be the record of your life and it is in their mighty but invisible hands to decide if there are any redeeming qualities to your human soul.”

    Arnold walked to the little hall closet and tried to decide if such an affair required a sport coat or if a simple windbreaker would do. He froze for a moment wondering if such indecision about petty things would count against him. But then a glowing hand was placed on his shoulder, and they were gone.

  7. Nicole says:

    The pink coupons clicked out of the game, one after another like little soldiers goose stepping in perfect order. That made it 500 tickets, although who the hell knew what kind of crap I could redeem them for. I was likely to come away with a pink pencil eraser and a sombrero in return for my sad hours of play.

    The arcade dinged with sound all around me, a dizzying cacophony, but I finally located the service desk. A tall, greasy kid flicked his limp hair out of his face as I perched in front of him.

    “What do you want?”

    The customer service here was excellent. The coupons mounded on the glass countertop, and I just kept pulling them out of my hoodie pockets.

    “What can I get?”

    He snickered, a sound that made me want to jump over the counter and beat him with the stuffed purple dragon hanging above him. “Not much. How much ya got?”

    “500 tickets,” I said, half proud, half embarrassed.

    “Anything on that shelf.” The guy pointed to a shelf below, and I crouched down, peering through the dingy glass.

    Just as I suspected – oversized pencils, stupid key chains and super balls. And then the twinkle of metal glanced out from behind a bag of fake vomit.

    “What’s that?” I asked, which only earned me a glare from the counter guy.

    He leaned over to see what I pointed to, and rooted around inside the cabinet. Finally, he plunked a coin on top of the surface, clinking as it settled.

    “So, what is it?”

    “How should I know? But it’s worth 500 tickets, so if you want it, it’s yours.”

    I picked it up, and he swept the mess of coupons behind the counter. The coin felt heavy in my hands. Special.


    Thanks for organizing! Oh, and twitter: @nicolewolverton
    Nicole recently posted..ROW802- Blame It On the RainMy Profile

  8. S.P. Bowers says:

    His dark soulful eyes followed her and she itched with impatience at him. Why did he have to sulk? I mean sure I let him down. But it wasn’t world war three. It would be if he mans up enough to argue but he wouldn’t. He never did.

    I, however, was aching for a fight. Maybe that was why I did it. Or didn’t do it as the case may be. I knew how much it meant, and I didn’t forget like I told him I did. I just didn’t care enough. I wished he would scream or yell, anything other than curling up in the corner and watching me.

    I flicked another page on the magazine though I hadn’t read a word. It was important to pretend his hurt filled eyes meant nothing.

    “I’m done, Sarah.” He said. His voice shook with emotion. I tossed the magazine aside, we were finally going to have it out. “I’m leaving.”

    “Leaving? Where?” I didn’tunderstand.

    “It doesn’t matter. You’ll never see me again.”

    I stared at him open mouthed “What are you talking about? You can’t just make a decision like that. Not so suddenly.”

    “It’s not sudden. It’s been coming for years.”

    “Wait. Give me time. Let me redeem myself.”

    “It’s too late, there is no redemption.”

  9. “Redeem myself? How do you redeem yourself after this? It’s not like I hit a baseball through her damned window, I ran over her dog!”

    We stood in the driveway looking down at Mr. Jeepers, our neighbor’s award winning, blue-ribbon, AKC CHampion Pomeranian. Mrs. Poole never took care to have the dog gated up at home. She assumed that every resident in Sunny Meadows revered Mr. Jeepers and watched over him.

    “Maybe we could toss it over the fence into the greenbelt, the coyotes were back last night.” My husband offered.

    I actually thought about that for a moment before the kids started spilling fromt he car to see what we were looking at. They’d never be able to keep this a secret.

    “Is that Mr. Jeepers?” My son, aged ten asked, wided eyed.

    “Mister Jeepers!” three year old Carrie started crying.

    “Great, now what are we going to do?” I looked around in horror as some of my neighbors started our way. I rubbed my face with hy hands.

    “Mrs. Poole is going to kill you, mom.” My son said.

    “I know, but ugh…”

    I didn’t want to talk to Mrs. Poole about killing her dog. As HOA president I had called her repeatedly these past few months warning her that if she wasn’t careful Mr. Jeepers would get stolen or run over.

    And now I had to be the bearer and the evildoer explaining how it was all just an accident.

    Corinne OFlynn recently posted..atozchallenge -I for InconceivableMy Profile

  10. It was a rather amazing thing to find under the bottle cap. I had been walking along the beach to clear my head, well hangover really. It was a bit of a fuzzy night and I woke up alone although I could have sworn that someone had been in my bed at one time. Anyway I was walking along the beach, clearing my brain and failing at it and seriously contemplating a little Hair-O-The-Dog when I kicked a bottle.

    I’m not normally one to pick up stray bottles of booze off the ground but I rationalized it as a sign that Hair-O-The-Dog was better than fresh air. Besides, the bottle was full and the seal was tight. Rum too, real Jamaican Rum.

    I opened it up and smelled the cap. Already my head began to clear, the musty sweet smell of cane sugar, the rememberances of a warm belly and a serene brain. I looked inside the cap.

    “Winner! See back for details.” It said.

    Odd, I don’t recall any booze bottles having contests before.

    I took my finger nails and popped out the rubber.

    “Three Free Wishes, redeem at once.” You’ve got to be kidding me. This day was going to look up after all.

    D. Ryan Leask recently posted..Live and Let Live With My Snooze Button and Thanks for ReadingMy Profile

  11. Paula says:

    And how might I redeem myself? Am I forgiven when your deft fingers twist at the screws securing my thumbs? When the tears run freely, if accompanied by wretched begging? How many lashes of the tongue that tears my flesh must I endure? Is there a script for me? some line I should say to elicit your mercy? Pushing, ever pushing, the boundaries are stretched beyond sight. Are you not done with me yet?

  12. Jeff Pfaller says:

    “I don’t understand.”

    “I’m sorry, we don’t carry that brand.”

    “But they’re the same price,” Audrey said, her voice choked on the edge of tears.

    The checkout clerk swallowed, each finger quivering ever so slightly on the foggy scanner. The stifling Atlanta air – it was so hot a knife could cut it, and then the two halves would melt away like butter on steaming mashed potatoes.

    Audrey tried not to think about food.

    “The machine won’t take it ma’am, see?” the clerk said, and waved the scrap of paper over the strobing red line. The register made a sick beep.

    The beep said “Ugh, not this again. Yuck. Don’t bother. You tried feeding me this five times already. No.” The sound sickened Audrey.

    The bright beep said “Yes! Redeemed! Congratulations!” Audrey hadn’t heard any bright beeps today, or this week for that matter. Her whole life was a series of disappointing, sick beeps that told her to go somewhere else. Try again. You’re not welcome here.

    Audrey snatched the scrap of paper away, the tears leaked out now. The clerk shifted on his feet, never quite sure what to do when women cried in front of him. Like a homeless man, laden with every single possession he owned who had dropped his change on the bus. The clerk would just watch uncomfortably, and hope it all sorted itself out.

    “Will you be paying cash or credit?” he asked meekly, because that was what he was paid $5.15 an hour, minus taxes to do.

    “I don’t want any of it!” Audrey cried, and fled the store.

    The of generic, store brand milk warmed on the broken grocery conveyor that buzzed incessantly, all day long. It was spoiling already, it was August in Atlanta, after all.

    The next customer set a plastic sealed steak on the conveyor, and bent to pick up the scrap of paper that Audrey had dropped.

    “I think she dropped this,” the man said, and handed the clerk the WIC coupon for Bareman’s milk that Audrey would now not be able to redeem.

    The clerk tucked it into his register, and prayed that she’d come back.

    Jeff Pfaller recently posted..Napkin Haiku Review – They Live- The Deep Focus SeriesMy Profile

  13. Lilith Katz says:

    ”What? Speak up, I can’t hear you”, Eliza shouted from the farthest reaches of the house. She was preparing to spend an afternoon getting mucky in the garden, spring was here and if careful control wasn’t maintained the weeds would win the battle and all hopes of fresh spinach and tomatoes would be lost. Well, no, it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but, she liked to think so.

    ”I said, I’ll be there in a minute and you can decide what you want to do”, he shouted from the bedroom. He leaned and craned his head, as people do when they’re trying to be heard, knowing that it would make no difference whatsoever, but, it was as if by leaning and craning their bodies then the sound of their voices would carry further. No matter.

    He skipped downstairs, he was happy, he had the voucher book in hand. Bounding towards her with a smile on his face he extended his arm, waggled his wrist and the sheaf of vouchers fluttered in front of her. ”So, what’s it to be tonight, my luscious love? You can have me run a bath for you, with scented oils in the water, in a candlelit bathroom and a glass of champagne within easy reach, your favourite relaxing music on the stereo and a foot rub afterwards? maybe? how does that sound? or you could always redeem the ‘2 Hour Erotic Massage’ voucher, I’ve been hoping each Saturday night since your birthday that you’ll choose _that_ one” he said, with a near adolescent grin on his face.

    Opening the door to the back garden and holding it open with her hip, heavy duty gloves in hand, sun glasses on her head and her blue cotton ”gardening tunic” on, she smiled at him, softly, gently, lovingly, with a sparkling warmth in her eyes, ”I don’t mind sweetheart, why don’t you choose this week, why don’t you decide what it is you’d like me to experience, to receive from you and surprise me. I’d love that.” She let the door close behind her, moved her glasses from her head to her face, paused briefly to feel the sun on her flesh, also knowing he was watching her from the kitchen window, watching her hair shimmer in the sun and her hips sway.

    Lilith Katz recently posted..PlunderMy Profile

  14. Those ghosts… they keep coming in through my window, over the bed and into the closet. I’m fairly sure that the closet is a portal for those ghosts. I wonder if it’s the elevator to heaven?

    Yes, that must be what it is. My closet in my bedroom is the elevator to heaven. I know that the ghosts are not very happy about having to go through the window to get to the closet, because every time they move over the bed, they wake me up.

    They tell me things too. They tell me they are tired, and that they are late. They tell me that the sun will always come up, yet somedays the sun will be cold. They tell me to keep working at what I love, for with determination I will achieve what I hope. And they tell me not wait any longer… they learned something when they were alive and on Earth. They learned that you can’t wait to live your dream. You must live it today otherwise tomorrow may be too late.

    And then you’ll be a ghost, who comes through my window and enters my closet, hoping to find the elevator to heaven.

  15. Time’s up! You know, I really missed having 5MinuteFiction here. It’s great to have y’ll back. 🙂

    Poll goes up by 3:00. See you then!

  16. Carter finally made it home after a long day at work. He couldn’t wait to see Leah. She made the best meal the night before and he couldn’t wait to see if she could do better.

    After taking off his shoes and jacket, he made his way around the corner to the kitchen. “Leah?” he called out.

    No answer.

    Nobody in the kitchen.

    He shrugged, feeling it were odd. Leah is always home before he is, at least by an hour. Maybe she was somewhere else.

    Carter headed back to the bedroom, where he saw an envelope sitting on his pillow. Frowning, he went to pick it up. He opened the letter and began to read. ‘Carter, I’m sorry it has to end this way, but we are better off. Trust me. Please, don’t follow me. I’m gone for good.’

    He stopped reading and shot up from the bed he perched on the side of. Gone?

    For good?

    Couldn’t be!

    Carter checked the closets, willing them to be filled…and only his business suits and shirts were there. He checked all of her drawers, starting from the bottom. Empty. Empty. Empty. Em- what?

    The top drawer only had one thing. Her engagement ring.

    Carter started to hyperventilate. No…no…Leah can’t be gone. She wouldn’t just…

    He sat back down, reading the rest of the letter to find any clues as to where she went. ‘Again, don’t try and find me. We will never work out. I do love you, but you’re better off without me. If anything will keep you from finding me, this will: I’m pregnant.’

    Pregnant? He frowned. Couldn’t believe what she was telling him in her Dear, John letter.

    And then, it hit him…his position on children.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid! He shot up, grabbing his shoes, cursing himself for telling her he’d rather die than procreate. He wasn’t sure how to redeem himself, but he’d find a way.

  17. Tracey says:

    “Do you forgive me?” I asked as I gazed into the ashy eyes of a man who had no interest in making this a discussion. He grasped my chin in his hand and violently turned my face from side to side as if my sincerity would be written on my face.
    “Why?” He asked, his voice scratchy and thin. His forhead holding his anger.
    “Because I didn’t know it was you.” I answered. He let go of my face and fell to his knees beside me.
    Crying into his palms he let his head fall forward into the mud. I took this as my que to escape and lept up off the wet ground. I didn’t make it even one step before his hand grabbed my calf and dragged me back into the earth.
    “No, I do not forgive you.” He answered, and dragged me down into the world below.


  18. Jessica Olin says:

    John was running late, as usual, and cursed as he pulled his car into the employee parking lot behind the redemption center. “Cash for empty bottles and cans!!! We take liquor bottles!!! Ask us about large orders!!!” The hand-lettered sign always made him wonder which past employee had the fetish for exclamation marks. It usually helped him deal with the shittiest job he’d ever had, making jokes about things, but not today. Everyone else was already there… even that his horrid boss, Paula. Her beat up Chevy Nova (where had she found that car anyway?) was sitting there, mocking him with its rust and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers.

    As he pulled the parking brake and released his seat belt, his eyes caught on the corner of yellow paper sticking out from under all the rest of the mess in the passenger seat. His stomach flipped at the sight of his written warning. He groaned audibly and sat still, considering whether or not it would be worth it to go into the building. “Frequently late” had been her main comment. Never mind how hard he worked, or the fact that he’d been an employee longer than she’d owned the company, or even that he worked late when others refused. Paul sighed, grabbed his mini cooler, and decided to be a man about it. If she was going to fire him, he’d at least make her do it to his face.

    But when he opened the door and a few heads popped up with smiles of greeting, Paula was nowhere to be seen. The last time he’d been late, she’d been waiting at the counter to pounce on him. She was trying to make herself feared by cleaning house, and seemed to relish the opportunity to make senior employees squirm.

    Seeing the confusion on John’s face, one of the new guys (John made a point of not learning their names until they’d lasted a month or so) answered his unspoken question: “Her car’s been there the last couple of days, but nobody’s seen her. We think maybe she went on a trip and left her car here for some reason. Don’t know.” New guy took a deep breath and seemed like he was going to continue, but descended into a coughing fit instead. When he recovered himself sufficiently, he croaked out, “How long does it take you to get used to the sicky-sweet-rotting smell?”

    Rounding the counter to put his cooler and coat away, John smiled. “It took me almost a year to really get used to it. You think you’ll be here that long?” John laughed at his own comment, and went to do the job that none of the new people wanted to do: sorting the returns from their corporate clients. The smell back there was usually worse than at the front counter, but even that was manageable when you’d been around the smell for a while. Not today, though. John laughed at himself, in a good mood now that he was sure he’d be able to keep the job for a little while longer.

  19. Jessica Olin says:

    I didn’t quite get to finish it. Wanted to have something about the reason the big pile of empty soda cans smelled worse was that there was a dead body – the boss’ body – at the bottom of the pile. Ah well.
    Jessica Olin recently posted..olinj- RT @LeahPetersen- Got it! For my 2000th follower- an ebook copy of Triptych by @scifrey http-amznto-hCoLb7 RT plsMy Profile

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