Aliens and Tea – FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-13


The day it all began, the sky decided it would spell words with clouds.

Or more accurately, the aliens used the clouds to communicate.

“Have you got the manual, Commander?”

“Of course I’ve got the blasted manual, you idiot…I’m the guy in charge.”

“OK, sir. Just asking.”

“Now stop trying to think. Remember I’m in charge. I’m the one with badges. I’m the one with the nice photo of me and the Duke of Edinburgh hanging in my office. Now…go and mak’us a cuppa, there’s a nice lad. Oh, and make sure I get plenty of Jammie Dodgers, you know, for dunking. We can hardly fight a war without tea and biscuits, now can we?”

This is how things typically went in the well-oiled machine that was the British army. Nobody was going to threaten this impenetrable island, especially not aliens. This sacred fortress, this green and pleasant land, this stronghold had stood up to worse than aliens, the cheek of them. They’d be sorry they tried to attack here first. Especially when said army had instruction manuals just for this sort of thing.

Commander Wilkinson-Chivers, or Chunky as he was known, opened the Questalienology Manual. But he immediately got stuck on Question 1. This was not a good sign.

Q1. Is the alien force visible? If answer is Yes – go to Q2. If answer is No – go to ‘freestyle war’ section.

Being stuck he was reluctant to ask the lackey, besides which he’d gone off to make the tea and fetch the biscuits.

He didn’t like the look of ‘freestyle war’ so went to Question 2.

Q2. Have you tried to communicate back?

This was useless, he thought. How on this planet was he supposed to communicate with clouds?

Q3. Who has the greater firepower? The alien race, or Her Majesty’s army?

Wow, this leadership thing was really difficult.

Yes, yes, yes. Tea and biscuit time.

“What are you thinking, sir?”

“I’m thinking I rather like the clouds. They’re not really doing any harm are they? Shall we just pretend we never saw them? Get the map, lad, I never much liked living in Britain anyway.”

via Musings of Alissa Leonard: FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-13.

The idea is that you’re given a starting sentence (which you can change between the brackets), a time limit and a word limit.

First sentence was: “The day it all began, the sky [was gray and rainy].”

There is also an optional Special Challenge:

Include 2 or more of the following:

1. A map

2. A number

3. An alien (or aliens)

4. A made-up word

5. A question

This was a quick entry of about 30 mins (I normally spent hours and promised myself not to reenter this comp as it resulted in two successive 1AM finishes). I had mixed feelings about it.

I actually enjoyed writing it. I knew I could have done better.

However, I was pleased with its uniqueness against the challenge. I was also pleased with the structure and getting ALL the Special Challenge items in.

Sadly, no mentions. But it was just some fun after all.

A Recipe for (a) Disaster – Winner of special challenge award – FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8

Never leave your car unattended

In this competition, you are given a word prompt (below), an optional special challenge, 500 words and one day to complete it.

Prompt (Items in brackets can be changed): I’m sorry, [sir], but I believe that’s [my] [suitcase].

Special Challenge: Include a special recipe.

Title: A recipe for (a) disaster

“I’m sorry, buddy, but I believe that’s my daughter. I’m her father… just remember that,” I shouted at him, my fist waving inches from his marriage-wrecking face.

I’d replayed this scene, trying to find better ways I should have dealt with our last moments before the Collapse.

This broke nights otherwise filled with insomnia, regret and sounds of violence. My days filled with road, made of shattered glass; that stretched like a glistening deadly carpet to a vanishing point I could not see and might not reach. In the verges, skeletal metal corpses loitered like road-kill. Ash caked me in the worst of humanity.

Memories tend to magnify missed details from the past. Like her delicate porcelain skin moistened by tears. Like the glacial North Sea winds, that chilled her. My fatherly embrace should have warmed her and my overcoat protected her. I projected my inadequacies and failures onto a man, undeserving, when I should have focused on her alone.

Every weekend I’d pick her up from the city, it was our time. Since she was tiny, Bethany always had a vivid imagination. We worked on secret recipes for life, for success, even for disaster. Just fun…

“So, Beth, what’s ingredient one for recipe for a disaster?”

“Water, obviously.”

“Good girl. Where do you get the water from?”

“The tap?”

“No. The water might be poisonous.”

She laughed. “Yes, you’re right daddy. Maybe puddles?”

“They’d be dirty. A good survivor would look underground, but not go far into tunnels, as there might be monsters there. Ingredient two?”

“That’s easy. You need to hide from the monsters.”

I laughed this time. “Yes, of course. Hide in places where they don’t look. They’ll always check cupboards and under the bed.”

We talked until we were exhausted by carefree laughter.

On my three-week journey to London, I’d came to realise my hopes of finding her were a stalking ghost that would not rest. I relied on her hiding in the places we talked about in jest. I sought signs of life and hoped she be near enough to steal from others, but far enough away not to be discovered.

I saw a group of men, rummaging through a building.

“That little cow is in here somewhere,” one growled.

“Hands off – she’s mine,” another shouted, staking claims on his object, my daughter.

I wanted to kill them, but I knew this was a battle I couldn’t win.

“Leave this place!” I yelled to them.

“You’re having a laugh, old man,” the leader said, but then I saw him look at me more closely. The fissure scars of battles and missing teeth, nuclear embers that burn in the eyes of a father that will die to protect his child. He slithered away and the others followed.

I found her an hour later; hiding in the places we talked about. She was ragged, skinny and cold. I picked her up, embraced her warmly, and wrapped my overcoat tightly around her.

via Musings of Alissa Leonard: FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8.



I was lucky enough to be awarded Winner of the Special Challenge Award (thanks kind judge, Jamie).

Here are the comments from judge Jamie “I love how Mr. King does a flashback in the beginning and I, the reader, don’t stumble over it. Also, the writer displays excellent command over his craft with beautifully written lines like, “In the verges, skeletal metal corpses loitered like road-kill”, ”Memories tend to magnify missed details from the past”, and “I’d came to realise my hopes of finding her were a stalking ghost that would not rest.”  I love flash stories that manage to have a true beginning, middle, and end, and Mr. King achieved that. I appreciate the unusual take on the challenge in this story. I can tell I would like a longer work from this Author, he has a very authentic voice.”

Very happy with this. Especially as competition, as always, is strong.

I probably won’t be coming back to this competition for a while. It’s a great place (thanks again Alissa), but 500 words in one day, with a full time job and family is too much. I’m not as young as I was and four hours sleep is a fairly dangerous thing to do when you drive the roads I drive on to work. Thanks again to Jamie as well.



One harmless, the other not so much...
One harmless, the other not so much…

Two vials lay before me, the fate of Ireland in my hands.

I guess it started in 1982, with that bloody awful Prince track, 1999.

By Millennium Eve it was the theme tune. A party a thousand years in the making. Apocalypse – you’re having a laugh. Get the booze in! Have a few days off. Race the time-zones by flying round the world in Concorde.

I knew differently. I’d had a vision. Alcohol poisoning can cause hallucinations, or visions, as I like to call them.

Sure, it’s not unheard of to have visions if you’re a man of the cloth, like I am. But, I’m not that type. I look in the mirror and see a chunky failure, a polystyrene man robbed of his best years.

The Millennium bug…what a con. Perfect excuse for IT contractors to make ten grand a week, right? I mean jets falling from the sky, traffic light failures, electrical blackouts and toasters exploding; everyone thought it was funny. Not me…I prepared…

• Food

• Water supplies, filters, desalination equipment

• Electricity generators, fuel, clothing

• Alcohol and ‘medicinal’ drugs

• Weapons, lots and lots of weapons

On the night, I watch; cold comfort provided by my remote detachment from the events. Armageddon filtered to me via my Millennium-silver TV set. A front-row ticket for the worst show ever seen: The Apocalypse.

As the clock struck in Australia, the planes started to fall. By time it reached Russia we’d heard the stories about the electrocuting toasters and power-cuts. Blenders and cookers, turned killer. More accidental deaths in an a few hours than a small war. Poor Mrs Kinsella and the videocassette machine.

Midnight Eastern Europe there was no more Prince music, instead their world filled with the sounds of screaming and looting. By time midnight reached Ireland the fires were our lights, the curfews our only protection.

We’re never far from our primitive routes. Neighbour killing neighbour over a bottle of ketchup.

This place is no longer a place of God. I remember the sky-gorging mountains, once topped in powdery snow, glowing in the sunset like delicate pink icing – now I only see the boarded-up stained-glass windows. My CCTV now shows the sacred mountains though a grainy filter, I only see people-shaped-shadows and burnt metal; upturned and hollowed out like shellfish.

My faith was once the very fabric of my DNA, my parishioners adored me; foolishly, they still do. They think I’ve saved them from the apocalypse – little do they know. My faith is a parasite and I detest their pathetic and mundane lives.

In one vial poison, I place it in the Chalice with the wine. In one vial harmless liquid, I place this in the other Chalice. I swirl them with extra vigour as I bless them.

I get one, my flock the other. I’ve mixed them up, I have no way of telling which is which.

For the first time in years I put my faith in God.

via Musings of Alissa Leonard: FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-7.


This was my first entry to this competition. I joined as lovely judge Rebekah Postupak (yes, of Flash! Friday fame) was the judge, having won it herself the week before.

The rules (1) Time limit of one day (2) Less than 500 words (3) Keep it clean (4) The opening line is mandatory “Two vials lay before [me], the fate of [the kingdom] in [my] hands” (5) Optional special challenge – include an accidental death.

I didn’t win (that was my new writing friend and flash champ Jamie Hershberger).

These were the comments from the judge…

You know you’re in trouble if the fate of Ireland is at stake!! This trip back to Y2K and its reinterpretation of those events/fears as well as the priest’s psychosis brought a cleverly dark turn to the vials. Your “Lady or the Tiger” ending is really well done. It’s a risky move finishing with a cliffhanger, but what I really love about your final line is it completes the story’s true tension/question, the priest’s spiritual journey. That takes an extraordinary level of sophistication, and you’ve pulled it off with panache.