Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 1) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.
Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1) by John Howell. And Entry 2) My own contribution.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt.
This one-line contribution by John Howell.
“Hey, Harry. Did you mess with the doomsday clock again?”
John Howell can be reached here …
Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
My Contribution …
Melody sat bolt upright. A memory still hovered from her dream. She’d heard her father’s voice, “Promise me that you’ll nurture your dreams, sweetheart. They’ll wither and die without nurturing. Not many folks get a second shot at it.”
She should be excited, after all, today was the big day. She’d been promoted and was undertaking a more prominent role in the company. This is what all the long hard hours of afternoon shift had earned her. So why the hell did she feel like she’d betrayed that promise she’d made. She tried ignoring the part of herself that still clung to the more youthful visions of her future.
Melody dressed, grimacing as she slipped on the uncomfortable new heels. She hurried out into the bustle of late morning. Her normally punctual bus arrived five minutes late.
Melody glanced as always at the ornate clock that graced the entrance to Central Station. Seven minutes to twelve. I’ve still got four minutes to make the eleven fifty-three! She hurried over to the elevator to find it was out of order. “It’s the day for it.” She made a dash for the stairs. The train was already on the platform and she saw the familiar people who normally joined her in the first carriage.
Melody hurried down the stairs, caught the edge of her right heel on the next step, lurched forward as it snapped, and groaned at the pain in her ankle. She cried out as she began to fall.
A strong arm wrapped around her from behind and pulled her back to safety. “Steady now, it’s okay! I’ve gotcha.”
Melody leaned back and took a shaky breath. “Thank you so much!” She tried to stand but her ankle gave out from under her. “I … um, I think I may have sprained my ankle.”
“Let’s get you down to the platform and seated. I’ll carry you down. I mean if that’s okay?”
She felt a little foolish but nodded, “Thanks again! I’ve seen you in my carriage for months now, and I don’t even know your name. Mine’s Melody.”
“I’m sorry that you’re missing the train because of my clumsiness.” She said as the train doors closed and the 11.53 left the station.
“I’ve been looking for a way to start a conversation with you for ages. This is not quite what I had in mind, though.” He looked at her now puffy ankle. “That’s swelling fast. It’s gonna need strapping, but I don’t think it’s broken.”
“Would you be kind enough to help me back upstairs? I’ll grab a cab and take myself off to the hospital.”
“Let me help get you there in one piece, and maybe we could talk a little more while you’re waiting in the E.R.”
“Don’t you need to be somewhere, Elliot?”
Her rescuer carried her back up the steep stairs.
Melody’s eyes as always were drawn to the clock. It still read seven minutes till midday. “I’ve never known it to stop before.”
“Ah, well. It hardly matters now. Let’s get you to the E.R.”
The ankle was x-rayed and strapped. Nothing was broken. They were about to leave when a pale-faced doctor came rushing through to the E.R. He raised a hand for silence. “Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention? We have an emergency unfolding and it’s going to get crazy busy in here. You’ll be moved to a smaller waiting area if your need isn’t urgent. Thank you for your cooperation.”
“All staff prepare for an influx of ambulances. We’ll move gurneys into this waiting area and set up a larger triage.”
One of the nurses touched his arm, “What’s happened, Karl?”
“There’s been a level crossing accident. Signals failed and a commuter train and a freight train collided. The first carriage of the commuter has taken the brunt of the collision. Heavy loss of life. Multiple injuries coming in, eta fifteen minutes.”
“What train? Please, tell me?” Melody asked in a strained voice.
“It was the Eleven fifty-three to Helensvale out of Central station.”
Elliot and Melody gasped with the shock of it. Melody managed a whisper, “Oh, dear Lord. We were meant to be in that first carriage.”
Elliot put his arm around her shaking shoulders, in a voice thickened by tears he spoke. “No, Melody. I don’t think we were meant to be there at all.”
“All those poor people! Can we go to the hospital chapel, Elliot? I need to pray.”
“So do I.”
Later that afternoon Elliot helped her settle on the big sofa in her apartment.
Melody sat wracked by tears which stilled finally as she and Elliot drew strength from each other.
She glanced over at the image of her father that graced the wall. “My father told me once that not many people get a second shot in life.”
“Your father’s a wise man.” Elliot spoke softly.
They each rang their loved ones, then sat together throughout the long night, watching on as a new day dawned. They gave a prayer of thanks to be witnessing it and prayed again for the families of the victims and the survivors. Trusting that the answers to their questions would come when their souls, hearts, and minds were ready to hear them.
Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to seeing your comments.
I may be reached here …