Mind the Mind

Another Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented and generous Rochelle Wisoff-Fields!

The guidelines of this Photo-Prompt Flash Fiction Challenge are as follows: The story has a 100 word limit, include the photo-prompt below, and it must have a beginning, middle and end.

For the record; I humbly invite any critique you fine readers may have to offer.  My goal is to write, read, learn, and then write some more.

 Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

Mind the Mind

The hot shower was relaxing, but it didn’t drive the images away.

He made it ice-cold.  His breath sucked in, muscles tensed, and the pictures in his head vanished.

Then his lungs exhaled, flesh acclimated, and the scene returned:

Smooth, pale skin against rough concrete … blood drying in a strangely perfect pool …  meaty slash across the throat … eyes staring forever at the face of a killer…

She was seventeen.

Goddamnit!

He forced himself to think of his ranch:

 Sierra foothills … big heavenly sky…

Yes, peace could be there.  But when?

Soon…

He knew he was lying.

 

~CLS~

 

Word Count: 100

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62 Comments

  1. Terrific writing.
    100 words that tell just enough to grab us.
    Loved it!

    Reply
  2. Did he commit the crime, witness the scene or was he a policeman? left to the imagination..disturbing and scary..but powerful writing

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 30, 2013

      Thank you. I liked leaving it open. It seemed to have an interesting effect on the reader. It was intense writing it even though it was so short.
      Thanks for your feedback/
      ~Chris

      Reply
  3. Dark, indeed! I hope his mind can return to the restful sky sooner than later. Nice job!

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 27, 2013

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I went down in the dark with this one for sure.
      ~Christopher

      Reply
  4. Scary stuff. You got inside his mind…

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 27, 2013

      Or he mine.
      Thank you for reading!
      ~Chris

      Reply
  5. JackieP

     /  July 26, 2013

    My first time here and I’m a FF regular. Nice story in a creepy dark way. Very vivid and I could see it happening. Especially the poor dead 17 year old. I have a feeling she isn’t the first nor the last. The ranch will have to wait.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 26, 2013

      Thank you Jackie. I agree on all counts.
      I love to do flash fiction and have only just intently sought out some other groups and challenges so I can get more done. My blog’s got lots of ff pieces posted but it’s the first time with you fine folks. I’ll be sticking around. : )
      ~Christopher

      Reply
  6. I really like the tension of the piece, and the way you refused to clearly identify who the person in the shower is in relation to the rest. Very well done, and a unique take on the prompt Christopher!

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 26, 2013

      Thank you, Troy. I appreciate you reading my work.
      See you next Weds at FF!
      ~Chris

      Reply
  7. I’m amazed at what can transpire in 100 words. Excellent.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 26, 2013

      Thank you, Patti. I was taken for a ride with this one.
      ~Chris

      Reply
  8. Mystikel

     /  July 25, 2013

    I took it as the killer with a conscience who is struggling with himself, but I can see that a detective carries that dark consciousness inside too. Like two inverse poles sharing the same axis. Creepy and well done.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Your insight is completely correct; I wanted to present the duality for sure, and so left it unspecified. Thank you for commenting. Feel free to wander the Graveyard any time. There’s lots of dark ff tidbit n bits about.
      ~Chris

      Reply
  9. Western Sierra or Eastern Sierra?

    Reply
  10. I see you enjoy (?) the various blog hops and such. Friday Fictioneers is another (besides WWBH) that I’ve jumped on-board. That and I’ve tried my hand at Daily Post/Prompt. It is interesting to read the spins you put into your version of the blog hops. As a rule, I’m generally not into – I guess I’ll call it – dark stuff, but there’s something in the way you write that makes the reader want to read more…. If only to see what happens next. Excellent job Christopher.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Thank you for saying so, Tena.
      I have heard that before, which is encouraging because I do write rather dark stuff. My full-length material goes even deeper in some cases, and yet I have had mothers of teen girls read through my serial killer (of teen girls) story (Wade in Blood — very graphic!) and bug me to get more posted on it. I don’t have any ego about it, I am just humbled and feel blessed that I can write the type of piece I am drawn to put down and still have an audience. We do write to be read as well!
      Thanks again Tena for your support and for co-hosting the WWBH (which I just learned you do). Cheers!

      ~Christopher

      Reply
  11. Great descriptions of the physiological and psychological impact of the event on your character. I enjoyed that you left his involvement open to interpretation. Well done!

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Jen,
      I appreciate your feedback. I loved doing the piece, and am very happy to have found the FF group.
      Cheers!
      ~Chris

      Reply
  12. Hi Chris,
    Good sharp sketch of a person haunted by an inescapable trauma. Effective imagery and something I think that almost everyone could relate to, even if the shock was not this harsh. We all struggle to overcome those times when the past has overwhelmed us. Excellent writing. Ron

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Thank you for commenting, Ron.
      I agree that the piece stands as a metaphor as well, whether it be trauma or guilt, when something grips us is hard to get release.
      Thanks again. See you next week.
      ~Christopher

      Reply
  13. I have come to love flash fiction
    you give the reader just enough to hang himself on
    great images “blood drying in a strangely perfect pool…”
    gotta love it

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Hey Moondust Writer. I am too in love with flash fiction! I use it to break the monotony of scheduled projects, but I get hooked and go on binges (I’m on one now!). I just love the exercise of maximizing effect while minimizing words. It can only make one a better writer. I think it’s important to stick to word counts (especially when practicing like this). It’s those final 5-15 words that are the hardest to trim but sharper the “tool” to a razor’s edge (I’ve only broke word count once, last night, but for good & funny reason). I am really glad I found the FF and the 100 word count here. Great fun. I have a lot of prompt ff on my home page.
      Thanks again!
      ~Christopher

      Reply
  14. A murderer wrestles with guilt, or perhaps a witness wrestles with terror? Either way, it’s an intense little story.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Thank you! I am glad I chose to leave that open. It seems everyone’s is having fun with it. I really had a gratifying experience writing the piece.
      Thanks again!
      ~Chris

      Reply
  15. You interspersed his thoughts with the descriptions really well. I liked the way it all flowed and how you steadily fed us tidbits of the story. Great ending as well.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      I appreciate it, Wanderer.
      It came pretty much as is on first draft. I was afraid it would go maybe 300+ words and be a real tough and ugly edit, but it actually ended up 150ish, and so kept its integrity real well after trimming.
      Thanks again for reading.
      ~Chris

      Reply
      • Cutting it down is always the hardest part—but it definitely shows how each little word is important. I remember when I thought 1,000 words wasn’t enough.

        Great job on the editing.

      • Christopher Shawbell

         /  July 25, 2013

        Regardless of the preset word count, I will always go over by 30% or more. If I can keep around there, then I can keep the integrity and flow of the story pretty easily. I have had some whoppers early on though. Stormy if the Heart (550 wc) was over 1,000 on rough draft; darn story just wouldn’t shut up. ; )
        ~Chris

      • I need to go read that one! But I know the feeling—I’m always over on word count. I think it’s easier to start with too much and trim than to try to flesh something out when it’s just not there, but that’s just me. 🙂

      • Christopher Shawbell

         /  July 25, 2013

        Agreed. There will always be fat on a first draft…and should be.

  16. Dear Christopher,

    Very visual. Tight structure. Hook ending.

    Doesn’t get much better.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Doug,
      Thank you. You are very generous. I am glad you enjoyed the read. I have been having a great time reading the other entries. Lots of good material.
      ~Chris

      Reply
  17. i really liked it. the vivid descriptions, the ‘meaty slash’ and of course, the mystery. bad guy, good guy or maybe somewhere in between… and more importantly, why… thanks for letting us create our own conclusions… great story 🙂

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 25, 2013

      Thank you, KZ. I’m very pleased that I jumped into the FF crew. I am doing a lot of PP FF stories these days. Very good work in this group, and I am inspired to stretch my work further to match it.
      See you next week or before.
      ~Chris

      Reply
  18. ‘Meaty slash’ is a very evocative phrase – totally effective. Well it certainly put me off breakfast. 😦 I like the fact that it ended ambiguously. He could be an innocent bystander reeling from the horror or he could be the perpetrator. And I think that description of the cold water momentarily eliminating the image, only for it to re-emerge on acclimatisation is quite acutely observed. The nightmare doesn’t end here. Well done, and a great title too.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thank you for you detailed comments, Sandra.
      There was a lot in this character and piece. It’s rewarding to read that you have broken it down. I had a POV when I wrote it, but chose to leave it undefined.
      Thanks again!
      ~Chris

      Reply
  19. I think he’s the person who simply found the body of the poor girl. It would be a hard image to wash away – even with time. Another well written piece Christopher.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thank you, Lyn.
      I enjoyed the process of dropping into this man’s consciousness, but it was disturbing for sure.
      See you next week!
      ~C
      ‘Cute pic of the kids on your avatar btw.

      Reply
      • Thanks Christopher, they are my grandson Henry and his baby sister Sophie. It was Henry’s 2nd birthday 🙂

      • Christopher Shawbell

         /  July 24, 2013

        Nice!

  20. Dear Chris,

    This sent shock waves through me. I prefer to see him as the tortured detective. Hoping I’m right. 😉 Happy to have you, your writing and your enthusiasm aboard.

    shalom,

    Rochelle

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thanks so much, Rochelle.
      I’ve read all the submissions, and I am very impressed with the quality of the writing in this group. It’s inspiring.
      Looking forward to next Wednesday.
      You are the host of FF, correct?
      ~Chris

      Reply
      • Dear Chris,

        Yep I’m the host. I hold the power to prompt in my little hands…bwahahahahaha. Seriously, I joined FF in April of 2012 and by October begged to take it on when Madison Woods, the founder decided she needed to move onto other things. ie Be careful what you wish for.;)

      • Christopher Shawbell

         /  July 24, 2013

        I applaud your courage, and thank you for your sacrifice.
        ; )

  21. Wow… that is an interesting character. An enjoyable read! 🙂

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thank you for reading. I had fun watching this one develop.
      ~Chris

      Reply
  22. I like the way you left the story’s meaning ambiguous (is he good or bad?) and your title is very apropos. Even your tags are meant to be ambiguous–no detail too small. 🙂 You fit in just fine, Christopher.

    janet

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thanks so much, Janet!
      I love titles. I sometimes spend more time on the title than the story. Luckily, another flash fiction challenge I did, “X Marks the Spot”, took place at a tube station. I hand “mind the gap” in my head as a result. Haha! Made this title search a bit easier.
      ~Cheers!
      ~Chris

      Reply
      • I love titles, too, so I tend to notice them. As for “Mind the Gap”, I remember that from visits to England.

        janet

  23. The mind of a mad man. Scary.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Yes, indeed a tortured mind, but that of a devil or angel?
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      ~C.

      Reply
  24. Ooh, is he the killer or the detective? nice bit of contrast with the hot and cold here.

    Reply
    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 24, 2013

      Thank so much for reading and commenting.
      A tortured detective who’s seen too much? or a killer with a conscience that can’t stop himself?
      I left it ambiguous for the reader’s interpretation.
      More fun that way sometimes.

      ~C

      Reply
  25. Excellent story! I like how he tries to cleanse himself of his crime, to no vail. Very-well written too!

    Reply

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