#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 28

Three prompts living under one challenge roof?

Welcome to #MenageMonday!

Week 28

Rules Recap

  • This is a Flash Fiction challenge. Your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 200 words.
  • Incorporate each of the three prompts into your story.
  • Post your story into the comments of this post.
  • Include your word count (or be excluded from judging).
  • Please include your Twitter handle or email.
  • The contest opens at 7 A.M. and closes at 8 P.M. Eastern Time.
  • Generally speaking, the winner will be revealed Tuesday evening, huzzah!

So what do you get for all your time and effort, you ask? Badges, of course. (What, you thought this was a funded operation?) #MenageMonday awards THREE (squeeee!) badges each week:

  • There is the undisputed CHAMP. Rather self explanatory.
  • There is the JUDGE’S PET, for best use of the Judge’s prompt.
  • Last but not least, the JUDGE gets a badge, because Judges need love, too.


Our Judge for Week 28:

Using her words as weapons against an army of the Undead…


Julianne Snow

She writes about ZOMBIES, bitches! Check out her novel Days With the Undead: Book One.

Days with the Undead: Book One


Challenge Time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

The Photo:

The Phrase: “too much damage” (this can appear anywhere in the story)

The Judge’s Prompt: pretending (theme)

And following the theme of pretending, be sure to check out the Quill Shiv blog today and my guest post on “Believable Make-Believe.” 

And we’re off. The clock is ticking. Good writing and good luck!

31 thoughts on “#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 28

  1. Torrents of smoke billowed into the sky giving the mid-morning horizon the appearance of evening.
    “BOOM. BANG. ‘Captain, the city has been destroyed we have to run away!’” Jake held his two toy soldiers. One of the few things his parents had been able to grab before the house burned to the ground.
    “Jake, honey, Daddy is trying to drive, keep it down please.”
    “It’s alright Elise, let him go.”
    The nine-year-old tried to affect a deeper voice. “’No, General, you can run if you want, but I will stand and fight them until the bitter end.’
    ‘There is too much damage here and our missiles have no effect on them!’
    ‘I’m not afraid of them. I have justice on my side.’
    ‘I believe you son, I just don’t know how much they believe in justice.’
    ‘Then I guess I’ll have to teach those aliens a lesson General’”
    “David, did you hear what he …”
    “Yes, I heard him. It’s just his active imagination trying to process the events of the past few hours. He wasn’t outside and the news reports haven’t been released yet. Let him keep think he is pretending Elise… for at least a little while longer.

    200 words from “Rise of the Dragons”

  2. “The flames are out, so I shouldn’t think there’ll be too much damage.” Don said as he indicated right to get off the highway quickly. Was his cool exterior hiding the panic he felt when they had spotted the smoke?

    Maggie’s eyes were glued to the window, indicating it was. “Still, that black smoke says they’ve used a lot of water, and water damage is a bitch! Lori found that when they put out that fire in her house last month, remember?”

    Don did, but there hadn’t been anybody in Lori’s house to complicate things. There were four of them in that warehouse, and he’d put them there. He wondered if they were alive – although whether or not it made no difference now, because the authorities were there and they would’ve found them cuffed to the walls.

    “Well thank goodness it’s not our problem then, eh?” Don said smiling at Maggie and hoping he was convincing.

    He checked his speed, but he had to get home fast. He had to stop Johnny bringing the next batch of clients round to use them. He would have to redirect them to the other warehouse and hope they didn’t mind sloppy seconds.

    200 Words

  3. The sun warms my skin, and I feel the sand squish between my toes. The towel beneath me is fluffy, the ends dancing as the ocean breeze blows past. While the taste of strawberries and rum lingers on my tongue, I breathe in the scent of coconut that coats the arm tucked under my head. As I bask in the summer rays I begin to drift off before a deep voice tugs me back to reality.

    “There’s too much damage in the city, Nikki. We’ll have to move on.”

    My eyes snap open, and I’m brought back to the present. No sunny beaches or strawberry daiquiris. The rickety Ford pushes sixty-five as we pass the exit for Detroit. Smoke billows high into the sky. It’s a scene I know too well: fires and busted windows, empty streets and filthy decay. I press my forehead to the cold window and stare at the never-ending wasteland as we drive farther north.

    159 words

  4. Ghost Rider

    I saw black smoke from the road, towering over the trees, coming from my neighborhood, looking like some kind of morbid sign pointing to where hell surfaced on Earth today. That smoke was hanging above my neighborhood. I kept driving.

    Until I had to stop. There was ocean of people watching legions of police cars, fire trucks, fire fighters, and ambulances. The fire was from MY house. My home was engulfed in flames. Black smoke painting the sky. Water from hoses turning to steam as it collided with the flames. I looked around. There! Behind all the firemen, the police, the medical people. There was my son. He was safe!

    I looked at burning remains of my home. I knew there would be too much damage to recover from. We had lost everything. I put my arm over my sons shoulders. “What happened?”

    “Dad. We were pretending. Playing Ghost Rider. Then Tommy doused himself with gas, set himself on fire, and ran inside screaming he was Ghost Rider.”

    Well… At least I wouldn’t have to worry about that idiot, Tommy, anymore…

    184 words.

  5. “So, this is it. Can you believe it? No one thought we were serious. I wish I could see their faces when they realize we’re gone,” Wanda said.

    Violet signaled to merge into interstate traffic. Once they were safely into the slow lane, she glanced over and smiled at her friend.

    “What do you think it’s going to be like?”

    Wanda looked out her window at the trail of smoke left by a farmer burning off his field. Leaving their rural roots for the big city had been their dream since they were little girls. The rainbow colored lights of Broadway promised their names would be written for all to see.

    Their families had begged them not to go. They said that living in New York would do too much damage to their sensible upbringings, changing them into caricatures of their once wholesome, Midwestern selves.

    Wanda’s eyes glassed over. “I think we’re going to be the biggest stars Broadway has ever seen.”

    Violet giggled and reached down to turn up the soundtrack of ‘Rent’. Singing at the top of their lungs, they passed over the state line into Ohio.

    Violet rolled down her window. “Watch out world. Here we come!”

    200 Words

  6. The smoke rose in a stormy plume beyond the trees. I sped the car up, heart pounding. Beside me, Nickie was doing his level best to pretend all was well by focusing on the game of Angry Birds on his phone. He refused to acknowledge the telltale smoke signals of destruction we were racing toward.

    “Would it be too much to ask for him to not do too much damage?” I sighed, shifting through the gears. “Maybe he’s just cooking on the grill.”

    “Welcome to the State of Denial, Rache.” Nickie didn’t even look up from flinging his rainbow-colored avians.

    “Come here often?”

    “Yep. Got a timeshare. Oceanfront.” Knowing he wasn’t going to get out of the coming confrontation, Nickie finally sighed and snapped his phone closed. He lowered a pair of blue-tinted glasses over his eyes, then gave each knuckle in his hands a limbering pop. “This is gonna suck.”

    I slowed down just enough to make the turn and the car bounced off the pavement and onto a rutted, dirt road. No sooner did we enter the treeline than a refrigerator, food and all, tumbled out of the sky in front of us. “Oh yeah, Jon’s pissed.”

    199 words
    Nance P

  7. “Why are we moving, Mommy?” Lilly asked for the nine thousandth time.

    “Because of the fire, sweetheart.” Her mother put more clothes in a bag without looking at her.

    Lilly’s head carried visions of smoke, black clouds, darkness, but it all looked so far away. The nightmares of calling for her mom when she was scared didn’t come last night, though she’d expected them.

    “But why?”

    Her mother flitted around the room grabbing things and throwing them in the suitcases.

    “Too much damage. Too much…”

    Lilly’s eyes scanned the walls. Everything looked the same. “Where?”

    Her mother’s eyes met hers for the first time. Purple and green were dark beneath her skin.

    “Oh. I see it.”

    Her mother sat beside her on the bed, gathering Lilly into her lap. She kissed the top of her head. “I guess you do, huh?”

    Lilly climbed off her mother’s lap and picked up the biggest bag she could carry. She stood at the door and waited.

    “What’s say we go somewhere we don’t have to pretend any more?”

    “Does that mean I can’t be a princess any more?”

    “Of course you can. That’s for real.”

    word count: 192

  8. “I can’t take much more of this,” Det. Cassie grumbled, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

    Jack’s chair scraped against the linoleum floor as he rose. “She can’t take much more o’ this, Captain! There’s jest too much damage!”

    “Dammit, Scotty, she has to,” Det. Daniels growled, his face a fierce mask of concentration as he stood up beside Pierce. “It’s too late to throw up the white flag.”

    “Aye, I know, Cap’n, but jest look at her.” Jack gestured to Cassie with a despairing wave. “She’s all droopy and sad. She hasn’t had a drink in weeks, and her lower extremities are startin’ to mold to the plastic chair.”

    While Jack’s fake Scottish accent cracked her up, his last statement irked her. “Are you saying I have plastic chair butt, Jack?”

    A pregnant pause swelled into place as the men exchanged trepidatious glances.

    “You should see your faces, gentlemen.” Her phone rang and she answered, still chuckling. “Tucker.”

    The news on the other end killed her humor.

    “What is it, Cassie?” Jack asked.

    “We got another one. And this time he’s uped the ante.”


    “Fire.” She pointed out the window toward the great black plume filling the sky.

    200 #WIP500 words

  9. Corrected version cause I’m a dork:

    The fire could be seen for miles from the highway. Jeremy saw the brake lights of cars in front of him slowing down so that they could gawk and see what the cause was. Above the canopy of green trees, the flickering of orange flames danced. The fence ran along the tree line but it was a matter of time before it broke free and crossed over the highway. There were placards up all along the fence to warning people from the road.

    “-tary have evacuated the north side of Highway 325 after the fires have claimed several homes. It has been determined that there is too much damage done to allow continued occupancy. Stay tuned to hear about how long the quarantine will go. The Governor and the military would like residents to stay calm and continue to listen to further news.”

    Jeremy snorted, his gaze darting to the smoke again. “Who are they kidding? A fence isn’t going to stop those things. Pretending that it would stop creatures of elements isn’t going to work. They’ll get out. Eventually.”

    He really needed to see about that transfer he had put in for. Europe sounded good.

    196 words

    1. This is a fantastic Monday. Corrected last sentence: He really needed to see about that transfer he had put in for. Europe sounded good.

  10. The electric sign over the highway read: “Controlled Burn Ahead: Please close windows.”

    “Good thinking, Jacobs” Agent Warren said as he drove ahead. “That should make people anxious to move on.”

    Without looking up from his IPad, Jacobs chimed in, “Well, last night we diverted all traffic, for a good half-hour before impact. But, we figured we would draw less attention, if we allowed it to resume.”

    “You’re probably right. So, it’s been burning for what, six hours so far?”

    “Six hours and twenty-two minutes.”

    “How long before it should stop?”

    Jacobs lifted his eyes and turned, “That’s the problem chief, there’s been no depreciation in any of the intensity measures from this thing. In fact, the temperatures are actually hotter than earlier.”

    “Well, thankfully there’s no radiation. I can’t wait to get closer and see what it is that we’re up against.”

    “Let’s just hope the Mexicans and the Canadians can keep a lid on theirs, until we get an idea about what’s going on. If not, this thing is going to go public globally in a scary way.”

    “Yeah, I know. But, there’s no sense fretting over what we don’t know. We’ll be there soon.”

    Agent Warren increased his speed nevertheless.

    203 Words

  11. Thick black smoke poured from sights unseen, hidden behind a thick tree line. It was just one of many they’d seen since fleeing eastward. They drove on, silent at first, but then the panic and fear began to set in.

    “What are they? Entire cities?”

    “Yes, probably. Most of the major metropolitan areas are getting it first. It’s over now. All we know will be gone. We may not survive this.”

    “Dad, you don’t mean that. They’ll negotiate. Work this all out.”

    “Not now, Chrissy. Too much damage has been done. We’ve fired on them. They’ve fired on us. All this time we’ve been pretending to be allies, but they’ve never forgiven us. We just didn’t know what they were building under their islands for the past sixty years—thousands of nuclear weapons all meant for us.”

    “But we buy from them all the time. Every other household in America has a Toyota or a Wii. We’ve supported their economy.”

    “Yes, I suppose in a way we brought this on ourselves. We paid for our own obliteration.”

    177 words

    1. I read this 3 times prior to posting and still missed the ‘the’ instead of ‘they’ in the third sentence. I guess that’s what I get for forgetting my glasses this morning!

  12. revised

    The flames burning in front of me, too much damage to be denied..
    “I see a dragon Mom.”
    “Yes Melody it is flying high.” I lied .
    I saw as she did the helicopters and planes coming into place to shoot down, whatever they were chasing. If she wanted to pretend she had a dragon then so be it .It was better than the reality that we were fleeing to the mountains for protection. The world was at war nuclear bombs had fallen in the capitals. Hopefully we would be safe, anything to protect my little girl.
    100 words

  13. DENIAL

    The red lights flash across the hood of the fire truck, sending a rush of adrenalin through my veins.
    “Take the 3rd avenue exit. It’s just over the ridge there,” I try to stay calm for my partner. The rookie picked the wrong time to join. I don’t feel bad for him. I’m beyond feeling bad for him, or anyone else for that matter.
    I’m numb.
    “Jesus, fourth one today.” Otto grimaces behind the wheel. “You believe these strikes are getting worse?”
    “Man, I hope that didn’t hit another house. There was too much damage at the Kline place. The insurance adjuster didn’t even show up.”
    Why would he? The insurance companies took the last bits of money and ran.
    But we keep showing up to put out fires, and pull people out of the wreckage. We keep pretending that life is normal.
    Lucifer’s Hammer won’t argue with us that it’s not. Its debris field gives us daily prods, but we’ve buried our heads so far in the sand we can taste oil. The meteor strike deniers pretend with all their might. “It’s all a plot by liberal astronomers to get grant money!”
    “Just drive…just drive.”

    198 words

  14. It found me. I knew it would. I was just hoping I would have more time. Driving down the highway wearing my human skin, I see the smoke rise above the trees. It is coming from where my house is located. I pull off onto the shoulder as a wave of black flames surges outward, destroying everything in its path.

    I face it, putting my hands in my trench coat pockets. It howls and screams as it almost instantly turns everything it touches to ash. When the hundred yard wall of death reaches me, it converges, focusing all of its energy on me.

    My human clothes and skin are melted away in an instant, revealing my true form. Alabaster scales on long clawed hands hold the creature at bay. But only just. I’m afraid I sustained too much damage in our last encounter; I won’t be able to escape this time. “Why do you come after me?” I can’t even hear my own voice over the explosive fury of the creature’s shrieks.

    “You do not belong here.” The calamitous voice sends the vehicles behind me flying. The shadowy flames of its body press harder, blood colored eyes piercing through me.

    200 words

  15. Title: Uprising

    Billowing black smoke cut across the azure sky. The acrid smell of burning infected everything: clothes, hair, and skin. The smoke was just another sign of what had happened in the last day, structures and property that suffered too much damage, burnt to the ground. It was better to be destroyed than to be used by the creatures.

    Driving down the road, you could almost pretend that the last twenty-four hours hadn’t happened. You could almost imagine that this was just any ordinary road trip, and not a flight for survival. You could pretend just as long as you kept your eyes closed, your nose pinched, and your ears covered.

    Most people were running, or driving, but fleeing the devastation for the hills. Surely in the country it wasn’t like this. Surely those creatures hadn’t made it that far yet. There were far too many things within the city to keep the creatures attention, at least we hoped. We pretended that we’d be safe at our destination, until the military was able to force the creatures to retreat. It was that little lie that would sustain us … hopefully before we starved or became like the creatures.

    197 Words

  16. Fireman Dan and Brian the Scotsman were best friends who helped people and fought evil together. Even though Brian wore a skirt and had long hair, like a girl.

    And Dan didn’t have a Dalmatian.

    “I could get a Dalmatian,” Dan stroked his thick mustache.

    “There’s no time!” Brian pointed his magic claymore to the sky, “Aliens are attacking that airplane!”

    “There’s already too much damage, the plane is going to crash!” Fireman Dan agreed.

    The plane came down and exploded with flying saucers in hot pursuit, ready to finish off any survivors. But Dan and Brian rushed to the scene and hit the aliens’ lasers back at them with axe and claymore. Soon the aliens were defeated.

    “I think the aliens were sent by the Demon Council,” Brian sheathed his sword.

    Dan nodded, “They’ll pay for attacking the Earth!”

    “Don’t worry, I wished all the people off the plane and to their destinations,” Twinkle, the unicorn with a rainbow horn, trotted out of the tree line. “With their luggage.”

    “Aw! Grandma, tell Hannah not to play with us!”

    “I don’t know, Dan, seems to me a unicorn might be even better than a Dalmatian. Besides, we’re almost there.”

    199 words

  17. “Think of all the carnage there would be,” Pete says to me as we drive down the freeway, “if a bomb like that went off.”

    “There’d be way too much damage. We couldn’t even get in and get the goodies out for days. Besides, the oogies would get there before we could even get close. You know how they like a fresh cooked meal.”

    “But think of all the zeenite we…”

    The ground shakes, interrupting him. The car feels as though we are driving sixty-five miles per hour across rubble. He slams on the brakes as the plume of black smoke spews up into the sky. We look at each other and smile.

    “Wish and you shall receive,” he says and jams his foot onto the accelerator pedal. “And you say, playing pretend is for kids.”

    We exit the highway and follow the smoke. Emergency units have not arrived yet and it will be a little bit before the oogies smell the burning flesh of the victims. We jump out of the car and put on our heat suits. As we step into the swirl of smoke and flames we give each other a high five.

    198 Words

  18. “You are one cold-hearted bastard,” he said.
    “I’ll thank you not to insult my father, Agent Jenks.”
    I shot him a look and he stepped back.
    “Turning in your own brother. Pretty cold.”
    I shielded my face from the heat as the house burned.
    “Maybe he had it coming.”
    “There’s no maybe about it.”
    He stuck his hand out. “I want to thank you for helping me out. No arrest, no trial. Too much damage to investigate properly.”
    I eyeballed his hand and then grinned and shook it.
    “No sweat.”
    “Know how long I’ve been after that bast- that guy? Four years. Nine victims.”
    “Ten,” I said. I tightened my grip on his hand.
    His eyes went wide but he didn’t see the hunting knife in my other hand. I buried it in his gut.
    I thought about my dead, cancer-wracked brother burning up with Agent Jenks’ bullets in his head.
    I ripped up and right, yanked the knife out, and dragged Jenks inside. I left the knife in my brother’s hand.
    Afterwards, I hiked out and watched the smoke from across the main road.
    “Thanks, bro.”

    197 words

  19. “What do you see?”

    “Ummm,” Lucy cocked her head. “A baby giraffe.”

    “What about this one?” Lewis pulled out another photo. We watched from the dark side of the two-way mirror.

    The General grunted. “She’s dangerous, Mr. President.”

    “Empty words. That’s all you’ve had for me for three days,” I said slowly. “I need proof –her parents want her back and I don’t see why they shouldn’t.”

    The General rubbed his forehead. He had dark circles under his eyes and had already consumed three cups of coffee.

    “She’s caused too much damage, I can’t– what is he doing?!”

    Lewis was holding a picture of an explosion behind a highway.

    “That’s you,” Lucy said sweetly. I leaned closer to the glass. The General ordered Lewis out. They couldn’t get the door open.


    Lucy nodded. Lewis swallowed, glanced towards the mirror and showed her the next picture. The picture of the destruction they said she had caused.

    “Get him out of there!”

    “Those are dead people.”

    Lewis frowned.


    “What? I thought we were pretending!” She giggled and the camera feed crackled as black smoke trickled into the room. When the room exploded, all you could see was her blue eyes.

    200 words

  20. “Oh, no! Honey, did you remember to unplug the iron?”

    “Oh, Bill! I THOUGHT I did, but now I’m not so sure.”

    “Jean? William? What are you saying?”

    “Mom, I did a bunch of laundry before Bill and I came to pick you up at the airport and by the look of that smoke over there, it appears I may have forgotten something before we left.”

    “God, I hope there isn’t too much damage to have you move in, Mom. You finally get a chance to come all the way out here and Jean goes and burns down the house!”

    “Oh, stop, Bill! Jean may be absent minded, but… Hey! Where are you going? If that was your house, why didn’t you take that exit we just passed?”

    “Okay, you’re onto us. We were just kidding with you, Mom. Bill just got a great promotion and we have a wonderful, NEW place that we can’t wait to show you. I don’t know what was happening back there, but that wasn’t our house, at all.”

    “See, Mom? What did you expect when we’re picking you up to have you move in with us on April Fools’ Day?”

    197 Words

  21. 6 Minutes to write, not enough time. But I will take the opportunity to Thank Cara for hosting this wonderful event. There are certain ones I can’t wait to read every week. Even at that, I learn a little from everyone. The most important thing I learn here is the importance of practicing Clear and Concise writing – Your writing voice comes from the inside – use it well.

    Thanks Again Cara

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