#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 41

Three prompts living under one challenge roof?

Welcome to #MenageMonday!

Week 41

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. The phrase prompt (and anything else in quotations) MUST be used exactly as given.
  • 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 10 P.M. Eastern Time.
  • Generally speaking, the winners 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 Guest Photographer for Week 41:

I stumbled across this photo on Twitter and decided to email the photographer. Never hurts to ask, right? In this case, definitely not…

P & S Photo


Our Judge for Week 41:

He draws, writes, and thinks dub step is pretty freaking awesome. He’s cool. He’s 10…


With such a cool pic prompt, he would allow no other to judge.


Challenge Time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

The Photo:

The Phrase: “play[ing] for keeps” (this can appear anywhere in the story)

 The Judge’s Prompt: tell a tale about finding your fate.


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


28 thoughts on “#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 41

  1. He lay back against the warm sand, and listened to the gentle rhythm of the waves as he got lost in the patterns of the wispy clouds above him, as they merged, and seemed to take form as a warrior, arrow poised. Take time out, find yourself, and then grow the hell up, his father had yelled the night before, after Josh resigned from yet another job. He was going on 32, time to switch playing the game for playing for keeps. His father had pointed to the photo on the wall. Use her as your guide, he said. Look how content she is. Do that. Find something you love, take aim, and shoot for the future. 

    Word count: 117

  2. Getting it right

    She saved me. I was being flogged to death pulling a cart and the Archer came and got me. She smacked the old Boss in the mouth and took me home. She fed and cared for me. I was nearly dead and stank but she lay by me and brought me back to life. I couldn’t lift my head but she dribbled water into my mouth from her fingers. When my spirit came back to me, I thought she was an angel. So now I will take her wherever she wants to go.

    So this is playing for keeps .. I would die for her. I probably will in fact but it won’t matter because I adore her. I’ll carry her into battle as long as she needs me to … because it’s better than dragging a bloody cart around the streets of London. She’s my boss. Is all.

    Word Count 149

  3. 2016. The year the solar flares struck, destroying the entire electric grid of the planet. The lights went out. And they stayed out. Our entire way of life simply stopped. Cars quit running. The Internet went down. All those smart phones became paperweights. Everything just stopped.

    Restaurants, grocery stores, markets, farms. Gone. Hospitals, doctors, medicines. Gone. Billions had starved to death. And billions more had died from illnesses. Those of us that survived, had shed the veneer of civilization, reverting to tribal ways. The rule of the strong. The survival of the fit. We became farmers. And nomads.

    Zelda rode into our village one day. She was no princess in need of rescuing. She was one of our heroes. Riding her white horse. A master of archery. One of our greatest hunters. She always brought back plenty of game from her hunting trips. She always stood with the men when other tribes attacked. Riding her horse, her arrows always finding their marks.

    Life was playing for keeps. So was Zelda. So were all of us. It was a violent new world where we all had to make our own way, and like Zelda, had to make our own fates.

    199 words

  4. It was something she’d done a million times. Pull back the string and release. The movement of the horse might have jarred a lesser rider, but she moved smoothly with her mount, years of practice stilling her. Drawing breath, she drew the string. She was the only woman, the only archer riding through this field of death.

    The man bearing down on her father’s sword seemed the sensible target. If her father fell, this whole war would be for nothing. She couldn’t let the fact that it was a man she aimed at, not a target, enter her mind. He was the enemy. He wasn’t using a practice sword against her father, every man on this field played for keeps.

    Arrow loosed, she released her breath, watching it soar straight into the chest of the man fighting her father. Her horse wheeled, planning to take her out of the fray.

    Everything turned red as fire burned up her left leg.

    “Princess!” she heard just before a body collided with her own, throwing her from the horse. She pushed up angrily and found herself nose to nose with the most handsome man she’d ever seen. One dressed in the enemies colours.

    200 words

  5. The Huntress

    She was playing for keeps. Not waiting for Cupid to fire one of his own arrows, she hunted me down, herself. In fact, she didn’t just dawdle about; it was as though she were on horseback!

    Yes, I had noticed and taken an interest in her. Always a bit shy, however, I hadn’t approached her, yet. She detected my glance, took aim and came in for the kill.

    It was wonderful: the picnics, the art museums, the opera and the romantic dinners.

    Unfortunately, as with anyone who hunts, once she had completely consumed me, she moved on to other prey, leaving my carcass to rot.

    105 Words

  6. I had it in my sights before it slipped into the woods at the edge of the clearing. That was unfortunate. I nudged Athenia toward the spot. I had to get down to see the tracks. The little beast was good…it took me several moments before I could find it – a partial print beside some moss.

    I almost started to follow. Something wasn’t right. That little sneak! I turned a large circle before I finally glanced up into the canopy.


    I let loose my arrow and hit the bugger in the arm. Killing him would be really bad, but wounding him would give me everything I’ve always wanted.

    “You shot me!” whined the squeaky voice from an upper branch.

    “I play for keeps, you little sneak, now give me the fate I choose.”

    His head peeked out, puzzled, “How do you know Arianna?”

    “She’s my mother.”

    A large, almost feral, smile spread across his face, “Ah, that explains much. How is her fate working out?”

    “Like she always wanted.”

    “Really? Fascinating.” He climbed down, ripped the arrow from his arm, and handed it to me. I took it, confused, “But she shot me in the leg, my dear.”

    199 words

  7. It was never meant to be like this. Never.

    Zelda slipped from the horse and refilled her quiver. This life was never going to end.

    Their fore fathers had warned them that a time such as this would come, and now the game was up. They were playing for keeps.

    The golden arrows pierced the skulls of the wolves over and over. But they didn’t fall. They stopped, shook their heads and continued to swarm into the village.

    They were on a mission and baying for blood, lengthening fangs glistening as they tore into a fallen elder.

    This was it then. The never ending cycle she had learned about as a child.

    Words: 112

  8. Death Comes on a Pale Horse

    She rides and remembers. Her father taught her how to ride, how to shoot. Didn’t matter she wasn’t a boy, he wanted her to know.

    She can still hear his deep voice, scolding sometimes, praising others.

    “Remember Danae, when you shoot an arrow, you’re playing for keeps. Make it count. You might not get another chance.”

    She has ridden a long way. Her body and her heart are sore. Her mount grows tired, but gives all she asks of him. He was a present from her father as well.

    The fields she rides through are green with life, but death is on her mind. She knows that she has almost reached the place where her father’s murderer dwells. She tops the next hill and sees his cabin just below. He stands in his field with his back to her. She is far enough away that he does not yet hear the drumming beat of the horse’s hooves.

    Heart pounding, blonde hair flying in the wind, she draws her bow. She has never taken a life before, but after she watched the man below her steal her father’s, she swore vengeance that day. She positions the arrow and lets it fly.

    200 words {not including title}

  9. Guh-guh-guh-gunk…Guh-guh-guh-gunk… Guh-guh-guh-gunk.

    The pounding hooves hit in a rhythm like a heartbeat at rest. Ekaterina rolled her hips with each of Seraiya’s strides, allowing her body to match the horse’s motion. She’d become the best rider in the whole clan, despite her father’s stand against women learning to hunt from horseback.

    Ekaterina drew her bow, her arms straining to hold the string taut. In this hunt she’d play for keeps. No man could out-ride or out-hunt her, and she’d be damned before she’d marry any of the simpering fools hoping to rule the Ozera Cossacks after her father. She only needed to bring down a stag with her own bow and she’d be free from the marriage trade for another year. She’d found her fate, to be alone.

    Ekaterina sighted a fleeing buck and steadied her mind, her heart, her breath. Everything came down to this.

    Guh-guh-guh-gunk…Guh-guh-guh-gunk… Gunk! A horse’s shriek split the air just before Seraiya reared, breaking Ekaterina’s concentration as she scrambled for the silver mane brushing her chest.

    “Bozhe moi!”

    A great, blood-red charger appeared before them with a rider dressed like Hun clans to the north, and a wicked bow trained on her.

    “Dobre uttra, devushka.”

    200 #WIP500 words

  10. A thousand knights had met the barbarian horde head on and a thousand knights had fallen. Ariana was little more than a stable girl left behind as the Knights, squires, bowmen and militia hastily thrown together by the king charged into battle. The attack was foolhardy as they could have certainly fended off the barbarians from the castle but the King did not want to wait.

    One horse too old to carry armor and a girl to young to draw attention emerged from the stable bow in hand. Four thousand peasants lightly armed were in full retreat some would make it to the castle and from there they might have a chance, as the king and his knights had learned this was a game played for keeps and Ariana couldn’t simply sit by any longer. The Barbarian king had taken to the highest hill, and waved his banner the Kings head firmly upon the stake for all to see. Ariana made her way through a ravine and up the very hill where her king had died. And this girl let loose a single arrow which pierced the throat of a barbarian and two Kings lie dead on one field.

    199 words

  11. “Who are you?” I demanded, my arrow drawn and ready of the man who wondered into our kingdom.

    “Are you Shion daughter of Selkirk?”

    “I am but you still have not told me who you are.”

    “I am Raiden Dragmire, your father sent me to defend your keep.”

    “Nonsense, we can defend it ourselves. You are wounded how could you help?”

    “I have great power.”

    “Do you now? Can you do this?” I asked, disarming him with a wave of my hand.

    “Yes. I’m playing for keeps are you?” He replied waving his arm and disarming me.

    Raiden was helpful in helping me to defend the keep from the gathering hordes. He became like my right arm and we fought many battles side by side, keeping my people safe. I now know why father sent him to me. My father knew that he would make the best mate for me. Like a puzzle he was the missing part. He enhanced my wizarding abilities and I enhanced his, when we were together we could increase our power a hundred fold. My grandmother told me I would find my destiny and I have in Raiden, even more since we were married yesterday.

    200 words

  12. Just Like Brave
    by Wakefield Mahon

    After watching “Brave”, she wondered, “How hard could it be?” Meredith stole her father’s archery set and took off on the horse Daddy gave his” Little Princess” for her thirteenth birthday four years ago.

    Ivory was a great horse and Meredith could stay in the saddle while shooting arrows, until she kept her attention on a target too long and missed the branch coming at her. The branch yanked her off the horse leaving scratches on her face.

    She remounted her horse and an arrow whistled past her right ear. Ivory dashed off before she even said a word. Meredith clung to her horse as he raced through the woods, but the sound of another set of hoof beats crept closer.

    Another round of arrows flew by as Ivory burst into the open meadow. A single strand of hair fell down unnoticed. “Obviously, we’re playing for keeps Ivory.”

    Meredith sat up, turned around and took aim in one smooth motion. She let the arrow fly before she even recognized the target. “Father!”

    Her father jumped down off his steed, her arrow in his hand. “Excellent work, my little princess; you’ll be ready to take back your true father’s kingdom soon!”

    200 words

  13. ‘One perfect shot,’ I thought, ‘ and I take my name and horse again.’

    Taking calming a breath, I nudged Snowwind into motion.

    I practiced this move many times in my old village before their terrible raid. Day, night, injured or blindfolded – the bull’s-eye was mine. It took a challenge to the Chieftain himself for the chance.

    “I play for keeps, woman,” he snarled then. I smiled. I did too.

    I didn’t hear the beat of Snowwind’s hoofs or the distracting cries from the hecklers. I didn’t hear my own breath or heartbeat. There was only a slight rustle of my chemise as my body took over. Arms a blur, the arrow let fly. Snowwind took his head and galloped around the arena again. I didn’t bother looking at the target. I knew hit it.

    I came to myself as Snowwind slowed to rear at the Chieftain’s dais. I bowed my head as my horse knelt. He knew his training as well as I. All looked to Chief Vale for his final decision. He only had one choice.

    “From this day on,” he intoned grimly, “You ride at my side, head of my archers. Snowwind is yours, Evony.”

    199 words

  14. The grass had gone to seed, and I felt the blades smacking against my legs as I ran. This is why I’d been born, this was my fate. Not merely to run, but to run faster than any of my kind had ever run. Not merely to run for the joy of it, though who would not feel joy in such an act, but to run fast enough that even the most vigilant sentinels would not know I’d passed by. Ever since the day of my birth, I’d been told about the Dark Queen who had ruled over the land and how it was my destiny to carry the one who would end her reign. Allora sat astride me now, guiding me with her thoughts as we approached the castle. We’d been born the same day, our first meals were the same mix of our mothers’ milk, and a dozen generations had been born and died just to bring us to this moment. The land was a blur as I prepared for my leap over the gates. Allora raised her bow and aimed. We’d practiced a thousand days for this. We were playing for keeps. I leapt. The arrow flew.

    200 words

  15. Eternal Presence Hospice Services

    It had been a long day at the Eternal Presence Hospice Services facility. Of course, it had been an even longer day for young Emma Sue. Her disease had progressed rapidly to its final stages and her time was, most definitely, limited.

    When it became apparent to Emma Sue, that she’d begun a slow descent from which there’d be no rebound, she made a very adult decision.

    Rather than endure the worst, she would opt for Eternal Presence (EP) status. Her consciousness would reside in a bio-electronic matrix wherein she could spend out the remainder of her brain life in a reality of her choosing.

    Her parents’ insurance offered up to three choices and she was determined to explore all her options. The Director of Staff was present to remind Emma Sue that today was a “playing for keeps” moment. If she didn’t choose today, she’d likely be too weak for another session.

    The third, and final, Presence loaded. Emma gasped in wonder. She was magnificent atop her spirited steed, dispensing arrows of justice to the evil king’s men. Yes, she nodded emphatically. THIS was the life for her!

    The appropriate notations were made and the transfer began at once.

    200 Words @klingorengi

  16. Some of the houses were still aflame when Millicent arrived. Corpses lay scattered everywhere. The stench of burned flesh pervaded the air.
    Millicent urged the horse forward. She saw bodies being pecked at by crows. Their mouths screamed in silent agony.
    “You can’t run away forever,” the last words of the priest rang loudly in her head.
    She saw a man carrying a chest stepping out of the priest’s house. Millicent recognized the man as one of the Sea Demons that threatened the village a fortnight ago.
    “Stop!” Millicent shouted.
    The corsair didn’t turn to look. He just started to run.
    Millicent swung down the horse with bow and arrow in hand. She nocked the arrow and pulled it until the string touched her lips.
    “You can’t run away forever,” those were the last words of the priest before she left. Fate chose her as protector, but she ran away instead.
    “I’m done running,” she breathed out. She released the arrow and it flew, cutting through air, and to the man’s throat. The corsair dropped to the ground.
    “Time to play for keeps,” she said. She stepped on the arrow and pushed it down. The man shook hard and died.
    200 words

  17. It had been a long day of riding, across gently rolling hills under a cloud-flecked sky that was so picturesque it made me sick.

    As I approached, a scruffy man with a wicked halberd hailed me. “Lass, you canna ride thar. We be makin’ ready for battle.”

    “Then you need me. Us,” I amended, stroking Ecru’s mane the way he liked. “I came here for the game.”

    “Are you even playing?”

    “For keeps. Well, just the singular keep, over that hill, surrounded by hundreds of orcs and goblins, but who’s counting? I’ve always wanted a keep. As a keepsake.”

    Ecru snorted. Horses hate puns.



  18. “Sorry, Peter,” Luna twirled the bag of rubies by its drawstring. “It was your idea to play for keeps.”

    The rugged hunter sighed, “I needed the cash… Buy me dinner tomorrow?”

    “We’ll see,” the elven blonde laughed, cinching the bag to her belt.

    Even Peter’s stale flat smelled better than the slum cook-fires. Windfalls were too few and far between for hunters whose only prey consisted of beasts from the rift. She’d share their recent profit with the impulsive human, after he sweated a little for over-reaching.

    “Luna! Why did you take so long?” Her steed’s unhappy whine touched Luna’s mind.

    “What’s the matter, Artax?” Luna rubbed the white stallion’s neck.

    Munching glumly on a carrot Luna pilfered from Peter, Artax watched her with dark eyes, “Please don’t leave me like that. I don’t like the way the other hunters look at me.”

    “They won’t hurt you, silly! Everyone knows you’re my horse!”

    “I’m a unicorn!” Artax stamped his hoof, “And I don’t like all the time you’re spending with Peter, either! Please don’t break our bond!”

    “I won’t,” Luna embraced her mount solemnly. “The rift pulled us into this world together, and I swear that’s how we’ll face it.”

    200 words

  19. Clea gripped a handful of handful of man as the horse ran underneath her, moving with the creature. The hunt was on and she wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of what she wanted.

    And she wanted to be one of those who went as a party to take her sister to the Temple of the Spire. She wouldn’t trust anyone else to her sister’s protection. Her father thought that the guards would be enough, that Mela wouldn’t get lonely on the week ride. Clea had other ideas about it.

    She pulled up her bow and drew the arrow, heading towards the first target when a black blur of horseflesh raced passed her. She glowered at the smug face that Beltan threw over his shoulder. He was not going to win this contest. She was playing for keeps and she was going to keep that leech’s hands and body away from her sister.

    Clea had made the mistake of believing the honey lies that he spewed. She wasn’t going to let her sister fall for the same ruse.

    “Come on, girl.” She was going to prove to her father that she was better than his men.

    199 words

  20. It wasn’t fair.

    Being Crown Princess—with the strongest horse and sharpest arrows—should’ve been enough, but nooooo. She flounced around, gorgeous blonde hair waving like a dryad’s, or thundered horseback into the hills so fast all the boys fainted. Okay, maybe not exactly, but you know what I mean.

    Then there was me, the plain-looking, regular-brained sister, such a loser that when playing marbles, I’m not even allowed to play for keeps. (I know! Utter humiliation.)

    Such is my lonely, miserable life.

    So when the old hag in the tattered brown cloak rapped at the door asking for Agnes (yes, Agnes. Shut up.), you’ll get why I thought it was a huge mistake.

    “I’m AGNES,” I said loudly but politely.

    “I know. Come work for me,” she said, hacking something greenish into a sleeve.

    Huh?!!? Me?? I was rather dumbfounded.

    This could work out either really horrible or really great, depending on if she was an actual hag, or somebody cool disguised as a hag.

    I glanced behind me into the boring, unfair darkness of my life. One way or another, I guess things seriously needed to change.

    “Let’s go,” I said, and shut the door firmly behind me.

    200 words

  21. Not qualified, but written.

    Most of the sorority girls had no idea what they’d gotten themselves into. It was to be a pleasant day on horseback, an outing for the girls, with a friendly outdoor challenge – the winner would receive a date with Jared. It would be fun and they had looked forward to playing. But, Cherokee Katy,as they called her, was on a mission.

    Nicole had tried to warn the competitive beauties in the group to tone down there aggressiveness. She knew that Katy was playing for keeps.

    “They’re just rubber tipped arrows” Karyn chided, before dismissively turning her back and calling to her posse, “Come on girls, let’s mount up.”

    “Well, I tried”, Nicole thought, as she climbed into the jeep to return to town.

    Jared would not be waiting for the winner. Jared was unaware of the trip. In fact, no one was. Katy planned whole thing to see who would dare try to date the man destined to give her children.

    Nicole was somewhat sad, but loved her friend Katy.

    As she crested the hill to leave the valley, Katy was coming full-tilt upon the girls. There were no rubber tips, nor any concern that this would end too soon.

    200 Words

  22. Tiny yellow and white daisies speckled the lush green blades of grass of the field ahead.

    Behind a path of destruction as daisies lay trampled, shattered stems with soiled petals coated in a blizzard of clipped grass.

    Four hooves, pounding solidly across the field toting a rhythm upon the hard ground underfoot.

    This was the moment she’d been striving toward, this time she was playing for keeps. As the memory of her fathers disapproving voice rung in her ears, she knew this was her only chance to prove him wrong.

    If she made this kill, it would feed their family the entire cold season and her father would have to admit defeat.

    The bison stood still up ahead, staring warily down at her. Slowing her mare to a trot, she raised her Arrow and drew the Bow slowly, pausing momentarily her eyes focused on his. Deep dark brown eyes, rimmed with thick bushy eyelashes returned her stare. Awaiting its fate, his knowing eyes seemed to pierce her soul. Begging her, the silent plea awakened her senses. Lowering the bow and arrow, placing her hand across her heart she knew now her destiny lay in healing not killing.

    197 words

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