Dale E. Lehman Wins Flash Fiction Challenge

Dale E. Lehman is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.)

Without further ado, here’s the winning story:

 

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Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Happy New Year
by Dale E. Lehman

Dashing in his monkey suit, Bernard couldn’t breathe. Should he exhale, the string quartet, every gowned and tuxedoed guest, even the glittering ballroom itself might blow away. Melody hung on his arm, laughing, clinking glasses with some rich camera-toting fool named Jack who grinned down her cleavage. Bernard wanted to punch his face.

Still, they were in. What could go wrong? His eye strayed to the solid gold porcupine adorning the banquet table, the Porcupine Yacht Club’s legendary mascot.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the master of ceremonies boomed. “Fifteen seconds to midnight!”

Cheers rose and lights fell. As the countdown began, all eyes turned to the smoldering stacks of the model ship centerpiece on the head table.

“Ten!” the throng shouted with joy. “Nine!”

At five full dark engulfed the room. Fireworks and smoke erupted from the ship, commanding attention, blinding everyone as Bernard slipped over to the porcupine. At “Happy New Year!” pandemonium reigned.

Bernard snatched the statue. A flash of light erupted from somewhere not the ship. He froze for an instant, then stashed the object in a prearranged hidey hole in the floor.

The lights went up. Once eyes adjusted, someone shrieked, “The porcupine! It’s gone!”

A stunned silence fell, broken only when Jack snarled, “My camera’s gone, too!”

Connecting the dots, Bernard’s heart sank. Oh God, he thought. Not again.

Melody tapped Jack on the shoulder and hand back his camera. “Oh,” she said innocently, “was this yours?”

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