#5MinuteFiction: Week 136

It’s 5 Minute Fiction time! You know the rules (and if you don’t, check here — and make it quick because you’ve only got a few minutes!). A reminder–don’t forget your Twitter address if you’ve got one!

Here is your prompt:

Your entry must be set in a tattoo parlor.

NOTE: the photo is not part of the prompt–it’s decorative/inspirational only!

My Octopus tattoo, Dan's ink, session 2 of 2

A Few Notes:

  • In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me.
  • I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.
  • This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Go, go, go! You’ve got until 8:45p EST (on the dot. Yes, I’m serious) to submit your entry in the comments section of this post.

I’ll see you back here at 10p EST with the finalists!

*photograph courtesy of SoulRider222

19 Responses

  1. “What are you getting?” Ursula glared over at the god, a cocky smirk eternally on his freckled face. “What? I can’t be curious?”
    “You know very well what I’m getting. You just want me to say it. Again.” Loki grinned and gathered his long red hair into a pony tail at the nape of his neck.
    “Humor me, pet. Since that film came out, I so rarely get an honor that doesn’t involve a horned helmet.” The human chuckled. Loki had a love/hate relationship with his fictional counterpart.
    “Your name in runes. On the inside of my left wrist.” The god of mischief smiled and kissed her wrist where his name would soon be, and vanished from the tatoo parlor, leaving Ursula to face the needle alone. “Jerk.” She could swear she heard his laughter.

  2. “It’s…. a duck.”

    “No it isn’t, it’s an eagle! A mighty eagle, with its wings spread. Look.”

    “But look at the beak. An eagle beak curves down, doesn’t it?”

    Doug leans in and peers at the duck/eagle. “You’re right, the beak goes the wrong way,” he says.

    “Oh my god oh my god oh my god…” says Cindy. “Oh, my god.” She paces back and forth, hand on her forehead.

    “I’m leaving,” Cindy says.

    “No, no you’re not,” says Doug. “You’re staying here, with me, until he wakes up.”

    “Maybe it’s a raven,” says Cindy. “Can you make it black, a black bird? Like a raven?”

    “No,” says Doug, “I can’t make it into a raven. I’ll end up with a black blob.”

    “So, we’ve got a duck. A freaking duck,” says Cindy.

    “Well we don’t have a duck, he has a duck,” says Doug.

    “And we’re gonna have a broken face,” says Cindy. “When he’s done with us, we will look like ducks, also.”

    “Look,” says Doug. “He broke in here, he asked me to do this, I told him I didn’t know what the hell an eagle looked like or even how to work this stupid equipment. I told him! He didn’t care. He said he’d kick my ass if I didn’t get busy. So I did. End of story.”

    “Right,” says Cindy. “Right. Until he wakes up and kills us both.”

    “Tell you what,” says Doug. “We tell him it’s a mythical creature.”

    “A really stupid looking mythical creature,” says Cindy.

    “Yeah, but with special powers. It bestows powers on its owner. He might just go for it.”

    “He was stupid enough to tell you to put an eagle on there before he passed out,” says Cindy.

    “Okay. So that’s our plan. Okay? Got it?” says Doug.

    “Got it,” says Cindy.

    They sit on the floor and pop open two beers, settling in to wait for him to wake up and ask what happened.

  3. The walls are white, the furnishings minimalist. It’s not what I expected. I was expecting grime and poster-plastered walls; and big, leather-clad guys with handlebar moustaches. Instead, it looks more like I’ve stepped into an upmarket day spa.

    “Are you sure?” His eyebrows lift, but I can see in his eyes that his question is more a challenge than an out.

    I push down the nerves that flutter in my belly, and swallow down the tremble in my voice. “Yes.”

    “You’re absolutely positive?”

    I nod. I close my fists tight so he doesn’t see them shaking. “Yes.”

    Bleach and antiseptic fill my nostrils as I breathe deep, searching for calm.

    The girl looks up from her station. Black ink swirls out from under her sleeves and dances down her arm. She slides across the floor on her stool, stooping in front of us. “Going ahead with it?” Her lips ring sparkles as she speaks.

    We nod.

    “Okay, great. Come have a seat.”

    He follows her across the room, and winks at me as he settles into soft, black leather.

    She lifts his shirt. “Just here?” She taps the curve of his bicep.

    He nods, his smirk aimed at me.

    “Perfect.” She looks across at me, a question in her eyes.

    I nod.

    She fusses around with stencil, prepares her canvas. And then she starts to brand my name onto his skin.

    Another voice, calling my name in ecstasy rings in my ears. Guilt rises like bile.

  4. “Moral support, huh?” Bridget looked over the different designs in the book.
    Bridget looked up to her cousin, Rose. She shook her head while clicking her tongue. “Really. Then why on earth are you offering to pay for me to get a tat, too?”
    Rose smiled sheepishly. “Wouldn’t it be supportive of you to get one right along with me?”
    “Number one,”Bridget scoffed, “there’s hardly anything moral about getting a tattoo. And number two, did it ever occur to you that I didn’t want one?”
    “Who doesn’t want a tattoo?” Rose incredulously questioned.
    “The older version of myself who doesn’t want to get a tramp stamp on her back that will look like some kind of rare rash by the time she’s sixty.”
    Rose shook her head. “It’s not going to look like that.”
    “How do you know?” Bridget flipped through a bunch of animal tattoos. “You, who wants to get a tattoo that says ‘Ronald Taylor.’ Like the two of you are going to be together forever.”
    Rose huffed an annoyed breath and groaned, “Not this again.”
    “Yes, this again!” Bridget slammed the book shut. “I’m trying to tell you that man isn’t going to be with you forever. Puh. Leeze. He’s such a douche bag.”
    “You say that about every guy I’ve been with.”
    “Can’t help it that you’re a douche magnet.”
    Rose’s mouth gaped wide. “Why would you say that?”
    Bridget shrugged. “Cause it’s true. Again, not my fault.”
    Rose smiled at the man who appeared to be sprinkled with piercings from head to toe as he waved them back to his station.
    “I can’t expect you to understand. You, who never had a man.”
    “What of it? There aren’t any decent dudes anywhere.”
    “Sure, they’re are. Maybe you should lower your unreachable standards a bit.”
    “Or, maybe I shouldn’t settle for a douche, which you don’t seem to have a problem with.”
    Rose shook her head as she laid down as the man told her to. “Maybe I should have brought my mother. She’d nag me a whole lot less.”
    “Funny,” Bridget deadpanned, thinking of her prude of an aunt.
    “Seriously,” Rose relaxed as the tattoo artist prepared to work on her back. “If you’re not going to be the moral support I needed, please leave.”
    “I’m morally supporting the great idea of leaving,” Bridget sat in the corner. “But, since you’d rather spend the next hour or so screaming in agony, I’ll witness that, too.”
    Rose huffed.
    The tattoo Rose got that day lasted a lifetime.
    If only Ronald were made of tougher stuff…

  5. His eyes held her in their turquoise glow. The tattooed snake coiled around his features, reptilian scales trying desperately to hide the artist’s chiseled good looks. They almost succeeded. Eve would have passed the tattoo parlor by entirely if not for those eyes. Now she was inside, embarrassed by the chime announcing her presence. She didn’t like tattoos. She didn’t want a tattoo. What was she doing here.

    “Can I help you?” Asked the girl at the front desk, her make-up permanently etched on her face.

    Eve didn’t hear her, instead her eyes remained locked with the blue-eyed tattoo artist. She knew he felt it too, a connection. He set down his inking needle and walked towards her.

    “She wants an apple,” he said, voice smooth as chocolate. “Right here.” He touched the exposed skin of her low cut top.


  6. “Are you sure this is what you want?” Dagger held the piece of paper under the light to be sure he knew what he was looking at. “Are you positive? Once I start, I’m not going to stop.”

    Beads of sweat were forming on the young man’s forehead. “I am totally positive, bro.”

    Dagger shrugged and taped the sketch to his light fixture. The crudely drawn, naked monkey with exaggerated anatomy stared at Dagger with a smile.

    The young man lifted his shirt. The armrest rattled against the chair from nervous elbows. Dagger took an alcoholic wipe and cleaned off the man’s stomach. His screams of pain could be heard outside of the parlor.

    “I didn’t do anything yet,” Dagger said.

    “Sorry,” the young man said. “Please keep going.” His legs bounced against the rubber chair and his eyes were clenched closed.

    Dagger took another look at the monkey whose smile had turned morphed into an angry grimace. “I think you should reconsider this tattoo,” he said.


  7. Ben stood next to my chair in the waiting room of the tattoo parlor. Our relative positions led to a feeling that he was judging me, and the look he gave me – the seething look – did little to suggest otherwise. “Why the hell would you get-” He cut off as they called my name.

    “It’s personal,” I responded for the dozenth time, meeting his gray eyes. I waited for the young woman to walk past, a freshly-inked Tribal tattoo on her palely caucasian skin, and then went around the corner into the sound of needles, gasps and beautiful scars.

    “No, it’s not. There’s nothing personal about it. You aren’t some young Jew getting their grandparent’s concentration camp number tattooed on your arm. Instead,” he put a hand on my shoulder, “You’re trying to get the least personal thing you can. Who the hell would get a tattoo of-”

    “Ben, just drop it. I have my reasons. And it’s not like every piece of ink on you has some deep personal meaning. Want to explain the symbolism of Howard the Duck wearing Superman’s costume?” He stared at me, wounded.

    “That’s not Howard the Duck… That’s me. See how well your skin holds up four decades from now.”

    “Well, you have You the Duck, and I have a Spongebob Squarepants lighting his farts on fire. I’d say we’ll be a well-matched set.”


  8. Gretchen entered the tattoo parlor in her standard Mary Janes and plaid skirt. She’d never felt so out of place amid the giant disks and tattooed necks, but she knew it had to be done. All her life, she’d been the preppie, the reliable one, the good girl, the one everyone could determine the next step. It was so, so, so very boring. She was tired of being that girl. She was tired of being looked over or dismissed by all the other girls and boys at school. Today she was ready to change it.
    “Whaddya want?” the tattoo artist asked.
    “Something. Anything. Anywhere. Surprise me,” was the closed eye reply.


  9. “Does it hurt?”

    “Pain means different things to different people, dear.” The woman’s stretched, leathery hands matched the hardness of her face, and she did not look up as she answered.

    “What does it mean to most people, then? Can you tell me that?”

    At this the woman lifted the needle and looked across the table at the girl. “Fine. It hurts. People cry, girls, brawny men, old ladies, all weep like babies. There. Are you afraid now?”

    “N-no.” The girl inched closer. “Why does it have to hurt to make such beautiful things?”

    “Pain and beauty are friends, love. Didn’t your mother teach you that?” The older woman grinned a little this time, but it was not a nice grin. “Anyway, what are you doing hanging out here, with us disreputable folk? Did you want a little something yourself? A dove, maybe, on your shoulder? Or a little heart on your ankle?”

    The girl shook her head. “No. No, thank you, ma’am, I don’t want anything. I just… I was just curious, that’s all. Your work is so beautiful. But I–I don’t like needles so much.”

    “Ah. We are at an impasse, then. You want beauty but refuse the pain.”

    This time the girl remained silent, her sad, blue eyes watching for a long moment, before she heaved a deep sigh and headed back out into the darkness of the street.

    The grin fluttered lightly at the edges of the woman’s lips. “Ahh, little princess,” she murmured. “Perhaps there is hope for us yet.”

    She cast a glance across the room into the shadows, where no one ever thought to look. Spare needles, yes. Ink, oh yes, plenty in all colors.

    And a spinning wheel.


  10. Submitted after deadline. 🙁

    Adrenaline isn’t infinite. The first hour of coloring had been a rush, but the molar-grinding rake of the needles across my inner-arm has begun to grab my attention whenever Angela stops talking to me.

    “Did you see Paranormal Activity 4?” She asks.

    “I didn’t,” I say.

    “Oh,” She says, and I immediately regret that I’m didn’t just give her some non-answer that kept her talking. But I have no patience for making things up under duress. Whenever I lie, I have the tendency to punish myself in extreme ways until feeling guilty doesn’t matter.

    The monkey head she’s drawing is covered in swirly hair that swallows up the font of the last lie I told.

    “Diana Forever.”

  11. Submitted after deadline

    The rain came pouring down out of a virtually cloudless sky. I lifted my eyes too see the roiling clouds that could produce such massive amounts of stinging rain, but I could still see the blue sky above. It must be blowing from somewhere over the shops that climbed several stories high. I quickly ducked into the nearest door and peered out again, thinking at any moment to have the world darkened to pitch blackness.

    “Hey.” I heard in greeting behind me. I turned to see a half smile on the face of an overly tatooed man leaning on a counter.

    My sneakers squelched as I moved and I looked down at the puddle that was fast forming at my feet. I wiped my arm across my nose as I sniffed. “Oh. Hi.” I returned the greeting. I had never been in a tatoo parlor before. I was surprised that it wasn’t as dark as I expected. There were no shifty eyes or thugs hanging out in the corner. In fact, even the artwork – and I call it artwork now, though I wouldn’t have before – was well lighted and displayed with beauty.

    “Came out of nowhere, huh?” His head nodded toward my wet appearance and I smiled and nodded.

    “Yeah. You mind if I hang out here for a bit until it’s over?” I brushed my hands along my soaked clothes and ran my fingers through my hair.

    “No problem. Have a look around, if you’d like.” He smiled and gestured toward the room, then bent to work on something.

    I took one last glance outside. The rain was still coming down, but I could see the rainbow now. I loved the combination of sun and rain. Beauty is everywhere.


  12. Submitted after deadline

    Aw shucks – that’s what I get for having a talkative husband right at 7:30. Here’s my story just for grins.

    “My dad will probably kill me,” Shanda said nervously, looking over the collection of art plastered over every spare inch of the walls,

    Theo just watched her. He stood in the center of the room and rotated as she moved around. It was difficult to keep his comments and body language non-committal, but he didn’t want to influence her one way or another. This was a lifetime decision in more ways than one.

    The tattoo artist sat in a darkened corner, waiting. He’d learned from experience it was best to let the nervous ones take their time. They might back out today, but most of them would be back again.

    Finally, she moved to a section of wall space toward the back of the store, the section Theo was really interested in. Would she see it? Was it possible that he had finally found the one person who could?

    Shanda glanced over the black and white geometric shapes with an almost uncaring eye. She’d already informed Theo that whatever she got, it would have color. Theo held his breath, she was almost there. Just one more step to the right.

    In a moment that lasted eternity, Shanda moved to her right and stood poised, ready to take a second step. Theo could almost feel the lead weight of his heart as it prepared to plummet to the pit of his stomach. Not the one after all, just another girl with an overactive imagination.

    But then she stopped.

    “What’s this one?” she asked.

    It took incredible self-control for Theo to walk casually over to her side instead of flash to her. She was looking at it. The section of designs that only an art mage could see.

    “It looks alive,” she breathed, staring directly at an image of a jaguar reclining in the branches of a tree.

    Theo closed his eyes and allowed himself a moment of quiet celebration. The tattoo artist stood up and came near. It was no longer a question. The girl would leave marked with the spirit of the jaguar, initiated into the world of magic shape-shifters and mated for life with the boy who’d waited a lifetime for her.


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