Friday Fictioneers: Cyphers missing a key

PHOTO PROMPT © Kent Bonham

PHOTO PROMPT © Kent Bonham


He told me electricity runs through garden gates and doorways – that was why he stopped at each, hands contorting into intricate loops and angles. Though he wouldn’t say why those shapes, those uncomfortable forms.

Power rippled through the walls of his tiny flat too, humming, buzzing, whistling  – making him batter the plaster with his palms … His head with his fists.

His drawings – black ink scored into white paper – were diagrams, he said: circuit boards, wire maps, technical instruments. Though he wouldn’t tell me what they did.

The drawings survive him now. Cyphers missing a key, they remain locked.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers. See the lovely photo, write 100 words of wonderfulness around it. See full conditions of play here.

18 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: Cyphers missing a key

  1. The first three paragraphs are great, Lynn. I can envision this odd character contorting himself in the doorway and not revealing why that particular contortion. I can see him struggling with what’s going on inside his walls, too. All very interesting and compelling. There’s something missing though, before the last line, I think. Nothing wrong with a bit of mystery, but there might be just a bit too much mystery here; too big a jump at the end. A reference to a dangerous situation that the fellow had put himself into might make us read the last line differently. Otherwise, I think the last line might benefit from a tweak. My opinion, anyway, and others might disagree. Enjoyed this one as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with your judgement, Walt. Truth is, I’ve tried (again!) to fit a quart in a pint pot. In ordinary English, I’ve tried to fit what should be a two hundred word story into the 100 word format the prompt requires. You’re right – to improve the story it needs another section, an explanation of why our disturbed character is no longer around. Thanks so much for the feedback – useful as always.
      Worryingly, this story was inspired by a real neighbour of ours – and yes, he did think gates had electricity running through them.


    1. Thanks Tracey. Yes, totally agree with Walt’s judgement. Could do with being a longer story, very true. My problem is, I just don’t have short ideas 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and for the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah … the mysterious lives beyond the writer. Good one! Points to the fact that what we leave behind may be clearly understood by us, and valuable to us….and not decipherable either in its meaning or its value to those left behind. Excellent take on the photo.
    Just returned from two months in Bermuda so getting back to reading and writing Friday Fictioneers. Good photo me thinks, to get reacclimate to! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I may be the odd person out, but I don’t need to know why he died. To me this was a troubled person, maybe autistic (I don’t know too much about it, just guessing), maybe something else. The essence of your story, to me, is that he lived in his own world, like all of us do, and as he’s gone now, something essential is missing. I loved the phrase ‘cyphers missing a key’. That’s what always happens when someone dies. We never completely know a person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gabi! I suppose the essence of flash fiction is that they tend to raise more questions than they answer, and yes, we’re all cyphers in the end, no matter how close our relationships. Thank you for reading and for the feedback 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. His obsessions are a symptom of his mental state, I think – unhealthy, tipping well over into unstable. A sad end to someone I suspect was very smart. Thank you for reading, and commenting, Mike 🙂


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