The Mask Crumbles


© Yinglan Z.

Their High School Drama club had adopted this section of the path through the forest near their campus to clean up every quarter. Derek, the most unpopular student in class, brought up the rear while everyone else had already picked up the more easily found garbage and litter and moved on.

Cynthia and Stephanie decided to take a break and sit on the grass and they saw Derek looking under the wooden path as if he were puking. They started giggling at the sight, calling out “Doofus Derek.”

“Those stupid girls, I can hear them. They think I care…hey, what’s that?”

Something was moving in the shadows. “Probably just a cat or a squirrel.” That’s what he thought until the long dormant blackness leapt into his face.

“Oh gross!”

“What is it Steph…oh gross. Derek what did you do to your..?”

Nothing had happened to his face except his mask fell away finally revealing all of the rage inside. The berserker he’d become rushed at the teens. They were just the first pair to die.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 20, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

It was tough to come up with a story based on the image. The guy really did look like he was vomiting and the expression one of the girls seemed to indicate shock or horror. I built on that, leveraging school bullying and how being pushed too far can finally send even the mildest person into a rage. In this case, Derek had a little supernatural help, and his response was beyond deadly.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

37 thoughts on “The Mask Crumbles

  1. I have seen this happening. Not face-falling-scared-for-life happening, but people bursting out with anger and doing something beyond imagination because of rage building up inside for too long due to being bullied. Amazing read.


  2. I interpret this picture quite differently, but why let that get in the way of a good story? You crafted a classic tale of a low-self-esteem adolescent reaching psychological crisis and lashing out with deadly force. Regrettably, this theme has been played out far too often recently, minus the supernatural means of killing, using instead more conventional firearms. And the solution? That could be the basis for other stories, ranging from post-facto applications of sleuthing and force to apprehend the perpetrator and instigate treatment of one sort or other, to preemptive detection, intervention, and prevention. I can envision some time-travel or causality-loop possibilities that explore such options. I perceive also a possible parallel with solutions to individual terrorism.

    Nonetheless, what I see in this picture is a park maintenance worker with a long-handled tool in his hand trying to clear an obstruction from the watercourse which runs under the walkway. The ditch of the watercourse can be seen more clearly at the opposite side of the walkway from where the worker is leaning over it. His work uniform may be recognized by the yellow stripe along the leg of its baggy blue shorts, and the orange shirt which is clearly not a fashion statement. In the middle background may be seen what appears to be a red plastic bucket, and something blue on the ground nearby which might be another tool. I’m perplexed by the man’s footwear, which appears too flexible for shoes or work-boots. It appears like black socks, but it could be some sort of stretchable rubber boot. The picnicking girls in the background are thus not directly connected with the man and not likely reacting to what he is doing, but are merely enjoying themselves and their conversation.

    I’m not sure, though, whether any sort of interesting story might be developed from *my* interpretation, mundane and plebeian as it is.


    • I missed all of that, well not the odd clothing, but what the bucket was supposed to be as well as the object in his hand. Glad you recognized all of that. If I had, my story might have turned out very differently.


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