Monthly Archives: July 2012
This was written for J. Whitworth Hazzard’s unZombie Flash Fiction challenge with a 250 word limit.
Everybody understood that Ondrej never got over the day when, at the age of ten, he discovered his beloved grandfather hanging from a rafter in the barn.
When the boy began to claim that he saw his grandfather walking at night the claims surprised no one and were accepted for what they were.
His sisters made a game of it.
“Where is dedushka now?” they’d ask him in a tone that was teasing without being cruel.
Ondrej would answer them. By the barn. In the orchard.
“Has he come near the house?” asked his father.
“No, papa. He never comes close.”
“Ondrej, I know you loved your dedushka but you must never let him into the house.”
“The dead… they know we’re in here now.”
“He’s my dedushka!”
“No, he’s not. Not anymore.”
“You’re wrong, papa. He’ll always be my dedushka.”
Twelve years later Ondrej was traveling alone when he was attacked by brigands on a dark forest path. He fought but was no match for four armed men.
They were about to run him through when they heard movement in the underbrush.
Ondrej saw it first.
It was true.
What had once been Ondrej’s dedushka rushed out of the woods and tore the brigands apart.
When it was over it turned its blood-spattered face to Ondrej and nodded before disappearing into the darkness.
Ondrej prayed for his beloved grandfather’s soul and then continued down the road.
This was written for Friday Night Write, a 500 word flash fiction challenge hosted by Sweet Banana Ink. The prompt for this week’s challenge is the song “C’mon Talk” by Bernhoft.
It was three o’clock in the morning and Vasquez’ wedding was over.
My best friend Vasquez, resplendent in his topcoat and bermuda shorts, and Luisa, the bride, stunning in a white sarong, married barefoot on the beach with three hundred of their nearest and dearest.
Annette and I were by the fountain outside the hotel bar.
I thought back to the night six years ago when Vasquez and I met her at our favorite Alphabet City dive bar, the first time I saw her in a haze of smoke and booze. The first time I watched her eyes follow Vasquez across a room.
It was so long ago, but the memory hadn’t faded.
Not even a little bit.
It had been one hell of a wedding, happy and sappy, and I danced all the slow numbers with Annette like I promised her I would.
I held her close and pretended not to notice the way she looked at Vasquez when she thought no one could see.
All things considered, Annette put a damned good face on it, flitting and flirting her way around the room, laughing when it was called for and, despite what it cost her, smiling through the entire day.
She was still smiling and was just a little drunk as she danced around in the fountain.
The bass and just a hint of the vocals from the music bled out of the bar.
Bernhoft’s ‘C’mon Talk’. The universe had a sense of humor.
Annette looked at me and smiled as Bernhoft gave way to a Nina Simone ballad.
“You promised, Jake.”
“Lilac wine is sweet and heady,
Like my love…”
She put her hands out for me and I helped her out of the fountain so we could dance.
“Lilac wine… I feel unsteady…”
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked me in the eye, watching me watching her. The eye contact lasted no more than a couple of seconds but it was enough.
Our lips hovered just millimeters apart. I could feel her need to be kissed. The ache was as keen as my own. But it couldn’t be. Not then. Not like this.
Annette shuddered against me.
She pressed her face into my chest and whispered through her tears. “I fooled them all, didn’t I, Jake?”
I bit my lip and held it until I tasted blood.
“Yeah, baby. You fooled us all.”
It was just after sunrise when they kicked in our doors and hauled us out of our houses at gunpoint.
None of us ever saw our families again.
I survived because I could work, survived despite the efforts of one guard who made breaking me his life’s mission.
I was still working when the Americans came to set us free and after the war I continued to work for twenty years, just to preserve what was left of my sanity.
My old friend the guard thought he was safe in South America but I found him, found him and allowed him to see me, whole and unbroken, before I turned my back and walked away.
This is my entry for Week 40 of Cara Michaels’ Menage Monday flash fiction challenge. The photographic prompt was a street scene with structures all lit up in purple.
As Good a Reason As Any
“I don’t remember so much… purple,” he said as she led him down the boulevard. The pipes and tubing of some sort of factory were lit up in garish colors. “How long did you say I was out?”
“Ten days. I found you in that alley there.”
The clothes he had on didn’t fit. And he had no idea who the woman was. He’d been trying to place her all day.
Red hair. Tattoos. Ripped jeans and half a shirt. Nothing. No recognition at all.
“You kept repeating, ‘survive this’,” she said.
They stopped in a bus shelter so he could rest.
“I don’t feel like I belong here.”
“Maybe you do, maybe you don’t,” she replied. “Maybe you’re here for a reason.”
Screeching tires and gunfire drowned out her answer.
Bullets tore into him as he forced her down beneath him.
She turned him over as the SUV peeled out.
He was leaking sauce and already felt the chill. He tried to speak but could only whisper.
She held his hand and leaned in to hear him.
“This is as good a reason as any,” he said.
Written for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction challenge. The theme for that week was, “Faerie”.
Rogen slipped out of his shirt to reveal an intricate tattoo which glowed bright red in the candlelight.
Daragh stood in the doorway and did not watch as Cait laid her lovely hands on Rogen’s chest and then disappeared into his body in a wisp of bright red smoke.
“Do not be sad, dear brother,” sneered Rogen, “for she was lost to you the moment she set eyes upon me.”
Daragh walked out of the house without a word and did not look back when his brother began to scream.
He found a comfortable-looking stump and sat down to wait for Cait to return to him from his dead brother’s house.
This was where it all started… my first piece of flash fiction, written for Cara Michaels’ weekly Menage Monday challenge (200 words, three prompts in incorporate into a story). It won the challenge for that week.
“Boy,” I said, “you picked the wrong day to Evel Knievel a bridge.”
The red pickup rocked on its perch but wasn’t going anywhere. Ricky had that thing wedged in but good. He was sprawled out in the bed, bleeding from a dozen cuts suffered when he flew out the back of the cab.
“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“No, Ricky. It didn’t.”
He shrugged with the shoulder that wasn’t all busted up. “Guys gotta go where he’s gotta go.”
I holstered my gun and leaned on the truck. He was cornered. The bridge jump was his last shot.
We both watched the ferry make distance over the still water.
Ricky groaned and tried to straighten up.
“Hurts like hell, huh?” I asked him.
He took another long look at the ferry before answering.
“You have no idea, Bob. None. All I wanted…. was… it would’ve been so good.”
“You know, Rick,” I said. “There are only two tragedies in life; one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”
He looked up at me. “Rolling Stones?”
He shrugged and spat up a little blood.
“Who the fuck is Oscar Wilde?”
This was originally written for Cara Michaels’ Menage Monday flash fiction challenge (200 words) and was re-worked for Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads (250 words). It received an Honorable Mention for Thursday Threads.
A Mercy Killing
We met down by the creek.
It looked the same as when we were kids. Same dirty water, same dry grass, same crumbling stone bridge.
I took my time getting down to where Jimbo was waiting for me. I knew I hadn’t been followed. I wasn’t so sure about Jimbo.
He sat on the ledge and chain-smoked through his story.
“I thought it was my lucky day,” he said. “You think I meant to kill him? How the fuck was I supposed to know whose shit it was?”
“Where’s it at now?”
He told me and I ran the numbers. No dice. I couldn’t save him. They take this seriously. Very seriously. They’ll find him and they’ll skin him alive. They’ll make it last for days.
He ran out of cigarettes so I gave him one of mine. I should’ve brought him a blindfold.
I let him finish his smoke.
He nodded and handed over his piece.
“Let’s go,” I said.
I raised the gun as he stood.
“You’re joking,” he said.
“Wish I was, pal.”
I made myself look him in the eye as I pulled the trigger.
When it was done I rolled him into the water, wiped the gun clean, and tossed it in after him.
“Lucky day, eh?” I said as he began to float downstream. “You don’t know the half of it.”
This was written for Lillie McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction event. Writers are tasked with creating a five sentence story inspired by a single-word theme. The theme for this piece was, “Scarlet”.
The smoke from the engine, the rain, the platform, and the dozens of faceless travellers getting on and off of the train, it was all gray.
I had four minutes until the train pulled out, four more minutes to hope, four more minutes to look through that city of gray for a glimpse of scarlet.
The scarf of scarlet you wore, the hat too if it was raining hard enough.
Four minutes went by and the train rolled out.
The smoke from the engine, the rain, the platform, the dozens of faceless travellers, and what was left of my heart, it was all gray.
This was written for Lillie McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction event. Writers are tasked with creating a five sentence story inspired by a single-word theme. The theme for this piece was, “Composure”.
“No matter what happens in there,” the prosecuting attorney said without looking me in the eye, “you have to maintain your composure.”
And so I did, even as the jury foreman read the words, “Not guilty,” and set the man who murdered my little girl free.
That man winked at me and grinned as his lawyer patted him on the shoulder and led him out of the courthouse.
The prosecutor wanted to say something to me and she may well have done so but I wasn’t there to hear it because I was busy moving my axe from the trunk of my car to the passenger seat.
A man’s home address is, after all, a matter of public record.
This was written for Lillie McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction event. Writers are tasked with creating a five sentence story inspired by a single-word theme. The theme for this piece was, “Harvest”.
The bands were no longer playing and the crowd that attended the commemoration ceremony had long since gone home.
Two generals, former adversaries, stood together in the rain.
Each was lost in his own thoughts as they surveyed the field they’d fought over, now covered with row upon row of gleaming white headstones.
“We reap what we sow, General,” said one to the other.
“Then you and I are both damned.”