Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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3-Jul-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie

Mission: 1

I expected the ride to be more bumpy. Instead, one second I was standing on the transport cloud, and the next I was in a home.

An earthly home.

I pulled my flaming sword from the scabbard, conjured my plumed helmet, and readied myself for a fight.

“Seriously, you brought your sword, kid?” my controller, Zedekiah, asked in my ear.

I ignored him as stats poured into my mind.

Two parents. Three children. One cat. One snake.

No immediate danger.

The tabby cat sitting in the corner hissed.

“Stop scaring the animals,” Zedekiah growled.

The green indicator light on my wrist band lit up, indicating I had plenty of time.“What’s my mission?” I asked, looking around the cluttered bedroom. It had been a while since I’d been a kid, but the blocks, cars, and clothes on the floor indicated it likely belonged to a young boy. Maybe he was the one in danger. I slowly moved into the hall, checking both directions for enemies.

The cat hissed again.

“Put the sword away, kid,” Zedekiah said.

“I’m not reading anything out of the ordinary,” I said. Which was unusual. They’d told us at the academy that we should understand our assignment right away. So far I had nothing.

Zedekiah sighed. “Kid, this is a Class A mission.”

“They taught us to be prepared.”

“Tell me what a Class A mission should entail?”

I crept along the plush carpets toward the center of the house, not daring to blink in case I missed something important. “Class A missions are low-level saves.”

“Which include?” Zedekiah prompted.

When I reached the next bedroom, I jumped in front of the doorway with my sword up and ready. Only inanimate objects lay inside. “It depends.”

Zedekiah sighed. “Kid, you’ll never need a sword for a Class A mission.”

I felt the soft padding of paws on the floor, and I whirred around to find the cat in the hall, staring at me. “This cat is following me. It reads as normal, but I’m not so sure.” Demons could be tricky, especially disguised as cats.

“What are you feeling?” Zedekiah asked.

I continued to stare into the cat’s yellow eyes as I considered. Besides the cat nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I closed my eyes and let the mission pull me. A gentle tug, like someone had pulled in a single hair of my head, lured me backward. Away from the cat.

“Do you feel anything?” Zedekiah asked.

“Maybe.” I opened my eyes, glared at the animal, then followed the pull.

A sudden rumble filled the air, and the floor shook.

I moved into a fighting stance. “Something’s coming.” A shriek sounded, then laughter. “Something loud.”

“Probably the kids,” Zedekiah said. “Try to figure out if they’re your mission.”

I really thought it would be easier to feel what my mission was supposed to be. A dark presence would indicate something occult, but there was nothing that oppressive here. A pull toward the cat or the children would give me a clue, but as the three children thundered up the stairs and then through me, which made me shiver, I felt nothing. “It’s not the kids,” I said.

“Keep moving,” Zedekiah said. “It should be close.”

I obeyed, creeping past the last bedroom, where I found the mother picking clothes off the floor and putting them into a basket.

That’s when I finally felt something. “Zedekiah? I’ve got something.”

“From what?”

“The mother. She’s…” I fought to remember the task. “She’s preparing laundry.”

“Are you drawn to her or to something in that room?”

I closed my eyes and let the tug guide me. It moved to my right, and when I cracked one eye, I saw that the woman had moved in the same direction. “Her.”

“You sure?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Okay, what kind of a feeling are you getting?”

Again, I’d expected more. “Frustration. Anger. She seems like she’s on the ragged edge.” Each movement she made looked jerky, and she was muttering under her breath.

The indicator light went from green to yellow, telling me I needed to hurry.

“What do you think that means?” Zedekiah asked.

Lessons from the academy came back to me, as I processed the information. “It probably means that I’m here to…” I trailed off. This was silly. I’d graduated top of my class. Well, almost the top of my class. Certainly in the top ten. Why had they sent me on a feel-good mission? Anyone could do this.

“Zeek?”

“Hold on.” I lowered my sword and released my helmet. How was I going to tell the other angels that my first mission was nothing more than a pep talk? This didn’t seem like a guardian angel sort of thing.

That thought struck me. We were protectors. Usually from some sort of physical harm. We didn’t go around making people feel good about themselves. There was an entire team of support angels for that.

What was I supposed to protect her from? Herself? I finally answered Zedekiah. “I’m not sure why I’m here.”

“Keep looking around.”

I did as he said, walking to the stairs, then floating to the bottom. As soon as I left the stairs the pull tugged me back to them. “It’s something about the stairs,” I said.

“Elaborate.”

I didn’t know how. They pulled me back as if the way to them had suddenly become downhill. There was nothing extraordinary about them.

The yellow indicator light turned orange and began blinking.

I had to hurry.

There was nothing extraordinary about the stairs. They were carpeted and led up to the second floor. One side had a banister while the other was the wall. A couple of toys sat at random intervals.

There was no apparent danger.

The mother got to the top of the stairs.

I searched frantically as the blinking sped up. Nothing caught my attention. Nothing felt off.

The mother started down.

The light turned red, but continued to blink. I had seconds.

There was nothing I could see that would be a danger. I let out a frustrated sigh and kicked one of the toys out of the mother’s way.

She stepped right where it had been.

My indicator light went green.

“Nice job, kid,” Zedekiah said. “Prepare for extraction.”


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26-Jun-2020

When the End of the World Gets Really Weird

“This is ridiculous,” a man behind me grumbled.

I kept my eyes forward, not wanting to be associated with him. The idiot kept talking.

“I mean, he’s a kid that can’t even talk. How is it he has all the power?”

Someone shushed the man, and he started muttering under his breath.

It’s not that I didn’t agree with the guy, but if the Kid, as the man had called our new God, heard him, we’d all die. Unless the Kid was in a good mood, then we’d all get tickled until we wet our pants or something.

A woman looked over her shoulder at me. “How did our world come to this?”

I shook my head. No one knew, and speculating only wasted time that none of us had. By now my family would only be days away from starving, but if the Kid liked my gift, then we’d have food for the rest of our lives. I cinched up my grip on the old recyclable bag dangling from my fingers, and prayed to the God I used to worship that the Kid would like it.

The man behind me continued to mumble, until I heard a thunk and then a thud. A quick glance told me someone had knocked him out and the guards dragged him away. I found the woman who was responsible—hard to miss the giant staff she had—and gave her a nod.

She nodded back.

It’s like we were best friends.

A tall, heavy door creaked open.

“Next!” a guard shouted.

The line shuffled forward, and the man before the woman ahead of me squared his shoulders and walked from the dingy hallway of an old office building into what I knew was a small auditorium that could hold a hundred people or so.

We waited. I ignored the smell of someone’s fear trickling down their leg. Instead of despairing, I thought of my daughter. If I didn’t have to give a gift to the Kid, it would go to her.

Not that anyone needed what I had. In fact, it was wildly impractical. But, the Kid had fickle taste, and a strange sense of humor on his good days, and if this was one of those days, then I would be in.

I hoped.

I just needed enough food to last the spring. We had seeds to grow in the summer, but I knew we wouldn’t last that long. I hadn’t eaten in three days. My wife, probably more.

A scream came from beyond the door.

The woman in front of me shifted.

I swallowed.

A few minutes later the door opened and the guard said, “Next!”

The woman straightened and entered.

I walked forward to take her place, and caught a glimpse of the man who had gone before her, being dragged out the far door, a smear of blood in his wake. I tried to get a glimpse of the Kid, but the door closed too fast.

Whatever had happened to our world had left us a mere husk of what we’d once been. Magic had taken us by surprise, and had decided children would wield it. Children with disabilities, to be precise. The Kid had severe autism, and could call on power that I’d seen pull down sky scrapers and change the weather. Anything could cause a mood swing, from the color red to someone’s hair being too long to the texture of their jacket.

I knew, because I’d had an autistic daughter before this had all started. Her biggest trigger had been the sound of footsteps on a hard surface, but anything could set her off.

The power had come to her, and consumed her. Along with our house and a nurse. Lucky for us, we’d been grabbing dinner at the time.

It still caused an ache inside when I thought about it, and a tear gathered in the corner of one eye. I hadn’t been there for my little girl, and even though I knew I couldn’t have done anything about it, I still felt it was my biggest failure in this life.

The door before me creaked open.

“Next,” the guard said.

I jumped. My heart was racing, and my hands shaking. I shouldn’t have been thinking about her.

“You coming?” the guard asked.

I lunged forward, afraid I’d miss my chance. He gave me a disdainful look before he shut the door behind me.

I hadn’t heard the woman scream. Maybe that was a good sign.

“Approach,” another guard said.

The room fell away from me, and I focused on the Kid. He was skinny, blond, and filthy. He sat naked within a ring of toys, absently poking an old iPad. It had been almost a year since I’d seen him, and he’d gotten taller, but it seemed his intellect had stayed where it had always been.

It was now or never. I walked forward, got to the line, went down on one knee and bowed. “I have a present for you.”

The Kid glanced up.

I pulled the little toy out of my bag. I knew I’d only have his attention for a second, so I showed him the outside of the happy, stuffed octopus.

The Kid started to look away.

Then I flipped it inside out to reveal a frowning octopus.

The Kid blinked.

I did it again. “Happy. Mad.”

The Kid smiled, and held his hand out for the item.

A guard took it from my trembling fingers and the kid scrambled out of his circle to claim it. His eyes lit up as he switched the toy from happy to mad and back. He squealed in delight, then pointed.

The guard grunted and hauled me to my feet by my elbow. “Looks like you caught him on a good day. Take whatever you want from the food room.”

My heart pounded in relief, but it also ached for this boy. For our innocent children who were now something else.

***

If you want your very own reversible octopus, check out Teeturtle!
(I have a reversible Narwhal myself)


  • 1

19-Jun-2020

How to lose Pandemic in Less than Ten Minutes: Based on True Events

 “Who’s first?”

“Me.”

“We need to get to Asia.”

“Why?”

“Look at all of those disease cubes! If there’s an outbreak we’re screwed.”

“It’s literally the first card in the deck. There’s not going to be an epidemic. And even if we do get one, it will only be bad if we draw Hong Kong.”

“Then I guess I’ll go cure Washington.”

“I’ll move to Asia on my turn and take care of it.”

“One. Two. Cure and cure. Give me Two cards…Oh look, an epidemic.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Very first card.”

“Who shuffled?”

“Me.”

“Stop laughing.”

“But it’s kind of funny.”

“Give me a city card…Hong Kong, really?”

“We’re screwed.”

“Wait, wait, it’s not that bad. Look, it’s only…oh man.”

“Then this city has an outbreak, and this city has an outbreak. Hand me some more cubes.”

“This is your fault.”

“What? I shuffled, I swear.”

“That’s the problem.”

“That’s three outbreaks.”

“Four.”

“Oh yeah, four.”

“Pretty sure that’s not supposed to be possible in this game.”

“Well, it is called pandemic.”

“You know we lose if that outbreak token gets to the end of the line.”

“Uh, well, then no more outbreaks.”

“Better get to Asia.”

“On my way.”

“I can transport you there on my next turn.”

“Great. That should take care of it.”

“Good. Good. Keep it under control in Europe.”

“I thought we were worried about Asia.”

“Holy crap, epidemic card.”

“Is that even possible?”

“If it’s literally the top card of this pile. Again. Stop laughing.”

“Kyoto.”

“For real?”

“Then this city has an outbreak, and this city has an outbreak. and this city has a…and we’re dead.”

“I didn’t even get a second turn.”

“Neither did I.”

“Let’s forget this ever happened and start over.”

“Yeah, good idea.”

Stay tuned for a new format for Flash Fiction Friday in July. You’re going to love it!


  • 0

12-Jun-2020

The War on Rodents: Jerry’s Downfall

Brad stopped in his tracks. His claws sunk into the dirt, and his nose twitched. Moist earth. A hint of fresh air. Worms. Bugs. And…metal.

“Jerry, don’t go out the hole.”

“Yeah, I smell it.” Jerry huffed and backed up, which meant his tail ended up in Brad’s nose, which caused Brad to back up. “Let’s go out the other way.”

“What if they’ve found both holes?” Brad couldn’t keep the tremor from his voice.

“What are we? Cats? We can did another hole you know.”

“Right.” Of course Brad knew that, but the last trap the humans had set had been right by his exit, and in an evening stupor, he’d almost walked right into it. He shuddered, thinking of the snap of the metal, the crunch of his bones, then the end of his life.

When they reached a wide spot in the tunnel, Brad stopped and let Jerry turn around.

“Come on,” Jerry said. “We’re going to miss the grubs if we don’t hurry.”

“There are plenty of grubs,” Brad said automatically.

A soft snort escaped Jerry’s nose, echoing through the tunnel. “That’s mom talking. You need to learn to think for yourself.”

Jerry thought that because he’d been born before Brad that he was smarter. Brad didn’t think this was true, but had yet to find a way to prove it.

“I can think for myself,” Brad said as they turned. The tunnel sloped upward. “I can even do math, and the math says there are plenty of grubs for everyone.”

“Not the good ones,” Jerry said. “Newly hatched. Juicy. Tender.”

Brad’s mouth began to water.

“If we don’t get out there soon, we’ll be left with the big ones.”

“Which are bigger,” Brad said. They turned again, and a hint of fresh air got past Jerry’s wreaking butt.

“Size doesn’t equal taste,” Jerry said in what he probably thought was a wise voice. Instead it made him sound like their uncle. But Brad had made the mistake of making that comparison once before.

“If you say so,” Brad said.

“I do.” Jerry stopped, and Brad almost ran over his tail. “Dang it.”

Brad sniffed again. Sure enough, the tang of metal filled the air.

“We’re going to miss the good grubs,” Jerry wailed.

This is why Brad thought he might be smarter. Sure, Brad was afraid of the human traps, but he didn’t cry when he didn’t get the best food. “Better dig a new hole,” he said.

“There’s no time.” Jerry’s voice sounded manic. “I’m going to sneak past it.”

“Sneak past it?” Brad squeaked.

“Sure. Dumb humans didn’t do a very good job of hiding it, which means I can get past it.”

“Jerry, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re dumb as a rock.”

“Pretty sure a rock wouldn’t try to squeeze past a trap built to snap it in two.”

“Because rocks are dumb.” Jerry moved forward. “Let me get out, then I’ll dig it wider for you.”

Brad didn’t want to tell Jerry that he’d never, ever, try to get past one of those traps. He eyed the tunnel wall as Jerry’s tail slithered out of sight.

“I’m not getting cracked by that thing. I’ll dig my own way out.” Brad snorted and started to claw at the dirt. If he got lucky, he’d be to the surface before Jerry was.

Brad was good at digging, and it didn’t take him long before his claws breached the surface. Warm air rushed in, and Brad took a deep breath. A small stream of sunlight hit his eye, and he snapped it shut.

At the same moment, a zing sounded, followed abruptly by a crack.

Then a whimper.

Brad froze. His little heart sped up, and his paws twitched to run. “Jerry?” he asked.

Another whimper. Then a gasp. Then nothing.

“Jerry?”

***

I’ve run out of dice rolls, and have a few weeks until I start my next little theme for Flash Fiction Friday, so until July, you’re going to get random stuff.

Enjoy!


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