Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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9-Nov-2018

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I told you not to touch that

“Whacha doin’?” my lump of a nephew asked as he oozed into the industrial kitchen.

“Preparing for later,” I said, setting a gleaming knife onto a white towel which sat atop a floating cart.

“You mean for those guys downstairs?” His bulbous body pulsed, and his eyestalks turned to examine the tray.

“The very ones.” The last item joined the others, and  I retracted my arm into my own body.

“Can I watch?” he asked.

I sighed. “No.”

“Why not?”

The whine in his voice made me want to form teeth and bite him, but I refrained. “You tell me,” I said with as much patience as I could muster.

His body sagged. “Because mom says I’m not mature enough not to go into a blood lust.”

“And?” I formed a ropey sinew and wrapped it around the cart’s controller. My nephew followed as I started toward the back door of the kitchen.

“And I would kill them too quickly.” His body grew larger on the bottom, as if he were slowly turning into a puddle.

“And why is it important not to kill them too quickly?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes in his eyestalks. “Because we want information.”

I stopped just short of the door. “And how valuable is information?”

“More valuable than currency,” he said in the most sarcastic voice he could muster.

He’d been here for over a cycle, and still wasn’t getting it. Of course I understood how difficult it was to stay in control during the development years. I’d been through it. I’d lost control once, and I still had the burn marks on the bottom of my body where my mentor punished me. It had only taken once.

Maybe it was time for my nephew to learn his first lesson.

“Listen, kid, tell you what. Why don’t you help me test some of this stuff?”

“Really?” His eyes widened, and he straightened.

“Really.” I jerked an eyestalk and moved the cart to a nearby counter. It would be another hour before the kitchen staff returned. Plenty of time for what I had in mind.

My nephew practically skimmed across the floor in my wake. I motioned for him to come around the other side as I pulled a drawer out from under the top of the cart.

Several organic items resided there. I could see their scents rise, like smoke, and my nephew leaned away when his body absorbed the first of them.

“This is the first level of persuasion,” I said. “The raw organics.”

My nephew paled, but eased forward.

“The scent isn’t deadly, but as you can feel, it is not pleasant.”

He shook his head and leaned to look into the drawer.

“This one in particular is mild, but it stays with you.” I plucked the white bulb off of the cold, metal surface. The outside of the organic shifted under my touch, and light flakes fluttered back down. I held it out. “Smell it.”

My nephew inched closer and extended a hand toward the object. He didn’t touch it, but instead cupped around it with the extension. Again, he paled, but didn’t move away.

“The outside is mild. The inside is a different story altogether.” I formed fingers and tore away the outer layers until I got to the segments. My appendage wanted to recoil, but I’d handled this before. I pulled a segment free and set it on the towel. “Get ready.”

My nephew grew still.

The blade of the knife gleamed in the light, and I placed the flat of it on top of the segment, then I pressed down.

The scent, once cream-colored, turned a disgusting hue of yellow. The moment the first tendril of it hit my nephew, he went green.

To his credit, he didn’t draw away.

“The beings downstairs will not like this, but it will not kill them.”

“Will they talk?”

“Perhaps,” I said. “Perhaps not.” I picked up the now cracked segment and began to peel the exterior away. The scent became more pungent, and I steeled myself. “But they will when I do this.”

I placed the segment into a little bucket of what we called the press. When it settled, I drew two handles together and pushed.

The segment squished apart and through small holes. The scent turned a violent orange, and raced outward in every direction.

My eyes secreted a protective layer.

“Ah!” My nephew reeled back, pulling his eyes into his body.

“One touch of this,” I said, “and they will be begging for mercy.”

I tapped the goo onto the nearby  counter the turned my back and moved to a disposal. I threw the whole press away.

I only counted eight seconds before a strangled cry of alarm and pain rang out behind me.

I smiled.

The smell of searing flesh reached me, and I turned.

My nephew had taken the bait I had so carefully laid for him. He’d reached out a hand and touched the garlic.

Now his fingers were on fire, and he couldn’t get them back inside his body. He twitched and turned and screamed some more.

I pulled an extinguisher off the wall and pulled the trigger. A layer of purple mist enveloped him, and the he stopped screaming.

I moved to his whimpering form and looked down. “This is why you can’t come down.”

He nodded, liquid running from his eyes and blood running from his ruined hand.

“Now go see the doctor. I have work to do.”

***

Genre – Sci-Fi

Character – Villain

Setting – In a Shop

Random Object – Garlic Press

Theme – You Are Your Own Worst Enemy


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2-Nov-2018

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Sibling Rivalry at its Finest

The grinding of a key being inserted into a lock sounded, and the brass door knob jiggled.

I swallowed.

I knew what would come through the door. I knew I might be in a world of hurt when my mother let my sister back inside. However, the expression of rage on Lydia’s cherubic face had been worth it. The screaming she’d done through the windows, and the threats she’d promised to deliver. All worth it.

Worth it because she’d announced to the whole school that I’d been planning to ask Maddie Jones to the winter dance. She’d announced it after she’d taken my pants and had made me run through the school to my locker in my gym shorts.

I hadn’t even felt bad when I’d locked her outside without a coat. It was barely freezing, and she’d been wearing long sleeves.

Her shrieking voice penetrated the steel and wood of the door. “He left me out here to die!”

“You’re fine,” my mother said.

Mother had begun taking a neutral stance in our little war. Although sometimes she sided with Lydia just because she was the girl.

“You need to ground him!”

The knob turned, and the door opened with a hiss.

I sat on the couch, doing homework.

My mother gave me an exasperated glare as she dropped her keys on the table. “Scott, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“Why don’t you ask Lydia what happened to my pants during school yesterday?”

Lydia, who had her mouth open to retaliate, closed her jaw with a click.

Mother shook her head. “Chores. Now.”

I jumped to my feet. “Gladly.”

“Of course,” Lydia said. She walked around our mother and patted my cheek with her freezing-cold fingers. Her steely eyes bore into mine and her fingernails bit into my skin.

I arranged my face into a bored expression.

Lydia mouthed three words, “Circle of life.” Then she walked away.

“Right back atcha,” I said.

“What was that?” my mother asked.

“Nothing.”

***

This one is a little short, but I liked it!

Genre – Suspense / Thriller

Character – The Fool

Setting – The Holidays

Random Object – Door Knob

Theme – Circle of Life


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26-Oct-2018

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A Hanged Man and a Grudge

Thick mist rolled over the orange pumpkins and between their wandering vines. It hovered close to the ground, spreading as if searching, but for what for I could never say. Yellow light from the nearby modern gas lantern caught edges of the mist frosting each swirl as it crawled outward.

What I could see that no one else could was the ghostly whisper of the gallows that had once stood where the pumpkins now lay. Tall and crooked, I could almost hear the creaking of the wooden beams as the limp forms of the hanged had swung back and forth. Back and forth.

I never saw the crowds that used to gather, their appetite for death more sinister than any criminal, but I never forgot their cheers as each of the damned were brought to the noose, and then sent to their deaths.

And for what? A bit of food? A stolen wallet? All to feed our families?

Was there truly any reason for a person to face eternity in the hell that I did? That we did?

The others rose from the ground, leaving the mist undisturbed. They looked around at the pumpkins then turned their attention to me.

We didn’t need to speak. This had been our existence for more generations than any of us cared to count. I nodded, and the others began prowling through the patch, sniffing the pumpkins and the ground. Relishing in the scent of live humans. Taking in the energy of the children who had come earlier. Their innocence. Their joy.

I didn’t bother. I’d already gathered what I needed.

I always sat close to the surface of reality, those bustling around brushing my awareness and filling me with energy.

Energy that I converted into hate.

Hate for those who had taken what was mine. Hate for those who hadn’t stopped them but had stopped me from taking what I needed to keep my family alive.

My wife. Our children.

Our baby.

Her little cries still echoed in my mind, and even now I squeezed my eyes shut and balled my hands into fists in order to try to exorcise the noise from my mind. But it had been seared into my conscious as I’d been dragged away from my wife—heavy with our third child, holding our baby and covered with sores from a plague.

She’d deserved to live. Our children had deserved a chance at life. Deserved to grow strong, marry and have children of their own.

Instead, I’d been hanged and they’d died. Horribly. Alone.

A low growl came from my throat, and the others skittered away.

I looked down at the pumpkin at my feet. I’d spent years working out who had sent me to the gallows, and more years hunting down their scents. And now I had them. The man’s great-great-great granddaughter had come by in the afternoon. She’d squealed at the sight of this great, round, orange pumpkin with its twisted stem and pronounced lines. She’d hugged it and made her mother promise to come and get it tomorrow.

Hundreds of years had gone by since my death, but I would never forget and I would never forgive.

The others had begun to disappear, their translucent forms melting into their chosen vessels.

I glanced at mine, and another growl escaped. The few others who didn’t have enough energy to leave, sunk back into the ground.

This pumpkin would take me to their house. Into their lives.

The young girl would be giddy, and then she would begin to fear. Fear that something was amiss. Fear that there was a monster in her closet or under her bed. Fear that she was not safe.

Her parents would tell her not to worry, but they would be wrong, and the little girl would be right.

The parent’s wouldn’t realize the truth until far too late.

I smiled and willed myself into the pumpkin, my intangible form bleeding into the sinewy fibers.

At last, someone would pay. At last, I would be able to rest.

***

This is why I don’t go to pumpkin patches.

Genre – Horror

Character – Hanged Man

Random Object – Gas Lantern

Setting – Pumpkin Patch


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19-Oct-2018

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Desperate Housewife Gone Awry

The woman—a throwback of a 50’s television show complete with a vintage dress and bright red lipstick—clapped her hands. “It’s wonderful!”

I turned off the Kirby vacuum and smiled. “As I said, it can shampoo carpets as well as clean hardwood or tile floors.” I glanced around the spotless living area. “Although, I must say that you’re not giving me much of a challenge here.”

The woman, Stacey, laughed. “Oh, Mr. Owens, you are so sweet.”

She seemed mildly interested, but I was sure if I could really dazzle her she would buy. “Is there someplace that you haven’t cleaned lately?”

“I’d be embarrassed to show you.”

I turned on my southern charm and grinned. “What about under a bed?”

Her glistening red lips formed an O, and I knew I had her.

“They’re often neglected, but the hand cleaning attachment will make it easy for you to keep all of those hard to reach places as sparkling as this room.”

Stacey giggled. “Why Mr. Owens, I do believe you are attempting to sweet talk me.”

“I’m just trying to make your life more manageable, ma’am.” I winked. They almost always fell for the wink.

“Well then.” She stood. “Follow me.”

By the time I’d unplugged the Kirby and started after her, she was through the kitchen and half-way up the winding stairs that led to the balcony above. I tried to keep my eyes off of her swaying hips, but she made it difficult as her knee-length skirt gave me a glimpse of what lay beneath as she ascended.

I easily pulled the heavy vacuum up to the next floor and down the hall to where Stacey waited. She gave me a dazzling smile and motioned to the first door.

“You sure you’ve got a challenge for me in there?”

“Oh yes, Mr. Owens.” She brushed her hand along my arm as I went by.

It had been a while since I’d encountered a desperate housewife, but I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea. Especially with a woman who looked like this one.

A twin bed covered with a meticulously arranged blue and white comforter and matching pillows, lay along the far wall. Wood dressers in rich colors sat on the other walls. Light streamed in through sheer curtains, revealing that even the corners of the carved dressers didn’t harbor dust.

I looked at Stacey. “You’re teasing me again.”

“Oh no.” She brushed by me, this time trailing her fingers down my back. She sat on the end of the bed and crossed her legs. “Have a look. I assure you it needs some work.”

My pocketbook needed the sale, but my body was starting to wonder if its needs came first. I took a breath and got on my hands and knees. I lifted the bed skirt.

Dust lay thick on the off-white carpet, and darker spots marked items on the floor. I looked up—ignoring the fact that she’d swiveled her legs around to my side of the bed—and smiled.

“Is this a sufficient challenge for you?”

“Yes, ma’am.” I got to my feet, found the plug and then popped open the front of the unit. I retrieved the hose and hooked it up. Stacey watched me, her eyes exploring every move I made and every inch of my body.

I cleared my throat. “With this, you can easily get under the bed.”

Stacey nodded. “I can see that.”

“You have a few things under there,” I said. “I’d rather not try to suck them up. May I move the bed to retrieve them?”

“If you like,” she said as she stood. Her lips spread into a smile. This time her fingers trailed along my chest down to the button on my pants. They stopped, and she stared at me.

I ordered myself to focus and stepped away. Before I could give into the yearning, I grabbed the bed and pulled one corner away from the wall.

A pencil sat nestled in the crack between the molding and the carpet. A purple notebook lay not far away, and the tip of what looked like a butter knife glinted in the light. I reached down and retrieved both the pencil and the notebook. When I straightened, I found Stacey standing close. Watching.

“Are these yours?” he asked.

“Oh, probably.” She took the items, and when her fingers touched my skin I shivered. “What else is down there?”

I swung the bed a little farther and frowned. Spots of rust covered the butter knife. I didn’t recognize the pattern on the handle. A dark spot about the size of a basketball stained carpet underneath the knife.

“There we go,” I said. “I can help with that.”

Stacey leaned over to get a better look, the front of her body pressing against me. “I wonder where that came from.”

“Probably a juice box,” I said. “Let me vacuum this and then I’ll clean it.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Stacey said.

I straightened and looked at her. “It’s my pleasure.”

She stayed pressed against me. Her fingers traced down my arm and found the knife. “You really shouldn’t bother.”

“Ma’am, I’m sure we can—”

Stacey ripped the knife from my grasp. Before I could react, she pulled the comforter off the bed, then pushed me back onto it.

I caught a single glimpse of the bare mattress underneath. A rust-colored stain the size of my torso covered the middle.

“What is this?” I asked, but Stacey straddled me. Somehow her scant weight kept me pinned in place.

She leaned down, her lips an inch from mine. “I don’t much like salesmen, and I haven’t killed anyone in a while.”

Before I could reply or react, a sharp pain blossomed in my side. Blood poured from the wound, and I suddenly understood that the stain on the carpet was blood. Blood that had seeped through the mattress.

I was going to die.

***

It took me a second to come up with an idea for this one, and I had to stretch the setting a bit. Still, glad to see my morbidity hasn’t waned.

Genre – Horror

Character – Kirby Vacuum Salesman

Random Object – Rusty Butter Knife

Setting – Under a Bed


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