Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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20-Dec-2019

There’s always that one person at work who has to predict the end of the world…

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other and glanced at the timer for the third time in fifteen seconds.

Why did everything feel like it was taking forever today?

Ten.

Almost there. Only six more batches to go before I went on break.

Eight.

Ugh. Time had to be going backward.

Five.

This. Day. Would. Never. End.

Two.

“It smells like something is burning,” a voice said from behind me.

Beeeep…

I pulled the basket of now crispy French fries out of the oil and hooked it in place so the oil could drip off. “Nothing is burning,” I said in a hollow voice.

Violet said she smelled something burning at least once an hour. Personally I wondered if she was having a permanent stroke. She was like fifty years old. Practically dead.

As I loaded the next basket of fries, the world seemed to wobble a bit. I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment before shaking my head and taking a deep breath. When I reopened my eyes, for a short second, I saw something totally different than the fry machine before me.

The glimpse was too short for noticing details, just the big picture. A door with a gold frame filled with what looked like water. And a hand reaching through it toward me.

Nope. Not again.

I shook my head again and dumped the new fries to the pile under the heat lamp. A salty cloud of oily smell rose as I tossed the pile, so no one would know how long the oldest ones had been there.

“Something’s burning,” Violet said.

Jack, the manager, looked at me and rolled his brown eyes.

I smiled. He was cute. And almost twenty. I liked it when he paid attention to me. So I giggled.

“Come on,” Jack said to Violet. “Nothing is burning. Why don’t you go and run the drink machine for the drive-thru?”

That brought a smile to Violet’s wrinkled face. “Okay!”

Jack shook his head.

“Crystal is going to be mad at you for that,” I said.

“Naw. She owes me for being late again. Besides, Violet is actually good at running the drinks. She just talks the whole time.”

“I still think she’s having a stroke.”

We laughed.

Then a deep, dark voice spoke in my mind.

People that old should be put out of their misery.

My jaw hinged open. What had I just thought? What did that even mean?

Violet, who had been heading toward the drive-thru, stopped and stared at the ground.

Jack groaned. “Here we go.”

“What?” I asked.

Jack pat the air with his hands. “You haven’t heard this yet, have you?”

“Heard what?”

He grinned. “You’re in for a treat.”

“Uh…”

Violet looked up at me. “Do you know how it got here?” A shaking finger pointed at the tiled floor under her feet. A deep score had been cut into the tile, but it looked as if it had been made with a round saw blade, with the center being deeper than the edges.

“The cut?” I asked.

She nodded.

I shrugged.

“A ghost.”

“A ghost?” I tried not to laugh.

“It comes through a door.” Violet raised the same trembling finger and pointed right at the fry machine. Her voice got deeper. “There.”

I blinked.

“A man. Wearing strange clothes. He comes.”

Jack moved to her at took her by the shoulders. “Now now, Violet, let’s get you to the drink machine.”

Violet’s head remained looking at me as Jack turned her body. “He comes with his knife.”

“Knife?” The word came as a whisper. I’d never seen him with a knife.

“The golden man.”

I shivered despite the heat coming from the deep fryer.

No, no, no. My therapist told me it was stress. But how could Violet and I see the same thing? A golden man.

“He did that,” Voilet pointed to the floor.

My eyes drifted back to the cut in the floor. One would think that it would be a safety hazard, but no one had fixed it. And no one ever tripped on it.

“Violet,” Jack said with a laugh, “stop scaring the new employees.”

“But he did it. With the golden man.”

I nodded, despite myself.

“It’s just a tall tale,” Jack said as he finally steered Violet around the corner. “Made up by some of the kids after they’d taken a class in Incan history.”

His words faded, but Violet’s did not.

He had done this. The ghost from the door. He’d shown me, and then he’d told me that I was to be his next vessel.

The one to extract the blood sacrifice.

Beeeep

I shivered and suddenly felt as if I’d forgotten something. Again.

***

That was pretty fun! Who would read a story about a 50-something, half crazy, herald? I probably would.

Genre – Tall Tale

Random Object – Tumi Incan Knife (See picture for reference)

Setting – McDonald’s or equivalent


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12-Dec-2019

Laurel’s mom hadn’t specified she had to give her little brother an equal share of turns…

“Come on, Laurel, it’s my turn.” Jimmy’s voice whined as he spoke.

“No it’s not.” Laurel held onto the outside of the tire swing, threw her legs out and leaned back so her long, red hair would trail out behind her.

“Yes it is. Mom said you had to give me a turn.”

Mom had said that, but she hadn’t specified that Laurel had to give her annoying little brother an equal share of turns. She figured she had another five minutes before he’d get mad enough to stomp back to the cabin and tattle on her. Five more minutes hanging out over the lake on the swing.

If only Miles were here. He would climb as high as he could in the tree before jumping into the lake. Laurel blushed as she thought about Miles without his shirt on. A year ago she wouldn’t have cared—she and Miles had spent plenty of time in the lake in their childhood—but things had somehow changed. She noticed new aspects about her friend. And he was getting so tall!

“Laaaaaurelllll…” Jimmy wailed.

She sighed and kept thinking about Miles. The tire swing continued to go back and forth, making it feel as if she were weightless and flying.

Then she heard a krlump and a splash. Cold water hit her back, and she sat up and screamed. “Jimmy! Mom said no splashing!” She turned her mean gaze on her little brother.

Jimmy blinked. “I didn’t do anything.”

Laurel eyed him. He was near the shore, standing close enough that he could have tossed a rock into the lake. But he had his hands in front of him. “Don’t you lie to me.” The words always sounded tougher coming from their mom.

“I’m not,” Jimmy said.

“Then why did I get splashed with water?”

He shrugged. “Fish?”

“You did it.” Laurel pumped her legs to swing higher. “Now I get ten more minutes.”

“You do not!” Jimmy balled his hands into fists and stomped the ground.

“Do too.” She closed her eyes and returned to daydreaming about Miles. He’d never had muscles before this year. She liked his muscles.

Another krlump and a splash.

More cold water hit Laurels’ back. She whipped upright and glared at Jimmy. “I told you to stop it.”

Instead of a guilty expression, she found a look of surprise on his face. “I…it wasn’t me.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Liar.”

“I’m not lying!”

“Then what was it?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Now he was playing with her. “Twenty more minutes. And you can whine to mom all you want, but when she finds out you’ve been throwing rocks at me you’ll be the one in trouble.”

“I didn’t throw anything!” Jimmy shouted.

“Whatever.” Laurel pretended to lean back and close her eyes, but really she kept them open a slit so she could catch her brother in the act. If He would be grounded for sure.

Krlump. Splash.

Laurel had had her eye on Jimmy. He hadn’t moved. She quickly craned her neck to see the water directly beneath her, but only caught a glimpse of concentric rings on the water moving away from her toward the shore.

Instinct caused Laurel to pull her feet up. Well, instinct and the horror show she’d watched with her friends. Anything could be in the water.

“See, it wasn’t me!” Jimmy yelled.

Laurel forced an aloof calm in to her voice. “Well, it has to be someone, now doesn’t it?”

“Or something,” Jimmy said.

“Don’t be stupid.”

“I’m not stupid.”

She could argue with him on that for days and still not convince him.

Still, it had to be something.

Someone, she corrected herself. “Jimmy, you watch the water while I swing again. Tell me what you see.”

He nodded, his eyes still wide.

It took a steadying breath before Laurel could convince herself to lower her legs. She didn’t close her eyes all the way as she started to swing.

Let it be a fish, she chanted in her mind. Just after my shadow.

It took a long time before the sound came again. Laurel was ready. The moment she heard the krlump, she twisted and looked at the water below. She sneered when she saw the outline of a white stone sinking into the lake.

Jimmy still stood on the bank, innocent. But he wasn’t entirely innocent, now was he?

Laurel pumped her legs and lay back again. “You may as well come out, Miles.” She shook her hair back and forth like women did in the movies. Surely it would entice him to her.

A few thumps sounded before a war cry and a huge splash.

Laurel forced herself to stay laying back as a wave of water hit her. She screamed, pretended to lose her grip, and fell into the water right next to where Miles surfaced, his lips pulled into a smile.

It took more effort to swim badly than it did to do it right. She made a few pathetic sounds. Miles was quick to come to her rescue, cutting a line through the water and getting behind her. His arm wrapped around her neck. Her back settled in his chest.

“Sorry,” Miles whispered in her ear. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Liar,” she said. Barely getting the word out around her beating heart.

“Maybe.” His lips touched her ear. She shivered.

“Is it my turn now?” Jimmy whined from shore.

Laurel sighed and relaxed into Miles’ arms. “I missed you.”

***

My mystery turned into a romance. Well, it was either that or horror 😉

Genre – Mystery

Random Object – Rope Swing

Setting – Lake in the Mountains


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6-Dec-2019

Did I just write a normal story?

“Do you really have to do one of your ridiculous videos here?” Mandy asked with that tone in her voice that meant I would be hearing about this for the rest of our trip.

Our son, Cory, saved me. “But Mommmm, it’s soooo cooool”

It amazed me that he could draw out a majority of the words in every sentence that came from his lips.

Mandy let out a little humph and returned her attention to her e-reader.

I shot Cory a smile of thanks, which he returned with a double thumbs up as well as his tongue out of his mouth in devil horns fashion, except his seven-year-old self didn’t know what devil’s horns were.

Ah, to be young again.

The door leading from the hotel into the pool area opened, and several kids piled through with a ragged-looking mother trailing behind.

Mandy gave the family a hostile inspection, then her eyes drifted back to her book.

“Hurry, dad,” Cory said, “before they get loud.”

“Good point, kid,” I said. “You have your goggles?”

Cory dangled the blue goggles from his fingers and grinned.

“Nice.” I cleared my throat, angled my selfie stick and hit the record button. I opened my mouth to speak, but Mandy beat me too it.

“You should record over there. The sun is going to wash you out.”

I scowled. She hadn’t even look up from her book. Which meant she’d been thinking it for the past five minutes and had decided to wait until that very moment to share.

Cory looked back and forth between us. The poor kid had seen enough of us fighting, so I plastered on a smile. “Good call, babe. Thanks.”

“Uh-hu,” she said, still not looking at us.

I jerked my head toward the other end of the pool. “Come on, kid, let’s do this.”

“Yeah!” Cory did a fist pump and jumped into the air.

If only I could bottle a fraction of that energy…

I stopped the recording, grabbed the bottle at my feet, and followed Cory to the other side of the pool.

The other family was still settling in. The kids looked to be straining against invisible harnesses—eyeing the water with longing fit for a lover.

Mandy would freak out of we didn’t get the video today, so I caught up with Cory and stopped. “Ready?”

“Ready.” He held up his goggles again.

I started the video, waited for a few seconds, and smiled at the camera. “Hey everyone, I’ve got a simple life-hack for you today. I’m sure most of you have heard of this new inside windshield cleaner.” I retrieved the bottle and held it in line with the camera. “It comes with the little wiper thing for the windshield of your car, but today I have a different application for it.”

Cory took his cue and moved in beside me, twirling the goggles around his finger.

“Do your kids complain about their goggles getting foggy while they’re swimming?”

“So foggy,” Cory said.

I fought down a laugh. He sounded just like his mother.

“Well, this product, and those like it, will keep that from happening.” Cody held out the goggles and I sprayed into them. I then used my finger to make sure all of the surfaces got covered. “It’s as easy as that.”

Cory nodded. “We did this to my last pair of goggles, and it was awesome. I can see all the time under the water!”

I laughed. “Alright, get going.”

Cory somehow managed to flourish his goggles as he put them on, then I filmed him as he ran to the side of the pool and jumped in.

The other kids joined him a second later.

I stopped filming. Perfect timing.

The ragged mom gave me a wan smile.

I returned it.

Then Mandy’s voice carried over the yelling of the kids. “Dan, will you get me a towel?”

I sighed. “Coming.”

***

This is the first and only thing that came to mind.

I didn’t even kill anyone today. 😉

Genre – Cooking /  Crafting Show (I did DIY)

Random Object – Inside Windshield Cleaner

Setting – Hotel Swimming Pool


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29-Nov-2019

No One Feels Fine at the End of the World

I stared at the broken merry-go-round. Most of the animals had been ripped from their poles and scattered. Half of the circus-tent-like-top lay in shambles. Shards of glass on the ground—a sick testament to how bright the place had once been—glittered in the moonlight.

Weeks of running, of barely surviving, had brought me back. Here.

To be honest I didn’t think I had any more tears to shed, but a single drop of salty water pooled in the corner of one eye and slid down my cheek.

Had it only been weeks? It felt like months. Years.

A lifetime.

If I’d known then what I knew now, would I have ran? Or would I have faced the fate of most of the human race? Died then and there. Not had to go through the nightmare that the world had become.

Would I have saved myself from the burden of the truth?

I’d like to say I would have fought anyway, but if the past month had taught me anything, it was that no one knew what they were going to do in a life-or-death situation until they were there. Staring it in the eye.

Leaving their children to die.

I shook that thought away as I moved forward.

They’d been dead before my brain had processed the fact that there was a monster at the fair. Teeth. Claws. Skin the color of midnight and eyes that burned with hate.

A girl’s body had been hanging from its fangs before I’d had enough sense to even scream. And when I did scream, my voice joined the others.

I forced myself to move forward. I needed to know. I needed to see them.

The head of the purple unicorn my daughter had been writing lay on the blood-stained grass. The back of the lion where my son had been lay a dozen feet away. I didn’t want to think about my wife. I’d banished her from my mind, because even a whisper of her in my heart would break me.

Now it didn’t matter, so I moved along the grass, my eyes taking in the carnage, until I got to the steps that led up to the merry-go-round.

Scavengers had eaten everything that could be eaten. I’d grown accustomed to the smell of death, but was grateful that I didn’t have to tune that out now.

The wood creaked under my feet as I moved onto the platform. I stepped around what was left of clothes and a few body parts, until I reached where the body of the purple unicorn still clung to a once gold pole.

I almost smiled when I saw the seat belt still around the torso of my daughter. Of course my wife would have belted her on. Safety first.

A wave of emotions threatened to rise, and I had to close my eyes and remind myself that everything was gone, not just them.

And it wasn’t my fault.

A howl—piercing and alien—howled in the distance. The hairs on the back of my neck rose. They’d been hunting me for days. I’d managed to lead them away from the refugees, but this would be my last stand.

A broken fence lay beyond the merry-go-round, and beyond that lay the dimension rip that had spewed the apocalypse.

I had been at ground zero.

Why hadn’t I died here the first time?

Another howl. This one closer.

My eyes snapped open and I pulled out a flashlight. It didn’t matter if they saw me.

A light green coat lay on the ground. Arms ripped off and covered in dark stains. My wife. I let my gaze slide from her to the small, tan pants beside her.

Our son.

Just five years old.

The beam of light illuminated something blue and red beside my son. I squat down and reached for it. My fingers trembled as I plucked it from the rough wood.

An action figure of my son’s favorite super hero. It had somehow escaped the carnage. I dusted a layer of dirt off and found it pristine beneath.

I looked at it for a long time. Long enough that howls turned to growls and then to pounding paws on the ground.

“Where were you?” I asked.

Of course I knew superheroes weren’t real, but it’s what my son would have asked.

The growling grew louder, and something howled just outside the merry-go-round.

I held the action figure to my chest. “I’m sorry,” I said to my family. “I’m sorry.”

***

This one ended up a bit depressing. Sorry about that.

Genre – Apocalypse

Random Object – Action Figure

Setting – Merry-Go-Round


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