Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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28-Jun-2019

Ghosts that come out during the day.

You’re welcome.

A soft breeze floated through me. My shadow did not appear next to the shadow of the tree on the ground.

“I’m bored,” Marty said. He kept flying through the trees, looking for any humans that might have been brave enough to venture into the daylight.

“What did you expect after last week?”

Marty made a noise that sounded like a snort. It was difficult to make out facial features when everyone was mostly see-through. “They should have let us kill them all.”

“They don’t understand.”

“They’ll learn fast.”

I sighed, something that wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it had been before I’d died. “Did you believe before you turned?”

Marty didn’t answer.

Humans were hard-wired to fear things they didn’t understand, so when the spirits of the dead had begun to walk—or float—they immediately fought back. Even I had been afraid to turn, and I’d figured out what was going on.

“They’ll eventually come out,” I said. “They can’t survive too long in dark holes.”

“I did,” Marty said.

“Not that long,” I pointed out.

I could tell he was about to argue with me, but an unnatural rustle sounded.

Marty froze in place. I held my breath—not that I had to breathe anymore—and we both waited until the noise came again.

“They’re here,” Marty said in a voice so low I barely registered it.

An unseen force tugged me gently toward the human. My essence could feel the living flesh of the bodies and the trapped spirits inside. They cried to me in a language that left only impressions in my mind. They longed to be freed, but the human side of them clung to their lives as if everything would end when death came.

Those of us already free were proof that things didn’t end, but humans couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that the end of death was merely the beginning of a much bigger universe.

“There are over a dozen,” Marty said.

Little shimmers in the air around us announced the arrival of more of the turned. Each one left a brush in my consciousness just as unique as a person’s face.

Turning worked better with more than one of us against one of them, but if the humans knew how many of us surrounded them they would surely bolt. We didn’t want that.

“We’ll go in with twenty-five,” I said. “We can’t spook them.”

The turned bobbed up and down in acceptance.

I took a moment to choose the twenty-five, then led them to the edge of the trees.

Most of us liked to hover in open spaces. Human bodies and minds had confined us for so long that even a forest felt cramped. I let the sensation of being trapped wash through me as we moved into the forest. Then I discarded it. Emotions were so much easier to manage without the body to trap them and make them bigger than they needed to be.

Marty moved beside me. By unspoken agreement, the two of them took the lead. They would find the leader of the humans and turn him.

A year ago Marty might have tried to reason with the humans, feeling that giving them a choice would somehow be better, but all it ever did was start a fight that the humans could never win but always put their lives on the line for. If they died before being turned, the spirits within would be traumatized and become violent, like the ghosts of old. I didn’t want that to happen today.

A buzzing had started in my mind when the humans had appeared, which got louder the closer we got.

“They’re not going to go easy.”

Marty was right. Each human was different, but they all had the same emotions. Most felt fear being out during the day, but these felt…excited.

“I think you’re right,” I said. “I think they have a plan.”

“Should we trip it?”

“What else?”

Marty sped up. “Gladly.”

I’d asked Marty what he’d been as a human, but it was so long ago that I’d forgotten. One thing I knew about him is that he never backed down from a challenge or danger. In life he must have been a fierce warrior. Now he always did what it took to turn the humans. Now he understood.

It didn’t take long for us to find them. A group of fourteen dirty, scrawny humans walked almost silently through the woods. Their fear drew me too them. Like the smell of cookies or grilling meat used to when I had been human.

Instead of skulking, this group stood upright. They held rifle-like weapons that I had never seen before in their hands. The leader’s eyes swept back and forth, ignoring the ground and concentrating on the air.

Marty and I didn’t try to hide. We flew in as fast as we could, straight toward the leader.

He didn’t panic. Instead he raised his weapon at Marty and fired.

Marty didn’t bother to dodge, no physical weapon could harm us. Instead of a bullet or fire erupting from the muzzle of the gun, a ray of light punched through the air and hit Marty in the chest.

He cried out in anger and what sounded like pain.

I took evasive action and the beam pointed at me by another human went wide, but hit something behind me.

“Hold them!” a human near the back yelled.

“Better hurry,” the leader said.

I turned to warn the others, but the light hit me.

I don’t remember how long it had been since I felt pain, but the sensation came back quickly. Nerves. Skin. Burning. The urge to run.

Only I couldn’t run.

“Can you trap them?” the leader asked.

I fought against the invisible wall of fire around me.

The other human looked up at me. “We’re about to find out.”

***

I’ve reminded myself of the original Ghostbusters.

Maybe I’ll have to watch it this weekend!


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21-Jun-2019

How Good Are You at Distracting Your Friends?

I flinched as Jackie tightened the ropes around my wrists.

“I told you not to come,” she said.

“I was worried,” I said. “Can’t one friend worry about another these days?”

She let out a tsking noise. “You can, but you should have checked the house before you knocked.”

She was right, and I knew it. What with the demon possessions, the dead rising from the graves and the sudden appearance of unicorns, I should have at least tossed some holy water on the front door. Now I had been tied to a chair by my best friend from high school who was likely going to sacrifice me to who knows what deity.

When she came around the front of me I saw that three yellow, writhing tentacles had sprouted from each shoulder. Her eyes glowed green and she’d grown an extra row of sharp teeth.

“Aqua demon?” I asked.

“Something like that,” she said with a shrug. The tentacles wound themselves around her arm, then unwound, like a little girl twirling in a skirt.

I had to stall. Christian and Anna would be back any minute. They’d dropped me off on their way to an earth elemental destruction. One of those either went fast or everyone died. I was voting on fast, because Christian and Anna were the best. They’d be back.

“Hey,” I said, “do you remember when we all went to see that horrible movie about after the end of the world? Everything had flooded and humans were on floating cities and the main character had gills?”

Jackie snorted. “Two hours of our lives that we never got back.”

“Right? But was it worse than that one based on an old television show? The one with those guys sitting in a conference room in giant teddy bear costumes? What was the name of that one?”

“We swore never to speak its name, because then it would have power.” Some of Jackie’s usual amusement came back into her voice.

“Oh yeah. Still, a dumb show.”

She nodded, then moved to counter.

“This new kitchen looks great,” I said.

“They finished it just before I turned. The workers were my first sacrifice.” Jackie went to a drawer and withdrew a knife and a whisk. Then she retrieved a little plastic bowl from a cupboard.

“Well, they did a great job.”

“I thought so. I gave them the greatest honor one could receive from an Aqua demon, as you call it.”

“Very thoughtful of you,” I said.

She nodded.

I glanced around, desperate for anything to keep the conversation going. Even after a demon had taken you, it didn’t have full control over your mind. If I could keep Jackie talking, it would take the demon longer to do whatever it was going to do. She set the bowl on the table, and I had an idea.

“They don’t make cartoons like they used to.”

“Huh?”

I jerked my head to the likeness of a character on the bowl.

“Oh, no, they don’t.”

“Do you kids like that show?”

“They did.”

I managed not to wince. “Ours too. I can’t stand it. When we were kids cartoons taught us morals, now days they teach kids to be disrespectful.”

“One of the reasons we have been overrun.”

“You’re probably right.” I tried to shift my weight, but she’d tied my hands behind my back and my legs to the chair. “Still, every time someone says ‘Now you know’ I have to finish it with…” I waited.

Jackie stopped and looked at me. Her head cocked to the side, and the tentacles danced madly around her. “And knowing is half the battle.”

“See!” I said in triumph.

“I suppose that means our childhood cartoons brainwashed us,” Jackie said.

Stupid demon. I nudged the subject. “Remember when we all went to see that movie about the dinosaurs? You scared the guy sitting next to you so bad he jumped out of his seat screaming?”

A ghost of a smile stretched Jackie’s lips. “I tell my kids about that all the time.”

“Because it was hilarious. And what about the time we walked to the theater to see that one about the baseball field?” I knew that had been one of her favorites.

“That is a good one.”

Jackie straightened, and her eyes sort of misted over.

Uh-oh, I was almost out of time. “What’s your favorite movie?”

Jackie sighed. “If you’re stalling in the hope that Christian and Anna are coming back, you’re stalling in vain. The earth elemental killed them ten minutes ago.”

A ball formed in my stomach.

Jackie picked up the knife. “I’m going to give you a choice. This is just a blood sacrifice, not a life sacrifice. However, I can always kill you.” Her eyes flickered to the window and back to me. “The world isn’t what it was. I can end it for you.”

I stared at her. I tried to swallow, but all of the moisture had been sucked from my lips and mouth. My eyes darted to the knife, then back to her. Christian and Anna were dead? The last in a long line of people that I had loved that were now gone.

The knife flashed before my eyes. “Well?”

My limbs went cold. My brain went numb. I shook my head.

“Very well.”

***

Inspired by a conversation I had with some old friends about all the movies we’ve seen together.

Scaring a guy in Jurassic Park so bad he screamed – totally happened. My friend did it. She still laughs about it.

I still wonder what else I could have done with those two hours we wasted on Water World. Also, The Avengers with Uma Thurman.


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14-Jun-2019

Creepy Crystals in Space.

Also, music.

“Slow it down!” Reg’s voice yelled in my ear. “Slow it down or you’re going to blow us all into atoms.”

No one on the team bothered to answer, and no one slowed. We’d done this three hundred and sixteen times. Reg had been on board for three of them.

“Watch it, Jenk,” Howie said in a calm voice.

Where Reg sat on the bridge of the ship, watching through helmet cams, Howie floated at the back end of the crystal. I had noticed the drift before Howie said anything, checked my distances. Sure enough, my side of the huge, pulsing, black crystal had drifted a little too close to the others.

“Got it.” I adjusted the output of my suit’s thrusters up what the old-Earthers called a hair.

“Good,” Howie said. “Now rotate.”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of recycled air. My mind, which had been failing to parse the edges and facets of the crystal, relaxed. My eye stopped twitching.

“Second set, check the distances,” Howie said.

Lire’s turn to guide the crystal for five minutes. Then we would switch again.

The song of the crystal body started to sound in my ears. Like a collection of instruments being played by children, the music set my teeth on edge. But I could handle it for five minutes.

I imagined the crystals around us—red, yellow, purple and colors that the human eye couldn’t fully process. They each had their own uses. They each had their own way to kill.

“I said slow it down!” Reg yelled again. “You’re too close to that yellow crystal.”

Someone should remind him that he was in a big room, where his voice didn’t have to rattle around in a helmet every time he screamed. Still, it at least interrupted the music for a few seconds.

I knew how close we were to the yellow. I’d charted the course myself, which is why I was holding the widest section of the black with my back to the yellow.

“Ease up,” Howie said. “Just a click.”

Which meant everyone with their eyes open would dial their thrusters back a hair.

“Snuggle in, Jenk.”

I was already as close to the crystal as I could get, but hugged the inside of my suit that was against the black monstrosity tighter. The dissonant song in my head swelled, and my brain began to throb.

The original plan was to have me with my eyes open when we passed the yellow, but a mishap at the beginning of the extraction had messed up the timing. Now all I could do was close my eyes and pray to the stars that I’d done the calculations correctly.

After two hundred and thirty one successful extraction calculations, I trusted my numbers more than I did my eyes.

“We’re too close,” Lire said.

“We’re fine,” Howie said.

The tension in his voice told me all I needed to know. We were in the bottleneck right before we reached the outside of the crystal body. Another two or three minutes and we would be free. Not time to breathe a sigh of relief, but close. Then I would be able to open my eyes and get this song—this call—out of my head.

“Just a little nudge,” someone muttered.

“No!” Howie yelled for the first time.

“We’re too close!” Lire said.

My heartbeat spiked so fast that the medical alarm in my suit sounded. “Don’t change the course,” I said over the crescendo in my mind.

“Drug her,” Howie said.

I flinched.

“Jenk, you’re up.”

It was too soon, but I did as he said. Even though I knew the yellow was mere inches from my back, I gasped when I saw its reflection in the black surface before my eyes.

People. Humans. They pressed against the inside of the yellow crystal, pounding on the surface, trying to get my attention. They danced. They sang. They tried to seduce me to join them.

I swore under my breath, but turned my attention to the numbers. Lire had put us a fraction of a degree off course. I knew this route as if I’d walked it a thousand times. I quickly adjusted with my thrusters, and we righted.

“Are we clear?” Howie asked me.

“Yeah, you’re clear.”

“Close your eyes.”

I did, but I knew it was too late. I’d seen them. They’d invited me in. Every atom of my body wanted to join them. I yearned to be in that crystal with them. The hair-raising music resolved into my favorite band. Each thump of the base drum hooked another part of my conscience to the yellow monster. I took a breath and spoke. “I’m compromised.”

Howie swore. “Freeze Jenk’s suit.”

There was no way for me to tell that they’d taken over my suit from the ship, considering I’d locked it into place, but I knew. I knew and I didn’t care.

People often speculated about what it felt like to be taken by a yellow. Everyone inside looked like they were having fun, so we all thought it would feel good to go.

It didn’t. Instead it felt as if someone were peeling my skin off inch by inch to get to my soul. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. When my conscience came free I sighed in relief. At least the pain was gone.

Then I was there, with the revelers. I stood without my suit. The music of my favorite band filled the air, and a beautiful woman and an attractive man offered to dance with me.

I said yes to both. We danced. They offered me as much pleasure as I wanted. I forgot what I had been and only remembered this place.

“Hey.” The man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. “We’ve got incoming.”

“Cool,” I said. “The more the merrier.”

***

Maybe I’ve been listening to too much science fiction. I keep having these ideas!


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7-Jun-2019

Who knew bubbles could be so dangerous?

 

The Man of Diamond leaned forward on the stainless steel table, his glittering arms digging into the surface. He looked at me with the same expression adults gave children who tried to show off their jumping skills. “Did you say that your power is blowing bubbles out of your nose?”

Next to him, Lady Lyrical’s eyebrows shot up into the bangs of her red hair, and she hid a smirk with her hand.

I smiled. “That’s right. Bubbles out of my nose. I can do any color.” I demonstrated by making pink bubbles come out of my left nostril and green out of my right.

That tingly about-to-sneeze feeling tickled the inside of my nose all the way back to my sinuses.

Lady Lyrical coughed to keep from laughing. Man of Diamond pressed his lips together and nodded slowly.

The bubbles reached my lips before I sent the command to levitate. Most were between the size of a pin head and a pea. They floated off my skin, leaving a thin layer of moisture behind.
Lady Lyrical turned away.

Man of Diamond laced his sparkling fingers together and looked down at the screen inlaid into the table. “So, uh, Bubbles, how do you see your power helping in the fight against evil?”

I straightened in my chair. “There are many applications. First, distraction.”

Lady Lyrical spoke for the first time, her voice making me feel like I was high on the best drugs money could buy. “It is distracting.”

Man of Diamond shot her a glare.

White bubbles poured from my nose and quickly filled the air around me. When I had enough, I made them into two spears and shot them at the heroes.

She dodged. He held up a hand and the bubbles crashed against it.

I spoke. “If I were part of a team, they could have used the distraction to gain some advantage.” I went on before either of them could speak. “My bubbles can also be used to discombobulate cameras.” I repeated my earlier performance, only using black. They gathered around the camera in the corner and hovered. “If you look at the recording, it’s black.”

“Fascinating,” Lady Lyrical said with a mock expression of awe on her face.

I gave her another dazzling smile.

Man of Diamond shifted in his chair. “Bubbles, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure that your powers are going to be a good fit for our new team.”

I turned to him. “But you haven’t seen all of my tricks.”

Lady Lyrical stood. “You should go.”

More bubbles poured from my nose. “Did I mention that I can make the bubbles out of any substance in my body?”

A stream so small they couldn’t be seen drifted into the air and headed toward Lady Lyrical.

She opened her mouth too speak and her eyes went wide.

“For instance, a combination of stomach acid and feces.”

She gagged.

Man of Diamond rose to his feet in all of the righteous indignation he could muster. “Get out!”

I twisted my hand and the bubbles I had guided into Man of Diamond’s body expanded. His exterior was impenetrable, but on the inside he was still human, and filling his body with excess gas was the nicest way I could think of to kill the man who had killed my wife. He slumped forward on the table, screaming.

Lady Lyrical went to her knees, clutching at her throat. Acid smile rose from her open mouth.

I looked between them. “I’m afraid that the two of you only have seconds to live, which is more than you gave all of those people in the lake bottoms before you tore the place apart.

Man of Diamond managed to get his head up. His eyes bulged from their sockets. “Who—who are you?”

“Just a man doing his duty to keep the world safe.”

“But you’re a monster,” Man of Diamond said.

I leaned down to look into his now bleeding eyes. “No, you and your gang of super heroes are the monsters. When I’m finished, there will be neither super villains or heroes. Only people.” I turned my sneer on Lady Lyrical. “The monsters will be extinct.”

Both of the heroes watched me in horror. I let them. I wanted them to understand what it felt like to be paralyzed by fear in your last moments before death.

More bubbles came from my nose. They gathered on my skin and transformed me into Man of Diamond. He tried to speak, but it turned out to be his death rattle. I adopted his smile and moved to open the door. It wouldn’t take long to finish off the others here at headquarters. Then I could move on to the rest.

Once that was finished, I would be able to rest.

***

The other day I wondered what the worst super power would be.

This is what I came up with!

 


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