Tag Archives: flash fiction

Dumbass

 

Namcy sits quietly in her bed, coloring.  Her brother comes in and glances at the work. She tries to hide it. He overpowers her and holds it up.

“Pink, purple, purple, pink!” He jeers. 

Her mother, drawn into the room by the commotion, catches him by the ear. “Give that back to her, Aaron,” she says.

Nancy snatches the papers out of his weakened grip. “Dumbass,” she hisses.

“Nancy!” her mother says. “Nice girls don’t say nasty things. And they color inside the lines, to practice their hand-eye coordination.”

After they leave the room, Nancy puts her crayons away.

 

Nancy sits in the back row in her high school class.

“Who knows the answer?” The teacher calls.

Nobody answers. If no one else is going to try… Nancy raises a timid hand.

“Yes, Nancy?” the teacher says.

“Twenty-three?”

The teacher shakes her head. “No, that’s incorrect. How did you get that answer?”

“Um… in my head.”

“Come up to the board and show me.”

Nancy feels a flush spreading as she walks up to the board, in front of everyone, and slowly hashes out her incorrect question in front of her bemused classmates. The pressure makes her slow, awkward. She can hardly hold the chalk, much less think.

“No, see here,” the teacher says. “You’ve skipped this entire row.”

 A titter from behind her.

“Don’t worry about them,” the teacher says. “We’ll go as slow as you need to go.”

 

The family eats together at the dinner table, Aaron declares his acceptance into Penn State.

“Of course you were accepted,” her mother says.

“We’re proud of you,” her father says.

Nancy focuses on her potatoes. 

 

He walks into the drugstore where she works. Underneath his T-shirt he’s lean as a whippet, unlike herself. She appreciates the nape of his neck as he picks out a drink, making sure to avert her eyes before he makes his way back to her register. She’s good at watching people without being noticed.

He pays for the drink in cash. As she accepts the money, she risks another glance at his face, and is caught like a moth in his electric blue eyes. 

He isn’t looking at her the way others do.

He sees her.

 

Nancy’s hands are shaking. She sits crumpled next to him on the bed.

She should have been smarter about it. But she could never say no to him. No, that’s not right. She can’t blame him. It was her responsibility to prevent this kind of thing. She has simply failed again. What will her mother say?

“You don’t want to get it taken care of?” Robby says.

She cradles her hands around her belly. “If you think I should,” she whispers.

“Well,” he says, pausing to irritably suck his cigarette, “we’ll have to get married then.”

Even when she doesn’t ask, he always knows what she wants. She’ll be able to move out of her mother’s house. He is doing this for her. He is saving her. She feels a rush of gratitude.

 

Nancy is six months along. She is making dinner when she delivers the news to Robby.

“A girl, huh,” he says. “Shit. She’s not going to be much to look at.”

“No, Robby,” Nancy says softly. 

Robby glowers at her. “What did you say.”

Her voice remains low. She can’t even look at him but she must say this now. “You don’t get to talk about her that way. Not her.”

“You don’t get to fucking tell me what to do!”

He hits her for the first time. She turns to protect her belly from hitting the stove as she falls.

They never talk about it again. He quits drinking and doesn’t hit her for a year.

 

When their baby is born, Nancy watches, tense as a predator, whenever he draws near to the baby. Robby senses that anything directed at Elsa will be the end of them. Eventually he learns to avoid their daughter.

Nancy isn’t always safe. She can accept that as long as Elsa is safe.

 

Elsa is four years old, coloring quietly. Robby sees the pages on the floor, bends over to examine them. Nancy stiffens, but Robby is focusing on Elsa and misses her warning. She sees in his body language what is coming.

“C’mon Elsa. There’s no such thing as a green dog,” he says.

Before Elsa’s eyes even have a chance to widen, Nancy is there. She scoops her daughter up in her arms. Robby and Elsa are both startled by her interference.

“What?” Robby says. 

Nancy heads to the kitchen counter, grabs the car keys.

“Are you crazy?” Robby says.

She leaves the house through the front door. Elsa starts crying.

“What is your fucking problem!?” 

Nancy shuts the car door and calls out the window at him. “You dumbass.”

She drives away, leaving him standing in the doorway, unable to believe.

She fears the future, protecting Elsa alone against the world. But she’ll figure something out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Hell Show

This is a nightmare I had, so it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I often dream in third person.

This a horror story! Turn away, ye faint of heart!

 


 

Before she went to war, she saw her doppelganger in the crowd. It was hiding something bulky under its cloak. Its eyes had a peculiar shine to them. It felt her gaze and looked at her, and she sensed great hate, warning her of things to come. It disappeared in the crowd.

Later, when she tried to tell others about it, they wrote her off as afraid of battle.

Years passed…

She was hanging up laundry to dry late at night. Her stepson was watching TV and she made small talk as she worked, the way mothers do. Gradually she noticed that something was wrong with the channel he was watching. It was a picture of hell. Twisted flesh illuminated in violent orange. Heavy screams.

It leeched all light from the room around her. 

She tried to maintain normalcy, changed the station. “Let’s not watch this scary channel,” she said. He waited until she set the remote down and changed it back.

The atmosphere of the room was sapping her. This was the end of her peace. The same darkness she had seen that day in her doppleganger had returned to claim her. She could barely move.

Rolling her head to tear her eyes away from the TV, she focused instead on a coat rack leaning against the wall which she’d planned to mount in the entryway, for visitors. All the wet laundry she had yet to hang. Simple household things which she’d held on to and tried not to take for granted.

A self-protective instinct kicked in. Weak with horror, she staggered to her feet and stumbled into the bedroom next door, throwing herself onto the bed on top of the covers. Absentmindedly she wondered if she wasn’t going to get cold, falling asleep this way. It didn’t matter. As long as she wasn’t forced to watch that channel. As long as reality held fast.

Her stepson followed her. His eyes shone in the very same way her doppleganger’s had. And something else had entered the room with him: the stifling, odious presence of another being, more felt than seen.

“No, no no please,” she managed. It was hopeless. Fear sapped her limbs; paralysis suppressed her fluttering will into hopeless, taut submission.

The room darkened.

Thick, strangely humid air settled into the room. A small buzzing gnat of mad rationale whispered in her ear, at least it’s warm

The room was opaque with darkness. There was no TV in here, but he didn’t need one. He was going to bring that hell to her anyway.

The boy went to the window. An ominous brimstone glow limned the solid blackout roller shade. 

He raised the shade, and hell was there. An enormous corpselike thing looked through the window at her with dead eyes, a boa constrictor jammed down its throat and wrapping its fetid body in torturing coils. It screamed, impossibly through the snake. The sound was deep, low, primal. The sound of pure evil. 

She screamed back.

She screamed until she ran out of air, kept on spasmodically screaming. Paroxysms of wordless pain and terror tore through her, leaving actual tatters. She screamed until every blood vessel in her eyes burst. She threw her head back and screamed until her neck broke.

Her body jittered unnaturally. Her face was changing. She would be one of them soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Why it’s important to respect nature

 

Jeb was a park ranger. Bill was a sheriff.

One day Bill took Jeb out to lunch. They had a nice time. They fell in love. Marriage it wasn’t legal for them yet, so they moved to a cabin in the woods and taxidermied simple woodland creatures together. It was a happy life, until Jeb blew up.

Bill was in the cabin going through his glass eye collection when it happened. When he heard the blast, he immediately knew that Jeb was gone.

He sat quietly for a long time.

Then he got the keys to the Subaru, he got his shotgun, he got all the leftover dynamite, he packed himself a nice salami sandwich with mustard, and went to get his revenge.

The only recognizable thing he found at the site of the explosion were Jeb’s boots, standing upright in the center of a crater.

The remains of the truck were in orbit over Manitoba.

But Bill wasn’t sheriff for nothing. He was smart. He used his senses. He sniffed, he scratched, he dug, he burrowed, at last unearthing an ancient bunny burial burrow. Jeb must have unknowingly trespassed, incensing the wildlife, sealing his doom.

Bill stuffed all the dried up bunny mummies into the Subaru, loaded the burrow with dynamite, and blew their sacred area up the rest of the goddamn way.

Then he went home and feverishly worked on taxidermying the ancient bunny mummies all night, gluing them into embarrassing poses for all eternity, as he waited for the retaliation of the forest.

A scratching sounded at his door, but it was nothing. Only a stray mountain lion.

Just when dawn touched the horizon, the bunnies came for him.

Bill was prepared.

They tripped a wire in front of his cabin door.

BOOM.

Up went all the bunnies, Bill, his cabin, and six acres of woodland besides.

He got revenge. He left his mark. But he did not win, as he knew he wouldn’t. No man can defeat the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Criminals

 

Here is something I wrote a few years ago. It took a lot of elbow grease to straighten it out! I guess it’s proof that I really have learned some things since then. I still would give it another… six revisions if I weren’t so tired.

This one’s for Tom, author of Slumdog Soldier. If you guys want to read some addictive action and make a nice friend, check out his site.

 


 

Walking alone in the park was foolish at the best of times, but tonight was Mardi Gras. People were especially rowdy and dangerous.

Still, there were things she needed from the store. If she didn’t get something for her lunch tomorrow she would be stuck with convenience store food.

She wasn’t comfortable on the street with all the dancing, jostling, vomiting drunks (any one of them could be a criminal) so she decided to take a shortcut through the park. Tucking her purse safely under her arm, she headed down the path toward the dark trees.

She had made it nearly halfway through the park when she noticed a man following her at a distance.

Maybe the park hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

Clutching her purse even closer, she quickened her pace.

There was a rustle in the woods, and a second man emerged from the trees just ahead of her. He brandished a pocket knife so small, she had to wonder if bringing it to the mugging had been an afterthought.

The first man wrapped a cool metal wire around her neck and pressed himself against her back.

“Are you robbing me?” She said, aghast. She’d never been in a fight before.

“Shh,” the man with the knife said. He buried his face where her neck met her shoulder and inhaled deeply. He still held his knife, but he was distracted and it was loose in his hand at his side. His neck, dark with stubble, stretched in front of her as he took his first taste of her skin. He was so close that she could see the jugular veins throb beside his esophagus.

She had spent her whole life trying to be gentle. But these two were clearly a lower class of human, undeserving, uncivilized. Criminal.

Just this once, she gave herself permission to join their level.

With one hand, she batted the knife from his distracted grip and let it fall onto the leafy path. With the other, she grabbed the back of his neck and brought his throat toward her open teeth. She sank in with a crunch of gristle. Metallic blood welled into her mouth.

The man didn’t scream; he couldn’t. He brought both hands up and tried to push her away, then stopped when he felt the increased tugging of her teeth at his still connected flesh. So she did it for him, with a well-placed kick to the groin.

He staggered backwards, pouring blood black in the moonlight.

Her victory came at a price: the man behind her tightened the garrote around her neck. She couldn’t breathe. Her decision to fight tonight could very well cost her her life. The sharp wire cut through her skin, and deeper.

She was ready. She would take any damage necessary, if it meant she could deal equal damage to her attacker.

With that resolve, she stomped as hard as she could on the top of his foot once, twice. She heard more than felt his metatarsal snap, but it didn’t make him let go. Fine. She drove her elbow into his gut with everything she had, then fell backwards into him. They hit the ground together, which caused him to slacken his grip just long enough for her to work her fingers under the wire.

She could run out of air at any second, but she still hadn’t done this man any significant damage. Her survival was secondary to that.

He would not let go of the garrote, but her fingers prevented him from killing her outright. He lay on the ground and she was almost atop him, on her side. How could she hurt him? His grip was unbreakable, and he had good pain tolerance…  but he had reacted to the belly blow. His gut was his soft spot.

She drove her elbow into his stomach, then again, repeatedly, until she felt a small bone under his ribcage snap. This wasn’t enough. He wouldn’t die from this, and he knew the surest way to win was to hang on to his weapon just a little longer.

Her lungs burned, her eyes saw pink. Was that from the garrote or something else? She pawed the ground for a weapon, but there was nothing. Only solid rock. Solid rock…

She ceased her assault on his diaphragm and grabbed his hair with her free hand. Quickly, before he tensed up, as fast and as hard as she could, she raised his head by the hair and slammed it into the concrete path, then again, then again. Each blow weakened his grip on the garrote. The sounds of his skull hitting the cement got wetter, until he didn’t have any fight left.

She stood up, unwrapping the wire from her neck.

The first man’s Adam’s apple was still in her mouth? She spat it out and wiped her lips with the back of her sleeve.

She’d never committed a crime, so they wouldn’t be able to match her fingerprints or dna. If she just walked away now, there was a solid chance she would never get caught. She would have to rinse off in the dark pond before going back into the street.

Fortunately, it was Mardis Gras. Everyone looked criminal at this hour. She would blend right in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Gardening Against the Future

 

“DON’T TOUCH THE MYOPATHIC SYCOPHANT PLANT!” The sign read.

The plant was a sickly purple-green. It had wobbly knobbles everywhere, broad leaves, and a great big flytrap mouth. It grew in a cowering shape, looking up at her from its position on the floor.

The little girl wanted to touch it.

She touched it.

It opened its mouth and screamed in pain. Then it collapsed. Upset, the child kneeled and cradled its head. Once this attention was received, the plant immediately started complimenting her and begging for money for its gardener bills.

The exasperated gardener approached. “Who touched that damn thing!” She said, one fist balled angrily on her coveralled hip, the other leading a hose.

The child screamed. She collapsed. She started complimenting the gardener and begging for money.

“You want to act like a plant, you’ll get treated like a plant,” the gardener said. She took the little girl by the shoulder and watered her thoroughly.

The girl stopped complaining and made gurgling noises instead.

When she considered her lesson well administered, the gardener pushed her back in the direction of her mother. “Learn to read,” she said. “Save you a world of trouble.”

The child tottered away, coughing and gasping.

The sycophant plant had seen what just happened. It huddled obscenely at the gardener’s feet in fear until its stem gave out and it collapsed completely.

“Oh, oh, oh,” it said. “You’re so strong and patient, won’t you help me up?”

“Ugh. I’ll get something to help stake you up,” the gardener said. As she headed toward the supply closet, she questioned her life decisions. Plants were getting to be too much like people. Why couldn’t she just garden roses? Roses were beautiful. They didn’t whine or moan or beg. They didn’t even think.

Sure, there were roses in this garden. But they had to be defended by increasing measures from the floral predators. Genetic engineering had gotten really out of hand here. The garden was a noisy place. The plants got into a lot of arguments.

She unlocked the shed and popped the door open. A slight resistance and then a tear. Oh no.

One of the plants and migrated into here and was rooting across the door. She knew which one it was before she even saw the tattered ficus leaves.

“Wandering Masochist! How many times do I have to tell you. You have a home.

“But I like doorways,” the Masochist said.

“You don’t have to torture yourself like this. You have a home. Go where you belong. You have supportive friends there.”

“I don’t want to.”

“If you don’t want to… then isn’t that all the more reason to do it?”

The ficus’s leaves turned upward cheerfully at that, and it wandered off. Hopefully it would go where it was supposed to be, but she doubted it. It was sure to find a new doorway to root across and wait for the tearing roots again. That thing…

She grabbed a stake, a few ties, and a towel, then locked the door behind her. She stuffed the towel under the crack in the door. That might keep it out, for a little while at least.

On her way back, she tripped over the Deciduous Package Hauler, who, for lack of a job, had grabbed a handful of Panic Pansies and was attempting to haul them to the other end of the garden. She stopped to free them from its clutches, then gave it the stake to deliver to the Sycophant. Package Haulers were working plants, bred for factory life. They struggled in a lush botanical environment.

Letting the Hauler go ahead, she paused to take in an abundant overgrowth of peaceful pink blossoms. Beautifully formed, quiet, unassuming plants. She hung her fingers on the chain link fence before it, careful to avoid the electrified wiring. The fence couldn’t keep out their perfume.

Life used to be simple, back when she gardened with her grandfather. They would pull the biting weeds and spend a guilt-free evening watching them writhe instinctively on the burn pile. They would give graham crackers to the Ghost Cactus. It loved chewing on graham crackers. And as for the roses, all you had to do was plant and water them.

When she sighed and let go, she turned back to work and saw with a shock that the Orange Lynx Fungus had been watching her. Its eyes were dark spore holes, its teeth black drips. It knew the fence was electrified and had been staying away, but now that it had seen her touch the weak spots in the fence, it was sure to figure out a new way in. This thing’s life ambition, it would seem, was eating roses.

Along with everything else in the world.

So what if roses were things of the past. So what if they could no longer hold their own against a rapidly changing environment. She would remain a gardener here as long as they, too, remained. She would protect the roses, even if she could only ever see them through an electrified chain link fence, through razor wire, through impact-resistant terrarium glass if it came to that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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