Tag Archives: flash fiction

Freinds

Daily Prompt: Viral.

Chester was first at everything. He got to school first. He was the first person people picked for dodge ball. He got first place in the spelling bee. He even managed to be first in the lunch line, on the first day of school, in the first grade.

Rena had never been first at anything. She’d watched Chester lead the class all through Kindergarten last year. Rena was often the last off the bus. She didn’t like dodge ball so she didn’t care when she was picked. Spelling was confusing so she was always out early in the spelling bee. She never got to the cafeteria in time to be first in the lunch line.

“Chester doesn’t even see what a jerk he is,” Rena thought. Rena couldn’t handle it anymore so she decided she’d be the first to knock Chester down a peg or two.

Rena got up early one morning, brushed her teeth, combed her hair, pulled on her boots and waited at the door. She said goodbye to her Mom and pinched her little brother and strutted out the door. Instead of waiting at her normal stop, she walked a stop ahead. As the bus pulled up and Rena stepped on, she saw Chester running for the door. “Too late!” she thought. “I’m already in the front seat.”

“Good morning, Rena!” beamed Chester. Rena cracked a self-assured smile.

As the bus pulled into the school, Rena ran down the steps and darted to her classroom. She shot into her seat, first to class.

“Good morning, Rena!” said Mrs. Owens. “You’re here early!”

P.E. time arrived and Rena ran to the gym. “Coach K, Coach K! Can I be a dodge ball captain today?” “Well, you’re the first to ask, so why not?” said Coach K.

The other children filed in and lined up. Rena got to pick first but she didn’t pick Chester. “Stewart!” she said, never taking her eyes off Chester. Chester stood smiling, seemingly unaffected.

The game commenced and Rena threw the ball at Chester, hitting him square in the chest. She grinned and yelled, “Chester, you’re out!” “Nice throw, Rena!” Chester replied.

After P.E., Rena ran back to the classroom and grabbed her vocabulary book before shooting back out of the room to the cafeteria. By the time the rest of the class filed in, she already had her tray and she was heading for the line. Chester moved in behind her. “Wow, Rena. You got here fast!” Rena didn’t say a word. She just smirked and collected her chicken fingers and spinach.

Rena sat down and opened her vocabulary book, practicing her spelling words over and over as she munched down her chicken fingers and picked at her spinach.

Back in class, spelling bee practice began and Rena got every word. Before long, she and Chester were the only two left.

“Motor. M-O-T-O-R. Motor.” Rena spelled.

“Friend. F-R-E-I-N-D. Friend.” said Chester.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Chester. That’s incorrect,” said Mrs. Owens.

Rena couldn’t hold it in. She laughed and blurted out, “Now I’m first, Chester! I win!”

Chester’s eyes began to burn. “Good job, Rena. That was great.”

“See, you’re not first at everything!” Rena taunted.

Chester let out a sob and buried his face in his hands. Rena sat down at her desk, reveling in the satisfaction of finally having knocked Chester off his high horse. She beamed and chuckled…until she looked around the room. All Rena’s classmates were aghast –their faces sad and shocked. Mrs. Owens had moved to Chester’s side, her hand on his back.

Chester rubbed his eyes and looked up at Rena –her expression now befuddled. Rena didn’t feel so good anymore. “I just wanted to be first for once,” she said. “Somehow you’re always first.”

Chester reached into his desk and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Drawn on it were stars and a trophy and smiley faces. He’d spent his whole lunch working on it, barely making it through a single chicken finger, his spinach untouched. Chester handed it to Rita.

CONGRADULASHINS
to my coolest freind
-RENA-

Rena read the handmade certificate and her eyes started to burn. Chester said, “Rena, I was never trying to be better than anyone. My Mommy just always makes me promise to do my best. I thought you were so cool today, I was doing my best to be a good friend.”

Rena took her finger and wiped off a tear that had fallen on the certificate. “I thought you thought you were better than me. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could beat you. I guess I did my best at being a real jerk.”

Rena stood up and walked over to Chester, sticking out her hand.

“I’m sorry, Chester. Will you forgive me?”

“Sure, Rena. I’m not mad. Race you to the bus?!” Chester high-fived Rena’s outstretched hand and darted past.

Now Rena had a real first –her first best friend.

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Lovie

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 27.

“You could say I’m a bodyguard. People hire me to make sure they’re safe.”
People hire you? You mean women work for you.”
“I’d take on a man. I’ve just never met one in need of my services.”
“And what other services do you offer?”
“I’m a coach, a motivator. I give my clients the drive to earn money.”
“What happens if they don’t earn enough?”
“That’s not my concern.”
“Well, what happens if you don’t get paid?”
“Listen, I do contract work. My clients know how much my services cost. They’re contractually obligated to pay me. Same as you, I imagine.”
“Yeah, but if I don’t get a paycheck, I don’t beat the hell out of my boss.”

“Objection! Counsel is testifying, Your Honor.” Shelton’s attorney was on edge.
“Sustained. John, get back on track. Let’s keep it to questions.”

State Attorney John Sebastian grew tired of the wordplay. Shelton was a pimp and the jury knew it. The State had failed time and time again to bring him up on prostitution charges. But now Stag had murdered Billy Lyons and Sebastian wanted his pound of flesh.

“Fine. What happens if you don’t get paid?”
“Well, I have to get paid. I have a contract.”
“So, you’ve never had a situation where one of your clients failed to pay you?”
“Is that a question?”
“HAVE you ever had a situation where one of your clients failed to pay you?”
“Nah. I’ve had a couple of late payments, but we work it out.”
“How do you work it out, Mr. Shelton?”
“Like I said, I’m a motivator. I encourage them to get out and earn. If they don’t earn, I can’t protect them. They usually realize pretty quickly they’re much safer when I’m paid on schedule.”
“Have you ever physically coerced a client into paying you?”
“No.”

Sebastian knew this was going nowhere. Shelton wasn’t going to admit to anything. The charge was first degree murder. He might have to settle for second degree if he couldn’t prove Shelton was a pimp –Lyons a disgruntled customer.

“Mr. Shelton, where were you the night of December 25, last year?”
“I was at the bar.”
“Which bar?”
“The Bucket of Blood.”
“And while at The Bucket of Blood, did you see Billy Lyons?”
“I did.”
“And how do you know Billy Lyons?”
“Aw, he was a loudmouth. Seemed like every time I went in for a drink, he was in there running his mouth about how he’d bedded one woman or another.”
“Had you ever had a conversation with Billy Lyons?”
“Not outside of telling him to shut up.”
“Did you have a conversation with Billy Lyons that night? The 25th?”
“No.”
“So how did it come about that you were moved to take out a pistol and shoot Billy Lyons in the chest no less than nine times?!”
“I didn’t do that.”
“Then who did?! You admit you were there. You were there when the police arrived. Bill Curtis says you shot him twice before shooting Billy!”

“OBJECTION!”
“MR. SEBASTIAN. I won’t warn you again. Questions only!”

“Mr. Shelton, who shot Billy Lyons?”
“How am I supposed to know? The lights were out. I didn’t see anything.”
“No further questions.” Sebastian was going to have to rely on the previous testimony of the other witnesses to make the case. “State rests.”

“Defense? Cross?”
“No, your honor. Defense calls Lovie Austin.”

Sebastian riffled through his file. “Objection, your honor! She’s not on the list.”
“Honor, she’s on the discovery list: Austin, Lovinia.”
“There were dozens of clients on the discovery list, your honor. We deposed her. Her testimony was inconsequential.” Sebastian was confused. What was Shelton trying to do?
“I’m going to allow it. It’s incumbent on counsel to depose thoroughly.”

Lovie Austin was clearly nervous, her forehead beaded with sweat, eyes bloodshot. A high-necked blouse covered all but a dime-sized part of a dark blue bruise. She was sworn in. Stag winked at his attorney, smirking.

“Miss Austin, were you at the Bucket of Blood December 25 of last year?”
“Yes. And that motherfucker will never touch me again.”

Waiting

Daily Prompt: Procrastination.

I’ve been reading Machine of Death and I really love the idea: write a story given one constant element –sort of a prompt with maybe a few more rules. In this case, there is a machine that takes a blood sample and prints out the cause of a person’s death. The stories are quite varied. It’s amazing how creative writers can be given just one idea. 

When I thought about this daily prompt, about procrastination… well, if there’s one thing we’d all love to put off until tomorrow, surely it’s our death.

http://machineofdeath.net/

Maybe it was just the overwhelming possibility of something going wrong. Sara just couldn’t do it. She watched the other children run, bounce, and jump. Some flipped, some held their nose and let gravity do its work, some dived. They all emerged from the pool glistening and smiling.

But Sara just couldn’t do it. She’d convinced herself to get to the top of the ladder. She’d even managed onto the sky blue board. She envisioned herself running and… well maybe not running but jumping and… well maybe not jumping but stepping off the edge and falling into the pool. She’d worked up the nerve but her body froze.

Sara just couldn’t do it. Her feet were fastened in place while her legs trembled, uncontrollable like a shiver from the first Winter wind. Her hands gripped the rails, knuckles turning white. Her eyes burned as tears began to well up. The lifeguard blew the whistle to get her attention.

“Jump or climb down!”

Sara’s Mom and Dad lay in lounge chairs at the shallow end near the hot tub.

“So, tell me.”
“Aah, the machine was broken.”
“What do you mean, broken?”
“Well, I put the fifty in, she stuck her finger in, it pricked her and then it spit out her card. She didn’t want to look so I did.”
“OK, and?”
“Well, like I said, it had already pricked her finger but I guess the screen was locked up because it kept saying ‘PLEASE INSERT $50.00.’ And then the card had an error message like it was expecting us to do something else.”
“Yeah.”
“So, I took the card to the attendant and he said he hadn’t seen that before but he’d call it in. We said we’d wait. The service man on the phone said he hadn’t seen that before so he’d be out in the morning. They gave us a rain check.”
“So you’re going back tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. I think we should wait until she’s ready. I don’t think she really wanted to do it today but all her other friends got theirs before their 12th birthday party. Maybe she just didn’t want to seem weird. She acted like she was disappointed but she had that look –almost like she was glad.”
“That’s OK with me. You know I’m going to lose it no matter what it says.”
“Should I go get the cake ready?”
“John, look! She’s doing it!”

John and Carrie watched Sara step to the top of the diving board. “I can’t believe it! She must really be in a good mood!” But she didn’t move. The lifeguard blew the whistle and John realized what was happening. He sat up.

“Jump or climb down!”

Sara was still frozen. The whistle shrieked again.

“Everyone off the ladder!”

Sara’s friends were stacked up one after another on the ladder below her.

“Go, Sara!” “It’s OK, you can do it!” “Come on, Sara! Give us a turn!”

The platform began to shake and groan. The bolts anchoring the platform to the concrete began to crack loose.

John saw the platform shake. He jumped up and ran toward the diving board.

Carrie sat in horror, her eyes moving from the shaking platform to John. As he took his first step forward, a white card fell from his hand. Carrie saw the word stamped in bold black letters as the card see-sawed through the air.

WAITING

Nectar

Daily Prompt: Freaky Friday.

I had  no sooner swatted swatted the bee away than I felt myself tumbling backwards through the air. The ground and the sky tumbled end over end and I stretched out as far as my arms would reach. I flailed my hands about in hopes of grasping something to slow my toppling descent.

And suddenly the tumbling stopped. I hovered inches from the ground, my arms still flailing, yet not so wildly, more rhythmically. I still felt slightly disoriented but stable.

The scent of clover caught my nose and my body tingled, head to toe. As I hovered forward, the smell became sharper. I seemed led to the source, almost involuntarily.

A fantastic forest of giant round leaves and huge white snowballs drew closer. Seconds later, I was standing in the middle of one of the giant white puffs. My legs sank deep. I felt like I was standing in a sack of those tiny foam balls that come out when a carnival prize stuffed animal bursts open.

I reached up and began swinging my arms again, afraid I’d be swallowed by the foam, like so much quicksand. Again, the rhythm. I hovered upwards, the white foam caked to my legs.

Hovering forward again, I smelled perfume. Not floral but distinctly female, fertile, sexual. The aroma became overwhelming as I zoomed forward toward a strange giant building –hundreds of floors with hexagonal windows. People by the hundreds moved about outside, some moving away, but most stepping over each other trying to get to the middle window on the middle floor.

I had to know what was there. I crushed into the crowd, trying to push past others, my still-covered legs impeding my progress. As I finally pushed through to the front, I saw a woman more terrible and beautiful than I could ever envision enthroned in molten gold. Exhausted, I fell to the floor.

I felt my shoulders shaking and opened my eyes. “Dad! You fell off the lawn mower! Are you OK?” My hand was throbbing and I looked down to see a red blotch the size of a grape and a still-pulsing stinger. “Yes, Chris. I guess I’m still allergic. I’m glad you were here.”

A stretch of flowering clover lay ahead of the riding mower –an annoyance but a sure sign of warmer weather to come. I could finish the yard work another day.

Guilt

Photo Prompt.

Handel watched quietly from behind the dinner table as his father stumbled through the kitchen. He’d been on a tear again –gulping through the table wine, robbing the medicine cabinet of anything with the word ‘tonic’ on it, swallowing Listerine.

His mother saw his little glassy eyes from behind the chair. “Robert, please sit down. I’m afraid you’re going to fall!”

“Who cares if I fall? He was right next to me! It should have been me.” The war had been over for 7 years now and he still couldn’t let his friend’s death go. Two weeks ago, in much the same condition, he’d scrawled a memorial across the wall. When he caught his wife cleaning the kitchen he lost all control and warned her to “keep her goddamned hands off his name.”

He continued to pace the floor. She was desperately afraid he’d see Handel watching, fill his ears again with all the terrors he’d seen, shake him again for not listening, slap him again for not crying.

She walked over to him and wrapped her arm around him, grabbed his hand. “Till I waltz again with you, let no other hold your charms. If my dreams should all come true, you’ll be waiting for my arms.”

“Till I kiss you once again…” he slurred.

He leaned in and she turned her face, twirled her back to the stone counter, moved her left hand up behind his neck, slid her right hand free of his grip…

Filter

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 26.

November 9, 2037

Major Piersen,

Please present this abstract of my official report for Filter to The Council.

The initial phase of the trial went off without a hitch. Two hundred subjects were invited to the facility for a free family vacation in exchange for their suggestions in advance of a grand opening. Per standard lodging protocol, all subjects were given ChemBlock injections on arrival. The fluid nanomesh for Filter (suspended therein) self-assembled and became addressable in all subjects within 16 hours.

All functions were tested both within the facility and remotely from the Bern field office. Subjects were exposed to banned sensations during controlled activities. Subjects were surveyed and asked to describe their favorite and least favorite portions of each activity. We successfully modified all banned sensations for the first 12 hours following Filter connectivity.

At T-plus 14 hours, Subject 107, female, 16, Consumer class, health rating B, seemingly blacked out. AidBots immediately responded and the subject was determined to be in Non-REM stage 2. However, brainwave frequencies were high-Theta at 36 Hz. Subject was only roused after 1,500 micrograms epinephrine. Once awake, subject described vivid hallucinations consistent with REM stage dreams. We suspected a severe sleep disorder and marked subject for remote sleep monitoring once she returned home.

By T-plus 14:07, 14 additional subjects had fallen into a similar state. We scrambled all available AidBots and pressed clinical staff into service. No similarities between subjects were noted –gender, age, class, and health rating all within standard deviation. All subjects were found to be in stage 2 non-REM sleep with brainwave frequencies ranging from mid-Theta to low-Gamma.

These 15 subjects all described vivid hallucinations seemingly transcendent of all senses. Most subjects were convinced there were stimuli the interviewers could not detect –phosphorescent auras surrounding objects, intense spice aromas, melodic voices, sweet hot flavors on the air, the feeling of a cool mist about them.

We quickly engaged Filter to soften all sensations. All subjects responded violently and immediately. They ran headlong into objects and each other. Some subjects writhed on the ground. One subject began pounding his fists into both his ears. Filter was set to full block for these 15 subjects. All were reduced to laying motionless. Vitals were monitored. Brainwave activity approached 59Hz for most subjects –dangerously close to the sustainable maximum. These subjects were moved to individual isolation in the quarantine block.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the subjects blacked out in shortening periods. We left the subjects in this state while we decommissioned all instances of Filter. Filter mainframe confirmed complete shutdown and all nanomeshes were scuttled.

No longer deprived of their senses, subjects returned to their prior states. The 15 subjects in isolation returned to consciousness screaming and writhing in agony. Their condition did not improve over the next 48 hours.

The remaining 185 subjects continued to experience increasingly vivid hallucinations until all else faded and only the hallucinations remained. As they became increasingly dangerous to themselves, my staff, and other subjects, we moved them into isolation. At T-plus 39:04, the last subject was moved into isolation.

I convened my staff and phoned Reintroduction Commission. As no budget was allocated for intensive rehabilitation and care, humane termination was initiated (T-plus 63:21) . Disaster Staging has been engaged for liability mitigation.

Please find release notes for Filter v1.01 attached. I have already contacted Subject Supply for the next sample.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jefferson Quill