Friday, June 28, 2013

Flash Friday

  • Upon the Watchtower
    Dylan T. Miller

    The field outside had been empty for weeks, save the occasional caravan or courier. They would lay overnight, sometimes staying through the next morning, but never longer than that. I know because I watched them from the old lighthouse, rifle at hand. That field was the sole barrier between ocean and Corel, the settlement I called home, and my nerves were always shot when bedrolls appeared around a campfire. Yesterday, though, I couldn't sleep, couldn't close my eyes because of the scene that replayed in the darkness.
    It was a calm and quiet morning, two days ago, with but a single messenger sent ahead, weary and worn from the road, to foretell the arrival of a traveling casino. It was quite a buzz in the city to warrant someone relaying the news to my door. Yet my fears were all the same, and the child laughed when I voiced them before running off to his family. Someone luckier than she should ever know. They arrived as the sun set, and I watched all of Corel watch them. There had never been so many of them in one place. Once the tents were up and the switch pulled, the field became like day, full of light and life and energy. The night went by without consequence, with Corel reveling to stacked decks and quick hands. It was a party I was not invited to, for I had no coin on me, so I did as I would have any other night of the year. I sat and watched, rifle at hand.
    I slept as the sun rose, through midday and awoke only as the sun once again fell. Vermin scurried about, so I killed one and set it to roast. The stairs were torture, old wounds upon my legs deciding to flair up at such sudden activity. Curiosity fueled me, curious if the casino had left, if someone had arrived early, if some townsfolk had enjoyed the night so much as to stay and force my hand in relocating them. Yet once I was at my perch, I had to lean against the tower itself, afraid that if I collapsed the railing would fail and let me fall a full six feet into the ground.
    The casino remained, the lights off but otherwise still plying it's trade. I know not how long I stood there, paralyzed as I was, but by the time I could move again the field was alight and the smell of burning raked my nostrils. Adrenalin surged, and I grabbed my rifle before running downstairs for all the ammunition I could find. It was only then that I recalled my breakfast, but it was past saving, so I kicked the spit over before loading boxes of 30-06 into my arms. I used my rifle as a brace to hold it all, legs on fire with pain as I tried to get back to my perch. I arrived just in time, rifle at hand, to be useless.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flash Friday (Content Warning: 18+)

Please be aware, this Flash Fiction has a content warning, suitable for audiences 18 and older.

The Porcelain Man

I heard laughter from outside. It was time for a cigarette. I threw the blankets from me and, supposing the laughter to be nothing more than a figment of my imagination, I rolled a cigarette and stepped into the night.
The patio glowed a cold blue from Christmas lights wound round the familiar columns and the stairway beneath them. Every surface lay under a sheet of wrapping paper. Snowman holding crimson packages outlining iridescent green. Atop the stairs, a ragged company of twelve or so men and women. Total strangers grimly gazing at me.
“I told you someone lived here,” one said in a wildly flamboyant voice. I thought immediately, That man is a raging queen.
“I know!” said another. He was the only one smiling; from a face of porcelain, his cheeks radiant with blush. He wore a wedding gown, torn here and there; with deeply stained fragments of the garment wrapped around wounds on his arms, he waved to me.
His joy mesmerized me. I backed away and told myself to wake up.
I opened my eyes. I knew it was just a dream, but I decided to go down the stairs and reassure myself.
So, I went down the stairs and the first thing I saw was the porcelain man. I don’t know what happened to the others.
His voice was jubilant.
“Oh!” he laughed. “You’re awake! It’s just like I live here now! I was wondering, did you by any chance hear any gunshots? Several of my friends you met before. They heard gunshots. And I haven’t seen any of them since.”
I opened my eyes.
“Son of a bitch,” I whispered.
That was a terrible dream.
I decided to read for a while. Leave my bed behind.
And when I stepped into the living room, the porcelain man said, “My doctor was a lovely gentlemen. He came form Singapore. I’d love to go and see him, for my prostate is enflamed. But he heard gunshots, you see. And I haven’t seen him ever since.”
I opened my eyes.
“My God! I hope I’m awake.”
I hurried out of bed.
And from the kitchen the porcelain man said, “Summer is my favorite season. For more than just one reason. ‘Tis fun to fight in the middle of the night, if only you would play with me.”
I opened my eyes.
“Please let me be awake!”
I ran from my bed. Jesus Christ! There he was!
“You’ve done a lovely job of not hearing any gunfire. I’m afraid I must leave. But please remember to listen for it. It would be lovely if I could come and entertain again. So, this is good-bye! But before I go, I must clean.”
And a stone crashed through the window. I hurried to the glass and looked down into the lawn. There were his friends from before. I could see their faces shining. The Christmas lights burned so brightly. Their faces were expressionless, iridescent and lost; the flow of blood coagulated from holes in their foreheads. Each of them raised a rock.
From the distance, I heard a rifle firing.
That is when I actually woke up. And ate breakfast.
—Marten Hoyle
Helm, Washington.
(Gothic Comedy for the Profoundly Disturbed)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flash Friday

I'm going to try to get this blog rolling! So on Fridays, I'd like to start flashing you all.

Flash Fiction, that is!

I'll start off with this. It is entitled "Cherished" and the prompt for it was, "when is it okay to lie?". So without further ado:

“Does this dress make my hips look too wide?” Hannah's mother asked. Hannah rolled her eyes, and blew a bright pink bubble to avoid the question. “Hannah?”
“Yes, mom. It makes you look like you need a 'wide load' sign posted right above your rear.”
“Thanks for that,” her mom said, acidly. She shot her daughter a dirty look before disappearing into the changing room. “I don't understand why you can't just tell me a little white lie once in awhile. Why do you always have to be so blatantly honest?”
“I would rather be honest with someone instead of telling them what they want to hear,” Hannah said. She flipped quickly through the pages of the latest fashion magazine, curling her lip at the so-called styles.
“That is not a skill that will get you very far,” her mother chided her.

Hannah pondered what could have caused her to recall that memory as she rode the elevator up to the fourth floor of the hospital. She had been 16 years old. Her mother's words still harangued her, even after all these years. Hannah sighed as the bell dinged, and the doors slid open. She hated hospitals. She didn't know if it was due to the smell, or the idea that people were sequestered away in little rooms while they waited to die, or simply the spread of disease. She could feel the germs creeping along her skin like malicious little sprites waiting for their chance to infect her.
Down the hall, and fourth door on the left. That is where they had taken her mother. They wouldn't let Hannah see her after the accident. She just got in the way. Now she had been stabilized, and they would only allow Hannah to see her for a few moments.
“Is she going to live?” Hannah had asked the doctor, her voice tremulous.
“She's lucky to have come this far. If we don't get the internal bleeding to stop, she may not make it. We're going to do everything we can for her, miss Lanford.”
Hannah stopped in the doorway, and stared at all the tubes and lines connected to her mother. Her beautiful blonde hair that she had always insisted be styled before she left the house, now lay against her skull, dull and flat. If her mother got hold of a mirror...
Hannah worked hard, and made a good life for herself, despite what she now called her best trait and worst flaw. She lost a lot of friends over the years for being so honest. Most of the time, in public, she kept her mouth shut. But at work, she would let her honesty have full reign. She was probably one of the most hated critics at the newspaper. Her stacks of hate mail far outweighed her fan mail. But when she did get a nice letter, a gem in the pile of crap, the person always thanked her for her honesty. Her mother never did understand where it came from. When Hannah was little, she was always told to “be honest”. Hannah lived her life by the Golden Rule, to treat others how she wanted to be treated. She certainly didn't want people to lie to her, so she took it to heart.
One of the monitors beeped as Hannah stood by her mother's bedside. As she looked down, her mother's eyes fluttered open. For a moment, she looked at Hannah, confusion furrowed her brow. After a moment, recognition flickered, and her mother smiled weakly.
“There you are,” she said. She could barely speak, the oxygen mask muffled her words.
“Don't try to talk, mom.” Hannah dropped her coat on the nearby chair, tried to hide the pained expression on her face. She had always known she would lose her mom someday, but not now. Not like this. Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she turned back to her mother, but she had fallen back asleep. Hannah dragged the chair over to the bed, and sat down.
It seemed like hours passed instead of moments when her mother opened her eyes again, and looked up. Hannah smoothed back her mother's hair, and tried to smile.
“I look like hell,” her mother said.
“No,” Hannah shook her head. “You look fine. Really.”
She stared at her daughter, breathing in her oxygen. “Am I going to make it?”
Hannah thought it over a moment, debating whether or not to tell the truth. Her mother studied her with serious eyes as Hannah struggled with the Honesty demon within.
“Yes, mom. You're going to be just fine. The Doc reassured me. You might even be out of here in a couple of days.”
Her mother regarded her for several long moments.
“That is exactly... what I wanted to hear.” Her mother's eyes closed once more, and her breathing became slow and even. Hannah stayed close, knowing in her heart it would be the last time she would see her mother, and those may have been her last words.
It was a short time later when Hannah noticed her mother's chest had stopped rising, and she had a peaceful look upon her face.

by Mel Chesley