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Posts Tagged ‘Flash Fiction’

I am a sick and twisted cookie.

Written for Chuck Wendig’s blog, a flash fiction challenge on the literal “War on Christmas.”

I present – Peter’s Pains

“Scream Frosty, scream.”

The animated snowman screamed, sounding just like a whiskey soaked old man being jammed with hot pokers.  Those hot pokers were pencil thin, and the sounds of his screams didn’t completely cover the hiss of steam as heated metal plunged into compacted snow.

Black Peter watched, eyes alight as his victim writhed with little stick arms strapped to the table.  A huge black beard, singed from countless half lit chimneys, made Peter look like a pirate gone mad.  His skin was cracked like a miner’s, and stained with coal dust that no amount of bathing would entirely wash away.  Huge, callused hands held the thin, heated rods with an almost delicate care as he decided where to plunge the implements next.  Dozens of small holes already leaked water onto the floor, crystallized ice around the wounds looking very much like glittering scabs.

“You will tell me where that fat bastard is hiding himself,” Peter said.  His voice was rough from coal dust, and very sure of itself.  It was only a matter of time.

The snowman hacked, small bits of ice dribbling from his lips.  Eyes that were far more alive than two lumps of coal had a right to be narrowed defiantly.  Twig fingers clenched in pained rage.

“Never!  Not in a thousand Christmases!”

All around the two, Peter’s minions worked on other captives.  The few survivors of the Army of Nick were wishing they had died with their comrades.  The Pole had fallen, after a month’s siege.

Two grinches, their green fur matted with sweat and dried sugar, held down a gingerbread man.  A third pressed a cloth over the confection’s frosting mouth and poured milk over the rag.   “Milkboarding” had already dissolved most of the cookie’s brothers, eating them away from the inside out.   Their remains littered the floor, gumdrop buttons crushed under grinch feet.

The Krampus was instructing several miniature versions of himself on the finer points of torture.   The Claus had never allowed his demon-slave to breed before, but under Black Peter’s rule Krampus had already sired a dozen imps.  Children were in short supply in the Pole, so they had to make do with elves for their lessons.  The Krampus smiled proudly as imp giggles mingled with elven sobs.

“I have his sleigh,” Peter said to his snowy victim.  “The fat bastard couldn’t have gotten far without it.”

Steam hissed and Frosty tried to hold back the sounds of his agony.  He wished for his old corncob pipe to bite down on.  Tears dribbled from coal eyes, leaving dark streaks on his face.

“You think Old Nick needs the sleigh to travel?  That’s just to carry the toyYYyS!”  Frostry shrieked the last word as Peter ground a hot piece of metal into his eye.  The smell of charcoal was deeply satisfying to the villain.

“You will tell me.   My vengeance will not be complete until the fat man begs at my feet.”

“You fool.  You will never be anything more than sorrow and regret.  You can not kill the spirit of  Christmassss-“

The hiss of steam mingled with the hiss of pain, as Peter became impatient and shoved his implements into the snowman’s mouth.

After the pain subsided, Frosty gave him a torn, half melted grin.   Triumph filled the North’s greatest general even as his tongue and lips dribbled down his chin.  Now he could never succumb and betray his master.

Peter threw his tools down in disgust.  Furious with himself and the obscene, twisted smile of his captive.  For a second he just stood and stared, as impotently enraged as a child who had just opened a lovely wrapped box of tube socks.  The moment passed quickly, and he signaled to a ferocious looking yeti who lurked nearby.

“Take it away, and burn it’s old top hat,” Peter said.  “Then… bring me the reindeer.”

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It’s been a while since I did one of these, but Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com put up a delicious flash fiction challenge that I had to give a go.  A random ass one, where you rolled a d20 and were given by mad luck your style, conflict, and one element to include.  With a thousand words to work on and blind chaos, I did what I could with Hard Boiled – Heist Gone Wrong- with Poisonous Snakes.
Yeah…. I’m calling this one Balloon Animals – 992 Words Long

 
Balloon Animals

Never work for a clown, even a sexy one.

That’s not a metaphor.  We all work for clowns in the end, from bosses to politicians. I mean the actual circus type clown. She wasn’t wearing the make-up when she came to my office, but she had been working a plaid skirt so short it was probably the circus midget of its kind.  Her legs had been distracting enough and the job simple enough I had agreed without much hesitation. She just wanted me to dig up dirt on her husband for her upcoming divorce proceedings, though she claimed he was holding important papers ransom. Probably just a pre-nup, but breaking and entering and a little petty theft were all part of the P.I. gig.

Mr. Ricardo was staying in the kind of cheap motel that I spend far too much of my time in. He wasn’t the only one form the circus there.  Jugglers practiced by the pool and what had to be a seal was playing ball with three small children.  A group of clowns watched me pass with painted smiles and dead, tired eyes.  No one seemed to notice as I went up to the third floor and jimmied my way into his room.

The room looked just like you’d expect, dingy and banal, with lights dim enough that you couldn’t see just how bad the paint was fading and peeling.  Three honest to god steamer trunks seemed to contain the whole of Mr. Ricardo’s possessions.  I really hoped the whip was part of his act, not his social life. I didn’t see any of the papers I was supposed there to steal back.

I heard footsteps approaching the door.  There wasn’t a closet to duck into so I slipped into the bathroom instead.  A woman giggled and a man murmured something low and presumably enticing to her.  I shut the door to the bathroom with equal parts speed and stealth.

A hiss and a high pitched rattle quickly distracted me from the voices in the other room.

The room was hot and wet, like the inside of an infected wound.  Bright fluorescents mixed with an odd red lamp someone had rigged over the bathtub.  The cheap tile floors smelled of bleach and an odd, dry musk.  Something slithered behind me, brushing my heels.

I jumped forward, a pure involuntary motion, and felt a sharp pain in my calf, hot and quick.  For a moment I thought I had been cut by broken glass, and I looked around for it.  I didn’t see any glass.   Just snakes.

Like a bad dream they now seemed to fill the bathroom.  The tub, bathed in red from the heat lamp, writhed like the pits of Hell.  Long, limbless bodies squirmed along white tiles with deceptive speed.  Behind me the one who bit me rattled in a way that could never be mistaken with a child’s toy.  I swear the bastard was grinning at me as it flicked its tongue.

If it hadn’t been for him I’d have gone right back out the door.  I’d have made my apologies to the man and whatever woman other than his wife he was sleeping with, and make my way to the nearest hospital.  As it was, I was wondering if I could draw and fire before he got in another bite.  My leg was starting to burn.

There was a window on the other side of the room, just big enough.  Of course we were two stories up, but if I could make it past the room full of scaled death I was willing to jump it.  A broken leg couldn’t be worse than a poisoned one. I started to edge, slow and careful, across the treacherous terrain of this festering bathroom.  A face appeared in the window, and I was startled enough I almost fell into the tub.  My client, white faced and crying for me, like a mourning angel.  Only after I recovered my balance did I realize the white face was mime makeup, and the tears were painted on.

“Hurry,” my not-quite angel beckoned, reaching through the second story window as if she hovered on unseen wings.

I was in no position to argue, but complying wasn’t a simple thing.  My leg was really cramping now.  I hobbled, and the motion seemed to attract the snakes too me.  In exactly the reverse reaction they had to Saint Patrick, the snakes flocked to me.  One hissed, and I kicked it just as hard as I could, my leg screaming with agony even as the pest hit the wall with a satisfying wet, crunchy sound.

I got to the window and grabbed the hands offered to me.  It took some work to swing my leg through the small opening, and a moment of vertigo made me reel.  The ground was too far, the sky too close, and my client’s magnificent legs stretched forever.  Too far really, all the way to the ground.

She gripped me, stronger than I’d have figured, and swung me down and between the pair of stilts she was perched on.  I hit the ground in a roll, managing despite my pain to land on my ass and not my face.  The group of clowns were there, having followed my client I imagine.  They silently considered me, then raised their fingers like judge’s score cards.  The jerks only gave me a six.

I looked back up at my client and savior.  She was leaning into the window, shouting at the top of her voice.  I could just hear the voices inside the hotel room, her husband and his mistress.  I could have stayed but I knew how those fights went, and I had an appointment at the emergency room to get to.

I had to admit as she leaned in to shout louder, working out on two story stilts gave a girl a magnificent ass.

Or maybe that was the cytotoxin talking.

 

 

 

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I got around to this one a little later than I had planned.  Another flash fiction challenge for Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com .  This week he gave people a list of paint colours, all of which had amusing names.   Whichever colour we picked, that was the title of our piece.

I picked Bone China, enjoy.

 

Mila sipped her tea, contemplating the cup and saucer.  She hardly tasted the tea, not without adding far more sugar than was healthy.  She tried to savor instead the feel of the fine porcelain in her hand, the light pearlescent of the mother of pearl finish.  She tried not to look at the wall beyond beyond.  She could no longer tell if the lilac wall paper had faded with time, or if her cataracts had simply grown thicker.  She kept her eyes on the near distance, cup and saucer.

Harold had been a good husband.

It had been a shame when he had gotten himself killed.  A silly accident, but then he had been prone to silliness.  Why he thought teasing that orca with a stuffed seal had been hilarious she would never know.  She hadn’t had enough left of him to make a full tea set.  She had only the single cup and saucer.  Guests had to make do with regular china.

Not that she had many guests any more.  Not since her eighth husband, George.  He had been a regular socialite, bringing all sorts of wonderful color into her home.  Twitchy men with sweaty money in their fists, looking for things that they could not buy legally.  Large, powerful men in fine suits who had talked very quietly, but everyone strained to listen.  Their ladies, all gussied up like birds of paradise or wrapped up in thick furs.

Rather like baby seals, she thought to herself now, and laughed quietly looking at the little porcelain knickknacks on the hearth.  She could just make them out, fine little figures of gangsters and molls.  George’s bones had been enough for practically an entire speakeasy, though she had kept just a bit of him aside.  She thought it appropriate that a touch of him would forever be a little fine powder in a little baggie, just like the ones he used to sell.

She got up, her arthritis creaking her terribly, and smoothed the buttercup dress down around her bony knees.   Slowly, carefully, she walked through her home, savoring her memories along with her mementos.  The light blue vase had been made out of Steve, who always gave her yellow tulips and now would always be filled with them.  The silly little grey ashtray she made out of Phillip.  Three packs a day he had smoked, and he was surprised when his heart gave out during the New York marathon.   At least he had been considerate enough not to stick her with the hospital bills of lung cancer.

Eleven husbands in all, and she had loved everyone. Did love everyone, now that she thought about it.  Just because she let new men into her heart didn’t push the old ones out.  She loved being surrounded by what was left of their remains, sculpted into beauty even for those who had lived ugly lives.

Now it was just her, and her aching knees and fading eyesight.  She hated to be alone, it was one of the reasons she married.  Perhaps it wasn’t too late.  Perhaps it was time to find husband number twelve.  After all, she couldn’t outlive another, could she?

Well, if she did then maybe it would be time to get some tea cups made for company, and perhaps a small pot.

 

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Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com has requested this week’s flash fiction to be as pulp tastic as possible.  Oh Chuck, oh my.  I always knew one day I’d have an excuse to start a story with the words, “Unleash the ducks!”.

Earth Quack

“Unleash the ducks!”

The sea started to roil.  Huge rapids and waves crashed along the shores of the relatively small island.  Something rose from the ocean depths, disturbing the waters above till half the ocean looked like an insane man’s giant stew pot.  Something from the deep broke the water’s surface and kept rising.  Something huge, something menacing, something…

Yellow.

The madman cackled as yellow rubber duckies the size of icebergs burst from beneath the waves.  His observation platform hovered hundreds of feet above the island shores below, and yet he still had to look up to get face to beak with his creations.  They wore huge rubber goggles and his insignia tattooed on their yellow hides, for no reason other than style.  All the best had style.

Having a captive audience made it all the sweeter.

“You see?!,” he yelled at the bound man sitting next to him.  “It is too late for you to stop me. Already my mechanized fiddler crabs eat away at Ireland’s foundations. Not you, nor Cú Chulainn, nor the whole Leprechaun League can stop me now!”

Agent McBride struggled at his ropes, but they held fast.  His regulation trench coat bunched uncomfortably under his short arms, and his long red beard was tangled in the knots.  If only he hadn’t lost the sonic shillelagh, or still had the shamrock shaped lapel pen with its hidden laser cutter.   All he could do was struggle, curse, and trust in the luck of the Irish.

“Ye damned mad bastard!  Ya cannot seriously expect to steal off the whole island with nothing but ducks and crabs!”

“Oh can’t I?” The madman laughed, tossing back his head and nearly losing his goggles.  He towered over the bound leprechaun. If the ducks said anything about the state of his psyche, they would hint at some serious size compensation issues.  “I managed to take the whole of the Easter Islands with nothing but a gravity ray and a flock of robotic albatrosses!  I can take your blessed isle, and float it all the way to Australia!”

“Australia!” the agent’s mouth hung open and his eyes bulged.  “Why in the name of all the saints that ever shat rainbows would ye take us to Australia?!”

All around the island more ducks were rising, huge as mountains, yellow as raincoats. A net of wires, the finest adamantium imported straight from Venus, stretched from them down into the waters and to the island below.  Agent McBride could see the movement along the wires, hundreds of nano crabs, each able to move tons of dirt with their oversized right claws.  They could slice through the island like a vivisection, letting the ducks take on the burden.

The madman preened, looking along his creations.  He even ignored the single giant duck wearing a spiffy sailor hat.  He knew he hadn’t made a sailor duck, but they seemed to self manifest in some bizarre quirk of nature.  He pushed up his goggles and the agent knew he was dealing with a truly disturbed personality.  Only the entirely insane would wear a monocle under their goggles.

“It is all ingeniously simple,” the madman said.  “I plan to anchor the two islands together, big and small.  Soon, the populations will interbreed, the cultures will mix.  Then I will force the most unholy of unions.  In a decade Fosters and Guinness will be joined in the same brewery!”

The leprechaun felt his jaw drop so low it was amazing his beard didn’t try to crawl off it.  He just sputtered.

“But that’s… ye canna… I mean…”

“Yes, you see now.  The evil children of such a union will either be so delicious as to completely addict the world, or so very obscene to psychologically damage generations of beer drinkers.  Either way, glorious chaos will be served!”

“Ye mad bastard!” the agent repeated.  He stared at the island as it started to quake.  The oceans around had turned brown from the silt and waste of the digger crabs.

The madman watched the special agent of the Leprechaun League process it all.  He could see the conflicted emotions race across his red bearded face.  He knew the building curiosity that such a mad scheme would spark.  He could practically taste the words that would come next.

“So,” the agent said reluctantly.  “Ye, need some help?”

The madman cackled hard enough to loose the monocle. It tumbled into the duck filled waters below as he bent to untie his new minion.

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This one is just silly, and I make no apologies.  For Chuck Wendig’s Friday flash fiction challenge at terribleminds.com

This weeks topic was simply dinosaurs. The take I went with was non traditional to say the least.

Silly.

Doom Sayers

“There is really no doubt about it,” the professor said, craning his overlong neck towards the sky.  “The meteor will hit us.”

His people were renowned for their studious observations of the heavens.  When you’ve a forty foot neck and spend much of your day staring around and chewing your cud, you have time for thought.  Whether it was predicting the weather, or the cosmos itself, no one argued with Professor Cou’s observations.

He sighed and turned to his fellows, dismissing his tools till he needed them later.  They floated around his head, looking much like soap bubbles glowing with light.  They were a tremendous tool when properly focused.  With them he had seen the incoming doom as if it were a few meters away.

“Well, what can we do about it?” asked one colleague angrily.  Doctor Fruet had done well to raise himself to such a lofty council.  For years his people, with their oversized head and ineffectually little arms, had been used as little more than laborers and occasionally crash test dummies.  Still, he had his species’ natural impatience, and a tendency to lick his sharp teeth and stare overlong at the beating pulse in Professor Cou’s neck.

“Our weapons are inefficient against such force and mass,” said Marshal Ianza, a military woman if ever there were one. Highly educated or not, her three horns were sharpened to deadly spears and polished regularly, her platoons colors dyed into the great shield of her head.  Those who knew her well could see the tired desperation in her muscled form.

“Nor are our shields sufficient to protect more than a handful of the population,” Doctor Brucard put in, the spines on his neck slumped.  He had given up already, and everyone knew it.  His spiked tail waved impatiently behind him, as if it wanted to knock sense into its own skull.

It was true though.  Their sciences were well advanced, but not designed with such threats in mind.  In just the last millennium they had mastered great things. Built structures and vehicles that left no impact on their environment.  Materials that left no trace once the components were broken down.  Their energy sources were efficient, and the very nature of the sources made them accessible to every intelligent being on the planet.  Yet the very temporary nature, the elegance of their structures and tools, made them weak as an eggshell against such a mighty force.  They had only recently conceived of such a threat from the stars. With a few years planning they might have found some solution, but they only had a few weeks.

“Very well,” Professor Cou said.  “We did not get to where we are by dawdling on unpleasant decisions.   We evacuate, yes?”

“Of course,” said Dr. Fruet.

“As soon as everyone can be alerted and organized,” said Marshal Ianza, words emphasized with sharp motions of her horned head.

“If you think anyplace else will be better,” Brucard said gloomily.

“It will take sometime before we get back on our feet,” Cou said.  “A few generations of hard pioneering before we reach our peak again.  Perhaps it will do us some good, trim the fat.”

The others nodded and agreed.  Smaller members of the council scurried off to begin preparation.  Their heads bobbed as they talked amongst themselves, full of wonder and fear. Sharp toothed members whispered wicked plots and dreams regarding a land where smaller species might survive the hardships of pioneering more easily than the great plodding giants at the head of their government.  Already people were wondering if they would ever return, once the dust had cleared and life began to sprout anew.  Most doubted it, by then they would all be well settled in a new home.  Hopefully one that would last for all of time.

In a few hours rifts would open all over the planet. Rifts that would take the united races to a new home in some far off plane.  If only the rifts didn’t take an act of will to step through, they would use the things to redirect the meteorite.   Like all their technology, it was elegant, impressive, but designed for one purpose and not versatile beyond it.  Much like themselves, each species finding a niche and balance in a society of hundreds.

“Mc’kley’s funeral was scheduled for this afternoon,” said Brucard.  “Should we cancel it as a waste of time?”

“Of course not,” Marshal Ianza said, “He was a good man, and a part of this council.  He should be honored for his great age and accomplishments.”

“Yes,” said Professor Cou, “Take him to the clay and set him deep in the warm mud.  Let his bones harden over time, even after that wretched meteor has burnt all of the other life to carbon dust.”

There was a murmuring of agreement among the council.  The old man Mc’kley would be honored in the traditional way.  His bones set in the clay with countless generations.  Left to ossify in earthly eternity. The last to be interred on their home planet.  A monument of death left behind, as they went off to start life anew.

“It is the way of sentient societies to mark even terrible events with meaningful ritual,” Professor Cou said as he started to plod his large bulk off to the ceremony site, head swaying high above the gathering crowds.

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Flash fiction for Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash Fiction at terribleminds.com  Topic- Death.  Boy did this come out darker than I had planned.

Enjoy.

 

A Villain Dies, A Hero Dies

He was dead.  His meat cooled at my feet, his cape soiled with blood and worse.  I had to dim my senses to block out the stench of him.  His ridiculous powered gauntlets lay a few feet away, and I didn’t need my enhanced faculties to know that stubs of his fingers were still lodged inside.  They had snapped like carrots when I tore the gloves from him, crushing them as easily as his spine had crumbled in my fingers a few moments later.

It had been so easy.  For years we had battled.  He had plotted and I had thwarted, again and again in a dance that would have been endless.

Would have been, if I hadn’t finally lost my temper.

Now he was dead and I hovered above him.  The villain defeated and the hero above, victorious.  I didn’t just see the mangled corpse beneath me.  I saw all those innocents he had tormented over the years while I clung to my moral high ground.   I saw all those deaths that might have been prevented if I had simply caved in his skull when we had first met.  All those years wasted.

All those other villains out there, and how easy they would fall if I put my mind to it.

I had tried, all these years.  Tried to serve justice, or at least the legal system that was supposed to represent justice.  I had dragged villain after villain in, leaving them to languish in a jail cell.  At least until money and high priced lawyers had them out and on the street so fast that the courthouse had installed revolving doors.  Again and again, the system of justice had let me down.

Now the worst of them, my self proclaimed arch-nemesis, was just blood staining my boots and a mess to be cleaned up by someone else.  I had to stop and think.   Could I live with myself, letting others terrorize the innocent as he always had?

No, I couldn’t.

I flew away without a second glance.  Tonight there would be more blood, more corpses.  In secret lairs and office boardrooms, in the sewers and in backrooms of bars.  I knew where the rats hid, and I knew how to ferret them out.

I wondered briefly if I should change into a new costume before I began the cleansing of our fair city.

 

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A quick story for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge at terribleminds.com  I do enjoy these challenges.  This story is less then four hundred words long, and as usual I giggled way more than is healthy while writing it.

 

The Fire of the Gods

 

Prometheus crawled down from the mountain home of the gods, cradling his stolen fire close, protecting it from wind and rain.

On his way home, he met a wise old shaman who had dealt with the gods before.  The shaman took one look at Prometheus’ precious parcel.

Then promptly smacked Prometheus on the head.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!” asked the shaman.

“I have brought the sacred flame down from on high to share with all humanity,” said the thief, feeling very put upon.

The shaman smacked him again, and the sacred fire was almost lost as Prometheus staggered back.

“I can see that,” the shaman said grumpily.  “I meant more, where did you take the ‘sacred flame’ from.”

“From the gods,” Prometheus said, then ducked.

The shaman barely controlled himself.  It is lucky for all mankind that firearms can not be invented before fire, or there would have been gunplay at the foot of the gods’ mountain retreat.

“Be more specific,” the shaman said, “did you take the flame from the gods’ ceremony pit?”

“Of course not, seven priests and seven times seven maidens danced around the ceremony pit.  How could I approach stealthily?”

“Uhuh.  Did you perhaps take it from the candles set by the Mother goddess for her wandering children?”
“And risk the Mother’s wrath?  I may be bold, but I’m not insane.  I found a room set with marble and gleaming steel, cleaner than any surface I have ever seen.”
“Yeah,’ the shaman said, biting down his anger.  “The gods call that a ‘kitchen’.  And where in the kitchen was the fire?”

“Why, under a small metal plate, which transferred the warmth to a pot filled with slowly dripping black liquid.  Tell me shaman, was this some representation of the balance between the elements?  Water and fire?”
“Noooo.  The gods call that ‘coffee’.  And I wish you had braved priests and mothers and undead jackals before you touched the coffee maker of the gods.”

The two of them looked up at the sacred mountain just in time to see storm clouds gather.  Thunder rumbled slow, and even humans who knew nothing of gods or their vices trembled.

The shaman smacked Prometheus a third time.

Then he prepared to run.

 

 

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