Flash Fiction
This story is simple.

There’s no deeper meaning. No commentary on society or human nature. No treatise on how people should behave, or the consequences of careless action, or even an ode to beauty or love.

It’s just a 400-word gimmick. But an entertaining one.

The entire point of it is the first and the last line. That’s it. All the stuff in the middle was just getting from one to the other, which will make sense when you read it.

Go on, then. Read it.

basically the same

“They’re basically the same thing.”

Jenny gawked. “The same thing?”

Val nodded. She wasn’t even looking at her friend.

“Yeah,” she said. “The same thing.”

Jenny stopped walking. As if on cue, a dog barked somewhere in the distance.

“How is being bitten by a vampire the same as sex?”

Val circled back to her friend. They had the sidewalk to themselves. Hell, they had the street to themselves. But it was well-lit and in a mostly-nice part of town, so neither was particularly worried. Plus, they had cell phones, and Jenny never when anywhere without mace on her keyring.

“Well,” Val began, “both involve penetration, for one.”

Jenny scrunched her nose. Val rolled her eyes.

“Like you haven’t thought about it.”

“It’s that word,” Jenny said. “Penetration. I don’t like how it sounds. It’s so, I don’t know, forceful, I guess.”

“It’s what happens. And in both cases, it’s something hard sliding into something soft.”

“Okay, stop.”

Val only grinned.

“If it’s the first time, sex even involves blood.”

“I said stop.”

Val laughed quietly to herself. “Okay, princess. But you asked.”

“I didn’t ask for details. Not like those.”

“And anyway, you gotta get over being so fucking innocent.”

Jenny’s eyes went wide.

“What?” Val asked.

“You said the f-word.”

Val grinned conspiratorially. “It’s just a fucking word.”

“Stop it. Why are you being so gross tonight?”

Val thought about that for a moment.

“I’m not sure. I mean, we just saw a horror film. Could be that. Or maybe I just like torturing you. It’s what friends do.”

“Well, think about puppies or something.”

“Vampire puppies?”

“No! Regular, cute little puppies. Geez, what is wrong with you?”

Val laughed, and then they walked in silence for several blocks. They parted ways at Jenny’s house. Val lived just three blocks east. They hugged, and Val said she’d call when she got home.

Only she never called.

Cutting through the alley by her house, she’d run into a stranger. A man she didn’t recognize, but about whom she did not have a good feeling. When he saw her, he leered and said, “Wanna fuck?”

“Uh, no, creep.”

A grin split his face, revealing not teeth, but fangs.

“Then maybe a snack,” the stranger replied. “You know, they’re basically the same thing.”

Flash FictionThe last several weeks have been pure chaos, though I admit that shouldn’t stop me from writing. I’ll try to be better. I promise.

Thank you for waiting so politely in my absence. You didn’t complain or pitch a fit or anything, and I appreciate that ever so much. Especially given how much you must have missed me. It was agony, I’m sure, but you managed it quite nicely.

This week, I’m venturing back to The Prediction for our prompt:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘necessary’, ‘pucker’, and ‘willow’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

I hope you enjoy it.

the price is the price

“Necessary?” he asked. “Is anything really necessary? That willow by the lake, for example. Seems a bit much to me, but there it is.”

I sighed. Fairies are exhausting.

“That’s not what I mean,” I explained. “Is there another way to cover the cost?”

His eyes widened with understanding. “Oh. I see. Too expensive for you?”

“In a manner of speaking,” I said.

“Sorry, lass. The price is the price. Pay it or chew cabbage.”

What could I do? No substitute would work for the spell.

I closed my eyes and puckered. His lips were cool like the autumn breeze.

Flash FictionI’ve written several variations of this scene. Not the same characters, the same situation, or the same outcome. Just the set up.

An immortal and a human coming to some kind of arrangement in an environment of mock civility. I find it fascinating.

Sometimes the immortal has the clear upper hand. Sometimes the mortal holds his/her ground. The power dynamic isn’t the point.

Rather, it’s the tension I like. A threat delivered with courtesy.

Is anything as unnerving as a killer with manners?

I won’t claim this particular piece is polished. It’s not. It’s a rough draft, pure and simple. Go easy on me if you spot flaws.

May dawn find you…

savage

“So, what’s the deal with your friend?”

Marco raised his eyebrows. Sometimes he gets hung up on what he would call ‘the modern vernacular’.

“Him,” I said pointing to the other chair.

“Oh,” Marco relied, “he is here for your edification.”

I gave him the same look I give my cat when he noses his way to the bottom of a full food bowl and then flips out at the impending shortage.

“I’m not feeling particularly edified,” I said.

“Consider him a cautionary tale, by way of courtesy.”

I figured as much. Like I needed the warning.

I get it, Marco baby. You’re a badass. I’m shakin’ in my Docs.

“Gotcha. So, can we talk business or is there some kind of protocol? I know you’re big into tradition.”

“Under other circumstances, I would be obliged to offer you refreshment. However, any kind of sustenance, even libation, also signifies the promise of safe passage. You have no such assurance from me, pramatie.”

I smirked.

“You know I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

He did not return the smile.

“The matter at hand shan’t require more than a short negotiation. I have but one requirement.”

Oh, boy. Here it comes.

He continued. “Bring me Lucian’s head. Pledge this service and you may leave here unharmed.”

I looked at Marco’s friend.

“And if I don’t?”

Marco nodded.

“I don’t get you, Marco. You know I hate threats. I mean, look at this whole mess with your brother. He tried to force me into service, and I got his blood all over my favorite boots. Do you know what a pain in the ass that was?”

“Am I to take that as a refusal?”

I shrugged.

“Yes and no, Mister Man. Yes and no. Look, I want Lucian dead, too. But I don’t really feel like hauling his head back here to Casa de Death just so you can sit me next to another example of your wrath. I’m not scared of you. You should know that by now.”

“Ignorance is the delight of fools,” he said.

“And pride the undoing of the immortal,” I shot back.

“We seem to be at an impasse.”

Slowly, I slid a hand behind my back, my fingers slipping easily around the bone handle of my favorite silver knife. I brought it into view, making sure he perceived my intent. He did nothing to stop me.

I stood, walking behind his friend. The poor bastard was incapable of reaction. In all likelihood he didn’t even know I was there.

His arms and legs had been severed at the joints. His eyes gouged out. His tongue most likely removed. His ears torn loose. The scar tissue on the sides of his head caught the dim light of the room, each wrinkle of skin screaming testimony of unspeakable pain.

I wondered how long Marco had kept him like this. How many times he’d drained him within inches of his life, only to stop short. Only to keep him suffering.

With a quick gesture, I ended it, the blade slicing deep into his jugular. He didn’t even gurgle as he bled out.

“You’re a savage, Marco.”

“Says the woman who just gutted a pig in my parlor. Were you aware of his trespasses, you might find the punishment he suffered insufficient.”

He was probably right, there. Marco tends to keep bad company.

“I’ll take care of Lucian,” I said. “Not for you. And not you’re not getting his head. News of his death will have to be enough.”

“Very well,” Marco conceded. “Within the week, please.”

“When I’m fucking ready,” I said. “And stop playing with your food. A man your age should know better.”

He smiled just wide enough to show me his fangs.

I rolled my eyes. Seriously, do they think that shit still works on me?

“I’ll see you when I see you,” I said. “Or maybe I won’t.”

“May dusk find you,” he said.

“And dawn, you,” I replied.

I wiped my blade on his curtains on the way out. It was tacky, but strategic.

Lesson one with dealing with his kind. It’s not enough to show them courage. You have to show complete disregard. They have no respect for life. Let ‘em know you’re concerned about your own and they’ll exploit your sense of self-preservation.

Dare them to kill you. Then they’ve got nothing.

I’ve been daring Marco for a while. Maybe one day he’ll try to follow through.

And maybe his former friend will save him a seat in hell.

Flash FictionI’m not sure why, but three of my last four flash fiction stories have prominently featured guns.

I’m not particularly into guns. I don’t own one. I don’t even know much about them.

But few things deliver savage violence like a bullet. Especially one to the head – another commonality.

This one was difficult to cap at 100 words. I can see the scene vividly. There are a ton of details I left out of the final draft. I may have to go back and add some meat and bones to this skeleton.

The prompt is (betcha can’t guess…) from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘emulate’, ‘spaghetti’, and ‘weak’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

xoxoxo

“It means imitate,” I said.

Carlos had a toothpick in his mouth, a gun in his waistband, and a lot of stupid shit in his head.

“I ain’t emulating no one.”

Music drifted into the alley.

“You should be emulating a man who pays his debts.”

He shrugged. “Why? Ricky ain’t got nothin’ but weak bitches. Do I look worried?”

See what I mean? Stupid.

I moved faster than he could think, whipping the Desert Eagle out of my coat and kissing him three times. Hard. In the face.

Pop, pop, pop.

“No,” I said. “You look like spaghetti.”

Flash FictionIt’s time to (very briefly) revisit the nameless assassin. I haven’t written a story about him in a while, and this week’s prompt was a good match for his verbose nature.

He does so like the sound of his own voice.

Sadly, this story doesn’t really get at his overall character. If you’d like to know him better, check out the full series. It’s kind of fun.

As has been the trend lately, the prompt is from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘fine’, ‘jargon’, and ‘pecuniary’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

customer service

Ideally, I’m a ghost. In and out without a trace of evidence. That’s my preference. But the client was adamant. She wanted him to know.

Fine. It’s not my style, but fine. Customer service and all.

Of course, he had questions. I suppose that’s fair. I’d feel similarly inquisitive were I in his shoes. So I tried to be respectfully, chiefly by being frank.

“Candice hired me. In the parlance of my profession, you’re the mark.”

“But why?!” he pleaded.

I shrugged. “Pecuniary needs.”

I’m not sure what confused him more. The gun at his head or my jargon.

Flash FictionI’m going to go ahead and answer three questions about the story below before you ask them.

First, yes, I’m talking about who/what you think I’m talking about. Second, if it reminds you at all of The Hunger Games, that’s not by accident. And third, it absolutely qualifies as horror.

The prompt this week is once again from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘dwarf’, ‘eve’, and ‘ostentatious’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

the greatness

He stands tall, his off-white suit in unsettling contrast to the falling snow. The crowd sways in the flakes as his words roll over them.

“On this, the eve of greatness restored, ostentatious displays of resistance will not be tolerated. Stand with us or be counted as an enemy – of the state, of the people, and of all that we hold dear. We are ONE.”

“We are ONE,” the people echo in lifeless unison.

Behind him, dwarfed in both stature and intellect, the president nods. His yellow locks blow to and fro in the wind, much like his attention.

Flash FictionOh, it can be fun to go dark. It’s especially fun to go dark in the name of righteous vengeance.

This makes three weeks running of flash fiction based on prompts from the good folks over at The Prediction. If you’re into writing flash fiction, I encourage you to check the site out. They’re a very supportive group, so be sure to share your stuff.

It’ll do you good.

Here’s this week’s prompt:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘rampart’, ‘sewer’, and ‘unreason’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

the fury

“You’re being unreasonable,” he sputtered.

I’d just finished tying his hands.

“Unreasonable? You left my friend to the sewer rats.”

His eyes searched the room. For purchase. For rampart. For anything he could use to save himself.

I grabbed his chin, forcing him to face me. “How does the saying go? Hell hath no fury like…what was it?”

He shook his head. I pushed double barrels into his crotch.

“Hell hath no fury like what?” I demanded.

“A…a woman scorned,” he whimpered.

I smiled. “You’ll know soon enough.”

I fired.

First between his legs, then between his eyes.

Flash FictionLast week’s 100-word was so much fun (and so well received), I can’t help it. I have to do it again.

I really like the feel and idea behind this story. I may have to play with it. I don’t see it being a lot longer, but it might work with more than 100 words. We’ll see.

Regardless, it’s a fun, creepy little piece to get your weekend started.

The prompt, once more, is from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘flux’, ‘jute’, and ‘spoil’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

bound

Shall I spoil it, dear reader? The twist? The surprise ending you won’t see coming?

Or shall I let you discover it for yourself?

This is a tale in flux. Can you feel the fluidity? Like jute wound into rope, my words form the line that pulls you in deeper.

You’re bound to me, even now. You just don’t know it.

But you will.

Sitting there, comfortable, perusing my words, I doubt you’ll even feel it. The blade kissing your neck. The quick flick. The gush.

Shall I tell you how this ends? Or let you discover it for yourself?

Flash FictionI like to revisit characters, even in super-short form. This is one of those times.

James Kinter remains, for me, an epic villain. There’s nothing particularly original about him. He’s like so many other killers, a disturbing mix of sophistication and psychopathy. But that’s part of why I like him.

Well, not HIM. Stories that feature him. He’s deplorable, but you can’t have horror without a good villain.

This one was especially fun as the closing line echoes the title of the first story I wrote about him, back when I wasn’t sure how I felt about being able to go so dark. Now I delight in it. Ain’t that a kick in the head?

If you like this little thing, be sure to check out the much longer original series, The Kinter House. It’s classic American horror.

Oh, and the piece below was written based on a prompt from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘lone’, ‘sanguine’, and ‘splay’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

rhapsody

He was sanguine, even as sirens sounded in the distance. They were a pack of rabid dogs on the hunt, but he didn’t care. He just smiled, depositing his tools on the table and taking off the heavy butcher’s apron.

His work was splayed across the room. “Rhapsody In Red” played on a lone speaker. “Love to feel it flood down to my soul…,” Garcia sang.

His soul felt light, sanctified by the sacrifice.

They would come, ready to dissect his masterpiece. But it didn’t matter.

He would simply wrap himself in the comfort of the memory of those screams.

Flash FictionFunny story.

I wrote this short piece of fiction more than week ago with the intention of publishing it last Friday. Most of the time, I write my Friday fiction the day of, but I was feeling prolific. Normally when I write fiction early like that, I schedule the post, but this time I thought I’d go back and read over the story before posting it.

So Friday rolled around and, because I’d already written the actual fiction, I neglected to add posting it to my to-do list. So I didn’t review it or post it or anything. Yay me.

Now here we are, a week later, and I missed posting any fiction at all last week. My apologies.

The story below is somber and dark. I like it, but then again it totally matched my mood when I wrote it. It might match your mood too, more than you would think.

The metaphor isn’t discreet. Darkness vs. light. We’ve seen a lot of darkness lately. Hate seems to be winning the day. It’s on the news. It wins elections. It sways decision-makers and money-takers, and there have been moments in recent weeks when I felt so engulfed in the shadows that I hardly remembered what light looks like.

It’s odd, I suppose, to embed an ultimately hopeful message in such a dim tale. After all, the only person who understands the danger represented by the darkness, is “crazy.” But then again, hope is, itself, a crazy thing. I don’t think most people have the stomach for it.

Okay. Enough with me waxing philosophical. I would, however, love to know what you think. Please feel free to chime in below in the comments.

(I know you won’t. My readers are a notoriously quite bunch, but I’m going to keep right on asking you to talk to me anyway. So there.)

in the shadows

The storm is within. I can’t quiet the thunder or dry the rain. And I can’t stop looking up, my mouth hanging open. So I’m drowning. Drowning in the rain.

It started as a curiosity. Of course, you know what that did to the cat.

It was the shadows. Sometimes, even in broad daylight, I could see them looking at me. I don’t know how to describe it. They didn’t have eyes, but I could sense their awareness. The outline of a park bench or the shade of a tree would stare at me, its gaze burrowing to the bone. It made me uneasy, in part because it was intense and in part because I couldn’t say anything to anyone.

Even now, I see the look you’re giving me. You think I’m crazy. Everyone does. I wish you were right, but the truth is your ignorance protects you.

The shadows have eyes. They can see, and think, and sense, and move. Science claims shadows are nothing more than the absence of light. They’re voids created by solidity, that’s what we were taught. But the shadows have a density most people know nothing about.

They aren’t thinkless reflections. They’re inversions. They have lives, and thoughts, and motives all their own.

I remember the day I was walking down the sideway and passed a bike rack. There were no bicycles parked there that day, so the shadow of the thing was all prison bars and even spaces, and I felt it. I felt its watchful presence and its malevolent will. It wanted to hurt me. To consume me, I think. Those bars, had it let itself free, would have divided and shown their true nature. They were teeth, and that particular shadow was hungry. It had been hungry for a long, long time.

Every day people walk right past it, their heels clicking on its incisors, never knowing how close they are to mortal danger.

Ah, but you’re wondering the same thing everyone wonders. If any of this nonsense is true, what keeps the shadows in check. Why don’t they just break free, lifting themselves from streets and hardwoods and walls, and satiate their carnal desires?

There’s a reason they don’t move, and it’s the most unnerving truth yet. They play their part because we don’t know they’re capable of more.

That’s right. If we all knew what the shadows really are, that they can move and that they’re stronger, faster, and more cruel than any of us, they would overtake this world. In a single day, all would be lost. Humanity would be stomped out by darkness, and the world would fall into an eclipse the likes of which astronomers have never dreamed.

It’s only ignorance that keeps them at bay.

Which is why they hunt me. I’m not ignorant. I know. I know their dirty little secret. They may masquerade as innocent marvels, but they’re something else entirely.

Only a few days after I recognized the bike rack shadow’s vile appetite, one of them attacked me. It was the shadow of a street lamp, long and lanky, spread from curb to curb on an isolated road. It tried to wrap itself around my ankle and I only barely escaped. From that moment on, I’ve surrounded myself with light.

I got rid of all my furniture. What little I kept, I positioned against the walls. I unhinged the doors and filled every room in my small house with lamps. I never turned them off. Not one.

Where there are no shadows, there is no threat.

But neither is there rest. Have you ever tried to take a nap at noon, lying out in the sunlight? You can see the sun, a red, spotted light, through your eyelids. That became my life.

I lost my job. I couldn’t pay my bills. The power company threatened to cut me off, and that would have been sure death. So I came here.

“Voluntarily Self-Admitted.” That’s what my file says. I’ve become a bit of a minor celebrity, which is why I think they humor me.

There are 43 lamps in my room. All of them are always on. The bulbs are all LED, so the cost isn’t significant. Still, I know the day will come when someone will decide a more aggressive approach is warranted.

They’ll say all the case studies have been done. Every exploration of my condition will have been made. Some hotshot young doctor will decide it’s time to give “immersion therapy” a try, and they’ll turn out the lights. Maybe one by one. Maybe all at the same time.

And do you know what will happen then? I do.

They’ll come for me. The shadows. They’ll come, and they’ll take me. I doubt they’ll even leave anything behind.

An investigation will take place. Someone will probably read this transcript and point out my prediction. But pragmatism will rule the day, and Occum’s Razor will cut swift.

Escaped. Dangerous and on the loose.

But no. Wrong on all counts. Not escaped, but caught. Not loose, but a loose end finally tied.

For the shadows cannot abide an evangelist. They are far too fragile. In a more primitive time, humanity might have been doomed, but in today’s world we could easily win a war against the darkness.

If only we would universally accept the simple fact that the darkness is at war with us. So long as we tolerate their presence, the shadows are content to bide their time. To simply wait.

But the day is coming. I’m not crazy. Mark my words. The day is coming when the darkness, left unchecked, will swallow us all.

By the time you recognize the truth of my words, it’ll be too late.