Friday, June 19, 2015
A Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge.
The screaming. The crying and caterwauling raked his nerves. Mind-numbing. Shards of glass, twisted metal, and pain kept him from moving most of his limbs. The dead body laying across his chest made it impossible to wipe the concrete dust from his mouth.
“Fuck of a subway ride this morning wasn’t it?”
Labored words wavered from out of the dark.
“Wha- What happened?”
The voice sounded close and pained. Rob moved the only part of his body he could. He groaned as he slid his arm in the direction of the voice in the dark.
“My name is James, James Bell, is that your arm?
“Rob. Yes…hand, I can’t feel legs. What do I feel in your ha-nd?”
“It’s a gold pocket watch, my wife gave it to me. I don’t know what happened. Earthquake, bombing, structural collapse, train accident. I have no idea.”
“Someone's on me James, I think they’re dead. Blood dripping on me. If I don’t make it, out tell my wife...”
Still wheezing, Rob breathed but stopped speaking.
Rob zipped his fingers between James's.
“If it hurts too much, just squeeze my hand, if you can.”
Rob squeezed. He couldn’t have forced toothpaste out of a tube. James reciprocated.
Dripping liquid marked time. Drops crashing on his chin, it soaked into the collar of Rob’s business jacket.
“I’m just going to talk Rob, don’t respond if it hurts too much.”
James cleared his throat.
“It was raining this morning, left my apartment. I was bitching about the weather, seems pretty trivial at the moment. Rob, I walked down the street like…”
He could hear people in the distance but he couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“Hey! Hey! Here!”
The voice were getting more and more distant as he grunted out his words. A tear moistened the corner of his dusty eyelid.
“You hear that Rob? They are coming to save us. They probably needed to get some tools or something. You’ll see Rob. Fuck yeah, tax money at work.”
James closed his eyes and drifted off.
“Fell asleep, how long was I out? Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Squeeze if you can. It sounds like a swarm of bees up there. They must be on their way. I would suck donkey balls for a glass of water right now. How fucking long does it take? We are in a city for fuck sake. Surely they know we are here. Oh, god, let us make it out of here. So hot. I can’t even feel my arms or legs. Oh, fuck. I just want to see my family.”
“Can anyone here me!”
He squeezed Rob’s hand, this time hard, there was no response from the cold stiff hand.
His heart pounded thunderous-hope as he was startled awake by distant voices. He could barely hear them but their sweet voices echoed brightly from then end of the tunnel.
“Do you think anyone survived in this part?”
“I am ALIVE! Help me!”
“No chance, shit man, you gotta focus on the job. A mile stretch of street collapsed in on this motherfucker!”
“This shit is fucked. Just glad the alarm didn’t go off. My wife was supposed to have left for work from that station. Hard to believe it’s been a week and we still haven’t found everyone.”
“Help me! Please!”
“Well, we better start working. Demo guys are coming in tomorrow to level the...”
Weeping as the voices faded, he heard growling gas engines and whining hydraulic motors chatting back and forth throughout the next several hours.
He closed his eyes.
“God. If you are up there, for fuck sake send help. NOW.
The debris shook. Pain shot through his torso. The dead body seemed to levitate. Light rushed in. He closed his eyes. Through fluttering lids, he saw the yellow maw descending upon him. Visions of the steely-toothed mecha-reaper flashed in his brain. He heard a shriek.
The concrete-chomping teeth of the excavator heard him not.
“Good morning class. Welcome to Parapsychology 101. I am Maggie Bryne. This morning we will start off our course with a presentation from a special guest.”
The heavy oak classroom door squeaked open. A long-haired legless man in a business suit rolled his wheelchair over the threshold. As he continued toward the front of the room, Maggie closed the door.
The presenter, pant legs hemmed to the knee, looked toward the floor and cleared his throat before pivoting his head back and speaking.
“To start off with, I should warn you, I have no legs.”
The students stared wide-eyed at his attempt to break the ice.
The two-limbed man smiled.
“My name is M. Robert Cray. My friends call me Rob. Two years ago my life was normal. I had a wife, a career, and two legs. I ran my own law firm. I also had no problem dismissing the paranormal. One Tuesday morning, I woke up and decided to take the subway instead of driving my car. That’s when everything changed. The tunnel collapsed. Pinned under the dead body of a woman, named Roxanne Polsin, in the wreckage caused by the earthquake, I heard a voice. The man lying next to me introduced himself as “James”. We talked for days, well he talked, I mumbled when I could manage it. Consoling each other we held hands. I am pretty sure he fed me something. Crunchy, tasted like corn chips. I drank what little water dripped on me. Nasty water. My rescuers insisted that I was delirious. They told me I was eating cockroaches. They also told me there was no one else in the train but Roxanne and I. They had all the answers, expect for one.”
Rob weaved his hand into the pocket of his trousers and pulled something out. He raised his hand above his head. A gold pocket watch inscribed “Dr. James H. Bell”, swung in front of his face.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Short Story: by Lissa Word (c)2015
Oh that picture? Let me tell you the story.
All we were trying to do was get to New Orleans. So why were we standing in front of the Biloxi Police Station?
To start off with, Rocinante the Wonder Horse had just shit himself.
The year 1930 was pretty volatile for the seven of us. We were ingenious Wall Street tycoons. We were innovative and we persevered. Instead of leaving work that fateful day and throwing-in the proverbial towel, we threw our last few dollars into a magic hat and presto! “The Greenshoe Circus” was born.
Much like the stock market the year before, Richard had just shit himself. It wasn’t the first time he shat while in the horse costume. It just happened to be the first time he did it on a sidewalk, on a hot Sunday afternoon, in Biloxi Mississippi, while telling the Preacher Man’s wife she was “Hot to Trot, if you get [his] drift.” Oh, she got the drift alright, as Jack, the man who performed as the back end of the horse, could tell you.
Richard, like the rest of us, was “in the red”. As the Manager and Ringmaster of The Greenshoe Circus, it was my job to keep the money rolling in. Easy job until a few weeks before that picture was taken. We had people lined up as far as the eye could see. They couldn’t wait to See Harley Quinn the Clown, Spendgali the Great Magician, Ponzi Villa the Blind Lion Tamer, Nifty-Fifty The Man Half Woman, No-Brainer the Dancing Horse, Richard and Jack, formerly known as “The Flying Chzechbookys”, and about one-hundred other performers, Roustabouts, and Carnies. I took care of them like they were my own family, no matter what they needed.
We had jumped from Birmingham Alabama to a small town called Seman on our way to Montgomery for a super-gigantic show. We had set up the big top, all three rings, and the midway. It was about five o’clock in the morning when the elephants piped up. A sound so unearthly you would have thought Hell itself had opened its gates. We heard that mighty freight train coming. Only it wasn’t a freight train at all. It was that night that that we met the wrath of mother nature and she was pissed. We couldn’t see it coming. Hell, most of us hadn’t seen a tornado before. Tents came down, Elephants broke loose, well let’s just say that Ponzi Villa never saw “Thunder Beast” the lion again. But Serpentia, oh god that was terrible. That poor woman was eaten by her own anaconda. Probably just got scared but who knows, that woman had a way of driving snakes crazy. Serpentia wasn’t the only victim. Richard himself had also been afflicted.
The gods of thunder and lightning shot off their fiery cannons of boom and destruction. That terror unleashed from the sky caused Richard to lose control of his bowels. Now that wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were just once. Hell most of us lost our shit, so to speak, that day. Except as it turns out, it became problematic for Richard.
In a last ditch effort to make the circus work, we had to eat the dancing horse, No-Brainer. She cost us a lot in feed and we were hungry. We took the little bit of money we had left and hired a local seamstress to transform the tent bag, which hadn’t blown away, into a horse costume for Richard and Jack. We had officially become a fleabag outfit! We wandered town to town putting on small human circus shows. You know… sword swallowing, the clowns, lighting shit on fire and the like. Things were looking up until Richard’s shock wore off. His maladies, caused by the trauma, hadn’t improved. In fact, they were getting worse. That goddamn twister had spun our circus and our dreams around like one of those machines that spin cotton candy. Then the hungry sky opened up and swallowed the whole thing just like that.
Now you might have thought that Richard merely had an accident at the time, we did. You may have assumed that he was the kind of guy who would just go around shitting on anyone, even a preacher’s wife, and you’d be right! But this time it was different. This was the day Richard learned that his time in the circus might well be over. Unless of course we could find a cure for his twister-nervous asshole. The severity of the experience had some mysterious effects on him. After thinking on it a long-while I decided that maybe the Preacher-man might be able to cure him. We were all praying for him, so to speak. What a horrible fate for a clown. Laughter, causing him to lose control of his bowels. All it took was a little giggle on his part or someone else’s. The shit would hit the fan, the floor, or anyone unfortunate enough to be standing behind him.
We had walked into Biloxi to put on a few shows. It was on the way to New Orleans and we were pretty hungry. After finding some shrimp and rice, we all took Richard out to find the Preacher-man.
After professing his love to the Preacher’s Wife, and shitting on her feet, she had enough. After asking us if this was some kind of joke, the local authorities, escorted us to the inside of the police station.
The Police were quick to let us go. They laughed and laughed. Then they made Richard clean up his mess he made on the floor of the Chief’s office. They also requested a command performance outside for the local newspaper before asking us to leave town, “while we still could”.
Despite it all, the preacher-man did help Richard. Laying of hands didn’t do it, invoking the almighty didn’t seem to help. But his last bit of advice was the best he could do.
“Do yourself a favor. Wear two feed bags, one in the front and one in the rear. At least until the good lord sees it fittin’ to have mercy upon your sorely afflicted asshole!”
We made it to New Orleans the next week. What happened in New Orleans is a whole other story!
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge
The greasy asshole winked from behind the cash register. His foul breath made Zazzy recoil a little, which is no easy feat.
“These here tires are just as good as any you might find in one them faint-cy downtown she-ow roooms.”
Her contemptuous smile fading, Zazzy pursed her red lips.
“It’s like you’re reading my mind, honey.”
Zazzy rolled her eyes. “I can read. let’s keep it at that.”
He stepped out from behind the plywood counter. Her eyes grew wild and furious as the man slid his hand over her long red hair then down her ass cheek. She pulled back, smiled, and snatched the wallet from his pocket as he tried to kiss her.
After slipping his wallet into her purse, she grabbed his wrist firmly. She stared into the man’s shiny blue eyes. She pointed toward a stack of black Dunderflop Radials in the corner. “Are those the best tires you have?” After a short silence, She constricted her hand tighter onto the man’s wrist.
The man turned his face toward the stack of tires and grimaced.
“Ma’am, I can assure you, those tires come standard on every sport car that comes out of…”
With his long stringy blond hair balled in one hand and the ass of his denim pants in the other, she carried him to the old wire-reinforced glass door of the “Turn ‘N’ Burn Tire Center”.
“Those shit-spinning rubbers might cut it on your farm truck, but they aren’t going near my car. That is my red Exotisport Gorgon 9900N. It came standard with 2000 horsepower and it now has more. It has MORE cubic liters than a crate of your granddaddy’s corn licky’ and MORE cubic-inches than your momma’s fat ass. The only thing standard about that machine is the custom built X-90 transmission.”
The short wiry tire man quivered, his face mashed against the glass. “Yes, ma’am. Can you please…”
Zazzy closed her eyes and shook her head. “Not until you answer one question.” She hissed and punctuated each syllable with a firm shake of her man-filled hands, “What, the, fuck, a-bout, that, ma-chine, is, stand-ard?”
“Nawt’n. Ma’am.” The words seemed to come straight from his male-camel toe that Zazzy had a firm hold on. The subsequent noise he made sounded like the stretched out nipple of a balloon squeaking out it’s breath. Not the voice of the man dubbed Skeet county’s ‘Hog Wrestling Champion”.
The side door to the shop opened as the asshole thudded onto the dingy concrete floor. “Michelle Stephan Eakers, what in the devil are you doing on the floor?”
Zazzy glared at the tall man who interrupted her. “My name is Zazzy, not Michelle. Completely wrong.”
The man lying on the floor wheezed and raised his shaking hand.
The tall man stepped back behind the shabby plywood counter where the asshole had stood. His eyes met her dead-lit gaze. With a shaking bony finger pointed down, the tall man’s gaunt face twisted out the words. “That’s his na-na-name”.
“That’s his nay-nan-nay-nay-name.” The subtly of her mocking was not lost on the tall man. Her sarcastic words were accentuated by the raising of a recently waxed eyebrow. “His name is Michelle?” Poking her finger toward her feet.
“It’s French ma’am an’ momma don’t much spell good.” The man behind the counter swallowed as he snaked his shaky hand below the cash register feeling for the .357 revolver that was usually there.
She smiled. “And Stephanie, is French also? She laughed.
“Michelle…Steff-fawn…Eakers.” He enunciated.
"Whatever." Zazzy tugged her purse strap as she spun her feet. Her Italian stilettos groaned. She swung the door open. The gray aluminum frame thumped on Michelle’s head as it swung shut.
She grabbed the door handle of the Gorgon as her heel sunk into the gravel. “They can make a street-legal car that goes half the speed of sound but not heels that can withstand a gravel lot. Geniuses.”. She jumped in and pushed the starter button. The mufflers roared.
Michelle accepted a greasy, yet helpful, hand from the tall man. “Why’d you let her treat you like that?” Michelle shaking, brushed the residual humiliation off his jeans. His hand grazed his back pocket. No wallet.
“Burt you prick, I didn’t let her! That woman is bad-wrong. Just ain’t right. She didn’t just take my pride, she took my damned wallet. Fifty bucks says she’s heading for the city.”
“Well what’re you gonna do Michelle? What makes a woman go wrong like that?” Burt looked out the window as a hailstorm of gravel flew out from the back end of the Gorgon. The crushed stones pelted the plywood siding of the only “tire center” in three counties.
The bell inside the old black desk-phone jangled when Michelle slammed it down on the counter. Burt jumped. “Imma tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go after that bitch while you call Johny Stump and have him stop her. I ain’t lettin’ her take my drinking money! 1500 bucks she don’t deserve!” The door slammed. Plywood shuttered.
The gray cloud of burnt rubber was swirling around the edge of the road when Michelle’s Trans Prix rolled through it at 50 miles per hour.
The 30 year old muscle car was not only the fastest car in Skeet county, it was the only car with a plastic Pirouette Racing slick mounted on the roof.
The thought struck him, if Johnny Stump couldn’t stop her, there would be no way the Trans Prix could catch up with her Gorgon. After finding 5th gear Michelle took his hand off the shift knob. He reached between the bucket-seats and flopped out the revolver. The same one his brother, “Burt Josephine Eakers”, had been looking for under the counter at the Tire Center. Michelle caressed the steel .357 as the Trans Prix hit 90 Miles per hour.
Zazzy cranked-up the car stereo after finding a station that played something other than that “Country and Bumpkin” music.
An ear-piercing riff of heavy metal guitar blasted through the speakers. She smiled and jabbed the accelerator with her toe.
The monstrous oak trees lining the sides of the old paved country road blocked out most of the light. A little sunshine was coming through the snarled leafy branches and dripping tendrils of Spanish Moss . It was casting millions of little sun rays over the road. At 110 miles an hour the vertiginous tree filtered strobes of sunbeams irritated her. She grabbed the sun visor and flipped it down before glancing up to check her face. Her eyes smiled at the sight of Michelle’s Trans Prix. It grew larger in her rear view mirror. She pushed her toe harder. The speedometer read 140.
Michelle saw two small puffs of smoke roll off each of her tires. His heart was thumping to the rhythm of Blondie’s “ One Way or Another”. He kicked the gas pedal to the floor.'
Zazzy sighed. A Tractor trailer. “Fucking Bumpkins!” She felt the ass end of the Gorgon swaying. She struggled. Counter-steering and jabbing quickly at the brakes. The nearly bald tires left long skid marks and a dense cloud of black smoke. The massive truck parked across the road blocked both lanes from one rocky ditch to the other. She had three seconds to decide. Take the dirt road on the right that trailed through the woods or turn around. “I should just stop. Asshole!” She giggled. “Nope. This is too much fun."
He saw the black rubber cloud before he saw where the Gorgon had left the pavement. He braked. He wasn’t sure how much time he had to react after he punched through the dense smoke.
Zazzy’s Gorgon skidded a hundred meters or more to a near halt. Her suspension rocked slightly from side to side. She was facing the dirt road. The smell of hot rubber and asphalt filled her nostrils. She mashed the accelerator. The hot black tires slithered wildly as they flailed for traction before throwing Zazzy back in her seat. She winced as the gravel started blasting down the length of the Gorgon's undercarriage. “Fucking Bumpkins!” She tipped her head as the loud metallic thundering of the quarter-sized stones rumbled her nerves.
The tires of the Trans Prix shrieked as Michelle followed the skid marks pointing the way toward his prey. “Dead end BITCH!” The clouds of dry dust billowing from the tires of the Gorgon kept his speed and his visibility low.
The Gorgon drifted chaotically through a wide corner. She stomped the gas pedal. Zazzy’s eyes grew wide as her car seemed to defy gravity. She wrinkled her face as she felt her ass sink back into the seat. She hadn’t seen the small rise in the road.
The dust was getting thicker and he knew that the trip to the Laxahatchie River was about to end. He also knew that there was a fuck of a bump ahead. Like a dog chasing the mail-truck, he wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do when he caught up with her. He glanced at the .357 and shifted.
Vroom! Boom! Zazzy blinked hard as the shock of the impact traveled up her spine. The seat-belt punched into her sternum. “Ooof!” Her pulse quickened. Her heart squeezing faster and harder than it had in years. The fiberglass chunks from her front end crunched under the chassis of the Gorgon. “Hope I didn’t need that! Bwaahahaha!” She gunned the engine.
Michelle heard the fiberglass smash under his tires. He slowed down to 25 miles per hour and looked in the rear-view. Nothing could be seen in the dust cloud. He shrugged and sped up.
Zazzy saw the sign. The orange one. “Bridge Out Ahead.” Her tires ground to a dead stop near the edge of the old bridge ruins. The hood of the Gorgon was hot when she slid on it to wait for him. She could hear the pings and pangs of Michelle’s car racing on gravel.
Michelle’s shaking hand reached down and grabbed the .357. As he jammed on the brakes he heard a loud popping noise coming from above, then a thump next to the car. The door opened. A chime sounded. Bing, bing, bing.
Zazzy was laughing so hard she pissed herself a little as the black plastic Pirouette Racing slick rolled off the roof of the Trans Prix, circled three times, and keeled over on its side. She was still pointing and laughing when Michelle leveled his handgun at her.
“Give me my fucking wallet! Think this is funny bitch?”
Zazzy was holding her stomach and lying on the sloping hood of the Gorgon. “Yeah!” She tried to get the words out.
“You, oh my fuck, you are like a character from that show about the Bumpkins with talking pigs. Put down your little toy, before you get yourself hurt.”
From ten feet away, Michelle squeezed the trigger. Click. His face flashed to white as he stared into her eyes, inhuman swirling pools of black and gray. He was frozen in place from the neck down.
“Now that we have established that your tires are shit, your car sucks, and your little pea-shooter isn’t going to save your soul, let’s talk about you.”
Michelle was standing, unmoving. He reflected on his earlier words, ‘That woman is bad-wrong, bad-wrong, bad wrong’. Again he tried to step toward her. His limbs refused to obey his mind.
“Nope. I ain’t talkin’.”
Zazzy’s face wrinkled. The corners of her mouth turned up. “You see this wallet? Michelle Stephanie? Let’s call it… your soul. If you want it back you will have to do two things. One requirement is you asking nicely after you fulfill the first requirement.”
“I ain’t playin’.” Michelle’s eyes shut.
“Oh? I could leave you here and when you die of starvation, well, let’s just say we’ll be good buds, drinking buds... Forever…”
"WHAT DO YOU WANT!”
“It’s simple Michelle Stephanie.” She gazed into his eyes. He unfroze.
Zazzy slid her ass into her Gorgon and drove away.