Monthly Archives: November 2015

You Are in a White Room: Part Two

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I’m back with Part Two of my horror flash serial, an ongoing project in association with Weekend Writing Warriors.

Click Part I if you missed the beginning.

 

II

You are in a white room. The two tallies that you scratched beside the door now read 102 and 5. You do not know who you are. You do not know why you are in the room. You are gripped by a terrible fear that you have always been in the room. You believe this to be irrational. You believe it is the result of fear and panic. But how can you know for certain? There is only one thing of which you can be sure. You are in a white room.

 

Part III will be up same time same place next week.

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You Are in a White Room: Part One

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After getting my footing last week, I decided WeWriWa‘s 8-10 sentence mandate sounded like a great opportunity to unleash a flash serial. Ten sentences every Sunday for the next ten weeks. Here is Part One of my horror serial, “You Are in a White Room.” Talk to me in the comments. I would love some feedback.

 

I

You are in a white room. There is one door. You have tried the door many, many times. Each time the handle gives the slightest budge and then seizes up. On the wall by the door, you keep a running tally of the number of times you’ve tried the door handle and the number of times you have woken up. They currently read 93 and 4. The fingernail you use to scratch the lines is ragged and bloody. A florescent light buzzes above you. You are alone. You are scared.

 

Meet me for Part II this time next week.

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Whoopsie

The idea for this story has been nested in my head ever since I was a child, a child who had the very particular fear outlined below. As a adult, I took out the idea often. I knew there was a story in there. But, I could never quite see it. Credit must go to “B Is for Beer” by Tom Robbins for lending me the pink and flowery X-ray glasses through which I could finally glimpse it.

 

When Olivia awoke on Sunday morning, she knew. She had been impregnated by God in the middle of the night. Now she was going to have to tell her parents.

They weren’t going to believe her, of course, which was completely unfair seeing as though they were the ones who had told her about the Virgin Mary in the first place. Olivia was young, but she was old enough to know that there was a disconnect between things grown-ups purported to believe around Christmas tree time and what they believed the rest of the year. Or maybe they believed certain things about Biblical times, but didn’t think the rules applied to this Wednesday morning. Or maybe, Olivia suspected, being particularly bright, they didn’t really believe those things ever. Regardless, her predicament remained the same. They were not going to believe her now.

But what else could she say? They were bound to notice a beach-ball stomach sticking out of her overalls. She would have to tell them something. And while Olivia would not have wanted to lie about her immaculate conception, she was a kid after all and if there had been a good lie, she certainly would have been tempted.

Part of the trouble she ran into when trying to imagine a lie was that she didn’t know that much about the birds and the bees. She had been handed a book by her mother that very year, which explained among chapters about body hair and breasts, the comingling of male and female body parts necessary for reproduction, but she still wasn’t sure she had the full picture. The measurements and angles of what was required to fit where seemed improbable. She was clear on one thing though: the topic was mortifying and certainly not one about which she wanted to talk with her parents. Furthermore, while the exact mechanics remained dubious, she was positive that it was the kind of thing for which she would be in big trouble. Possibly the biggest trouble of her life.

Before Olivia could decide what to say, (no amount of swallowed pumpkin seeds, she discovered despairingly, would result in a pumpkin in the womb,) Olivia was visited thrice by angels. The first angel was almost as young as Olivia herself and showed up swimming in Heavenly light, somersaulting around the room until she caught sight of Olivia watching and straightened up.

“Are you an angel?” Olivia asked, to which the angel child nodded.

“Are you here because of what happened?” Another nod.

“Is this like when the angel came down to talk to Mary?” Olivia cringed at the comparison. Again the angel child nodded.

However, it turned out, this was not like that. Instead of a Heavenly explanation, the angel child opened her mouth several times, meaning to say something, but would then shut it promptly looking puzzled. Clearly, if there was a message, she was not entirely sure she remembered it. After much time had passed, the angel child curtsied with an embarrassed smile and left. Olivia tried to roll over and fall asleep.

Two nights later, a second angel arrived, older and male. “It’s like this,” he said, “God doesn’t make mistakes. First, you have to understand that. God doesn’t make mistakes.” This angel too seemed to lose his train of thought, but before Olivia could interrupt, he spread his hands and said, “Olivia, have you ever had the experience where you meant to do one thing, but did something else instead?”

“Like a mistake?” Olivia asked, scrunching her nose. Obviously, she had made mistakes but she felt sure the angel had just hinted that this was the wrong answer.

“Maybe it almost seemed like a mistake, but then it turned out to be for the better?” the angel asked her, nodding his head encouragingly.

“I guess,” she said. She could not really remember a time when this happened to her off the top of her head, but she didn’t want to contradict an angel. She was already in enough trouble.

“Well, good,” he said.

Olivia stared at him, waiting for more.

“So…” His hand beckoned her next thought forward, but Olivia’s head was as empty as her uterus had been two weeks ago. Finally, grasping at straws, she said, “Amen?” The angel vanished.

And so it was the third angel, who showed up two nights after that with a neat bun under her halo, who set the record straight.

“But that’s not fair! I’m going to get in big trouble,” said Olivia. She pouted and crossed her arms and stamped a mean foot onto her carpet, and then, inspiration struck. “You could tell them! My mom and dad!”

“Well,” the angel said with a stern tilt of her head, “no. Angels cannot go around to whomever you see fit with explanations. It’s undignified.”

“But, what do you want me to do? I’m just a kid. I don’t want to grow a big watermelon stomach and eat pickles in my ice cream. And,” she said, now finding her voice, “I don’t even want a baby! I don’t know how to change a diaper, and my allowance is only two dollars a week.”

“Well, what do you want?” said the angel, with a less-than-patient smile.

“A puppy.”

“A puppy?”

“A puppy,” said Olivia, her eyes growing wide. “The tiny black hot-dog kind.”

And so it came to be that Olivia had to face her parents’ horrified glances as her stomach became rounder. She was pulled out of school and forced to endure several long-winded child therapists and two sets of police interrogations. But she stuck to her story. And when nine months later, she delivered a beautiful baby Dachshund, her parents had to admit she seemed to be telling the truth.

Reluctantly, they began attending regular church services again, though they refused to dress up. Both had imagined the irrefutable knowledge that God existed would be a little more comforting than it turned out to be, and wrinkles blouses and ripped jeans were their way of showing their disappointment. The name Olivia had given to her dog, Whoopsie, only served to underline the issue, but the dog was given to Olivia by God, so if He didn’t like it, they decided He could talk to her.

And so, Olivia and Whoopsie lived happily ever after for the sixteen years that Whoopsie lived, and when he died, Olivia was quite proud of the foresight she had shown in also demanding a Doggy Heaven.

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Excerpt from my Work In Progress

I’ve been working on a manuscript for some time now. A futuristic literary rodeo. A reinvented apocalyptic tall tale. An Old West story set in a future of outlandish characters, untrustworthy aliens, murderous robots, and one deadly pathogen bent on extinguishing humanity. Here’s a quick excerpt brought to you by our hero, the roughest, toughest Candy Ann Darling, and her sidekick, Suzanne…

 

Candy looked from the road to Suzanne and then back. “Is that what we’re talking about now? Even you don’t believe that a good plan would have saved Kid.”

“Well then, you shot at me and ruined my good hat,” Suzanne said.

Candy tipped her head at the horizon ahead of them. “That I did.”

“You shot at me,” Suzanne demanded.

“Your hat was ugly then and it looks better now. What do you want from me?”

“I want to know if you was trying to kill me.”

Candy smiled, exposing her missing tooth. “Are you asking me if I miss, Suzanne?”

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The Boot Collector

Space Squid is a deep, dark, lurking online zine operating out of Austin, Texas. I had to adjust my tone a bit for this one. A dash grimmer. Inclined more sharply towards SciFi. Go ahead and check out my piece, “The Boot Collector,” and two great shorts here at  Flash Fiction Frenzy.

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Marshmallow

You have forgotten to food shop again. Or rather, once again you conveniently let the thought slip your mind. It was late and you had worked a double waitressing at the truck stop. You smelled like grease and burnt coffee. The change from your tips weighed you down. You just wanted to get home.

Who could blame you, sweetheart? Things have been rough lately. You had been spending the night at Larry’s, but after starting to suspect he was growing bored of you, you had a heavy ashtray launched at your head and that was that. You should have known better with him anyway. You can never trust a line cook. And then, of course, the day after that your dog died and the day after that, your mother. It just hasn’t been your year. So, who could blame you for taking one look at the men standing outside the convenience store at 2AM on a Wednesday and conveniently forgetting to go in and pick up something to eat the next day?

Of course, now you’re in a pickle. You open the cabinet doors to find one can of kidney beans, a large amount of pumpkin purée, a very old bag of half-eaten marshmallows, and a box of bow-tie pasta. For formal pasta dinners, you think, when your ordinary pasta just wouldn’t do. You consider that there may be some way to combine the pumpkin purée and the marshmallow, but you quickly decide that you are not the one to figure it out. You know your fridge is empty so you grab the marshmallows, jumbo-sized, and stick one in your mouth. It is stale and chalky. It sucks all the moisture out of your throat as you swallow it. You throw the rest of the bag away. Trying to ignore the rumbling in your stomach, you check the clock and realize despite getting up on time and skipping dinner, you are running late for the night shift at the diner.

You have two choices: You can rush to work, knowing that you have already been given three warnings about being late. You will potentially waste the little money you have left on bus fare just so that you can be fired in person. Or, you can call it a day, hell, call it a year, and take those last ten bucks down to the bar for happy hour.

You choose Choice A. You have always been responsible. You decide to head to work. You take the M6 bus uptown. You get off one stop early. You always vary where you get off the bus because you don’t want strangers knowing your schedule. Your mother taught you that. You walk quickly with your head down along the main boulevard and then you duck onto the one-way side street that will dump you out behind the truck stop. Just as the building comes into view, you notice a man midway down the alley standing completely still and facing you. He is wearing jeans and a neat button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His hair is carefully-slicked back. He is probably just one of the truckers but he looks too neat to be a trucker. You notice that he is looking at you intently. As soon as you notice this, he begins to move towards you. As he does, he loses the tiny smile that had been on his lips. Your instinct is to run, but you are aware that he is too close for you to get away. For a split second, you realize that you should have chosen…

Choice B. You are so sick of this job that for once in your life you decide not to do the responsible thing. You pull off your name tag, strip out of your uniform, and zip yourself into a black dress because you are in mourning after all. You head outside and cross the street. The cheapest dive bar you know is a block from your apartment. As you approach, you notice two men outside in a heated argument. They look ready to throw punches, and you worry about walking past them in order to get to the door of the bar. You are not interested in becoming collateral damage. You decide not to cross the street. You continue walking. As soon as you do, you hear the pair conclude their shouting match. You can also hear that one of them has jogged across the street and is walking behind you. He asks you if you have the time. You ignore him and head to the convenience store. At least you can get your shopping done, you think. While inside you buy cereal, milk, and two boxes of macaroni and cheese. You then decide you deserve some candy. The girl at the counter makes you wait while she finishes a phone call, but soon you are heading outside again. The instant you pass through the doors, you realize the guy from the bar has stood nearby waiting for you. You turn back towards your apartment quickly, hoping to lose him. When you cross the street, you no longer hear his footsteps, but you don’t want to check behind you because you don’t want him to know that you’re scared. You think that if he knew you were scared, he would be even more likely to try something. Instead, you walk a little faster, though still casually. It is dark but you can see your apartment. It is the next in line. You are passing the small inset where the garbage cans are sheltered between the two buildings when you feel a heavy hand on your shoulder. You instinctively wish you chose…

Choice C. After glancing yourself over in the mirror, you unzip the black dress and choose a less form-fitting purple dress, which never looked that great on you, but you really don’t want to draw attention to yourself tonight anyway. It doesn’t matter. You still end up being dragged into the alley with a hand over your mouth. And you have dropped your groceries. Even the candy. Which landed in a filthy puddle and is now utterly inedible. You get in one good punch to the gut, but you just know he’s going to take the change in your pocket too. The worst part is you can still taste that awful marshmallow.

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