Anonymous

The woman stood on the beach, at the barest reach of the ocean waves. Foaming water danced over her toes, salty wind tossed her hair, but her body was still.

The children stood several yards behind her, rigid as if hypnotized by her immobility. Holding hands they try to match her stillness, but the wind is strong. The girl rocks back on her heels. The boy squeezes her hand harder, as if afraid she might lift up and blow away entirely.

Farther back, in the small seaside town, someone screamed. The scream turned into a howl. The sound was all pain and animalistic terror, no humanity left by the end.

Someone had either been caught out or been called out.

The monsters were smarter than the movies had led everyone to believe. They remembered names and knowing someone’s name was a powerful, powerful tool.

Still, the woman stood, as if transfixed by the reflection of the moon on the unsettled water. The foaming tips of spent waves now washed over her ankles. The tide was coming in.

“What if it’s not her?” the girl whispered.

They couldn’t see her eyes but knew the slope of her shoulders, and before she left she had taught them to question everything always.

“What if it is?” the boy answers.

Something had called their father out, and he had gone willingly into the night. She had been gone for years, but she knew his name and had given them theirs.

The dunes came alive with whispers. It could have been the wind blowing in the sea grass but the grass was calling out names.

The boy tugged the girl’s hand, pulling her aside, pulling her away. She wanted to look back because it might not be her. What if it WAS?

Shadows crawled from the dune, low and slinking, the whispers louder, louder, louder then stopping as the shadows reached the spot where the ocean met the sand.

At the water’s edge, the woman turned her head towards where the children had stood a moment ago, but seeing no one she knew she turned her eyes back to the moon.

(356 Words)

Rooted

garden-1020507_960_720Ashleigh had grown roots.

It wasn’t something she intended to do, but having happened she couldn’t make it unhappen.

She had stood still too long, and the place had gotten to her.  Feathers feelers came from the soles of her feet, reaching down into the dirt of the town while the dirt reached up to embrace them.

Threadlike things those roots were and her friends tried to convince her it wasn’t too late.

Her friends didn’t have roots.  They could travel and stay gone and never feel the effects of being uprooted.

“Just come with us,” they would sing and coo.  “There is no reason you can’t.”

She had intended to graduate.  She had intended to go to college.  She had intended to move to the big city, to get a good job.  She had intended to grow, to go away, to never look back.

She stood in her own yard, looking at the horizon she could never cross.  In her blood she could feel the history of the town, being fed to her by the hairs on her feet.

“You can grow here,” her mother told her. “You can thrive.  I’ve done well.  Look at your father.  You’ll be happy like we’re happy.”

Her mother’s roots were strong and firmly planted.  They reached and traveled far under the dirt of the town, embracing it all.  In the spring her mother flowered.  Her father was broad and strong and his roots so deep she thought he would live forever.

They had done very well.  They were very happy.

But they could never leave.  Never for long.  Outside of the town her parents aged and wilted.

She knew it would be true for her too.

Her roots were young, but they were roots.  They would grow far, like her mothers.  They would grow deep like her fathers.

Closing her eyes she sighed and turned her face to the sun.

Ashleigh had grown roots, and now she would thrive.

Inspired by: Roots

The Clean Room

With a great gasp of air, the man sat up on the stretcher. His eyes were wide and frightened at the sight of the equipment all around him.

There was a crackle of static, then a voice over a pa system.

“It’s okay son, you’re in a hospital. You’ll be okay, but I need to ask you some questions. Do you know who you are?”

The man looked down at his body, crossed and crisscrossed with wires and medical tape, IVs ran into both of his arms.

“Why am I here?” he asked.

“Do you know who you are?”

“What happened to me?” his voice was touched with panic. He’d never been in a hospital where the nurses only spoke over the PA. Maybe he had been infected with something, some virus. He’d read that it could happen.

“We will answer your questions later, first you must answer ours. Do you know who you are?”

“My name is Daniel. Daniel Facet.”

“That’s right. Very good.” the voice answered, as if he were taking a quiz and passing.

“Do you know why you’re here, Daniel?”

“I….” Daniel looked around the room. Sterile white walls, no windows, one door. It didn’t look like a normal door at all. It looked secure. A clean room. Why was he in a clean room.

“Daniel?”

“I don’t remember. I can’t.”

“Do you know where you’re from, Daniel? Do you know your hometown?”

“Macon.” he said without hesitation.

“Do you know your parent’s names?”

“Molly and Gerald Facet.”

“Good. Good. Do you know why you’re here, Daniel?”

He was here because…because of something important.

His eyes went back to the door.

“Am I sick?” He asked. “Did I catch something. Some government bug?”

“We will answer your questions later, Daniel, but we need you to tell us why you’re here.”

Daniel jumped as one of the machines beside the bed began to whir. He tried to stand up, but his legs seemed to be strapped to the bed. His eyes kept going to the door. The door.

His arms tingled where the IV needles went in.

“Daniel?” the voice asked.

“I’m here because I killed a girl.” he said suddenly, surprising himself. “Her name was Amanda Peet. She was seventeen. Used to date my neighbor’s son.”

“Is that true, Daniel? Is that why you’re here.”

The whirring machine shut off. Daniel closed his eyes and saw the door. Him being led through the door by two men. Him laying down on the table. He remembered the vial. The blue vial.

“No.” He told the voice. “I killed her, but that’s not why. That’s not why I’m here.”

“Why are you here Daniel?”

“I’m here for you to experiment on. I’m a guinea pig. A lab rat.”

“Very good, Daniel, you’re remembering well now. Do you know why you’re here?”

“I’m here because I killed Amanda Peet, and you came and told me that you wanted to use me, test things on me, and if I survived I would be a free man.”

“That’s right, Daniel. And did you survive?”

He closed his eyes again, saw the blue vial, the needle. They had to stick in in his chest, in his heart. It hurt. It hurt badly. He remembered his body straining, hrememberedrd the men holding him down and he remembered…

“No. I didn’t survive. I died. But you brought me back. You keep bringing me back. You wont let me be dead.”

Daniel cried, sobbed until his chest hurt. Everyone would laugh at him if they knew how he cried, but they would never know. They wouldn’t know because he was dead. Over and over again he was dead.

“Did it hurt Dainel?”

“Yes.” He said. It hurt quite badly. But the blue one was better. Not as bad as the green one.”

“Good, Daniel. Good.”

The door hissed open and two men came in. One of them carried a case as white as the room. The case had a bio-hazard symbol on it.

“Do I get to go home now?” Daniel asked, knowing the answer already.

“No Daniel. Not yet. Not this time. But soon, Daniel. Soon. Just as soon as we get it right. The regeneration formula is imperfect yet. But we have to make a painless death to keep those human rights monkeys off our backs, or everyone will know something is not right at the executions. When you die a painless death and live again, then you can go home, Daniel.”

One of the men pushed Daniel down, and he lay back willingly, as the other man prepared the syringe. The vial was red this time.

He knew he would never go home. He knew that if it didn’t hurt, that if he died a painless death and came back, they wouldn’t let him go home, they would use him as a soldier, like the rest of them, or they would keep him in the lab and make him be a monkey in another test.

As the needle slid into his arm he prayed that it would hurt very badly, and that he would stay dead this time.

(Originally posted in 2006 on Noner’s Notebook)

Rock’s in the Road

The following was written for the February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch.

****

“Rock’s in the road.”

“Already?”

“Getting faster.”

“Guess it is.”

It was hot out, the sun high.  Moving the rock was hard work.

“You gotta stop this, Darlin.” he drawled at the stone.  Laying his hand on it, he felt the vibration, like it was purring without sound.

He wondered if they ought to call somebody.  Rocks shouldn’t purr, even silently.  Rocks shouldn’t move on their own, no matter how slow.

“Alright then,” he said, putting his tired shoulder against the vibrating mass and shoving.  He wished, not for the first time, it had never fallen from the sky.

(99 words)

****

If you like this Flash Fiction you might also like Puddle Jumping

Puddle Jumping

photo-20170130154651135

Photo Credit Jessia Haines via FFfAW.

Today’s tidbit is in response to FFfAW 100th Challenge, and also my first time participating in this site’s challenges.

****

SPLASH
SPLASH

It had rained for days and day, now the world was awash in rainbow puddles and Anthony was focused on jumping in each and every one while Herny looked on in horror.

“You shouldn’t to that, Tony.  You’re gonna fall in one and drown.”

SPLASH
SPLASH

“Who says?”

“My Nana says.  Some of them are deeper than they look.  You’ll fall in and drown.”

“Your Nana just doesn’t want you to get your boots dirty.”

SPLASH
SPLASH

SPLOOT.

Carefully Henry walked to where he had last seen Anthony.  Standing at the edge of the puddle, looking down, he could barely see his friends face as he floated downward into the puddled depths.

“Told you so.” he said, before continuing to walk home, carefully avoiding any puddles along the way.

(131 words)

****

 

 

If you liked my story, or even if you didn’t, click the blue froggy below to see everyone else’s flash fictions on this prompt.

Ordering Takeout

The waitress was new.

He took more meals at the diner than he did at home, and was familiar with the staff.  She was new and refreshingly fresh.

The other girls knew him by name, Denise flirted, but not as much as she used to.  Laney made a point not to go to his table anymore, even if he sat in her area.

That is why he got the new girl.  Laney sent her out, bright white Keds squeaking on the floor, fresh pad open to take his order.

She was a redhead, freckles thick over the bridge of her nose.  She had a soft body, not fat but a little too round in the waist, as the hips.  He could see her in middle age being one of those women who wouldn’t be able to tie her own shoes, but not yet.   Right now she was near as perfect as a young woman could get.

He wondered if the freckles ran across her shoulders?  Down her back?

She reminded him a lot of an old girlfriend.  Back when he was young and handsome, back when girls were conquests for him.  She had been a redhead too.  She had been a cheerleader.  She had been a huge disappointment when she got pregnant.

Normally he didn’t ask so early, not the first night he met a girl.  Not even the second or third.  He usually waited a week.  Let them get to know him, know he was harmless really.  Let them talk to the other girls first.

But Laney was here tonight, and Laney would tell her quick.

So he asked, “Will you take me home with you tonight?  To spend the night?”

The shock on her face he expected and was happy to see it was shock and nothing more.  Sometimes shock turned to disgust.  Sometimes to anger.  When he was lucky it was eagerness.  He thought he saw a little eager in the way her mouth turned up at the corner.

“I’ll pay you,” he said.  He gave her his price.

She disappeared in the back with the squeak of a shoe, the swish of a door.  Laney was back there, she would tell it like it was.

The large silver clock over the counter ticked.  Another waitress washed the counter at the bar, trying to look at him without looking at him.  They all knew, and they all waited to see who he would ask.

She reappeared sans apron, grandmotherly brown should bag over one arm.

“Shifts almost over anyway,” she said.  She took his arm when he offered it.  Walked close to him as she led him to her car.

At her apartment, she asked, “How will you get home?”

He told her he’d call his driver to come get him.

“I’ve got to shower first,” she said, “I smell like older burgers and grease.”

She locked the door to the bathroom, he heard the click.  It didn’t bother him.  Gave him time to look around.

Her apartment was tiny.  Most of them were.  Hers was smaller than most.  The kitchen and living room together.  The bathroom she had locked herself in.  A bedroom, dark and secret.

She kept it well clean.  No dust and dirt, discarded cans, empty pizza boxes.  She was young, working hard, earning good tips.  He bet she saved.  She wanted to go places in the world.

On top of her huge and ancient television was a photo.  He walked over, picked it up.  The woman looked familiar.  An older version of the girl.  Her mother then.  Maybe he was wrong, and her soft curves wouldn’t turn to ugly bloat.  The woman was beautiful, stunning even.

Sitting the photo aside he turned away as he heard the water stop with a squeal.

His waitress stepped out, hair damp, wrapped in a large and soft towel.  He thought for a moment about asking her about the woman in the photo.  Who was she?  Why did her photo stir such a sense of de ja vu in him?

But her freckles did go across her shoulders, and when she dropped the towel he saw they covered the tops of her breasts too.

He forgot about the photo.

Many hours later he woke from a dream, a nightmare really.  His last conquest before college, the cheerleader, nineteen years ago more or less.  In the dream, she was telling him again that she was pregnant, that the child was his.  He was having none of it.  He had called her horrible names, said things he didn’t really mean because he did love her.  But he couldn’t be a father.

In his nightmare, she had killed herself.

In reality, he didn’t know what became of her.  He left, went to college, lost his looks, gained his wealth.

Gently he raised himself from the bed and dressed.  His waitress shifted a little in her sleep.  Taking out his wallet he counted out the bills.  All hundreds, to the amount he promised her.

Light from the lamp outside touched her side of her face.  Her red hair.  Her freckles.  So beautiful.  So familiar.

Suddenly he knew why the woman in the photo had looked so familiar. Why hours of being with his waitress had given him nightmares instead of deep and restful sleep.

She looked just like her mother did, nineteen years ago…

****
Inspired by Recognize.
****

If you liked this story you might also like Playing House

Sugar Free

“She tasted like chocolate and cherries,” the little boy said.  “But sugar free.  You know?”

I didn’t know.  I couldn’t even imagein what he was talking about.

Even as I looked down, over the side of the bridge, into the leafy gorge below, I could feel his eyes on me, large and blue and innocent in their childishness.  I barely contained the shudder that thretened to shake my body at the feel of them.

She was almost invisible down there.  I could see the hem of her yellow dress, its red flowers.  I could see one perfect knee, creamy and soft, bent at an unperfect angle.

The dress hadn’t had red flowers before.  Those were new, since the push.

Her scream had lasted longer than the distance between the top of the bridge and the bottom of the gorge.

“I don’t like sugar free,” the little boy said.  He reached out and took my hand in his.  It was cold, and hot, and unnatural in every way.  I wanted to snatch my hand out of his.  I wanted to run away screaming, but I couldn’t.

“You taste like ice cream,” he said.  “The good kind, with nuts in it. And marshmallows.”

I looked down at him as he smiled up at me.  He had a gap in his front teeth.  That was new.

So sweet.  So precious.

“Never go sugar free on me,” he said.

He tugged my hand, and started walking.  Holding his little hand, I followed.

Inspired By Bridge
Image Credit: Pixabay

Candle Magic

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him she burned him in pink.  His name etched into the candle with a the thorn of a rose.  A bit of his hair tossed into the flame.

He looked at her once, but no more.  He didn’t say her name.

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him she burned him in red.  His name etched into the candle with a rooster’s claw.  A bt of his blood, taken from the barbers blade, dripped into the flame.

He looked at her twice, the second time with desire.  In the dark he said her name, again and again.  In the morning he was gone.

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him she burned for them in green.  Their names etched together with the nail of her small finger, their fluids offered together to the flame.

Inside of her something quickened.

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him, while entertwined as one, she whispered to him the truth.  How she burned for him first in pink, then in red.  How she burned for them together in green, and precious gift of life created there from.

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him he raged and spat upon her, calling her a witch, a trickster, and denying the fruit of the seed he had planted.

Now, heavy with child, she watched him with his betrothed.

She loved him, dearly so.

Because she loved him she burned for him in black.  His name etched into the wax with a rattlesnakes fang, graveyard dirt added to the hungry flame.

If he woudn’t be hers, he would not belong to anyone.

She loved him, dearly so.

Inspired by : CandleImage Credit: Pixabay

Playing House

“But we’re okay, right?”

Though it was early, the day was already hot.  With the air broken she had opened the windows, but the curtains hung down straight and unmoving.  There was no breeze.  No relief.

“Right?” he repeated.

She looked at the pot of coffee in her hand.  Still over half full, because she had not had her cup yet.  His own cup, full of so much cream it was nearly white, sat half full in front of him.  She wondered why he never poured her a cup when he made his own.  She wondered what it might be like to dump what remained of the scalding fluid over the top of him.

From outside came the repetitive squeal of chain on metal.  The swingset in motion.  Agatha making her own breeze.

With a heavy sigh, she set the pot back on its burner.

“Daniel,” she said, trying to keep her voice flat, steady, unemotional.  Trying to keep her hands from shaking.  “We are NOT okay.  We have not been okay for a long time.”

“How can you say that, Grace!”  He mopped runny egg yolk up with his barely brown toast and took a bite.  Crud dripped onto his chin, caught in his baby beard.  “Things have been great, better than ever!”

She turned her back to him, so as not to look at the yellow mess on his face, or watch him eat as if nothing were wrong.

He was right, in a way.  Things had been better than ever.  She had been trying so hard.  Maybe too hard.

“I’m really good at playing pretend. I’ve been playing house since I was old enough to hold a dolly, Daniel.  But it can be really hard to pretend and after last night….”

Last night she had gone with him to a faculty party she hadn’t wanted to go to.  But she was trying, God helps her she was trying.  As usual, Daniel had disappeared.  He always left her alone in a crowd full of strange academics and expected her to hold her own.

When she went in search of him she had found him, and immediately wished she had not.

The girl was barely 19, and he wasn’t even apologetic.

Outside Agatha was talking to her invisible puppy, Patches.  They were going to get her a real puppy for her birthday.

Had been going to.

Agatha had come with Daniel.  A pair.  A shell-shocked single father and a snuggly little 2-year-old girl with a shock of red hair.

For two years Agatha had been hers.  She hated to leave her.

“Can I have some more coffee?”

When she turned to face him again he was holding the cup up, expectantly.

“No,”  she said.  “But you can have the house.”

He looked perplexed for a minute.  Left  his hand, and the cup, hanging in the air.  He lower it with a bang on the table.

“Damnit Grace, it was the first time!” he bellowed.

“With her,” she said.  Her voice still low and even.

“What?”

“You left that part off.  With her.  It was the first time…with her.”

His face twitched as he tried to figure out what to say.  Did he deny it, that there had been others?  Did he admit it and beg for forgiveness?

But Daniel didn’t beg.  He also never admitted he was wrong.

“We’ll talk about this when I get home, Grace,” he said, standing from his chair.  He even gave her a swift kiss on her astonished cheek before swooping out of the door.  But when he left the driveway he turned in the wrong direction.  Away from the office.

Towards whom?

The swingset chains groaned outside again, and Agatha giggled.  Where was she in her mind?  Who was she playing with?  What magical world was she on?

She was going to miss the girl the most.

She would need to call a sitter, of course.  She wouldn’t be here when Daniel got back and somebody had to be here but….

She didn’t’ know how long she stood with her hand on the receiver, not picking it up.

She was going to leave, without a doubt.  She was tired of playing house with a man who was playing house with countless other women.

But she was really good at playing pretend.  And every child needed a mother.

She went upstairs to pack the bags.  She had to be quick, they had a lot of ground to cover before Daniel got home.

Inspired by Pretend.
(Image Credit)

Panic

 

It nibbled tiny nibbles and skittered tiny scratches across her flesh.

She tried not to scratch at it anymore.  At least, not in the daytime.  Not when people were around.

They couldn’t see it, of course.  They coudl see the nibbles and the scratches but they coudln’t see it.  And they could see HER, bloodshot eyes and raggled nails, hands and fingers always moving over herself, touching, patting, searching.

But they could not se IT, so it must be her.  Of cousre it must be her.

So no scratching when the sun was up.

Night was different.

She was alone with it at nigh, and it was alone with her.

At night nibbles turned to bites and sratches turned to gouging slashes, but at night she would scratch at it.

Claw for claw, bite for bite, in the night she could fight back, always.

Usually.

Tonight was different.  Tonight it was playing a different game.

It didn’t bite, it didn’t nibble or skitter or scratch or gouge.

Tonight it burrowed.

Tonight she panicked.

Her own nails, bitten ragged down to the raw quick of them, could not go deep enough.  Her teeth, somewhat sharper, were still blunted and few.  She tried, oh she tried, but they could not go deep enough either.

Not to where it was.

What was it doing in there, doing to her insides?  She coudln’t see it, she coudln’t know without seeing and she needed to know.

Needed.

She keened as the searched the gutters, raising a few heads from the others who shared her streets with her, but they paid her little mind as she searched and searched until she found.

There, beneath the dumpster, a fork.  Glimmer, silver, Excalibur for her.

Inside it squirmed, it snuggled it nested.

Outside she raised her multi-tined fork and brought it down, took it inside to where it was.

Not once, not twice, but until she could see, until she could know.

The fork fell.  Her blood pooled around her knees where she knelt.

It skittered away, it’s young following around it.  Towards the camp they went and she knew.

Finally, soon, finally they would see it too.

No longer panicked, she slept.

Inspired by Panic
(Image Credit)