Category: Dark


15-minute Free-write Friday

Action_painting_1Hi there!

Bet you didn’t expect to see me on a Friday. I didn’t either. At least, not for a time. After a year of not posting any flash fiction, however, I decided I should at least do something.

I could regale you with a tale of how I came to decide upon 15-minute Free-write Friday, but, as Inigo Montoya put it: “That will take too long. I will sum up.”

I set a timer for 15 minutes and spewed words. Tada! I ran a spellcheck, but that’s it, my friends. I’m about to throw the rawest of the raw at you. I may use prompts in the future, but today’s word-vomit was promptless.

So, without further ado, an intimate look into the way my poor brain behaves.

Alright. let’s see what I get here. Once upon a time there was a little girl who spent her free time in the meadow near her home. It was a bright sunny meadow, with lovely tall grass, where one occasionally saw moose. But there were dangers lurking in the grass. Unbeknownst to the little girl or her mother, one of the nearby businesses used the field, as yet undeveloped land, as a dumping place for their scrap metal. Sharp pieces hid in the tall grass, waiting for their unsuspecting victims. The little girl was running about one day when she tripped and impaled herself on one of these sharp pieces. Ouch. Okay. New story.

Apparently this mama is in an anxious mood, though I’m not sure why. Um, um, um… Let’s see.

Dagger,_c._1700,_Safavid_dynasty,_Iran,_chiseled_steel_blade_with_silver-washed_steel_hilt_-_Sackler_Museum_-_DSC02542Lulubelle picked up her sword and swung it at the werewolf’s throat, hoping to chop off its head. Her blow, strong enough to fell an ordinary man bounced back. The force of the impact threw Lulubelle off balance. She stumbled backwards, missing having her throat torn out by an inch. Rolling to her side she scrambled to get at the silver dagger her boyfriend forged for her out of the silver she found while mining the week before. The werewolf’s sharp teeth delved into her shoulder.

Doomed. She was doomed. If she survived the attack, she would only turn to a werewolf herself the next time the full moon rose. She shoved the thought aside. Finish the task at hand, she told herself. Worry about the future later.

The werewolf’s weight on her back kept her from turning to get a better angle for her stab. Instead, she jabbed at it with flapping motions, like a bird trying to beat a cat off its back. Six times she jabbed before the beast let go. She rolled out from under it. It lunged before she got to her feet. Knife at the ready, she let the creature’s momentum drive the blade into its eye.

The monster’s claws scrabbled to get a grip on her tunic, shredding fabric and flesh with ease, but failing to keep  the dying creature upright. It fell at her feet, twitching, and succumbed to its death throws with an ear-piercing howl.

Lulubelle stared down at the creature. Her shoulder and chest burned where the teeth and claws dragged chunks of her away. It didn’t matter. It bit her. If she survived the night, which seemed unlikely without magical aid, she would wander these forests herself, killing whatever unfortunate creature stumbled across her path, hunting old friends when she caught their scents.

Her chest heaved in spite of the searing pain. With her foot on the werewolf’s head to brace herself, she yanked the dagger from its eye. She stared at the blade. Pure silver. The finest workmanship. Crafted by her lover, so she could kill him.

JimmyBob’s wolfish form faded away, leaving behind the man Lulubelle adored. With a quiet sob, she sunk to her knees beside him. Somehow, she needed to join him. She wrapped his hand around the handle of the dagger and held it with both her own hands. Closing her eyes, she slammed her heart onto the sharp point.

I Love You Only

Neuth stared down at the red streak marring Geb’s perfect form. She longed to wipe the stain from her brother-husband, but her father, Shu, stood firmly between them, keeping his children eternally apart at the command of Ra. Now another of Ra’s tantrums raged across Geb in the form Sekhmet. The blood-thirsty lioness devoured human after human, innocent along with the guilty, young along with the old, reveling in their pain.

Neuth sighed. Shu stirred under her. “Longing for Geb again, my daughter?”

“I long for him always, Shu. One day you will grow tired and I will return to him.”

Shu shifted uncomfortably. He shifted often. “You would destroy all the people and many of our own kind? Your own children?”

Neuth laughed silently. “Our children need not come between us. As for the humans-” The putrid scent of blood and rotting flesh wafted across her nostrils. Neuth recognized Shu’s manipulation for what it was. Opportunity teased an idea into her mind. “-it is a shame so many of them are dying simply because Ra is an egomaniacal control-freak.”

Shu shifted again. Neuth hid her smile. Uncomfortable is he? Afraid Ra might hear? Let him hear. He’s already separated me from Geb. What more can he do to me? Still, inciting his temper wouldn’t help with her plan. “Send Thoth to me. I wish to speak with him.”

Shu breathed out a slow sigh of relief, rustling the reeds on Geb’s body. Thoth flew into view, his large wings arched gracefully. Neuth smiled back at her one friend. The clever ibis twitched his head, turning one of his bright eyes to stare into hers. “Another trick?”

“Do you see the blood Sekhmet spills? She is destroying all the humans. We must stop her.”

Thoth glanced down at the stain smeared across Geb. When he looked back to Neuth, a knowing light shone in his eye, but he nodded in agreement. “We must certainly help the humans. Not even Ra can stop Sekhmet, though he doesn’t know it yet.”

“He will soon enough. There is a red ochre plant growing on Geb. Make a dye from its fruit and mix it with beer.  When Sekhmet drinks it, she will fall asleep. I’ll send my daughter Isis to whisper in her ear while she dreams.”

Thoth’s eye glittered. “And my part?”

“Make Ra believe it is his idea.”

With powerful flaps, Thoth flew away to find Ra and carry out their plan. When Sekhmet fell asleep, drunk on the false blood, Isis bent over the sleeping lioness, whispering tales of love and separation, desire and pain. Slowly, Sekhmet’s claws transformed to hooves. Red fangs shrank away while the snarling maw grew wide and soft. In place of the vicious lioness, a gentle cow lay in the grass. There was only one thing left to do.

“Shu?”

“Yes?”

“Send Tefnut to cleanse Geb. Otherwise, the filth of the humans’ blood will breed disease and bring more death than Sekhmet.”

“You grow wise, daughter.”

Wiser than you think, Shu. Neuth smiled down at Geb. He winked and mouthed, “Thank you.” Neuth wrote, “I love you only,” across her belly and drew pictures on herself to amuse him. Soon enough Shu would grow weary and she would return to Geb’s arms, crushing all who dared to stand between them. In the meantime, there was no stain to hide his beauty from her.

Geb and Nut Colour Plate from The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. II by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1904

Geb and Nut Colour Plate from The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. II by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1904

Enjoy Your Drink

“Ellen?”

Ellen stepped forward.

Joe held out the cup and smiled. “Sixteen ounce half-caf vanilla-bean soy-latte with hazelnut syrup and a double shot of espresso?”

Ellen nodded quickly and accepted her cup with a mumbled thanks before shuffling quietly toward her usual corner. Joe returned to the waiting line of cups and picked up the first one. He squinted at the scribbled name and drink order. He made a mental note to ask his manager if he could work the cash register next time Kaila had the same shift. Her penmanship stank.

After a full minute of decoding Kaila’s hieroglyphics, Joe finally translated the name, or what he assumed to be the name. Dylan. He stretched his lips into his customary smile. Dylan came in regularly. Like Ellen and several others, he always ordered the same drink. Joe checked the order, hoping it might serve as a Rosetta Stone by which to decipher Kaila’s writing in the future.

Either Kaila’s writing was worse than Joe ever dreamed, or the order wasn’t Dylan’s. Joe looked around. Maybe regular-Dylan just wanted a change of routine, but more likely Kaila wrote the wrong name on the cup. His eyes scanned the tables near the counter, then froze.

Joe steadied himself, as well as he could, with his sweaty palms against the counter, waiting for his lungs to remember the proper way to breathe. It wasn’t regular-Dylan. It was high-school-bully-Dylan. Tormented-me-five-days-a-week-for-four-years-Dylan. Put-me-in-the-hospital-for-saying-hello-to-his-girlfriend’s-friend-Dylan.

Kaila slapped his arm, “Wake up, stupid. The hot guy over there is waiting for his drink. If you’re not going to make it, at least take over the cashier so I can.”

Joe started to hand over the cup. His bottle of antidepressant capsules rattled in his pocket. Joe pulled the cup away from Kaila just as it brushed the tips of her fingers. “Nah. I got this one. You’d probably mess it up trying to impress him anyway.”

Kaila shot several verbal bullets in his direction. Joe retorted with a scathing demand to know what exactly she wrote on the cup. With a flip of her hair, Kaila turned back to the cash register.  Joe slipped out the bottle of fluoxetine. He emptied eight of the capsules into the cup before Kaila pointedly banged a waiting cup on the counter. Joe poured espresso and white chocolate syrup into Dylan’s cup before Kaila could notice the powder.

“Dylan?”

Joe’s hand shook as Dylan ambled over. Dylan flashed a wolfish smile at Kaila. Kaila giggled and put on her “come and get me” face. It  always looked more like a “someone slipped oysters down my shirt” face to Joe. Dylan seemed to disagree. He reached for his cup without looking at Joe. Joe pulled back slightly, second-guessing his actions.

The small movement caught Dylan’s attention. “My drink? Hey! It’s Josephine! Long time no freak.”

Joe forced a smile. “Hello Dylan.”

“Good to see you, man. Brings back old times. I see your nose never did grow back right.”

“You broke my arm.”

“Exactly.”

Joe pretended to laugh.

Dylan punched him, not quite playfully enough, in the shoulder. ”Hey, no hard feelings, right, man?”

Joe held out the cup. “No hard feelings. Enjoy your drink.”

Poison coffee

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