This post has been removed so the story may be published somewhere else. Thank you for your time, and have a great day!
This post has been removed so the story may be published somewhere else. Thank you for your time, and have a great day!
Henry had no skeletons in his closet, no matter what people said.
Construction was in his family’s blood, and Henry, along with his brothers Howard and Horace, had been born to build houses. Rather than combine their talents, however, the three brothers decided to go their separate ways, each one starting his own construction company.
Was it really Henry’s fault that his brothers couldn’t handle the business? Competition had never been their strong suit, but Henry seemed blessed by the gods with good luck. At least when it came to business. Henry had never shared his brothers’ knack for making friends, and most people avoided him when possible.
Unfortunately, his brothers did not share in his good fortune. If only they had agreed to merge their companies and talents! But they refused to see reason, and eventually – despite repeated bribe attempts – Howard and Horace were run out of the construction business for repeated safety violations by the indescribably ferocious building inspector, Wolfgang Howitzer. Miserable after their failed business ventures, they soon disappeared, never to be seen again.
Meanwhile, Henry, who passed all safety inspections regarding the construction of his buildings, enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity that lasted well into his old age. His one close friend, Wolfgang, had never cared about money so much as a good meal, and disposing of Henry’s competition had been a wickedly pleasant endeavor for them both. The Inspector enjoyed several delicious, morally and ethically reprehensible meals, and Henry enjoyed an easy, profitable retirement.
He had no skeletons in his closet, having stowed them both safely beneath the cement foundation of his most successful apartment building.
*image courtesy of BigFoto.com
Of course, the first year was the worst. People dying, then rising to feed on those yet alive. The human body takes anywhere from a few weeks to months to decompose, – years if they remain buried – so the walking dead only remained threats so long as they were relatively… fresh. The problem lay in the newly infected, but as the population decreased, died, rose, then decayed like their predecessors, the danger diminished.
Rosa always carried her crowbar with her, just in case. Old habits died hard, like the infected bodies she protected herself against, but after four years she had become coolly efficient in their disposal. Not that it was really necessary. Time did the job more effectively than she ever could.
Of course, the real problem was that the dead weeded out the living more quickly than time weeded them. Now, Rosa was left alone. She would make her way North to colder climes and – just maybe – other survivors. If the cold killed the virus, the north might be plague free.
Then again, didn’t cold preserve bodies?
After four years of fear, sweat, pain, and finally loneliness, she didn’t give a damn. She’d take her chances.
Today’s flash was written in honor of Friday Flash, which began four years ago on May 29th. As part of the celebration, I’m participating in the fourth anniversary blog hop by posting a flash of less than four hundred words, along with the adorable image by Angie Capozello, and linking back to the site itself. I urge you to read some of the other wonderful stories linked there.
Friday Flash is a twitter meme where authors post a flash of less than one thousand words, then post a link on Twitter under the hashtag #FridayFlash. It’s expanded onto other social platforms as well, but it’s a wonderful, supportive community of authors and readers. I’ve been participating in #FridayFlash for years, and I’m always amazed at the quality of work from contributors. Treat yourself, and check out FridayFlash.
My story, Interment, can be found *here.*
During Nanowrimo in November I plan to post new episodes of My Writing Niche, my new podcast, as well as my own progress and word counts. The podcast episodes will focus on Nanowrimo during the month of November.
In order to focus on my noveling, I’m curtailing other Internet activities. So if I don’t comment back right away, I apologise ahead of time. I will catch up once my Nanowrimo novel is finished!
I’ll post a special podcast episode on November 1st. Happy noveling to all the Nanowrimo participants, and I hope everyone else has a great week!
The young man’s voice, almost lost in the roar of an unseen wind, rose with the final incantation. The candle flames flared and died, immersing the room in darkness. From within the circle, a feeble voice called. “Billy?”
The boy, almost a man, called out, “Just a sec’, Uncle Bubba.” He ran to a corner and flipped a switch. Electric brilliance illuminated the garage. The corpse shielded its eyes until Billy fitted it with a grease-stained baseball cap, identical to the one he wore himself. “There,” he said. “Better?”
A single bulb hung from the garage ceiling, like a noose, casting the clutter that surrounded the circle into sharp relief. The cadaver gazed at the detritus of its former life and extended one pale, decomposing hand towards its nephew. “Whyyyyy?” it moaned.
Billy laughed and shrugged off the creature’s grip like so many dead leaves. “Hey, you know why. We need your pension money. Here, sign these.” He shoved a pen and some paperwork in front of his uncle.
The creature grabbed the pen and scrawled its signature with difficulty. Then it looked to Billy.
The young man laughed again – a cold, hard sound. “Oh no you don’t, Bubba,” he said. “I’m not through with you… yet.” The creature recoiled. “You were a bastard in life, and now that the money’s taken care of, there’s time for payback.” He picked up a shovel. “I’m betting you still feel pain. The first time I used this, you died too quick.” He grinned, exposing his crooked, yellow teeth. “This time,” he said, “I plan to make it last.”
As always I beg for welcome feedback. Constructive criticism is always appreciated!
*This story was inspired by this article.
**I know its early to post #FridayFlash, but Friday (Oct.1st) also coincides with new postings for the 52/25 Flash challenge and my first attempt at a Podcast for Nanowrimo. I chose October 1st to debut the podcast because its exactly one month before Nanowrimo begins. I hope you tune in!
My inspiration for the sixth week of the 52|250 challenge is a little hard to nail down. The theme was Balance of Terror. I don’t know exactly why I first started thinking along these lines, but for almost as long as I can remember I’ve had the idea of a monster aristocracy. Vampires would be the wealthy noblemen, while the other creatures (werewolves, zombies, ghouls, etc.) would hold different positions in the cursed caste system. So when I saw the theme, this story was the first thing that popped into my head. I hope you like it.
My story, Blood, is published on the site under the name Catherine Russell. If you like it (or even if you don’t), polite comments are always appreciated. Enjoy!
*If anyone else is interested in participating, all the information can be found on the 52/250 site.
**lightning photo courtesy of bigfoto.com
Lydia never needed to dress for costume parties. They made her raven black hair, overly pale face, and dark ringed eyes seem like conscious makeup choices – color coordinated for a night of monster mayhem.
She eyed the man’s costume. Zombies usually weren’t her favorite monsters, but he was made up “zombie-lite” – no boiling pustules or bleeding gashes, only a grayish complexion and circles under his eyes. He could have passed for a dead rock star.
“I asked if you’d like a drink,” he said.
“Oh, sorry.” She looked away.
“I just had some punch actually,” she said, pointing to the table across the room. “Unless…?”
His grin widened. “Unless?”
“Are you offering something better?”
“I almost certainly am. Would you like to go for a walk?”
Lydia sighed. “Oh…definitely. There’s only so many time you can watch people doing the Monster Mash.”
“That’s what I thought,” he said. Her long sleeves rode up when she hooked elbows with him.The scars on her wrists showed prominently, and she adjusted the cloth to cover them again. That was all behind her. Now all she wanted was to get him alone.
They walked out the back door and headed into the woods, following the path. As the two of them walked, Lydia and her escort struggled to keep their footing by the dim light of the stars. The moon was new. Music and drunken laughter faded into the background until the only sounds were the crunching needles beneath their feet.
“Where’s the drink you offered me?” Lydia asked.
“I never offered you a drink.”
“I asked if you wanted one. I never actually offered to get you one.”
Lydia sighed. “Oh, I guess you’re right. So… that means I remain thirsty?”
He looked down the path. “We’re actually not far now. I can get you that drink, and then we’ll go to a even better party.”
“Better?” She arched her eyebrows. “Well then, good sir, lead on.”
They turned a corner a little farther in the path and arrived at a clearing. A black cauldron squatted in the remains of an old campfire, long extinguished. Her new friend passed it to retrieve a wine bottle from behind a tree. “I stashed this here. I thought I might meet someone special tonight.” He broke the seal, popped the cork and offered her the bottle. “Drink this, and then we’ll really party.”
She shrugged and drunk deep. Her head swam, but she couldn’t make herself stop until she’d drained the entire flask.
Light filled the clearing from the burnt logs, now consumed by ghostly flames. People in various states of decay danced around the bonfire, beat conga drums, and copulated indiscriminately. The afterlife, it seemed, was much kinder than the dating world in general.
“What the hell is going on? Did you drug me?”
Zombie-lite laughed. “Yes… and poisoned you.”
“But… why?” Her coal black eyes pinned him like a bug under glass.
“When we die, we’re allowed three days to pick someone to join us for eternity. My relationships while living were… less than stellar, but I knew the moment we met that you were the perfect choice.” He caressed the telltale white ridges on her wrists.
Lydia jerked her arm from his grasp, pulling her long sleeves over the ancientscars. She watched the undead mob parade and dance around the mystic fire, the cadavers fornicating in the bushes.
“You’re already dead, well… undead. Come join the party.”
The skin stretched over her skull in an evil grin. “I thought you’d never ask.” She crashed the empty bottle over Zombie-lite’s head, and he toppled to the ground. She used the broken glass to carve up her midnight snack. After picking his body clean, she played the drums with his femurs.
The party never stopped.
As she let the beat carry her away, she shot the skull of her former companion one last look. “Just a word of advice,” she shouted over the din. “If you want to poison a girl, make sure she’s not already dead.” She hurled the femurs at his remains. “Thanks for inviting me to the party.”
She joined the gruesome merrymakers in their revels.
*Inspired by Harry Belafonte singing Zombie Jamboree.
**I’d also like to thank ericjkrause and Boolawoola from Twitter for giving me some really good advice when I confessed that I was worried this story was too similar to Hell of a Job. Actually, I tried to explain the plot to my Mother-in-law and she looked at me like I was crazy, so I’m not sure but I think that means I’m a real writer now.
***As always, I beg for welcome any comments or polite suggestions. Anything that helps me improve is a good thing. This is a bit darker than I usually write, and so I’m not really sure how well this story works.
52/250 Challenge: Mental Cartography
The fourth week of the 52/250 Challenge asked for stories about the theme Cartography. The first thing I thought of was maps and explorers and (after a bit of brainstorming) new frontiers. When I refer to the mind in the story I’m referring to the mental processes, not necessarily the brain itself. There’s really not much else to say since (I hope) the story’s pretty self explanatory. My story, Mental Cartography, is published under Catherine Russell, and while you’re at the site you might enjoy some of the other stories also.
Bread of Life
“For I am the bread of life…” quoted Kay, holding the strange green fruit in her hand.
Brad looked at her, eyebrow arched.
“You’re not really going to eat that thing; are you?” Brad asked.
“Why not?” she asked. Her skin held the sunny glow of a week of Caribbean days swimming and nights doing anything but sleeping.
“Well,” Brad said, “you really don’t know if it’s safe. What if its some weird poisonous fruit? You’re not a botanist.”
“A botanist?” Kay laughed. “Seriously…it’s fruit! How bad could it be?” She peeled the rough green skin away to reveal the milky white flesh beneath.
Brad’s skin crawled at the sight of it. “You don’t know what side effects that could have,” he protested, but it was too late. Kay took a bite. Juice speckled her chin, and she wiped it off.
“See? No big deal.”
“Kay, we’re all alone here. The charter boat isn’t scheduled to pick us up for another week, and since I dropped the cell phone in the water…”
“Look, I feel fine. Better than fine. It’s not like you to be squeamish.” She smiled again. “You weren’t this nervous last night. You were quite the adventurer, if memory serves.” She laid a hand on his tanned shoulder. He shrugged it off.
“Stop it,” he said. He wanted to get away from her, be anywhere but here on this tropical Paradise.
“Why?” she asked. She offered it to him again, clear liquid dripping from the pulp. “Come on, naughty boy, have some forbidden fruit.” Her laughter chilled Brad’s blood.
“Get that away from me,” he said, backing up, sand sticking to his slick and oiled body.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” she said. “I don’t want to spend eternity here alone. And you’re as good a plaything as any. Go on.” She held the fruit in front of him. “Take a bite.”
Kay’s hypnotic voice coaxed him and he found himself biting into the fruit despite his misgivings. The hollowness of his own existence filled him along with the paralyzing certainty that he would never die.
Whoever said that hell was being trapped for eternity with your friends had obviously never met Kay.
*Yesterday was the inaugural post for the 52/250 Challenge (click here for details). I had trouble writing a story for the theme ‘Breadfruit’ that fit the required 250 (or less) words. This story is a result of my multiple attempts to write about the topic. You can visit my story, Fruit of the Gods, on the 52/250 site if you’d like to compare them. The above story was simply too long.
As always, I beg for welcome comments and polite feedback!
**photo courtesy of bigfoto.com
Today marks the inaugural week of the 52|250 challenge! Authors take the challenge to write a flash fiction story of less than 250 words to be submitted by Sunday night every week for a year. I started this as an exercise in meeting deadlines, in addition to #fridayflash and other stories and projects I’m working on. I like the idea. My only complaint is that I don’t see a way for readers to easily leave comments. So if anyone follows me, I’ll link to the site on Mondays as the new stories are posted. If you enjoy the stories, or even if you don’t, please leave me a comment letting me know. I really appreciate feedback and hopefully it helps me improve.
Every week there is a different theme. This week the theme is… drumroll please…. Breadfruit. I honestly had no idea what to write for this. My flash tends to usually end up with between 500-1000 words, so that was a problem. I wrote 3 different stories, 2 of which were around 500 words (I’ll post one of them to my blog later). But as I’ve said before, challenges are good things.
If anyone else is interested in participating, all the information can be found on the 52/250 site. My story, Fruit of the Gods, is about halfway down. Now, go check out some cool stories!
*lightning photo courtesy of bigfoto.com