Category Archives: vampires/undead

Friday Flash: Ishmael

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“Call me Ishmael again, and I’ll break your face,” I warned the middle-school moron towering over me. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised the idiot had made the literary reference. Considering his schoolyard vocabulary and his frequently vacant expression, I thought he’d taken one too many blows to the head during his tenure as the pack’s alpha male.

 

You might think the top dog in this schoolyard would be an adult, but in my neighborhood you’d be dead wrong. Literally. His strength, agility, and ability to make almost anything into a weapon had helped him survive, but I had outrun scarier things than him in my single decade of life. Still, it was usually safer to travel in groups. Loners were picked off quickly.

 

Buster’s cronies hung on his every word, shoulders hunched, tensed for the coming assault. “You think you’re so tough. ‘Lot o’good your books will do you when we feed you to the dead.”

 

I knew it had been a mistake carrying my copy of Moby Dick around with me, but when I’d found the book during a recent supply run I hadn’t been able to resist. Was it my fault Buster’s parents had been eaten before they taught him to read?

 

Taking a stand had been poor judgement, but I’d always been small, and old habits died as hard as the dead themselves. I glanced at the putrid mob outside the fence, decaying fingers curled around its wire, hungry for my flesh. Then I focused on my human enemies inside the fence.

 

Sure, Moby Dick was famous enough that even this lumbering turd was familiar with it. People still told stories, after all, though reading and writing were quickly becoming lost arts. A thought suddenly struck me.

 

Screwing up my courage, I walked over and punched him in the nose. “My name is Stu.” His henchmen gasped and retreated as one.

 

Buster stood his ground – gods, he was built like a mountain! – but he wiped blood from his nose and there was murder in his eyes. “Oh, you’ll be STEW alright, when I’m done with ya’!”  Gripping my shirt, he pulled me so close I inhaled the stink of his breath.

 

Nose to nose, I seized my opportunity, whispered my offer. “I’ll teach you to read,” I said, voice low. “No one has to know. Just don’t kill me.” He paused, fist drawn back for the punch. How could he take advantage of my offer without backing off in front of the others?

 

Now was the time to save his face as well as my ass.

 

I held my hands up to ward off the blow. Cowardice was more necessary at the moment than bravado. “Please don’t hurt me! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” A beating was coming, as inevitable as the fact that the dead always rose to come after the living. I could take a beating, then remain in the relative safety of the pack.

 

He threw me to the ground, smiling; his right hook found my nose, which soon was bleeding more profusely than his had been. He enjoyed each punch, raining blows upon my prostrate form, my cries music to his ears. As stupid as he was, he knew enough to not damage me too badly; I couldn’t teach him if I died. Meanwhile the dead shook the wire barrier, incensed by the violence and the scent of fresh blood.

 

Ours would be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Protecting me would ensure his future literacy. He bore me no love, that much was evident, but when the day inevitably came when I was of no further use, I had one final card up my sleeve.

 

Speed.

 

They say that knowledge is power. I knew that the bulk that gave him strength also slowed him down. When the day eventually came when he turned on me, I would see it coming. I would outdistance him, leave him for the dead, and escape while they feasted on his ample frame.

 

Moby Dick wasn’t the only book I’d ever read, after all.

 

 

**I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Melville’s Moby Dick.

*image courtesy of Theen Moy via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

 

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Friday Flash: Woman

Woman

The three fates are women that reflect all aspects of womanhood. The maiden spins the thread of life, the matron measures out its length, and lastly the crone clips it with her shears. Every woman contains all three within the confines of her psyche, from the bloom and innocence of youth, through the years she guides those younger than herself, to end her days as the crone – experienced enough to know that nothing lasts forever and wise enough not to fear it.

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The woman grips the twisted branch with one gnarled hand, thick nails scraping against her own wrist as she leans upon her walking stick. The years have increased her troubles, whitening her hair which has fallen out in patches, leaving other pieces of scalp covered by long stringy locks. The flesh of her youth now sags about her body, her breasts hang like deflated water-skins from her shriveled frame. No more would men beg to be loved by one such as she. Youth changed places with experience, and what she lacks in beauty she makes up for in wisdom. The men of the land still flock to her, not for the fleeting facade of her body, decaying even its younger days, but for her counsel. The mind is more permanent and powerful. We are born to die, but not all are born to truly live. She has done so, throwing aside the restrictions laid upon her by a society that does not understand and now she is ready to rest.

#

The woman grips her belly, already she senses its swollen distended shape shrinking with the absence of its precious cargo, but experience has taught her feelings do not mirror truth. She cradles the child, squalling and protesting against the trauma of its sudden change. He finds her breast, quieting his outrage and fear by suckling greedily from her body’s provision. The first bloom of her youth changed places with the grace and the glow of new motherhood. The act of creation, performed by two but carried to fruition by one, finds its culmination in the new life that now nuzzles at her breast, seeking sustenance from the one who bore him. For now, the woman is content to hold the babe and comfort him with song. Her past has taught her patience. The years stretch before her like a great road, and she is anxious to guide this new life along its path.

#

The woman grips the floral wreath, the white veil billowing out as she wraps it around the edges. She pricks one thin, delicate finger on a thorn and sucks the blood, tasting the salt upon her tongue. The men she has known have not known her, not until this one man stole her heart along with her promise to live by his side always. She knows not what the years before her hold, she has not experienced the pain of a love lost or a body broken, but the strength she carries within will carry her through. She is not protected from life’s twists and turns, she knows not where she is going, but whatever challenges life puts in her path she knows she has the strength to face them. Wisdom will come with experience, and she turns her face to the sun. The dawning of the new day warms her, and she steps out to meet it.

#

Certainly all women do not realize the fateful power they hold within themselves. Too often they allow others to rule over them, victims of an unholy union or their own bad judgment. But the potential lives inside every woman – from the foolish maid who lusts and thinks not of the consequences to the old woman who regrets too much the life she failed to live. Kindness and foresight live side by side with the fickleness and cruelty of the Fates. For every good there is a corresponding evil, but it lies in woman to cultivate her own higher qualities.

Zeus himself dares not cross the Fates, could not even if he wished, and begs of them for favors.

The maid, the matron, and the crone live in all women, who overrule the will of men and gods.

THE END

*The above is a bit experimental for me. I just got to thinking about the commons themes of different mythologies, and this is what came out. I actually looked up the term ‘Experimental fiction’ recently, which (boiled down) said that it’s usually more about word choice and as a result will have little or no discernible plot. I think this may fit that. And even if it doesn’t, it’s my experiment since I don’t usually write this sort of thing. I hope you enjoyed it.

In other news, my newest 52/250 story, Brothers, is up today also. I almost posted it as my #FridayFlash instead, because I really liked how it came out. I’d be thrilled if you read that as well. The theme for this week is The Brutality of Friends.

Last, but not least, I plan to post another episode of my new podcast, My Writing Niche, before Midnight on Sunday in time for Spoken Sunday. After reading my short story, the rest of the podcast I’ll be talking more about preparing for Nanowrimo. I hope you tune in.

As always, feedback is begged for welcome. Thank you for your time!

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Filed under 52/250 Challenge, Current events, experimental, Flash Fiction, mythology, vampires/undead, Writing Corner

Friday Flash: Opportunity Knocks for Miss Fauxpas

Opportunity Knocks for Miss Fauxpas

Susan bit the pencil hard as she scribbled notes. She wished she could type instead, but the less time she spent using her desktop – the better. It was only a matter of time before it bit the dust like all her previous electronic purchases: her cell phone, her PDAs, her voice recorder. Larger electronics, like televisions or microwaves, didn’t seem effected by her own personal curse, but desktop computers and smaller devices didn’t stand a chance around her natural body chemistry.

The papers crinkled slightly as she gathered the pages of her manuscript together and stuffed them into a large manila envelope. Perhaps it was for the best. Her friend, Carrie, typed much better than her anyway. In High School, Susan had flunked typing class. Twice. At least with Carrie’s help she stood a chance of getting published. She found stamps, licked, stuck, and headed for the mailbox.

She opened the door to find a man in a black suit with hand poised to knock. They both jumped. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Susan Fauxpas?”

“Yes?”

“Come with me.”

What happened next was so stereotypical that she couldn’t fathom it. Men in black whisked her away in a black van with black tinted windows to an undisclosed location. She awoke – from her drug induced stupor – in a sparse white room furnished with only a steel table and chair. She gritted her teeth.

Another man in black entered carrying a clipboard. “Miss Fauxpas?”

She glowered at him, anger overriding any terror she might have felt.

“Miss Fauxpas, I apologize for the manner of your arrival, but when you hear our proposition I think you’ll agree we need to be careful.”

Resentment welled slowly inside her, but she resolved to say nothing.

“Miss Fauxpas, would you have a look at these photos?” He threw the clipboard onto the table. She reflexively glanced at the board, then cursed her own weakness. But what she saw shocked her.

“You kidnapped me to show me a Snappy Showroom catalog?”

The man in black laughed. “Hey, they told me you were witty. No, of course not. I’m showing you the washing machines IN the catalog.”

“So what? It’s a washing machine. I’d get one myself except for some reason… I mean, except that I usually send my clothes out to be cleaned.”

He nodded. “Yes, I can understand why. This machine operates with a very advanced piece of microtechnology. It wouldn’t work well under the type of stress you’d put it through.”

“What? Are you saying I’m a slob? What does that have to do with…”

“I think you know what I’m saying.”

Susan sighed, blowing long bangs out of her eyes. “Look, I’m nobody. I don’t know what you want. I write manuscripts. I’m trying to break into publishing, but in the meantime the only emotional responses my plays elicit are from my constant rejections. I’ve gotten so many rejection letters I’m thinking of wallpapering my office with them. You know…I’m big on recycling.”

“It’s not your job that interests me, Miss Fauxpas. It’s what you could be doing for us.”

“You? And who the hell are you?”

The man’s grin widened, showing four rows of perfectly white sharp teeth. “We’re the agency that employs people like you. We find people with unusual gifts and ask them to serve their country. With an ability like yours, you could be of uncalculated value to your government, Miss Fauxpas. Are you interested?”

She kept her eyes on his teeth, her mind spinning. “But…what ability? I can’t use a cell phone without breaking it.”

His grin broadened. “Exactly.”

*

The Agency’s scientists determined that the high frequency radio waves her body produced wreaked havoc on any small electronics exposed to them over an extended period of time – something to do with microfractures or some other technobabble. All she knew was that she was forbidden to touch any electronics other than the disposable ones designated for her training. Experiments were conducted to see just how long she could handle different devices before her natural body chemistry caused them to break down. The general consensus seemed to be two weeks of continued use – longer with extremely limited access. That suited Susan just fine.

Her life as an agent began with training, of course: surveillance, martial arts, stealth, even acting lessons. Susan’s cover as a high level technician with top clearance at the Snappy Showroom Headquarters gave her access to crucial technology there – namely the ‘master chip’ that controlled the robotics hidden within their popular washing machines. With one in almost every American home, the situation was extremely sensitive. Working for two weeks in that environment, she’d need her acting lessons.

THE END

Also, my story, Mummies Finally Reveal Secrets, can be found at the 52/250 Flash Challenge site. I wrote it as a faux news article, so even though I’m going to read it for Audioboo, I’m not sure how well it will translate. It was inspired by this week’s writing theme, Allergic Reactions, by Frank Hinton.

The audio for both stories can also be found at my Audioboo account, as well as other great fiction and poetry by a ton of different writers.

As always, I beg for welcome feedback. Thank you for your time!

*Photo courtesy of LSE Library via Flicker. No Known Copyright Restrictions.

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52/250 Challenge: Blood

Blood

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

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Friday Flash: Party Time

Party Time

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.

“Well?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.

THE END.

*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.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, horror, vampires/undead, Writing Corner, zombies

Friday Flash: Adventures in Dentistry

Adventures in Dentistry

Bobby Flattoe loved his job. He’d been scaring little boys and grown men alike from the day he earned his degree and opened shop as a late-night dentist. In addition to this, the services he offered were so unique that he enjoyed an amount of financial freedom and price gouging unparalleled in the dental industry.

The man pulled himself as far back into the dental chair as possible as Bobby approached with his sharp metal tools. The field of dentistry had always been an unpleasant one- sticking hands into strange mouths, handling sharp instruments, dealing with pain – but Bobby’s disposition made him unusually qualified for his job. He checked the leather restraints.

“Now say ‘ah,’” he said.

The old man with the boyish face cringed.

“Come, I can’t do my job if you don’t open wide; can I?”

The young-old man opened his mouth and closed his eyes.

“There. That’s better,” said Bobby Flattoe, DDS. He examined the pointed tips of his patient’s chipped and worn incisors. As expected, they’d need to be replaced.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Smith that you’re going to need dentures.”

His patient’s eyes opened wide. The thick leather restraints bit into his flesh as he struggled to rise.

“Oh, now, we’ll have none of that, Mr. Smith. Besides, there’s no need to worry.” The dentist stuffed cotton into his patient’s cheeks as he spoke. “The specialty dentures will look and function like your own teeth, so you can follow your regular diet with only slight modifications.” Bobby prodded his patient’s gums, forced the mouth to open wider, and looked inside.

Mr. Smith, cheeks puffed like a squirrel hording nuts, attempted a question. “MmmmMmm Mufffmoof muummm?”

“No – pretty much the same. Just stick to tender virgins for about a month afterwards and stay away from crusty old men. They might get caught in your new teeth. Oh- and no gum.” He scraped the incisors with a pointed steel instrument.

Mr. Smith mumbled another question mixed with a deep throated snarl.

Bobby Flattoe, DDS poked the patient’s gums with the sharp instrument, causing the creature’s whole body to stiffen. “We can go over the specifics when you make your next appointment.”

Mr. Smith, like a trapped animal, voiced his anger and fear in a deepening growl.

“Yes, it’s going to be expensive, but I’m sure you can afford it. Now if you’ll excuse me, Mrs. Flattoe will wrap things up while I see to the next patient.” The dentist put down his instrument, pulled off his gloves and washed his hands.

A woman dressed in red medical scrubs stepped out of the shadows.

“She’ll answer your questions and make the appointment. Sorry to rush off like this, but I’m a little behind schedule tonight. My next patient’s a lycanthrope, and we both know how irritable they can be.” Bobby chuckled.

A howl eminated from the waiting room.

Mr. Smith’s struggles, which had persisted off and on throughout the visit, lessoned as the dentist left the room. He renewed them as the petite blonde approached him with a clipboard.

“Mr. Smith?” she said in honeyed tones. “I’ll release your restraints soon. But first I’d just like to go over today’s bill with you, as well as the cost of your new teeth.”

She showed him the clipboard. His body shook, and he passed out. She smiled.

God, she loved this job.

THE END.

*note: There are many fine dentists out there that are perfectly lovely people. Bobby Flattoe just doesn’t happen to be one of them.~ admin

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Friday Flash: Doomed

Thank you for your support. I’ve removed this story temporarily pending publication in the July 31st issue of Flash Me magazine. It’s my first sale, and I’m absolutely thrilled. I will post a link once the issue comes out. Thank you again!

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Friday Flash: White

White

First one pale white hand, and then another, clawed it’s way up through the fresh pile of earth. A rat scurried off the mound as the ground erupted, dirt flying in all directions.  Soon the hole was wide enough for the bride to emerge, using grimy fingers to pull herself out.  She adjusted her veil and vainly sought to put her dress in order.

“Well,” she told her lover wryly, “I guess that’s what I get for wearing white.”

The end

***This week our home schedule has been completely turned upside down. Also, I NEED to start prepping for Nanowrimo next month! Until I get more organized (which will probably take a couple weeks), my #fridayflash stories will probably be either nonexistent or very short. So, I hope you like my very short #fridayflash story. :)

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