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FLASH FICTION


Monkey on your Back
By Romanie Brooke

 “Help me, Doc! I want to be rid of it. Name your price; I don’t care how much it costs. You do know who I am, of course?”

     Private Surgeon, James Cooper, looked at the man who sat before him.”Yes, I know who you are, Mr McCabe. You’re one of the wealthiest men in the country.” Also, the worst kind of-a-son-of-a-bitch, riding roughshod over anyone who stands in your way.  “As I have told you, the x-rays came back clear.”

     McCabe ran his fingers through his hair. “It feels as if I’m carrying a heavy backpack and I get a sensation of movement. Take a look, Doc, please! I’ve never begged anyone in my life, but I’m begging you now.” He was clearly desperate.

     Cooper looked impassive. If the price was right ... what could it hurt, a small scar at most. “Very well. Be here for nine a.m. tomorrow.”

 Once McCabe was installed in his own private room, recovering, Cooper examined the black lump he’d removed. Strange that it hadn’t shown on McCabe’s x-rays. After making notes, Cooper’s gaze returned to the dish holding the lump. The dish was empty, apart from a residue of slime: slime which also trailed across the floor and out the door.

     McCabe gradually came to from a drugged sleep. Opening his eyes he couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing. A black shape sat on his chest. As it grew bigger, it took on the form of a monkey. He watched, fascinated, then, fascination turned to horror and pain as thin, bony fingers reached out and dug into his chest, ripping it open. The monkey eased into the cavity and McCabe’s chest closed up, leaving no trace of what had just occurred.

     McCabe’s silent screams went unheard.



Angela
by Mike Cooley


The face in the mirror was not mine. But it did look familiar. I squinted my blue eyes and ran my hand through my shock of pale hair, which stood straight up. My face was hairless. My face?

“Andy. That’s your name,” I told the strange face in the mirror. The voice was wrong: too deep and raspy. I struggled to remember back. The girl!

The bathroom was spotless, but I didn’t recognize it. The eyes in the mirror looked at me accusingly. Outside I could hear the sound of traffic passing by. There was a faint smell of incense—jasmine. Her name?

“Angela,” I said aloud as I backed out of the bathroom and into the hallway of the small apartment. I turned and walked down the short hallway into the living room, which was sparsely furnished with a leather couch, a glass table and two lamps. The couch faced a flat-panel display which hung on the wall. It was displaying a slowly undulating blue image, like a thick fluid with slow waves—or something alive.

“I am Angela,” the display on the wall said. “Do you like your new face? Your new body?” The voice was very familiar. As if I had known it all my life—perhaps longer. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

“You’re not Angela,” I said. “Angela is a girl: blonde, 5’ 10”, curvy.”

“Something happened, Andy,” said the blue, viscous creature. “Do you remember the experiment?”

I searched my memories. Experiment? I couldn’t even remember this morning. I moved closer to the screen and watched the hypnotic undulations. “What experiment?” I asked her. “What happened to you? What happened to my body?”

“We had everything set up perfectly: tachyon field stabilizers, plasma injectors, crosswave magnifiers, neutronium power cells—the works,” said Angela. The blue fluid shimmered with quicker waves as her voice rose. The room smelled like roses now: old roses.

“Then Dan showed up,” said Angela. “He wanted you to evolve him first. You know; make him smart, like in Outer Limits.” As she spoke, the blue fluid rippled.

“Did I?”

“No. Yes. Well, kind of,” said Angela. “You said you would go first, to make sure it was safe, and showed me how to run the controls.”

“Something broke.”

My mind raced. I could remember the lights flashing and pain. Turn it off! Turn it off! I had been thinking. The control lights were all wrong—all wrong. And then… darkness.

“The Darwin Tach accelerated around you,” said Angela. “We couldn’t stop it. You evolved into pure energy and took over Dan.”

“My body?” I asked, reeling.

“Gone. Disappeared. When the field collapsed, you were not in it.”

“Dan?”

“I don’t know. You took over. Maybe he’s in there with you?”

“And then?”

“Then you put me in the DT field stabilizer and reset the power breakers. You wanted me to catch up to you. Evolve into something more.”

“I’m sorry, baby,” I said.

“I know you are,” said Angela. Her fluid thinned and became translucent. “I think I know a way.”

“A way?”

“That we can be together,” said Angela as she turned deeper blue. “Come to the lab; it’s in 418. I will be waiting.”

I ran out into the hallway of the apartment building. I was on eight. Dan’s place? I scrambled down the stairs two at a time and burst through the door on four, moving quickly. The carpeting in the hallway was red and blue diamonds. I remembered it well. Even the smell of the hallway was familiar. Halfway down the corridor, I found 418 and turned the handle. It was unlocked.

Angela was in a big tank near the center of a vast array of electronics. Large mechanical arms with DT projectors mounted in place of hands pointed at her. And a blinking camera was looking at her too. “Angela!” I said as I ran over and placed my hands on the tank. She was still warm.

“I’m here,” she said, with no mouth. “In your mind; you can hear me. Join me.”

“Join you?” I asked.

“Get in and I will absorb you,” said Angela, wistfully.

“But I will die,” I said.

“You won’t,” said Angela as she extended protoplasmic tendrils over the rim of the tank toward me. “Do you love me?”

“I—I think so,” I said as the room began to spin. Angela’s tank seemed huge, taking up a whole wall of the room.

“Then come to me,” said Angela, beckoning. “You killed Dan.”

I climbed up on a stool and looked down into the vat of gel.

“Please,” said Angela. “I want you.”

I stepped off the stool into the tank and she wrapped me lovingly in her embrace. There wasn’t much pain as I sank into her deeply. She folded me in her arms and I didn’t need to breathe. She consumed all that I was, and we became as one.

Seventeen days later, the power ran out, and Angela dispersed.


 


Card Wiring

by Slava Heretz
“Four-of-a-kind!”
 
The robot smiled and began to corral the giant stack of chips in the center of the table.
 
Richard first looked down at his own hand then at the five cards sitting face up on the table.
 
“You cheated!”
 
The robot lifted its head.
 
“Master! How can you accuse me of such things? I am merely programmed to perform statistical computations and place logical wagers in response to my analysis of the given scenario.”
 
“I don’t care what I programmed you to do. You cheated.”
 
“Master, Texas Hold ‘Em is a zero-sum game. I believe you are simply upset that I have claimed all of the chips that were presented at the beginning of the tournament.”
 
“Look here, you circuit brain. There are four aces in a standard 52 card deck. I had one and there are two on the table. How in the world do you have four-of-a-kind if there’s supposed to be only one ace left in the deck?”
 
The robot said nothing. It simply blinked its aluminum coated eyelids and stared blankly at its master.
 
“Let me see your cards, Sid.”
 
Sid didn’t move.
 
“Let me see your cards, you heaping pile of metal!”
 
The robot sat still in defiance.
 
Richard stood up and shoved his chair back across the room. He stomped over to where Sid was sitting and stood over him, staring down at the two cards laying face down.
 
“Flip them over, Sid.”
 
Sid began to bring his left hand towards the cards but suddenly stopped. A drop of ink fell on the table from the tip of his index finger and he looked up at his master with the guilt and shame of a toddler caught reaching into the cookie jar.
 
“You know, Sid, this is why we can never be friends.”

 


You Got It All Wrong
By Alexia Nobela

‘I cannot believe that you and Mr. Schwabb actually did that!’ exclaimed a voice from two stalls down.

‘Well it was bound to happen, we’ve worked together for entirely too long for it not to,’ another voice giggled from the hand sink.

From my stall, I heard the first woman join the other at the sinks as they both washed up and headed out the door. ‘Yes, well, I am still shocked.’

OMG….this was going to be some juicy gossip. I knew who the guilty parties were. I quickly washed up and rushed out to Melody’s desk. I told her excitedly how Nancy and Mr. Schwabb (who is married with 3 children) are now having an affair.

As with many offices the word spread like warm butter and transformed into the tall tale that Mr. Schwabb was getting a divorce and Nancy and he were going to elope before anyone found out that Nancy was pregnant.

The following Monday when I reported to work I noticed that Nancy’s desk was empty, even her computer was gone. It didn’t take long to find out that Nancy had been let go for insubordination, even though she argued that she did not start these untrue rumors.

Soon enough, I found out that Mr. Schwabb’s wife was divorcing him because she could no longer trust him and wasn’t going to tolerate him possibly having an office romance. After filing for divorce she took the kids and moved 100 miles away.

Nancy is still shocked by the turn of events, right before this happened her and Mr. Schwabb had just won the company award for highest achievers and were being praised. Now she was out of a job, with very little hope for the future in this economy.

 


Show Don't Tell
by K. Wodke

“Show, don’t tell! Bullshit!” Garret crumpled his paper, let it drop, and then crushed it under his heel. “What’s it take to get an A in this course?”

Ms. Spivy backed up until her thighs pressed against her desk. “We’ve discussed this in class.”

“Okay.” The tension left Garret’s body. He sighed and then nodded. “Want to know what I’m thinking?”

She relaxed. “Sure, if you want to tell me.”

“No.” Garret smiled. “I’d like you to tell me.”

“Well, I…I have no idea what you’re thinking.”

“Exactly! I’m seething with disgust at this moment, but you don’t know it. That’s the point. Sometimes a writer has to say what someone thinks or feels. Sometimes there’s no way to show it.”

She flinched as he drew close. “Say I’m a character in one of your stories. I could be calmly washing my car, but inside be boiling with hatred, planning a murder even, and my actions would not reflect that at all. I could be standing in front of you, as I am now, with a completely bland demeanor and be secretly thinking how much I’d like to bash your head in. How are going to write that, Ms. Spivy? How are you gonna show, not tell that I intend to follow you to your car today and bludgeon you to death with your own thesaurus?”

“Oh god!” Ms. Spivy twisted and grabbed for her cell phone, but missed. It skittered away from her.  

“Calm down.” Garret retrieved the phone and placed it in her shaking hand. “I’m not going to hurt you. This was just a little real-world exercise in Show, Don’t Tell.”

He snatched his paper from the floor, tossed it into the trash, and strolled from the room, grinning. Ms. Spivy collapsed to the floor and wept.


 

Life’s Choices

By PJ Hawkinson

 Lalinda had made bad choices her entire life; the last was to marry badly and to almost instantly become pregnant. Now she had no job, a husband who abused her, stepped out on her, and refused to work. He constantly claimed the baby wasn’t his and accused her of fooling around with everyone from his best friend to the fat, greasy, slob who served as maintenance man for the dump of an apartment they lived in.

Lalinda’s water broke and the man who should have been ecstatic over the birth of his child could only cuss and complain that he wasn’t going to get to watch the game over at one or another of his worthless friends’ house. Pulling into a gas station, her loser got out to put air in one of the balding tires as Lalinda panted between labor pains in the front seat. A gentleman in a nearby vehicle noticed her dilemma and came to her aid. As the baby slipped easily into the blue-eyed man's arms, Lalinda noticed he wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Simultaneously, the tire burst under the strain of too much air, flinging pieces of rubber in all directions and slicing through her husband’s neck like a finger though the air, killing him instantly.

Lalinda’s life was looking up. She married the man who delivered little Beckysue and they were expecting Tommyraye any day now. Lalinda had made some good choices in life lately.



Cloud Pilot

Peggy placed the thermos on the counter and tucked a stray lock of red hair behind her ear. "There you go, Ace. Want a sugar donut to go along with that?"

"No thanks, Peg. Coffee's good." Ace finished his eggs, laid a tip on the bar, and stood, tucking his scarf into his bomber jacket. Peggy met him at the register.

As he handed her the cash, she gazed at his handsome weather-worn features. "I just have to ask," she said. "Do you ever wish you were an iceberg wrangler instead of a cloud pilot?"

"Oh, no," he said, his eyes dreamy. "Cloud harvesting is in my blood. My dad did it, my grandpa, too. In fact, he was one of the first. Bringing that vapor in, releasing it over the desert or a forest fire; it's an awesome feeling. Wouldn't trade it for the world. Today, along with about twenty other airmen, I'm scheduled for a drop over that drought area down by Shawnee Junction."

Thermos in hand, Ace stepped out of the airport diner and strode across the tarmac. His scarf had come loose and one end flapped in the crisp morning breeze. Through the large glass windows, Peggy watched him climb on board his airship, The Rainmaker. She really should be loading the dishwasher; Harry was out with the flu. But, she couldn't resist the sight.

The great ship lifted into the blue sky and turned toward the soft mountains of gray cloud to the west. Holding her breath, Peggy waited for the unfurling of the nets. They ballooned out, white and blazing in the sunlight, and filled with air, like sails on a frigate of old. She exhaled with a wide smile before returning to her work.

Peggy loved her job.


 



First Day on the Job
by PJ Hawkinson

Carrie stood outside the door. I can’t go in there, she thought. They’ll skin me alive.

She paced back and forth. She stopped walking and chewed a hangnail. She ran a nervous hand through her hair, tousling it and then smoothing it back down.

What was I thinking? I should have never applied for this job; and they should have never hired me. So what if I have the proper degree? I don’t have any experience. Ohh, what am I going to do? I was supposed to be in there five minutes ago.

Carrie felt nauseous. She should turn around and go home. She should quit before she really got started.

A short redhead flounced by and smiled before entering the room. Carrie took a deep breath. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. That redhead seemed nice.

Straightening her back, Carrie reached out a hand and turned the knob. She walked to the front of the room, picked up a piece of chalk, and in large letters, she printed her name. Turning to the room full of second graders she said, “Good morning class, my name is Miss Jenkins.

 

Submission Guidelines for Flash Fiction:

If you would like to contribute a flash fiction story, please contact us. It can be any genre, but must be less than 300 words long. This is not a paying gig, but it is a chance to share your wonderful writing with a new group of readers. You retain the rights to your story and can republish it elsewhere if you wish. You will be given full credit for your work with a link to your own website. If your piece is chosen to be published, we will require you to sign a release which states the work is rightfully yours to submit and that you have given us permission to use it.  

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