Category Archives: Flash Fiction

FF – Alien

ALIEN

Salt. Pain. Wet. Wait, wet? 

I inhaled, relieved I could. One eye opened, then the other. I tested the limbs. 

Observe. Report. Those were the orders. 

The limbs moved and I crawled out of the wetness. Sand slid under my belly. A tiny creature approached. One claw large the other small. 

It tasted like salt too. 

With movement came memory. 

This planet was ringed with devices, far more than anticipated. There was a ping, a shudder, and then the view went black, blue, black, green, blue as I tumbled planet-side. 

I didn’t trust my lower limbs until I knew from what the pain stemmed, so I crawled into a thicket of shrubs. It was cooler, not inner cave cool but better than the broiling surface the soft shells preferred. It was easier to observe surface dwelling species but far less pleasant to visit. 

That my ship was unreachable was a given. Without a favorable report from me there would be no additional visit. My silence would be taken as failure and the whole sector scrubbed. The dominate species had put thousands of trinkets in orbit, so they had the means. If the ancients showed favor I could find my way back to the stars. 

Sound reached me. I know the dominant species here is a soft shell that communicates like an unchallenged, all noise and waving limbs. It was not the primary language I had learned to distinguish. Perhaps the secondary. Yes. The secondary. 

“Here?” 

“Yes. Right here, but out there.” 

I peered through the brush. Two ugly soft shells stood on the sand and pointed out over the water. One was tethered to a smaller multicolored creature that moved its snout over the tracks I had left during my haste to flee heat. Leaving a trail was a junior scout mistake and one likely to cause me trouble. 

As if the ancients had heard me the smaller creature began to make a hideous noise and pull the soft shell it was attached to towards my location. I crept sideways until I was in a wider clearing. 

Fleeing was not an option, not that I would have chosen it anyway. I had the claws of six challengers adorning my halls and a seventh pair on my belt. I did not flee. 

The soft shells followed the loud creature right to the clearing. I gave a warning scent and the smaller creature quieted and hid behind the soft shell’s lower limbs. I would have to make note that the creatures on four limbs seemed to understand proper communication where as the ones on two did not. 

“Whoa, shit.” 

I searched for a proper response but could find none for ‘slow down’ and ‘defecate’. 

“Peace,” I rasped. That seemed to relax them. 

“Welcome.” This word I was familiar with. It was promising. 

I pointed with a mid limb towards the water. “Ship.” 

“Oh, yeah, yeah I saw your ship splash down. Cool,” said the tethered one. No scent glands and noisy, definitely like the unchallenged. 

The other one spoke for the first time. “Are you alone?” 

I felt more authority in his tone. 

“For now.” I stood to my full height and towered over the soft shells. New authority had to be challenged to see if it was worthy. 

The noisy one stumbled back, bleating its word for defecation and holding a small rectangle up in front of it like it would ward me off. The other put his hand on a device at his midsection. 

“Whoa. Easy. Peace.” 

I stayed still. “Ship. Lift. Go.” 

“We get your ship out and you go away. Is that what you’re saying?” 

I thought I was clear. Perhaps repetition was a custom. “Agreed.” 

“What happens if we can’t fix your ship and you’re stuck here?” 

“Stay?” 

“Yes.” 

I’d die alone and judging from the environment probably from the heat. This was an end I did not want. One only became an ancient if they died in battle. However, they did not need to know this. “More come. Eat you.” I snapped my top claw at him and he ran. 

Not authority enough. 

The star went down and the temperature became bearable. Small creatures roamed. Once I figured out the skins were removable I found them tasty if a bit salty. 

Shortly after first light came more soft shells, many more. 

The planet’s single star was not yet overhead so the temperature was tolerable and at their request I ventured out onto the white sand. This was a good sign. Violence was not conducted over white ground. 

Soft shells surrounded me with devices at the ready. Their fear permeated the breeze. If they thought numbers would sway me they were mistaken. 

One in particular stank of terror and trembled. The device in his hands, a weapon I presumed though I could not see an edge for cutting, jerked up towards my throat. I snapped it in half without leaving so much as a scratch on him. Honor points to me. 

The others brought their weapons up just as a cry came from the vehicles beyond. “Stand down!” The thrum of authority was unmistakable and all weapons lowered. 

A soft shell, slightly smaller than those ringing me, stepped forward. It took me a moment to realize it was a female. Odd to see an egg bearer without wings. 

“Peace. We wish Peace. I am Sargent MacTavish. May we have your name?” 

I told her my name but I knew it would be unpronounceable to her kind. She listened intently anyway. “May I call you Zock?” 

It would have to do. “Yes.” 

She nodded. “If you remain on this planet others of your kind will come and eat us. Is this what you told the officer yesterday?” 

“Yes.” 

“What if we do our best but cannot repair your ship? Can you communicate with your people and tell them not to come?” She sounded like authority but her worthiness was in doubt. 

“You are in charge?” 

“For now, yes.” I took a slow step towards her. “You can command my ship to be raised from the salty water?” 

She stood her ground. “I can.” 

“Then do so!” I snapped my top claw close enough to her face for her to feel the air move. Weapons lifted all around but she did not flinch, nor did she take her eyes from mine as she ordered her people to stand down. 

“I can also have you shot dead and we’ll take our chances on if you’re telling the truth or not.” 

She was worthy. I sat back on my lower limbs. “If my ship proves unrepairable I will try to communicate to my commanders.”

“Excellent.” 

I retreated to the cool shade as the sand area became overwhelmed by scurrying soft shells. I was still unsure if they, as a whole, would be allies or just another food source but at least I knew a few were worthy of further study.

FF – Frumpy Nun

FRUMPY NUN

It was a temperamental habit, but it was the only one clean. Her best still in the hamper, soiled from fixing sinks in the Novice’s Hall. She smoothed down the restless veil and handed the doorman her ticket.  

“Nun act?”

“Not an act.” 

He arched a brow and read her pass. “Sister Marion?” 

“Yes.” 

He shrugged and opened the door to let her join the throng of contestants. 

She ignored the whispers and only looked up enough to find a seat. 

“Franciscan, right?” 

She jumped and glanced up into a face with more metal than skin. “Yes.” 

“Cool.” He sat. “I did a paper on different monastic orders for school.” 

She appraised him anew and wondered what middle-school would have students doing such papers. 

“That real or a costume.” 

“Real.” 

He grinned. “Even cooler.” 

They sat in quiet as his fingers drummed out a rhythm. “So what makes a Nun come to a singing competition?” 

“God called me.” 

He laughed. “Like on a cellphone?” 

She pursed her lips and he leaned back from her glare. “Not a phone. Signs.” 

He leaned forward. “What kind of signs?” 

Would it hurt to tell him? Probably not. “My parents passed recently.” He made a noise of condolence. “That same day I heard an announcement for this competition. I knew it was God freeing me from my family obligations and providing me an opportunity at my dream.” 

“Singing?” 

“Fame.” 

Just then a woman with a clipboard stepped into the room. “Gabriel Kingsley?” The pierced youngster bounced up and waved as he disappeared through the door. 

All too soon he was back, beaming. “You got in?” 

“Naw. They said no.” 

“I’m sorry.” 

He shrugged. “That’s OK. It was a blast anyway.” 

She was next. The three panelists eyed her curiously but refrained from comment. She stepped up and sang. The power flowed and she felt alive. She sang her second. Heads bobbed, toes tapped. When they asked for her third she knew she was in. God had led her here and his grace lifted her up. She had never sounded so good. 

“Thank you Sister Marion. Keep practicing. You’re almost there.” 

Almost? She didn’t remember the walk out. 

One moment she was in shock and the next Gabriel was at her elbow. “You going on?” 

“No.” She blinked up at him in the thin winter sun. 

“Aw, that sucks.” 

“How can that be? How can God lead me to this exact spot only to have me fail?”

“Maybe he meant something else. Maybe you were supposed to meet me?” 
 
A bus pulled up and a billboard covered one side. It had a list of requirements for the kind of people being looked for. She met every one. It offered adventure and fame. She wanted it. “Gabriel?”

“Yeah Sister?”

“Have you ever wanted to go to Mars?”

He blinked and looked between her and the advertisement. “Seriously?” 

She smiled up at him. “One should not ignore God’s signs.” 
 
 
 

FF – Wife

WIFE

He led me into the little room. Hideous floral wall paper peeled near the window overlooking the courtyard.

“Here is your kitchen.”

This was my kitchen just as this was my husband.

“You can decorate any way you wish.” 

Like that was a gift. Perhaps it was. I hated it. Hated him. For a brief moment hated my parents for causing me to love them enough to agree to this. The instant they were gone from this world so was I. 

A movement caught my eye. I looked over to see a girl, woman maybe, in the doorway. She peered out from long, stringy hair. 

“Ignore her. The nurse comes three times a week. Otherwise I’ll see she stays in her room.” 

The girl lingered. 

“She is?” 

He squirmed. “My sister.” 

An undisclosed sibling? My heart soared. “Was this in the contract?” 

He took my hand gently. “Your parents were aware and satisfied her condition would not breed through.” 

If they were so satisfied they could share his bed. 

Husband left the next morning with an awkward kiss and a hesitant glance. 

He could have my wifely duty but I’d be damned if he’d have my enthusiasm.

“Don’t skulk, come in.” She crept into the morning light. “What’s your name?” 

“Mina” 

“Good morning Mina. Coffee?” 

Her voice the barest whisper. “Yes please.” 

And so it began. 

She giggled and ducked her head as I held up blouses against her robe clad chest. I chose the green. It brought out the warmth of her brown eyes. 

Husband forgot to throw a fit over her wearing my clothes. He was too distracted with the news I’d fired the nurse. 

“Why?” 

“She has no ailment. With modifications she can care for herself. Whatever assistance she needs I can provide.” 

He paced, unconvinced. 

“It’s a waste of your hard earned money.” 

Mollified, he went to bed. 

Getting Mina to look in a mirror was difficult, even after the haircut and makeup. When she finally met the stranger’s eyes she cried. “I’m pretty.” 

“No you’re not.” She looked up at me, shocked. “You’re beautiful.” And I kissed her. 

Mina sat at the table in a new outfit, a new hairstyle, her shriveled arm hidden. Husband greeted her politely as a guest. She giggled and said hello, and the roaring began. Despite the red face and empty threats Mina never again ate dinner alone.

Weeks later Husband came home early. I explained it was easier to help Mina bathe if I was naked too. Mina needed many baths.

Months later Husband came home unexpectedly and hugged me. I went stiff. “You’ve heard?”
 
“Heard what?”

“I’m so sorry.” I didn’t need the details. I felt the truth in my bones.

The tether of my destiny, my vow to my parents had snapped. I was free. Then I looked across the room and meet Mina’s eyes. 
 
 
 

FF – Cheesecake 05

Nana felt the exact moment the banishment curse ceased to be. She was at the Black Jack table in the Rabbit’s Foot Casino. She was winning.

Twelve hours later she stood under a pavilion watching children play on a grassy hill. It had been a refuse pile for shells and bones when last she’d seen it. A midden they called it now.

Nana noted a fairy settling on the picnic bench beside her. He was either brave, or stupid, or expendable.

“What’s your name?” She asked.

“None-Your-Business.”

“Don’t give me cheek.”

He laughed, a sound like dry leaves rubbing together. “Not cheek. That’s my name. Most people call me NYB.”

“NYB then. So what have I missed over the last five hundred years or so?”
 

Nana paused on the sidewalk and gazed through the window of the vacant shop. In her mind’s eye she saw the fire pit, the racks for drying fish or skins, the piles of nets for fishing. Her family had once been great hunters. She became a worshiped spirit leader. And now her ancestral home was a failed coffee shop.

“At least the protections are still up,” she muttered to NYB. She’d felt their tingle when she crossed the threshold of town. No hurricane would touch this little village by the bay. The current occupants had aptly named it Safety Harbor. “Too bad they didn’t work on the Spanish.”

“Before my time Gran Nana.”

Nana grunted. “So what offed the little witch?”

“She was eaten by a metal beast.”

“She was hit by a car?”

“Yes.”

“And no one could put the banishment back in place?”

NYB craned his neck to look up at her from his perch on her shoulder. “No one could remember why you were banished in the first place.”

Nana cackled merrily.
 

The council gathered after sunset. Even the Water Nymph Queen, with her froth white wings, made the dangerous trek to attend.

“Spare us,” some called.

“Save us,” others trilled.

“Pipe down!”

The murmurs dimmed.

“Now, I’m back and I’m plenty displeased at having to be gone so long but that doesn’t mean I aim to squash y’all.” She waited until the mutters died down again. “NYB tells me no one can remember why I was exiled in the first place. Good. Bygones. However, this is my home and I intend to reclaim it. You can be with me and I’ll offer the same, and probably better, protection than that old witch, or you can be against me and end up as tasty soup.”

She rode out the inevitable hoots and shouts of outrage.

The head of the Tree Fairies stepped forward, “Can you stop the Humans from destroying our trees?”

“Probably not.”

The Queen asked, “Can you make them cease polluting our water?”

“No.”

The silence that followed was louder than the earlier bedlam.

“Look, you can’t make humans do what they don’t want. More you try the more they get stubborn.”

“We’re doomed,” They moaned.

“Naw, I don’t do doomed. Even the worst run of luck has to end sometime. I have a plan but I’ll need your help.”

“Here comes the catch,” someone grumbled from the back.

Nana glared. “Sounds like I have my first volunteer.”

“Whatever you need Gran Nana, you shall have, just keep us safe from the Humans.” The Queen stated. No one voiced an objection.

“Good. I need your wings.”
 

The very next morning, bright and early, Nana made a phone call. “Hello, Renaissance Real Estate? Yes, I’m inquiring about the Coffee Shop on Main street, Safety Harbor. Yes, that’s the one. I’d like to buy it. Great. Do you take Casino Chips?”

 

FF – Cheesecake 04

Gran Nana scowled at the trashed alley. Raccoons?

“NYB!”

“Here,” came from behind the dumpster.

“Where were you last night?”

“None Your Business.”

She growled and NYB darted back into his bolt hole. “I don’t pay for sass. I pay for guarding, which you clearly can’t do.”
NYB crept out and began cleaning. She watched him for a few minutes before pressing, “Well?”

“Out with HOB. Mess weren’t here when I returned.”

“Meaning it happened while you slept.”

NYB sighed. “Apparently so.”

“Find the critter and stop it or I’ll snip your wings for the soup.” She didn’t wait for a reply before storming back into her cafe.
 

Two days later she found the flour switched with sugar.

“NYB!”

He appeared.

“What the blazes is going on?”

“Dunno.”

She menaced him with a soup ladle and he disappeared.
 

Later a stack of dishes smashed to the floor. Then bleach spilled in the restrooms.

The final straw was when Gran Nana came out to the sight of a napkin flitting through the tables. She chased it with a broom and thought it cornered but it dove into an air vent. The napkin lodged between the slats for a moment before fluttering to the floor. She gave it a few whacks for good measure, but she knew the little miscreant was gone.

“NYB.”

He appeared at her shoulder though she’d only muttered.

“Find my keys. I’m going to the mall.”

NYB trembled. “Gran Nana remember the last time.”

She scoffed. “Those boys deserved boils.”

“The humans closed the mall for a week.”

“Smelled better for the cleaning. Now find my damn keys.”
 

Gran Nana returned late that day with security cameras. NYB and HOB put them up while Gran Nana stood guard with the broom. The results were instantaneous. An hour after closing a green winged fairy crept from the vent and carted off chocolate chips one by one.
 

“Water Nymph,” Gran Nana mused as she watched the video.

NYB glanced at her. “Thought they never had boys.”

“Rarely have boys and they’re never allowed to stay past weaning.”

“So he’s orphaned?”

“No matter. Still gotta answer for nearly getting seen.”

NYB paled. “You’re going to squish him?”

Gran Nana grinned. “Worse.”
 

The fairy council fluttered uneasily as it waited for Gran Nana to explain why she’d called them.

“We have a problem,” she said and held up a jar with a sulking fairy inside.

She plucked him out by his wings. “What’s your name?”

“TOD.”
She gave him a shake. “Full name.”

“Trouble On Dock.”

“Fitting.” To the council, “He’s caused me a lot of grief. I’m sentencing him to a year and a day as my assistant.”
The council gasped in unison.
 

Gran Nana’s new assistant stared at his reflection.

“A year and a day like this?”

“Yep.”

“I’ll never survive!”

She cackled. “You’ll be fine. Hell, you might even like it.”

“Never!” He wailed. “I wish you’d’ve squished me.”

“Simmer down, Tod. It’s not that bad.”

“But I’m human!”

 

FF – Cheesecake 03

“What?” The shriek of outrage drew attention from cafe patrons nearby. “What do you mean you’re not taking the job? Daddy did a lot to get you that spot, Cam.”

“I appreciate it, truly, but I’ve been accepted to a writing program, with a grant.”

She threw her fork down with a clatter and scrapped back her chair. “You can do that stupid hobby on the weekends. This is a real job with real money, you know, like an adult.”

“I am an adult,” Cam muttered but she had already stormed away.

He stayed, partially because he didn’t want to draw further attention to himself, and partially because he’d come all this way for the damn cheesecake.

The conversation at the next table caught his ear.

“Vienna? How long?”

Cam couldn’t hear the response but found out soon enough.

“A Year?”

“It’s a very prestigious offer.” The girl finally spoke loud enough to hear.

“What’s wrong with your symphony position here?”

“Nothing, It’s just…”

“What, Florida’s not good enough for you?”

“It’s not that it’s…”

“I can’t see why anyone would want to play that obese violin anyway.”

She mumbled something to her empty plate.

The man slammed his drink down. “Fine, go to Vienna. I’ll have your stuff put in storage, but don’t expect me to be waiting for you when you get back.”

He strode away without a backwards glance.

She slumped into her seat.

Cam concocted and discarded a dozen excuses to introduce himself and was about to give up when the waiter approached with an apologetic expression. “I’m very sorry but there is only one piece of cheesecake left. Would you care to share?”
Cam was willing. The girl glanced up a few times and then shrugged.

Cam took it as a yes and slid in beside her.

She fiddled with her napkin.

“Hi, I’m Cam.”

She smiled shyly and shook his hand. “I’m Cam too, short for Camilla.”

He started to snicker and she slowly joined him in laughter.

The cheesecake arrived and they paused in their amusement to take a bite.

Cameron nearly moaned. It melted in his mouth, subtle flavors bursting out with each chewed. One glance at Camilla’s look of contentment and for a moment Cameron felt anything in the universe was possible.

“So, ah, you’re going to Vienna?”

She flushed and nodded. “And you’re a writer.”

He smiled. “Hope to be, but yeah.”
 

Inside the cafe Gran Nana was sliding a freshly sliced cheesecake into the display case when Tod came up beside her. “Why’d you have me lie to those people?”

“Twasn’t a lie. There was only one piece of cheesecake … for them.”

“They going to be famous or something?”

Gran Nana cackled. “Probably not, but they’ll have a hell of a lot more fun failing together then they ever would succeeding apart.”

 

FF – Cheesecake 02

Hill-Of-Beans glared at the old tom who would not budge for kick nor treat.

HOB sighed and enticed a nearby kitten to be his mount. Kittens were quicker but less predictable. He might get to his destination or he might end up chasing pigeons.

None-Your-Business came around the dumpster on his tortoiseshell and snickered at HOB’s struggles.

“Riding backwards?”

“Piss off.”

HOB finally got situated and maneuvered his frisky mount alongside NYB’s.

“Let’s get this over with.”

NYB agreed and led the way.

“Virgin fairy wings? Where does she think we can find any virgin fairy wings, let alone twelve?”

“Water nymphs.”

HOB choked. “Across the gray divide.”

“Yes. Tonight it will be safe to cross.”

“How? The metal beasts roar down at all hours.”

“Gran Nana swears tonight the beasts will be shunned and we’ll be able to cross.”

“You’ll get us both killed.”

“Not if we go when Gran Nana says and be back before the explosions stop.”

HOB yanked the reigns so hard the kitten hissed. “Explosions stop?” He paled. “Is it Boom Day?”

NYB grinned. “Yep.”

They rode in silence, or rather NYB rode in silence. HOB spent most of the time cursing at the kitten as it scampered through a hedge nearly dislodging him.

Eventually they made it to the divide and sure enough the beasts rattled up and down.

Just when HOB began to despair the beasts thinned down to a trickle and then stopped entirely.

Their zig-zag dash across earned little notice from the humans filling the strip.

NYB guided his mount easily through the thickest clumps of brush. By the time he called a halt HOB was sure his under-wings were broken. He was equally sure he was flying back, rules and risks be damned.

HOB heard them before he saw them. Their soft laughter melded with the sloshing waves. There were near twenty frolicking about, teasing the fiddler crabs and annoying the terns.

“How do we get their wings? We’re not about to start some fairy war are we?”

“No. The ones with clear wings are virgins.”

HOB noted most of the wings were clear. Good start.

The sounds of humans grew louder behind them and they loosed the cats just as the nymphs realized things had changed up on the shore. As one they darted to the safety of the rocks.

“Now what?”

NYB just grinned and sauntered slowly towards the shore shedding clothing as he went.
 

HOB staggered to the edge of the gray divide as the first light smudged the east. It was just as well the cats had bolted he couldn’t have ridden to save anyone’s life. Strapped across his back were four pairs of clear wings. NYB, a few paces behind, had four as well.

“You could’ve warned me.” HOB groused as they laid down in the wet grass.

“What, that their wings fall off when they lose their virginity?”

“No,” HOB groaned. “That there aren’t any male water nymphs.”