Terribleminds: Pick An Opening Sentence And Go

This weeks challenge over at Terribleminds was to take an opening sentence from the previous weeks challenge, and turn it into a story.

I went with Lisacle’s: Waking up next to a dead man will ruin your entire day.

And this is where I went with it.

The First Labour

Waking up next to a dead man will ruin your entire day. Still, I’m alive; guess I’m the lucky one. I sat up and gazed out the window at the puss coloured sky. I Looked over my shoulder, and wondered: ‘am I?’

I pulled a smoke from the packet on the side table. They weren’t mine, but I figured he wouldn’t mind. I took a few drags, and waited for the liquor haze to free me from its grasp, and the morning wood to subside. The cigarette only heightened the alcohol; giving it means by which to rush round my body, and the wood remained present.

I don’t know what bothered me more; the dead guy or that I was aroused. Truth be told, none of it bothered me, I’d been doing this too long, and the inappropriate firmness was just a morning ritual. I’m not sure how I got here, or where here was, and as for the stiff – the body I mean – fuck knows. I finished the cigarette just as it burns my fingers. I like to get my money’s worth, even if the money’s not mine. I stood up and took a deep breath. The room was a mixture of smells; blood, sweat, liquor, sex, and the faint hint of a broad.

I headed to the bathroom, hit the switch, and the light returned the favour; I saw stars like a caught a right hook. I took a leak, but seemed to be pissing sideways. I looked over my shoulder toward the bedroom and wondered ‘how drunk was I?’

I shook it off, the thought too, and headed back to the bedroom. I rooted around for my clothes. I’d been here too long, and the only thing that should linger around a body is the smell. I pulled my clothes on and straightened myself out the best I could, then I examined the stiff.

It was not a face I recognised; twisted with terror and pain. I riffled through his pockets. He’s holding nothing but a silenced .38 in a shoulder holster, and his wallet. Inside is nothing unusual, or rather, there’s nothing at all, which is unusual. I checked it over, and found a card: The Lion’s Den – a joint downtown. On the back is a name written in red ink: Nemean.

I put the card in my pocket, and walked back to the bathroom to make sure I didn’t look like the sort of person who wakes up next to dead people. A message was scrawled across the mirror, written in the same red lipstick that was smeared across my face. It said: Are You Ready For Your First Labour?

***

Back at my place I took a shower, trying to wash away the fog of last night. I got dressed, and made myself two eggs, two rashers of bacon, and two cups of coffee. After that I reached for the phone.

‘Phil?’

His voice came back through the phone, as gruff and irritable as ever.

‘Yeah, what do you want Herc?’

‘I need you to run a name for me’

‘Shoot’

‘Nemean’

‘The owner of the Lion’s Den?’

‘It’s on the back of their card, so I’d take a stab at that’

‘Yeah, what of him?’

‘Who is he, and how likely am I to be able to speak with him?’

‘Heck if I know, he’s a dirt bag, but we’ve never had anything on him’

‘How’d you know he’s a dirt bag then?’

‘I’ve got a nose for these things’

‘Alright, I’ll watch my step’

‘That’d be a first’

I hung up and headed for the door.

***

 

I made my way downtown to The Lion’s Den. I figured it’s the only place to start; quite what I was starting I had no idea. I walked in and spoke to the cute barmaid.

‘Hi’ I said

‘Hi, what can I get you?’

‘Nemean’

She looked perplexed, and after a survey of the bottles behind her, she said ‘No, we don’t have that’

I smiled ‘I’m looking for Nemean, the owner’

‘Oh’ she said, her cheeks turning a little red.

The doorman came over; he was as big, as she was pretty.

‘Can I help you?’

‘No’ I said ‘she’s doing just fine’

He grunted and gave her a look. She slunk off down the bar, and busied herself with the stock.

‘Can I help you?’ he asked again

‘Sure, why not’ I smiled ‘I’m looking for the owner’

‘I’m afraid the owner’s out of town’

‘That’s fine, I’ll wait’

‘You’ll wait for him to get back into town?’ he frowned

‘Sure, I figure he’s got to pass through here some time, and it’s kind of important’

He grunted, and then walked away, heading through a door beside the bar. I sat waiting. He returned a minute later and said ‘Mr Nemean has returned, he’ll see you in his office’

I smiled at him and walked through the door, following the long corridor. Coming toward me was a woman; she was loaded with sex, and walked like she wasn’t afraid to use it. We exchanged a look, she smiled; her eyes were hungry, and she looked like she’d devour me, but not in a way I’d like. She left a familiar scent in the air, but I was too distracted to remember it. I continued toward the door at the end. I knocked and entered.

Sat behind a big mahogany desk was a large man. He wore a gold suit that seemed to shimmer in the light, and had a mane of black hair that joined a large beard.

‘Nemean I presume?’

He nodded and gestured for me to sit down opposite him. I did. The chair was comfy.

‘And who might you be?’

‘My name is Mr Lees, I’m a private detective’

‘A detective?’ his eyebrow rose ‘and how can I help you Mr Lees?’

‘Well, I’m just making inquiries into a man I met this morning’

‘Oh really’ he said ‘what’s his name?’

‘I don’t know’

‘He didn’t say?’ he asked

‘We didn’t talk much’

‘Ah’ he said with a smile; he had a mouth full of teeth, each one of them looked like they’d hurt ‘then what makes you think I can help?’

I took out the card I had found on the stiff and slid it across the desk. He looked at it, and said

‘That’s a business card Mr Lees, they’re easily obtained’

I turned it over, showing the name scribbled on the back; his name.

He looked at the card, and then back to me.

‘Mr Lees, I’ll ask you again, what is it you think I can help you with?’

‘The man who had that on him, was a hired gun’

‘And this affects me how?’

‘I’m sure it affects you quite a bit, I’m sure right now you’d expect me to be a ghost’

He smiled broadly, each one of his large sharp teeth on display. His eyes were making promises; none of which I wanted them to keep. He’s a large man, so it took me aback when he vaulted over the desk like a domestic feline.

He pounced on me, and the chair tipped back, breaking under our weight. His hands wrapped round my throat. His eyes were manic, and he ran his tongue along his teeth. As I struggled to pry his hands from my throat, he leaned over me and spoke with the same calm as when he was sitting in his chair.

‘You’re right Mr Lees, you should be a ghost, let me help you with that’

I raised my knee into his crotch. He yelped and relinquished his grip as he keeled over in agony. I got to my feet. I knew I wouldn’t have long to compose myself; I took deep breaths trying to get as much air back into my lungs as possible.

He began to get to his feet, but he’d lost some of his swiftness; a knee in the nads will do that. He leered at me, furious, but still smirking like a mad man. He lunged at me. I ducked right, and he clattered into the wall. He turned quickly like a ball on the rebound, coming at me, all teeth and powerful arms. I picked up the first thing on his desk, and as I side stepped him, hit him hard on the back of the skull. Luckily it was a paper weight and not the stress ball sitting next to it. The blow stunned him, and he remained on all fours, panting, as a wet patch formed on the crown of his head.

‘You had enough?’ I asked

He continued to pant as he got slowly to his feet. I held the paperweight just in case; he was pretty quick for a big guy, and I knew if he caught me, I was fucked.

He walked to his desk and sat behind it, in his big chair. He continued to pant a little; his eyes had lost their craziness and were now vacant and dilated, like a night’s sky with no stars. He focused on me, and began to chuckle.

‘What’s so funny?’ I asked

‘It doesn’t matter what you do Mr Lees, your days are numbered’ he said smiling

‘Well, I was never good at math, so don’t be surprised if I get it wrong’

‘It doesn’t matter that you survived the man I sent, nor does it matter that I haven’t finished you. Something will get you Mr Lees; she will always get her way’

‘Who does?’

His smile broadened, and he began laughing again.

‘Who’s after me?’ I asked loudly

He continued to laugh. I walked over to him, placed the paperweight on the table, and grabbed him by the shirt.

‘Answer me dammit!’

His laughter continued, it increased, filling the room.

I began to shake him by the shirt, but he continued to laugh, louder and louder. I grabbed his red tie and pulled on it; the knot pressing against his tree trunk throat.

Still he continued to laugh.

I drew it tighter hoping the lack of air would subdue his laughter, and bring him back to reality.

He began turning red. He laughed still. I drew it further. He started to turn purple. His laughter began to dwindle as he struggled for air. He looked at me, his eyes bloodshot and bulging. Before I could come to my senses, his eyes closed, and he ceased to laugh. He was limp when I loosened his tie. The skin was pale where it bit into his neck. I checked his pulse; it was faint, but present. I stepped back from the desk, took a last look at this beast of a man in his golden suit, and headed for the door.

I walked up the corridor, straight past the doorman, and outside. I was grateful for the fresh air, so reached inside my pocket and pulled out a smoke. I lit it and took a long drag. As I walked off down the street, my hands were still shaking.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: The Subgenre Blender

This week’s challenge can be found here.

The task: To pick (ideally at random) two subgenres; one from each list of twenty, and blend them together.

I went to RNG for my two subgenres, and that got me

  • Greek Mythology
  • Noir Detective

This is what I did with it.

 

Pegasus

In this business, you think you’ve seen it all; then suddenly, you’ve never seen anything like it.

It all started with a knock on my office door.

‘Come in’

She rounds the door, and closes it shut behind her. I’ve seen some beautiful things in my time, but this dame could make you forget your own name.

‘Mr Lees?’ she asks

I gesture to the seat opposite mine. She glides across the room; her dress is expensive, so too is her perfume, a scent like sunsets and flowers. Everything about her speaks money. She takes the seat; crosses her legs, and places her bag on her lap.

‘What can I do you for Miss…?’ I hold out my hand

‘Athena’ she says, taking it.

We shake politely; her skin is soft and smooth, like dipping my hand in fresh milk.

‘Well what brings you here today Miss Athena?’

‘Well Mr Lees’ she eyes the name plate at the end of my desk

Herc. U. Lees – Private Detective

‘Can I call you Herc?’ she asks

I nod. She continues.

‘You see Herc, I’m in need of your services for a most sensitive matter’ she reaches into her bag, and withdraws a few sheets of paper; handing me one across the desk. It’s a photo of a large white horse.

‘That’s Pegasus’ she says ‘He’s been abducted’

‘Abducted?’

‘Yes, two days ago’ she continues ‘I thought maybe he’d jumped the paddock and ran away, that was until I got this’ she hands me another piece of paper; with letters cut from a newspaper, it reads:

WE WILL RETURN THE HORSE WHEN YOU GIVE US WHAT WE WANT.

‘What do they want?’ I ask her

‘That’s just it, I don’t know’ she withdraws a tissue from her purse and holds it to her face, her eyes begin to tear.

I place the note atop the photo of Pegasus, and reach down into my desk draw, the lowest one. I study some of the bottles and, reluctantly, I withdraw the Dionysus. She’s a classy broad, and that’s the best wine my money can buy. I pour her a small glass and pass it across the table. She mumbles a thank you through her tissue, and drains the glass. I give her a minute to compose herself.

‘Why not just go to the police?’

She hands me the final piece of paper. Another note made out of paper clippings.

IF YOU CONTACT THE POLICE YOUR HORSE WILL BE KILLED.

I place that on top of the others.

‘They’ve never said what they want?’

‘No’

‘And you have no idea?’

‘No’ her eyes shimmer with tears.

‘What about your husband?’

‘I’m not married’

‘Boyfriend?’

‘No’ she shakes her head, and begins to put away the tissue, finding composure.

I nod ‘Okay Athena’ I say ‘I’ll look into it, see what I can find out’

‘You will?’ she says, smiling for the first time.

I nod again, returning her smile. I saw her to the door, exchanged a brief hug, a thank you on her part, and told her I’d be in touch. I studied the three pieces of paper she left me, and still couldn’t find an angle. I put on my hat and coat, and headed out the door.

***

I walk into the bar. A few dregs are in there, but otherwise it’s quiet. I walk up behind a man wiping a table.

‘Hey, Hermes’

He jumps, then turns and glares me ‘Chrissake, Herc’

‘I need some info’

‘Yeah, what’s new’

‘I’ll be fair’

I place a Drachma note in an empty glass he’s reaching for. He walks away, leaving the glass where it is. I catch up with him again at the bar.

‘What is it you want?’ he asks

I lean in, keeping my voice low ‘Pegasus’

His eyes flash with recognition, and then he says ‘What?’

I smile. Never trust a man in sandals, without a beach beneath him.

‘Pegasus’

He shrugs, avoiding my eyes, and walks round the other side of the bar.

‘What’s it going to take Hermes?’

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’

‘Bullshit’

‘Hey whatever man, I don’t know everything’

‘Damn straight you don’t, or you wouldn’t be thinking you can slip one by me’

He busies himself with the glasses, as though hoping I’ll disappear.

‘One last chance Hermes’ I said it like I meant it.

‘Okay, okay’ he knew I did ‘meet me out back’

I left the bar and made my way down the side to where they kept the bins out back. A few seconds later Hermes came creeping out the rear door. He surveyed the alley, left and right, and when he’d satisfied himself the alley was clear, he started to talk.

‘Look, you know I don’t like to jerk you around Herc, but I gotta be careful, ya know’ he rubbed the back of his neck and continued to talk ‘this Pegasus shit, I can’t be getting caught up in it’

‘Caught up in what?’

He gave me a suspicious look ‘you mean you don’t know?’

I couldn’t bring myself to say it, but the look I gave him confirmed it.

‘Ah shit, the P.I don’t know dick!’ he said with a chuckle

I cut it short by putting my forearm against his windpipe and pinned him to the wall.

‘Tell me what you know dipshit, or I’m going to uppercut you out those sandals’

‘Wha..Get…Ca…Can’t’

I listened intently, until I realised he was turning purple. I took my arm away from his throat, and let him drop to the floor. He sat panting for a minute, while holding his throat.

‘You trying to kill me asshole!?’

‘Spill it’

‘I thought you knew who owned the horse’

‘Some dame, so what’

He smiled slightly. But the glare in my eye melted it quicker than butter in a hot skillet.

‘Yeah, but it’s who that dame is that should help you understand. Her daddy bought her the horse as a present, and whoever took it, is sending him a message’ he continued, though his tone, and eyes became very serious ‘her father is Zeus

‘Zeus?’

He nodded slowly as though the very word made him drunk.

‘Head of the Olympians?’ I asked

‘The King himself’

Shit had hit the fan, and I need to make sure I stay clean. I walked back up the alley.

‘Hey, Herc!’ I heard him call

I stopped and looked back at him; still slouched against the wall.

‘How about you tip the messenger’ he said, rubbing his thumb against his forefinger.

‘Put it on my tab’

 ***

I made my way downtown. I needed to find out exactly what was going on, and be sure my name was not up on a list somewhere just waiting to be crossed off.

I traipse the busy streets in search of my source. He’s never in the same place twice, but he’s always here. Eventually it’s my ears that find him. Standing beside an upturned hat; swaying, and playing his flute like the sound of the forest.

He notices me but continues to play. A few people walk by and chuck him a few shekels; he winks at the ladies, and most of them giggle. I wait a few minutes for the song to finish before I approach.

‘Hey, Pan’

‘Come on’ he says ‘I need a coffee, and you’re buying’

I follow him to a coffee shop a few doors down. We order our coffees, and find a quiet table in the corner. He pours in some sugar and says

‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’

‘I need to know what the word on the street is’

‘I meant specifically’ he says with impatience ‘you don’t come to shoot the breeze’

I watch him stir his coffee for a minute; he’s got a few more grey hairs in his goatee than I remember, but his attitude is about right: unless he’s consoling a bottle of wine, or a lady, he’s a miserable old goat.

‘Pegasus’

He stops stirring, and looks up from his coffee.

‘You like life Herc?’

I smile and say ‘I’m still looking for a reason not to’

‘Keep searching this one, and you just might find it’

‘I just need to know a few things, I’m not looking to get involved in this’

‘Good, because that way lies death, you know who owns that horse right?’

‘I heard’

‘Well then hear this: He’s out for whoever is involved, and if you go snooping around, you’ll end up in the cross fire’

‘How’d you know I’m not working for him?’

He nearly spits out the mouthful of coffee he just took ‘yeah right, the mighty Zeus hires a P.I to track down his horse’

‘Fair point; now tell me something useful, who’s supposed to have taken it?’

‘And if I do, will you go home and put your feet up?’

‘Do you care?’

He shrugs ‘you’re a good source of income, and I like you Herc’

I can’t help the smile I give him, which makes him uncomfortable

‘Well, I mean you’re alright, but whatever you do I don’t care’

‘I just want to make sure my name isn’t floating around town. You’re right, if I’m seen to ask questions, it could be a whole heap of shit I don’t want to deal with, but if I know my name is out there, then at least I can take necessary precautions’

He takes a deep breath, and lets the air out through his nostrils. ‘Herc, you’re a big guy, and hell I know you can look after yourself, but these are Olympians. I’m begging you, use what I’m about to tell you to cover your ass, and sit this one out – I don’t care how gorgeous she is, this isn’t worth dying over’

I nod. He continues.

‘Rumour has it the thief could be within their own fold. I mean think about it, nobody would be brave enough to make a move on the mob, except maybe the mob’

He makes sense, and my instincts have already agreed with him, but I need a name, just for my own peace of mind.

‘Who?’

‘You’re name isn’t out there, so stop asking questions’

‘Give me a name Pan’

He looks into my eyes, and can see I won’t be letting up. He sighs, and leans in closer.

‘Hades’

***

I walked back to my office. The fresh air and the stroll gave me time to think. The whole scenario is not worth getting tied up in. I’m not involved, and decide quit while I’m ahead. I get into my office, place my hat and coat on the stand, and head straight for the draw. I pour myself a glass of the good stuff, knock it back, and pour myself another. I reach across the desk to get my diary; I’ll call Athena now, get it over with – sorry lady. That’s when I noticed it. Sitting on my desk as though it’d been there for years; a cream envelope with my name written across the front. I study the room, checking I’m alone. Satisfied, I pick it up, open it, and pull out its contents: a single piece of paper with a message across it:

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR TWELVE LABOURS?

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Contain Three Things

This weeks challenge can be found here.

My three things were:

  1. A Talisman
  2. A Shopping Mall
  3. A Magician

I give you

Real Magic

Daniel stood at a distance; contently licking his chocolate ice-cream, and staring at the Magician. People bustled by, ignoring the man in his outlandish attire. Daniel considered the idea that only he could see him, and continued to watch him perform. He pulled multi-coloured handkerchiefs from his cuff, over exaggerating his movements, and waving his white gloved hands, while his coattails flapped after him.

Daniel continued to lick his ice-cream. His mum had told him to wait there while she was in the shop; searching for lady garments. He liked the mall, but never the shopping part. He was happy to come along, get an ice-cream – chocolate, it was always chocolate – and watch people scuttled too-and-fro, as though the shops might close any moment.

The Magician gestured to passers-by; holding out his tall hat, showing them the inside. No one was interested, although a man did chuck in an empty sweet wrapper. Daniel saw the Magician scowl and empty his hat. Defeated by ignorance the Magician reached into his hat, and began to pull something out.

Daniel watched as the Magician’s hand came slowly out of the hat. He stopped licking his ice-cream, and looked on as a rabbit rose from the brim. He had seen the trick on Television; in cartoons, and Saturday night talent shows, but seeing it in person was different. The rabbit was as real as his ice-cream, and the Magician had pulled it from the hat; No – from nowhere.

Daniel walked toward him through the streaming Mall traffic. He stood before the man; this Magician. He was withered, as though each of Daniels steps had aged him a year. From a distance his suit was a distinguished piece of clothing from a bygone era, but up close; faded, worn, and unwashed. Daniel stared at the Magician. Having noticed his audience he began to perform for Daniel.

He pulled the handkerchiefs from his sleeve; he made a red ball of cotton into three before making them disappear completely. Daniel continued to stare, his ice-cream ran down his hand; the Mall lights were having their share. Several minutes passed. The Magician continued to perform to the unimpressed boy before him. Eventually the Magician, beaten by the dead stare of a chocolate covered eight year old, stopped dancing around and spoke.

“Look kid, if this isn’t entertaining you, perhaps you should move along”

Daniel continued to stare.

The Magician unimpressed, and thin on patience, tried again.

“Go on kid, beat it, scram”

Daniel stared for a moment, but as the Magician was on the cusp of a tirade, he spoke.

“That’s not real magic”

The Magician cocked an eye-brow, amused by the kid and his chocolate goatee.

“Well kid, I gotta hand it to ya, you got me. I’m all out of magic”

“You’re a fraud”

The eyebrow plummeted and joined the other in furrowed displeasure.

“Look kid, I’m just trying to make a few bucks so I can eat tonight. Why don’t you do us both a favour, and go find you’re Mummy”

Daniel, unmoved, said

“Show me some real magic”

The Magician sighed, and leaned down on the balls of his feet.

“I’ve done things your eyes wouldn’t believe, that your mind could not ever conceive, but that was a long time ago. Right now, the best I’ve got is my friend Buster here”

The Magician removed his hat, and withdrew the white rabbit. Daniel could see it shaking, not with fear, but with age. It was old, as old as the man holding it by the ears.

“That’s not real magic, that’s just a rabbit that lives in your hat”

“Ha, I wish it was that simple”

The Magician stowed the rabbit, and placed the hat back on his head.

“Well that’s it, my show stopper, nothing more to see here kid”

He got to his feet and turned back toward the mat he laid out for his show.

“Show me some real magic” said Daniel.

The Magician looked back at him; squinted through his old tired eyes, straight into the boy’s baby blues, which shimmered with youth. He walked back toward him, and again, crouched down, steadying himself and his weight on the balls of his feet.

“Your Daddy ever tell you, be careful what you wish for?”

Daniel shook his head

“My Daddy’s dead”

The matter of fact tone took the Magician aback, nearly losing his balance.

“Ah, sorry to hear that kid”

Daniel shrugged.

“Well, if he wasn’t, he might have said that. Because today, you get your wish”

The Magician pulled a chain from around his neck, on the end of which was a pendent. He lifted it over his head and placed it in the boy’s empty, un-chocolate covered, hand. Daniel studied it: the chain was silver, as was the pendent, which had strange markings, and in the centre of it sat a blue stone.

“What is it?” asked Daniel

“A Talisman”

Daniel frowned at it, searching his mind for meaning.

“What do I do with it?”

The Magician smirked.

“You make real Magic”

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Spammerpunk Horror

This weeks challenge can be found here.

Our task was to write a Horror story in the context of a spam email. I didn’t fulfil the Horror quota, but there is one sentence that sends a shiver down my spine.


Halo Sir,

Good morning/night/day (delete as apropriate). My name is Normal, which means I am. I am no scam or foolish people. Myself and my partner Honest are founders of SuperRichExcellenceMoneyCool. We would like to offer you the opportunity to join us with this once in a life time offer. To become a member of SuperRichExcellenceMoneyCool all you have to do is provide us with some nonessential, unimportant, information. We will need you’re bank account details, you’re mothers before married name, and you’re place of living. Then we can start to transfer you the millions that are waiting. Please believe I am writing you from my huge Yacht and Honest is writing me from his Jet!! You have every rite not to join SuperRichExcellenceMoneyCool but we message you because we no your knot foolish person. Send us quick the details so we no you are who you say. Then you can start being SuperRichExcellenceMoneyCool. We will also send you FREE VHS of Barbara Streisand Live as extra insensitive to become member.

Best wishes,

Sir Normal.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Picking Uncommon Apples

This weeks challenge can be found here

We had to pick, three, from a list of uncommon apples.

Mine were

  1. Rosemary Russet
  2. VonZuccalimaglios Reinette
  3. Lacy

And this is where i went with it, i give you

 

Golden Delicious

 

“Lacy!”

“Coming, Mr Tobin” she replied, struggling through the door with a large wooden bowl.

“Where have you been girl” he growled

“Washing the tankards” she placed the wooden bowl on a lower shelf behind the bar.

Tobin muttered something to himself, and strode through the door from which Lacy came. She began to dry the tankards. The noise of the tavern was so familiar, she failed to notice the man approaching the bar.

“Hello child”

Lacy looked up; the accent had taken her aback, but the image of the man made her gasp: He was tall, even without the top hat; he was the tallest man she had ever seen. His skin was a reddish-brown, and his elaborate moustache curled at the ends.

“Do not be alarmed” the man smiled; it was warm, but she noted his cold, cobalt eyes did not match. “May I speak wiv zee Innkeep?”

Lacy did not know what to say; she nodded, and quickly made off through the door behind the bar. A moment later Tobin came through it, with Lacy in tow. Agitated by the disturbance he frowned at the eccentric man with the cape, towering over the bar.

“Can I help you sir?” he grumbled

“Guten Tag, my name is VonZuccalimaglios Reinette” he maintained the same smile “I am searching for an old friend: a lady” he reached inside his coat and withdrew a photo, and handed it to Tobin. Lacy caught sight of the very old picture; her eyes widened as Tobin said “that’s Rosemary Russet.”

 

Lacy banged on the wooden door; the rain was fine but constant, the kind that looks tolerable, but soaks you through. The door opened, and Lacy rushed in.

“Rose!”  she yelled, gasping for air.

“What is it?” snapped Rose.

“There…There’s a man” she stammered, trying to catch her breath.

“Shhh” Rose wrapped a woollen blanket round her, and said “slow down, catch your breath”

After filling her lungs with air for a minute, Lacy began again “There’s a man at the Tavern, he’s looking for you”

Rose squinted at her “go, on”

“He had a picture” she said “it looked very old” she seemed confused by the image. She looked up at Rose, studying her “but it looked exactly like you now”

Calmly, Rose asked “what was his name?”

“Va…Van…Von” she said, trying to remember

“VonZuccalimaglios” said Rose

Lacy nodded, her eyes wide with the memory. Rose grabbed her arms on either side “Lacy, listen to me” she said with graveness in her voice “you need to return to the Inn, and go about your duties”

“But…”

“Don’t fret over me, go, now”

As Lacy turned reluctantly the room fell into darkness; all the candles had extinguished, as though the October winds had entered the house. Rose looked round; to the window, where only an instant before the wind was howling. The air was still, as though the world had stopped turning. Rose ushered Lacy behind her: their backs to the fireplace; they faced the door. It swung open, and the world turned once more; the rain lashed down, and the wind began to wail. Standing on the threshold was VonZuccalimaglios.

“Ah” he said with an eerie joy in his voice “your papa is looking for you child.” He was speaking to Lacy; barely visible behind Rose.

“Your business is with me Reinette” said Rose

“Dah, and how long has it been my sweet” he said “one, two, three hundred years?”

“Not long enough” replied Rose

He smiled; his tombstone-like teeth, to big for his mouth, were accentuated by the gap between the front two. He said “for the past five-hundred years, I’ve been happiest when pursuing you”

“And like last time; I’ll send you back where you belong”

“My dear Rosemary, as stubborn as ever. You are the last of your kind; you should not exist”

The moon was the only source of light in the room, illuminating them both in a wash of silver. Time stood still; Lacy stared in awe, her stomach knotting with anticipation.

“Vell, shall ve get this over with?” asked Reinette

The first movement was slight: his cape twitched. Rose outstretched her arm, and twisted it as though grasping something from the air. She span round, and threw the contents of her palm into the fireplace. There was a flash of blue light, and Lacy was thrust backward into the flames, with Rose on top of her.

 

The room was dark again. Reinette was alone. Rose and the girl had disappeared through the fireplace. He took a deep breath; the sweet scent of singed apples filled his nostrils. He ran his tongue along his teeth, and said “Delicious.”

 

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: From Sentence To Story

Yep you guessed it, another Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge.

This week, we were tasked with choosing a sentence, from a previous challenge, and using it as the opening for a story.

The sentence that inspired me was by Elisa M:

For Oscar Baron, life had been complicated long before his butler’s corpse fell out of the chimney.

And this is where it took me.

 

An Unfortunate Agreement

For Oscar Baron, life had been complicated long before his butler’s corpse fell out of the chimney.

‘So, you’re saying that you have no idea how he got there?’

Tired, sullen, and irritated; Oscar responded ‘yes Detective, that’s exactly what I’m saying’

The Detective nodded, though it was nothing more than a response, a movement of neck muscles to signal acknowledgement. ‘So you didn’t find it strange that your butler had’ the Detective made air quotes ‘“Disappeared?”’

Oscar frowned, he had never felt more offended by a hand gesture, and being a Capitalist in a recession; he’d seen some pretty offense hand gestures.

‘No Detective, I did not find it strange. When the IRS wants’ Oscar made some air quotes of his own ‘“their” money, they take “their” money, and when there’s no more money, they start to take things of value’ Oscar widened his arms, gesturing to the room.

The Detective looked around the empty room, making a hum of recognition as though its emptiness had only just become apparent. ‘So, you thought the IRS had taken your butler?’

Oscar sighed, his frustration coming out in a rasp; ‘no, but since they’ve taken all my money, I could not afford to pay the staff; the maid left, the chef, the gardener, I just assumed that was where Haslam went’

‘Uh-huh, and this Haslam, who was he?’

Oscar stared blankly at the Detective for a moment before realising his question was serious. ‘The butler’ he said in somewhat disbelief

The Detective jotted something down in his notepad ‘and how do you think he got in the chimney?’ asked the Detective

‘Isn’t it your job to tell me Detective’ replied Oscar, a slight bitterness in his tone

‘Uh-huh’ replied the Detective, jotting down something else ‘well, we intend to find that out Mr Baron, don’t you worry about that’ he said with a smile.

Oscar couldn’t tell if he was trying to insinuate or ingratiate, but found he thought of this Detective as a hapless fool, and so neither effort concerned him.

‘I’ll show myself out’ said the Detective, leaving the room; he turned to face Oscar before he reached the doorway, and said ‘be seeing you soon Mr Baron’

Oscar sighed to the empty room. The room seemed to sigh back.

The Detective got into his car; where his partner had been patiently waiting.

‘Well?’ he asked

‘Did you know he’s being indicted?’

‘Yeah, it’s been in the papers for weeks’

‘Huh, I don’t read the papers’

His partner wore a look of tired disbelief, but deciding not to press the point, he said

‘He do it?

‘The butler?’

‘Yeah’

‘Not sure, but I feel like he knows something’

His partner shifted the car into drive, and they set off.

 

Oscar watched as the Detectives drove down the quarter-mile driveway toward the main gate. He returned to his wingback chair in the centre of the room; this and the mahogany side-table next to it were the only pieces of furniture remaining in the room. He poured himself a drink from the near full crystal decanter sat atop the side-table. He took the deep honey coloured liquid down in one go and sat in silence.

The moonlight peered in through the window. Oscar heard the creaking of the floorboards behind him. He drained the glass and settled it back on the side-table next to the now empty decanter. He took a deep breath.

‘Hello, Oscar’

The voice sent a shiver through him like a fork in a plug socket. He felt the voice creeping closer under the groaning of the floorboards.

‘Oscar’

The voice whispered; he felt the warm breath on his neck, the scent of candy floss filled his nostrils; he gripped the arms of his chair.

‘Are you ready now Oscar?’ it asked as it rounded in front of him; the silhouette illuminated by the encroaching moonlight.

Oscar gazed at the hourglass shadow before him. It felt like an hour, but it was less than a minute before he spoke

‘No’ he said it firm, but she heard it quaver.

‘Oh, Oscar’ she said, walking slowly toward him. Leaning in, her face emerging from the shroud, illuminated at the fringes by the silver moonlight.

‘I told you if you didn’t agree, he’d take it all away from you’ she gestured to the room, its emptiness evident even in the darkness ‘and he did’ she said

Oscar sighed heavily, focusing on the deep red of her lips; they glistened like plump pools of fresh blood.

‘He can make things worse Oscar, loss is not everything’

‘You said I had to come of my own free will’

‘Yes, the honour is in the offering, without that, there is no deal’

Oscar smiled wryly, the alcohol coursing through his veins, making him feel in control and confident, he said ‘then if I never go, there’s nothing he can do’

‘Tut, tut, tut’ she said standing up, indefinable by the darkness ‘right now he is being reasonable, but do not test his patience’

‘I don’t see why I should have to uphold a deal I never made’ he said

‘Because you’ve prospered from it, so therefore you’re liable’

Oscar sat silently in the darkness; piecing together the events of the past few weeks, and how they had dissolved his life into an unrecognisable mess. This harbinger, he knew, meant every sweet word she uttered.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Life is Hell

This weeks flash fiction challenge was to write about Hell. Details here.

And this was my take on it.

 

Hotel Hades

 

Sal stumbled through the pristine white lobby, gazing round in confusion, as he headed for reception.
‘Hey, buddy’ he said to the man behind the desk.
The man continued tapping the keyboard, before looking up.
‘Yes sir, how may I help?’
Sal looked him over, before speaking in his thick New York accent.
‘Listen buddy, I’m not sure how I got here, but since I’m here can I get a room, because I’m beat’
‘One moment sir’ replied the receptionist whose name tag read: Michael.
He pressed a few keys and said
‘Name please?’
‘Sal’
‘Full name’
‘Salvadore Vinchenza’
Michael tapped away at the keyboard again ‘I’m afraid you don’t have a reservation sir’
‘Okay, well can I get a room anyway’
‘Afraid not sir’
‘Why not?’ said Sal, offended.
‘We don’t let just anyone stay here sir.’
‘My money not good enough for you’ he reached into his pocket; he found nothing. Sal checked his other pocket, and then tapped his vest.
‘Shit’
‘I’m afraid bad language is prohibited here sir’ said Michael
‘Hey, fuck you’ said Sal
‘You may find the establishment across the street is more to your liking’ said Michael unfazed.

This receptionist was a sultry young blonde. Sal already liked this place; despite its gaudy décor.
‘Welcome to Hotel Hades, how may I help?’ she asked.
Sal fell in to her eyes like the deep mossy green pools they resembled. Her voice was like the dirtiest mutterings of his favourite pornstar; he could feel the blood rushing to a specific area.
‘Hey sweetie’ he said trying to play it cool ‘I need a room’
he reached into his pocket; to his surprise, Sal grasped a thick wad of cash. He pulled it out and unrolled it in front of her; each note was a hundred dollar bill. Good, he thought, women go weaker at the knees for money than anything else; love to a girl like this is cold hard cash, a hard dick doesn’t buy handbags.
‘Certainly sir’ she said ‘your name please?’
‘Salvadore Vinchenza’
‘One moment Sal’ her cheekiness riling Sal junior
‘Ah, here you are’ she said looking at the computer ‘we’ve been expecting you’
Sal smiled; he didn’t wonder why, he didn’t care, all that concerned him was the receptionist, her name tag read: Scarlet. Scarlet reached beneath the counter and pulled out a key.
‘You’re in room triple-six’ she said with a smile
‘Thank you Scarlet’ he said returning her smile ‘and what time will you be joining me?’ ‘You’re here a while Sal, we’ll get time’ she pressed the bell on the desk and a bell boy seemed to appear out of thin air.
‘Bell, show Sal to his room’
‘This way Sal’ said Bell walking toward the elevator.

 

The elevator stopped at the sixth floor. Walking down the hall, Sal noticed all the room numbers were the same: 666.
‘Here you are Sal’ said Bell stopping outside room number triple-six. Bell opened the door. Sal reached into his pocket.
‘Your money’s no good here.’
Sal looked down; staring up at him was a man in a top hat, wearing a moustache and a monocle; each note was bright orange. He put it back in his pocket and decided he needed sleep.
‘Thanks’ he said to Bell, and he walked into his room.

 

Ten minutes later there was a knock on the door. Sal opened it in frustration; standing on the threshold was a tall man.
‘Hello sir’ he said ‘may I come in for a quick chat?’
‘And who are you’ asked Sal
The man pointed to his name-tag and said ‘I’m Lou: the manager’
Sal shrugged and said ‘sure’
Sal sat on the end of the bed, and Lou stood; his hands behind his back, though clearly holding nothing but each other.
‘Are you enjoying your stay so far?’ he asked
Sal shrugged ‘I guess’
‘tut-tut-tut’ said Lou ‘that’ll not do’
Tired and irritable, and wanting to see the back of the manager Sal said
‘No its great, I’m having a great stay’
‘tut-tut-tut’ said Lou ‘that’s even worse’
‘huh?’ said Sal
‘What’s the last thing you remember Sal?’
Sal frowned ‘what do you mean?’
‘The last thing you remember before walking across a hotel lobby’
Sal thought for a minute, searching his mind for the memory.
‘I was pumping away at this broad’ he said ‘can’t remember her name’
professional lady was she?’
‘Hey, you don’t fucking judge me pal’ said Sal
‘You’re right Sal’ said Lou ‘what you do is up to you’
‘Damn straight’ said Sal
‘after all, if you weren’t a sinner, you wouldn’t be here’
‘Where do you get off?’
‘How did you get here again?’
Sal frowned.
‘Let me help you Sal’ said Lou ‘as the proprietor it is my duty to make sure you’re aware of your environment’
Sal listened to him talk.
‘You went from sleeping with a hooker, to walking across bright-white, flawless marble, correct?’
Sal nodded, annoyed to be agreeing with this asshole.
‘The plush, clean, spotless hotel, with its pure, pleasant receptionist said they didn’t have you down’
Sal nodded again, feeling he’d been spied on, or that the manager was some sort of FBI profiler
‘So you were sent here, to my, seedy and yet alluring establishment; where you see the lust inducing receptionist and, suddenly, your home’
Sal smiled, he did feel remarkably at home, though if it were his home, he’d kick this pompous prick in the crotch and tumble him outside.
‘You died Sal’
‘What?’
‘Heart failure; greasy, fatty food, high blood pressure, and some sinful cardiovascular’ ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’
‘This’ said Lou ‘is where you’ll reside for eternity’
Sal looked round the room, and said ‘Look, I’m not sure if you’re really the manager, or your some kook who’s going round pretending to be the manager so you can talk shit while people listen. Either way, right now, I couldn’t give a fuck; I just want you out of my room, so I can get some sleep – capeesh?’
Lou smiled; his k9 teeth were elongated. He nodded, and headed for the door.
Sal picked up the remote and turned on the Television.
‘Hey’ he said as Lou reached the door ‘What gives?’
Lou raised an eyebrow in retort.
‘There’s only two channels; the news, and the shopping channel’
Lou smiled ‘welcome to Hell’ and he left.
Sal flicked frantically between channels; the shopping, and the news. As he flicked back and forth, Lou’s last words sunk deeper and deeper into his mind.

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