Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Flickr Photo Challenge

The Flash Fiction Challenge this week was to click a link that takes you to random, yet potentially inspirational Flickr photos.

After several reloads I came across this. And the story unfolded from there.

Vacancies

The door was a striking red, sat in a black frame, like a gloved hand holding a freshly removed heart; the sign above it read: Vacancies. Arthur checked the piece of paper in his hand, making sure he had the correct address; satisfied he returned the paper to his inside pocket. A cast iron bell protruded from the white porch wall, seeing nothing else, Arthur grabbed the rope and rang.

A moment later the door swung open, and standing on the threshold was a woman. She looked over her horn rimmed glasses at Arthur; her dark hair worn in a tight bun, pulled so taught that her face appeared displeased with everything.

‘Please, do not touch that’

‘Uh, sorry’ said Arthur ‘I just’

‘Yes?’ she said cutting him off.

‘I’m here for the interview’ he pointed to the sign above the door, but to her he just looked like a man holding up his forefinger.

She surveyed him with all the warmth of a glacier, and said ‘of course you are’

Arthur, feeling self-conscious, stood there trying not to meet her gaze.

‘Well, come in then’ she said and disappeared inside the house.

With apprehension, Arthur followed.

The house was decorated inside as out: clean and without overstatement.

‘Come along’ she barked

Arthur followed her through to another room, where she seated herself behind the desk.

‘Be seated’ she said, gesturing to the adjacent chair.

Arthur sat down, placing his folder on his lap. He watched as she scribbled something on a notepad, with a full-stop she lay the pen down, and turned her attention to him.

‘My name is Jemima Thorpe; I’ll be conducting the preliminary interview’

Arthur nodded ‘would you like to see my résumé?’

She looked at him over the rim of her glasses, which were dangerously close to the end of her nose.

‘No’

Arthur returned the folder to his lap.

‘It is your capabilities that count Mr…’

‘Lodge, Arthur Lodge’

He felt the flush of colour in his cheeks. It had been unintentional, but it sounded lame.

Eyebrows raised she looked at him with disapproval, before writing something down on her notepad.

‘So, Mr Lodge’ she said ‘how long have you been in the business?’

‘Ten years’

‘Right’ she said, making another note

‘The last four were spent at one of the top accounting firms in the country, Brown & Bull. I was PA to Mr Brown himself’

‘Impressive’ she said, looking unimpressed.

The sound of her pen scratching across the pad was all that filled the room; feeling anxious, Arthur said ‘It’s all here in my resume’ offering her the folder from his lap.

Without looking up, she said ‘Capabilities

Arthur sat quiet while she scribbled.

‘Well Mr Lodge, I will compare you to the other candidates to make a decision’

‘Oh, right’ said Arthur, feeling as though the interview was not an interview but merely an opportunity for his confidence to be devoured again.

She flicked through her notepad, returned to her original page, and said ‘seeing as there are no other candidates at this present moment, the position is yours if you’d like’

‘Uh’ he said ‘yes, I’d like that’ though it sounded like a question.

‘Very well, follow me’ she got up from her desk, and headed toward the door.

While he followed her, Arthur tried to understand what had just happened.

‘Come along’ she called.

They stopped at a door down the end of the corridor, toward the back of the house. She knocked like she spoke.

‘Yes!?’ came a voice from beyond the door.

She opened the door, and Arthur followed her though, the room was lined with books, and trinkets; it appeared to be an office or a study or perhaps both.

‘Mr Simmons, your new PA has arrived’ she said, and then turned sharply and left the room.

Arthur was standing in the door way, looking at a stout elderly man, sat behind a desk.

‘Shut the door, take a seat’ he said to Arthur, gesturing to the chair opposite him.

Arthur did as instructed, while the old man studied an older looking text; the paper yellowed with age, and the once black ink had turned grey. A few minutes later the man appeared to join Arthur in the room.

‘Ah, dear boy’ he said ‘sorry about that, once I’m deep in thought there’s no pulling me out’ he said with a smile.

Arthur extended his hand ‘Arthur Lodge’ he said, returning the old man’s smile.

‘Seymor Simmons’ said the old man gripping his hand and shaking it like a cat does a mouse. ‘Now lad’ he said ‘you couldn’t have come at a better time, I hope you’re ready for the work ahead’

‘Yes sir, I’ve read all your work, and with my experience I think I’ll be able to help you be more organised. Would you like to see my references?’

‘Christ no, those things are always dreary’ he said ‘now, you have to understand, to come on board with me means you’re dedicated, organised, and always prepared for the worst’

‘Yes, sir’

‘Morning, noon, and night’ he said

Arthur would have sought clarity on the morning, noon, and night thing, but the idea of his steadily depleting bank account, and the taste of ramen noodles for the fifteenth night in a row, made him hold his tongue.

‘Yes, sir’

‘Jolly good’ he said striking the desk ‘that’s the spirit. Come on then’ he said, jumping to his feet in a fashion that belied his age.

Arthur looked surprised, and a little confused, he said ‘Where to?’

‘A pack of Romanian Lykans have been getting out of hand, making a nuisance of themselves’ he said, pulling his hat, coat, and scarf from the stand in the corner.

‘Romanian Lykans?’

‘Oh yes, rarer than your typical Lykan, but can be far more dangerous’

‘Erm’ said Arthur ‘what’s your typical Lykan?’

Seymor stopped, his face awash with disbelief. ‘What are Lykans?’ he repeated.

‘It’s just not something I’ve come across’

‘Oh’ said Seymor, a little bewildered ‘well I guess that’s odd, but not entirely impossible. Still I thought it would be a basic lesson, but I don’t know what they teach them nowadays’ he was talking to himself more than Arthur.

‘I worked as a PA for one of the top firms in the country, very demanding but very rewarding; Brown & Bull’

‘Never heard of them’ said Seymor ‘but it’s all very hush, hush nowadays, don’t want to panic the public and all that’ he was rooting through some draws now, searching for what, Arthur did not know.

He came up with what looked like a giant marble and a look of triumph on his face. He placed it in his coat pocket, and the turned to Arthur ‘where was I?’

‘You were explaining Lykans to me sir’

‘Ah’ he said ‘more commonly known as: werewolves’

Arthur had lied. He hadn’t read all of Seymor Simmons work, but he knew he wrote fantasy, and so he assumed this was just something he did, in order to write; he acted as though he lost a few marbles, and went out looking for werewolves. Either way the thought of plain ramen noodles and a pizza box duvet made Arthur decide to play along.

‘Right, sorry, completely forgot’

‘That’s alright dear boy, I’ve forgotten more in the last five minutes than you’ve ever learned, including where I put that blasted bottle of anti-venom’ he said as he went rooting through a nearby cupboard.

‘Tell me Mr Simmons, why are Romanian werewolves, in particular, more dangerous?’

He stopped looking when he found a little vial of deep purple fluid ‘ah ha’ he closed the cupboard and turned to Arthur ‘Why, because they’re from the homeland of course.’

‘The homeland?’

‘Yes, the homeland, where they originally stem from, the forests of Transylvania’

‘Transylvania, right’ said Arthur trying to get on the same page ‘that’s where Dracula was from, right?’

‘Yes, the grumpy old chap’

‘Oh, you know him then?’ asked Arthur, feeling as though he was finding his role.

‘We’ve met a few times’ he said, rooting through a lower draw of a bureau, in search of something else.

Arthur, trying to keep the conversation going, feeling as though this may be part of his duties as a Personal Assistant, said ‘Is he nice?’

‘Well, I don’t know about nice, but he’s not as bad as all that, you know, he’s not a monster like they say, just a reclusive old bat’ he burst up from the bureau holding a cloth bag that looked as though it contained marbles.

‘Right, then’ he said ‘ready?’

Arthur stood up ‘yes sir’

‘Good show’ said Seymor and strode out of the room.

Arthur followed him to the front door, down the front steps, and to the drive-way.

‘Where are we off to Mr Simmons?’

‘Shoshone Forest’

‘Wyoming!’ said Arthur ‘but that’s three-hundred miles from here’

‘Four-hundred forty-three’

‘But’ says Arthur ‘I hadn’t intended to go anywhere’

‘Well, that’s what it means to be a PA dear boy’ he said with pride ‘phenomena like the ocean, wait for no man. Paranormal Agents must always be ready’

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One Response to Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Flickr Photo Challenge

  1. notadowner says:

    Good stuff! I’d work a bit on dialogue stuff but other than that pretty good. Ramen noodles aren’t that bad, though.

    I wrote a story for the challenge, too. You can check it out if you’d like.

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