Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’

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Scenes from a Hat: Echo

January 30, 2009

Scenes from a Hat: Echo

by Nix Winter
Editor: M. E. Ellis

Pale blue fading into gray, the horizon lay smooth against a backdrop of jagged, dark pine forest. Toshiro Masuda stood in the doorway of the small jet, an elegant hand reaching up to pull dark glasses down. All the blue of the sky had taken refuge in his eyes. This far north, the scent of pine and fireplace smoke in the air left him feeling out of his element, disconcerted. A wolf howled somewhere in the jagged dark of the forest, but close enough that the sound echoed longingly down his nerves.

Home.

He pushed his glasses back up. Calm as shadow, he waited. The perfect fit of his suit, a dark gray with a slight tint of blue, wrapped a powerful body, as lithe and wild as wind ruffling the pines. Raven hair gathered at the nape of his neck, held in a clasp of platinum. Only the pale golden tint to his skin, perhaps the smoothness of his face, the shape of his eyes—if one could catch him without his glasses—gave hint to his Japanese ancestry.

Again the wolf’s voice echoed over the private airstrip, crying a song deeply rooted in Toshiro’s heart.

The world granted precious few options for repair of anything, let alone something as precious as the life of a loved one. Tosh counted few enough of those in his life. He would not lose, no matter the price.

Long and black, the armored limousine arrived. Even though Toshiro was well past the point of return, its arrival brought the echo back again, driving home how very fragile his position was. He started down the stairs, exiting the jet, his body a projection of casual confidence. Of all the roles he’d played in his life—geisha, slave, king, gangster, anthropologist—this was perhaps the most difficult lie he’d ever embodied.

A man, broad and easily the root of troll myths, exited the front of the limousine from the passenger side. His thick coat, lined and edged in black and white fur spoke Russian about as well as his body language spoke dangerous. Toshiro looked at him disdainfully, carefully blanked his face, blue eyes hidden.

“Masuda Toshiro Sensei,” the man asked in painful Japanese.

“Yes,” Toshiro said, pulling his passport, which he handed over to the man. “Of course. I understand that the surrender of my passport was a condition of my employment. I expect,” he said, his words misting menace, “the other terms of my employment have been met.”

Troll Man bowed, approximating something vaguely Japanese as he pocked the passport. “There has been some slight difficulty, but Boss has provided a substitute. I think you’ll find him adequate.”

“You will hope so,” Toshiro said, smiling with tight lips.

The man’s huge hand opened the door for Toshiro, while his other hand held out a photograph.

Toshiro took it and studied it with a detachment that he did not feel. “He has not been harmed? He is untrained?”

“Yes, Sensei. The subject was acquired from the United States less than a week ago. He is a fighter, but the boss thought he might meet your needs.”

“We shall see,” Toshiro said and slid into the car, expecting the other man to close the door. The predatory aura to him hid his plans well. If he could gain his wolf and leave before his scene was over, the only real challenges were reconstructing the two passports, getting to a flight that would take them anywhere other than Russia. As the door closed, he again heard the wolf cry. Lies were his element, but he would find his truth, and no matter what challenges, together they could repair the world.

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Scenes from a Hat: Substitute

January 27, 2009

Scenes from a Hat: Substitute

by M. E. Ellis

A pillow for a breast, a cigarette for a cigar, a candle for a lamp. Substitutes.

Out, out into the night now, coat collar up, fists in pockets, cap low on my brow. My gaze darts, ears listen, nose keen to catch her scent, her beautiful, well-mourned scent. I will have her once again.

She stands on the street, hands upon hips, head cocked, lips a sultry pout. Similar, so similar that the sight of her invites a lump to my throat. Could it be…? My approach doesn’t startle her. Far from it. She has been waiting for me…hasn’t she?

“Hey, sugar,” she says, candy-pink lips a wide smile. “Wanna fuck?”

No. No, I don’t, but I return her smile, nod, nod like the sucker she thinks I am.

“Come on, then.” She jerks her head towards an alleyway between the buildings behind her, lit only by the streetlamp in its mouth. The lane stretches into infinite darkness, where my imagination places many girls like her, their backs against the wall, legs spread, or on their knees, maws wrapped around cocks that don’t belong between professional lips.

She turns, sashays into the alley, shadow’s jaws closing around her. I follow, my footsteps precise on the rain-slicked cobblestones, my heartbeat accelerating. Ten, eleven, twelve footsteps later, and she stops, a grey figure, no discernable features.

“Here will do.” Her loud whisper floats, rebounds off the mouldy walls. “Fifty for full, twenty for a hand job. I don’t use my mouth.”

My broad frame fills the width of the alley. “You should do. Doing so would shut you the fuck up.”

Her sharp intake of air stutters in her throat, the release of it a breathy laugh. “What?”

“You didn’t hear me the first time?”

Eyes, they almost glow in the dark when as wide as hers, you know.

“Yeah.” She snorts, laughs again, and a clicking sound breaks through the cocooned air.

“Are you chewing gum?” She. Is. Annoying. Me.

Substitute. Substitute. Substitute, substitute, substitute

My fist connects with the end of her nose. She squeals, sinks down onto her ass, the proverbial sack of shit, legs bent at the knees, hands steepled over her face.

“You’re not her, are you?” My nostrils flare. An ache so vast threatens to overwhelm my airy mind, threatens to thicken the descending red mist. “You…tricked me. You…almost had me…believing—”

My boot heel greets her temple, and she releases a muffled, blood-garbled shriek. Her torso thuds sideways to the damp stones, her body the pose of a cadaver left to rot.

Which she will be after I’m done, for her breaths grow short, and her appendages spasm, inciting twitches to her fingertips, her feet.

Sarah? Sarah, where are you? Come back. I need you. I can’t…can’t accept any more…fucking…substitutes.

She won’t listen. She never listens.

But I’ll keep looking, and I’ll find her. Oh yes, I’ll find her.

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Scenes from a Hat: Germination

January 16, 2009

Today, I’m lucky enough to have another guest author. Out of the hat, my friend Jaime Samms picked the word “germination.” I’m pleased with the resulting story, and I’m honored to share it with you! Thanks again, Jaime! Delightful scene!

Scenes from a Hat: Germination

by Jaime Samms
Editor: M. E. Ellis

The natural glamour of sunlight on snow stretched off into the distance. Each flake sported every colour at once, then no colour at all as dancing shades of trees played across the brilliant surface. One slight tilt of the head, and a tiny, glimmering beacon sank into the blue depth of shadow.

Lyre touched one long finger to the crystalline beauty. An instant of chill seized him before a coin-sized hole opened in the bank of white flakes. He looked up and watched the sparkling expanse surrounding him while an eternal breath passed through him.

“It is time.”

He rose, waded into the drift, lay down. Under him, snow sizzled into nothing until he lay with the frozen earth under him. The shock of cold sank its teeth into him, gripped him with lethargy. Above, only an ovoid of pure, endless blue.

His thoughts fell up.

Light Dazzled. Faceted crystal wings tinkled in the still morning, wakened the world to sound and frigid vibrancy of winter sun. Deep sapphire eyes glimmered down on him from a delicate, opal-skinned face. Diamond fingers reached to his cheek. The cold, rigid touch nicked his skin. Blood welled, dripped down his cheek to the earth.

“Good-bye, Lyre.” A spill of impersonal laughter, the clicking of wings, and the sky above reappeared.

Air sighed, picked up strands of his hair, and wove it into a tangled web above him. The web caught, a sail that lifted.

“Come, Lyre. Not yet.”

It whispered in his ear, caressed his face, tickled up under his clothing—tempted. He shook his head. The hair shivered free of the wind’s clutches and settled back around him. A whistle of frustration whipped over the snow’s surface screening his view in swirling white, pricking tears to his eyes. It didn’t want to let him go.

The tears escaped and followed the blood into the earth.

“Flee while you can!” Air moaned over the earth, groaned through the trees, cajoling. “Run, Lyre!”

He didn’t move.

Roots broke through the loam, wrapping around his wrists and ankles. He shivered.

“Too late.” The wind died away. “Good-bye, Lyre.” It whispered into silence.

The trees stilled their branches, concentrated on prying tendrils through the soil to twine in his hair, pluck at his garments. His skin tingled where tiny roots slithered over his ribs, along his spine, explored the length of his arms and legs as the last remnants of his attire disintegrated.

“Ours now.”

They claimed him with their minute, intimate slide over bare skin. The earth under him finally warmed, and he closed his eyes.

The soil shifted around him, rising to cover hands, feet, hair.

He smiled.

Every precise touch, every whispering sound, every shimmering vision played through him, drifted into the world, taking bits of him with them until he was every root, every sigh of breeze, the sunlight dancing off the snow.

Where his body had been, tiny green shoots and pure petals of white opened their faces to the sun, welcomed his gaze, waited for him to come again.

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Scenes from a Hat: Vinyl

January 9, 2009

Scenes from a Hat: Vinyl

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

The dark, purple glow emanated from a long, tube light bulb. Next to the black light, noble gas raced around the enclosed glass track, and electricity sparked it to life, casting a shameful and pallid blanket of bright orange light on patrons sitting in plush chairs, their knees spread wide.

Neon. Number ten. 1s2 2s2 2p6.

Other glass tubes adorned the room, racing around a raised stage with what Brodie expected were faux brass rails. Two vertical poles extended from the shiny, smooth wood floor of the stage up to the black dropped ceiling tiles. He contemplated the other tubes, and his recall slipped, but he knew that some of them contained other noble gases, and the ones that didn’t were probably colored fluorescent bulbs.

Fucking chemistry.

One of the most annoying voices ever possessed by a human rolled out through the club’s sound system. “Tonight, we have a special guest from a local band, DirectiveNine. The singer is here, and these are his songs. Hope you enjoy them!”

Are you kidding me? Can’t I just watch these girls in peace? That band broke up, like, four years ago. I swear, instead of tipping you to play them, I’m going to tip you not to next time. Dick.

Brodie realized that he’d not been paying any attention at all to the girl who delicately descended the stairs to the stage, a drunken swagger jiggling her in most of the right places, and a few that made him wince a bit. The girl’s head bore the curse of owning the most soulless and lifeless eyes of any stripper, ever. Or, maybe she was just drunk and stoned.

I wonder if she’s holdin’.

She finished the three-stair journey, and a sweet guitar melody filled the small dive with a sonorous joy that still—even after four years—sent tremors up his neck, stood his hair on end, and ran chills through the course of his body.

God damn you, Saul. Why’d you have to quit? You wrote such good songs.

He sat in misery and neglect, since no dancers had been by in at least three songs to say hi or shake their almost-covered asses in his lap for a dollar. The decline of DirectiveNine weighed on him still, but he’d never made songs like the ones he and Saul did. His desperate desolation drained in a siphoning snap as soon as she entered the main room.

Who the fuck is the new girl? Oh my god.

He sat upright, puffed his chest forward, adjusted his septum ring, and put on his cool look. It took everything in him not to sing along with the words he’d written. The melody possessed him, and though he didn’t project a voice, his lips moved in sync with the song. He scoured the woman now climbing the stairs to the stage, thoughts of the last dancer dissipating like a ghost on meth. Crystal blue eyes, icy and burning, looked down on him and her persuasive motion clutched him into stillness.

Breathe. Just breathe. Seriously. BREATHE!

Long, raven locks, pulled and twisted into twin braids swung with the rhythm of the music, his music, and her gaze embraced him against time, handcuffed to a stare that teased to throw away the key. Shiny, smooth, and black, her outfit knew just how to make her, and she knew even better how to wear it. Her curves only continued where the restraint of the vinyl costume ceased, and her undulations served only to raise his interests.

All the cool flew away, and Brodie’s jaw slacked, his breath drew quick and shallow, and the memory of the last time he’d blinked his eyes no longer registered. In a jolting second, she dropped to the floor on hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the stage. Index finger extended, she pointed at Brodie and crooked it back only to extend it again.

“Come here.”

Brodie, without missing a beat, purred, “Yes, ma’am.”

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Scenes from a Hat: Flagellation

December 19, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Flagellation

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

A wide, tall candle, coated with hours of habitual use stood in isolation on a cold, stone altar. Brother Iska knelt in prayer before it, numb to his surroundings, and caught deep within a self-induced, altered state. His troubled mind, plagued with dilemma, raced over the complexity of simple things and the simplicity of things grander than understanding would ever reach.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that in the hour of our death we may be refreshed by Thy holy Sacraments and delivered from all guilt, and so deserve to be received with joy into the arms of Thy mercy. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.”

Iska’s trembling hands, young, yet hard and worn, wrapped and clenched around a heavy, dark wool hood and pulled it up to cover a gaunt and pale face, revealing only a small scribble of blonde facial hair. Despite the hood’s concealing nature, tropic blue irises pushed away the darkness as beacons of life and light. Brother Iska stared at the candle, amazed at the beauty of the small flame, transfixed and engaged by the slow, predictable chaos of the expended wax. His gaze flowed past the flickering flame, and the mirror on the cold, stone wall behind the altar returned a guilty visage.

His coarse robe sleeves slid across his arm toward his shoulder with uncanny ease and he pinched the flame from the candle. Pain, small but real, relished and feared, flickered dim and brief on the pads of his fingers, and a knowing smile sunk into his lips.

“Brother, the darkness is here. Have you come for my penance? “

Though the cold stone of the temple was dark and lifeless, a salient energy pulsed with every beat of Iska’s heart, and his sight spread through the black air in brilliant flashes. Dust and stale air swirled in a cotton candy vortex replaced with the nibble of a warm, fresh burst. Someone opened the door, but in the nadir of the day, light held still and captive from even seeking eyes.

Thump. Thump.

Iska’s third eye blinked, unsure of what it saw.

Thump. Thump.

With each heartbeat, life energy raged against the stone confines of the prayer chamber and begged for escape, but the door closed, and they shared penitent solitude. Rough skin met the supple form of his cheek, and Iska turned his head in consent. Two strong hands grabbed his wrists with tender command, and Iska surrendered his body to the flat, firm muscle born from years of manual work and neglect for vanity. Despite the darkness, his open eyes scanned the room for a glimpse of the one in front of him. Iska failed to identify his temporary savior.

“Brother, will you absolve me of my sin?”

Needy hands explored him, and expectation surged through his skin; excitement and blind passion consumed him. Thin, demanding lips pressed hard against his own, and he savored the joy of painful stubble scratching against his face like he’d appreciated the glimpse of fire from the candle. His brother forced his hand to rest at waist height, palm up, and Iska’s jaw clenched, his right eyelid quavered and closed halfway, and his body shivered with anticipation.

Leather.

The straps, resembling skin, but immensely different, begged to be touched, and Iska rolled the end straps of the leather whip between his fingertips. Absolution lay in his hand.

A deep, husky, and hushed voice filled the small room as his absolver prayed, “Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et, dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam. May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting.”

Iska let his robes drop to the floor, and in the chill of the small, stone-walled room, he closed his eyes and replied, “Amen.”

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Scenes from a Hat: Rainbow

December 12, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Rainbow

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

I stare now at the children playing in the water. It’s not so long ago that I can’t recall what it was like, but long enough that I cannot imagine the cool kiss of the water on my skin. Though my years add up like a Fibonacci sequence, I would not call myself old. Nor would I call myself young. I’m nestled right in the middle where maybe tomorrow I would be old, and I think I was young yesterday.

I remember portions of my life with stunning clarity and sentience, but other parts are ripped from me in their entirety. I know that something makes me feel like it’s not my fault they’re gone, but I have no proof that anyone took them from me.

Still, the children play.

I couldn’t tell you when or where I met her, but there’s a woman in my bed, just now. I think she’s still breathing. I honestly don’t care. She is—and it’s with great sadness that I say this—one of those bits that was torn from me by forces I cannot confirm nor dismiss. Parts of her are familiar, but I don’t know if it’s because I’ve supplanted memories by the telling of tales, or I’ve incorporated my recent knowing, or whether some portion of the veil has been lifted.

A child rests somewhere in the house. He may have crawled into the bed with her. He may be tightly wound in blankets of vibrant red, blue, and yellow. He certainly has a small stuffed toy with him. Who knows whether he entered slumber in the night with his dog, Sebastian, his cat, Two, or perhaps a plush version of his television favorite who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

One child outside holds the hose and sprays water on the others.

This stasis of thought is more cumbersome than I expected it to be. I am neither ashamed nor proud of what I’ve done in this house. I would pray for some result, if only I believed in prayer. I keep telling myself that the only way to move on is to actually move on. The window is cool. I imagine it is the water of the children outside, and the sun catches a chamfered corner of the pane so that a small, spectral beam punishes the floor with its multi-faceted truth.

The child with the hose has capped the end with his thumb, and, just like the pane of chiseled glass, the water spray creates a rainbow, but this one is free and unburdened by the floor.

I push against the glass with my hand, and the once molten sand gives way to my will. The bubble surrounding me grows with astounding force, and I can see the shimmering iridescence of its shell rippling through the air. I close my eyes and push hard as I walk through the wall and the prismatic field grows to envelop the children playing.

Silence.

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Scenes from a Hat: Restitution

December 5, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Restitution

This week, I have a guest author. Please welcome Jambea Jo Jones to the Scenes from a Hat series. I hope you enjoy her twisted little scene. I know I did. Thanks for stopping by!

by Jambrea Jo Jones
Editor: M. E. Ellis

Paul’s world was fucked. No other word worked. He shouldn’t have listened to that dumb slut, Sherri. If it wasn’t for her he never would have signed up for the damn experiment. Now, here he sat in a military hospital waiting for the official diagnosis of fucked.

Three weeks ago…

“Sherri, you coming out?”

“Sorry, Paul, I have a…thing tonight.”

“What kind of thing?”

“Well, I signed up for this experiment, and it starts this evening”

“Sounds great! Do they pay?”

“Yes. They’re still looking for people. You should go with me.”

“What kind of experiment is it?”

“It is kind of hush-hush, but I have a friend that’s helping run it. It has to do with some new super agent they’re working on.”

“That sounds kind of dangerous.”

“They’ve said it’s FDA approved. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Are you coming?”

“Alright, you talked me into it. Let me just go get my bag. Is this an overnight thing?”

“It might be a whole weekend thing. You cool with that?”

“Sure, just give me a sec.”

Paul raced back to his room and threw any clothes within reach into his back pack. In three minutes, he exited his room into the hallway, ready to go.

“We’ll take my car,” Sherri said as she walked in front of him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to take the bus?”

“No, just in case we don’t make the study we can get to the bar.”

Paul chuckled. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

Within minutes, they arrived at the local military base, and the MP waved them right through. Sherri didn’t stop for directions.

Sherri sure knows her way around here.

Paul shook off the dread that ran down his spine, and the hair at his nape stood on end.

“Here we are. Let’s get signed in.”

Paul followed Sherri to the desk. She let him go first. Once he signed the papers, the MPs arrived to escort him to a room. He looked back. Sherri laughed with the soldier behind the desk, but she didn’t move to follow Paul down the corridor.

What’s going on?

Present Day…

“Damn bitch! She’ll get what she deserves,” Paul muttered. He got up and stalked to the mirror hanging on the wall. Putting his hand to his face, he grabbed his cheek and plucked. It still freaked him out when his skin pulled away like a rubber band. “Fucking bitch.”

The door to the room opened, and a doctor walked in.

“I have some good news for you, Paul. We have an antidote to cure your elastic deformation. It will change you back to your original form, but there could be side effects.”

“Just give it to me. Where’s Sherri?”

“If you want to see her, I can send her in.”

Paul struggled against the urge to smile and looked back at the doctor. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll send her in with your meds.”

It didn’t take long for Sherri to come into his room.

“You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, I have something for you.”

“What would that be?”

“I need you to come a little closer.

She slowly walked toward him. Paul tried to conceal his grin, but the closer she got, it seeped onto his face. She stepped within arm’s length, and he dragged her to him. She had a second to look shocked before he snapped her neck.

“Stupid slut, bitch. She got hers.”

Paul slid down the wall unable to contain his laughter, and the room filled with military personnel.

He continued to chant and bang his head against the wall. “Stupid slut, bitch. She got hers.”