Category Archives: Flush the Fiction

My collection of short flash fiction pieces. Feel free to comment!

Sepia-toned life

The brown recluse is one of the most venomous spiders in North America. But she is shy and rarely bites humans.

I am also shy and selective. I only choose the bookish ones. Those fascinated by classic literature, candlelit evenings, a warm snuggle by the fire. And hot chocolate, always the nice warm mug of spiced cocoa.

You’ve most likely never heard of theobromine poisoning unless you breed dogs. Chocolate naturally contains theobromine, and dogs can easily acquire enough chocolate to achieve a toxic dosage. Human fatal dosage is much higher, and therefore exceedingly rare. But did you know theobromine is also available as a toxicant for coyote control?

Step into my beige parlor and join my sepia-toned life. Relax and enjoy a book by the fire.

The cocoa tastes a little bitter? Perhaps I’ve made it too strong, let me add some more sugar, dear.

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Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

I feel a little evil re-purposing a picture titled “Cozy places to read”. But…so much Beige, it feels like a Barnes & Noble.

I can live with the guilt.

(I should note: if you’re worried about your lover and those Valentine’s Day chocolates, don’t be. The LK50 dosage for theobromine is laughably high. Just a story, yo.)

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Storage

Inspired by: Olvidados by Jesus Solana

In the dusty storage room of a downtown office building, the cast-offs and detritus of dozens of office’s Lost and Found had been collecting for some years.

Leon, one of the maintenance workers, held one of the few keys to the storage room. He’d long ago abandoned any hope of organizing the chaos inside, there simply wasn’t any plan or pattern for the variety of items that came in every week. Umbrellas, purses and brief cases were quite commonly lost in office buildings like this one, and the maintenance and security personnel delivered those pretty frequently. The commonplace, every day items Leon had mouldering in the storage room across the hall.

Leon reserved this particular room for the unusual, the inexplicable items. That 40-inch television, for instance—left behind by an Audio-Visual presentations team? Looked almost brand new, wrapped in plastic. Did it work or not? A shoe box, with unworn shoes inside—intended as a present for someone? Pieces of computer equipment, common enough of course, but unopened shipping containers? What was inside them?

The most unusual, perhaps, was the life-sized mannequin. Fully dressed in business attire, gray suit, power tie, briefcase. It looked like it stepped directly out of a Men’s Warehouse or Macy’s or Nordstrom catalog. Leaning in the corner, next to a spool of coaxial cable, collecting dust on the Standard Peppered Gray Corporate Haircut Number Six.

This building was a dozen blocks, at least, from the nearest clothing store. And miles from any mall. Where did it come from, who might come looking for it?

But the mannequin bore a marked resemblance to the Standard Cube Farm Units that moved in and out of this building every weekday. Nine A.M. to five P.M., 50 weeks a year. The hundreds of men that passed Leon daily, without seeing—they just didn’t share the same universe with Leon.

Studying the mannequin became one of his favorite idle pastimes. He checked in every day during his rounds. Idle curiosity and plenty of time on his hands to look, wonder and speculate.

This morning, Leon unlocked the storage room and flipped on the light, just like a thousand times before. He pushed the door open, and jumped back in surprise.

The mannequin flatly stated, “Annihilate.” Pushed past Leon (without seeing him), and marched for the elevators.

There are times when being invisible is a real advantage, Leon thought, locking the storage room back up.

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Where the shadows lie

Better, I thought. This setup was so much better. Looking west, toward the ramparts. So much more modern, so much more efficient.

The last time was mainly a fluke. A bizarre series of coincidences and luck. Fate scheming against me, unfairly and to my detriment.

But as I admired the new fortifications, the new battlements, the new highway system, landing lights, communications towers—it was easy to forget, and to dismiss what happened last time.

My troops were ready and my plan secure, nothing could go wrong.

This time, I’d be certain to crush all of the damned hobbits first.

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Inspired by this Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

 

Bone-white and Blood-red

Bone-white and Blood-red were two special little girls who shared a cottage in the woods with a wicked old crone (who might or might not be their mother). They were as alike as two skulls in a catacomb, except for the color of their hair.

Bone-white was the quiet and studious sister, who stayed at home in the cottage with the crone, studying the ancient grimoire of wicked necromancy together. Her hair was the yellowish-white of ancient bone.

Blood-red was the wild sister, who roamed the forest and tortured the lore of the woods from whatever dryads and evil fauns she could capture and chain. Her hair was the deep sanguine of drying blood.

One evening, as they were sitting around the cottage brewing some rancid chipmunk stew together, there came a great pounding at the door. Blood-red pushed back the bolt, eagerly hoping for a man—but it was just a moth-eaten old bear. She quickly lost interest.

“Do not be afraid,” said the disreputable-looking bear. “I only want to warm myself at your fire.”

Bone-white and the crone glanced at each other, wondering who this threadbare bear might think was afraid, exactly.

“Sure, why not?” said the crone, cackling softly to herself and idly stirring the stew.

The bear blinked, momentarily taken aback, but closed the door behind him. Blood-red snorted, bored with the evening thus far.

The bear said, “Here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little.” And he stretched himself by the hearth and growled contentedly.

For this Blood-red began to show some real enthusiasm—torturing woodland creatures was one of her specialties. Both sisters took up hazel-switches and began beating the decrepit bear severely, first knocking the snow from his fur, but quickly stepping it up to tub-thumping on his thick skull.

The bear (a rather dim ursine really) laughed at first, mistaking this for play. But when his skull began to ring from repeated blows, he called out:

“Bone-white, Blood-red,
Will you beat your lover dead?”

What a silly question that was. Of course they would. And so they did.

In the morning, Bone-white used her necromantic grimoire and the corpse of the bear to create a shambling zombie-bear. Waste not, want not.

“Now I shall never chance to see,
My golden treasure returned to me.”

Bemoaned the zombie-bear. This piqued the interest of the old crone, of course.

“What are you talking about, you wretched old bear?”

The zombie-bear explained, in the forest lived a nasty dwarf who would gain free access to the bear’s precious stones, if the bear wasn’t available to guard them.

“Go find this nasty dwarf and kill him, girls, bring back the loot,” instructed the old crone.

And so Bone-white and Blood-red begrudgingly put on their traveling cloaks and reluctantly set off for a long walk in the woods.

After some time, they came upon an old dwarf with a wrinkled face, and a white beard a yard long. His beard was caught beneath a fallen tree, and he was jumping around and swearing like a sailor. He glared at the girls with his fiery eyes and cried:

“Get me out of this thing, you stupid girls! Come move this log off my beautiful beard, Sugar-hips, and maybe we can have a little fun.” And he gave a particularly pervy leer at Blood-red.

Now, Blood-red was a bit of a wild-child and a “bit of fun” wasn’t beneath her, normally. So she stepped forward eagerly. The nasty dwarf actually grinned and reached for her—until he caught the glint of cold steel from the knife in her hand.

After the screaming ended, the girls searched the nearby area and found the zombie-bear’s little cave. And of course the jewels.

They returned with the jewels to the crone’s cottage. The riches funded the entire Cottage Expansion Project, bought for Bone-white plenty of new evil tomes and a fine selection of leather corsetry for Blood-red.

But no one married anyone and there were no happily ever afters.

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No actual anthropomorphic animals or dirty dwarves were harmed in the making of this post.

Mirror Mirror

I suppose these three items should suggest some sort of Gothic tale to me…but I woke up thinking of a different story and flavor entirely, and it’s difficult to shift gears put that one ‘on hold’ while working out a daily prompt. But anyway…as usual, I shall forge ahead. A bit of free-writing happening here, going to write this one “live”…let’s see, what shall I…okay, here goes:

Continue reading Mirror Mirror

Delicious and nutritious

Mary watched with fascination as the large spider webbed up her meal.

Difficult to tell exactly what sort of insect it was, perhaps was it sort of small beetle or large louse? The spider, having industriously captured it in her web, was busily poisoning it with digestive enzymes and scrambling over and around it, beginning the process of cocooning and preserving. This one would almost certainly become the host for her babies, once properly prepared.

Mary rapaciously watched the motion within the web. Regardless of the taxonomies involved, both spider and insect looked delicious to her—a western European hedgehog.

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Inspired by this Friday Fictioneers photo prompt.

Copyright – Douglas MacIlroy.

Ty Cobb is 128 years old

On his birthday, the ghost of Ty Cobb came to visit me.

I know what you’re thinking, but whatever. It happened. As I was sitting at the keyboard and struggling to come up with some sort of idea to write about, a flicker in the corner of my eye drew my attention. And when I turned, Ty Cobb was standing there.

He held a bat—I think every picture I’ve ever seen of Ty Cobb included a bat. And he glowed and shifted, just like ghosts in movies, but he seemed to grow more solid the longer I stared.

Eventually he grinned at me and nodded, just a quick bob of the Tigers cap. Go ahead.

“How are you, Dave?” Accent—must be Georgia, right?

“Mr. Cobb, it is a genuine pleasure to meet you.” I stammered something out.

He leaned on the wall and waited patiently.

“Um… Okay, why me? Assuming I’m not just crazy or drunk or both.”

“No, you’re just sleeping,” he said. “But does it matter? There are things you wanted to ask me and I’ve given bunches of interviews, go ahead and ask.”

“I don’t want to offend you.”

“Ah,” he nodded. “The racist thing, right?”

I nodded.

“Sure, I was born in the 19th century. In Georgia. By 21st century standards I’d be plenty racist. Everybody in my hometown was, just about. Can’t really apologize for how I was raised. I got into plenty enough scraps with black folks over my career. Guess most of it’s true, some of it’s false.”

“So is that Shoeless Joe story true?”

“The Greenville thing? Naw, some sports writer made that up.”

I fidgeted for a bit, scraping for polite ways to question the greatest natural hitter that the game ever saw, things that didn’t sound just trivial or stupid.

“Look,” Ty said. “Want to talk about something important?”

Important. What’s important, to a ghost?

“Sure, I guess?”

“What kind of legacy are you gonna leave, Dave?”

What kind of… What?

“Legacy, Mr. Cobb?”

“Ty is fine. Legacy. You’re 52 years old. What sort of impact have you made on the world? What do you want to be remembered for?”

“Hell, Ty. I don’t know that.”

“You know what History says about me. Deadball era, hall of fame hitter, racist, unlikeable asshole. Whatever mistakes or accomplishments I made with my life, that’s my legacy, right?”

“I guess so?”

“Well, I was lucky enough to get paid to do something I was good at, worked hard at, and that I really enjoyed doing. That’s what all those sports writers remembered about me, so that’s the reputation my spirit lives with. What about yours?”

“I… Don’t know, Ty.”

“Well, you think about it. If it wasn’t bothering you a little, you wouldn’t be having this dream, right?”

He pointed his bat at me.

“You still have dreams,” he said. “Work from there. You may not arrive at a world-famous lifetime legacy, but at least you can have some fun before you go. Don’t make me come visit again, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

I stared, startled, as Ty Cobb suddenly turned green and grew huge, bulging muscles that burst out of his baseball shirt. Hulked Out, right before my eyes. He flexed, and his baseball bat exploded into splinters. “Rawr.”

“Naw,” he winked. “I’m just screwing with ya. I’m a ghost, we can do that.”

“Sweet dreams, Dave. Think you can come up with a more trite way to end a story than that’un?” Ty Cobb laughed and faded away.

Son of a…

Ty Cobb really was an asshole.

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To die on Mars

Blood pooled around my feet as the hull metal popped and pinged, quickly cooling off. The Martian atmosphere is vanishingly thin, but that was by far the least of my problems.

The blood is from a structural member of my ship currently piercing my thigh. Not arterial, but I certainly wasn’t going to survive this, no chance, not out here alone. My ship’s atmosphere was leaking out through a massive hole and I watched the porthole frosting over as the temperature dropped.

I started to laugh when I saw the light shining through the frosted glass. Maybe I was mistaken.

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I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.“–Elon Musk

Inspired by this 100WordStory.org photo prompt:

Photo Credit: John Pierre Candelier https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpcandelier/

Antisanta

Do you remember that scene where the Grinch is shoving the Christmas tree, decorations and toys back up the chimney? That’s kind of what I do.

My name is Da7in (or some netizens know me as Anti-Claus) and I am what you would probably call a “hacker”. For the past several years, I have been working on reversing the first world’s annual grotesque materialistic feeding frenzy. No I don’t wear a red suit, I don’t have a jolly beard, I don’t have sleigh or reindeer. I work in mostly blue jeans and t-shirt.

I also don’t work at the consumer end, removing materialistic icons from people’s homes. My work is more effective from supply-side.

I break into the systems of big-ticket retailers and reroute their shipping. I’ve sent entire cargo planes of Fedex’d merchandise to the wrong places; to Latin America or Ethiopia instead of Cleveland. I’ve routed shipping transport from overseas to southern hemisphere ports instead of the States.

I’ve deprived Lego of plastics shipments, and deleted Target advertising promos from Madison Avenue marketing firms, replaced the ABC network’s “Charlie Brown Christmas Special” broadcast with old episodes of “F-Troop”.

My latest target has been the entertainment industry, particularly the smarmy Christmas movie projects. I’ve routed entire Amazon stockpiles of “feel good and buy lots of stuff hohoho” movies for delivery directly to trash dumps. You’ve probably heard of the Sony scandal in your TV news just recently; yep, I had a hand in that, even if the network talking heads have most of the details wrong.

They’re after me now, the Mega-retailers. Working with the FBI to track my traffic back through the router hops. I’ve even got emails from a high-level exec at Walmart confirming a private security mercenary outfit that’s been contracted to take me out the moment they find me. Twenty million price tag. Apparently I’m making a splash, some small dent in their billions in profits.

I honestly don’t know how much longer I can get away with messing with America’s material joy. The beast is just too large, too rich, and too well-entrenched to slay.

I just know that when I am caught, you will never hear a word about it.

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Inside literary snob-ish joke: “OMG, am >I< John Galt?” “No, no, we are.”