Forward Rewind Forward

This story is based on the following image and writing prompt: 

Frosted Tamaracks flash fiction writing prompt by KS Brooks ALL RIGHTS RESERVED122911 peek
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

They wanted to rough it. There would be no phones, no computers, no contact with the outside world.

Trevor could see the glaring flaw in that plan now. Zack started having acute abdominal pain last night. This morning he was feverish and almost unresponsive. Whatever it was, they needed to get him to a hospital and quickly.

They crafted a makeshift stretcher to carry Zack several miles back to the trail head. When they got there, the car was gone…


The old Jeep must have exploded into a billion, microscopic, god-forsaken pieces. Trevor cursed, wishing for the eightieth time he’d brought his sat phone. “Well, bud, looks like I’m hiking for help.”

“I always knew it would end like this,” Zack whispered.

“Say what?” Trevor leaned close, ignoring his shaking hands–must be adrenaline.

“I’ve dreamt this a thousand times, bringing us here. I must die.”

The stress made Trevor feel pissed. “No, you must NOT die. We survived Iraq, we’ll survive this.”

“I’ve been here, seen this. I just didn’t believe it’d really happen. She’s gotta live…”

“Calm yourself, man. Just a little SNAFU. Do you remember how far to the nearest settlement?” Trevor hefted the stretcher, sweat congealing under his gear.

“She loves you,” Zack coughed. “I’ll sacrifice, to save her.”

“Shut up–you’re going home.”

Trevor’s terror subsided when Zack finally quieted. He fixated on pacing himself. Trevor doubted rescuers came by often, but he’d get Zack to safety.

But then Zack had to speak. “Be good to her. Like you’ve been good to me– Thanks, dude.”

“No goodbyes!” Trevor roared, plowing onward. But the stretcher jerked while Zack’s scream embedded shrapnel into Trevor’s bones.

Suddenly, Trevor noticed the keening began in his own throat, not Zack’s. And he was saturated by frost. Pine needles bored into him from below, concern plastering the familiar faces hovering above. Zack crouched besides his friend, his hand heating Trevor’s shoulder. “Dude, it’s all cool. We fight the same demon.”


Thank you, veterans, for your courage to look death in the eye and tell it to go fight someone its own size.

Originally written for the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.

Also, attribution goes to the article, From “Irritable Heart” to “Shellshock”: How Post-Traumatic Stress Became a Disease, which influenced this post.

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The Jungle of Long Island

Mrs. Gray, they said, didn’t play the field well. This was unfortunate, as the Felines maintained that summer in the Hamptons should be a spectacular jest.

When Mr. Gray began busying himself in the City, they welcomed Mrs. Gray into their pack. She didn’t do much besides toddle behind them, though, and definitely not with their poise and alluring swagger.

They were fools, those who mistook these cougars for delicate kittens, lounging in their high-cut swimming stripes, meticulous curls licked into place. More than one gentleman would fall prey throughout these golden days.

It was an irony that Mrs. Gray–of all of the Felines–had been accused of indiscretions. When Mr. Gray arrived at the mansion in a possessive rage, like a typical pawn, she didn’t discern who was really behind the damning missive. Her brutal stabbing was simply a triumphant checkmate in a game of societal entertainment.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

A Misguided Spade

Caspious was digging his weapon of choice into the earth. “Are you at war with those buggers again?” Istar teased, looking past him, her angelic figure sauntering up the path.

“Aren’t I always fighting one vile enemy or another?” Caspious spat at the ground. But when he faced her, Caspious softened adoringly; innocently. “I hope you get used this . . . er, to me I mean.”

He was tan, scientific and kind. Istar sighed. If only he was a smidgen more . . . obliging. When Caspious cared, his royal magic pierced all barriers; everything he caressed bloomed.

Everything not hidden by her facade, at least.  

Istar scanned the treeline nervously. She couldn’t delay. “Sweet, the Syscans, surely you’ve heard. Without assistance they’ll die. Although they’re few, however distant and lowly, they’re still your subjects! You’re needed now!” I need you now! But that last sentence never actually left Istar’s tongue.

Caspious was glad he turned from her mesmerizing eyes, resenting that Istar had opened this Pandora’s Box again. It had almost been their honeymoon’s undoing months ago. Wait–that was only months ago, right?

The Heir shelved his lovely bride’s humming into its own compartment, focusing on the soil sifting through his fingers. He crunched what was left in his palm, imagining it was the worms he despised.

Istar watched Caspious wane as she pleaded one last time. Maybe if he knew the truth of her past, he would reconsider his indifference.

As Caspious often said (one of his gardening maxims), “One can’t unhinge the fly from the web.” And neither could she release her tongue from its curse, so frigidly bestowed on her, when torn from her family, discharged to the Castle by the Syscan Reds.

The Reds had spent their patience.

In a rare moment of honesty, Istar breathed “I love you,” startling Capious from his vegetation. But then she turned away quickly, hearing only the thump, rather than seeing his head roll too, as it joined his trowel on the garden plot.


Written for Flash! Friday Fiction

An Engagement?

The Prompt:

Jeremy sat across from Heather in the little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. It was just his style to take her some place like that to “unexpectedly” pop the question. She waited eagerly to see the ring box appear on the table. He’d been hinting at it for nearly a month now. At least, she was pretty sure of it.

But the lemon chicken came and went. So did the fortune cookies. Heather felt her temper boiling up, but she batted it back down. Surely he would take her somewhere for dessert, or maybe a romantic walk along the lake, and ask her then. He had to ask her tonight, didn’t he?

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

 

Their conversation grew stale, as did the leftover taste of fortune cookies. Finally, Jeremy awkwardly pulled an impeccable velvet box from his pocket.

Heather straightened, plastering on her yes smile–she’d been practicing for months.

“What is that?” Heather purred.

“First, I have something to tell you.” He paused dramatically. “I’m moving.”

Heather stared blankly at him, wondering what he meant. He was moving to another apartment? Or wait–maybe he wanted to move in together?

Jeremy continued, “I’m going to Botswana. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew it was for sure, but I applied to the Peace Corp and I finally received my assignment.”

She was stunned. Heather’s perfect smile drooped. She barely managed to squeak, “When?”

“Five weeks.” Jeremy scratched his forehead like he was considering a math problem; all previous nerves had vanished. “Obviously we needed to talk about this right away.”

Heather’s shock briefly faded and she snapped “You bet, buster! I can’t believe you didn’t say anything!”

“Wait! Before you go all crazy on me just open the box.” He slid it over.

Inside on the satin pillow sat a golden ring. But not just any golden ring. There was no diamond. In fact, it looked almost like an earring. Heather looked up to excitement in Jeremy’s eyes.

“In some cultures, when a couple mates she wears a nose ring as a marker that she’s taken.” Jeremy smiled confidently. “You see, Heather, I want you to come with me. Will you be my female?”


 

This was written for Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge

The Last Trip Down Beach Lane

This short story was prompted by the following image:

Old Woman. CC2.0 photo by Giorgio Grande.
Old Woman. CC2.0 photo by Giorgio Grande.

Mademoiselle Villeneuve and her companion creaked, shuffling down the cobblestone towards the end of the road. One step, one roll. One drop mirroring past beginnings in Mademoiselle’s eye.

“Félicitations pour ton diplôme! Bonne chance dans le monde!” echoed behind them as she threw her cap in the wind, riding towards the future.

Sunbeams cast wickers of flame on the coastal path, a golden gleam to guide them. One step, one roll. One shared memory of love from the heart.

She sat on the blue bars giggling, flying towards the moon. He dragged his feet on this same beach lane, slowing them just enough so he could kiss her neck.

Mademoiselle’s clog skimmed sand, choking the grout, and their bony frames shuttered. One step, one roll. One more movement reminding them they were now broken and bald.

They carried meager paychecks together, then wine and bouquets. They skidded from uncounted fights; pedaled towards countless friendships. Children, then grandchildren twirling their wheels.

Mademoiselle and her partner had arrived. She held to his frame so tightly as they stood one last time gazing at their shore.

Peeling off her wig and clothes, she rested them and her beloved bicycle against the junkyard’s gates. Then without a backward glance, Mademoiselle Villeneuve maneuvered through sand to surf, burying her bruised body under the salty sea.


This was originally written for Flash! Friday flash fiction contest

The Bastard’s New Job

This story was prompted by the following image:

Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.
Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.

 

 

Lezzone appeared, his bruised body an ‘X’ in the frame. He didn’t know it, but I’d already teleported directly behind him.

“Beat you again!” I barked, rubbing my swollen eye.

Startled, Lezzone almost toppled out of the elemental zone pod, which would have been ironic, even somewhat unfortunate. Down below was the space-continuum, a dizzying, never-ending cycle through the worlds–hell itself–and where his mam resided.

Lezzone moved from the wall he’d clutched, swiping at me, but I just ducked, laughed, and called behind me, “We have to clock in at 532 hours.” Scowling, Lezzone shouldered past me, and was the first to reach the cleaning room. He threw me a SpaceSuck; then grabbed one for himself.

It was his fault we were assigned to come this agonizingly close, even if Lezzone blamed me. If I told our Grams we’d finally been to the Eternal City, she’d call it a bluff–like the old days when an fighter would land, but never leave the airport before flying onward.

If Lezzone hadn’t opened his fat mouth about my mam like that! Now we had to come daily to sweep this god-forsaken place without leaving its stone walls.

Even so, I’d teleport to 134340 if I knew it could make me feel legit.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

Compare E.S. Johnston’s story, My Boss, “Handsome Johnny”, written with the same prompt

 

My Boss, “Handsome Johnny”

This poetic story was prompted by the following image:

Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.
Coliseum in Rome. CC2.0 photo by Vlad.

Whisking me off my sensible feet, Mr. Roselli took me out to play–

So giddy–I didn’t know he even felt that way!

This morning he called at eight, arrived at three,

Thrusting brusquely past our janitor to get to me.

My top button suddenly felt too tight,

My shy smile grew wide; inside I soared like a kite.

Just yesterday I was well-coiffed, pinned-down,

But in his penthouse my hair was ruffled under Sinatra’s soothing sound.

“It’s Secretary Day!” Roselli cried with glee,

He moved the years of imaginary employee’s flowers to pass me a key.

My trembling hands, forever smelling of our office soap,

Inched to open his envelope.

My blood rushed as I squelched my dreams,

Although my heart-wrenching wanderlust burst at the seams!

Hopefully glancing at my board, pinned with snapshots from afar,

I was distracted by the window framing his car.

Crestfallen, instantly my nerves were grating,

While he cooed, “My dove, why are you waiting?”

A relic from his travels, a scratched postcard from ancient Rome,

Scribbled on the back it said “Just call before visiting my home!”

Nuzzling my neck, he pressed the key into my palm.

I glared at the Marilyn Monroe in his Maserati, centering my raging calm.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

Compare A.Ravenel Clay’s story, The Bastard’s New Job, written with the same prompt