Poll

Which 2 stories do you think are the best?

Blind
11 (26.8%)
Colors
2 (4.9%)
Border Crossings
2 (4.9%)
Petals' Angelina
9 (22%)
Going the Distance
9 (22%)
The Truth, the Hole Truth and Nothing but the Truth
8 (19.5%)

Total Members Voted: 20

Voting closed: March 07, 2012, 07:15:49 PM

Author Topic: Closed***Vote now*** Flash Fiction 42  (Read 1209 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Closed***Vote now*** Flash Fiction 42
« on: February 29, 2012, 07:15:49 PM »
Okay folks: 6 to choose from, you have 2 votes each. Enjoy the reads. Voting will close in 7 days. The character limit has exceeded the maximum so the stories will be spilt over two boxes. Please read them all. ;) ;) ;)


Blind

I wondered when they would get around to talking to me. Not that I minded being ignored, of course. It has been going on as long as I can remember. Unless they know my name already, they tend to pretend I’m not around. I suppose it makes it easier to avoid the small talk they don’t know how to conduct with someone like me. I’m used to it by now. Still, in each new situation I wonder how long it will take for the people to talk to the blind man.

This was another writers group. I’ve been to several. Even though this one was close to where I live, I’d never been to it. Didn’t even know it existed. I decided to attend one of their meetings after hearing a radio interview with the woman who started it. She sounded so pleasant and her description of the group made it seem similarly open-minded and casual, so I decided to give it a try.

I had Samuel drive me to the bookstore where they held their monthly meetings. I told him it started at seven o’clock sharp and thoughtful aide that he is he had me there by six forty-five. In truth, I had exaggerated and didn’t have to be there until seven thirty, so I was almost an hour early, but that was good. It gave me a lot of time to explore and learn my way around. I hated stumbling into things in unfamiliar areas. I don’t think blindness should be an excuse for lax preparation.

Besides, I wanted to already be in place in the right area before any others arrived, like I truly belonged right where I was, even if I didn’t. A nice young woman at the check-out directed me to the meeting area and I had a good fifteen minutes to walk around in it, learning where all the chairs and tables were located. I found a nice, padded chair right next to the main table the group would be using and put my knapsack on it to reserve the spot.

Then I wandered the rest of the bookstore, orienting myself to the rows of books and their relationship to the meeting tables. I made certain to ask where specific volumes could be found. I finished with at least fifteen minutes to spare, so I went to the coffee counter and bought a mocha latte. I asked for it with no whipped cream on top. “No whipping cream. Gotcha boss,” the young man who took my order smiled when he said it. I could tell by the sound of his voice.

I walked back to the padded chair I had chosen earlier, sat down and placed the latte on the table atop its cardboard coaster. I put my small recorder on the table next to the latte, opened my iPad cover and put in my earphone to listen to my audio book until things began.

The first writer’s group arrivals came only a few moments later. I didn’t answer the only mumbled “Hi” that ensued. Before I could answer I could tell the speaker had already turned his back to start a conversation with someone else. There were no other comments, although the chairs around the table were quickly filled with people.

“Welcome to the Lincoln Writer’s Group meeting,” the voice who spoke the words was the same woman I had heard on the radio. She introduced herself and said, “I see we have a few new participants tonight. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?”

A woman on my right mumbled her name and said she was trying to write poetry and hoped the group could help her determine how to get it published. A man near her said he was self-publishing a book on old movie monsters. I heard a few muffled snickers and I felt sorry for the poor man.

There was an awkward silence in the room for a moment until I realized they were waiting for me to speak. Before I began, I removed my dark sunglasses. Most people think, because I wear them all the time, they’re an affectation. I heard the gasps when the group realized they covered what I’ve been told are hideous scars on my face and masked the vacant holes where my eyes should have been. “Oh my,” a woman muttered.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t realize you were waiting for me.” I told them my name.

“Interesting,” someone else said, “you have the same name as that famous mystery writer.”

“Actually, that’s not quite true,” I said. “I am that famous writer.” I pointed to the long aisle in the store where my works were shelved. “You’ll find several of my books right over there.” I could tell that most of them turned their heads to see if I pointed in the right direction.

“But you’re blind,” said the club mentor.

“Is that supposed to exclude me from being a writer?”

“But your work is so,” she hesitated as she searched for the right word, “so explicit.”

“Thank you. I take that as a great compliment.”

“You’re pulling our leg, aren’t you?” a young man on my left asked. “You can’t possibly be that writer.”

“Why not?”

“Because he sees things so clearly…you can tell from his descriptions.”

I proceeded to tell him what kind of clothes he wore. Before he could ask, I said, “I can hear the movement of the fabric.” I stood and faced the table. “The young lady on my right has a ruffled blouse. She’s wearing heels and her skirt is too tight. Oh, and she’s wearing far too much Chanel. The man next to her smokes too much. His clothes reek with it. I can tell the man across the table is overweight by the sound of his footfalls, and he was drinking Captain Morgan’s before he came in.”

“Amazing,” the would-be poet said.

I smiled and replaced my sunglasses. “Never judge a book by its cover.”

***

COLORS

Daniel knew they were at the shore. His nose captured the salt tang of blown spray; he could taste the salt. The crash of the waves against the sand filled his ears. Close together and far apart: the booomsssssssh sound rose and fell but never stopped.

He dug his toes into the warm, fine sand. Judy had told him the sand was tan. He did not know what tan was. The sun warmed his skin. The smells and tastes and feel of the shore was magic.

"I love it here. Ormond Beach, right?"

"Clever. We must have been to twenty different beaches and you know them all." Judy spoke from his right side. She was his lover and friend, a part of him.

"I think it's the wave sound mostly that tells me. Every beach has different wave action, something to do with the offshore slope and beach configuration. The smell is usually the same: clean and salty. It's like you could wave an oyster around in it and eat it already tangy. Can I have a beer?"

"The cooler is between us."

Taking a deep gulp of beer, he said, "Tomorrow."

Judy replied, "Dr. Williams says the results will be immediate. Either it will work or it won't. I told him we were going to come down here to remove the bandages, so if it works this will be the first thing you see . . . and me, you've never seen me."

"I know what you look like. Warm, pink, blonde, sky blue. From your own words and my constant exploration of you, I know every inch of you. I just don't know what those colors mean."

She took his hand and they sat feeling the ocean.

                                                               #####

Daniel was born blind, had never known anything but black. He had book knowledge of vision and sight and colors. But they meant nothing to him. His parents had been wealthy enough to give him the best schools, training, and equipment. He had grown up mostly self-sufficient. The thing he was most baffled by was colors. He heard people describe them, and assign colors to everything. But he had no idea what they were. That is why he grasped at every procedure that promised vision.

The next morning they met Dr. Williams with his nurse in a pre-op room at the hospital. Daniel lay on a gurney. The dry, cold air burned his nose.

Dr. Williams advised Daniel formally, "We have gone over this before, but I am required to allow you a last chance to cancel the procedure. It is experimental, and is not sanctioned by the AMA. In the presence of these witnesses, Judy Miller and Mary Alexander, do you consent to have the vision restoration operation?"

Daniel said, "I consent. Let's do it."

Nurse Alexander started an IV and the doctor said, "I will see you after."

She said, "I'm starting the anesthetic now. You'll go to sleep."

As he slid into darkness, Daniel said, "See you later, Judy. Maybe literally. Ha ha . . ."

                                                             #####

Daniel swam toward consciousness, becoming aware of outside sounds and smells. "Judy?"

"I'm here. How do you feel?" Her honey voice came from his left.

"Pretty good. My eyes ache. Anything new from the doctor?"

"Same as always. Won't know until the bandages come off. Then you can see, or you can't."

"I feel pretty good, let's go to the beach and do it."

Two hours later, they sat in the same chairs facing the water.

"Do you want to wait?" Judy asked.

"No, now is good. Knowing what colors are is burning a hole in my mind, I have to know."

She went behind his chair and removed the blindfold, then unwrapped the long bandage that covered his eyes. She took away the last layer and stood waiting.

***

Border Crossings

It isn’t easy getting into Heaven when you’re a bad man. Harder still when you’re blind. But Andre is used to hardships.

“Proximity alert!” his ear piece whispers urgently.

Andre freezes and counts on his camouflage to get him by. Not four steps away an Angel makes its rounds. Their sex is difficult to determine, too beautiful to tell.

“Sector Nine clear. Moving on,” it speaks into the air. A deep fatherly voice confirms receipt.

Andre waits until the radar bleeps no movement and then moves on. Heaven’s Gate is getting closer now, he can feel other tiny souls probing his. Asking. Why are you here? Stating You do not belong!

He ignores these lesser Angels who seem lost in Heaven as him.

At last he gets the warning. Gateway detected. Syncronising. Then. Warning. Proximity alert!

“You can come out now,” a calm voice speaks, “I won’t tell.”

Andre pings to locate the speaker. The echo is everywhere, and that can only mean one thing. God is here.

“Okay. You got me.” Andre steps out, turns off his useless suit. “How’d you find me?”

“I’m God.”

“No duh. But this suit is supposed to fix that advantage.”

“Please. Why do humans believe themselves to be so . . . Intelligent?”

“Made in your image, perhaps?”

“Touché.”

They stand in silence for so long that Andre thinks God has left to do other things. Until . . . “So, what next?”

“You’re asking me? I thought you are all-knowing.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Touché.” Andre fingers loose the cap on a vial of blue powder. Someone of equal power ensured him it would do the trick.

“He sent you did he?”

For a second time Andre freezes, only he’s much colder than before. “Huh?”

“The vial.”

“Oh.” Without thinking Andre pops the cap and throws. God just stands there, takes it in the chest like a man. It doesn’t do shit.

“You’d think, after all these millenniums, you all would learn he is called, The Father of All Lies, for a reason.” The blue powder only brings out the colour of God’s eyes even more. They are bright red now.

“Yeah. You’d figure, eh?”

You know. Humans piss me off thinking you all get a right to Heaven.”  The strike is too quick, too god-like quick for anything to dodge. Andre blinks out of existence. Permanently.

                                                               ###

“I found the remains of another one.”

“Which sector?”

“Nine.”

“Christ, that’s the third one this week.” There is a pause, a slight sign of static, then, “Are you going to tell your father?”

Christ toes the empty suit, underneath a glass cylinder twinkles in the light. Grains of powder blue are caught in its edges. He taps the remains onto his palm and licks. Blueberry Kool-Aid? It makes no sense. Why does each victim have a different flavour? What does it mean?  

“Christ, do you copy?” The voice persisted.

“Yeah. No. Let’s keep this to ourselves for a bit. Father’s been under a lot of stress this decade and a possible serial killer in Heaven won’t help.” He thinks for a moment. “Michael? Get a pose ready, keep it quiet, tell Gab to bring his sword.”

“You sure you want to bring Gabriel into this? Especially after last time.”

“He served his time, went on the program. He should be fine.”

“Okay. If you say so. I have them in the Ready Room now.”

There is a loud click and then a concerned voice. “Christ? What’s up?”

“Looks like we have a game on.”

“All-fuckin-right!” Gab cheers from the background.

Jesus has second thoughts, but it’s not the first time.

***

More stories in the 2nd box

« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 12:13:31 AM by Alice, a Country Gal »

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ***Vote now*** Flash Fiction 42
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 07:16:16 PM »
- Petals’ Angelina -

Before the shooting, one day each week, I put my writing on hold and walked to the open market on Zen Plaza. I’d buy flowers on the way and handed one to each of the ladies while getting my change. On my way home if by chance, I saw someone being kind, I made sure that someone got a flower too. It seemed to brighten their day and it certainly brightened mine. Over the years, I handed out so many blooms; the local girls started calling me Petals.

“Who gets the rose, Petals?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t met her yet.”

When I’d get back to my apartment, I’d put that flower in a glass of water and set it next to my typewriter. That’s about as brave as I was around women. Now my characters; these young bucks were Don Juan’s, always saving the day. Maybe that’s why I could write them so well, because they were everything I wasn’t. Brave, handsome, and strong, were their three most favored qualities.

No one but my editor knew I wrote those stories on the side. Then the shooting ended my world. How was I going to write? Hell, I was forty years old and lost most of the feeling in fingers, brail—out of the question.

The doctor told me the news, handed me a white cane, signed the discharge papers and walked out. How in god’s name was I even going to get home?

“Petals, are you ready to go?”

“Who’s there?”

“It’s Angelina.”

“Who?”

“We met at the plaza. You handed me a flower right before you were shot.”

Her voice was soft and pure, not an ounce of hate or scorn in her. She took my hand and led me home. She came to check on me every day, staying to all hours of the night. We talked sometimes all night. She’d fall asleep in my arms. My spirit soared. She smelled like springtime. She’d kiss me and tell me how beautiful I was to her. I needed lies like that or she was as blind as I was. I didn’t care. I was in love.

For two years, I stayed in my apartment dictating to the recording device she brought me. She typed my stories, licked the stamps and sent them off with a messenger. My editor was ecstatic, my sales skyrocketed. Every night I held her, stroking her hair, playing with her fingers and whispering secrets. Our whispers were playful nonsense or what I planned for my next story, I became the hero and she the beautiful woman of every man’s dreams.


I wanted to surprise her with dinner and yes, flowers too. I got out my cane, and walked to the florist and bought two bouquets. One to hand out to the ladies and the other for my Angelina.

The ladies all gathered around handing me my orders and helping me with the proper change. Welcoming me back after being gone for so long.

“Who gets those flowers, Petals?”

“These are for my Angelina.”

Nothing but silence.

“What? Someone what?”

“Petals, Angelina died.”

“No. When; what happened?” The moment I ask the question, I didn’t want to hear their answers. I knew, I remembered, I saw the bullets pass through her before they hit me. I was holding her hand.

I never saw whoever had been coming to my apartment again. At night, I’d touch her pillow and I cry a blind man’s tears.

Sometimes when everything is quiet and still, I smell roses.

***

Going the Distance

   John Turner leaned on the table staring at the practice bomb unit.  Standing across the table from him was Don Walker.  He looked up at Don a moment, his reflection showing in the reflective pilot’s sun glasses John chose to wear rather than the ones the optometry surgeon recommended.   At his feet lay his faithful friend and buddy, Winston, a certified seeing eye dog.

   “Okay, you almost had it disarmed that time,” John said with a heavy sigh.  He glanced at his watch.  They’d been at this drill for six and a half hours.  “That time it only took you thirty minutes.  Remember once you pull the ground wire you’ll only have ten minutes – if you’re lucky.”

   “Got it,” Don said with an edge of irritation to his voice.  

   Don Walker had volunteered to go in the Trade Union Building alone to disarm the bomb that had been planted there by the Unionist League earlier that day.  

   John put the box back together, reset the stop watch.  “Go.”

   Don ran his fingers over the twelve by twelve inch metal box feeling for the clasp.  He could hear the Sportsman’s stop watch ticking.  He found the first clasp and pad lock.  He felt for the lock picks on the table; in his nervousness he fumbled the picks until he found the right one.  The serrated edge of the picks told him which one was the right one.  He slipped the pick into the lock’s opening; he and John hoped the terrorists had not used super glue on the lock.

   Don felt for and guided the pick into the opening.  Metal on metal told him the pick had slipped in to the key opening.  A jiggle then carefully held the pick inside the lock moved the pick back and forth and the lock opened with a click.  The sound of the click seemed to echo in the room.  Don felt for the clasp again, feeling the cool metal again flicked it open with a finger.  An audial click of the clasp he stopped, picked up the plastic knife to slide it around inside the lid that was open only enough to slip the blade inside.  He used the knife to feel for trip wires.  Don could feel the slight vibration and scrapping of the knife on the wood as he felt for any wires attached to the inside of the lid.

   John stopped him.  “What you do if there are trip wires attached to the lid?”

   “Take the pressure off the wire or filament; use the gold plated razor knife to cut the wire, slowly open the lid and feel for the position of the timer and battery.”

   “You smell anything?”

   “They’re using an acid to burn through a copper wire attached to the battery that triggers the bomb.”

   “Good.  Go ahead.”

   Don Walker was the last of a breed of bomb experts.  Two years ago a bomb exploded prematurely shrapnel was sprayed up under the face shield, pieces of metal hitting him in the eyes.

    Another hour of training on the dummy device, Don was led from the room holding Winston’s harness.  John took him door stairs to the garage and a waiting van.  

   Don felt the van move, the driver turning it around.  They drove out of the garage to the street level.  Unconsciously he kept track of their turns and certain sounds.  The sound that he remembered best was a street crew and two air hammer and the ear splitting noise of the hammer drilling at the asphalt.  

   The sound of the hammers and machinery stayed with him when they stopped.  

   “We’re here,” said John getting out opening the doors of the van.
  
   “Come on, Winston,” Don clucked to the dog.

   They started toward the doors off the sidewalk which had been cordoned off with yellow plastic Police tape flapping in the wind. He entered the empty lobby, found the stairs he needed.  Within minutes, counting the number of flights of stairs he reached the fifth floor.  He stepped in to the hallway and counted the number of doors until he reached the fifth door from the fire escape doors.

   He felt the panel glass.  Brushing his fingers over the name he found the one he wanted.  Entering, he listened then moved forward.  

   “What do you smell, boy – beside yesterday’s lunch?”

   Winston stopped at a desk.  Don was about to keep walking but Winston held his ground.

   “Ah, you found it.  Good boy.”

   Winston scratched at the desk which told Don this was the one.

   He felt the surface of the desk until he reached the drawers.  He felt the desk then went to the side than down; the bottom one.  It had to be the bottom drawer.  He slide it open the width of his fingers to feel for any trigger wires; none.  He pulled the drawer open, reached in and felt a cool metal surface.

   He felt the width, length, thickness.  He felt for the lock but there wasn’t one. “I wonder why…?” he asked himself.  “For our sakes you better be right, old boy,” he said to Winston.  “`Cause if you’re not, we might have a problem in ten minutes – or less.”

   He set the box on the floor, Winston lay beside him.  

   Feeling for the catch he opened the box a crack, got out the knife to slide around inside.  “Amateurs,” he muttered.  He knew to feel for trip wires attached to the hinges.  Opening the box he felt for the device.  Everything was as he was told.  Taking out gold tipped wire cutters he detached the ground and disconnected the hot wire.  He waited a few seconds before calling John Turner.  He used a desk phone to call Turner:  “Got it.”

   A flash, a boom which sounded like two brass clade doors slamming shut; the fifth floor disappeared in a shower of debris to the street below.

***

The Truth, The Hole Truth and nothing but the Truth

I watch the second hand meet the hour. 12.00pm lunch time. The queue is long. People waiting. Anxiously looking at their watches. The ink barely dry when the next customer walks up to the till. My desk is an array of paperwork, stamps and elastic bands strewn all over.

The smell of pine breeze fills the air. The old woman shuffles up to the till. I watch as she places her hands in her chequered bag and pulls out her purse. “Can I make a deposit, young man?”

"There you go my dear, just fill in the box and sign."

She takes the pen from the counter but struggles with the chain.

"Here I have a pen somewhere," I say looking through all my drawers.

She takes my pen and scribbles her name on the piece of paper and hands it back with her cash. It's a fair amount. I wonder where she would get this amount of money from? It was all going to plan. Just a few more customers and I can go on my break. I'll have made my target.


Lunch is the same mundane cheese and ham sandwich, carton of juice and an apple. I sit in the staff room make idle chit chat with the same old mundane staff. Then I take Bill the guard his usual, suspect cup of murky coffee. Two sugars and hardly any milk. Nothing different, nothing new.

 
I glance at my watch, nearly time. I grab my lunch bag. Walking through the bank I nod at Bill. There are lots of people in now as I head through the glass doors and outside, around the back for a quick ciggy. I can feel the palpitations rising. I really need to get those sorted. I think to myself. I take my roll up, tapping my pockets, trying to fathom out what I have done with the blasted lighter. You are so forgetful,” I can hear my wife saying.


Finally, I light the end and take a few quick drags. My palms are sticky, heart racing, one more drag I think. Sweat is now trickling down my brow. Another glance at my watch, It's time. Where is that lunch bag? I'm so forgetful these days. Ah there it is, I say picking up the old battered rucksack from the gravel.


 It's cold, there is a nip in the air. I reach in. I need my hat. I need my fucking hat, panic sets in. Heart now in overdrive, my hand touches the cold of the barrel. I pull out the revolver and head to the door, eyes wide. I scan for the guard through the misted glass. It's going smoothly I think. I'm actually going to do this. I'm gonna get away with this. The guard has left his post. My plan is working, timed to perfection, every day for the last three weeks I have watched as the guard could no longer hold his bladder and would leave his post.


It's now or never. I think as gun in one hand, bag over shoulder, I open the door putting my balaclava over my head and shouting "Get down on the floor.” Fuck, I can't see. Chaos instils. A rush of adrenalin soars through me, fuck, every emotion flashes through my mind. I stumble, fall.

There is a loud bang as the revolver drops to the floor. The smell of gunpowder and sweat fills the air. I can't see. Blind with panic my mind and thoughts race as the guards pins me down on the stale musty carpet. I had planned every last detail down to the core, and then my heart sinks. I had forgotten to cut the holes out of the balaclava.


« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 08:38:30 AM by 510bhan »