Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

Apparition Taxi

 

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Music crooning softly, Samuel Walters continued his journey west. The truck headlights slicing through the darkness of the cool, summer night. His left arm hung out the window. Right thumb tapping the steering wheel in time with the old rock ‘n’ roll.

He drove this road every night on his way home from work. And he enjoyed every second of it. Typically, he was the only driver at this time.

The beat up work truck rose and fell with the road as it moved with the uneven land.

One particular dip took him through a blanket of fog. His hand outstretched to feel as much of the cooler air as possible. He smiled. Once the truck emerged out the other side, he checked the rear view mirror. Glanced over his shoulder. “Did we pick up any hitchhikers?”

Nothing answered him save for the tires crunching on the worn asphalt.

This had gone on for a year and continued for another month. Windows down, arm slung out, music playing, enjoying life. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then he drove through the dip filled with fog. Checked the rear view mirror again and looked over his shoulder at the bed of the pick-up. “Did we pick up any hitchhikers?”

“Yeah.”

Samuel glanced at the passenger seat. Staring down the ghostly barrel of a 1930s Tommy Gun. He couldn’t help but smile.

The apparition tried pressing the gun at the driver. Frowned when it phased through him. “I need ya to take me somewhere.”

His foot came off the pedal so he wouldn’t miss any possible turns. “Anywhere you like.”

“Gang’s held up at the Thompson Cemetery. They’re supposed to be puttin’ holes in a guy who crossed us. Take me there, and I’ll let ya walk another day.”

“Sure thing, Boss.” Samuel made a left at the next intersection. Wove through the country roads with the ghost riding shotgun. Dropped the passenger off at the cemetery. Shook his head when the ethereal gangster phased through the mausoleum.

The next few nights proved uneventful. Then he picked up the ghost of an 1800s woman who wanted to visit the orchard. The following night was the ghost of a lady from the 1950s who babbled about window shopping. The next night found him hauling the spirits of a family in the bed of his pick-up, taking them back to their farm. Then the spook of a fisherman who demanded to be driven to the lake.

On and on, it went. Every single night.

Even when the weather didn’t allow for natural fog, there would always be a cloud of it at the bottom of the seventh–and deepest–dip on his way home. Many of the apparitions returned for pleasant chatter, recalling how they died. Some, he helped to their final resting place.

But the ever-present one was the mobster named Charlie. Charlie never had a lot to say, and he always wanted to be taken to the Thompson Cemetery.

It had been six months since Samuel Walters first picked up Charlie. And when Charlie entered the truck tonight, Samuel came to a stop in the middle of the road.

The ghost turned to him, his form flickering. “Why ain’t you takin’ me to the cemetery?”

Samuel sighed. “None of the other phantoms repeat the same request over and over. Yet, you do. That mausoleum isn’t your final resting place, is it? And don’t go on about that gang of yours, because I know they’ve already passed on.”

Charlie remained quiet for some time. “Why weren’t you scared of me when I first appeared to you?”

He shrugged. “I’m an easy-going kinda guy. But you’re not evading this. Tell me what’s going on, so I can help you find peace.”

The apparition flickered some more, going in and out of focus. “The gang isn’t held up there. It’s someone else. My girl, Loraine. Her spirit left a long time ago, but I still like to visit her.”

Samuel softened. “Then why don’t you be with her?”

“I can’t. My body is at the bottom of the lake. They thought I stole some money, so they tied a bag of bricks on me. Let me sink to the bottom. I never took any money.”

He put the truck back in drive. Headed to his house. “Then let’s get you back. So you can be with Loraine.”

Once at his home, he went into action, hitching up his boat and grabbing the materials required. The night was still young, and he had more than enough time to exhume a body. It was the only time he was thankful he lived alone. That way, he wouldn’t disturb anyone in the middle of the night.

The old pick-up was driven like it hadn’t been driven in years. The john boat in tow. But he made it to the lake in record time. Once the boat was in the water, Charlie guided the still-living to the part where his body was dumped all those years ago.

It didn’t take long for Samuel to bag the remains and haul them into the boat. Nor to hitch it back up. The trash bag of soaked bones rattled around in the truck bed as the pair traveled to Thompson Cemetery in silence.

And it was actually Samuel who placed the remains in an available space next to Loraine’s coffin, while Charlie remained in the truck. When the living man returned, the ghost hovered. “It’s done?”

“Go be with your girl, Boss.”

The ethereal mobster flickered for a few moments. Nodded his thanks and phased through the mausoleum.

Samuel Walters couldn’t help but smile. He knew it was the last time he’d see Charlie. But he was pleased the spirit finally found rest. His trusty pick-up carried him home. With music playing low and windows rolled down. Waiting until the next night when he could escort another ghost around town.


The Fall

The water thundered over the side of the cliff, tumbling down below. The mist roiled skyward. But such was the ways of waterfalls. A peaceful yet violent force of nature.

She stood atop the falls, surveying the land below. It had taken her three hours to climb to the precipice, and it had been worth every second. The serene atmosphere gave her plenty of time to reflect. And nothing in her mind had changed.

Recently, it had occurred to her what life really meant. How futile human existence was. Their purpose was to make the world a better place. And how miserable they failed. That’s why their lives were less than a hundred years. Why would they live longer lives? They were only selfish beings who honestly deserved less.

It was why she climbed to the falls. Her life had been nothing but a selfish disaster. A selfish disappointment. She would make the world a better place by returning her body to fertilize the earth. It had been something that filled her with fear, but no more. It was something she came to terms with. Something she wanted.

Her eyes closed as the waterfall breeze mingled the spray with hair. It was time. Holding out her arms, she leaned forward. Felt the rush of the wind against her face. Tingling every nerve.

Ten.

She had no regrets.

Nine.

No fear.

Eight.

No more reason to live.

Seven.

This was her wish.

Six.

Her peace.

Five.

Her freedom.

Four.

She smiled.

Three.

No one would ever see her again.

Two.

Her body hit the water.

One….


Goodbye, Alice

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Alice woke to the pleasant humming sound of her alarm. Rubbing her eyes, she looked to her white robot plugged into its charging station on the other side of the room. “Thank you, R.B.B.T.”

The robot’s white, glowing eyes flickered to life as the sound ceased. Ethereal voice sounding. “Good morning, Alice.”

She watched it rise with the grace and fluidity clearly not based off human movement. The exotic android was sleek, built for speed. As per the alien race that inspired its design. Why it was her household robot, she wasn’t sure. But she had it ever since she could remember.

“Morning request, ma’am?”

“The usual.” She performed her morning ritual of stretches as the tint of her windows changed from black to almost clear, letting in the simulated sun. Then she moved to her bathroom. The door slid open in response.

R.B.B.T. entered the bedroom. “Breakfast is ready.”

Alice braided her light hair in a ponytail. Paused. Studied the mirror. Tilting her head, she ran her fingers down her neck. Her brows furrowed at the faint bump and discoloration that traversed around the middle of her neck. Something she never paid attention to before.

The android shifted. “Breakfast is ready, ma’am.”

She leaned closer to the mirror. “I know, but how did I get this? I don’t remember doing anything that could cause this. It’s like a scar.”

The robot’s eyes turned red as it sent a beacon to its true master.

There was a flash of light in the front room of the virtual house. The feminine voice of the home echoed. “General Cooper has arrived.”

Alice poked her head out of the bathroom, running to the front room. “Dad!” She threw her arms around him. Then frowned at his stern face. “What’s wrong?”

He sat her down. “R.B.B.T. has notified me you discovered the scar around your neck.”

One of her brows lifted. “Yes? What is this all about?”

Sighing, he sat across from her. Put a hand on her knee. “Do you remember you’re an agent for me and the government?”

“Yes…I just went on a mission not too long ago…”

“Well, last rotation, you were assigned to a highly sensitive mission. One I didn’t even know all the details for. Our greatest enemy traveled back in time to rewrite the future to her design. You were sent after her, you being our top agent. With its impressive shifting abilities, R.B.B.T. was sent along with you.”

Alice glanced at the exotic robot.

General Cooper continued. “Our enemy had been there long enough, she killed the king and placed herself as queen. We didn’t know at the time. We sent you straight in to explain a pre-scripted situation to the king. She had you beheaded on the spot. Thankfully, R.B.B.T. is equipped with the most advanced in medical science. It killed the queen and saved you simultaneously. It was able to fuse your head back on. Our damages team handled the rest.”

She sat in silence, blinking. Not given enough time to process the information. “This doesn’t make any sense…why don’t I remember any of this?”

“The queen, the enemy, was your mother.”

Her eyes lifted, realizing why her memory had been wiped. “How many times have we had this conversation?”

His expression stiffened. “About three times a week. There is so much we keep you from remembering. It’s why we keep you in constant surveillance at this facility. Your world that you think exists no longer does. You loved those Wonderland myths so much, your mother wanted to emulate them. In a way, I think she succeeded.”

“Why are you telling me this now?”

“Because your memory will be wiped once more. Goodbye, Alice. I’ll see you the next time this happens.”

“What? That’s it? You incredulously deceiving person!” She rose from her chair. Only to be forced back down by R.B.B.T. She screamed and kicked, but nothing set her free.

General Cooper transported out of the virtual house to monitor the rest from a station in the corner of the simulation room.

The last thing she experienced before she would forget was seeing the android’s white eyes blending into one piercing light, blinding her vision. And its mellifluous voice growing more distant as consciousness faded.

“Goodbye, Alice.”


The Abandoned Light

Abandoned stairs

The sky turned a gray he had never seen before, causing the forest to dim; something inside him whispered to find shelter. His eyes scanned the moss-covered trees. He paused. Fully turned in all directions.

He didn’t know this part of the woods.

An over-grown trail led west. He almost missed it, it hadn’t been used in so long. Moving branches and foliage out of his way, he traversed in silence. In fact, this whole region of the forest was quiet. Not a single animal or insect sounded their respective calls.

He stopped. A set of stone stairs lay before him, leading to a black doorway. His heart raced. Causing him to breathe in quicker. Moist earth permeated his nostrils. Putrid algae and decaying trees followed. Then…ash.

Studying the sky once more, he looked back at the door-less entry to a stone building forgotten in time. Left to the clutches of nature. So much so, he hadn’t noticed the rest of the structure at first. And as much as common sense screamed no, something pulled him inside.

His right foot mounted the first step. Dust, leaves, and ash being stirred in who knew how long. He wasn’t positive the staircase wouldn’t crumble beneath his weight. But he had to know what was inside.

He stepped on the second stair.  Then the third, the fourth. Careful to avoid the jagged stone that somehow survived years of the tender care of the elements. Fifth, sixth, seventh. The toe of his hiking boot caught a thick root, sending him down onto the final two steps.

On hands and knees, he lifted his head. The darkness of the doorway was much closer now. He swallowed. Why did he feel so compelled to enter this dilapidated place? Yes, he sought shelter from what he assumed was a storm, but certainly, there was a better place than this.

However, he pushed himself off the wet stone. Wiped his bloody palms on his shorts. Mounted the eighth step. Then the ninth. Finally stood on the landing taken over by fungi and ivy. He still couldn’t determine the building, but he assumed it was an old home. Built so someone could find solace among the silent trees.

One deep breath prepared him to cross the threshold. Two paces, and he was enveloped by the inky blackness. It took three seconds for his eyes to adjust. And in the distance, he saw a light. Light that must’ve streamed through a gaped hole in the ceiling.

He held his breath. Slowly placed one foot in front of the other. The wooden floors creaked and moaned, clearly unhappy about being disturbed. He prayed there were no missing boards.

A wet, acidic stench clogged his throat.

The ray of light was within reach, and he paused. Thick particles floated in the air. What had he been breathing in? The ancient debris of this abandoned home? It seemed like something more. He coughed and choked, stepping into the light to see if he hawked anything up.

A surge pulsed from the stream of light.

This part of the forest returning to its undisturbed state.

The light had claimed another victim.

And added more ash to its home.


Elephants and Dragons

When I was a child, my mother used to tell me about the traveling circus and their elephants. I used to ask how they managed to keep such beasts in the circus, and she replied, “They chain them.” Now, I grew up thinking elephants were dumb. How could I not? I saw these massive creatures being held back by a collar on one of their front legs and a thin chain. How could the elephants not free themselves?

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the circus workers chain the elephants since birth. The young spend every ounce of effort trying to get free. But they can’t free themselves that early. Even as fully grown adults, they believe that thin chain won’t break, so they don’t even try. It’s conditioning.

Today, I’ve learned the elephants are rather intelligent beasts. A tribe of colorful nomads were kind enough to give me a lift as I traveled to a neighboring kingdom for information regarding their new mounts for knights. The tribe rode on the backs of elephants to get around.

My mount was a grand female named Tu’kash’i. The nomads won’t tell me what it means. They fear it will disrespect the elephants if they reveal name meanings. I decided that Tu’kash’i meant “clever soul” because she was, indeed, intelligent. She took great care with me, and the wisdom in her dark eyes astounded me.

At last, we arrived at the kingdom, and I bid the nomads farewell. The king received me eagerly. Nearly jumping off his throne at my approach. I swept low in a bow. “I come from the north to observe–”

“Yes, yes,” the king exclaimed. He clapped me on the back. “I have been expecting you. What I have to show you is marvelous. My brother–your king–should be most impressed.”

I was hurried away before properly introducing myself. Led by the king out the back to a private courtyard. How could I protest? But what I found left me speechless.

Multiple dragons rested on the ground. Every single one of them chained.

The king laughed at my face. “Do not fret! They cannot hurt you. They are as hostile as a mouse.” He proceeded to approach the nearest one and smack it on its flank.

I must say I was rather shocked the ginormous beast didn’t eat him on the spot. But I studied the dragons harder. I had seen dragons in the wild before. Magnificent creatures that could have serious attitude problems.

The dragons I had seen before were solitary, territorial. They were might and eager to display how fierce they were. Their scales shimmered. Their wings glowed. And their eyes reflected the fire within their bellies.

These dragons…these dragons were lackluster, their colors dull and faded. They appeared sickly. Not anything like the robust, wild dragons. They were chained five feet from each other and didn’t pay one another heed. Their wings were limp and useless. Not a single one seemed interested in what was going on.

Needless to say, I was extremely horrified. “A-are these the mounts?”

“Nonsense! These are my pets.” The king broke into laughter. “I have a new breed of horse for the mounts. Sturdy, fast, and full of endurance. They are perfect for knights.”

I couldn’t take my eyes off the tamed beasts. No. The conditioned beasts. It was so sad to see them this way.

The king returned to my side. “I see you are more curious about them for the time being. Well, allow me to tell you a story. When I was but a wee lad, my parents would let me watch the traveling shows that frequented our kingdom. My favorites were the elephants. Do you like elephants?”

“Yes,” was my absent response.

“Well, I learned the masters would chain the young until the young gave up on freeing themselves. Then I learned that the adults were traumatized enough to know not to fight the chains. I thought to myself. If such a strategy works on intelligent enough beasts as elephants, why not try dragons?”

He clapped me on the back again. “Obviously, it worked. I have three generations so far that are this tame. Maybe I should start my own traveling show, eh?”

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer. What would I say? Other than I felt like vomiting.


Taking of Medalia

Leven, the Outlands prince, waved a hand, forcing open Medalia’s throne room doors. Despite the heavy blockade. His silver armor glistened as much as his bright yellow eyes. A knowing smirk rested on his face.

The soldiers guarding their king trembled. They knew what the foreign prince was capable of unleashing. And his full powers had yet to be seen.

“Kill him!” King Talus cried from his throne.

Hesitating, they rushed forward.

Leven lifted a hand, and all their necks snapped at once. He stepped over their fallen bodies. Gaze trained on Talus. Holding out an arm, the peppered king’s sword came to him. “You’ve grown weak, old man.”

Talus stood with confidence. “The Medalia we know will die with me. You’ll do nothing but destroy it.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I’m going to take it as my own, seeing how my parents banished me from the Outlands.”

“Their only lack in judgement was that they didn’t foresee you coming here.”

Leven’s grin never faded. He inspected the jeweled sword. “It’s a pity, really. How useless Medalia is now. Your generals have been slain, your son has been captured by my army, and I can waltz right in and take your throne.” He teleported behind Talus. “Your time is up.” In one swift move, he beheaded the king with his own sword. Stood splattered with blood. Looking very much like his mother with his pale skin and charcoal gray hair falling just past his shoulders.

A small gasp caught the Outlander’s attention. He whirled around. Someone was behind a pillar. He teleported to the source of the sound. Grabbed the servant girl by the neck and lifted her up.

Her thin frame quivered.

His head slightly tilted. “There is a power about you that I cannot read. How strange. But I can tell the old king favored you.”

She struggled under his grasp. Fear etched in her face.

“I won’t kill you. Not yet. You may prove interesting. But I am your new king.” He dropped her. “You will serve me, now. I will make you my personal slave. Tell me your name so I know how to call you.”

Throwing herself on the floor, she remained in the lowest form of submission. Her voice small. “T-Teckia, my…my lord.”


One Foggy Morning

It was a summer morning like any other; except the metropolitan area was covered in fog. But that was to be expected. It had rained the night before, and the temperature dropped nearly ten degrees. Nobody’s routines were deterred because of the natural phenomenon.

Alex woke up at five that morning. Just like every weekday morning. Went through her ritual of ┬ábeing ready in ten minutes. It took twenty minutes for her to get to work, and she planned her morning so she could get as much sleep as possible. Traffic never bothered her. There weren’t many who traveled along the same road that early.

She pulled her double-knotted laces tight, grabbed her water bottle and morning snack, plucked her keys off the table, and pecked her husband on the cheek. Trotted down the stairs of her split level and into the garage. She was running two minutes late in a schedule accounting for every minute.

The Wrangler roared to life, the straight six engine awoken from slumber. Alex maneuvered out of her subdivision with ease. Despite the fog. Thanking Jeeps for fog lamps.

On the main stretch of road that took her straight to her job, she had to pay more attention. There were dips in the landscape where the fog gathered thickly. She looked up at the sky. No sun could be seen. Sure, it was early, but the sun should’ve been peeking over the horizon line by now. The fog and clouded over sky blended into one.

Alex shrugged it off and continued. Further ahead, the sky did decide to clear, revealing multiple cloud patterns against a pastel sky. She loved nature. Admiring the skyscape until a particular vapor trail snagged her attention. It went straight up into the atmosphere until she couldn’t see it anymore.

Again, she shrugged it off. Just her perception messing with her from the airport about forty miles east. The sky disappeared again. Her thumbs tapped the steering wheel as a random tune played in her mind. Vision going out of focus momentarily.

Red lights appeared in front of her, and she hit the brakes, slowing at a stoplight. She blinked and looked around. The fog had engulfed everything. She could barely make out the rival gas stations occupying opposite corners. Barely made out the stoplight itself. When the light turned green, she continued at the speed limit. Versus the ten miles an hour over she normally did.

After two minutes of silence, the ground lurched beneath her, and a loud bang followed. Causing her to mount the curb in a mad dash for safety. White fingers gripped the steering wheel. Her wide eyes checked the rear view mirrors. The road was still there.

A distant roar thundered toward her. She ducked and covered her head as a shock wave exploded the glass from her Jeep. Ears ringing, she slowly sat back up. Shards falling from her. She swallowed. Eyes examining the area. What on Earth?

She searched the Wrangler. Eased it back on the road. The fog had been replaced with equally dense smoke. Crawling at a snail’s pace, she moved further down the road. A few cars were deserted. Abandoned in precarious places. Some people stood in groups while others sat on the side of the road in despair.

A fire truck flew by her. Then another. Cop cars, ambulances. All from separate jurisdictions. Alex remained pulled over on the shoulder now. Studying the horizon. It glowed. Faintly. But enough.

Her wonder was startled by a man throwing himself against the front of her Jeep. His clothes were tattered, burned, dusty. His eyes almost popped out from his skull. He waved an arm. “Get out of here! Go! Don’t you know what this is? It’s the end times! A missile has struck! Leave or die!” He disappeared back into the curtain of smoke.

Alex watched him run off. A missile? She sat in disbelief for a few moments. Threw the shifter in drive and forced the Wrangler around. Flying down the forty miles per hour road at eighty. Work was out of the question. Her jaw set. She needed to get back to her husband.

It hadn’t even been twenty minutes, and everything changed. She glanced at the rear view mirror again. Who knew what would be revealed when the smoke and fog cleared.


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