Tag: flash fiction (page 4 of 28)

Flash Fiction: Velocity, Part 3

For the final portion of this rather epic Flash Fiction Challenge Chuck Wendig has been running, I chose to finish the intriguing tale Velocity, started by Mark Gardner and continued by LC Finney. I hope they, and you, enjoy how I finish the story.

Part 1 (by Mark Gardner)

Falling.

I rush to you with my eyes open wide. I’ve protected you for years, but now you’re my undoing.

Worthless.

I gaze at the weapon clutched in my hand. My knuckles white with exertion. I cling to what’s familiar, but it mocks me. A tool for keeping the peace used in such a profane manner.

Futility.

I tried to stop them, but I wasn’t good enough. I did my duty with honor.

“Velocity two meters per second squared. Dispatching rescue drone.”

I snort at my ‘assistant.’ Or as much of a snort you can muster while falling. I’m reminded of a quip my partner said once: When trouble breaks out, the assistants break down. I kept up with all the maintenance, followed all the procedures. When the damn thing broke, I requisitioned a replacement.

I’d seen old videos of skydivers. They fall spread-eagle for maximum drag, but I’ve already reached terminal velocity. The problem is, they had a parachute. It’s been said, It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. It’s amazing what trivialities the mind conjures in a situation like this.

“Rescue drone deployed. Calculating time until intercept.”

It’s amazing I can hear the thing with the wind rushing over me. The sound is intense. If it weren’t for my cochlear implant, I’d never know if help was on the way. The implant inputs audio directly into my auditory cortex and detects the vibrations of the tympanic membrane in my ear when I speak.

“Drone inbound. Estimated time until arrival, thirty-seven seconds.”

Thirty-seven seconds.

“Assistant.” I said. “Access geolocation. Estimate time until impact.”

I hear the beep. “Five thousand nine hundred eighty seven feet until impact. Estimated time, thirty-three seconds.”

I feel tears briefly – the wind steals them and their meaning from me. The sky is so clear, I can see for miles and miles. Below, the patchwork of ground creates a mosaic. It would be beautiful if it didn’t mean my death.

Resigned to my fate, I holster my weapon. I suspect if the wind wasn’t biting my clothing, I might try to straighten my tie and jacket. If I have to be a corpse, I’d prefer to be a handsome corpse.

“Impact immanent. Reduce speed immediately.”

No shit. I think as I see less and less of the mosaic below. I squeeze my eyes and think about what led me here.

Part 2 (by LC Feeney)

Gemma. Well, to be fair, not Gemma herself, but a need to impress her.

I’d always wanted to be special, to make something of myself. I’d lapped up all the propaganda, the adventure and romance they promised, the whole “be part of something bigger, something important” crap the recruiters feed you. When I’d signed up, I’d envisioned myself as something of a white knight, a superhero, a great defender of the clueless, unwashed masses. I’d risen through the ranks pretty quickly, and when I met Gemma, it seemed like a sign from God that I was on the right track, that we were meant to be. She was perfect in every way and I was determined to be worthy of her attention, her affection.

I focused on the memory of our last encounter, determined that my dying thoughts would be of her. Her short, coppery hair had fallen into her eyes, like it always did when she leaned down to kiss me, and she’d tasted of coconut curry and good beer from our supper. Our lovemaking had been slow, comfortable, familiar, and she had snuggled down into the crook of my arm afterward, so small and pale and smooth. I’d tried not to wake her as I’d gathered my gear and dressed in the dark, but she’d thrown on my carelessly discarded shirt from the day before and walked me to the door. She always did that, wearing my shirts around the house when I was away. She said she could smell me when she wore them, and it kept her from being lonely.

What would I have done differently, if I’d known that that would be the last time I’d ever touch her, ever kiss her? Would I have held her in my arms a little longer, kissed her a little more slowly, looked more deeply into her eyes as I said my goodbyes? Would I have tried to tell her how much I love her, or how my life had changed for the better since I’d met her? Would I have left her with some pithy, memorable line that she could recite, through tears, at my memorial service or have engraved on my headstone? Or would I have just driven away, like I had done so many times before, so as not to give her any unnecessary grief?

How much time did I have left? Could I send her a message?

“Assistant, contact Gemma,” I shouted, suddenly desperate to connect with her one last time.

An eternity of waiting, then a reply. “Gemma is unavailable. Would you like to leave a message?”

“No.” The tears sprang to my eyes again. It was a stupid, selfish idea anyway. She didn’t need to hear me die. It was better this way. At least, for her.

I willed my breathing to slow and my mind to focus on Gemma again, standing in the doorway wrapped in my dress shirt, blowing me kisses and waving as I pulled away from the curb.

Part 3:

My salary isn’t great. I’d only ever been able to afford a landcar for personal use. Not one of the fancy aircars that the rich or influential often get their hands on, making low flights across vast expanses of home on leisurely drives.

As the ground speeds towards me, the sun reflects off of the windscreen of one such aircar. I can’t tell how far up it might be, but from the way its moving, it isn’t on ground level.

And that gives me an idea.

My path to the aircraft from which I’d made my ill-advised exist hadn’t been a linear one. The operation, as laid out for me, involved infiltrating the hideout and gathering intel to feed back to my partner, who would in turn encrypt and burst-transmit it to HQ for analysis. We wanted to surprise these so-called ‘freedom fighters’, but one of them took a wrong turn towards the bathroom and found me in the tiny kitchen’s dumbwaiter. I’d managed to shoot three of them before getting shoved out the door. Not my proudest moment – dead guys can’t tell us where they buy their biowarheads.

I have about twenty seconds. I draw my weapon again, and dig around in one of the pouches on my belt, normally concealed by my suit’s jacket. The grappling equipment disables the weapon’s main functions and has a variety of attachment options, including a rather powerful rare-earth magnet. If that aircar isn’t a fancy carbon-fiber racing model – and judging by its leisurely pace, I’d say it isn’t – I can latch onto it. The grappler can reel me in, and I can get the driver to put me down on the ground safely, rather than letting me splatter.

That is, of course, provided the whiplash from the change in my velocity doesn’t break my neck or my spine.

It takes me five seconds to attach the grappler, another two to lock in the magnet, one more to enable the auto-reel. I spread my arms again to possibly by a couple of seconds back. The aircar is doing slow, lazy loops over the countryside. Someone’s sightseeing or taking photos. That makes my job easier, but then I get close enough to see just how far up they are.

Just a couple hundred feet.

This is going to be close.

“Warning. Impact in ten seconds.”

“Thanks for nothing,” I tell the assistant.

The grappler’s got about twenty meters of braided monofilament line in its spool. I try to eyeball the distance, the ways in which aircar is moving, and how many seconds I have left. I hold my breath, blink away tears, and wait an agonizing three seconds.

The aircar passes under me at the right angle. I pull the trigger.

I don’t remember the next second. Every goes violently black.

I come to gripping the gun as it reels me in. The driver of the aircar is turned halfway around, eyes as big as satellite dishes.

I show my badge.

“Got a phone?”

Flash Fiction: Fee, Continued

Getting back to the normal Flash Fiction feature here at Blue Ink Alchemy, I’m jumping into the Terribleminds challenge of Continuing The Tale, Part Two. I decided to follow up on the excellent start provided by Lisa Shininger, which you can see the original containing post here. Enjoy!

Part 1, by Lisa:

Fee didn’t recognize the voice at the door, but she knew the face when she looked through the peephole. Danny Vinzo was a pinch-faced boy with piggy eyes and a perpetual sneer. A bully from birth.

“You in there, Alou?” Danny demanded, banging again. “I texted an hour ago. We need more.”

“He went out. Back soon, I’m sure,” Fee told him.

She couldn’t turn him away. Danny was a regular. So she pasted on a welcoming smile and opened the door. It wasn’t hard to pretend. She had plenty of practice. Pleasant was a good distraction, one way or another.

Danny shoved past her and stomped down the hall like a man who weighed three times as much. Behind him came another boy. Solid where Danny was reedy, this one had skin like stucco and a suspicious look he seemed to aim everywhere at once.

“Sure, come in,” she said to their backs.

At least her kitchen always cheered her up, no matter what or who was in it. Danny heaved himself into a rickety chair, which creaked nervously under him. The other boy hovered near the fridge with his hands clasped behind him. His eyes never stopped moving, measuring everything.

Fee saw him look at her, away, back again. What did he see? Height of the new winter, hot and bright, and here she skulked in long sleeves and skirt. Boys their age always thought she was ancient—harmless—so she played it up. Sugared her voice even more. Asked if they wanted a glass of something. Her hands were starting to shake a bit. Not enough so they would notice, surely. She curled one hand until the knuckles cracked.

With a smile to Danny, she said, “Let me call Alou so you don’t have to wait. He should be back any minute!”

Fee picked up the phone and hurried out of the kitchen. Past the door to the basement and into the living room, she pretended to dial. There was no need. Alou was exactly where she’d put him.

“He’s on his way!” she shouted toward the kitchen. “Five minutes out, tops.”

Everything Fee needed was behind a false stone in the fireplace. She checked to make sure neither boy had followed. Danny wasn’t what anyone would consider the curious type, but his friend…. She jimmied the stone free. Inside the tin box behind it was what she needed, everything arranged just so. Of course it was. How could Alou have found it from the bottom of the stairs where he fell?

It was too bad Danny brought his friend. If not, she might have given him what he wanted, pills from Alou’s personal stash—for a ridiculous price but still low enough to send him away happy.

Fee shivered. She could feel that boy’s eyes staring at her here, rooms away. They were heavy on her covered arms, cool like the gun in her hand.

Part 2:

The house was quiet. So was the neighborhood. Fee couldn’t risk pulling the slide on Alou’s slender little automatic. She didn’t want to spook the boys in her kitchen. She knew Danny didn’t carry heat; he barely had enough scratch to pick up the pills to feed his addiction, let alone scrape up cash for a piece. The other boy was an unknown that Fee didn’t like. The gun was a reassuring weight in her hand, as it had been before.

She replaced the tin box and gently slid the false stone back into place. She winced a bit when stone scraped against stone, but a quick glance over her shoulder told her the boys hadn’t followed her. Was the larger boy behind Danny just a lookout? For what purpose, though? Alou had never double-crossed Danny. Alou had done a lot of things – cheated, lied, stolen, shut off the heat to parts of the house purely out of spite – but he had never handed a customer a raw deal.

Four minutes, now. She had to decide what to do. She had no idea if Danny would take pills from her; Alou had handled all of the business. She knew where everything was, now that she had taken the time and been able to leave her room and the kitchen without danger. She had already lied about Alou’s arrival, she couldn’t now take that back.

The cat wandered into view, curious and cautious, and it gave Fee an idea. She picked up the feline and put it on the bottom step, then gently shooed it towards the top. The cat was a large tabby tom, and he made a bit of a ruckus as he clomped upstairs. Danny didn’t kknow about the cat. For all he knew, it was Fee making her way towards a bedroom.

Fee quietly slipped past the staircase and around through the dining room. The floorboards didn’t creak as she moved, and she hugged the wall as she approached the kitchen. As she had hoped, the sounds of feet up the stairs made the two boys comfortable talking to one another.

“Whatcha think?” Danny was keeping his voice somewhat low.

“Damn shady.” The other boy had a baritone that belied his age. “Ain’t nobody seen or heard from Alou in a long time. Ain’t been around his usual haunts. Girls ain’t heard a peep.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s finding a new hookup. Last time he was here, he was talkin’ about getting bent over by his supplier.”

“He would have figured that shit out by now. Alou’s no slouch.” There was the distinctive, ratcheting noise of a revolver being checked.

“Whoa, whoa!” Danny hissed the warning at his friend. “Tre, come on, dude. She’s an old lady.”

“An old lady who’s blowin’ smoke up our asses. Alou owes folks money and if I gotta collect from Grandma, I will.”

Fee swallowed. The automatic suddenly felt very heavy in her hand. Ninety seconds left. Not enough time.

Flash Fiction: To Rise Again, One Must Fall

For the Terribleminds Flash Fiction challenge, “Rise of the Phoenix“, with a little inspirational help from Dragonkitty.


She looked out over the sea, walking next to her husband. The wind was picking up, waves crashing into rocks far below them as they navigated the cliff. She closed her eyes, listening to the white noise, memories drifting through her mind without a care for her current place and time.

“Did I tell you about the war?” Her question broke the long silence they’d been sharing.

“You’ve never been in a war.”

“Not recently, no. This was Korea.”

He blinked at her. “But… you were born in…”

“Yes, I know.” She smiled, holding his hand. “Do you think this life is all we get?”

“What?”

“I mean, when you look up at the stars, and see into the infinite darkness that surrounds everything we are, and ever were, and ever will be… do you wonder about what we can’t see?”

“Honey, you’re scaring me.”

She squeezed his hand. “I know. I’m sorry. It just always happens this way.”

“What does? I don’t understand.”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve lived. I was a soldier in the Korean War. Before that, I hiding with my family in Poland when the tanks rolled in. I’ve been a slave, and I’ve sold slaves. I’ve explored distant shores, and cowered in fear of invaders. The older I’ve gotten, the more and more I’ve seen into the past.”

He said nothing. She turned to him and smiled.

“I know what you’re thinking. You think I’ve finally lost it. That I really need to be hospitalized until my head’s on straight.”

“I’ve never thought that. I mean, you’re a little odd, to be sure, but that’s what makes you so unique.”

“You’re kind. I know how I sound. I’m sorry I can’t say more innocuous things. But things are just becoming more and more clear.”

“Please stop. Come on. Let’s get you home. I’ll call a doctor…”

“Do you know what I’m afraid of?”

He stopped, and turned to face her. The wind whipped at her hair and she brushed it out of her eyes.

“I’m afraid I’d take you with me.”

“What?”

“We’ve been married for, what, almost twenty years now? And it’s been lovely. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. You’re a good man. You’ve worked hard to take care of me, of our children. And you’ve never stopped loving me.”

“How could I?” He took both of her hands. “You’re brilliant. You make me laugh. You’re just as beautiful as the day we met. You’re scaring me because I’m afraid of losing you.”

“You won’t. I’ll always have this memory, now. These happy, quiet years with you. It’s something precious I’ll carry into the future. I just don’t want you to be afraid when your time comes.”

“What do you mean?”

“Death isn’t the end, darling. I know this for a fact. I just retain more than most people.” She paused. “I don’t want you to be jealous. It’s not something I chose from the start. But it is my destiny. To rise again, we have to fall.”

He blinked, and she leaned up to kiss him. She knew he’d never understand, but he loved her all the same, and that warmed her heart. After wars and terror and injustice, it was nice to have lived so simple a life. His eyes, full of love and concern, studied hers for a moment, and then he held her hands more tightly and pulled, trying to get her away from the cliff’s edge.

A powerful gust pushed against the couple. It staggered him, causing him to lose his footing. Even as he released one of her hands to steady himself, her feet also slipped. With a slight gasp of surprise, her leg went out from under her and she fell just over the lip of the cliff. Crying out, he grabbed for her, but gravity and momentum were against him, and after a moment, the forces won out over his grip, and she was falling.

On the way down she had flashes of previous moments like this. A fighter jet on fire over Korea. The terror of the camps. Staring down the barrel of a pistol. The sting of the lash. A knife in the back. Betrayal and hatred and duty and tragedy, all flooding against her in a rushing torrent of finality.

When she struck the bottom, there was no pain. She rested in the arms that had been waiting for her, looking upwards, heedless of the broken body she’d be leaving behind. This time the appearance of the shepherd was male, dressed in a dark and immaculate suit, untouched by the wind and the surf. She wrapped her arms around his neck.

“It’s odd,” she remarked.

“What is?” His voice was deep and rich, like a generous fondue pot of warm chocolate.

“Even as I knew I was coming back to you, I never stopped loving my husband.”

“There are all different sorts of love. Your love for your husband, your children’s love for you… ours. Some mortals foolishly try to limit themselves to one. In the short lives you lead, I do not know why one would deny oneself in things like love and joy.”

She shook her head. “Not everyone sees life the way you do.”

“I do have an interesting perspective.” He paused. “Your family – are you concerned?”

“No. He’s a good man. We made contingency plans. They will live on.”

“I know.”

“You’re sweet to ask. People misjudge you. They personify you so grimly. They don’t know how lonely you are.”

He kissed her forehead. “I’ve missed you, my phoenix.”

She smiled and nuzzled closer. “So what happens now? Do you shuffle me off to be reborn again?”

“Not yet. I’ve been waiting years to see you again. But just like how you can’t rush the moments of your life, you can’t rush moments like this, either. Between your fall and your rise there is an infinite number of forevers. Choose one, and let’s share it together.”

Flash Fiction: The Ugly Sea

The title was generated as part of this week’s Terribleminds challenge.


Bruce hauled himself up the rain-slicked, metal ladder towards the top deck of the trawler Mary of the Magdeline. His poncho flapped in the wind, and he shook his head to keep the rain out of his eyes. He reached the top rung and pushed himself towards the door to the bridge. Gloved hands with quick, practiced motions spun the wheel to open it.

“Cap’n,” Bruce said, shaking off some of the rain water as he reached out to pull the door closed behind him.

“How’s the egghead?”

“I think he’s about done, sir. He’s got to be, he’s been in the aft head since the chop started.”

“He better be done,” Captain Hopkins growled as he wrestled with the wheel. “We’re going to need him.”

“I checked below decks. The team’s ready to go.”

Hopkins shook his head. “I don’t like having those jarheads on my boat, Bruce.”

“What choice do we have, sir? You saw the sonar reads as clearly as I did. This… phenomenon, I think the doc called it… it’s big, and it’s getting closer to the surface. The government…”

“Hang the damn government.”

“See, Cap’n, that’s why nobody likes making small talk with you.”

“Make your point, Bruce.”

“My point, sir, is that we’re neither have the equipment nor manpower to handle this thing ourselves. We’re not part of the government, which I know you prefer, and that means we can operate in international waters without raising a lot of heckles.”

“I’m not an idiot, I know all of that. All I said was I don’t like having these jarheads on my boat. Why, do you?”

“Their sergeant plays a mean hand of poker.”

“Bruce.”

The first mate crossed his arms. “Yeah, I don’t like this either. The whole thing gives me the creeps. I mean, it’s been a long time since my Navy days, Kevin, but things that big and that deep just don’t exist in nature.”

Kevin nodded. His clear, blue eyes never left the windscreen getting assaulted by rain and hail. His salt and pepper beard crinkled as he scowled. The Mary was an older boat, rusty in places and very friendly to barnacles in others, and keeping her on an even keel in weather like this took strength and awareness. Bruce didn’t actually like talking to his friend at times like this, but in the situation at hand, he had little choice.

“If it’s as big as they’re saying,” Kevin Hopkins finally said, breaking the white noise of the storm and engines, “what’s a platoon of Marines going to do?”

The door to the exterior opened again. The Marine commanding the platoon in question, Lieutenant Diaz, slipped into the cabin.

“Choppy seas, eh, gentlemen?”

Hopkins grunted in reply. Bruce folded his arms and watched Diaz shake off the rain. She was on the shorter side, dressed in dark camouflage BDUs and wearing her sidearm at her hip, a carbine kitted out for special operations slung across her back. Her beret looked crisp thanks to the hood on her poncho.

“We’re almost there,” Bruce offered.

“I had a feeling weather like this wouldn’t slow your crew down. It’s a fine boat with fine men, Captain.”

“Thanks.”

“Ma’am, it’s always good to see Marines, but i think Cap’n Hopkins is trying to keep us afloat so you can get down to your business once we arrive.”

“I have the boys assembling just below the foredeck now, Mister Kiley. Sergeant Howser will bring them up the moment I give the word.”

The Mary shuddered. Bruce and Diaz flailed for handholds. Hopkins cursed and spun the wheel to reaffirm his grip.

“Chop’s gotten rougher!” Bruce heard the note of nervousness in his friend Kevin’s voice. He turned to see Doctor Roslovich, pulling himself hand over hand along the corridor behind the bridge, approaching the,.

“How’s the accommodations, Doc?” Sometimes, Bruce just couldn’t resist giving someone like Roslovich a hard time.

“Wretched,” said the scientist. “Ideal for all sorts of foul adventure.”

As if on cue, the portable terminal Roslovich had deployed on arrival aboard the Mary pinged, loud and clear over the din outside. The scientist made his way there and tapped some commands into the prompt.

“Sonar readings confirmed! Anomaly is 300 meters off the port bow! It’s surfacing!”

Diaz leaned towards the radio clipped to her shoulder strap, eyes on the storm. “Howser! Port at 300! Hustle!”

Like clockwork, a stream of Marines in ponchos with automatic weapons and rocket launchers appeared on the foredeck. Bruce watched as Howser shouted orders, three Marines took up kneeling positions, and rockets streams into the stormy night.

The light of the rocket’s trails reflected off what seemed to be a solid wall of what appeared to be very, very fine scales.

Bruce, Diaz, and Roslovich looked on without a word. Hopkins reached towards a handle over his head towards the right side of the cabin. It turned a spotlight towards…

Roslovich began screaming. Diaz’s lip quivered, reaching behind her for her primary weapon. Bruce just stared. He stared up at the mass of appendages where a head might be on a creature that made natural sense. Within the quavering, dangling tendrils a pair of glowing yellow points, flickering like dire candles, narrowed at the vessel. A huge tentacle, easily the length of an aircraft carrier, rose out of the water before them, poised.

What can a platoon of Marines do? What can any of us do?

Sent from my iPad

Flash Fiction: Outcropping

For the Terribleminds challenge 100-Word Stories.


I lean out around the rock outcropping I dragged Riley behind to give us cover. I can’t see the shooters. But gunfire keeps my head down.

“Dave? Are they still shooting?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t get shot. It sucks.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Riley coughs. His hands are over his wound. It looks bad.

“I’m scared.”

“Hang in there, Riley. Blackhawk’s coming.”

“We shouldn’t have come here.”

“We had orders.”

“I meant the war.”

I look up. “Yeah. We don’t belong here.”

“I… never told you.”

“Never told me what?”

Nothing.

“Riley? Never told me what?”

I look again.

Riley’s not moving.

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