//Flash fiction : THE UNINVITED GUEST

I don’t exactly know how I got to be looking out of the window in the middle of the night but I was. Something had woken me up, a bad dream, a nightmare I think, I don’t remember what it was about. The light was off in the flat but there was a glow coming in from the street lamps outside. I peered through a tiny gap between the curtains that I held open with my two fingers. 

Across the street, in the umbrella glow of one of the street lamps a man in a suit was standing there staring up at me. He wore an old style hat that wrapped his face in shadow so I couldn’t see what he looked like. I watched him for a while until I got real thirsty so I went and got a drink of water from the kitchen, by the time I’d gotten back to looking out of the window the man in the suit was gone. I checked up and down the street but couldn’t see anyone. 

I took a sip of the water but drank it to fast, it went down the wrong hole and I coughed, choking on the water in my lungs. After a while the feeling went away and I sat in the recliner and rested my head against the back. 

I couldn’t sleep so I turned on the television, I wasn’t watching any channel in particular. I kept flicking between channels creating a juxtaposition of imagery made up of snippets of advertisements and fragments of late night movies and documentaries and shows. 

I stayed up until I couldn’t hold my eye lids open any longer. Keeping them open was to much of a struggle so I remember giving in and switching off the television and making my way to the bedroom. The bedroom was dark, no lights from outside illuminated anything in there. 

I switched on the light and to my horror the man in the suit was sitting at the end of my bed, his back turned towards me, his hands resting on his knees. I couldn’t move, my hand was still hovering beside the light switch, every nerve in my body had frozen. The man turned his head slightly but I still couldn’t see his face from the shadow cast by the rim of his hat. The turn of his head was an acknowledgement of my presence.The man’s cracked lips parted, revealing crooked yellow teeth…

[Not sure where to go with this, I just liked creating the creepiness and unease of the situation ]

 

//Flash fiction :DEEP, DEEP DOWN.

Gerald’s tie gently floated in front of his face with the movement of the current, he mistook it for a fish. The light of his torch carved a jittery path through the dark and murky waters as he juggled to keep hold of the torch which he held outstretched in one hand, his briefcase and a shovel in the other.
With every step he kicked up clouds of sand. A solitary eel ribboned close by, for a second he mistook it for his tie.
He moved quickly, otherwise the crabs would soon be drawn to him, as they always were.
He’d been walking for hours. All of this is of course was purely metaphorical.
He desperately needed to bury the secret as deep as he could. He decided that where he came to be standing at that moment seemed to be as good a place as any.
He rested his briefcase down beside him and positioned the torch so that he and his close surroundings were illuminated.
He stabbed the shovel into the sea floor, creating a small cloud of sand. He pressed his foot on the blade of the shovel and leaned his whole weight forward onto it, making it disappear beneath.
The spider crabs had moved closer since he had started digging. He could see their long, thin, pale legs moving slowly through the dark towards him from the corner of his eye. His glasses had slipped to the tip of his nose, he pushed them back to his brow with his finger and continued digging. Soon, a cloud of disturbed sand enveloped him.
Low, deep, bass tones and high pitched squeaks that had travelled from far away and possibly from near the surface vibrated through the waters as he dug deeper and deeper.
When Gerald had stopped digging and the sand had begun to settle, he found himself standing just over knee level in a hole he had dug at the bottom of his subconscious. He opened his briefcase with two muffled clicks.
He took out the little wooden box that was bound up with electrical tape. He carefully placed the box into the hole. The crabs had swarmed around him now in a frenzy, more eels had arrived too and were fluttering above him like hungry ties.
Gerald hurried to pile sand atop the box in the hole, creating another cloud that engulfed him. Once the box had been buried and was out of sight he grabbed up his briefcase, the torch and the shovel, pointing the torch in the direction he had came, he started his long walk home. He passed the rusted shipwrecks of half forgotten memories and sunken shopping trolleys that symbolised who knows what, all the while being followed by a convoy of curious cretaceans. His secret was safe.

//Flash fiction : THE VESSEL

During my long time here I have mastered the mimicry of the enemy and I am able to move freely within this doomed species.
The security guards at the facility greet me now with polite recognition. Bob, the overweight one, even attempts to make what they call, small talk with me upon my arrival at the outer gates. I have found this to be incredibly infuriating. I do not wish to hear how your kids are doing or how your weekend went, I especially do not find it appealing to reveal to you details of my own private life, but this is a part of the deception I must play. Based on his level of intelligence, social standing and overt political opinion I was able to develop a rapport with him based on his grievances with a group of his species he referred to as immigrants. Based on this information and their behaviour, I would also like to point out that an invasion may not even be necessary as they may exterminate themselves. I believe it is only a matter of time.
The lab technicians are less talkative which is a relief. The military personnel keep to themselves apart from the General who occasionally confronts me with queries regarding the completion of the modifications to the recovered craft. I am not sure how much longer I can delay these. I suspect the General is beginning to raise suspicions.
I must inform you, I grow tired of wearing this body and of keeping up this facade of conformity. The only thing that stops me from tearing forth from this disgusting vessel is my duty to the mission.
If it we’re not for the heavy burden of responsibility I bear I would shed this hollow carcass and return home. Instead I continue my plot of infiltration.
Patiently awaiting further orders

//Flash fiction : MACHO

His voice is raised a little more, he says, “Ten more reps bro! You’re killing it!”. The instructor’s crotch is right near my head, I can almost see up his shorts.

I do the ten reps. The instructor, he says, “Bro, I think you can beast this, gimme one more set”. He’s leaning over me and his tiny gold chain with a cross on it dangles above my face.

After I’m done with the set the instructor helps me put the barbell back, his hand strokes against mine. I sit up and dab the sweat on my face with my towel. I catch people looking over in our direction, when they see me seeing them, they look away. 

“Man, you’re a machine”, he says. Yeah, a machine, but I know he really means a “Freak“. The instructors arms aren’t as big as mine but he has better definition on his forearms, he has beautiful ravines between his muscles. When I stand up the instructor is a whole head shorter than me.

“Chicks must be throwing themselves at you”, he says, looking up at me. Yeah they throw themselves at me. Truth is, most women when they get up close, they’re a little intimidated by my size. Most women, they’re attracted to the idea of me. In the animal kingdom most females are attracted to the strongest males, it’s about survival, nothing more.

I tell him I think I’m done for today, that I’m gonna head for the showers. He says, “Yeah of course bro…”, he looks around to make sure everyone is watching us. Which they are, which they always do. I’m the guy that everyone wants to be, big, broad and bulging.

“…see you next week bro”, he grabs my hand and pulls me in for a slap on the back, like we actually are bros except he can’t reach his arm all the way round me so he just slaps my shoulder a few times, he presses his body against mine making my shirt stick to my sweaty body.     

Whilst I’m walking away he shoots me with his finger and makes a clicking sound, I don’t get it. Is it supposed to mean something?

I shower and get changed.

I’m walking across the car park carrying my gym bag when a trio of housewives, cougars in yoga pants pass me.

“Hiiiii…”, they all sing in unison, waving, carrying their mats under their other arm, puffing out their chests and doing that thing they do; meticulously placing one foot in front of the other so their butts swing from side to side like some kind of mating ritual designed to get my attention.

In the animal kingdom it’s mostly males who do most of the pageantry to attract a mate. I saw a documentary about birds in the rainforest, them jumping around and flashing their feathers, saying look at me, look at me.

I nod and curl my lips, forcing a smile.

I get to my pick-up and chuck the bag on the passenger seat. 

My body aches. I just sit there soaking in the soreness. I can see the instructor through the window of the gym. He’s helping to stretch out one of the cougars, pressing his body against hers. The others just stand around watching, waiting for their turn.

It trickles down my cheek, over my lip and I taste the salt. I start taking short, rapid breaths, the salty water and snot starts pouring out of my face. Why am I so weak?

I start wailing, like really moaning. I’m happy I paid the extra for the tinted windows. I wipe my arm under my nose and there’s a long shiny snail trail from my wrist to my elbow. Seeing it glisten I think to myself; I need to work on my forearms. I’m gritting my teeth so much I’m afraid I might break them.

I don’t know after how long but I start to calm down. I reach for the box of tissues in the glove box and dry my eyes. I take a look in the rear-view and my eyes are all red and puffy. The instructor is standing in some Yoga pose and the cougars are copying him as best they can.

“I love you”, I say softly.

On the way home I buy a box of donuts, glazed ones, the ones with all the coloured sprinkles on top. It’s ok, I’ll work it off tomorrow at the gym I tell myself.

//Flash fiction : DELIRIUM

[The following piece is a an idea I would like to develop into a short story]

Malcolm blames himself for the accident, I can tell. When you’ve been with someone this long you pick up on these things. It’s like I can read his mind. 

We’ve been married for almost seven years,and we were together six more before that. Our seven year anniversary will be this September. Your wedding day is one of those big events in your life you’ll always remember, like giving birth or your mother’s funeral. 

Then why is it that the little girl that’s sitting outside waiting in the taxi, the one everyone says is my daughter, how come I don’t remember her?

The doctors said it was common after a head injury, especially ones that result in a prolonged coma. Most likely there’ll be some memory loss they said. But give it sometime, those memories should hopefully come back. But what if those memories weren’t there in the first place? 

I’ve gone over the events leading up to the accident again and again, reliving it and I just don’t remember a creepy little girl being in our lives. 

I remember packing up the tent and putting it onto the back seat with the two sleeping bags, I remember having to show Malcolm how to attach both of our bikes to the roof rack again, he forgets everything, which is ironic really, considering my present circumstances. 

I remember Malcolm driving and being upset about something I’d said. I remember him taking his eyes off the road for just a second. I can remember right up until I saw  something in the corner of my eye in the headlights, maybe it was a deer, and then I’m screaming and reaching for the steering wheel. 

The next thing I know I’m waking out of a coma and every time Malcolm comes to visit there’s a little girl who I don’t know and then later, when I’m feeling a little better the doctors and the nurses are telling me how sweet my little girl is, the strange little girl dressed in adorable dresses who comes everyday to visit her Mommy. I didn’t buy it, something wasn’t right. 

I wanted to go home, I didn’t want to stay another night in the hospital. So I tell my husband I’m feeling better. I tell the Doctor that it’s all starting to come back to me. Hannah, yeah, my daughter, I’m starting to remember things now I say. But it’s not true, not really. 

The taxi driver helps Malcolm lift me out of the wheelchair and into the back seat, my legs are still a little weak. 

The girl sits next to me and just looks at me the whole time. What a weird kid, or whatever it is.

Craning his neck round the front passenger seat to look back at me,at us, Malcolm says “Hey Hannah, tell Mommy how excited you are to have her coming home”.

She doesn’t say a word, she just looks up at me with those inhuman eyes of hers. 

Hannah. I don’t like it, it’s not a name I think I would have picked for my child.

She doesn’t say a word to me the whole way home. 

The taxi driver offers to help bring me inside but Malcolm politely says, “Thanks, I’ve got it from here “. 

Honestly, I’m starting to feel sad about how guilty he feels about all of this. 

Malcolm gently drops me onto the sofa, the way his arms started shaking I thought he was going to drop me in the hallway. Can someone gain weight whilst being in a coma? 

There’s a handful of cheap party balloons pinned to the wall and a shiny, silver welcome home banner, hanging across the TV.

He fusses over me, which is quite nice. 

He gets me a pillow from the bedroom and the blanket. He cooks me dinner and helps sit me up so I can eat it, asking if I’m OK, if there’s anything I need or anything I want. I tell him no, I’m fine, that’s its just nice to be home. 

Then I catch “Hanna” staring at me.

I just want her to get out of my house. I don’t know who or what this imposter is but I need to keep up the charade, mother and daughter, yeah, sure, why not. Other wise they’ll lock me up and medicate me again. This kid’s got everyone fooled. I need to play the slow game with this sneaky one. 

//Flash fiction : WILD THING

That boy was a wild thing, that’s what they tell their guests who ask how they’re doing. The mauled remains of dessert still on some of their plates.
They say they’ve started him on a new course of treatment and it seems to be working.

They say the boy must have been doing drugs or that he was watching too much TV, the shows nowadays have so much violence in them, they say it was the music he was listening to, it just encourages violent behaviour you know, that’s what they say.

They take a sip of wine.
They compliment each other on how well they’ve handled the boy, yes, yes and others agree.
Yes they say, it does take its toll.
They just wanted their baby boy back, they say, dabbing dry eyes with an unused napkin.
They wanted him to be the little angel he was before all of the trouble began, before the boy started screaming at his poor, parents when they searched his room for drugs because they heard there was a crisis. That the Hendersons had found a tiny bag that looked like herbs in the back of their daughters underwear drawer and that their boy had been spending too much time with that one.

Yes they say, it’s been a difficult time.
Swallowing a mouthful of wine, they don’t understand why he turned to drugs, where he got them or where he hid them for that matter. They take another shot of wine and they just don’t understand why someone would do such a thing they say.
One of their guests announces, through their pineapple flavoured vapor, that they blame the schools.
An agreeing chorus of nods from everyone sat around the table. Yes, the schools are too Liberal these days, they teach their children ridiculous things.
Things that back when they were kids you would be beaten for, but for Christ sake you can’t even do that. There’s just no discipline in schools nowadays, that’s the problem, and you can’t hit your child any more because it’s “abuse” they say, making bunny ears.

They say when they were younger their parents used to hit them and they all turned out fine, right?
Another chorus of nods.

There aren’t any side effects? someone at the other end of the table asks.
No they say, not really.
He cries a lot but they aren’t really tears, no he doesn’t really get sad anymore,they say, he’s always smiling.

His behaviour has changed, that’s the important thing, now he listens to what they tell him to do. Sure he spends a lot of time in his room but this is the real world, they say, he needs to get used to it.
Maybe he’s lost a little freedom they say, but he’ll be thanking them in the future when he’s a respected, well behaved member of society.

He never learnt how to fit in, that was his problem they say, he always wanted attention.
Their hand quacking, they say he was always me, me, me.

They gave him everything, he never wanted for nothing, they say. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you need to work to put food on the table, he never understood that, he was lost in his own little fantasy world, all he ever did was twirl and prance around the house.
No, they wouldn’t pay for him to study dance, what type of man does that? No, their little boy was going to be a real man, like his father.

//Flash fiction : IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?

It starts around the age of four or five. I don’t remember when exactly. We’re holding hands in the playground until she notices and she goes “Ew, get off”.

She’s seven years old and for some reason I’ve been invited to her birthday party, there’s cake, balloons and games, but I don’t get to see any of that because I’ve broken my collar bone trying to show her my army role in the first fifteen minutes of being there. I mess up the landing and spend most of the day in A and E. I don’t get invited back for anymore of her birthdays after that.

I’m eight and my older brother tells me a surefire way to make a girl like you. So after he tells me, the next day in the playground, I go up behind her, cupping my hand and I swing it as hard as I can.
She screams so loud my brother heard it on the other side of the school, she cries for twenty minutes straight and I spend the afternoon sat outside the headmaster’s office and the rest of the week in detention.

I spend most of my ninth year trying to tell her I’m sorry but she doesn’t want to be friends, not ever.

We’re ten years old and she’s become a bit of an obsession, just look inside my exercise book if you don’t believe me.
She’s in the corridor by the drink fountain, that slimy Phillip Collins is standing next to her. She’s smiling and twirling a strand of her blonde hair around her finger. Her eyes light up when she sees me and she waves, I’m frozen and for a second I don’t do anything and then I raise my hand but it doesn’t come up in one smooth motion. My arm moves like I’m a dried out rusty tin man. She just looks at me funny.
Lisa and Tiffany come up behind me, they say something to me but I don’t really hear it, I don’t really hear anything other than a deep thumping in my head. Then they’re all stood around the fountain and they’re all staring at me funny, like I’m from another planet. I can’t move, so we’re just all there, standing, staring.

Eleven and I’m at the school disco. She’s standing by the drinks and snacks table with her girlfriend’s. I’ve waited for this moment for months, I figure it’ll be just like the movies, I’ll say how much I love her and then she’ll tell me she loves me too. But it’s not like that, not in real life.
I just spend the night leaning against the back wall of the hall, in the shadows, watching her dance with Matthew Townshend. It’s OK because no one can see me crying.

Thirteen and she’s kissing Dave Cheetham behind the bike sheds, it’s like the sixth time this week, third time today. Today, he slips his hand up her jumper.
Later, during cross country, Dave Cheetham and his buddies are kicking the crap out of me for being a perv and a creep. The mud and leaves against my face are really cold.
She’s standing with Lisa and Jodie (Tiffany got leukemia and no ones seen her in a while) They all have their arms crossed and they’re all laughing. The other kids are just jogging passed, splashing muddy water over me, trying to not make eye contact.

Sixteen and I guess she’s seeing some guy who drives an adult sized toy car. Everyone at school says he’s a drug dealer, but he also works at the Cinema too, I’ve seen him there. He’s about the same age as my brother, so I don’t think it’s legal.

After we take our GCSEs, I don’t see her for a long time. It’s only after a few years of being at University and then after I’ve dropped out, realising I won’t be the next Quentin Tarantino. After I’ve been working at the cinema. After I’ve moved out of my Mum’s bungalow and gotten my own flat, after that I’m the general manager and I buy a new BMW.

Now. It’s been about two months since I bought my BMW and I’m cruising to work, feeling pretty great about my life actually. When I see her alone, pushing a pram. It’s definitely her, she’s a little fatter and her hair is a lot shorter and not so neat anymore and she has these big hoop earrings and she’s wearing pink running bottoms that have dirty stains on the back of them. But it’s definitely her.

I suddenly have all these moments from my life play themselves before me in my mind, reeling off the greatest hits of my misery years.
I think about all the things I wish I’d said to her. I think about all the nights I was alone in my bedroom.
I think about all the pain and the sadness and the anger and the love and the passion I had for her, then I think about my life now.
The car is just rolling next to her and she’s noticed.
I think to myself, if not now, then when?
I have to tell her how I feel.

I keep the engine running, she’s just standing there, frozen.
I press the button above the door handle and with a hum the window starts moving down. I lean over the hand break and look up at her, she looks down at me and I see in her eyes that she’s been crying. Through her puffy, glazed eyes I can tell she’s trying to figure out who I am.
I smile. “Remember me?”